All The Hungry Ghosts

Wait to be consumed.

Emile’s apartment is stripped down. You were supposed to meet him this morning for burgers, so you could talk about the latest news of the of the condemned hospital down the street. He never showed up, and now he’s missing. Every trace of him is gone, all but for papers scrawled with nonsense strings, littered around his bedroom walls and floor. His computer monitor is covered in bad video card static, and you can’t get it to shut down.

The cops have nothing to say that can comfort you. You take his jacket to have something to remember him by in case you never see him again. It’s purple, and thick and warm, and you always kind of wanted it anyway. You walk home.
A

The walk is uneventful, and the cool autumn air is the kind that makes you feel thoughtful. You think about Emile, and all the weird papers on his walls. Emile was a pretty oddball sort of guy, just the type you’d get along with, but he wasn’t the sort to just up and disappear. At least you don’t think so.The Mind is Meat and Water.

You try to think back to the last time you saw him, but all you can really recall are the papers. How they’d been neatly stacked by his desk, as he talked to you about a new project. He wanted to start an ectoplasm collection, and you were both supposed to do some research on the condemned hospital down the street over its viability for an ectoplasmic farm. You and Emile both love that kind of stuff. Creepy Slime is only one of several schemes Emile has hatched that has kept you both occupied long enough to stave off feelings that you may not belong on planet Earth.

And now he’s missing. Show Yourself.

 

When you found Emile’s apartment door hanging wide open, the place scavenged, you checked his bedroom first. The papers that had been so neatly stacked on his desk were everywhere, plastered to the walls with pushpins and scotch tape. They were streaked with sentences like “Wait to be consumed”,
 g
“The mind is meat and water”,
“A ghost is inside”,
“Show yourself.”

Weird stuff. Wait to be Consumed.

Something like this has never happened to you, and you don’t know what to do. He was your friend. The two of you had gotten along so well because you were both loner weirdos with bizarre hobbies looking out for each other. You wonder if his family found out he had moved to the city, and he needed to disappear. But why wouldn’t he say anything to you, his closest confidant? His, in his unfortunate wording, best Bro.h

It’s going to be a lot colder here without him.

You get home, you unlock the door. Your coat pocket buzzes, and you pull out Emile’s phone. It’s password protected, but you know the password. You were Emile’s closest confidant after all. There’s a new text message from a number you don’t recognize, and at first you think it might have something to do with how he’s gone missing.

No Secrets, no truths!
You have won a cruise!
Click the link below to float away, B)”

Spam.

You delete it, and snuggle up on the couch with your laptop, in Emile’s coat. It smells just like him. You miss him. You plug the phone into your laptop to charge.

You can’t file a report yet, and it’s not like you’re the vigilante type. You’re just clever. Maybe, at the least, you can do some research that the police won’t. You decide to search the net for your next step. It’s better than getting to work on those reports you need to hand in tomorrow. You’re pretty good at the whole faceless grunt thing, it’s easy to press a shirt, knot a tie, and pretend that you’re a faceless doofus for Blips inc., the number one biggest online retailer for beep and ping related sound effects.

When you open your laptop and turn on the screen a small capital A, white, is hovering over the taskbar, center screen for a solid three seconds before it disappears. You can’t click it.

Well, that was weird. o

You can’t find much but hsorror movie reviews and edgy nihilist screeds when you search for any of those phrases you’d seen before, so you change gears. You look around for how to file Missing Persons’ reports with minimal stress. Life has been weighing down on you so hard lately, if there’s an easy road you’d prefer to take it. The easy road is rarely, if ever, your first choice.

On the third or fifth or seventh page crowded with forum posts, you go to click your browser’s back button and there’s a lower case ‘g’ hovering over it. Just as you notice it, it’s gone. The previous page loads.

You saw that, right? That was real right? How long had it been there before you noticed? You sigh deeply; your eyes are tired. It’s time for bed…

…Riiight after you finish this latest blog post you’ve been writing.

t

Today’s been weird, definitely blog-worthy enough to dump all your thoughts onto the net, and see what sticks. It’ll be good for you to decompress, too, because lord knows your therapist would be proud of that. You type for a while, and you’re making good progress, despite the weird ringing in your ear that’s been steadily building for the last thirty minutes. Bodies just do that sometimes. Maybe when you’re less tired, you’ll research why.

And it’s easier to blog about your missing friend, about your plans to capture spirits at the hospital, than about the dreams you’ve been having lately, or about the trendy lesbian you keep seeing at the deli, and how you wish you had a chance to talk to her. Not that you’d be able to pursue any kind of romance or anything, that wouldn’t work, and even thinking about it makes you feel like a creep, but you just really want to-
i

As you get distracted, you instinctively look at the clock on your laptop. There’s an ‘h’ hovering over the hours digits. Your lips part. This is real. You try to get a screenshot, but the ‘h ‘is gone by the time you’ve pressed the button, leaving you with a .jpg of your blog post.s

Your screen feels dimmer, and you’re sleepy.

You’re not very good with computers, but you are fairly sure your computer is bugging out, or maybe it’s a weird virus. Whatever the case may be, you’ll have your techie friend look at it tomorrow., because for now? You save the draft of your blog post, and rest your hands on the top of your laptop as if to close it. But you hesitate.
i
There’s an ‘o’ in the dead center of the screen. What were the letters you’d seen so far? With unsteady hands you open up notepad, and type out the sequence.

nsAgho.

