Stuck. Short Story.

I’m watching as they check in, trying to find someone who might be worth it, but so far there’s nothing. Families and couples and businessmen all stream through the lobby, checking in and out. You’d think this would be an interesting place to stay, I mean I get to see all kinds of people every day but it get’s a little old after a while. Though in all fairness it’s not like I can really get to know these people, this is just one short stop in the rest of their lives. Oh sure some of the workers stay for a while, the manager has been here going on twenty years now, but it doesn’t mean I know him, like actually know him. I’ve never witnessed any of his intimate moments, I’ve never seen him cry or shout with happiness. It’s those things, those moments that allow you to really know someone and frankly, I know no one. There are others here, people, can we be even called people? Though they’re not always that welcoming. We live here permanently, but I never really see them that often, I suppose there might be some kind of irony to that. Of course the people who come streaming in and out, they know nothing about me. They might when they leave, but that isn’t the real me, it’s part of some ghost story. Even the workers have their own versions of who and what I am when the truth is much more mundane. I didn’t OD, I wasn’t murdered, not technically anyway, I didn’t kill myself. No. I was just a lonely businessman, traveling alone and far away from everyone he loved, who died of a heart attack. In the normal world it wouldn’t be considered murder, here, it was a bit iffy. I get why he did it now, I didn’t then, when I first died I was scared and angry, but I understand. I wasn’t the first and I wasn’t the last that he took. Brought us here and kept us like pets. Really he was just lonely, he wanted companions, friends. He might have gone the wrong way about it, but realistically in the end it worked, didn’t? He might be gone but we’re all still here. Just hanging around. Trapped.
The life of a ghost isn’t that dreary and depressing, I do get to go on ride alongs occasionally, that’s fun and it breaks the monotony. I don’t know if the others do it, but I assume everyone does and that they just don’t talk about it. Ride alongs are like possession, but I’ve no control over what happens. It isn’t all freaky movie special effects. You’ve probably had it happen to you before. That feeling, you get in the back of your throat and you’re worried you’re getting sick, then you go to bed and wake up fine the next morning? That was me, or someone like me. Sometimes the feeling doesn’t go away and you actually do get sick. Sorry. I can’t really help that part. I get to go where you go for the day and night, at least until dawn. I usually get out when you go to sleep, but sometimes I get treats, people who stay out and party. I get to sample things I’d never have tried while alive. I’m still looking forward to the day someone tries mushrooms in here. I’ve always wanted to try when I was alive, but I was too scared. That’s the beauty of being a ghost, I can’t be killed again, not by normal means anyway, so I can tag along for the ride and be completely safe. That kind of ride along is rare though, maybe once every few years. The rest of the time I look for simpler things. The taste of food and drink, the warmth of a shower or bed, the coldness of the breeze when you open the window, the soft touch of another person. You won’t notice much, they won’t be as important to you as they are to me, but they really make life worth living around here. Heh.

 

I read books about ghosts when I was still alive, I wasn’t like some kind of weirdo about it, more so just stuff I came across. Most of it is a lie. I’m not constantly cold, but nor am I hot, I’m not hungry or thirsty. I feel emotions sometimes, but they’re dulled. I can move stuff if I really try, and it isn’t born of anger, but I never really bother, there isn’t much point. You’d think I’d feel some kind of contentment with that, but it’s worse. If you’re cold at least you know you’re feeling something. The monotony piles on and on and on until it just stretches out for eternity. It’s almost worse knowing that I’m going back to nothing once the ride along ends. Maybe some of the others like it, maybe I’m weird that way.

 

I can’t move on from here, I’ve tried, how I have tried, but nothing works. I’m stuck, possibly forever. I’m a bit concerned about what happens when they close this place down, it has to happen eventually right? Will I be stuck here, in the dark corridors until the building just falls down? Then what? What if they knock it and build something else? Usually the concern fades and it just becomes and idle thought exercise. The others don’t know, there are a couple who were here before the hotel, or came from elsewhere, but they’re hard to talk to, a bit loopy, they find it hard to concentrate. One doesn’t even speak or acknowledge you, I think she can, but she’s just being a bitch.
In the time I’ve spent here, three people have seen me properly and I don’t think any of them realised what I was, why would they? I’m not some chick in a big ass ball gown, or dressed up like some weird turn of the century soldier. I’m just some guy in a business suit. I suppose there are worse things to be stuck in, I mean, I sleep naked, if I had of died lying in bed I’d have had to spend eternity nude, how awkward would that be for those that saw me? I get some dignity this way I guess, which is kind of nice. Some of the others around here can change their clothes, I don’t know how they do it, I don’t really care. I’m happy dressed as I am. It reminds me of the family I had. The cufflinks were a gift from my children, the tie was bought by my wife. It’s the little things, when you’re dead. I haven’t seen them since before I died. I used to hope that maybe they’d visit, the place where their father died, now I’m glad that they haven’t, I hope it means they’ve moved on. I want them to be happy. Why wouldn’t I? They have lives to live. I don’t.
Maybe someday I’ll learn how to move on, maybe I’ll be stuck here until there’s nothing left. If you do ever come here and get a bit of a throat tingle, don’t worry too much, it’s just me saying hi and I promise I’ll be gone by morning.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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