As usual, warnings apply: This is the rough draft of a story with adult themes and situations. If you are offended by bad language and grammatical errors, gentle reader, read no further! For those of you who have decided to stay, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy this week's chapter!
Existence as a spirit without a working body was normally breathtakingly dull. As long as there existed a single spark of life in their body, a spirit couldn’t move much more than fifty feet away in any direction. In the refrigerated warehouse where stacks of bodies waited in their preservative baths, for the first time ever, the spooks were becoming panicked.
They had watched with growing alarm as one after another, Rag and Bone had unpacked and revived their bodies. For a few glorious moments, spirit and flesh had been reunited only to have control yanked away by some other force. No one knew who or what had hijacked their bodies, but many of the warehouse’s insubstantial residents had reported brief impressions of a charnel stink and a red glow before they had been ejected.
Like a dog left too long on a chain, spirits could become peculiar over the years. Many of them grew anxious with any change to their surroundings, which was a shame since their once-orderly warehouse was now in horrible disarray.
Once-neat rows of stacked barrels were overturned and a slurry of effluvia drained into metal grates along the floor. Meanwhile, their stolen bodies stood in crooked lines, slack expressions on their faces, waiting for who knew what.
“This is bullshit,” said Desmond Sanders, one-time used car salesman and now full-time discorporated spirit. He gave the shimmering silver cord that still bound him to his physical body a good yank to no effect whatsoever. He was met with sounds of anxious agreement from the rest of the restless spirits in the packed room.
The spirits in the warehouse knew each other well. Over the interminable years, they had played every possible iteration of 20 Questions, Charades, and I Spy. They had talked, traded recipes they would never eat, fought, and loved, all within a hundred foot bubble of their marinating bodies.
Among the many down-sides to the situation was that any spooks whose mortal remains were separated by much more than a hundred feet needed to shout in order to hear each other. The warehouse was a loud place at the best of times. At the moment it sounded like a riot was in progress.
Desmond watched as a pair of hijacked bodies sloshed another naked resident out of its barrel in a stream of tea-coloured preservative. It was bad enough being bodyless and spending decades languishing in an abandoned warehouse with the other spooks, but now having your body pulled from the barrel, naked and dripping for all to see, was beyond mortifying.
“Someone’s wife must have been a good cook,” was all Colleen McAffey, Chronic Liver Failure, Crypto Druid, and ex-cosmetic counter manager at The Bay, had to say when he himself had been decanted in a gush of smelly preservative. Her barrel had been stacked next to his for nearly a decade and they had been on cordial, if not friendly terms. Sadly, the current crisis had revealed that under pressure the woman had all the tact and sophistication of a horny Rottweiler.
Desmond, Des to his friends, could admit he hadn’t been in the best shape in life and the preservation process had done nothing to improve the situation. Removing most of the water from a body had the side effect of making any loose skin even looser. Honestly though, what kind of shape was he supposed to be in with a terminal case of cardiac amyloidosis?
When he’d casually mentioned upon seeing her in the flesh for the first time that it was a good thing she knew how to use makeup, it had just been an observation. Nothing mean about it.
That was his burden. He’d always been a straight-shooter, telling it like he saw it. He couldn’t be blamed when people couldn’t handle the unvarnished truth. In some cases, like this one, the truth just revealed other’s petty and spiteful nature.
Once they had a large enough workforce, Rag and Bone had left to go about their own business and let the hijacked bodies continue the work of reviving. He hadn’t expected to see the duo again until all the barrels had been emptied. It was a surprise then when they returned with a young woman with her hands tied up behind her back and a gag in her mouth.
The warehouse had been backfilled with its barrels, and he was far enough toward the back wall that, beyond Rag, Bone, and Dr. Knox himself, he hadn’t seen a new resident or live visitor in nearly thirty years. His own barrel was vintage 1983 and so were most of the others around him. Because of this, the new woman’s appearance came as something of a shock.
She had cobalt blue hair, wore dark eye makeup, and was that a ring in her nose?! Her jeans were torn, but he didn’t think it was from any kind of rough handling on behalf of Rag or Bone. It was almost like they were supposed to look like that. Judging from how well she fit into them, Des guessed she was in her active mid-twenties.
Even if she wasn’t able to speak with the gag in her mouth, her eyes spoke for her. She was furious, not that it would do her much good. It had become clear soon after their bodies were interred in their preservative soup that Knox’s sales pitch had been lies. As many as half of the barrels in the warehouse were filled with the bodies of people who hadn’t volunteered to be put there. The only ones who were ever revived were the ones whose family or friends care enough to collect them.
Out of sight meant out of mind. Des wasn’t sure if Knox and his ilk knew they were being observed by the un-departed spirits of the warehouse, or if they just didn’t care. Either way, he’d been witness to enough over the years to feel a spike of compassion for the young woman. It wasn't going to end well for her.
A quick request tonight: If you're enjoying the story, consider sharing it with your friends. At some point in the hopefully near future, I'll be publishing the edited and polished version of this tale. Growing an audience is going to be a big contributing factor in how well I'm able to do. Thanks for your time! -S