Monday, October 17, 2016

Dragon Pirates, Part 1

First, an apology for this being so late. I ended up having a cold this weekend and was down for the count. This particular story is the first of a two-parts. It has no connections to any of the other stories, just sounded like an interesting idea. 

"Watch out for the trip," the craggy old man ordered. "There be pirates out there."
"Dragons too," Thomas muttered tossing the mooring line onto the little boat destined to carry four people from off the South Korean mainland to one of the many islands scattered around its southwestern corner.
"Dragons would be cool," Catherine sighed, stretching her arms over her head. "Always wanted a dragon."
"No dragons, Cate," Jiwoon assured her. "Some reptiles, but no dragons."
"He's looked," Min Ho, the remaining male in their group of five explained.
The other woman, Eun-An was at the helm looking over the variety of instruments. She sat in the captain's seat scanning the list of items the owner had left. Three different notebooks described everything in detail, but nothing made sense. Tossing the notebook onto the table at the back of the room, she blew out her breath and peered out the window. Three islands hugged the horizon - close enough to see them, but too far for a bridge. Boat was the only way out there.
"It would have been simpler had I had a sailboat," Eun-An muttered.
"Still going on about that?" The owner of the boat, a man near the same age as the other five, stood in the doorway. "I thought you said you'd never take a sailboat out there again."
"I won't, but everything's easier with a place I know. This is confusing, and they," she motioned out the window to the other four collected below on the stern. "Well, if it wasn't for the fact that Cate's my best friend and Thomas is her brother and Min Ho her betrothed, I wouldn't be here with the likes of any of them."
"Including me?"
"You," Eun-An said, leveling her gaze back at him, "are the top of the list." She leaned back against the captain's seat. "Anyway. This word about the pirates. Is it true?"
Soowin shrugged. "There have been some rumors of pirate activity, but I haven't seen anything. Personally, I think it's some of them trying to drum up some business."
"Well, whatever the case, make the trip nice and smooth. I don't want to meet pirates, and I don't want to wind up on a deserted isle for thirty years." Outside, the boat rocked gently as the winds picked up. The trip was to scout out a location for the film that Min Ho was going to make with his brother. It would be the first action adventure the two had made together since they were kids, and Min Ho was adamant they find the perfect locations.
Jiwoon was one of the lead actors. He was already a rising star among Korean dramas, but had yet to land a big leading role anywhere. He was, however, friends with Min Ho's brother, and wanted to work with the brothers as well.
Thomas had come along to help scout since he was an accomplished outdoorsman. Catherine was along for the fun of it because, as an artist, she found more fun in finding new places. Eun-An had come because Catherine hadn't want to be alone with the others, complaining it would be dull and boring once their inner director kicked-in.
Besides, it was a fun small island with nothing to do other than wander around. What could go wrong?
"Famous words, kiddo," Thomas muttered an hour later as the typhoon swept across the land. They had rushed to their place, a block back from the sea, and cowered in the living room as the winds howled and rain rattled the windowpanes.
"Hey, the boat's fine, and we still have cell service," Catherine argued, her voice trailing as she wandered into the area where the bedrooms were.
In the kitchen, Thomas looked through the cupboards. "Not much in here."
"Nope, but I brought tea and coffee," Eun-An said as she started a kettle of water on the stove. "Any idea how long the storm is supposed to last?"
Thomas shook his head. "Nope; it wasn't supposed to hit until tomorrow, at any rate."
"Hopefully it means it'll blow over soon," Min Ho muttered entering the room. "We only have forty-eight hours here."
"We'll have plenty of time," Thomas assured him. "If anything, the town itself is a good location for the community in the film. Maybe you could manage to use the entire island. You think your friend could let us take the boat around the island?" Thomas directed the question to Eun-An. "What is your relationship with him anyway?"
"We went to elementary school together before my family moved back to the US. He's a good guy, but I think he's a little lost here."
"He's never been here before?"
"Off and on, but not to the extent that say Jiwoon's family would be."
Jiwoon had been the one to suggest the island in the first place. He had assured everyone that it was perfect for the shoot.
Eun-An closed the door. "Not a lot here. We might have to go find a store."
"There was one on the way in," Thomas said. "I'll come help."
Min Ho looked through the window. "In that mess?"
"We can't survive off tea and coffee. You of all people should know how Catherine gets when she's hungry."
Min Ho grimaced. "They told me skinny girls eat like birds. Did not realize when hungry hit they became raptors."
Outside, the rain had subsided a little. "Looks like it's going to be a little less rainy in a bit," Thomas observed. "Maybe another hour or two."
"We can only hope."
