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Noir's kitchen skills didn't go unrecognized. Vickie managed to keep him busy most of that day. And the for next two days. Noir started to enjoy it, although he knew it couldn't last.
It liked having a job again, something that people depended on him to do. Well, something that living people depended on. Noir still knew it couldn't last.
That night his internal pessimism turned out to be correct.
"Elle?" Noir could hear her voice. He could see her, far away and down the hall. "Elle please... don't leave..."
He couldn't make out any of the words she had been saying. It was just at the edge of his hearing. At one moment, a murmur. At another, a hint of the woman he knew and loved.
Noir ran for her. "Elle please! I need to... help. Help you... I'm sorry I failed you-"
When Noir caught up to Elle, her back had been turned away from him. He touched her shoulder. He didn't see Elle turn. All he saw was that it wasn't Elle anymore. Noir jumped, frightened by the walking corpse in front of him.
...then he opened his real eyes. The small nightmare had gone away. Noir shivered, sitting up straight in his bed.
He looked across his room. Next to the window something howled. A translucent shape, trying to get in. Noir shook his head. "Ghost. Its a ghost. I should've figured... about time for some dead thing to interrupt..."
Noir walked over to the window. He peered at the ghost floating on the other side, translucent in his ghost vision. Noir had always been able to see dead things, spirits or ghosts or whatnot. He never really had to turn that sort of thing on. He just sensed them, like some people could quickly decipher a puzzle, he saw them. Unlike those puzzles, Noir had never seen most people put all the clues to the dead around them together, to get a real feel for them.
Some people saw things that weren't there. They took all the wrong clues and strung together fake pictures. They lied to themselves, seeing ghosts that were never there. Others lied the other way, talking themselves into thinking that those too dark rooms or times they got goosebumps were just one time things. They liked to pretend that nothing bad ever happened. Some even saw ghosts, real ghosts. Each time Noir had seen the same people shake their heads and act as though it never happened.
Noir always saw the dead. And he tried to listen to them. This particular dead, though, made him cringe a bit.
Her floating in midair made him a bit queasy too. She dripped ephemeral bits of saltwater from her hair. It looked faded. And her see-through ghostly skin also looked faded. Like coat left to soak for too long. Her teeth and eyes had a rusty look to them- like all the iron in her body had decided to collect there. Reddish hues dripped at her pores. She was covered in seaweed, her arms misshapen. Dislocated. They looked like someone took them out of the way.
The ghost had on torn and tattered street clothes, echoing her death by drowning. He couldn't tell what color her eyes or hair had been. And her face looked like it was coughing, sputtering up water. She looked young, like a teenager. Like she should've been in school or out on the beach with friends or something instead of being dead.
"Oh you poor-" Noir threw open the window.
"Come in!" Noir invited her in, waving his arms.
She responded with a watery "Thputs." She floated into the room. The drowned ghost hovered in the air, and Noir closed the window, trying not to let rain or wind in. "Hwwp."
"I... can't really understand you. I mean, I do do that sort of thing, talk with people in your condition, thats my specialty, you know."
Noir shrugged. "My name is Noir Bedarte. I can help, but you clearly can't tell me what happened. Can you try to be very clear? Try it slowly."
"O... Kw... Duwned." She hacked and coughed, ephemeral saltwater slopping down onto the floor. It faded, evaporating as it left her form. "Blud... Drawned... Pwain... Nut know wth to dwo. Shthe muwst be stupped."
"Uh... that isn't going to help me, I think." Noir bit his lower lip. He really didn't want to do it. It wasn't his favorite sort of spell. It could go very bad for him. "I... know a way to learn what you know... but..."
The ghost nodded, ghostly saltwater ectoplasm leaking onto the floor from her mouth like drool. An affirmative, Noir reasoned.
"Ok, please... and this is going to sound weird..." Noir gulped. "Don't hurt me, ok?"
The ghost girl cocked her head in confusion. Noir lept at her, slamming his fist into where her chest should've been, had it been physical. He let a bit of himself and the ghost mingle. The essence of the two melding for a moment. With that brief connection, the necromancer closed his eyes. He drew her into himself... and let the ghost girl have control of his body.
"Owhp. Whath hath you duwne?" Noir asked himself, feeling his lips move of another's accord. He felt drool crept down his mouth, salty ectoplasm coming out. "You... buwdy strawng..."
Although speaking through his mouth made her a bit clearer, Noir knew he wouldn't get clear enough information... he waited for the inevitable second symptom of being possessed by a ghost. His body doubled over. Pain seared his head as memories that weren't his came into his mind. He couldn't scream, his throat burned as ectoplasm started to block his breathing.
He tried to focus through the images hitting his mind.
Joy. Late night at the beach. Smiles all around. A group of teenage girls talking to one another.
A euphoria gripped the back of his mind. Noir tried to fend it off. He tried to keep it from taking over. Noir felt like a rider on a insane roller coaster ride.
Pain in the back of the head. Blackness. It roared at her, and she tried to crawl away from it.
No... Not she! Not she! Noir thought to himself, trying to keep his mind in one piece.
She cried. "No, please! You took everyone else! No!"
A creature grabbed her. It broke her wrists in its grip. She couldn't look at it. Her begging didn't work. It didn't work with her friends. Each of them had begged, and it took them. Black oily claws held them tight, and then pushed them into the saltwater.
Bubbles followed. The water turned red. The creature giggled, lapping at the saltwater.
No, that isn't me, Noir thought. He felt her fear. The creature, covered in black slammed down into the water where her friends hadn't returned. Saltwater flooded into her mouth, drowning her.
Bubbles came out.
Noir hacked. He coughed and coughed. Saltwater came out in big splashes onto the floor. Ectoplasm mixed with his vomit.
He couldn't breath. His lungs burned hot. Acid hurt his throat. His eyes wanted to pop out of his head.
Noir tried to open his mouth and breath, but just saltwater came out. He looked down at his own body.
It was the wrong body, he didn't remember these clothes. And where did his friends go and...
Noir coughed again. This time the ghost came out of him, ectoplasm trailing from behind her. She looked down at Noir, her red eyes wide.
He got up out of the pile of vomit he'd landed in.
"I'm so sorry." He said. "That was..."
The drowned girl ghost stared at him, her gaze blank. Then she turned around, and left him to sit there.
"I don't know what..." Noir shook his head, trying to get a grip on it. "So intense a death... so much fear... and joy and... Intoxicating. What... the hell, Noir! Get a grip."
He looked down. His nose wrinkled at the stench of the salty vomit across his inn room floor. "Ugh. Drowned ghosts. Monster... and vomit to clean. Well now I feel more at home."