Author’s Note: Apologies for the table in the first few shots I meant to change it out for a longer table and forgot and am too tired to reget the pictures so just pretend its a long rectangle table and not a little round one.
The door slammed shut so hard that it rattled the windows. I looked up from where I was fixing snacks. Vilkas was stomping towards the stairs, throwing his backpack down and kicking his shoes off so they went flying.
“DON’T TALK TO ME!” he yelled and stomped up the stairs.
I sighed and went over, kicking at his shoes towards where the shoes usually were and then opened the door since I heard the thump-thump-thump of more feet on the porch. Presea and Gladdy came in, Presea looking a bit upset. “Hey girls,” I said, taking their backpack. “What’s wrong with Villy?”
“He–” Gladdy started but Presea elbowed her.
“Nothing, he just had a bad day at school I guess,” Presea said quickly.
I looked at them both and knew neither of them would tell me right now but maybe Gladdy might later. “Want your snack?” I asked.
“Yes!” they chorused and followed me to the kitchen area. They began talking a bit about school though Presea kept kicking Gladdy to stop her from saying whatever was wrong with Villy. “When will the twins get home?” Gladdy asked after she was done telling me, very briefly, about her day.
“Soon. Gramma took them to their dentist appointment but they should be back soon,” I said, checking the clock. I felt bad about not taking them myself but I still didn’t have a driver’s license. Oh, Specter had tried to teach me to drive several years ago and I crashed into the porch trying to pull out of the driveway. We still weren’t sure how I managed that since the porch was off to the side and not exactly close… but whatever. We tried, I failed, and thanked my lucky stars Gretchen was a great driver.
“Is Grams staying?” Presea asked hopefully.
“She might, I’m not sure. But don’t pester her about it, all right?”
They agreed and, after finishing their snacks, went out into the yard to play. I considered going to see if Villy was okay but decided to just give him a little more time. I figured I knew what the problem was, and it happened once a month. Now that he was getting older and trying to be more social he was realizing that he had some, uh, problems most other kids didn’t. He’d be going through puberty in a few years and I was worried about that since that was when werewolves really got their werewolf-y-ness… but there was still a couple years for that, he was only 10 right now.
I stopped what I was doing, trying to get rid of the thought that in just under two and a half years I’d have a teenager. And then another one. And then another. And then two more. Five teenagers under one roof… that seemed scarier than them all being toddlers at the same time!… and all of them learning to drive… oh dear. I reealllly hoped they were better drive-learners than me.
Villy came creeping down the stairs and stood behind me for a moment. He then coughed, and I turned. “Hey Vills. You want your snack now?”
“Yeah. I guess.” He flopped down and glared at the bowl I put in front of him.
“How was school?” I asked hesitantly.
He began pushing his food around, sighing. “Not good.” He paused and gave me a look. His white eyes still something made me feel a bit weird. They used to be such a pretty, pale shade of blue but after his fifth birthday they paled to white for some reason. Part of his wolfy nature I guess. “Did Presea tell you…? What happened?”
“No,” I answered honestly. “Gladdy didn’t either. And if you don’t wanna talk about it you don’t have to you know.”
He sniffled a bit then gave me a really sad, heartbreaking look. “I got into a fight.”
“Ah–oh. Oh. You–oh.” I shifted and wasn’t sure what else to say. Did you accidentally bite them was on the tip of my tongue to ask but I really didn’t want to say those words, mostly because him biting anyone didn’t matter at this point in time but if he got in the habit of biting while fighting then if he ever fought in high school…
“He said–” he started in a furious voice but then he stopped and got up, trotting over to the window. I was silent, wanting to know but not wanting to press him. “He said things. About–us.”
“Us? Our… family?”
“Mhm. About me and Presea mostly. And I just didn’t like it. So I punched him. And he hit me back and we were fighting.” He turned to look at me then frowned. “I’m sorry…”
I was really surprised the school hadn’t called. “Did you guys get in trouble?”
“N–no. The teachers didn’t find out. Though he said he was gonna tell everyone I beat him up and there was no proof that he hit me.” Villy looked at his hands and sniffled loudly. “Cause I’m a freak of nature.”
I jumped up, going to him. “No! No, Vills, you’re not. You’re not a freak! You’re a werewolf. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
“No one else in school is a werewolf!” He stared at me. “No one else in this family is one either. I’m a freak!”
I tried to hug him but he pulled away from me and my hands just sorta fell. “Vilkas you’re not a freak,” I said again. “There are plenty of werewolves out there.”
“I never see any, I never talk to any, there aren’t any anywhere around me! It’s just me.”
