Clockwork kept an ear out as Daniel's core hummed, chittered, and purred, the tone rising and falling. When appropriate, he answered it with his own hums and even a few chirps.

After all, to learn a language you needed someone to speak it to you, to speak it with you. There were certain shortcuts possible with the languages generally known as 'Ghost Speak' when compared to living languages, but conversational partners were still a necessity.

As was, in the case of Daniel and other young ghosts, a period of child-like babble. Encouraging it helped them learn faster.

However, Daniel didn't understand Ghost Speak very well, so Clockwork said his next words in English.


"Yeah?" said Daniel, looking up from his math homework. "What is it?"

"We have an errand to run," said Clockwork.

Daniel's eyebrows flew up. "You can leave? I mean, um. Sorry. That was rude."

"I understand your surprise, but rest assured that the Observants do not control me that much."

"What kind of errand is it?" asked Daniel, putting aside his book and hurrying to Clockwork's side. "Bills? Groceries? Mail?"

"Closer to groceries than bills," said Clockwork, "and closer still to mail. I have some things I need to pick up in person, and the journey might give you some additional insight into ghost culture."

"Okay," said Daniel, as they flew out. "That sounds cool. What kind of insights?"

"You'll see."


As they flew, Daniel took it upon himself to ask questions about everything that passed by. Some of those questions, Clockwork knew, were legitimate curiosity. Others were thinly veiled attempts to get Clockwork to give away something about what was happening in the future, however near it may be.

However, long before Daniel could wear through Clockwork's patience - a quality strengthened over many interactions with the Observants - their destination came into sight. A small island, covered in mist.

"There we are," said Clockwork. "Now, you should be aware of two things about this island."

"Yes?" asked Daniel, eagerly.

"One is that time runs differently there. One week within is one hour without, so we may spend more time there than you usually would."

"Cool," said Daniel, "is that why you're coming here?"

"It is one of the reasons. The other thing you should know is that human languages are not spoken there."

Daniel, who had been learning about how the Ghost Zone worked, frowned. "Are not, as in no one speaks them, or as in no one can speak them, even if they learned."

"The latter," said Clockwork.

"Oh," said Daniel, looking at the island with much less enthusiasm. "Okay."

"Ghost languages aren't too terribly difficult. I'm sure you'll be able to talk to everyone there before we leave."

"Sure as in you looked, or just sure?"

"I'm sure," Clockwork said, without further elaboration. "Immersion is the best way to learn a language."

"Do you even have an errand here?" asked Danny. "Or is this your way of making me learn ghost languages?"

Clockwork smiled.