“Should I… should we be scared?” Irwin’s voice was uncharacteristically subdued, his post-death combativeness pushed away by the curious combination of fear and awe that wormed its way through his incorporeal brain.
“Don’t know. Seems like we ain’t got much to worry ‘bout, being dead and all. Still, I can’t help but think this is something nobody, livin’ or dead, should be too near.”
“The humans saw it and didn’t react. That means it’s in the realm of the spirits, and that means that yes, I think we should be at least a little worried,” Clinton surmised.
The three ghosts were no longer standing on the dock, that location now felt too close to swirling, sweeping, and storming miasma of fog that had covered the island and about a quarter of the lake. While Clinton’s estimates about the expansion slowing were spot on, what it lacked in growth it made up for in activity. What had begun as a sedate cloud now keenly resembled an orgy of tornados, whirling in every angle and direction, crashing into one another and dissolving only to spawn new ones. Face could still be seen taking shape in the chaos, but now they were attached to torsos, with hands stretching out until their shapes dissolving. None of the ghosts knew what those things were reaching for, and that was a dearth of knowledge each was happy never having filled in.
“Should we try to warn ‘em?” Art looked away from the shifting carnage to his friend, who responded with a meek shrug.
“Neither of us is that great at moving stuff, and Irwin hasn’t picked it up at all yet. The most we could do is write ‘Run” or something in the dirt.”
“That would scare most people off,” Irwin said, the faux-toughness in his tone making it clear that he didn’t consider himself to be among that grouping.
“Art heard them talking, apparently they’re here looking for ghosts. If we give them a show them they’ll probably dig their heels in.”
“Still, seems like we oughta at least try,” Art said. “Just cause we’re stuck don’t mean they have to be.”
“Agreed. It’s the right thing to do.” Clinton turned to Irwin, who sat mesmerized by the cloud vortex. “You coming with?”
“Why, I can’t move anything.”
“And if you don’t practice that will always be the case,” Clinton said.
Irwin considered his options. He didn’t really care if some idiot trespassers got their comeuppance for breaking in here, but he also wasn’t too keen on being near the lake when sunset came. Whatever happened, it probably wasn’t going to be good. In the end, cowardice won out over apathy.
“Fine, I’ll tag along. Might as well give moving things another go.”
The trio began wandering up the hill toward the main hall, unimpeded by the overgrowth in the path as the humans were. They didn’t even need to touch the ground, it was just one of those habits that one grew accustomed to after several decades of living. It would only take them minutes to make it up to the hall, which was a shame.
Had they been just a bit slower, they might have noticed Auggie walking toward the woods away from the hall, heading off to set up a camera, and things might have turned out very differently.
* * *
She checked the sky, watching the sun begin flirting with the barest edge of the horizon. In terms of logic, sunset as a trigger point never really made sense to her. When one thought about it, why would the angle of a burning star’s light hitting our hunk of space rock be a factor in anything as arcane and ill-defined as magic? For that matter, sunset was really more of a general period than a precise time. If she climbed a tree on top of the cliff, extending her view, then the sun would vanish several minutes for her than if she watching from the edge of the lake.
Reasoning like that was why she’d never fit in with the supernatural community. They could take all this magic mumjo-grumbo crap at face value, but she wanted to understand it. Sometimes she wondered what her life would have been like if she hadn’t been born with her gift, or of her bloodline. The two were distinct things, after all. Mediums came in every shape, sex, and race. Supposedly it had to do with the phases of the moon and the energy levels at birth, though genetics could play a role in passing the gift from generation to generation.
Not that such was the case with her. She was the first medium in her family. Really though, it had only been a matter of time. Her family was different. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, but always different. They just never seemed to be playing by the same rules as the rest of the world. Occasionally, she wondered if they were even playing the same game.
Perhaps that was why her gift had manifested in an unusual way. Even among other mediums, she was an oddity. For that quirk, she was thankful. It seemed like it would be hard for the others, living in a world of disembodied spirits and being almost powerless to deal with them. She didn’t love her gift, but at least she didn’t have to just take all the ghost-bullshit like the others. She could shut them up.