At the solitary grocer, they picked up the necessary items and carried it back to the house with the help of a few local boys. "Where are you from?" The boys asked in English. "Seoul?"
"Gwangju in my case," Eun An answered in the same language, slightly amused that they chose that language to speak. Most everyone assumed she spoke Korean, but here these two boys had picked up on the mother tongue.
"Buffalo, in mine," Thomas said. He thumbed at Eun-An "She's originally from Western New York, though."
"Half. I'm half Hanguk half Meguk."
"Do you know any famous people? Movie stars, singers?"
"He's from Buffalo, do you even know where that is?" Eun-An asked.
The boys shook their heads.
Thomas laughed. "It's near Canada, so I'm far away from famous people."
The boys shoulders fell. "Nobody interesting ever comes here," the one on the right finally said. "They said some filmmakers had come."
"Oh, we have, but were scouting right now." Thomas put his finger to his mouth. "We're hunting dragons and wizards. Do you happen to know where we can find them?"
The boys looked at each other. "What are wizards," Left asked.
Right rolled his eyes. "Like in that book the teacher reads to us in English. The one over there in England."
"There aren't any wizards, but there's the dragon's lair over by ..." Right's last words popped hollowly as Left's elbow landed in Right's side.
"We're not supposed to talk about the lair. You know that."
"We won't tell anyone," Eun-An promised. "Besides, if it's someplace we're not supposed to know about, shouldn't we know about it so we don't find out about it accidentally?"
Left and Right stopped and stared at her near the entrance of the rental. "You know our language."
"Of course she does," Left muttered. "She just used it." He looked at her. "She might be right."
"Of course she is," Right agreed. "It's up the mountain just there." He pointed behind them. "There's two paths. At the first rest stop, the right one is wide and beautiful - that's the hiker's path. The left one isn't seen very well, but has a large blue bead around a tree. Don't take it."
"Good to know. Thanks," Thomas said. As the boys scampered back home, he paused under the door awning. "It went faster than I expected."
"Do you really think one of them is involved?"
Thomas sighed. "I hope it isn't, but I haven't been in Korea for five years. People change."
Inside, Catherine greeted them. "Finally! I'm so hungry." She carried two bags to the kitchen and started lunch while the others started to put everything away.
"So, tomorrow, if you are up to it, we'll go up in the mountain. I'm going to go up after lunch to see what I can find."
"I'll come with you," Min Ho offered.
"Nope, I don't want either of you injuring yourselves on the first day here."
"I'm not going," Catherine said. "I can't keep up with you. Eun-An, that leaves you. You'll have to take one for the team."
"If I must," Eun-An sighed.
On the trail, Eun-An fell into step behind Thomas. "Here's the rest stop."
"Don't see any beads," Thomas muttered looking at the trees.
"They said left," Eun-An said. She looked at the bench then left, her gaze looking along the ground. "There it is. Hidden behind the bush here."
The path started behind the bush, hidden from all sight to the average hiker.
It was narrow, rocky and steep, heading straight up into the mountain's heart. "Most likely it's the faster way up," Thomas observed as he started to walk. He spoke in French, the language only the two of them understood. Twenty-five years of friendship had cemented their own code.
"Pirates, dragons, what else is here?" Eun-An pulled her hair back into a low ponytail.
"Hopefully those fine piece of artwork you're so intent on recovering," Thomas said.
"We'll find them, but it might not be as simple as I hope." She paused. "You realize the average waiting time is something like twenty years."
They hiked in silence until they reached a small clearing. Inside the clearing were a scattering of buildings. Maybe seven in total. None looked better than ramshackle mountain shacks, but the satellite tower belied the relative poverty of the place.
Eun-An rolled her shoulders and shifted her pack. "How many dragons do you think are here?"
Thomas finished surveying the area. "None." He pointed to the far side. "What do you think about that place?"
"Looks like a watchtower."
"Facing the sea."
"We're on an island," Eun-An reminded him.
"That would be the side closest to the sea, and it's also has the dip there. It would be the best place to have someone watching the sea. Which way did we come in anyway?"
"Leeward. Soowin swears when he comes to an island he uses leeward. Why?"
"Which way are we facing?"
"Leeward, but we wouldn't have seen anything due to the typhoon." Eun-An cocked her head. "Though, with the way that thing is positioned on our side, I doubt few know it exists."
"All the better to watch people."
They skidded down into the camp, and started through the buildings. The first three were simple storage locations. The last one before the tower held the radio equipment and maps. "Does it make sense to you?" Thomas inquired, handing over a map.
"Old school, but yes, I understand it. We're here, and this marks the main sea trails." She traced her finger along the map. "If that old man was right, this would be the best place to find those pirates."
"I imagine they're the dragons," Thomas observed. "We're probably in the pirate's cove of the dragon's lair. The question is .... do they have your paintings?"

