Waking Up Dead

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Chapter 3

“So what happens now?” Cadence asked as she settled back into the chair in Osmond’s office.

“Now you get a little time to think about your decision,” Snow said as he sank down into his chair.

“What decision?”

“Your decision about whether you want to stay on as a kind of ghostly police officer or not.” Snow leaned back in his chair and crossed one leg over the other.

“That’s not a decision,” Cadence said scoffingly. “It’s a foregone conclusion. I’m a cop, it’s what I do. Alive or dead apparently.”

“You’re sure?” he asked, regarding her coolly. “It’s not like you haven’t earned your rest. For someone only thirty you’ve dealt with quite a lot.”

Cadence shrugged, trying to appear unemotional. She still hurt from the encounter with Andrew but she preferred to ignore it for now. Ignoring her emotions was something she did very well as she had gotten a lot of practice over the years. She would do well to take her own advice that she had given to Andy and move on. For her the best way to do that was to stay busy. “Everyone has a lot that they go through,” she said as she dismissed Snow’s concern. “One way or another we all have baggage. But this is what I want to do. I became a cop because I wanted to help. If there is a way I can still help, despite being dead, well that’s the way I’ll choose to go.”

“Well, I’d be the last person to want to stand in your way, that’s for sure,” Snow said and smiled. “You were a hell of a detective from what I’ve seen,” he said and tapped her file. “I’m sure you’ll make a hell of an officer here too.”

“Thanks. So, how does this work? Do I have to go meet with someone? Attend some kind of police academy for ghosts? Do I need to check the ghost paper for ethereal apartment listings?” She added the last as a way to try to make a joke to lighten up her mood.

Snow laughed and shook his head. He was feeling a bit better about this now. She had a certain amount of spunk, a determination to get through things. He admired that. “You’ll be set up with something of an apartment. There’s no Academy, per say, but you will be partnered with a mentor who shows you the ropes of the job on this side of the grave, and also helps you adjust to existing here.”

“Lucky you, you finally get to shove me off onto someone else,” she said and chuckled. Then, she paused seeing him shift uncomfortably in his seat. “Wait, you mean… You’re my new partner?”

“I am,” he said. “Is that alright?” Not that it would really make much of a difference if it wasn’t alright with her but he tried to be polite.

“I… I guess. I mean, nothing personal, it’s just… the idea of a new partner…” she shifted a little in her chair as she rolled the idea of him as her new partner around in her mind.

“I know,” he said with a nod. “Especially after Mr. Halleran, I can see how the idea of someone new wouldn’t sit too well. Nor, knowing how private a person you were, does the idea of partnering with someone who has seen you at your most vulnerable. Grieving and lost. You should know I’ve been there too. That’s why they partner us together from the moment you cross over. That way you have one person who has been through it, so they can understand what the other is going through. My mentor was my partner from the time I died in the late sixties until just a few weeks ago. So don’t worry about my having seen you in an emotional moment. I’m not going to use it against you or think any less of you for it. Besides, we’re ghosts. Transparency goes with the territory,” he smiled, trying to add a bit of lightness to the situation with his own attempt at a joke.

He was rewarded by a returned smile, and she nodded. “Yeah, I guess that makes sense. But just so you know, I’m staying away from fire escapes from now on.”

“Agreed,” he said and chuckled.

“So, you spent almost fifty years with your mentor? Does it take that long to learn the ropes here? Did your mentor move on to mentoring someone else or… can we die again or something? Move on to heaven or hell or whatever is waiting?”

He decided to leave the more existential question alone for now. Answering it would likely just bring more questions, and that line of thought wasn’t as important right this moment. “My mentor was Alistair Croft. He decided that he was no longer going to take on any more trainees. I was his last, and I suppose no one saw any need to move us on to other partners until he was promoted a few weeks ago. He’s spent a very long time mentoring and training officers during his time.”

“So he’s been doing this for a while?” she asked.

Snow nodded. “Yes, he was an officer back in the White Chapel days.”

“The what?” Cadence asked.

“Sorry, Jack the Ripper.”

