top of page

How to deal with inconvenient guests

Written by Marina Melo

Edited by Lucas Rafael Ferraz

Translated by Natalle Moura

Copyedited by Vanessa Guedes

In three hun­dred years haunt­ing homes, noth­ing too ex­traordin­ary had happened to her. It was a job without great ex­cite­ment, like any other: some liv­ing be­ing moved into a private prop­erty and dis­turbed the peace of a re­spect­able spirit, so she was called to deal with the prob­lem. As she was a spe­cial­ist, only two nights used to be enough to do the job, al­though on some oc­ca­sions the per­son res­isted for about a month. There was even a case, an in­fest­a­tion par­tic­u­larly tough, in which she had to push a trouble­maker out of the second-floor win­dow. The down­side was that she had to put up with the guy’s haunt.

Then the cur­rent case arose. She was hired to haunt a fine co­lo­nial-style town­house loc­ated in the down­town area, the res­id­ency of a lady that was walled alive by her father cen­tur­ies ago. The poor wo­man just wanted a peace­ful rest, which she achieved for a few years, when her le­gend made people afraid to buy the house. Everything changed when, years later, the his­tory was for­got­ten and they de­cided to trans­form the build­ing into a pen­sion. That was when the in­va­sion star­ted.

The poor lady could no longer scare away the people, since nowadays little is as scary as the liv­ing them­selves. How­ever, when she, the spe­cial­ist, came into play armed with her ex­pert­ise and present­a­tion, aligned with the best con­tem­por­ary hor­ror movies, every guest was promptly ex­pelled. Well, ex­cept one.

He was kinda skinny, tall, and lanky, like a skel­eton, with deep dark circles un­der his eyes. Ini­tially, she thought that it could be some kind of make-up, like those used by people who like to feign be­ing dead either by fash­ion or life­style. But, as it turned out, it was just a chronic in­som­nia prob­lem. It was after three in the morn­ing and he was still awake, watch­ing a series in bed. She entered the wall, her ghostly fig­ure ap­pear­ing sur­roun­ded by a thick mist, as she al­ways did. He saw her, but he did not seem im­pressed by her usu­ally tri­umphal entry.

“I wondered if any of you would come today,” he said.

She moved to­ward him, in the best float­ing style — with bul­ging eyes and tousled hair in front of her face. She stopped and raised her squalid hands to his neck. The white night­gown slid from her arms, show­ing her swollen, trans­par­ent skin with pro­tuber­ant and sickly-look­ing veins.

“In fact, be­hind this whole theater, you are not that ugly.”

Her eyes widened more, now with shock all over them.

“What?” she un­in­ten­tion­ally asked.

“Prob­ably be­cause of the hair over your face,” he said, rais­ing his hand and push­ing aside the cur­tain of her thick black strands.

The ghost re­coiled. She was out of char­ac­ter and now it was go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to re­gain the scary pos­ture. She knew the situ­ation was com­plic­ated, but she didn’t ima­gine she would deal with that kind of prank­ster.

"I real­ized that you all ex­pect me to leave," he said, not giv­ing her time to com­pose her­self. “But, you see, the prob­lem is that I have no plans to leave”.

She crossed her arms.

“You will leave, will­ingly or not.”

“I'm not afraid of you, honey.”

She smiled, show­ing some pieces of rot­ten teeth.

“And do you think all I do is scare?”

For the first time, she saw a flash of fear in his ex­pres­sion. She took the op­por­tun­ity, mov­ing slowly.

“I steal souls. I throw them into the va­cuum of ex­ist­ence and leave the bod­ies adrift, lost, and empty”, she said, evok­ing an omin­ous breeze that pen­et­rated through the win­dow's cracks, howl­ing, and mak­ing the room lamp, at­tached only by a wire, wobble, and flicker. “I kill, but it is not a peace­ful death. Your soul will be trapped forever in a world of cold and dark­ness.”

