Friday, January 17, 2014

Dead Man Stew 3

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Noir woke up sore the next morning.  After running into Bert, the undead man had been kind enough to point out the salty stench that followed Noir.  So he took a shower and returned, explaining the previous night to Bert.

"Dang you stank to all hell."  Bert shook his head.  He wiped grease off his hands.  He'd been working on the cadillac.  Vickie had found a variety of odd jobs for Bert to perform since the previous day.  "Caddy is gassed up, Vickie paid us enough for that.  But I guess we're staying now that you found something worthwhile?"

Noir shrugged.  "I still haven't had a meeting with the Dark Man since that crossroads months ago.  Besides... I want to try and help those... those ghosts.  It was so intense..."

Noir trailed off, unable to think of the right words for it.

"And you vomited all over the floor.  Who lets any old ghost in their home?  Hell, I'm still surprised that I get to say things like that.  Ghosts."

"Imagine being the one they ask help from."  Noir interjected.

"Seriously, you let it into your body and didn't mind that?  Jeez Boss, I don't get you."

"What do you mean?"  Noir asked, confused.

"You don't date or even try to get into a bed with Vickie.  But strange dead girl floats around and you're making space in your body for her.  And sounded like a rather rotty girl too."

"Vickie is a exception..."  Noir said, keeping his voice low so Vickie couldn't hear.  Across the room from them, Vickie was at her tiny front desk, chatting with guests about the weather.  The sun was low in the east, and the pacific looked cold and gray this early in the morning.  "I don't understand it.  And you haven't been undead long enough-"

"Posthuman."  Bert corrected.  "Vickie told me thats what they call us, Posthuman you know."

Noir rolled his eyes.  "Not the point, I guess, but I'll remember that.  You haven't been undead to notice it yet, but your body stopped its cellular growth months ago, remember?  You haven't had any new hair or fingernails grow since then."

"Oh... I never noticed that... What does that mean exactly?"  Bert asked.

"Undead- er, posthumans I raise have a limited shelf life Bert.  I just corrected a internal circuit in your life force.  I patched a leak in the dam, more or less.  But you still died.

"A living body has a number of self-correcting processes that keep it alive.  When you restart them, they only can keep equilibrium for so long before they fall apart.  Your body isn't rapidly replacing itself.  My bit of lifeforce in you can only do so much, but most of your body is still dead mass.  Its resisted total rot, but eventually rot will set in.  You'll be unconscious by then.  Your mind will fade away, and it'll be a painless step for your energies to break apart.  The spell will die, and you will no longer be a walking corpse."

Bert blinked.  "You said that at the start, I remember.  But how'd Vickie get... you know?"

"I don't.  Maybe she found a way to add more energy to the circuit.  Or maybe something in this old house reinforces my spell and changes it.  Or..."  Noir shook his head.  He couldn’t find the right words for it.  "No, she wouldn't do the other option."

"What's that?"

"Monstrous.  It-"

The bell of the Inn door rang as a new visitor entered.  As she walked in, Bert interrupted Noir with a guttural growl.  Vickie looked up, her smile turning into a frown.  Both were surprised, Noir sensed, and reacted badly to this girl's aura.

Noir looked at the girl, sensing immediately a familiar, yet odd living.  She was tall, almost six and half feet tall.  Her fair, ruddy skin looked cold in the wet Northwest weather.  Her dress hung down to her knees, a blue dress with red flowers.  Her sunglasses were a pair of stars, the lens dark.  Her black, blue and red hair hung down behind her to her waist, all of it in dreadlocks.  She had a black duffel bag over one shoulder, muscled arms with tattoos covered in white arm warmers, fishnetted to reveal the tattoos of roses, lilies and wolves.  Her legs were long too, covered in leggings stained with green grease, the same one gets from sitting in freshly mowed grass.  She wore high heels, black, stained a bit with red.

Noir's eye noted the silvery wolf pendant she wore around her neck.  It glittered in the light.  The woman smirked as she walked in.  She stunk a bit of alcohol.

"Hey, where can a girl get a room, eh?"  She asked Vickie.

Vickie pulled down a key.  She pulled out a clipboard from under the desk.  She didn't say a word.  She tried not to make eye contact with this new visitor.  Not like she'd done with others, Noir knew.

The girl signed in.  She paid in rumpled cash, some bills dirty with blood splotches.  She then took a key.  Vickie vanished, walking away as fast as she could.  Noir realized that Bert had left too.  Both undead- posthuman, that word was going to take some getting used to- had fled, rather than deal with this girl.

The girl pulled out a cell phone, checking it for messages.  Noir didn't understand what to make of that... Only that the cell phone wasn't on, and it was small enough most people wouldn't have noticed.  She liked to project an image of sorts, or at least Noir was guessing.

If Noir could, he'd best describe the aura he felt from the girl as predatory.  Like a wolf.  Or a monster.  Someone used to hunting.  "A foreign land is a land of wolves."

"I'm sorry, what was that?"  The girl asked him.  She acted as though she were talking on the phone.  "Darn.  Lost my connection, oh well.  Guess she'll tell me later."

Noir wondered if she were crazy or something like that.  He decided against that.  He done this act himself once or twice.  "Its a old saying my father used to say, I'm sorry if I interrupted you."

"What saying is that?"  She asked.  She took off her sunglasses, and that's when Noir realized she was taller than him.  Not by much, but enough to mean he was looking up at her, not vice versa.

"I, er..."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bug you-  I'm Jesha.  I'm here to get some R&R you know?"  She smiled, trying to use some sort of expression or something.  It made Noir feel uncomfortable.  He was a small town kid, people always seemed off putting to him a lot of the time.  She offered a hand.  He took it.

He felt her aura then.  Noir paused, looking at the pendant.  She opened her eyes a bit, reading him back a little.  "Ah.  That saying?  Please, I'm curious."

"A foreign land is a land full of wolves," Noir replied, more thinking than focused on what he was saying.  "Places strange are dangerous and everything might be dangerous to you, a wolf."

"Hmm.  I'm not sure I like that.  Wolves are such... glorious animals."

"I'm Noir Bedarte, by the way.  I'm the cook here, at the moment anyway.  You said you were here for some R&R?  This your first time in Newport?"

Jesha looked out one of the inn's big front windows.  Wind blew needles and pine cones about.  "Yes.  To be honest, I came here for something else, you know?"

"Lots to do here, even this time of year.  Whales, the aquarium, all sort of stuff."  Noir shrugged.  "This is the third time I've been around this place myself."

"Whales?  Hmm."  Jesha moved up close to Noir, eye to eye.  "Ghosts.  I came to see some ghosts, you know?  Old places like this are filled with them, aren't they?"

Noir paused, not sure how to answer.

Jesha continued.  "You believe in ghosts don't you Mister Noir?"

Noir just looked at her.  "You never know."

Jesha smiled at him.  "I like you, Mister Noir.  Always marry a cook, my mother used to say.  When she wasn't drunk, anyway.  Room thirteen, if you're interested later, eh?"