“Oh. Did he die during that investigation?”

“Oh no, he died some years after. That was his heyday though to hear him tell it. But yes, he has been training officers for some time.”

“Did you get a little down time between being let go and getting me, or did you work the entire time on your own?”

“Well, there was some down time, as you say. Regions had to be assigned and shared out. I had a partner for a little while, but it was a temporary situation for us both. We were both waiting for new recruits.”

“Regions?”

“Yes, as you would say, the area where we have jurisdiction. We have a particular region that falls under us to protect and police. But we can discuss more of that tomorrow. For now, we should get you settled into your lodgings. It’s not quite an apartment like you’re used to. You’ll not have a bathroom or a kitchen as you have no real need of them. But you will have a living room and a bed room.”

Cadence nodded and rose as he did. She was ready to follow her new partner as he showed her to her new home, but the door had opened before they reached it and a woman who looked to be in her sixties walked in.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, backing up a step so as not to be right in Snow’s face. “You asked me to get you if there was a call.”

“Oh wonderful, thank you, we’ll be right there,” Snow said.

“A call?” Cade asked as the woman left the office.

“Yes, this will be a good chance to give you some training. That is if you are up to it of course.”

“Sure, what the hell,” she said as her shoulders lifted in a shrug and the corners of her mouth upturned a bit into a smile.

“Wonderful.” He led her out into the wide open space full of desks, computers, and people. They crossed the room and stopped by the desk of the woman who had gotten them.

“It’s a sleepover,” the woman explained, pointing to the monitor where a handful of young teen aged girls could be seen huddled around an Ouija board. “Six girls, twelve to fourteen years old.”

Cadence watched, confused about what kids at a sleepover had to do with anything. They finished setting up their game, and then they each put a hand on the planchette. As they did, the phone on the desk began to ring. Snow motioned for Cadence to watch as he picked up the phone, but stayed silent, his eyes on the monitor. The planchette made slow circles on the board, and the woman sitting at the desk turned the volume up on her computer.

“Is there anyone here who would like to communicate?” one of the girls asked.

“Yes,” Snow said, and on the monitor, Cade watched as the planchette slid to that word on the board. The girls all seemed spooked by this.

“Are you serious?” Cade asked. “This is what we do?” Snow shook his head in reply and put a finger to his lips, indicating she should be quiet for now.

“You’re moving it Brittany.” One of the girls accused another as the planchette went back to idly circling around the board.

“No, I’m not!” the one named Brittany, said loudly in protest.

“Stop it,” another girl said and then asked another question. “Did you die in this house?”

“No,” Snow said and the planchette obediently slid to that word on the board.

“What is your name?” the same girl asked as the giggles of the other girls started to abate.

“B – O – B,” Snow spoke into the phone, and sure enough, the letters spelled out on the board.

“Let me, let me,” one of the girls said. “Bob, do you know everything?”

At that, Snow handed the receiver over to the woman. “Thank you, Betty. I just wanted to show Cadence here a little of what you do.” Betty smiled and took the receiver and began spelling out another answer for the teens as Snow led Cadence away from her desk.

“So that’s what you do? Party tricks?”

“No, that’s not what you and I do,” he answered. “But things that are used to make contact with spirits, like those boards, do call in to that area and they are the ones who answer.”

Cadence laughed. “So you’re telling me this area is an Ouija board call center?”

Snow paused a moment, thinking it over, then nodded. “In a way, yes. They also monitor haunted locations for signs of trouble. They have a lot of responsibilities, but I thought you might find that bit interesting.”

“So if a kid pulls out a board, they’re talking to someone here?”

“Most of the time.” Snow nodded. “There are times when something or someone else takes the call before us.”

“Like demons?”

“We prefer to call them Non-Human Spirits. Now, shall I show you to your new home?”

“Lead the way.” She smiled with a gesture for him to lead the way.

*****

They stood outside of a door in a fairly unremarkable hallway. The door, however, was unique in that it did not have a doorknob. Snow gestured to the door. “Your touch is the key to open it.”

