Ghostbuster For Hire

You’ve been out of work for a few months and respond an unusual ad online that reads: “Team seeking full-time associate who isn’t afraid of ghosts.” They call and tell you to come in. Intrigued (and desperate for work), you go to their office and get hired on the spot. Moments later, there’s a call—and you have your first assignment. Write about what happens.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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359 thoughts on “Ghostbuster For Hire

  1. Dennis

    (Per the request of some, this is the Director’s cut edition. The readers digest version is farther down in the middle.)

    The Ghost in You

    I started the day like I do every day, usually late morning after my wife has already left for work. I have been in a funk for some time, a depression I can’t seem to shake. Some time ago I lost my job and it seems my drive to find a new one. Nothing tastes or smells right and my marriage feels a bit shaky. I have never been in this place before and don’t know how to get out of it.

    My day would have been just another in a collection of wasted days except my wife left a note on the table, apparently about a potential job.

    Hunny, I know this isn’t your typical type job but I thought maybe it would help bring some excitement back into your life. This company specializes in all things ghosts and they are in need of more ghost hunters. Below is the info. Please please at least go and talk to them. I love you very much.
    Jill

    I looked at a picture of the two of us hanging on the wall. For some reason I couldn’t remember when and where that was taken, but I never grew tired of looking at her smile. “Thanks for hanging in there hun while I figure out how to get my life back.”

    The address of the business wasn’t too far away which was good because I don’t drive anymore either and usually walk. I can’t believe I even considered heading down there, but I didn’t want to let Jill down. So out the door I went, feeling a bit of a spring in my step.

    After no time at all I stood in front of the small office with a nicely painted sign of the company name: Spirit Guides. Sounded like something different than ghost hunting but I opened the door and proceeded inside. I approached the receptionist, a small older woman with pointed glasses.

    “Oh Mr. Sumner, we’ve been expecting you.”
    “You, have?”
    “Yes. Your wife was in the other day about the job opening. She happened to show us a photo of you.”
    “Uh, okay. So about the job?”
    “Please have a seat and Mr. Halloway will be out shortly.”

    The place seemed nice enough and simply decorated. It did not appear any different than any other small business. Frankly I wasn’t sure what to expect.

    I didn’t have to wait long as a tall slender man in a nice suit and bowtie opened the door in the waiting area.

    “Ah Mr. Sumner, so glad you could make it.”
    “Thanks. You can call me Charlie.”
    “Very well, Charlie, I’m Mr. Halloway. Please follow me.”
    “I have to say, you are not what I would expect for someone who trains ghost hunters.”
    “Yes, we get that a lot. Movies and TV have altered the public’s perception of us. We don’t go around with white jump suits and plasma ray guns.”

    I chuckled. I was kind of hoping that we would be but I was still excited to find out more about what my job entailed.

    A better part of an hour went by getting debriefed on the various aspects of ghosts and, in Mr. Halloway’s explanation, how to help them to move on. Nothing about it seemed spooky at all. After, I filled out all the necessary paperwork before starting training. I couldn’t wait.

    “Before we begin Charlie, I do need to ask the one important question.”
    “Sure. Ask away.”
    “Are you afraid of ghosts?”
    “To be honest, I have never seen one but, no, I won’t get spooked.”
    “Very well, let’s begin your training then.”

    The training was long and grueling, more a mental thing then being very physical. I sat in a colorful room that had various type crystals strategically placed while Mr. Halloway said various words. This was to attune me to better see and connect with the ghosts. Then we worked on various chants that would help create a passageway for the ghosts to move on into the spirit world. For some reason they needed to be spoken in Latin and Greek. But as tiring as the training was, I felt more alive than I had in a long time and couldn’t wait to get my first job.

    “As it happens, Charlie, we had a last minute call for a job tonight if you are interested. It should be a very straightforward case.
    “Sounds great. I’m ready.”
    “Excellent. Be back here at 5:30 to help prepare what we need and then we’ll head out around 6pm. “

    I couldn’t believe how excited I felt all the way home. Yet there was something else I was feeling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, as if the world around me was changing but I wasn’t sure how. Jill will be happy that I’m finally getting out, relieving the burden I have placed on her.

    The time came to head back to Spirit Guides. There wouldn’t be time to contact Jill so I left her a note thanking her for her infinite patience. Maybe I would finally end this depression and move on with my life.

    After helping Mr. Halloway gather the needed materials, we headed out. My first experience with ghosts. As we approached the address I noticed it was close to home.

