Being surrounded by darkness when Hungry Shadows are trying to eat you is the least comforting thing imaginable. Or in the top ten least comfortable things. Maybe the top twenty. Definitely not a recommended experience. Before I had a chance to consider just how bad it was and lose my mind completely though, the darkness spoke to me.
“Sorry for this, should have warned you, but there wasn’t time,” Friendly Shadow said. “On the bright side though, the other shadows seem to be confused.”
“What did you do?” I asked, holding as still as a statue.
“Wrapped myself around you,” Friendly Shadow said. “The Hungry ones didn’t seem to be reacting to me, so I guessed that they couldn’t see me. Looks like that guess was correct.”
“Don’t they know where I was though?” I asked.
“Apparently not,” Friendly Shadow said. “And they’re not reacting like they can hear you.”
“So, we’re invisible to them?” I asked.
“For now at least,” Friendly Shadow said. “We should get moving though. I don’t know if they have any other abilities they’ll use if they get desperate looking for you.”
“Where can we go?” I asked.
“Well, first we start walking back to Rosie’s house, but maybe not via the most direct route,” Friendly Shadow said. “Her wards are good, but there’s no need to give them a workout if we don’t have to.”
“How do we get there then?” I asked, beginning to stroll towards my left. From what I could remember there were fewer Hungry Shadows in that direction and the house that was there still had some lights on. I didn’t want to lead a pack of Hungry Shadows inside someone’s house, but if I could put the house between them and us, we might be able to lose them for a while.
“We could wander down side roads until we were sure that we’d given them the shake,” Friendly Shadow said, picking up on my plan. “But I have a better option to offer.”
“I’m open to better options,” I said, not being particularly eager to stroll down a road trailing Hungry Shadows in my wake.
“We fly,” Friendly Shadow said.
In theory that would work. As a ghost, I have no body. Gravity should have been nothing more than a suggestion that was convenient to listen to sometimes. Rising into the air was the same as walking up a flight of steps, in the sense that I could pass right through both of them. Somehow though, there was a difference.
I could pass through things if I focused on doing so, but, in the living world, under normal circumstances, the ground was as solid for me as anyone else, and the air offered little to no resistance.
“I can’t do that,” I said, trying to come up with an alternate plan for how we could escape.
“You don’t have to,” Friendly Shadow said. “Just walk forward a little further and then turn to your right.”
Shadow peeled herself off from me after I made the turn and the starlight was almost blinding by comparison.
“We should get going before whatever those are catches your trail again,” a girl on a broom said.
She sounded a lot like Friendly Shadow, but she was a regular living girl. Regular in the sense of having a body and a pulse and so on. Sitting on a floating broom and glowing in my ghost-sight like she was a bonfire wasn’t quite regular, but at that moment I didn’t care.
“I’m not going to be able to ride on that either,” I said, silently cursing how weird being a ghost could be.
“Give it a try,” the girl said. “This isn’t a normal flying broom.”
That was all the invitation I needed. I hopped up onto the back of the broom like I was climbing onto a bicycle and found that I could sit on it just fine. Even with the broomhandle only being a thin pole, it felt like there was a wide, comfy cushion underneath me.
“Next step, Rosie’s house!” the girl said and the broom shot into the sky like it had been fired from the gun.
“Not that I’m complaining, but how did you know where to find me?” I asked.
“That was my Shadow you were talking with. My name is Penny, and Rosie tells me yours in Heather?” Penny asked.
“As far as I can remember,” I said. “But I might have some missing memories.”
“We’ll have to see about patching you up then,” Penny said.
“I don’t know if that will work,” I said. “Those shadows might have eaten tall of the things that I can’t remember.”
“Memories don’t work like that,” Penny said. “Even if they could gobble up bits of you, your memories are all throughout your mind. All we need to do is pull the pieces back together for you.”
“You can do that?” I asked, wondering why Rosie or Betty hadn’t mentioned that option.
“Me? Nope,” Penny said. “That’s really advanced stuff. We know a few people who might be able to manage it though.”
“Is that going to put them in any danger?” I asked. “The Hungry Shadows keep coming after me!”
“About that,” Penny said. “I don’t think those were shadows at all.”
“They looked pretty shadowy to me,” I said.
“Really? Do shadows in your world normally have teeth? And eat electricity?” Penny asked.
“I admit that’s a little weird, but I’m a ghost, talking to a girl on her magic broom as we fly back to meet an enchanter and a goblin. A little weird is where things are at now.”
“Don’t worry,” Penny said. “Things can always get weirder.”
“I’d like to see how,” I said and then instantly regretted the words. Tempting fate was foolish and after the run of weird luck I’d had I really should have known better. I drew in a sharp breath but it was too late to drag what i’d said back into my lungs. I was already doomed.