Something’s weird.

I’m try­ing to add a page with the stuff I wrote today–I did 2150 words in a new/old project, one that has its gen­e­sis in a Writ­ers’ BBS chal­lenge a while back–but Word­Press isn’t coop­er­at­ing. I’m not sure what the prob­lem is, and I’m too tired right now to work on fig­ur­ing it out.

Here’s the very begin­ning:

Riley had been sit­ting on the hard pew for less than a quar­ter-hour when he heard the door creak open at the back of the chapel. He glanced around at the oth­ers in the room, but none of them seemed to have heard a thing.

Foot­falls now, com­ing up the aisle behind him. The floor­boards creaked under the famil­iar, impos­si­ble tread. Then the dead man slid into the pew next to him and said, “After­noon, cap’n.”

You’re not real­ly here, Charles” Riley hissed, not look­ing at him, not dar­ing. “You’re dead.”

And don’t I know it, too, siah, that’s me body up there in the cas­ket.” There was a hor­ri­ble mirth to his voice. At the edge of his vision, Riley could see Charles’ pale hand ges­tur­ing toward the front of the chapel. The plain box hold­ing the body was closed, its lid adorned with a pal­try bou­quet of droop­ing white lilies in a chipped glass vase. “But here I am nonethe­less.”

Look,” said Riley, “what do you want?”

Ah, siah, you can speak qui­eter. No one else in here can see me or hear me.”

That’s because–” The woman in front of Riley turned and gave him an odd look, half pity, half fear. He smiled what he hoped was his sun­ni­est smile at her, and she turned away, look­ing not a whit reas­sured. In a whis­per, he said, “That’s because you’re not here. You’re a fig­ment of my guilt, a ghost of my imag­i­na­tion.”

No,” said Charles, “not entire­ly.” He belched, and Riley winced, but the woman in front of him–of them–showed no signs of hav­ing heard. “I s’pose it’s pos­si­ble, cap’n, that you’re feel­ing guilt on account of me, but that’s not why I’m here in this par­tic­u­lar moment.” There was a shuf­fling sound from Riley’s right. In his periph­er­al vision, Riley could see Charles dig­ging in his coat, fetch­ing some­thing from an inner pock­et. The hand that held the card out to him was wan, more­so than it had been in life, and the nails were thick and yel­lowed like horn. “I have a mes­sage,” said Charles. When Riley didn’t take the card, he motioned, mak­ing spas­tic lit­tle jerks with his hand that were entire­ly too much like his last spasms, his last gasps, aboard the ship. Riley snatched the card from that hor­rif­ic hand, clos­ing his eyes as he did so. “From a lady,” said Charles, “a right gra­cious lady.”

Riley kept his eyes closed, con­cen­trat­ing on the feel of the card, the rough weave of the paper between his thumb and fore­fin­ger, while Charles rose from the hard wood bench and creaked his way down the floor to the back of the chapel, out the door and into the world. Only once the door had slammed shut–and still no one else in the lit­tle room noticed–did he open his eyes.

The card was creamy white paper, stiff, fold­ed once. On the front it said

NATASHA NOIR, Esq.
∞ Dim Street

Black-hand let­ters crawled beneath the address, unread­able on this side of the grave. They made his eyes water just look­ing at them.

Inside, in per­fect cur­sive, it read

I own Man­dalay.
–Noir

He crum­pled the paper, whis­pered “God damn it” loud enough that the woman ahead of him turned and glared at him, then pock­et­ed the card, rose, and fol­lowed Charles’ foot­steps out of the dim chapel into the bright glare of after­noon of Lit­tlesnow.

More lat­er, I hope, so I do.