All Things Must End

BY : FlameWolf
Category: 1 through F > Beetlejuice
Dragon prints: 255
Disclaimer: I don’t own anyone or anything from Beetlejuice the Movie or Beetlejuice the Cartoon. This is just for fun and no profit will be made from this.

Author’s Note:  This was originally going to be one, long oneshot.  After a bit, I decided it would be best if split up into a series.  Please enjoy.



 

All Things Must End

 

By: FlameWolf





 

    An aging woman laid on her deathbed, milky eyes meeting those of the loved ones gathered around her.  Yet, there was one pair of eyes she did not see; a visitor that lingered on the very edges of life and death.  Once wicked, acid greed eyes fixed on the wasted, wrinkled female from a pair of deep eye sockets; an expression of poignant sadness on his rotting, moss and mold covered visage.  He had been here since this morning, determined to be there for her despite the fact she had long ago forgotten about him. Had even moved on with her life; getting married, having children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren.  His Lydia had, indeed, lived a very full life.

    Lingering on the threshold her soul would eventually cross, he became aware of the scent of bad perfume and very stale cigarettes.  “What are you doing here? Don’t trust me to escort her safely?” he murmured, resignation clear in his voice. All his fight had long ago left him, since the moment his Lydia’s lips had touched those of another man.  A gargled, coughing chuckle issued from his companion, Juno stepping up on his left.

    “Its not that Beetlejuice and you know it.  I’m honestly surprised by your sudden change in character.  After all, it isn’t often that I’ve seen you mourn for a mortal,” the matriarch pointed out, taking a drag of her ever present ‘death stick’.

    “There are not many that have been worth my attention,” he responded, not taking his eyes off his ailing friend.

“And all those that are have forgotten about you long before you do them,” whispered an unwelcome point, the words making his hands close into tight fists.

    He had been through this very scenario countless time, each time causing him to swear he would never allow it to happen again.  The irony making him give a rather self-deprecating grin. A grin that more resembled a grimace. “Its not their fault. The living so often don’t even notice the dead.  Its not that big a shock they forget about them, even after forming a friendship,” he tried to excuse, the words sounding hollow. Despite knowing Lydia was going to move on, he had stayed by her side through a large chunk of her life.  Long after she had stopped calling his name, he had lingered; watching her from the other side of the mirror they had once used to communicate. He could still remember the first time they had met.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~1988~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    Smoke billowed in the air around him while he reclined on a folding lawn chair.  Closing his wild eyes, he inhaled deeply; savoring the scent of stale pussy and cigarettes from the whorehouse Juno was using as an obvious ploy to distract him.  While it had obviously worked, he couldn’t be that pissed about it. After all, a piece of tail was a piece of tail. He wasn’t about to get picky about where it came from.  That was when he heard it, the voice of the girl the Maitlands had obviously been trying to protect from him by closing off his pathway to the living realm.

    Peering through the dark sunglasses perched on the bridge of his nose, he raised a peaked brow when he took in the pale goddess before him.  While a bit young, he had no doubt she would grow up to be quite a beauty. When he noticed she was looking for the two squares that had left to speak with Juno, he decided to use it to his advantage.  Smirking to himself, he brought attention to his presence by speaking. When she turned to look at him with those doe eyes of hers, he knew he had her in his clutches.

    Soon, they were going through the old song and dance.  As usual, he cleverly hid the fact he couldn’t say his own name due to the curse placed upon his soul centuries ago.  His favorite claim was the fact he was so famous that just the mention of his moniker would have the girls running from far and wide.  The girl towering over him looked rightfully skeptical, raising brow while leaning back a bit. When she said she wanted to speak to Barbara with an unsure tone, he had thought for sure he had lost her.  Panicking slightly, he eyed the door the pair would be coming through at any moment before urging her to say his name that last time.

