Something that hasn’t changed between life 1 and life 2 is working with limited information. Many things have changed but I still don’t like it. Not to honk my own boobs but considering how little I knew about magic or anything that was going on I did a pretty dang good job in life 1 of protecting the world from astral parasites and demon spirits and insect monster invasions. I didn’t think so at the time but dying has made me realize that I was okay at my job.
I’m even more in the dark when it comes to this spirit stuff. I don’t even know what I am, let alone these creatures coming after me. All I really know is that they come from somewhere else and it takes magic to bring them here. That’s pretty much all I got.
I’m 98% sure that the Not Devil is a spirit, but what his agenda is and what he has to do with what happened to me and why he cares I have no clue. He seems different from the other spirits I’ve encountered because he does seem like a person, or something that used to be a person. For all I know he isn’t a spirit at all, maybe he’s just a mage doing spirit shit.
What I think I know is that spirits can’t survive here long on their own. Either they appear for short period of time, they’re in a magic sweet spot where they’ve got juice coming in to keep them “alive”, your haunted houses and upstate New York triangle vortexes and whatnot, or they’re inside someone, either possessing them or being trapped inside them as a source of power.
I had a really really great metaphor before about a cat in a submarine. I bet spirits being in our world are a lot like people being underwater. You can go underwater but it’s not where you belong. You can’t see very well or move the way you want to and there’s all kinds of weird shit you’ve never seen before, shit which may or may not be dangerous to you. Either you have to get out of there right quick or you need a connection to bring you what you need to live. Air for us, magic for them.
Maybe I am a great writer.
At first I think the Not Devil was sending manifested spirits at me, either he was feeding them the magic they needed to exist or they had a shelf life and I didn’t need to fight them, I could have just run away and they would have faded on their own. Maybe that’s why they endangered people so I would come at them instead of rabbiting. Isn’t that what some dude did to Superman in some movie?
Since that wasn’t working the Not Devil switched tactics. I thought something had changed because instead of giant pig monsters with seven sets of swangling titties or horror movie bullshit things people started coming at me. Not people people but Eterno style people where the spirit monster was inside of them.
I confirmed it when I chatted with one of them. Two revenants, as I might decide to call them, came at me. It was a shit plan on the Not Devil’s part because they were even easier to defeat than the manifested spirits. Just like with the bugs all I had to do was yank the spirits out of their people-rides and then burn them to a crisp.
The third revenant didn’t even try, she just asked me if I wanted to get a beer. I told her it was eight in the morning and her response was that time is made up anyway.
“Yeah, but the bars are all closed is my point” I says to her.
Short Stack Eatery doesn’t serve beer in the morning but they will give you a Bloody Mary. Society has some odd rules. If you drink a six pack in the AM you’re a scumbag, but you can pound vodka and tomato juice or champagne and orange juice from dawn to noon and that’s fine. You explain the difference there to me.
I never had pulled pork with cheesy grits before, I highly recommend them. The Cajun biscuits were good too but the short stack was just okay. I blame the locally-sourced, organic ingredients that support the community and utilize sustainable practices. Moral and other concerns aside if you want good pancakes you need delicious chemicals.
“Is Bloody Mary real?” I asked her stirring mine up with the celery stalk they put in there. “The urban legend I mean, not the wrestler, I know she’s real.”
Revenant number three was sitting up high in the booth across from me like a kid who wants to look around “Yeah, she’s real. Everyone does it wrong through, to summon her the only light on the mirror can be candlelight and you say her name 13 times over the course of ten minutes.”
I nodded “That does sound more magical. What does she do?”
She shrugged “Why does strychnine cause muscle convulsions that leads to death by asphyxiation? It’s just the way it is.”
Like the other revenants she looked mostly like a person, a person with substance abuse problems who sleeps on bare dirt, but still a person. She was missing about thirty pounds she needed and a lot of color in the skin but looking at her you wouldn’t think she was a supernatural entity, just someone who’s having a hard time.
