A freelance writer named Kris Kendall wrote the following article in June, 2003. It was published on the now defunct arts and culture Website Jaguaro.org. With his permission, The Typing Monkey republishes the piece in two parts, with minor edits, as a Halloween treat for our readers.
Ghost and the Machine
By Kris Kendall
"'You don't believe in me,' observed the Ghost."
-- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)
"I do believe in spooks."
-- Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion; The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939)
Just before 6 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, May 26, 2003 a seller going by the handle teajay101 (Teajay), offered a strange and unassuming item for sale on the online auction site eBay.
The object was a jar of indeterminate age with a cork lid and wire fastener. It's the type of canning container found at any number of garage sales or antique shops. This particular jar appeared to be painted on the inside -- red and black. On the exterior surface there were several symbols in a crudely swabbed white paint. The item was nothing to merit much attention. Except for the fact that Teajay claimed the jar contained a supernatural spirit.
"Ghost in a Jar," as the item was titled, boasted a starting bid of $99.00. The sale was to go on until June 5, 2003 at which time, per eBay rules and guidelines, the highest bidder would be legally obligated to pay the quoted price and Teajay would deliver the goods in person or via United Parcel Service.
"With it," Teajay wrote in the text that accompanied his original sale post, "I am sure you will be getting the 'Black Thing' also."
It seems that Teajay, upon discovering the jar near a cemetery "back in the early 1980's" broke another painted jar he discovered along with the Ghost in a Jar. This act apparently incurred the wrath of an uneasy ghost -- The Black Thing -- that had troubled and disturbed Teajay ever since.
With the purchase of this hand-decorated jar, the highest bidder, doubter or believer, would also likely take over the burden of a curse to some unknown degree. But like all curses or pacts with the Devil, at least those rendered in popular fiction, the supernatural entity quickly gained the upper hand in this transaction.
What happened in the days following the initial offering of Ghost in a Jar should have been anticipated by eBay's staff. Like an angry genie unleashed, the sale of Ghost in a Jar was almost instantly beyond control.
In the original posting along with the caveat "No Joke Serious Inquiries Only" [sic] Teajay offered a brief history of the Ghost in a Jar and how he came into possession of it.
The story is this: While metal detecting alone in an undisclosed location near an old cemetery and what may have been the foundation of a church, Teajay found a wooden box buried in the soil near the building's foundation. After digging it up and opening the box, he discovered the two jars and "an old journal." Teajay accidentally dropped one of the jars.
It broke and the contents included a candle and a "black mist." Teajay took the other jar and the journal home, leaving the broken jar where it had shattered. (The fate of the box is unknown as it was not mentioned again.) Before leaving, Teajay also took some photos. One includes what appears to a woman and a man standing at either end of a gravesite. They are vaporous and stare directly into the camera's unflinching eye.
Teajay wrote that at home he read the journal, which was scary enough to make "the hair on the back of [his] head stand up!" The pages crumbled and that night he woke to the terrible sensation of The Black Thing pushing on his chest. Teajay "struggled … and managed to somehow escape its clutches."
The Black Thing has attacked Teajay twice since then, although the jar -- always nearby -- remains unopened. Friends who have visited him have seen a "black shadowy thing" slip by in the periphery.
A friend of Teajay's advised him to rid himself of The Black Thing by giving the jar away. Enter eBay. For the winning bid, Teajay promised the jar, the photos from the day he discovered it, a more complete account of his experiences with the jar, a recollection of the text from the journal, and with any luck, "the 'Black Thing' also."
Read Part II