Cadence reached forward, hesitating only for a moment before laying her hand on the cool, smooth wood of the door. The door swung open and Cadence stepped inside, followed by her new partner. She let out a low whistle as she looked around. “This is mine?”

The main room was very nicely appointed with rich blues and creams and soft fabrics and rich woods. The couch was pale blue suede with darker blue and cream colored pillows in silk and velvet neatly placed on it. The carpet appeared to be made of a very thick, very soft pile. The coffee table was a dark wood that seemed to have been polished to a high shine. One item in the living room stood out tremendously to Cadence. “We get TV?”

“Not like what you are thinking, no. This is a way you can check in on those you love and watch over them. Now there is the usual two-week ban for the newly arrived, so the screen is useless to you now. When they send me word of your activation I’ll be happy to show you how to use it.”

“Two weeks? Who decided that?”

“It’s generally the time it takes for us to begin to let go and move on. Some go through it faster, others slower, but generally two weeks is the time frame we use before we let spirits look back in on what they’ve left behind.”

“Do you ever have any who never let go?”

“Those like that, who never want to let go, are haunting spirits. But that pertains more to work than to home, so we’ll discuss that tomorrow.”

“Does your place look like this?” she asked and ran her hand over the soft fabric of the couch.

“No, it’s different. Our homes tend to cater to our personalities.”

Cadence looked around at the soft plush fabrics and colors with an arched eyebrow. “I’m a cop, I hardly think soft and frilly fits me.”

“Cadence, you’re dead,” he said plainly. “No more facades are necessary. There is no need to keep up the tough appearance. There’s no harm or shame in enjoying the feel of velvet or soft cushions. No need to be ashamed of having a softer side.”

Cadence looked back at him and narrowed her eyes a moment. “Why is it I get the feeling you know a whole lot more about me than you have said?”

Snow merely smiled and lifted his shoulders in a shrug without saying a word.

“How much do you know?” she asked.

“How much do you wish me to know?”

“Wow that is so very much not an answer.”

“Forgive me. I know a great deal about you. I did have to read your file after all, and it did not simply keep to details about your work performance. This is the afterlife. It had details of everything, so I can best help you adjust.” Cadence frowned and shifted her weight from foot to foot. “You would prefer me to have lied?” Osmond asked.

“No, it’s just… I don’t know. I have never really opened up to anyone. I know so little about you and yet you seem to know a whole hell of a lot about me. I just really feel flat footed. At a little bit of a disadvantage,” she explained. She didn’t like people knowing things about her that she hadn’t told them. It made her feel exposed, naked.

“I’m not trying to make you feel like that. I just have to know about you. It helps me, to assist you through this transition.”

Cadence nodded. “I get it. I do. It’s just weird for me. I’m the kind of person that deliberately doesn’t open up to others. Which I’m sure you know, since you seem to know so much about me. It’s just not something I’m used to. And it’s been a hell of a day.”

“Yes well, it’s not every day that you die, get a new job, and a new home. In that order.” He added the last with an understanding smile. He pointed to a darkened archway. “Your bedroom is through there. And yes, you will need to sleep to recharge your energy. Clothing is something of a mental-image matter, as I explained to you earlier. I’m not sure how it will work for you, but I personally have drawers of clothes and change on a daily basis.”

“Really?”

“Yes. They try to keep things somewhat normal, especially for those making the transition. And I’d hazard a guess you’re not really absorbing information anymore.” She looked tired and her eyes seemed to be glazed over. He reached out and took her arm. “Come on.” He led her through the darkened archway, the room beyond lit up as they entered.

There was a chest of drawers against one wall and a wardrobe, both of the same rich dark wood that the coffee table was made from. The bed was easily a king size and had a maroon velvet comforter on it. Snow pulled down the covers and Cadence eased down into the bed.

“My apartment is just across the hall. I’ll pick you up in the morning, but if you need me in the meantime, I’ll be there, okay?”

Cadence nodded, feeling the wash of fatigue all through her. It had indeed been a hell of a day, and she was feeling every second of it. Her head hurt, her muscles felt like lead, and all she wanted was to just curl up and sleep. She laid back, enjoying the feeling of the soft mattress, fluffy pillows, the cool sheets, and a warm blanket.

