Ghost, Interrupted

Spellbound Books

Built-in wooden shelves filled with books on various metaphysical and occult topics, as well as mythology, line the royal blue walls. The shelves are divided by openings to the left and right, and of course directly across from the entrance where the counter is.

To the right of the entrance is an area that is separated from the shop with a blue and white beaded curtain. Behind the curtain is a seating area, focused around a large round table that is covered with a white crocheted cloth. Atop the table is a small crystal ball, around which a pattern of tarot cards can typically be found. Surrounding the table are several antique armchairs, and a deep blue Victorian style couch. Against the wall are a few shorter bookshelves with various crystals and items.

To the left of the entrance is a vastly open area. Several glass counters can be found, housing silver and pewter jewelry, decorated with a variety of stones and crystals. The window display for the shop can also be found here, a more traditional "occult" set up, with pewter chalices, glass skulls, and crystal balls.

Directly across from the entrance is a wooden counter that holds an old fashioned, non-digital cash register. The wall behind the counter is a small shelf filled with jars of odd-colored powders, and tinctures, as well as clear, labeled jars stuffed with every herb imaginable, as well as contorted roots. The front of the counter is typically strewn with fliers for events going on in London, as well as events and sales going on in the shop.


Characters

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Carys Zoe

Mondays are quiet days at Spellbound books. Customers who browse on the weekends are gone back to their lives, their jobs, their families, leaving the world of the 'occult' to flounder.
Mondays are also the days in which Carys only works afternoons. Having early morning classes, she comes in when they're over. The quietness of the shop usually enables her to do some of her schoolwork which doesn't require her to be all hands on. There are several forensic science books spread out on the counter, and a girl behind the counter with a notebook just jotting things down.
Every so often she glances to side of the shop where an empty chair resides. Her eyes focus for a moment, then she shakes her head and goes back to her work.

Zoe has to stop taking these long lunches and early leaves from work. Thus far, she isn't behind at all, but if she keeps it up, she will be. However, her grandmother planted this seed in a round about way and it's taken her a few days to work out where to go. Sadly, Zoe still hasn't worked out what it is she's looking for.

She steps into the shop, and waits a moment for her eyes to adjust to the difference between the bright ambient light outside and the subtle indoor lighting. Once done, the librarian moves forward and spots the store clerk. Zoe's good at research, but only when she knows what she's looking for and where to start. In this instance, she's not too proud to ask for help.

As her eyes sweep the shop, they land on an armchair and the ghostly figure sitting there. Zoe blinks, and as though feeling her gaze upon him, the figure looks up. He starts to rise, his mouth opening and Zoe gives him a stern shake of her head. As far as she's concerned, any spirit that's reclining and reading books that aren't there, clearly isn't in any rush to move on. Also, there's the whole looking like a nutter thing.

"Excuse me," Zoe approaches the girl, her eyes momentarily sweeping over the text books. It sparks a fond memory for Zoe. She can recall the days of studying wherever she could manage to open the books. "I fear I might be on a wild goose chase, but maybe you can help me out?"

The dingling bell that denotes a customer has Carys slipping from her stool and setting her notebook atop it. Suddenly she's all business and not harried student.

"That's what I'm 'ere for," she says, affecting a cheerful sort of smile. "What d'ya need 'elp with?" Coming out from behind the counter, she glances around and then pulls a barrette from her pocket and clips half her hair away from her face.

Does she notice that her normally quiet man who isn't there is suddenly moving? Yep. Does she react to it? Nope. She's gotten far better at ignoring him lately, and she's working at it quite a bit more after her little slip up the other day.

"Not certain exactly, but something pertaining to ghosts and possession maybe?" Zoe offers, having difficulty putting her request into words. Somehow she doesn't think the shop has books on 'abilities that make people sensitive to ghosts but that ghosts don't like.' Also, books on 'creepy hoodoo' are right out.

In the periphery of her eye, she notices the man drifting closer, and Zoe deliberately turns a shoulder to him. They've been getting more persistent lately, the spirits have, and it's making Zoe a bit frustrated.

"We've got plenty'a the former," Carys says. Her body tenses a little, but she passes it off with a quick turn toward the stacks. "Drawing Down the Spirits…" Fingers trace over the spines and she wrinkles her nose a little. "Spirit Possession and Trance, though I think that one's a tad more religious." Moving further down the shelf she reads, "Healing Lost Souls: Releasing Unwanted Spirits from Your Energy Body…"

"That the type you're lookin' for then?"

