Remember Me Babe?
AN: Hurrah, I'm back from the dead! Didja miss me? It's been like, a year, I know, I know. Bad me. Shame on me. For those who have given up on this story for lost, here's a big kiss, and a dedication of this chapter to YOU!
;This Chapter Is Hereby Dedicated To All Former Reader's Who Have Continued Hoping For Another Chapter, And All New Readers Who Are Wondering Where The Hell This Story Came From. Have Fun!;
As always, owning Beetlejuice is a dream well beyond my modest means. So stop suing me!
As Beetlejuice and Lydia stuck to the shadows in the long, boring corridor, Lydia reflected on several things. First and foremost, was WHAT IN GOD'S NAME WAS SHE THINKING?!
Her other thoughts were marginally calmer. One of her more peaceable reflections was remembering how, before she had died, she had just started feeling the painful claw of arthritis in her knuckles. The problem with dying, of course, was that after you were dead it wasn't as though any of your physical ailments went away. No, of course not. If you were a cripple in life, you were a cripple in death. If you had painful, debilitating arthritis in life, you had just better learn to unlive with it in the afterlife.
Lydia's arthritis certainly wasn't debilitating, its progress had been limited to the occasional twinge. But here in the hallway, the joints of her fingers hurt like mad. Lydia remembered the old men sitting on their porches rubbing their knees and remarking, "A storm's coming."
Lydia flexed her stiff, painful fingers, and muttered, "A storm's coming."
Little did she know how right she was.
Beetlejuice tried hard to keep his mind on task. He had suffered more than he had realized from the lack of movement over the last two weeks than he had thought. His energy, his juice, and his muscles were all aching to be unleashed and cause his trademark destruction. But in this situation; where a single mistake could get him whisked away straight back into his cell, or worse, exorcism, he had to demonstrate more than his usual level of control.
The plan . . . well, the plan was simple. Get Juno out of her office, and go through her records as quick as possible. Snitch his files. Destroy them.
How to get her out? He had no clue. Since she was dead, she didn't need breaks. She had no home to go home to, and she didn't need to eat. Something that he hadn't wasted a lot of thought on before, but she lived in that office.
People died all the time. They don't take breaks.
He stopped in the corridor, stymied. And then, like a miracle, he heard Miss Argentina's shrill voice screaming out, "Juno! Juno, come here quick! You're not going to believe this!"
When no Juno came pounding out of her office immediately, Beetlejuice felt his hopes sink back into his shoes. Miss Argentina apparently noticed as well, because her voice rose even shriller. "JUNO!" she screeched.
The tiny old woman slammed her office door open, puffing cigarette smoke like a train, her face bright red. Beetlejuice pressed himself against the wall and held his breath. She stormed right past him and on, never noticing him there.
He let out a sigh of relief, and offered a grin at Lydia. "Nice ventriloquism job there," he praised her. She offered a wry smile, thinking back to their almost-wedding.
Without wasting any more time, the two dove into her office, and proceeded to tear it apart looking for the records. Lydia upended to filing cabinet, rescuing only the B section, and started flipping through it. Beetlejuice turned her desk on it's side and started going through the drawers, partially, Lydia thought privately, out of spite.
"Beater, nope; Beckett, not even close; Becle, how am I even supposed to pronounce that?Bedle, no; Bedman, nuh-uh; Beet, getting closer; Beetleman, nope; Beeves, uh-uh – Wait! B, your name isn't in here!" she told him, alarmed.
He popped up from underneath Juno's desk. "Try finding it with the other spelling," he suggested.
Lydia bent her head over the records again, and traced her finger down the list. "Bester, BesVue, Besyo, Betag, Betby, Betcher, Betelgeuse . . . There it is!" she gasped softly.
Beetlejuice abandoned Juno's desk and snatched the file out of Lydia's hands, looking at it disbelievingly. "That was so easy," he muttered, eyes wide.
