AUTHOR: Read and review. This is not the most typical Beetlejuice story. Takes place a little while after the film...ah...you'll see. Please read and review!
In the afterlife, there is a time of reflection upon the life one had. For some it means haunting a place, for others it's merely a pit stop before moving on to a new life or retiring to a more permanent place in the realm of the afterlife. For those who passed by suicide, civil service eagerly awaits them. Our story is not about a reincarnated soul or a spook who has moved into retirement or even about a ghoul in civil service.
This is a story about a poltergeist.
1: After The Void
He hated falling.
Beetlejuice's stomach felt like it was swimming and the anticipation of waiting for the landing was killing him. Good thing he was already dead.
After waiting, what felt like an eternity, in the Neitherworld waiting room, he was led to a door. The "powers that be" hadn't sent a caseworker or even some flunky, instead it was one of the janitors who led him to a door. One step beyond the door and he fell.
"I hate voids!" Beetlejuice had screamed for the first few minutes. It was falling into a nothingness. It was black, so black that it hurt keep his eyes open for too long. The problem with voids was that you would fall for an amount of time and then you would suddenly land in a random spot in the Neitherworld. There was never a hint that the impact was coming. There wasn't a way to use any powers to get out of a void. A ghost in a void simply had to wait until the void ended. The only assurance was that all voids end.
As soon as Beetlejuice found himself starting to relax into the constant fall of the void, it ended. He landed with a heavy, broken thud on a sidewalk. He let out a low groan and took a moment before moving himself. He felt himself snap back together, as all ghosts automatically do, as he lay on his back. Distorted buildings towered over him and the starless sky was swirled in a dark jumble of colors like an oil slick.
He was home…kind of.
He picked himself up from the sidewalk and brushed himself off. He recognized the street and started making his way to his humble abode.
The Roadhouse was a small housing complex. A sense of relief came over Beetlejuice as he entered, what he called, his "condo". He crossed his living room and plopped down on his ratty mustard yellow couch. He rubbed his face, then pushed back the red tuxedo sleeve to check his watches. The first one read 8:35. The second one read Thursday, June 10, 2018. The third one…well, the third one didn't matter right now.
"Twelve fuckin' years?" Beetlejuice asked to no one. "You'd think they'd warn a guy." He looked down at his tuxedo and grumbled. With a snap of his fingers, he was in boxers and a robe. He was tired and worn out. "Twelve years…"
He pointed at the television across the room. The television kicked on during an old horror movie. The woman on the screen screamed and slowly made her way through a forest. Beetlejuice stood up and shuffled around his place. It hadn't been touched. He still had a pile of papers and various take-out boxes scattered around. His kitchen looked like a soft yellow war zone. Dirty dishes were piled high in the yellow sink. There were old splatters of something brown on the yellow fridge and something green was starting to grow out from the inside. The trash was full, and a few full bags sat next to the can. He could, of course, just take all the garbage outside and within hours it would be taken away by civil servants working on waste duty.
"What have we got in here?" Beetlejuice asked himself as he opened his fridge. The aroma knocked him back a little and he snorted. "That's a bit ripe, even for me."
Most everything in the fridge was rotten and covered in the expansive green mold; of course, there wasn't much in the fridge to begin with. The mold was emerging from an old casserole that he had received from a client. There was a carton of milk and the remains of what had been cheese. He frowned at the remains of homemade pasta sauce. It had once been red but was now a dark brown. It had been really good. He reached in the fridge for the one thing he really wanted – his last bottle of beer.
"Hopefully you haven't turned" Beetlejuice muttered. He twisted the cap and took a swig. Beer sprayed from his mouth. It was more than bad. "Dammit."
He chucked the bottle at the sink and sighed. He had options and he opted for the one of greatest convenience.
"Hey Jacques!" Beetlejuice said in an upbeat tone. He had stepped out to go across the walkway of the complex to his neighbor's place. His neighbor, Jacques LaLean, a French skeleton with a well groomed handlebar moustache answered.
"Be-atle-joose!" Jacques exclaimed. "I have not see you in forever, mon ami. Where 'ave you been?"
"Stuck in a void. It's a long story" Beetlejuice replied. He leaned against the doorframe. "You know man, I got back and I went to grab something from my fridge and everything is completely inedible. Anyway, I was wondering if I could just, you know, get a beer or something. I mean, you've always been a real pal."
