“Hey, w-w-wake up…” Someone was shaking me very gently. “W-wake up.”
I slowly opened my eyes and saw green ones looking down at me with worry. I jumped, confused at where I was before I remembered–Samuel had been killed, that weird Dr. Rosso had taken me, and this guy who looked just like her was standing outside the truck and indicating for me to get out. I turned visible and slid out, yawning and rubbing my eyes. “Where am I?”
“The l-labs,” he replied, waving one hand to indicate a low building. I looked over at the sign. Moonlight Falls Supernatural Research And Guidance Facility.
“Moonlight Falls?” I asked, knowing that name sounded familiar. “Where’s that?”
“Oh about an hour aw-away from EGHB,” the man answered. “We’re actually on the outskirt of t-t-town.”
I looked around for Dr. Rosso but didn’t see her. “Can I go?” I asked in a quiet voice. “Because I think Dr. Rosso wants to experiment on me, and I don’t want to go through that again. It hurts.”
“I… d-don’t worry, it won’t be like whatever it w-w-was Professor Everett w-w-was doing to you,” he stammered. “I p-promise you w-won’t be hurt here.”
He sounded like he meant it too. I knew the woman didn’t like to be hugged, so I wasn’t sure if I should hug him. “Promise?” I asked, just to make sure.
“I p-promise.” He smiled and began walking, so I followed him. “My n-name is P-Professor Rosso. Dr. R-Rosso’s brother. What’s yours?”
“I dunno. I don’t remember my name. I don’t remember a lot of things about myself, like how I died, why I’m so different… anything.” I gave a shrug and a laugh. “Can I call you something besides Professor Rosso? That’s a mouthful.”
He looked around and then leaned in. “My n-name is Angelo, b-but… my nickname is Kay. So when it’s j-j-just us, you can c-call me Kay.”
“Okay,” I said and then giggled nervously. “So your, um, sister. What sort of experiments are going to happen? Samuel stuck wires in me and zapped me.”
“N-nothing like that!” Angelo-Kay gasped. “Most likely j-just scans, and physicals. Monitor you wh-while you r-r-run on a treadmill type of thing.”
I crinkled my nose up. “I prefer floating.” That made him laugh for some reason though I didn’t think it was very funny. “How come she–” But I stopped, since I didn’t know if her killing Samuel was public knowledge. “How come she took all that stuff?”
“He t-t-took it from us, long ago,” Angelo-Kay replied, opening the door for me. There were people inside so I started to go invisible but then I saw another ghost. I pointed silently and Angelo-Kay nodded. “Th-there are a few supernatural b-beings here. That’s wh-why we’ve moved to Moonlight Falls. It’s almost l-like a… p-portal to a fantasy w-world. In fact, we th-think is is where…” At that he stopped, like I had earlier. “Well, M-Moonlight Falls is p-pretty secluded. The w-world doesn’t bother us. Another r-reason my sister w-wanted to move here.”
I followed him down a hallway, feeling uncomfortable with all the people around. I felt like they were staring and some part of me kept saying hide, go invisible, they can’t see you, there will be trouble if they see you. I began shaking and drifted closer to Angelo-Kay. I needed to pick a name but what was with the two very different names? Maybe his middle name started with ‘K’. “Nobody’s going to attack me, are they?” I asked.
“Of c-c-course not,” Kay said, since I decided I’d do as he asked with the nickname. “You’ll b-be safe here. Although…” He stopped and spun around to face me. “Have we met b-before? You s-seem very familiar.”
I slowly shook my head. “I don’t think so.”
“You d-don’t have a name?”
“Not one that I remember. Sorry.”
He began walking again and I followed. “So wh-what should I c-c-call you?”
“I dunno, I really don’t know.” You really are something, Chance. That voice, what was it? Was that my name? “Ghost?” I offered, trying to ignore the voice.
“I c-can’t just call you ‘ghost’,” Kay said with a big smile.
“Then you can name me.” I looked around at the closed doors, edging away from someone walking by. They paused to give a small head nod to Kay, murmuring a greeting. But they barely even looked at me. “So–these other ghosts here? The one ghost I saw? Can people see them properly? Without goggles?”
“Go-goggles?” Kay stopped at some elevators and pushed the button. “No, we d-don’t need anything to s-see ghosts. This place is ch-charged with… w-well, it’s a bit c-complicated. But this place is v-very strong with energy. Another reason w-we moved here. Built this pl-place here. There are some pla-places that are charged with energy. In s-such places, ghosts c-c-can be seen easily.”
