Elements of Horror #2: Ghosts


In honor of this wonderful annual season – being October, the month of Halloween, scary scares, frightful frights and ghoulish fun that will send waves of goosebumps honking in terror across your skin – I launched a new series of articles called Elements of Horror – in which I’ll unpack various characters or elements I used in some of my horror stories! This time, our topic is ghosts – the restless spirits of the dead!

Do aliens have ghosts? Well, I suppose that’s a difficult question – since people are still arguing about whether or not aliens themselves exist! Still, while the academic jury (the ones who still turn their noses up at evidence like electronic voice phenomena, or full-bodied apparitions or other anomalies caught on video) is out – I’m pretty sure they do… at least, every bit as likely as humans do!

[Incidentally, in order to see the rest of these articles in this series, click on the category name Elements of Horror !]

In my own experience, I’ve encountered anomalies – for which there can’t be any other explanation than ghosts as spirits of people no longer alive – so I’ve always been fascinated with them. For example, we currently share our own residence with no less than 3 distinct entities. One appears to have a habit of playing with doors – either opening or closing them at all hours of the day or night, and our cats often appear to be reacting to something we can’t see – and there’s the time one batted a ball across the lounge carpet – and it came right back as if batted back by something we couldn’t see! I could actually write a lengthy article on our Spooks, but this isn’t really the place for it! *wink*

Being a life-long sci-fi fan, I longed to write something that overlapped sci-fi and horror – and when I set out to do this, zombies were the first thing that came to mind! The only issue I had doing this, was figuring out how to make it work within my two already existing series, Galaxii and Quantum. The former is more action and suspense oriented, and the latter is more comedy action and drama (“space opera”) focused.

In order to do this, I started a whole new series of books – and called it “Panic! Horror In Space“! There are two books in the series so far, with a third still on the production line. Both books (“Static” and “Life Signs“) contain ghostly elements and relate some pretty hair-raising tales of spooks in space!

In order to try and make up for losing most of his crew to zombies, Captain Stuart Flane must take a team of paranormal investigators from a famous TV show to Floridia-7 – including Commodore Peters’ favorite nephew – known virtually everywhere as probably the scariest, most haunted abandoned Terran mining facility in the whole of the Terran Empire! In fact, the facility has been completely shut down and partially reclaimed by nature since it was abandoned almost half a century ago!

On the way to Floridia-7, it becomes quickly apparent that things are not what they seem – the team members – in particular Mak Sagan, who is the face of “Specter Adventures” recognized across more star-systems than Flane can count – appear to be suffering a bout of extremely bad luck. It’s almost as though something – or a few somethings – have been following them around from the scene of one awful negative paranormal investigation to the next! Sagan reviews his own recorded voice-notes for the show, and has taken to ignoring the horrifying E.V.P’s of almost demonic laughter that mysteriously turns up in the recordings!

As part of his mandatory appointed task, Captain Flane has to accompany the four main members of the party to the crumbling facility complex on the surface of the planet, and participate in the investigation as a guest. This he does with ample reluctance, and as a total skeptic at first, he does plenty of eye-rolling and head shaking and muttering under his breath every time the other team members compare goose-bumps on their arms, or shouts about something going “thud” in the darkness, and tries for a short while, to count how many times Erin Goodman says “Duuuuuude!

Spooks appear to be all over the place – spooks and something darker. From the ghost of a worker who died falling down an open elevator shaft while demonstrating the Moon-walk to a colleague, to the nasties waiting for Neil Gruff when he enters the mortuary refrigerators alone – to the entities that impersonate children calling for their daddies and carry grown men like Milly Marley away screaming into the terrifying darkness that awaits within the old mining complex of Floridia-7!

But it doesn’t end there – now a firm believer, Stuart Flane, Captain of the starship Mercury’s next assignment borders on the surreal! A small cargo ship gets in trouble in deep space. Someone had collected a load of haunted or cursed items, and had nearly gone mad trying to get rid of them! In the end, “Mr. Smith” hit upon a plan, and put all of them in a crate – and consigned them to a non-existant address on another planet! The nasties onboard give Flane and his crew quite a thrill ride of note! While the entities attached to these items – a haunted painting, a haunted dildo, a couple of dolls etc – are generally malevolent, one is benign.

The spirit of a little boy who died in the 1930’s is attached to the football he was playing with when he got run over and killed by a passing truck. The boy is friendly and polite, and perhaps a little careless with his ball, which tends to knock things over. When Flane and company find a solution for all the items in the crate aboard the stricken loderunner, the little boy and his ball remain behind and keep the remaining pilot company.

In keeping with the ghostly theme, “Life Signs” tells the tale of Hamet – catalogued as “Brigid 4.4” in the Terran star-charts. While in disgrace over the contents of his recent reports to Space Fleet HQ (containing words like ‘paranormal’, ‘undead’ and ‘entities’) which only serve to aggravate the crotchety Admiral Tawney, the Mercury is sent to chart a nearby solar system that hasn’t been visited by the Terrans yet.

