Ghost Story

Sampson had died several years before, so he really had no business worrying about Laura’s dating situation. It was ridiculous, and he knew that it was stupid. His superiors kept telling him that it was stupid. His friends kept telling him it was stupid. Even the little ghost kids who hung around him, bored, knew that it was stupid.

But he worried about it anyway. And before anyone thinks it was about true love conquering death or whatever, rest assured that, in life, he hadn’t even been sure where things were going with Laura. Sometimes he had a great time with her, but sometimes he just found her boring as hell.

For the record, she wondered about him too. In fact, if he’d stayed alive, she probably would have dumped him in a few months.

Of course, we’ll never know for sure. Maybe it really would have turned into true love over time. Or maybe it would have turned into the kind of resentful relationship where both partners just hang on so they don’t have to go to the trouble of finding someone new. Maybe Sampson or Laura would have prayed for death. Maybe they would have secretly hated each other and prayed for the other’s death. Maybe death was really for the best. We have no idea.

So why did Sampson keep obsessing about it after he was dead? He wasn’t entirely sure but thinking about her dating still irritated him. Though he realized that a large part of it was just to stave off boredom. It seemed more productive to worry about that, than just to settle into the banality of the afterlife.

He hadn’t really spent much time thinking about the afterlife during his actual lifetime. But he’d still expected something more exciting than what was actually on offer.

He reported to his superiors once a week. He was still on probation, because of the Laura situation. It was holding him back. Other ghosts who had died at the same time were already past the point where they had to report on their activities. They were allowed to haunt whoever they wanted and just keep it to themselves.

Of course, most of them didn’t even bother. They mostly just watched TV and played video games. They might read a little. In any case, they always seemed to be doing “research.” Sampson wasn’t even sure if he wanted to graduate to that level. Expectations were so low, that he might just bore himself… well, not to death, but he might just fall asleep.

There were a few ghosts who had done that. They had just fallen asleep. They’d been napping for a thousand years or so. They had haunted their people for a few years, and then decided that it was enough. So, they’d spent a few years reading or whatever, and then they’d dozed off. No one was sure if you could wake them up, but no one really tried. It just seemed cruel to wake them back up.

Regardless, Sampson kept his obsession to himself lately, knowing that the council thought it was stupid. He didn’t know if he was fooling anyone, but he went on about old bosses that he haunted and a kid who’d been mean to him in school.

But he was sure that the councillors knew that he was also spending a great deal of time haunting Laura. Well, not exactly haunting, because she never knew he was there—but he hung around anyway.

Just to be clear, he didn’t hang around when she was actually having sex. That would be creepy, and though he knew that the whole thing was kind of creepy anyway, that seemed to be too much. And besides, he was a ghost… being creepy was kind of a given.

But nonetheless, he just hung out on her dates. Lots of restaurants. You could tell a great deal about the guy by what kind of restaurant they took her to. Sampson let himself be very judgemental. Like the creepiness, it just seemed to go with the territory, so he didn’t even try to remind himself that most of these guys were just trying to do their best.

Of course, some of them really were just creeps. And when they were, he felt bad for her for having to deal with that. But she seemed to have a handle on it.

Then she met a guy that she really seemed to get along with. Sampson tried not to be too upset about it, but he was jealous. Then he chided himself and asked himself what he had expected. It had all been easier to deal with when she was dating losers, but the new guy was actually good. Sampson knew he’d have some weirdness that would show itself over time, but he also knew that she would put up with it.

It was around this time that the council called him up again to let him know that his obsession with Laura was known. He tried to put their minds at ease about it, but they were having none of it. They pointed out that Sampson should really be further along than he was, because he kept spying on her. He wasn’t even really “haunting,” exactly, just spying.

And even though Sampson kind of wanted to know what was happening with the new guy, he also kind of agreed with them. So, he promised to stop watching Laura, and decided he’d turn his attention to the boss he’d never really liked instead. After a few months of that, he realized that that boss had his own problems. Haunting him became tiresome and depressing.

By that time, he’d finally graduated to the next level, and he could haunt anyone that he wanted. But he wracked his brains and couldn’t think of anyone that he wanted to haunt. He started doing “research” instead.

That didn’t last very long. Sampson decided that that kind of stuff was fun to do after work, but without breaking it up with some actual work, it really wasn’t very satisfying.

So, he started to just pick a random person to haunt each day. And he didn’t even necessarily do bad stuff to them. He might actually help them out. They’d find the stuff they’d lost years ago, or something they’d been sure was broken would start working.

And then at the end of the day, Sampson would retire to his video games and feel pretty good about himself.