I felt this weird, strangely familiar feeling when he said that. Wanting to be around others like me and not having that. Maybe we had done the wrong thing sending Villy to a public school but there weren’t any private ones for–for supernaturals which considering recent events was probably a good thing. And I couldn’t homeschool, and I couldn’t really hold down a proper job so Specter could homeschool–but that wouldn’t solve the loneliness problem with Villy. “I’ll talk to your dad about this, maybe there’s some sort of afterschool program somewhere with supernaturals,” I said slowly and Villy looked back up at me. “Maybe. I don’t know, but I’ll talk to him and see. And Villy please–please remember. We knew you were a werewolf before we adopted you. We knew you were a werewolf before we even thought we could adopt you, and we wanted you. We both wanted you.”
His face softened a bit at that. “I guess.”
I went closer and hugged him tightly. “It’s the truth,” I said. “Now, why don’t you have your snack?” I gave him a pat and he trudged over to the table to eat. Shortly after there was a commotion outside and in tumbled all four of the younger kids along with Gretchen.
“PAPA!” the twins shouted and then they both began chattering away at once. I laughed and made them talk one at a time, and they both told me that their teeth were really good and coming in nicely.
“No brafes for me,” Lumie said, stretching her mouth with her hands to show me her teeth.
“No fo’ me no,” Zaid said, doing the same.
I knew they were both proud about this since the dentist had said Presea’s teeth might need braces when she was a bit older, it wasn’t easy to tell at the moment. She had been really angry about it at the time and was angry about the twins saying this now.
“Nothing wrong with braces,” she said, stomping her foot.
“You get things stuck in them,” Gladdy said with a giggle. “You’ll try an’ eat an’ your fork’ll get all stuck’n them!”
“If you kiss a boy with braces you’ll get locked that way!” Villy shouted from the table.
“EW I’M NEVER KISSING ANY BOY!” Presea shrieked.
“Kissy, kissy,” the twins chorused.
“Okay! Enough!” I said. “Stop teasing your sister! She might not even need them, and if she does it won’t be for a few more years! Hey Gretchen, thank you so much for helping out,” I said, nudging the twins towards the kitchen area.
“Oh, anytime, anytime,” she laughed. “You know I love helping out and seeing the kids.”
“You stayin’ for dinner?” Gladdy asked hopefully.
“Welllll, I might, but I can’t stay too late because Mr. Fluffy will need his dinner too,” Gretchen said, giving Gladdy a pat on the head.
Villy finished his snack quickly then ran upstairs to be alone for a while. Zaid wanted to go play with him like he always did, but I distracted Zaid with a movie since I knew perfectly well if I let Zaid try and bother Villy there’d be some fighting going on. And since they shared a room, Villy couldn’t exactly lock Zaid out. So I put on a movie and all four of the kids sat down to watch it, giving me some time to chat with Gretchen then start dinner.
It was chaos when Specter got home as it always was. All four of the kids threw themselves at him the moment he stepped in the door and Villy came charging down, leaping at Specter like a madman. Specter gave each of them a bit of attention then wriggled free to come give me a hug and a kiss while the kids made ‘ew’ sounds.
“Hey hun,” I said brightly. “How was work?”
“Same as always,” he replied, rolling his eyes.
Specter was still working at the ‘Rosso’ labs but his position had changed a lot over the past few years which had really, really, really helped him. He was now head of his own department which included research, yeah, but also a lot of field testing and as soon as he started going out to test stuff he really started calming down. He was offered an even higher position just in the past year but after we talked a lot about it, he turned it down. It would have been strictly an indoor, desk job. Sure it would have given us more money which woulda been great but I knew how unhappy Specter would be. He tried to convince me it’d be fine but I talked him out of it. We had enough money to get by, he liked the job he was doing, and I didn’t want the money if it meant sacrificing his happiness (or sanity).
The only drawback to his job, though, was having to interact a lot with the doctor who still hadn’t forgiven us for the thingie being destroyed even though it had been over six years.
The rest of the evening went by fairly well with only a handful of fights. The kids were pretty good until Gretchen left and then the fights really began, but they were mostly good. After lots of baths and teeth brushing and hair brushed (braided, in the case of Glados who had longer hair) and bedtime routines finished with books read, Specter and I collapsed on the couch by the fireplace.
I talked a bit about my day, and he talked a bit about his, and then we snuggled for a while. Sure he and I fought a lot but I still loved him as much as ever. “You wanna do anything special for your birthday?” I asked after a while, even though his birthday was a few months away we would need to plan things a decent time in advance. “I think if we’re gonna like, go out or something we should do it this birthday and not the next one. I think we should be with the kids when you age up.”