She left the words to hang in the air to pro­voke the de­sired im­pact. His eyes were fixed on her as if ima­gin­ing the ter­rors he would ex­per­i­ence.

"Fine by me," he said at last.

The wind stopped.

“What was it?”

“I'm in a bit of a com­plic­ated situ­ation out there, you know?”, he jus­ti­fied him­self as if to apo­lo­gize. “There are some guys after me. You can't even ima­gine what they'll do if they catch me. So, I think I prefer this dark world of yours.”

"But ... But you're go­ing to die," she ar­gued, in­dig­nant.

“Die. We’re all go­ing to die, right? Well, you are not dy­ing any­more... Look, I know you must be frus­trated and such. But, between us, I think you take your­self too ser­i­ously.

“How so?”

“You know, this thing about fright­en­ing, about killing.”

She didn't know if he was brave or just too stu­pid.

“I am a ghost!”

“Ex­actly. Why don't you leave the world of the liv­ing and go have some fun?”

"Be­cause I have a job to do," she said, try­ing to main­tain her dig­nity. “An im­port­ant job.”

“Im­port­ant to whom?”

“To the souls who need me.”

“And what do you get out of it? A paycheck? Do you pay any bills? Do you owe rent?”

The ghost hes­it­ated for a mo­ment, but in­sisted:

“I like to scare. And I am the best at what I do. I conquered this po­s­i­tion with a lot of ef­fort and my hor­ri­fy­ing ap­pear­ance. It was not easy.”

“I don't doubt it. But the truth, dear, is that you work for free.”

She fell si­lent. In all these years, she had never thought of that. She re­ceived noth­ing, in fact; not even a thank you. She didn't know what her pay­ment would be like if she had one. She was just called, did her job, and fixed the prob­lem. She had gained some fame for her nat­ural tal­ent and, with that, she had only got­ten even more work. And that was what her etern­ity was all about. In a way, she was just a ser­vant.

She col­lapsed on the bed, her musty robes rust­ling.

“But I... I don't know how to do any­thing else.”

He sat down next to her.

“Eita, that was quite an over­state­ment! There must be some­thing you can do.”

“No, I have been do­ing only this since my first day. I killed and took the soul of the man who drowned me. That's how I got my own le­gend.”

“Well... You can travel. See the world. Have you ever been to Paris?”

“No... I never left town.”

“It's your op­por­tun­ity. Have you ever wondered? The whole world is yours; you don't even have to pay for a ticket, ac­com­mod­a­tions, or food. Just go float­ing over the sea. Or dis­ap­pear here and re­appear there, whatever you do. But it should be simple. You have all the time in the world after all.”

She got up from the bed. He was right. For whom she spent all this time haunt­ing houses? More than three hun­dred years and never had a day off. Much less a va­ca­tion. It was time to change her life. Or rather, life path.

“Where are you go­ing?” he asked, eye­brows raised.

"Paris," she said. “Or Rome. I al­ways wanted to visit the Co­los­seum; it is said that many people died there.”

“Good choice.”

“Well, good­bye. And thanks for the tip.”

And the ghost was gone, cross­ing the same wall through which she entered, but with much less fuss.

He watched her go and smiled, pleased with his im­pec­cable work. Some mis­sions were more com­plic­ated than oth­ers. Some­times, he had to im­pro­vise. But, at last, one more case of in­fest­a­tion was solved. Maybe now he could get some sleep. Be­cause, un­like the dead, he had bills to pay and would not go to Paris any­time soon.

Marina Melo

Mar­ina Melo is a writer from Re­cife and a fem­in­ist. She writes on the blog Do Fundo do Mar, has pub­lished the in­de­pend­ent novel “Um En­con­tro”, avail­able in Por­tuguese on Amazon, and the flash fic­tion "A Dama de Branco" (The Lady in White) through Faísca. She is part of the Re­cife writer’s group, Writ­ing Coven, a col­lect­ive of wo­men from the state of Per­n­am­buco.


Logo Eita! Magazine
bottom of page