I convinced Agent Boone to get my cell service reactivated with the promise of checking on Flynn. He didn’t answer his phone, but Lugh picked up when I called and told me that Flynn wouldn’t be back until the next morning. His pack decided to shift and hunt since they’d already gathered. I texted Flynn about leading the DPI to where he found the knife. He’d see it when he got back. Most of the other agents had cleared out by then. I declined Agent Boone’s offer to drive me home. Instead, I headed back to the morgue, hoping that Jones would be on duty. Now that I had a working cell phone again, it would be easier for him to arrange meetings between his necromancer friend and me.
Jones waited for me at the entrance. I knew I hadn’t tripped any magical alerts. I wondered if the necromancer had a precognitive gift as well. With most types of divination, I needed to be in the room when it was happening or very soon after to sense it. I believe that’s because of the future’s ever-changing nature. If the possible future seen doesn’t exist anymore, the magic used to see it fades much faster. If he had a talent for precognition, that might speed things along, assuming there was a likely enough future where I found Peter’s killer. Generally, I didn’t like to rely on divination of any kind, but this situation turned my life upside-down enough that I’d consider it.
I followed Jones to the morgue. The necromancer and a body he’d reanimated looked at us as Jones and I walked in. His comforting warm magic wrapped itself around me before I’d taken two steps in. Thanks to that warmth, the gore on the corpse’s face didn’t bother me. The dead man’s remaining eye glowed with a purple shine that nearly matched the necromancer’s jacket. Was that a coincidence, or did he color-coordinate his outfit to his magic? As I understood it, other witches rarely perceived magic with all their senses as I did. I scrutinized him with my gift but didn’t detect any skill for divination or extra magical perception.
“Who’s he?” the reanimated man asked.
“He’s a witch like me,” the necromancer said. I almost argued the point. Our magic worked very differently. But that wouldn’t matter much to the man he’d brought back.
“Is he going to help?”
“He’s looking for help too,” the necromancer said. “But back to the matter at hand, just sign here, and we’ll get your updated will into your desk drawer. And make sure the right people find it.”
The dead man picked up the clipboard and signed the attached paper. He handed it to the necromancer, and the glow left his eye. The body collapsed back to the table, lifeless again.
“I told you I’m not dealing with DPI,” the necromancer said.
“Don’t try to tell me you didn’t sign on with them,” he interrupted. How did he know?
“I didn’t have much choice. It was either sign up as a consultant or let them lock me up,” I said. “I won’t let them anywhere near you, I promise.”
“How can I trust that? You’re clearly willing to cut deals with them,” he said.
“I did what I had to do.” The day’s frustrations caught up to me, and I couldn’t hold my tongue. “You’d see it coming anyway. You saw me signing the consulting contract, and you saw me coming tonight. If you thought I’d endanger you, you’d have ghosted me before I could get in here. I’m sure Jones would have covered for you.”
The necromancer smirked at my word choice. And how he seemed to know everything clicked in my mind. He’d sent ghosts to follow me. My understanding must have shown on my face because his smile widened.
“You figured something out?” he asked, still smiling.
“Have they been following me since the last time I was here?” I asked. I should have known. I’m capable of expanding my senses to see the ghostly plane. My grandma taught me the mental shielding to avoid that when I was young, though. I had enough problems of my own without adding the unfinished business of ghosts to my list. Once a ghost caught on that I could see them, many of them asked for help moving on.
“I ordered them to stay out of bathrooms and bedrooms if that’s any comfort to you,” he said. “I can’t decide if you’re clever enough to deal with this threat under DPI’s nose or not. You can think outside the box, but they are not to be trusted.”
“I know that much. Are you saying this as an excuse for not helping me?” I asked.
“No. You’re right that I’d avoid you if I thought you’d turn me in. And if I feel your agents are getting too close, I’ll be gone before you even wonder what happened. I’ve been trying to track your friend’s spirit, and it’s proving to be more difficult than I expected. Whoever did this is too dangerous to let go.”
“Did you find anything at all?” I asked.
“All I know so far is that he’s still in the city,” he said.
“Will you text me if you find anything?”
The necromancer wrote something on a piece of paper under the will he’d forged and pulled it from the clipboard. “Do you know any technomancers?”
“Don’t put this number in your phone until you’ve had one of them put protections on it. DPI will probably check up on you regularly. I don’t want them to get my number from spying on you,” he said. He handed me the paper with his name and number on it. I could finally stop thinking of him as the necromancer; Cal was less of a mouthful.
“You’ll know if I don’t follow those directions, I suppose?”
“Think of it as a trial period for trust,” Cal said.
“Fine,” I said.
“All right. That’s that then,” he said and turned to Jones. I’d forgotten he was with us. “You feel up to some b&e tonight, Johnny?”
Jones looked at me nervously before answering, “uh….”
“Don’t worry, Casper’ll keep our secrets.”
“The DPI doesn’t own me. If it doesn’t help them to help me, they won’t hear about it from me,” I promised. That seemed to be enough guarantee for the coroner.
“Okay,” he said, physically relaxing with the reassurance.
“Fantastic,” Cal said. “We’ll see you around Casper.”
I folded the paper and slipped it into my pocket before taking the back way out of the morgue. Even with Cal’s reassurance that the ghost wouldn’t follow me into private moments, I decided not to go back to Lugh and Flynn’s place. Holly might be watching my place, but I had a plan for that. If the ghost planned to spy on me anyway, he could do double duty and keep an eye out for anyone coming after me too. I sat at the picnic table just outside the back door and started lowering my mental defenses against the spirit plane. A world of translucent colors revealed itself to me.