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August 10 | Midnight

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August 10 | Midnight

"I don't even think they tried to stop!" The bystander sounded horrified.

A crowd of ten to fifteen people began gathering, streaming out of the hotel doors and from the surrounding parking lot. No Supernaturals in the mix. Just humans and the dead girl. As I watched, she transitioned from translucent to opaque. Within moments, she appeared as real as anyone else.

I tightened my lips around a vape pen and studied the Light behind her. It was fading fast, but Dead Girl wouldn't go near it. She was too hung up on the vision of her own crumpled body. Smallish, curvy. Bishojo. Very beautiful. She would be perfection in a coffin. Poor thing.

At any rate, the hit-and-run wasn't my problem, other than leaving me without a John for the night. Bummer since I had taken off from the burlesque club to go out. I glanced at the canceled date on my phone and blew a cloud of vapor in the direction of the hotel. Time to bounce. As I turned to go, Dead Girl locked eyes with me. Shit, shit.

"Is this real?" she asked.

Ignore her. Act natural. Blend in. I tried, but she trailed me. Away from the goddamn Light.

"You can see me, right?"

"Go back, Dead Girl," I mumbled.

"I just walked through a car."

"You've gotta go before the Light fades completely."

She followed me another block through the French Quarter. At one corner, a garishly dressed man in a top hat directed vacationers lining up for ghost tours. I plugged in ear pods and ignored literally being haunted. She walked beside me, feet touching the ground but not making a hint of noise.

I could stroll aimlessly all night, rather than lead the Dead Girl to my place. I had rules about strays of any sort: No feeding them, no bringing them home. My need to fix things tended to remind me no good deed could go unpunished. Anyway, humanity was beyond redemption. I couldn't help her.

"I... I'm dead?" She was on the verge of hysteria. "I don't believe this. I always, ALWAYS played it safe. There's no way I should be dead at nineteen."

"Oof. That's tragic. My condolences."

"You honestly think I care for sarcasm right now?!"

Grimacing, I half-turned. "I'm sorry to sound callous, but—Yes, you're dead. Crying about it won't change it. Just catch that Light before it disappears, or you're stuck here in Overlay City. Trust me, you'd rather try Heaven."

I spread my arms to encompass our surroundings for emphasis. We had gone off the beaten path, where it wouldn't be unusual to find monsters or magic in this city. A shimmer of paranormal glinted wherever the light touched, and she didn't even want to know what was in the shadows.

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