Jack has to get rid of a pesky spirit. Finally finding the entity, he realizes ...
|Jack was worn out. He had been chasing this fucking spirit for over twenty four hours now. It had to be running out of juice. Nothing stayed in this realm for long without running dry or body jumping. He was also sore and out of cigarettes. Grinning, he muttered something to himself about chewing bubble gum and kicking ass. He was all out of gum.
What didn't help his exhaustion was that the spirit was playing with him. Jack’s ego was taking a blow and he didn't like that. Lack of self confidence could be a real bitch when you had to face situations daily that required you to walk the walk and talking the talk. You had to believe you were the big bad wolf, otherwise you were just another sheep. Ghosts could see through false bravado to that chewy center. The cherry on the sundae? This ghost was old school. It was popping in and out and managing to scare Jack just enough to make him twitchy and agitated. It wasn’t afraid of him and Jack felt that this was going to have to change. His muscles were burning with an over allotment of adrenaline and he wanted to punch someone. Or to fuck someone. In his darker moments, both.
“Come out, Casper.” Jack rumbled. His own echoing footsteps had become background noise, his brain filtering out the sound.
That reptilian part of his brain told him to turn. He could feel it, even if he couldn't see it. Whirling around he came nose to nose with… half a man. Well, to be truthful, he was all man but he was not completely solid. Somewhere below this entities belly button the outline of the body began to fade. The big Cosmic eraser in the sky had photoshop edited him starting, leaving the lower half a faded memory.
When ghosts attempt to return to our world, if they can find the right person who knows the right mojo they can return to their human form. What they aren't told until after the check is processing or the card is authorising and the spell finished? That there is a catch. Within the first twenty four hours of returning to complete corporeal form, the body will begin to rot. By the seventh day, if the entity haven't found a suitable body to inhabit, their rejuvenated will turn to ash.
It's called a soul swap, or body jump, depending on who you learned your information from. Jack often thought of it as body jacking. Your soul forced out of your body and someone else jumps into your ride, taking off with it. It's a brutal, painful for both sides and can lead to an ass load of anarchy if any kind of tussle begins between the two souls. Situations like that is how sane people end up in the funny farm, with a pretty jacket that has long sleeves and lots of buckles.
Luckily for Jack, he knew the right mumbo jumbo to send them back to the grave. Much like an exorcism, it differs because it is more magic than religion. With enough intent, anyone could perform it. You didn't need to be magically inclined to perform some rituals, but it helped. In this circumstance, it was a simple force exit Jack was performing. He had been one of the few who were knew this ritual. Most shied because it was like opening a can of soda with a forty-five.
Another catch for the hunters? The spirits, at least some of them, knew this incantation. Before you could utter more than a syllable, they were on you. Other deities, things that had never been human, they were usually a pretty knowledgeable bunch. They knew the ritual as well. It was easy enough for the spirit to attempt to stop him from speaking the words, as the spirit tonight had with his choke hold. It was enough to get a man killed if he couldn’t handle things. Afterwards, the body turned to ash. It was a side effect of the soul forced out from the flesh. Jack joked that it made for easy clean up and in the right crowd, that got a wry chuckle or two.
Unfortunately, Jack, in those few precious moments before the ghost reached for his soul, had a brain misfire. It happened when he was under pressure. It was a gut reaction and more than once he had tried to bite these quirky words back. More often than not they escaped anyway. It was tiring and dangerous being a smart ass. Although his fist was in his mouth, and he was biting hard, a giggle escaped anyway. He just couldn't stop himself. Jerking bitten and marked knuckles from his mouth, a crazy laugh escaped before he spoke.
“Tell me, do you put your pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us?” The quirky comment was punctuated with half swallowed giggles. A grunt of surprise followed the humor as the spirit reached with both arms to grab Jack.
If someone could see this taking place, without knowing the details, the scene could have been mistaken for a hug. A bear hug of manly proportion, but a hug none the less. Both the spirits corporial arms embraced Jack, a bit beneath the shoulders and above his elbows. It didn't help that Jack was more wirey muscle than bulk strength.
In response, Jack grappled with the man, using what grip he could manage. The ghost had bone crushing, supernatural strength and it drove Jack backwards. The bear hug inspired his lungs to ache and his ribs to crack until he felt dizzy with each exchange of oxygen.
The spirit was still in the process of development. Another side effect of magically returning to their corporeal form. As they developed, the magic was so imbued in their flesh, they were supernaturally strong. Most who performed the spell only surrendered enough energy to keep the spirit going for it’s allotted seven days or less. This one, however, was different. It was super charged.
