Techno Ghost

Drawing of a computer monitor, with a faint outline of eyes and a mouth, and the words: "Find me. Find my killer." Caption reads: "A ghost trapped in a computer."

Techno Ghost short story by Iris Carden

Five storeys below Brisbane’s Roma Street Police Station, is the headquarters for the Human Defence Unit. Its members are drawn from among the highest performing members of military, intelligence, and police forces throughout Australia, along with select highly specialised members of the civilian population. The Human Defence Unit and its elite staff are neither police, military nor intelligence. They do not exist.

Senior Agent Jo Burns called Trainee Agent Harry Smythe to her office. As always, she quizzed him about his knowledge on the subject before taking him on assignment.

“What do you know about ghosts, Harry?”

“Most ghosts are deceased humans with unfinished business. Poltergeists are the outworking of living humans emotions in turmoil, usually teenagers.”

“Leaving poltergeists aside, how do we resolve a haunting?”


“That’s demonic possession. We communicate with the ghost, and we assist in resolving its unfinished business.”

“How do we do that? Ouija board?”

“Sometimes.” She held up a small USB stick. “In this case, an electronic ouija board, invented by the German equivalent of the HDU. We’re visiting a major company, where all of the computer monitors keep showing the outline of a human face, and have been for about a week. We’re presenting ourselves as a specialist IT team, brought in to fix the problem.”

In offices of McMahon and Associates, the agents were given access to a terminal in the business server room. On the screen in front of them were faint outlines of eyes and a mouth, opened in a scream. Jo plugged the USB into the drive, and typed: “How can I help you.”

On the screen, very faint, and appearing to be handwritten, appeared the words: “Find me. Find my killer.”

Jo typed, “Can you give me details?”

No further words appeared on the screen. “They don’t have enough energy for more than that, or maybe they don’t know,” Jo explained to Harry.

“So what now?”

“Let’s meet the CEO.”

Jim McMahon was a large man, who looked like a heart attack waiting to happen.

“We need to know if someone has left the company suddenly, maybe around the time the face appeared.”

“You think it’s sabotage?” the fat man asked.

“I think if you have an employee who has left or gone missing, they might be able to help me fix the problem.”

“One of our IT people, Liz Jones, didn’t show up to work on Monday, no explanation. We haven’t heard from her since. The face appeared on Monday morning. I’ll have someone get you her contact details. Honestly, Liz is a good worker, we were stunned she just ghosted us, and I can’t think of any reason she would do this.”

Jo knocked at the door of the woman’s house. As expected there was no answer. Jo used her lock pick kit. Inside, the house was in disarray, and the smell of decomposition was overwhelming.

“I guess we found her,” Harry said. “Now we have to find her killer.”

Jo found the woman’s mobile phone, and used her “open sesame” card to unlock it.

“Isn’t that what you used to open that parking garage last week? And how many laws have we just broken?” Harry asked.

“It opens practically any kind of electronic lock, and we haven’t broken any laws because we’re not here,” she answered, as she searched the phone.

“Liz was being harassed by a coworker. Looks like Mick was her direct supervisor. She’s turned him down politely, and then more forcefully, but he wouldn’t give up. His last texts were just spewing hatred. Call forensics to be sure, and then we’ll hand over to the police. Mick’s going to jail, and Liz can move on.”

They went back to McMahon and associates. Jo plugged the USB into the computer again. “I found you. Mick is about to be arrested. Rest in peace.”

The face disappeared from the screen.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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