    Just as he thought she was going to give in, they were returning to the attic and he was toppling off the balcony.  Hitting the foam pavement with a dull thud, he glared up at his dull customers; feeling a bit impressed despite himself.  Their disguises were almost creative, much more than he had thought them capable of. Then they ruined it all, Babs reverting back as soon as Lyds saw them and reacted.  Adam, on the other hand, took a bit longer to ‘pull himself back together’. Chuffing and rolling his eyes, he went back into the whorehouse with his hands in the pockets of his borrowed robe.  Until he was sent back properly, he might as well hang around and watch what happened.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~A Few Hours Later~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    Lounging in his lawn chair, he observed while his customers began to brew some half assed scheme that was more like some choreographed broadway show.  While they were confident this would finally scare off the breathers that had taken over their house, he was an inch away from taking things out of their hands and just handling it himself.  Amateurs. Rolling his green eyes, he took a drag off his cigarette before phasing into a dimension between realities. From this place, he could watch the travesty the couple had planned. He wasn’t surprised when it turned out to be more hilarious than he could have ever hoped.

    Delia had started with some speech he couldn’t bother to try to pay attention to.  Then, as if on a cue, she began to sing; her head flinging back while her arms came up fluidly.  The look of confusion that came across her face was priceless but there was very little fear. Chuckling to himself, he laid back on thin air while taking another drag of his smoke.  Already he could hear the pair above him congratulating themselves while the people around the table began to dance like puppets on strings. All to the song ‘Day-O’. It was almost enough to make him want to pull out a camera to start recording.  It was priceless and a fairly creative attempt but nowhere near effective. None of the people involved seemed to be all that terrified by the experience. In fact, they seemed to be almost laughing while their bodies were forcibly manipulated.

    It was only when they were slammed down in their seats in front of their shrimp cocktail that a vague expression of concern passed over their faces.  Suddenly, the tiny crustaceans in the glass bowls turned into pink, scaly hands. Shooting upward rapidly, the ghastly appendages grabbed the faces of the bewildered breathers before shoving them backward violently.  Tiny, high pitched giggles came from them while they retreated back to their previous positions. Giggles that echoed those of the incompetent couple ‘haunting’ this place. It almost felt like an insult to ghosts.

    Deciding to split his consciousness between both the upstairs and ground floor, he watched the Maitlands celebrate while the breathers started to excitedly discuss what happened.  Soon, the red-haired matriarch was sending Lyds upstairs to fetch their dead ‘houseguests’. Smirking to himself, he floated up the stairs to observe what would happen. He wasn’t surprised when he saw the ghostly pair staring out the window with excitement and then a bit of confusion when nothing happened.  As soon as they heard a knock on their door, all hope left their faces. Opening the entry for the girl they considered their daughter, they went from upset to straight up devastated when she began to speak.

    Heading back to the model, he wandered into the whorehouse while whistling a jaunty tune.  He had seen fat boy take the manual a day earlier. When the Maitlands no doubt refused to make an appearance, they would get the idea to use the exorcism spell.  A spell that seemed deceptively innocent, like it was merely meant to summon them and not expel them. He often wondered why such a passage was so thoroughly obfuscated.  Especially when Juno’s goal was to prevent as many exorcisms as possible. Still, the event would provide him with a very nice opportunity to go back into action. After all, young Lydia would likely not want to see her second parents wither in front of her.

    Sure enough, moments after the girl had gone downstairs, the undead couple began to turn transparent as they were forced to form downstairs.  Unfortunately, they would be forced into living bodies so the breathers could see them. Since they were long dead, their borrowed bodies would begin to disintegrate; killing them slowly and rather agonizingly.  Laying back in his lawn chair on the balcony, he placed his hands behind his head and simply waited. It was only a matter of moments before said girl came upstairs with a panicked expression. Smirk widening, he affected an expression of uncaring as she approached the model he was currently trapped in.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Half an Hour Later~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    How had things gotten so cocked up?  He thought he’d had everything in the palm of his hand.  Then it had all been ripped away by the very ghouls he had saved.  It was almost enough to make him want to rip his wild hair out in frustration.  Was there no sense of gratitude anymore? No sense of honor? He’d had a deal. A deal everyone in the room decided to ignore simply because the girl was a bit underage.  Something that didn’t really matter to him. Not only did he not have any intention to screw the girl until she was old enough but he also wasn’t the type to hurt the woman that was his wife.

