“Scott! Time to get up!” Rebecca Havenbrook yelled, knocking on his door. There was an indistinct groan on the other side, followed by a thump. Something shuffled towards the door, moaning. It creaked open, revealing a zombie.
“Uuugh.” it moaned. It was pale, disheveled, and clammy, looking like it spent all night on a slab. Or rolling in dirt. She put her hand on its’ forehead, her mind already made up.
“You must feel terrible.” she said.
“That’s it, you’re staying home today. Turn around right now and get back to bed. I’ll call the school and get some soup out for lunch when you wake up. Are you going to be alright while we’re at work?” she said, concerned. Scott nodded gratefully, then practically fell back onto bed. “Alright, I’ll see you later, sweetie. Feel better!” She closed the door and shook her head. Poor kid. Looks like hell.
Inside the room, Amber smiled at her departure.
“Your mom seems nice.” she said, to which Scott could only grumble indistinctly. “You don’t have to be such a grump.”
“Could you do me a favor and please use your ghostly abilities to obliterate the sun?” he growled, covering his head with a pillow. She pointed at the curtain, grabbing it with her mind and pulling it down.
“Does that satisfy his highness in blotting out the sun?” she asked dryly.
“That will do, servant.” he said. She smacked him on the head. “Ow! That’s the thanks I get for literally saving your soul?”
“Many thanks, O lord.” Amber said, rolling her eyes. “May I be excused to attend my daily maidly duties, or is there anything else he requires?”
“Peace and quiet. I’ve gotten…” He checked the clock. “Three hours of sleep. I need more for the operation tonight.”
“Yeah, I got it.” Amber said dejectedly.
“Oh, it’s nothing. Know you need sleep, it’s just I’m going to be stuck alone doing nothing again.” She tugged on her ponytail; a mere two weeks of being unable to interact with the world had Left its mark on her. Scott buried his head under the pillow again.
“You idiot, I thought we covered this. You have enough physical presence to push a button now. Wait ‘til everyone leaves, then watch TV or something.” he said, slightly muffled. She blinked.
“Oh. That’s a good idea.” she admitted.
Ten minutes after his mother had left, Amber concentrated and made the power button move on the TV in the living room.
“Huh. Natural remote control. Speaking of which…” She looked around and spotted the remote between the cushions on the couch. “Aha!” Flexing her mental muscle, she spun it to the TV and managed to press the next channel.
“…now take the batter, and put it in the oven at-” Click.
“Accident or divorce, I’m your lawyer!” Click.
“…several puppies, all at once!” Some morning talk show, people on chairs laughing. Click.
“…happy little trees,” Click.
“-hhh, who live is a pineapp-” Click!
“I’d forgotten just how mind-numbing daytime TV was.” she muttered. She was about to change the channel again when she saw her own face on the news report.
“…the most recent murder of Amber Harris, alongside Christine Henderson, Yvonne Granger, Jennifer Jefferson, and Brina Taylor.” Each victim had their photo flash by, and Amber winced at how many there were. She studied the pictures. No one she knew personally, but she had seen Brina and Christine around school. She remembered their memorials. She had grown up with these people, and now they were gone. A thought struck her, and she shuddered; what if some of the other victims of the Craven Falls killer had become ghosts as well, and had run afoul of Edith Warden?
She tried to take a deep breath to steady herself, but forgot she didn’t have lungs.
“The victims had little in common besides age and gender,” the news report continued. “Police have remained empty-handed so far, but hopefully that will change soon. We now go live to the Chief of Police for a debriefing on the situation.” The screen changes to a podium in front of city hall, where the bald, portly chief was issuing a statement. Amber recognized him as Courtney’s father.
“I would like to advise all citizens of Craven Falls to remain on the alert until the perpetrator is brought to justice. I swear to you that we are doing all in our power to apprehend this criminal by whatever means necessary. With that in mind I hereby declare a curfew for all minors at nine o’ clock for the foreseeable future.” he declared.
“Will this restriction be in place on Halloween?” a reporter asked.
