It was just like getting drunk, at least the way he’d told his wife. Maybe more like getting high. Either way, not the strongest leading argument for an alcoholic, but when the woman you’ve spent 20 years with finds you in bed with another man, with no memory of how you got there, you’ll try anything to get yourself off the hook.
Not that any of that mattered to Juliet. She was gone, and the only thing left to work out was the divorce settlement. How was Sam ever going to explain his side of the story to their kids? No doubt Juliet had turned them both against him by now, filled their little minds with propaganda of all the horrible things he’d done.
But Sam was a man possessed. That’s what they called it in the Dark Ages, anyway. The new name on the streets was ‘ghosting.’ It was the latest thing — like a drug, but with greater thrills and half the risk, not to mention plenty of willing souls. The trick, of course, was in finding the right one.
There are plenty of spirits out there, searching or waiting for some kind of closure. Purest energy; ethereal ectoplasm. Sublimated lifeforce. The trade was fair and simple — you give your body up to the ghost for the night, and he or she takes it on a test ride. The ghost feels alive again. Better than alive, corporeal, with the freedom to indulge in all the pleasures of the flesh. In turn, you get to get loose and go along for the ride, right in your very own body, with all the joy of losing control.
You know that feeling you get at the apex of a roller coaster? The thrill of near death. Imagine that sensation, but prolonged. For an hour, maybe two. Maybe even a full day. Adrenal glands pumping through your desperate, terrified body as you literally straddle the line between life and death. Like heroin, but without the risk of overdose. Maybe even higher — ghosting has the potential to bring you right up to the very gates of Heaven, before it brings you down again.
But Sam had no idea how it felt for the ghosts. How could he? Even undercover, all he could know was the quiver and kick of being at once both dead and alive. Was it an upper or a downer for them? No one had successfully figured out the cartography of the afterlife. Not yet, anyway — but it was certainly an up and coming field. The whole craze was built on two things: symbioses and trust. But like any good rush, someone always finds a way to monetize it. But how do you regulate an industry where the product and the profit are both warm beating hearts?
Sam was determined to find out. After Juliet, he’d become little more than a living ghost, so there was nothing left for him to lose.