Adam and Charlotte were outside walking within Prelude. His house was on the east side of town, while their destination was on the west. For the time being, both of them decided to leave the situation with the woods alone. Charlotte managed to check and confirm that everything was, in fact, mysteriously restored, like their fight never occurred.
“I would investigate it further, but my energy right now… There’s no way I could fight back if some conflict arose.” Charlotte cursed at herself.
“It’s cooled down a lot since yesterday. You don’t seem as crazy wearing a sweater. Still a bit, but not as bad.” Adam commented, obviously steering the subject away from the matter.
“I can’t feel temperature, so it doesn’t really matter to me either way…” Charlotte was examining her clothing. “I could always steal something else to wear.”
“Steal…?” Adam asked under his breath. “Anyway, we have to do something about these memories you’ve lost.”
“And you think Jerry would help? I know he was the valedictorian of our class, but I’m not sure if that means much.”
“He’ll get us on the right track, at least. He can explain everything about ghosts much better than I can. Explaining… It’s in their damn blood after all…” Adam muttered the last sentence. He seemed to begin pondering something. “The Ouderkirk family. It was for sure in our curriculum, but nothing aside from the basics. I tried to do a report on them once, but there wasn’t enough info to make anything good.”
“Probably more than I know. I genuinely don’t remember much of anything. Aside from knowing about my powers and the World Mirror. Everything else feels like it was lost somehow…”
“How long… have you been around, exactly? And what have you been doing all of these years?”
“I can’t really give you a precise amount of time… it’s as if I was a newborn. You hardly remember your earlier memories but begin to become more aware of your existence as you grow up. About a hundred and twenty years ago, I’d say I started to notice things around me.”
Charlotte stopped walking. Adam could hear the strain forming in her voice.
“Still… I just stood there. I couldn’t interact with anything around me. It was as if I was frozen in place. Anywhere my body decided to appear. Countless locations all over Requiem. I’ve seen so much.” Charlotte paused and started to look around.
“It was only a few years ago when I was finally able to move on my own… and I’ve been attempting to figure out what I can, with the power I have. I recalled memories of the World Mirror… and how it’s supposed to—somehow—help me… So, I put my time and effort into searching for it.”
Adam sighed. “Well, we have a lot to figure out, it seems. Let’s take it one step at a time. We don’t need to wear ourselves out too quickly.”
“You’re right,” Charlotte agreed. “Although it is frustrating.”
“That’s life for you. It’s frustrating.” Adam stated bluntly.
A few minutes later, the two had entered a large two-story yellow house—the home of Adam’s friend, Jerry Peck. They met him in his room, where the spiky red-haired boy was working at his desk. There were five large monitors on the surface, which took up about half the room. The actual computer was massive, lit up in bright blue light, and took residence underneath the desk.
Adam took a seat on Jerry’s bed, which was difficult to do. The rest of the room was cluttered with many electronic devices and chunks of metal—bed included. Charlotte remained at the door, unable to figure out how to walk inside in the first place.
“No need to be shy,” Adam beckoned. “Nothing in here will hurt you… I think.”
Charlotte slowly nodded, walking carefully around a red toolbox on the ground. Adam moved a laptop-looking device over so she could sit down next to him.
“So, what can I do for you guys?” Jerry turned around—his hazel eyes now focused on them. “I didn’t know you two were friends?”
Adam rubbed the side of his neck. “Well, let’s see. How to explain this? There were some… events that transpired last night. And, we need to figure some things out.”
“By… ‘events,’ what do you mean, exactly…?” Jerry narrowed his eyes.
“Not what you’re thinking.” Adam sighed. “Look, I don’t know how to explain this that well. So, just… Charlotte, do something to show him?”
“I can do that,” Charlotte responded. She took a look around Jerry’s room, figuring out what to do. After a moment, she looked to the side of Adam’s head. Shrugging, the ghost girl put her arm right through it.