    Growling deep in his throat he leaned back as he glowered at the stained ceiling above him.  Sulphur scented dust from Saturn coated his best tux and he’d had his head shrunk because he tried to take someone else’s number.  It was not the best day of his undeath. Resting his cheek on his palm, he resigned himself to waiting a few years for his turn in line.  As much as he hated it, he needed to be processed again before he could head back to his roadhouse. From there, he could begin planning how to get at the young girl.

    As much as he hated to admit it to himself, she fascinated him.  Not only did she see spirits, she seemed utterly unafraid of what they were capable of.  With exception of when he had made an attempt on her father’s life in the form of a giant snake.  Even then, it had been from fear for her parent’s life than her own. She also wouldn’t be an easy conquest, his first challenge in several centuries.  Chuckling to himself, he folded his hands over his beer belly and simply waited.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Two Years Later~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    Free!  Even the stagnant air of the neitherworld smelled sweet after two years stuck in that purgatory of a waiting room.  Still, he wouldn’t be here long. He wanted to pop in to check up on Lydia, see if she was still living in the same house.  It would certainly make things a lot easier if she was. Once that had been established, the real fun would begin.  Disappearing into the dimension between, he followed the thread that still connected him to the Maitland home.  A door that was still partially open due to nobody properly closing it.

    Aiming for a mirror to make scrying that much easier, He took a quick peek at the room before determining it was exactly where he wanted to be.  The sheets on the four poster bed had a cobweb pattern and the canvas on top was blood red. The walls were painted to resemble the stone walls of a dungeon, posters of horror films dotting them in regular intervals.  Raising a brow when he saw a very familiar, pinheaded visage on one of them, he began to chuckle. Maybe making friends with this girl wouldn’t be as hard as he initially thought. Especially since he could introduce her to some of the figures she seemed to be so fascinated in.

    Leaning on the frame of the mirror on his side, he simply waited for her to come home.  Something that took many hours, causing him to doze off. It was only when he heard the door close downstairs, followed by friendly voices, that he woke up.  Soft footsteps approached the room, a soft sigh sounding as the door creaked open. With his limited range of vision, he only saw her backpack get flung onto the bed while footsteps moved away from the bed.  Drifting to the other side of the mirror so he could see more of the room, he saw she was sitting at an ebony desk; writing something in what he presumed was her diary.

    Assuming a relaxed pose, he took a drag of his dying cig; flicking the butt away before preparing to speak.  “Hey babes,” growled out of him, causing her to spin to look at him out of simple surprise. To her credit, even now, she was showing no fear.  Merely curiosity.

    “What are you doing here?” she asked, walking toward the mirror with a fair amount of caution.

    “If I remember correctly, we did have a deal didn’t we?” cooed his gruff voice. Taking some pleasure in the apprehension that crossed her face.

    Licking her lips and looking vaguely disgusted, she turned her head to avoid his gaze; ebony painted lips pursing.  Then she was giving a tiny nod, surprising the shit out of him. After all the protest she had put up and all the trouble her undead friends had caused, he had expected at least some resistance.  Corners of his lips twitching, he barely managed to hold back a chuckle.  No matter how often he was around breathers, they never ceased to amaze him.  Unlike the ghosts in the Neitherworld, they were always changing. “Don’t worry ‘bout it babes, I have no intention of really marryin’ some kid,” came the first of many lies that would be needed to gain her trust.

    Looking up at him with more than a healthy dose of skepticism, she rolled her dark eyes before moving back over to her desk.  Likely due to the fact she wanted to be as far away from him as she could manage. Lids narrowing, she crossed her bony arms over her chest as she seemed to be mulling a few things over in her mind.  Nodding to herself, she leaned back in her chair; crossing one leg over the other. “So, why are you here if you aren’t going to force me to go through with the ceremony?” hissed her question.

    “Cause yer a helluva lot more interesting than anything my home has to offer.  Besides, nobody bothered to close the door. I can come and go as I please,” he responded with a wide grin that showed off his rotting teeth.

    Shaking her head, the young girl drummed her fingers against her chin while she weighed her choices.  She could always ask the Maitlands to speak to Juno so they could find out how to close off the ghoul’s access to her.  She could also allow this to continue so she could ask him the questions they were always too reluctant to answer. Given her odd obsession with death, they were concerned that if they made the afterlife sound attractive; she would commit suicide.  Though, to be honest, she could see where they were coming from. When she had met the poltergeist on the other side of her vanity mirror, she had been more than ready to cross over to the other side.

