Day 30



                “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.

                “Appreciate it.”

                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

Day 29

*              *              *

                Her first punch caught The Emissary right in his torso, or at least where his torso would be if he weren’t a being composed of soul and shadow. It sent him reeling, even as he managed to tear away to last bits of fire clinging to his head. For any normal spirit, such a burning would have had them halfway to dissipated, if not destroyed entirely. Wraiths, unfortunately, were made of tougher stuff. They were the oldest form of malevolent spirits, and they had the power to go with it. They weren’t invulnerable though.

                Velt had already taken out two of these legendary monsters in the past year. Now seemed like a great time to go for the hat trick. She lunged forward, kicking her momentarily off-balance enemy right in what would have been his hip. It was always a strange feeling when her clothing phased through their spectral bodies, only to connect a moment later with the bare flesh waiting beneath. No amount of incorporeal ability could get through her. Velt was as real to the spirits she dealt with as fire or silver; she punched right through the barriers between their worlds.

                The Emissary scrambled up, wounded, but far from incapacitated. His claws extended as the burning red coals of his eye grew brighter. This woman was strong, yes, but she was still only flesh. If he could bear the pain then all it would take was a single well-timed slice. Humans were so ludicrously fragile, after all. Her right arm was either useless or so close to it that the difference was trivial, which meant she would be ill-equipped to defend against a full-assault. No doubt she would get a few blows in with those nimble legs of hers; however, it was more than possible he could sink one of his claws into the soft skin of her throat.

                With a burst of speed, The Emissary darted forward. It swung with both arms, each ending in a set of claws that would turn flesh and blood into nothing more than scatter gore. She blocked his attack with her left arm as he’d expected, then slid around on her back foot to try and dodge the other claw. The Emissayr had been waiting for this, and instead of being caught off-guard he pressed forward. She might land a kick, but he would take a chunk of her throat in exchange. Then, Velt did something The Emissary hadn’t expected.

                She spit in his face.

                He paused, first from sheer surprise, then from a sudden and intense burst of pain. It was so bad that he was momentarily stunned, unable to do more than wail. Velt, on the other hand, had no such issues with movement. She seized the opportunity to strike, grabbing The Emissary’s shoulder and driving several home several powerful knee-strikes to his torso. Just as the pain began to fade, she released her grip, hopped back, and let him have a full-on punter’s kick right in his center of mass.

                It sent him literally flying backwards, leaving him ten feet away when he finally regained control.

                “How… why did that hurt?”

                “Old recipe,” Velt replied. “One part spit, one part bitten off cheek, swish to combine and you’ve got blood filled spit. And that was just an appetizer. I wish I could show you the main course.”

                “Giving up already?”

                “Nothing like that. It’s just that, as I recall reading, your little ceremony and rite bullshit has a clock on it.” Velt nodded upward, to the sky behind The Emissary’s dark form. “In case you haven’t noticed, the sky is getting light. I’d wager sunrise is only a few minutes away.”

                The damn woman was right, the stars had faded completely and the rich black of the evening sky was abandoning them for a putrid grey. There was still time to complete the ceremony, but precious little of it. A quick glance to the portal showed that the car was, while still burning, at least down to a smolder now. It was doable… assuming he could get past the copper-haired woman barring his way.

                Velt seemed the read his mind, holding up her good arm in a fist and flashing him a red-toothed grin, blood from her open cheek wound staining her teeth.

                “One more round. All or nothing. You want a piece?”

                The Emissary wanted more than a piece, it wanted her in shreds. Given the limitation of the looming deadline though, a piece would have to do. This time, he would aim for a piece of her heart, ideally still wet with blood.

                With an angry snarl, he flew forward once more.

*              *              *

                Topher leapt out of the boat as Clinton and Art shoved it onto the shore, Auggie’s still motionless body laid carefully across his shoulder. He scanned the sky again, trying to spot his friend in the growing light of day. There was just too much sky to search, and Auggie’s spirit was already partially see-through. In sheer desperation, Topher put his hands to mouth, and let out a mighty yell.


                “Gah! What!”

                Topher jerked himself around to find himself face to face with Auggie’s spirit floating over from the direction of the dock.

                “Why were you over there?”

                “Well, I saw you get into the boat and assumed, as any rational person would, that you were taking it to the dock. I floated down to meet you,” Auggie explained.

                “Sorry, I was just scared I wouldn’t be able to find you.” Topher delicately removed Auggie’s body from his broad shoulder and laid it onto the damp grass. “Velt says you need to get back in as soon as possible. You’ve been out for too long.”

                “Even if that weren’t the case, you wouldn’t hear me arguing,” Auggie replied. “This brief foray into the afterlife has been more than enough for me. I’m ready to be flesh and blood once more.”

                “It’s not all that bad once you get used to it,” Clinton said.

                “Assumin’ you can go somewhere other than a summer camp,” Art added.

                “Perhaps one day I will find out, but let’s not make it this day.” Auggie floated over to his body, hoping it was the last time he would see it from the outside. “I think it is time for me to come home.”

*              *              *

                The Emissary let out a sound somewhere between a wail and a squeal as Velt’s arm, slick with blood from the gash he’d given her, wrapped around his head and squeezed. She released a moment later, lingering just long enough for the sticky blood to sear into him but not so long as to allow him time to counter attack. They each retreated a few steps, slowly circling one another.

                This fight was maddening, because in other circumstances The Emissary knew he could win. She was still strong, still injuring him every time they clashed, but Velt was slowing down. The blood loss, injuries, and relentless physical exertion were all taking their toll on her body. If he just had more time… but no, once the sun rose the ritual would be ruined. Out of the corner of his eye, The Emissary spotted a cohesive spirit floating on the sidelines watching their battle.

                It was Irwin, that useless lump of ectoplasm who was supposed to have killed this woman hours ago. An idea popped into The Emissary’s head, a way for Irwin to redeem himself. All he needed was one good blow, and the fight would be his, and for that what was required was a distraction. Behind his back, The Emissary crooked a finger at Irwin, getting his attention then motioning for him to circle around behind Velt. The lesser spirit took the cue, floating slowly into position.

                “Decided to call it and go down peacefully?” Velt asked. “I don’t blame you, looks like the sun will be up any minute.”

                “Don’t be absurd. I am here to save the world, to offer all those poor humans a better state of being.” Irwin was nearly there, just a few second longer and they could act. “I will never give up on my duty. You are the one damning these humans to things like pain, disease, fear, and suffering. I come to bring freedom and power, yet you want to keep them chained down by suffering. You are the monster here.”

                “Maybe so. I don’t know if your world would be a better one or not. Maybe it would be a nicer, more peaceful place. Doesn’t really matter to me; my job is to stop you. All that other shit is just details.” Velt brought up her left hand and drew her right foot back, braced for battle. “Besides, there’s not much of a place for someone like me in a peaceful world.”

                The Emissary said nothing more, instead it charged. At the same time, from Velt’s rear, Irwin did the same, rushing at Velt with his shoulder down. It wouldn’t be much of a blow, but it would knock her off balance. In that moment The Emissary would strike, carving her into tatters. It was likely too late to salvage the ritual, the sun’s light was nearly tangible, but if he had to fail then he at least wanted to drag this woman down with him.

                The two spirits raced forward with the single human in between them. It was going to work; this woman was going to die. The Emissary reveled in the glow of satisfaction as its claws ached to be coated in her blood, even knowing it would hurt. They were mere feet away now, time for this fight to come to an end. The Emissary began his swing, ready to carve of swath of pain from this woman’s hide.

                “Ole, mother fuckers!” Velt spun out of the way, ducking her head to avoid The Emissary’s claws, mere instants away from impact. Neither Irwin nor The Emissary could stop in time and two collided, tumbling through the air and landing inches from the dimly glowing portal.

                “Give me a little credit here,” Velt taunted. “Awareness of the environment is part of fighting one-oh-one. Speaking of which, I hope you’re in the mood for a tan.”

                The sun, the damndable cursed horrid sun, had crested the horizon. It was only a sliver, but it was enough for whatever cosmic force governed magic. The Emissary could feel the magic that had soaked into the air crackling, then beginning to flow toward the portal. It increased in power with every passing second and he could feel his spectral form being dragged toward the throbbing red circle that so recently had been a symbol of his triumph.

                “What the hell!” Irwin yelped as the first of the quasi-formed spirits flew past him, sinking into the portal and vanishing.

                “These guys were only here on a night pass,” Velt explained. “And it just expired.”

                More and more of the horde spirits, or what remained of them after the fire, zipped through the air, vanishing in flashes of red light as they were pulled back to the plane they’d sent themselves to all those millennia ago. The Emissary tried to hang on as best he could, even though he knew it was futile. They had failed to free their god, and now he was calling them back to show his disappointment.

                Irwin got up and began to float toward Velt, suddenly far less afraid of her than the glowing circle at his back, but his progress stopped as a firmed, clawed hand grabbed his leg.

                “No, brother. I think you will come back with us. We have much to… discuss.” With that, The Emissary released his clawed hand that had dug into the ground, sending he and Irwin hurtling through the air. Just before they vanished, The Emissary met Velt’s eyes ones last time. He would find a way back to this plane, he would bear his god’s punishment and crawl back if needed, and when he did he would soak his hand in that woman’s cursed blood.

                Then they were gone, and moments later the red circle on the ground vanished, leaving Velt alone on an island with several small fires and an obliterated Dodge Charger.

*              *              *

                Auggie’s eyes opened slowly. It was strange to feel the weight of a body again, to move under the strain of gravity. Then the pain from his body’s cumulative wounds hit him, and Auggie wished gravity was the only thing he had to deal with.

                “Are you okay?” Topher asked, staring down at his friend.

                “I think so.” Auggie’s voice was rough and horse, clearly the being who stole it hadn’t been taking care to speak gently. “I feel like total shit, but at least that means I can feel.”

                “Sounds like a win to me,” Topher agreed.

                Auggie glanced around quickly, realizing they were two people short. “Where are Art and Clinton?”

                “They started fading a few seconds ago, right after the sun rose and that portal thing got bright again. I guess the magic that let us see them is gone.”

                “So, Velt did it? She stopped the apocalypse?”

                “Seems that way,” Topher said.

                “That is a relief.” Auggie’s sense of ease lasted roughly as long as it took him to stand, after which his default pragmatism set in. “Of course, that means now we have to deal a wreck rental car, damaged protpety we don’t own, getting back to town, plus where is… oh no.”

                “What?” Topher tensed, eyes darting about for another rogue spirit to pop-up.

                “Kay. Kay is going to have to hike all the down that cliff. She’s going to be in a terrible mood when she finally gets here.”

                Topher sucked in a sharp breath through his teeth. “Did we have any of that alcohol left? It might calm her a little.”

                “Let’s hope so. You check the main hall while I call someone to come get us.”

                ­-Main story is wrapped, now all that remain is an Epilogue.


Daily WordCount: 2,338  Total WordCount: 49,148

Day 28

*              *              *

                “Are you sure about this?” Kay asked, her words coming just before the warped roar of the make-shift engine shuddering to life.

                “Not particularly, but I don’t have the luxury of time to doubt.” Auggie helped Kay out of the car, then slid into the driver’s seat and gripped the wheel. “Tell me as soon as you light it. I won’t have a lot of time.”

                “That’s sort of my fucking point,” Kay snapped. She pulled out her lighter and glanced at the tremendous amount of gas and liquor shining on top of the Charger’s orange paint. “This is fire, and the whole point of doing this is that fire hurts ghosts. If something goes wrong you could get roasted too.”

                Auggie’s translucent hands tightened around the worn leather of the wheel. “I can think of worse ways to go than saving the world. Maybe there’s some sort of action-hero section in Heaven for people who pull that off.”

                “Since when do you believe in Heaven or Hell?”

                “Let’s just say I am feeling far more open to all manner of possibilities,” Auggie replied. “Now, please light the car on fire.”

                “I wonder if other girls get told that multiple times in the same year,” Kay mumbled. Auggie might have been tempted to ask for clarification, but there was no time. She clicked the lighter on, pressed it to a central spot coated in flammable a liquid, and watched the fire bloom. With a sturdy kick to the tire, Kay whirled around and yelled at Auggie.


                Auggie didn’t need to be told twice. He slipped the car into drive and slammed down on the gas. For the barest of moments, the tires spun uselessly. Then, they finally caught traction, and the Charger zoomed forward, racing toward the edge of the cliff. They’d park far enough back to allow for the build-up of momentum, enough to get the car in an arc that would terminate in the island’s center. At least, that was how Auggie’s calculations estimated it would land.

                Eye glancing to the ground, Auggie could see the shadows flickering about as the fire spread. He just had to get the car over the cliff, and he’d be fine. His foot pushed on the accelerator with all its might, willing to the vehicle to go just a little bit faster. In the end, it didn’t matter if he survived this, but he couldn’t let anything go wrong before the car was airborne. Auggie kept the wheel steady, and though he had no breath to hold, he tried to take a deep gulp of air anyway.

                The Dodge charger flew off the side of the cliff, and for one beautiful moment it hung in the air, suspended by momentum. In that freeze-frame, it almost seemed to be a flaming chariot, delivering a vengeful god from on high. Then, as it always does, gravity asserted itself and the flight metamorphosized into a fall. The hood dipped down, and just like that Auggie and the car were on a crash course for the island.

                Though did consider his life less important than the well-being of the entire world, that didn’t mean he wanted to die if it was unnecessary. He jerked on the handle of the door, popping it open with minimal force. As he leapt out of the falling Charger, taking care to keep interacting with the physical material in order to push himself clear of the fire, his foot accidently kicked the center of the steering wheel just as he shoved himself into the air.

                As the fiery vehicle, strapped down with explosives, gas, and liquor, fell toward the small patch of earth amidst the watery terrain, a strange melody blasted out, catching the attention of the humans and spirits alike. While all noticed it, and therefore became of aware of the impending impact of fire and metal, only Topher actually recognized the song.

                It was the first twelve notes from the song “Dixie.” He had time to think, just before the Charger landed, that whoever owned it had really gone the extra mile their attempts to replicate the General Lee. After that, the only sound to fill the air was a horrific crunch and subsequent explosions.

                Well… that and the screaming of dozens of suddenly flaming spirits. Auggie calculations had been slightly off about where the car would come down. It missed the center of the island, but that was okay.

                The Charger had landed dead center on the portal instead.

Chapter 15

                If not for the horn, Auggie’s body and the evil spirit piloting it would have both been caught in the explosion, if not crushed directly under the falling car. When those curiously upbeat notes bounded through the air though, The Emissary looked up to see what was coming. The other spirits surrounding him did this too, and as a group they realized that something on fire was falling toward them at a rapid clip.

                Before The Emissary was even able to consciously process the danger of being where he was, Auggie’s body had already begun to move. Unlike the spirits, it was still alive, and was hard-wired with things like “reflexes.” Auggie’s body and its unwanted  passenger dashed to the edge of the island, diving underwater just as the car landed and chaos broke out.

                By the time The Emissary regained control and dragged the body back onto land, his orderly army was a thing of the past. The initial blast had taken out nearly all of the troops around the portal, and even those that remained were scattered. Pools of fire had sprung up everywhere, the entire island engulfed in a staggering heat. Even the cold water clinging to Auggie’s body began to dry.

                It was when The Emissary swept his vision to the left that he saw something worse than even the ruined troops or burning wreckage atop his portal. In the confusion of the explosion, that woman had broken free from the pile of spirits that had mounted on her. Now she stood silhouetted in the flickering night, deftly handling every attacker that had the misfortune to draw close enough to fall in her reach.

                The Emissary started forward to handle her, then a thought gave him pause. Hadn’t there been another human with her? The thought came two seconds two late, as Topher’s considerable shoulder slammed into Auggie’s body’s spine, sending The Emissary sprawling to the ground.

                Before he was able to turn around or right himself, let alone deal with the surprising pain of being tackled, milky liquid rained down from Topher’s borrowed bottle. The Emissary glanced up to see the large man staring down with unexpected resolve, lighter in one hand and newly emptied plastic bottle in the other.

                “Get out of Auggie’s body.” Topher flicked the flint and the lighter sparked to life. The Emissary had seen that woman wield the milky liquid on the others, it already knew what the addition of fire would do.

                “Fool, if you burn me then your friend’s flesh will roast as well.”

                “I know that.” Topher held the lighter out, directly over Auggie’s body. If he dropped it, if even a rogue spark happened to fall, there would be no chance to get away. “But I know Auggie would rather see his body destroyed than used to hurt people. So one more time, get the fuck out of my friend.”

                The Emissary was an ancient being, he had worn flesh millennia ago and had served in the domain of all-but-forgotten for ages eternal. He was a leader of men, then a leader of spirits, and had built his life and afterlife around his ability to command and read others. All of that experience served him well as he looked into Topher’s eyes, because he realized something crictically important.

                Topher was one hundred percent not fucking around.

                With a concentration of effort, The Emissary released his grip on the flesh he’d worn all night, rising into the air in his true form. Topher could see him now, a creature formed from darkness, with a pair of red eyes glaring intended murder at the man who had evicted him from his useful home.

                The Emissary snarled at him, enjoying the sudden look of fear in the young man’s eyes. This one was big and strong, he would make a better vessel of flesh. There was still time to clear the circle, still time to complete the ritual. He could still bring the beautiful new world into being. He reached his shadowy claws forward, intent on sinking them into this large man’s vulnerable body.

                “Hey, shitbrick. Let’s dance.”

                Standing a few feet away, wearing a few fresh scratches and bruises, stood Velt. She held up her good hand crooked a finger to The Emissary, inviting him to come play. It was a good strategy, he had to admit that. The woman wanted to draw his attention before he captured another vessel, when she had the advantage. It was a good plan, but he would not fall for it. The Emissary turned back around to face Topher...

                …and caught a blast of fire directly to his ethereal face.

                “Why the hell would you look away from me?” Topher said, spraying the newly grabbed can of bug-spray through the lighter right in this creepy jerk’s face.

