written for Forever Knight War Seven
Note: For the duration of this story, the things Betsy sees are a result of accidentally being hypnotized by Natalie Lambert.
Betsy yawned as the tag faded to black and the credits began to roll. Watching videos with the NatPack was fun, but she was beat. By the time she would be able to hunt down her pillow and sleeping bag, she would be more than ready to fall instantly aslee--what was that?
She whipped her head around to find the source of the motion that had caught her eye. Nothing. Just one of the flickering candles that seemed to crop up everywhere around the house. It must have been a shadow.
She had been seeing far too many shadows lately. The others thought she was simply jumpy, or paranoid because of the War, but she would swear that someone had been following her and trying to attract her attention, then vanishing at the last moment.
She sighed and gathered up her things, carrying them into another room where she could escape the noise from the VCR. Out of habit she checked all the corners to be sure nothing lurked in hiding. The only other occupant was Amparo, who sat against the wall, polishing her whip by the light spilling through the doorway and quietly humming "Nobody's Side."
Betsy sank down gratefully, ready to close her eyes and let the world fade around her.
She jerked awake at the unexpected whisper. "Mmm?" she mumbled, unwilling to stir herself right as she had gotten comfortable.
"Betsy, wake up!" The voice didn't rise in volume, but the note of command in it rang clear.
"What time is it?" she groaned irritably.
"Two o'clock. Time to move."
Betsy finally gave in and sat up. She could see little in the darkness save Pod's dim form. "What are you talking about?"
The other NatPacker replied, "Oops, sorry if the song bothered you. I can stop if you like."
Betsy shook her head, deciding she hadn't been as lucid as she had thought, misinterpreting the sound as words. She began to lie back down.
"Vera. Outside. Now."
Betsy snapped to her feet before the order even registered in her conscious mind, then became tangled in her sleeping bag and teetered precariously, waving her arms wildly for balance. The voice had barked directly in her ear, yet she could neither see nor feel anyone in the vicinity. "Who are you?" she demanded. "Where are you? What do you want?"
Over against the wall, Amparo jumped up. "Betsy, are you all right?"
Betsy kicked off the mess of the sleeping bag and staggered over to the whip wielding girl. "There's someone here," she announced.
Amparo reached out and flipped on the light, revealing a room empty except for the two of them. "No one here. You must have been dreaming."
Betsy froze. She pointed. She tried to speak, but it took several attempts to get her mouth working. Standing between the two NatPackers, so translucent as to be barely visible, Captain Amanda Cohen stared accusingly at her.
"Y--you--you're--" Betsy sputtered.
"Running out of time," Cohen finished for her.
"This is not happening. This is not happening." Betsy ignored Amparo's bewildered expression and quickly burrowed back into her sleeping bag.
"Oh, no you don't," Cohen declared. "I've been trying to get ahold of you for weeks; you're not ducking out on me now."
"It's just a bad dream," Betsy repeated to herself several times. "I did not see a dead police captain. She is not talking to me. I stayed up too late watching videos, that's all."
"Dammit, Vera, I don't have much longer," the voice went on, regardless. "You have to help me see my daughter."
Betsy poked her head out of the sleeping bag. Rather than vanishing, the apparition had gotten stronger. Pod had disappeared, though whether she was going for help or looking for peace and quiet was unknown. "Your daughter?" she managed, her brain functioning enough to pick out that tidbit.
Cohen nodded. "Evelyn. I haven't seen her since...the plane. I have to know that she's all right. If not, I'm doomed to this pale existence forever."
Betsy couldn't help but be moved by the captain's plight, but there remained one matter of utmost importance. "Why me?"
"You're the only one who can see me." Cohen shrugged. "I get this feeling when I'm around you, like I belong with you. I can't explain it."
It took a few long moments--she had sided with the NatPack for a considerable amount of time--but Betsy finally remembered she was also the Cohen-head faction leader. "But you're a ghost," she protested weakly. "How can I..." She trailed off, another dim memory floating to the surface. Large, beautiful eyes stared into her own. "...Ghosts..." she chanted blankly.
Cohen snapped her fingers, bringing the NatPacker out of it. "You have to take me to see my daughter," she said, more a request than an order this time.
Betsy rubbed her eyes. "It's two in the morning! I'm too tired to drive, even if Kelly would lend me her car. Can't it wait until I've gotten some sleep?"
"I don't know how long even you will be able to interact with me. It has to be now, before I fade away again. Besides, you can call a cab."
Betsy looked at the ghost of the proud captain, realizing that Cohen would wind up in a state of neglect even worse than the one she had suffered while still alive. What was a little lost sleep, compared to eternal obscurity? Resigned, she crawled back out of the sleeping bag. "Let me throw on some clothes. Toronto, beware!"
End Part 1