Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Clay Tuesday Part 2

Act II: Failures Anonymous
            Rachel softly closed the door of the creepy little house behind her, returning from a Kobudo class she had taken in town. She noticed how shiny and polished everything looked, and knew instantly that Adam was home. He often voluntarily did most of the chores around the house which suited Rachel just fine since her brother didn’t do much of anything most days other than watch sports on TV.
She walked over to Kristjan’s desk, noting that he had taken the sunflowers she had picked up for him earlier in the day. Smiling brightly, Rachel walked over to one of the book cases to grab a grimoire so she could further prepare for her lecture tomorrow (she had gotten the days wrong as she often did, thinking the lecture was that night when in reality it was the next day), but stopped at a framed photo of her and her father when she was twelve, a little after Adam was born. She was short and scrawny compared to the large figure of her father holding a rifle, the same he had used to teach her how to hunt. She touched the glass of the frame, her bright smile gradually growing more sullen.
There was a loud clattering that snapped Rachel out of her reminiscing. She set the photo back down, making her way to the source of the sound, in the kitchen. Once there she saw Adam standing by the sink, tossing pots and pans in the foamy water. Rachel let out the little bit of breath she had been holding in. Adam was fine.
“I take it you took care of Yeates behind the gay bar?” As she spoke to him she grabbed a blackberry from a little bowl on the counter and popped it in her mouth.
Adam looked as angry as a malnourished bear woken early from his hibernation in a cramped cave he shared with three others (a creature she didn’t believe existed as she had never seen one in all of the hunting expeditions she had been on). “No, he got away. How did you know it was a gay bar?”
“It’s called The Flaming Pickle, Adam. How could it not be a gay bar? How did you two not get that?” Rachel popped another berry in her mouth. “Are you cooking something French again? Adam, we’re in America. Cook American food.”
Her little brother glared at her unappreciatively.
“So how’d you lose Yeates?” Rachel smiled wickedly, changing the subject back to the case. “Don’t tell me it was Wallace’s fault. I want more detail than that, like how it was his fault.”
“We didn’t know what the ‘P’ in his name stood for,” Adam muttered under his breath. He didn’t make eye contact with his sister. “Still don’t.”
“Yeates is a psychic. He knows our names.”
Stopping mid-chew, Rachel held up her index finger, signaling for her brother to wait a minute. She left the room briefly and when she returned she held a marker.
“No, Rachel…” Adam’s accent started to slip out.
“C’mon Adam, just let me write a sutra on you so Yeates won’t be able to see you. You need to be prepared when you see him again.” Rachel drew closer to her brother but he pushed her arm away.
“Who says I’m going out again? I didn’t want to take the stupid case in the first place.” Adam shoved Rachel’s arm away from him again. “Stop it!”
“Adam, darlin’, I just want to make sure you don’t get hurt.” Rachel shoved the cap back on the pen, getting frustrated with her brother.
“You’re too over-protective. You’re not dad, you’re not in charge of me. I’m an adult. Now leave me alone!”
“I am head of this household Adam James Moomaw, and if you’re going to work this case then you need to—”
“I don’t want to work this case,” Adam countered, raising his voice. “You know what? I can hardly wait until I’m out of here and in college so I can prove to you that I can handle myself!”
Rachel watched as her brother stormed out of the kitchen. She tried swallowing the lump she felt in her throat, but it only got larger.
“Dad,” she said solemnly, “how do I deal with him?”

The calculatedly cold corridors of the hospital left much to be desired in the way of appearance, and even more so in the general atmosphere. Kristjan walked down the long stretches of hallway without so much as a visitor’s pass, but no one stopped him; no on dared interrupt him. Or rather, no one could. That was the problem Kristjan had to deal with, for which he considered himself a victim of happenstance. No one could see him. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. A consequence of his being neither dead nor alive was that people couldn’t focus on him. If he was in a crowd, he would go unnoticed and if he had met someone briefly face to face, they would quickly forget what he looked like. Only people who could use any form of magic and spent considerable time around him were able to see through this, like Adam and Rachel. This limitation, however, left him free to roam and gave him an easier time doing discreet research for cases. This also meant he usually received terrible customer service.
Kristjan pressed forward through the corridors, holding on to a bouquet of sunflowers Rachel had purchased for him.
“They changed my room, didn’t they?” Kristjan said this loudly, but he doubted anyone could hear him, nobody was near him. It was more to himself than anything; he was trying to calm his nerves. He hadn’t expected the house to take them to the town where his body lay. Within minutes, like always, Kristjan found his room right where it had been since the accident— hospital room forty and four. He walked in.
There on the bed was Kristjan’s body.
Eight months, three weeks, two days and twelve hours earlier Kristjan was involved in a car crash while driving out of Strawberry Fields, Canada, to visit his family at their estate. The crash had left his body comatose, but somehow his spirit, soul, or consciousness— whatever you wanted to call it— had been projected, pulled, outside of his body. Kristjan at first thought he was dead. But his body continued to breathe. He was stuck in the in-between, yet still able to make a physical impact on the world. So there the chunk of flesh Kristjan once claimed as his own laid withering wastefully away while his family, being one of the wealthiest in the province, kept his body alive with some glimmer of hope that Kristjan would wake up. But he never did. Not once, no matter how hard Kristjan or the doctors tried. The one thing he could remember from the accident was the vivid image of a man in brown who made Kristjan feel calm, and a shadowy woman. Then there was something he thought he heard one of them whisper: The L Noise. But he had no clue as to what it meant.
In mourning for himself, Kristjan always wore black, and now was no exception. He brushed his hands against his black slacks, made sure his black dress shirt was tucked in and straightened his black coat. He left the top button undone on his shirt, and did not wear a tie as he had always hated them. Growing up there were occasions where his older cousins would rough house and one almost choked him with his tie once. Since then he considered them a liability.
Gently, Kristjan set down the flowers on the nightstand next to the bed, said goodbye to his body, and left the same way he came in: confused, and frustrated.

