November 2nd, 2167
Classical music pumped through the house as Serenity worked on dishes. Chance loved classical music so it played pretty much all the time unless Sen got in some of her country music or else Henri got his French-pop music in, which happened on occasion. But mostly it was the classics, baroques, romantics, etc.
Sen felt a presence… or rather, lack of one behind her. “Do you think we over indulge him?” she sighed as she scrubbed hard at one of the pots from dinner, hearing Chopin’s nocturne something or other involving 9 for the millionth time.
Henri snuggled up behind her, ghostly fingers trailing along her lower belly. “Yes.” She scowled, not liking that answer. “He’s eighteen. He needs to… have more responsibilities. He acts so much like a little kid and it’s–I mean…” Henri trailed off and closed his eyes, pressing his lips against the back of Sen’s neck. “I know he won’t be able to be part of society but I think he needs to grow up a bit.”
“He just has so little in his life.”
“I know. I understand.”
“Maybe we should get him a piano or something, maybe he could learn to play the tunes he loves so much.”
“I love you so much…”
Serenity turned around, leaning back against the sink, Henri’s arms still around her. He leaned forward to kiss her lips and she melted forward against him. He caught her easily and began poking his tongue around her very familiar mouth. Suddenly she stiffened and pushed him slightly back. He pulled his tongue back into his mouth unhappily.
“Shit,” Sen hissed, eyes narrowing into little blue slits. “I don’t fucking believe it. Excuse me for a moment, Hen, I have something important to take care of.”
She grabbed a cast iron skillet and marched outside into the near-freezing night air. Her hair blew around her angered face and goosebumps rose along her arms where they were still wet from doing the dishes but she didn’t care. She barely even noticed. She just made her way across the yard, over the fence, past the barn, over the next part of the fence, and stood in front of the intruder.
At least he didn’t try to insult her intelligence by pretending to hide. “Sorry, ma’am, I was on my way to–“
Sen slammed the skillet into a nearby tree, breaking off a lot of the bark. “Get. The fuck. Away.” She held the skillet up and pointed it at him. “This is private property and you are trespassing.”
“I… didn’t realize…”
“You were crouching behind a barn, you moronic piece of shit, how could you not realize?” She gave him a once over, taking in his skintight black suit with green piping, weird goggles, and the black bag sitting nearby. “I know you’re a ghost hunter.”
He straightened up and she realized with annoyance he had a couple of inches on her. She had always been very tall so it irked her to find this intruder to be one of the ones who could look down on her, even if it wasn’t by a whole lot. He stared intently at her and she waited for the lies to pour from his mouth.
“You’re harboring a ghost,” he said and she started slightly, not expecting the truth.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. And I don’t think you do either.” She slid into his mind without any trouble, curling around and pressing the feelings. “You’re confused. You’re going back to wherever you’re staying, and you know it’s too dangerous to come back here. Ever. You’re going back and you’re staying away. It’s dangerous here. You’re scared. If you don’t go now, you might die. It’s dangerous. Go. RUN!”
As she spoke, sweat began beading on his face and his breath came ragged and short. When she finished her warning he grabbed his bag and took off. She watched him sprint into the darkness until he disappeared, then she returned to the house feeling satisfied that was the end of that…
Except she felt scared, too. This was the first time a ghost hunter ever came near their property. How did he know? She was sure he was the same one she had felt when she picked Chance up from trick-or-treating. Had Chance given something away?
This ain’t good.
Specter ran and ran until it felt like his lungs would burst. Fear filled his mind, holding onto every thought that tried to form. He had to get away. He needed to run.
Finally he collapsed against his jeep, panting heavily. The fear was already beginning to dissipate. What the heck just happened? He couldn’t really remember. He had tracked down the license plate number of the woman who had driven the Halloween ghost away and finally found the address… and there had been something up there, on the property. Something horrifyingly dangerous. Something that sent him running.