                The Emissary let out a hellish screech and retreated, trying in vain to wipe the fire from its face.

                “Take your friend and get back to the mainland,” Velt ordered, turning to follow The Emissary.

                “But I can still-”

                “Bodies aren’t made to last without spirits in them, moron. Now the thing is empty, and Auggie has been disconnect for almost an entire night. He needs to get back in there. Soon.” Velt spared Topher no more words, instead rushing forward to press the opportunity he’d given her by wounding The Emissary.

                Tempted as he was to ignore her and keep fighting, loyalty to Auggie overwhelmed his need to pitch in. Besides, she’d been telling him all night that she could handle The Emissary. Time to let the professional do her work.

                Topher scooped up Auggie’s body, carefully put it over his shoulder, and ran across the island to the boat. Though there were a few of the horde spirits remains, they didn’t feel the need to bother him. Most were either trying to put out fires on themselves, or just steering clear of the growing inferno around them.

                By the time he reached the boat where Clinton and Art were waiting, Topher had realized that Velt had successfully broken the army. All that remained now was their commander.

                -Last fight scene will be just with Velt and The Emissary.

                -Don’t forget to take care of Irwin as well.

                -Wrap up the battle, then start moving things toward the epilogue.


Daily WordCount: 1,778  Total WordCount: 46,810

Day 27

*              *              *

                Auggie barreled out of the car, phasing through more of it than he bothered actually avoiding. If The Emissary had returned, that meant Velt and Topher would be charging in without waiting for them. She might be okay, but Topher was almost certain to end up in dire straits. Against a few spirits perhaps they’d have stood a better chance, and Auggie was going to do his damndest to thin that horde.

                He grabbed one of the jugs of gas and slapped it into place, mounting it on the Charger’s exterior so that it would spill and spread on impact.

                “Aren’t you supposed to be rigging the pedal-holder-downer-thingie?” Kay asked, putting her own gas jug in place.

                “No time. Just get the car prepped.” Auggie grabbed a bottle of liquor and popped the cork, gently dousing the top of the vehicle in trails of booze. They’d stowed a few explosives, items Auggie had pointedly resisted asking Velt why she kept on hand, in the car’s frame, but it wouldn’t hurt to make extra sure that everything flammable was given proper ignition. The plan was to light the top of the car on fire just before sending it over.

                “Do you have some shitheaded way of getting it off the cliff?”

                “Of course,” Auggie assured her.

                “Then why didn’t you use it in the first place?” Kay crossed her arms and halted work, staring at Auggie with the sort of defiance he’d been around her long enough to recognize as non-negotiable.

                “Because it’s dangerous,” Auggie said, continuing to do his own work. “And there wasn’t a need to take an unnecessary risk before.”

                Kay opened her mouth to object, but before she could they both heard The Emissary screaming at his troops, demanding Velt’s blood. Her own words withered under the harsh reality of their situation. Velt and Topher needed their help, and needed it soon enough to still matter. A risky delivery method was better than sitting on the sidelines, watching their friend get massacred and the world end.

                “Throw me some tape,” Kay requested, getting back to work even faster than she’d been going before. She only hoped the two of them would be fast enough.

                *              *              *

                Velt took down the first wave of spirits with a squirt of the mixture in her bottle, something she mentally referred to as bang-juice, and a few sparks from the flare feebly clutched in her shattered arm. Her right hand couldn’t do much, but it could fling sputtering flames about willy-nilly, which happening to be exactly what she needed it to do.

                The fire and liquid combined in air, torching three of the weakly formed attackers and causing them to dissipate within moments. Others were singed, but not outright destroyed. Unfortunately, the horde showed signs of intelligence, since instead of them continuing to rush forward and be burned away, they instead spread out, encircling her.

                By her count, she had one more good gush of bang-juice left in this bottle, and maybe a minute remaining on the road flare. She had more of both, but with only a single arm it would be nearly impossible to pull them out and still defend herself. So, one more fire-attack, and then it was down to hand-to-hand. That suited Velt just fine, she was far more comfortable using her own strength than she was with tricks and tools. They were useful, there was no denying it, but at the end of the day she never trusted anything the way she trusted her own fists.

                As the spirits tried to form a perfect ring around her, one taking a spot directly at her back felt a blast of heat, then light, then horrible pain. Topher emerged from the shadows, makeshift flamethrower at the ready, and took a spot defending Velt’s rear.

                “I thought I told you to stay put unless I needed you.”

                “Being surrounded on all sides seemed a lot like you needing me,” Topher snapped, flicking his lighter and staring down a spirit that had been looking aggressive.

                “Not sure if you’re overestimating them or underestimating me, but either way I’m a little offended.”

                The spirits finished spreading out, the only hole in their circle the one that Topher was nervously yet relentlessly defending. Though they had no muscles to tense, each member of the horde appeared to be doing just that, flexing their internal might as they prepared to charge.

                Velt glanced away from them for only a second, locking eyes with Topher and flashing a weary smirk. “Five bucks say I take out double what you do.”

                “You’re on.”

                There were no more words, no more time for banter, as the spirits raced forward, coming at Velt from nearly every angle. She put the flare next to the tip of the bottle and  whipped both through the air, creating a thin but steady arc of bang-juice that caught fire as soon as it left the container. Within seconds she was out of fuel, but two of the ghosts were burning. The bottle, already warps from the heat, hit the ground as she slammed a fist into the nearest spirit’s face. Clearly, it hadn’t been expecting a bare-handed offense, let alone an effective one. What had it expected made no difference as Velt’s attack carried through, lifting it off the ground and sending it sprawling through the air.

                She swept her leg, wincing at the pain as she took down two attackers from her left. Admittedly, it didn’t exactly knock them over since they were playing fast and loose with gravity, but it still sent them sprawling through the air, which gave her time to deal with the next spirit stupid enough to get within her striking distance.

                Topher was behind her, doing a surprisingly good job of holding own against the various sprits that decided he was impediment enough to warrant some attention. His mini-flamethrower wasn’t potent enough to take out a spirit unless he caught them by surprise, like he had the first one, but it was capable of keeping the spectral attackers at bay. The only downside was that he could already feel the can getting light as the fluid ran low. He had three more cans stuffed in his waistband, as well as a small bottle of Velt’s bang-juice, but he was hesitant to grab another until the one he used was completely empty. After all, once he ran out of fire, he was going to be pretty much helpless.

                As Topher battled, one spirit hung to the sidelines, concealed by the other’s formation. Irwin watched as the big man sprayed and swept his flame, noticing the way he would periodically shake the can. It wouldn’t be a large window, but if he was quick, it would be enough. Irwin knew he could never take down Velt himself, the growing count of beaten or fully-destroyed warriors proved that point throughly. What he could do was the same thing he’d always done: hide behind someone bigger and strong.

                All-too-soon, Topher’s can of spray refused to cough up more than a few droplets. He let the can fall from his hadn and reached into his belt for another. Just as his hand closed around the surpringly cool metal surface, Irwin barreled forward from his hiding spot, sinking a heft shoulder into Topher’s injured rib. It knocked him off balance, but still Irwin pushed. He put every bit of concentration he had into shoving the muscular man along. He managed to move him less than ten feet, but unfortunately for Topher, Velt was only nine feet away.

                She was fending off an attack from a trio of spirits, and by the time she noticed his flailing form it was too late. Topher smacked into her and both of them toppled over, falling to the ground. Neither was actually injured in the collapse, but unfortunately they were both left prone, without weapons or defenses. The spirits needed no more invitation to seize the opportunity, and as Irwin quickly retreated from the impending fray, the others charged, ready to end this scuffle with a blow of deadly finality.

                *              *              *

                Across the island, the bulk of the spirits still lingered around The Emissary, providing a protective buffer in case one of the humans got free. He stood over the red circle in the ground, countless magical runes all piled atop one another. How many had died to provide the energy and power needed to fulfill this ritual? How much time had been sacrificed, all leading to this moment? All of it leading to this moment, to when their efforts would at long last bear fruit.

                The Emissary raised the hands of this pilfered body and began to recite the rites of the final ceremony. Final not just for his goals, but for the world of the living. With the first word he could feel the power on the other side of the portal trembling, the undead god scratching at the steadily weakening barrier. Only a little longer now, and that barrier would be torn asunder.

                Only a little more, and the world would be changed forever.

                -Finish this chapter with the next scene jumping to Auggie and Kay. Close out with a bang.

                -Next chapter should probably be the final chapter of the conflict. Once chaos reins, Velt and Topher have the advantage.

                -Try and leave a little room in the wordcount for a decent Epilogue.


Daily WordCount: 1,528  Total WordCount: 45,032

Day 25

*              *              *

                “-and once we’re there, you two get clear, no pun intended. What we’ve got planned isn’t exactly targeted, and if you really are on our side I’d hate to see you caught in the crossfire.”

                Clinton and Art both nodded their understanding. Velt was being tight-lipped about whatever it was she had planned, but they’d seen enough anger in her eyes to trust that she meant it when she said to stay away for their own safety. Velt never struck anyone as the type to over-estimate how much violence going to occur.

                “Velt! We have to move!” Auggie phased the through the wall a rapid clip, floating so fast he nearly careening right into the bandaged woman. It was only luck and a quick turn that saved him. He didn’t even pause to reflect on how close he may have just come to destroying himself, the news he had was too urgent. “I can touch living things, which means the third ritual is complete, right?”

                “That cocksucker, he’s faster than I thought,” Velt all but spat. “Are the others ready to go?”

                “Kay is waiting at the car and Topher is heading this way, he just had to go through the actual doors.”

                “Good. Go back get your part of the plan into motion. As soon as you get to the cliff, send that damn thing over. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in place or not, understand? Attack immediately, we have to wreck their stronghold.”

                “I understand.” Auggie turned to leave, then paused for just a moment as a thought struck him. “Velt… why didn’t I feel it this time? The other two rites nearly drove me insane, but I didn’t get so much as a twitch on this one.”

                “I’ve got a hunch, but it will bum you out,” Velt warned.

                “More than having my body stolen and facing down the end of the world?”

                “Good point. My guess is that each time The Emissary does these rituals, he’s dragging the world of the dead further into the land of the living, and that kind of thing is uncomfortable for those being dragged,” she said. “The reason you didn’t feel it this time is that the process was already so far along that it didn’t represent a very big change.”

                “So, the world of the dead is already so close to the living that this was barely a hop,” Auggie surmised. “I think I’d better get back to the garage.”

                “Damn, you are a smart one.” Velt watched him go, nearly crashing into Topher as the large man barreled out the front door of the main hall. He glanced around nervously before his eyes finally fell on Velt and he rushed over.

                “I’ve got everything I need.”

                “Up to, and including, false confidence,” Velt said. “Come on then, let’s go. We’ve got a lovely canoe ride across the haunted lake, followed by an almost certainly deadly battle on the island of half-formed spirits, all leading up to a showdown with the body-snatching asshole trying to destroy the world as we know it.”

                “I bet you use this date on all the guys who stupidly volunteer to risk their lives and stop the apocalypse.”

                Velt snorted in spite of how crazy the situation was. It wasn’t entirely her fault, she always tended to get a little giddy when facing deadly opponents. It was either that, or let the fear overtake her, and she didn’t have the luxury of indulging in a nice quiet panic attack.

                “You joke, but it’s been so long since I went on an actual date I probably would drag the guy to something like this. Which, now that I say it out loud, is just a fucking depressing realization.”

                “Here’s an idea: how about if we both make it through this, you let me take you out on a real date? I promise no supernatural weirdness of any kind.” Topher gave her his best charming grin, and for a moment Velt actually felt tempted. He was kind of cute, and she didn’t object to a man who stayed in shape.

                “Sorry bucko, no can do. I don’t date for a reason. And besides, you can’t keep that no supernatural stuff promise. It’ll find me, it always does.”

                “You could let me try.” If he was bothered by being unceremoniously shot down, he didn’t show it.

                “Look, if we make it through this and neither of us dies, I’ll buy you lunch. A platonic, ‘We’re-Not-Dead’ lunch. Take it or leave it,” Velt said.

                “I’ll take it,” Topher said immediately. “Alright, I got you to actually make plans with me. Now we just have to save the world. Should be the easy part.”

*              *              *

                “Forget it, you’ve had alcohol and don’t possess a license.”

                “My last drink was hours ago, dick, and you don’t have experience driving through back-ass wood at night while keeping the accelerator down.” Kay held firmly to the steering wheel, refusing to give Auggie any opportunity to take hold of it.

                “But I’m the one legally allowed to drive!” Auggie protested.

                “Yeah, but I’m the one who can drive better. Look at it this way, we’re trying to drive a car that’s half re-wired bullshit and half bomb over a cliff to stop an apocaplyse. Those are some exisgent fucking circumstances if ever I’ve heard them.”

                Auggie stared at her, temporarily stunned into silence, then spoke more quietly than before. “How do you know what exigent circumstances are?”

                “Please, you think I don’t pay attention when my lawyer is telling me what to plead?” Kay fired up the engine, unwilling to waste anymore time on debate. “Just hold onto your ghostly ass, I’ll get us up that cliff in no time. I assume once we’re there you have a way to send it over?”

                “Obviously. I brought tools to rig the accelerator to the floor so it will drive itself over the edge.”

                “Fate of the world and all that shit aside, that’s probably going to look fucking awesome when it lands.” Kay shifted the Charger into gear, adjusted her mirrors, and mashed on the gas, sending them sputtering and pinging into the night.

                “Scientifically speaking, hell yeah it will.”

                 *              *              *

                It was almost done; the new world had nearly arrived. With the completion of the third ritual, all the preparations were complete. He had successfully created a sealed environment where the dead could walk freely, now all that remained was to free his god, who would spread unleash the power of the dead across all corners of the world.

                The Emissary hurried, Irwin floating silently several steps behind him. It would be faster if he abandoned the flesh, this vessel whose energy he’d used through the first three rituals. Faster, yes, but also riskier. The final ritual should be doable even without a body, however some tasks were too important to trust to mere probability. No, he would hold this husk of a hostage until the ritual was complete. Only then would he shed the trappings and regain his true form: that of a higher being.

                Besides, this body might prove an effective shield, in case that woman were to reappear. The emissary did not doubt Irwin’s account of injuring her, but he also did not put much faith in Irwin’s judgment. She did not seem the sort to die so easily.  The Emissary suspected he wouldn’t truly believe she was out of the picture until he choked the breathe from her vulnerable flesh with his own hands… and perhaps even then he would linger around a bit, just to be sure.

                Whether she was truly dead or not would be irrelevant soon. The Emissary felt dark water pool in the base of the stolen body’s shoes as he stepped onto the lkae’s bank. There, across the black waters, was the island. The first vanguard of servants were eagerly waiting for him, guarding the portal as they’d been ordered. Only one more ritual to go.

                One more, and the world would belong to his kind forever.

Chapter 14

                “I have to admit, this is a pretty quick way to get across a lake,” Topher whispered.

                “When in doubt, use the tools you have close at hand,” Velt replied, voice equally soft.

                The two were sitting in one of the camp’s few remaining canoes that hadn’t rotted or been destroyed, moving steadily but quietly across the water’s surface. Such a feat would have been impossible if they were rowing, not that they had any oars to begin with, but Velt had hit one a stealthier way to move their tiny boat along.

                On either side of the canoe was one of the spirits, Art or Clinton, spectral hands clutched onto the wooden surface as they pushed the vessel along. Velt had gotten the idea as soon as she found out they were able to touch objects. It wouldn’t give them much in terms of the elements of surprise, if anything, but it might give them something. At this point, Velt would take any advantage she could get.

                “I think that’s close enough, boys,” she said. The canoe halted its forward progress. Velt had stopped them a ways from the island, however they could still rush forward and close the distance if needed.

                “What are we doing now?” Topher asked.


                “Waiting for what?”

                “Either a car careening off a cliff and lighting these bastards up, or The Emissary arriving. I’d like to have Auggie and Kay thin their troops first, but I can’t let the ritual start. There’s always the chance that the car won’t make it, or something will go wrong, and if we try and wait it out we’d just be standing here, dicks in our hands, as the undead swarmed up and overtook the world.”

                Topher coughed, a gesture equal in both the quietness and awkwardness with which it was performed. “You… um… you don’t have a…”

                “It’s just an expression; you understand what I mean. I hope our signal to move is that car going over the cliff, but I can’t depend on that.”

                “Auggie and Kay will come through, they’re both too stubborn to let anything stop them,” Topher said.

                “For our sake, not to mention the rest of the world’s, I really hope you’re right.”

                 *              *              *

                It was a testament to Auggie’s technological skills that the car’s engine held up as it whipped across the narrow path, straining against the challenge of the incline to move its metal body across the rough terrain. It was a testament to Kay’s driving abilities that they managed to get up to the top of the cliff without plowing into any trees, boulders, or other types of debris. At one point she nearly hit a rabbit, but some heretofore unknown instinct in its DNA commanded it to leap out of the way at the last moment, sparing it a bloody end beneath the ancient tires.

                “For the first time tonight, I am deeply, sincerely grateful that I do not have a body. If I did, I fear basic concern for my safety would have rendered me catatonic.”

                “Bitch bitch bitch, I haven’t wrecked us yet, have I?” Kay asked.

                “The absence of past events doesn’t preclude them from happening in the future.”

                The Charger burst through the last bits of brush, coming to rest at the top of the cliff overlooking the lake. It was almost peaceful to behold, the late night’s sky twinkling with fading starlight, all reflected in the dark, still waters of the lake below. This was a spot famed for its romance among counselors back when the camp was functioning, and it didn’t take much in the way of observation skills to see why.

                Of course, the effect was somewhat marred by the horde of ghosts milling around the circle of red ling on the island, but that was precisely what Kay and Auggie had come here to fix.

                “Look at that shit, made it safely after all,” Kay announced, letting the engine die. She popped open the door and emerged from the driver’s side, then headed around to the back and popped open the trunk. “I’m going to start getting the gas jugs and liquor bottles prepped, you set-up your auto-pilot doo-dad-fuckery.”

