‘Ghost in the Machine’
by Troy Blackford
In the months since the car accident which claimed his life, my father’s old computer has sat silent and unused in the dusty, long-unentered room he kept as a home office. The old man was the only one who ever went in there, and only he knew the password to unlock the now ancient desktop. To the surviving family members – my mom, my brother, and I - the computer was useless.
Still, when it came to getting rid of it, so far something has held each of us back. We weren’t exactly champing at the bit to get in there and erase the signs of the guy’s life. That luxury was already being provided by time itself; we weren't anxious to speed the process along. He may have been a bit rough, but he was, after all, the old man.
Sometimes I stick my head in that old office of his and just take a few big whiffs. They say that of all the senses, the olfactory is the most apt to trigger memories. I can definitely sense enough of the built-up decades of the man's presence lingering in that front room to trigger a barrage of recollections, even months after the guy had last set foot in there.
What my father used to spend his time up here actually doing, I’m not too sure. One day, I suppose, I could flip on the dusty old antique upstairs and try to figure out the man's password. Maybe he set a really stupid password hint, one that’s so easy to guess that he might as well not even have a password. Lots of the older folk do that.
It’s like a generational thing.
But, for now, I’m more than happy just to keep it on my ‘to-do’ list. Because as soon as I actually try, it won’t feel like an option any more. As soon as I try, I’ll either succeed, or fail. And as long as I keep putting it off, it’ll feel like something I have a choice in doing. The last thing, really, involving my father’s life that I can say that about.
So I think I’ll just keep it under my hat for now.
That's it for the sample of 'Ghost in the Machine!' Things only get worse from there, I assure you. I know it isn't easy to see how this ends up being terrifying, but if you want to find out what all the fuss is about, check out the short story collection 'For Those With Eyes to See,' in Kindle and in Paperback.