Posted in Paranormal Tuesdays

PT: Dennison Brothers & Co.

Well guess who forgot to post on Tuesday because they thought the T stood for Thursday! This gal!

Yeah, I suck.

And then I thought I’d already posted which was bull.

Anyway, here’s the story for oops, last Tuesday.

**

There are many things people should know about paranormal investigations, but they don’t. There are a million and one things people should know, but they do not.

For the Dennison brothers, paranormal investigation not only runs in their veins, it’s their whole life.

They have a long history of people being haunted, and hunting. They are not renowned like others but they get by. After all, ghost hunting is not about who knows you but who’s willing to allow completely strangers into their home.

In a way, ghost hunting is a lot like being a door to door seller. Not everyone is interested in what you’ve got to sell, not everyone needs it, but you keep doing it in the hopes that someone will. And because it pays. Barely.

Steven, Allan and Monique do it because it’s encoded in their DNA to do this kind of work. Because they don’t know a life that can be led in another way. Because this job gives me a thrill.

They do it because they love it.

“You sure you got everything there, Mo?” Allan asks for what feels like the twelfth time in the last five minutes.

“Absolutely positive, boss,” Monique drones. “I’d check with Chris over there if I were you.”

The words feel mocking even through Monique’s no nonsense tone, and they make Chris’ ears burn.

“I-I’m sure I got it all,” Chris stammers, blurring the last three words into an unintelligible mumble. His hands slip on the ropes he’s using to secure the tarp over the back of Steven’s truck.

Chris winces as his cousin makes a noise of annoyed fondness. Steven slaps a hand to Chris’ shoulder as he announces in his loud, deep voice, “I think we’re all set over here, little bro. It’s you and Mo who’re holding us back.”

Monique glares at her two brothers. She flicks her long ponytail over her shoulder and walks to the front of the car without another word.

“Don’t rile her up Steven,” Allan admonishes him.

“Wasn’t.” Steven smirks. “Was just defending Chris’ honor. Couldn’t have ‘cous here thinkin’ everyone’s against him, right?”

Allan makes a sound of disgust in the back of his throat, and goes to join the youngest of the Dennison.

“You don’t have to keep doin’ that.” Steven frowns.

“Doing what?” Chris is aware of how petulant he sounds. But it’s not his fault that out of everyone in the newest batch of Dennisons he was the only one to be born with ‘the gift’.

“Taking shit from them. You do that and Monique’ll wear you like a scarf come next week.”

“I can take her,”

Steven snorts. “Nah, kid, you can’t.”

“Whatever,” Chris mumbles, knowing better than to engage the eldest of the Dennison brothers in an argument.

They drive away from the small nameless town they’d stopped at to rest and eat, in silence. Steven is the kind of driver who accepts no interruptions or distractions in his driving. He never listens to radio and he hardly ever accepts someone’s opinion.

Chris is not bothered by his cousins way. In fact, he much prefers him to the rest of the Dennison kids. Being a Hansen himself he does not posses the obsession and predisposition shared by the rest of his dad’s family.

Chris often wishes both his fathers had not been so interested in the whimsical and paranormal, then maybe he would’ve been able to do as the rest of his cousins did: get away from this paraphernalia.

But no, he was saddled with his task. He has to drive around the country in two extremely obvious cars trying to find proof of the paranormal.

There had been talks about trapping and maybe expelling spirits at the beginning of the journey, a couple of months ago. But that thought had been laid to rest when Allan had managed to anger a very docile and peaceful spirit in Spokane.

That was another thing Chris had learnt about his cousins. They were clueless about the things they were attempting to do. Often guiding their practices by movies and secondhand stories that were merely the product of sketchy memories and exaggerations.

They had all the equipment that forums and TV shows said they’d need, but lacked any tact and the instincts needed to perform well in the business.

“Where do you reckon we should go?” Steven asks. A phrase that has turned into their catchphrase.

