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2012-01-30 | |
Anna feels a light breath on her shoulder, she turns to see who it is, but all she sees is the sink and the coffee machine. She frowns, but forgets about is as she gets busy with customers. By mid-afternoon, there is a lull and she takes the broom and begins to sweep the coffee shop. There are crumbs under one of the tables, and as she reaches under it with the broom, they began to swirl. Anna freezes and stares uncomprehending at the dust devil.
“Jenny,” she calls, “you’ve got to see this.”
“What?” Jenny asks as she goes to where Anna stands.
Anna points under the table, but when she looks back down, the crumbs are still. She prods them with the broom.
“What’s up?” Jenny asks confused by Anna’s odd behaviour.
“Sorry,” Anna says, “I must be imagining things. I saw those crumbs swirling around like a tiny tornado.”
“Did you get enough sleep last night?” Jenny asks with a knowing grin.
Anna shakes her head. “Doesn’t look like it.”
It’s Anna’s first time to close up. It’s a few minutes before nine and she brings in the chairs and tables from the patios. She pulls open the back door and a great gust of wind holds it open. She finds that convenient, as she doesn’t need to prop open the door while she drags the chairs and tables in, but when she’s done, the door won’t close. There is a distinct chill to the wind, much colder than the warm, summer air. She pushes and tugs at the door, then it frosts over, and slams itself shut. Anna jumps back out of the way and shudders from the cold.
A line appears on the frosted door, then another. An invisible finger continues to draw until there is a face in the frost. It comes alive, winks at her, then the frost lets go of the door, drops to the floor, and melts, leaving a great puddle of water. This time Anna shivers from more than the cold.
She grabs a spoon from the rack beside her and throws it into the puddle, ready to run like hell should it show signs of coming alive.
She dashes to the kitchen for the mop. It acts like any other puddle of water and she squeezes it into the bucket, but is unwilling to pour it down the drain. She rolls the bucket outside to the far end of the parking lot and dumps it near the fence beside a tree—just in case—
She puts the bucket away, takes one last look around, turns out the light, and locks the door. She is happy to leave.
Anna is glad that she has two days off. She needs some rest, that is clear. Three more days pass, things are back to normal at the Wired Monk. There are no mini tornados, odd breaths on her cheek, nor living, frosted doors. Though tempted, she tells no one of what she sees. Better that way, she decides.
Anna is alone again on an evening shift. There is not a lot of trade after six, and Cherí cannot justify keeping two people on in the evening. At first, Anna is worried, but when nothing odd happens, she forgets about the strange occurrences a few nights ago. She closes up with no manifestations and leaves for home a contented woman.
Over the next few days, Anna overhears strange conversations. “Leanne is upset about that,” Cherí tells Jenny, “I understand she gave the Committee a hard time about voting to exile that Matthew boy from the Pelican Rouge coffee shop in White Rock. Something about drawing while the living watched. Said if he was banished to Drakko that she would bring him back herself.”
None of this makes any sense to Anna, none at all. There are more curious exchanges... a number of them.
“You can never tell with a kitten,” Kristen shakes her head, “they are absolutely unpredictable. What I really hate, is when she turns on the fireplace in summer, or enters my cell phone to play. It wouldn’t be so bad if she only did it here at the coffee shop, but she entertains herself with it when I’m at home or school. It’s really annoying.”
She notices other things. Things others seemed to ignore or accept as normal. Like... well, glasses of water frosting themselves and the windows rattling. She feels a little nervous, not knowing how long she can work here. She is sure there is something wrong with her. Maybe she should see a doctor... a psychiatrist would be good, she thinks.
Another afternoon she is mopping the floor when the mop head freezes solid.
“Jenny,” she cries!
“What is it?” Jenny runs over to her.
“The mop, it’s frozen!” Anna bangs it on the concrete floor to show her.
“Stop That!” Jenny shakes her finger at the air, and the mop returns to its normal state.
Anna gapes at her, but Jenny says nothing, and returns to her duties. She cannot take this anymore, she decides. She will tell Cherí that she will quit tomorrow.
In fact, two days pass before she sees Cherí. Anna is a nervous wreck. The moment Cherí walks in the door, Anna calls to her in a high, worried voice that catches Cherí’s immediate attention.
“I need to speak to you as soon as possible,” Anna says in a shaky voice.
As soon as she clocks in, Cherí takes Anna aside.
“What’s wrong Anna?”
“I can’t work here anymore,” Anna says, her voice trembling.
“Why, what’s wrong?”
“Weird stuff keeps happening. I’m not sure if I’m imagining it or what...”
“Oh, that,” Cherí waves her hand in dismissal. “It’s just the ghosts playing.”
“Yes,” Cherí explains with a teasing smile. “We have four of them, in fact,” there is a hint of pride in her tone, “this is one of the world’s most haunted buildings.”
“The coffee shop is haunted?”
“Yes, and two of the ghosts are on the Ghastly Committee, Leanne and Sara.”
Anna is mute for a long thirty seconds. “You think this is normal?”
“I didn’t say it is normal. In truth, we are special. Didn’t you notice that everyone orders water with everything?”
“Yeah, and the glasses frost themselves.”
“Not really, it’s the ghosts. They also do art on the frosted glasses.”
“This cannot be true,” Anna says, trembling.
“Come and watch,” Cherí tugs Anna’s arm. She draws a glass of water. “Excuse me,” Cherí speaks to the air, “Laurie, could you please frost the glass and draw Anna’s face on it?”
In an instant, the glass of water frosts over and Anna’s face appears on it. It winks at her. Cherí chuckles.
“That was Sara. I mean Laurie drew the face, but Sara made it wink. Sara is a very strong ghost.”
“There are strong ghosts and weak ghosts?” Anna is breathless.
“Yes, absolutely. Sara and Leanne are two of the most powerful spirits in the ghost realm. I understand that is surprising given the fact Sara is a kitten.”
Cherí can see that Anna needs to meet the ghosts, her plan all along. “Come to the coffee shop at midnight tonight. I’ll introduce you.”
“Ghosts are not allowed to show themselves until twelve o’clock.”
The ghosts it turns out, like Anna. Though it takes a few weeks, she does get used to them and their antics. The frosted floors mean extra work, and her cell phone is useless while she’s at the coffee shop. But Laurie will sometimes call and chat with her, which is nice but an odd feeling... you know, talking to the dead.
Ana thinks she will stay awhile. Having ghosts around turns out to be fun.
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