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April 7 – Ghostly Consultants

The pace Bookworm set, as they hurried across the city in the afternoon light, left little breath for conversation–but also left little time for reconsiderations.  Bookworm realized that this was a way to get Rasend out, something she knew Beryl had wanted for a long time–and at this point, it might be the only way.  But she still couldn’t shake the thought that it might well be a mistake.

They reached the entrance to the cemetery.  When she stepped inside, she immediately saw Evie and Mac.  “Hello, Miss Book,” Mac said.  “Tepic told us you were coming.”

“Hello Mac, Evie.  We need your help.”

“What can we do?” asked Evie.

Bookworm looked down.  “Beryl can explain better than I?”

“Hello Evie, Mac.  Is Daniel here still?”  Mac stared at Beryl, startled, as he continued, “He was rather helpful… elsewhere.”

“He should be nearby,” Mac finally replied.  “I’ll get him.”  He faded from view; after a moment, he was back, joined by another ghostly man.

Beryl nodded.  “Hello, Daniel.”

Daniel looked as startled as Mac had.  “Hello!”  He looked at Bookworm.  “How does the cat know our names?”

Bookworm shrugged, definitely at a loss to explain.

“It’s… a long story,” Beryl said, “and one I don’t have time to explain right now.  I promise, though, we have met–during the Dark Aether.”

Bookworm frowned thoughtfully at that.  She knew that Beryl, still Arnold at that point, had disappeared for a while during that time.  What *had* happened to him?

Daniel asked “What do you need from us?”

“I have a friend in the asylum, and we have only this brief window of opportunity to get him out before the new asylum doctor takes over his care from Doctor Solsen.  Doctor Vartanian’s record suggests he does not believe in any nonsense and I doubt he will ever release Rasend with his records, no matter how sane he seems now.”  Beryl turned slowly between the apparitions, seeing that Daniel’s gaze was one of disapproval, but Mac seemed a little more receptive.  “We’re hoping that a friend will possess him for a short time, and seemingly sane, get out of Canergak’s clutches.  This is my hope at least.  Truthfully, the real Rasend is in a coma… he won’t be doing anything once the ruse is over.  He’s on a quest of self discovery.”  Beryl looked finally at Bookworm, thinking after all this was done, he owed her a much better explanation.

Daniel’s face cleared a little at Beryl’s last statements–at least this ghost wouldn’t be deliberately displacing the true soul.  He and Mac looked at each other, then at Bookworm.  She nodded slightly, to let them know that she’d given her consent to this.

“So why do you need us?” Mac asked.

“This ghost doesn’t know how to complete the possession!  We hoped you could tell him how.”

Mac and Daniel studied each other again, communicating wordlessly, while Evie looked on.  Beryl kept his eyes down, but Bookworm watched intently, wondering which way they’d decide.  Finally, Daniel turned back to face them.  “All right. We’ll help this ghost.”

Mac looked down at Evie.  “You’d better stay here,” he told the young girl.

“Awww–I never get to have fun!”  She pouted a little.

“The facility is not a place you’d want to go,” Beryl told her.  “Believe me.”

Bookworm nodded.  “I’m sure Mac and Daniel will tell you all about it later.”

“We’ll meet you there,” Mac said, and he and Daniel faded from their sight.

Bookworm looked down at Beryl, who gave her an encouraging grin.  Evie smiled at them both, said “Good luck,” and disappeared.

Bookworm followed Beryl back across town to the asylum.  As they approached the entrance, she saw Mac and Daniel outside, looking less than pleased.  “What’s the matter?”

“We can’t go through the walls,” Daniel replied.  “Something in the walls blocks us.”

Bookworm felt a sinking in her stomach.  “Are you sure you want to go through with this?”

He and Mac communicated wordlessly again.  “Yes,” Mac finally said.  “It could be that other ghost is trapped inside.  If so, we want to help.  Whoever he is, he doesn’t deserve that.”

Bookworm wasn’t as sure about that, but she nodded, and watched as Beryl unlocked and opened the door.  “Can you follow me now?” she asked, stepping inside.

The two ghosts drifted in through the doorway.  The moment they were inside, they looked distinctly uncomfortable.  “C’mon, let’s get this over with,” Mac said.

Beryl nodded and led the way upstairs, opening the barred gateways along the way.  Bookworm saw Lisa standing guard at Rasend’s cell, and nodded.  “Hello, Lisa.”

“Hello, Miss Hienrichs.”  She stepped away and retreated to one side, watching as Beryl opened the cell door.  Mac and Daniel went through, nodded to each other, and disappeared into Rasend’s body.

“All we can do now is wait,” Bookworm muttered, watching the prone figure lying on the table.

Time seemed to crawl by.  Bookworm stood outside, watching through the window, occasionally fidgeting.  Lisa stood nearby, hands crossed in front of her, silent and still as a cat watching a mousehole.  Beryl watched impatiently, tail twitching behind him betraying his agitation.

After about fifteen minutes, they heard footsteps outside the cell block entrance.  Lisa looked there first, and stiffened at the sight of Canergak standing in the doorway.  She bobbed a curtsy and withdrew a little from Rasend’s cell, hoping to go mostly unnoticed.

“Has the specimen shown any signs of awakening?” he asked.

“Not yet,” Beryl replied shortly.

“Hmmm.”  Canergak stepped inside the cell, peering closely at Rasend.  Finally, he said, “It is quite a party they are having in there.”

Bookworm inhaled sharply, her eyes widening in surprise.  She looked down at Beryl, hoping he’d know what to say.  But her attention was abruptly brought back to Canergak, as he exited the cell, slamming the door shut behind him.

“I had been informed of the child, not the others,” he continued, staring at Beryl.

“The others… are trying to help, too,” Beryl said.  “We had several ideas–experiments.”

“I should have liked to have been informed of the others.  I have a vested interest in this particular affliction.”  His gaze flicked to Bookworm, then back to Beryl.  “Even if the specimen wakes up,” he said pointedly, “you do know that your efforts today were pointless.  It takes several days for such paperwork to be cleared.”

Bookworm glared down at Beryl, worried that she’d exposed her friends for nothing.  And that fear was compounded when Canergak continued, “And I have already signed over the specimen’s care to Professor Rance Vartanian.”

Lisa was unable to keep back a gasp at that.  Beryl growled, “But that was supposed to be Monday!”

“I moved early,” Canergak replied, a distant, yet smug satisfaction in his tone.

((To be continued…))

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