Chris shrugs but still points somewhere to their left where the road twists and winds and bends out of shape. Steve frowns. “You sure ‘bout that?”

Chris gives him a flat stare and leans his body against the rattling door. Maybe if he puts all his weight into it, it will open and spare him the misery of grimacing at people as the Dennison announce, too loudly, that they are “the great Dennison. Next in a line of prominent ghost hunters here to meet all your needs! Oh, and this is our cousin Chris, he’s just tagging along.”

A wiser person would’ve pleaded with his parents not to be allowed to be taken to this journey. But if he were that, Allan and Monique would’ve not been able to claim the experience would help him build character.

As they drive toward where Chris’ lungs are telling him there’s something waiting for them, he considers changing the route, leading them away from another poor spirit. He doesn’t, of course, he still needs to build that character.

“Turn the AC off,” he asks.

Steven laughs, loud and obnoxious. “It’s off, kid.”

Chris turns to him with a frown just in time to see long blue hair and a mischievous smile through the windshield.

“Oh,” he says, dumbly.

“Oh?’ Whoever is sitting on the back repeats with a giggle. “I think we can do better than that. It’s a long drive into town pretty boy.”

“Umh.” He hesitates. “Okay?”

Steven laughs at him, assuming it’s teenage stupidity. He sets his eyes back on the broad, but his shoulders look stiff.

“Maybe we should listen to the radio,” The specter says, jiggling what sounds like a million copper bracelets or tiny bells.

Chris makes a noncommittal noise.

“It’s a long drive.” Chris hears iterated twice. Steven doesn’t look affected by the fact that has just said something innocuous, so unlike himself. The spirit seems to be smiling in the reflection.

“It is?” Chris can’t help but turn the phrase into a question, both at the spirit and his cousin.

“Yeah, ‘bout six or seven hours to the next town.” Again, the words come from two sources.

“Ah, right.”

“Unless you’re going further away,” This time only the spirit talks, their voice is thick like honey on a humid day. “Then it’s ten hours. And that’s giving this piece of crap the benefit of doubt because no don’t think you’ll make it further away.”

Chris hums.

“You don’t look like the kind of boy that goes around harassing the dead,” The ghost points out.

Chris shrugs.

The spirit falls quiet for a while. Long enough for Chris to feel comfortable looking away. He catches sight of a sign, something that regular people don’t see, probably because it has two little girls playing catch around it.

“A lot of people die on these kinds of roads,” He offers, apropos to nothing.

Steven doesn’t even turn to look at him. He supposed his cousin has heard stranger things.

“They do.” The spirit nods.

“Did you see somthin’?” Steven asks, eyes never leaving the road.

“No,” he lies, even as his eyes are pulled in different directions. There are children and women and men running and dancing well into the night.

“Smart or stupid?” The spirit asks.

“Definitely stupid,” He feels tempted to say, but he keeps his lips pressed tight.

The next couple of minutes are spent in absolute silence until The Phone rings.

Steven makes it a point to stop in the middle of the road to pick it up, since Chris is not allowed to even look at the thing. His cousin even goes as far as leaving the car to talk in private.

“Ohhh,” The spirit taunts.

Their myriad of metallic objects clang and shake as they move to the front of the car.

“What is a young boy like you doing in a place like this?” The specter, which now that they’re sitting right next to him, Chris can see looks like a young woman.

Chris ignores her, as he’s used to do. Instead he looks at the man sitting on the ground just a couple of feet away from them.. He has coppery hair and light eyes that can barely be appreciated in the twilight.

“Oh, I see.” The woman taunts him. “Little mouse is not allowed to talk to strangers. It’s okay though.” She laughs. The sound is like the accidental pulling of an out of tune violin chord.

“Mo says we have to go back.” Steven leans half his body into the car, effectively going through the woman who has now started to mockingly pull faces as if in pain.

“Wha- why?”

“Somethin’ about the car not workin’.”