"Oui, oui" Jacques said with a wave of a bony hand. Without skin, Jacques could be a tough one to nail down the expression on, but his voice was that of an exasperated friend who was familiar with their flaky friend's routine. "One moment."
Beetlejuice waited while the skeleton moved away from the door. He was back a moment later with two bottles of beer.
"If I only gave you one, you would just be back for another" Jacques told him. "Now, you will be fine."
"You know me too well, buddy" Beetlejuice said with a smirk. "Thanks, bonehead."
"Yeah, yeah" Jacques muttered with clacking teeth. "I want to hear about your time away."
"Mind if it waits until morning?" Beetlejuice asked. Jacques nodded and told him to get some rest.
Returning to his place with his two beers, Beetlejuice finally felt as if he could kick back for a while. He watched the film that was on the television with little interest. She had big pointy boobs and a half-decent face, but that was all the film had going for it. Midway through his beer, the screaming actress turned a certain way and the light hit her just right; it made Beetlejuice think about Lydia. His lip twitched with a sneer. It was something he would deal with in the morning. Right now, he just wanted to regroup, build his energy back up, and spend the night not having to worry about anyone but himself.
Beetlejuice woke with a start when something hit his living room window. He was familiar with the sound, but still got up to check. It was a dead blackbird. The Neitherworld was full of them and they were dumber than pigeons. Flying into windows was common. Beetlejuice watched as the bird jumped up from the ground and flew off.
"Dumb bird" Beetlejuice said to himself. Outside was the usual diffused light that bathed the Neitherworld. He didn't like the diffused light, but there was nothing he could do about it. At least he felt better. He turned from the window and tugged on the lapels of his robe. His attire changed to a loose pair of trousers, a red shirt with beetles printed on it, and an old pair of leather oxfords. He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a comb. As he walked around his place, he pushed his hair around with it. He used to be able to comb it out, but that was when he still bathed.
"I can't believe that I didn't even sleep in my bed" Beetlejuice chided to himself. He shoved the comb back into his shirt pocket and headed for his bedroom. It was rather large and a sported a bed with casket decorum. He had a few piles of clothes around the room. He went over to a dresser and looked through a drawer until he found what he was looking for. Smuggled and illegal in the Neitherworld, it was a small make-up mirror that he once took after killing an old lady in the mortal realm. He shoved it into his trouser pocket with a chuckle.
Sleep, in the Neitherworld, was used as a time of recouping energy. Ghosts who refused to sleep or be still often rode an initial energy spike, but then suffered a sudden drop in energy. It could be enough to make one fade and a faded shade wasn't able to make the grade. The faded could barely pick anything up or sit down or do much of anything. He wasn't stupid enough to do that, at least not often. While he had slept, his brain had replayed his business with the Maitlands, his business with the girl, and all the crap that had happened between then and now. He had a plan, but he had some snooping to do first.
He had been concerned that the "powers that be" were watching him since he had spent so long in the waiting room and in the void, the blonde ghost headed into town. At one point he had a small office, but passing by the location, it had been absorbed by the hair salon that it had shared a wall with.
"Can't a guy, some nobody like myself, just get a break?" Beetlejuice snapped. His initial reaction was to be worried about his stuff, but when he thought about it he realized that it had pretty much been trashed and never actually contained much of any belongings. He mellowed out, but still left with a sneer. It was a typical run of bad luck for him, but what did he expect after being gone for twelve years?
It had started to become warm, almost hot, when the wind began to blow. Beetlejuice mozied around the area to see if anyone had moved on or if there were any new places. He swung by the park where he picked up a bag of roasted beetles and worms. Despite what breathers thought, the beetles had an apple flavor and the worms a bacon flavor. After leaving the vendor, Beetlejuice grabbed a newspaper from the broken street-side newspaper box and went to find a park bench.
He sat in the middle of a bench and got comfortable. He had his roasted bugs propped up between him at the back of the bench and the newspaper open. He kept the paper aloft, as it provided ample screen, and pulled the small mirror from his pocket.
"Oh, I'm so tired" A shuffling fat man said to himself. Beetlejuice's head snapped up and he glared at the man.
"Beat it, Chubs!" Beetlejuice yelled at him. "Go find your own bench!"
"How rude!" The fat man said with a snooty uplift of his nose. As soon as he was far enough away, Beetlejuice went back to pretending to read the paper while focusing on the mirror.
"Show me the Maitlands" Beetlejuice demanded. The small mirror, instead of reflecting the red of his shirt, went black. "C'mon, c'mon."
