Summer so far had been especially hot. Sweltering as they say. Our small window mounted AC unit had given up and died a week earlier. Even with the windows open, it was hard to keep our apartment bearable. So we were sitting on the stoop, which was at least on the shady side of the building.
The apartment complex was low rent, part government housing, and not gated in any way so it wasn’t uncommon to see people walking through that didn’t live there. This one guy stood out though. He was walking from building to building offering tenants, also sitting on their stoops, flyers. Again not unusual but the closed trench coat he was wearing stood out.
When he got close to us, I noticed another odd thing, he wasn’t sweating. Even without a trench coat covering most of his body, I would have expected at least a sheen of sweat. He should have been drenched, sweat dripping from his hair, but instead, he looked as cool as a cucumber.
“Hello, ladies,” he said while reaching into his coat. I sat up straighter, tensing until he pulled a pamphlet out and offered it to me. The title read, “Beat the heat!!” with clip art flames on the bottom.
“Sorry, we’re not interested,” I said. Probably a recruiter for a cult.
“You haven’t even heard what I’m offering.” He smiled a genuine, honest, open smile that was still a salesman’s smile. I glanced at Selene, who shrugged, so I took the pamphlet from him.
“Okay, what are you selling?” I asked flipping open the pamphlet. Inside were instructions on drawing sigils and their placement within rooms.
“First I need to ask, do you believe in ghosts?”
“Only on the weekends and holidays,” Selene said.
“Sometimes,” I said.
“Have you ever walked into a room and felt a cold spot or heard of someone experiencing a cold spot in their home?”
Selene laughed. “I’ve heard about that.”
“Good, you know ghosts can affect the ambient temperature of a room in one spot at least. Now, what if you could move the ghost around the room in a controlled manner?”
“Are you talking about cooling a house with a ghost?”
“Exactly. The pamphlet, which is yours to keep for free, has instructions on how to draw the ghost management sigils and where to place them in your home.”
“So you’re giving away your big idea for free?” I asked.
“The idea is too easy to share and duplicate to bother selling. I sell ghosts to power the cooling system.” He reached deep into one of his pockets and pulled out a small octagon box wrapped in string with a wax seal on top.
Selene leaned forward to squint at the box. “So, you’ve got some grandma’s soul trapped in a box and you’re just going to sell it to us to cool our apartment?”
“Not at all. Our spirits are ethically sourced. We do not deal in souls or remnants or poltergeists.”
“How do you ‘ethically source’ something that comes from dead people?”
“Ah, so they are souls!” Selene crowed.
The man’s smile slipped to a tight grin. “Spirit is a layperson term we use for the psychically active emotional energy we collect from donors at the time of there death. It’s no different than organ donation.”
“Except there’s a huge difference between a liver and a soul.”
He sighed and began reciting from memory, “We don’t collect souls. At the time of death, a person releases a burst of psychic energy that usually dissipates quickly. In the case of violent or traumatic death part or all of the soul can become attached to this energy creating a classic ghost, remnant, or poltergeist. Since we only collect in clinical settings our donors die peacefully with no chance of that happening.”
“That actually does sound on the up and up.”
“So, are you interested in buying your first spirit, I mean psychically active emotion energy ball?” His smile returned in full force.
“How much?” I asked
“Seven hundred dollars.”
“We could buy three AC units for that much.”
“True but this is a cooling system that will never break down and won’t run up your electric bill.”
“Sorry, we’re not interested. Have you made any sales around here?”
“Nope.” He returned the sealed box to his coat pocket.
“I didn’t think so. Most people around here can barely afford regular ACs.”
The man shrugged. “I’m aware of the financial situation of the area but you can’t find new markets without looking for them. Well, it’s been a pleasure talking to you ladies but I must be moving on.”
I watched him walk off to the next building and start his spiel over again.
“Do you think this could actually work?” I asked looking over the sigils closely. Selene touched the final example and mumbled words under her breath. The black ink flashed red and a shock ran up one of my arms and down the other. I dropped the pamphlet. “Damn, warn me before you do something like that.”
“Seems to be a stable containment sigil. A bit more general purpose than I would use but serviceable. The idea is sound if slightly unethical in most cases.”
“What about George? He wasn’t a very nice person when he was alive. It would almost be fitting to put him to work cooling the apartment.”
“You said released his energies.”
“Maybe I only confined him to the cupboard over the fridge? Look we never use those cupboards anyway and it was easier than passing him over.”
“Hmm, well as long as we have a ghost we don’t mind tormenting let’s give it a whirl.”