Lydia snorted. "Sure. The hard part will probably be destroying it. Come on, let's get out of here before she comes back." They slunk out through the door, and were a good ways down the never-ending hall when they heard Juno come storming back, complaining none-too-quietly about the "idiot receptionist." They stifled their giggles and kept going.
Lydia shivered. "I can't stand this, just open it here!" she begged. The suspense was (ha ha) killing her. What would Beetlejuice's file look like? What did any ghost's file look like, for that matter?
They hunched over, looming over the file. Slowly, with reverence, Beetlejuice grasped a corner of the binder, and began to pull it open.
One sheet of paper peeked out at them, with only those words, Nice Try scrawled on it. Beetlejuice put his head on his knees. Lydia simply stared, too shocked to say anything.
After a moment, Beetlejuice rose and threw the decoy on the floor, his face dark. His shoulder jerked as if he had just been about to turn and then thought better of it. He stared at the binder on the floor, and then leaped into the air.
Lydia jerked in surprise, watching Beetlejuice throwing a silent temper tantrum, stomping on the file until it was mangled beyond repair.
With an air of icy composure, he stepped away from the ruined mass of plastic and twisted metal rings. The act of destroying the binder had been somewhat cathartic for him, and he felt a little better.
"We'll have to keep looking," Lydia finally offered, not being able to think of anything else to say.
And so they kept walking down that miserable corridor looking for something that would give them a hint, like a sign that said, "Records and Registration,". Of course they did not.
After a long, long time of walking, Lydia said wearily, "B, I think this hallway goes on forever. Do we actually have a destination in mind?"
"Of course it goes on forever!" he snapped. "And yes, I'm trying to find the lower levels. Everything always ends up there eventually. It's been a while since I've worked here though, I don't exactly remember where the entrance is."
"Let me get this straight. My caseworker's office building has Hell in its basement?!"
"Yeah, that's about how it is." Beetlejuice smiled reminiscently. "I remember we always used to send the new; you know, the really raw workers down there to put things in storage. Not before telling them all sorts of horror stories about it first, though. There was one who actually pissed his pants going down. And man, if you think normal piss is bad, you should smell dead-guy piss. It's in a league of its own! So he comes back up the stairs smelling like dead-guy piss--"
Lydia sighed and tuned him out. After several long minutes with B droning in her ear, she was broken out of her reverie.
"Ah!" Beetlejuice said, sounding surprised. "Here we are." He stopped in front of what appeared to be a blank wall. Lydia waited for a moment.
She began to feel antsy after a few seconds, and so leant over and whispered, "What now?" in his ear.
He was silent for a moment, then said grandly, "I am willing it open!"
"I see," Lydia said, nodding her head. After a moment, she whispered, "Is it working?"
He didn't bother answering.
Suddenly B snapped his fingers. "I've got it!" he exclaimed. He immediately began digging in his vest pocket, mumbling to himself, and pulling out an odd assortment of objects, such as one of Lydia's hair ribbons, several snakes, and a three-legged bar stool.
"Not there," he muttered, and continued emptying out his pockets. A small piece of paper fluttered down near Lydia's feet, and she picked it up, about to ask B if it was what he wanted, when she caught sight of the drawing on its other side.
It was a near picture-perfect rendering of her seventeen-year old self, every detail etched with exquisite care. The largeness of her eyes was exaggerated, as well as the fullness of her lips, but otherwise it was eerily faithful. The paper was worn and soft from handling, with deep creases lining it. Whatever its significance to B, it had received a lot of attention from him.
Lydia hastily folded it and stuffed it in her own pocket. For some reason, she didn't want B to know she had seen it. Presently, B was shoulder deep in his own hip pocket, face screwed up in concentration.
"Aha!" he shouted, retracting his arm with a dirty, cracked laminated card gripped tight in his grubby fist.
"I don't think your card is going to work here anymore, B. Taking an ex-employee off the employee list is one of the first things any business will do, standard procedure." Lydia pointed out.