“I would say sweet dreams, but I think you would be happier if you didn’t dream at all.” He let her lie down and then tucked her in before he turned to leave.

“Osmond?”

“Yes Cadence?”

“Can I call you Ozzie?”

“Absolutely not.”

They smiled at each other, then Snow turned and left, and Cadence drifted off to sleep.

*****

After the door had closed on the creepy waiting room, Cadence looked over to Snow. “What the hell is that room anyway? And why do they all look like they’re on high doses of Thorazine or something?” She had noticed that the people out there were different than the ones from yesterday, but they all had that same vacant look in their eyes.

“That is the place that the newly dead wait for their… I guess you would call them guidance counselors. They go through a kind of processing, just as you did, to determine if they will be haunting spirits, monitoring spirits, or moving on to their own versions of heaven or hell.” He led her through the large room with people in front of their computer screens and opened the door to their office. A plaque on one side of the door now read “Snow and Riley.”

“Monitoring spirits? Is that what we are?”

“To a degree, yes, but there are other types.”

“Like what?”

“Let’s get you past the things you have to know first before we start venturing into the world of things that are nice to know, shall we?”

Cadence arched an eyebrow and shook her head, chuckling. “Sometimes I almost forget you’re English. Then you go and say something that just smacks me right upside the head with your Englishness.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment, actually,” he said as he sat down and gestured for her to do the same.

“Okay, Ozzie, so what is it I have to know?”

He held a disapproving brow aloft at the nickname she seemed so determined to foist upon him. He shook his head and sighed. “A lot, actually.”

“Should I take notes?” she asked in a teasing tone.

“Only if you think they’ll be helpful,” he said, annoyance creeping into his tone. He was glad she seemed to have gotten her emotions in check, and that she was bouncing back as quick as she seemed to be, but the banter at times just grated on his nerves. He wanted to get her up and running and ready for the job, but every jibe she made was just wasted time.

“Wow, someone put on their cranky pants today. Okay, okay,” she said with a sigh of resignation as she threw up her hands in surrender. “Teach away.”

He paused for just a moment, giving her a reproachful look then pulled a folded map out of his desk drawer and some push pins. “Help me hang this on the wall between both desks.” He unfolded it and put it against the wall, sliding it over to her a little. “Yes, that’s it. Now make sure it’s straight.”

They pinned it up and then they both stepped back. “Right, now what you see there, colored in light blue, is our area. We monitor all haunting spirits there.” He watched her closely as she took in the area, and he saw what he was looking for. Those jade colored eyes of hers lingered on a specific area on the map.

“Is this?” she asked as she pointed to a specific spot.

“Yes, it is the college both you and your brother attended, and no,” he said and headed off the question before it was voiced, “you are not allowed to go there.”

“But it’s in our jurisdiction,” she said.

“True, but you are still adjusting to your life… or death; however, you wish to phrase it, here. Going there… I wouldn’t recommend it unless we have to, not yet.”

Cadence frowned but nodded. She understood. Just because a fresh wound is starting to heal doesn’t mean you should pick off old scabs to see if they still bleed. “Is there a reason we got the area around my old neighborhood where I grew up? And doesn’t our area seem kind of small?”

“We’re just starting out. This is my first time as the senior partner, and you’re one day dead. Once we get traction, get our footing and have proven we can adequately handle this then we’ll likely be granted a larger area.”

“So we’re basically starting off in the kiddie pool then?”

“Something like that, yes.”

“And we monitor haunting spirits, which means what exactly?” she asked and sat back down at what was apparently now her desk.

Osmond sat back down as well and sighed, searching for the best way to put it. “Well, we make sure that they aren’t giving away too much for one thing.”

“Too much what?” she asked, confused as to what he meant.

“Too much evidence of their existence. Apparently interest in the paranormal has skyrocketed and science is trying to catch up with the interest by making all sorts of gadgets that can detect and record evidence of our existence.”

“Oh you mean like the stuff they use on those ghost hunters shows on TV?”