                Auggie slid over to where Kay had been, grabbed his bag of tools, and went to work. By his estimates, they could have the car ready to go in five to ten minutes. The drive up had taken surprisingly little, thanks in no small part to the very driving skills he’d been critiquing from the passenger’s seat. It would be close, but if they hurried then they should be able to get the horde of ghosts destroyed before The Emissary arrived on the island.

                He’s no sooner finished that moment of calculation than he heard a boisterous cheer roar forth from the island. Though he was too far away to make out details, the way the ghosts were gathering up around one side, encircling a single spot, told Auggie all he needed to know.

                They were just a hair too late, and The Emissary had beaten them to the goal.

                 *              *              *

                “That rat-bastard is fast,” Velt muttered. She gently knocked on the side of the canoe, getting the attention of Art and Clinton. “Full steam ahead you two.” As the canoe began to move, Velt reached into the duffel bag at her side, pulling out several road flares and two plastic bottles filled with a milky substance.

                “Liquor?” Topher asked, getting his lighter and bugspray ready.

                “Pretty much. It’s mixed with non-dairy creamer for extra kick.”

                “Non-dairy creamy is flammable?”

                “Are you kidding? The stuff is super potent. It’s what stage magicians use to make fireballs,” Velt told him.

                “I see. So you’re going to throw the liquor and creamer at them, then light it with the road flares?”

                “That’s the gist of it.”

                “Maybe next time you should make water balloons,” Topher suggested. “That way you can just toss them, they break, and you’ve got a good spread instead of just spurts from the bottle.”

                “You know… that’s not a terrible idea,” Velt admitted. “If I get out of this one alive, I’ll keep it in mind.”

                “Glad to help. Any advice for me?” Topher glanced over the edge of the accelerating boat. They would both be on the island in less than a minute.

                “If it isn’t me, burn it. If you run out of spray, grab a stick and light it on one of the nearby fires then use it as a weapon.”

                “How do you know they’ll be a fire for me to light the stick on?” Topher asked.

                Velt answered his question with an over-sized smile and a jiggle of one of the bottles in her hand. That pretty much told Topher all he needed to know.

*              *              *

                The Emissary was wet, his stolen body trying to shiver aft her experience of swimming through the cold waters to the island. It wouldn’t hold up in this state for very long, but fortunately he only needed it for one more task. After that, he’d shed it like a rotten cocoon and re-ascend to the his glorious fleshless existence.

                As he pulled himself onto the island, the spirits gathered around him, letting a triumphant cheer at their leader’s return. These loyal souls were closer to wisps than true spirits, much of their strength had been sacrificed to feed his own power. He intended to see each of them restored as well as every other follower waiting to cross over from their god’s domain. For millennia they had served there, waiting for the ritual to be complete, earning a place to linger as the fruit of their efforts ripened. The Emissary would bring them all back, and they would be the rulers of this new, better world. The faithful would be repaid and the blasphemers would be torn to dust and scattered on the wind.

                He barely had time to soak in the welcoming words of the spirits gather around him, let along begin the ceremony, when the first inhuman howl tore through the night. From the back of the crowd, a bright light rose. It was unlike the crimson taint that oozed from the waiting portal. No, this was clear and unsullied, it danced across the shadows, destroying all it touched. As the spirits parted, The Emissary could make out a pair of spectral soldiers laying on the ground, their form rippling into nothingness as the fire devoured them whole.

                Next to them, holding a sparking cylinder and a plastic bottle, was that woman. Her right arm hung low, probably broken in the crash, and there were bandages wrapped around her appendages and head. One might have expected that to dull her ferocity, but one would have been exceptionally mistaken in such a belief. She locked eyes with The Emissary and gave him the smile of a jungle cat watching from the underbrush. There was no deception in her, no false overtures. Her sentiment was perfectly and honestly written across her face: she had come to sow havoc and reap destruction. In a strange way, The Emissary respected her candor. Though they were clearly entrenched on different sides of this battle, he found it impossible not to appreciate someone who entered battle with such earnest intentions.

                “You appear to have failed me after all, brother.” His eyes flicked to the edge of the body’s vision, taking note of Irwin trying to float quietly away.

                “N… no I didn’t! I haven’t failed you unless she actually stops the ceremony. If I deal with her right now, I’ve still done my duty.” Just as Velt did not conceal the violence in her intentions, Irwin made no effort to hide the desperate begging in his voice.

                Had he been a few steps closer, The Emissary would likely have destroyed him right then and there. However, Irwin was just far enough away that attacking him would require The Emissary to turn his back on Velt. Even at this distance, that was not the sort of thing he could see going well. In this situation, it was better to let her handle Irwin and hope his flailing failure bought them more time.

                “Very well. Go forth and prove yourself, brother. It is the last chance you will get.” The Emssairy leaned back and raised his voice, bellowing to all the spirits clustered about. “That woman has come to stop our ceremony, to invalidate the countless years of sacrifice and effort we gave to create a better world. Kill her now, no matter what the cost!”

                Across the island, Velt licked her lips and tightened her grip on the flare. This was going to be interesting.

               -Had to write ahead, since I'll be going to a friend's wedding tomorrow and won't have a chance to work.

               -Next scene will cut to Auggie and Kay getting the car ready.

                -Dropped the backstory idea from the boat-ride, didn’t fit the attitude of the scene. May go back and remove from initial chapter.

                -Next chapter break will be when the car issue is resolved.


Daily WordCount: 3,141  Total WordCount: 43,504

Day 24

Chapter 13

                When Irwin found The Emissary, the latter was deep in the woods, stumbling about as he searched for the final site. The thread of magic that connected him to it was persistent, but weak. This was where the land had changed the most, the tree and animals sowing new life over the hidden shrine to death. It delayed The Emissary, but did not deter him. He could feel the site all but thrumming with power, begging to be set free. It was so near now, the time of the rising, when life would be swept clean from the world and only the glorious dead would remain.

                Irwin approached carefully. He wasn’t sure how he’d been able to locate this place. Ever since he basked in the light of the last site, he’d felt this strange tug in the core of his gut. It whispered to him, guiding him on where to go, where he needed to be.

                “It’s done,” Irwin said, voice so loud that it scared off some of the surrounding wildlife. The Emissary winced involuntarily, then glanced about to see if anyone had begun approaching. Silence was one’s native tongue when being hunted, but he supposed such follies were to be expected when one worked with idiots.

                “Is it now?” The Emissary replied. “You’ve sent her across the divide, torn her loose from that blasphemous flesh she wielded? Do tell me, brother, how did you manage such a feat?”

                “I made them crash their car. When I left, she was in a bloody heap. If she isn’t already dead, she will be soon.”

                The Emissary had no idea what a “car” was, but he’d no sooner thought of it than images bubbled forth from the flesh’s mind. A four-wheeled conveyance mechanism powered by liquid fire. How interesting the world had grown in his absence. Perhaps when the cleaning was complete he would find one of these devices and try it out for himself.

                “A bloody heap… and you’re certain she will not be troubling us anymore?”

                “I guarantee it,” Irwin said. “By the time she limps out of that wreckage we’ll have already won.”

                “You had better be right.” The Emissary didn’t bother threatening Irwin with what would happen if he was wrong. There was no point in it, they already knew the score. Better to focus on the third ritual. Even now, with his main threat supposedly eliminated, The Emissary wished to be done with his tasks. He reached the dirt covering the last site before the island, and began to dig. For now, there was work to be done.

                Only a fool celebrated before victory was fully achieved.

*              *              *

                Auggie slammed the hood down with a forceful push, still enjoying the ability to move objects once more. It had been hard work, and he’d made more than a few on-the-spot modifications that had tested the very limits of his ingenuity, but it was done.

                “Were I presenting this to a mechanic or car aficionado, I daresay they’d have an outright fit about what I’ve done, however it should run. Just not for very long.”

                “Then someone turn the key and let’s test it,” Velt said. She was in the corner of the garage, filling up the bottles that had already been emptied, along with some old plastic jugs they’d found, full of gas syphoned out of the SUV. The charger only needed a bit for what they had planned, so the rest was better used to add some oomph to its inevitable crash.

                “Key?” Auggie would have blushed, if he’d had blood and skin. “I, um… I forgot that we don’t have a key.”

                “Well then hotwire it, Mr. Technology.”

                “Why would I know how to hotwire a car?”

                “Maybe because you just Frankensteined an engine using salvaged parts and shitty tools,” Velt pointed out.

                 “Yes, but hotwiring is a different skill altogether. That’s illegal!”

                “Relax, I’ve got this,” Kay volunteered. She strolled over to the driver’s dive, grabbed and screwdriver and a pair of wirestrippers from the workbench, and slid into the car. Moments later, the Charger roared to life, though it was pinging and sputtering as it did. This was not the sound of a healthy engine, but it was the sound of something that would move and that was all they needed.

                “Guess that means Kay is riding shotgun,” Topher said over the sputtering racket.

                “What do you mean?” Auggie asked. He motioned to Kay to kill the engine, and the noise died away a few seconds later.

                “I mean the car is a two-seater,” Topher explained. “Since she’s the one who can turn it on, Kay will have to drive it up with you. Then you can rig it blow and send it over the cliff. It will get her as far from the island as possible, just in case things go badly.”

                “And where do you think you’ll be during all this?” Velt had a damn good idea of exactly what he was planning, but she was hoping he’d surprise her by showing a little bit of common sense. Auggie could have told her that hoping Topher would show sense was liking hoping a cat would show humility.

                “I’m going with you to the island.” Topher held up a hand in an effort to stop her objection before it even left her mouth. “Don’t even start trying to fight me on it. For one thing, you’re going to confront the guy who stole my best friend’s body. For another, you’re injured and could use the help. And lastly, the fate of the freaking world hangs in the balance, do you really expect me to sit on the sidelines and do nothing?”

                “Last time you came out I had to save you, and it resulted in The Emissary getting away.”

                “So don’t save me this time.” Topher held up a lighter and a can of bug spray he’d taken out of Auggie’s bag. “I’ll take care of myself, and if I can’t… maybe I can make a little bit of a difference before they take me out.”

                Velt dearly wanted to tell him to screw off in no uncertain terms, to tear his idea and ego apart until he no longer harbored any such crazy notions of jumping into a supernatural fray. Topher was a nice guy, not the smartest guy in the world, but she’d met the smartest guy in the world and he wasn’t as enjoyable as Topher anyway. He should lay low and survive, so that he could go back to his normal life when this was all over. The trouble with turning him away was that… Topher was right. She was injured, and the stakes were too high to risk failure. At the end of the day, Topher just wasn’t as important as the rest of the world, so if he was willing to dive into battle and lend a hand, Velt couldn’t afford to say no.

                “You understand this means you’re probably going to die, right? In the permanent way, not in the ‘there’s still a thin string of hope’ way like Auggie.”

                “Maybe so, but I’ve always had a knack for succeeding when people thought I’d fail,” Topher replied.

                “Also, what do you mean ‘thin string’?” Auggie added.

                “It means I’ll do my best, but you’re a smart guy. We’re past making tactical choices and minimizing risk of casualties. This is a last stand maneuver, and no one can make promises about survival when it comes to those. If I have to choose between stopping The Emissary and safely recovering your body… well, I’m sorry.”

                Auggie nodded solemnly, then looked at Topher and Kay. He loved his friends, he loved working with them and producing a show that afforded them freedom and travel. Auggie had loved his life, even if some would have considered neglectful of certain aspects of it. He didn’t want to be dead permanently, he didn’t want to move on. But, even more than that, he didn’t want Topher, or Kay, or his sister, or any of the other people in the world he cared about stuck in the same situation as him.

                “Do what has to be done,” Auggie said, mustering all the conviction he had to get the words out.

                “For what it’s worth, if things go south, I’ll make sure you get the VIP handling when you are processed over.” Before anyone could ask what Velt many, she grabbed her bag and headed toward the door. “I’m going to go brief the other two spirits on the plan. Get the car prepped, and then maybe say whatever needs to be said between you three. Be ready within ten minutes.”

                Without another word, she walked out of the garage, heading toward the main hall’s exit.

                “I guess she means we should say our last words, just in case, doesn’t she?” Kay slid out of the car and walked over to Topher and Auggie.

                “That’s how I took it,” Auggie agreed.

                “I don’t have much you don’t already know. Auggie, you’re my best friend and I love you. Kay, you’re a nutcase, but you’re a wonderful person and I’m thankful for the time we spent working together. If I don’t make it, I’ll try to haunt our office, so maybe do an episode where you investigate it. Should keep costs low.”

                “I appreciate that,” Auggie said, smiling in spite of himself. “Topher, it seems like you’ve spent the entire time we’ve known each other dragging me into trouble of all different types. Without your influence, my life would be structured, orderly, and safe. So, from the bottom of my heart: thank you. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend.” He turned to Kay. “From the way you drink and live, you’ll probably be joining me on the other side sooner than later.”

                “No argument here,” Kay agreed.

                “You constantly made my days more aggravating, but you also helped make them more interesting. I wish you only the best in whatever strange twists your life presents you with, and I’m saddened by the idea that I won’t be there to see them.”

                “Worse comes to worse, I’ll take careful notes,” Kay said. Both men stared at her, waiting for whatever goodbye she intended to impart. “Topher and Auggie, both of you are fucking weirdos. One is a gym-rat who believes in ghosts with the unwaveringly certainty of a child, and the other is an anal-retentive geek who secretly yearns to be more exciting. The fact that you both even exist, let alone are friends, is a testament to how crazy-ass chaotic the world is by its very nature. So neither of you are allowed to do anything as mundane as dying, because it took me this long to find people as fucked-up as me and I’m not letting either of you go without a fight.”

                “Well, I think that ends it better than anything I could have come up with,” Topher said. “Pre-death group hug?”

                “Just this once,” Auggie said.

                “Yeah, why the fuck not,” Kay agreed.

                The three embraced, each lost in their memories of the times spent with one another. There is no telling how long they would have reveled in the shared friendship, but Kay’s voice pulled all of them out of the moment.

                “Auggie… why can I feel you? Like, with my hands.”

                Auggie jumped back at her words, then carefully reached out and touched Kay’s hand. Her skin felt firm beneath the gentle carress of his fingers, and all three reached the same conclusions simultaneously. It was Auggie, however, who put a voice to their realization.

                “Ohhhhhh fuck.”

                -Clock has now started on final battle. Need to get everyone moving for the last fight.

                -When Velt and Topher are rowing to the island, maybe use the opportunity to talk about Topher’s ghost belief and hinted at backstory as a brief bit of comedy before the explosion of action.

                -Make sure to address why Auggie didn’t feel this change come on like he did the others.


Daily WordCount: 1,945  Total WordCount: 40,363

Day 23

                “Why on earth would ghosts care about an explosion?” Topher asked.

                “They wouldn’t, not about the blast anyway. Now the resulting fire, they’d give a lot of fucks about that.” Velt took a roll of bandages and did her best to cover her wounds. Thankfully, Auggie’s overly careful nature, along with Topher’s tendency to injure himself, had resulted in him bringing basic first-aid supplies to all shoots. “It’s supposed to be sort of a secret, but since the world is basically doomed unless we succeed I may as well tell you: fire hurts spirits. It can even destroy their grip on this plane, like what I do.”

                “Forgive my skepticism, however I fail to see why fire, of all things, would be the one thing to injure ghosts,” Auggie said.

                “It isn’t the only thing, it’s just the easiest to use. As for why, it’s not that surprising. Fire hurts almost everything supernatural. It’s why humans gathered around it for safety all the way back in primate times. Fire drives back the darkness, always has, always will.”

                “That is a lovely philosophy, however it fails to offer anything resembling an explanation,” Auggie pointed out.

                “For fuck’s sake, it’s magic,” Kay snapped. “You’re floating a foot off the ground, can you not just accept that this is the way things work without trying to dissect every bit of it?”

                “Actually no, I can’t,” Auggie shot back. “My whole life has been science, cause and effect, the world working in an established system that we work to understand. I cannot except that something ‘just works’ because it goes against every fiber of who I am and how I’ve dedicate my life.” Auggie’s form began to glow just the slightest bit as he riled himself, but it quickly dissipated as he calmed down. “I can, however, accept it temporarily in order to move forward with our current plan.”

                “Wouldn’t call it much of a plan anymore,” Velt said. She pulled herself to her feet and reached for the duffel bag with her still-working left arm. “It’s just me going to the island and raising hell before hell raises itself.”

                “Screw that, there’s got to be something we can do,” Topher said. “What about your idea with the bombs? The SUV is down, but we could still go up to the top of the cliff and throw some makeshift Molotov cocktails.”

                “That cliff is a pretty serious hike away, and you’d need to bring a lot of stuff with you,” Velt said. “Not to mention that we need a big boom to take them out while they’re clustered, if you cherry-pick targets they’ll probably spread out. Without the SUV, the attack from above just doesn’t seem feasible.”

                “We don’t have an SUV, but we may have a vehicle that could still serve the purpose,” Auggie said, his voice soft as his brain whirled.

                “The charger? You said that thing’s engine was fucked-in-half,” Kay reminded him.

                “It would need something like ‘thousands of dollars of work’ if I remember right,” Topher said.

                “Oh yes, for it to be capable of functioning over a prolonged period of time, at current safety standards for vehicles on the road, that is all still astoundingly true,” Auggie agreed. “However, we don’t need any of that. All we need is around fifteen minutes of sustained motion, and that is a far more manageable goal. Especially if I steal parts from the SUV.”

                 “I don’t know what in the nine hells you three are talking about, but I’d guess you’re saying there’s another car we can use?” Velt asked.

                “An old Dodge Charger, painted to look like the General Lee,” Topher said. “The engine is old and busted, so whoever owns it abandoned the thing in the main hall garage.

                Velt made no effort to hide the dubious expression on her face. “You think you can fix a car so broken that it had to be abandoned fast enough to help stop The Emissary? I’d guess we’ve only got an hour, maybe an hour and a half, tops. Seems like a tall order.”

