Chapter 16 - Spatial Partitioning
The next morning, I walked over to where I usually waited to get picked up by the bus stop. Only, there was somebody else there already.
"Am I still dreaming?" I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was seeing this right.
Because the person sitting at the bench was an extremely beautiful woman. Milky white skin and gorgeous waves of black hair, with a slim figure that perfectly complemented the clothes she was wearing. Her face was better than any model I've seen before, and she was around the same age I was before I traveled back to the past. Honestly, her appearance was so far out of this world that I had trouble believing that this was actually real.
Plus, there was the fact that she was completely see-through.
She looked over curiously at me when I spoke but didn't say anything.
Feeling a little self-conscious, I waved at her.
She blinked at that. "You can see me?"
I was ninety-percent sure that she was a ghost at this point. "Apparently? This is the first time I've noticed you here though?"
She gave me a strange look. "I have been sitting at this bench for two whole years now, and I've yet to encounter anyone who has ever been able to see me."
Whatever Rumi tried to do yesterday clearly did something to me after all.
"So... you're a ghost?"
"I believe so," she replied. "I do share the common qualities of what constitutes a ghost, do I not? I died and found myself conscious after my death. I interact with the world through similar means to that of spirits. What else would I be but a ghost?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, that doesn't always mean that it's a duck. I don't know for sure that you're a ghost, only that you're similar to what I think a ghost might be like."
I could always ask Anna later if ghosts were real or not. For all I knew, she could actually be some kind of illusion or astral projection of a living being. Just because I knew that souls were a thing, doesn't mean that I was ready to accept the fact that there was something beyond death.
That's the trouble with being an agnostic atheist. Or well, a former one. With what I learned about the supernatural world, I'm probably going to transition to an agnostic theist at some point later.
She tilted her head. "Still, since neither of us knows for sure what exactly I am, we cannot rule out the possibility that I might actually be a ghost. Why not just assume that is what I am until we find evidence to the contrary?"
"I guess we can do that." I gestured to the spot next to her. "Is it okay if I sit next to you?"
"By all means," she agreed easily. "It is not as if I have claimed ownership of this piece of furniture."
I sat down and the two of us waited in silence.
"I'm Wren," I told her. "I'm new to this spiritual stuff, so this is the first time I've met a maybe-ghost. Nice to meet you."
She smiled at me. "My name is Mary."
"Huh," I replied. "So... is it okay if I ask why you've been sitting at a bench for two years?"
"Not at all," she replied. "And to answer your question, I'm trying to remember how to go home."
That drew my curiosity. "Did you lose your memory?"
"I believe so, or rather, it is difficult to recall what my life was like when I was still alive." She looked thoughtful at her words. "All I know for sure is that I want to go back home, even if I'm not sure where exactly that is."
I didn't know how to respond to that, and I saw the bus drive up to our stop.
"Well it was nice meeting you," I said to her as I got up. "Hope you find your home soon."
She didn't respond, and I found myself entering the bus without hearing a response. Paying the fee using my card, I made my way down the aisle and noticed that Maria wasn't there today.
Guess she missed her ride. Or maybe she's missing school today.
I sat down in my seat and was surprised to find Mary sitting right next to me. The transparent woman was smirking from where she sat.
"Umm... is there a reason why you're following me?"
"You are the first person who has noticed me since I became aware of myself," she answered. "I believe that qualifies as a perfectly good reason to haunt you. It is a terrifically dull experience doing nothing but waiting at a bench by myself for no reason. You seem like you'll bring some excitement to my life."
My eye twitched at that.
Mary continued to follow me as I made my way to my first class.
Spotting Anna in the distance, I quickly jogged up to her and pointed my thumb in Mary's direction. "Do you know how to stop ghosts from haunting you?"
She blinked at that. "Pardon?"
"I found a ghost and now she won't leave me alone," I told her. "Can you somehow deal with her? I tried telling her that I didn't want to be haunted, but she was being stubborn about it."
"No, wait. Hold on," she told me. "First off, what do you mean by ghosts?"
