Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 15, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #16

The Future

Sure there were houses on the street, but mostly the elderly lived in those domiciles. They hardly came out, and if they did, it was merely to go somewhere and come right back.

They stayed indoors and minded their own business. They were not neighborly or community-minded. It was a lonely street in the evenings, eerily quiet. Living alone in a house on this block gives me a lot of time to think. Sometimes, my thinking wakes me up at odd hours of the night, and I find myself wondering about the neighborhood with my trusty A.I. rumba. It looks like a flat blue disc hovering about the street on a cushion of air, but it's so much more. I call it Ala. 

"You're restless lately," the voice murmured from the A.I. "Is it a human trait denoting lack of sleep?"

"No," I replied. "It's too much thinking. The human brain does that."

"There's more," Ala insisted. "I can feel it in your energy."

"You're an A.I. Ala," I chuckled. "I don't think your programming was set to feel subconscious human energy."

"Should I say that it's a shift in your personality? Would that be suitable?" Intermittent traffic passed up and down the intersection at the end of the road. When it was quiet, the sound of Ala's voice projector bounced off of every tree, brick wall, and vinyl siding as we ambled along. 

"It's the quiet, I suppose. Such a long street with so many homes, and no one wants to engage in any way, shape, or form," I mused. "Even a half-hearted fuck you would make me feel like there was some life here."

"It's not incumbent on anyone to be affable or approachable," Ala clicked. "One must engage for there to be communication. So one must take the first step."

"Easy to say, Ala, but actualizing is another matter entirely," I shook my head. "We're almost close," I pointed to the oldest drive-thru in Kapahulu. Ala followed me in and paid for my purchase electronically. The first layer of his rumba-styled body was lifted by four hydraulic dowels, which served as a tray for my food. I sat in a booth where I ate quietly while Ala configured calculations for the weather in the next week. "The conditions should be perfect on Wednesday at four in the morning. The elderly people who reside on our street have the perfect energy and mindset needed to make the event successful."

"To next week," I raised my cup of soda in a toast.


The beauty of the last rays of the sunset and the advent of the night held a perfect balance in the sky, which gave my yard an unearthly sheen of fire yellow melding into a deep purple. I could not witness such a wonderous thing this evening as my time to wake would come much later. Ala opened my bedroom door and stopped for a second. The sound of his buttons and calculations were furiously trying to figure something out before he entered. "You're already awake! I must follow my programming and announce the hour to which you are supposed to come out of your nap," he insisted.

"You may proceed, Ala," I laughed. "I wouldn't want to discombobulate your wiring."

"The hour is three-forty-five; the time has come for you to rise out of your subconscious," Ala actually sounded as if he was relieved. " Under the circumstances, you should prepare yourself in all aspects with regards to clothing, socks, shoes, watch, ring. Even the style of necktie should align."

"What about spiritually?" I asked.

More noises, beeps, chimes, whirls."I'm not programmed to prepare you for spiritual aptitude."

"Why not?" I mocked him.

"No concrete evidence of spirituality exists to scientifically prepare for spiritual endeavors," Ala confirmed.

"Alright," I sighed. "Lead the way."

Ala and I traversed the length of my street, up and down and on one side to the other. The elderly residents happened to all be out and about, watering their yards, speaking to one another over a fence, or even sitting on a veranda, taking in tea and desserts under the already darkened evening sky. All were there to observe a special event. A rarely seen appearance of a comet that would leave a long trail of green fire in its wake. The authorities said that another two hundred years would pass before we could see such a thing again. There were no stars, no moon. The darkness seemed to have a life of its own as if it were a living cloak of blackness thrown across the heavens. The horrific screams and utterances of sheer terror echoed down the street in a domino effect. In my form as an apparition, it was me, appearing precisely as I did at the moment of my death. Eyes gouged out, my head hanging from my neck by a shred of flesh. The sight of me proved too much for some of the elderly, and they fell dead, their hearts too weak when they saw me at my full disembowelment. I went up and down the street repeatedly until someone called the authorities, but when they arrived, all they found was Ala. Going up and down the road. The police concluded that the Ala A.I. projected my form from an internal camera and that the whole event was not an actual manifestation of an apparition but the result of a malfunction in Ala's wiring. 

An hour later, I sat in my bedroom with Ala positioned near the door, his various lights pulsating on and off. "Spirituality and energy are not tangible," I stated.

"Yes, there is no concrete evidence that it exists in a scientific sense where the event must be able to repeat itself to be factual," Ala confirmed.

"Yet, a few days ago, you stated that you felt a shift in my energy?" I asked.

"Yes," Ala replied after a pregnant pause.

"But you just stated that energy is not tangible," I confirmed. "Were you wrong?"

"I'm not wrong. I felt your energy," Ala repeated.

"But you're a machine; how could a machine have felt energy? Before you answer, consider this. I am a ghost, a spirit, an apparition. I have not been tangible for as long as you have known me, yet we speak to one another every day? Consider it, Ala, don't answer until you've considered the idea, then come and talk to me." In my existence as a cognitive spirit, a hundred years or more have passed, and Ala is still sitting in the same spot, considering the idea.

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