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Tree Meets Fifteen

This story takes place around the same time that Pantheras Mission takes place, but with a rogue group within the Glass Eyes. This story introduces one of my all time favorite characters - Tree Trehausen who is Japanese by birth, but with a Dutch heritage. Her family leads Rajin, another group of people like Pantheras. 

The old woman stood head and shoulders below the lanky not quite blonde of mixed Japanese and Dutch heritage. The woman wore the traditional hanbok, kept her gray hair twisted up in an intricate knot and gazed at Tree with contemplative peace.
"You're not what you seem to be," the woman finally spoke.
"Neither are you," Tree answered. "I expected someone bigger."
The old woman laughed. "I am a meek old woman with history in her limbs. Why should I be bigger?"
"You lived many years, all that information should have some place to be stored."
The woman leaned forward. "Come now, young woman. You should know that we can store vast amounts of information in very small spaces now."
Tree laughed. The old woman, simply known to her as Fifteen, was a national treasure, though none in Korea knew the woman as such. She was the unknown number of national treasures, intangible history. Fifteen had lived through a hundred years of history. Her mother had brought her into the world a scant few years after the Wright Brothers had flown, and her grandchildren’s grandchildren thought space exploration mundane.
"What brings you to Korea, then? What shall I call you? Your English name?"
"Tree suffices."
"Tree?" Fifteen cocked her head. "A pine or a maple?"
"I've always preferred the willow, myself. I need lots of water, cool breezes and room to spread."
Fifteen laughed again. "You must be related to the Trehausens of Japan, then. You have that odd look in that eye of yours."
"You know Trehausens."
"My dear, everyone knows about the Trehausens. Their family graces the front of tabloids, fashion and business news. Their fingerprints are everywhere in the fairly recent history of Asia, some say other fingerprints can be found on the oldest artifacts, but I'm not certain what fingerprints they refer too."
Pouring more tea into their glasses, Fifteen paused a moment before setting the teapot back on the warmer. "Now, what are you?"
Fifteen swallowed, her first emotion of surprise. "Oni?" She looked at Tree's head. "Do you get horns?"
"Pretty azurite ones, and fangs too, if you must know."
The Eyes, those who held galaxies in their heads, had the abilities connected to their glass eyes. Myths, legends, gods, goddesses, hero and villain were not just made up, but real. The stories of the exploits of Eyes had been handed down through human history until the various stories had intertwined, knotted and become one story, one race.
"And ... What exactly brings you to Korea?"
"Eyes  ... The glass ones, not the breathing ones." Tree leaned forward. "You're a national treasure, Number Fifteen. No one tells me what you're national treasure is, though. What is it that you know that I need to know?"
"Why do you believe I have anything?"
"Aren't the old ones supposed to know more than we young ones do?"
Fifteen laughed again. "I thought young ones thought they knew everything we old ones know?"
"We do, but sometimes we like confirmation that we were right."
"And what sort of confirmation do you seek?" Fifteen reached for her tea, but lifted a finger to Tree. "Surely, you must have something in mind."
"We seek glass eyes hidden around the world."
Fifteen sipped her tea.
She was old, probably even older than her birthdate. She had said she was born before the Wrights flew, but official records said she had been discovered as a child by a Protestant missionary who only guessed at her age. Fifteen had seen mainly war in her lifetime. Some said it was the curse of the Eyes to see war, but not all had. Fifteen had two dark, nearly black eyes which watched. Given her age, it was no surprise anyone had difficulty distinguishing the glass eye from her natural eye.
The more important question was whether she was a born Eye, one born with only one natural eye; an accidental Eye - those who lost an eye; or a made Eye, like Tree - those who had an eye surgically removed for the purpose of becoming an Eye.
"There are stories in the past of the dragon, fox and ogre who came to Korea," Fifteen spoke.
"I have heard of some of those stories," Tree admitted. "The three were siblings or friends."
"Sisters. The Oni is rarely a woman."
"Are you saying I'm somehow the omen of misfortune, because if you are, it doesn't come as a surprise to me."
Fifteen blinked. "You know?"
Tree shrugged. "I'm the second youngest of my mother's children; my father made me an Eye when I was five. I've seen death, live three lives at once, and still keep standing. I've been knocked down, raked across the coals and thrown to the dragons, but I get back up."
"You are very young."
"You don't know the Trehausens then."
Fifteen sipped her tea. "Only by rumor. I met one, once, when I was a child, but I don't remember her being especially dangerous. Not like you are."
Tree smirked and leaned back. "Only my brother, my lover and you have ever said I was dangerous."
Fifteen leaned forward a bit to peer into Tree's eyes. "Then either you are very good at hiding it, or no one has stared into your eyes long enough to see anything."
Tree moved forward. "I am very good at hiding." She reached for her tea again. "This isn't the reason I came."
"No," Fifteen agreed, also reaching for her tea. "It isn't. You wish to know the locations of the glass eyes most dangerous to humanity. What will you do with them? I must question the intentions of all Eyes."
"Especially the oni?"
"Especially any connected to Trehausens. Just because I only met one, your family has rumors gathered around like an ever shifting cloak."
Tree shrugged. "I have broken ranks with Rajin and the Blacks are on my tail. I have maybe three more months before they can track me down well enough to find me. We need to gather the eyes before my father does."
"Are they using them for something?"
"Would like to see a large amount of dangerous eyes in the hands of my father?"
"The fact you haven't even mentioned his name makes me wonder who your father is, but I suspect it would be the scientist of Rajin, considering he made you an Eye."
Tree lifted her eyebrows in agreement.
Fifteen settled back into her chair, considering the younger woman. "I don't know where any are. The most dangerous ones are hidden for eternity, I think. Lost to time."
"What about those which might be dangerous and known?"
"Scattered across the Earth. You might find them on display, or in various places. Families inherit baubles, of course."

