All Stories, Fantasy

Why We Haunt by Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender (Leila Allison)

Versatur Circa Quid!

Once again my four generations removed granddaughter, Miss Leila Allison, has thoughtfully left open a file for me to brilliantly emend. Before I get to today’s subject, however, I believe that I should once again introduce myself to the readership due to what I observe to be a great diminishment in the overall intelligence of the modern day public. It is I, the splendiferous Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender. I died in 1912, but shortly thereafter I returned as a Quillemender Spirit. I am housed in a ceremonial gold gilt gavel presented to me upon my retirement from the bench. I’m allowed to travel ten paces from the gavel, which is plenty close enough to where my ancestor (and current holder of my heirloom gavel), Leila, keeps her Chromebook. Succinctly, we Quillemenders alter text written by the living. In a way my noble kind are the precursor of that mindless autocorrect function that gets so many of you in trouble.

I was born in 1820, thus this year we celebrate the bicentennial of Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender! I’ve always excelled at longevity.  I managed to live 92 years back when the entire world was third. You think you’ve got troubles nowadays–Bah! Try effective hiding in a continuous era of tuberculosis, rampant cholera, typhoid, diphtheria, amebic dysentery, smallpox and fevers of more colors than what’s in Joseph’s coat. It was when the appearance of a physician at a house usually caught the notice of the undertaker. Modern day trifles such as appendicitis, dental abscesses and the smallest birth complications were tickets to the cemetery. There were no antibiotics, we didn’t even have aspirin. If it weren’t for opium and alcohol, I fear that the human race would not have survived.  I attribute my greater than twice what had been the normal lifespan to a tablespoon of laudanum with meals and a staid yet steady intake of applejack throughout the day.

*Versatur Circa Quid!

(*Alas, I must further disrupt the continuity of this powerful narrative to explain Versatur Circa Quid. As stipulated in an agreement arrived at by Leila and myself, she promises not to do something about me as long as I always take time to explain VCQ to newcomers. Bah! She can’t even keep the cats out of her new office chair, yet she claims she can do something about me? Double Bah!! Still, the decline of modern intelligence suggests that I define VCQ as Latin for “What comes round goes round.” Such is inscribed in my ceremonial gavel. The Ineffable Power who allows Spirits to continue considers it the Montague Family Motto. For reasons admittedly obscure to me, the presenters of the gavel and the Ineffable Power behind the existence of Spirits agree that Versatur Circa Quid! best describes my personality as well as that of my ancestors.)

Why We Haunt will explain the difference between a “ghost” and a “Spirit”; a Spirit’s natural thermodynamic ability; our relationship with the four ancient elements and the four basic human senses, as well as provide the reader with the real reason why Spirits haunt the living. It will also endeavor to establish a movement against the Nobel committee–who unfairly award their yearly prizes to only the living. All persons I can shame into supporting the cause may do so at #Bah!Nobel.

The G-Word

Most Spirits are sensitive to the term “ghost.” The word more than implies a continued being less there, less moral, less intelligent than the original. Too many ghosts are portrayed in stories as evil troublemakers. Too many ghosts are shown to be so monumentally stupid that they do not “go into the light,” until they gain the assistance of a living person or persons. What light? There’s no more light at crossing than there are ghosts “booing” it up in bed sheets. Bah!

We prefer–no demand to be called Spirits (please note that it is a proper noun–You remember proper nouns don’t you?–or has that knowledge, too, been removed from the third-form curriculum?). There is, however, one exception to the rule. The Shadowghost class continues to resist peer pressure, and they refuse to change their appellation. Although the class is exclusively populated by persons best described in life as “meek,”  Shadowghosts greet all suggested alternative titles (“Shadowperson” is the latest substandard concoction) with a “Thank you, but we’d rather not” attitude similar to that displayed by Bartleby the Scrivener. (You remember Mellville, don’t you? Or has he, too, been killed off by the steady influx of persons whose lips move when they read bathroom walls?) Fortunately for all involved, the old Scottish word “Shog” is a synonym for Shadowghost. Nowadays, only the most hairsplittingist of Spirits objects to Shadowghost.

Spirits and Thermodynamics

When rendered down to its soul, the basic reason why the Universe moves is heat transference. Plainly, hot follows cold. The Ineffable Power endows all Spirits with the ability to create a coldspot and then heat it up. This happens between the subatomic and microscopic levels of reality. We produce tiny vortexes, millions per second, which allows us to manipulate the physical level of reality in accordance with what kind of Spirit that any given Spirit might be. Which brings us to.…

   Spirits and the Four Ancient Elements

The Ineffable Power requires Spirits to be honest beings. If something a Spirit says hurts your feelings, blame it on the Ineffable Power. If it weren’t for dishonesty there’d be no such things as tact and diplomacy. Free from such devices, I can no longer support the notion that most readers have knowledge of history older than what had appeared in the last news-cycle. It would have been tactful not to voice such, but since I’ve established that tact and mendacity are essentially the same thing, I, as a Spirit, can hardly be expected to do such.

Versatur Circa Quid!

Further back than the last news cycle lay the Ancient Four Elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, Water. Upon reading this, my great great great great granddaughter said: “They kicked Water out of the band for putting a damper on things.” I don’t know what that means, nor do I care to find out. She behaved as though she had passed a bon mot, so I simply considered the source. Then she further observed: “Milla Whatsherface says love is the fifth element.” I told her that only things which exist can be candidates for elements.  She paused, thought it over and at last said, “That’s the first thing you’ve ever said that proves we are related–Versatur Circa Quid!” Regardless, I ask the readership to somehow contain these Four Elements in its leaky memory as we move forward.

