FEATURED STORY
RECENT STORIES
STORIES BY TOPIC
NEWS
SUPPORT DSF
Make the universe a better place! Join Daily Science Fiction for only $15 / year, support us via Patreon, or donate any amount.
TRANSPORTER
Take me to a...
SEARCH
Enter any portion of the author name or story title:
For more options, try our:
SUBSCRIBE
Sign up for free daily sci-fi!
your email will be kept private
TIDBITS
Get a copy of Not Just Rockets and Robots: Daily Science Fiction Year One. 260 adventures into new worlds, fantastical and science fictional. Rocket Dragons Ignite: the anthology for year two, is also available!
KINDLE
Kindle Edition
DSF stories are available in monthly digests for Kindle!
SUBMIT
Publish your stories or art on Daily Science Fiction:
If you've already submitted a story, you may check its:
DAILY SCI-FI
Not just rockets & robots...
"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.






I Mean, It's No Extra Parked Vehicle

Jenna Katerin Moran has naturally curly hair and a compsci doctorate. You can find some of her other work at her website, afarandasunlessland.wordpress.com At the time of this writing, she lives in Portland with her cat, a ghost, and... uh... various other peculiar and astonishing eccentricities. She thinks you're cool.

Melanie is a ghost detective. She works for the HOA to catch undetectable violations of the rules. Today, for instance: the table rattles. The lights blast out. Who is it? It seems to be someone you lost? Maybe somebody whose name begins with J?
They will tell you whose cat has been messing up the garden.
Wham! You can catch them now and drag them off to HOA jail, thanks to Melanie... Ghost Detective!
People often wonder why Melanie polices HOA violations. "Why aren't you catching murderers?" they ask. "Digging up cold cases?"
Melanie mysteriously smiles. She does not explain. This is because the ghosts basically never finger the person the police would want arrested for the crime.
On Thursday there will be another mystery. Is there anyone whose kitchen shelves do not abide by HOA regulations?
Melanie summons up a ghost. The ghost's arms are long and clank with chains. Eerie ghost condensate drips down them. If you collected the condensate and mixed it with sugar and water you could make an excellent energy drink but the supply would be difficult to maintain without killing a lot more people than energy drink companies like to be noticed killing.
(Not a jab at energy drink companies in particular! We all have to compromise to survive in a capitalist society, after all, whether we're humans, kitchen cabinets, energy drink companies, or ghosts.)
Anyway, Melanie summons up a ghost. Melanie asks the ghost whether there is anyone whose kitchen shelves do not abide by HOA regulations. There is a brief discussion which we will not repeat here because it is in an ancient forbidden tongue ("blarblarbl," "glah! Blrarblarblgng" is what I would write if I were convinced that I had to show, not tell) but which amounts to Melanie clarifying that she, as an HOA Ghost Detective, is only interested in violations operating with the local neighborhood.
The ghost gives an eerie wail. It points its hand. The HOA Ghost Detective follows the pointing of the hand. Sure enough, after the HOA Enforcement Squad (Paranormal Division) has forced their way in, there is an erratic, nonconforming kitchen cabinet.
It's all in a day's work for a ghost detective!
Sometimes the ghost detective solves cases involving paint. Sometimes the ghost detective solves cases involving gardening. One time the ghost detective is called upon to determine whether anyone has failed to keep the inside of their mailboxes clean. The ghost is summoned. The kitchen cabinets rattle, becoming subtly misaligned. The flowers wither. Blood drips down the walls.
"I sense that the ghost is among us," says Melanie, HOA Ghost Detective.
"Ask them if they know the location of any treasure!" asks the secretary of the local HOA council, excitedly.
Melanie shakes her head. "I will not," she says, with the stern pride of an HOA Ghost Detective.
"Then," says the secretary, "ask them if there is anyone in the neighborhood who is failing to clean the inside of their mailboxes properly. Because I am pretty sure, you know, that those people down the street aren't keeping up!"
Pictures fly from the walls. The air goes cold. The air rings with a subtle, ghostly shriek.
"I got nothing," says Melanie, HOA Ghost Detective.
"Nothing?"
Melanie listens, puzzled, for a moment, and then she shrugs. "I dunno. Maybe they're all kept clean?"
This was not true, of course. Hardly anybody cleans the inside of their mailbox. At most they will occasionally remove their mail and shake off some of the dust and spiders. Once, Melanie, HOA Ghost Detective, swished some soapy water around and then squeegeed it out, which she regretted bitterly when a letter came and it got a little wet.
Some people think that the ghost was lying.
Some people think that the ghost was misinformed.
I heard a theory once that maybe the ghost wasn't even listening to the question, just trying and trying to tell the Ghost Detective about a serious local crime.
But I don't think it was any of those things. I think the ghost just didn't bother to check.
It's unclear to me why a ghost would even be interested in assisting in this matter.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, December 15th, 2021
Become a Member!

We hope you're enjoying I Mean, It's No Extra Parked Vehicle by Jenna Katerin Moran.

Please support Daily Science Fiction by becoming a member.

Daily Science Fiction does not have a paywall, but we do have expenses—more than 95% of which are direct payments to authors for their stories. With your $15 membership, less than 6 cents per story, we can continue to provide genre fiction every weekday by email and on the website to thousands of readers for many years to come. You may also choose to support us via patreon.

Rate This Story
Please click to rate this story from 1 (ho-hum) to 7 (excellent!):

Please don't read too much into these ratings. For many reasons, a superior story may not get a superior score.

3.8 Rocket Dragons Average
Share This Story
Join Mailing list
Please join our mailing list and receive free daily sci-fi (your email address will be kept 100% private):