It took a moment and the black started fading away, revealing the two ghosts. They were tooling around the attic space where they all had originally met, but they were starting to fade. He could almost make out the shape of a chair through Barbara and Adam was almost at the same point of fading.
"What a couple of losers" Beetlejuice said with a chuckle. He looked around to make sure no one was watching him, reached for a few bugs from his bag, and continued on. "Alright, show me Lydia."
He waited for the mirror. With mortals it always took a little longer. He set the mirror down and actually looked at the newspaper that was floating in front of him. There were some new business announcements, event announcements, notable crime from the police blotter, the obituaries….just the usual stuff. Someone had broken into the Hall of Knowledge, but the librarians had yet to figure out if anything was taken. A new dance school was opening up.
"Oh yeah" Beetlejuice said when he eyed the photo of the new instructor at a ballet barre. She had a decent rack and long shapely legs. "Might have to see if she knows how to tango."
He glanced down and saw that the mirror was showing Lydia Deetz, the goth girl that he was pretty much married to. He let the newspaper continue to float as he picked up the mirror to watch. She was older.
"Someone really grew up!" Beetlejuice said a little loud. Lydia was thin with a nice figure and large breasts. Beetlejuice glanced around before looking back at the mirror. "Yep." Beetlejuice pushed back his hair a little bit. "I'm going to have to swing by and really see what's lawfully mine."
He watched her work. She was sitting at a computer going through photo after photo. Every once in a while she would stop and look around, as if she had a feeling that she was being watched. He finally shoved the mirror back in his pocket and resumed reading the newspaper.
He was almost done with his bugs when he felt something smack him in the head. He looked around and found an envelope on the bench next to him. Air mail. He snorted and set the paper aside so he could open the letter.
Since you're back in the Neitherworld, please come see Mrs. Fairchild at the Hall of Knowledge promptly for a job.
Hall of Knowledge
"A job huh?" Beetlejuice mused. "How did they even know I was back?" He went to fold up his paper and saw a small article at the bottom of the front page announcing that he was back. "That answers that."
The wind that was blowing through the Neitherworld blew through the park, almost blowing Beetlejuice's paper and bugs away. He snatched both items and decided it might be worth his while to go see about this possible job. It had been twelve years and he hadn't made a single dime in that time. He wasn't broke, not by a long shot, but he was always after a little more money.
The dead were a strange breed. The majority worked if they wanted to, while some were forced to work for a while. Almost everywhere was open 24-hours, but it wasn't until mid-day that most of the inhabitants of the Neitherworld emerged from their dwellings. Beetlejuice liked the fact that he was usually up and out of his place before the masses. Now he was watching the first wave of ghosts move around the city as he wandered in the general direction of the Hall of Knowledge. It reminded him of 7AM in New York City in the mortal realm, but without all the niceties. He watched as an old lady with sunken features shoved a pair of green-toned girls into the side of a building.
Yep, definitely without all the niceties, Beetlejuice thought. He stopped at a bus stop and waited. According to one of his watches the bus should be showing up any moment. A woman in a summer dress and a floppy hat came over to wait for the bus. She had stab wounds on her upper body.
Beetlejuice smoothed some hair back and raised an eyebrow while he checked her out.
"Hey babe" Beetlejuice quirked a smile at her. He flashed the small news article about himself. "I'm BJ, you may have heard of me. I'm pretty well known around these parts." The woman looked at him, giving him a once over. "I'm even in the paper today."
"Have you read the article?" The woman asked in a perky voice.
Beetlejuice shrugged and scoffed with an animated, goofy expression. "Don't really need to. I'm pretty aware that I have returned to the Neitherworld. I'm pretty on top of that stuff, ya know."
The bus pulled up with the sound of hydraulic brakes. A skeleton in a suit left the bus.
"You should read the article" The dead woman said with a chuckle. She stepped onto the bus with Beetlejuice following her. He grabbed an open seat and skimmed the article. He didn't know what the woman was getting at. It was just an announcement article.
"Hey, wait a second" Beetlejuice said as he read. The article was an announcement followed by a warning about the self-proclaimed ghost with the most. It called him out for being a sleazy troublemaker and encouraged those with any problems to seek out assistance from their caseworker. "Someone wants all of my business." He looked over at the dead girl, resting an arm along the back of the empty seat next to him. "Hey babe! Care to get a drink with the Neitherworld's most sleazy troublemaker?"
The lady rolled her eyes, but smiled. Beetlejuice moved across the aisle to sit next to her. He went to open his mouth, ready to speak, when the bus made it's next stop. The bus driver called out that they had arrived at the Avenue of Halls.