“If need be. I hope we can catch him before that, but we’re taking no chances. In fact, if they’re not caught by then we might have to cancel trick or treating altogether this year. Of course, that’s only if he’s not caught. With that in mind, please address all questions to the new head of this case, Detective Margaret Cross. She will be happy to help you. Thank you.” He stepped down, and a dark-haired, tall woman with a hard face and even harder eyes who looked to be less than happy to be answering questions took his place.
“Thank you, Chief Mason. At this time, we have no solid leads, so we are urging every citizen to come forward with anything they know. Let’s try to make the most recent victim the last.” she said in a cold, clipped tone. The reporters latched onto her like sharks, having basically admitted that the police had no idea who was behind the slayings. Amber sighed and changed the channel, tired of hearing herself referred to as a deceased victim.
It was around one when Scott made his way down the stairs, yawning. He staggered his way to the kitchen and poured a bowl of cereal, his hair sticking up at funny angles.
“Finally awake. You look like crap.” Amber said, paging through a book. It had proven too difficult to hold it up, so she had laid it on the table and was flipping pages.
“Let’s see how good you look after you dig a grave twice, run a marathon, take a dive off a cliff, battle an evil ghost and anchor another to the material plane.” he grunted, and started eating.
“Your mom left out soup for you, you know.” Amber said, her eyes drifting to the can on the counter.
“Is that a fact. Unfortunately, I don’t like soup. You can’t chew it, and it’s too hot to drink. Plus, you always eat it when you’re sick, so I think I’ve developed an aversion to it because of that.” Scott said.
“So, how are you feeling? Up for the operation tonight?”
“I’m still tired as hell, but I’ll be fine.” he snorted.
“Well, we have a complication with that. There’s a curfew now for all minors, thanks to the killer. Nine o’ clock, it said so on the news.”
“Great.” He yawned and cracked his neck. “It’s not like I was doing anything legal in the first place though, I guess. Just adds one more misdemeanor. I’m going back to my room.” He paused, then smelled himself. “Scratch that, shower first.”
“Yeah, you kinda still look like the walking dead yet.” Amber said innocently. Scott rolled his eyes.
Fifteen minutes later, Scott came back to his room clean, refreshed, and feeling alive again. The rest of the day was discussion of the break-in, and various methods of infiltration and ways to avoid the police. They were so engrossed in their activities they didn’t hear the front door open.
Clayton Havenbrook checked his phone as he absentmindedly went to the fridge. His mom had sent him a text telling him to see how Scott was doing.
“Like the dork’s really sick.” he muttered, sinking his teeth into an apple. He knew his brother. He just stayed up all night again, working on whatever project caught his attention this time. Clay shook his head. Scott was always either making some model or sticking his head in a book. He never went anywhere or did anything, always too self-absorbed and thinking he was better than everyone else to be normal.
Although he vaguely wondered if he should be worried; last time the geek had emerged from his lair, Clay could’ve sworn he was bringing back the corpse of a rat back in. Wasn’t that what psychos did, or something?
“With any luck, he’s just taken up taxidermy.” he said to himself. He wouldn’t put it past the little creep. Clayton went upstairs. “Hey dweeb, mom asked…” he stared to call out, but paused at the door. He’d often heard Scott muttering to himself in there, but this time there were pauses for a response, like he was having an actual conversation with a person. “Weird.” He leaned closer to the door to listen.
“…no, you have to…” Pause. “Well, I can…listen, we…do this together.” Pause. “…look, Amber. I need you…” Clay’s eyes went wide with shock. How? Did-did his creepy little geek of a brother actually have a girlfriend?
“Seriously? How the hell did you-”Clayton suddenly burst into the room.
“Yaaahhh!” Scott launched himself off the bed like a frightened cat, landing on the floor with a thump. “The hell, Clay!? Don’t scare me like that!” Clayton looked around.
“Who were you talking to? Are you really hiding a girl?” he asked, scanning the room.
“Get out! It’s none of your business!” Scott snapped. Clay merely shrugged and put Scott in a headlock.