Jerry’s eyes lit up immediately. As Adam jumped back from the awkward sensation going through his temple, Jerry shot up and grabbed Charlotte’s arm.
“NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY! DID YOU JUST DO WHAT I THINK YOU JUST DID!?”
Charlotte answered the question by pulling her arm away, phasing right out of Jerry’s hands.
“This… this sensation!” Jerry curled his fingers, putting great focus into the coldness he now felt. “After all these years, I’ve finally met a ghost! And it was you, Charlotte!? How? How?”
“Well, she’s not an ordinary ghost, to begin with,” Adam stated.
“Well, obviously! There’s no natural way your average ghost could completely act like how she’s acted.” Jerry raised his finger as if he was a teacher. Adam could tell the beast was about to be unleashed.
“Ah, shit. Well, this is what we came here for…”
“Ghosts were confirmed to be entirely possible, but there are limits…” Jerry started giggling, almost uncontrollably. Adam believed that his friend was perfectly capable of becoming a mad scientist.
“What would those limits be?” Charlotte asked, somewhat concerned about who they decided to come to for information.
“Where do we begin…” Jerry rubbed his hands together. “Let’s see… when it comes to the phantons within us, they don’t necessarily disappear after one dies.” Jerry pointed toward his window, which Charlotte just took notice of, considering it was hiding behind the computer monitors. “They can do certain things. The event that happens most of the time is that they rise and head upward toward the sky.”
“To… to heaven?” Charlotte was intrigued that such a thing could have been discovered to exist.
“Well, we’re not sure what it does exactly. We do know that in between the exosphere and thermosphere, the phantons form a sort of barrier referred to as Xavier’s Ceiling.”
“—Named after the guy who discovered the phanton, Xavier Ouderkirk, in 1959,” Adam added nonchalantly, glancing over at Charlotte.
“Precisely!” Jerry gave Adam a thumbs up. “What happens within this barrier is totally up for debate, however. It does not seem to affect technology at all, as we’ve been able to launch rockets successfully. It’s peculiar, as normally there can certainly be disruptions due to phantonic interference.” Jerry sighed. “Technology also cannot get any specific readings on the dang thing, unfortunately. We can just detect where it is, as we can track the phantons that leave the Earth’s surface.”
Charlotte was entirely focused on Jerry’s explanation, becoming enthralled in learning about what he was discussing.
“Well, I’m sure that is informative for her. But how about what happens with those phantons that don’t leave?” Adam asked.
“Yeah… those phantons still need a lot of research. But what we do know is that they like to—well—create ghosts. The phantons can travel to anywhere the deceased person had been in their lifetime. They then proceed to sort of ‘re-create’ events of that person’s life; that’s the most common thing to happen. It’s referred to as a ‘residual occurrence.’”
Jerry pointed at Charlotte. “Now, with you…” Jerry paused for a moment and let out a sudden squeal. “I can’t believe I’m actually conversing with a ghost, this is the greatest day of my life!”
“Well, I’m glad you are enjoying your first encounter with a ghost,” Adam stated sarcastically. Jerry looked at him in a questioning matter, but he shook his head. “I’ll get to that part soon.”
“Anyway, continuing on. Charlotte—in your case, you would, for sure, be at least considered something known as an ‘intelligent occurrence.’ This is when the phantons can create an entity that is able to do whatever it wants. There is also a massive increase in phantonic power compared to a residual occurrence.”
“She’s plenty powerful, that’s for sure.” Adam winced in remembrance of the pain. “That freaking hurt a lot.”
“What? Did she attack you or something?” Jerry seemed concerned.
“Yep, right after she kidnapped me,” Adam stated, rather bluntly.
Jerry stared at his friend. “What the hell happened last night!?”
Charlotte stood up, stretching her body. “He’s right, regarding the power thing. I think it would be simpler to show you.”
