Oooh! A ghost story! This one's all my idea, and, again, is not a part of the New Adventures, although there are some similarities, particularly concerning what the kids decide to do with themselves once they're out of the Realm. And I may be using The Wicca Men again in the future, because I think it's cool. Any resemblance parts of this story may have to any other popular ghost/horror movies is probably thoroughly intentional! Sorry about the language.
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'Wake up... For the love of God, wake up! Come on. Come on, Eric. Wake up!'
But he couldn't move. He could only lie in darkness, paralysed, as the panic within him grew. There was something coming. Some terrible menace, but what was it? What was it... He tried to cry out but his mouth was frozen shut and his vocal chords couldn't make any sound greater than a hiss.
'Wake up... Wake up...'
Something was shaking him by the shoulders, but still he couldn't move. He was falling... was he? Wasn't he? There were hands on his shoulders. It was here! It was...
He gasped into consciousness, propping himself up on his elbows and staring about himself in disorientation.
He was on a sofa. On his sofa, in his room. He was still in his Bowling Alley uniform, shoes and all. The lights were on, and there was an open book on his chest. He rubbed his eyes, moaning slightly. He must've fallen asleep reading again.
'You must've fallen asleep reading again.'
Eric gave his concerned friend a sarcastic little smile.
'You don't say.'
Presto stood up, sighing. Eric was working way too hard. He had been looking increasingly exhausted recently. It had been such a pity to wake him now, but this was going to be a very important Job.
Eric sat up, still rubbing his stinging eyes. 'What time is it?'
'Shit!' Eric leapt to his feet, eyes widening. 'I'll be late! Why didn't you wake me earlier?'
Presto rolled his eyes. Ah, the many disadvantages of living in a basement with no windows... 'In the evening.'
Eric talked straight over his friend, ignoring him. 'Jesus, I don't have time to shower... do I need to shave?... Listen, can you call shift manager, tell him I'm gonna be late...'
Presto grabbed Eric's collar as he hurried past, stopping him.
'It's nine at night, Eric.'
'Really?' Eric's relief quickly turned to irritation. 'So what the Hell did you wake me up for?'
Presto picked up the large duffel bag that he had set on the floor along with his jacket. 'We got a Job.'
'For sure? A Wicca Men Job?' Eric grinned excitedly. 'Cool! How much are they paying us?'
Presto winced as Eric began to change into the first jeans and sweater he could find on the floor, without waiting for an answer.
Eric sighed despairingly. 'Presto, what have I told you about trying to do the bookings yourself? You're hopeless. Just leave the negotiating to me tonight, OK? We should get a few bucks for our trouble...'
'They offered, but I said no.'
'You said no?' Eric opened and closed his mouth a couple of times in disbelief. 'What... Why? What reason could you possibly have for turning down payment for your first commission?'
Presto paused briefly. 'It's Sheila O'Brian.'
'Oh. I see.' Eric's expression softened. 'She OK?'
Presto shrugged. 'Sounds like she's got a spook, so she's kinda scared.'
'Understandable.' Eric stooped to put on a pair of battered, much loved trainers. A thought struck him and he looked up at his friend. 'She didn't mention anything about... you know... remembering...?'
'She didn't say.' Presto picked up Eric's jacket and handed it to him. 'But if she's anything like the rest of us... you know we all promised we'd let each other know if any memories came back...'
'Yeah...' began Eric, cut off suddenly by the doorbell ringing.
Presto looked at Eric brightly. 'That'll be the cab.'
Eric nodded, smiling slightly to himself. 'Not exactly Ecto One.'
'We can make siren noises out of the window, if you like,' grinned Presto.
Eric zipped up his jacket and took one of the handles of the heavy duffle bag. He caught Presto's eyes, the younger teenager's expression inscrutable as ever. 'You frightened?'
'Are you kidding?'
'What's that, a yes or a no?'
The pair laughed amongst themselves as they climbed the stairs out of the basement, and neither of them noticed the word scrawled on the back of Eric's discarded work shirt, the large, dark letters that read, simply, 'REMEMBER'.---
'Remember what?' Presto pointed to the the word written in marker pen on the back of Eric's hand. Eric turned his attention away from the river of lights streaming past the taxi window and looked at the hand himself, frowning in confusion.
'I don't know,' he admitted at last. 'I can't remember.'
The irony of an amnesiac forgetting what a reminder note was for wasn't lost on either of them. They shared a small, sad laugh as Eric went back to watching the world fly past the window.
'You're not having a... a relapse, are you?'
Eric didn't look at Presto, but shook his head at the moving lights.
Presto bit his lip in the uncomfortable silence.
'Why don't you jack that stupid Ten Pin Monkey job in?' he blurted, eventually.
'You know why.'
'But you're running yourself down.' Presto managed to meet eyes with Eric's reflection in the window. 'At least cut down your hours. You don't really need to pay my Mom rent for that basement.'
'Yes I do, Presto.' Eric still didn't look directly at his friend. 'I need to show that bastard I can do this on my own. He needs to know he can't control my life any more.'
'He called again today, you know,' added Presto. 'Well... his secretary did... but I think you're winning.'
'He knows where to find me,' answered Eric, with a tone to his voice that indicated that that was the end of the conversation.
