Terrible Minds’ Flash Fiction: Corporate Abuse

Your House is Haunted

For years, it was just me knocking on strangers’ doors, saying, “Hi, my name is Kim Wyatt. Did you know that your house is haunted?” That question was usually answered with the other question, “Excuse me?” We would converse in several more questions, ending with one like, “Are you leaving or would you like to wait for the cops?”

I did find the occasional guy that asked me to please come in right away because if these goddamn cabinets don’t stop slamming themselves, no one’s ever gonna get any sleep. I’d buy a case of diet soda, set up my video camera, and just wait for the sun to rise.

What I learned really quickly is those people who say their house is haunted, those families who have a room in the house that is padlocked, because something is in that room that they just don’t want to feel, most of the time, those people aren’t kidding. No one really thinks it’s funny.

So after the first year, I had hours and hours of video-captured hauntings. My friends would say, “Don’t talk shit, Kim.” So I’d show them a clip of me sitting cross-legged on a wooden floor, slowly sliding out of frame. Steph’s response: “Nice trick, dude.” Or the clip of one hundred stuffed animals tumbling off a shelf onto the floor in an instant.

“Whoa! How’d you do that?”

“Well, that’s just it. I didn’t do anything.”

“You are so weird. Can I copy your trig homework?”

My parents said maybe I should try sports. I said maybe they should take me seriously.

When my friends left for college, I stayed home and took a job as a waitress. I kept doing the overnight haunting thing, with less frequency and eventually less enthusiasm. Next to no one would listen, and the ones who did responded by shoving their eyebrows up and down and saying, “Spooky stuff!”

Steph came home that first winter and threw a big party while her parents were away. She had learned to drink and everyone wanted to see her skills. I was like, well hello, have you guys ever seen a bedroom window shatter and white smoke appear and rush out of the hole like it was a vacuum cleaner? No? We’re just gonna do vodka shots?

The most striking part about this party, and really the whole point of what I’m saying, was Josh. Tall, built, stylish, great teeth, perfect laugh, sincere eyes. Seriously, like Steph brought home a movie star. What really had me interested, though, was the crowd he was drawing. Everyone wanted to hear the next perfect word out of Josh’s perfect lips.

I waited outside the bathroom door and when he came out I cut him off and said,

“Hi, I’m Kim. Do you believe in ghosts?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“No, really. Do you believe in ghosts?”

He looked around to make sure his fans weren’t around. “Yeah, really.”

“Do you want to see one?”

“Dude, are you fucking serious?”

Two days later we’re in a previously certified haunted house. Me, Josh, Steph, two other guys from Steph’s school. I didn’t really care who they are as long as my star was there. I told everyone to just ignore the camera. When the lights started flickering it was, “Nice one, Kim. Where’s the switch?” But then the footsteps started. It was two people running circles around us. Now it was, “WHAT THE FUCK, KIM?!!” What I couldn’t believe is that Josh was perfect.

He didn’t flinch a muscle. When the floorboards beneath us would rattle, his jaw would drop and he would say, “Holy shit.” For the first time since I had started all of this, I was picking the camera up off the tripod. And I was pointing it at Josh. It was like he would absorb the experience. In a room full of ghosts and people screaming for their lives, he stood like a rock, five senses wide open.

What I learned in the next few weeks was that hauntings aren’t nearly as interesting as someone acting like a badass in the middle of a haunting.

My regular houses started turning me away because they were weary of the local news teams gathered in their front yards. My instinct was to ask the crews to go away, but the reality is I loved seeing people fighting over my baby.

The next thing was the internet. After that, it was a full-fledged TV show. Like, a company actually paid us to do what we were already doing. Not like millions or anything, but enough that we didn’t have to do anything else.

Your House is Haunted finally aired on cable and what happened was Josh was a hit. His badassery translated extremely well on screen. So well, in fact, that he got a bunch of offers from other shows and studios. He didn’t accept these offers because Your House is Haunted said they would pay him more, take him to better houses.

We went to these better houses. And nothing happened. Well, that’s not entirely true. Some stuff happened like one of the sound guys went in the next room and scratched on the wall. And one time they brought in some cats to record the “quiet screams of children past.”

I told Josh about these old houses I never took him to that were legit full of spirits. We could go feel the real thing again. I told the show that we had drifted pretty far from what we were supposed to be. What they said was that I could continue on the show as a production assistant.

I came back home after the season wrapped. I like the overnights alone because it’s like the ghosts are taking time out of their nights just for me. I still bring a case of diet soda, but now sometimes I’ll have some whiskey too.


2 Comments on “Terrible Minds’ Flash Fiction: Corporate Abuse”

  1. I’m really enjoying these flash fictions; this one was great.

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