Realizing what Charlotte was about to do, Adam grabbed a pillow off of Jerry’s bed and held it up for protection. The azure aura lit up around her body, although nowhere near as powerful as the night prior. Jerry was staring in complete awe as Charlotte revealed her true form to him.
He fell to his knees, taking hold of Charlotte’s hands. She looked down at him in confusion while Adam lowered the pillow he was holding up.
“My god, you’re an Ouderkirk!? Absolutely amazing! This day…” Tears had begun to fall down Jerry’s face.
“All right, buddy. Easy now.” Adam stood up and got Jerry back on his feet. He turned around and looked at his desk. All of the monitors were glitching out; the images unrecognizable.
Wiping his tears, Jerry picked up a device that looked like a tablet. He tapped it furiously, wanting to get something to work.
“Thank goodness this is still operational… here we go!” Jerry analyzed the tablet in silence; his mouth slowly opening. “My god… these readings! Adam, if she has this much power and she attacked you, how did—”
Jerry looked up at Adam and stopped talking when he noticed his friend’s eyes. They were glowing precisely as they did the night prior.
“Adam? What… what is that?” Jerry pointed at Adam’s face.
“What are you talking about?” Adam was confused. Jerry tapped the tablet a few more times and showed the screen to him. It was a camera, pointed in his direction. Adam was able to see his own eyes glowing for the very first time.
“What the… hell? Is-Is this the—”
“That is a sign that the World Mirror is active, yes,” Charlotte answered Adam’s question before he could finish it.
“What’s a ‘World Mirror’?” Jerry asked.
“It’s why she freaking attacked me last night…” Adam responded, still staring at his eyes. “Apparently, I have some weird-ass power. Not sure if it can be considered a Concept or not…” He let out a loud sigh. “And this kidnapper right here has been waiting around to find it.”
Charlotte nodded. “Yes. Most of my memories seem to be missing. All I’m aware of is my Ouderkirk heritage and the fact that the World Mirror can help me.”
“Adam… World Mirror…” Jerry seemed to be rooted in thought. “Your memories missing… something doesn’t seem right. My dad’s been working with you for a while now, Adam, to figure out just what the issue was with you not having phantons.” He folded his arms. “Is this why…?”
“We have no idea… It’s why we wanted to see what you thought. If I’m gonna be honest with you—”
“You don’t really want my dad to know, right?” Jerry smirked at him. Adam nodded in confirmation.
“I don’t really care if it just involved me. But Charlotte’s mixed in, as well. With Unity, and how they are… I don’t know how they’d respond to an Ouderkirk who’s a ghost.”
Charlotte was surprised at Adam’s concern about her safety. Logically, however, it did make sense. She held her tongue for a moment while Jerry nodded, clearly brainstorming something serious.
“…Hey, can I ask something?”
“No shit. We’re here to ask and learn, after all.” Adam answered.
“…My family. Are any of them around still? You said the guy who discovered the phanton was an Ouderkirk, but seems like that was years ago.”
Jerry shook his head. “Well, no… That guy, in fact, was one of the last ones.”
“I see…” As Charlotte glanced to the floor, Adam noticed Jerry seemingly fidget upon answering—an oddity for him, as Jerry tended to answer questions with steadfast confidence.
“Anyway—Charlotte. Are you able to get out of that form for me? I need to use the computer.”
“Sure…” Charlotte, somewhat upset by the answer she obtained, breathed in slowly. In a flash, her body reverted back to her previous state. Almost immediately, Jerry’s computers were back to normal. He sat down and began typing away.
Adam’s eyes also returned to normal, having been active the entire time, as well. He noted that he seemed to feel a strange sensation—the center of his head and the nape of his neck simultaneously felt like they were being tickled. Looking at the tablet with the camera, he realized the change. Charlotte took note of this as well.
“You noticed that, huh? That should be the first sign that you feel the World Mirror’s power. And the fact that it’s not causing you severe headaches anymore is great as well.”