Zoe looks at the offered books and shakes her head with a polite smile. "No, not exactly." The man has followed them, and Zoe can feel him drifting at her shoulder even without turning around to look at him. He's persistent, naturally, putting her in the mind of Ronnie. At least Ronnie and her evil bunnies is somewhat amusing. A tension breaker in the ocean of a sea of glumness where spirits are concerned.

"I'm looking for something in the realm of medium or ghost spotting skills. References to other types of skills that might be … that have to do with dealing with death and dying."

"Somethin' more like When Ghosts Speak, then. I think Glynis 'as a copy…" Carys kneels down by the shelf, yanking out a book. "It's about understanding earthbound spirits or somethin' of the kind." Before the shop girl can get back to her feet, there is a ball of fur flying toward her from above.
"Cor!" Falling back, the book slides along the floor, passing Zoe and going through the man.

"Miss Priss! You ain't s'posed to be in the shop today!" A grab is made for the cat, but rather than catching it, it bounds toward the back room.

When she's able to get up once again, she sets her hand on a book. "Got something on Greek and Roman Necromancy, and magical practices of communicating with the dead."

The flying ball of fur earns a cry and gasp from Zoe as well. She stumbles back, instinctively bringing her hands up to her chest. She's already calming as her brain recognizes that the creature is a cat and not a demonic creature from hell springing from nowhere. A shaky laugh escapes Zoe. "Shop cat, then?"

Turning to track the progress of the book, because before the cat attack, Zoe zeroed in that that particular book might be exactly what she wants. Of course, retrieving the book means facing the ghost. Zoe meets his gaze — again — and again gives him the sharp head shake. She'll talk to him, like as not, she won't have a choice, but not with the shop girl hovering at her shoulder.

Unconsciously and instinctively stepping around the ghost, and not through him, Zoe gives him wide berth and kneels to recover the book. "This sounds as though it might be exactly what I'm looking for."

She went around him…

Carys blinks at that, though she's aware that some people act strangely in the shop, and Miss Priss did just scare them both. Plus the book retrieval. It can all be easily explained away.

"Take your time peekin' through it then. I'll be right back…" Hurrying toward the counter, she leans over and reaches into her bag. She pulls out a small pill bottle and some water. Opening the bottle, she starts to shake out two pills.

"Thank you," Zoe calls out, watching the shop girl's retreat. It's only when she believes that the girl is safely out of ear shot does she turn slightly towards the ghost. Zoe doesn't look at him, instead opening the book and leafing through it, though the question is asked, "How long have you been here?"

For a moment, Zoe thinks that he isn't going to respond. She can feel him, still hovering and when she finally looks up at him, he gives her a sad, confused smile. "I'm waiting for Sophie. I read to her, she likes it when I read. I don't know why she hasn't come."

Right, Zoe thinks with an inward wince. This one isn't in touch with his death which means that this isn't going to be a quick chat in the corner of a bookshop. She gives a quick glance in the direction of the shop girl and lowers her voice, though she does lean toward the ghost now, "What's your name?"

Again, the vaguely confused and distracted look filters over his face. It's no wonder, if she's the first person who's been able to see him, and Zoe feels a burst of sympathy for the restless spirit. "Bernard."

Zoe nods, more to herself than the ghost. "A'right, Bernard, do you know what year it is? Do you know how long you've been waiting for Sophie?"

The pills are about to be popped into her mouth when she hears her only customer talking to someone. Setting them down on the counter, Carys starts toward the stacks again.

That's when she sees him talking to the woman.

Immediately she thinks the worst — the woman isn't real either. Only the woman touched tangible things. She touched the books. She picked one up!

Were the books real? Cor, I'm loosin' it.

Clearing her throat she looks at the direction the man is standing, then turns to Zoe. "I can bring that book to the register for ya, Miss."

The clerk's voice startles Zoe, and she whips around, an excuse on her lips to explain why she's conversing with invisible air. However, before she can get a word out, Bernard turns to the clerk and says, "I'm waiting for Sophie."

Zoe doesn't even try to explain to Bernard that the shop girl can't see or hear him. Instead, she again steps around him and hands the book over. "Yes, thank you. I want to browse a bit more, so can you just hold it there?"