No, he thought, shaking his head through the haze. Nothing had happened except that woman had appeared. But he wouldn’t have run unless there had been extreme danger. Unless…
Specter got in the jeep and pulled his recorder out. It had been recording the entire time, as the woman appeared in the middle of him transcribing.
Specter rewound and played out what happened. When the woman began speaking the threat, he frowned deeply and replayed it. No fear entered him now so apparently whatever magic she held wasn’t in her words alone.
So, the ghost is holing up with a witch or something, Specter thought as he rubbed his eyes. His chest hurt from the running. His legs hurt. His dignity and pride hurt. He had spent the past several years facing wild dangers and barely ever bat an eyelash, and now he had run off like… like…
Like that night. He curled his fingers against the steering wheel, knuckles going white, teeth clenching till his jaw hurt. No. Do not think of that.
He swallowed and turned the jeep on, driving back to his hotel. He’d just go back to that house by the waterfall the next night. And the night after. He’d keep going until he had some sort of answer.
November 3rd, 2167
A real, live, honest-to-goodness ghost hunter. Just like in the movies. Did he wear a jumpsuit and have those big gadgets like in Ghostbusters? Or was he more like the ones on TV, with a camera and an EVP recorder?
Chance was itching to ask his mom questions but she didn’t know he had overheard anything. She had come back the previous night and had a whispered discussion with his dad about what happened, and Chance had listened in with interest then feeling a bit sad when she insisted she had chased the hunter off. Chance kinda wanted to see him. Though to him, ghost hunters were what monsters were to regular people.
He could have killed me or Papa, Chance thought as he lay on the roof, staring at the night sky. So it’s very bad he was here but still. I guess I’m too curious for my own good.
His mom had talked about possibly moving. Chance wasn’t sure how he felt about that. On one hand he was kinda tired of living up here on the mountainside but on the other hand where would they go? Somewhere else just as lonely. Somewhere he couldn’t really make friends. Somewhere…
The front door slammed and his mother dashed across the lawn. Chance sat up and watched her go towards an approaching vehicle. The vehicle stopped and began backing up as she got closer. His mama picked up a rock and hurled it at the vehicle, shouting bad words. Chance just watched, wondering if that was the ghost hunter. Surely it was!
Kinda stupid of him to come back, Chance decided as he floated down to the ground. Or stubborn. “Mama?” he asked as she came back.
“Chance–” She stopped, face flushed. “Baby, go back inside, all right?”
“Mama, what was that?”
“Nothing, sweetie. Let’s go inside. You should stay inside for tonight, okay?”
She offered her hand but he didn’t take it. “I want to stay out here. On the roof. Nobody can see me there.” But I can see down the hill, and the ghost hunter is down there. He knew the vehicle had pulled into an empty lot partway down the hill. “Or is it not safe?” Chance asked, figuring she wouldn’t really say.
Serenity pressed her lips together and shrugged. “Just be careful, all right? Don’t stay out too late.” She pulled him in for a hug then let go, slowly going back inside.
Chance floated back to the roof and watched the vehicle. He could barely see it and definitely couldn’t make out anyone inside. Urggggh! If only he could see the hunter, then he’d be fine. He figured the hunter would probably look really scary and evil, not like on TV. On TV the bad hunters… the ones that killed ghosts… were the ‘good guys’. But they weren’t good guys, they were bad guys. So what did real life bad guys look like?
This is not a good idea, he told himself as he floated back down to the ground and made his way over to the rocks and boulders. He floated up them and perched on top of one. Still unable to really see in the vehicle. He got down and crossed the road, going up a boulder on the same side of the road as the hunter. He began slithering down over the rocks. He had done this before loads of times. His parents didn’t know. Couldn’t know. They’d worry. But he liked floating around the rocks, it gave him a sort of… adventure.
He stilllll couldn’t see the hunter inside. Frowning, he slithered a bit closer. He knew this was stupid, he knew this was bad, but something inside of him was pulling him in. Curiosity. Stupidity. Or maybe something the hunter was doing. Did the hunter have a way of making ghosts come to him?
