A Friend…Made to Order?
By S. F. Brooke
Lorelei walked back to the living room and noticed Joel was gone. Connor was still sleeping. Lori noticed the studio light on and walked over. She saw Joel through the window tuning his guitar. “He looks so calm. I wish I had a hobby I cared about as much as he does.” Lori thought. He knocked lightly on the door, and Joel’s head popped up. He smiled and waved her in.
“Hey, I thought you were knocked out,” Lori said, shutting the door and taking a seat. Joel’s music studio looked like a real recording studio. Soundproof padding on the walls, a massive soundboard, a couple of microphones, and speakers lined the room.
“I was, but I had an idea I had to get out. Do you want to hear it?” Joel said. Lori could see him blushing a little. “Was he nervous?” Lori thought.
“Sure, I’d love to. Just letting you know, I’m a tough critic.”
Joel laughed. He positioned his guitar and began to play his song. Lori couldn’t explain it, but it was like Joel was putting his heart into every note. She could hear the hurt and bliss in the cords. Joel’s eyes flicked to her every now and again. Checking to see her reaction. After a few minutes, he stopped and placed his guitar down. “So, uh, what did you think? I know it’s dumb.”
“No, it was beautiful. I guess you have some talent,” Lori laughed.
“Ha, thanks. That means a lot,” Joel smiles and grabs the tablet next to him. “Mind if I quote you? Not that I need proof or anything that someone likes my music.”
“I don’t mind. How long have you been working on it? The song.”
“A month. Mostly rewrites. I couldn’t get the notes right. Also, I haven’t named it.”
“As long as you don’t go with Spirit Puncher, I think it’ll be fine.”
“Ha! It would sell millions. I just might just to spite you.” Joel smiled. “Lori, I need to ask you something.”
“I want to be able to do what I did again. With the spirit thing. Can you make, um, what’s his face come back?”
“It’s Thomas,” Thomas says, messing with the soundboard.
“Don’t touch that!” Joel said.
“I don’t think we actually met. Thomas Wright. I died about a week ago from the same monster you all are looking for,” Thomas said, sitting on the floor.
“Joel Miller. Still alive, at least on the outside. Musician.”
“Nice to meet you, Joel. How long have you been able to interact with spirits?” Thomas asked.
“Since about four hours ago. I didn’t even know that was possible. I honestly didn’t know how I heard you. Was it the same with you, Lori? When you first talked to them?” Joel asked.
“Yeah, kind of. However, it was a bit more intense. Don’t tell Connor, but I almost died when I was little. I think it was when I was five. I heard a voice and the next thing I knew I was talking to someone that wasn’t there. My dad thought it was my imaginary friend, but I didn’t have one.”
“How did you almost die?” Joel asked.
“I almost drowned. Something pushed me. The weird thing was that I was by myself. My mom had been talking to a family friend. We were at a cookout. I didn’t know how to swim. Before I fell in, I saw it was a little boy that did it. His skin was pale, and his eyes were glossed over. My dad noticed I was in danger, so he dove in and saved me. I told him a kid pushed me. When he asked who, I didn’t see him anymore.”
“****, did you see the kid again?” Thomas asked.
“I did. When I was sitting next to my dad, I saw a missing kid poster. The little boy was on it. I don’t remember his name. He had been missing for a while. I found out a couple of months later that he died in a nearby river. He was playing, and he lost his balance. They never found his body.”
“Wow, Lori, you went through a lot as a kid. I’m sorry.” Joel said.
“Don’t be; you didn’t cause it. What time do you have?”
“A quarter past 3 a.m,” Joel said, looking at his tablet. “Looks like the mall story made national news. This might have gotten harder.”
“I hate to say it, but maybe we should wait until it strikes again? The mall seems like a lost cause with all the media attention. It’s going to be closed for a while.” Thomas said.
“You want more people to die? Did dying make you lose your humanity?” Joel asked.
“I’m just saying that it’s not looking good. What do we know? It is killing in the Greensboro area. It is attracted to Lori for some reason, and it is making a show of it.”
“Can we not say it’s attracted to me? I know what you mean, but still.”
“I second that,” Joel said.
“Whatever, it’s lured in by you. You’re like a beacon. You’re kind of hard to miss. Maybe we can use that to our advantage.” Thomas said. “If we use Lorelei as a beacon, then it will come right to us. Spirits come to you because they are lost and confused. If we make it, so it has to come to you, then we can destroy it. Maybe.”
“You don’t sound confident,” Joel said with his arms crossed. “I’m not okay with using her as bait.”
“I wasn’t either, but…if it means no one else has to die, then it could be worth trying.” Lori shrugged.
“And what happens if it decided to kill you for the fun of it? I can’t do much. Con can’t even see spirits. You’ll be on your own if this goes south.” Joel tried to hide the worry in his voice.
“Then we need to make sure it doesn’t go south. We should get Connie’s opinion on this,” Lori stood up and walked to the door. “I’ll be right back. You two play nice.” She says, shutting the door.
Lori was halfway to the living room when Connor opened the doors. “There she is. You both left me all alone.”
“Sorry, you were sleeping. We came up with a new plan of attack. Everyone’s in Joel’s music room. Come on.” Lori turned to go back to the room when Connor grabbed her wrist.
“Um, ow?” Lori said.
“Have I ever told you how beautiful you are?” Connor said, pulling her in close.
“No, I uh…we should get back to the others.” Lori tried to pull away, but Connor pulled her face close to his and kissed her deeply.
Lori pushed him off. “What was that?!”
“I’ve always wanted to do that ever since I’ve laid my eyes on you. What’s wrong? You didn’t like it?” Connor smiled. “They will be fine. How about you and I go upstairs? It’ll be fun. Let’s go, Lorelei. I want to show you something.”
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