There are some streets blissfully deserted in that magic time around dawn. Catching a pattern here? Living in the city, but not of it, or at least among the people. There are millions of souls in this city. I avoid them as much as I can. Souls can be really icky, especially the ones who don’t know they are dead. A lot of the ones who do know they’re dead can be just as bad. Wandering around with no future can be frustrating. Best to keep to myself, I say.
I need to go out, to scavenge for my living. Around dawn, it’s light enough without being too light. Anyone still out from the night before is too trashed to be much of a threat. Anyone starting their day has too much on their mind to notice me.
But there she was, that girl, her ghost, from the ER, from the streets. No doubt she wanted me to help her get some vengeance on her murderer. I don’t have the time for this. I mean, there are far too many ghosts needing vengeance. I have my own problems to work out.
“But what if he finds you? What if you become a target? Isn’t it better to know your enemy?”
She had a point.
Still, I had more immediate considerations, like food. I have traps for the rats in the hole, but you have to cook them for hours. You never know where they’ve been. To have any hope of edibility, that means stew. That means vegetables, easily available outside of food stores and restaurants where they dump the not quite spoiled produce. In fact, there’s a vast array of nearly spoiled food to gather. Then, in the doctors’ office row there are pills aplenty not too far from their expiration dates. Rich party quarters can yield vast treasures of marijuana roaches and dregs of high-end wines and liquors. I am soon well stocked to bliss out through the approaching daylight hours, avoid the blaring sunlight and assorted psychic pain inherent in daily commerce. But that damn bitch of a ghost won’t leave me alone. I am beginning to think whoever killed her might have had good reason.
“Perhaps,” she insists, “but that doesn’t make you any safer.”
By now, though, I have ingested the proper mix of pills to quiet all the voices.
Of course those dreams come again. The ones where there are sirens and blood and nothing makes sense.
Then, I’m walking down the empty city streets, the ones that aren’t filled with night life. There’s no one here with me. No ghosts, no shadowy dream figures, no murderous demons, just me. I am walking these empty streets as if I am going somewhere, pulled along by fate. Then, again she appears. Not a ghost or a waif or a corpse, but as some divine messenger in the guise of a common streetwalker. Somehow I understand that she is both messenger and me. We have a symbiotic link. The important part is that an unspeakable evil has been unleashed into my city. It is up to me, in this twin form, to defeat this evil, as only I have the power to see it for what it is. And there it is, glaring at me. But apparently our battle is meant for another day, for it disappears without comment. No doubt it has more nefarious business to attend to.
I had some thinking, and typing, to do. But first for some street theater to amuse and defuse me. I must venture over to the night life side of the city streets.
It’s the loud, insistent, deep rhythmic music that makes it possible for me to even be here. I can move myself into the sound and keep my distance in the crowd.
“Share your body with me. Let me in.” She was hovering all around me. Not as sexy as it sounds. She wants to take over my will and use my body for her own purposes. Well, maybe that is sex for some, but not me.
“You know I can help you.” So enticing. I can almost be persuaded, flooded by feeling of her concern, that she is so kindly offering me her soul. I know the rules. They can’t get in without an invitation. Here, in the cacophony of noise, light, movement, I have the distraction to avoid falling into her psychic trap. Concentrate on someone else, someone I can in some sense relate to. There. That girl in the background, her costume just enough different from the rest. She is palpably alone, and enthused with a fear and excitement at being part of the scene.
The ghost can see her, too. All that charming vulnerability, just waiting. This girl didn’t have the experience I did. The ghost desperately needed a body. She had corporeal errands. I, so far her only psychic link, was not cooperating. If only she could manage an invitation from this lonely young woman who was looking for something new. I would be off the hook, out of this mess that was none of my business to begin with.
Red and green spotlights were flashing across the stage. The band was revving up into banshee shrieks over an accelerating, hard-driving beat. Everyone was screaming, the dark, perspiration-dripping room closing in way too fast. I wound my way out of there, back onto the minimally quieter, darker, emptier street.
It was raining, a cold January rain when it’s not interested in snowing because that would feel pleasanter. Had it been this wet all night? I didn’t remember.
She was there, the girl from the club. I don’t know if she was following me. Maybe the ghost had gotten to her. I looked her straight in the eyes, and I was lost. She was not the innocent I had expected. It seemed that potent forces were collecting here, and I seem to be vibrating in the center of an impending storm.