The 24 hour short story challenge | A man lays down for a quick nap, but wakes up a hundred years later in 2119


Below is my entry into the 24 hour short story challenge. thanks to @mctiller for running the show and keeping us writing. ~ enjoy

A ghost and a shovel refuse to walk into a bar.

Mark Emberson did not feel old despite being on the shy side of forty. This mindset allowed him to never act his age. (something he never liked to do anyway)He still loves to hit up the bars and taverns to drink and sing and dance and, if he played his cards right, end up somewhere new and strange and with a new friend. Who he would gladly dismiss the following morning.

But today was not one of those days. Wednesdays was the slowest night at the Wit and Wisdom tavern. The place would no doubt be empty save for the wailing of the jute box and neon light that endlessly flickers on and off. 

Despite his youthful attitude, a week of endless nights finally crept up on mark like death in a pair of slippers. One day he felt great but tonight- not so much. 

Despite this setback Marks ego would not relent. He was determined to spend the night out (even at a tamer pace) at the hotel bar just off route 5. The drinks were weak but cheap. 

With a few hours to kill Mark decided to take a nap to recharge his mojo. It’s not like anyone would know that this “old man” needed a nap- no, the was his secret, just like when he told people he was thirty three and a writer.

He sunk into the couch feeling the years if his life drift off. (but still not admitting to himself) his eyelids and mind shut down and went into sleep mode. Everything happened to fast for mark to set his alarm clock. He didn’t want to miss happy hour but then again, he thought before drifting off to sleep, its always happy hours when…….

Mark’s mind woke first far earlier then his eyes. It (his mind) began to process everything around him (except for sight). Unfamiliar sounds of digging and scraping. Muffled voices not urgently talking but not calm either. All in all this was nothing new beyond your run of the mill dream. Then Marks eyes joined the party. 

What he saw, what everybody saw when they woke up, was ghosts. Or at least what looked like ghost going off your typical movie version. But these ghost seemed different, more life like then some humans (as far as Mark could remember through the brain fog) 

Above Mark might have well been a fun house horror mirror. One where your image is reflected back to you distorted and hallow. A horror mirror that makes bends your minds and makes you see yourself as a ghost. But this was no mirror. This was real life (he things) and as far as he can tell, his mind still lost in the fog, his own ghost is hovering about him holding a shovel and a smile.

“Don’t speak.” Ghost mark said. “Don’t even think about it because this is far beyond you ability to comprehend.” His ghost spoke with perfect clarity and pose.”Let me explain things for you, in a manner even you can under stand.”

Mark dare not speak, he doubted his mouth would even attempt it at this point, but he could think still. 

“Now I am not going to go into details here- frankly it’s pointless to waste my time on those.” Ghost mark said. He paused for a moment perhaps waiting for mark to process everything before continuing. “Basically you woke up too early for me to knock you out for another year.” 

Mark still could not speak but he could move his eye brows and look around. Ghost Mark took that as a sign to continue.

“Let me put this in as simple terms as I can. When you took a nap about one hundred years ago. I took my chance as well…. Jumped out of you.” Ghost Mark shrugged his shoulders in a matter of fact manner. “I just couldn’t do it any more.”

“Do wha-” Mark finally managed to speak.

“Do what? Go to yet another late night drunken ego trip, thats what.” This was the first time ghost mark showed any signs of emotion. “My God Mark you lived a pathetic life and you took me along with you.”

Confused still (who wouldn’t be) Mark attempted to understand the situation. “So your my soul?”

“Call me that if you will.” Ghost mark said “anyways, once I escaped your body I found out, to my dismay, that I was stuck- bound to you for all of eternity.

“Am I-” Mark muttered

“What dead? Heavens no. But not for lack of trying I can assure you of that. No- evidently a soul, or whatever I am, lacks the ability to kill it’s host.”

“What’s with the shovel then” marks voice was finally sounding familiar to himself again.

Ghost mark smiled “Well, when I found out that I could not kill you I opted for the next best thing.”

“Which was?”

“I have been knocking you unconscious. Everyday for the last one hundred years I had sat here and hit you over the head with this here shovel.”

Mark never bothered to ask where his ghost found the shovel… it didn’t seem to matter. “But… why?”

“To keep you out of course. If I could not escape you and I could not kill you then I decided for the next best thing, I would sit here and keep you unconscious.” Ghost Mark said “until today when you woke up early on me.”

Somehow all of this made sense to Mark who either didn’t want to question it or simple blindly accepted it. “But what have you been doing for one hundred years?”

Ghost Mark smiled wide and bright. “Well besides keeping your house haunted….”

“Yeah sure” Mark said, besides that.”

Ghost Mark shrugged. “Writing of course…. Haven’t you ever hear of a ghost writer before.


lol, you built an entire story around the punch line - and a good one too.

I love it when I can do so.

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