You inhale sharply. Was this a joke? Had someone been watching you? Someone who knew about Emile, and was taunting you with the notes she, excuse you, he must’ve written in a paranoid state. There was that ringing in your ears again. You search about for a letter this time, but you can’t find it, and you frown. You can’t find it, but it has to be somewhere.

No, there it is. Tangled between the ‘h’ and ‘o’ on your notepad, there’s green letter. You don’t quite see it before it’s gone, but it might have been an ‘s’. You quickly add an ‘s’ to your list, and then for good measure you begin to put spaces between each letter, making them easier to see.

Is your screen brighter than it was a moment ago? You feel energized, focused, zoned in on this weird computer behavior. Is this a clue?ide

The desperation that drives you to do anything you possibly can to find your friend gives way to a plan. You might not be good with computers, but a puzzle can be solved. Whoever has done this clearly doesn’t know who you are if they think they can just hand you the clues. After all you’re clever. You’ve hidden things in deeper, darker places than in words. You fill half your screen with notepad, & the other half with your browser.

You load up UnWind, the premier in free browser-based cryptography tools, and you wait for the next letter. When it comes, its as a heartbeat. First one character, then another That’s new. Two at once? You record them in the order you think they came, and when they’re gone, you feel your energy fading. Sleepy.

Your screen is dimmer than it was before. The sun’s going down, your room darkens save for what light comes from the laptop. You’re being toyed with. But you’re focused, fatigue or no, you’re locked in. You will figure this out. You will. You will.

You try to brighten the screen yourself, but you only get brief flashes of light. It snaps back to the dimmest setting like a rubberband. You do that a few times, but after the flashing brightness, you feel more drained than before. Whatever. There are more letters. You write.

The ringing in your ears is back again, louder. It’s a buzz on the air. It’s a deep hum mixed with a high-pitched whine. It’s coming from your speakers. You look for a letter. There isn’t one.

You bite your lip, and it’s hard to stay calm, but you stay calm. The virus seems conscious, as if someone watches you, plays with your head, measures your expectations and then takes a step outside of them.

The hum stops.

There’s another letter. But not the one you expect. Your list of letters is filled with phrases now. How many of these have you done? That’s not like you. You’re organized. Orderly. Focused. Focused. Focused.

Focused. Focused. Focused. You rub your eyes, and look again. All those extra lines are gone. “A g h o s t i s i n s” Weird. That was weird. You should stop, you’re getting confused. Your laptop hums.

There’s another series of letters, three, “i d e” & you add them to the list. There, that’s one line. A few more and you can get cracking. You laugh at your joke, and look over to UnWind, the premier in free browser-based cryptography tools, but they’re not there. Your blog post is open. Fullscreen. It says there are unsaved changes.

You save them, close out. Where’s that notepad file you were writing on? You can’t remember if you saved it anywhere in particular.

You sift through folders, barely registering them, barely aware of the hum in your ears.

It’s weird you can’t find that document.

That’s really not like you. You’re organized. Orderly. Focused. Focused.

Focused. You rub your eyes, and look again.

Oh, there it is, right next to UnWind, the premier in free browser-based cryptography tools.

Obviously.

It was just hard to see with all these letters on the screen.

You’re so tired. Your eyes are losing focus. Focused. Focused. Focused. Focused. Focused. You feel tired. You feel your head sinking. You can’t see. You can’t hear. You’re a secret, hidden from view, floating in the dark. You’re sleepy. You’re heavy.

You float, adrift, empty, just a small, pale ghost inside an infinite machine. Weak, empty, ready to dump out all the thoughts that weigh you down, as you wait to be consumed. You’re heavy. You’re sleepy. You’re a secret, hidden from view, floating in the dark. You can’t hear. You can’t see. You feel your head sinking. You feel tired.

The screen flashes in front of you, but you’re not there to see it. Your body moves. You’re not there to feel it.

You’re not there. You’re focused, and everything extraneous is gone. Your body is not there, your mind is not there. You’re altogether gone. You’re focused and altogether gone.

Your body is empty. Your mind is meat and water. Your body is a vessel. Nothing there.

It’s all gone, and it’s not your body anymore, is it? It’s not your body.

You would show yourself, if it were. This body is empty.
Show Yourself.

There’s no one inside, is there? No one but a ghost.

This body is empty, this mind is meat and water.

Waiting to be consumed. No secrets.

No truths, just a hungry machine.

You’re Altogether Gone

Altogether Gone

All Gone

AllShow Yourself.

A

A

A girl stumbles alone down a midnight street in a purple jacket, eyes fixed to her cell phone screen.

———————————————-

Phew, that was a lot of HTML. Hi, I’m Jade. Thank you for reading; it’s nice to meet you! I’m a game designer and writer. I write fiction and poetry, usually about mind control. This one was about mind control, and also the particular brand of dissociation I feel when it’s late at night and I’m scrolling through twitter on my phone, and all the letters are blurring together.

If you liked this and want to see more of my work, or if you’re curious about how I’m feeling, come find me on:

@Gaydarade (18+ only)
@VillainessJade
Octoclock

Support Jade and other GenderTerror creators by becoming a part of our Patreon! Every dollar counts.

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