    Looking up at him out of the corner of her eye, she found herself honestly curious about him.  Let alone where he had come from. Maybe, as long as he couldn’t cross to her side, there wouldn’t be any harm in allowing him to stick around.  Getting back to her feet she walked back in front of the mirror so she could look at him straight on. “Don’t suppose you’d mind answering a few questions?” she asked, fully expecting the troublemaking ghost to refuse.

    “Yeah, sure.  Got nothin’ better ta do at the moment,” rumbled out of him, taking her completely by surprise.

    As the months rolled on, her trust in him grew as did his respect for this scrap of a girl.  One day, to his surprise, he found himself honestly looking forward to his daily visit with her.  A dangerous road for him to go down. Yet, some part of him wanted to give her a chance. To allow himself to feel something for someone other than himself for once.  Still, he was more than surprised when she actually called for him one day. Phasing past the mirror and into a room, he was greeted to the sight of a very pissed off sixteen year old.  Tears of rage stood in her dark eyes, tiny fists clenched into shaking balls at her sides. “What’s up babes?” he asked, keeping his tone carefree and clear of the worry he currently felt.

    In all the time they had been speaking, he had never seen her this out of sorts.  No matter what he pulled on her, she had remained calm as well as fairly collected.  “Claire Brewster! That girl has taken it upon herself to make my life as miserable as possible,” hissed out of her, the venom coloring her voice taking him a bit off guard.  Blinking, he gave a nod before pulling out one of his cigs and offering it to her. Like all breathers, she was bound to die someday anyway. What difference would a little lung cancer make?  Taking the offered cylinder, the young teen placed it between her lips and lit the end.

    “I mean...,” she began taking a deep drag and holding it for a few seconds, “I’ve gotten used to being the freak.  I can handle being alone,” finished her complaint as she let out a plume of clove scented smoke.

    “What I can’t handle is the name calling,” she spat bitterly, tears finally rolling down her porcelain cheeks.

    Unsure of what else to do, he made an offer that would forever change the dynamic of their relationship.  An offer that would help bring the pair even closer together. “Wanna come check out the Neitherworld? Take your mind off your troubles for a bit?” he purred, holding out his hand for hers.  In an instant, she was placing her own hand in his; ebony eyes glimmering with excitement. There was no sign of the apprehension that had been there only a few months ago. Simply anticipation as well as wide eyed hope.  Chuckling, he snapped his fingers while wrapping his other arm around her shoulders.

    A blink later and they were in the middle of a twisted, warped highway that seemed to be held up by impossible pillars of land.  For, if one looked down over the edge, they would see nothing but thick, yellow stained clouds. The path itself was impossible, twisting into loop-de-loops and almost improbable turns.  Some houses floated on islands beside the phantom highway, built at unnatural angles. Placing his hands in his pockets while he watched her take it all in, he made a decision to take her around the city.  Not only would it be the safest spot but she would no doubt get a kick out of some of the undead wandering around.

    What followed was a whirlwind of what seemed like endless adventures.  Slowly, they went from just acquaintances to nearly inseparable. There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t visit her just to see how she was.  It also helped that, despite warnings from the Maitlands, she allowed him free of his prison. She allowed him to have fun, within strict limits. Limits he was loathe to follow but forced himself to adhere to.  After all, he didn’t want to risk losing one of his dearest friends. Someone that actually seemed to trust him despite his rough edges.

    When she turned twenty-one and began going to college, things began to change.  She called him less and less, spent a lot less time around him and the friends she had made on the other side.  Doomie especially felt her absence. Since the day they had made the roadster, he had considered the girl as a mother.  Now that she was taking weeks to make an appearance, the sentient vehicle almost seemed depressed. Sometimes, he was unwilling to even go for drives; the exact purpose he had been built for.  There were days were his engine just wouldn’t start, making the poltergeist fear for the supernatural car.

    Still, there wasn’t much he could do by stand by and watch.  While a large part of him was hurt she was shoving him to one side after all the promises she had made, the more logical side of him accepted the fact it was bound to happen.  Despite her intense fascination with death, she was still more attracted to people that were more like her. People that had a pulse, people that weren’t in the process of rotting or molding.  People that were capable of changing and growing along with her. People that were capable of giving her an actual future.

