Short Stories 366:288 — “Search and Seizure,” by Shannon Barnsley

coverDespite not always loving horror, I do love a good ghost story, and this one, from Nothing Without Us, puts a medical system spin on the “haunted by someone you failed” trope in a way I really, really enjoyed, as it put me 100% on the side of the ghost. Barnsley gives us Cassie, a young woman who is having seizures and trying to get a diagnosis, but the doctors continue to dismiss her as there’s nothing visibly wrong. It’s her iron. It’s her lifestyle. It’s all in her head.

When the worst happens and this lack of functional help becomes lethal, Cassie finds herself still kicking around, and a little confused at first. She occasionally sees others, but there’s a sense of something undone for her, and she finds herself hanging around the hospital, and a particular doctor in particular, with a slowly dawning realization that there’s perhaps no justice to be head, but maybe she can at least find a little bit of satisfaction?

The whole notion of “the real experts are those with the condition” is drawn to a sharp edge with Cassie, through a lens of haunting and ghosts and the supernatural, and the end result is a character in a terrible situation (I mean, she’s dead) who still manages to have such a strong sense of purpose and animus. And, as she grows in her ability to affect the world around her, her choices and what she does with those ever-growing powers, and the eventual ability to be heard? Well. I left this tale with a smile on my face.

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