Adam held his head. “You may not know what the World Mirror is for, but you do seem to know some details surrounding its power?”
Charlotte pondered for a moment. “Yes… I-I can really understand why I know certain things, yet I am in the complete dark about the rest.” Charlotte sat back down on the bed. “I knew how to get the World Mirror to work. I’m also aware of the great power it holds, along with the fact that the power seems capable of healing wounds you receive.”
Jerry chimed in. “It seems that the memories you do have hold importance. Not substantial importance, but enough to get you on the right track.” Jerry turned around. “I’ve got a lot to think about and research. Also…” Jerry pondered something.
“I think it’s worth it to finally do that.”
Adam and Charlotte looked at Jerry questionably. He raised his fists up into the air, getting himself pumped up.
“I’m going to hack into the Requiem government’s servers!”
“Woah woah woah, cool it.” Adam went up and held Jerry’s shoulders. “I don’t want you getting in trouble and throwing your life away over some simple information!”
“Relax, you know who you’re talking to, right?” Jerry smirked. “Besides, I’ve always wanted to do this. Not necessarily for information on the Ouderkirk’s, but for other things.” Jerry sat back down at his computer.
“As I’ve studied Phantonics growing up, there have been quite a few holes I’ve noticed in certain areas. We’ll be here for another five hours if I were to explain it to you guys, but… just…” He paused.
“It’s important we find breakthroughs in the field. I want to help others, and I don’t want anything or anyone getting in the way of that.”
Adam smiled softly. “Right, that makes sense. Just be careful, all right?”
“Don’t worry about it. It takes some time anyway. You two look into what you can in the meantime, and let me know if you figure anything out.”
“Well, will do—” Adam pulled out his phone, remembering the screen was busted. “Ah, crap. Can’t really do much with this in its current state.”
“You too? I had to fix up Brandon’s phone this morning. It’s not gonna last much longer, though, so I told him he should probably just get a new one.”
“I think I should, as well…” Adam poked at the screen. “Even you probably could do much with a shattered screen.”
“It would be kind of annoying, but I could probably figure something out.” Jerry grinned at his own confidence.
“Nah, I needed a new one anyway.” Adam shrugged, putting the phone back in his pocket. “I just gotta dip into the funds and see if—”
Charlotte pulled out a slip of paper and held it in front of Adam’s face. “Here, I think you should have this.”
She gave the paper to Adam. He looked at it, realized quickly that it was a check, and had his jaw almost drop to the floor.
“Wh-Wh-What is this!?”
Jerry stood up and looked as well, instantly forming the exact same expression. “W-Why are you giving Adam a check for six thousand requid!?”
“I’m a ghost. I don’t need a home or anything that people living really need. I figured I owe it to Adam anyway, after last night.”
“S-So, you really only had that job for surveillance purposes, I’m guessing?” Adam asked. “And… you don’t have a home?”
“I should probably quit that job… Although, I can’t really disappear out of the blue, especially after the manager has been so kind to me.” Charlotte looked down at the floor. “Even though I used such means to obtain the job in the first place…”
“Ignoring how you worded that—” Adam began to walk toward the door. “Thanks, Jerry. I gotta figure out how I’m gonna tell Brandon about all of this. I figured I’d tell him, but probably just him…”
“That’s… probably a good idea.” Jerry nodded. “Since everyone else has ties with Unity. Even if they purposefully didn’t mention anything, who knows… There are always ways to extract information.”
Adam glanced nervously around the room. “I just hope your dad isn’t too deep, either. If anyone can secretly gain info, it’s him. I can see him placing hidden cameras, mics—all of that…”
“I know he wouldn’t do that.” Jerry chuckled.
“…You really trust your dad, huh?” Adam asked as he walked out, waving back at Jerry. Charlotte slowly followed behind, feeling the uneasiness radiate out of Adam.
“Must be nice…”
Next: Chapter 10
Previous: Chapter 8
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