“Ah.” The woman laughs delightedly. “Ask him if it’s the exhaust. I know a couple of guys that like that hang out back there. They probably saw this as taken and had fun with your friends.”

“They’re not my friends,” He grumbles, because it is second nature to make the correction now.

They’re not friends but family, annoyingly unavoidable.

“What?” Steve asks at the same time Chris tells him, “She says it’s the exhaust. That some guys like to mess with it.”

Steven jumps away from the car and looks in all directions. Like his brothers, he is painfully unprepared to deal with, well, actual ghosts.

“Lots of people die on these roads,” Chris repeats with a shrug.

“The fuck. They’re here. One’s here.” The rushed words lack any kind of inflection to be considered a question.

“She was sitting right there.” He points to the seat.

“Was?”

“She left when you jumped.”

“Oh,”

At least he doesn’t pretend to be fearless or unshakeable like the others.

The phone rings again. This time Steven takes the call right where he stands.

“…oh… Yeah, right… We’re going.”

“We go back?” Chris asks.

“No.” He frowns. “The car works just fine. Looks like your friend told ‘em to knock it off.”

“She’s not–” he sighs and trails off. “Whatever let’s just go.”

Steven looks like he wants to say something, but he ends up just shrugging and getting into the car to drive away.

They’re just leaving the stretch of road that seems to be perpetually inhabited by spirits when Chris feels the hair on the back of his neck rising, as something that felt like a fingernail traces a pattern into his skin.

“Be careful out there, little mouse.” The woman from before says. “You never know what you’ll find out there.”

Chris looks back over his shoulders, but there’s nothing there.

When he turns to look at his cousin he’s got his eyes firmly on the road.

 

-L.

Posted in Paranormal Tuesdays

GD: Ramona and Sebastian

Hello! Welcome to a brand new Paranormal Tuesday!!!

As I said before (In a post you may or may not have read) unlike Secondary Sundays, Paranormal Tuesdays will be divided in two categories or “parts”: Phantom Tales and Grim Days.

You’ve already met the first characters in this universe, so here I bring you new ones.

I hope you enjoy this first Grim Day.

GD: Ramona and Sebastian

Life ends and starts with a flash. Or at least that’s what people have told Ramona over the years. She’s not too sure about the details of coming and going, but she does know about the process of it.

She knows that human beings live and breathe and maybe even love or hate. She knows what emotions and memories do to a decaying body. She intimately knows the way in which people barter and beg once their time is done and they realize they’re not ready to go.

Almost anyone in her position would refuse, of course. They’re trained to refuse and stand strong and tall and towering over the rest of someone else’s kingdom, but Ramona could never get into the habit of cold steel and punishing eyes.

It’s not because she feels a particular affinity with those who roam the world -No, she has fortunately escaped that particular affliction- but because she finds it easier and amusing to reach deals with the living. She likes the idea of aking for tales and precious objects thay can only delay the inevitable.

Someone might escape her today, by the short gasp of a breath, but they will escape her tomorrow.

“I knew I’d find you here.” Sebastian’s mocking voice reaches her before the distinct smell cold beer does.

Ramona turns around to see his dirty blond hair and careless blue eyes. He’s holding two cans of beer in his perpetually stained fingers, and he carries the feeling of a job well done with him.

“Where else would I be?” She takes one of the beers, which leaves Sebastian’s pecking fingers free to steal the almost forgotten cigarette from her lips.

“Dunno, town square maybe? You’re not usually this fond of heights.” He looks down toward the ground stretching fifteen floors below them.

“I’m keeping a lookout,” Ramona says. She doesn’t have to point to the right direction for Sebastian to find Letty lounging on her couch as she reads an old magazine.

“Ah.” He smirks. “How foolish of me, of course.”

He doesn’t offer any other comment but he does sit down beside her. His long legs reach further beyond than hers, but only just barely. Their shoulders rest comfortably a width apart as they look out to the streets and people below them.

