Author: This Thursday Next PM
Paranormal "exterminator" Jane Tucker and her psychic partner, Tully, think they've seen everything. But when they get a job in a tiny town with a dark secret, they face an enemy like no other. The clock is ticking, and with no way out, ghosts may be the least of their problems, as friendships and pasts are threatened. T for language.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Friendship - Chapters: 3 - Words: 3,662 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 08-18-12 - Published: 08-14-12 - id: 3050436
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The channels on the cheap box television flickered through Jane's head like headlights in a storm. She was curled up in a moth-eaten armchair, a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a plastic bottle of Fanta balanced in her lap.
"You know what I hate?" She said, loudly, as an ad for liver medication flashed by. "I really hate kids. I mean, they're whiny, annoying, stupid, annoying, helpless and really, really–"
"Annoying?" Tully poked his head out of the closet, where he was unloading their bags. "You know, we're not all that bad."
"You don't count, Tul, you're 17." Jane shoved a chip in her mouth without looking at him.
Tully pulled out of the closet, looking offended.
"I'm 18, for your information," he corrected loudly, waving a hand. "That's a legal adult."
Jane pointed a Dorito in his direction.
"So you're not a kid. So therefore, you're not..." she paused. "Well, you can be annoying, but not as often as before." With a flourish, she devoured the chip.
Tully sighed, and went back to unpacking. Jane watched him for a minute, then unfolded herself from the chair, yawning. She stumbled into the bathroom, raking a hand through her thickly knotted hair. In truth, she couldn't get thoughts of Helena out of her head. Oh, she wanted to strangle that brat. Jane kicked the doorframe as she passed, mumbling. Who did she think she was, really? Some sort of amateur ghosthunter? All she would do was get underfoot, and get herself hurt, or worse, killed. And lord knows Tully would be on her ass about that. Some crap about "morals" or "karma".
"Hey, you want anything? I'm gonna go out and get a bite to eat." Tully was knocking at the bathroom door, which Jane couldn't remember locking.
"Nah, I'm gonna hit the sack," she yawned again, and leaned against the sink, picking at her nails. She really did need a new paint job. "Just don't pick any fights, okay? At least, not with dead things. "
Tully shot back a retort as he left the hotel room, but Jane didn't try to catch it. She was too tired, too frustrated. Her glasses were biting into the bridge of her nose, and she leaned over the sink again, scratching at the irritated skin, and yanking off the glasses.
As soon as she had cleaned the lenses, Jane glanced into the mirror.
"Well," she decided, with a sigh. "I look like crap."
She blinked. There was something blurry in the mirror, something dark and obscured. Hurriedly, Jane shoved her glasses back onto her face.
The thing tilted it's head. It had a full mane of twisted hair, thick and shiny with something wet. It's face, graying, was peeled apart, as if years had passed and worms and crows had devoured entire sections of pearly skin, leaving thick patches of blackened sinew and yellowed bone. A fraying rope was knotted around it's neck, tight enough to sever it.
But it was the eyes that made Jane's stomach flip over and squirm like a rat.
Blank eyes. Dead eyes. Sightless, rotating, bleeding black orbs that pointed at the ceiling, then at the floor, then back at the ceiling again.
Jane caught her breath, shaking. Sweat had broken out over her forehead, and her own terrified reflection hovered near the thing in the mirror, as pale as those eyes were dark.
"Maria Monday," she said, softly. "I guess you found us."
New Haven reminded Tully of a movie set. A few skinny buildings, some picturesque dives, a store selling "Apothecary Goods" and antiques, and four narrow streets of houses. He wandered down the main road, hands in pockets, and hood up.
There was something off about this place. Tully could feel it. It was in the air, the drains, the walls, even the blankets of the motel room. Something cold and something angry.
He tried to find the ghost. He closed his eyes, stopped in the road, and sucked in a deep breath. All he got was some dull static, pre-existing signals from the resting dead and the living. It crackled in his ears in gentle waves, and sat in his skull like a brick wall.
"C'mon," he muttered, pressing his hands unconsciously into his ears. "C'mon, you undead bitch. Come and get me."
Tully gritted his teeth. He could feel her, moving around in the static, a single patch of cold in a quilt of warm. But he just couldn't pinpoint where she was, what she was doing.
She stopped. He tried to hold onto her shadow, her scent, but he lost it suddenly with a loud snap. He gasped, and his hands fell.
Tully opened his eyes.
The street was empty, dark.
He was alone. He sighed.
"Crap." Kicking at a nearby pebble, he continued walking. But the unholy feeling in his chest didn't lift, and his heart was heavy with it. It pierced his thoughts in a slender arrow of anxiety.
A car pulled up alongside him, the window rolling down, slicked with rain.
"You need a ride, Mr. King?" The girl called out in a nervous waver. Tully recognized her heart-shaped face and dead-straight hair immediately.
"Helena?" He jogged over to the window, frowning. "What're you doing, driving around?"
"I have a license!" She answered indignantly, turning a shade of scarlet usually reserved for firetrucks or roses. "Last summer! I'm seventeen, eighteen in a month."
Tully laughed, then regretted it. Helena was looking at him with doughy, tearful eyes. He suddenly felt uncomfortable.
"Oh, well, sorry. I, uh...I thought you were younger." He coughed. "My bad."
Helena giggled. It was an unearthly sound. She tucked a bit of hair behind her ear, and looked back at him shyly.
"So, um..." She said, in a high, anxious voice. "It's only nine. D'you want to go...?"
"Want to go...? Where?" Tully looked away from her, pretending to adjust the zipper on his hoodie.
"Oh, I don't know!" She laughed again, and it was sharp and queasy. "Ha! Don't listen to me! It's silly, anyway...not like I can get into any, y'know, bars, or anything..." she trailed off, looking miserable.
Guilt flooded Tully. He smiled with it painted across his face.
"I'll vouch for you," he offered, half-heartedly. The poor girl was desperate.
Helena brightened, embarrassed with joy.
"Oh! Great! Um, I'll drive, then?"
Tully made to open the passenger door, as Helena fussed with her hair in the window, back turned. He reached for the handle, glumly. It seemed as if he was doomed to spend the night with Helena Peters, and her chipmunk laughter.
Suddenly, the world went dark. His head burned, sounds flooding him from all directions. Tully stumbled away from the door, gasping.
There was something wrong. The ghost. She was moving, faster than before, more violently. Her sounds were red with anger, her movements sharp and deliberate. She was attacking, he was sure, slashing out at someone fuzzy and indistinct.
He could hear screaming. Shouting. Talking, fast and angry, nearly as angry as Maria Monday, but far more panicked.
He recognized that voice. The shape of her was becoming clearer. Blond hair. High heels. A pair of glasses shoved to the left and dangling from an ear as she waved a silver sword, yelling.
And then it was gone.
Tully lay on the sidewalk, breathing hard, with Helena Peters leaning over him anxiously, her nose inches from his.
"Ohmygod. Oh...ohmygod! Are you okay, Mr. King? Geez!"
He bolted up, and Helena fell back to sit across from him, surprise etched over her face.
"Jane!" He shouted, far loud. "Jane...Maria..."
He was pushing past Helena now, climbing into her car. She dove into the passenger seat just as Tully swerved into the road.
"What?" She squeaked, clutching the seatbelt with white knuckles. "What's wrong?"
"The ghost." Tully said. "It's found her. It's trying to kill Jane."