“Mom asked me to check on you, so that makes it my business. I knew you were faking being sick.” he said calmly as Scott flailed to get out of the grip. “So? Where is she? She’s gotta be desperate if she’s reduced to dating you. Our little boy is growing up at last!” He wiped an imaginary tear from his eye, giving Scott the opening he needed to escape.
“I’m not dating anyone! Jeez.” he said, pushing away. “I was, ah-” he glanced to an empty spot in the room “-talking, on…the phone!” He held up his phone. Clayton blinked. He could have sworn Scott didn’t have his phone when he first walked in.
“You know it’s off, right?” he observed.
“Oh, it is? Silly me, must’ve hung up when you startled me, thanks for that you big jerk.” Scott said quickly, looking shifty.
“Uh-huh.” Clay slid his arm around his brother’s shoulders. “So who is she?” he leered, and Scott made a face. “Easy, easy! I won’t tell anyone, I just wanna know. Frankly, I’m shocked that you scored a chick. Is she hot?”
“She’s…a…friend.” Scott said slowly, glancing to an empty corner out of embarrassment. “You might even say business partner, or even client. Everything totally aboveground, completely professional. Nothing going on at all. Please leave now, thanks.”
“Uh-huh.” Clayton reached into his pocket. “Never thought this day’d come, but whaddaya know. ‘Least it’s not mom giving you this, she says she’s too young to be a grandmother.” He put a condom in Scott’s hand.
“The hell!? I just said-”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do me a favor and keep it down at night, will you? The walls are thinner than you think.” He closed the door just before the condom could hit his head, thrown by a very irate and red-faced Scott.
“Not one word.” he growled to Amber, who was having trouble keeping her laughter in.
“And the Academy Award goes to...” she started.
“Oh c’mon, it was funny.” Amber said, floating overhead.
“It was not funny.” Scott muttered, his red face concealed by his hood. His family had gone to bed early, so they had managed to sneak out before midnight. “It was my brother trying to embarrass me.”
“That’s what made it funny!” He scowled at her. “Oh, relax. Your face’ll stick that way.
“At this rate, it just might.” he growled, shivering in the October wind.
“Car.” Amber called. Scott dove into the bushes as the patrol car drove by, the headlights missing him. “That’s the third one in like an hour. They’re really serious about this curfew.” Amber said, watching it round the corner.
“They’re really trying to catch your killer. It’s annoying for us, but I understand completely. If nothing else, it should help limit the victims, seeing as he’s after teen girls, apparently.
“Yeah.” She tugged on her ponytail. “Why do you think he’s doing this, anyway? It’s sick.”
“That’s what we’re going to find out. I have a few theories, but let’s just say that the one where he’s just a garden variety psycho serial killer is the one I’d prefer.” Scott said grimly.
“Ahh.” They proceeded on the darkened streets in silence for awhile, Until Amber voiced a concern that’d been brewing in the back of her mind. “Um, look. I know we have to avoid the police, but they’re doing these extra patrols for a reason. What if,” she gulped. “What if we…run into the killer while we’re out here? I know he seems to be going after girls, and we probably won’t but that’s what I thought at first and now I’m incorporeal!” Scott shook off her concern with a bark of laughter.
“I’m not worried. I’ve got an eye in the sky, for one.” he said, grinning at her.
“I’m serious!” she said.
“So am I. In case you forgot my profession, I am a necromancer.” His green eyes began to glow softly. “I know the secrets of life and death. I have dark magics at my beck and call. If worst comes to worst, and let’s hope it doesn’t, with a single spell, with a single touch I can forcefully inject anything alive with my necrotic energy. I can mess you up pretty bad, could even kill if I put too much into it.”
“R-Really?” Amber asked, not expecting such a fearsome answer.
“Yup.” He looked down and away. “It’s, uh, it’s not something I’m entirely comfortable with either. But it is an option. The way I see it, it’s like I’ve always got a knife on me. Yeah, it can kill, but it’s also a tool with uses beyond just that. So yeah, I’m not really worried.”
“I see.” she said, looking troubled. “So, if we did get in trouble...”
“If my life were in danger, yeah. I’m using it. If you met the Craven Falls killer, wouldn’t you?” They walked in silence the rest of the way, Amber ruminating on what he’d said.
