Deep down in the black
Underneath as hell might be
Hell does not compare
Nothing has a name
Oblivion they call it
The dead fall to it
Called by the dark they come
Dark they die again
But they creep back out
With darkness to bring us down
So we all fall down
“You're mad, you understand,”
Someone grunted on the other end of the phone.
“Twenty years ago I would have hauled you before the church,”
There was another animal sound followed by a muffled swear.
The business man continued. “The very idea is profane. To tread where the dead lay,”
“Are you helping or not?” came the curt response.
The business man hit mute. He sighed, looking over his office. An old wooden clock counted seconds passing by. He turned to his computer. Fingers flitted across keys and a file flashed onto the screen. It was a formality, he knew the details by heart.
He unmuted the phone. “Are you still on the same e-mail address?”
The voice at the other end snorted. “I switched months ago. It's happyjun45 now,”
The business man rolled his eyes. “Still paranoid I see. I'll send you his number after I get in touch. This is strictly an introduction. Everything else is on your own head,”
“Thanks. You think he'll help?”
“Say no to your charm?” The business man smiled.
The rapping came again. Mortimer shuffled toward the door, leaving the kettle boiling. He paused long enough to peer out the eyehole. Never hurt to make sure. Slowly the door creaked open and he glared at the visitor.
“Done smacking me door?”
A hand was thrust toward him. He took it in surprise and the shake near ripped his arm out.
“Good to finally meet you,” said the visitor.
“Mortimer rubbed his shoulder. “Alright, alright, come in,”
The visitor stepped into the gloom of the apartment. He wasn't what Mortimer had expected. Mortimer couldn't remember what he'd expected, ushering his guest into the back room. Cigarette smoke hung in the air, strings of fetishes hung from the ceiling. It hit him as he fussed around the table lighting candles. Old Crockett, who'd come back from a military tour and beaten two thugs half to death for having the temerity to mug him. On the outside apathy but something at the way he moved hinted at an animal underneath.
“Now I know we went over it on the phone but it bears repeating. We'll sit ourselves down and I'll set up some tea. Might be someone shows. Might be no one shows. That's how it goes,”
There were three chairs, the visitor took one. “It's a lot neater than I thought. Was afraid you'd have to go messing with bones, calling up ghouls or something,”
Mortimer' mouth twisted, his hands pouring the tea. “Disgusting,”
“I know,” said the visitor, nodding gratefully as a cup was put in front of him.
“Now you- What did you say your name was- you just sit there and relax,”
“Call me Kell,”
Mortimer finished pouring the tea. Three cups. One for him, one for Kell the visitor and one for good luck. He sat beside Kell, taking a draught of the brew. A single empty seat sat at the other side of the table. It looked forlorn with the cup of tea in front of it. All they could do was wait.
The tea by the empty chair had gone cold. Kell was half-asleep. Mortimer stared into his empty cup. It looked like a wash. He was about to wake the lad when crockery clattered. The singular cup had fallen over. Cold tea flowed across the table, lapping around one of the candles. Mortimer squinted. The candles were poor light but there was... something sitting in the chair.
“Sorry,” The word echoed, travelling through a thousand leagues of fog.
“Izzat you Lou?” breathed Mortimer.
Kell had awoken with a start. He surveyed the room like a wolf seeking prey.
Mortimer focused on the voice. “Hello Sabrina. You keeping well?”
“...well,” said the echo.
The voice was so indistinct, it made it hard to tell whether that was a word or a lost sentence. Mortimer spoke extra loudly just in case. “This here's Kell. Can you see him?”
Mortimer nudged Kell. He frowned at Mortimer before getting the hint. “Hi Sabrina,”
They heard nothing back so Mortimer pressed on.
“Sabrina, Kell had some questions for you,”
“About the Deadlands,” Kell supplied.
“About... where you are now,” corrected Mortimer.
More silence. Mortimer began to think the boy had insulted the ghost. He couldn't see anyone in the chair anymore.
The words came right into their ears. “...he should ask them,”