Lost Animals

I don’t normally link to my short stories here, but I’m proud of a new one called “Lost Animals” that went up earlier this week. It’s about a man hired by private clients to clear houses of ghosts, not using supernatural equipment but a baseball bat.

He’s been storming into abandoned homes, haunted offices, auto-repair yards, and even millionaires’ yachts all over the country, using aggression to overcome his own fears and maintain the upper hand.

The times ghosts truly scare me aren’t from the shock of a dead face staring up from the bottom of a basement staircase; I’m usually too drunk or high for that, too hyped up on aggression. I’ll simply charge at the thing, running after it into a root cellar or climbing a wooden ladder into an unlit barn attic to chase it away. The sights that genuinely unsettle me, that keep me awake at night, are the weird, demented loops I sometimes catch them in, the bleakness of a ghost’s new existence, the never-ending isolation of the afterlife, empty versions of ourselves stuck in routines that have lost all meaning.

After nearly two decades of this—scaring dead people out of their comfort zones—he experiences a slow change of attitude that affects his ability to do the job.

It’s only loosely architectural, but I thought I’d link it here anyway, as the story explores a wide range of spatial situations amenable to hauntings. Check it out, if you’re in the mood for an autumnal read at the height of summer.

[Photo in top image courtesy of U.S. Library of Congress.]

4 thoughts on “Lost Animals”

  1. I enjoyed your story Geoff. I worked almost 20 yrs as a gunslinger. US Marine infantry, Seattle beat cop, federal antiterrorism SWAT. I have been an effective tool of force and violence. Now in my mid forties, i am in grad school becoming a mental health counselor. I work with other combat veterans. Taking them on adventures in nature and talking. Probably you can see the parallels i felt between your story and my own. (I did not get paid as well though). I love the idea and imagery of wild land and abandoned buildings as a refuge for the ghosts, even the almost ghost of a ghost hunter. I also really enjoy the idea of humans taking on the roles we have assigned to gods, angels, or deities. A human who shepherds ghosts, provides them what they need to move on, even without knowing that would happen. I love the ghosts figuring out for themselves how to evolve, let go, or move on. There are no gods to do anything for or to us. No redemption, condemnation, or salvation but what we can create for ourselves and together. Thanks for the good read and all your other creations too.

    1. So glad this story resonated with you, from the abandoned buildings to the abandoned men. I wanted to portray someone who had been hardened not just by the world but, more specifically, by his own choices in that world, who gradually comes to his senses about how he interacts with or confronts other beings—people, ghosts, nature itself. Your new project, taking vets on hikes, sounds great, as well. Good luck with the grad degree, and thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.