“Maybe those places are where a lot of hauntings happen,” I said absentmindedly as we started going up in the elevator.
Kay just looked straight ahead, at our reflections in the elevator doors. His eyes met my reflection’s eyes. “You’re a sm-smart kid.”
My entire body shivered as something spun around me. That word felt… so weird… so… wrong but… it made me feel… so happy. A smile spread on my face, a real smile. I felt like I was glowing and my reflection even seemed a bit brighter. “What did you say?” I had to hear it again.
“You’re a smart k-kid,” Kay repeated as the elevator stopped.
I breathed out, grinning now. “I don’t think anyone’s ever called me that. I mean, I don’t remember much anyway but I just don’t think that’s ever, ever, ever been said about me.” We got off the elevator into a hallway with doors, doors with numbers. Kay was pulling some cards from his pocket. “Is one of these my cell?”
“C-cell? Oh, no. You w-will be in a regular r-room. We don’t use the c-cells for p-people like you.”
“Who do you use the cells for?”
He held up a card and held it out towards me. “Th-they’re empty right now. Hopefully th-they stay empty for a very long time.”
“Who are they for?” I took the card, studying the number on it which matched the number on the door we were standing in front of.
I shivered again, like in the elevator only not. It was a weird feeling. Dey… day… dejee… deejay… deejay voo. Or whatever. I wanted to ask him what he meant by ‘evil’ but I held my question back since I was scared by it. He showed me how to swipe my card and I went into the little room with very little furniture. “If you want anything… b-b-books or a computer… we c-can get you that. We’re n-not used to having solid gh-ghosts. So… my s-sister said you can have a r-room like the others.”
Kay fiddled with the lamp, turning it on. “Th-there are a couple other… p-paranormal beings on th-this floor. People who are… being r-researched on. Or are here to t-try to cope with their existence.”
I leaned out the closed door, peeking down the hall but I didn’t see anyone. I pulled back in. “Will they be mad there’s a ghost here?”
“I d-don’t think so. They m-mostly stay within their own groups. Vampires w-w-with vampires, w-werewolves w–“
“Vampires? Werewolves?” I gasped. “They exist?”
Kay rolled his eyes at me. “You j-just stuck your head through a door and you w-wonder if vampires exist?”
I looked down at my floaty, ghostly body. “Er… right. So I’m staying in here… alone?”
“Y-yes. Right now you c-can just relax. Are you… do you g-get hungry?”
“No, but I like eating.”
“Come one.” He waved his hand and we left the room. He took me down the hall and showed me a small place to make food. There were some people in there, a couple of teenagers. A girl in baggy clothes and a ghost watching a boy jumping up and down. He was shouting something about bears, but stopped when we came through the door.
“Professor Rosso!” The girl gave him a smile, blushing just slightly.
“H-hello Maryanne, Alex, J-Jeffrey.”
“I TURNED INTO A BEAR!” Jeffrey shouted, posing.
I covered my mouth to stop from giggling, but Kay just kept his smile on his face. “C-congratulations. That m-must have been s-some effort.”
“Hey, when are we leaving? Cause–“
“You n-need to talk to my sister about that,” Kay cut in quickly.
“Is she back too? Hey, who’s this? Hi, I’m Jeffrey.”
“I’m, um… well, I don’t know who I am. Nice to meet you.” I offered my hand.
The other ghost–Alex? He chuckled and came over. “New to being a ghost, huh? Don’t worry, eventually you’ll get used to not being about to touch anything. At least… that’s what they tell me.”
“Oh! I’m not–see, I’m not… I can–well, uh, see I’m not a regular ghost.” I reached over and put my hand on Kay’s arm. “See?”
Alex stared, eyes sweeping from me to Kay. “How come he can touch things?”
“Alex, it’s a v-very unusual–” Kay tried saying.
“IT’S NOT FAIR!” Alex screamed. “I HATE EVERYTHING!” He launched himself through me, flying out of the room angrily.
“ALEX!” Maryanne went forward then hesitated, glaring at me. “Thanks for setting him back about six months, jackass. ALEX! WAIT!” She ran out of the room.
