a harpy tells you to do something, there’s no room for discussion.
a zombie private detective, as well as a regular customer at the Ghoul’s Diner,
I had plenty of experience with Esther the harpy waitress. She had been a
client of mine, seeking to get rid of a bad luck charm that a customer had left
her as a tip for the awful service Esther usually provided (if “service” is a
word that even applies in that situation.)
had a hawkish face, a raptorlike demeanor, and a vulturelike personality. Her
curled iridescent feathers looked like straight razors that had been mangled in
a mail-sorting machine. With her glittering eyes, she could shoot a sharp glare
at anyone who looked at her the wrong way, and Esther considered almost any way
“the wrong way.” Her mood swings were best measured on the Richter scale.
she was a client of Chambeaux & Deyer Investigations, and a paying one. In
the Unnatural Quarter, where monsters tried to make quiet, normal lives for
themselves, I’d had far worse cases before.
Late this afternoon,
Esther had called our offices demanding—because Esther was incapable of making
a mere request—that my ghost girlfriend Sheyenne and I meet her out in the
Greenlawn Cemetery for the grand opening of a very special new crypt.
“It’s imperative that
you’re both there,” Esther said in a voice that made fingernails on chalkboards
sound like sweet music.
As our office
administrator, Sheyenne already knew about the case. “I’m surprised you want me
along too. Dan is our private investigator. I often help out on cases but—”
The harpy cut her
off. “Stop arguing with me! I need a zombie and a ghost. Be there.”
We’d had a quiet day
wrapping up cases and waiting for new ones to walk through the door. Robin
Deyer, my human lawyer partner, had left town to visit her parents for their
anniversary celebration, so it was only Sheyenne and me in the offices. I
wouldn’t normally leave the place unattended, but I had my phone and I didn’t
expect this would take long.
Besides, who was
going to tell Esther she couldn’t have what she wanted?
Cemetery was a nice place, as far as cemeteries went, with well-tended lots,
mid-range tombstones, and used crypts for rent or for sale. The flowers were
replenished regularly, and a park and recreation area for new tenants had been
added as part of an urban beautification project. After being killed during one
of my cases as a human detective, I had been buried here, and then I clawed my
way back out of the earth, cleaned myself up, put on a change of clothes, and
got back to work. Yes, this place held fond memories.…
As Sheyenne and I
arrived at the cemetery, I wore my usual sport jacket with its stitched-up
bullet holes and my traditional fedora that didn’t quite go low enough to cover
the exit wound in the center of my forehead. I looked fairly decent—maybe even
handsome enough to accompany my vivacious blonde, blue-eyed ghost girlfriend.
Sheyenne drifted along beside me through the lanes of tombstones, ectoplasmic
and glowing, too beautiful to touch (which was a good thing: since she was a
ghost, I couldn’t touch her anyway).
We found the harpy
standing next to the impressive new crypt, which looked like a private fortress
with thick granite walls and massive columns that conveyed an ornate but
unwelcoming appearance. I wasn’t surprised to see a broad-shouldered and
bare-chested Minotaur standing next to Esther. Yes, the classical architect
would want to be there for the grand opening of his special new tomb.
With a loud snort,
Percy Minotaur, Sr. adjusted the golden ring through his blocky nose. “Thank
you both for coming.”
The door to the crypt
was wide open to show an austere, cold interior, dimly lit by high narrow
“Where is everyone
else for the celebration?” Sheyenne asked.
“We only need you
two,” Esther snapped, and gestured with a feathered arm. The harpy had an odd
and unsettling feminine appearance, a sexiness that at first attracted men,
then made them ill as they realized exactly what they’d been attracted
to. “You’re here to test Elspeth’s tomb. There’s no time to waste.”
“How is your sister’s
condition?” I asked. “Any change?”
“No, still terminal.”
Esther sounded disappointed. “And still no closer to it.”
The Minotaur invited
us through the open door of the tomb. “Allow me to show you the finer points of
the new construction. It is magnificent, as usual.”
Sheyenne and I
entered the tomb, though there wasn’t much to see—an open empty vault with
stone walls, stone floor, stone ceiling. The narrow slit windows at the top of
the wall were thickly barricaded. The harpy’s hard face curled in a smile as
she saw me looking at them. “Those are so my undead sister can look out like a
sad kid on a rainy day … if she ever dies, that is.”
