• • •
Rick is beginning to worry about Brittney. She’s always been quirky, uniquely quirky amongst the quirky ones as she would shamelessly tell you if you had the bananas to ask about it, but her behavior over the course of the last hourish has given Rick ample reason to be worried.
It never starts out bad, just a little odd. Like that – she was attaching a miniature tripod to the digital camera a moment ago. Why? To hold it by the tripod? Fine. A little odd, but fine. But now she’s splayed the legs of the tripod apart like it was a television antenna. Now the camera is upside down, and now she’s turning it on to use it like that, all upside-down-like. See? It starts a little odd, then it gets downright strange. Downright worrisome. Rick doesn’t like it one bit.
It wouldn’t be so bad if Brittney told Rick what the plan was in the first place… if there even was a plan. Hey Rick, let’s go for a drive turned into Rick, get my laptop for me which morphed into Open the door for me, I’m a lady, and now they’re standing here in the middle of the foyer of the Wuester Dead House and Rick hardly even knows what day it is.
Oh yeah, so they’re in the foyer of the infamous Dead House of Wuester, New Jersey right now. Legend tells of a tractorload of partygoers who took a haunted hay ride deep into the woods of Wuester one Hollow’s Eve night way back before such events could be recorded and broadcasted to the world to be ignored in favor of either gaming videos or porn. The driver of the tractor, a yokel who spends his time looking for the wild mushrooms that don’t give him seizures when he eats them, snuck into the party, killed the family’s gardener (who had fallen asleep in the shed out back with a jar of moonshine in his hands), stole the tractor, and took the partyers out to an abandoned construction site he’d been squatting at recently to hold them as hostages. The thing is though, the partygoers had no idea they were in danger, and they were so intoxicated that they turned the entire thing into a big intervention for the town drunk. He wound up blowing his brains out to escape the situation, and his ghost has haunted the old construction site – the Dead House – ever since.
“And tonight, you’re going to see that ghost, Rick.”
Normal. Well, definitely quirky, but normal for Brittney.
“You’re going to see it when I capture it with this device.”
See? “That camera, you mean?”
“I don’t, actually! If it was a camera, I wouldn’t be holding it like a momo right now! No, I meant device. Y’know, what I said. Did you set up my laptop like I asked?”
Rick looks to the floor. Sitting atop a pile of broken pieces of plywood is Brittney’s laptop. It’s powered on and the desktop is showing, no programs or anything of the sort are running. “I mean, it’s on.”
“Perfect!” Brittney, the miniature tripod in her mouth like a bone in a dog’s, plunges into the little carrying case and pulls out a charger for her camera’s battery, what looks like a USB/SD adapter, and an extra battery for the camera. She pockets the extra battery and throws the rest at Rick. He surprises himself by catching it all.
“So you’re going to take a picture of a ghost? Is that what’s going on here?”
Brittney offers Rick a stare that makes him feel inferior to her even though they spent nine months in the womb together, then she looks away and starts messing with the camera. “No, dingbat. I’m going to capture the ghost’s soul in this device and then use my computer to send it through a trans-dimensional internet of sorts to an alternate reality’s version of Earth, which is where this ghost-zapper originally came from by the way, I have connections, thanks a bundle. The fate of the multiverse literally hangs in the balance, so just pipe down and let me do my work.”
At least it would be, but the moment Brittney turned away, Rick’s consciousness was bumrushed into the deepest, darkest recesses of his publicly-educated mind, and he lost his ability to worry. He appeared to stand up on his toes, then he left the ground altogether. His left hand tightened around the USB/SD adapter to the point where the frail thing’s shell began to crack, and his right hand ejected the charger’s prongs and plugged them into Rick’s left arm, which is probably why the left hand clenched so tightly. Brittney turns around and sees all this after her tirade is complete, but only because she heard Rick’s blood dripping into the puddle pooling up beneath him. If the ghost of Wuester’s late town drunk wasn’t such a sadistic bastard he probably could’ve put some miles on Rick, used the boy’s body to drink himself to death like a proper ghost drunk, but no, he had to be sick in his death, he had to try to frighten the living who dared disturb him. Speaking frankly, if he wasn’t already disturbed, his soul wouldn’t be stuck on Earth. That’s just what it is. And Brittney knows this, her contact from the alternate Earth explained all this to her, and what’s more, she ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
A blinding green light flashes, brings tears to Brittney and Rick’s eyes. The legs of the tripod are curled like they wilted, the battery cover is popped off, about a centimeter of the battery sticks out from the camera. It glows blue and lets rip plumes of thick steam.
And the battery charger is still stuck in Rick’s arm.
Trying to rush to the hospital would be pointless, because the old dirt road is going to be a slow drive anyway. Sending the ghost across the Multiverse will only take a few minutes, it’s not a big deal. This place creeps Rick out, especially after what happened to him a moment ago, but he can just go wait in the car if he’s going to be a baby about it.
“Oh, but give me the battery charger first.”
“‘Cause I need it.”
“Yes, I know that’s how Steve Irwin died, but the charger isn’t plugged into your heart and a stingray doesn’t hold the fate of the Multiverse in its gills.”
“Whatever dude, you know what I mean. Give it.”
She never starts off bad, just odd. Then, she gets downright worrisome… but Rick isn’t worrying about Brittney anymore.
Rick is beginning to worry about Rick.
An Explanation of the Nonsense that Went Down at Dead House
“No, I am not going to give you an explanation of the nonsense that went down at Dead House.”
“Because I already told you, I needed to capture and send a ghost to an Earth in another dimension to save the multiverse. There’s not much else to explain about it, bro.”
“The ghost-capturing device and the accessories and stuff were made of nanotech, it went back to the alternate Earth.”
“Well the same way it got here, it… I don’t know dude, I just saw the stuff melt into dust and fly into my computer. Poof-o, gone. The Dead House is exorcised of demons, and you’re gonna have some badass scars.”
“No, it doesn’t look like you got bit by a defective vampire. Look, I can see the line of cars, we’re almost at the garage sale. It’s the only one on the map in this part of Wuester, so you know it’s going to be big. Get your game face on, little bro, we got some dips to flip!”
“Fine, I promise not to buy another camera. Now would you wipe that puss off your face for the love of all that is Brittney? ”
This has been the fourteenth story from Highdeas: The Lost Stories from the Seven Earths, a flash fiction anthology hidden in the back of the book Over the River: The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox. Here is everything you need to know about it:
Over the River
The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox
Over the River is the third book in a trilogy called The Fall of the Seven Earths. I’ve also released that trilogy as a single book called The Fall of the Seven Earths. Here’s everything you need to know about it:
The Fall of the Seven Earths
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If supporting The Hillside Commons is something you want to do, click here.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~