    Watching from a mirror in her dorm now, he shared in her small victories despite the fact their connection was growing ever more tenuous.  He supported her silently through late night crams, juicing in a cup of coffee when she seemed to need it. Most of the time, she was so out of it, she never even knew it was him.  Then came the time she came rushing into her room, pale cheeks high with color while his name slipped from her lips. Appearing in front of her with a small grin, he received the news she had been asked out by someone on her campus.  An announcement that was as heartbreaking as it was unsurprising.

    On the outside, he had made himself seem happy for her.  On the inside, he was bracing himself for what was coming.  Despite knowing he would be better off if he just forgot her existence, he was certain he would be unable to do so.  She had been one of the very few fleshbags that had tried to understand him. Had even given him a bit of a loose leash.  Not to mention the fact just how many years he had spent by her side, watching her grow up. It also didn’t help the Maitlands had crossed over years ago.

    Oddly enough, when the pair decided to cross the threshold, they had a heartfelt request for him.  They wanted him to watch over Lydia for them, make sure she was safe. Something he had found it all too easy to agree to, despite knowing how much pain it would cause him.  After all, the couple had also become his friends over the years. Just the fact they cared so much for his young friend had been enough to earn his begrudging respect. He would never admit he had his own interests in ensuring her well-being as well as happiness.

    So, he allowed himself to fade quietly to the background of her life; as painful as it was.  Just seeing how happy she was with her man was enough to satisfy him. He was there for everything.  He was there when she first got pregnant. He was there when they got their first dog. He was there for the fights.  He was there for the happy moments. He was there when the children moved out to have children of their own. He was there when the great grandchildren came pouring in.  He was even there when her husband died, offering her silent comfort through it all.

    Some part of him envied her for her life.  For being able to have children, experience the vivacity of just being.  The dead, for the most part, couldn’t feel emotions the same way breathers did.  Most of them were stuck in a neverending loop of their death. The others were no better than zombies, only reacting when he decided to shake up their dull unlives.  There were only a small handful that seemed free of the shackles of being in the afterlife. He just happened to be the only one of them that enjoyed trying to get a reaction out of others.  In all honesty, being dead was boring as Hell.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Present Time~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    After all he had seen, all he had done, this was the hardest to watch.  His dearest, most loved companion taking her last breaths while her loved ones stood in a vigilant circle around her bed.  All of them, save one. Forcing himself to watch through the stabbing pain in the center of his chest, he ignored the feeling of the woman beside him wrapping a loose arm around his waist.  Thankfully, she kept her snide comments to herself; seeming to sense his distress was deeper. More poignant than it normally was.

    Silently, the pair watched while the elderly female closed her eyes and breathed her last.  While an attending doctor checked her limp wrist, a ghostly white wisp floated free of her parted lips.  Gradually, the mist formed into the transparent figure of a much younger Lydia. Transparent, dark eyes moving around in confusion, she sucked in sharp breath when she saw what her mind had been blocking all along.  The figure of her long forgotten friend and closest confidant. A man she had even had a bit of a crush on before she had started college.

    Shame washing over her pale face, her solidifying form made its way toward where he and Juno stood.  “B.J., I’m so sorry,” she whispered out, reaching out to take his right hand in both of hers. Letting out a chuckle that hurt more than a knife through the heart, he pulled her into a hug.

    “No apology needed.  You had a life I could never give you.  A family that loves you enough to be by your side while you peacefully breath your last,” husked out of him, the tears in his throat becoming a ball made of glass.

    Licking her lips, she moved in to hug the ghoul she had once sworn to never forget.  “Still, I have to make it up to you...,” she murmured, nibbling her bottom lip thoughtfully for a few seconds.  In mere moments, she brightened; a lightbulb having clearly illuminated over her head.

    “Come with me!  For some reason, I didn’t feel right leaving this house to any of the kids.  It always felt like I should give it to someone else. Now I know why,” exclaimed an excited declaration before she was pulling him out of the room and down the familiar hall.