“I’ve heard of those, have you seen any of them?” he asked, his interest piqued.

“I’ve caught a few. It wasn’t really something I spent a lot of time on, but around Halloween, I would catch a few episodes of one of those shows. Believe me, there are tons of them out there now.”

“What equipment do you recall them using?”

“Well, night vision cameras, of course.” She began ticking things off on her fingers. “They also use audio recorders for electronic voice phenomenon, or EVP as they call it, thermal cameras, things that measure temperature or electromagnetic fields or EMF readings. There were also some weird things, too.” She paused in remembering and chuckled. “One of them had some stuffed teddy bear they would bring out for child spirits to play with and it would supposedly light up if a ghost touched it. Oh and some really annoying radio thing that flips stations all the time, really fast, and they think ghosts talk through it.”

“You say that as if you don’t believe it.”

“I’m a cop. Skepticism is like air to me,” she said.

“So says the woman no longer breathing.”

“Rub it in, Ozzie, rub it in.”

He smiled a little, glad she seemed to be taking it all in stride so far. “So, with all this new equipment those gents use, we have to make sure that the haunting spirits are more careful with their communications.”

“What I don’t get is why you let them communicate at all if you don’t want them communicating.”

“Oh, we want them to communicate, Detective Riley.”

“We’re partners, Ozzie, you can call me Cadence. Or Cade for short if you want.”

He nodded. “We do want them communicating. We want the interest, the hope of life after death out there. What we’re concerned with is how much they give out and how they interact with the living. We can’t have someone giving out all the information on how the afterlife works. It needs to be a mystery. It needs to remain unknown. So we can have a haunting spirit answer a few questions to affirm their existence, or at least, cast a shadow of a doubt for those that don’t believe. However, something like appearing to them in full color as a solid human is strictly forbidden.”

“What about the supposed demonic spirits that attack people or possess people?”

“Well, for one, we frown on calling them demonic. Evil, chaotic, non-human in most cases, those terms are fine, but demonic indicates theology, and we tend to shy away from that here since there are so many religions and differing views out there.”

“Hey, good question, which one is right?”

“Which one is right, what?”

“Which religion is right? Every single one of them says that they are the right one and all the others are wrong. Even the off shoots within Christianity, the Catholics saying the Baptists are going to hell, the Methodists calling the Mormons out as wrong. Then you have Islam, Buddhism, Jewish, Pagan. Who is right?”

“There really is no right or wrong.”

That took her a moment, as she wasn’t expecting it. “Of course, there is right and wrong.”

“Let me rephrase. No religion has it all right or all wrong. And most of them have the same basic foundation, not that any of them would admit it. It’s just in the particulars where they begin to disagree. So while we may encounter non-human spirits, spirits that have never had a human incarnation, or evil spirits, or chaotic spirits, we don’t classify them as demons, since that has religious overtones.”

“Separation of church and state so to speak, gotcha.”

Osmond nodded, somewhat amused at her ability to jump from topic to topic like this. It was like this with all of the newly dead, but it never ceased to amaze him. “Tell me, Cadence, are there any other large looming questions you have?”

“Probably a ton and I’m sure we’ll get to them. It’s weird. It’s like my mind is fluid. I can’t seem to just ignore the off topic stuff and focus on what I need to. It’s all just there, flowing along like a river.”

“Ah yes, stream of consciousness thinking. You’ll get better at controlling it. Being newly dead can be a bit like being a child. You have to learn to control your mind once more, now that it has been freed from the flesh. You have less input for it to deal with, so in return it has opened the flood gates.”

“Well, here’s hoping my brain-to-mouth filter is still somewhat functional. Not that it was ever all that great when I was alive.”

Osmond let out a chuckle and nodded. “I suppose we’ll have to see. Shall I continue?”

“Sure thing.”

“Haunting spirits stay in an area designated by their attachments. Some can move to two or three different areas if they have that many attachments that feel like home to them. This can be especially true with celebrities and politicians, people who moved around a lot in the course of their lives. Some stay where they died, others may have attachments to a certain place or person or even a thing, and that is where they haunt.