She told me that in her first life she was like Stella, her people are one of the descendants of the Crane conspiracy and they had some magic rattling around in the family tree. She didn’t get involved in their secret society occult shit, she just worked at custom hot rod shop, until someone blew her brains out with a sawed-off shotgun.
Her second life was very short. She came back to get revenge on the shotgun wielder and that only took a couple days. She didn’t figure out exactly what happened but there’s some kind of necromancer war going on and she was a casualty of that, either because they thought she was in on her family business or to prevent her from getting in on it. Or for some other reason.
“I wasn’t expecting to get a third go-around” she said snapping into a stalk of Bloody Mary-tinged celery.
“So you’re going to try to kill me then? You’re being very polite about it, I appreciate that.”
“Nah, even if I wanted to take you down I know I can’t, I just said yes to get a few more days before He figures out that I’m not really trying and yanks me back. Being alive is great. Feeling things, eating things, sunlight, talking to people, movies, battery powers sexual devices. It’s a shame that it takes dying to realize that.”
I nodded “Yeah, dying really puts things in perspective. Back, you said, back where?”
“Wherever we go when we die” she said casually.
“You don’t know?”
“You don’t know either” she pointed out “I’ve only died one more time than you. I was alive then I wasn’t, then I was again, what happened in between, if anything I can’t remember. It kind of makes sense, you don’t remember what was going on before you were born so why would you remember what happens after you die?”
I thought about it “Maybe that makes sense. But when you say He you mean the guy that pretends to be the Devil right?”
“Yeah, that’s the one.”
“What’s his deal?”
She crunched up another bite of celery before answering “Royale told you about how magic is in low supply now.”
I was startled to hears his name “You know about Royale?”
“I was given your entire life history, I guess because He thought it would help me hunt you better. I know everything about you.”
“Yeah. There isn’t less magic, there’s just less magic here, on this side. Magic comes from the other side, where the spirits are, and there’s supposed to be a balance. Too much magic on this side and all the spirits come through and kill everyone, too little and people get wiggy.”
“Can you explain wigginess to me?”
She half smiled “Inspiration. Emotion. Whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t exactly come from the other side but look around you. This is what happens to people in a low magic world. Isolation, anxiety, everyone is worried about everything all the time. I can’t explain how it works but when you wall off too much magic the result is stagnation, people shuffling through life not all that interested in anything. There’s supposed to be a balance for the good of both sides.”
“What does this have to do with Him?”
“This is just my personal opinion, but he’s trying to do something about it. The world is out of balance. Not enough magic is getting through and it’s making people go wiggy.”
“Shouldn’t he want me running around being magic then? I haven’t exactly been subtle. In my first life I relied on the shield of no one believing what they saw, but I’ve started to see some stuff online about me in my second life and some people are taking it seriously. Or halfway serious anyway. I’m becoming my own urban legend. Someone took a clip of me fighting bug spirits and edited it to be like a wrestling match with commentary and everything. It has nine million views.”
She shook her head “I don’t know how I works, that’s just what I think he’s doing. You fit into it somehow, more than the rest of us. We’re just pawns in this.”
“Huh. Well that’s something. How do you think he’s going to get me?”
She grinned “I don’t know. From what I’ve seen you kind of plow through all the obstacles and mysteries like a runaway cement truck. He’ll get you for sure, I just don’t know how He’s going to do it.”
“What are you going to do?”
“There’s a female friendly strip club around here, I was going to check that out.”
“What does that mean?”
“Female friendly means that not dudes swinging their cocks around, its women stripping for women, like a burlesque show only less whimsical and more big titty spread cheeky. The appeal of a burlesque show is that it provides an exaggerated, hyperbolic version of what it is to be a woman, it’s a form of comedy really. A female friendly strip club is about nudity, only it’s for ladies.”
I couldn’t help but laugh “That’s a thing that exists? And you’re saying there’s not enough magic in the world?”