Ghosts of January

       Quintin Fortune / Fantasy / Actions & Adventure
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Ghosts of January

Quintin Fortune

Published by Quintin Fortune at Smashwords

Copyright 2017 Quintin Fortune

Smashwords Edition, License Notes
Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to buy their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

Jan Summers spent another restless night in bed. Her sweat-soaked sheets made it unbearable. Her dreams were the same as they were every night for the past twenty years. “No,” she groaned meekly. “No no no no.” She shot up, eyes wide with fear. “No,” she screamed.
She clutched her knees to her chest and started to quietly weep. “Please, leave me alone,” she softly begged.

Deadguy awoke to a loud banging on his apartment door. It was cold and dark, which was to be expected since he hasn't paid the electric bill in a few months. “Ugh,” he groaned as he felt around for a flashlight. He found something cylinder-shaped, flicked the switch, and the area barely lit up as a famous sci-fi saber replica hummed to life. “Close enough,” he mumbled.
He cracked the door open to see the hooded Lilith frantically beating on his door. “What took you so long,” she demanded,
“I was asleep,” he offered.
Our Hero glared. “Because it's Two-forty in the morning and I have a full day of sulking to do tomorrow,” he explained.
The necromancer suddenly noticed Deadguy's light source. “What's that?”
“Pop culture reference.” He pulled the door open a little more. “Better question. Why are you banging on my door at Two-forty in the morning?”
“I need your help,” she pleaded. “There's a young girl being haunted by ghosts.”
“That sounds like purely your territory,” Our Hero remarked. “I don't do well against ghosts. It's kind of hard to punch incorporeal beings.”
“True, but you are good with people,” she replied. “Far better than I.”
Deadguy blinked, then gave a huge smile. “Was that a complement,” he asked with a bit of surprised shock.
The necromancer glared from under her hood. “Grab your coat and let's go.”

Lilith dragged Deadguy through the snowy streets on New Tao and into the nearly empty diner. A few drunk patrons sat at the bar, finding themselves regretfully sobering up as they ate their drunk-ordered three course meals. In the far booth sat a young woman with short sandy blonde hair, slowly stirring her soup. The necromancer shoved Our Hero into the booth and slid in next to him.
The woman looked up at them, her tired eyes screaming for just one night's rest. “What,” she snipped.
“Hi,” Lilith greeted, trying to sound cheerful. Deadguy glanced over as if he didn't know the woman sitting next to him. “We're here to help with your ghost problem,” she continued.
“Excuse me,” the woman growled.
DG covered his eyes. “Lilith, you can't just walk up to people and say that,” he commented.
“Why,” she questioned. “It's true.”
“Look Wednesday and Pugsly, I don't know what you two are up to, but leave me alone.” The woman slid out of the booth, slammed her money on the table, and stormed off.
“We need to work on your people skills,” Deadgu remarked. Lilith bolted out of the booth and chased after the woman. “Or I can just sit here and talk to the reader. Hi, how are you? How's the new year treating you so far?”
“Deadguy,” Lilith called out. “Let's go!”

Jan walked out into the piercing cold, snow flurries whipping around her. The weird goth girl stumbled out of the door behind h. “Jan, wait,” she cried out.
Jan jumped back. “How do you know my name,” she yelled. “Are you stalking me?”
The woman put her hands up in defense. “No. It's...let's try this again. I'm Lilith.” The man she was with sauntered outside. “and this is Deadguy.”
“G'Day,” he greeted.
“What do you want with me,” she asked warily.
“You have been tormented by ghosts for a very long time,” Lilith said. Jan felt a chill run up her spine.
“No! They're not real,” she defended. “They say they're just a mental manifestation of childhood trauma...”
“No dear,” Lilith said, taking Jan's hands into her own gloved ones. “The ghosts are real.”

