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