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Contractbound 46 An Errand

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Graham woke up in the morning feeling refreshed. The ritual from the previous night had drained him both physically and mentally, but after getting a good night's sleep, he felt more vigorous.

He finished his morning routines quickly and then sat in his office chair. He needed to do some divination to test out his new abilities. His lighter almost ran empty, so he lit a candlestick instead. He made a mental note to buy lighter fluid later. For now, he focused on the small flame in front of him and asked a question in his mind.

'Where is the location of the nearest lingering spirit?'

An image gradually appeared in the flame. It showed an apartment bedroom similar to his own, but with different furniture. The room looked deserted and messy like no one had lived there for some time. On the bed, there was a transparent figure of a woman sitting, but she was not actually touching the bed. She was floating centimeters above the bed in a sitting position. The figure was not wearing any clothes, but her whole body was featureless, like that of a mannequin. Her face couldn't be seen because it was covered by her ghostly hands.

The image then changed to a scene outside the apartment. It showed a corridor that he was familiar with. It was the building he lived in. The number on the door showed number 48. That was exactly one floor above the dead Marieke Odekirk's apartment. After that, the image disappeared.

"Room number 48. Speaking of which, two people have died so far in this apartment building, and now there is a haunted room. Maybe this place is cursed, Val?" he ridiculed.

Graham put out the candle flame and grabbed the candlestick. He went outside his apartment and walked up the stairs to the fourth floor of the building. It didn't take long for him to reach the correct room. He reached the door handle and twisted it to open the door.

Thud...

"... of course..."

The door was locked. Graham could take his time trying to pick the lock, but since the opportunity presented itself before him, he took it.

"I guess I'll try out if my new power works on objects," he said curiously.

"I, in the name of the Deity of the Tongue, order you to unlock yourself!"

Click!

There was a faint mechanical sound coming from the door. Graham tried twisting the handle again and the door opened. His power had worked!

"Now that's a pleasant surprise," he said contently, then added, "Only nine more chances today."

Graham entered the apartment carefully and closed the door behind him. It was dark, but he didn't turn on the lights, because based on the stories he used to read as a child, ghosts didn't like bright places. He lit the candlestick that he was carrying to help him see, and the room was messier, in reality, not to mention the acc.u.mulated dust everywhere.

He left the living room and entered the bedroom through the door on the left, following his judgment. Since the apartment was similar to his and Marieke's, the door to the right should lead to the kitchen. He entered the room and a dark and musty bedroom welcomed him. There was a king-sized bed there, totally unmade. The sheet was no longer white because of the dirt. There was a table next to the bed and on it, there was a noose that must have been taken down after the tenant died. It made him wonder why the landlord hadn't cleaned up the place for a new tenant.


Although his divination had shown him that there was a lingering spirit there, he couldn't actually see it with his own eyes, even though he had activated his Supersight. However, he had an idea. Since his power worked on a door lock, he wondered if it would also work on lingering spirits.

"I, in the name of the Deity of the Tongue, order you to show yourself!"

...

...

Nothing happened. Graham then a.n.a.lyzed the situation.

"Hmm... my power failed. It might be because it doesn't work on spirits in the first place or because I couldn't see the target. I'll need to do more experiments. Eight more chances today." he spoke with an investigative tone.

Since Command didn't work, he could only do Séance now. He walked closer to the table near the bed and placed his candle firmly there. He had never done one before, but he instinctively knew how to do it, because the knowledge had been transferred to his brain via the ritual. Graham concentrated on the flame, but this time he didn't repeat any question in his mind, but instead, started chanting.

"I, in the name of the Deity of the Tongue, request communication with a friendly spirit that inhabits this place."

"If you can hear me, please use this flame as a medium and talk to me," he spoke solemnly and gently.

Graham had to add the word friendly because he didn't want to communicate with a malicious spirit on his first try. He waited patiently for the other party to take his initiative and stood there next to the table motionlessly.

Whoos.h.!.+

There was a gust of cold wind that brought a chill down his spine. The flame also flickered, which meant the breeze was not imaginary. A moment later, the flame showed a phenomenon that he was already very familiar with: he could see an image the size of a cinema screen while looking at it. However, it didn't show an answer to his question, but rather, a female figure that was standing there.

The female figure was the same as the one he had seen in his divination; it was the lingering spirit haunting the apartment. She was still naked, but her mannequin-like transparent body would not make him interested. Her face showed an expression of sorrow and regret.

Graham had never spoken to a ghost before, so he was at a loss on how to begin.

"Hey..." he said awkwardly.

...

The female lingering spirit didn't answer.

"How... did you die?" he asked with hesitation.

...

She didn't answer again.

Since there was a noose there, Graham could already guess how she had died, and the lingering spirit probably thought the answer was obvious so she didn't say anything. Graham needed to ask a better question before the Séance duration ran out.

"Why did you choose to end your life?"

Her expression became doleful. She then started speaking in a high-pitched voice that sounded like a nail rubbing the surface of some porcelain. It was very unpleasant to listen to.

"Help me..."

"How can I help you?" asked Graham seriously.