Chance stopped on a rock just a few yards from the car. Jeep. Thing. It wasn’t on and nobody was inside. Empty. The hunter was gone or else this wasn’t the same vehicle… but hadn’t Chance seen it himself? Backing away and pulling into this lot? He sighed and turned to go back to his house. Someone stood on the rocky outcrop, very close. Staring at him. Holding a gun.
Chance stared in disbelief at the weird man from the playground on Halloween. So–he had been a ghost hunter.
“Do not come any closer,” the hunter said, jerking his gun a bit. “Stay right where you are. Don’t try to… fly off.”
Chance stood up, eyes locked on the hunter’s eyes. “You won’t kill me. If you do, my mama will kill you.”
The hunter scowled. “That… what? So, that crazy witch was your mother?”
Chance’s foot stomped down hard against the rock. “My mom is not crazy! And she’s not a witch! Don’t you ever call her that or I’ll… I’ll…” What would I do? What could I do? “I’ll sic my sister on you, then you’ll be real sorry!” Are we still in mama’s range? Probably not, or else she’d still be after him. I need to get him back into her range. It can’t be too far…
“I said don’t move!” He backed up a bit when Chance inched closer. “You’ll answer my questions, ghost! First off, how come you’re visible? Most ghosts are–I said don’t move!” This time he didn’t back up. Instead he pointed the gun right at Chance’s head.
Chance stood very still. If he had a real heart, it would have been beating so fast. “I’m s-sorry. Please don’t shoot me!”
“How come you were roaming around the town the other day? In… disguise? Were you trying to possess someone?” the hunter demanded.
“No. I just wanted to go trick-or-treating.”
He frowned at those words, obviously confused. “Trick… or…” He breathed in deep, nostrils flaring. “How long have you been dead? How did you die?”
“I dunno, I’ve been dead since I was born.”
“Impossible. You look to be an adult, albeit a short one–“
“–so you must have died as one.”
“Well, you’re… tall.”
His gun lowered as one eyebrow raised. “That makes zero sense–“
“You make zero sense!”
Now the gun dangled near his legs and they just stared at one another. Maybe I could confuse him into leaving or something, Chance wondered. But before he could say anything… and before the hunter could say anything… Henri popped up out of the ground behind the hunter and smashed a rock into the side of his head.
The hunter gave a sharp cry before collapsing.
“Damn it, Chance!” Henri looked at the crumpled body then back at the rocks. Serenity clamored over them and then once her feet hit the flatter rock she ran to Chance, scooping him up in her arms.
“Chance–you stupid–my baby–how could you do this?!–you could have been killed–my baby! You are grounded for the rest of your life–so glad you’re okay!”
Chance snuggled into his mother’s safe embrace, glad he had backed the hunter up into her range. “I’m sorry. I just…” He trailed off, too embarrassed to tell her he had been curious. He had acted wrong. Pulsive. He put himself in danger, and probably his dad too. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m just so glad you’re safe.” Sen kissed his forehead and set him back down, turning to glare at the unconscious hunter. “I could murder him…!”
“No murdering, my dear,” Henri said, reaching out to try and keep his wife calm.
Sen took in a slow, careful breath. “We can’t let him go. He’ll just come back, perhaps with more of his kind. And no, I am not trying to build a case for murder,” she added when Henri gave her a look. “I think right now we should take him back to the house. Tied up. Maybe I can figure out a way to erase memories.”
“You cannot do that!” Henri half-yelped.
Sen shrugged and reached down, grabbing the hunter by the ankles. She began dragging him down towards the slope of the rock and let gravity take him the rest of the couple of feet. Thankfully she had adjusted him so he landed more or less feet first and not on his head. “No… but perhaps I know someone who can.”
She jumped down and grabbed the hunter’s ankles, dragging him up the road. “And here I hoped never to have to deal with them again,” she muttered as she went.
Henri and Chance floated down easily and Henri put a protective arm around Chance. Chance just floated silently, scared of what he had caused, and wondering if his mom had meant it about being grounded the rest of his life cause that would totally suck.