Note: There is a bit of death spoken about in this chapter... but it's a fic about ghosts... so... yeah. I consider that enough warning for you sensitive souls out there.
Inside Whipstaff, the wind had picked up and started a bit of a snowstorm, making it difficult for the inhabitants of the manor - dead or alive - to sleep.
"Get up." A woman's voice whispered in Stretch's ear as the ghost rolled over, trying for the umpteenth time to make himself comfortable. "Get up, Stretch."
"Wuzzah…?" Stretch opened his eyes startling a little as he came face to face with Gwen. "Ah! …Gwenny-bunny… what are you doing here?"
"I have good news." Gwen sat down on the edge of the ghost's bed, grinning like a madwoman.
"You've finally fallen helplessly for my charms?" Stretch puffed up his chest a bit.
"I've sucessfully turned you down for the last century, and I will continue to do so, my dear." Gwen shook her head at the crestfallen ghost. "No, I've got physical proof of Dr. McFadden's whereabouts."
"Really?" Stretch perked up as the reaper pulled out the photos. "We've gotta go tell Shortsheet!"
"I don't want him to know about this. Not yet." Gwen looked Stretch straight in the eye. "I need you three to help me bring him home."
Stinkie's head came into view over Gwen's other shoulder. "Do you two realize what time it is?"
"Time for you to get your lazy soul out of bed and help me." Gwen retorted.
"But… it's crazy outside!" Fatso pulled the curtains aside to reveal the near-whiteout conditions in the town. "I'm not going out in that."
"Who said we were going into town?" Gwen raised an eyebrow mischievously. "Doc's not in Friendship. He's in Portland."
Fatso raised an eyebrow and floated over to the reaper as she held up a picture of the good doctor in a public library, surrounded by research notes and books, obviously transparent and completely unaware of the living people giving him a wide berth.
"If it wasn't for the fact that this library is haunted anyway, it would have popped up on the radar sooner." Gwen chuckled to herself.
"How do you know that place is haunted?" Stinkie asked.
"I was there when the kid that took this picture committed suicide in the stacks." Gwen shrugged. "I tried to talk him out of it, but he just wouldn't listen to me."
"Why would a reaper try to talk someone out of dying?" Stretch tilted his head and raised an eyebrow.
"Well, it probably had something to do with the fact that three other reapers had tried to intervene over the course of the last month of his life, and he wouldn't listen to them, either." Gwen tucked the picture away. "Finally, they had to call in a sector leader to do something about it… but apparently, it wasn't enough."
"Too bad." Stinkie shook his head. "...Why is he still there?"
"He was researching a thesis on H.P. Lovecraft." Gwen paused for a moment. "I think he'd read a leetle too much of it… but he wants to get it done, and he's still waiting for the library to get in an authentic copy of the Necronomicon. I've tried to tell him he'll be waiting for a while, but he seems okay with that."
"Wait... why exactly are we wasting time nattering? Let's go get the Doc!" Stretch suddenly interjected. "Gwen, if'n you don't mind…"
"Right." Gwen and the others snapped out of their reverie.
The reaper stood and removed a short staff from her bag, getting odd looks from Fatso and Stinkie.
"I thought reapers carried scythes." Fatso queried.
"Those are your basic mid-level reapers." Gwen nodded. "They give the fun toys to the zone and sector leaders."
Gwen smiled to herself as she flicked her wrist, making the staff extend and pop out blades on both ends, one resembling a serrated spade, the other crescent-shaped. "I haven't had to use my monk's spade in a while, but it'll do."
"That has got to be the scariest thing I've ever seen." Stinkie hid slightly behind Fatso as the reaper drove the spade end into the ground, making a portal open up under their feet.
"Azrael's is far scarier." Gwen grinned as she started descending. "…You guys comin' or what?"