"Do you think that Sophie will come soon? She likes it when I read to her."

If he were human, Zoe would pat his arm. As it is, she just breathes out a long, slow breath.

"He ain't real," she mutters, taking the book.

But, says part of her brain, If he's not real, 'ow come she is talkin' to'em?.
Carys shakes her head, determined to walk slowly back to the counter. Arguing with herself. Both verbally and mentally.

"Maybe she's a nutter too. Ain't no such thing as ghosts." Isn't there? What's keeping Glynis if business then? If none of the books she sells are reality, why not just have a regular shop?

"Cor, now I'm talking to meself. I really need to get this dosage upped…"

Zoe makes to turn back to the ghost once the girl departs, but the faint muttering drifts to Zoe's ears. A frown works its way across Zoe's features, and she trails behind the girl, slowly, carefully; Bernard, of course, trails behind her, talking about Sophie and waiting and reading, but Zoe is only half listening to him. It's the clerk whom has her full attention.

Holding up a finger to Bernard, Zoe says calmly and soothingly, "We can talk more about Sophie in a bit, Bernard. There's something else I have to do first."

Her long strides carry her to the counter, but she isn't interested in checking out. Instead, Zoe tilts her head toward Bernard in a nod, "You can see him, can't you?" Hurriedly, Zoe smiles as soothingly as she does with the ghosts she interacts with, "It's all right, I can see him too."

"Cor! Ya scared me, Miss." Carys looks quite like she'd jump out of her skin if even a book from the shelves happened to so much as drop.

"See who? I ain't seein' nothin'…" Her eyes focus on Bernard and she reaches for her pills. "Just 'avin' a slightly off day is all." Without taking the water, she swallows the pills and closes her eyes. When she opens them she expects the man who isn't there to be gone.

Only he's still standing behind the woman. "'e ain't real."

Zoe watches the girl pop the pills with a type of striken horror. She's heard of this, of the ones who slip through the cracks or don't have the support structures in place. They're misguided, misinformed and so much damage is done to them by the drugs and the societal brainwashing …

Giving a quiet prayer of thanks for her grandmother and her aunt, Zoe back tracks a bit. She's put the girl on guard, and she didn't mean to do that. Zoe certainly didn't mean to alarm her, but the truth is she's never done this before.

"What's your name?" Zoe prods gently, friendly as possible, like trying to sooth a panicked colt. She extends her hand, "I'm Zoe Wright. I work over at the British Library." Just making conversation, breaking the ice. It's not so different from what she does with confused ghosts like Bernard actually.

Carys casts a wary eye on the woman, lowering her gaze to the hand. She doesn't take it, but she does answer, "Carys Kinsey."

"Though why you're tellin' me that ya work at the library, I ain't got a clue." Closing her forensics books she sets them on the stool behind the counter. Busy work while she tries to make the man go away.
"If you're seein' things, Miss Wright, I'd be goin' to get that checked."

So much for the ice breaker, Zoe thinks. She drops her hand, disappointed. Zoe wonders what her grandmother would say to the girl, were she here, and she's nearly tempted to call the woman. Or if not her Nona, then her aunt. Someone, anyone, who can tell her how to handle this. Because she'll feel perfectly horrible leaving the girl here to her own devices, always trying to escape from something that she can't escape.

"I know that it's scary, and frightening. Things that are inexplicable or mysterious or unknown are always scary, Carys. But, that man that you're pretending not to see? He's really there. His name is Bernard, and he's a ghost, a lost soul who just hasn't been able to move on yet. And no matter how many of those pills you take, he doesn't go away, does he?"

"It was scary," Carys replies, reaching for the water. At this point, water would be good. "Until I was properly diagnosed. I 'ate 'avin' to tell people. I've got schizophrenia. It ain't right to be seeing what ain't there." There is no mention of her catatonia.

"Things that ain't there ain't got names. Ghosts ain't real. They're just hallucinations that I need be forgettin' 'bout."

Zoe stares at the girl, at a complete loss. Nothing, nothing has ever prepared her for this sort of thing. Explaining to people what she is and what she does, yes but … "I know that's what you want to believe, and that's what you're trained to believe, but… I'm what's called a Ghost Whisperer. I see and talk to ghosts, and help them find their way to the other side. They're very real, just as real as you and I. Except most people aren't open or sensitive enough to see them. We're lucky, you and I. Special. We get the comfort of knowing that this life isn't all that there is to us. We get to see the proof that we're more, all of us."

