Chapter 17 - Temporal Anomaly
Anna continued to stare at Mary, who grew more and more nervous the longer they interacted.
"Describe what she looks like to me," she told me. "The spatial partition allows me to see her, but she only looks like a weird blurry blob to me. I need a better idea of what she looks like if I want to be able to visualize her better."
"Is that because magic is based on mentality?"
"Close enough," she replied. "I'm using the ambient magic in the air to give birth to a natural form for Mary to take. Since I have one hand directing the steering wheel in this situation, I need an idea of which direction I'm leading the magic towards."
Weird analogy, but I got the point.
"She has wavy black hair with a lithe figure and she looks like she's in her mid-twenties."
"Aww, you're making me blush." Mary covered up her face with her hands. "But the truth is that I'm actually in my late thirties. Or at least that was the case when I died."
My jaws dropped at that. "You're that old?!"
"What?" Anna asked, not hearing the other half of the conversation. "What'd she say?"
"Now don't make such an emphasis on my age," she puffed her chest at that. "If you must know, I'd be forty-one if I was still alive."
"So you were thirty-nine when you died."
"Ugh," Anna shuddered. "Three thirteens, never a good sign."
I stared at her in surprise. "Is numerology actually real?"
"Eh~ it's a hit and miss for some people," she replied lazily. "But some magicians specialize in it. Now, I need specific details. Where exactly did you find her?"
"At the bus stop in my neighborhood," I answered. "She says she's been there for two whole years."
"Alright," Anna said. Something in the air shifted, and for a moment, I thought Mary's appearance flickered for a few seconds. "Now, I just need one more important detail."
"What color are her eyes?"
That question surprised me because I didn't think to check until now. I stared at Anna's face and tried to concentrate on the details, which was somewhat hard with her transparency.
"They're... sliver," I said in a surprised voice. "They're silver, just like me."
"Huh," Anna said. "That might be an important detail, but we'll have to investigate that later. Now, you might want to close your eyes."
A flash of light surrounded Mary's form and I winced as my hands flew up to cover my face. The flash of light continued for several more seconds before it dimmed and slowly disappeared.
"Ugh, give a guy a better warning next time will you?" I lowered my arms and stared at Mary. "I don't see anything different about her."
Anna coughed from where she stood. "Well, I'll happily inform you that I can now see her."
"Oh, you can?" Mary asked with a surprisingly clear voice. The woman herself blinked at that. "Why does it feel so funny?"
"It's because you're inhabiting a temporary body at the moment," Anna explained. "This way, I can communicate with you as long as this spell holds up."
Mary twirled around in the air at that. Now that I knew what Anna did, I did kinda notice that she felt different somehow. As if her presence was just more than it was before.
"This... might get taking used to," she admitted. Turning to Anna, she smiled. "But I don't think that's a bad thing. Thank you, young lady."
"Thank me by answering a few questions of ours," Anna replied. "Now, who are you?"
"As I said before, my name is Mary." The ghost lady did a little curtsy at her introduction. "As far as I'm aware, I found myself waiting at a bench two years ago with no memory of who I am other than my name. I have done nothing but wait at that bench for the next few years since."
"How come you've never left the bench until now?" I asked.
"I don't know," she answered. "I was waiting for something. I didn't know what I was waiting for, only that I knew that I had to stay at that bench until I found what I needed."
Anna gestured towards me. "And that is Wren?"
"Nope," Mary answered. "Which is weird, since I know that he's not what I'm looking for. I still feel an urge to go back to the bench to wait for what I'm looking for."
Is this like a bounded ghost scenario? Some kind of lingering regret tied to a location?
"So why did you follow me?"
"We are the same," she replied. "That was the feeling I felt after meeting you. I was curious why that was the case, so I decided to follow you and see where that feeling came from."
"What are your intentions from this point on?" Anna asked.
It took Mary a moment to think. "I still wish to remain at the bench until I have found what I am looking for. But this feeling... would it be a bother if I ask the two of you questions now and then?"
"I can't see you without this spell," Anna said before gesturing over to me. "If you ever want to ask me something, make sure to inform Wren first so that we can set up a meeting."