Spirits and the Four Senses

Further interjections by my closest living relation withstanding, the four senses are Sight, Sound, Touch and Smell. Spirits neither eat nor are to be tasted (save one), thus Smell is the lone olfactory sense. For a Spirit to get across to a mortal a Spirit must use thermodynamics to manipulate an element (you recall thermodynamics and the elements, don’t you?) to create either a vision, noise, feeling or smell experienced by the living. Here, it is important to note that the longer a Spirit has been dead, the more skillful *he becomes at the art of manipulation.

(*Leila informed me that “Nowadays we say It’s ‘he or she,’ you old rat bastard sexist.” Oh, very well. Bah!)

For example, I, the dynamic, long deceased Judge Jasper P. Montague, am a Quillemender Spirit. I manipulate Earth and Fire to make a visual “statement.” The Ineffable Power (remember him or her?) requires my class to reconfigure the words written by the living into messages of our invention. When I was a lad of a Quill, I only had to deal in Earth to get across. All handwritten and typed items appeared as ink (or pencil, paint, crayon, blood, etc) on paper (or skin or a tree or an outhouse wall, etc.). This may be difficult for you to understand, but all those things come from the Earth. My specialty was iron gall ink on foolscap. Nowadays, however, my kind has had to master Fire to apply our art in electronic devices. You see, the founders of the Ancient Elements considered Fire a catchall element. Anything that could illuminate or burn was filed under the heading of Fire, electricity included.

*Almost all Spirit classes are able to produce only one sense. To reach it, we often must apply our shared thermodynamic ability to more than one of the elements. For instance, the disembodied voice known as a “Lippybyte” must create a static burst (Fire) in the air (Wind) which creates the sound he or she desires. And yet there are counterintuitive manifestations: The Candlehuff Spirit specializes in snuffing out burning candles and matches, yet that Spirit uses Air and Water to do it and has no relationship with Fire other than the elimination of such.

(*The reason why “Almost” must be used when we write about the properties of the Spirit Collective is due solely to the existence of the MirrorGlimmer. There is only one MirrorGlimmer, and she is the only Spirit who is able to manipulate all Four Elements to create all five senses at the same time. She is the lone Spirit able to create taste. All Spirits (myself included) have nothing but the greatest respect for “Milady Miranda.” Most of us are afraid of her. Even the Ineffable Power is reluctant to approach her.)

In summary, we Spirits (not ghosts), aided by the Ineffable Power, are allowed an egress into the material world in which we use thermodynamics to manipulate various combinations (usually two) of the Ancient Four Elements to create a sense picked up on by the living. And as it goes with the exception of the Miraculous Milady Miranda, MirrorGlimmer (and if she is reading this, I send all my affections and supplications), there are times when we non-MirrorGlimmer Spirits may petition the Ineffable Power for a temporary enhancement of our abilities, if such is deemed necessary to help a mortal being out of trouble. But such an event, and the desire to do it, occur rarely.

And now…

 Why We Haunt

Of all persons, Leila has never asked me why Spirits haunt the living. When I challenged her on that point she said: “Dude, there are several reasons so obvious that they needn’t be mentioned. But since you ask, refer to the following list:”

  • To be a pain in the ass
  • Because you can
  • Because it’s there
  • Could be just to kiss the MirrorGlimmer’s behind
  • But mostly it’s reason 1.)

Bah! You should have seen the look in on and at her face when I told her that she was wrong. Why Spirits haunt is simple: No longer is isn’t the same as never was. Both the physical world and the afterworld grow larger everyday. Never before has it become so easy to be forgotten.

She narrowed her eyes and thought it over. “All right, greatest grandfather Spirit,” she said. “You’ve gone and pissed all over my list by getting sensitive on me. Have it your way–Bah!

Versatur Circa Quid!

(My opinion of the state of your memory remains the same. Don’t forget to support #Bah!Nobel.)

Exasperatingly Yours,

Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender

Leila Allison



5 thoughts on “Why We Haunt by Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender (Leila Allison)”

  1. I enjoyed this for both the humour and the serious message hidden between the lines. I believe we should let the ghosts rest – they only haunt when people keep digging them up. For example, when my sister says ‘Yes. but Gran wouldn’t like that, remember what she told you?’ ‘Well do you?’ This is taking advantage of the poor woman who I am sure is resting peacefully, in someone else’s house or mind.
    ” It was when the appearance of a physician at a house usually caught the notice of the undertaker.” So true today- believe me.
    As for the opium and alcohol, does the Judge know nothing in the modern world has changed – now it’s overloaded prescriptions, street Skunk and even Gin is back in fashion amongst the usual suspects.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “They kicked water out of the band for putting a damper on things” – it will please you to note that particular quoted line caused an untimely nasal passage meets coffee incident (not sure there are any timely ones to be fair but there you go). I managed to find the mute button during my Teams meeting but alas a moment too late. That’ll teach me for seeking entertainment when I should be seeking the comforting misery work was invented to provide.

    Reads beautifully – great job, I have no further words of wisdom at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Leila,
    I’m running out of plaudits for these stories.
    Simply as brilliant and imaginative as usual, with a cutting perception.
    I have to admit, I’ve never heard the word ‘Shogg’ – I had to look it up.
    We on the West Coast would use ‘Shoogle’, it means the same as in to shake. Oh and Hugh is referred to as ‘Shug’ mostly in Scotland.That is a very guttural horrible sounding name. But to be truthful, I’ve been called a lot worse!
    Stay being you.


  4. Seems like if you’re haunted, you’re never alone. Sounds like the physical and non physical worlds are going against the second law of thermodynamics and growing larger…. and more connected, as described from the phantom pen of Jasper P. I like the part where ghosts want to be called spirits. That whole bit is pretty funny.


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