Ooooops. I swallowed, feeling awful about doing that. I wanted to apologize but I had the idea if I tried to talk to Alex he’d just get mad at me for being different. “It’s been like this before,” I muttered. Kay made an inquiring noise and I sighed. “I just had this–this memory. Sorta. That I’m different. No, I mean. I know I’m different but… um, it’s just… hard. I think. Being not human, and not a ghost. Not one thing or another.”
“I hear that,” Jeffrey said, opening the fridge and pulling out a can of pop. “How old were you when you died? You look pretty young.”
“I was… uh, I dunno.”
“You don’t know a lot of things, do you?”
“Jeffrey?” Kay said, tilting his head toward the door.
He held up his hands in defense. “Okay, okay! I get it. I’m gone.” He walked past me then stopped and punched my arm. I went not-solid a split-second after his fist hit my arm. He fell through me spilling the pop everywhere. “Whoa! Freaky. See ya, No-Name! Professor!”
We were left alone and Kay said, “S-sorry about him. He’s a bit… enth-thusiastic. What w-w-would you like to eat?” He swept past me and opened the fridge, waiting for an answer.
“Can he really turn into a bear? Is he like… a were-bear or something?”
“No. He’s j-just a special kid. Maryanne, th-though, she’s a w-w-werewolf. You want s-some food? We h-have several things. Or you c-can come down to my rooms, I have some g-good food down there. Or I c-could order something.”
“Why are you being so nice to me?”
Silence… then a quiet clattering of glass jars knocking together when he shut the fridge door. “I th-think we have met. You-you seem very familiar. You don’t know what your n-name is?”
Chance, that deep voice whispered in my ear. “No. Not really. I keep thinking of this… word. But I don’t think it’s my name. It’s just a word.”
“I dunno.” I sat down at the table and propped my elbows on its surface, and my chin in my hands. “No-Name has a nice ring to it. Um, sometimes when I sleep I…” I sniffled and then smiled. “I don’t like sleeping alone. Can I have a roommate?”
“No… we d-d-don’t do that here, it c-can lead to trouble. Besides, we have more r-r-rooms than we do occupants. What’s… wr-wrong when you sleep…?”
“I have…” Mental problems? Voices that talk to me? Horrible, frightening, terrifying things that might be my own memories? “…never mind… I’ll just stay awake. I don’t need to sleep.” I traced my finger over the tabletop, wishing I could have a roommate. Maybe someone would let me stay with them regardless.
Kay came over and sat down. “Wh-what’s wrong?”
“I hate being alone,” I whispered, trying to look away from those bright green eyes. “I have…” Dare I tell him? “…nightmares.” There, that was as close to the truth as I could get. “Scary thoughts when I sleep. I was alone for most the time at Samuel’s and I don’t like it.”
Kay sat up straight, rubbing his chin in thought. There was a flashy sort of painful thing in my head, and he almost looked like someone else rubbing their chin in thought–someone with dark skin and lots of beard. But then that person was gone and Kay was back. I shook my head, wondering if maybe I had died in a mental institute. “If it c-c-causes you p-problems tonight, g-give me a call and you c-can hang out in m-my room,” he finally said, getting a piece of paper and writing a number down.
I took the paper and stared at the number. “Thank you,” I said, still confused though at why he was so dang nice to me. It was kinda creepy, actually.
That night I tried to sleep and the voices poured into my head. I thrashed around and cried into my pillow until I couldn’t take it anymore. I did call Kay’s number, and he came and got me. He took me down to the first floor, to his rooms which were four little rooms of his own–a little sitting room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom. He told me to make myself at home and then went into his bedroom.
I sat in the living room for a while, trying to sleep on the couch. I wanted to sleep to make the time go by faster but I still felt antsy and uncomfortable. So, after a little while, I moved closer and closer to the bedroom until I was in it, finally going to sleep on his floor, a few feet away from him.
Dr. Rosso was livid when she found out I had slept on Kay’s floor. I liked that word ‘livid’. I thought maybe it meant something to do with living but later when I asked Kay he explained it meant ‘very mad’. He used it when Dr. Rosso was yelling at me. She had come into her brother’s room early in the morning to ask him something and found me asleep on the floor. Apparently, she thought I might do something bad.
“He could have killed you, brother,” she sneered. “We don’t know anything about him.”
“It’s n-nothing to be s-so livid about,” Kay said, which was when I heard the word. “He’s a g-good kid.”