The purple coat found its way from the ground to her body as air chilled around her. Part of it was due to the setting sun, part of it due to her position near the lake. It was a shitty place to sit for an ambush, but two days of scouting had assured her this was the right place to be. At sunset The Emissary would rise, and it would be hungry. Originally she’d assumed it would gobbled up the animal spirits and maybe down a couple of the humans too. That was before real-live humans had shown up. It would go directly after them, they’d stand out like infernos of energy to that twisted monster. All she had to do was wait.
Most likely, it would go after her first. Only the oldest and most powerful ones she’d encountered ever seemed to have a clue about her difference. If she was very lucky, the damn thing might try to full-on possess her.
A soft, vicious smile warmer her face at that thought. That would make her job much easier, which meant it probably wouldn’t happen. Only a rare combination of dumb and lucky spirits lasted long enough to learn a trick like possession and still be so impulsive as to leap into a body without testing the waters first. From what she’d been told, The Emissary wasn’t going to be stupid. Odds were he’d be the oldest and most powerful of evil spirits: a wraith.
No, tonight wouldn’t be easy. That was okay by her. She wasn’t all that good at dealing with easy in the first place. She didn’t like it, didn’t trust it. A hard, bloody, deadly fight, now that was something she could get behind. Because when those were over, at least you knew where you stood.
The sun dipped another few inches and she pulled the coat tighter around her body. One of her hands reached in the duffel bag and came up with a plastic bottle filled with milky-looking liquid. With a careful hand she partially unscrewed the cap so it could come off with just the flick of the wrist. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that, but she didn’t underestimate wraiths. Not anymore.
As the sun continued its languishing fall from the sky, the miasma around the island grew more frantic in its activity.
It wouldn’t be long now.
* * *
Though he didn’t tell the others, setting up the remote cameras was actually one of Auggie’s favorite jobs. It was the last break of solitary serenity before the bedlam of shooting began. Once the cameras were rolling, Auggie became the nerve center for Topher and Kay’s efforts, coordinating and directing them so that the time and film could be used most effectively. He enjoyed his role in the team, balancing two creative types along with all the logistics necessary to make a trip worthwhile, but there was no doubt that by the end of the night he’d be mentally worn-out. Setting up the remotes was his time to re-center himself after a plane-ride and afternoon of dealing with his more energetic colleagues.
Despite all the blustering, he liked his job. Even if it wasn’t exactly what he’d had in mind when he graduated college, it was a gig that offered constant travel, adventure, and independence. Working with his oldest friend was an added bonus. If pressed, and liquored up a bit, Auggie might even be persuaded to admit that Kay wasn’t so bad either, underneath all her antagonism. She was just the type that liked to rebel, and in a three-person company with lots of independence, he was the only outlet for that inclination.
He’d left the dock camera for last, both because he wanted to double-check the fitting on the improvised zoom scope, and because he thought it would be pretty at sunset. Since his mundane vision couldn’t pick up on the swirling mass of supernatural energy centered over the island, it was indeed a breathtaking sight. The fiery reds and golds of the sun’s last valiant attempts to light the sky reflected in the cool, clear water of the lake.
As Auggie took in the scene, he realized that the lake was strangely choppy, seeing as there was almost no wind in the air. He wondered if there was some sort of cave system connecting it to more turbulent waters and creating an unseen current. Auggie always searched for the scientific explanation in their outings, and even if he didn’t guessing that the water was churning by an unseen cloud vortex was a bit of a stretch.
With nature thoroughly appreciated, Auggie turned his attention to setting up the final remote camera. As he anchored the tripod in the place, the sun finally lost its fight with inevitability, dipping below the horizon. It was as Auggie as just beginning to fuss with the lens that the last sliver of sun vanished, signifying the official end of the day.
And, more importantly, the beginning of night.
-Try and finish out this chapter tomorrow. End with the attack you’ve been building toward.
-Jump the perspective a bit more. Velt can’t give us much until she’d properly introduced, but she can give us some point-of-view perspective.
-It feels weird that all of this going on after dismissing the ghosts. Do a scene showing them trying to interact with Topher and Kay so we’ve got a good sense of everyone’s whereabouts when the attack finally happens.
Daily WordCount: 1,746. Total WordCount: 11,322