Or, Lessons in Being a Ghastly Ghostie
Well, the Czar is already scared, and he knows what's coming. You talk about scary! Well, frankly, there's nothing spookier than a haunted house, and we oughta know... we've been haunting them for years. And sometimes we scare ourselves, we're so good. But it is a lot of fun, much like anything scary is (such as roller coasters, skydiving, and getting mugged), so we thought we'd share with you our sure-fire ways of haunting a house properly. And if you like it, drop us a line and let us know some of your scary ideas.
First of all, choose a good house. We recommend one with a lot of people in it, since an empty house is, well, kind of slow. You sort of have to make it count, then, and you wind up using all your best material up front. Best to have a house with a lot of people, because then you can pace yourself.
Do you want to be really noticed, right away? Pick a house with a dog. Dogs know about ghosts, and this can be a great intro. Rather than jump right in with frightening the bejeezus out of people, try warming up first. Make the dog bark at empty walls, or better yet, slowly walk toward the dog. Nothing looks neater than seeing the family dog walk backwards, fur up, and growling at thin air. Talk about an intro!
A house with kids is all right, maybe. We generally avoid it, because if you're feeling a little poltergeistish, the kids usually get blamed for some of your best work. And kids today are too clever: they start setting little traps for you. If you like kids, then by all means have fun. We recommend shaking their beds, making their window shades shoot up, and opening and closing their closet doors at night. But whatever you do, don't do anything cutesy, like move their toys around, squirt water at them, or shove them from behind. Do this, and the kids start seeing you as their play pal, and then there's no chance of getting work done.
Go after the wife whenever the husband's not home. It's hysterical, because he never believes her. Try creaking floorboards when she's by herself, rearranging her kitchen knives, or for an absolutely primo scare, wait until she's quieted down for the night and then flush the toilet. We generally avoid the stupid goblin tricks, like saying "Mommy!" in your best child's voice and then rolling a bowling ball down the stairs.
General scariness can be handled by confusion. Go down to the circuit breaker and then start switching the circuits on and off like mad. Strive for the strobe light effect. But don't overdo it: only do this for a few seconds, and then switch every circuit back on as if nothing happened. The husband will likely go down and look the first couple of times, but don't do anything more that night! After the third or fourth time, guaranteed, he'll call an electrician to come look at it. And then, when the electrician is by himself, scare the pants off him. It doesn't matter what you do, really, from sticking screwdrivers in the wall next to his head, to manifesting yourself as a bloody skeleton... the goal here is to get him to run out of the house screaming.
Another good hell-raiser is to make the faucets drip blood. It'll require a little setting up beforehand, but it's worth it. Make sure the whole family sees it. If blood makes you queasy, go for black or green slime; and if you're really in luck, they'll call in a plumber for you.
Poltergeist phenomena is a great showcase. Start small, so they don't get too terrified. At dinner, flip a plate. During TV time, keep changing the channels every couple of minutes. Nothing too much! Over time, you can start moving furniture around if your back holds out.
When they're gone for the day, at work and school, don't think that you can rest. There's plenty to do in an empty house, too. Start by changing the thermostat a couple of degrees up or down (it annoys Dad), and get to work by loosening the light bulbs and tilting the pictures. If they have a dog, you're in luck. You can spend the whole day chasing Pebbles around the house, knocking over furniture and giving the dog a complex.
Remember to be polite. Real ghosts don't do that attempted murder nonsense you see in the movies. Don't try to drop pianos on people or push them over railings. And be professional: don't be looking through the shower curtains at the family member of choice. Nobody tolerates a naughty ghost.
And don't get in good with the family. Nothing is sloppier than a ghost who winds up eating dinner with the family and baby-sitting the kids. If they wanted that, they could have invited an in-law over. Stay scary.
By now, you should have a ghastly host of ideas. And remember, when they put the house up for sale, it's up to you whether you want to make the house look sweet and innocent for the next family, or... well... sometimes you can't resist blasting the real estate agent during a walk-through.
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