“Fine. Let him sleep here, but if he kills you… don’t come crying to me,” she snapped.
“If he’s dead how can he come crying?” I asked.
They both stared at me and the woman snorted. “Asked the ghost.”
Oops. “Oh. Right.” I blushed, feeling embarrassed.
After breakfast, some yummy pancakes Kay made, he took me to the labs. It was gonna be my first day of experiments here. I was shaky and terrified it would just be like Samuel, especially since Dr. Rosso was so ‘livid’. But when we went into the labs she seemed very calm and almost… like the morning never happened. Almost… blank, or something. She put me in a tube thing that looked a lot like the tube thing at Samuel’s, and I lay there as she scanned me. She talked mostly to Kay, things like, “Density is 4 point twelve percent higher than regular ghosts,” and stuff like that. A couple times she talked to me, asking me to go solid and un-solid, invisible and visible.
After two hours (I knew it was that long cause this lab had a clock in it) she let me go, and Kay took me back to his room. After asking me if I needed anything, he left me alone and I just watched TV the rest of the day. I was mostly okay but part of me had this sick, icky feeling inside of me as I waited for the bad experiments to happen because surely they would happen…
But they didn’t. Over the next week or so things fell into a happy routine. I was happy. I stayed pretty much by Kay’s side all the time, too. He let me follow him around the labs and soon people were used to seeing me inches away from him. My name became ‘Puppy’ since everyone said I was Professor Rosso’s puppy. He even gave me a little hand-held game device so I could play video games while he worked in the labs. Even Dr. Rosso was getting used to seeing me by his side though she often glared at me. She was the one who started the puppy thing, actually. After a full day of being by Kay’s side, she said, “What, is he your puppy now?” And the name stuck.
I really liked Kay and became more comfy with the fact he was so nice to me. I figured out why it had confused me, it was cause the only person I really knew–Samuel–was so mean to me. I wasn’t used to niceness. But Kay was nice. He never seemed all weird by anything I did, he didn’t mind me eating even though I didn’t need to eat, he was perfectly fine with me sleeping on his floor and sometimes in the evenings when I would feel like my heart was breaking, and I started crying, he’d put his hand on my head and give me a little pat which was really comforting.
I didn’t know why evenings made me want to cry. I’d sit on the floor and watch TV or play video games, while he’d read. But there was something really… hollow inside of me because of it. Some throbby and needley pain inside of me that happened every time we did this. I didn’t know how to fix it though because I didn’t know why it was happening.
I met some of the other people around, the other supernaturals. There were mostly ghosts though since that was the focus of Dr. Rosso’s research. But there were a couple werewolves, a vampire, a fairy, some sort of SUPER CREEPY cloth doll thing, and even a mermaid living in a pool–no, not a pool cause it didn’t have, um, the burny stuff in it. It was like a small indoor pond. Then there were some kids that seemed normal but I guess they weren’t, like Jeffrey they could do weird things. One of them was this tall, muscular guy who kept staring at me with this look on his face whenever we happened to be near one another.
“Guy?” Jeffrey told me one day when I indicated him. “He can read minds.”
My jaw dropped and I stared at the guy… er… Guy? Was that his name? I tore myself away from Kay’s side to go over to him, feeling super excited and hopeful.
“I cannot tell,” he said before I even asked.
“You are like a blank slate,” he said.
“You can’t read my mind?”
“No, I can. It is how I knew you wanted to know. But your memories are gone, and I cannot tell who you are.” He bowed his head slightly. “I am sorry.”
I tried not to cry and just returned to Kay, my hands curled in fists, my chest rising and falling though I was hardly breathing. My memories were gone? My memories were gone? A blank slate? That’s… that’s what I was? I pretty much knew that already but to hear someone else say it, someone who can read minds, sorta really brought it to reality that I was never gonna know who I really was.
“Is s-s-s-something wrong?” Kay asked sleepily. It was the middle of the night and as much as I tried, I couldn’t sleep. I just cried.
“N-no, sorry! I’ll go in the other room,” I stammered in return then got up to leave him so he could sleep but he was getting out of bed, fumbling for his glasses. “No, go back to sleep. I really didn’t mean to wake you up–“
“It’s f-fine,” he said, switching on the light as he stood up. “You’ve seemed v-v-very upset all day. Ever s-since you talked to… G-Guy…” I bit my bottom lip and looked at the floor, nodding just a tiny bit. “It’s n-not unusual for ghosts to have no memory.” He put his hands gently on my shoulders. “Look… you t-told me before that you k-keep thinking of a word when you’re asked y-y-y-your name. What is it? I c-could maybe try and do some r-research about–“
“NO!” I pulled away quickly, fear spilling out of me. “No! Don’t!”