    In moments, they were in the attic.  A room that had obviously become her private study over the years.  While opening the drawers was normally something only an experienced ghost could pull off, Lyds pulled it off with a shocking ease.  Staring at her with a sense of pride, he barely noticed when Juno came up behind him. “Huh, already touching physical things. Something tells me I should be happy she’s not the least bit like you,” teased a wheezing croak that finally drew his attention to her.

    Ignoring the discussion to her left, Lydia pulled out her Will; shuffling through the pages until she found what she needed.  Pulling out a pen, she made a few modifications before calling her fellow ghosts over. Raising a brow, Juno made her way over first.  With her position of power in the afterlife, it was only expected that her advice on issues like this would be valued. After a few moments of discussion, the elderly manager of the dead agreed to allow Betelgeuse to wear the guise of the living.  At least long enough to claim the house as his own.

    A bit taken aback by the unexpected show of kindness, the bioexorcist simply shook his head before offering his long time friend his arm.  Together, the pair crossed over to the other side; Lydia’s husband waiting there to greet them. Taking things from there, he led his wife into the afterlife; the dark haired femme sparing a final glance at him over a shoulder.  Then, they were both gone. Heading to a heaven that only a very few ever got to experience. Swallowing down the tears clogging painfully in his throat, he went back to the mirror to wait.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Years Pass~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    While he had often considered himself a loner, actually being alone was something entirely different.  Yet, after the death of Lydia, he couldn’t force himself to be around others. All his fight, all his juice had left him; putting a gaping, aching hole in its place.  Numbness was all he felt now, deadened eyes staring down the halls of the house that had belonged to his dearest friend. The only time he left was when he was called, bound by the curse placed on his name.  Jobs he failed due to his heart not being in much of anything anymore.

    Sighing as he stared down at the cobweb coated bed she had died on, Betelgeuse stiffened when he sensed he was not alone.  Turning his head slightly, he glared at Juno out of the corner of his eyes. “What th’fuck’re you doing here?!” hissed out of him, a faded, washed out sensation of rage filling him.  The shriveled crone behind him simply raised a brow, smoke billowing out of the decapitation wound in her neck.

    “As much as I hate to say it, I got worried when you stopped causing your particular brand of chaos for nearly a decade,” came a wry response he honestly hadn’t expected.

    Letting out the first laugh in years, he shook his head before leading the way back out of the room.  If they were going to talk, it would be easier in a less emotionally charged area. “Kinda ironic. Woulda thought you’d be grateful for the peace and quiet after all the grief I’ve given you,” pointed out his gruff voice while they wandered down the hall toward the attic.  Even after all this time, it was the place that felt most like home to him.

    “For the first few years, I was.  But ten?! Even you have to admit that’s a bit excessive.  It didn’t even take you one year to get over the last one,” wheezed a response that had him stopping in his tracks.

    Closing his wild, green eyes and taking a deep, shaky breath, he forced himself to remain calm before addressing the woman who was responsible for where all the souls went and what they did during their unending afterlives.  “She was different,” snarled up from the depths of his chest. Blinking, the elderly woman behind him furrowed her wrinkled brow. In all the centuries of making sure this one ghost wouldn’t destroy the afterlife as they knew it, she had never seen him make the mistake of allowing himself to actually fall in love.  Especially with a breather.

    Following behind him silently, she found herself stunned when she entered the attic.  It was almost like she had stepped into a separate dimension entirely. The room was twisted, resembling more a dungeon than the homey attic it had once been.  Chains as well as tattered fabric hung on the walls, several torches were placed in regular intervals on the cobblestone that now replaced what used to be plaster, there were also cobwebs everywhere.  All in all, the atmosphere was oppressive; leaving an instinctual chill on the skin.

    Taking a seat on a ratty, torn couch, he pulled out a clove scented cigarette; lighting it before taking a deep drag.  “I know what you’re going to say. That I was a fool for trusting the living. That I should have known better than anyone given how many of my fleshbag friends have forgotten about me,” hissed his gruff baritone, full of bitterness and self-depreciation.

    “I tried to keep my distance, tried to maintain a wall but...  You don’t understand what it was like watching as she grew up Junes.  She was unique, drawn to the morbid. Besides that, I felt responsible for her safety as well as happiness.  Especially since her own parents couldn’t give a rat’s ass,” he continued, blowing out a plume of smoke while he spoke.

