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Fire in a Haunted Theater

by on October 13, 2014

Madeleine’s boots scuffed noisily on the carpet of the dusty auditorium. Her hand brushed against a metal railing, and she felt a slight spark. Static electricity. Wasn’t that fun. Madeleine would’ve preferred to meet her source in a bright coffee shop, with lots of people milling about with their lattes, but her source was a ghost. He was, therefore, contractually obligated to meet her in creepy places like abandoned theaters or crumbling mansions. The place couldn’t even be brightly lit; apparently ghosts weren’t keen on shiny lights. So, the theater was so dark that she could barely make out the pale outline of her source floating eerily about the stage.  “Whyyyyy…” it intoned, “have you disturbed my spirit from its eternal slumber?”

“Oh, stuff it,” Madeleine said. “It’s me, remember? I’m not a Halloween tourist. I know who you are. You’re a two-bit burglar from 1856 who tried to break in some ancient tomb, completely ignored the warnings that said “hey, don’t rob this thing,” and got cursed by a mummy to roam the Earth forever, blah blah blah. Should’ve paid attention. Reap what you sow, and all that. My heart bleeds.”

“Youuuuu….” howled the Baleful Burglar, “take all the fun out of things.”

“Story of my life. So .Here’s the deal. You know people on the other side. Anyone you know who’s been ripped out of the time space continuum lately?”

He considered. “There was a Miss Pamela…”

“Percy, yeah. She’s my client. She’s a ghost now too. Thing is, no one remembers her being alive. No one. You see my problem. You can’t have a ghost when the living person didn’t exist, and I hate when people suddenly go non-existent without reason. So. You’ve been around. You know anyone else who had the same thing happen?”

The Baleful Burglar sat down grumpily in a chair. “I do not see why I should divulge the eternal secrets of the great beyond.”

Madeline glared. She hated using her powers for such skeezy things as interrogation, but she didn’t see how she could get him to talk otherwise. You couldn’t threaten a ghost physically. You couldn’t offer to go easy on him later, put in a good word with the police. He was already dead. The worst had pretty well happened. But there were a few things you could do. “You want to keep haunting this theater, yeah? Nice place, perfectly creepy, just the thing? Suppose this theater caught fire.”

“You would not dare,” said the ghost, alarmed.

“Wanna bet? I’m Gaseous Girl. I have a biological hazard in my throat, and I’m not afraid to use it. One burp, and this place goes.” She swiveled towards a nearby curtain. “Ten seconds.”

“You would not dare.” 

“Five seconds.” She grabbed a soda can from her belt, popped the tab, and took a quick drink as a primer. She felt the bubbles fizzing all the way down. “Better talk, or your haunt’s getting torched.”

“You would be committing an arson!”  the Baleful Burglar protested. “That is a crime!” 

“Public service. This place is condemned anyway. No one would care. Three.”

“I would haunt your dreams forever in retribution for this outrage!”

Madeline rolled her eyes. “From ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord, deliver us. One. That’s it.” She prepared to blast fire at the curtain.

“Stop!” cried the Baleful Burglar. “I will tell you. I knew of one other person who suffered the same fate as Miss Percy. His name was Edward Brook-Wilkins, and he haunts the cemetery on Seventh Street.”

“Of course he does,” Madeline sighed. “Would it kill you people to haunt someplace non-creepy?” When the Baleful Burglar did not reply, she turned around. The ghost had gone.

Previous stories in this arc include Disappearance, and Aftermaths

  1. I swear to goodness, sometimes when I’m having an awful day I can read one of your stories and just laugh through the whole thing. From the Baleful Burglar to Gaseous Girl, this one is perfect-o 🙂

    • That’s what I’m here for, spit-takes and relief from awful days. 🙂

      I should mention, while the Baleful Burglar is new, Gaseous Girl is sort of a classic character around these parts. She was the first quirky superhero, possibly even the first quirky character I created (unless one counts Tamsin the Incredible Flying Frisbee).

  2. This made me smile. Love the characters.

  3. Great story 🙂 Though I was kind of looking forward to an epic burp from Gaseous Girl…

  4. I adore Madeleine’s attitude ! Your ghostie almost stands up to her, too – a worthy adversary. As always I am infinitely entertained, not only by the story but by how expertly you combine the most unlikely ingredients to produce a fabulous read.

    • I suspect the Baleful Burglar may be making more appearances. Every superhero needs a nemesis. 🙂

  5. Now there’s a showdown! Talk or I’ll belch this place on fire. It must be a lot of fun to be inside your head! I think the Baleful Burglar is a perfect name for a ghost. And I can’t wait to see where this space time continuum mystery leads.

    • My head is a weird place to be, honestly. Sometimes I don’t even know where this stuff comes from.

  6. You do funny stories very well, Michael! Totally unexpected twists here. Great work. I’ll have to check out the other two in the arc, as I missed those.

  7. Fun story! Love the concept of threatening to take a place down with a burp (and here I thought my husband was the only one who could do that 🙂 ) By the way, I like that you used skeezy – it’s a fun word to say!

  8. Haha! So clever. Gaseous Girl sounds mighty dangerous. I love the notion of someone aggressively interrogating a ghost. That’s pretty original. You kept me interested and chuckling the whole way through.

  9. A funny Ghost Story… go figure. Started my morning off perfectly… I’ll have a smile all day.

  10. Your stories always seem to roll effortlessly. You must be just full of them and each one is so witty and fun. This one was no exception – from characters to special powers. And as much as I love your usual space-hopping, I did enjoy that this one had a bit of history in the mix.

    • You are too kind. 🙂 I get the feeling that Madeleine’s story will be taking more of a historical turn, given the ghosties and ghoulies and all, so there’ll be more of that coming up. 🙂

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Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, LC

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