I blinked. "You mean you can't see her?"
She looked in the general direction where Mary was currently. Mary cheerfully waved at Anna, but the magician didn't respond. It was obvious that Anna couldn't see her.
"...Wren, are you feeling fine?" she suddenly asked.
"Yeah?" I gave her a questioning look. "Why the question?"
"I don't know how to tell you this," she slowly began to explain. "But I have never heard of any awakened people that could see ghosts. As far as I know, that should be impossible."
"We know that the concept of ghosts exists," she began. "And there are ways to detect and interact with them. But nobody has ever claimed to outright be able to see ghosts. Not unless they used some kind of magic to temporarily materialize their form in reality."
"I did say that nobody else has been able to see me," Mary added. "Although, I wasn't aware that magic was a thing until now."
I ignored Mary for now and continued to speak to Anna. "So, what does that say about me?"
She tilted her head. "You might be growing crazy?"
"Is this really the time to be making jokes?"
"I mean that quite literally," she said. "That might be the side effects of whatever that magician did to you yesterday."
"While I am not exactly sure about the context of this conversation," Mary began. "I am quite certain that I am not the product of a teenage boy's delusion. I am my own person."
"The ghost lady says she's not a delusion of mine," I told Anna. "But my word is suspect at this point."
Anna sighed. "Well, there's a simple test that can probably tell whether or not she's real."
"Yup," she nodded her head and moved her arms behind her. "Just guess how many fingers I'm holding behind my back. If the ghost is real, then she can tell you the answer."
Mary floated to where she could see for herself. "The answer is four by the way."
"Oh," Mary exclaimed. "She just changed it to two."
"Alright then," Anna said, a hint of surprise in her voice. "Guess the ghost lady is real."
"Please do not refer to me as the ghost lady," Mary said while she floated back to where I was. "My name is Mary."
"The ghost lady says her name is Mary."
"Hello Mary," Anna said without looking in her direction. "Now, let's just concentrate on the fact that you can apparently see ghosts now. I know a few dozen or so people who would kill for an ability like that, considering that it shouldn't be possible."
"You say that, but is it really that rare to be able to see ghosts?"
"Yes," Anna replied. "Ghosts are souls of the deceased who have not passed on to whatever comes after death due to various reasons. Since they're just souls without physical bodies, there should be no way for mortals to be able to directly see them. Unless they create a spiritual body for themselves, awakened people should not be able to see them."
"Basically a projection made out of magic power," she answered. "So it doesn't make sense that only you're able to see her and I'm not."
"Is it rude to interrupt and question why this random girl you know is so knowledgeable about this magic stuff?"
"The two of us are magicians, even though I'm still one in training," I told Mary. "It's a complicated thing. I'm not even sure if you're able to read the brochure in your state."
"Alright, this is getting frustrating." Anna reached into her bag and pulled out her utility lighter. "If she really is a ghost, then I do know of a way where I should be able to communicate with her. This also ties into your next lesson anyway."
I straightened my back at that. "More magic lessons?"
"Watch closely," she said as she pointed her lighter towards the sky. "You've recently learned how to infuse your magical energy into external objects. This is just a focused application of the same concept. But in this case, you're projecting your magic power onto the world itself."
"For breath — I let the world hear my sigh. Answer my plead, and aid me in maintaining the separation of truth and illusion. Let my spirit roam free in this mirror of our true reality as I breathe life into this world."
The chant was a lot longer this time. A strange buzzing sensation rippled through the air, and I felt our surroundings shift as the world somehow changed into something more mystical.
"Some call this technique illusion barriers or the creation of wards," she said as she lowered her arm. "Others simply refer to it by the more literal name of spatial partitioning. This is a technique that separates the supernatural elements from the real world by using the planet's power to create a temporary pocket dimension. Here, the supernatural becomes more prominent as we strengthen our connection to the world."
"This... this feels familiar," I began. "You did something like this at the library?"
She nodded at that and turned to face Mary, who looked surprised at the fact that Anna could now see her.
"Now, let's see if I can learn anything about our new ghost friend."