    Watching the problem child of the Neitherworld, Juno found herself experiencing something she never thought would happen.  She felt a fair bit of sympathy for him. After all the headaches, destruction and outright chaos he had caused; it felt strange to want to comfort him.  Sighing while bringing up an arthritis twisted hand to pinch the bridge of her nose, she took a seat next to him; looking up at him from the corner of her eye.  “I... I know how you feel,” rasped out of her, a wry smile on her ruby lips when she saw Betelgeuse’s expression.

    “Before I got where I am now, I used to be like the Maitlands.  Haunting a house that had been taken out from under me by the living.  I knew I was supposed to scare them, to reclaim my home but... I didn’t see much point.  I was already dead. Not to mention the fact they had children. A boy and a girl that often came home to an empty home.  It broke my heart. So... I started to make food for them, leaving it for them when they got home,” she began, stubbing out her cig in an ashtray before pulling out a fresh one.

    “Eventually, I showed myself to them.  While scared at first, they came to see me as a sort of a Grandma.  Unfortunately, like most children, they began to grow up. They needed me less and less.  It wasn’t too long before they forgot about the ghost that cared for them while they were small.  Still, I watched over them. Until they moved out and got families of their own. It was the most happy and heartbreaking day of my life,” she finished, her voice edged with tears.

    Placing her cig between her lips, she lit the end while make-up tainted tears rolled down her aged cheeks.  “You stayed in the house... Didn’t you,” rasped a shockingly kind sounding observation from her left. Smiling bitterly, she gave a small nod.

    “I was much like you.  Lost without the breathers that had come to mean so much to me.  I would probably be there still if it weren’t for a certain ghost making my promotion a necessity.  Still, moving on was not easy. It took decades for the pain to go down to manageable levels. Granted, keeping an eye on you helped a fair amount,” she responded, looking right in his eyes as she finished her sentence.

    Shaking his head, the poltergeist got to his feet and began to pace.  “Even if I wanted to come back full time, my heart isn’t in it anymore.  The bureau has too much red tape. One of the many reasons why I found a way out.  I don’t even feel much like doing the job I built for myself. I just... I don’t think I have the juice left in me anymore,” he confessed, looking down at his filthy, mold covered hands.  Closing them into tight fists, he turned his back on the well meaning matriarch. Pursing her lips but knowing he would just ignore anything else she had to say, she simply took her leave with a lingering sigh.

    The moment she had disappeared, the self proclaimed ‘Ghost With the Most’ looked up at the ceiling with a pained grimace.  Unlike most ghosts, he was unable to move on. He was stuck in the hellish purgatory thanks to the steps he had to take to escape the job he was originally given upon his death.  He would never be able to be reincarnated. He would never be able to join his Lydia in heaven. Yet, something deep down inside him told him she wouldn’t want this for him. That she would be ashamed of him for sulking for so long.  “Sorry babes. Just give me a little longer?” he pleaded to someone he doubted very much could hear him.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Ten Years Later~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    Wandering through the book section of the thrift store,  Ellie couldn’t help but pause when she saw the tattered cover of a very strange book.  From what she could tell, the thing had passed hands more than a few times. Reaching for the leatherbound cover that was decorated by two people with their backs turned toward the reader, she quietly read the title out loud.  “Handbook for the Recently Deceased?” murmured an incredulous voice before she was flipping open the cover to peruse the contents.

    “Christ.  This thing reads like blu-ray set-up instructions,” she complained before closing it and tucking it under her arm.

    Despite being barely able to decipher what it was saying, she found herself fascinated.  Since a young age, she had always been obsessed with the occult as well as the macabre. Whatever this book was, it was right up her alley.  Paying the paltry price, she flopped her new possession into the passenger seat. When a tattered, half faded business card fell out, she only felt her curiosity deepen.  Reading out the nonsense word ‘Bio-Exorcist’, she raised a brow when she only saw the name of a celestial body written three times under it.