"I'm fine with that too," I added.
Mary smiled at us. "Then I shall give my thanks now."
"Well, I'll be ending the spell now. I won't be able to see you after this for a while," Anna said before holding out her hand. "It was nice to meet you, Mary."
Mary stared at the offered hand for a few seconds before she blinked. Hesitantly, she reached out and shook it.
Anna nodded at that. "If you learn how to do it yourself, you might be able to create a body for yourself. What I did today wasn't particularly complicated."
Mary smiled at that. "Then I'll have something to look forward to."
The two separated and Mary turned to me.
"I'll still be able to see you, but I guess this is good enough for introductions." I held out my own hand. "I'll help whenever I can, so just give me a call if you ever have any questions."
"I'll do that," she smiled and began to shake my hand.
The moment our hands touched, the two of us yelped and quickly drew back from each other as we felt something sting upon contact. I saw something wisp from both of our hands, and the two of us looked at each other in surprise.
"What... was that?"
"I... am unsure myself," Mary replied. "But maybe it would be best if we did not do that again."
Anna just stared at us curiously the entire time.
During the break, I continued going through my investigation.
Mary had left sometime during my second period, her enthusiasm diminished after finding out that I wasn't going to be doing anything special while school was in session. Apparently, she made plans to have a girls-only session with Anna while the two of them tried to get closer to one another.
I wondered if it said something about Anna that the only person I've seen her act friendly around was a deceased middle-aged woman.
Then again, she didn't seem too put off with talking to me. And she knew that I was actually five years older than I looked, so maybe she was just more comfortable with talking to people older than her.
Not that I always acted as my mental age entailed, but it might just have something to do with her upbringing.
From the list of suspects that I gathered yesterday, I still hadn't checked on Mr. Williams yet. I planned on checking him next since I just visited Ms. Hankins's classroom. Just like I suspected, she wasn't the person I saw in my vision.
Walking to his classroom, I knocked on the door and heard somebody call out from inside.
Entering the room, I found myself staring at a handsome older man sitting at his desk doing something. Several students were also in the room working on some kind of arts and craft project. Almost a quarter of the room had space taken up by them, and I found myself being noticed by a few kids before being ignored in favor of their work.
The older man finally looked up from his desk. "Hello there. Can I help you with anything?"
I took a quick look at his eyes and saw that they were a normal blue.
That meant that I had no other reason to be here. "O-Oh, nothing. I was just visiting."
He gave me a curious look.
"Ah," he exclaimed. "Were you one of the students waiting outside my class yesterday?"
I gave him a surprised look and he chuckled at that.
"Your friend Maria told me about meeting you yesterday when she came to join us. I believe that was after school yesterday?" He shook his head. "Regardless, I can give you the tour if you're also interested in joining."
I didn't exactly want to join, but I was curious about what they did. "If that's not too much trouble."
"Oh, it isn't." He waved his hand at that and gestured to the group of students in the classroom. "I'm sure you already know, but I'm in charge of the student staff members that help with organizing school events. A lot of our jobs consist of making decorations and setting them up around the school. We usually get a few of our students coming in during the break to work on them where I can store them away later."
"Some of us are also allowed to bring them home," one of the students added. "But yeah, most of our stuff is done at school."
"Thanks, Jenkins." Mr. Williams said to the student that spoke before turning back to speak to me. "If you're not that great with arts and crafts, we also have student representatives who go around various groups and making sure that everything is on schedule. It's still a minor organization, so we do need some people in administrative roles."
"What kind of jobs do they do?" I asked.
"Nothing major," he replied. "Maybe talk to some of the sports teams to help organize upcoming school games. Or help figure out when is a good time to set up fire safety drills and plan campus safety. Stuff like that."
I froze at that.
Sports teams. Safety drills. Campus safety.
I would have been an idiot if I hadn't noticed the massive amount of potential in having this job. My knowledge of the future was spotty at best, and Anna and I were currently searching for an apostle at school.
Assuming that there were certain events in the future that were actually cover-ups for supernatural incidents, I needed a better way to investigate and get to the source of these problems.
So obviously, I asked a question.
"Where can I sign up!"