                “Ma’am, I realize we’re only just met, so I will refrain from taking offense at the implication that I overestimate my abilities.” Auggie stared at Velt, involuntarily puffing out his chest ever-so-slightly. “I have been dealing with electronics and combustibles since before I was in first grade. I was hailed as a prodigy in youth yet I worked with the kind of tenacity one usually sees in those who have no talent at all in the fields I studied. I attended a top-tier university and graduated valedictorian in electrical engineering, even while dealing Topher’s insistent adventures and distractions.”

                He floated across the room, stopping onling a few feet away from the copper-haired woman covered in drying blood.

                “I am August Fucking Parrish, forgive the language, and if I say I can build or fix something then you may consider it already complete.”

                Velt stared at him in surprise, eyes darting over to Kay and Topher, who both appeared unruffled. As timid and cautious a guy as Auggie was, he had zero tolerance for people questioning his capabilities. They would have called it hubris, but since he really did successfully deliver on every project he undertook, it was technically just accurate self-awareness.

                “Well then, go get to it,” Velt said. “I’ll leave it in your clearly capable hands.”

                “Your begrudging confidence is noted,” Auggie replied. He spun around and motioned to Topher. “Since time is short, we need to begin immediately. I’ll get my tools I keep for equipment breakdowns, you hurry out to the SUV. Haul the pieces I detach to the garage as soon as I get them free.”

                “Kay should go too,” Velt said.

                “I can only work so quickly, Topher’s muscle should be adequate,” Auggie said.

                Velt narrowed her eyes and made the slightest of nods with her head, gesturing toward the far wall. “Time is short, Auggie. I really think Kay should go with you.”

                “Very well then. We’ll get right to work.” Whatever was going on, it was evident she wanted them clear of the hall. Auggie didn’t have to understand the reason to respect her opinion. She was every bit as much an expert in her field as he was one in his.

                “Good idea. Kay, bring your stuff along too, just in case.” Velt grabbed a quarter-empty bottle of liquor and handed it to Kay, who still had the lighter tucked safely away. She gave a brief nod of understanding, and the three left the hall.

                Only after they were gone did Velt speak again. She set the duffel bag down, wiped a bit of still oozing blood onto the knuckles of her left hand, and called out: “Get on out here right now or I’m assuming you fucks turned traitor too.”

                Clinton and Art floated though the far wall. They’d been trying to listen in discreetly, however this meant putting their ears through the walls. It hadn’t been much, but to trained eyes like Velt’s those spectral body parts stood out like beacons.

                “What do you mean ‘too’?” Clinton asked, moving forward carefully.

                “I got a sneakin’ suspicion I know exactly what she means.” Art and Clinton had spent a bit of time outside examining the wreck, and the more Art saw the more he thought about Irwin’s squirmy behavior.

                “Your buddy went to the other side. Tried to kill me and Kay, actually managed to come closer than I’d expected him to be capable of. If you see him, make sure he knows he’s going to regret not finishing the job… or maybe that’s what you’re here for.”

                “Whoa, no way.” Clinton held his hands in a show of surrender. “We came to see what happened when we saw the wreck. Until then we were combing the woods for that guy’s stolen body, just like you told us to. Why would want to help bring about the end of the world?”

                “Cause we’re already dead,” Art said. “She thinks we might want to do like Irwin and make this world into a place where our kind rules.”

                “Then she’s crazy.” Clinton looked at Velt, taking note that she was still very much in a position that lent itself to attacking. “Look, lady, we’ve been here for decades. Even if we had people tying us to this world, those folks are long gone by now. Either they’re already dead or they’ve changed so much they may as well be entirely different people. Art and I know that our next step is to the other side. We’d have both taken it ages ago if we could, but this damn place has held us prisoner. We want to move on, to see what comes next, because I have to be honest: over forty years of hanging around here has left me soured on the idea of haunting this world. It is boring as shit.”

                “Ditto,” Art agreed. “Sides, I figure that next world has got some fun and mystery all of its own. I’m bout ready to explore it.”

                Velt slowly, very slowly, released the coiled tension in her muscles. Maybe these two were full of crap, but she’d been dealing with spirits long enough to usually spot which ones were stuck on this plane and which ones were refusing to leave. She didn’t trust them entirely, that would have been beyond foolish given the night she’d had, however she was willing to give them a chance to prove the truth of their words. After all, they were going to need as many people on their side as they could get.

                “One false move, one thing to even make me suspect that you’re playing both sides, and I will break you apart in the slowest, most painful method I can possibly manage. Understand?”

                Clinton and Art looked at each other, then nodded.

                “Good. Then go help the others. We’ve got a car to fix, then destroy.”

                -Ending the chapter here, next chapter will open with Irwin and The Emissary

                -Car is a two seater, so Auggie and Kay will go up together, with Topher and Velt going to the island.

                -Knock out the logistics quickly, you’ve got less than 12k left before the goal is hit.


Daily WordCount: 1,667  Total WordCount: 38,418

Day 22

*              *              *

                It took Velt nearly fifteen minutes to make it back to the clearing, long enough to both wonder if Irwin was even going to come back and try to bluff her as well as if she would be fast enough to stop whatever sort of destructive signal Kay had planned. The latter, thankfully, turned out to be in the affirmative.

                Velt emerged from the woods to find the area bathed in headlights, with Kay standing by the hood and scowling impatiently. In her hand was the light Velt had lent her, the bottle of liquor placed conspicuously at her feet. Nearby was a pile of sticks that appeared to have been recently gathered. It didn’t take much of an intuitive leap to figure out what would have happened if Velt had taken much longer, nor to realize that the makeshift fireplace was far too close to the forest to be lit safely.

                “I have a feeling there’s a bear with a hat who needs to discuss some things about fire safety with you,” Velt said.

                “You sound like the cop who broke up my amateur pyrotechnics club,” Kay shot back. “Any leads on Auggie’s body?”

                “I’ve got jack shit. We’re going to have to try something different. I’ll explain when we’re back at the main hall, I’m too worn out to deal with all the objections and complaints you people will raise more than once.”

                “Fuck all, and I thought Auggie was wound tight,” Kay quipped. “Come on and get in. If you’ve some ass-crazy plan we’re better off starting it sooner than later.”

                Velt complied, both women piling into the dark SUV. From the dark of the forest, creeping in the shadows and staying out of sight, a third figure hurried over to the vehicle. It entered through the back, phasing through the metal as if it weren’t even there.

                “Do you need to get your ghosts first?” Kay asked.

                Velt shook her head. If Irwin was compromised, she had to assume it was possible all three were working together. Clinton and Art had seemed like decent guys, but until she was sure it was best to play it safe and keep them in the dark. Her plan was already so risky it bordered on a Hail Mary, she didn’t need to worry about getting ratted out on top of everything else.

                “I don’t have any way to get in contact with them, but they seem smart. If they can’t find The Emissary, they’ll come back to the main hall. Or maybe they’ll try and take cover. Either way, it doesn’t matter. We don’t particularly need them for this next part.”

                Kay fired up the engine and began accelerating down the hill. Velt quickly realized their brief time apart had done nothing to curb Kay’s tendency toward driving at reckless speeds despite the terrain. Thankfully, it was a short drive back to the main hall; so they shouldn’t have any trouble making it back safely, even with Kay’s leadfoot.

                Less than half an hour ago, when explaining to Irwin about his ability to touch things, Velt had been careful not to let him know that his power didn’t extend to human flesh. She’d even been ready to trick him into thinking it, should he have pressed the issue, since for her spirits had always been solid. There was no calculated plan in that moment, no grand scheme to turn this misinformation against him. Velt simply made it a point to not let people she didn’t trust have any more information that was necessary. It spoke to her deep-seated distrust issues, which itself explained why she spent most holidays alone and hadn’t managed a functional relationship in half a decade. That tendency to hide truths and keep secrets had left her cut off from the world for most of her life, even among people who shared similar gifts to hers. It had caused her years of loneliness and aggravation.

                On this particular occasion, however, that paranoid tendency of Velt’s saved Kay’s life.

                The pudgy spectral hands snaked forward from the back seat, grabbing at Kay’s throat, intent on squeezing the life from her and sending the SUV out of control. Irwin’s brow was focused in concentration as he extended his fingers, determined to knock her out quickly, before Velt could scramble over the seats and stop him. He brought them together, using as much force as he could in hopes of collapsing her throat.

                When those transluscent hands went right through Kay’s neck, the only person more shocked than her was Irwin.

                “What the fuck!” Kay yelped.

                “Goddamnit!” Irwin snapped, flexing his hands and trying again. He knew he could do this, he’d practiced grabbing thing the entire time he’d silently trailed Velt. He could do it, and he had to hurry. Another attempt, another failure. Irwin didn’t get the chance to make a third.

                “Hey, shithead.” Irwin glanced in the direction of Velt’s voice, which meant he caught her right hook directly on his nose. Unlike with Kay, there was no trouble feeling Velt’s skin, and she hadn’t been kidding about her warning. Touching that bitch hurt.

                “Fuck!” Irwin scrambled back, reaching up to stop the flow of blood that would never come. He felt light-headed, weaker than he’d been mere moments before. Had he been able to see himself, Irwin would have realized he’d become fuzzier around the edge and that small billows of energy were leaking out of him.

                Velt reach back, trying to get a grip on him without undoing her safety belt, and Irwin got an idea. He grabbed the seatbelt crossed over Kay’s chest, held on tight, and yanked it back as hard as he could. The belt compressed her chest, knocking some of the breath out of her lungs and causing a strip of pain where it was digging into her. She jerked the wheel reflexively, avoiding the rear corner of a cabin by mere inches.

                “You son of a bitch, I knew you were a traitor.” The violence in Velt’s eyes caused Irwin’s non-existent stomach to drop into his toes. If she got her hands on him, he had no doubt it would be the end. This provided an excellent kick of motivation to make sure that never happened.

                “A traitor? Clinton and Art are traitors, trying to help the living. I’m dead already, why wouldn’t I want a world where the dead rule?” Irwin glance out the front windshield. They were coming up on the main hall, but there was still a dip in the road and several cabins before they arrived. He needed to end this, soon.

                “You could have realized that you already had your time, and that there is already a place for your kind.” Velt grabbed for him again, but he was halfway phased through the door.

                Irwin pulled harder on the seatbelt, and Kay began to see dark spots at the edges of her vision.

                “Why would I want that? I wasn’t supposed to die in the first place! I wasn’t done with my life yet! I was important; I worked for a government agency, I had a lot to live for. But someone up there fucked up and made me choke to death. Well I’ll show them. Irwin Pistole doesn’t just go off silently. Try to take me out of the world, and I’ll take the whole damn world down with me!”

                At that, Velt finally reached down and unfastened her seatbelt, lunging forward for a grip on Irwin. This was exactly what he’d been waiting for. Irwin reach foreward with his free hand, through the seat and Kay’s torso, and grabbed hold of the wheel she was weakly clutching. He jerked it to the left, causing a front wheel to clip the stone foundation of a cabin that had rotted away.

                As soon as the wheel struck, physics took over. The tried exploded and the SUV was tossed upward as Kay’s speedy driving habits finally came home to roost. It rolled onto the passenger side, skidding several feet before coming to a stop. Kay managed to stay in her seat, Irwin’s death grip on her belt actually holding her in place, but Velt was tossed around like she was weightless. By the time the SUV came to a halt, she was lying against the door, blood dripping down her face, dead to the world.

                For a brief moment, Irwin considered trying to finish her as Kay groaned in the driver’s seat. Had she not already popped him once, he might have had the courage to do it, too. But the memory of the punch, as well as the after-effects, made him hesitant to come near her. It was possible she was faking again, or that even unconscious she would still be painful to touch. In the end, Irwin assured himself he had completed his task and floated off toward the woods.

                Dead or not, Velt wouldn’t be doing anymore meddling before it was too late to make a difference.

Chapter 12

                Blood didn’t actually taste like pennies, not when there was enough of it to really get an appreciation for the flavor. Sure, if one licked off a small cut or bit a chunk from their cheek, it was easy to see how the overpowering first rush of copper would lead one to think of the one cent coins. But when one’s mouth filled up with the stuff, there was no way to honestly make such comparison. Blood didn’t taste like anything except what it was: blood. It was the very life of the body leaking out, and being forced to experience that in the form of flavor was one of the worst sensations to wake up to.

                Velt dearly wished it was the first time she was doing just that. Hell, she’d have been happy if it were so rare an event that she didn’t immediately know what was going on. Sadly, the minute her mind fluttered open, she felt the squishy liquid in her mouth and understood it was full of blood. With a weary grunt of effort, she pushed herself up and spat out three sizable wads of scarlet saliva.

                “Holy shit! You can move?”

                Kay was nearby, several cuts from broken glass on her arms and face, but nothing too extensive. She was still buckled into her seatbelt, suspended sideways in the now flipped SUV.

                “Looks like it. Let’s see how much.” Velt pushed herself up, gripping the sides of the seats as she struggled to get off the crumpled door. Thankfully Auggie had gotten an SUV with all the safety features, glass that broke into pebbles rather than shards being one of them. If they’d had to deal with real glass, Velt was pretty sure she’d be in ribbons. As it was, the pain in her leg had increased measuredly, now joined by a sharp ache in her left knee. Her left arm had fared surprisingly well, but her right was broken. It had smashed against the door in the fall and fractured in two, maybe three, places. Despite all the blood in her mouth, she only had swallow cuts in her scalp, they’d just gushed like fuckers. A deep breath told her that she bruised if not broken several ribs.

                All things considered, it was probably the best she could hope for in this kind of crash. Velt flipped around to check out the front windshield, which had completely shattered. At least she knew how they were getting out. From nearby, she could see two figures rushing toward them. Given that one was huge and the other partially see-through, it seemed a safe bet that it was Auggie and Topher. They’d almost made it back to the main hall before the crash. Velt felt her pulse race as she remember Irwin, that little fucking snake, trying to run them off the road. He was going to pay for that one.

                “Kay, I’m feeling relatively okay, but I’ve lost a decent amount of blood. If I happen to pass out before Topher and Auggie get here, make sure Auggie stays clear of me.”

                “Cause of the thing you did to Irwin?”

                “Worse. Right now I’m covered in my own blood, which is far more potent than just my skin. If Auggie makes contact with me, it will be the last thing he ever does this side of the afterlife.”

                “How about you try not to pass out? I like that idea of fuckload better.”

                “I’ll see what I can do,” Velt said. “By the way, you still have more liquor, right?”

                “Of course. I was going camping originally, after all.”

                “Good. I don’t want this bullshit slowing me down.”

                Kay stared at her new friend in shock. “Are you still planning to go after them?”

                “Fate of the world, remember? Though I have to admit,” Velt said, staring at the wreckage around her, “this is going to be one fucker of a setback.”

*              *              *

                Clinton and Art hadn’t actually noticed Velt and Kay leave the forest, nor had they seen Irwin sneak into the SUV. The crash, on the other hand, easily drew their attention. The two spirits darted above the trees, staring at the wreckage visible even from their location.

                “Shit, ain’t no way that’s a good sign.”

                “We should go see if we can help,” Clinton said.

                “Shouldn’ we get Irwin too?”

                “I think everyone halfway back to town heard that crash. He’ll head over on his own.”

                Art had his doubts about that. Last time they’d talked to Irwin, he’d seemed squeamish and nervous. Admittedly, the situation had them all a bit on edge, but there was something about his attitude that had made Art a bit wary. Despite being dead for a year, Irwin was way behind on making peace with his situation. He’d still been clinging to the world of the living, in denial about the fact that his life was over and it was time to adjust. Being offered the chance to go back to that world… Art wasn’t one to make presumptions about people, but that didn’t mean a little well-placed wariness was a bad idea.

                Clinton led the way, with Art following, all the while keeping an eye out for their suspiciously absent third companion.

*              *              *

                Velt took a deep swig from the bottle, nearly choked on the potency, then put a cloth in her mouth and poured a small amount on one of her open wounds. Her teeth clenched and she managed to bite back the scream of pain that tried to well up in her throat.

                Across the room, Kay was bandaged up and knocking back a few swigs of her own. The seatbelt had bruised her badly on the chest, and she’d taken a few small cuts, but on the whole she was okay. Auggie hovered close by, both out of concern for his friend and to keep a safe distance from the woman who was evidently poisonous to a spirit.

                “What are we going to do now?” Topher asked, voice heavy as he watched Velt treat her injuries with the sort of experience he didn’t want to imagine how she’d acquired. “The SUV is toast, and you aren’t in any condition to go hunting after Auggie’s body, even if we manage to catch sight of him.”

                “We’re not going to hunt him anymore,” Velt declared, pulling the cloth from her mouth. It was stained red by the blood she hadn’t yet managed to spit out. “From the minute he completed the second ritual, I realized the way we were doing things wasn’t working. We were on the way to tell you two that when that dead-shit decided to try and kills us.”

                “How do you intend to stop him without tracking him down?” Auggie asked.

                “I only needed to track him to the first three ritual sites. I already know where the last one is, and I plan to be there waiting for him when he shows up.” Velt took one more swig from the bottle, then set it down. A little more might have helped the pain, but she was going to need as much of the stuff as she could muster soon.

                “The island, right? That’s why there’s an army of ghosts sitting on top of it, making no move to come after us. It’s the site of the last ritual,” Topher said.

                “You nailed it. Magic loves a good circle, and something ending at the same place it began falls right into that category. I should have plenty of time to get over there; the second ritual took noticeably longer for The Emissary to set-up, so the third is probably going to be the longest yet. With any luck, by the time he shows up I can clear out his forces and by ready to settle this.”

                “You’re got to be shitting us,” Kay said. “There are dozens and dozens of those things. Even if you can hurt them, wouldn’t they be able to overwhelm you?”

                “It’s possible,” Velt admitted. “To be honest, dealing with them head-on wasn’t my first plan. I wanted to send that SUV off the cliff overlooking the island, loaded down with flammable alcohol and an explosive or two. Would have wiped a big chunk of those bastards out, but that plan got fucked when Irwin flipped our car.”

