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