There they find signs of a long-dead civilization – one that was destroyed thousands of years before by a devastating planetary nuclear war. What Commander Vic Chapman – Flane’s EXO and best friend – finds interesting, is that on the surface of Brigid 4.4, the ship’s sensors seem to have found a crashed alien ship – containing life signs!

SPOILER ALERT

If you haven’t read “Life Signs” yet, and if you don’t like spoilers, it’s best to avert your eyes! *see you at the “In Closing” section*

Miora appears at first to be the solitary survivor of the humanoid race that once lived on Brigid 4.4 and called it home (and “Hamet”). She’s quite young in appearance, and accompanied by Vic and Dr. Fred Killian, Stuart Flane is immediately drawn to her. The ship was wrecked on the planet a long time ago, according to the Mercury’s sensors, and the ship’s rather large hold appears to have been used as a tomb for the survivors as they died over time.

Aside from Miora, the only living things are the plants and small animals she cares for. All are native to Hamet, and while outside the ship the only things able to survive the latent effects of radiation poisoning and nuclear winter are creatures that remind Vic of dog-sized mutated cock-roaches, inside Miora tends the remaining life representative of Hamet’s original biosphere… ready to be released back into the world once the environment becomes habitable again.

While Flane is spell-bound and completely enraptured by the beautiful Miora, Dr. Killian and Vic take a little look around – and discover Miora’s little secret: a body. In a cabin somewhere below decks, they find a mummified corpse, which the doctor scans and discovers is that of an old woman dead for some considerable decades.

The body is that of Miora – and she relates her tale of woe and how the ship had been launched in case of war and then got struck by enemy fire and crashed out of orbit when she was a young girl, how she lived her life among her friends and family on the ship, as their numbers slowly withered due to age and disease or injury – all the while as she tended the hydroponics and kept the plants and animals alive.

And then she was alone, all but for the company of her charges. She forgot the sound of words and the look of another face, and as the years wore on, she got old, and sick, and one day she didn’t wake up again. But part of her – the most vital part – stayed, and continued her mission. Though her people were all gone, Brigid 4.4 – Hamet – had to live again, and for that to happen, someone had to tend the animals and plants to keep them alive for that day! Flane had become enamoured with a ghost – an exceptional spirit able to manifest for lengthy periods and to affect and interact with her surroundings – Miora!

I think I’d better stop there for now, or you might not need to read the story! Meanwhile, if you’re feeling curious about the series, and if your Will and life insurance are up to date, part 1 (“Mercury Rising”) is available as a free download and you can get it by clicking on the over below:

Enjoy! Or, if you prefer to just get the whole thing, click on “Static” and “Life Signs“.

Further Afield

To expand on the issue of ghosts and the supernatural in my storywriting, I’d also like to mention The ghosts of “Demonspawn” (oh yes, there are some)! Although this is from another series entirely (Galaxii) and these ghosts only feature rather briefly in this otherwise tense and suspenseful action-thriller, they are nevertheless a noteworthy feature of this story.

 

You see, the terrifying villain, the Akx, slaughtered the entire crew of the derelict ship a very long time before it ran across the stricken Terran starship, Mordrake! Since they died so horribly and traumatically, many left trapped in a kind of eternal pergatory as a result of the nightmarish ability of the Akx to subject its prey to tortures involving their worst fears before killing them, many of them have spent their afterlives on the ruined craft – probably not even aware that they are dead.

The crew of the Mordrake, having cannibalized the alien ship’s engines for spare parts to repair their own, have already fled the ship to try to evade the Akx – the monster lurking on the shadows of the ancient derelict vessel.

It’s when Joe Lofflin has his show-down with the Akx on the bridge of the derelict ship, essentially standing over the remains of the alien captain – Kaine – that the supernatural theme comes to the fore. Kaine had died many years before, on the same spot, just as he was about to initiate the ship’s self-destruct sequence, except the Axk had already anticipated that move and waylaid him. The weapon he’d carried was left there, a relic beside a mummified corpse – and although it had been there for centuries and centuries, it suddenly glowed with a full charge! It’s at the time when Joe Lofflin is low, feeling hopeless and beaten – his own skills and his best efforts have only resulted in damaging the Akx, and not destroying it – that ghostly voices whisper to pick up the weapon, kill the Akx – and give them peace! Kaine himself appears to distract the confused enemy while Lofflin recovers the weapon and fires it.

Further reading:

In Closing

That about covers it! I hope I’ve explained all this in a satisfactory manner!

Feel free to email or message me via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn if you have any comments or questions!

Until next time,

Cheers! 🙂

P.S.

If you’re reading this long after it was posted, click “Elements of Horror” to see a list of all the articles posted in this series!


TIP: If you want to know what Christina Engela writes, or who her focus group or target market is, please read here.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.

 

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