The pair danced as the ghost pushed forward, using it's half body to back Jack’s trapped body up until he was against a wall. Releasing him from the bear hug, Jack felt one of the beefy palms, complete with sausage fingers, clamp onto his throat. The other hand was moving over Jack's chest, palm flat to the material of his shirt and searching. It was looking for his soul. No one’s soul sat in quite the same place. Jack had heard a few wives tales involved souls hidden and discovered in interesting places.
He had to do something, before the ghost's fumbling was rewarded. Both of Jack’s hands went to the hand that were clamped around his throat. He managed to grasp one of the sausage fingers, prying it up and away from it’s fat brothers. Savagely, he twisted and pulled on the digit. Managing to pull it semi straight he gave it a quick, powerful, jerk and felt the hold on his throat loosen. There was a sensation of satisfaction when he heard the finger bone crack and the spirit stopped.
The pain was always startling to those who were unlucky enough to be only partially corporeal. More than once he had wondered when the last time was that a spirit he was pursuing had felt genuine pain. Had it been at it’s death? Did it remember one pain differently from other memories of childhood booboos?
There were always questions like these, but no time to find an answer. It wasn't as if you could have a sit down interview or schedule a talk show Q and A for these desperate entities. At least not until it was completely inhabiting it's stolen body.
After the initial shock, the spirit’s response was visceral. The roar came from what had been a mouth just seconds ago. The spirit's jaw had dropped, dislocated and it's mouth became a gaping, black cavern. Jack could see all the way back to the man’s wisdom teeth and down his throat. It's tongue laying on the floor of the dark mouth hole, thick, ugly and dry. The intense scream cut off and the over extended jaw snapped shut with a sickening popping and clicking sound. The entity leaned forward, shoving it's face into Jack’s and letting a snarl erupt from twisted lips. With a tightening of the remaining fingers, Jack was off the ground and raised into the air. The angry spirit shook Jack like a rag doll, before slamming him against the wall once more.
For a moment, Jack was sure he had bitten off more than he could chew. Who ever had juiced this particular ghost up for regeneration had not just given enough it enough to get through the seven days. This spirit had been super charged. That alone was enough to worry Jack, at least, it would be if he lived through this and had time to sit down and think about it later.
As he struggled to regain his thoughts, his training, the spirit was fumbling over his chest again. Pushing the hands away with a sloppy, half hearted movement, Jack mumbled with choked breath. “Stop trying to get to second base.” He released what was a wry chuckle in his head, it was more a wheeze as it escaped his closing throat.
With a low, canine like growl, the spirit stopped and again leaned forward. As Jack’s vision began to clear, he could see the it's face. Up close and personal, there was something too intense in it's green eyes.
As Jack and the spirit locked eyes, the spirit smiled. It closed the gap between he and Jack. What Jack couldn’t see was that the spirit’s body was changing. It was now visible down to it’s knees. In the few moments used up in this tussle, the magic was working overtime to return the spirit to full body. Someone had power to spare.
The spirit exhaled and Jack’s struggling inhales became polluted with the scent of grave dirt. It was then that Jack began the chant. He knew time was running out. The chant was short enough and had been well memorized. Sometimes these two facts were a literal life saver for Jack.
Speaking the words, he felt the desperation of the spirit mount. The hand he had pushed away returned to his chest and was again feeling, groping. It wasn’t a physical marking, but a metaphysical one and it wasn’t easy to find for those who had training.
The chant was old hat by now, but if he was going to be honest with himself, he had felt something begin to happen. Even in the aftermath, his chest was still tingling, his knees were pretty weak and he was, oddly enough, starving. That was a new one.
He didn’t need a mirror to tell him that in the morning, he was going to have one hell of a bruise on his throat. This mark that no scarf would conveniently cover would be accompanied by voice loss or at least leave him with a lifetime smoker's husky resonance for a few days. No doctor needed to diagnose him with cracked ribs, he was familiar with the pain. His clothes were sticking to him now and he realized that the last few moments had inspired perspiration no antiperspirant could repel. He would feel better after a shower.
Released, he half stumbled and half fell back and hit the wall. Wincing, he grumbling and leaned back to catch his breath. Oxygen returning to proper levels, he looked down at the small pile of ash. With a frustrated sound, he drunkenly righted himself and kicked out with his booted foot. The maneuver almost landed him on his ass and he missed the pile. Intending to scatter the remains, instead a handful of the ashes danced in the brief wind generated by his passing shoe. He grunted, giving the ash pile an evil glare.
“Zero fucks given.” He muttered.
He was going to start charging extra for this.