I really don’t think I should be here.
I stood with dozens of other ladies for hours, forcing a smile and polite tones. My corset was tight and the stuffiness of the room was starting to make my brain itch. I wanted nothing more than to tear out of my dress and hide in the nearby mausoleum, but my father demanded I attend the ceremony, and I had reluctantly agreed. How else was I expected to meet my future husband? Certainly not pining away at my window as I was apt to do, writing away while gazing glumly in the distance.
I heard a bizarre sound in that very mausoleum—like the cocking of a gun—and I turned my head to look outside the window, to stare at the dreary moors. Only the wind stirred the grasses surrounding the crypts, and I turned my attention to the party once again.
I felt a jolt of energy race down my spine. I turned around fully this time, my dress whirling with me in an irritating fashion. I marched over to the window, staring hard at the mausoleum. My mother caught me, frowning.
“Dear, don’t stare at the dead too long,” she chided. I rolled my eyes.
“You mean the ones inside, or the ones out there?”
“Young lady!” she scolded in harsh hissed tones. “You need to mind your tongue and keep your odd behavior in check! What would your suitor think!” She pulled my arm, squeezing it a little too tightly. “Come along!”
I felt rooted to the spot, and I saw the silhouette of a young man standing in the mausoleum, his hair mussed in the wind. I could barely see the outline of what seemed to be aviator goggles, when my mother yanked me back into the other room.
I have to find out who that is! I thought angrily as I smiled apologetically on re-entry.
“Hey Z, you got the scan on that one!” his partner yelled to him over the winds. He waved his meter toward the church again, and it purred like a kitten, lighting up in brilliant ochre and green.
“Yeah, but my Ecto-goggles are all fogged!” he swore, tearing them off. “I have to go inside!”
“What!” his partner grabbed him by the arm, pulling him back. He nearly tore the tan jumpsuit at the sleeve. “No way! Your PKE meter is off the charts! We need backup!”
I was getting thoroughly bored again listening to the ladies prattle on when I felt the tingle of energy again, and I desperately tried to find a way out.
I saw my exit—my brother had feed slung over his shoulders, and was headed out to the horses. I rushed over to him, grateful for his intervention. He seemed to know what it was about. “The dead might haunt you!” he teased. I grinned in reply, and hiked up my skirts, wandering toward the mausoleum with confidence.
I paused, seeing him standing there, fiddling with a peculiar device whilst holding his goggles in his other hand. His blonde hair was a tousled mess in the wind, but his eyes were piercing and bright, as much as the lights on the contraption he was fixing. I felt my heart stop, my knees weakening, and at once I knew.
“Hello there,” I squeaked, trying to seem seductive.
“Damn this thing, too!” he growled at the device. The PKE meter’s arms were waving up and down, and they were like a weather vane. He sighed loudly, the failure of the venture making his heart sink.
“The calvary is on the way, kid!” his partner took his goggles from him. “Hold your horses!”
A pair of stallions trotted over to me, tossing their necks in the tight reins, and a carriage followed.
“Madame!” a tender voice called to me from within. “You should not be out in this dreadful weather! Come inside! Your mother and father warned me you were a bit wild in temperament, and a ride through the hills is what you need!”
“I don’t need a ride, begging your pardon!” I shot back, glaring at the handsome elder gentleman inside. Some kind of arranged suitor, no doubt, I thought, frustrated.
I looked back at the young man, enchanted at once by his seriousness. He wrestled with a wand on his back, and I gasped at the enormous pack he wore—it seemed so heavy! Why in the world would anyone have such garb?! I thought, aghast. It’s…charming, if not…odd!
“Here’s your Ecto-goggles—they were a mess!” he retrieved them, and put them on. The whirrs and clicks reminded me of clock gears, and the lights made me squint for a moment.
“Jesus!” he swore, nearly falling backward into his partner. “This place is crawling with ghosts! Get the trap!”
His partner rolled his eyes while running over to the just arrived Ecto-1.
…ghosts? I thought. Well…this is a crypt!
He stared hard at me through the goggles, and I stepped closer to him. He stepped back, startled.
“I won’t hurt you!” I reassured. “I…just want to know…!”
“Who are you?!” he blurted, readying his wand in defense.
The carriage rolled away, the suitor inside angry that I had rejected him in favor of the strange young man in front of me, lost in the mausoleum.
“I…I..!” was all I could stammer. I felt the tears starting, overcome with emotion on meeting him.
He removed his goggles, staring into my eyes for a moment, as if he really could see me this time. His gaze pierced my soul, and I felt my heart flutter wildly.
“You weren’t supposed to stay here, were you?” he whispered to me, and I shook my head no.
“I hate this place, honestly,” I replied. “I…need a home to return to…”
“I have it, here…” he gently triggered the trap with his foot, watching me materialize and then dissipate into the warm light within. “And you will be safe…with me.”