The last thing Detective Durand said was, “The question is why ghosts were affected at all? They are effectively immortal.”
Mistress Rosamund looked as if she had some choice words about that. She continued to do so and showed no sign of stopping.
If this was a joke, thought Nikita, it’s an extremely mean one. She floated in the tiny office looking at her mentor and the ex-spirit wrangler. They were frozen. The living, at least the vast majority of them, could only hold off moving for a very short period.
She shouted, moved objects, and hovered right in front of them. It was then she noticed that they were not breathing.
“Merde!” she whispered.
Dead knows dead and they were still alive, in a fashion. This was bad and she knew she needed some help. Luckily, I’m a in Gendarmerie, Nikita thought and floated through the door and down to the main floor.
Help was not to be found. Just a room full of Gendarmes and criminals fixed in time and space. Additionally, things were stuck. A cup of café was arrested halfway to the floor. Papers, pencils, and other objects were all suspended.
No one reacted to her presence and after many fruitless attempts to gain them Gendarme’s attention, she screamed obscenities but it made no impact.
Nikita exited the Gendarmerie to find the street in the same state. It was not a surprise but it was a disappointment. She spent hours, or minutes, or days searching for some sign of movement. Nothing.
Eventually, she made her way to Jardin des Gens. She always loved the park, a walk through it had the power to revive her when things seem to being going wrong. Now, filled as it was with immobile people, it just drove home the fact that she was surrounded and all alone.
She sat on a bench and wept. Her own death didn’t sadden her as this did. It seemed a cruel joke from some unfeeling and capricious power that she didn’t know and it broke her heart.
After a good cry, which usually helped when she still lived, Nikita wandered the Arrondissement. It only served to heighten her sense of isolation and helplessness.
She was wondering how she would endure and if going mad might make it more bearable when she suddenly saw movement. Whirling around, she saw another spirit.
“Hey!” she shouted and rushing to the figure, “Stop!”
The ghost did and looked at her.
“You’re not frozen! How? Why? What the hell is going on?”
“Of course not,” said the spirit dressed in a chef’s coat, “I’m not alive.”
“Are there others like us?”
“The dead can still move. The Conclave of the Undeparted has convened. ”
Nikita followed the transparent chef. As she moved, more ghosts joined them as they arrived at the great underground chamber where they met. It was lit by blue flames in verdigris encrusted braziers placed about the room. The tiers were filled with the dead. Their moaning murmurs filled the room. It quieted when Dieudonné Murat glided to the center.
“My brethren of the grave, our time has come!”
This elicited a ghastly huzzah.
“The living have been made unmoving and unresponsive. We now rule the Arrondissement!” declared the leader of the Conclave.
More bone-chilling cheers followed. Nikita began to speak but was drowned out. Finally, she gave a two-fingered whistle that cut through the grim merriment. Everyone fell silent.
“I think you’ve forgotten a few things,” Nikita said.
Dieudonné Murat tittered and replied, “And what would that be?”
“One, there is no one left to frighten. I know lots of you love to scare the living. Two, with everyone frozen, unfinished business will remain unfinished. Three, did you all just happen to forget that ghosts were disappearing without a trace just days ago? How do you know we aren’t next?”
Debate ensued. More of a mass shouting and howling match and just as useful as it sounded. This went on for a while. Nikita tried to organize the discussion but if there was one creature who was unable or at least unwilling to change, it was a ghost. It was evident that she was not having any impact on the proceeding, so she drifted away with a mix of anger and disappointment.
Once she was back on the surface the weight of loneliness had returned with a twist of frustration. What to do next? The silence was broken by a mrow.
Sitting in a doorway was a golden bobtail looking straight at Nikita. It blinked.
“You can move?” she shouted excitedly.
Ears went back in clear annoyance.
“I wish I spoke cat.”
Suddenly, the cat began to walk down the rue. When Nikita didn’t immediately follow, the bobtail stopped and gave her a look that said, “Are you coming?”
What else could she do?