Rajean dropped the innocuous object almost as soon as she’d picked it up. Though she’d expected the info, she was not prepared for it. She toed the dull-grey four-eyed button with a scuffed boot before meeting Sully’s duor face.
“Hear me out.” Sully said with a look to me. Sully was a hulk of a figure and for this, one often forgot he was only thirteen. His voice quivered. “Who else can I turn to?”
“But this? No.” Rajean shook her head of reddish brown hair. “Ut-uh. That’s not normal. Even in my world, that’s not…no.”
Rajean Campbell Blomquist, all five feet some odd inches of her, was from the other side of the slide, the slide being a difference of perception and ability not a physical plane. Didn’t matter, they’re a few steps separated and she knew better than to lessen those steps. She could see the history and those attached to an object, by touching it, though see was mild, more see, hear, feel, every part of the history and often it was the feel that flipped her cast iron stomach.
“Tell you what I’ll do,” Rajean said, “I’ll hook you up with a friend.”
Sully grabbed her hands and Rajean felt the cold moisture of fear ripple. “Please?”
We exchanged looks and I knew whatever she had seen in that button was bad. Ignoring Sully we glanced to the horizon. The deep blue, warm at the edges, foretold of a dark day I wasn’t sure Rajean would see the end of.
My name is Vodke, and I’ve been to the other side and didn’t make it back. The fact that Sully could see me didn’t change the truth that I died 70 years in the past, or that my connection to Rajean was the reason those in the present could see me. And at 16, Rajean is the same age I was at my untimely demise. Usually she only reacted like this when it had something to do with the way I died.
With trepidation I moved to pick up the button, hesitating when Rajean put a trembling hand on my essence. As I said, she gets feelings from objects and because of our connection, if I picked the button up, she’d still see the entire, but the emotions would dissipate into ethereal fog. Harmless. I have my uses. Our interaction isn’t spot on, I only get hints of what she knows through her touch.
“I should have been the one to pick it up initially,” I said.
“Should have thought of that before.” Rajean gave me a half smile. Our symbiosis stood at 12 years, we’re still hammering out quirks.
She turned her attention back to Sully. “What is it exactly you want?”
Waiting for her signal, I knelt beside the button. I studied the holes of the button where thread had tethered it to fabric. Maybe a coat? Jacket? The button was heavy duty and too sturdy for clothing.
Our eyes met when Sully said, “Find Charlie.”
We’ve known Sully a few years, but I wasn’t aware of who Charlie was. His brother? A friend? Grandfather? Third cousin four times removed?
“Its not pretty, but you already know that.” She relented, motioned for me to pick up the button, and shut her eyes before touching me.
When she shivered and turned to the barn-red privacy fence skirting the alley, I heard a low growl from the other side and knew I’d be the one to retrieve Charlie. Rajean’s afraid or slithering creepy crawlies. Me? I have an earned fear of the slopperies in the form of canines. Being already dead, and that they can’t kill me, again… I swallowed when she nodded to the fence.
“How bad is it?” I placed my hand on her shoulder. She brushed it away and set out in search of a gate.
We’d done this before. The routine? She’d open the gate and distract the beast while I went through the fence. Just because I couldn’t die, didn’t mean I wasn’t still afraid of being mauled. I hugged myself as she disappeared around the end of the fence.
When she yelled ‘found it’ and the growling faded, I moved to the other side of the only barrier keeping me from bared teeth, and into a mud pit. Remains of the recent excessive rain. I searched the immediate area near a large dog house unsure of what Charlie looked like. All I knew was he, it, would be covered in, wearing, grey.
Irrational as it is, I trembled in my boots, now covered in the dog shit I smelled, when Rajean called out, ‘he’s coming.’
I swept the area and watched Rajean slip back through the gate just as a Hell Hound, disguised as a 140-pound slobber-flying Rottweiler I knew was named Carbuckle, bounded in my direction.
On instinct, I dove for the only spot of grey I could see, snatched it with one hand. Can’t move through an object while holding another, so I leapt first onto the doghouse, then a small shed beside the doghouse, and over the fence. Like a football player, I tucked and rolled coming to rest sprawled at Rajean’s feet.
Her smirk as she looked at me almost warmed my cold dead heart. I started to give the mangled grey mess I held to Rajean, but she stepped back and pushed Sully forward.
Sully’s eyes went wide. He gently took the furry item, cradled it in his hands, and when huge tears rolled down his cheeks, I knew I’d found Charlie.
I got to my feet as Sully lifted his beloved bunny. Charlie was covered in mud and dog drool. What little stuffing Carbuckle hadn’t ripped away, stuck out in puffs. Reaching deep into my pants pocket I placed Charlie’s other eye in Sully’s out stretched hand.
It was my turn to give Rajean a smile. Though she no longer slept with one, she had a soft spot for her own Woobie.
As it happens, from time to time and often more frequently when I’m hitting some bumps in writing a current work in progress, or betters said, novel in progress, I write flash fiction pieces. This would be one of those times. And as luck would have it, I found another one of Chuck Wendig’s challenges over at Terrible Minds and decided to give it a go. I encourage you to read the other stories that sprung up from Chuck’s inspiration. There are a lot of really good writers out there.
A side note; the main character’s name came from someone I’ve known since high school who once asked me to put her in one of my stories. You never know what you’re going to get when you leave it open like that. Here you go Rajean.
Use one of 20 psychic powers(for the list check out Chuck’s blog) chosen at random using a 20 sided die. (I cheated and as I didn’t have mine die with me and randomly asked several people to pick a number 1-20.)