# # #

The three returned to the booth in the diner. Jan was staring at her hands, absentmindedly messing with her nails. Deadguy was sipping his second cup of coffee while Lilith sat patiently for her to speak.
“The nightmares, when I was seven,” Jan started. “when my dad was killed in front of me.”
Deadguy stopped in mid-sip. “That sucks. Did the police do anything?”
“Yes,” she grimaced. “They were the ones that killed him.”
Our Hero looked out the window, taking another long sip of coffee. “Really coming down out there,” he muttered.
Lilith elbowed him in the side. “Please continue,” she requested.
“It started about twenty years ago,” Jan began. “After my father was gunned down in our apartment. I was taken to an orphanage, and was moved from home to home until the system kicked me out at age Eighteen.” She shrugged. “Guess no one wanted a little girl who's dad was killed by the cops.”
Deadguy's lips squished to the side of his face, trying to think of what to say next.
“And the ghosts,” Lilith urged.
Jan looked at the necromancer, annoyance on her face. “They started haunting me a few nights after my dad was killed. Every psychiatrist and psychologist I was sent to told me it was just PTSD from it. I was prescribed ever drug you can think of, but none of them worked. Then, I started taking illegal drugs. Those didn't work either.”
She deeply sighed. “My first suicide attempt was at Fourteen.”
Deadguy almost chocked on a drink of coffee. “Suicide,” he questioned.
“Don't start,” she shot back. “You're not the one haunted by ghosts every night.”
“Fair enough,” he agreed. “But...”
“That's where we come in,” Lilith finished. “I want to help you exorcise these ghosts.”
“Why,” Jan questioned. “You get off on it or something?”
“Yeah, why are we doing this,” Our Hero repeated.
“The ghosts that are haunting you were meant to be sent away years ago,” the necromancer explained. “The fact that they haven't has caused an unbalance.”
Jan and Deadguy exchanged looks. “News to me,” he responded.
Jan sighed deeply. “Fine,” she said finally. “I've tried everything else. Might as well let you two try your little mojo jojo magic or whatever.” She got up to leave. “But it's going to have to wait until tomorrow night. I have a few hours to try and get something resembling sleep before work.” She wrote down her address on a napkin and gave it to Lilith. “Eight o' clock work, or does there have to be a certain time of night when the stars are aligned and the moon's somewhere in the sky?”
“It's necromancy, not magic,” the necromancer explained. “The dead don't have a time frame.”
They watched her leave, then conversed with each other. “Okay, what the hell are you getting me into,” Deadguy questioned.
“Ghosts exorcism,” she answered.
“And what does this have to do with me?”
“I need your help. Something about this sounds like we might have a fight on our hands.”
“Pretty sure I can't punch ghosts,” he responded.
“That won't be a problem,” she replied. “Let's head back to your apartment and sort things out.”
They went back to Deadguy's apartment, shaking snow off of their outer clothing. “It's getting wild out there,” Our Hero remarked. “If I didn't know any better, I would say it's alive.”
“Snow isn't alive,” Lilith replied, then paused to think. “Oh, I need to get a few things from home.”
“And I need sleep,” Deadguy added. He fished his keys out of his long coat and handed them to the necromancer. “Try not to make too much of a ruckus.”

Our Hero stumbled out of his bedroom to find his living room littered with old dusty books and frail ancient scrolls. Lilith sat in the middle of a circle that had a faint indigo glow, open books floating around her. She appeared deep in meditation.
“Since when did 'I need to get a few things' become 'moving in',” he questioned. He reached out to Lilith. “Hey, Lil-” was all he said before getting shot across the living room and slammed into the wall.
Lilith's eyes snapped open. “Idiot,” she yelled. The books crashed to the floor as she jumped up. She stood over Deadguy, hand outstretched and a look of angry disapproval. “What in Hades' name were you thinking,” she scolded.
“Me,” he defended. “Why does my living room look like a book lover's wet dream?” He tried to stand, but couldn't move. “Okay, what the hell?”
“It's an astral lock,” she explained, hand still out. “It holds a person in place until they are touched by the lock's creator.”
“Is that why you're offering to help me up,” DG asked.
She stood, silent and stern.
It took all his strength just to reach up and touch her fingers. She grabbed his hand and pulled him to his feet. “Ah. That's-”
Then, she slapped him.
“Never cross a sacred circle,” she warned. “Stop and think next time.”
“Fine,” Deadguy huffed, rubbing his cheek. “What's with the mess?”
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