Faust tucked his chin down and pinched the collar of his trench together as he walked along the sidewalk. It didn’t help. It never did.
The damn wind and drizzle couldn’t decide where the hell they were going. So, they went everywhere at once.
He suspected that they wanted to hit him in the face. On purpose.
“Bonaventure Mallory Faust," asked an accentless, male voice.
Faust winced. Two people in the world knew his full name. Three, before he'd gotten one of them killed. He had no need for a second name. That's why he'd loaned it out. To the voice in his head.
On cue, Mal chimed in. Never trust a voice from nowhere, BF.
“I'll remember that,” Faust deadpanned. He shifted his gaze left. Then right.
The voice's owner and a companion stood in front of a head high sidewalk lamp. They were odd at best. Something else at worst.
The one on the left was a Japanese girl with a pair of raven pigtails that dangled above her shoulders. A white blouse and plaid skirt clung to her adolescent figure. Both were heavy with rain. She hugged a small, raggedy teddy bear in her arms and stared at Faust with unblinking, wide eyes.
He could almost hear the Japanese girl's teeth chattering. "Poor kid," muttered Faust.
The one on the right was bigger. He was a head higher than the girl but still didn't make it past Faust's chin. He looked out of focus. Hard to see.
And Creepier. Mal seemed a bit jittery.
Faust tried a second time to focus his eyes on the bigger one. It was like looking at something with peripheral vision. His head started to ache from the effort. "Something I can help you with?"
The full moon peeked through the clouds and struggled to light their faces. From behind them, the sidewalk lamp created halos. Its artificial light was strong enough to throw their shadows onto Faust's feet.
"Bonaventure Mallory Faust."
Warning bells! Warning bells! Warning bells!
Faust hissed, "Zip it, Mal."
Full moon. Check. You noticed the one-eyed teddy bear. Right? Check. The guy you can't quite see. Check!
Mal had a point and his chattering put Faust on edge. His hand drifted into his trench towards his M1911 .45 caliber. He stopped himself and pulled it back out. "Cut it out. No more midnight horror marathons for you."
"Bonaventure Mallory Faust," said the Japanese girl. She stepped forward and tilted her face up to his. Her body shook as the skittish air and rain cut through her wet clothes.
Faust put his hands on her shoulders. He didn't know why, but he felt protective of her. "Yes, honey. I'm Bonaventure. You and your grandfather should get somewhere warm."
Bad idea, BF.
And it was. One of her arms latched onto one of his. The other snaked around his midsection. She twisted her backside into his front and used her right hip to throw him into the air.
The world somersaulted and Faust landed with a splash on his back.
You never learn.
The girl darted her tiny hand into the innards of her teddy bear and pulled out a square, black device. Two prongs sat within a half-moon depression on one side. Electricity arced and crackled between them.
Everything went black.
When he came to, Faust found himself laid out on a small cot.
It's about time you woke up, BF. Let's take a look around.
"Give me half a second, Mal."
Faust checked for his .45. He found an empty shoulder holster instead.
Faust dropped his feet off the side of his resting place and scanned the small room.
It was spartan. Windowless. The floors, walls, and ceiling were all metal. A mini-fridge sat beside the cot. There were two doors. One on the left and the other opposite of him.
Faust walked to the door on his left. He reached for a handle but noticed that there wasn't one. The door opened anyway.
He stepped inside and found a tiny bathroom with a toilet and a shower.
Hallelujah. You know how my IBS gets. Well, our IBS.
"I don't have IBS."
When Faust heard the other door open and close, he left the bathroom and looked towards it.
Three figures met his gaze.
This could be hell.
“Aren’t you going to offer your mother a drink?”
The shituation got real.
Even for a fellow with a voice named Mal in his head, this was a bit much. Faust eyed them as they approached.
His mother was a frail woman with tired, stringy grey hair. She puffed on a cigarette and had a can of cheap beer in her hand. "It's empty."
Christina embraced him with a tight hug and pressed her ample chest against his. "I've missed you, babe," she said before nibbling his ear.
Her perfume. She wore it on special occasions. Like the night that she'd died in his arms. Faust stared at her.
You've got to admit. She looks great. Right?
"Are you surprised to see me, babe?" Christina winked. A strand of her red hair fell across the translucent skin of her face. She didn't wait for an answer. "Do you like my dress?"
It was a green number. A lovely dress. And on any other woman, he would've noticed it. But when he looked at Christina, he only saw her.
I mean, for a zombie. Smells amazing too. Think you guys can work it out?
"It's empty," repeated his mother, shaking the can.
Faust gestured at the mini fridge without a word. His mother walked towards it.
"Christina, do you want one," she called over her shoulder.
"No. Thank you, Mrs. Faust."
"Call me June, honey." A moment later, she cried out in delight. "Ah! You've got a bottle of wine here Bonnie."
Faust heard a pop and wondered where his mother had found a corkscrew.
"What about you Alan? You want a glass of wine?"
Alan was his father. He stood a good two inches taller than Faust. They shared many features. At seventy, his hair remained black. Only, a touch of grey had invaded his temples.
And so the night went on. The three of them spoke with Bonaventure Mallory Faust, but he never spoke a word in return. As far as hallucinations went, they were damn impressive.
One moment they were there, and the next they had gone.
Faust sat on the cot. Lost in thought. Even Mal had gone quiet. He was taking a nap or he'd gone to the can for his IBS.
“That was weird," said a female's voice.
"And scary," she continued.
It's not me, BF. I'm taking a deuce.
"I know," hissed Bonaventure.
The female voice giggled.
“And who might you be,” asked Faust.
"And where might you be?"
"I don't see you."
"Yes, you do."
Faust scanned the room again. He even stuck his head into the bathroom and took a peek under the cot. "No, I don't."
"I'm the ship."
"You're the ship?"
"I'm the ship."
Faust grimaced. "What ship?"
"The ship that you're on."
Faust laid back on the cot and closed his eyes. He sat there in silence. Hoping that everyone would go away.
"Mal is funny. I like him," Bellatrix said.
"You can hear Mal?"
"Yes. And no. For the same reason, I saw and heard your mother, father, and Christina. She's pretty. I like her hair."
"You could see them?"
"Yes and no."
"What do you mean?"
"I can see you. I can also track all your physiological, neuro..."
The room rocked from some type of impact. Faust flew from the cot. The cot flew off the floor.
Every single time I'm on the damn can.
"What the hell's going on," shouted Faust.
"We're under attack," whimpered Bellatrix.
She sounded like she was crying.