A Spirit’s Guide to Causing Terror in the 21st Century

Sam Skelton
3 min readOct 4, 2016

Modern problems require modern solutions.

Child Spirits: Don’t spend time trying to be scary, because most people will find that endearing and get depressed when they can’t pinch your cheek. Instead, do normal kid stuff and watch people piss themselves. Roll a ball down a flight of stairs. Stand idly at the end of a long hallway clutching a stuffed animal. If you’re ready for advanced methods, greet high school kids late at night and tell them you’re the mistake they’ll make in college.

Poltergeists: Don’t just throw furniture around the house at random — that’s sloppy and unnecessary. As an alternative, make strategic choices: wreak havoc on tupperware cabinets after someone decides to re-organize. Tilt every framed picture to a subtle degree that suggests the pictures might not be completely straight. Balance the most expensive glassware in the form of a pyramid and watch panicked humans try to put each glass back without breaking anything.

Adult Spirits: Most tactics in your arsenal have become overt clichés in the last thirty years. Leave the stuttering and sluggish walks to drunkards in urban alleyways and focus on stuff that really keeps people awake at night. For example, appear behind people in their bathroom and write in the mirror how much they’ll pay in tax returns next year. When someone parks their car in a dimly lit lot, appear in the backseat and remind them they’re overdue for an oil change. Appear in refrigerators and show breakfast enthusiasts they’re out of milk after they’ve already prepared a bowl of dry cereal.

Forest Witches: There’s no need to make a physical appearance because that would ruin the element of mystery. Instead, tie sticks together in vague but similar formations, then scatter them around the woods. Do some finger painting with dark red or black paint. It doesn’t matter what or where you paint — the forest is your canvas. Construct circles of stones around people’s tents, and if you get impatient, throw pinecones at the tents until the people wake up and check it out. Bonus points for baiting campers to take shaky, handheld videos of your half-assed art projects.

Banshees: Aimless, shock-inducing screaming is so passé. Modernize your methods: learn lyrics to pop songs a few weeks after they lose popularity and start rehearsing them as loudly as possible. Don’t try listening to their original beats or rhythms — just sing the lyrics to the loudest of your ability. Throwbacks will never be limited to Thursdays again.

Animated Ghosts from 80’s Movies: There is no hope for you. Apply yourself for a movie remake and consider using an all-female cast. Don’t expect too much success.

Haunted Dolls: Instead of being immediately terrifying, try a long-term method: give children unreasonable expectations for their future that will haunt them long after puberty. Trick kids into thinking that Barbie and Ken’s dimensions are both realistic representations of what people should look like. You won’t need to worry about targeting parents, because they’ll be scared enough trying to deal with teenage emotions and angst.

Headless Ghosts: You’re headless, which is already horrifying enough, but spirits should never settle with simple scares. When people notice you, greet them with an onslaught of puns: remind humans not to get “ahead” of themselves, instruct them when they’re “headed” the right direction, and respond to screaming with, “Don’t lose your head!” Fight any urges to replace your head with a pumpkin and ride around on a horse. There’s a good chance that you’ll drop the pumpkin and the horse will eat it. There is nothing scary about that.