For a moment, Ramona distracts herself looking at the sharp tip of her heels, the muted brown complexion of her legs, and how they compare to Sebastian’s gangly, jean-encased legs. As she moves her feet from one side to the other, Sebastian mimics her movement until their lower bodies are swaying in tandem to a soundless tune.

The wind whips her short black hair away from her face, intermittently slapping Sebastian’s. He doesn’t frown or show any signs of being affected by it, though.

“It’s getting colder,” He notes, voice calm and soothing like an Autumn’s evening.

“It’s always like that before the beginning of spring.”

Sebastian hums. “We’re about to get very busy very soon.”

Ramona makes an inquisitive noise, looking down and away trying and failing to find an approaching disaster.

“The beginning of spring is always the busiest,” He says, blowing cigarette smoke into the cooling air.

“Oh.” Ramona focuses her eyes back on Letty, noticing the careful twist of her lips as she mouths along with her reading. “You are right.”

Sebastian shrugs. “Not something I’m proud of.”

Ramona snorts and looks at him sharply. Her hair whips back and forth between them, until Sebastian grimaces and offers her a wriggly, silicone hair band.

“One of today’s barters, I suppose.” Ramona arches an eyebrow, but takes the offering and pulls her hair up into an absentminded bun.

“She was six.” Is all Sebastian says before his eyes get lost once more in the darkening skies.

They never give reasons for what they do and what it means. They both have a very different reasoning for doing what they do, but they mostly cite the same argument when asked about it: it’s fun.

“You’re taking care of Smith’s tonight.” He says, seemingly out of nowhere. “I promised Lucas I’d swing by tonight and bring him some records.”

“Is that wise?” Ramona drawls.

“Probably not.” Sebastian shrugs. “But he said they’re getting tired of the old selection and it was making their patrons antsy.”

“Antsy,” Ramona scoffs. “I’d reckon that if I were human, I too would get antsy if the hotel I was staying at started to play Chopin at four in the morning. From my toilet.”

“It’s all good fun,” Sebastian dismissed her with a careless wave of his hand. “Besides, they’ve now moved onto the newest classics. I’ve heard that Lady Gaga from a toothbrush is equally haunting.”

Despite herself, Ramona laughs in between snorts. Sebastian makes that satisfied face he always makes when he gets to prove that ‘Ramona has feelings just like the rest of us.’

“I bet,” she says once she manages to calm down her breathing.

Even after all the laughing is done she can feel and hear the air echoing inside her empty chest. It’s strange to breathe in and out through a body that doesn’t really need it. A body that lacks the fundamental pieces necessary to turn oxygen into energy and carbon dioxide.

“You sure are looking grim today.” Ramona starts and jumps to her feet to face the owner of the voice. A girl that looks like she’s sixteen and thirty between blinks of the eye is hovering over the roof of the building. Her muted ginger hair falls heavily to the middle of her back. The dullness of it contrasts almost comically against the bright cheeriness of her sundress.

“Unholiness, Paige!” Ramona curses. “What are you doing here?” She yells at the same time that Sebastian says “Ha ha, look who’s so funny.” without turning around.

“Oh, just thought I’d drop by to see how you guys were doing.” She smiles serenely, flicking her hair over her shoulder as she allows the heel of her sandals to touch the ground.

“I heard the rumours but I didn’t think they would be true.”

“Rumours?” Sebastian questions with a snarl, his distaste for Paige evident I’m the way his flingers crumple his still smoking cigarette into a ball.

“That you had finally settled!” Paige announces cheerily.

“Settled?” Ramona frowns, at the same time Sebastian deadpans, “we’ve lived here for years.”

Paige smiles, and her face turns into a darker version of itself. Then in the blink of an eye she’s back to the serene expression. “Not the rumour I’ve heard,” she singsongs.

“Then what,” Ramona hisses through clenched teeth.

