“Pull over right there,” Elizabeth said.
The cabby pulled over, confused about why they were back here. When he set the transmission to park and stopped the metre, the driver looked into his rear-view mirror and found a stack of twenties on the seat with the door wide open. He caught sight of her hightailing it down the sidewalk while holding onto an old piece of pottery.
After closing the door, he shifted into drive in time to watch a series of squad cars screaming in from around the corner with their sirens blazing. He slammed his fists against the wheel and shoved the transmission back into park. He would be going nowhere soon, considering how they cut him off at both ends.
“This is going to take a while,” he muttered.
* * * *
“I’m here!” Elizabeth yelled while running down the alley.
She saw a little girl dressed up like a nun standing in front of Clara. She ran to within a few yards, slowed, then dropped to her knees at Clara’s side.
Elizabeth was out of breath. Adrenaline coursed through her veins and clouded her thoughts. Why did this child seem so familiar? Perhaps she was a fragment from some long forgotten dream or a faded memory?
“Good,” Angela said. “Get ready.”
“For?” Elizabeth asked.
Angela smiled warmly, and reached for the handle of the knife buried in Clara’s chest. Meanwhile, she placed her free hand against Clara’s chest to get more leverage.
“This is not going to be pretty,” Angela thought.
“It will be alright,” Angela said to Clara. “Now I’m going to pull the knife out, and this nice lady will pour some ambrosia into the wound.”
Elizabeth was gripping the amphora with all her might. Clara coughed violently in response, which startled Elizabeth, who jerked out of the way. Doing so caused the glowing liquid to spill everywhere. Fortunately, after some adjustment, a large quantity of the fluid managed to seep into the open wound.
“Not very graceful,” Angela said with a giggle. “But it seems to be working.”
When smoke rose out from Clara’s wound, the damaged tissue began to heal. Her coughing transitioned to a light rattle, and before they knew it, her breathing was back to normal.
Clara’s eyes did not open. Instead, she slumped further onto the pavement. When her wing made contact with the hard surface, she grimaced in discomfort but did not wake. Angela took Clara’s hand, smiled, and watched her elder sleep.
“Those wounds were pretty severe,” Angela said. “So it may take a while for her to recover.”
Of course, fate had other plans for them. A police car stopped at the mouth of the alley, and two officers jumped out.
“Freeze!” One of the officers ordered.
“Just what we needed,” Angela said grimly, but a grin soon made her face shine. “I’ll go deal with the bulls. You wake her up.”
Before Elizabeth could object, the young one turned around, smiled, and faded out of existence. All that remained was her grin, an eerie homage to the Cheshire Cat.
“She was probably dying to do a bit of haunting,” Elizabeth said and was immediately filled with guilt for using the world dying in front of a spirit.
Despite their distance, Elizabeth noticed a measure of confusion on the officer’s face. A shame that it faded away so fast once his training kicked in. Meanwhile, his partner noticed the hesitation and approached. Since this one was armed with a tactical shotgun, the situation was not progressing as well as she hoped.
“Come on, Clara,” Elizabeth said.
When she tapped Clara on the cheeks, the officer trained the pistol in her direction. Apparently, the application of first aid to the wounded did not comply with this man’s definition of freeze.
“Freeze,” the officer repeated. “Hands where I can see them.”
Elizabeth thought about complying, but the commotion in the park was getting worse. That meant Clara was needed out there.
She slapped Clara harder, ignoring the armed men as best she could. Clara did not react, so Elizabeth wondered just how far this needed to go.
“Last war—,” The officer said.
Angela materialised just ahead of the officers and did so with the flair of an artist. At first, her bones faded into existence followed by sinew, muscles, fat, and skin. She remained partially translucent throughout, which had a profound effect on the nearest officer. He stopped breathing, his heart rate rose, and his hands began to shake.
“We heard you bulls the first time,” Angela said.
His partner, however, was not fazed by the show and brought his weapon to bear. He was about to bark out an order, but Angela turned to face him.
“You really don’t want to do that,” Angela said while her skin dried up, and shrank until she looked more like a mummified corpse.
When she smiled, the sound of that leathery hide crackling echoed throughout the alley. That would have been more than enough to scare the shit out of the average moviegoer, but it was her cackle that really sold it. Despite the special effects, the man remained steady and focused. He pumped the weapon one time to eject the buckshot and chambered a slug that would wreak havoc at this range.
“Come on, Clara,” Elizabeth said, now visibly shaking Clara.
Other than a brief interruption in Clara’s breathing, she appeared to be blissfully unperturbed by the impending storm. Elizabeth began to panic. She knew that the situation would only worsen and doubted the cops would understand her non-compliance once Angela ran out of tricks.
The first officer snapped out of it. Emboldened by his partner, he pointed the pistol at Angela who showed no concerns.
“Really boys,” Angela said. “Am I going to have to give you the high hat?”
Angela’s features morphed into that of a youthful child. Her hair then defied gravity, resembling that of someone submerged in water. While the effect did not phase the cops, the world surrounding them certainly reacted.
The air grew cold, and while it was autumn, the drop in temperature was sudden, and dramatic. Frost permeated from under the child’s feet, causing the pavement to freeze while it spread. Once the phenomenon reached the first cop, his breath turned to ice which forced him to back away.