                -Breaking here for the day, because there is a lot left in this scene and also holy crap that was a lot of writing to catch up.

                -Need to work in Art and Clinton so that the entire team can head out as a united front.

                -Also need to switch back to The Emissary and Irwin once more so that they’re progress and dynamic can be shown in parallel with the team’s.


Daily WordCount: 2,908  Total WordCount: 36,751

Day 21

*              *              *

                Kay had just finished placing the last camera when she a surge of light come from the forest across the lake and felt a cold shiver run down her spine. Given the context of the situation, it didn’t take her much of a leap to guess that something had gone wrong. She hopped in the SUV, through it into drive, and began speeding away from the patch of forest she’d been working in. As she drove, she noticed more of the translucent orbs emerging from the trees. She’d spotted a few of them on the way up, but they seemed to be growing more numerous by the second.

                She was halfway back to the main hall when her earpiece crackled to life.

                “Kay, can you hear me?”

                “I hear you Topher.” The mic clipped to the top of her shirt was thankfully still working, transmitting her words across the distance to the monitor Topher was observing.

                “Thank God. Kay, you need to get back here quickly. The second ritual was completed, and it lets the ghosts touch inanimate objects. Get clear of the woods before you run into something bad.”

                “Relax, I’m almost out,” she told him. “What about Velt?”

                “We relayed the message, but she doesn’t have a microphone to talk back through. She should be fine; she’s already able to fight ghosts.”

                Kay accelerated, jumping the SUV over a small rut in the road, then eased to a stop. There were two paths in front on her: one would get her back to the main hall, while the other would swing around through the camp and get her back to where she’d dropped off Velt. She hesitated for only a moment, then jerked the wheel and slammed on the gas.

                “Fuck that. Tell her to meet me where I dropped her off.”

                “Kay, you don’t need to-”

                “If the second ritual is complete then that means she’s probably in the wrong spot now. Auggie’s body will go to the next site, which we’ll be watching for. Assuming we spot him on camera, then we’ll need to move Velt as fast as possible. I’m picking her up because wasting time with her walking back to camp is time we don’t have.”

                There was silence from the radio for a long moment. “Are you sure about this?”

                “Topher, I’m making up all this shit as I go along; it just seems a good plan to me.” Truthfully, a newly-familiar dread was creeping into her gut, but Kay ignored it willfully. Whether she had the actual gift or she was just turning into a worrier, it didn’t matter. This needed to be done, and she was the one at the wheel.

                “I’ll pass along the message, but we’ll have no way of knowing if she’ll hear it, or agree to it.”

                “Don’t worry so much. If I show up and Velt isn’t there, I’ll just have to signal her.” Kay’s eyes darted quickly to the liquor bottle and lighter tucked securely between the seats. She’d never been much of a firebug, but there always time to pick up a new hobby.

                “Though, for the sake of the local flora, you might want to really try and get her to be there.”

*              *              *

                Velt had been able to feel when the second ritual completed, the burst of magical energy nearly made her grind her teeth. Even if she hadn’t been keyed into the energy’s flow, Irwin’s fit as the power swept over him would have been more than clue enough. There was no way the first one had been that strong, even back at the main hall she would have felt it. Her eyes darted around immediately, searching for any sign that might put her on The Emissary’s trail. All she caught was a fading glow in the direct opposite end of the forest. An end that, had she ignored Irwin, she would have been much closer to.

                The spirit was watching her carefully, waiting for some sort of reaction. She was tempted, very tempted in fact, to whirl around on him and see what confrontation would yield. It was only through tremendous self-control that she bit back that impulse. There was always the chance it was an honest mistake, and if that wasn’t the case then she had no reason to tip her hand and let him know she was onto him. Thankfully, Topher’s voice soon came over the earpiece, giving her the distraction she needed to avoid talking with Irwin and letting her anger slip.

                “Velt, this is Topher. Not sure if you can hear me, but Auggie and I just figured out what the second ritual did. He can touch inanimate object. Nothing living, though. I’m going to warn Kay as well. Good luck.”

                “What did he say?” Irwin asked. Thoguh he was able to make out the electric crackle of the earpiece’s activation, fine details had escaped his eavesdropping.

                “He just confirmed that the second ritual was completed,” Velt told him. “Apparently you lot can touch things now.”

                Irwin looked at her doubtfully, then carefully bent down and plucked a pine cone from the ground. He nearly doubled over in shock when his hand made contact with it, the rough texture scraping against his fingers. It was uncomfortable, but Irwin was brought to the brink of joyful tears by the sensation. How long had it been since he touched something?

                “Useful for you guys, sort of a pain for us,” Velt summed up. “Also, just a word of caution: don’t try to touch me. Not even a hug or a fist-bump. Even if I’m not attacking, physical contact with a spirit causes can cause a lot of pain for them.”

                “I appreciate the warning,” Irwin said, letting the pinecone fall from his grip. “What’s our next move, now that the second ritual is done? Try and track him to the third?”

                “About the only thing we can do,” Velt lied. “Hopefully your friends have caught sight of him. Why don’t you go over the trees and get a status report?”

                “Will I still be able to phase through the branches? I mean, since I can touch things now…”

                “Hell if I know, this shit is all new to me. Just give it a shot. Even if you can’t, they won’t be able to hurt you.”

                Irwin nodded, then floated upward. Velt watched him go, eager to see if he was now bound by some level of corporeality. It turned out to be not the case, as Irwin was able to move through the branches with seemingly minimal effort. It was too bad, she’d have loved it if the spirits had to play by the same rules as her. That would have made fighting The Emissary much easier.

                Her earpiece crackled again, nearly causing her to jump.

                “Velt, Kay is en route with the SUV to pick you up. She says to be at the spot where she dropped you off at. I’m not exactly sure what, but she seems to have a back-up plan for getting your attention in case you can’t hear this. Please go meet her, Auggie has gone through enough tonight. I don’t want to find out what Kay’s idea is, and I’m positive Auggie doesn’t want to deal with the fallout from it.”

                He hadn’t needed to push so hard, this actually worked perfectly with what Velt had planned. Chasing The Emissary was proving to be a bust, and now she had a possible traitor to worry about. It was time to shift tactics before they ran out of time entirely. Screw running around in the dark, Velt had never been much for cat and mouse games. She liked a good ole-fashioned bloody showdown.

                She moved as quickly as she could, hustling through the brush at top speed. Irwin’s guidance, whether a mistake or intentional, had taken her away from the site of the actual ritual, but it had also left her closer to the edge of the forest. It was a pretty shitty consolation prize compared with stopping The Emissary, but she wasn’t in a position to be turning away any stroke of luck she could get.

                *              *              *

                Despite what he’d said, Irwin made no attempt to find Clinton and Art floating over the treetops. Instead, he hung below the canopy and zipped across the forest as quickly as he could, easily locating the remains of the site. From there, it only took a moment or two of searching to track down The Emissary as he skulked through the woods. Auggie floated down, coming to rest several feet away from the spirit in the stolen body. Even though he’d done as he was told, it still terrified him to be so close to this being.

                “She’ll never catch up to you,” Irwin said. “I left her halfway back to the camp.”

                “Well done.” The Emissary eyed the spirit carefully. Irwin was all but glowing with satisfaction, a combination of finally being able to touch things along with having properly carried out his orders. Had he been nervous, twitchy, or even the slightest bit suspicious, The Emissary would have assumed betrayal and torn Irwin to shreds. His emotions seemed genuine though, and Irwin certainly didn’t come off as smart or charming enough to manage a lie. “And you returned for more instructions, I take it?”

                “Oh… sure,” Irwin’s joy began to evaporate as he realized he’d opened the door on more, possibly dangerous, work. “Anything I can do to help out the cause.”

                The Emissary nodded Auggie’s head. “The woman. Where is she now?”

                “She was across the forest, when I left her. I’m supposed to be talking to the others and finding out if they saw you.”

                “Then your next job is a simple one: stop her. What we seek to do is too important to risk her interference. Whether you cripple the woman or kill her outright is of no concern, just make sure she is no longer in any shape to try and stop the remaining rituals. The third will be the longest to perform, and is some distance from here. I need the space to work without the worry of her interruption hanging over head.”

                “Wait… you want me to attack her? How? She said her touch injured spirits.”

                “And she spoke the truth,” The Emissary said, the memory of her attack still fresh in its mind. “But there are plenty of ways to injure someone without touching them. Especially in a place as dangerous as a forest.” The shadow-talons emerged from the tips of Auggie’s hands, and The Emissary raked them down a nearby tree-trunk leaving long gashed where he struck. “Be creative, be inspired, just be successful no matter what. When out new world is born, I will not forget the names of those who helped usher it in. Nor will I forget to whisper those names in the ear of our god.”

                The Emissary turned away and continued off into the woods, clearly intent on reaching the next site as soon as possible. Behind him, Irwin wrung his hands as he tried to think of way to stop Velt without putting himself at risk.

                In truth, The Emissary did not expect Irwin to succeed. The woman, evil as she was, possessed the spirit of a warrior. No conviction-less coward obeying orders would ever triumph over one such as she. Still, his futile attempt would at least slow her down a bit. If that cost Irwin his grip on this plane, such was an acceptable loss.

                -Changed the planned plot at this point. Originally, Kay was going to get attacked by spirits in the woods and crash the SUV on her way back to the main hall, however in efforts to keep this novel around 50k, I needed to get her and Velt back in position for the regroup.

                -Next scene will be the last of the chapter, Kay picking up Velt and getting attacked by Irwin.


Daily WordCount: 1,935  Total WordCount: 33,843

Day 20

*              *              *

                The airborne sprits were helpful, but Velt was starting to wonder if they would be enough. She’d been combing the woods carefully, using them guidance and directions to sweep as much area as possible, but with each passing minute the changes of The Emissary completing the second ritual increased. Not even she knew what would happen when he finished, and she was really hoping not to find out. Every step that brought the worlds of the living and the dead closer together made her job that much harder.

                  She hurried across the brush, coat pulled tightly as she worked to ignore the growing ache in her left leg. Something had probably gotten sprained when she went through the wall, an injury hidden amidst the adrenaline of the situation. Stomping about was almost certainly making it worse, but she didn’t have the luxury of worrying about such things. There would be time to recover afterward... hopefully.

                Velt had just started down a promising path with smashed bushes and other signs of recent use, when Irwin floated out from between the trees.

                “Dead end.”

                Velt winced involuntarily at the implied pun. Though she doubted this one was the type to make such jokes, spending any length of time around spirits meant dealing with the occasional ghost who coped with his afterlife through awful word-play.

                “Are you sure? I’ve been all over the areas nearby, and this looks like someone tore through it recently.” She gestured to the cracked twigs and scattered leaves as evident to her point.

                “Trust me, unless you want to go see a bunch of foxes eating a rabbit carcass, that’s not a productive path.” Irwin glanced down at the signs she was pointing it. “I guess the little guy went down with a fight. Good for him. All I got to do was choke helplessly.”

                It took great effort for Velt to keep from rolling her eyes. The maudlin mood swings were the sort of thing one had to tolerate with the recently dead, but it rapidly ate up any patience or sympathy she might have had. Usually the best course fo action was to change the subject.

                “Well, do you have any idea of where I should go?”

                “Um… maybe,” Iriwn said, shuffling slightly. He stuck his hand forward, single finger gesturing toward the west. “I did see something over there earlier, some weird red light. I thought it was you at the time, but your flashlight doesn’t seem that color now that I’m close. Is there any chance that might something?”

                Velt barely resisted punching this idiot in the face, only holding herself back because he was so fresh one blow would probably knock him to the other side and then she’d be down a helper. “Yes, I think the mysterious red light in the middle of the woods at night might just be a fucking useful clue! Do you remember where it was?”

                “I’m pretty sure-”

                “Get real sure, real fast.” Velt turned around, shining her light in the direction Irwin was pointing. “We’re going there now, and may the gods help you if we don’t make it in time.”

                Because both her light and eyes were pointed away, Velt didn’t see the self-satisfied smirk that oozed across Irwin’s face. If she had, the night have turned out very differently. At the very least, she would beaten the truth from Irwin’s cowardly lips. But, due to an ill-timed turn, she remained unaware of the treachery he was committing, and the two started off down a different trail.

                One leading directly away from the ritual she was trying so hard to stop.

*              *              *

                Auggie’s whole form was tingling, itching with a strange sensation that it was impossible to scratch. This one was taking longer than the first, escalating in slow, maddening, build. Topher could stare helplessly as his friend grew more and more agitated, eventually to the point where even basic conversation became impossible.

                The pace began to pick up, and Auggie felt the sensation bore deeper into him. It was no longer as if he were feeling on the surface of his incorporeal body, now it was boring down into him. Every piece of him could feel it, like a cold fire or a million ant that dragged their pincers across his skin while refusing to bite. At the wrost part of it, for a very real and terrifying moment, Auggie feared he would lose his mind entirely; that the feeling was so horrid that he would run away from all coherent thought just to escape it.

                Then, without any slowing or warning, the sensation vanished all at once. Had he been inside his body, Auggie would have let out a long breath and wiped away the tears that had inevitably formed in his eyes. Instead, he jerked forward, nearly stumbling to the ground until he remembered gravity no longer held sway on his actions, and made a sound that was halfway between a sob and a sigh of relief.

                “Is it over?” Topher asked. He looked aghast, worse than Auggie had ever seen him. As terrible as it had been to experience that, Auggie imagined it probably wasn’t a picnic to watch either. Especially not to a friend.

                “I don’t really know. Feels like it is, but there’s no way to be sure. Maybe he finished the ceremony, or maybe Velt interrupted him and it will start up again sometime soon. I’ll just have to wait it out.”

                “Do you feel any different though? Last time he did one of these things, it made you visible. If it’s over, shouldn’t you have new abilities?”

                “That does make sense,” Auggie agreed. “Perhaps I gained the capacity to interact with physical objects. It would be a logical progression.”

                Topher carefully raised his right hand and spread his fingers. “High five?”

                “May as well.”

                The two took a carefully swing at one another, aiming to connect palms in mid-air. They got it just right, and Auggie’s hand sailed through Topher’s perfectly as they tried to collide.

                “No to the touching thing,” Auggie sighed. “Pity, it would have been useful.”

                “I’m actually glad it didn’t work out that way,” Topher said. “Velt and Kay are both out there, and there’s all kinds of ghosts in the forest, not to mention that mass of jerks on the island.”

                “That’s a good point. Velt seems capable of handling herself, but if ghosts suddenly gained the power of touch it might put Kay in very serious trouble. I mean, more trouble that the fact that she’s currently behind the wheel of an SUV with no license and at least some alcohol in her veins.”

                “When you put it like that, it seems like it was a bad idea to let her be the wheel-woman.”

                “I thought that was obvious,” Auggie said.

                “Then why did you stop us?”

                “Because, to be frank, that Velt woman somewhat terrifies me,” Auggie admitted. “And besides, it would have come down to you stopping her anyway. In case you;ve forgotton, I have no effect on the physical realm. If I’d tried to grab the keys, we both know what would have happened.” Auggie illustrated this point by reach out and grabbing a camera battery from the nearby table. He fully expected his hand to go straight through it, which made it all the more shocking when he felt the weight of battery in his hand as he lifted it up.

                Auggie stared at it in shock, while Topher nearly leapt out of his shoes.

                “What the hell?”

                “I don’t know! I can touch it for some reason.” Auggie dropped the battery and tried to grab one of Topher’s protein bars. It felt firm and solid in his spectral hand. He turned back to Topher and tried to grab his friend’s forearm, but his hand went right through like with the high five.

                “It’s only non-living things,” Auggie surmised, putting the pieces together in his mind. “I still can’t interact with the living, but objects appear to be fair game.”

                Topher stood still for only a moment, then he leapt into action, darting over to the monitor hub and rapidly flipping switches.

                “What are you doing?”

                “What do you think I’m doing? The game just changed and I’m betting Kay and Velt don’t have any idea about it. We’ve got to warn them over their ear pieces.”

                Auggie nodded, thankful they’d taken the time to outfit Velt with a rudimentary bit of communications equipment before she left. It would only go one way since they didn’t have any spare microphones, but at least it would allow them to give her a warning. Not that she needed it as much as Kay.

                Both men hoped with everything they had that their third crew member was almost done with her work and heading back to the main hall.

                -Kay’s scene is next, remember to incapacitate the SUV during the altercation.

                -When she’s done, get the crew back together for one last round-up and team meeting.


Daily WordCount: 1,481  Total WordCount: 31,908

Day 18

*              *              *

                The first camera had gone up easily, Kay just needed to drive about halfway up to the top of the cliff and get a good vantage point overlooking as much of the camp as possible. It would have taken forever on foot, but thankfully the trail was wide, if rocky, and allowed the SUV to plow across the terrain in no time. From her spot staring down at the campgrounds below, Kay realized how peaceful this place seemed from far away… if one didn’t include the island of half-ghosts clustered around the red dot.

                If things had gone differently, they would probably be snapping creepy shots of that island right now. Topher would be trying to go somewhere that Auggie forbid, Kay would be egging him on, and Auggie would be threatening everything up to and past bloody murder in their earpieces to get them to stop. They would, eventually, and Topher would be placated by Auggie saying he’d gotten some shadows on a remote camera and they should go check it out. Then the big lug would dash off, complaints forgotten in his nearly palpable cloud of excitement over new possibilities. It would be a fun night, with decent footage and for a half-decent episode.

                Kay wondered if they would go on with the show when this was done. Even if everything went perfectly and they saved both the world and Auggie, could they keep chasing shadows after tangling with genuine spirits? Topher always hated the hucksters, the people who didn’t believe in what they were documenting. They’d certainly all be beleivers after tonight, but there was no question that such an in depth look would make it harder to get amped up over half-heard voices and camera anomalies.

