“Ah, this is the life,” I said, settling into my easy chair and taking a sip of orange drink, “Not a care in the world.”
I glanced at the clock; 6:04. The show had already begun. Grinding my teeth in anticipation, I flipped on the television. A fierce battle sequence erupted on screen. I rocked and squirmed in my chair, punching the air and feeling every blow. Captain Niro kicked a bandit in the face, sending him tumbling to the bottom of a steep incline, where he was graphically impaled on a number of jagged rocks. Suddenly the title card appeared: “Captain Nero”. I cheered, pumping my fist, and cleared my throat in anticipation of the theme song.
Click, went the television. Suddenly I was watching channel 46. The intro to a funniest videos program blared from the speakers.
“Um, excuse me,” I said, to no one in particular, “I was watching that.”
There was no response. I looked at the remote, which sat perched on the arm of the recliner. On screen an obese child stumbled into an ornate wedding cake. The studio audience howled with laughter. Shrugging, I picked up the remote and changed the channel back. Niro was piloting his airship through a shrieking sandstorm. The actors stumbled back and forth across the screen, hissing curses through their perfect white teeth.
“Boy oh boy!” I exclaimed, craning my neck forward and shoveling a fistful of chips into my mouth.
Click, went the television. The channel changed yet again, this time to channel 12, where an anthropomorphic dog was expressing distaste for a particular brand of kibble.
“Oh come on!” I cried.
“Woooooooo!” a ghastly voice moaned, “Wooooooo!”
“What’s all this now?” I said, getting to my feet. “Are you a ghost? Is this a haunting?”
“WOOOOOOO!” The voice replied, insistently.
“Is that supposed to be scary or something?” I rolled my eyes, turning off the set and starting towards the kitchen. “Get lost.”
I felt a tug and the specter yanked the bag of chips out of my hand, sending it skittering across the floor.
“Hey!” I said, “I have to clip that shut to ensure freshness!”
“Wooooo!” Said the ghost.
“Yeah, sure, I know, ‘Woo.’ I heard you the first eighteen times.” Annoyed, I stooped to pick up the bag.
The ghost yanked the package away again. It levitated at eye level, just out of my reach. I crossed my arms defiantly, unwilling to chase it around. As I watched, the bag began to juke and shiver. As it flew around the room, the sound of haunting, otherworldly laughter filled the house. Seconds later, it exploded with a pop, scattering a rain of chips throughout the kitchen. Cabinet drawers banged open and began hurling their contents onto the floor. The garbage disposal roared to life, grinding and growling as it spouted a geyser of rotting vegetables into the ceiling tiles.
“Hey!” I shouted, ducking to avoid a can of creamed corn, “Stop that! Stop that this instant!”
The ruckus died down. A thick layer of crushed potato chips and watery bits of carrots coated every surface. A fork, embedded in the wall, vibrated like a recently fired arrow. I threw up my hands in disgust. There was no way I was cleaning this up right now. I started down the hall, shaking my head.
“Do what you want.” I said, rounding the corner into my room. A hail of bent silverware flew down the hall, clattering against the wall behind me. “I have to get up early tomorrow.”
Once inside, I closed the door and crammed a pair of pants into the crack at the bottom. I flipped off the light and climbed into bed.
“I showed that old ghost”, I thought smugly. “Don’t give em’ the satisfaction.”
Closing my eyes, I pulled the covers up to my chin. Not a minute had passed before I heard the clunk of heavy footsteps approaching the door. The knob turned ever so slowly in one direction, and then in the other. The door began to rattle. Then, a knock. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
“It’s OPEN!” I cried
“Woooooooooo!” came the reply.
“Oh my god.” I groaned, rolling over, “You know full well how to operate that door! You’re being deliberately obtuse!”
The knocking grew more insistent, rising in volume until it became deafening: THROOM THROOM THROOM. Enraged, I snatched up a book from the nightstand and heaved it at halfheartedly in the direction of the door.
“Hey!” I shouted, “Hey! Cut the shit!”
THROOM! THROOM! THROOM!
“Aarrrrrrggggggggg!!” I cried, kicking my feet and pressing a pillow over my ears.
THROOM! THROOM! THROOM!
Then there was the sound of cracking wood, and the door splintered open. The lights in the room began to flicker, and the clock radio next to the bed blared to life, filling the room with the rushing sounds of static. An earsplitting shriek filled the air, and a shockwave rippled through the room, shattering the windows and overturning my bed.
“Eek!” I said tumbling to the floor before crawling under the mattress.
The building began to rumble and shake. The sound of static grew to a roar punctuated by peals of demented laughter. Peering from under the mattress, I could see that the closet doors had sprung open, and heaps of clothes were streaming out, whipping themselves into a sort of makeshift cyclone at the center of the room. One of my nicer shirts, still on its hanger, danced out the window and whirled off into the darkness.
“Oh man,” I muttered, “that cost 30 dollars…”
In response, a pair of mud-caked pants flew across the room and struck me in the face, then crumpled loosely to the floor. With a grimace, I picked them up between my thumb and forefinger and tossed them back into the vortex. Suddenly there came an immense groaning sound, and billows of plaster began to rain down around me. I watched as a thin crack work its way along the ceiling’s perimeter, until with a final tremendous groan, the entire roof peeled itself from the walls and went tumbling away into blackness.
“WOOOOOOO!” Shrieked the ghost enthusiastically. I traced my finger along a line in the floor, pretending not to hear.
The vortex now began to increase in size and speed, scooping up larger and larger objects as it stretched towards the heavens. Large chests of drawers, filing cabinets, and various other pieces of furniture tumbled all around me me, crashing against the walls and bed frame before whooshing another lap around the room. I yelped and wriggled further under the mattress.
The noise had grown deafening. I pressed my hands to my ears, squeezing my eyes shut. The mattress began to tremble and shake, and I felt it lift from my back and into the air. I prayed for its safe passage to heaven while digging my fingers into the white shag carpeting, envisioning the many deaths with no doubt awaited me were I to lose my grip. The whirlwind screamed and howled as it wrenched my legs into the air, and soon I was nearly perpendicular to the floor. White-knuckled, I squealed and begged for the mercy of the gods.
And then…it was over.
It was as if a switch had been flipped. I dropped to the floor, releasing my grip on the carpet. All as still. Rolling over, I opened my eyes and looked around. It was all gone. Every piece of furniture, every article of clothing, everything. Even the walls seemed to have been torn out by their roots. What had once been my home had now been reduced to a small patch of shag carpeting in an empty residential lot. I rolled onto my back and sighed heavily.
“I’ll give you credit for being thorough,” I said, gazing up at the stars, “But I still don’t see what the point of all this was.”
“Woooooooo.” said the ghost, dissipating into nothingness.
I mumbled something indistinct in reply and turned over on my side, drawing my knees to my chest. Closing my eyes, I thought of the bread machine, and of the television set, and of the potted plant from the guest bedroom. I imagined them rising, gently, and pushing their way into the jet stream as crystals of ice formed on their surfaces. I imagined them hurtling through the clouds with great speed. I imagined them plunging into the sea on the darkest of nights, and sinking down, and down, into the lightless depths, where the cloudy-eyed creatures would pay them no mind.
Soon enough, I was fast asleep.