How Ghosts are Made

Death is supposed to be the last, great refuge for troubled minds. From ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and into the big black. It’s the blessed relief of personal extinction. The hidden regret and all-too-public shamings that cluttered up your fretful, spluttering half-life finally get snuffed forever.

But can those things ever truly be extinguished? Perhaps not really. Perhaps they simply lay with your rotting corpse, waiting to be unearthed all over again. It’s probably some gravedigger that does it — a sick sadist with a muckrake and an agenda who drecks through your spell of days like it’s a top priority WikiLeaks scandal that the entire universe must know every last gasp about.

So why does it feel like the universe already knows? Why the nagging guilt no matter how bone free your closet might actually be?

Your social media accounts don’t magically self-destruct within five seconds of you stiffing it. Those secret dick and clunge pics don’t clean up after themselves either. And those passive aggressive status updates you so artfully tailored for maximum jabbiness aren’t fooling anyone — least of all that one person who must never be named for fear of mutual friends finding out you’re just a bitter, judgemental prick.

The internet is the new universe, and it’s watching your every move like the silent, voyeuristic, omnipresent predator it is. Instead of looking out, we look in, and so does it — right inside to our collective core. And while it may have begun life as just another straw god we’ve fashioned for ourselves, this is one straw god that’s grown legitimately and malevolently all-powerful. The internet has the genuine capacity to not only destroy lives but also to completely unmake them.

That isn’t a boon for the cause of social justice by the way — not when you have pernicious shame-baiting disguised as entreaties for ‘correct’ ethics and behaviour. It makes me so mad. I hate the Twitter bullies, the Facebook assassins, and the faux progressives who are just as petty as the next person. An individual’s life can be cherry picked then ripped apart in the kangaroo court of misinformed opinion. Rest in peace? More like rest in pieces! And meanwhile, the self-righteous wolverines of ‘integrity’ continue to parade their brand of alleged egalitarianism within their echo chambers of uncritical acclaim.

“They never knew me.” That’s the nub of it. It’s the one thing we can all truthfully say. No one ever bothered to try to understand. They took a little snippet here, they took a little snippet there, and then decided these snippets were all there was to know about us. Never mind the rich, inner animateness we had going on. Egoists never care for bosh like that. They have no regard for any of the hopes, fears and innate humanity we may actually possess. All they need do is to poke their noses into our private affairs, sans context, and usher in complete ruin — all to declare another someone a moral failure.

So, yeah, this is why I’m still here. I cannot dissolve in mindless repose while this shit is going on. I cannot lie because they cannot let it lie. And what they say hurts me. It hurts those closest to me. The mutual backslapping sanctimony of those serial dogpilers keeps me tethered to this wretched mortal cliché. Yeah, I’m so fired up about it that I even left my cosy grave to go and buy myself a bible today. Me, a ghost, buying a ‘holy’ book! I shouldn’t even be here. I’ve got better things to do than to exist. I’ve had my time.

The internet is just the universe of our modernity, and god is… well, he/she/it hasn’t fully been discounted yet, as much as the human race might wish otherwise. God is the eternal poltergeist that haunts the darkest corners of our minds, a narcissistic tyrant who won’t let go, who displays a rapey kind of ‘love’ that keeps on taking until all that’s left is the detritus of hollowed out ghosts.

I’m going to burn this bible, god. That’ll show you, you spectral thug! I’ll rewrite your Wikipedia page, exposing who you really are, then lock it down so that the evidence cannot be removed or tampered with, and remains viewable for all time. I’ll shame you yet, though I no longer believe in your existence!

No, really, I don’t.

Now, please, just let me lie.

 

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

Authentica (Fragment #023)

Here you are!”

Maybe I’d plopped my notebook down a little too cocksurely, but I was feeling pretty confident. Hell, I’d been sweating over this essay for two whole nights, rummaging through the dullest monographs and sneezing up billows of agelong library dust.

The professor picked up my notebook with two fingers, kind of like it was a filthy toad. Well… actually, I consider toads pretty cool. Take, for example, Hypnotoad or Kermit. Or, even, Jin Chan. I remember, once…

“… plague!”

His harsh voice made me jump. Damn! It looked like I’d lost the plot again. I needed to concentrate. What the hell was he saying? Yes, toads were  The Second Plague’, but had I said something about toads out loud?

I raised my eyes and stole a look at his reflection in the dim windowpane. Then our eyes met. For a fleeting second it seemed as though his glance was flaring a bright orange, but when he turned to me, his eyes were yellow as always. This angry look was a storm warning.

“Too vague! Up in the air! It’s a mere dalliance with the topic, not an exploration!”

Why was he always on my case? But there was no sense in arguing… at least not now. This morning, I’d heard how Uranus had said something about the Moon being in Aries and that one should avoid open conflicts. (If someone had said to me some months ago that I would make decisions with an eye to this cosmographic crap, I’d have given them a Screw Loose sign. But this University can make anyone superstitious like the last pea goose in existence.)

I took my unfortunate essay and went to the door. I had almost stepped into the corridor when his acrid voice struck my ears.

“And don’t forget that using translations in research is  ‘mauvais ton’. If you want to get a decent result, you must work with authentic texts only!”

Huh? Ball and Tzara? In the original? I fucking like it!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

Come Unto Me (based on a true story)

I feasted my eyes upon the gorgeous frescoes that adorned the ceiling one more time, then turned to the exit. When I reached the wide doorway, I saw that today (to my great surprise) the forecasters had been right. There was a heavy rain.

Of course, I hadn’t taken an umbrella. Who can properly enjoy walking around one of the most splendid European capitals with unnecessary stuff in hand? One hand is for my camera, another hand is for ice-cream cones. A third is not a given.

I turned around with the intention of going back into the church and waiting out the storm. No such luck. A stodgy man in a black robe blocked the passage. In answer to my wordless question he pointed to the notice board. It stated that the canonical hour would be starting soon, so I went out to the big porch in the rain. There was no choice.

The porch was quickly filling up with people. The rear pushed at the front, perplexed as to why they would stand out in the downpour and not enter. Toward them moved ‘exiles’ like me who had been turned out of the building. A sullen acolyte stood at the centre of this live whirlpool like a hard-shelled bouncer at a night club doorway. It looked like no one was fitting the dress code for this private party today.

I lifted my face to the grey sky and inhaled the heavy, wet air. Some huge raindrops fell on my cheek. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. There’s always choice.

I covered my head with a leaflet detailing the schedule of canonical hours, and ran to a bar opposite the church. Thank god these sanctuaries are always willing to embrace and warm the sick and suffering. Amen.

 

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017