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Eyepiece

She found the box in an old rundown store somewhere on the backside of Kwangju in Korea. Her first foray out into the city, and she found herself inexplicably lost, with an odd little Korean man watching her.

There was a price tag on the box, but it was seventy thousand. Way out of her ... Wait, no ... Seventy? Yeah, seventy dollars. Not bad, and she could use them for Halloween.

The eyepiece had caught her attention while she wandered, trying to dodge raindrops. The man inside the store waved his hands, practically kicking her back out into the storm when she inquired about the eyepiece. It was a turn-of-the-century beauty. Black and brown with silver filigree. At first glance it looked like opera glasses, but on second look, it was not opera glasses, but something else.

Across the street was a hidden coffee shop where she stopped and ordered a latte, a piece of cake and a sandwich.

Up on the second floor couples hugged the windows, clung to the walls and purred in the corners. The third floor was blissfully unoccupied. A low table beside the window provided the best view of the town street and the rain.

Opening up the case, an old worn-out envelope whispered onto the table. Inside was a simple note written in an Edwardian hand. "To the owner of these glasses - enjoy."

"Well if that isn't a bit creepy," Beatrix muttered to herself. Named for the famed author, Beatrix had been more than a little disappointed when, at the age of seven, she learned she could not see Peter or any of her favorite characters. She surmised it was because they were old and dead. At ten, she learned she simply could not see what was not to be seen.

Still, those glasses.

A shiver or remembrance skipped up her spine. A memory of a night long past.

Through the eyepiece the world seemed similar, howbeit a little distorted. Beatrix sighed and began to remove the glasses when a dark shadow passed before her.

She blinked and looked over the top of the glasses and beheld nothing.

Through the glasses, and also, nothing.

Now, though, she could hear a murmuring in the corner. Two options - sweet and adorable with a bad temper, or big and ugly with a good temper. One could consider two more options, but the later of those options - big, ugly with a bad temper - she didn't want to consider.