Specter made a throaty, groaning, angry sound. “Thanks for the reminder that’s happening next year. I’ll be sure to do the same the entire year before you turn forty.”
I giggled and tugged his beard. “I don’t care if I’ll be turning forty. I think it’ll be fun.”
“Fun? You’re crazy, you’re officially a lunatic.”
I snuggled even closer. “I wouldn’t want to be immortal. I think it’d be sad. Uncle Kay says he’s been around for a long time and he doesn’t like it.”
Specter stiffened. “I guess you’re right.”
“Vilkas will live a long time, won’t he.”
Quiet, and then, “Yeah. Magical beings tend to have… longer lifespans.”
We sat together for a while, neither saying anything until I finally spoke again. “D’you think we should find a way for Villy to be more around others like him? Like, other, uh, weres and stuff? Or something?”
“Dunno, not many places like that. I could maybe take him to the labs with me over the summer, there’s gonna be a few werewolves there but they’ll be a bit older than him so I don’t know how that would work out.”
I didn’t answer him. I just felt bad for Villy, and wished there was more we could do for him. It wasn’t fair… people had an idea there were things like werewolves and ghosts and stuff out there and instead of being all fine, it just resulted in things like ghost hunters, or supernatural hunters. Sure there might be an evil werewolf, or vampire, or ghost, or whatever but that was the same with regular people and there were laws against people hunting, so why weren’t there laws against hunting down supernaturals? Why was it that the people who killed Villy’s birth mother would never, ever, ever be punished for what they did but if I went to their farms and punched them I’d probably be arrested for assault?
It made no sense. I just had to keep hoping that soon supernaturals could be more open about who they were without having to worry about being locked up or killed.
I woke up not having gotten very good sleep, from so many nightmares. Things didn’t get better after everyone left and I turned on the TV and the news was reporting one of the reasons for my nightmares. I quickly turned the TV off and tried to not think about that but it wouldn’t leave my mind.
Three years ago a new business had cropped up. A supernatural hunting business. Literally. They were based very, very, very far away but I had no idea how long that might last. Moonlight Falls was rumored to be a hotspot for that sort of thing. Not many people came through but what if those hunters moved closer? So far it seemed like they mostly, uh, focused on what Specter used to–hunting down ghosts. But once in a while they found something else to get rid of. The previous year they became famous because they had killed a vampire. And just now they had been on TV because they basically told the world they didn’t see why cemeteries should be off limits, and that they’d be doing some hunting in one to prove there was nothing wrong with it.
What about the families about people buried there? I thought, wandering around the house, picking things up and setting them down. Don’t they care? Finally I decided to send an e-mail to Uncle Kay.
maybe with luck vamps or weres will hunt them down & kill them. That’s how I finished the message. I stared at it for a while then started to delete it, then stopped and retyped it. Then just stared at it for a while wondering how wanting that made me any better than the hunters…
I saved the e-mail as a draft, put on my shoes (ugh, I was never used to wearing shoes) then left the house for a walk. Maybe we should leave Moonlight Falls and go somewhere less… on the map for being supernaturallyness, I thought, sticking my hands in my pockets and kicking a rock. Taking the kids out of school, from their friends? Running and hiding? Just because something might happen? I knew Specter would think it was silly and it kinda was.
I stopped and spun around. The voice was super quiet and faint but I knew someone had said part of my name. “Uh, h-hello?” I looked around but I was alone.
“You are… Danevbie?”
It sounded soft, and like a little girl or something. But there was no one around and the voice was not like, far away. It was quiet, but it was close. “Who’s there?” I asked.
“My name… is Jennifer… I…” Then whoever it was said something but it was really too quiet to hear.
“Um, I can’t–uhhh, uh, who’s this? J-Jennifer? Who–where are you?” I spun around again but I was definitely alone.
“…dead… I’m dead. A ghost.” I stopped spinning at that. “You can hear… what I say…”
“Y-yes. Uh, um, do I know you?” I struggled to think of anyone named Jennifer but the only one I could think of was the preschool teacher for Vilkas and Presea, who left before Gladdy got there. But she had retired, not died. And was an old lady. Not a little girl.
“…no,” the voice–Jennifer said, “…but I know… who you are?”
It was more of a question which confused me. “Where are you?”
“…to your… left.”
I turned to my left and I could finally see some sort of transparent thing there. “Oh.”
“Can you… see me?”
“You… were dead… too?”
I swallowed, feeling kinda scared now. “I’m not a ghost,” I finally said.
“…no… but you… were once?” Jennifer sounded a bit urgent. “I heard… stories… of one who… was… but then became… living… once more.”
Stories? There were stories about me? “Who told you this?” I asked.