                Digging in her pocket, Kay produced the SUV keys and headed back toward her vehicle. How strange it was to count herself among the believers of anything. Kay had always wanted to believe, she wasn’t trying to wall off the impossible with science like Auggie. From sitting the time of sitting on her grandmothers lap, hearing mystical tales of the old country, Kay had dearly wanted to believe in the supernatural. She just never knew where to put all the faith that was pent up inside her. There were so many lies, so many pretenders to the mystic throne, that it never seemed safe to believe. She feared choosing wrong more than she feared sitting on the fence, so Kay waited for something, anything really, to jump out and prove itself to her.

                Well, ghosts had certainly done that, and now that she knew they were real it seemed so obvious. She’d been with Topher for two years now, why had it taken so much to push her across the skeptical threshold? Kay resolved to be a bit more open-minded next time the opportunity presented itself. For the moment, however, her biggest concern was getting down the hill and across the camp. There was nice area in the other side of the forest where she could get a decent view. They only had one camera left, so it needed to count.

                The engines roared to life, scattering a few of the orb-like spirits she’d seen floating amidst the trees, and Kay headed back down the cliff.

*              *              *

                It was the strange glow that first told Irwin he was on the right track. As he floated down, phasing through the trees and drawing closer to this strange sensation calling him, he noticed a red glow burning in the forest. He might have been tempted to think it was fire, but fire was alive. It flickered and danced among the shadows. This light didn’t dance, it throbbed, like a heart beating. Had he been in his right state of mind, Irwin would have turned and fled like the coward he’d always been. But Irwin was nowhere near his normal mental state. The calling, the light, it had sunk its hooks into him all the way up in the trees. Now that he was this close he could practically hear it, whispering in his ear that it was all right. He was safe here, safer than he’d ever been before. Nothing could touch him now. After all, his weakness, his body, was gone. Irwin Pistole was a being of will and magic. What did he have to fear?

                He floated into a clearing where the body that had once been called Auggie stood, wiping his dirty hands on his pants next to a freshly uncovered stone circle. As Irwin squinted at him, he realized the man seemed fuzzy around the edges, as though his own shadow had leapt atop him and was trying to smother his whole form. Had Irwin known a bit more, he would have understood that this was the wraith inside poking out, magic and excitement proving too much to contain in a borrowed body. Sadly, as had nearly always been the case, Irwin knew next to nothing.

                “Brother,” the man greeted him, a twisted grin seated beneath a pair of eyes twinkling with madness. “Have you come to bear witness?”

                “I… looking for you,” Irwin stammered, his words barely able to escape as his mind was engulfed by the overwhelming pleasure from being so close to the source of the light. It skittered across the surface of his brain, a brain that no longer existed in any physical capacity, yet the power was undeterred. It whispered in the nooks and crannies, reassuring him and encouraging him.

                “I blame you not, tonight is a great night, surely you have been waiting eons for it. Feel no shame, brother. All are welcome to witness the glory.”

                “No… I… She’s looking for you.”

                At his words, the face of that had once been Auggie’s warped into a snarl. He bounded across the clearing at speeds that seemed impossible to Irwin, grabbing the ghost with a pair of shadowy talons extruding from the tips of his stolen fingers.

                “So, you serve the flesh then. Come to lead the blasphemous beast to my doorstep, to try and halt the inevitable march of our superior souls.” He raised his other hand and another set of talons emerged, these longer and sharped than the ones gripping Irwin’s chest. Irwin wasn’t sure if one spirit could harm another, but this guy seemed to be pretty sure it was possible.

                “No! I told her nothing!”

                “But you will. I can see it in your eyes. You follow whoever scares you the most, feeding off the power of others to wield it as your own. You have no conviction, brother, and that means you have no value.”

                “Are you saying she’s stronger than you?” Irwin spat the words, using courage he’d have never found without the light giving his mind strength.

                The Emissary stared at this impudent spirit, momentarily shocked by the outburst. Irwin capitalized on the silence.

                “You said it yourself, I’ll serve whoever is the strongest, whoever scares me most, whoever offers me the most power. Why would I want her to win? Sure, when I was alive that would be the smart side, but I’m not alive. I’m dead. I’m dead and I’m stuck in this place without the power to so much as move a stick. She’s offering to let me leave the camp or move on, you’re offering me power. Power to rule over the living, power to no longer be stuck like this. Maybe I don’t have conviction, but I do have basic reasoning skills. I want you to win. I want my kind to be the dominant ones in this world.”

                There was a long stretch of silence as The Emissary held Irwin in place, talons still extended and ready to strike. Then, after what seemed an eternity to Irwin, he was released, left to float freely as The Emissary turned back to the glowing stone circle.

                “You beg well, and perhaps there is wisdom in your cries. Though you doubtlessly lack conviction, there may still be use for you yet. Are you willing to serve? To do what is necessary so that the world may be reborn and all those imprisoned by flesh set free?”

                “I’ll do whatever you tell me,” Irwin promised. “Anything you name, if it’s in my power I’ll do it.”

                The Emissary turned back around and formed a questioning expression on his pilfered face. “If it’s in your power? That does not sound like dedication to me, brother.”

                “I just mean that I’m a new ghost, there’s a lot of stuff I don’t know how to do. I told you before, I can’t even move things yet. So if you wanted me to bash someone’s head in with a rock I wouldn’t be able to grab it. That’s all I mean.”

                “Ah.” The Emissary walked back around to the stone circle, casting Auggie’s face in red light and shadows. “Then let us test the depths of your commitment, shall we? I am going to give you a task. If you complete it then you will gain a taste of the very power which you seek. If you fail… well, I think I can make time in my night to shred one traitor’s miserable soul.”

                “Whatever it is, I’ll take care of it,” Irwin assured him.

                “Very well then. It is high past time that we moved things along.”

                -Next scene will be Irwin and Velt, then jump back to Auggie showing what the ritual did, then to Kay to show the consequences.

                -Wrap the chapter after Kay’s scene.

                You passed 30k, so once this is over its time to start laying the groundwork for the big finale.


Daily WordCount: 1,563  Total WordCount: 30,427

Day 17

Chapter 10

                “Any luck?” Clinton asked, floating over to Art. They were all searching different area of the forest, but since each was above the trees it made keeping track of one another a simple process.

                “Nothin’ so far.” Art glanced over to Irwin and gave a small wave. Irwin returned gesture, then emphatically shook his head. “Looks like Irwin’s come up dry too.”

                “We need to hustle, I just saw Velt get out of the car.”

                “Don’t worry, we’ll find him. For now just point her toward the last spot you saw him at,” Art said. “Irwin and I will keep hunting.” The two split apart, Art continuing his search and Clinton zipping across the trees to be a guide for Velt.

                Across the sprawling treetops, Irwin had finished shaking his head and was staring down into the forest. He wasn’t quite sure, but he felt as though something had snagged his attention. It was almost more instinct than visual stimulation. He wasn’t sure why, but Irwin followed it, drifting below the highest branches, following the strange pull that was calling to him.

*              *              *

                “How are you feeling?” Auggie asked.

                “Been worse. Remember when I fell off that crypt in Louisiana trying to get a shot of the whole graveyard?”

                Auggie set his head in his hands and pressed on his temples. “A fractured shoulder and two broken ribs. How could I forget? That was also the day we implemented the policy that I would approve all location before you and Kay went to them.”

                “I thought you were being a bit overbearing at the time, but damned if my injury count didn’t drop.” Topher leaned forward and slightly adjusted one of the monitors. So far there was nothing of interest to report, all of the monitors were showing a mundane, if creepy, summer camp at night. Well, all save for the one connected to the camera overlooking the island. That was taking in a scene that might have been at home in a high-budget cinema blockbuster, the army of spirits huddled around the throbbing red portal. Topher tried his best not to look at that monitor.

                “Yes, during our first year we could barely go an episode without you getting hurt.” Auggie looked at his friend, staring fervently at television screens, and wondering how Topher would fare if things didn’t go well tonight. “Listen, if tonight turns out badly, make sure you hire someone to fill my safety scout role. We’ve gotten into far more dangerous places over the last few years and I wouldn’t want you joining me sooner than necessary.”

                Topher looked up from the monitors with wide eyes and a creased brow. “Auggie, what the fuck? Why would you even talk about that?”

                “Because I’m pragmatic. I always have been. I’m the planning ying to your impulsive yang, and I would like to shuffle off this mortal coil with some assurances that you’ll be taken care of.”

                “Okay, for one, I’m an adult and can handle myself; and for two, this is an all-or-nothing situation. If Velt doesn’t stop him then the whole world goes under.”

                “Possibly,” Auggie said. “But there is also the chance that she’ll be able to stop him, just not while keeping my body safe. My physical form could be killed, broken, or outright destroyed in the process of saving the world. That is a real possibility we have to come to terms with.”

                “Screw that, I’ve got faith in Velt. She said she would get your body back.”

                “And I have every reason to believe she’ll try, but Topher let’s be realistic. We’ve known this woman for only a few hours, and in that time the situation has steadily gotten worse. She’s trying to stop the apocalypse so she gets the benefits of the doubt, but that doesn’t mean she can just magically set everything right. There are things at risk right now. Our lives collectively, yes, and also just my own.”

                “Auggie, enough.” Topher rose from the hub of monitors and walked over to his incorporeal friend. “We’re going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. Velt will stop this undead asshole and we’ll go back to trying to figure out if we have to debunk a shadow on the lens or if it’s genuine paranormal activity. Which, now that I consider our situation, sounds just a little bit insane.”

                “I really hope you’re right,” Auggie replied. “However, I reason to suspect that the second ritual has already begun.”

                “What?” Topher jerked his head back toward the monitors, expecting to see some supernatural display. All that greeted him was more of the same camp he’d been staring at. “How can you tell? Nothing looks different to me.”

                “It’s nothing I see, it’s what I feel.” Auggie pressed his spectral hand to his stomach, charting the progress of the strange shivering feeling that had already begun sweeping over him. “And it feels like there’s another change coming on soon.”

                -Jump to Kay setting up cameras, then to The Emissary and Irwin, then to Velt. Let’s get this second ritual started!

                -Short count today because I was already ahead and wanted to go see Captain America: Winter Soldier. Hot fucking damn was that a good use of time.


Daily WordCount: 875  Total Wordcount: 28,864

Day 16

*              *              *

                This site was more difficult to uncover than the first. He could have never found it if he’d been forced to rely on knowledge of the land. No, trees were too quick and mobile to stay put over a time as long as his absence. It was only the magic that showed him where he had to go; the ripple of energy coursing through the air and culminating in a single area. The magic was eager, anxious really. It had been gathering for millennia and now the time for it to be used was nearly at hand. Tension in the air guided him as surely as a compass. It would only increase when the magic was freed. Before the night was through, the magic in the air would be so thick even a being of flesh could swim through it.

                Hairs on his borrowed body rose as he stood at the site. Beneath the earth, it hummed at a frequency only the dead could hear. Soon it wouldn’t have to beg for release. He would clear the dirt and grass from atop it and let the magic roar forth. Once the second site was active, that woman would be a far more manageable threat. She still nagged at his mind, her presence like a smear of shit across the grand tapestry of their inevitable success. It took all of his self-control not to try and go after her, but he contained himself. This was why he had chosen as The Emissary of the ritual, why his blood was spilled apart from the others: because he had always been the one most focused on the larger goal. Purging that woman was a priority, it just wasn’t the highest priority.

                Already filthy hands dove into the ground, pulling up as much sediment as possible. It was slow work, the roots of the trees that had grown around his goal hampered the digging, but he pressed on. When this was done, there were two left, and only one of them was particularly difficult. This would be the turning point. This would make him unstoppable.

                This was the beginning of the end.

*              *              *

                It wasn’t until they were in the SUV, buckled up, and moving down the narrow camp trails toward the forest that Velt thought to wonder how capable a driver she’d agreed to let chauffer her. Or how much said driver had consumed. The inciting incident for the sudden onset of worry was when Kay manage to knock over a small firepit that was been constructed close to the road. To her credit, the clay it was fashioned from was dark and hard to see at night. To her discredit, when one did forty on roads not made for vehicles, accidents were going to happen.

                “Whoopsie.” Kay jerked the wheel and got back on the proper path, leaving the shattered remains in her wake. “Damn things just sneak up on you.”

                “Mmm.” Velt gripped the handle of her door and rested her other hand on the latch to her seatbelt. If the need presented itself, she could unbuckle herself and leap to freedom in one motion. “Maybe you could slow this down a bit?”

                “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought we were on a clock trying to prevent the mother-fucking apocalypse.”

                “Crashing won’t get us there any earlier,” Velt snapped.

                “Look ghost-girl, you worry about the exorcism or voo-doo or whatever shit it is you bring to the table, and let me deal with driving. I’ve been steering through backwoods and broken roads since I was seven, I think I can drive through a fucking campground.” Kay punctuated her sentence by turning the wheel at the last moment, narrowly missing the rotted out corner of a nearby cabin.

                “Why on earth would a seven year old be driving that kind of terrain?”

                “The kind living in a farming community two hours from anything resembling a real town. Kids had to pitch in too, and sometimes that meant driving to run errands the adults were too busy for.” Kay slammed the gas for an instant, forcing the SUV to jump over a small mound. “It’s a shithole of a boring life, and it’s why I got the hell out of there as soon as I could.”

                “Really? To me it sounds rather… peaceful.” Velt was surprised at how wistful her voice came out, she’d only meant to try and soothe Kay’s temper while they were on the road. Yet the truth, once finally given an avenue of release, charged at the opportunity to be heard. “My whole has always been just, well, this. Angry spirits, impossible missions, and I think this will be my third life-ending apocalypse to stop. Makes a farm seem not so bad.”

                “Then go live on one,” Kay replied. She sounded calmer than before, even if the apparent recklessness of her driving hadn’t slackened. “You can do that, you know. Just decide to live the life you want. Or are you some chosen one or some shit that has to keep doing all this stuff.”

                “Nah, nothing like that. Fate can be a dick at times, but he doesn’t dictate people’s entire lives. That would actually defeat the point. I’m the reason I can’t go live on that farm, or get a real job, or just try and be normal. I give it a whirl every few years, when I think I’ve finally had enough and it’s time to buck all this shit.” Velt glanced out the window, noticing the miniature army of quasi-spirits amassed on the island. “The supernatural world doesn’t need me, not me in particular anyway, but I need it. Going normal always seems like a great idea, then I’m climbing the walls within a week. I try sticking it out with sheer stubbornness, but it’s only a matter of time until someone brings a job or case and I’m using their need as justification to jump back in.”

                “That is some amazingly self-defeating shit,” Kay said. “And that’s coming from a girl who makes bad decisions like babies make turds.”

                Velt laughed at that analogy, a brief spark of genuine surprise and mirth. “Well, sooner or later I’ll try again. Maybe that will be the time it sticks.”

                “Maybe. I’d recommend going somewhere tropical to detox from the spooky world. A nice beach with all-inclusive drinks and muscular waiters. Auggie’s sister hit a nice spot last year that she loved, if we make it through this I’ll get the name of the place for you,” Kay offered.

                “I might just take you up on that,” Velt said. “It’s been too long since my last vacation.”

                “If you ask nicely, I might just tag along. I promise to bring plenty of fun and at least three different kinds of alcohol that’s illegal in the states.” Kay slowed down at last as they neared the forest’s edge. “Pretty sure this is as far as I can take you.”

                “This is plenty. Hopefully I can run that bastard down before he gets the second ritual finished.” Velt reached into the back and pulled out her duffel bag, slinging it over her shoulder as she unbuckled her seatbelt.

                “If you don’t mine me asking, what’s in the bag? I mean, it’s a ghost. Even if you have some weird magic to affect them, I don’t know gear would help you.”

                Velt hesitated for a moment before replying. Technically, what she knew wasn’t a secret, it just wasn’t well disseminated information. As a community, mediums tried to limit the number of people who knew about the weaknesses of spirits. While some were dangerous, the vast majority were simply confused or scared, so the less people who knew how to hurt one meant the less people could overreact to an innocent attempt at communication. Still, Velt liked Kay. The wild-eyed woman with the tangled hair struck her as a kindred soul, and with the amount of danger they’d be facing tonight it seemed wrong to leave her defenseless. If it went badly… well, Velt had never really been all that popular in the medium community anyway. She supposed one more reason for them to dislike her wouldn’t make that much a difference.

                “Do you have any liquor with you?” Velt asked.

                “What are you, a cop?”

                “I’m serious.”

                “Yeah, I brought a half-bottle in case it got boring putting the cameras up.” Kay reached down to the SUV’s side-door storage and pulled out her travel-booze to illustrate.

                “Good.” Velt took a moment to dig in her duffel bag and produced one of her spare lighters. “Take this. If things get bad with a spirit, I mean really bad, spit the liquor through the lighter at it. Fire hurt them as much as a normal person, if not more.”


                “Seriously. Fire is pure life, endless devouring. There’s almost nothing in this world it can’t hurt. But you realize I just told you to perform a carnie trick in a high-danger situation, so only do that if there’s no other choice.”

                “Thanks for the tip.” Kay leaned over and grabbed Velt in a hug before the other woman had a chance to resist. “And good luck out there. Try to be safe, I don’t want to call off our beach trip.”

                Velt stiffened for a moment at the embraced, then gave Kay a quick squeeze of her own. “You too. Let’s get through the night without adding any more spirits to the world.” With that, she took her bag and exited the vehicle.

                Kay threw the SUV and backed away, narrowly avoiding two sapling as she careened her way into turning around. The vehicle headed off, taking the headlights with it and leaving Velt in darkness. For most in her situation, such a thing would have been terrifying, but was most comfortable in the darkness. This was her world, and monsters were her people.

                Velt headed into the forest, where only the barest trickles of moonlight broke through the canopy. Within ten steps, the darkness had swallowed her whole.

                - End chapter here. Next Chapter will a three-way action scene split. Velt hunting for The Emissary, Kay getting in trouble, and Topher/Auggie trying to coordinate with the three.