Turning, she looked through the eyepiece and found...

"Nothing," she sighed.

"Of course there's nothing there," a voice greeted. "It moved."

Across from her, dunking a biscotti into a large cup of coffee, was a man dressed in an aubergine pinstripe suit. He was Korean, but spoke perfect English. His hair was shaggy, but combed out of his eyes. His shoes scuffed, but comfortable. His eyes were unopened ... Unfolded. They looked Asian not European.

"You make it seem as any day something might be there."

"A family of fairies live in the building," he answered. "Beatrix."

"And just how do you know my name?"

He pointed to the bag with her name on it. "Now, one could assume you were a fan of Beatrix Potter, but since you have nothing connected to her, I can assume you are called Beatrix."

He said Bae a trix, not Bee a trix, which to Beatrix always sounded prettier. How many times had she insisted she was Bae a trix, not Bee a trix.

"You wouldn't happen to be one of those strange fellows who always pop up in a fantasy, would you?" Beatrix looked at his head. "No white rabbit ears?"

"I'm quite real, thank you." He held out a card with one hand. "Han Jiwoon, at your service."

"And just what service do you do?"

He leaned forward, his lip curling slightly. "Just what sort of service do you have in mind?"

Beatrix took the card. "Well, you could start with the fairy family."

"The Shumaker family has been living here ever since the place was put in."

"German fairies in Korea?"

"Immigrants. They're actually Dutch, if you must know. They were shipwrecked here and have been here ever since. The local fairies haven't always been welcoming, but despite the fact they have a German sounding name, they are, indeed, as Korean as the next family."

"And the black shadow?"

Jiwoon stilled and leaned back into his seat. "You saw that?"

"Just out of the corner of my eye, but yes ... Listen, why do strange men always show up in stories to answer all the questions a person might have? Just what is your shtick here?"

He turned his phone around revealing a map. "I am in charge of new sentient."


"Those we call who have discovered the magical world." He looked down at the eyepiece. "I thought those had all been destroyed in the last war." He shook himself and looked back up. "I am officially a greeter and answerer of questions. I also am the one who deems you able to continue with the knowledge."


"You are doing much better than I expected, though. Most people who find out about this world tend to be scientists and the like. Non-believers."

Beatrix pointed to herself. "Fairy agnostic."

Jiwoon laughed. "Never heard it put that way, but I understand. Anything else?"

"What was the shadow, since you're the official greeter and answerer of questions. Will it try to kill me?"

"Most likely. It's a dokkaebi a generally malevolent creature. This particular one is especially antagonistic towards white people though. Had a bad run in with one many ages ago and hasn't forgotten it. He personally hates the Shumakers."

"Are they safe?"

"Quite. They've been dealing with him for many generations now. They're quite adept."

"So, can I pretend I don't know I know what's going on?"

Jiwoon shook his head.

"Now I understand why everyone's so annoyed in the books," Beatrix muttered. "It is rather annoying." She sighed. "Must I kill this ... What did you call it?"

"Dokkaebi, and no, why must one always have to kill something one doesn't understand?"

"Because in most stories, that is the case. What am I supposed to do?"

"Nothing. He's not harmless, but he won't harm anyone. He's just a very old creature with a bad attitude. More like a crotchety grandpa than mass murderer."

"Is there something I am supposed to do?"


"No quest. Nothing needs saving."

"Nothing. We do quite well, thank you very much, without your help before today, and we will continue to do so afterwards."

Beatrix leaned forward. "Are you annoyed?"

Jiwoon sniffed. "No."


"Not in the least."

Beatrix smirked and settled back against the chair. "Why did you come?"

"I happened to be close by."

"Do you have a way of contacting you? After all, not only am I in a foreign land, but now there's even more.... Foreignness to it."

Jiwoon took Bellatrix's cell phone and entered his number. "If you need help for anything, call."



They drank their coffee in silence and watched the street, once empty due to the rain, now teeming with creatures of all shapes and sizes. "Do I need the eyepiece, anymore?"

"It helps look at the operas."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ghostly Times

Sorry for the delay this week. I had a story ready to go, and it decided it wanted to be something else. This story for today is actually alluded to in the first one, and I thought it would be an interesting little story to write. 

