Seeking the Keys

Pt. VIII: The University


Cowboy Ghostie

Professor Jesse Rentel smiled as he spoke. "Getting me some decent supplies."

Sam looked confused for a moment, and he cast a glance around the room then looked back at the professor. "What did you need that you don't already have here... It looks like you have everything."

"Not Quite. I have most of my equipment but what I find I need the most is a working barometer. My experiments have failed because I lack the proper instruments, and I don't dare organize an expedition without them."

Will licked his lips as he spoke up. "So, did you have an idea where we might find one, Professor? I'm not an expert on such things, and I'm coming up blank on where to get one."

"The University, of course... I've been there a few times myself but I never made it into the right wing... I got escorted out by one of the patrols." The Professor smiled wanly.

"So how are we supposed to get in there?" Sam had an odd look on his face, like he might be starting to regret his decision to help the man.

What a bad actor. Will had to keep himself from smirking at Casper's comment. He was far too right on that one.

The professor tilted his head. "I'd think it'd be easy for the two of you. All you've got to do is manifest and walk in, Sam. And, Ray, I know you can inhabit." The professor gave a sly smirk. "I've seen you do it. So all he's got to do is carry you in. I think, between the two of you, you'll be able to find what I need."

"I... uhm... Oh." Will paused and stared at him a moment before looking down. Sam had much the same reaction. Just when had he been watching? It would be nice to know when he was being watched.

The professor only chuckled at them. "Relax, both of you. It's probably best to wait awhile. Just watch each other's backs, and you'll be fine."

*  *  *


A few days later Will found himself amazed. The professor, apparently, had an extensive knowledge of the campus layout. He speculated without voicing it that Jesse had worked there in the past, or had been part of the legion that had their base set up there. He may never know which.

Sam had gone from the nervous and fretful wretch to something that passed considerably better as competence. He wasn't sure he wanted to trust him with his back, but there wasn't anybody else who was going to do it. He'd just be careful not to give him too much lead there.

"Are you sure of this?" asked Sam as they stood in the space between buildings.

Will just nodded and in moments Sam picked up the backpack Will felt himself lifted. He couldn't see anything at the time. They'd taken the precaution of keeping the object he'd claimed out of sight, just in case there was a clever legionnaire about.

On reflection, Sam's paranoia was a good thing. It might keep them both out of trouble long enough to survive this.

Are you sure about doing this? Casper's voice was a hushed whisper for some stupid reason.

Of course I'm sure, nitwit. This is routine, stupid work. Will's reply came off a little more scornful than usual.

But... All the other wraiths.... It came off as a whine and Will gave a mental sigh. Did Casper only make sense in cycles? It aggravated him sometimes.

He wasn't sure just how long he was in motion; he spent the time being paranoid. So when the proctor's hand closed on the book and jarred him out of his discontented musings he was just a touch annoyed.

His first glimpse was an empty room, it looked like the meteorology lab, the lights were off and the only source was the door to the hallway which he had heard click shut only moments ago... Sam put the book down on the table and he wasted no time in extracting his form. It always felt so weird being himself and the object at the same time.

They didn't speak; they'd planned this well. Sam would find the equipment and Will would stand watch. Seemed simple enough... If someone came all he had to do was give the alarm and they would both become rather scarce.

Will crept to the door and took a useless breath before melding with it... Sure it took a moment, but at least it didn't hurt. The hallway was long and empty or so it seemed anyways.

I feel like I'm back in school hiding from the hall monitor.... Casper gave this strange little chuckle. It sounded like he was drunk or something.

What is wrong with you? You were making sense earlier today.... It was more an exasperated thought than a question.

There's nothing wrong with me, or you... Oh and Toby too... It's all fine and dandy....

Casper babbled on, but Will ceased paying attention as he'd heard the faint sound of footsteps echoing through the hallway. He didn't see anyone coming, they must be around the corner... he snuck a little closer and peeked around... But there was no one there.

He almost jumped out of his skin when something touched his shoulder; instead he froze and turned to look.

Talons, they were talons. Not Good.

Will ducked, skidding sideways away from the figure behind him as he turned. He was frozen a moment in the shock of recognition.


An unreasoning fear chilled him as the cult leader smiled his fanged smile, took Will by the shoulder and drew him closer in an embrace.

"Hello there, Cub," It was merely a whisper as he was drawn into the alcove: "Are you doing as your new master wishes...?"

The tone was sweet but the implications of the question made him shiver.

"N-no... It's just good cover.... the... the other one wasn't holding up too well." His voice was hushed, and no small amount shaky. Razor could shred him in moments, and he knew it.

"It's a dangerous game you're playing, Cub. Tell me what this Professor is seeking, perhaps there could be something of use in his workings."

"I... He hasn't told me much yet... J-Just something about a Discord Theory."

But I don't want to do that... Casper was talking to himself. Will ignored it.

The talons dug reflexively into his skin and he hid a wince as Razor spoke.

"Discord Theory... hmm..." The tone changed from threatening to silky: "I want to know more of this, Cub. Tell me."

"I don't know anything else..." It came out a whisper and the grip on his shoulders tightened, the tips piercing the skin...

"Then you will find out more... understand?" The words were hard, and elicited a pained nod.

"Yes... yes of course." It was barely a whisper...

Razor held the grip for a long moment and Casper babbled about Joe saying that was a bad idea.

The cult leader released him slowly and melted into the wall like he had never been. In a blink he was gone and Will stared after him for a long moment wondering if that had actually occurred.

No! Go away... You're stupid to ask that. Stupid! I won't do that! Ever... Casper was still babbling away, and Will didn't feel like snapping him out of it. Who knows what delusions he was talking to.

A clinking sound down the hallway snapped him out of the shock he was in and he peeked out of the alcove and ducked right back in. There was a patrol making its way down the hall, and checking the doors as they went...

He could hide easily enough, it didn't matter and he put his hand on the wall and blinked.

Shit. Sam. Stupid little...

Oh, crap. If Sam got caught the professor would never trust him enough to talk.

He cursed mentally and glanced around. There had to be some way to get over there in time.

His hand found the answer before he did: a cord was stapled to the wall and lead up into darkness. It looked like it went from room to room.


Will didn't even hesitate, his hand passed through the cord and he felt the pull of the power and let it suck him in. A tunnel of light hurtled him through its passage, twisting and turning. It was the closest thing to a waterslide he'd felt since becoming a ghost. In nanoseconds he found the exit and let it spit him out again...

He spun, looking for Sam, and hissed when he saw him. "Hide! Patrol!"

The Proctor jumped in fright and then ducked under the table and crawled towards the other end of the room, away from the door. Will plastered himself to the wall as a Legionnaire stuck his nose through the door and peered around.

"Thought I Heard something in here..."