"Spiffy rooms," Bobby commented, dumping a pile of stuff in the middle of the spacious floor. I think he and Tabitha were competing for the "Most Luggage" prize. At least they had plenty of space. Living in a hotel did have its perks. We each had our own rooms, the guys to the left of the spiral staircase, the girls to the right. Each room had its own bathroom, wall-to-wall carpeting, and intercom. I walked into the room next to Bobby's and dropped my stuff.
And I swear, there was a girl curled up on my bed.
I blinked, but she was still there when I opened my eyes. She had dark hair and was wearing jeans and a sweater that was too big for her. Ok, there was a gorgeous broad asleep on my bed. What do I do? What would Clayton Maxwell do?
"Hey, someone get in here!" Ok, maybe it wasn't exactly what Clayton Maxwell would have done. At the sound of my voice, she opened her eyes. I caught a glimpse of startlingly deep blue eyes, then she disappeared. Literally. She just faded out...and vanished. I went to the bed and touched where she'd been. Nothing.
"Ric, man, what's up?" I heard Bobby, but I was still staring at the spot where the girl had been, and it just didn't register until he said, "Ric? C'mon, man, you look like you've seen a ghost."
"I think I did," I finally managed. "There was someone in here."
"Aah, don't worry about it. It was probably a fox or a raccoon or something."
"No," I said, shaking my head. "Not a something. A someone. There was a girl lyin' on my bed--" Bobby busted out laughing.
"Ric, the day you find a strange girl in your bed, call me before she leaves," he said, punching me in the arm and walking off. I glared darkly at his retreating form.
I told everyone about my experience and got the predictable reactions.
Cable: "I didn't sense anything. Can I scan your mind? There might be a security breach." I told him it was probably just road daze...or wishful thinking.
Dom: Uh-huh. Sure.
Jimmy: "Must be nice..."
Terry: "I'm sure ye be imaginin' things, Ric. Have ye been feelin' all right?"
Tabby: "Right. And my hair is just naturally this color."
Caliban: (Why did I tell Caliban?) "Caliban senses only friend mutants." Hmm...
Shatterstar: "I fear you fondness for foods prepared in your homeland's custom has affected your perceptions by way of incorrect sanitation methods or discord with the harmony of your internal organs." I didn't touch that one.
After a few days, I decided it must have been my imagination. Life was developing into quite an interesting pattern, and ghosts didn't seem to be part of it.
"What's this?" We were all grouped around the closet, looking for breakfast. Tabitha was holding a box of something called All-Bran.
"That's a healthy breakfast for only 14 cents, after double coupons," Domino replied, smugly.
"Well, money's a little tight these days, so we're cutting a few corners. If you don't like that, there's some individual boxes of cereal in that cardboard box on the basement steps."
We divebombed the steps. And there it was. A wonderful cardboard box full of Count Chocula, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Wheaties, Total, Corn Flakes, and Lucky Charms. Shatterstar decided he wanted something healthy and went off to make a celery and kale shake, or something, and Terry decided to cook hash browns, but the rest of us tore happily into the cereal.
"Hey! All that's left is that...healthy stuff...and Lucky Charms," Bobby complained.
"Well, maybe you should just get up a little earlier in the morning," Tabitha told him, coolly.
Pretty soon, we were all getting up early to get to the good cereal. It was becoming a competition. Cable and Domino were revealing their true colors as the world's cheapest people. Life was starting to settle down. I chalked the girl up to road daze and almost forgot about her. Almost.
Eventually, I started to notice funny things happening. Not Poltergeist weird, or anything, just a little...abnormal.
I was shelving books one day. I had grouped all my mysteries together and had turned back to the box to find my science fiction novels when I heard a crash. Most of the mysteries I had just shelved were on the floor. I picked one up and studied it. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with it. I shook the shelf gently, to see if it was loose. Didn't move. Hm. Must have been the wind. Except, I remembered later...I'd never opened the window.
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