I see Dead People
Br Robert Buchanan

"So some broad from Arabia has been creeping around for 3,700 years?" I asked as Yim finished telling me Safia's story. "Boy, I'd hate to be paying her life insurance premiums!"

"This is not a joke!" Yim hissed at me.

"I'm sorry" I replied "It's just that when I get bad news, I joke about it to make it easier to accept." Out of respect I dropped my joviality and continued. "So that's what's happening in the world right now? Daxrathas and his minions are coming to bring 'hell on earth'?"

Sensing my sincerity, Yim settled down and answered "Something like that Tom. We have continued our existence solely to counter this threat to humanity. We did not think that Daxrathas would ever find a way back to the earth realm, but it appears he has."

"Do you think Safia had anything to do with it?"

"Who can tell." Yim answered, "If she did, then she must be desperate for release from this world."

"What do you mean?"

"Safia is not an evil person, just a misguided one. She wanted vengeance on Wu-ling 3,000 years ago, and she got it, but the price was very high, and the last time we came into contact with her, she had grown very weary."

"You've spoken with her?" I asked somewhat surprised.

"Yes." Yim answered matter of factly.

"When? I thought Oal'ei did not want to contact her."

"He didn't. The last time was around 300 years ago, we inhabited the body of a monk from Shanghai and we were visiting a temple in Tibet. She was there, she had tracked one of Wu-lings descendents to the temple and when we arrived, she had already slain him, claiming his blood for her vengeance."

"But you said she wasn't evil."

"She's not."

"And that's not evil because…."

"Because she views it as justified vengeance." Yim continued

"Well gee, that almost makes it politically correct." I deadpanned.

"In her mind, yes it does."

I shivered at the lack of remorse. "Still seems pretty fucked up to me. So how did you ever contact her?"

"In the early days we believed that if we could destroy her, then we would no longer need to be bound to this world and we could join our ancestors in the afterlife -- regardless of what Oal'ei wished. We tracked her down several times, but learned of her immortality and understood the futility of trying to end her life. It was then decided that diplomacy might be a better tact. Through our discussions, we were able to learn her story. Make no mistakes Tom, she is very smart, and very dangerous. Even without her immortality, she has walked the earth for eons and knows many secrets."

"So why didn't oal'ei tell you about her? He obviously knew her story."

"oal'ei has not spoken since we sought out Safia long ago." Yim answered.

"Great, a woman who can't die and a demonic plague seeking to enter the world. So how do I stop all of this?" I finally asked. "I mean, it's not like we have an inside spirit giving us directions to the portal this time."

"We're not entirely sure Tom. We're not even sure if Safia is behind all of this, but she will have knowledge of who is."

"So it sounds as if I need to track her down, and until I do, I won't know if she's a threat or not?"

"More or less." Yim answered

"Great, something about a snowball being tossed into hell comes to mind."

"Yeah, but you're nowhere near as pure as snow." Yim joked, this time it was me meeting her jests soberly.

"Tom, there are a lot of us who don't know if you're ready for this yet."

"That fucking figures." I interrupted

"But it appears that time for us has run out" Yim concluded ignoring my comment.

"Well, hey, if some little Chinese guy in robes can defeat Daxrathas 3,000 years ago, then I should have no problem doing it today right?" I asked.

"You sound rather confident - even for you." Yim said.

"I do my best." I said

"And I wish you luck Tom," Yim said. "You will have all of our strength, I pray only that it is enough." With that, she leaned in and kissed me on the cheek.

"What was that for?" I asked, a little confused.

"For luck." She said smiling as she and the town around me swirled back into the purple mist.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tom opened his eyes and looked blearily at the television. A blonde woman was addressing him seductively, her pink lip gloss promising that if he called 1-900-2MEETME that she - or someone like her - would make his dreams come true. The clock on the wall read 4 am and the beer was still tucked between his thighs but was quite lukewarm now. He took a swig from it anyway.

"Great." He said, grimacing at the bitterness of the warm beer, "Look's like I get to go searching for grandma."

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