The tomb walls
glistened as if coated with some kind of thick varnish … or maybe saliva.
“A special anti-ectoplasmic preventive coating,” said the Minotaur architect. “One
of the special upgrades Esther requested.”
In the center sat a
raised slab on which the resident’s body would lie in repose. “Is this where
you’ll place your sister’s coffin?” I asked Esther.
“Coffin? Hell, no!
Why buy a fancy coffin? Who’s going to see her in here anyway? She can just lie
on the slab.”
“I take it that’s why
you didn’t waste money on interior decorating, either?” Sheyenne asked.
“Why would I waste
money like that on Elspeth? This damned crypt is already costing enough arms
and legs to make a body-repair shop happy! And it’s all his fault.” She snorted
at Percy, who snorted right back.
“Great work doesn’t
come cheap,” said the Minotaur. “This crypt is my finest creation so far. It is
beyond a masterpiece, because I’ve already produced a masterpiece, and that’s
just a beginning. Elspeth’s tomb will be—”
Esther cut him off,
“Will be serviceable, I hope.”
“It looks secure,” I
“We’ll see about
that,” said Esther.
She and the Minotaur
slipped back outside the crypt, and before Sheyenne and I could ask any
questions, the Minotaur flexed his muscles and swung shut the massive door.
The harpy had just
enough time to say, in her shrieking voice (which could cut through stone
blocks), “I sincerely hope you never get out. Ever!”
After the slab
sealed, we heard the loud clang of the massive bolt slamming into place.
When the harpy had
first contacted us about her sister’s ailment, I couldn’t be sure if she was
angling for sympathy or something else. She preened herself in front of
Sheyenne’s desk. “Elspeth is dying, and she’s been doing so for a very long
time—an unconscionably long time!”
“Oh dear,” Sheyenne
said. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Don’t be sorry for
her—be sorry for me! I’ve had to put up with all this.”
Esther’s sister suffered
from a debilitating mange—a lingering illness that made her linger … and
linger … and linger, like something out of a heart-wrenching movie of the
week but not at all poignant. Esther had been tending her, reluctantly, for
“Elspeth was obnoxious
even on her good days—I got all the charm in the family.” Esther clacked her
teeth together and curled her fingers so that metallic black talons extended
from the tips. The harpy family must not have gotten a large share of charm to
“Elspeth won’t let
anyone see her because the mange makes her revolting. I told her no one would
notice because she was revolting before she caught the disease—but she doesn’t
“You certainly have a
bedside manner,” Sheyenne said.
Esther fluttered her
feathers. “I always wanted to be a doctor, except that I can’t stand sick
people. They’re so needy.”
I wished Robin were
here, because she was always good at handling difficult clients. “Is the mange
contagious?” I asked.
“Always thinking of
yourself, Mr. Chambeaux!” Esther snapped. “You have nothing to worry
about—zombies can’t catch it.”
“Actually, I was
thinking about you,” I said.
Esther flapped her
arms, extended her plumage, inspected the small pinfeathers in her underarms.
“What, do you see any symptoms? I douse Elspeth with bleach every day, as
therapy—but if she’s infected me, I’ll pluck her naked, then tar and feather
her all over again!”
I tried to calm her.
“Just asking a question. I didn’t notice anything in particular.”
Sheyenne turned on
the charm, which I knew hid her acid annoyance. “And how can we help you at
Chambeaux and Deyer Investigations, ma’am?”
“I’m having a new
tomb constructed for my sister, a special monument with many added features,
designed to my exact specifications. I’ve got to make sure it’s done on
time—and properly. There’s no room for error.”
blueprints and spread them on Sheyenne’s desk, unceremoniously knocking aside
the other papers and folders for our pending cases. As far as Esther was
concerned, no other pending cases were as important.
“I’ve hired the
greatest architect to build thick walls, reinforced windows, and an unbreakable
door, with a few external decorative flourishes that will make the tomb fit in
with the other ones in the cemetery. They have covenants for landscaping and
Looking at the
blueprints, I was impressed. This massive structure would certainly stand out
among the ostentatious crypts and memorial markers at Greenlawn Cemetery. I
understood what she was thinking. “It’ll be like the great pyramids of Egypt.”
