It wasn’t until my last night at the author’s workshop that I heard them. Until that moment, I was certain they were just a rumour spread by the returning members to the newbies, a cheap, laughable attempt to take advantage of our overactive imaginations as we tried to get to sleep after long days spent workshopping our stories. In fact, after seven days of networking and frenzied, unbridled creativity, I’d nearly forgotten entirely the strange tales I’d been told my first night at the retreat.
But I remember those stories now. Oh yes. A fire twenty two years ago, and a dozen authors trapped inside the retreat’s cabin by the collapsing roof, praying for rescue that would never arrive. They rebuilt the cabin, of course, but still the dead authors visit the site on the accident’s anniversary each year. Yes, I remember those stories now. I doubt they’ll ever be far from my mind…
Nor will the deafening sound of their ghastly typewriters, like thunderclaps crashing one room over, or the chilling laughter of the dead. I knew I’d not sleep that night as I lay, covers pulled up over my head, waves of terror creeping up and down my spine, listening to their spectral conversations as they bounced ideas off one another in haunting tones about what to do with the Star Trek tie ins they’d been assigned to write.
They’d never been writers of note, those apparitions, even before their death. Simply women and men doing work for hire to fund their dreams, who didn’t know even after their grizzly demise that, for them and their dreams both it was far, far too late…
And the next morning I went home, sleep deprived and terrified, my own project long forgotten, replaying the harrowing experience over and over again in my mind.
And as the shuttlebus pulled away, taking me back to the airport, all I could think back to was that song we’d sang my first night there, seven days previous, in more innocent spirits.
Ghostwriters in the sky.