Let me tell you something about being dead: it sucks. I mean, it's not like you can watch TV- you can't grab the freaking remote. And even if you could, what's the point? You're dead. So after about the first six hours of worrying and being angry and screaming, I was well, just… bored.
I was lying on my bed with my head hanging off the side when the door to my cabin slammed open. Jeff was standing in the doorway, looking crazy. "Ames?" he yelled, holding onto the doorway with enough force to rip off the molding. "Are you in here?"
"Yeah," I sighed. "It took you long enough."
He sighed in relief, collapsing on top of my bed. "How are you doing?"
"Well," I said, lifting my head to look at him. "I was doing okay and then you sat on top of me and now I'm a little creeped out. Oh. And I'm dead."
Jeff swore and jumped off the bed. "Sorry. You could tell me where you are, you know, so I don't… whatever." He waved a hand around like it didn't matter. "You're not dead. When I found you in the hold, you still had a pulse."
"Jeff." The look I gave him was pointless since he couldn't see me. "I'm invisible. I'm translucent. And I can float. What about that says alive to you?"
He shrugged. "I know, but you had a pulse and you were breathing."
I turned over, facing the wall, like I would have done if he could have seen my face. "What did you do to me?" I murmured to a not-present (at least I hoped) Jack. Suddenly, even though I was on a boat, I had to get out of the cabin. Just go somewhere, anywhere else. And it's not like I was afraid of drowning anymore. I didn't have real lungs to get filled with water.
"I'm out," I told Jeff and walked through the door. I could hear him protesting, and walking around the room, knocking into furniture as he tried to figure out where I was. I left him there, heading toward the cargo hold. I really was a ghost, I mused sarcastically as I paused in front of the door. Haunting the place I'd been killed. Er… comatized.
Whatever. I'm giving myself a headache.
The point is, I was just minding my own business, trying to find my un-corpse when he came out of nowhere. No, not Jack (which, looking back, I would have preferred), but someone who thought he was just as important. I could tell by the way he suddenly appeared in front of the door, glaring down at me over the tops of his aviators. I looked him over in disbelief, taking note of his beat-up leather jacket, equally battered jeans, and white t-shirt. Seriously. Like he was a greaser from the fifties or something.
"Wait, let me guess," I snapped, and my hands flew to my hips despite my abhorrence of teenage behavior. "This is your cargo hold. God, I swear, you ghosts are so territorial over the weirdest stuff-"
"Whoa, cool it, honey," he drawled, like some bad line from a John Travolta movie, and then he thumbed his nose.
No, I am not kidding.
"You wanna tell me what a dolly like you in is doin' down here?" He grinned, and looped his thumbs through his jeans. "Or maybe you're just ditchin' a fake out."
"I don't know what that means, but I'm pretty sure I'm not doing whatever you're thinking." I slid one foot back and raised a fist, like I'd seen boys do on those old TV shows. "Now move before I… knock your lights out or whatever."
Fonzy stopped grinning.
"If I hit girls- and I don't- I'd introduce you to the floor," he stuck is his finger in my face and glared at me.
I smacked his hand away, "Whatever. I need to get in there, and since you're such a gentleman and all, do you think you could get out of the way?"
He shook his head, fists on his hips. "No one goes in there but the boss- no one dead anyhow." He narrowed his eyes at me, looking me up and down. "Say, how'd you get this way, anyway?"
"Ask your boss. And I'm not dead." I held out a hand and pressed against the wall, which made a slight groaning sound. "See? I'm just… an astral projection or something."
He snorted derisively. "That don't prove nothin'. I could pull the whole wall off if I wanted to. "
"But I'm not dead," I insisted. "Look, the last time I saw my body, it was in there. With the bathtub." He looked unimpressed by this fact and for some reason it really ticked me off. "By God, if you don't get out of my way in two seconds-!"
"Woah, woah!" His eyes widened as he took a step back and held up placating hands. "Cool your jets- no need to blow anything up. Boss would be real happy with that," he muttered, and phased through the door.
I blinked in surprise. If he thought a little yelling was impressive, he should have been around when Jeff and I got into fights. I reached out to walk through the door, like I was walking through the dark, and stopped. What the hell?
The greaser's head and shoulders came through the door and he snapped, "Hey, girlie. You comin'?"
"My arm is glowing green." I looked from my hand, still held out in front of me, to him. "Why is it doing that?"
He scratched the back of his head. "Well, my best guess is that you got one nasty seal on you. But what the hell do I know? I'm dead."
With that, he walked disappeared into the door, and I followed. God, this was awful- I was giving myself the creeps. He seemed to notice because he tried to comfort me with, "You think that's bad, you shoulda seen yourself a second ago, all purple and sh-… stuff. The boss really put one over on you, didn't he?"
"He's not my boss." The cargo looked the same, full of boxes and suitcases and that stupid grated metal floor. The dark didn't seem to bother me anymore, though, and I wasn't sure if that were a good thing or not. I could see from where I was standing to the other end without straining. It made me feel like a freaking vampire. "Do you see me anywhere?"
He gave me a look.
"No," I said in exasperation, "not me, I mean, my body. Look, I was just lying here, right next to the… hey." My brow furrowed. "Where's the bathtub?" It was gone along with my body, and I was supposed to die in it. Coincidence? I think not.
"Hey!" I called, and when I got no answer, turned to see the greaser leaning against the wall, not paying any attention. "Hey!"
"I have a name, you know." He straightened to a slouch, which is a good as it got for him, and extended a hand. "Friends call me Johnny."
"That's great," I said, ignoring his hand. "But where's the bathtub that was here an hour ago?"
"Lady," he said irritably, "I may be dead, but I got better things to do than keep track a the cargo. Besides." He narrowed his eyes. "You're marked. And the boss keeps pretty close tabs on his property."
"He's not my- oh, God. Forget it." I sighed, starting through the cargo hold. I only got a couple of feet before I was suddenly stepping on unmistakable black leather shoes and looked up to stare into blue-green eyes. I swore, jumping backwards.
Jack grinned and looked at me through his dark blond eyelashes. "I've got your first job."