"Look, luv…" Carys shakes her head. She thought she was the nutter, but obviously there are people out there nuttier than her. "It ain't what I want to believe, it is what it is. I 'ave a mental disorder that needs treatin' and from the sounds of it, so do you."

There is a slight glare, though as she doesn't want to upset Glynis, she quickly sets it to a more neutral expression.

"Lucky? Special? Don't think I can say as bein' locked up in a place for a few years is either one'a those things. Can't really take much comfort in bein' tied to a bed, or bein' in a catatonic state." Now comes the sigh. "Look, Miss. Maybe y'should just buy your book and be on your way. I really ain't feelin' up to gettin' maudlin 'bout me life story 'ere."

Zoe is not that easily cowed, most particularly not by a misinformed and paranoid shop girl. She doesn't blame the girl, naturally, but she's not going to apologize or take back what's she said. Chances are good that this is the first time that anyone has said such a thing to her, and maybe it might just sink and settle into the back of Carys' mind when all is said and done.

"I will take my book, but after I've talked to Bernard. He needs to move on and stop haunting your bookstore." With a polite nod, and the stern gaze that Zoe has used to cow loud uni students, she turns and wanders back to where she left Bernard the Ghost.

"Ya need to be talkin' to your imaginary friend outside. I ain't gonna be havin' ya scare the other customers." Carys seems to be very firm on that, even going so far as to cross her arms over her chest and tapping her foot to appear intimidating. She means srs bizness.

But it's not as if there are other customers at the moment.

Zoe pointedly looks around the store. The empty store. Well, empty other than Bernard. She doesn't want to antagonize the girl too much, if she ever has a hope of getting through to her, but she's not sure that Bernard is enough with her to follow her out of the store. She quirks a brow at the girl, and then fishes her smartphone out of her purse. After all, Zoe has had years of trying to discreetly talk to ghosts. "I'll just talk on my mobile, then. If another customer should come in, they won't have anything to be alarmed about. Unless they have a phone phobia."

Actually, making a phone call doesn't seem like a bad idea, but Zoe suspects that girl wouldn't be happy if she realized Zoe was making a phone call about Carys. Still she does take a moment to fire off a quick text, before lifting the phone to her ear and heading back toward Bernard.

"Suit yourself then." Carys glances over her shoulder at the phone on the counter. She's almost tempted to contact one of her doctors from Bethlem to come out here and interview the nutter-woman who's talking to imaginary friends on the telephone.

But part of being 'normal' is ignoring the oddities of others, right?

"I need to get somethin' from the back. Don't touch nothin'."

"Of course I won't," Zoe comments with a shrug. She's really not so focused on the girl anymore as she is on the lost ghost. When the girl ducks out of the room, Zoe lowers the mobile from her ear. "Bernard, I want to help you. I'm going to help you find Sophie, but we can't do that here." It's not a complete lie, but it's the one thing that Zoe thinks she can say to get the ghost to follow her out of the bookstore.

Her mobile chimes and Zoe glances down to read the text message from her aunt: Let's have an early dinner and talk about it.

Zoe breathes a sigh of relief, and sends back an affirmative reply. Surely, Aunt Evelyn will know better how to handle this?

Her attention returns to Bernard, "Will you come with me?" She doesn't wait for an answer, and there's only one way to find out. Zoe turns and heads toward the front door.


Bernard, for all that he wants to find Sophie, stares at Zoe. "I can't leave the book shop. Sophie won't know where to find me if I leave." When she turns to head toward the front door, the ghost wanders back to his seat. "She'll help me eventually, won't she?" His head swivels toward the door for the back room and he shrugs. "You'll be back. Maybe you can bring Sophie to me. That way I won't miss her."

"Oh, Bernard," Zoe breathes, her heart breaking for the ghost. She follows his gaze toward the backroom, "I don't know that she will, not for some time yet. But you are right, I will be back." Better armed, better informed, better prepared… .just better. Carys is still young enough to be turned around, so that she doesn't turn into the sort of living ghost that Uncle Anthony supposedly is - lost in drugs and delusions that don't do anything to protect him or help him.

Sighing now, and giving in to temporary resignation, Zoe crosses back to the counter and pulls out her wallet to wait and pay for her book. At least she has that, so the day isn't entirely disappointing.

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