“No—more like Alcatraz. Once I’m finally rid of my sister, I’ll seal her up
inside there. If she stays dead, then fine—but a lot of people don’t stay dead
Since I had come back
as a zombie and Sheyenne came back as a ghost, I said, “Yes, we’re well aware
The harpy strutted
about our offices. “Elspeth is just too mean to stay dead. Once she goes, I
don’t want to deal with her anymore. If and when my sister comes back, whether
as a zombie or a ghost, I want her sealed up where she can’t bother anyone
again. Ever. So, I have to be sure that tomb is undead proof.” Her eyes
glittered at me and Sheyenne. “That’s where you two come in.”
investigation agency has to take cases of all kinds, but some are more
unpleasant than others.
We were sealed inside
Elspeth’s fortress-like crypt, but I had no intention of staying there. As
Sheyenne drifted in front of me, her faint glow illuminated the austere vault.
Her blue eyes sparkled, and so did her smile. “It’s not so bad, Beaux—we’re
getting paid to be alone together in a very private place.”
“I’d rather take you
to a coffin-and-breakfast of our choosing.” I walked to the solid stone door,
pressing my hands against it, tentatively using my strength. I knew it wouldn’t
be easy to break out of the tomb, but I had to start somewhere. I pressed hard,
felt no movement—the old immovable object and irresistible zombie conundrum. I
felt around the crack with numb fingers but couldn’t find any latch or
self-release button on the door.
Partly due to Robin’s
recent legal efforts, laws had been passed requiring all crypts to have
emergency-release locks since you never could tell when someone might wake up
and need to get out. But Percy the Minotaur had not built this tomb to code.
I pounded on the
door, hard, but that did no good. My cold flesh didn’t even make a satisfying
thump. I wondered if Esther and Percy were still waiting out there, amused,
trying to see how quickly we could escape from this trap.
“If you’re that
anxious, I’ll just slip through the wall, undo the latch, and open the door,”
Sheyenne said. “It’s handy to have a ghost around.”
She drifted in front
of me, gave me an air kiss. As a traditional ghost, she could flit through any
solid object, and her poltergeist abilities allowed her to manipulate inanimate
She gathered speed as
she headed toward the stone wall. Normally she would’ve melted right through
without a sound; instead, I heard an alarming wet smack, and Sheyenne’s
beautiful form flattened out as she pushed and pushed against the stones. It
was a very strange sight. I heard a thrumming as she continued to push, growing
more and more flustered. Her form was distorted into a strange blob-like female
outline plastered against the impenetrable wall. Finally she withdrew,
recomposed herself, and hovered in front of me, shaken.
“That’s not what I
expected,” I said.
Sheyenne ran her
ghostly fingers on the surface. The glistening coating sparkled faintly with an
afterwash of her spectral impact, and I remembered the protective film that the
Minotaur architect had applied throughout the interior of the tomb.
She sighed. “Maybe
this case is going to be more difficult than we thought.”
If Esther’s sister
came back from the dead, she would return as a zombie or a ghost; therefore,
Esther had instructed the architect to design a tomb that was proof against
either one. A ghost harpy sounded even more unpleasant than an everyday harpy.
And a zombie harpy … well, I didn’t even want to go there.
Zombies were strong
and persistent, but it wouldn’t be hard to build thick enough barricades to
contain a shambler, even a well-preserved one like me. A ghost was more
difficult to contain permanently, but this new anti-ectoplasmic film seemed
quite durable and effective.
“Esther must really
be worried about her sister harassing her from beyond the grave,” I said.
persistence, then frustration, Sheyenne flung herself against different walls
of the crypt, then the ceiling, even the floor, but she couldn’t get through.
She drifted up to the narrow windows, hoping to find some chink there, but the
reinforced panes remained sturdy. The anti-ecto coating was everywhere.
When hiring us to
break out of this unbreakable crypt, we hadn’t established any kind of time
limit. That was my fault for not thinking through the parameters. Robin always
chastised me for entering into agreements without my lawyer partner vetting
them first. Live and learn … or, live, die, come back from the dead, and
still miss the point.
I yanked on the
raised stone coffin slab, and Sheyenne stood on the other side using her
poltergeist powers, hoping we could uproot it, topple it, find a loose floor
tile or something. No good. The slab and its base remained as sturdy as a
I removed my .38 from
its holster, and Sheyenne looked at me, puzzled. If I fired the pistol, any
bullets would just ricochet around the walls, but I had something else in mind.