“I heard that you two had finally made yourself at home in the twenty first century. Marisol said she’d seen you walking around in clothes that fit for once.” She mocks Sebastian, whose ears turn bright red in two parts anger, one part embarrassment. “And that you,” she carries on, spinning in a quarter of a circle until she’s face to face with Ramona. “Were socializing with the locals.”

Sebastian looks about ready to jump off the building just so he doesn’t have to hear Paige talk any longer, so Ramona takes pity on him.

“So what? Aren’t you guys the ones that said half a century was long enough for someone to settle somewhere.”

“Well, my, oh, my.” Paige fans herself, pretending to be fighting tears. “I just never thought I’d see the day.”

Sebastian fumes silently from the edge of the building, silently debating the benefits of jumping off and away, and having to deal with Ramona later.

“Whatever do you mean?” He forces out of a clenched jaw.

“Puh-lease,” she drawls. “Nobody settles down in nowhere ville.”

“More like Nowhere City.” Sebastian corrects her with a drawl.

“Or Nowhere Metropolis,” Ramona joins in almost jovially. “We have enough numbers now.”

“At one point does it stop being Nowhere and just becomes Somewhere?” Sebastian asks with exaggerated interest. “I mean, it needs to be at least Somewhere by now, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Ramona nods rapidly. “We have skyscrapers now, not many but enough.”

“Right, if we had, say… Five more, maybe we could move on from Somewhere and become A Place.”

“You two are such idiots.” Paige rolls her eyes.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Sebastian smirks. “We forgot you were there for a moment.”

“Yeah, we were too busy settling to pay attention.”

Paige makes an annoyed noise in the back of her throat and disappears. It’s neither gradual nor sudden. She doesn’t fly away or open a portal into another place, or even wink out of existence with a flair, as some people seem to think. She is simply there one second and then not the next one, like she had never been there to begin with. It’s as if anyone would be crazy to think she had ever occupied any space at all.

“Well that was annoying,” Ramona grumbles.

“You’d think they’d stop caring after so many years.”

Ramona shrugs. “I honestly don’t give a crap that you’re wearing jeans and a brown leather jacket as opposed to your fluffy black coat and navy blue cordoroy pants fashion.”

Sebastian looks like he wants to roll his eyes at her jibe, but he only pats the concrete beside him, inviting her to sit back down.

“So,” he says, once Ramona has sat down and her idle fingers are picking away at the bits of dried clear polish on Sebastian’s jeans. “Smith.”

“Smith,” she echoes. “I’ll do him, I don’t care.”

I don’t mind, is what she means. But she would never say that out loud. That’s just not who she was.

“‘Course you don’t,” Sebastian replies, a thank you in twisted letters and words.

They stay like that for a while longer. Lofty has long since moved away from the bay window and has started to clean her room slowly. Over the back of her couch, Sebastian catches a glimpse of a faded black coat and smiles. Ramona reaches over to tap his closed fist with one long red nail twice.

“Cheers,” She says.

“Cheers,” Sebastian replies, and then just like that, they both jump off the edge of the building.

At first there’s a pull and then nothing, like grvoty wasn’t even an aftrrhtough for them. It isn’t.

Ramona opens her eyes, her body is still falling but she doesn’t care. She wants to seethe sun reflected off a hundred windows as it sets and Sebastian takes flight away and above her.

One breath she’s falling and the next her pump clad feet make gentle contact with the ground. There’s a child standing directly in front of her, staring wide eyed as his ball rolls away from his limp hands.

“Are you an angel?” He asks, warily.

“Yes,” she says, as her fingers reach out to ruffle his hair. “That I am, kid.”

She doesn’t say which kind, but then again she doesn’t need to.

Good angels don’t have bones for wings, and they certainly don’t take children off and away to end their lives.

No, that’s what Grims are for.

-L.

Posted in Paranormal Tuesdays, Short Stories of a Sort

PT: Milo and Eleonore

“I think they’re lost,” Milo says for what might actually be the tenth time.

“And I’m telling you they are not.” Leonora rolls her eyes.

