Hecate knew she was never supposed to walk in the world. She hadn’t been an afterthought. She was an act of desperation.
Growing up in a small town was rough, but having her family pretend that she didn’t see ghosts made things harder. As soon as she had enough money, she bought a place out of town and got to work.
All day, every day, she had her phone on, and she waited for the call that would summon her to someone whose deceased loved one was draining them or terrifying them. Each one called for separate techniques, and she got very good, very quickly.
Her sister’s engagement complicates Hecate’s life as she is suddenly visible to the paranormal society at large with her introductory visit to Oak Point Way. The Nexus Guard is friendly, the gnomes are frisky, and the pixies are a flying menace. Ghosts were a breeze next to the paranormal.
Hecate whistled softly as she drove through the city. She wasn’t a fan of the traffic, but her navigation system calmly gave her orders, so driving was mindless.
The panicked call had come to her just as she was washing up after dinner. She had left her dishes in the sink, and when the payment cleared her account, she headed out to remove the dearly departed Arthur Worring from his memorial in his wife’s back yard. His ghost was no longer required.
Hecate pulled up at the Worring house and didn’t bother whistling. It always seemed to be the very wealthy who called her on weekdays. The poor waited until the weekends after they had tried everything else.
She pulled out her medical bag, checked to make sure that it had the appearance of a magical kit, closed it, and headed toward the back of the property. The pale woman with the shock of white hair came toward her, looking left and right to see who had noticed Hecate coming in.
Hecate sighed. She dressed to be unremarkable, her vehicle was unremarkable, her skin was light brown, her hair was straight, dark, and there was nothing worth commenting on in her entire appearance. As her mother always said, some babies were born to blend in.
She kept her voice low. “Good evening, Ms. Worring.”
“Please, come this way. Will it take very long?” The widow was stressed. She wanted to be rid of her husband, and she had just gotten the nerve up to do it.
“It depends on him, but I am not here to waste my time or yours.”
She turned the corner and saw the issue immediately. “You loved him very much.”
“I did. I do. I miss him so, but I can feel him constantly, and it is driving me crazy. My hair is falling out, I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. It was either call you or leave my home. I love it here.”
Hecate smiled. “I understand. This is a beautiful garden. You both tended it?”
“No. It was my husband’s pride and joy. I have tried to hire someone to take care of it, but he said there was nothing to do.”
“Right. When I remove your husband, the garden will fade. You will want to keep that gardener’s number handy.”
The woman nodded. “You can really do it?”
“He will be completely gone?”
Hecate looked at her and saw the tears shining in her eyes. “Would you like part of him to remain with the flowers?”
“Can you do that?”
“I can ask him if he is willing to part with that portion of himself.”
“You can talk to him?”
“Ms. Worring, you have to let me into the garden to find him. Then, I can relay whatever you want.” She smiled, and the elderly client let her into the lush green heaven that had been created by very deep love.
The chill of autumn in the air belied the fragrant blooms. No rose should be staring at her at this time year.
She searched and found the pillar of energy that was Arthur. Hecate knelt near him and pulled out the small objects that folk always expected to see. “Arthur.”
“Who are you? Why are you with my Winny?”
“I am Hecate Wakefield, counsellor to ghosts and those who have been affected by them. I am here because you are killing your wife.”
His energy flared brightly, and she continued to look at him. He paused. “You can see me?”
“I can. And I can speak to you. You have had your time, Arthur. It is time to let Winifred go.”
“She needs me.”
“She is losing her hair, losing sleep, and losing strength. You are taking that from her, Arthur. Your ghost is running on her energy, and she has none to spare. You are killing her.”
He looked to his wife. “Can she hear us?”
“No. We are speaking at the speed of thought. She just knows that I knelt and I seem to be doing something.”
“I want to stay with her. I need to stay with her. Ask her for me, can I stay?”
Hecate sighed and turned to her client. “He wants to stay.”
Her client sobbed. “I want him to stay, but I am so weak.”
Arthur looked at Hecate. “What did she say?”
“She wants you to stay, but she is so weak. I have a compromise.”
“I can anchor you to this stone. You will be here in the garden, but the energy that we release will be untethered, and you can either release yourself from Earth and go and wait for Winny, or you can come home with me and be around if she calls.”
“How can I get to her if she needs me if I am any distance away?”
Hecate looked at him with her body and mind calm. “I can give you the energy to come to Winny’s aid if she needs it. The stone here will pull you back in an instant.”
“Can I do that? She is getting older, and she will need someone nearby to keep an eye on her.”
“Fine. I will ask her.”
Hecate looked at Winny. “Winny, will you accept having him here in the garden, tending it, and keeping an eye on you? He will no longer drain you, and your health should improve immediately.”
“Where would he be?”
Hecate leaned forward and patted the granite that he was already using as a power supply. Granite was great for holding ghosts but not great for letting them focus. There were too many refractive crystals rocketing the energy around.