Soon they arrived at the morgue, and Amber pushed away those thoughts for now. It was time to go to work. Scott made sure his hood was up and his gloves were on. They sneaked around to the back door, sticking to the shadows.
“I don’t see any cameras. Should be safe. Okay, just like we practiced at home.” Scott said.
“I know, I know.” Amber looked at the lock on the door and concentrated. She had practiced all day for this.
Since they had no idea of where to get a set of keys, Scott had come up with a solution. Amber had trouble moving large and heavy things, but small objects were no problem. The inner mechanism of a lock was small and light, after all.
“Almost…” She could feel her mind pick and probe at the gears and bits, trying to find which to push and which to pull, making it…click. “There.”
“Good. Keep an eye out.” Scott gently opened the door and slipped inside, locking it behind him. It wouldn’t do for any night watchmen, if any, to discover something amiss. They proceeded quietly down the hall, Amber floating far ahead to scout.
“Scott, there’s a camera.” she said, peeking around a corner.
“Fixed or moving?” he whispered.
“Looks fixed.” she said, floating up to examine it.
“Can you, I don’t know, lift it up or something? Just enough I can get through quick?”
“I can try.” Amber said. She grit her teeth and used all her telekinetic might to push the camera up and to the right, away from the corner of the hall, the plastic groaning under the strain. “Go! Hurry!” Scott darted around the corner, sticking to the deeper darkness, away from the windows. With a sigh of relief she set it back.
“Made it.” Scott whispered.
“Good.” She floated off and reconnoitered through the walls. “There’s a lot of rooms with files. They keep the bodies downstairs. I saw some paperwork that had the borough’s seal on it. I didn’t see much else.” she said.
“Hmm. The paperwork that we want is probably up here, but that could take all night. Meanwhile, we know the evidence we really need is downstairs. Unlock the doors.” he said resolutely. Amber groaned.
“I knew you’d say that.”
Proceeding down into the body bank, the duo didn’t note any other cameras and so felt comfortable enough to turn on the lights. Scott kept his hood up, just in case.
“Alright, where did you see those papers? We’ll check those first.” Scott said, glancing around.
“Over there.” She pointed to a desk by a file cabinet. He picked the report up and examined it.
“Traffic accident. But this’s definitely a police report. We’re on the right track. Check and see if there’s anyone around.”
“Right.” She flew off to poke her head through the door, looking at a dark, empty hallway. “Yup. Party central.”
Back at the desk, Scott was having no luck with the reports. No matter how much he searched, the reports on the murder victim autopsies weren’t there. He started rifling through the drawers, and was about to give up and search the file cabinets when he noticed a manila folder stuck to the door, the very first in the drawer. He smacked his own forehead. Picking it up and reading the first report, a grin crept across his face.
“Find ‘em?” Amber asked, floating over.
“All the recent victims, including you. Now then…” He skimmed the first one, then the next, then the third, a scowl growing deeper on his face with each one. “Damn.” he said, tossing the reports on the table and cradling his forehead in his hands.
“What’s the verdict? Not good?” Amber asked nervously.
“All the victims were killed in the same way. Chloroformed, stabbed and each had their heart removed.” he said bluntly, not looking up. “Autopsies revealed nothing else. Nothing. I do not like this.”
“Wait-no other evidence? That’s it? That’s all the report said?” Amber said.
“Right. This’s shady as all hell. Whoever’s been doing this has been very good at covering their tracks. And why hasn’t this information about the hearts been released to the public? It’s not like the killer’s been going unnoticed anyway. The police are covering this up. But why?” Scott asked, starting to pace.
“Those are good questions too, but what does this mean for the resurrection? Do you think we could get it back? Why do you think the killer is collecting them?” The last one was phrased more like a statement than a question.
“Hmm, well it hasn’t confirmed it for me 100% yet, I’m still holding out hope it’s a deranged whackjob. Honestly though, I’m not counting on it. It looks like-”
The light in the upstairs hallway suddenly turned on.
