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The story is a 1950's to 1960's sci fi short story of a man that finds some glasses which enable him to see ghosts, and he sees them all around the living. He does something in an old house, it goes wrong and he is killed by the ghost and becomes a ghost in the old house.

Information from comments:

He is given the power to see ghosts as long as he does not cause harm. He tries to use the power to help people (and ghosts who are forced to remain in the world) as well as enrich himself legally. He eventually sends a childhood "friend" to confront a dangerous ghost because he is being taunted as a fraud. The ghost causes the "friend" to run into the noose he hanged himself with and he dies. The protagonist loses his power and winds up getting hung as well. The story ends with the protagonist being hung and forced to become a ghost in that room.

  • Are you sure this is hard science fiction? Ghosts aren't very realistic. – Rogue Jedi May 21 '16 at 23:39
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    I remember the story. He is given the power to see ghosts as long as he does not cause harm. He tries to use the power to help people (and ghosts who are forced to remain in the world) as well as enrich himself legally. He eventually sends a childhood "friend" to confront a dangerous ghost because he is being taunted as a fraud. The ghost causes the "friend" to run into the noose he hanged himself with and he dies. The protagonist loses his power and winds up getting hung as well. The story ends with the protagonist being hung and forced to become a ghost in that room. – sabbahillel May 22 '16 at 3:01
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    @user14111 There is a ghost of a little girle who is waiting for her mother to come get her and a young man ghost who travels around with him who helps him find things , etc. – sabbahillel May 22 '16 at 11:15
  • Hello Sabbahillel and thank you. You win the gold star. The first scenario you described is the exact story I was thinking of. I don't remember a little girl or anything. Do you remember where he got the glasses and any details ? Perhaps the date you belive the story was written. Im gonna say mid 60's but its only an educated guess, and of course who the author of the story is!! This story is one of the scariest stories i have ever read and would really make a good movie !! – Fey Ray May 22 '16 at 19:09
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"Shottle Bop" by Theodore Sturgeon

Originally published in the February, 1941 issue of Unknown, which can be read online at UNZ.org. You probably read this in an anthology that was published in the 1950s to the 1960s.


A man that finds some glasses which enable him to see ghosts.

Not quite. The man sees a strange shop, where an equally strange little man diagnoses him being unlikeable and gives him a 'cure' in a bottle.

"You're in a bad way, young fellow. You have what is known in the profession as retrogressive metempsychosis of the ego in its most malignant form. You are a constitutional unemployable; a downright sociophagus. I don't like you. Nobody likes you."

Feeling a little bit on the receiving end of a blitz, I stammered, "W-what do you aim to do?"

He extended the bottle. "Go home. Get into a room by yourself—the smaller the better. Drink this down, right out of the bottle. Stand by for developments. That's all."

[...]

"I am selling you a talent. You have none now. When you discover what kind of a talent it is, it will be up to you to use it to your advantage. Now go away, I still don't like you."

[...]

That was about the time I remembered the name of the black ingredient with the funny smell. Kohl. It is an herb the Orientals use to make it possible to see supernatural beings. Silly superstition!

[...]

I stood up and looked around, and there in the corner crouched the translucent figure of a little girl.

He tries to use the power to help people (and ghosts who are forced to remain in the world) as well as enrich himself legally.

Indeed. He becomes a ghost counsellor.

I dropped two grand on an elegant office with drapes and dim indirect lighting, and I got me a phone installed and a little quiet sign on the door—Psychic Consultant. And, boy, I did all right.

My customers were mostly upper crust, because I came high. It was generally no trouble to get contact with people's dead relatives, which was usually what the wanted. Most ghosts are crazy to get in contact with this world anyway.

He eventually sends a childhood "friend" to confront a dangerous ghost because he is being taunted as a fraud.

Sam put his hands in his pockets and looked at me down his nose. He was the only short man that ever could do that to me. After a thick silence he said:

"Better get back to yer crystal balls, phony. We like guys that sweat. We even like guys that have rackets, if they run them because they're smarter or tougher than the next one. But luck and grab ain't enough. Scram."

[...]

I had a leg to stand on now. "A phony, huh? Why you gabby Irishman, I'll bet I could put a haunt on you that would make that hair of yours stand up on end, if you have guts enough to go where I tell you to."

[...]

I headed out of town and into the country to a certain old farmhouse. Wolfmeyer, a Pennsylvania Dutchman, had hung himself there. He had been, and was, a bad egg. Instead of being a nice guy about it all, he was the rebel type.

[...]

Eight people had died in that house since the old man rotted off his own rope. Three were tenants who had rented the place, and three were hobos, and two were psychic investigators. They'd all hung themselves. That's the way Wolfmeyer worked.

The ghost causes the "friend" to run into the noose he hanged himself with and he dies.

Not quite. The protagonist saves the ex-friend from hanging, but instead the ex-friend dies of fright.

Tiptoeing swiftly to the door, I stopped just long enough to see Wolfmeyer beating his arms about erratically over his head, a movement that made his robe flutter and his whole figure pulsate in the green light; just long enough to see Sam on his feet, wide-eyed, staggering back and back toward the rope. He clutched his throat and opened his mouth and made no sound, and his head tilted, his neck bent, his twisted face gaped at the ceiling as he clumped backward away from the ghost and into the ready noose.

[...]

"Sam!" I clutched at his shoulder. He pitched over sideways and lay still.

He was quite dead.

The protagonist loses his power and winds up getting hung as well.

See? You see? It was the stuff—that damn stuff from the Shottle Bop. It was wearing off! When Sam died it... it stopped working on me! Was this what I had to pay for the bottle? Was this what was to happen if I used it for revenge?

[...]

I couldn't see ghosts any more. Ghosts could see me now. I ran.

[...]

I screamed and ran again. I tripped over Sam's body. My head went through the noose. It whipped down on my windpipe, and my neck broke with an agonizing crunch. I floundered there for half a minute, and then dangled.

Dead as hell, I was. Wolfmeyer, he laughed and laughed.

The story ends with the protagonist being hung and forced to become a ghost in that room.

Fred found me and Sam in the morning. He took our bodies away in the car. Now I've got to stay here and haunt this damn old house. Me and Wolfmeyer.

  • Good! I've been ransacking my collection looking for this one. Another day and I'd get to the Sturgeons. – user14111 May 23 '16 at 18:35
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This sounds like the original movie Thirteen Ghosts.

  • The OP said it was a short story, not a movie. – Rogue Jedi May 22 '16 at 0:12
  • I think I had magic glassed in mind because of a th – Fey Ray May 24 '16 at 3:45

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