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The Headless Hunter

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The Headless Hunter is a spirit from the Ghostbusters RPG's Tobin's Spirit Guide (RPG).

Tobin's SummaryEdit

In relative terms, decapitation must not be a particularly terrible way to die. From what we know of physiology, it is apparent that life (and thus, any sensation of pain) ceases in the instant that the spinal cord is severed at the neck. Certainly, then, beheading is a less agonizing way to meet one's end than, for instance, wasting away from a painful disease or bleeding to death from a wound. Having said all of that, we must recognize that there are two sides to every contention. We cannot verify the truth of our first assumption, because of the self-evident fact that no one who has been decapitated has lived to tell what it felt like. And aside from the issue of physical pain, there is something terribly discomfiting about dying in this fashion. Despite the cold logic of my first assertion above there are many-and I number myself among them- who would rather go to the grave in any other way that did not involve the separation of head from body. For those who hold this viewpoint, a headless body is one of the most repulsive images that our minds can conjure up or that our eyes will ever see. Our heads are an integral part of us. They contain and embody all the things that make each of us a distinctive person. It is by our faces that we are recognized. Our brains are what make each of us psychologically and intellectually unique. Our eyes, ears, nose, and tongue are the devices through which we interact with the world around us. Take all of this away from us, and we would be as good as dead even if the act of decapitation did not actually kill us. And so it is with denizens of the spirit world. Because head and body have been sundered, these entities are not whole. They are incomplete, unfulfilled, and they can never rest. They are doomed to wander the earth in spirit form thereafter. When a person's head and body are not laid to rest in the same grave (which is most often the case in these incidents), the spirit of the corpse appears as the image of the headless body. It is able to move, to walk, to ride a horse. It must somehow be able to sense its surroundings, but it cannot speak or hear. Its purpose on this mortal coil is as singular as it is fruitless: to find the body's severed head. The animated body, which I have generically dubbed the Headless Hunter, seems to believe that by locating and repossessing its head, it will achieve wholeness and completeness once again, and with its purpose achieved it will then be able to rest. In fact, this is not true. Even if it were possible for the Headless Hunter to realize its goal, we know that the mere act of possessing one's severed head does not end the spirit's torment. We know this by the numerous sightings of decapitated bodies that are holding or carrying heads-presumably their own. A Headless Hunter of this latter sort seems to have found what it was looking for---or, as is more probably the case, the person's head and body were buried together, so that when the spirit rose, it could bring both parts of the mortal entity along with it. This spirit has its head, but it continues to hunt and to haunt-nonetheless. From this fact we deduce that the actual, ultimate purpose of a Headless Hunter is not just to find its head, but to find a way to reattach it. And the fact that the.spirit has not achieved this suggests that (certain fictional accounts notwithstanding) the reuniting of head and body is impossible in the spirit world, just as it is and certainly will remain-beyond the ability of medical science in the mortal realm. Headless Hunters are liable to be found in any locale. I include them in the section devoted to American spirits because, for reasons yet to be discovered, sightings of this type of spirit were extremely proliferate in the colonies during the time of the United States' revolt against the Mother Country. (You might say it serves the upstarts right, and you would not be alone in that opinion.) In no other place and at no other time have so many decapitated bodies, with and without heads, been reported traversing city streets and country roads alike.

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