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on: 02/19/19, 10:16 PM
Understanding the nature of my existence is even more confusing for me than it is for most, and that’s not just because I’m a ghost. I thought I had a grasp on my own self, but I think even that has been pulled away from me by recent events. It’s confusing and maybe a little embarrassing, so bear with me.

Like I said, I’m a ghost - always have been, as far as I can tell. I’m not sure if I was a living, breathing thing at one point or if I just emerged from the ether this way. The others tell me it can go both ways, and some of them tell stories about their post-ethereal lives, vague snatches of memories about walking, eating, drinking, etc. I remember nothing. . .  Nothing except this house and the other spirits here with me.

It’s not a small house by any stretch. At one time it was a probably nice place to live, a sprawling estate any living soul would be proud to showcase to the local gentry; now it’s a maze of shadows, dust and cobwebs. Any mortal that stumbles in is in great peril from the building alone: the once-polished oak floors are rotting away, leaving huge gaps and pitfalls that drop into the dark abyss below the house’s foundation. Many of the doors are bewitched and open into rooms that defy architectural logic or, worse, lead back to a chamber previously visited, leaving the explorer hopelessly lost in our halls. Whatever brought this mansion to ruin is probably what brought us here too. I’ve tried to leave, but can’t pass through the walls to the outside. Through the windows I can see a landscape of hills and fields and nothing else.

I would say we’re trapped, but I don’t know what we’re trapped away from. That alone makes me wonder if I lived in the world outside at one point.

The others don’t seem to mind much, and there’s a lot of us. I’ve been here a long time and I still don’t know every other ghost that resides in this gloomy place. Most, like me, drift aimlessly around the house, feeling listless. A few form close-knit “rings” that are always together, spinning in organized circles around each other in an endless waltz; in a way, I envy that closeness, even if I don’t opt to join them. No one seems to really know what they’re doing, and we’re all just trying to alleviate the endless boredom.

There’s the Bigs, though. There’s not really a hierarchy among us, but the Bigs are always looked upon with awe or fear by the rest of us and given a wide berth. We call them the Bigs because, well, they’re big. Their huge forms are as intangible as the rest of us, but they fill up space with their presence, their piercing eyes and hungry maws making us all shrink back. When they do deign to speak, we listen, and we tend to obey. Rumor among us suggests the Bigs might be the souls of the house’s original owners, which is why they seem to hold more sway over it. No one knows for sure, though.

I’m rambling, I realize, but it’s not often I get a chance to tell my story like this. This is what I dealt with for as long as I can remember: a tedious, melancholy existence, haunted with stagnate thoughts and questions that could never be answered.

Then the doors opened.

We all heard it, no matter where we were in the house - the groan of the disused hinges straining for the first time in at least a century as the double-doors of the entrance swung in. Everything stood still for a moment, then a mad scramble as the resident haunts surged in that direction, eager to see what had happened, eager to escape while the door were open, all manner of reasons. It was change. We needed it.

When the Bigs bellowed, only a few of us stragglers (me included) stopped to listen. They said they felt a mortal presence in the house, that the precious life force this presence brought was ours if we took it, caught the intruder and drained it. They didn’t demand it themselves - “First come, first served,” they said. I think they were hungry for the entertainment. They’d be watching.

We scattered through the house, searching for the visitor. I’m not sure what happened to the ones that gunned for the main hall, but the chatter I heard was that it was bedlam there, all the ghosts just a mad cluster diving at the intruder, a man. He must have escaped in the confusion, fled deeper into the house. That was fine: like the rest of us, I wanted to catch him, scare him, steal his soul with my touch.

I mean, come on. I was bored. Can you blame me? Can you blame any of us?

I chose to lurk, lying in wait just under the rickety floors in a lonely hallway. Just my luck that I heard the door open and the footsteps of the interloper above me. I was grinning as I slowly drifted up through the floor, coming just behind him as he crept down the hall, his back to me. I worried I wasn’t going to reach him in time as he approached one of those treacherous gaps, that he would pitch headfirst into the blackness; to my surprise, without missing a beat the man jumped, crossing the gap with ease and landing gracefully on the other side.

I think I must have audibly gasped at that, which gave my presence away. The man stiffened, then turned around…

Something shifted. I felt an unpleasant warmth spread through me, a horribly hot sensation coupled with a surge of deep, deep shame. I’d never felt so worthless, so insignificant in the presence of anything. I shrank away from him, closing my eyes even as I felt his boring into my very soul, tearing at my essence. It was agony.

When the feeling lifted, I looked up again and he was passing through another door. Then I was alone. And empty.

Needless to say, no one caught the intruder. He simply crossed the mansion and departed through a backdoor, away and gone as if nothing phased him.

I’ve since talked to the others about what I experienced, and was relieved to know I was not alone in what I felt. This stranger seemed to bring his hideous effect on every soul he came across. There’s even word going around that the Bigs were affected by it, though they won’t admit it.

But it doesn’t surprise me. Trying to tell this has me shaking, but I’ve got to do it, because I often think about the way the man looked at me, how his face was imprinted into my memory: the round features, the huge nose, the prominent black mustache and profoundly blue eyes that seemed to look right through me, to the core of my being.

Some of the others say he was coming through our mansion looking for a princess. That doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. He deserves the affections of royalty.

That face… it was so… beautiful!