Finally got in a good writing weekend, cut 5000 words from a draft short story and wrote 2000 new words. The old wording wasn’t bad, but the story that I was trying to tell had run away from me–I had a dragon and the Chollima (big nasty flying red horse from Korean mythology) and corporate espionage and maybe world war III going on in a piece that I really wanted to make about life as a ghost.
Which is not to say that an action story about a ghost, a ninja, a dragon and the Chollima won’t get written someday–through the miracle of hard disks that whole action-packed segment is just waiting to be turned into a campy story, but I wanted to write the ghost’s side of a story.
The idea actually came to me last year when I was interviewed on another author’s blog (shout out to Diana Jackson, she writes historical mysteries on the other side of the pond) about my novella, Gho. While I had written most of that story from the POV of two living characters, I had ended it from the POV of the young ghost. As I thought about it, pretty much every ghost story out there is about people who see a ghost.
But what is being a ghost like? Is it scary? Lonely? Frustrating beyond all comprehension?
So here’s an excerpt from what is still an early draft about a lonely, frustrated, possibly even slightly deranged ghost, Hildi, on the occasion of her 21st birthday. Still very much a work in progress, including the working title.
Life as a Ghost
Hildi Schreiber had been sixteen for exactly five years now, a difficult age under normal circumstances, and being a ghost hardly qualified as normal. The prospect of a twenty-first birthday party at a bar with giggling friends, downing shots and trying to figure out which boy—man—to flirt with was not to be hers. Nishi would take her to the comic book store, the one with real paper version of manga, and then maybe a drink at Sven O’Donovan’s. A drink for Nishi at least—ghosts couldn’t imbibe even if it was legal
“Hildi, uh, I’ve got a problem,” Nishi Flanagan said, as she tossed her keys into the forest green salad bowl that functioned as the catchall, perched on a corner of the tiny kitchen counter.
“You have a hot date and you’re out of extra-large condoms?”
Nishi blushed. “Not this week.”
Not any week. “Maybe a dozen orcs are threatening to destroy the world, or at least Colorado, and you’re the only super heroine who can stop them, and you need a good ghost spy to learn their plans or they’ll turn you into a toad.”
“There are no such creatures as orcs, and a dog followed me home.”
“You’ve only told me that a gazillion times and Here Doggie, Doggie.” Hildi jumped off of the mantel, her favorite perch, and zipped through the wall of the A-frame cabin in the foothills above Boulder. “Hey, it’s not a Doggie, it’s a Splotch.”
She plopped down cross-legged on the tiny, weed-infested lawn in front of the dog, off-white with patches of grayish brown. Splotch sat on the lawn substitute, panting slightly, staring her in the eye. Singular, for the dog had only one.