“Though I really didn’t want to, I told the cops everything Chris had told me. Of course, it didn’t do any good. They just thought I was nuts,” Janet said, looking forlorn, her eyes fixed on the bare wall to her left.
As Janet concluded her story, Mikey casually placed something in my lap. I glanced down to see that it was a small fire-extinguisher as Mikey laid his hand palm-up on the table in a comforting gesture and said, “Well, most cops are morons.”
Janet looked up to face him and I could see the tears welling in her eyes as she placed her hand in his and said, “Thank you. For everything…”
“Don’t mention it,” he replied with a wink as Mikey used his free hand to pat the top of hers and Janet suddenly caught fire. I mean like her entire body ERUPTED INTO FLAMES. It was as if her skin had been replaced with magnesium flash-paper.
“The FUCK?!” I screamed, jumping to my feet and reflexively spraying Janet with the fire extinguisher as she let out a horrific shriek.
“Relaaaaaaax,” Mikey said as the fire consuming Janet’s body quickly fizzled out, revealing nothing but a charcoal husk reminiscent of the remains found at Pompeii. He motioned to the chair I had just vacated. “Sit down. I’ll explain.”
“Explain how you just made a woman spontaneously fucking combust?”
“She wasn’t a woman. I mean, she was at some point but just then, she was a skinwalker. What the kids today would mislabel as a zombie, though the term ‘zombie’ refers specifically to a LIVING person being controlled by some autonomous source. Reanimated dead are a whole ‘nother thing but anyway…”
Mikey nodded down at the slowly dissolving ash heap where Janet used to be and continued, “Normally, she wouldn’t have gotten past the front gate but I let this one in to illustrate a point.”
“To you,” Mikey said in a matter-of-fact tone that made me feel kind of dumb for not realizing it sooner.
“If anyone cares, I thought the whole thing was unnecessarily risky and terribly stupid, but what do I know?” Lynn the Librarian/former detective said as she followed Grace back into the interrogation room. The latter was now wearing a trenchcoat that was way to big on her and carrying a broom with attached dustpan.
I took a beat to let Mikey’s words sink in (if you’re familiar with my work, you’ll know why I require a considerably short adjustment period for this sort of thing.) After silently reminding myself not to stare at the obscenely attractive Grace as she swept up Janet’s ashes, I turned to face Mikey and tried my best to sound calm as I said, “And what would that point be, exactly?”
“That if you’re going to be hanging around, you’ll need to learn how to spot the many human abominations one encounters in our line of work.”
“Since when is ‘collector of the paranormal’ a line of work?”
Mikey shook his head as he smiled at Lynn and replied, “The collection is merely a hobby facilitated by my occupation.”
“And what is your occupation?”
Mikey turned back to face me as he said, “Call it paranormal tech-support.”
I couldn’t help but scoff. “You saying you’re a Ghostbuster?”
“That’s putting a bit too fine of a point on it for my liking. Plus, I think the title might be taken.”
“Fair enough. So then what do you need me for?”
Mikey looked almost bashful as he said, “Essentially, I’d like someone to document my many misadventures and I’d prefer that someone be you. All I ask is that you maintain the anonymity of our clients. Obviously, with this job, discretion is key. And of course you’re free to do whatever you want with the finished stories. All I ask is that you write them.”
“Interesting… One last question. Actually, it’s the same one as before: How did you make her burst into flames like that?”