“Wh… why not?”
“It happened before,” I said without meaning to and I was as surprised as he looked. Where had that come from? “Someone tried to do research into me…” I didn’t know about this but as I spoke it I knew it was true. “Someone I was close to. And it turned out really, really bad. Like super bad. Something bad happened because of it.” I began shaking hard since this was the truth and I never knew it before.
“What happ-pened?” Kay asked, coming closer.
“I don’t know.” More tears poured out. “I don’t know. But it was bad. And he’s gone now.”
I shook my head, ghostly snot clogging up my nose and making my voice sound a bit odd. “I don’t know, I don’t remember. But he’s gone.” I drifted farther from Kay, wrapping my arms around myself. Something traumatic… “Oh Watcher… I think… I think I did something. When I was alive. That’s why I can’t remember anything. I’m–I’m a monster.” I remembered Samuel calling me the devil, and me attacking him screaming that I wasn’t a monster. It seemed so unreal, so long ago although it had happened fairly recently. “I think I’m a monster…”
“Shh. You’re n-not a monster.” Kay put his arms around me, hugging me. I wanted to go not-solid and run away but I couldn’t. I just clung to him, sobbing. “You’re n-not a monster. All right?”
“How do you know? How can I know? I remember nothing, Kay. I remember Samuel, I remember the pain. That’s all. Sometimes I have these voices in my head, sometimes I have these weird thoughts. Sometimes I have this… voice, saying this word. And sometimes I get these feelings of sadness or fear. But I don’t know why.” I finally went not-solid and gently drifted out of his hold. “I just don’t know.”
He was looking at me with worry now. “A l-l-lot of ghosts lose their memories. It d-doesn’t mean you did anything bad wh-when you were alive.”
“Sometimes I…” My voice faded with each syll… sil… silb… My voice faded. Kay waited for more and finally I looked away. “Sometimes I wish things were different.”
“I th-think everyone gets that way s-sometimes.”
He looked startled and then red crept into his cheeks. “Yes,” he finally answered. “A l-long, long time ago p-people… there was… well, they thought th-they had invented time travel.” My ears perked up at that. “B-but there was never any r-really fixed point in time and–well, as it turned out it wasn’t really t-time travel. It was just… doorways into alternate universes. Which are–“
“I know what that is,” I said. “I think. I remember… a video game I played once that did that. Like, a world that, um, went a different way than our but is kinda like ours?”
“Yes,” Kay said. “My s-sister and I tried to unlock tr-true time travel but we’ve never g-g-gotten anywhere. But there are moments I w-wish desperately we could. S-so I could go back and… change th-things.”
“What would you change?”
He got a very distant-y smile on his face. “I l-loved someone. A long t-time ago. They never knew. Sometimes… I w-wonder what it would have b-been like.”
“I think I was in love. When I was alive.” I rubbed one of my arms, trying hard to remember but all I got was a headache. “I’d give anything to… to remember… to remember things and… to feel… to feel…” But to feel what? I wasn’t sure.
Kay sighed heavily and moved back to his bed. “There’s a p-p-project my s-sister and I are w-working on. That m-might help.”
He rubbed the back of his head, still not facing me. “It’s… v-v-v-v-v-very dangerous. It’s… n-never really… No. Never m-mind.”
I rushed over, grabbing his arm. “What could it help with?” I asked, pleading at him with my eyes, or trying. He looked torn about it so I kept tugging at his arm until he finally told me what the project was. At first I didn’t believe him, I couldn’t. But then warmth spread through my body and I felt like I just might explode. I squealed and wrapped my arms around him, begging him to let me be part of the project. He didn’t like it and told me it could possibly kill me if I went through it but I didn’t care. I wanted this. I needed this. I wouldn’t let him talk me out of it. If he kept refusing, I’d just talk to his sister and we both knew she’d accept me as a volunteer even if he didn’t.
I couldn’t sleep that night, I was so excited. It might not even work, or it might kill me. But if it worked… then everything would be better. It had to be.