                -Need to do a Ghost Trio scene as well so that we can get Irwin insight.

                -Second site has to go active before Kay’s trouble, remember to set that up properly.


Daily WordCount: 1,678  Total WordCount: 27, 989

Day 15

 Chapter 8

              She was sacrilege. There was no other term or explanation, nothing that encompassed her wicked and horrific actions. For the flesh to see the spirits was a rare gift, one that granted perspective and guide for those still encumbered in their living cages. His people had honored and respected those who were one step closer to what they saw as the ultimate form. But that was seeing into the spirit world, speaking with the more enlightened beings.

                What she had done, to lay flesh up spirit with such impunity, and to sear him with terrible pain as well, it was wrong. It went against everything he knew, everything his people had sacrificed for. This woman… this abomination… she could not be allowed to enter the new world. For her flesh to be so corrupt that it could would even a spirit, her soul must had rotted away within its breathing shell.

                That woman was beyond saving, beyond redemption. She could neither accept the freedom he was here to usher in, nor would he risk her taint spreading to others. It was his job to prepare the way, to open the gate and raise the curtain on a beautiful world that belonged to the greater beings, the dead. He would handle any obstacle necessary that threatened the inevitable destiny of his people.

                She was sacrilege, and she had to be destroyed. He would rend the body first, then he would shred her soul to ribbons, ending the threat before it began. For a spirit to destroy another was usually impossible, but he was not bound by the limitations of his own power. Soon, he would have the backing of a god, and they played by different rules than mortals.

                The Emissary drove his mortal vessel forward through the woods, all thoughts of fuel and food forgotten. There was no time for such diversions, pleasant as they might have been. He needed aid to stop the woman, and there was only one way to get it.

                It wouldn’t be long now, and he would arrive at the site of the second ritual.

 *              *              *

                “Holy shit, did you see that? She just grabbed him. Just… fucking grabbed his arm and made him scream in pain. What is she?” Irwin was dumbfounded at the show he’d just taken in.

                “Personally, I’m a bit more curious as to why that spirit in question had such strange lookin’ appendages to begin with. I ain’t ever seen another spirit that looks like pissed off darkness,” Art added.

                Clinton gave a small shake of his head. “I don’t have any clue about either. Maybe if we’d been wandering around and talking to other spirits we might have heard about stuff like this, but I barely know more than when I died.”

                The three ghosts were floating just over the tree-tops, watching Velt and Topher climb back to the main hall while also trying to keep some idea of Fake-Auggie’s location. After Art had spotted the body-thief he’d doubled back to watch the carnage from a hiding place with Clinton. Irwin had been hanging out by the cabins, it was only by dumb-luck he wasn’t noticed. When the battle ended, the three had gathered up to compare notes.

                “Do you think there’s any way that crazy broad was right? That these old ghosts are going to make it so the dead rule over the living?” Irwin glanced down toward the lake, where the mass of half-formed spirits were milling about on the island. They’d have been an army if they seemed to possess any cohesion or independent thought. Instead, all they served as was a potential harbinger.

                “I think we’re a trio of dead men who just watched a woman terrify the hell out of spirit doing things we’ve never imagined possible. Impossibility is an evolving spectrum for us,” Clinton replied. “I’m not saying I buy the story entirely, but it seems irresponsible to completely discount it.”

                “Agreed. We gotta help run that sumnabitch down. Even if she’s full of it about getting us free or the end of the world, we can’t take the chance.”

                “You know guys… it seems to me like we’re getting free no matter what happens.” Irwin spoke slowly, choosing each word with what he thought was cunning precision. “Think about it: if the ceremony succeeds then all these dead are going to break free of the camp. Why wouldn’t be able to leave to?”

                “Right, and all our freedom would cost is the entire world of the living,” Clinton said.

                “But we’re not living. Not anymore. I’m just saying we should think it through. This will be the only shot for dead like us to have a world for our kind.”

                “That’s where you’re wrong,” Art said, putting a hand on his fellow ghosts shoulder. “If we’ve learned one thing from all this, it’s that there’s a shitload more to this life and death stuff than we ever imagined. There’s another side for us to get to, and that’s the world dedicated to us. We need to leave the land of the livin’ to those with time left.”

                “Yeah, you’re right,” Irwin said. “I guess I’m so desperate to get out of here I let myself get overwhelmed. We have to protect the rest of the world, even if we’re no longer a part of it.”

                Irwin wasn’t quite as won over by the sentiment as he made himself pretend, but he understood the idea of going along with a crowd for safety. There was no strategic advantage to helping the other side… yet.

                “Well said,” Clinton agreed. “Let’s head over to the cabin and see what Velt wants us to do next. I think I’ve at least got an idea of where that possessed body is heading.”

                They three ghosts floated off, down toward the hall where two humans were just stepping in the front door.

*              *              *

                Topher had largely recovered by the time they made it back to the cabin, though his ribs still groaned in annoyance with every jarring motion. Nothing short of time and some solid painkillers was going to fix that injury, so he did his best not to dwell on it. It was surprisingly easy, since there were already vastly more important things to occupy his attention.

                “We lost him,” Topher announced as soon as he caught sight of Kay and Auggie. “The bastard was right there, and he got away. I’m sorry.”

                “Don’t worry about it. I know you did the best you could.” Auggie did know that too, these weren’t empty words meant to sooth his friend’s sense of guilt. Topher had plenty of failings, but he put everything he had into the things he undertook, especially when others were counting on him.

                Kay noticed the slight wince on Topher’s face when he drew in a deep breath and walked over with an open bottle in hand. He accepted, taking a generous mouthful, then handed it back. The night called for keeping his wits about him, but he didn’t want to slow everyone else down because of a little pain. Besides, he was self-aware enough to know that his body was far more useful than his wits had ever been.

                “So… we lost him,” Velt said. She dropped onto one of the benches and stretched, letting a series of pops echo from the bones in her back. The throw hadn’t done any serious damage to her, she’d long ago learned to go limp when falling or being tossed, but she was still going to be sore as hell come the morning. At least if she was hurting, she was alive, so that was sort of a silver-lining.

                “I don’t suppose he showed up on any of the other cameras?”

                Kay and Auggie both shook their heads.

                “Of course not, that would have been too easy. Maybe the spirits I used as scouts will follow him, but I might be hoping for the moon with that one. No, he’s probably going to get to the second site and perform the rites before we can stop him. The odds of running over him in the forest are just too great.”

                “Speaking of running over, a thought occurs to me,” Auggie interjected. “We do have means of superior transport. The SUV parked down the hill could easily be used to cover more ground.”

                “That’s not a terrible idea, but it’s too dangerous. If you accidently hit The Emissary you might kill the body, setting it loose and with a hell of a grudge. Even if you just safely found it, you’d be stuck in a metal container that offered no protection from the kind of hurt that thing can deliver.”

                “I feel as though you skimmed over the fact that hitting the body he has would also kill me permanently,” Auggie grumbled.

                “What if we didn’t use it to go after Auggie’s body? What if we used it to widen out surveillance network instead.” Kay walked over to her table and pulled out a pair of remote cameras. “We had these leftover from our initial stakeout plan. If we plant them in key locations, we may just be able to get eyes on your big bad before he starts the next ceremony.”

                “We can point you in the right direction,” Clinton said as he phased through the wall. Art and Irwin followed after him silently. Kay let out a yelp of surprise and Topher nearly stumbled over, but Clinton kept on going as if he hadn’t noticed. “Last we saw the evil-ghost-man was heading northwest through the forest. He wasn’t changing course much, so I think whatever he’s after is in that direction.”

                “Look at you three, actually pulling your weight. It’s enough to restore my faith in humanity,” Velt said. “Okay, new plan. Kay and I grab the car, she drops me off at the edge of the woods, then heads out to set the other cameras while I hunt down The Emissary. You three are going to help me track him from the air, just like you did before. Topher and Auggie will stay here to man the cameras.”

                “Why do I have to stay behind?” Topher asked.

                “Because your friend isn’t nearly old or strong enough of a spirit to handle manipulating physical objects, and the whole point of a surveillance system is to have someone watching. As for why you can’t set-up the cameras… I don’t really get the sense that you’re the technical expert on this team.”

                “I could figure it out.”

                “Fine,” Velt said. “The other reason I’m benching you is because you didn’t follow orders. I get that you meant well, which is why I haven’t knocked any teeth out of your head, but you still did the exact thing I told you not to.” Velt turned to Kay, who did her best to put on an innocent smile. “Will you drop me off then get the hell out of danger?”

                “Can do.”

                “See, that’s why she’s going.” Velt walked over to a table near the back and picked up the duffel bag she’d left earlier. “Get your cameras ready. We leave in the next three minutes. And you three spirits, why are you still here? You should be up in the air, finding my target and waiting on my arrival.”

                As she spoke, Velt wished she had the luxury of being kinder to these people. They seemed like decent folks, and when she’d told them what a high-stakes game they were playing each had agreed to help out. They deserved to be treated with respect and dignity. Unfortunately, Velt only had time to care about results. She was the one who had to get the job done, no matter what it cost.

                That was her eternal lot in life.

                -Next scene will be on The Emissary finding the second site.

                -Maybe use the car ride with Kay and Velt to develop each a bit further, fostering something of a friendship.

                -Lay a bit more of Irwin’s discontent in his dialogue and actions.


Daily WordCount: 1,973  Total WordCount: 26,311

Day 14

*              *              *

                That wasn’t Auggie. Topher would have never been fooled by the fiend possessing his friend’s flesh, even if he hadn’t known the exact circumstances. Auggie didn’t move like that, for one. His steps were measured and careful, a practiced precision that he wove into every aspect of his life. This Auggie was loose yet aware, like a snake weaving through the grass. Auggie’s eyes were never set like that, either. They furrowed in worry, teemed in exasperation, and glowed in quiet in joy. The eyes glaring down at felt were filled with violence and blood.

                No, from the instant Topher caught sight of the imposter, he knew it wasn’t really Auggie. That was why he had no trouble dashing forward and closing the distance between them. Fake-Auggie looked over at the last minute, clearly surprised that anyone else was there. His head was turned just in time to show Topher an expression of shocked pain as the bigger man buried his fist in the body-thief’s guts.

                Fake-Auggie fell back, letting out a strangled grunt along with an involuntary dry heave of air. His breath was gone, knocked out cleanly by a practiced blow from a much larger opponent. The Emissary struggled to keep the body on task, even as the sense of suffocation lit up a myriad of deeply ingrained survival instincts. They were loud, unwelcome distraction, clouding his thoughts as he tried to focus on handling his next opponent. He was so distracted, in fact, that he didn’t notice Topher’s advance to press the attack. Another punch caught him on the side of the head, adding dizziness to the internal clusterfuck as he spun over and fell to the ground.

                “Get out of Auggie. Now.” Topher took a step back, momentarily halting his barrage. While he understood that this wasn’t his friend, he also knew that any long-term damage dealt to the body would be thing Auggie would have to deal with.

                It was a gesture of basic human kindness and decency. It was also, unfortunately, the exact wrong thing to do in the given situation. Though Topher couldn’t see them, inky black shimmered into view just outside of Auggie’s own digits. They warped and twisted in the air, growing large, clawed, and horrid looking. The Emissary commanded his vessel to its feet, finally regaining some control as air at last began seeping back into its lungs.

                “Stupid flesh. Soon there will be no more. Soon you will be free. Stay silent and wait for the dawning of a new world.” The words were strange, foreign clicks of syllables to The Emissary, but they were familiar to the lips of the flesh it commanded. Stifling as bodies could be, they did have their uses.

                “Yeah, that’s not happening. One more chance, get out of my friend or this time I’m not stopping until you do.” At the end of the day, Topher was pretty sure Auggie would prefer a bang-up body to no body at all.

                “Perhaps you shall be freed before the rest.” A sharp smile sliced across the face that had once belonged to Auggie. It was all the answer Topher needed.

                He darted forward again, sure he could take this guy down. Unfortunately, the hands of shadow that stretched up from Fake-Auggie’s arms swept through the air, unseen by Topher as one curled around his torso and lifted him into the air. It squeezed mercilessly, pushing the air from his body in a far slower, more painful fashion that his own one-punch method used earlier.

                Topher struggled vainly, clawing at a force that he couldn’t see, let alone grip, all while trying to fight back the instinctual panic flooding his brain. If he lost control now, that would be it. He had no doubt Fake-Auggie would kill him. Topher had to stay lucid, had the think of something he could do. If he didn’t save himself, no one would.

                “Nice sucker-punch earlier, fucko.”

                Fake-Auggie’s head swiveled around, and Topher focused through the slowly forming black spots in his vision. Velt’s angry glare greeted both of them. She was off the ground and looked no worse for the wear, despite her wall-smashing performance only a few minutes earlier. The only outward sign of damage she showed at all was a small trickle of blood from a cut in her bottom lip. With her right hand, she carefully smeared the blood across her fingers.

                “Never occurred to me you could use your power while in the body. It was a good trick, I’ll give you, but it only works once. Now drop the idiot and lets you and me have some fun.”

                Much as Topher resented the slight at his intelligence, he did appreciate that she was at least showing concern for his safety. The Emissary held no such fondness for this strange woman. It was ready to be done with the lot of them. With its free claw, it swiped forward, intending to the skewer or crush her. To its surprise, she nimbly ducked under the blow, moving past the claw with confident speed and then surging forward. For a moment, The Emissary thought she meant to strike its body, and tensed in preparation for more discomfort. It’s instinct was off, however, as she made a beelind right for Topher. Or, more specifically, the shadowy claw/hand crushing the life from him.

                Velt reared back her right hand, extended each of her blood-smeared fingers, and drove them forcefully into the mass of ectoplasmic energy that composed The Emissary’s hand. For the barest of instants, nothing happened. Then the screaming began.

                To Topher, it has appeared as though Velt were making weird motions toward empty air. It was only when he fingers struck that he saw something around them. It was a patch of shadow that shifted in and out of view, easy to dismiss as nothing more than his imagination yet undeniably there. He still might have written it off, if not for the horrendous noise that filled the night.

                At first, it sounded like a human’s screams: disturbing but well within the realm of normality. But after a moment another sound came on its heels. A horrible wail, like that sound of a thousand men’s guttural grunts as the noose snapped their necks while vultures cawed in anticipation of tearing at their innards. It was impossibly awful, far worse than the sensation of being crushed to death. Even Velt was gritting her teeth, worming her fingers in deeper while keeping her grip on the arm.

                Topher felt himself jerk up, just the slightest bit, then come crashing down all at once. He landed in a heap atop of something that smelled like dirt, sweat, and just the slightest hint of lavender. It took him longer than he was proud of to realize that he’d been tossed onto Velt, who was struggling to untangle herself from his bulky limbs. Due to pain, numbness, and the brain fog of near suffocation, Topher wasn’t able to add much to the process.

                It didn’t take Velt long to get free, but it took her longer enough. By the time she was back on her feet, The Emissary was gone, his stolen body vanishing into the woods at the far side of the clearing. If she gave chase, he’d had the advantage since his wraith arms could attack her through physical obstacle likes trees. Plus it would be too easy to lay an ambush. No, she needed to regroup first. Wraiths were dangerous opponents, even for her. If she took him lightly, there was a very real chance she could end up dead. And if she went down, so went the rest of the world.

                “Hey,” Velt said, looking down at a still-recovering Topher. “We need to have a talk about what ‘stay the fuck out of the way’ means to you, because there’s no chance we’re working from the same definition.”

                “You’re… welcome,” Topher wheezed out. Each breath was painful coming in, a sharp bite in his lower chest. He’d played enough football to know a cracked rib when he felt it. Given what that thing had been trying to do to him, that little of an injury would be getting off easy.

                “I didn’t need your help, I was playing possum. Wraiths are powerful as all hell, but they’ve also cruel and full of ego. After his sucker-punch, I wanted to lure him in close so I could get a good grip and tear him out of your friend’s body.”

                Topher stared at her, then barked a short, slightly painful laugh. “Doesn’t that just figure. I finally get the chance to play hero for a beautiful girl, and it turns out all I did was get in the way.”

                Velt started visibly at the word ‘beautiful’ then immediately composed herself. Still, her face and voice softened a few degrees when she spoke next. “Look, I appreciate the sentiment. And, to be honest, what you did was kind of brave. Stupid as playing the lotto for retirement, but brave. I’m just not the kind of girl you need to worry about saving.”

                She reached over and took his arm, helping pull Topher back to a standing position. He leaned on her slightly as he found his balance. Thankfully nothing in his legs protested beyond voicing the presence of bruises and stiffness. Given the harshness of his landing, he’s been braced for a sprain or a break. Luck, it seemed, hadn’t entirely abandoned them tonight.

                “Thanks. So… what was all that? What did you do?”

                “I stuck my fingers into its arm. It’s real arm, not the one from your friend’s body. Normally that wouldn’t have been quite as painful, but my blood added a bit of extra kick.”

                “You say that like you think it’s an explanation. It’s really not,” Topher said.

                Velt shrugged, a motion he could feel against his chest as she helped him take the first few steps back toward the main hall.

                “I hurt spirits. Something about me, in my blood and my touch, it causes them pain and destroys the cohesion of their energy. Spirits are usually holding onto this plane through force of will, fueling their grip with the emotions of the living. I pry that grip off, sending them on to whatever comes next. No one knows why I can do this, or at least no one who is willing to tell me. It’s just something I can do.”

                “You… unmake ghosts?”

                “No, I send them on to whatever comes next.”

                “How can you possibly know that? If you don’t know what comes after this life, how do you know you aren’t just destroying their souls?” Topher was aghast at the idea, a shiver of terror running down his large back.

                “Because when I first started, I was afraid I was doing exactly that, so I tracked down someone who does know what comes after our world and demanded some answers. He assured me that they were still crossing over.”

                “And you just trusted his word? What if he was a con, or scamming you?”