    Feeling more than a bit mystified, she stuffed the card back into the book so she wouldn’t lose it.  Then she was driving off home, wondering what the object meant. By the time she reached her humble house, her curiosity had eaten her up from head to toe.  Pulling out the tiny square of paper and placing the book on a near-by countertop, she turned it over to see if there was anything on the back. Not surprised to see it was blank, she turned it back over with a perplexed expression.  There was no number, no contact name. Just the moniker of a distant star repeated three times. Furrowing her brow, she read the name out loud. “Betelgeuse,” whispered out of her, a shiver running up her spine.

    Something crackled in the air from the singular utterance, leaving the smell of ozone lingering behind.  Feeling her skin tingle from residual power, she furrowed her brow and licked her lips. “Betelgeuse?” she tried again, the sensation from before much more powerful.  It was like something was holding its breath, a door opening between the two realms. Shuddering while the temperature took a severe dip, she contemplated saying the name the last time.  Whatever was happening felt fairly irrevocable. Not to mention the fact she had no worldly clue just who or what she was summoning.

    Still, she was curious.  Even if the entity attached to this name was evil, she had always wanted to meet a ghost.  In fact, she had all manner of books about the subject of talking to spirits. Unfortunately, she’d had no success so far.  This time, however, felt very different. This time, whatever she was calling almost seemed impatient to be let free. Taking a deep breath for courage and just hoping she was making the right decision, she uttered the name the third and final time.

    Somewhere, in an abandoned house miles away, a pair of fierce, green eyes shot open.  Feeling the familiar tingle that tugged at his very soul, Betelgeuse sat up very slowly.  Filth caked, rotted hands gripped the sides of his coffin; cobwebs breaking around his dust covered body as he shifted.  Slowly, his skeletal frame filled with muscle as well as fat; his stripe coated arms stretching while he let out a yawn. With no sense of urgency, he pulled himself out of his bed; ruffling his flaxen locks before reaching into his jacket.  Pulling out a cockroach that had been feeding on his endlessly regenerating corpse, he popped it into his mouth; relishing the crunch of the carapace between his crooked, green teeth.

    Swallowing the slimy mix of innards, insect wings and exoskeleton, the poltergeist straightened his purple tie while closing his sunken eyes.  While he wasn’t sure he was ready to be on the scene again, he had no choice. He had to go when he was called. Bracing himself, he allowed his powers to swell within him.  To his surprise, he found he had honestly missed the sensation. Instead of feeling like he was performing a chore, he felt the familiar singing in his veins. The sensation he could only receive from participating in some of his old tricks.  Letting out a cackle that sounded more like the laugh of a banshee, he disappeared into the aether.

    For breathless moments nothing happened.  Just a sensation of tension that made her skin prickle.  Just as she thought whatever she had done wouldn’t work and what she was feeling was all in her head, the lights flickered and went out.  Finding herself plunged in darkness, Ellie held her breath while her heart pounded against her breastbone. Suddenly, a terrible, insane laughter filled the room; almost sounding like the wailing of rabid coyotes.  Breath coming out in a white puff, she nervously held her upper arms while her eyes fruitlessly sought out the source of the inhuman noise.

    Slowly, a figure surrounded by a bright green glow came into view; the intense crackling sensation in the air getting worse the more solid he became.  Soon, the form of a moldering, moss covered corpse took shape in her living room. He had the wildest, green eyes she had seen, unruly, white blonde hair circling his head.  The striped suit he wore, on top of making him resemble a prisoner, looked like it hadn’t been washed since 542 A.D. Green, croggled teeth grinned at her as he floated in a relaxed position a few feet above her carpet.  “Hey toots! What’s shakin’?” husked a voice that could only come from smoking several packs a day.

    Staring at what she had unknowingly summoned, Ellie couldn’t help but wonder if he was a malicious spirit or not.  Her only solace was that he hadn’t tried to attack her or make one of her household appliances come to life. Still, what did one say to a ghost; let alone a spirit that was a practical stranger.  “Hi...,” she finally greeted lamely, shuddering when her undead guest let loose another of those skin crawling cackles.

    “A simple hello?  No screaming? That’s a new one on me!  Kinda like ya already,” chortled the unwashed stranger as he pulled out a bent, ancient looking cigarette.  Feeling uneasy, all she could do was watch while he lit the end and took a deep drag.



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