Everyone knows that ghost stories don't exist. That's exactly why they're so successful. There are far many of them than there are of us. How do they keep their secrets?
Well, some might say they keep their secrets in stories. Legends of powerful magics and ancient artifacts give rise to 'common knowledge', which people tend to listen to (with rapture), then simply disregard as tall tales and old nonsense. What better way to hide the truth than to make the truth so unbelievable that people simply don't accept it? Even when presented with something that could expose the ghosts' existence or purpose, the human mind will simply search for the simplest living-world explanation. But the truth is far more sinister than the stories let on...
A waiter at a motorway rest stop cleans tables. Spray. Wipe. Spray. Wipe. Pick up empty drink carton. Dispose. Spray. Wipe. His mind is numbed. Perhaps he used to think of things whilst doing his job, but now? Nothing. Spray. Wipe. Mind blank. Slack jaw. The waiter is a perfect target.
The waiter looks up from spraying and wiping and sees a man, sitting in the corner. The man smiles. The waiter looks way; he goes back to spraying and wiping. But something is different. The waiter thinks about the man. His smile, warm and inviting. He'd been noticed.
The waiter glances back up, but the man us no longer there. Gone out for a smoke, perhaps? The question enters the waiter's mind and he drops a carton in the bin, puts away his spray and takes the bin outside to empty.
The waiter self-consciously glances around whilst emptying the bin. There's no-one around and the waiter actually feels disappointed.
If the man had been there, the waiter would have, undoubtedly, emptied the bin, finished his shift and gone home to his wife. His wife would've cooked him some bolognese; perhaps they would've chatted, or just sat in silence and watched the TV, and then gone to bed. He might've waited until she was asleep, then masturbated into a tissue beside her, before going to sleep himself. The next day rolling on to bring a similar cycle.
But instead, the waiter stood still for a while, wondering. He imagined the man had been there. He imagined that he had struck up a conversation.
The man was smoking a strong-smelling cigarette. He blew a smoke ring; the perfect circle drifting up, to eventually be twisted by a small gust and lost in the afternoon air. He smiled to the waiter. His eyes gleamed bright, his mouth somehow offering warmth. They discussed nothing more profound than the clear blue sky, but the man's gentle voice entered the waiter's ears like sweet syrup, closing his mind to all else around him.
The waiter continued to imagine; his mind filled with images. The man said something and the waiter didn't quite hear. He leaned forward and asked the man to repeat himself, but as he did he tripped and fell towards the man.
The man's strong arms caught him. His hard chest, warm through a cloth vest. The waiter looked up to apologise, but as he did the man's lips came down and met his. They remained like that for a few moments; man and man. Then the waiter gave in and opened his mouth, letting the man's tongue in to caress his.
The waiter's heart was beating wildly as he imagined the soft, sweet, smokey tongue of the man rolling around his mouth; sticky, slippery with saliva. He raised one hand and gently felt the cheek of the man. Prickly stubble under his fingertips only served to excite him more. His knees felt weak, but the man held him close as they kissed.
Eventually, they stopped. The waiter was alone outside. The bin, empty beside him.
Later that evening, the waiter ended his shift and went home to his wife. There was an odd spring in his step. He opened the door and welcomed his wife with a big kiss. Complementing her on her perfume, he announced that they were eating out that night.
The waiter's wife put her bolognese in the freezer for another day and the two of them went out for dinner.
They got back much later in high spirits and pulled each other to bed.
"That was wonderful." She gasped, as they rolled back into each-other's arms. "We haven't done anything like that for years!" She looked up at him "What's different, honey?"
"Oh nothing really" smiled the waiter, giving her a kiss on the forehead. "I love you, darling."
"I love you too." She replied, with a satisfied smile. Then, a little later on "... Have you been smoking?"
But the waiter was asleep and didn't hear her.