I use the butt of the
weapon to hammer the saliva-like varnish, pounding and pounding, but the film
remained smooth, unscratched. “I was hoping to make a dent, chip away enough so
that you could work your way through a chink in the armor.”
She pressed her
ghostly hand where I had been hammering but couldn’t find the tiniest nick.
That stuff was tough!
Thinking the windows
might be more vulnerable, I pressed up against the wall, reached as high as I
could, and grasped the narrow sill. Pulling myself up, I raised my other hand
and pounded on the glass with the .38. Again, the glass was armored, and the
anti-ecto coating too thick. I didn’t make a dent.
Back on the floor
again, I tried to think the problem through. The cases don’t solve themselves,
but even with a hole in my head I can usually figure out a puzzle.
“Ah, of course!” I
reached into the pocket of my sport jacket, removing my phone. “I’ll just call
somebody to get us out of here.”
cheating,” Sheyenne said.
“The case agreement
didn’t preclude it.”
Robin was far away
and wouldn’t be back in the Unnatural Quarter for days, but I had plenty of
other friends in the Quarter I could call—particularly, Officer Toby McGoohan
from the UQPD, my best human friend. I just needed to get him on the phone and
we’d be all done here tonight.
The phone said No
Service. Of course. Esther and Percy would’ve thought of that and put in
shielding. These days, almost everyone elected to be buried with a phone handy.
I sat down on the
stone slab. “I hate to admit it, Spooky, but I think we’re stuck.”
Early in the case,
Esther insisted that we meet her architect, as if we were challengers in a
Percy Minotaur, Sr.
was well respected in his field, not just in tomb design, but he had also
studied with a man who claimed to be Houdini’s ghost, working on a contract job
for the Unnatural Quarter’s prison system. Houdini’s ghost and Percy developed
specialized unbreakable prisons and holding cells for various unnaturals,
demons, specters, and the like. Eventually Houdini’s ghost was exposed as a fraud,
that he was actually Jim Houdini, no relation whatsoever to the
legendary magician. Jim Houdini was arrested, but before he could be brought up
on charges he had miraculously escaped and still remained at large.
Percy the Minotaur’s
work, however, was quite remarkable. He had accepted Esther’s commission to
build an inescapable, unbreakable tomb for her sister, just in case. He seemed
to relish the challenge.
Upon first meeting
the bare-chested Percy, I asked him why he insisted on remaining shirtless all
the time. Sure, he had a broad chest and decent biceps, but he wasn’t going to
win any Mr. Unnatural America contests, especially with a paunch showing over
what should have been washboard abs.
The Minotaur reached
up to touch his big blocky head and his wide set of curved bullhorns. “Because
of these. I can’t ever pull a shirt over my head.”
That made perfect
sense, I supposed.
“How about something
that buttons down the front?” Sheyenne suggested. “Maybe a nice Hawaiian
embarrassed. “I never thought of that.”
Esther stood in the
architectural offices, impatient. “On with it. Just show them your portfolio.”
The Minotaur displayed and explained photos of other buildings he had done, the
façade of the Metropolitan Museum, several impressive tombs.
“My aim is to become
the most respected, most widely known Minotaur architect in the entire Quarter.
I’m very bullish on my career.”
He had spent a summer
sabbatical at Notre Dame, considering how to create a fusion of Gothic
cathedral architecture with typical Unnatural Quarter buildings.
“A developer wanted
me to design tract homes in a new subdivision but I would never stoop that low.
A gated community is the minimum I would consider.” With a fist he pounded his
unspectacular chest. “My great works will endure the test of time. They’ll last
for millennia, like the pyramids.”
“As long as they can
endure a pissed-off undead harpy,” Esther said. “That’s all I care about.
Better hurry up and finish the building.”
“How long do you
think your sister has left?” Sheyenne asked.
Esther made a
disgusted sound. “She’s been at death’s doorway for years and years but she
just stands there on the welcome mat. How I hate it when she lingers. I wish
she’d get on with her death so I can get on with my life.” She pointed a talon
at me. “Your case, Mr. Chambeaux, is to test out the new crypt. My architect is
confident but I don’t believe anyone. I wasn’t hatched yesterday.”
“What exactly do you
want us to do?”