“There are three general types of haunting spirits,” he said and continued, “the first type is a haunting that really no longer has an intelligent spirit behind it. It’s almost like a kind of psychic record that plays at specific times or dates.”

“A residual haunting?”

“Is that what those ghost experts call it?” Osmund asked.

“If I remember it right, yes. Where it’s not really them, they just go through the motions, never interact intelligently with anyone. Like, come in, look out the window, leave the room. No matter how much they try to talk to the spirit or get the ghost to deviate from that path, they never can.”

“Yes, exactly, it’s like trying to interact with a movie or television show. You can perhaps see, smell, or feel the spirit, but you’ll get no interaction at all. Right. Very good. The second is a normal spirit. They will interact with people they come into contact with, but often times, they see their surroundings as they were when they died. They feel that these living people are perhaps ghosts themselves, or at the very least intruders. They will interact with them, and sometimes will have moments of clarity when they recall that they are dead, but then they lapse right back into seeing things as they were when they died.”

“Okay, got it.”

He nodded, pausing just a moment, then continued. “The third kind is a little bit different, and we tend to have them anyplace that has an abundance of spirits, like hospitals, prisons, and very old buildings. They are intelligent, aware that they are dead, and they see things as they really appear. If the place where they are has degraded due to abandonment they see it that way, though they do have the ability to see it as it had been, when they lived. They actually help us in a way. They handle the day to day stuff, making sure none of the other haunters actually harm living people. If a team of ghost hunters comes in, they contact us so we can be there to exercise a little bit more control over the situation.”

“So they are basically the hall monitors and we’re the teachers that get called in when people are playing with the big guns.”

“That… would be one way of phrasing it, yes.” He conceded her point.

Cadence nodded again. “Okay, so we have residual hauntings, intelligent but not aware hauntings, and then the intelligent and aware hauntings, who are our contacts at the haunting sites. Right?”

“You catch on very quickly, yes.” He smiled and nodded his approval.

“Now how do the haunting spirits affect the living world? I mean you always see in the movies that they are slamming this door or throwing that plate. Yet at Andy’s place, we were passing through all of the solid stuff. Is it all just Hollywood bullshit or is there actually truth to it?” she asked.

“There is truth to it actually,” he replied. “We’re basically just energy, Cadence. We can use that energy to make our presence known in the living world. I’ll be teaching you how to use your energy to do just that in fact. Focus and direct your energy and you can move items, open and close doors, turn electrical items on or off, even make yourself seen and heard. That can be a handy thing if you are trying to lead a ghost hunting team off course and away from something or someone we don’t want them to be around.”

“And so we just sit here shooting the shit until we get a call that someone is investigating a building in our area?”

“Well there would be other reasons for one of the Monitors to call in.”

“Such as?”

“Well, we do ask that they check in once a month or so, just to make sure all is well.”

“They’re dead, haunting a building, what wouldn’t be well?”

“If one of the other spirits tries to stir up too much trouble, drawing attention to themselves or causing things to happen that would induce a living person to call in a ghost hunting team. And then there are the non-humans. But those are often few and far between, and given how small an area we have, I doubt we’ll have to worry about anything like that for quite some time.”

“Have you ever encountered one?”

“A non-human entity?” he asked as he wanted to clarify that she wasn’t topic jumping again.

“Yes.”

“Yes, I have, once or twice now.”

“And?”

“And what?” Osmund asked.

“What do they do? I mean, I grew up seeing all this stuff in movies and on TV, poltergeists, possessions, all kinds of gruesome things.”

“Well, while I’m sure a lot of it has been made incredibly more dangerous and dramatic by the cinema, that is, in effect, what they do. What they can do to the living, however, pales in comparison to what they can also do to the dead. They are incredibly dangerous to us since we exist on the same plane as they do. They can consume the essence of the haunter, leaving it no more than a residual haunt, or not even that, causing it to cease to exist. It can rip apart an unaware spirits image of home and use that to torment them. They thrive on torment and grief, of both the living and the dead.”

