“Let’s get back to the topic at hand,” Esperanza stated. “We are here to discuss something more central to the task at hand than a children’s story and our resident phantom intern.”

“Did she call me an intern?” Harold asked, sounding excited at the prospect.

“Shhh,” Nora replied quietly.

The discussion was, of course, about Gary. His nature and how quickly to move him along. They made sure he wouldn’t be around to snoop, sending him off for an office supplies run. They were out of Hazelnut flavored coffee again.

However, there was disagreement about how to best clue him in what was going on. And again, the discussion degenerated somewhat into a spat between her and Frank. Both of them were there when the last attempt to mount a rescue through an interstitial hole failed. And given Franks tendency towards more new-agey explanations, she was probably the one on the actual side of science.

However, when the topic turned to what her ghost had seen while he looked over Frank’s shoulder while he wrote his Bigfoot vs Kennedy children’s book, and if she and it were intending on stealing his ideas, their manager had enough.

“If I hear you two mention that again, you’re both fired, understand?”

With Palantine not around, that might not be an entirely empty threat. Nora had seen her fire people for less.

“Based on his psych profile, we are proceeding just fine,” Nora insisted. “We just keep an extra eye on his behavior so we can anticipate what his reaction will be when we get closer to zero hour. Without Mr. Palantine’s input, that is the best he can do.”

“And where is our honored leader?” Frank wondered. “Without him, Tasmin and the good professor we are more than a little handicapped, boss.”

“He last said he was taking some time to find ‘Enlightenment’, whatever that means,” Esperanza reminded him. “Something he picked up from that dinner he had with Leonard Cohen last year. Besides neither the professor or Tasmin have much experience in this area.

She glanced from Nora to Benny, Frank, then back to her.

“We have exactly the people we need,” she finished.

“Do we maybe need to put surveillance on him outside the office?” Benny asked, breaking into the discussion for the first time. “Who knows what Gary does on his own time, or what he says to people he talks to.”

“No, we can keep an eye on how he behaves here, that’s as far as I’ll go,” Esperanza told him, then turned back to Nora. “Can you get more details from Harold regarding what he and his… people are exactly sensing from him?”

Nora shrugged.

“There was mention his aura tends to flicker and might be increasing local entropy,” she offered. “I’m not sure what that exactly means.”

“Well that would explain why my iPhone keeps dying,” Benny stated.

“Or you could actually send it in to Apple for new battery, instead of Rashid at Robot World,” Frank offered. That earned him a dirty look from Benny.

“But seriously, most ghosts aren’t precisely experts in their condition,” she advised. “It takes a mountain of denial to become a ghost in the first place. Most don’t even want to know what they are. Recognizing the nature of Gary’s state is a little beyond their talents.”

“Doesn’t stop them from bellyaching, though, does it?” Frank insinuated.

“What exactly does that mean?” she asked.

He shrugged.

“I still don’t think they can be trusted,” he offered. “Least of all ones like Harold.”

“Well, when you can talk to one of them,” she said. “We’ll see how well you can sort out the lies from truth.”

That kind of ended the meeting.

“Do you want to do it again?” Harold asked.

“Later,” she told him. “After hours.”

“Your wish is my command,” he told her. If she could see him, Nora would bet he’d be grinning from ear to ghostly ear.


Go to Chapter Fourteen

Go to Chapter Sixteen