There’s been a rumor going around about a Ghost Taxi that prowls the alleyways at night. Ghost Taxi was a bit of a misnomer, the name implied that it only ferried ghosts – it did not. The living were its concern as well, the driver just didn’t number himself among them. Mortals could take the ghost taxi, if they had strong stomachs and a firm tether to the substantial realm. Most tended to avoid it all the same.
The taxi usually existed in a gap between the substantial and insubstantial realms, shimmering in and out of focus like a bad T.V. signal. It was like the driver forgot what era he was in, shifting between a 1950’s style cab and a coach-and-four. The closer you got to the cab, the more reality began to slip away. Those without a firm tether to this realm, well, they tended to slip away too.
Half-drunk students used it; too young to care about death and too inebriated to drive home themselves. Some hailed the taxi on a dare, grinning as they stepped out onto midnight-empty streets with the summoning words on the tips of their tongues. Others had it hailed for them by so-called friends who didn’t want to drive their drunk mate home. A few simply stumbled upon it as it idled on the backstreets, waiting for a passenger.
The driver went by many names. His badge might’ve read Charon, but sometimes it was Anubis, Xolotl, or Urshanabi, depending on how the moonlight hit it. Whatever it said, the letters were always flickering between ancient Greek and Egyptian, much like his eyes changed from black to yellow as he waited. Sometimes he would be a man, gray-skinned and calm, cigar dangling from his lips and trailing ash on his cloak. And sometimes, he wasn’t. Jackal-headed, dog-headed, skeletal, or a horrible combination of the three, he never said much to the mortals.
The ghosts found a way to pay the cab driver, even though it’s been a long time since we placed coins under the tongues of our dead – he took credit and debit too. A dollar a ride, no more no less, no matter the currency you used or how far you needed to go.
Midnight until sunrise every night, his cab loiters behind pubs and back alleys. Newly dead, old ghouls, and still living – he doesn’t discriminate. Sometimes here, sometimes not, you won’t find the taxi listed in any directory and no previous passenger will ever refer it to you. But if you spot him, I’d recommend taking a ride. Because the next time you settle into the worn backseat and clutch at the faded seatbelt, stare into that rearview mirror and regret your life decisions, you won’t get to pick where you’re going. So if you need a ride, or a thrill, or proof that a ferryman still helps souls cross over…step outside. Charon will be waiting.