They both glanced up in horror, then sprang into action. Amber telekinetically hit the light switch for all she was worth, while Scott hurriedly scrambled to collect the reports in the folder.
“….nks for doing this so late, Pete.” A deep woman’s voice said, growing louder. Scott glanced around, saw an empty space behind a file cabinet in the back of the room, and dove to hide behind it. Amber looked around panicked before she remembered she was invisible.
“No problem, Maggie.” a man’s voice said, and the door was opened. “Just wish I knew why you had to do this at this hour.” A short, stocky, older man in a sweatervest and grey mustache came down the stairs, followed by an extremely tall woman in a suit and overcoat, sipping coffee. Amber realized she recognized the woman.
“Uuugh, don’t remind me what time it is. I was in meetings and fending off the press all day. This’s the first chance I’ve actually gotten to go over the particulars of this case. It’s all political nowadays, it’s a circus.” she groaned, tossing back her long, dark hair.
“Scott, that’s the detective in charge of the case, Detective Cross. I saw her today on TV, she was just appointed.” Amber whispered and Scott nodded, trying to remain unseen.
“Ehh, ain’t it always.” The man, Pete, said dismissively, eliciting a snort of laughter.
“So, what have we got?” Detective Cross asked. Pete unlocked a door on the bank and pulled out a slab. Scott risked a peek to see. They were both absorbed in staring at the corpse of a young woman.
“Here we are. Brina Taylor, the fourth deceased. Sweet sixteen. The documents are in on all of ‘em, but her parents were traipsing around China or something on vacation, and aren’t back yet. Apparently they go camping in the remotest parts of the world, looking to ‘find themselves.’ They were notified Sunday, expect ‘em day after tomorrow.” Pete said.
“Hn. Time and cause of death?” Cross asked, pulling the sheet down to see her face.
“Approximately 6:52 p.m. on Thursday, October first. She was forced to inhale chloroform, then stabbed in the chest with what looks to be a large kitchen knife, causing massive trauma. But take a look at this.” He pulled down the sheet from her chest. The detective swore, and Amber looked like she was going to be sick. There was a large, reddish-purple gap in her chest. “The sick bastard carved out her heart while she was still alive. Death couldn’t come quick enough. At least she was out when it happened.” he said, shaking his head.
“That’s a cold comfort, Pete.” Cross said.
“All I know is I’d rather go in my sleep.” he shrugged. “The other four are all like this one. And get this-there’s no forensic evidence.”
“What? Nothing?” Cross said, raising an eyebrow. “I know they said there were no witnesses, but-”
“Nothing. Nada. Zilch. No prints, no DNA, not a hair out of place. The investigators went through each scene with a fine tooth comb, and came up empty.
Hearing that, Scott and Detective Cross’s eyes went wide. For Scott, that confirmed his suspicions.
“Nothing? Really?” she said, incredulous.
“Yup. No evidence whatsoever, aside from the bodies. Whoever’s doing this ain’t your average criminal. They’ve gotta be one serious spook to pull this off.”
“So we have no idea who’s doing this, no motive for why? And now even the how’s being called into question. Great.” She sighed. “I was pulled from the Carson case for this?” She stretched and cracked her back, then saw a head quickly duck behind a filing cabinet on the far wall. “What was that? Who’s there!?” She pulled out her service pistol and pointed it at the filing cabinet. “Show yourself! Come out slowly, with your hands up!” Scott froze in terror, but Amber suddenly had an idea. She pulled the door to the hall open and slammed it as hard as she could, making both officers whip around to the door.
“What the hell?” Pete said.
“Pete.” Cross said quietly. “I’m going to check the cabinet. I want you to go upstairs, but be careful. I’ll join you in a minute. If there is someone, don’t be a hero, get out and call for backup.”
“B-But what about you?” he asked, trembling. She smiled grimly and held up her gun.
“If there is someone, I’ll make them regret it. Go. Now!” she barked. Pete nodded and tore up the steps as fast as he could go. “Now then, I’m going to say this one more time. Come out or I shoot.” she said calmly, slowly approaching the cabinet. Amber was tearing her hair out trying to figure out a way out of this mess. Scott ground his teeth together; this wasn’t how he wanted things to go, but there was a slim chance it could work out. He put his hood up. Alright, time to channel his inner Batman.