“You’ll be locked
inside. If you can escape, then you get paid. If you stay trapped in there
until Elspeth dies—and that could be years and years—then the Minotaur gets
I had heard grim
stories of trapped undead who were left to tolerate an eternity of unending
boredom: vampires given the Jimmy Hoffa treatment, sealed in a coffin wrapped
with silver chains and then sunk at the bottom of a deep cold lake where the
poor bloodsucker had to lie there without even a book to read or a digest of
Sudoku puzzles. Or zombies that rotted and fell apart, unable to move …
but if the brain remained alive, did the inanimate decomposing pile of tissue
just while away the hours pondering the meaning of life?
Now Sheyenne and I
were stuck inside a sealed crypt. Nobody knew where we were, and the harpy
certainly had no intention of letting us out.
Through the narrow
windows, we watched night set in, then daylight again … and now night had
fallen once more. Sheyenne’s frustrated spectral glow was the only illumination
to keep me company.
We’d been stuck in
the tomb for more than a full day. After we had exhausted the first round of
escape possibilities, neither Sheyenne nor I had any idea what to try next.
Robin wouldn’t come back to the office for another week. As soon as she found
us missing, she would immediately know something was wrong but she’d have no
clue where to look for us.
would be concerned much sooner than that but he wouldn’t know where to look
either. He’d file a missing monsters report and he’d worry about me far more
than he would like to admit—but that didn’t mean Sheyenne and I were getting
out of there any time soon.
For a while, Sheyenne
let herself enjoy the quiet solace of the two of us together. We had all the
makings of a romance to last throughout eternity, though I had never pictured
our epic romance would all take place in a single room.
“Somehow I thought
I’d have a more spectacular end than this, Spooky,” I said as we sat together
on the slab. “My first death was kind of embarrassing, getting shot in the back
of the head in a dark alley while trying to solve your murder.” I had no reason
to wear a fedora inside a sealed tomb, so I took it off, set it in my lap. “Now
here we are, stuck, with no place to go, not even solving a case.”
“You’ll figure out
“I suppose we can
hope that Elspeth gives up the ghost soon so they’ll have to open up the crypt.
But that’s not the way I’d like to wrap up a case. After all my detective work,
I never thought I’d be stumped by a locked-room mystery.”
close to me so that her ectoplasmic body blended into mine. I wished I could
feel something solid, but we took comfort in each other’s presence
nevertheless. Although death was no piece of cake, her afterlife hadn’t been
too bad. We had a good thing.
We reminisced about
the times we had together, but I could tell she was growing agitated. Finally,
Sheyenne flung herself at the film-coated walls and ceiling, again and again,
becoming panicked. She smashed against the barrier, distorted her spectral
body, then flew off to strike a different wall, trying to find some weakness in
the protective film. She was like a moth, battering herself against a lamp.
I lurched to my feet
and tried to catch her, but of course she slipped right through my grasp. I
tried to calm her. “Hey, Spooky—let me think. I know you have faith in me, so
let’s work this through. Calm down.”
“I don’t want to be
stuck in here anymore! I just want to get back to normal.” Sheyenne slumped
back on the slab and sat shuddering.
“Normal?” I said,
cocking my eyebrow. “We have to break out of a sealed tomb that was built for a
harpy by a Minotaur, and then go back to work for a detective agency in a city
full of monsters. Yes, let’s get back to normal.”
I worked my way
around the sealed door again, looking at the corners, looking at the wall.
Maybe I would notice a clue after all.
Sheyenne said in a
depressed voice, “Looks like this tomb will stand the test of time, like the
pyramids—just like that arrogant Minotaur said.”
“He’s talented, I’ll
give Percy that. He did exactly what Esther hired him to do,” I said. “But I
didn’t really see him as arrogant—just proud of his work. He intended for this
crypt to be his masterpiece.” Which was saying something, I realized, because
we had looked at his architectural portfolio, all the great works he had
already created. His masterpiece …
I sat up straighter,
turned slowly around. An architect like Percy the Minotaur took so much pride
in his work—he would never leave a masterpiece unsigned. Esther wouldn’t have
let him make a big flourish since she owned the crypt, had commissioned it for
her own purposes. But Percy … I was sure he would have found some way.
“Let’s look for
initials,” I said. “Comb every block. If that architect is the artist I think
he is …”
Sheyenne didn’t let
herself show too much hope, not yet, but she flitted to the ceiling and
scrutinized the stone crown molding while I methodically—or as is fitting for a
zombie, relentlessly—went from block to stone block, studying each one,
looking for a signature or initials, hoping I’d find what I needed.
