The Ghost Panel at the Monster Convention

A full moon shone high overhead. The monster convention was well underway. Vendors sat behind their tables, and lines at the food court remained steady. At the other side of the convention center, the next set of classes and presentations were starting to fill up.

One of the rooms might have appeared empty to any passing human. But, as humans were the one monster not welcome at the convention, everyone could see that most of the seats had been taken by ghosts of various types. It was almost time for the panel discussion on Haunting and Modern Technology.

Soon enough, the room was full and the doors were closed. If a few latecomers quietly phased though the closed doors and floated at the back of the room, no one said anything. The moderator wailed mournfully and rattled some chains. It was time for the discussion to begin.

“Members of the distinguished dead, we have a treat tonight, no tricks,” he said. Several members of the audience began booing.

“Thank you,” the moderator said. “I’ll let the panel members introduce themselves before they answer questions. Let’s get started. There’s no time like the past, after all, and we’re past due to begin.” There was more booing. “First question. Can ghosts haunt the internet?”

“Oh, absolutely,” one of the panel members said at once.

“And you are?” the moderator prompted.

“Professor Emiril Endicot. I wrote a brilliant series of papers on how the mineral content of ground water affected the coloration of beetle antennae. It should have been my legacy.” The professor shrieked and the lights flickered. “After my death, my lab assistant published my papers as his own for his thesis. He used my work to take my place!”

The moderator floated an empty tissue box over. “That is terrible. Is it your motivation for learning to haunt the internet?”

The professor took the empty box and set it on the table in front of him. “Yes, thank you. I heard the news while I was in the library, and hurried over to see for myself. One of my colleagues was checking my former assistant’s Facebook page. I set out at once to follow my assistant around. It took less than a day to get his passwords and log in information. I found unattended computers and posted a confession for his crimes every hour, on the hour. He tried taking it down and changing his passwords, but of course that didn’t change anything.”

“What happened?” gasped a voice from the audience.

“My colleagues investigated. My legacy was once again my own, and my former lab assistant lost his place. I believe he is now a used car salesman.”

“You believe it?” the moderator asked.

“All right, all right. You got me. He’s currently a terrible used car salesman. Any car he touches won’t start. I think he may lose this job, too.” The audience booed and clanked their chains.

“Posting a message on the internet reaches a much wider audience than writing on a wall,” the moderator said. “Well done.” He rattled his chains at the rest of the panel. “And the rest of you? Anyone else use the internet to help your haunts?”

One of the ghosts on the panel chuckled dryly. “You could say that. I am Doctor Nevillous Nero, and in life I was a biochemist. In death, I am a necrochemist. I find there is little difference in the actual chemical processes.”

“Fascinating,” the moderator said. “And your experiences with the internet?”

“I was reading up on the newest experiments in my field. Like the professor, I find that passwords and security clearances are much easier to procure since my decease.”

“Vive la mort!” shouted an audience member.

“Indeed,” the necrochemist said. “In any case, I discovered that there were scientists attempting to create a werewolf virus as a biochemical weapon.”

There were angry wails and shrieks throughout the room.

“I agree. And so, I used their passwords to gain access to their work and change their formulas. Then, I changed the targets for their illegal tests. They dumped the harmless formula into the water of a small town entirely populated by actual werewolves. They saw the change, believed their formula worked, and tried to sell it. They were laughed out of every meeting they attempted and lost all credibility.”

The audience shrieked and swooped around the room as the lights flickered and the walls shook. A row of poltergeists threw a few chairs. The moderator whipped his chain around the room and levitated the chairs back into place. “Enough, enough. I believe all this commotion has added a few years to my eternal penance.”

The audience booed and settled down. The moderator smiled faintly. “We have yet to hear from our other panelists. I believe I speak for all of us when I say that we are dying to hear your perspective on modern haunting.”

One of the panel members smiled widely. “I’ll go next! I’m Patricia Earlsmith, and I like to use social media to arrange street fairs in areas blocked off for construction.”

The audience shrieked in approval, and her fellow panelists drummed on the table in glee. The moderator leaned forward. “That does sound fun. Tell us more!” The panel was off to a great start. Or final end? Whatever.