“Very well. I’ll come out, but only if you don’t shoot.” He stood up and came out, hands up. “I mean no harm, and as you can see I’m unarmed.”
“Scott! No! What are you doing!?” Amber screamed.
“Quiet.” he whispered.
“What? A kid? Just what the hell do you think you’re doing here? Lower your hood.” Cross ordered, still pointing the gun at him.
“I think not. After all, I haven’t seen any reason to trust you yet.” he replied coolly, trying to keep his rising panic down. Already his hair and back were soaked with sweat. Her face hardened.
“You’re in a world of trouble, kid. I have no problem arresting you right now.” she said menacingly.
“Oh really? You’re going to throw away the best chance you have of solving this case?” Scott said.
“What are you talking about?” Cross said, her eyes narrowing.
“Scott! Seriously! We have to get out of here!” Amber said, unable to keep calm.
“Do you know anything about the killer? What’s your name?” Cross ordered.
“Scott! Please tell me you can get out of this!” Amber begged, nearly crying.
“Jeez! Yes, I can get out of this! That’s what I’m trying to do! Just shut up and watch already!” Scott said exasperatedly, turning to Amber.
“Hey, what are you doing?” the detective said.
“No, it’ll be fine! Don’t-aw man, don’t cry! No, it’ll be fine. No, I am taking care of it. Yes, it’ll work! I…hey, that was a low blow. I AM smarter than that, and you know it!” Detective Cross watched in confusion as the boy argued animatedly with the empty air.
“Enough!” she roared. “You’re under arrest! Lie down with your hands on your head!” she ordered, and Scott finally looked back at her.
“Detective, I can assure you that everything is fine, and arresting me is probably the last thing you could want to do.”
“On the ground, now!” she repeated. Scott sighed.
“Okay, push the slab in. Detective, try not to freak, okay? And please don’t shoot.”
“Huh? I said-” The slab with the poor girl’s body on it suddenly slid into the wall and the door closed. She went white and it took every ounce of self-control she had not to fire on him. “W-What the hell!?”
“Like I said, Detective; I’m the best chance you have of solving this case. If nothing else, I can give you a motive for the Craven Falls Killer.” he said smugly. She looked at him hard for a long minute, then lowered her gun.
“I’m listening.” she growled.
“Good. First thing’s first, you should probably let that guy upstairs know you’re all right.” he said, pointing with his thumb. “He’s bound to be worried about you, and I’d rather keep things between us for now. We can talk properly in a minute.”
“And you’re going to be here when I get back? I’ve seen this movie before; the villain disappears when you take your eyes off him.” Cross said coldly. He smirked and held up his hands.
“How appropriate. But I assure you detective, walking through walls isn’t one of my skills. I think we can help each other here. I’ll stick around.” With a snort she climbed the stairs, never taking her eyes off his smirking face.
“You better still be here, in a talking mood.” she said, stepping through the door. As soon as she left, Scott let out his breath and collapsed on all fours, panting and shaking.
“You okay?” Amber said, kneeling beside him.
“Y-Yeah, now. That was tense.” he said, shivering. “I n-never had a gun pointed at me before. By a cop, even.” He tried to give her a shaky grin.
“Hey hey, what happened to the big, bad necromancer? ‘I have dark magics at my disposal’? C’mon, you faced down a ghost hell-bent on killing you and eating me just last night. You can do this. We can do this. I’m here for you.” Amber said reassuringly. Scott gave her a small smile.
“Heh. You’re right.” He sat back and took a deep, steadying breath. “Just a case of nerves. I’ve got magic, but that doesn’t mean a bullet won’t kill me. Let’s make sure it doesn’t come to that.” He gave her a sly look. “I don’t think you’re quite up to pulling off a resurrection.” She chuckled.
“For sure. What are you going to do?” Amber asked. Scott rubbed his head.