Once out of the hospital, the last thing Kristjan expected, wanted even, was a second encounter with Yeates. But it happened anyway. Whimsically the phantom phased into existence from a haze, and flamboyantly hopped behind Kristjan.
“Found you,” Yeates whispered in Kristjan’s ear. Kristjan snapped around to hit Yeates but the phantom had already leapt back, wagging a finger. The red flowers were still on him and looked to be roughly twice the size they had been before. “Imagine my surprise when I found out you weren’t alive. How thrilling! How unique!”
“Stop being so nosy, it’s annoying. You’re like my cousin Maurice, always going behind people to learn their secrets.” Kristjan’s eyes went from the flowers to the phantom’s face which looked like it had started to melt off. Kristjan inhaled sharply out of shock.
“You should really re-consider helping Wallace, you know. Just let me kill him.” Yeates’s charm, his perkiness, had left him. The phantom emitted anger, discontent and hate. “He’s the reason I’m like this, a gorgeous man losing all his beauty. All I want is to get my body back, but that isn’t going to happen. That’s a fact you know about as well as I do. Killing Wallace is the next best thing, cheri.” The white figure of Yeates invaded Kristjan’s personal space, one thing the phantom was exceptionally good, at by travelling through his haze. “An eye for an eye, right? He killed me with that hammer of his, and now he gets the just desserts.”
In the seconds that passed, Kristjan’s face scrunched together in the realization of what the real situation was. Suddenly what Yeates said in the alley before made sense. Wallace had murdered Yeates for whatever reason, and was now using the trio to get out of the consequences of his actions.
Kristjan didn’t have the time to worry; he could see the pointed teeth lining the phantom’s wide smiling mouth, like a Cheshire cat turned feral. Kristjan snapped his middle finger and thumb. Yeates’ face was met with the talons of two white crows.
“What?” The phantom shrunk back, beating away the abnormally large birds with his flailing arms. He looked more confused than hurt. “When did you use a charm?”
“Sorry guy, I didn’t.” Kristjan, pushing back his fear, began slowly stepping away. “As much as I enjoy your Old Testament appreciation, I had to get you to stop rambling. Nobody likes a rambler, you know. It’s very pas bon.”
Yeates let out a distorted growl of pain, leaping away from the birds and snarling, bearing his hideous bear trap teeth. He vanished in a hazy mist, leaving Kristjan and his crows alone in front of the dimly lit hospital.

Everyone was back inside of the creepy little house early the next day for a meeting on what to do with Yeates. Kristjan sat where he had the last time they were all gathered, looking perturbed with Wallace, who sat fidgeting with his hands in the same chair.
“Wallace, darling, could you explain to us one little thing?” Rachel brushed some of her yellow hair away from her face and looked kindly at the thinning man. Sweetly, her voice carried on the rest of what she had to say. “What the hell did Yeates mean when he told Kristjan that you killed him? I’m not trying to sound dense. I’d just like to assume you didn’t come to us as a way to avoid your consequences.”
Only Rachel had the ability to say hell and still sound adorable. Wallace looked uncomfortably at the trio of ghost hunters.
“It was for the black market. To pay for school. Some scientist wanted to study a documented psychic, and was willing to pay good money. He only paid half price, though. Something about damaging his brain when I smashed his skull.” Wallace sounded relatively guiltless now, staring at each of the house’s inhabitants coldly, no longer fidgeting with his hands. Adam was ready to punch him in the jugular.
“How did you track him down?” Rachel started nonchalantly toying with a large switchblade, keeping her eyes focused on the unwavering Wallace.
“I’ve known the prat for years. We met on a ghost tour. I couldn’t stand him. He was a pompous party playboy who was wasting his life away using his psychic powers to perform cheap parlor tricks for rich snobs. He was barely using his brain, so I thought maybe I could benefit from it instead. He didn’t deserve to live.” Wallace scrunched his nose, disgusted merely at the thought of the phantom.
“Neither do you.” Kristjan shook his head slowly, his voice surging through the air like electricity. A dark feeling began emitting from Kristjan’s words.
Ignoring Kristjan, Wallace continued, “I lured him to The Flaming Pickle, seduced him, then with the hammer…”
Rachel threw her knife at Wallace’s head. He tried catching it, but the knife travelled faster than he had anticipated and he ended up getting cut instead. The knife stuck to the wall by Wallace’s face.
“P. Darwin Yeates is a nuisance,” Kristjan started, “and I really hate how he called us mon cher. Was anyone else bothered by that? I’ve got French-Canadian relatives and they don’t even say that to me.”
“We need a plan.” Adam sighed.
“That’s easy. All we have to do is wait a day or two and use Wallace as bait.” Everyone with a Y chromosome shifted focus to Rachel, who obviously knew what she was saying. She batted her large azure eyes, and with a sly smile explained herself. “Kristjan said his face was melting off. When a ghost’s face is melting off like that it means they’re turning into a demon due to personal vendettas carried over from life. The process is sped up when the person who died has some kind of psychic ability, because their soul’s more sensitive. Once he’s fully transformed, he might not be able to say our names so all we’ll have to do is find out what the P stands for, which should be easy now that we also know he was a performing psychic. I’ll just call up some contacts.”
Everyone was needlessly surprised with the knowledge the one person with two X chromosomes had. She did, after all, have multiple degrees and had been doing this the longest out of anyone else in the room.
“We can think of some ways to get Wallace to stick around,” Adam said coyly, reaching up for a grimoire he knew contained binding spells.

“I’ll stay willingly. No matter where I go Yeates will find me eventually.”

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