The ghost stories of yore have lost their impact, in the modern age. Stories about hauntings and spirits out for revenge have lost their impact after decades of low-quality movies, and the power of ghost stories around a campfire have lost their charm in a time of smartphones and microwave s’mores. So here are a few modern ghost stories.
You have a friend. He’s odd, but it’s understandable. He’s pasty, doesn’t like going out, and seems to live on the internet between the hours of 6pm and 6am exclusively. He’s polite, and you guys always tease him for the edgy, emo look he always has. He’s got a lot of gothic jewellery and you always tell him he’s trying too hard but he just chuckles and ignores it. One day, there’s an incident at uni. Someone was assaulted, and there’s a bit of spilled blood, and two pinpricks on their neck. There’s talk of rabid animals, and they get a vaccination. But something goes wrong. They get paler and paler, and weird allergies start developing. Garlic and sunlight. Then your friends get paler, until everyone around you is obviously a vampire. You realised as soon as the fang marks appeared, but it gets worse. You get a romantic proposal from him, and he expects you to be swept off your feet. As you feared, you are stuck in not only a vampire story, but you are stuck in a badly-written, romantic vampire story.
You have a rhythm to your day. Wake up, shower, get dressed, breakfast, work, lunch, work, get home, dinner, TV, sleep, wake up. Every day has the same rhythm, the same meaningless work, the same jokes with the same people shared around the same cliché water cooler that nobody even uses. Even your weekends are the same. Every Saturday you crack open a cold one with the boys and go to the same clubs with the same techno music and the same overpriced beer. Every Sunday you shake off the hangover with the same brunch order at the same café and the same soccer mum is ignoring her crying baby. Wake up, same, work, same, wake up, same, work… One day, there’s a faint beating in your ears. Maybe it started today, maybe you just never noticed it. But it was a weird beat. Every time you moved, every action you made, it would beat. And that was fine – you were happy with the pattern you lived in. Slowly, it grew louder. The beating in your ears was no longer something you could ignore. Slowly, you found yourself unable to change. Everything happened to your beat. One day, you realised that it was all the same. That nothing had changed. That nothing could change. You have a rhythm to your day. Wake up, shower, get dressed, breakfast, work, lunch, work, get home, dinner, TV, sleep, wake up…
It’s subtle, at first. You forget where your phone is when using it. You lose your grip and drop it on your face while lying in bed. Things don’t seem right. You keep making typos and saying things you don’t mean. Messages are sent that you don’t remember. Slowly, people stop responding to you, things don’t send when you have full signal, and weird shit starts happening. You wake up to find a message addressed to yourself: sWAP. You get clumsier, and things start falling through you. People are distracted on their phones and don’t notice what you do. Something seems…off about your phone – the charge lasts longer than it used to, and it’s coursing with static every time you touch it. You think you’re going crazy, but it seems hungry. Alive. Watching. Slowly, your phone grows, as you fade away, losing touch with reality, tethered only to the phone that now inhabits a knock-off of your body, face-down and glued to social media. You look around. It wasn’t people distracted on their phone. Those weren’t people.
Oh, being ghosted on Tinder. That always sucks.