“Another, like me… I was told…” Then there were more words I couldn’t hear and then, “…help me… please… help me.”
“I–I can’t. I don’t know how to help you. What do you want?”
“…to be living… again…”
“I–I can’t. I’m sorry. I don’t know what you, uh, heard, but uh, no, no. Um, no. I’m not, uh…” I took a few steps away feeling panicky. “I’m not a ghost.”
“He killed me!” Jennifer was a bit louder at that, almost like a regular voice. “Please… I need help. I…I know you cannot help me… but tell me, is it true? That… you were once… a ghost? That there… is hope?”
I bit my bottom lip. What did I tell her? I debated lying. I debated telling the truth. I debated running back home as fast as I could though that would probably end up with me falling flat on my face. “I don’t think there is,” I finally decided. “There’ve been, uh, attempts but nothing worked.” That was a partial truth, since after me it never worked.
There was a lot of quiet and I wondered if Jennifer had disappeared but finally she began talking again. “I see… I had hoped there would… be but there is not…”
“N… no. I’m sorry.”
“I cannot get… the revenge I desired…”
How old was this girl? I had thought maybe 8 but now I was wondering if she was a teenager. But she sounded so much like a little girl. Maybe she just sounded that way because she was so lost and scared. I really wished I could help her. I felt bad, and guilty, but there was just nothing I could do. The other attempts had resulted in the other ghosts just going to the Nether. I was the only one, and none of us knew why except that it had to do with why I was a weird, aging-up ghost.
“Maybe I can help with that,” I said. “Who killed you?”
“You don’t want to help me!” Jennifer shouted and I flinched back. “I was nothing before and I am nothing now!”
“It’s not that–uh, Jennifer? It’s not like that, it’s just the experiments stopped working all correctly after–“
I sucked in air. Oops. “There was one successful, errr, ghost-to-human, but only one and none of the others worked, all the others died completely.”
Suddenly the voice was to my side, really close. “You were the one?” she whispered right in my ear and I jumped. “You were? The… the stories were… right?”
“Uh, I can’t–I need to go. I need to go home. If you want, uhhh, me to help, I might be able to try and get… whoever killed you found, er, guilty.” There was no answer. “Uh, are you still there?”
“Yes. No. No, you cannot help me.”
I didn’t know what to say and I guess she didn’t either. “Hello?” I asked after a minute. No answer. “Are you here?” But this time there was nothing. I waited a few more minutes and then slowly began making my way back home, feeling slightly scared and very creeped out.
I said nothing until all the kids were in bed and everything was put away and Specter and I were ready for bed, and then everything came tumbling out. He listened to me ramble on about the ghost girl as he put away the laundry and then once we were both done he came over and hugged me tight.
“You’re sure she said your name?” he asked. “You weren’t just… imagining it?”
“No!” I pushed away. “She said my name. She said ‘Danevbie’.”
Specter frowned. “Maybe she was a ghost that knew you when you were a ghost.”
“Except when I was around other ghosts, I didn’t know my name was Danevbie,” I pointed out. “I just find it super weird that–that she knew who I was. It scares me. How did she know anything about me, or even that I was a ghost before?”
Now Specter was studying me real closely. “There were ghosts at the labs when you became human, maybe one of them starting telling the story. Maybe you’re an urban legend amongst the ghostly folk.”
I had to giggle at that thought then my smile faded. “But how did she know what I looked like then? I mean maybe my name but how–how did she know who I was? Or where to find me? She was just a few miles away.”
His hands went on my shoulders, squeezing tight. “Do you want me to get some… anti-ghost material for the house? Doctor Rosso might let me bring some home.”
I shivered then shook my head. “No. Maybe not. I don’t know! What do you think?”
“I think… maybe we should have some protection in the house. Maybe not the barriers, since that would be a lot of work and something the kids would see. But perhaps a–a gun.”
My body stiffened at that and his arms went tight around me, holding me close. “I don’t know. Is that–a gun?”
“I think the doctor has some, and I could see if she’d let me have one to keep,” he said in my ear. “But if you don’t want it, I won’t.”
“I don’t know.” I thought again of the little ghost girl, and how creeped out I had felt after. If she knew who I was and stuff about me, would others as well? Like, would they come? To the house? Where my kids were? What if the ghost wasn’t so pleasant? “Yes,” I said, as soon as that thought popped in my brain. “Yeah.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to the doctor tomorrow.” He kissed the side of my head and then went to finish getting ready for bed. I just sorta stood there, goosebumps all over, feeling really scared about what happened and what I had just agreed to.
How sick-ironic was it that I was gonna have a ghost-killing gun?