They have both been standing at the edge of one of the annoyingly long aisles on the supermarket looking at the two kids walking aimlessly through the alcohol section.

“Why else would they walk like that?” Milo hisses, pointing to their quick feet and nervous glances.

“Oh, gee I don’t know,” Leonora whispers. “Maybe because they’re sixteen and about to steal a six pack of beer?!”

Milo stares at her insulted, like the notion of two sixteen year olds stealing booze out of a shitty supermarket at one in the morning is utterly unbelievable.

Eleonore knows that if someone were to see them, her with her colorful clothes and multiple pins on a faded DeareeMart vest, and Milo with his scuffed sneakers and bright green jeans, leaning over the side of a cereal aisle to look at kids they’d be a bit freaked out.

“Maybe they are lost,” Milo says, this time with less conviction.

Eleonore looks at him, raises an eyebrow and then looks back at the teens after hearing Milo squawk. Sure enough, the smaller one seems to have grabbed a six-pack, one of the cheapest and geared toward the truly desperate and or thoroughly sloshed beers. It’s a pack so bad, Eleonore and Milo grimace in pity before finally stepping into the next aisle to call out, “Oi!”

It would be funny to see the two kids jump and turn in every direction in sudden fright of it wasn’t for the fact that the smallest one started so bad he dropped everything to the ground -a couple of sweets and bottles of soda were also part of their loot- and made a mess of the floor.

Milo’s wince was followed by an exhausted “What do you two think you’re doing?!”

Both the thieving pair and the strange spies turn their guilty faces to the suddenly tired and irate supermarket worker. His name tag reads ‘Steve’, his face reads ‘done with everything right this second’.

“Well you see–” Milo starts, as it’s his habit.

His anxious and pained voice makes ‘Steve’ close his eyes with a resigned sigh and the kids startle once more. They turn in every direction before settling their gaze on Steve’s entirely too gentle facade.

“I-uh-eh there was,” the taller one stammers out while the other, frantic, tries to find the source of Milo’s still anxious reply.

“Why don’t we just make it easier for everyone and we pretend you weren’t stealing while you pretend you are not hearing voices right now?” Eleonore cackles, purposefully pushing a stray piece of glass towards the terrified kids.

Steve groans and mutters something about his pay grade. “Look,” he says. “Just go away. And don’t tell anyone about this.”

“The beer,” the small one says in what clearly is an attempt at negotiation.

“This beer?” Eleonore offers one of the unharmed cans to them. They both startle, trying and failing to avoid her. “You want this don’t you? Your silence for cheap beer, is that your deal?”

“Jesus, mother, and lords! Could you please stop being so- so- you?!” Milo bursts out jovially before Steve even has the chance of opening his mouth.

“Please,” Steve says instead of his usual tirade.

He looks so tired and defeated this early into his night shift that it takes less than normal for Milo and Eleonore to comply with his wish.

“Okay fine,” Eleonore sighs.

She motions with her hand for Milo to move toward the kids. He still spared a moment to look for her permission before reaching out and grasping suddenly tense and shaking arms in his cool hands.

“You were caught stealing.” Milo’s words precede the eyes of the kids turning hazy and lost. Steve looks up to the ceiling, uncomfortable but still grateful for the intervention. “You got scared and ran away. You will not steal alcoholic beverages ever again.”

They leave on a daze, swaying from side to side with every step until they reach the poorly parked car right where the security cameras have trouble identifying numbers and features. Once there they suddenly spring back to life and rush to leave the parking lot.

“Thank you,” Steve says, calmer.

“No problem.” Milo turns to smile brightly, if a bit drained to him.

“Least we could do is deal with the pest.”

Steve frowns at her. “The least you could do is try to behave and let the appropriate personnel deal with these situations.”

“You mean Sully?” Eleonore scoffs. “That old fool would check the security footage and say there’s nothing he can possibly do to stop them.”