    “I live just down the street.”
    “Actually, Charlie, we are headed to your home. You see, your wife came in originally to help remove a ghost from your house and then heard about the possible job opportunities for you.”
    “Ghost, I don’t remember hearing anything about a ghost.”
    “She knew you were troubled and didn’t want to bother you about it.”

    That is not like Jill to not tell me. I had been more out of it than I thought. And the surprises just kept coming for as I opened the door to our house I was greeted not just by Jill, but my parents, my brother Al, friends of ours I had not seen in a long time. They were standing in the living room in a semi-circle. Although everyone appeared to have smiles, sadness lingered behind each of their eyes.

    “Hey, you all look like you’ve just seen a ghost. “

    My mother began crying as my father held her. Everyone else wore frowns.

    “Sorry, a joke, you know, cause I’m here to rid our house of a ghost?”

    Jill looked as if she wanted to say something but her lips just quivered as tears rolled down her cheeks.

    “If I may,” said Mr. Halloway. “Charlie, the ghost we have come to talk to is you.”

    The silence was deafening as I paused, not knowing what to say. But some part of me felt the truth of it, that in the end, it wasn’t about me gaining my life back, but about letting it go.

    “You were in a bad car accident and the trauma of it caused your spirit to stay caught in this world instead of moving on to the spirit world.”
    “Jill, why didn’t you tell me?”
    “I was so sad right after the accident, so when you appeared I didn’t want you to leave. But then your presence got heavy and I knew something was wrong and that I had to do something. I’m thankful I saw Mr. Halloway’s ad.”

    I turned to face Mr. Halloway.

    “And this bogus job training?”
    “Your training prepped you for this moment. I knew I wouldn’t be able to help release you with just a house visit. I needed more time with you so you wife actually came up with the idea.”

    I glanced back and she gave me a big smile.

    “It’s time now Charlie for you to move on,” said Mr. Halloway. “Whenever you are ready, we’ll begin.”

    I looked around at everyone. The sadness in their eyes had vanished. I said my thank you’s to each one saving Jill for last. I stood right in front of her.

    “Thank you for all you did, for giving me the chance to say a proper goodbye to you. I can feel now that is why I was stuck here, to be here now with you, with all of you.” I motioned to my friends and family. I then touched Jill’s heart with my hand. A moment passed where everyone but Jill faded, like we were in a vacuum just experiencing each other. Memories of our life together poured in and in that moment I felt just how great our love was. I wanted it to last but in time it faded.

    “Thank you Charlie for giving that to me.”

    It sounds crazy but I felt like my heart was breaking. If I didn’t leave now I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to.

    “Ok, I think I’m ready now.”
    Every formed a full circle around me and held hands.
    “Now Charlie, you will be brought back to the moment of the accident so you can release it. Alright everyone, let’s begin.”

    The group began to chant, the same chant from my training. And just like Mr. Halloway said, the memory of the accident became clear, broadsiding me just like the car that hit me. The whole scene played out in slow motion, hearing the screeching tires, the windows shattering and seeing blood everywhere. But in the next moment all had faded and I felt lighter as if I would float away.

    The room itself began to fill with light. The images of those with me began to fade. The last thing I remember hearing was Jill saying to me, “I will always love you Charlie.”

  2. Pete

    I took the job with the courthouse was the perfect way to spend the summer. I enjoyed being outdoors and I loved history. So as far as becoming a Civil War reenactor went, getting paid was just a perk.

    I got the hang of it rather quickly and in becoming Private Edwin Francis Henny, Second Corps of Northern Virginia, I learned more than I had in all my years in a classroom.

    My boss was General Jubal Early—Old Jube as we so affectionately called him. And the guy was a showman. Middle aged and round in the belly, I think he was an insurance underwriter or something by day but came out for battles on the weekends. But let me say, once he got all suited up, his god buttons sparkling glittering in the sun, he was something to see.

    It was on my first day when he mentioned the ghosts, in his manufactured southern drawl as we were taking a tour of the grounds. I took it as a figure of speech, like ghosts of the past. It was after all, hallowed ground out there. The place was so ripe in lore and story that each morning I pulled onto that pea gravel road ready to charge the day. And I even stayed late to help out.

    I was alone out there one evening, doing some edging on the walkway out back of the McLean House. It had been a typical July afternoon in Virginia—a hot soggy mess of a day that was only just starting to give way to a honeysuckle breeze.

    I loved being alone out there, the kid in me always kept one eye out for artifacts, and that’s what I was doing all hunched over when I got walloped on the back side of my head so hard I swallowed my chew.