B stuck his card into a crack in the wall, and a section of the wall rolled back, accompanied by a stinking cloud of brimstone.
"Or... not. I guess," Lydia said.
"Lyds, nobody's ever been fired from the afterlife before. There isn't any standard procedure. As far as security is concerned, I still work here."
"Shoddy," Lydia muttered. She paused to think. "Good for us though, I guess."
Beetlejuice and Lydia tentatively began to descend into what was commonly known as the First Level of Hell, according to Dante.
Lydia found it to be surprisingly tame. Accountants sitting on a pool of ice, chained to their desks, scrabbling furiously with quill pens as a whip wielded by an unseen antagonist struck him every fifteen minutes or so in a bored, lazy arc. A thin man straining desperately to hold up the immense bookshelf threatening to crush him. A mailman running eternally from an enormous fanged Cerberus. None of the punishments were especially horrible, although none of them were pleasant either. All of them were too involved in their own misery to notice two other ghosts.
"Kinda boring, isn't it?" Lydia remarked.
"Not for them, I'm sure," B said. "But yeah, you're right. This is where they stick all the people that don't belong in the deeper levels. That's where you'll see some of the really awful stuff." Beetlejuice leaned in close and whispered conspiratorially, "I went down there once. Saw a man tied up head to toe so he couldn't move, with a snake dripping venom on his head. Jesus, how he screamed!"*
Lydia groaned and pushed him away, shuddering.
"Well, look at that," B said softly. In the distance was an enormous bookcase. Just above it was the much-longed for sign, Records and Registration. Lydia screamed with laughter. "Of course its in Hell! Where else would it be?" she cackled.
The two of them set off flying towards it, jubilantly feeling that their task was nearly complete. However, fifteen minutes later, when the bookcase seemed only marginally closer, they were beginning to feel a little frustrated.
"Is it one of those hell things?" Lydia asked another fifteen minutes later. "You know, where you can see something but it never gets any closer?"
"No," Beetlejuice said uneasily. "I think it might actually be so tremendously huge that you can't tell how far away it is. Remember, it's got every name of every person that ever was in there!"
"Well, this is just getting ridiculous!" Lydia huffed yet another fifteen minutes later.
I know I shouldn't use my juice here – too easy to track or something like that. But really! What could the harm be if I only do it once?
Thus reasoned, Beetlejuice grabbed onto Lydia, and popped away with her.
Once they had repopped, Lydia screamed. Not because Beetlejuice had just potentially exposed them, although that was bad. But because the bookcase was so terrifyingly huge. It stretched further up than she could possibly see, and it's sides went on for miles, finally disappearing in a dim haze. And the entire thing was filled with ordinary looking books, all completely uniform and unremarkable except for the last name printed on every single one. Zzkeney.
"Well," Lydia said briskly. "Let's start looking!"
It took another repop by Beetlejuice to get them the many miles up the bookcase where the B's were located. And, many hours later, Lydia had finally managed to work her way past the last Baker. B, six rows beneath her, seemed to be having no better luck. He had just gotten past the last Bakfa, apparently an ethnic name.
"Hey, B!" Lydia suddenly shouted. "Why are we doing this the hard way? Can't you just juice your book over to us?"
"I thought you told me not to use it out here under any cir-circumstances?" he shouted back
"You've already used it twice, once more can't hurt. Besides, if you get the book, we can get rid of it, and we won't have to worry about that anymore!" she called back.
Unable to deny her logic, Beetlejuice took a deep breath, let his juice flex its metaphorical muscles, and, using a great deal of restraint he felt, used only just barely enough to call his file towards him.
Nothing happened for a long few minutes. Beetlejuice craned his head, waiting. Lydia suggested trying again. He scratched his head in puzzlement.
Just then, miles downward, a small speck came into view, hurtling upwards at a murderous speed. Even from that great distance, an ominous whistling sound could be heard, growing louder every second.
