His empty hole-eyes faltered then, to my surprise. He fell, his descent almost in slow-motion. Mr. Morris turned in shock to Charlotte as he fell, his limbs bouncing once on the floor.

Charlotte stood then, her dark ponytail bobbing, and showed her other hand-she clutched a little pistol: a nineteenth-century Henry Derringer.

There was an inch-wide hole in the phantom's chest. A thick black liquid flowed from this wound. Mr. Morris stared blankly at me with two last words:

"The price..." and with one last whispered breath he disappeared like a mirage in the desert. Now you see him, now you don't.

My great-great-grand-aunt suppressed a grin and threw her arms around me. Still a little stunned, I hugged her back until she pulled away, wiping tears from her eyes.

"Uh... wasn't he already dead? What did the gun do?"

"It's a dead person thing," she said, and laughed. "Sucks a piece of your soul out of your body and kills it. Mr. Morris wasn't a dead soul before. Now he... uh, is. And his 'price'? Paid! His soul for mine!" There was a pause as I reclaimed my stool by the bar. Charlotte remained standing, holding the little pistol in hand, toying with it.

"And what about you? You have to go or anything?" I said.

"Yeah. That's the catch."

"Sucks." The man next to me gave me an interesting glance. I pretended to cough into my sleeve.

"Well... blood's blood. I'll find a way." Her eyes twinkled. Charlotte stood back again, grinning, and gave me a mock salute. I found myself grinning as well, tears forming

She looked to the sky expectantly. "Beam me up, Scotty."

And she was gone.


A/N: I don't know if I like the way this ended, but after a bout of extreme writer's block, it's better than most other attempts I've made to write the last chapter. Sorry for the delay. :)