“Clara!” Elizabeth exclaimed, and this time she followed through with a slap loud enough to echo.
The weather disturbance was starting to get the attention of other officers in the area. Some looked on in awe, while others radioed in the sighting, sure to bring in some reinforcements.
While the frost continued to spread, it also became more focused. When the second officer moved his finger onto the trigger, the weapon itself iced over. The metal became so cold that it forced him to drop his weapon.
“Come on,” Elizabeth pleaded.
Elizabeth knew this situation was about to blow. She sighed, which oddly enough alleviated her panic and was momentarily thankful for the small miracle. Without any better ideas, she leaned in and kissed Clara on the lips, unsure of its effectiveness or where that particular idea came from.
Angela began to laugh maniacally, which corresponded with an exponential growth in the disturbance. Anyone near the expanse was now actively trying to keep away from it, while those caught in its wake regretted their decision.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s kiss lingered on those lips until her partner reacted. Before she opened her eyes, Clara moulded her willing body against Elizabeth’s. The passion they shared grew in intensity, and for a moment, there was no one else in the world.
That’s when a frantic officer decided that brute force would solve this once and for all. He emptied a clip into the young girl, and while every shot hit home, her laughter only intensified.
Clara did not react. Such sounds were like old friends to her now. Alas, Elizabeth, fearing that the shots were meant for her, jerked back and in doing so, caused the broken wing to shift.
“Ouch,” Clara said before she smirked.
That reaction showcased how Clara and that girl were cut from the same cloth. From that, it was easy to figure out how Edith could have fallen for both. She also realised that Clara had been milking this…
“Milking this situation to get a kiss?” Elizabeth asked. “You’re an incorrigible flirt.”
Clara adopted an impish grin, then looked towards the spectacle. While the frost approached their position, she was not concerned nor worried. Once Clara spotted the amphora, she smiled, grabbed the vessel, and swallowed several mouthfuls of its golden contents.
“You know,” Clara said when she stopped drinking to get some air. “I’ve always liked men, but when I’m around you, I really have to wonder why I haven’t given the fairer sex a try.”
Elizabeth should have been concerned, but Clara’s demeanour had a calming effect. Those smart ass words disguised as flirting succeeded in getting Elizabeth to smile. Even though it was fall, she felt warm, desired, and certain that she could survive anything, including a nuclear winter. All she needed was this lady to watch her back.
“Watch this,” Clara said.
Angela’s eyes began to glow, while her voice rose in pitch until it shattered nearby windows. The banshee’s intense scream forced people to cover their ears. All the while, a solid wave of cold air pushed forward, enveloping vehicles and men alike. Once the wave dissipated, she was gone.
The immediate aftermath was a sight to behold. The ground was covered in a thick layer of snow, while more fell lazily from the sky. Anyone far enough away, would have seen something akin to a life-sized snow globe.
While those caught inside were less than appreciative, at least they were alive. Their skin and uniforms had turned white from the frost and appeared to be nothing more than breathing snow sculptures. Meanwhile those outside of the globe were left wondering what they should do next. Should they assist their peers or avoid drawing out that girl for another round of games?
“Carrots must have attended the same lectures I did,” Clara said.
Elizabeth stood up, while looking over the spectacle and gasped. By now, she was nearly numb to such acts of wonder. As judged by Clara’s demeanour, it would take a hell of a lot more than that to phase her.
She then grabbed Clara’s hand and helped her up. The other immediately brushed herself off and spread out her wings to their full size. Despite having seen them before, the sight of those magistic feathered wings.
“They taught you about ghosts?” Elizabeth asked.
Clara nodded, smiled, and said, “Professor Stephens taught us this subject as part of his second year lectures. I figured there was an awful lot of detail for something that was not supposed to exist.”
“But—,” Elizabeth tried to ask.
Clara anticipated the question and added, “He taught us about the creatures of myth and legend. Ghosts were noteworthy because of the depth of knowledge shown, along with the steadfast denial of their existence.”
That had been the professor’s way of toeing the line, while providing his students with valuable insights. Angela, just like Clara, had paid attention. It did not take much to figure out that a soul called down from the heavens was a ghost in all aspects but in name.
“She used up all her power with that stunt,” Clara said. “She will wake up in her own world in a couple of months once she’s had the chance to regenerate.”
Elizabeth wanted to ask a few more questions but thought better of it. Sometimes ignorance was bliss, and this was the perfect example.
Clara was surprised to see the conflict growing within and proud of how well Elizabeth was doing. Instead of saying something, she winked out of existence and reappeared holding a shotgun and a couple of police issued pistols.
She then proceeded to hand a weapon over to Elizabeth and chuckled when the other recoiled from the cold. The recipient briefly glared at Clara and stuck out her tongue in an effort to diffuse the situation.
“You ready?” Clara asked, extending an arm.
“What about the amphora?” Elizabeth asked, but then noticed it was already gone.
Instead of retracting her question, Elizabeth moved in and held on to Clara. With one swoop of Clara’s wings, they were airborne, heading towards the park. They did make an effort to avoid the snow globe, and despite their being witnesses, no one made an attempt to stop them. An angry ghost was more than enough for one day.
“Gabriel is not going to like this,” Clara muttered.
Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!
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