The Sick Ghost
Todd put down the spatula and opened the fridge. The banality of ingredients was terrifying. He turned around — and saw nothing. Or, rather, things — but all normal, every day, untouched things. Purchased, cleaned reasonably regularly, tastefully arranged.
“I feel like something is odd with the house,” Todd texted his husband, Ethan. “Besides the haunting?” came the response a few minutes later. “When was the last time something odd happened though?” Todd sent back, staring at the unmarred walls.
Normal days stretched into normal weeks. Todd, a salesman at a used bookstore, started taking notes. Ethan, a software engineer, was amused at first but grew steadily worried. “Do you think its gone?” he asked over dinner, a roast chicken with rosemary potatoes. Delicious and perfectly seasoned. “I, reluctantly, admit I miss our ghost.”
Halloween came and went — dashing the couple’s hope that their house ghost was simply on some sort of otherworldly vacation.
Todd started frequenting the occult section at work. Ethan, still skeptical, eventually started to watch ghost hunting shows religiously. The house was too quiet without the nightly onslaughts.
Exotic candles were purchased and lit. Incense was burned around the clock. All manner of spells were “cast” to no avail, as neither Todd nor Ethan had a magical bone in their body. The incantations had nothing to hook into or build upon.
Ethan borrowed electronic measuring devices from work, deploying them throughout the house. Aside from pinpointing a few areas of questionable wiring, nothing terrible or horrifying was located. Scary movies were watched for clues, Latin was poorly enunciated, but nothing made a lick of difference.
“Do you think it is dead-dead?” Ethan asked while visiting Todd at the bookstore. He admitted, often, he didn’t care for the ghost at first. The late night howlings kept him awake at night, ectoplasm got all over the floors, and the constant re-arranging of furniture was often frustrating. Todd frowned, he loved every aspect of living in a haunted house, “I miss it. It was our ghost, we were its hauntees.”
“Then maybe I can help,” a voice popped up. Clean cut and wearing a pale blue suit patterned with magenta flamingos, Atticus Q. Redghost smiled to the couple. “Make a cup of tea and leave it out. All night. Let it go stone cold.”
“I don’t understand. Why?” Ethan asked with polite skepticism.
“You’ll have to trust me,” Atticus replied quietly as he paid for his book, Great Hotel Hauntings. “If it works, you will buy me lunch sometime and discuss details. If not, then I am wrong, or I cannot convince you. Either way, you are simply out a cup of tea. But for the first step, the mystery is part of the required ingredients.”
“What do we have to lose?” Todd asked. That night, the pair watched as the mug of tea finally went cold. From the last wisp of steam came a small whisper, and then the unmistakable smell of rain and soil. The tea’s departed warmth energized the specter, giving it new life. A mug of tea was left out to go cold weekly from that point forward.