Presto sat back in the cab and tried to gather his thoughts. Sheila O'Brian... who'd have thought it? Of course he couldn't charge her, a fellow Freak. There were only a handful of them, those kids that had gone missing one ordinary Sunday afternoon and had returned a few days later, in wretched states, with absolutely no memory of what had happened to them. From that day on, for the entire fourteen months that had passed since, not one of them had been able to remember the events that had led to them being discovered by a kindly stranger, passed out together amongst the tumble-down remains of the old funfair, disorientated, emaciated and bizarrely dressed. But they had all sensed changes within themselves, and felt a great bond between the group, even though nobody had the faintest idea why. And they all suffered from nightmares, which, again, they couldn't remember the details of once they awoke. They all stayed in touch, of course - there was almost a sense of family amongst the young amnesiacs, but a month or so after they had been found they had made the mutual decision to try to get on with their lives as normally as possible, to wean themselves off each other. It had worked, for a while. But then there had been that storm that had swept Eric into Presto's basement. The doorbell chime at well past midnight, the bedraggled black haired youth standing with a suitcase and an apology on his doorstep... since then, they'd been inseparable. And now Sheila had called on him. It seemed that they couldn't stay apart.
Presto wondered what had scared Sheila so much. He'd heard she'd taken up Self Defence classes lately. She could certainly handle herself much better than she used to. As could he. He'd traded in his marked playing cards for a tarot set pretty much as soon as he got back after going missing. He didn't want to do stupid tricks any more. He could do real magic. He could. He could! His parents worried about it, of course, but he kept himself out of mischief, so they let him get on with it and hoped that it was just another phase. They had not been particularly pleased when Eric had come up with the idea of doing witchcraft professionally. Presto was, after all, still only fourteen. But this was OK... this was just helping out a friend in need... what had spooked Sheila like that?
The cab drew to a halt outside the O'Brian house. Whatever it was, mused Presto grimly, he was going to find out about it really soon.---
Sheila knew full well who it was at the door, but still looked through the peephole as a matter of course before opening it.
'Who ya gonna call...?' grinned Eric as she swung the door open to them.
She smiled in relief. 'Hey guys.'
She put an arm around each boys' outside shoulder and hugged them both, together.
'I'm so glad you could make it tonight.' She could feel the tears coming. God, she'd missed them both so much!
Eric was the first to notice the shudder of her shoulders, and broke out of the hug.
'Shit.' He brushed a tear away from her face. 'What the Hell happened, Sheila?'
Sheila shook her head. 'Weird things. For a while. But tonight... my parents are away, see... and... something attacked Bobby.'
The two boys spoke at the same time, Presto asking what kind of "thing", and Eric asking whether her little brother was all right.
Sheila ushered the pair into the house, wiping her eyes. 'He's pretty shaken up, but he'll be OK,' she sighed. 'We don't know what it was, but it was strong and it was invisible.'
Presto walked with her as Eric trailed with the bag. 'How did it attack him?'
'He was just watching TV,' replied Sheila, 'and I went into the kitchen... next thing I knew, he was screaming.' She paused, her hand on the living room door. 'I ran in, and... he was on the floor, shaking. Like something had him by the shoulders, y'know?'
'Jesus,' whispered Eric.
Sheila pushed open the door, gently, and the three of them stepped cautiously into the living room. The ten year old boy was lying on his belly in the middle of the carpet, drawing in a notebook, a serious expression on his face.
'Bobby?' piped Sheila, 'there's some old friends here to see you.'
The boy didn't look up from his drawing. 'Hey, Presto. Hey, Eric.'
Presto stepped up to the sofa and ran his hands over it, concentrating, trying to eke the memory of the attack out of it.
'Did something scary happen to you tonight, Bobby?' he asked.
Bobby still didn't look up. 'Well, I got thrown around the room by an angry poltergeist. Does that count as scary?'
'You know it was a poltergeist?' Presto's hands found a cold patch just above one of the sofa's seats. There was definitely something wrong with this room.
'I know it was mad,' replied the child, still drawing, 'I think it's the Thing I've been getting the nightmares about. There was the same voice in my head.'
'A voice?' asked Eric, sitting on the floor next to the boy, 'did it say anything?'
'Told me to wake up,' muttered Bobby, 'told me to remember him.'
Eric cocked his head slightly at the boy's drawing. Another unicorn. Bobby had been drawing unicorns obsessively ever since the Incident.
'What'cha drawing there, Bob?'
Bobby slammed the notebook shut, suddenly. 'Nothin'.'
'Then what happened, Bobby?' asked Presto.
'Then it stopped.' Bobby sat up and looked over at Presto. 'That's all. Geez, what's up with you guys?'
'They're just trying to help, Bobby,' said Sheila from her corner next to the door, 'I'm sick of being scared all the time, aren't you?'
'So, what,' came a familiar voice from the kitchen, 'they're Exorcists now?'
Eric beamed automatically at the young woman framed in the kitchen doorway. 'It can't be.'
But it could. There she was, leaning against the side of the door, a mug at her lips, masking the smile that her eyes couldn't hide.
'Diana Fucking Jones. Well well well well well.'
She removed the cup from her mouth, using it to toast him sarcastically.
'Eric Fucking Montgomery. Bonjour.'
Eric got to his feet, still grinning. 'Don't wear it out, Sweetheart.'
'Not your Sweetheart, Sweetheart.' She drank again. 'So how are you these days?'
'I'm good. I'm living in a Witch's basement, but I'm good.' He tried to lean against the sofa's back, but missed. 'So what are you doing here?' he asked, recovering quickly.
'Babysitting...' began Diana.
'She's been getting the nightmares bad recently,' interrupted Bobby, ignoring the tall girl's dirty look, 'she's been staying with us for a week now.'
'Us girls have to stick together,' shrugged Sheila with a little smile.
A silence fell. They knew full well that they were all thinking the same thing.
It was Presto who said it, at last.
'Wow. So here we all are again.'
They all nodded. For the first time in over a year, they were all together again. Together alone for the first time since the five of them had woken up in that wasteland, their memories destroyed.
The words had scarcely left his lips before the smashing noises began in the empty kitchen.