I've often wondered what it would be like if ghost hunters didn't hunt ghosts. How would we interact with ghosts if they were friends of ours. As a side note, this story takes place in the same world where 
A Traitor's Love takes place. 

There was a man screaming behind my history teacher and he couldn't hear him. While normally that would have been amusing and vaguely disconcerting, it was the obvious bullet hole in the man's head that indicated all was not as it seemed.
Added to that, I was apparently the only one who could see him which turned out to be unfortunate.
The man stopped screaming and stared at me.
Mr. Norris was talking about some historic even from three centuries ago. It was boring, and I wanted to be out of class. I enjoyed history, but I preferred learning on my own because none of my teachers could teach anything beyond dates and important people.
I wanted to learn about the everyday people. The ones like me, not the kings and movers and shakers.
"You can see me, can't you, little girl?"
I stared in front of me trying to ignore him. His breath smelled sweetly rotten.
He twisted his head to look at me, angling it almost upside down. "Why aren't you answering me?"
"Because your breath stinks," a girl near my age greeted.
I was fourteen, but this girl looked to be a little older. She sat in the desk beside me. I noticed her a few times, but when no one else would talk with her, I figured she didn't want to be talked to. After all, she was always listening to something on her phone.
She always handed in her homework, but now that I thought about it, she was never called upon in class.
The man turned his attention onto the girl. "And you are?"
Whatever the name meant, shook the man. "No," he said. "You can't be. Not here."
Xaria shrugged. "Am, and are." She swung out of the desk and stood on it. "Now, as for you, mister screamer, we are trying to have class, and you are being a distraction."
"He's spreading horrible lies," the man complained, motioning to Mr. Norris. "No one listens to me."
"Go." Xaria shooed him out of the classroom.
After class finished, I tried to catch up with Xaria, but couldn’t find her anywhere. It wasn't until I started walking home that I found her talking with the man. Xaria sat on the edge of the bleachers swinging her feet in and out, while the man pouted beside her.
"Yo," Xaria greeted.
"Hi. Where did you run off too?"
"Another project." Xaria cocked her head. "So you can see us."
"Of course I can. You're right there."
"Am I?" She hopped off the bleacher and went to stand in front of a group of students walking towards us. None of them moved to walk around her.
I blinked, but waited until the students left. I was already weird, I didn't want to be any weirder at my new school. "What are you?"
"Ghost," the man said. "I lived through the war your teacher spoke about, and he lies."
"Yes, yes, we know," Xaria grumbled. "I'm Xaria."
"You a ghost as well?"
"Something like that. You must be Muriel."
"Muriel is such a new-fangled ..." the man began.
"Old-fashioned and elegant," Xaria corrected.
"Dumb," I clarified. "I prefer Riel."
"Fine, Riel," Xaria muttered. "Anyway, you can see us, but not everyone else can. Your uncle can."
"Uncle Uriel?"
"The very same."
"Well, that explains a lot."
We walked home, and as we walked, the man, Horatio Hughs, told me about the war from three centuries ago, and how he wanted to save people, but couldn't. It cost him his life, but from that day to this, he had spent trying to help people. "I had enough today when your teacher, once again, spread those false lies about the war. Every year, I try to tell him, but he doesn't listen."
"You know, it could be because you insist on writing tomes," Xaria concluded. "You are rather long-winded."
"And just how do you propose changing things?"
"Well, for one thing, Riel here is on the school newspaper."
"I can't interview a ghost!"
"No, not interview. You write. Tell his story." Xaria leaned in closer. "You've wanted to learn about the average people - now's the time." She motioned around us as hundreds of people ... no ghosts ... glowed into existence. Many of them I knew, and I waved to them, but I had never known they were ghosts.
"Just what am I supposed to do?"
"Talk with them. We liked being asked questions," Horatio said. "We're just like everyone else."
Back at home, I stared at my computer, the cursor blinking on and off.
My name is Muriel. I'm not a ghost hunter, but a ghost reporter.
Reporter. I always wanted to be a journalist. I could start now, I guess.
Outside my window, at the school, the battle had commenced. It was from last century when the town was the center of a major battle.
How was I supposed to interview anyone?
These are the stories I uncover as I interview ghosts.
Horatio was my first interviewee.
Welcome, to the Ghostly Times.