In almost no time at all, the book blasted by Beetlejuice, nearly taking his head off, his file disappearing into the misty gloom above them.
Lydia clung to her shelf, frozen in shock. The force from the file's descent had almost ripped her off of her perch. Sure, she would have had plenty of time to collect herself and remember that she could fly. She would probably also have had enough time to fix her hair, do her laundry, write a book, and make dinner before she hit the ground. Still, it had been rather unnerving.
Lydia shook her head, feeling sufficiently recovered, and had the book pop into her hand.
"Ouch!" she cried, involuntarily dropping the book and wringing her hand. "It burned me!"
Beetlejuice, who was a couple of shelves below her (trying to sneak a peek under her skirt as usual) managed to catch it before it disappeared again. The book glowed faintly, and seemed to shrink slightly. It's title illuminated itself in a gentle green glow.
Betelgeuse, it read in lovely, flowing script. How unlike the man himself, Lydia mused. Beetlejuice was holding the book with a look of awe on his face.
"Lookit this babe! A whole whopper of a book, just about me!" he squealed, doing a slow, continuous back flip.
"It's probably your criminal record," Lydia pointed out dryly.
"Yeah..." B said, stroking the cover lovingly. Lydia was feeling a little worried by the open affection he was showing it.
"Remember B, this little book is what's keeping you a prisoner of your own name," Lydia hinted.
Beetlejuice's back snapped up straight, his eyes blazing. "That's right! I'd almost forgotten," he said bemusedly. He abruptly shook off the last vestiges of whatever glamor the book had put him under, and poised the tome for destruction. Although... it was pretty cool having a book about you, and it looked so harmless...
"B!" Lydia shouted in exasperation.
"Oh, right," Beetlejuice said, shaking his head and proceeding to blow up the chronicles of his existence.
It was astonishingly difficult to destroy. It caught fire easily, but the fire didn't seem to actually harm it. In the end however, all it made for was a very pretty display of fireworks.
And then the lights went out.
It only occurred to Lydia to wonder where the light had actually been coming from in the first place later. Looking back, she realized that the sun had obviously never had anything to do with the place; and the dim, amber light that cast no shadows had no visible external source. And then it was gone.
Fairly quickly, any afterimages were chased away by a vortex of swirling black and white. The bookcase, the dull background, and the mist overhead had all disappeared. But Beetlejuice was still there! Looking quite different, and yet exactly the same. Maybe he looked cleaner. The dust on his infamous suit was certainly gone.
"Beetlejuice," he whispered.
It took Lydia all of thirty seconds to understand the implications of this one word. When she finally grasped it, her breath hitched in her throat.
"It worked," she gasped.
"Beetlejuice!" he howled, shrieking with demented laughter. "My name is BEETLEJUICE!"
With a bump, Lydia was back in the first level of hell. Instantly, she worried that something had gone wrong, and Beetlejuice saying his own name had broken some kind of spell. But then she noticed the change in the room. It had shrunk, she could barely fit in it anymore, and the walls bulged and heaved like they were trying to keep something out. The swirling vortex of black and white (with the odd dash of green) was still swirling, just beyond the edges of her vision. If she turned her head quickly enough, she could stare straight at it for a millisecond or two.
The bookcase was right in front of her. She leaned down and picked it up, brought it to eye level. It seemed so insignificant as compared to a few hours ago.
"What are you going to do with it?" Beetlejuice's voiced mused sensuously in her ear. Yes it is was sensuous, no doubt. His voice had changed too, although she couldn't for the unlife of her tell how.
She mused for just a second on his question, not his tone, and with no further hesitation, closed her fist firmly. The splinter of the fragile wood between her fingers made a satisfying crunch.
Then everything disappeared except her own power and potential that had been hidden from her, and now rushed through her, dumping her in waves of black and red. Just for a moment, she was all-powerful.