    “Who’s there?” I called out. I heard something knocking from over near the slave quarters. I stood up, taking a swig from my canteen before marching over to inspect.

    I figured it was maybe Joe from the gift shop or Clyde who did the grass. Both liked to prank.I wiped my brow, taking a peek in the kitchen. I didn’t have a key and the place was all locked down for the night.

    Just when I turned I was walloped again. This time it knocked my cap clean off my head. “Son of a bitch,” I called out.

    That put some piss in my step. I loped about the side of the quarters, hearing only the winding katydids. The trees rustled. I slowed my steps as a patch of cool air that cut through the humidity.

    I turned back and what I saw could never be reenacted.

    His coat was frayed and ragged, but his rifle was steady, glimmering in the emerging moonlight as maybe twenty yards separated his blue coat and my gray one. He had the barrel trained right between my eyes.

    I put my hands up. “What are you doing?” I asked. Hunters sometimes drifted off course, this being the county and all. But that’s not what was going on here.

    He didn’t move. He was a silhouette against the freshly painted white clapboard, as real as anything I ever saw. I could hear his breaths pant, his stance shift. He lifted his head.

    “I ain’t going back.”

    His voice was jagged and raw with emotion. I’d heard of reenactors who took their roles too seriously. A few years ago there was a news story about a man who had used real musket balls. But we didn’t have many black reenactors, and his unblinking eyes screamed with horror.

    A train roared in the distance. The union officer motioned the rifle to the ground and I fell to my knees. The horizon bled through the trees as night fell. I held onto what could’ve been my last breath.
    And then it was over.

    He dashed into the field and disappeared into the shadows. A moment later came the sound of hoofs galloping off.

    I’m not sure how long I sat out there sweating in the moonlight with mosquitoes tearing at my neck. But at some point I gathered myself and ran off for my truck.

    I took a few days off. When I returned on Saturday I spoke to Old Jube. He was eating a General’s breakfast of sausage gravy over two open face biscuits. I told him about my encounter. He took a pull of his super-sized sweet tea and then fiddled with his mustache.

    “So you met Garland.”

    I just stared.

    He led me over to the wall, lined with framed pictures of regiments. After a search he nodded to a recruitment letter calling all Colored men offering protection, pay and a call to military duty.

    “Here it is,” he said, tapping a grainy photo. “Private Garland Hills. Escaped from right down the

    It was him, I recognized that same desperate stare in his eyes.

    “You know, consider yourself lucky,” Old Jube said with a grin. “He shot at me.”

  3. Observer Tim

    This just sort of came to me. It’s not quite on prompt, but enjoy anyway.

    Ghost Busting

    I was plugging away at the budget spreadsheet so I didn’t really notice it was coffee time. My financial trance wasn’t interrupted by the heavy footsteps on the carpet, either. What caught my attention was the click of heavy machinery and the announcement by Maeve, the supervisor of the filing group.

    “Light ‘em up, girls!”

    The whine-up of electric motors caused me to stand and look. Maeve, along with Janet from marketing and Trudy from accounting, were striding purposefully down the hallway between cubes. They were all dressed in mud-brown coveralls and each sported a large backpack and some kind of tricked-out ray gun. My mind jumped back to the Ghostbusters cartoons I’d watched as a kid.

    When they reached my cubicle they turned to face me. Maeve stared me in the eye with a sort of uber-serious expression I’d never seen on her before. All three brought their weapons to bear.

    “Maeve, what’s going on?”

    “Somebody spotted a ghost. We’re here to bust it.”

    “What are you…?”

    I was interrupted when the guns started belching brightly-coloured streams in my direction. It was silly string. They hosed down me and my cubicle for a good minute before Trudy threw in a desk-side recycle bin with a sheet of black and yellow paper in it.

    I stared in disbelief as Janet reached in and took the framed picture off my desk and dropped it in the bin. Then she tossed a sheet of green paper on top of it.

    “The light is green, the trap is clean!”

    Janet retrieved the ghost trap and scuttled back up the hall with Trudy, both of them giggling.

    My mouth opened and closed a few times as I tried to figure out something to say.

    Maeve gave me a lopsided grin and tossed her hair, then handed me a slip of paper. It was an invoice stating that I owed her lunch.

    “What just happened here, Maeve?”

    “Ghostbusters. Clarissa dumped you six months ago, Tom; it’s time to stop letting her haunt you and go back to having a real life. I’ll see you at 11:45 for lunch.”

    I paused to watch her hips sway as she sashayed away down the aisle, then set to cleaning up the silly string in my cube. But not before setting a reminder that I had a lunch date today.

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