“Sounds like a few people I knew when I was alive,” Cadence quipped then clapped a hand over her mouth. After a moment she lowered it then gave him a sheepish smile. “Apparently I’m going to have to work on that filter thing.”

Snow laughed and shook his head. “It sounded perfectly alright to me. I knew a few like that in my lifetime as well.” A sudden ringing from Snow’s person gave pause to the conversation. He pulled something that looked like a cell phone from his jacket pocket, which caused Cadence to gape slightly.

“Snow,” he answered. He paused as the person on the other end of the phone spoke. “Alright, we’ll be there shortly. Goodbye.”

As he hung up, Cadence finally spoke. “You have a cell phone?” she asked, incredulous.

“We need to go,” he said, while either evading or ignoring her question as he rose from his seat.

“You died in the sixties, how do you have a cell phone? And for that matter how the hell did you know who Gallagher is when you were yelling at me yesterday? He’s not dead and he was popular in the seventies and eighties.”

“It’s not really a cell phone,” he said with a sigh as he urged her out of her seat. He led her out of their shared office, and down a hall she hadn’t noticed before. “Some of the more recent members of the force were aware of the technology and thought that a kind of visualization of it would be helpful in communications. You have to understand, this plane of existence is all about mental images and visualizations. As for your Aiden Gallagher, just because we’re dead doesn’t mean we can’t keep up on some things. Personally, I find the man very funny.”

He opened a door that had their monikers on it. That door opened onto a long hallway full of other doors. “This is our equivalent of a police car.” He offered the explanation before she had the chance to ask. “Each door opens into a haunted structure or a place near it. This is how we travel to where we need to be.”

“We can’t just teleport or something like we did last night? Just poof and be there?”

“This tends to be less…” he said as he paused and searched for the right word, “involved. It takes less energy and gives way to fewer complications. It’s important especially with the newer spirits that things be a bit simpler. You have a lot to deal with as it is.”

“What happens if we get a new haunted place?” she asked as they made their way down the long hallway of doors.

“Then a new door will appear in here. The hallway can extend itself if it needs to.”

“So where are we going?” she asked, apparently accepting his explanation at face value.

“There’s an old asylum in our area.”

“Lexington Hills?” she asked as she recalled the asylum shutting down being big news in the area when she was in her teens. She had been there once when she was in high school, a few years after it had shut down. She had gone on a dare with some other kids. They had been supposed to stay in the lobby for one hour. They had made it maybe ten minutes before they all collectively chickened out. One of her friends swore up and down that she had seen a ghost that night but Cadence had never believed her. Of course given her current situation she was now more than willing to believe what her friend had said.

“The very place.” He nodded as he moved down the hall, looking for that door. Cadence noticed that each door had a plaque beside it, denoting the name of a house, institution or cross roads. “Come along,” he urged. “I had planned a much different first day for you. Just going over things and maybe taking you somewhere to practice using your energy. It would seem however that we’ll have to post-pone that and have a more practical lesson today. It seems that a team of ghost hunters have taken an interest in Lexington Hills. And the monitor there has called on us to come and be present while the team is there.”

“So what do we do while we’re there? I mean, how do we stop them from saying too much?”

“Sometimes our presence is enough. Other times, other methods need to be employed.”

“It would be those other methods I’m asking about. I don’t imagine hand cuffs and duct tape are going to be worth anything.”

“You might be surprised.” The impish grin he graced her with as he replied pulled a smile and laugh from her as well. He stopped at a door marked “Lexington Hills” and began to flip through a ring of keys he pulled from his pocket.

“Yeah, that’s the thing, Ozzie. I’m not so big on surprises. The last one ended up with me being dead. Not something I’m keen to repeat.”

“Look, I wish we had more time to run through a few scenarios but we don’t. Just follow my lead. I’ll try to be as communicative as I can. But please try to keep any questions to yourself until we get back. Believe it or not, they can get a bit twitchy if they think someone entirely new is on the job and they don’t know what they are doing.”

“Wouldn’t want to give that impression,” she said as she rolled her eyes. He arched an eyebrow and gave her a pointed look. Then he turned the key in the lock and opened the door.

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