                “I’m not stupid. I didn’t go to some hack or con. Remember, I’m the real deal. That means I know how to spot my own kind.” Velt let Topher go, if he was strong enough to question her judgment he was strong enough to walk on his own. “And yes, I trusted his word. He damned sure knew the truth and he’s not the type to lie. Actually, I’m not even sure he can lie, and that’s all I’m going to say about him. Trust me, you’ll sleep a whole lot better at night if you don’t press the issue.

                Topher wasn’t sure he believed that, but it was clear Velt was finished discussing the issue. At the moment, their most important task was finding Auggie’s body anyway. Maybe once it was over he could try to wriggle more information out of her.

                Assuming they all made it through the night, that was.

                -Close chapter here. Now that Velt’s powers and mysterious connections are established, I can stop hinting around at it and let her talk in plain terms to the team.

                -For next chapter opening, switch to The Emissary reacting to the surprise of being hurt. He’ll probably see Velt’s power as blasphermous, since his religion is built around spirits being immune to shit like pain.

                -Almost halfway through, so after Velt and the others lay down some basic plans to hunt The Emissary need to think about throwing the switch on the second site. Have to start setting up and building toward the ultimate showdown.


Daily WordCount: 2,004  Total WordCount:  24,338

Day 13

Chapter 7

                Velt led the charge, with Topher several steps behind her and the native ghosts spread out in the air, scanning for Auggie’s body. The big blue-haired man was doing a surprisingly good job keeping up, and that was with the fact that Velt was actively trying to shake him. She didn’t need a human getting mixed up in this. If she were facing a normal ghast, some low-level spirit feeding on negative emotion, then she wouldn’t have sweat a tag-a-long. Even if it were a poltergeist, the big bad brother of the ghast, things might have been okay. Unfortunately, her opponent was neither of those things. It was a wraith: an evil spirit so powerful and rare that she’d spent most of her career believe them to be pure myth. If Topher made a wrong move, there was a very real possibility he’d end up floating alongside Auggie, only there wouldn’t be any way to reverse his condition.

                At least she’d convinced Kay and Auggie to stay back and man the hub. Having eyes on their target made things much easier, plus it kept those two out of harm’s way. If she’d had more time, she’d have talked Topher into staying as well, but there was no telling how long The Emissary would stay put. It was possible he was there getting ready to activate the second site, which was all the more reason to hurry. Once that one was started up, her job got a whole lot harder.

                “What’s the plan?” Topher asked. His breathing was heavy, but not as labored as it should be for how much muscle he was hauling around. Velt revised her assessment of his physique; evidently he did work in some cardio.

                “We find The Emissary and I kick his ass.” She leapt over a small root cluster with practices grace. Topher mimicked her motion, refusing to fall behind.

                “That’s what I’m wondering about. How do you beat up a ghost? And more importantly, how are you getting it out of my friend’s body?”

                “Same method for both: lots of punching and maybe some kicks.”

                “You’re going to attack Auggie?” Topher quickened his pace, narrowing the gap between he and the woman who was casually talking about assaulting his best friend.

                “Nothing permanent.” She glanced back and noticed the expression of doubt on Topher’s face. Biting back a sigh of exasperation, she tried to explain. “Look, right now the best thing we have going for us is that the spirit driving Auggie’s body around hasn’t been corporeal in millennia. I’m hoping it forgot what pain feels like and the shock will drive it out.”

                “Please tell me there’s a Plan B.”

                “Plan B is kick the shit out of your friend until The Emissary realizes it can’t win. They it will abandon the body to take me on with all its spirit abilities.”

                Topher’s eyes widened in shock, not that Velt could see it from her position. “Your plan is to mercilessly beat my friend and hope that knocks out an evil spirit. Then, if it does somehow work, you’re stuck facing down a ghost that apparently has abilities and you can’t touch. And people think I’m dumb.”

                “I’m not as helpless as you’d think. Just stay back when we find it, the last thing I need is it jumping over and grabbing your body instead. Then I’d have disembodied idiots to deal with.”

                “Neither of us is-”

                Topher stopped talking as Velt came to an abrupt stop and held up her hand. For a moment, he couldn’t see what had given her pause, then Topher noticed one of the ghosts from the broom closet floating about twenty feet high in the air, trying to look like he was casually passing by as he frantically pointed down at one of the cabins. Velt met the ghost’s eye and gave him a nod of acknowledgement. That was clearly all it needed; her head had barely stopped moving before the ghost picked up speed, doing its best to get clear of the area.

                “Stay here,” Velt whispered. “Maybe stay a little further back, actually. No matter what you hear, or think you hear, do not approach until I physically walk about and wave you over. Wraiths are tricky bastards, especially when they access to a living vessel.”

                “How will I know it didn’t take over your body?”

                Velt let out an odd sound, some curious combination of a snort and a laugh. “It’s not an issue, I promise. Now stay put, Camera-Boy. I’m going to go try and beat your friend’s back into his possession.”

                With that, she was gone, darting off toward a half-collapsed cabin that would have made any safety inspector shit a chicken at the idea of a human entering. Topher watched her go, unsure if he was intrigued by her mystery, annoyed by her attitude, or blinded by the looks of this very strange woman.

                In truth it was, of course, all three.

                *              *              *

                Auggie’s body had wandered into and out of shot periodically since they first caught sight of it. The camera was set up at the top of a small hill over-looking the majority of the cabins, so as the man who both was and wasn’t Auggie went through the various dilapidated structures Kay and Auggie’s spirit were able to watch his movements.

                “This is surreal. I mean, that’s me. That’s me walking around out there, combing through those cabins. I’m watching myself do things with utter disconnection.”

                “Welcome to the joys of internet video and blackout drinking,” Kay replied. “At least you’re not trying to ride a mechanical bull with the top half of your ass sticking out of your low-rider jeans.”

                “True, but the night is still young. Who knows what my body will do before its back in my rightful possession.”

                Kay swiveled around, looking up at the floating form of her coworker. “August Parrish, did you just make a joke?”

                “You could try to act a little less surprised. I’m only the surly professional when we’re working. In my off-time, I’m as carefree and fun as anyone.”

                “Last weekend I did shots of 151 while illegally base-jumping off a downtown bank building.”

                “Okay fine, anyone normal,” Auggie amended.

                “Maybe one day I’ll actually get to see that. You say you’re fun when we’re off, but honestly Auggie when are you ever not working? I’ve been with you two since the end of season one and I can’t think of a single time when you weren’t talking about, worrying about, or dealing with the show.”

                “One of us has too,” Auggie said. “Topher has the passion but none of the logistical know-how, and while you are admittedly excellent with everything film related, that still leaves a tremendous amount of technical work on my shoulders. If I don’t do the work, it doesn’t get done.”

                “Auggie, I’ve seen our profits. You could easily afford someone to lessen your work load,” Kay told him. “You know what I think?”

                “Heaven save me from such knowledge.”

                “Cute. I think you like having the weight of the show on your shoulders. Because Topher is the one wooing the audience and driving up the ratings, you want to feel like his equal, so you make sure that every other aspect of the show depends on you. Otherwise, you might just feel like a friend Topher was bringing along on his train to success.”

                Auggie stared at the woman hard, then let out a small sigh. “I don’t think it’s possible for me to be insecure about that, given that I made peace with it decades ago. Topher has always been a force of nature. His gregariousness, enthusiasm, and social acumen are all appealing to those around him. I’m objectively smarter than he is, yet his capability of making people like him has constantly opened impossible doors for him. Of course, my own skillset afforded me different opportunities; academic intelligence and social intelligence each have their own rewards. Individually, we each could have found success in the worlds geared toward our talents, but working together we can do something utterly different: we’ve been able to make a place in the world that’s all our own. I’m quite happy with that achievement, even if Topher is in the flashier, more prestigious role.”

                “That was surprisingly poetic, and you didn’t even get huffy once,” Kay said. She glanced at the monitor and started in surprise. “Speaking of Topher, he and Velt just arrived at the cabins. It looks like they’re talking.”

                “Hopefully discussing a strategic and meticulous plan to retrieve my body.”

                “Velt really didn’t strike me as that kind of gal.”

                “Nor I. That was a weak attempt at humor to alleviate my anxiety.” Auggie leaned forward to watch the feed. “It looks as though she’s going into the cabin with my body. Why is Topher staying put?”

                “No clue, but he’s got a mic and an earpiece. Want me to ask?”

                “I suppose we should give them a moment,” Auggie replied.

                He and Kay kept their eyes trained on the monitor waiting for the slightest sign that something was happening. For several minutes, there was nothing aside from Topher standing about looking increasingly concerned. Just as Kay was about to ask Topher for an update, something finally happened.

                Specifically, Velt burst through the half-crumbled remains of the eastern wall, flying through the air and landing hard on a grassy hill. When she landed, she lay there, unmoving save for a slight stirring as she breathed. Unfortunately, Auggie’s body did not share her embargo on action, as it emerged from the cabin’s remains with a murderous expression unlike anything the real Auggie would have ever worn.

                “Any chance that was part of the plan?” Kay asked.

                Auggie merely shook his head, eyes on the monitor. He dearly hoped his body wasn’t about to commit murder, but with every step it took closer to a downed Velt, the likelihood diminished significantly.

                -Shift perspective back to Topher and Velt. Topher will need to step in while Velt is downing, giving a chance to show how dangerous the spirit inside Auggie is.

                -Keep the confrontation short. Once Velt wounds him, the wraith will retreat, perhaps using Topher as a shield or distraction. This scene needs to inform on the challenges they’re facing, not be an anti-climatic chapter long struggle.


Daily WordCount: 1,668  Total WordCount: 22,334

Day 11

*              *              *

                The first was done. Around him, the world seemed to crackle with mystical energy, racing over the skin that he momentarily wore. Around him wisps shimmered about, visible even through the flesh’s mundane eyes. Soon the world would see as he did. Soon the dead would be free and the living a thing of the past.

                Still, he needed to be careful. The first site was the easiest to access, the others would require more time and energy. On the thought of energy, a rumble arose from the body’s stomach. It seemed his instincts had been on point, food was necessary in order to keep the vessel moving. Once, so very long ago, he’d known these woods and what to forage for, but he no longer trusted the land that hand risen atop the corpse of his home. No, better to scavenge in the strange huts and see what modern delicacies he could uncover.

                He moved quietly as he headed back toward the dock where he’d found this flesh. The woman who’d tried to catch him after he grabbed it unnerved him somehow. It was a ridiculous idea, she could only hurt the flesh at most, and then he would simply overtake hers. He was spirit, shadow and magic, beyond her touch. Yet still, the idea of confronting her gave him pause.

                Having been without a gut for so long, he didn’t recognize the sound of one whispering intuition to him.

*              *              *

                After giving the crew of Spectre Quest their orders, Velt dragged the three broom closet spirits into another room to have a “chat” with them. This left Kay, Auggie, and Topher alone for the first time since one of them became incorporeal. For a moment, they stared at each other, uncertain of what to say now that communication was once again possible. Ultimately it was Topher, had to be Topher, who spoke up and broke the ice.

                “You owe me ten dollars.”

                “Excuse me?” Auggie tilted his head a bit too far in exaggeration, hitting an angle that would have been supremely uncomfortable had he possessed actual vertebrae.

                “First year of filming: I bet you’d believe in ghosts before the show ended its run. Well, we’re still making episodes and since you’re hovering nearly a foot off the ground, I’d guess you’re finally ready to admit ghosts are real.”

                Auggie glanced down and realized he was indeed off the floor again. With a minor exertion of willpower he lowered himself down. Moving in this form was surprisingly easy, so much so that he kept doing it unintentionally.

                “Technically I’ve admitted to nothing. Perhaps what’s happening right now is mass-delirium, or there was a leak of toxic fumes in this abandoned place and we’re all passed out on the floor hallucinating.”

                “I feel like I’d have at least some resistance to that sorta shit,” Kay pointed out, knocking back a gulp from the bottle she’d been prepared to swing at Velt. “I mean, sure, you two would be gone like freshmen, but I spend a lot of my free time putting toxic things in my body. I’m not going out that easy.”

                “To that effect, would you mind I asked why you are still drinking?”

                “Cause the chick who told us that you were a disembodied spirit also said we were the only thing standing between the world and some sort of undead apocalypse.”

                “That should provide you with more reason for sobriety,” Auggie said.

                “Fuck that. If I’m getting killed and the world is ending, there is no way in possibly literal hell I’m facing that shit sober.” Kay illustrated the point with another short glug, then offered the bottle to Topher who waved her off.

                “World hasn’t ended yet,” Topher said. “And Velt says our best bet for stopping this emcee ghost is to find Auggie’s body. Were you able to get any of the remote cameras up and running?”

                “All four of them.” There was strange note of pride in Auggie’s voice, as though he were a touch insulted that even being ripped from his body would possibly cause him to leave a job incomplete.

                “Great, that should give us a decent look at the main parts of the camp. Now, how do we turn them on?”

                “Ooooh, I can do this, I’ve seen Auggie do it dozens of times.” Kay darted over, open bottle still in hand, and dropped into the worn chair that sat in front of Auggie’s hub.

                “Absolutely not! Topher, don’t let her touch my equipment.”

                “She runs a whole editing set-up and works with cameras daily, it’s not like she’s bad with technology.”

                “Well… maybe but… she’ll get all my settings tweaked up and it will take ages to fix them.” Auggie was perfectly aware of the ridiculousness of the complaint, but rather than acknowledge it he merely crossed his arms and mentally dug in harder. Luckily, a lifetime of friendship had left Topher with at least some knowledge of how Auggie’s head worked.

                “Don’t worry man. We’ll find him and get your body back, I promise. Then you’ll be the one sitting in your chair and messing with the buttons. Kay is just a temporary sub.”

                “That’s right tech-boy, for the first time in your life a beautiful woman is under your command.” Kay set the bottle down and turned to the multi-monitored hub and laid her hands on a keyboard. “Now tell me what to do already.”

                Auggie took just a moment, debating whether or not to respond to her “beautiful woman” jab, then thought better of it. Crude as she was, Kay was trying to make him feel better by settling back into their usual dynamic. And, strangely enough, it sort of worked.

                “Very well, let’s see what the cameras are capturing. Try not to spill any of your near-ethanol intoxicants on my equipment while you’re at it.”

                “No promises!” Kay declared proudly.

*              *              *

                “And that’s when you came in and we decided to hide and see how things went,” Clinton finished explaining. “No one has ever come here that could see us. Well, one guy took some mushrooms back in the early eighties, a few years before Art died, and I think he and I had a conversation. It was hard to tell if him constantly going off topic was because of the mushrooms or if he was hallucinating a talk that was similar to the one I thought we were having.”

                “Could have been either,” Velt told him. “Occasionally drugs open up the senses, but it takes a really spot-on mix that few people happen across, plus the dosage and chemicals needed various based on someone’s body.”

                “Who cares about a forty year old conversation? I want to know how you plan to get us out of here,” Irwin demanded. He leaned forward in his chair, so much so that he’d have gone tumbling off if he had any mass for gravity to take hold of. “You’re a medium; your job is to help lost spirits, so it’s time for you to get to it.”

                “First off, I’m not that kind of medium.” Velt’s face was expressionless, but there was current of violence in her tone that made both Art and Clinton shift in their seats. A living person shouldn’t be able to do anything to injure them, yet every ounce of sense they had told them to treat her as a very real threat. “Secondly, I don’t have to do shit for you. I’ve got bigger problems to worry about. If you want help, I suggest you earn it by taking work off my plate.”

                “You would try to extort the dead?” Irwin’s indignation was matched only by his willful ignorance at ignoring the fact that he’d been trying to extort a medium.

                “I’ll bargain with them, when they have something I can use. In this case, you three might just be handy. You can cover lots of ground quickly, and The Emissary will be on the lookout for me and the other living folks. I doubt it would ever occur to him to hide from spirits.”

                “Gotcha, you want us to go huntin’ for him. We find the fella, you stop the dead-world-risin’ madness, and then you help us move on or at least get off this damn campground. That about sum it up?” Art asked.

                “Look at that, thirty years apart and we still speak the same language,” Velt said, gracing Art with a smile. “You hit the nail on the head. In fact, I think solving my problem will also solve yours. You’ve all been stuck here because this place is a combination spirit trap and magnet. It draws in every soul that dies in its reach and then holds them in place, all building toward today. Once we stop the ritual, the magic will dissipate, and you should be free to go to whatever is waiting for you.”

                “How convenient. The thing we want just happens to coincide with giving you exactly what you want.” Irwin sat back and crossed his arms. “I don’t but it. I want assurances that our efforts will be properly rewarded.”

                “I can assure you that I’ll knock that stupid look off your face if you keep slowing me down with your bullshit. That work for you?”

                “Empty threat. I’ve been dead long enough to know that we can only interact with the physical world through incredible effort, and nothing living can so much as touch us.”

                Velt stared down Irwin with a smile very different from the genial one she’d flashed art. This was not a social conveyance, it was a predator bearing its teeth.

                “A whole year? You have no fucking idea what the rules of your world are. I’ve spent my entire life surrounded by spirits, I saw them before I even knew there was a distinction between living and dead. I’ve made a life, a career, out of dealing with the shittiest of your lot, and I’ve damned good at it. Oh, and one more thing: I never make empty threats.”

                Things very well might have escalated in that moments, as Irwin’s stupidity beat out his survival instincts in the race to his tongue, but fortunately (for him) Kay’s voice bounced off the walls and interrupted their discussion.

                “Velt! Come here!”

                “What’s wrong? Did you see a clue?”

                “Fuck a clue! We see Auggie, on screen, right now. He’s down by the cabins.”

                Velt turned back to the spirits. “Anyone who wants to earn a ticket out of here, come with me. Hopefully we can end this whole shitshow right now.”

                -Obviously jump back to action scene now, as they try and catch Auggie’s body.

                -This is about the time to show Velt’s effect on spirits, it’s been hinted at long enough. Time to make it tangible for the reader.

                -Also need to show why The Emissary is dangerous, even to living things. Perhaps a brief confrontation with Topher.


Daily WordCount: 1,776  Total WordCount: 20,666