Finally, on a floor
tile in the corner, back behind the coffin slab designed to hold the harpy’s
body, I discovered it. “Found it!”
The ghost swooped
over, hovering next to me so that her lambent glow illuminated the initials:
Senior,” I said.
“PMS,” Sheyenne said,
“could well be Esther’s initials. But what good does that do us?”
I ran my fingers over
the initials and felt the roughness. If my heart had been beating much, my
pulse would’ve sped up. “Percy chiseled his initials in here at the last
minute. He must have slipped in, pounded the letters, and then left before
Esther could spot him.”
With a fingernail, I
tapped the chiseled letters, found a noticeable nick. “And he carved them right
through the ectoplasmic protective film. The barrier is broken here, a chink in
the armor.” I smiled up at Sheyenne. “I’ve seen you slip through a keyhole when
you needed to. Can you get through this crack now?”
brightened—literally. “Even if there’s only a little slit, I’ll make it work.”
Sheyenne bent over,
concentrated, and extended her finger, sliding it through the tiny chisel mark
of PMS. The rest of the crypt was sealed to her with the anti-ecto film, but
she managed to push her spectral form into that tiny crack.
Her finger went
first, elongating, then her entire hand plunged after it. She was gathering
speed. “I can do this, Beaux.” She flashed me one of those beautiful grins
until she spun down and dove entirely into the chiseled letters. She disappeared
through the floor tile with a faint pop, and her spectral light went out
in the crypt, leaving me all alone in darkness.
Until she used her
poltergeist powers to throw open the heavy bolt that sealed the door, cracking
open the entrance to the crypt. I pushed as hard as I could, shoving open the
stone barricade. I worked my way out into the humid miasma of the cemetery
Sheyenne was there
waiting for me, smiling in triumph. I inhaled a deep breath, and it smelled
Proud and satisfied,
Sheyenne accompanied me as we presented our bill to Esther the harpy for
services rendered. Sheyenne insisted on carrying the paperwork herself.
Somehow, I don’t think she liked the harpy much.…
Esther was meeting
with Percy the Minotaur inside his offices, going over landscaping concepts and
shrubbery arrangements for the exterior of Elspeth’s tomb. Esther was never in
a good mood but right now she was particularly unhappy to see us. Instead of
welcoming us back, instead of graciously accepting defeat, her bird-bright eyes
flashed like black lasers. She whirled to the Minotaur, shrieking. “You
“Now there’s no need
for that, Esther,” I said. “You hired us to test the tomb. I’m sure he can make
modifications.” I wasn’t sure I wanted to suggest improvements, though; no
matter how awful Elspeth was—and harpies had their own separate category for
“awful”—no one deserved to be sealed away like that for eternity.
“No! I want him to
start from scratch and do it right next time—and I’m not paying you until it’s
Percy snorted so
loudly that the gold ring in his nose flapped and jangled. “This is bull!”
Sheyenne slapped our
bill down in front of the harpy. “We, however, expect to get paid. We did
exactly what we were contracted to do.”
“You’ll get paid when—”
“We’ll get paid now,
thank you,” Sheyenne said. “You can take it out of your tips at the Ghoul’s
provided abominably bad service, but she was so intimidating that customers
were afraid not to leave a tip.
With a huff and a
squawk, the harpy found a purse somewhere among her plumage and paid us. “This
has been a lousy day. My sister suffered a relapse.”
“Sorry to hear that,”
I said. “Is she getting worse?”
“No, a relapse of health!
Looks like she might last after all.… This is the worst day of my life. And
they keep getting worse and worse.”
tomorrow,” Sheyenne said in a flippant voice, and she drifted out of the
Minotaur architect’s offices, with me following her.
As I closed the door,
the harpy was launching into a long succession of nagging instructions, but
this was no longer my case. “We should make it a general practice not to take
harpies as clients.”
“Sure, there were
problems, Beaux,” Sheyenne said as we headed through the bustling, colorful,
and unnatural streets of the Quarter, “but I did get to spend time with you,
and I like cases like that.”
I stuck out my elbow,
and she slipped her ghostly arm through mine. It was a charade, but we were
good at it now. As we strolled along, other naturals and unnaturals saw how we
were both positively glowing. They smiled at us, and we smiled back.
It was a good day to
be alive but, barring that, it was a good day for us to be together.