“This’s pretty messed up. I’d much prefer it if nobody knew about necromancy, but there’s no choice now. And if there’s no choice, we might as well get the good with the bad. I’d rather have the cops and their resources on my side rather than against. They can help find your killer and thus, your heart.” he explained.
“You really think he still has it?” Amber asked, and Scott dismissed her with a wave of his hand.
“I guarantee it.”
Back upstairs, Detective Cross was muttering obscenities as she ran into Pete.
“Jesus, Maggie! What happened, are you alright?” he said as he saw her approach.
“Yeah, Pete. Turns out I overreacted. We have…rats in the building.” she said flatly.
“Rats?” he said incredulously.
“Yeah. I guess I’ve been working too hard today.” she ground out. “Why don’t you go home, I’ll lock up for you. As an apology. I should be fine.” He squinted at her.
“Rats, huh.” he said slowly. She nodded.
“There’s a big one.”
“Is that so.”
“Yup.” Cross sighed. “Listen, just go home. It would mean a lot to me.” She turned to go down again.
“Are you sure about this? I can help.” he called out, but she waved him off.
“I’ll be fine. Besides, I may have a revelation and puzzle out a lead for the case. You never know.”
“Uh-huh. Just be careful. You never know with…rats. Let me know if we need extermination.” Pete said. She laughed.
“I think I can handle it. But thanks. If I’m not back in three days, avenge my death.” she quipped and descended once more. Pete considered following her, but she didn’t seem worried, just exasperated. He shook his head as he obeyed her request.
“Always, Maggie.” he muttered as he unlocked the door.
Detective Cross looked down and saw the boy sitting against the wall, talking to empty space again. At least he was still there, she reminded herself.
“Okay, kid. It’s officially too late o’clock, I have had a very long day, and I don’t have any patience left for any of this X-Files mystery bull. How did you move the slab? Are you talking to, I don’t know, aliens or something?” she said, stopping about fifteen feet in front of him. He got up, Amber faintly hearing “channel Batman, channel Batman.”
“So hasty, detective. Don’t you trust me? After all, I’ve kept my word that I’d still be here, and well, here I am.” He noted that her gun was still out, if at her side. “If we’re going to trust each other I need some assurance that things will stay peaceful and we’ll both walk away tonight.” She noticed him glance at her gun.
“No dice. Answer my questions.” she said, clipped.
“Then we don’t have a deal. You can arrest me if you want, I’ll just keep mum about anything I know about the killer, and any mysterious moving slabs.” He mimed zipping his mouth closed, lips turning up at the ends. Cross scowled, but put away her gun.
“There. Now answer me.” she said. Scott gave an internal sigh of relief.
“Much better. As a show of good faith to answer yours, I’m an open book. Honestly,” he pointed to the girl’s body in storage. “I didn’t. My lovely assistant did it for me. She’s one of the recent murder victims. I found her ghost and bound it to this world to keep her from disappearing. For the record, there are no aliens.” Scott said. Cross narrowed her eyes.
“So, are you like a psychic or something?” Scott snorted.
“Wrong genre. You’re thinking sci-fi, I’m in fantasy. Or horror. I’m a necromancer.” he said proudly.
“A necromancer. One who practices necromancy. From the Greek words ‘Necro’, which means-”
“I know what it means!” Cross snapped. “Are you insane? Are you trying to tell me you used…magic to do all that?”
“What a relief. It feels good to have someone around who’s so knowledgeable.” Scott admitted, giving Amber a sideways glance.
“Hey!” Amber protested.
“Stop kidding around!” Cross slammed the body bank, looking both furious and uneasy. “This is serious! This is…I mean, this…can’t be real.” She glanced over to the door her fist was leaning on, and took a steadying breath. “Do it again. No, wait. Do something else. There’s no way you could’ve prepared something in advance, and the local cops wouldn’t pull such an elaborate prank on me. Make her-I don’t know-” The table caught her eye. “Ah. Make her levitate the papers on the desk. I’ve just looked them over, there’s nothing unusual about them. Do that, and I might believe you.”
Scott and Amber shared a glance, and Scott sighed and nodded.