“Way I see it,” Milo added gently. “We were doing you a service.”

“You two do realize I’m the only person who can actually see you, right? If anyone sees the footage they’ll see me fed up talking to a pair of kids who then left in a daze. How do I explain that? Again.”

“Same way you did all the other times?” Milo asks hopefully.

The glare Steve sends him would’ve made Milo tear up four months ago. Now he’s actually built a resistance to it.

“It is actually common knowledge that this place is haunted, though. Trisha will believe you.”

“I’m tired of everyone looking at me like I’m a freak or asking if I’m a psychic.”

“I’ve offered to help,” Milo reminds him.

“Yeah, me too!” Eleonora pipes up, cheerfully ignoring their winces.

“I don’t need you to compulse someone into doing something for me,” He tells Milo. “And I certainly don’t need you to threaten someone either, Leo.”

Eleonora pouts while Milo shrugs. The conversation is held regularly enough that they do not feel the need to drag it out into a full on argument, yet.

“At least let me tamper with the footage.” Eleonora smiles hopefully. “I finally figured out how to make the recording howl or cry with the static,” She singsongs. “It was easier than I thought.”

Steve grimaces but nods.

Eleonore drags a reluctant Milo away and into the security room where currently only a jacket and three pieces of gum had a residence.

The DeareeMart was really not much of anything. It was a local “Supermarket” brand that remained in town simply because of nostalgia. The owner of the place hardly ever visited if not for monthly check ups that mostly ended up with large checks being written to take care of the many ailments of the building. According to Trisha most of them could be easily taken care of for good if only Mrs. Reynolds finally agreed to modernize the place instead of allowing it to bask in it’s decadent 70’s glory.

But no one wanted that. If the people in Sumpton really wanted a modern supermarket where the freezers didn’t suddenly stop working and bored ghosts made the lights flicker every couple of hours, then they simply could go to the bigger brands on the town.

The DeareeMart was a reminder of times past, and a quirk of the town. No one cared if they sold an obscure band of ice cream pops no one even remembered the name of half the time, or that it was the only place still run by one person at all hours. And certainly no one cared about the moving shopping carts and the vanishing words written in the frost of the freezer doors.

Mostly because Steve and the others were always right there to take care of it before anyone could notice.

And Eleonore and Milo were more of a nuisance than a menace. As long as they weren’t actively hurting someone -other than Steve’s will to sit through his entire shift- they’d be allowed to stay there.

Apparently the duo needed the place to keep some of its original characteristics in order to remain attached to it. They could change a bit according to time and place and people’s gifts or offering, but it often took an amount of energy they could barely spare.

Steve remembers the first time he saw them. He might’ve confused them for very lost clients of he had not seen Eleonore hovering over the ground and Milo’s legs fade into nothing before they reached the tiled floor.

Back then Eleonore was still wearing a slightly faded chiffon dress that reached a bit over her brown shins with a dark maroon sweater thrown on top of it. Her hair was done up in a complicated set of messy curls pinned into place with metallic flowers. She was shoeless because of some strange altercation she was still too embarrassed and proud to talk about. Milo on the other hand had been wearing jogging pants and a loose black hoodie that covered the splash of ginger curls over his head. What he remembers most about them from that first day, though are their faces.

Milo looked entirely out of place with his sank in cheeks and dark freckles underneath passive brown eyes, and Eleonore looked like the world had stopped spinning simply because she demanded it did. Her dark brown eyes looked like the bottom of an ocean full of secrets and her thick lips were twisted in a pensive frown as she perused the aisles.

“What do you think,” she had said. “‘Mad woman cackling at one in the morning’ or ‘mysterious sound whenever you turn around’ for the new guy?”

Milo then had stared directly at Steve and declared with utmost confidence, “I think he might enjoy ‘mysterious music coming from nowhere’ maybe every two hours?”

Eleonore had nodded her agreement with a serious face. “Agreed.”

