He’d been aiming for the award for the bulk of his afterlife. Every ghost in the business had. But it wasn’t enough just to put on a show anymore- people couldn't just be scared. They had to be scarred for life. They had to be scared so badly that they would develop phobias that years of therapy with expensive analysts couldn’t undo. This, needless to say, was no easy task.
He’d been studying the winners and noticing a trend at the annual ceremonies. These weren’t the moaning, humanistic ghosts of his youth. No, these were the laconic serial killers of the underworld. No gimmicks, no huge production, just little things building up until they can’t take anymore. And then- when their sanity is hanging on by a shred- that’s when you strike. At least, that seemed to be the trend.
So, he went slowly. A random creak in the floor, an appliance turning on out of nowhere, a knock at the window. At first he thought that maybe she was just hard of hearing, so he got a little louder. Not much, still within the realm of normal everyday noises. But loud enough so that he was sure she’d heard.
The sound of footsteps walking down the hall. Ruffling upstairs where no one was. Moving objects to another room. The wind howling when it wasn’t particularly windy. But still, nothing.
He thought she was a sure bet- old widow living all alone, few visitors, ridiculously superstitious. All of the classic signs of someone easy to crack. And yet here he was, months later, and he couldn’t even get her to show signs of paranoia. It had taken the one from 'paranormal activity' less than a month to completely destroy that young couple. Granted, he’d never physically dragged this woman screaming from the bed but he’d messed with her sheets, turned on her fan in the middle of the night, hidden her glasses from her. And with no one else in the house to be doing these things it seemed guaranteed that she’d worry, or at least think it odd.
But she went on about her life as if nothing were at all peculiar. At this rate he would never win the coveted title of Spectacular Specter. Hell, at this rate he might be the one to crack first.
Finally, he resorted to drastic measures. He took her hair ribbon off her armoire and waited for her to sit and braid her hair as she did every evening before bed. She combed out her long, white mane and began folding the hair over on itself as she always did. He waited behind her, watching her in the mirror and trying very hard to make her feel it. She finished the braid and reached down for her ribbon which was not there.
That’s when he slowly, but deliberately dragged it across her neck and started pulling it tight. She looked up into the mirror as if she’d be looking at him if he a reflection and spoke in the calmest, most content voice: “You know if you were trying to scare me you were better off with footsteps.”