The Hoover Dam is said to be filled with human bones. So the story goes, during its construction, workers who fell into the structure’s wet concrete were left inside, as those in charge believed that the cost and risk of retrieving their bodies would be too great. For those who believe this tale, the dam doubles as a colossal tombstone for those buried within.

Today, this story is widely dismissed as an urban legend. While many workers died during the course of its construction, and those in charge may not have minded doing so from a moral perspective, leaving bodies inside was considered too great a risk with regards to the dam’s structural integrity. 

That being said, this dismissal has not proven comforting to the ghosts who are still trapped inside. Though they now know that the bodies they emerged from never existed, this has only served to make them more restless. They have begun to manifest themselves as cracks and hollows in the artificial stone, making room for a past that never was. As René Daumal notes in The ‘Pataphysics of Ghosts:

“A ghost is indeed a hole; but a hole to which are attributed intentions, a sensibility, morals; a hole, that is, an absence- but the absence of someone and not of something- surrounded by presence- by the presence of one or several. A ghost is an absent being amidst present beings. And as it is the pierced substance that determines the shape of the hole and not the absence which that presence surrounds- for it is only in jest that some tell of cannons of bygone days that foundry workers made by taking holes and pouring bronze around them- when we endow ghosts with intentions, a sensibility, and morals, these attributes reside not in the absent beings, but in the present ones that surround the ghost.”

These spirits never needed to live to know that they would have been left to die. They know this because we speak freely of what we would have done to them; they remember our sins, even when they’ve gone uncommitted. They know that even if we did draw them out of the wet concrete, it would have only been to save the dam, and not them. Though we now know that they never existed, they continue to haunt us just the same, because they know that we would have left their souls inside. 

Though ghosts themselves are an absence, substance can also haunt.

Ghosts of those who never lived differ in nature from imitation ghosts.

The dead who never lived shall also someday rise.