My gift to #TheResistance: the most wish-fulfillment, goofy, ghost story about Resisters who die before we’re done, and decide not to leave.
Thanks to @WisePaxCat who inspired the idea, and suggested a Ouija board. https://twitter.com/wisepaxcat/status/975525379132686336?s=21
Letting you know, this will be a serial, irregularly updated. If you like it, tell me. Short stories are not my strength at all, so even limiting myself to 3 page chapters in a serial is a talent stretch for me. Like @SeananMcGuire ‘s Firstborn, I build worlds.
Fucking hell, Kris thought as the bright white lights above the table beckoned. I’ll miss the impeachment and seeing the orange shitgibbon bastard handcuffed.
The bike accident was the type that brought out a ghost bike, and if Kris hadn’t been on the bike, Kris would have spent the weekend painting a beater bike white and tandem-riding it out to the intersection. But Kris was on the bike, and now, was leaving the table.
Fuck this, I’ve worked too hard. I get to see the end.
Kris looked deliberately at the door, not that tunnel vision in the ceiling. And saw someone not wearing scrubs, not covered in Kris’ blood. Who beckoned with translucent fingers. She’d dyed her short, spiky hair a brilliant royal blue, and wore heavy, black wayfarer spectacles with a long skirt and thick sweater. Kris couldn’t tell ethnicity with that hair, those glasses and being see-through, but she was probably once a Person of Color.
Sitting up wasn’t a challenge. Nor swinging legs over the edge, nor walking over to the woman. “We’re dead,” she said, “and we refused to go. You’ve got another minute, maybe two. Once they code you, your tunnel starts shrinking. Make up your mind, now.”
The ER crew were doing that paddle electric thing from every medical drama ever. Kris turned away rather than watch what came next. “Nope, I’m not done. Are you my welcoming committee?”
She snorted and shook her head. “I’ve had cancer since I was fourteen. ACA saved me once. Then our asshole governor put Medicaid on such narrow networks that when my cancer came back, nobody would cover my drugs, my oncologist, or radiation. I fought until I died. Not ready to stop fighting now.”
“How’d you know about the code?”
She shrugged. “I’ve been here a few days, it’s a busy hospital. Most people just go straight for the tunnel. A few hesitate. You’re the third who stayed since I did. I’m Mai.” She offered a bony fist to bump. “She/her. You?”
Kris bumped back. “Kris with a K, they, their or xie, xer. But I consider dude, ma’am and sir gender-neutral, too.” Xie looked over their translucent body. According to the faith of xer childhood, xer spirit would embody a perfected self, exactly as the Creator intended. Kris had given up on most of xer Sunbeams’ teaching, but being the same shape felt both disappointing and expected. Or I’m exactly who I’m supposed to be, and I’ve been right all my life, and everyone else was wrong.
“Code,” the trauma doc said. “Call.”
“Now or never,” Mai said.
Maybe if I go, I get that perfect body, but this one is mine, Kris thought. Will I be me if I don’t have this? I won’t get the Celestial kingdom. In the terrestrial, I’ll be my family’s neutered servant. Which is hell. Telestial was probably my best chance, and that’s a thousand years of spirit prison. How’s that different from the world I know? Except I don’t trust a Mormon spirit prison to be as nice as Massachusetts in February. “What do we do next, Brain?” Kris said, and walked towards the door.
“Same thing we do every night, Pinky,” Mai said. “Try to take over the world.”
“Really?” Being a… ghost was one thing, but being an evil ghost —
“No, I waited for you. Like I said, we’ve got one more. Nate. He’s up at the front door.”
Kris knew xie could touch Mai, but this existence had to have rules, and Mai said something that didn’t fit. “You said I’m the third that’s stayed. You, plus Nate, plus me, plus… ?”
“A dickhead we’re ignoring and going to escape. Old white MAGA asshole. If you’ve been in Boston a week, you’ve heard of him. The used car salesman who’s on every fucking channel and billboard. Arnie Blarney. Had a stroke or heart attack or something. He got here just after I got outta bed. He got a tunnel, but not what he expected. It went down, not up.” Mai grinned cynically. “So unexpected, that. Screw your employees and your customers, pay for pedophile priests’ appeals and support that douchecanoe who bombed Planned Parenthood. Funny, you’re not going to the nicer afterlife because you spent your thislife being a dick. He’s always in the chaplain’s office, trying to get their attention.”
As they walked the corridors, they both dodged the live people, but sometimes someone ran. The first time one passed through Kris felt like a momentary plunge into a warm bath of sensation. Kris tasted left-over pizza on their tongue, and smelled their own sweat after the deodorant had worn thin. For an exquisite moment, they felt blood pumping in their ears and the hot itch of a damp sports bra or binder or both over breasts. And then the nurse was gone, with her delicious sensations.
“Yeah, try not to occupy the same space as them,” Mai said. “At least for right now. We can’t possess them. If we stay in their bodies too long, all their electrics start frizzing and you don’t wanna kill anyone.”
“You’ve tried it,” Kris said. A statement, not a question.
“Yeah,” she said. “Healthiest person I could – new mom, natural childbirth. Her third. Shoved that baby out in three hours. Good insurance and money for a private room, so best of care. Smart, too. Set her boundaries, told her nurse and her doula she wanted to hold her baby for an hour, then she needed to sleep for at least four. I took the chance. I gave her a seizure. She’s okay,” Mai added, “she went home this morning after an extra day here. But I don’t want to hurt the living, and I don’t think you want to, either, so just… try not to run into them.”
“Can they see us? Sense us?”
Mai considered that for a moment. “Not really. Sometimes they seem to get a shiver or a flush when we’re near. Sometimes I think they see something in the corner of their eye, but when they look at us, they don’t see us. We can’t interact with them.”
“Do we have to eat? Pee? Shower?”
“No, and weather doesn’t seem to bug us, either. You’re gonna spend a couple days feeling like you’re dying of thirst and could eat an ox and the barn, but it’s not real. It’s just… our brains have habits, too. Did you smoke?”
Kris shook their head. “An edible, once in a while, at a party. Brownies or gummies, by preference. But I was a student and bike messenger. I can’t afford any smokes.”
“Good for you. Nate is still jonesing for a cigarette. But it’s not real, and you can sort of conjure the memory if you have to. But just… tough it out. That’s what Jamie told me.”
“Who’s Jamie?” Kris asked.
“The guy who gave me the spiel I’m giving you. He left.”
“Like a tunnel?” Does death come with exit ramps?
“Nope, like took the T. There’s a plan. Lara’s gonna bring the next set, but it’s time for you and me and Nate to go.”
“What’s the plan?” Kris asked. “Who says I want —”
“Hey, if you wanna hang around a hospital and haunt it, that’s on you. We’re going to Occupy the White House.”
For the first time since the driver T-boned xer, Kris felt xerself smile. “That’s exactly why I didn’t want to leave.”