"Come on!" Beetlejuice huffed. He just couldn't get a break. "Later, babes."
He stepped off the bus and it pulled away, almost eagerly. He stumbled a little, stabled himself, tugged on his shirt collar, then headed for the Hall of Knowledge.
The Hall of Knowledge, just like the other mighty Halls, looked to be of ancient design, in particular it looked inspired by ancient Greece. Beetlejuice hurried up the multitude of stone steps and entered. Unlike the warm Neitherworld air, the inside of the hall was cool like a tomb. He walked over to reception and waited for a the squat pig-faced woman to acknowledge him.
"May I help you?" She asked with a smile. As soon as she really looked at him, her smile started to fade.
"I got some air mail from someone here" Beetlejuice replied pulling out the letter. She took the letter and instantly she started to move around her station.
"Oh my! You're him" She said. She hit something on the desk and then picked up a phone. She spoke softly and ended it with a giggle. "Sir? Do you have a prefered name for us to use for you?"
"Oh, uh...Beetle or BJ works just fine" Beetlejuice muttered. It didn't matter if his name was used in the Neitherworld by a local. The well-rumored curse only took effect by an outsider like the Maitlands or by a breather. He wasn't going to kill the rumor though. He smiled at the short woman. "Unless you want me to give you a good reason to say the whole thing."
The receptionist laughed and blushed. "Two of the keepers will be up here momentarily, Beetle."
"Have you seen this article?" Beetlejuice asked plopping the paper down on the counter. She glanced at the article. "Look at that. Warning against my good skills."
"Well, you are rumored to be highly effective" The receptionist said. She read the article. "Returning after twelve years? Where did you go?"
"They had me falling through a void for a while" Beetlejuice replied as if that was the most ridiculous punishment ever. "Hey, how about after this little meeting you and me hit the town?"
"I can't just leave" The receptionist said with a big smile. Her face squished up when she smiled making her look like Miss Piggy, but with a really bad short haircut. Two keepers in dove grey robes made their way towards reception.
"Let me know if you change your mind" Beetlejuice said to the receptionist. He shoved a hand into his trouser pocket and met the two keepers. "Hey there."
The two men had the look of stiff academics. They looked at each other before they each took a turn shaking Beetlejuice's hand. The man with shoulder-length hair spoke first. "We are most please that you showed up, Beetle."
"We are in desperate need of assistance" The one with a ring of hair on his head said. They turned and hustled to a long hallway. "Please come with us. We need to speak somewhere private."
"I thought these places couldn't be spied on, or not easily anyway" Beetlejuice said. They ushered him into a study room and quickly shut the door. "Hey!"
"Mr. Beetle, please be calm" One of the keepers said. "I am keeper Aleph. This is keeper Godric. Did you hear about the break in last night?"
"Yeah, it was in the paper" Beetlejuice said. "Wait a minute! I didn't do it. I swear!"
"We don't think you did it" Godric told him. "We need you to help us find the person who did the breaking in."
"We did mention that we requested your presence for a job" Aleph reminded Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice watched both of the keepers and he moved to sit on the study table, perching one foot on a chair. He pulled a cigarette from his shirt pocket and used his finger as a lighter.
"I've never taken a job with any keepers before" Beetlejuice replied with a puff of smoke. "What are we talking about? Find the blowhard that broke in and what...bring them back here? Kill 'em?"
"Bring them back here" Aleph said. It was obvious that he didn't approve of the cigarette, but he kept his mouth shut.
"We can pay you $50,000 credits for the return of the fiend" Godric offered. "We could even help you cross ov-"
"Access" Beetlejuice said with a grim grin. "I want access to the restricted section."
"Absolutely not" Aleph said firmly.
Beetlejuice's shoulders dropped a little. "Had to try. Okay, okay, okay...how about access to one book from the restricted section?" He waited as they considered it. "For like...three hours?"
"Instead of the $50,000?" Aleph asked.
"No way. As part of" Beetlejuice said. Aleph snatched the cigarette from the fiend and put it out. "Hey!"
"Access to one book, of our choosing, from the restricted section for up to three hours, plus $30,000" Aleph offered. Godric gave a smug smile. Beetlejuice's face contorted into a twisted smile and he extended a hand to them.
"You got yourself a deal" Beetlejuice replied. Aleph reached forward and shook the poltergeists hand. "Now tell me all about this break in."