Then she snapped back, feeling her restriction to her house falling away like a tattered garment she had slipped off. Her eyes sparked, her hair crackled, and her nails and teeth grew long, pointy and jagged, a pleasant itchy sensation accompanying them.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" someone screamed.
Beetlejuice turned around lazily. He hardly wanted to be bothered by such an annoying and obviously insignificant individual right now, but the voice was persistent.
It was Juno. She too was smoking and sparking as a result of her files being destroyed, but it was nothing like what he and Lyds were feeling. And for once, she was flummoxed. Her rage and fear left her stuttering.
"You! You-you BASTARD! Do you have ANY idea what its like out there?! The people – we can't TRACK them – our system's been destroyed! Ghosts breaking out of their homes! Hell suddenly open for anybody to-to just WALTZ OUT! None of the new ghosts – We can't FIND them now!" she steamed.
"No order! No rules! Every fucker just going around doing whatever the HELL he feels like doing!" Juno paused and stuffed an additional cigarette in her mouth, her hands shaking.
"And we can't CONTROL them! Every freshly dead jackass going around with ALL their new powers! Some of them are STRONGER than us!"
She shivered with impotent rage.
"Of course we'll begin recovery immediately, but... there's no recovery for this. We're ruined,"
"You mean the bureaucracy; the miles and miles of red tape, the restrictions, the jackassery, all of this is gone? For good? For some reason, I'm not devastated. Huh. Imagine that!" Beetlejuice sneered. "Maybe things'll actually get better!"
"No, you idiot!" Juno sneered back. "Things will not "get better". They'll get worse! Anarchy, lawlessness, wars! Our existence will eventually be discovered by the living, and that will be an unmitigated disaster!"
She took a deep sigh, and rubbed the side of her face, puffing furiously. "I've been instructed to take the two of you into custody," she muttered, sounding drained.
Beetlejuice began to cackle. He snatched Lydia's hand, and with a balletic swirl, the two of them were gone.
In a nursing home in Illinois, an ancient man bobbed in his rocking chair, hardly noticing when someone sat on him – and then through him. He was a ghost, and had been for a long time. Unfortunately, he had died senile enough that he still didn't know it.
But now something had changed. He looked up, startled. Things were becoming clearer. His mind was regaining its former nimbleness. He stood up out of his rocking chair, stretching and groaning, and realized with a start that he was dead.
By now he resembled his own self as he looked at thirty years old, a vast improvement. Not seeing what was keeping him at the nursing home, he wandered out, wondering how he was supposed to get to the hereafter.
His former life was coming back to him bit by bit, and most of it was enough to make him wonder what the point was to life. Had it really ended so badly? What had been the point?
He wandered around aimlessly, occasionally bumping into other ghosts, who all seemed unreasonably anxious or outraged about something.
"Eddie!" someone shrieked desperately.
Eddie pulled up short. Could that someone be shouting for him? Who had he met in his entire life who would be shouting like that just for him? Nobody. Not even Fantasy, not even Sarah. Maybe his mother. But she was dead.
But then again, so was he. Was there any chance at all?
He whipped around. Yes, it was! She was swooping out of the sky, landing in front of him, just as he remembered her, black hair, deep eyes, and a motherly, comforting hug.
"Hi mom," he said shyly, hugging her gently by the shoulders.
And Lydia was happy, surrounded by her two favorite men. How did she feel about Beetlejuice? Well, that could wait until later. She owed him a lot. And she had her son back! Her son, whom she had despaired of ever seeing again!
With the virtual destruction of the afterworld, there were only two options left, two paths to go. Either the dead and the living coexisted peacefully, or they did not. The dead could not remain hidden for much longer. Already, the existence of an afterlife had been revealed in some areas, and time would tell everywhere else.
Either way, Betelgeuse and Lydia Carmichael (née Deetz) would make history. Only time would tell if they would be the heroes, or the scapegoats
That's all! I don't think I'm writing a sequel, I had to kick myself pretty hard just to get this out. If anybody is interested in taking it up for me, go ahead and give me a call.