Bookworm started at the sound of a frantic scratching at her front door. She leaped up from her desk and hurried downstairs. The instant she opened the door, Beryl crashed through it into the entryway, skidding to a stop. “Hi!”
“Beryl? What is it?” She wasn’t sure she’d ever seen him so energetic before.
The cat seemed about to explain, but he stopped and took a short breath. “Give me a moment, I don’t want to sound mad.”
Bookworm chuckled softly. “What does, in New Babbage?”
Beryl had forgotten Bookworm was used to the strange and unusual. Relieved, he continued excitedly, “I need the help of the ghosts in the cemetery. Tepic said you can talk to them.”
Bookworm paused, her mouth open a little. She was surprised that this topic had come up, after it had seemed to have faded from folks’ memories long ago. She finally closed it, swallowed, and said, “Yes. I can. Though why you would need them…” She looked at Beryl intently.
“I have spoken to them before–but not them,” Beryl added, but that just made Bookworm look more confused. Beryl’s ears slightly lowered as he realized this was not going well. “I need to ask them how a ghost can possess someone in need.” He saw her stiffen, and decided he had better not mention the ghost was the werewolf she had shot.
Bookworm asked, a little flatly, “What need can there be to necessitate that?”
“It’s a long story, but Rasend needs it.” At Bookworm’s start, he quickly continued, “Can you name a better way to control a wolf with such tendencies, than for someone to possess them when they’re crazy?”
“And you want one of the cemetery ghosts to possess him?”
He paused a moment. “No, there’s a new ghost that has already volunteered, but they need help. I came to you, knowing this sounded weird, and was perhaps a bit overexcited.”
Bookworm narrows her eyes. “And what guarantee do we have that this ghost won’t make matters worse?”
“I believe that I trusted this ghost with my life once.” The cat added, “Tepic saw Hoyt today.”
“He did?” she asked, startled.
“Yes, he did.” Beryl hoped against hope that Bookworm would think it was Hoyt that was the ghost to possess Rasend. “Today has been a day where things have changed–good things,” he continued hurriedly. “I’m hoping to keep this going before things take a turn for the worse.”
“Hence your hurry.” Bookworm couldn’t help but smile at Beryl’s nod, but she quickly turned sober again. She stared down at him a moment, then knelt down, looking at him intently. “Beryl, several years ago, when I was living in the Mechanix Arms, I was possessed by ghosts. While I was still alive. I nearly lost myself to one of them.”
Beryl winced; he had not heard about that before now. Was that where Tepic had learned to dispel ghosts?”
“You can see why I take this request so seriously.” She studied him closely. “You are sure the situation requires this?”
“Would it help if I offered to shovel your snow for the rest of my existence?” He grinned weakly.
“No,” she said firmly. “What will help is if you tell me you will take responsibility for this, and promise you will come to me the instant there is any sign that something may be going wrong.”
“Oh!” Though he had not thought of it, these were both things he was ready to do. “Yes, of course this will be my responsibility, and yes, I will!”
Bookworm closed her eyes for a moment, then sighed and opened them again. “All right. Let’s go.” She stood up, grabbed a hat, and slapped it on. ‘I just hope I don’t regret this,’ she thought as she led Beryl out the door.
((To be continued…))