“And that was how I wound up where you found me,” I said, concluding the story of how the strange wind had grabbed me and yanked me to the Underweb where I was trapped as mummy for a while. It was a weird time, with mechanical spiders and all different sorts of ghosts and living in a spider web that went on and on practically forever. I was luckier than most. I was only stuck there for a few years before a friendly goblin came along and wrecked the place just right.
Betty (the goblin who wrecked things just right) and Rosie (a magic item making ‘enchanter’) exchanged glances and shrugged. Apparently my story wasn’t any weirder than other things they’d run into.
“You mentioned Hungry Shadows,” Betty said. “The Underweb was chock full of scary shadows, could they have been what dragged you there?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “The wind that caught me didn’t feel mean. It was just powerful. The shadows though? You know they’re bad news the moment you see them.”
“I don’t think we’ve run into those yet,” Rosie said. “Makes me want to work on a set of magical flashlights though.”
“If you need a hand?” Betty said. Her voice seemed more timid than normal. Not that I knew what normal was for goblin’s in general, or Betty in particular. We’d only known each other for a all of about six hours or so.
“Oh you’re definitely helping me with those,” Rosie said. “With my luck I’d make the silly things so powerful they’d blind us all when I turned them on.”
“Note to self: invest in safety goggles.” Betty said.
I smiled. It was nice to see people who were so happy together. Each of them shone with warmly shifting lights that moved through a pastel color pallet.
That they could both see me was nice too. As a ghost that seems to be something that I can’t always count on.
When I walk in the living world, I look pretty much the same as anyone else. I’m not transparent, or floating, or half decayed or anything gross like that. The people who see me don’t have any reason to think they’re seeing anything strange. Of course if they’re seeing me, that usually means that they can see all kinds of strange things anyways.
For some, seeing and talking to ghosts is a natural extension of who they are. They’re not aware that they’re seeing more of the world than other people because me, and the other Inbetweener’s like me, exist in their consciousness only while they’re interacting with us.
I’ve had conversations with sensitives who could see me one moment and then lose all sense of my presence the next when someone else came into the room.
It’s weird too because despite the fact that they were talking out loud to me when the other person came into meet them, neither one of the living people remarked on the conversation the sensitive and I were having.
I’ve tried telling people I was a ghost, tried proving it to them even, but my words are instantly forgotten and the harder I try to show them what I am, the more I find myself pushed back to the Inbetween.
It’s frustrating enough that I don’t even bother anymore. Sometimes making small talk with a stranger is worth it all on its own. Other times, I just listen. People like to tell stories, whether they know it or not. If you’re willing to sit there silently and pay attention, you can learn the craziest things.
And then there’s people like Betty and Rosie.
They’re the really weird ones.
I don’t know if it’s because Betty is a goblin and Rosie is an enchanter but they can see me as easily as they can see anyone else. And they know that I’m a ghost. And there’s no forgetting or haziness going on with them. They know me for what I am and they’re fine with it.
Needless to say, I followed them home like a stray cat following the first person to give them a bag of catnip.
“So is it normal for ghosts to not remember much of the time when they were alive?” Rosie asked. She had a look in her eyes that made me think she wanted to attach electrodes to me if they wouldn’t pass right through.
“I don’t think so,” I said. “Most of the other ghosts I’ve met remember at least some things about their lives and all of them have remembered their deaths. It’s kind of a big deal for most people.”
“Do you think that’s what’s keeping you from passing on?” Betty asked.
“Maybe?” I said. “I know there’s something important, and it’s probably something I’ve forgotten but I don’t know what it is. Kinda drives me nuts.”
“You said you’re afraid of these Hungry Shadows right?” Rosie asked. “What happens if they catch you?”
I could see the glimmer of a new idea hidden behind her eyes, and I wasn’t sure it was one I wanted to hear about.
“It feels like they want to eat you, or me I guess. Maybe all ghosts?” I said. “They certainly like to chase us, but I can’t be sure what happens if they catch us though. I’ve always gotten away.”
“Are you sure of that?” Rosie asked.
“What do you mean?” Betty asked before I could.
“I mean what if memories are what these shadows eat?” Rosie said. “What if the wind that blew you to the Underweb wasn’t kidnapping you. What if it was saving you?”
“But I couldn’t remember anything even before I was blown away,” I said, but something there felt wrong too.
“How much of your time as a ghost do you remember?” Rosie asked
“All of it,” I said. “No most of it. I was sleeping for some of it.”
“What were you doing while you were awake as a ghost?” Rosie asked. “Did you look for your important thing then?”
“Yeah, I went everywhere I could and talked to everyone I could find,” I said.
“So then, what did you ask them about?” Rosie said.
And I didn’t have an answer for that.