"There are things that go bump in the night, Mr. MacMillian. It's my job to bump back."
Private investigator Jesper MacMillian was sure he'd seen it all. After all, in a city like San Francisco, strange is what's for breakfast. Following a long recovery after a horrific accident, his life is finally the way he wants it- or at least, close enough. The only monsters on his radar are the ones that keep him awake at night.
All that changes the day he meets Lena Alan.
Before MacMillian has a chance to brace for impact, Lena drags him into a world where monsters aren't just real, they're hiding in plain sight. Suddenly, everything he knows is suspect, starting with his current case. For Lena, a medium since childhood, it's just another day at the office.
For MacMillian, it's the beginning of the end of everything he thinks he knows.
The energy in the room built gradually. Lena checked the clock on the sideboard near the door and furrowed her brow. A mature spirit wouldn't take this long to materialize. Either something was holding it back, or she was dealing with a juvenile.
She sighed and readied her shields. The recently dead were always difficult. So many emotions: anger, fear, bitterness, regret. She'd learned long ago to be careful, to keep at a safe distance, like someone preparing to witness a nuclear test.
It was an apt metaphor, the more she thought about it. If spirits were pure, concentrated energy, then a volatile spirit was the equivalent of a bomb blast.
The energy spiked abruptly.
Before she could fully prepare herself, a ball of white light exploded into the center of the room. Lena leaped to her feet, swore as tea sloshed onto her white camisole. In the building next door, the Johnsons' taco terrier started to howl.
The light careened around like an out-of-control pinball, bouncing off the walls and rattling the light fixture on the ceiling. It zinged by her head, sending a crackle of electricity down her spine. She set her cup on the small table beside the chair.
"Look, I realize this is all probably really confusing, but would you please calm down before you destroy my home?"
The light stopped, flickered, as if considering her request. Slowly, it floated back to the center of the room.
Lena brushed off a few lingering droplets of Lady Grey. "Thank you." She took a deep breath and strengthened her shields. "Okay, then. You're here. I'm here. Let's talk."
The light brightened a fraction, then dimmed again.
Lena crossed her arms. "You really are new at this, aren't you? Here's how it works. I'm your friendly neighborhood medium. I can hear you and I can talk to you, but not if you're going to keep up the whole 'one-with-the-universe' thing. So concentrate really hard, and give me something I can work with."
The light brightened, then as abruptly as it had arrived, flicked out.
Lena scowled at the empty space in her living room. "Oh sure, thanks, I had fun too." She'd stayed awake, spilled a cup of perfectly good tea, and for what? A spirit with the noncorporeal equivalent of erectile dysfunction. Mostly she was fine being permanently on-call in the Veil. On nights like this, however, it sucked.
She forced a deep breath, then another, and turned to retrieve her tea cup from the table. When she straightened again, she was nose-to-nose with a wild-eyed young man.
The cup slipped. At the last minute, she regained her grip. "Jesus Christ. Didn't your mother ever tell you it's rude to sneak up on a girl like that?"
The man took a step back, eyes sweeping the room. "Please. You gotta help me. I think I'm... I think I'm dead."
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3rd Stop: Home of A.L. Kessler
4th Stop: In A Pursuit of Publishness
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