“Go ahead, Amber. Seems she won’t be satisfied unless we demonstrate you’re, y’know, here.”
“Alright…” Amber said nervously, floating over and picking up one of the reports. She waved it around a little, making Cross’s eyes go wide.
“Is that better, detective?” Scott said smugly, watching her face as Amber picked up another paper, making them dance. Cross was white as a sheet. “As I told you before, I am a necromancer. The dead are mine to command-” He broke off for a moment, then sighed and shook his head. “Well, the dead are mostly mine to command, some others just to amicably suggest to. Either way, I have dark magics at my disposal, and am going to bring her back from death’s icy grip.” His face, half-shadowed form his hood, grinned widely as she stared at him.
“N-No. This…isn’t right. It’s not real, is it?” She turned back to the papers, which were fluttering back onto the desk, unseen hands shuffling them in order. “No, I have to be dreaming or something. I’ve been working too hard.” she said, rubbing her head. “Magic, whatever you’re talking about, can’t exist. That would mean everything we know is…wrong. There’s been absolutely no evidence, ever. Yeah,” she smiled desperately, trying to hang on to her worldview. “I don’t know what’s going on, but whatever trick you’re using isn’t actual magic. Just some kind of trick. Yeah. I don’t appreciate being deceived, kid. You’d better have a better reason for being here than this horsecrap.” Cross said, mentally switching from confusion to annoyance. Annoyance was good. That meant she could get angry at this crap. Being angry meant she wouldn’t have to think about it too hard anymore.
“I want the truth. Why you’re really here. I don’t have any patience for this delusion you’ve got going on, that’s for a doctor to decide. You’re not a real necromancer-” Scott flinched “And I don’t have to coddle you. Tell me what’s going on, or the consequences will be dire. Who are you, what do you know about the Craven Falls Killer?” As she went on, Scott grew more and more irked, twitching in barely contained anger. He was about to unload at her, but was struck by an idea instead. Amber watched in horror as a sickly-sweet smile blossomed on his face.
“So, detective. You say I’m not a real necromancer, that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Fine. Fine. But how about this?” He pulled out a piece of chalk and made a circle containing a star on the floor.
“What are you doing?” Cross asked as she watched him work. It had to be her imagination. There was no way the strange runes he was inscribing around it were alternating above the air and below the floor.
“Just a little demonstration. There’s just chalk here, no holograms, no hallucinogens, no tricks of any kind. Merely step into the circle and you’ll be able to see spirits, too.” She eyed it warily.
“Come now. Please allow me a chance to prove my claims. Besides, if you really don’t believe in magic, then it’ll be a mere waste of a minute. You stand there for a moment while I spout some gibberish, and that’ll prove me wrong. C’mon. What do you say?” Scott said. She stared at him, then huffed.
“Fine. I’ve listened to this insanity this long, might as well go whole hog. It’ll be your funeral.” She stepped into the circle.
“Excellent. Now, you might feel a tingling sensation. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal, that’s just your soul moving sliiiiightly closer to death.”
“What!?” she started, but Scott was already chanting.
“…amholk, zenaii, chaga, chaga vemzikeon ulmetths ab cinaron keth!” He held up his hands, and the circle lit up a brilliant emerald green. Cross gasped at the sight, but her breath was stolen as green static leapt up and down her body to the circle on the ground. Scott continued chanting. “Sebenza ustoreth ahkhan gemoth, youkan uminan bek a uthintal.” he said, and the glow faded away.
“What the hell was that!? What did you do to me? How the…how…” She stared at him. There, right beside him, coming into focus like localized static fading out was a transparent girl floating a few inches off the ground, illuminated by a soft green aura. Cross recognized her face. It was Amber Harris, the Craven Falls Killer’s fifth and most recent victim. “There’s…a girl there…” she said dumbly.
“Indeed. She’s been with us all this time.” Scott said, drawing himself up.
“Hello.” Amber said nervously, giving her a small wave.
“So, detective? Still think I’m lying?” Scott asked smugly. Cross blinked.
“I’d think we’d better start at the beginning.” she said eventually.