It took Steve about a month and a half to finally had enough of them to admit that he could see them and that he’d known every single one of their plans.

Unlike his expectations, the two ghosts were delighted to have someone to bounce ideas off of. “Dinah tries and all, but you know there’s only so many things you can communicate through knocks and flickering lights,” Milo joked.

Ever since then they have tried to make his life more interesting by raising hell on his shifts.

“Hey boss.” Milo bumps into him, gently. “Leo kicked me out. Says I’m distracting.” He added at Steve’s inquisitive stare.

“Mhh,” Steve hummed. “That means I’m stuck with you?”

Milo nods solemnly, but it’s not too long before he breaks into one of his beaming smiles. His hair looks longer than it did last summer when he went through an Ed Sheeran phase, but Steve knows that it is simply his brain trying to make sense of his friend’s lack of aging.

This is not the first time he’s seen things where there is nothing, like a new mole in Leo’s neck or a wrinkle where there’s only smooth and slightly see through skin.

“I heard you broke up with Ella.” Milo’s uncomfortable voice brings him out of his musings. “Sorry about that.”

Steve shrugs. “It’s nothing we didn’t see coming.”

Milo stares at him for a second and then squints at him. “Alright, okay. I’ll play your game for now, but we’ll talk about this later.”

Past experience tells the poor worker that the ghost is not indeed joking.

“Sure thing,” He agrees, almost too easily. “But not this week.”

Milo scoffs, “Who do you take me for? Lucas? No, no no.” He carries on before Steve can ask for clarification. “You need time to mourn and heal and all that jazz. We’ll talk two weeks from now. Once Leo and I come back from our trip.’

Steve frowns at the reminder but keeps his mouth shut.

“We’ll be back by Saturday, which I know will be your shift again.” At Steve’s inquisitive stare he adds, “Beka is going out with her mom that night. She’s going to ask you during the week to cover for her. She’s afraid you’ll say no or get upset. But we both know you won’t.”

It used to bother him before, to be known so intimately by someone who had been dead longer than Steve himself had been alive. Now he just sees it as another part of his life.

“You leaving on Friday morning?” Steve asks, not because he doesn’t remember but because it feels like the logical thing to say.

“Yup, right before your shift. And then we come back Saturday night as you take your place on the register.”

Steve nods.

“It’s-uhm… It’s too soon for a new meeting, isn’t it?”

“Not at all.” Milo smiles. “We decided to change them into a weekly affair. It sees like Kento is about ready to move on and we want to have some time before we have to part. Also we need to settle some things between us.”

He doesn’t say that the meeting is about their place in this little world and how things are starting to change in a scary and dramatic way. He doesn’t tell Steve about Eleonora’s fears and the way it is taking them too much energy just to be present enough for most conversations.

Instead he says, “Besides, I think those paranormal investigators will be coming to visit soon and we want to give them the welcome they deserve.”

The evil grin on his face doesn’t look like it belongs on a 19 year old kid, but Steve knows better than that.

“Those the one that hurt Ro?”

“Exactly the ones,” Eleonora replies from inside the security room. “We’re all conspiring to give them the welcoming of their lifetime.”

Milo nods. “No one messes with one of ours without the rest taking any sort of action. What kind of dead family would we benif we allows thag to happen?”

“A bad one,” Steve recites easily, already used to the conversation.

“Exactly.” Milo and Elonore beam at him.

Steve huffs in amusement and allows them to drag him into a long conversation about security risks, key words, and why the word chivalrous sucks.

They spend most of the night leaning against the counter outlining everything, occasionally a client will walk in in need of various products but no one attempts to steal anything again.

The next morning, when Sully calls Steve to his office it is to show him how the security take freezes exactly at two fifteen in the morning only to be followed by a two hour blank and a childish giggle.

“Them machines. They’re broken all of them,” The fifty year old man announces with a frown.

Steve agrees to talk to Mrs. Reynolds about it and then goes home to catch up on some very well deserved sleep.

-L.