“Come on, pleeeease.”
“Topher, can you not see how busy I am?” Auggie gestured to the massive stack of papers spread across his desk. “Between booking our new locations, sorting out the mess from all that damage we did to the camp, and trying to find a use for that footage I’ve got more than enough on my plate.”
“The footage is easy. Just use it for an episode like I said.” Kay was sitting at her editing station, feet up on the desk, with what she insisted on referring to as a Moscow Mimosa in her hand. In the three weeks since they’d gotten back from Camp Tekonichia the shooting schedule had been delayed while Auggie got their ducks in a row. Originally this had been a bit boring, but ever since they discovered Auggie’s new talent during the first week, it had provided Kay with ample entertainment from Auggie and Topher’s bickering.
“You know darn well we can’t use that footage,” Auggie snapped. “No one would ever believe it was real. Even I find myself wondering if it was touched up with CGI, and I was there for all of it.”
“Not all of it,” Topher said. “The remote camera on the dock caught a lot of stuff you weren’t around for. You know, the swarm of ghosts, the car explosion, the big fight at the end.”
“I was very much there for the car explosion, thank you.”
“I mean the part where it landed. You were floating in the air by then,” Topher said.
Auggie was about to lay into Topher on the agreed upon meaning of “there” when he realized it would take him longer to make that point, then persuade Topher to leave him alone, than it would to just humor the large man’s request.
“If I do this, you have to promise to let me be for three days. No matter what tool or trinket you find, you let me do my work. Deal?”
“Deal!” Topher declared. He pulled out his newest purchase from the envelope it had arrived in, walking over to Auggie’s desk and setting it down. It looked like a pocket watch that had been hollowed out and had electronics stuffed in.
Auggie stared at it, clearly unimpressed. “And what does this one do?”
“It’s supposed to be able to let ghosts be audible to humans.” Topher practically beamed with excitement as he stared down at the oddly-designed device.
“Didn’t we have like four of these?”
“We did, but none of them worked; so I’m trying to find one that does.”
“Maybe you should just cave in and make him one,” Kay suggested. “Otherwise you know he’s going to keep buying these things and bugging you to test them.”
“Oh wonderful, another project to add to my plate.” Though Auggie protested, a part of him was intrigued. Now that he knew spirits were real, and had a capacity to actually analyze them no less, the scientist inside him was roused by all the possibilities. He could break unforeseen grounds in understanding that capacity of a spirit after leaving its body, perhaps even usher in a whole new field of science. All of that would have to come after he settled the shows accounts, however.
“Make sure to turn it on,” Auggie ordered. “I don’t want to spend any longer on this than necessary.”
Topher reached down and pressed a button on the side, casuing three lights inside the device to glow with a light-blue coloring.
Auggie stepped out of his chair and lay on the ground. Through some trial and error he’d found that even the most seemingly secure position in a chair was dangerous once his body went slack. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and pushed against his body in a way he’d never have been able to describe to those who hadn’t spent an entire night as a spirit.
Once a body had been vacated, it was far easier for the spirit to leave of its own volition. Auggie had learned this accidently one evening when he was relaxing in bed and unintentionally slipped right out of his physical form. After a panicked re-entry and a frantic call to Velt, who had thankfully been kind enough to give them her number, Auggie learned that as long as he didn’t evacuate his body for periods of time longer than an hour or so he should be fine. The woman had been rather blasé about it all, as if she’d expected it to happen.
Auggie’s spirit floated up into the air, examining the room with his spectral eyes. No one other ghosts about, that was a good thing at least. He was anxious to see how his ability to interact with other spirits would impact Spectre Quest, since he could now suss out legitimate ghosts and convince them to play for the camera.
“Topher, if you bought this from a place without a return policy I’m taking it out of you paycheck,” Auggie said, speaking as directly to the device as he could. To his great lack of surprise, the device did nothing more than intermittently blink a fourth light.
“I hope this one works,” Topher said. “The website I bought it from is already down, so I don’t think I can get my money back.”
Auggie rolled his eyes, but allowed himself to smile since the other two couldn’t see him. It was a strange life with these two, even stranger now, but it was a happy one. He was thankful that the world hadn’t been overrun with ghosts, and reminded himself that he still needed to send Velt a Thank-You card. Perhaps he’d have Kay bring it on the trip those two had scheduled in afew weeks time.
No sense in wasting unnecessary postage.
* * *
The apartments were hideous: sea-foam green paint with red and black Spanish tiles along the roofs. The sign was derelict and the grass grew at the stage where it was just long enough to be ugly without being so long as to bother the city. Of course, that wasn’t actually what it looked like, merely how it appeared to her. This was a place where mortals weren’t usually welcome, and despite all her gifts and powers Velt was still a card-carrying human.
She walked up the grey brick path from the curb, destination affixed firmly in mind. Without a willful mind once could easily get lost in the twists and turns of the apartment corridors, leading one back outside over and over again. It was a good defense against most mortals, but Velt had never been accused of lacking willpower, though often others called it “pigheadedness.”
“He’s not here.” The voice called to her just before she was about to step into the shaded expanse of the walkway. It came from a young man with thin, pale-yellow hair, sitting on one of the few benches outside.
“Don’t be ridiculous, he’s everywhere.” Velt knew where this was going, but she refused to walk over to him anyway.
“In a way. Yes, he is everywhere, but he isn’t everywhere. Not unless he wants to be, which obviously isn’t the case since I got stuck sitting out here playing messenger. Now hurry up and come over so I can go back inside.”
Velt let out a sigh and walked over. There was no sense in getting mad at Chet for the bullshit his roommate pulled. Despite his job, that guy was weirdly non-confrontational, leaving Chet to deal with a lot of his messes.
“What’s my message?” She plucked down next to him, nose crinkling at the overwhelming smell of pot. If Chet felt any shame about his unabashed drug use, he certainly kept it to himself.
“That you did a good job, that the two spirits who helped you have been properly crossed over, not that either of us really knows what that means, and that the money will be in your account in a few days.”
“See if you can hurry him along. I’ve got a vacation coming up and I could use the cash.”
Chet tilted his head slightly. “That’s a surprise. Going off the grid, huh?”
“Only for a little while. I think even I’m do for a vacation every once and a while. Besides, this was a big one.”
“Too bad they couldn’t have handled it,” Chet agreed.
“Meh, the rules are the rules. Mortal made apocalypses have to be handled by mortals. No point in getting pissy about it.” Velt hauled herself up carefully from the bench, leg still tender from the car crash and fight. At least she’d have the cast off her right arm by the time she and Kay’s trip rolled around. “Tell him he’s an asshole for ducking me.”
“Already did,” Chet replied.
Velt headed back down the grey stone walkway toward her car. Vacation would be nice, when it finally arrived, but until then she still had a few smaller jobs to knock out. There was no rest to be had in this world; not even for the dead.
Well… not for the dead that were assholes when Velt was around.
Daily WordCount: 1,532 Total WordCount: 50,680