Did I mention how uncomfortable death is? Even when you're a ghost looking like a human in some messed-up otherworld, it feels awful. Then, of course, there's the gray and spiraly feeling of leaving your corpse behind with you still in it. Top that off with the world collapsing in on itself like a shaken etch-a-sketch, swallowing up the houses and the cobblestones and Crux, and it feels like a lifetime of hangovers in one minute. But without the drinking beforehand.

I recommend living. Death is no fun.

Anyways, I snapped back into being in the graveyard. Not my first choice of places, but better than that street. Crux was nowhere to be found, which was good. I could hardly summon up the energy to move. For a long time, I just hovered there. I was still in front of Edward's grave. I guess he really did die.

I looked around a bit, once I stopped feeling like I was a cocktail and the world was a shaker. It was kinda a small cemetery, packed to its earthy seams with graves. Me and the kid (or Crux, or whatever) had drifted for quite a while to get here. It was definitely in the suburbs, but it was also close enough to the city that the land was expensive. For poor, grieving relatives, it probably looked like a peaceful place. I was going to be thrilled when I got clear of it.

As I started to ghost away, one of the headstones caught my eye. It was a few feet away from Ed's, and I hesitated. Smaller than the rest, it was a simple cross with a bedraggled stuffed bear sitting beside it. There was an angel carved on the stone, right over the words Nicholas Sutherland, beloved son. He had been nine years old.

I swore—a lot—even though there was no one to hear me. Maybe I didn't have the chemicals for it, but I could still feel anger. Then I shot out of the cemetery, through the streets, and back to my office. Some cadet was sitting at the desk, sorting papers. They exploded into confetti in his face. He straightened up, face pale, and sprinted out the door. I slammed it shut and clicked the lock. Then I drifted there for a long time, thinking about nothing.

I didn't like my half-life. No, that's not strong enough. I hated being a ghost, but it was better than the alternative. Maybe there's a moral there. I'll let you sort that out.