This Is a Book: Chapter Twenty Two

Hey, look–it’s a two-for-one special! Two chapters right in a row for once!

If you haven’t had an opportunity to read Chapter Twenty One of This Is a Book yet, just posted to Mel’s blog earlier today, make sure to go check that out.

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Chapter Twenty Two: Across the Universe

            “You are so ugly.” I stare at Rose’s ex with my mouth hanging wide open, like a mailbox with a broken hinge. “You almost married this guy?” I don’t dare glance at Rose as I ask the question, sure that if I were in her position I would be boiling with fury at the sight of such a horrible ex-almost-husband. I run my eyes up and down Mr. Doom and Gloom’s body and fold my arms. “Uck. Dodged a bullet there.”

            “Oh yes,” says Ghost-man, copying my stance with disturbing ease. “Mary Hart. The arrogant girl with the unfortunate birthmark.”

            My hand instinctively flies to cover the space below my eye. “What, do all dead people dislike heart-shaped moles? I thought it was just Titanic Girl. You people are weird.” I peer at him through my bangs and wrinkle my nose as I realize, “Hey—you’re, like, blind or something. How do you even know about my birthmark.”

            “You’re in an alternate dimension,” the pixie chirps from where it hovers in the air on the other side of Rose, “and you feel the need to ask that?”

            “Of all the sentient beings to ask me that.” I roll my eyes. “What are you, anyway?” I ask Mr. Doom. “Wearing fancy colored contacts? Messing with my mind to simply make me think that you are blind?”

            “Of course not, Mary Hart. I am simply no longer—shall I say human? And because of that, I no longer exactly see the way your species does.” For a creepy dude holding a king and a heart hostage in an enchanted, evil castle, he is the perfect gentleman in his mannerisms and dress. His black hair is combed neatly to the sides, parted down the middle like an uber nerd’s (Randy went through that phase), and he wears a crimson three piece suit that is so dark it nearly looks black under the grey skies of this other-world.

            It’s Rose who pipes up just enough to ask, “Sebastian, what are you?”

            “Is it not obvious, my dear?” he asks with a grand sweep of his arms. The suit jacket sleeves are poorly tailored and flutter as he moves, like wings.

            “Wait, I’ve seen this movie.” I take a step back and manage to trip over my own feet, landing on my butt with a resonant thud that echoes through the barren land. The ghosts up at the top of the gate howl with laughter—Lion King hyenas style. The pixie stifles a snort with the back of its hand but doesn’t offer to help me up. Despite the fact that Rose is still floating, it seems she is rooted in place, and I can see Sebastian’s pale form straight through her. I can feel his attention centered on me, even though his pure white eyes twitch and stare past me, around me, through me.

Then I get it. He can’t actually see me with his white eyes; that’s not how he can tell what I do. And that only leaves one option, for those of us well-versed in pop culture: he must be able to read my mind.

“Please tell me you’re secretly super friendly and attractive like the vampires in the movies?” I ask. I try to keep my voice strong, but I squeak on the last word. Sebastian turns his sightless gaze onto me and his colorless lips lift into a smile.

“Did no one ever tell you how awful the Twilight franchise is?” he asks. His teeth are jagged—not exactly like fangs, but close enough to make me want to vomit all over him.

“Yes.” My voice quivers. “Because it wasn’t scary enough.”

“Brilliant, that means you know the truth.” He does not take a single step towards me, but it’s suddenly like he’s right in my ear, whispering the words straight into my mind, forcing a shuddering shiver down my spine as my fingers clench and my toes curl in my shoes. “And the truth is that you should be very, very frightened of me, Mary Hart.”

“Hey, Pixie Stick?” I ask. “Wouldn’t now be, I don’t know, a good time to get us out of here or something?”

The pixie must be as scared as I am, because it doesn’t move its mouth an inch in response. Rose is so still she might as well be dead, like, for real. The only ones moving are Sebastian’s ghost guards, as they flood down from the top of the gate to surround us.

“Are you there, Pixie Stick?” I try. “It’s me, Ugly. Please get us out of here and I will never ask for anything again. Not that I’ve ever asked for much, outside of getting you to leave me out of the obviously very messed up political situation your country is experiencing right now, but seriously. I won’t even ask for that anymore if you just get us out of here.”

Sebastian lets out a sharp little cackle before taking a step around Rose to face me directly. He says, “Oh, but would you be willing to leave without her?” He beckons with a nod and my gaze turns to one of fiery anger.

Oh no. He did not.

“I amend my prayer to the Great and Powerful Pixie Stick,” I say immediately. “By ‘us’ I meant you, dearest Pixie Stick, me, and most definitely also Rose obviously. Thank you. Amen.” I give Sebastian an I- told-you-so glare. I may be on the ground in obnoxiously small and dirty business attire, but that doesn’t mean some idiot Twilight character can boss me around by finding loopholes in my pleas for help.

“Ahhh, but you must realize, Mary Hart,” he says with another small chuckle, “it is less of a loophole in your plea, as much as a regular hole in your logic. After all, Rose physically cannot leave my world, here, at the moment.”

“Since when has anything physically stopped Rose from doing something? She’s a freaking ghost-zombie, blood-breath.”

Ha! I’ve got him now!

“Of course, I am referring to the fact that any being—dead, alive, or otherwise—missing a piece of themselves cannot leave this realm. My dearest Rose is, as you modern humans would say, stuck here.”

“I can’t leave,” Rose says, finally turning to face me with a vacant expression on her translucent face. “Not without my heart.”

Sebastian claps his hands together in an almost giddy way and turns to face his nearest minion. “Take them,” he commands, and the ghosts descend.


Watch out for Chapter Twenty Three, coming to Mel’s blog soon!