"Please find my daughter and tell her I love her," she said, and then started sobbing.

"How can I find your daughter?"

The female lingering spirit remained quiet for a while, and then suddenly the scene in front of him changed. It showed a young girl with long curly hair sitting in a cla.s.sroom. Graham memorized her face carefully: small nose, freckles, rosy cheeks, thin lips, light blue eyes. The image then s.h.i.+fted to the front of the school. He also memorized the name: Western Sloten Basisschool. After that, the image disappeared, including the female ghost.

Graham thought about what had just happened, but he didn't say it out loud because the female lingering spirit was still in the vicinity. He picked up his candles and left the apartment. He walked downstairs and back to his room.

He sat in his office chair and started a.n.a.lyzing his experience.

"The Séance was interesting... but unfruitful. It felt like I was doing divination with a real-time person answering my questions. But she didn't really answer my question, did she? She even asked me to do an errand..." he facepalmed.

"I guess it won't hurt to help a ghost once in a while. I'm curious about what she'll do once I've fulfilled her request."

"Now, about my command power. Since it also works with inanimate objects, I can already think about the endless possibilities of exploiting it," he said meaningfully.

After that, he put on his coat and left his apartment once more. He was heading to West Sloten to find the elementary school where the ghost's daughter studies. He waved at a public motor carriage that was pa.s.sing by and once it pulled over, he got in.

"Where are we going today, Sir?" asked the driver politely.

"Do you know where Western Sloten Ba.s.sischool is?" Graham asked the driver back. It was easier than doing divination because usually public drivers knew a lot of schools.

"Yes. That's on Schoolstraat North. Do you want me to take you there?" the driver asked again in a friendly tone.

"Yes, please."

The public motor carriage drove away, leaving Tuinstraat behind and heading west to Schoolstraat North. It took him more than thirty minutes to reach his destination because of the distance and the traffic. He paid the driver fifteen pennings halfheartedly after a failed attempt at haggling and got out of the motor carriage.

It was already eleven in the morning when he arrived at Schoolstraat North. Since it was located in West Sloten, it showed a different atmosphere from the peaceful Central. There were a lot of people walking by wearing warm clothes. The sky today was cloudy, and the breeze was rather strong. It blew away the leaves that had fallen from the tree.

Besides pa.s.sersby, the street was also packed with people selling food and snack by the side of it in their carts or stalls. It was a good business spot since there were a lot of schools there, and a lot of school children loved snacks. The practice was totally legal in that the sellers must first obtain a permit from the local authority before being allowed to open their business there.

Graham went to a small convenience store first to buy a temporary lighter. The lighter fluid that he needed for his usual lighter was only available at big stores. After that, he walked over to the gate of Western Sloten Basisschool which was still closed because it was still school hour. He went to the security guard post to speak to the man inside.

"Good morning. Would you please kindly open the gate for me? I need to meet my daughter. It's an urgent family matter." he said in a very convincing tone without breaking eye contact with the guard.

The school security guard looked confused but then opened the gate for Graham. He then hid behind a tree and took out his lighter. He concentrated on the flame and repeated a question in his mind.

'Where is the cla.s.sroom of the lingering spirit's daughter?'

An image then appeared and it showed the school from a bird's eye perspective. There was a room that had a red glow in it, indicating the location of his target. It seemed her cla.s.sroom was on the east wing of the school building. The image then slowly disappeared.

Graham walked to the school's east wing and entered the school corridor. It was all colorful and full of cheerful messages. There was no one walking in the corridor because the students and the teachers all should be in cla.s.s right now, which made Graham's job easier. He just needed to avoid drawing too much attention when walking past cla.s.srooms because the door had a giant window on it, which made the corridor visible from inside.

He walked down the corridor and without much difficulty, although he noticed some teachers and students were staring at him. He didn't pay attention, however, since he thought of himself as a non-suspicious person. It didn't take long for him to find the cla.s.sroom based on his memory, and he could see the girl he was looking for sitting in the middle row nearest to the windows on the opposite side of the door.

Graham stood there and the children inside were staring at him. Seeing the students looking outside, the female teacher got curious and looked at where her students were staring. Then she noticed Graham who was standing by the door. The teacher then came closer and opened the cla.s.sroom door.

"Yes?" she spoke with slight annoyance in her tone because her cla.s.s had been disrupted by the man in the trench coat in front of her.

"h.e.l.lo. I would like you to call give this to the girl with curly hair and freckles who sat in the fourth row right by the window. Tell her that it's from a friend of her mother's" he said without looking away from the teacher. He couldn't even point at the girl because then she would break eye contact with him, rendering his power a failure.

The female teacher looked confused, and then nodded. She came back to her cla.s.sroom with a letter in her hand. It was something Graham had prepared while in the motor carriage. Inside it was just the sentence 'Your mother loves you.'

He was watching the teacher walk up to the girl and gently handed the letter over. She also said something to the girl, but he couldn't hear it. Once he made sure that the girl had gotten his letter, he left the cla.s.sroom and walked out of the corridor.

"Now let's go back to that female ghost and see what happens next," he spoke quietly.


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Contractbound 46 An Errand summary

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