“Hey stupid! Get over here.”
“Help me up here, it’s not hard I just need a boost.”
“What are you doing!?”
“I’m searching this statue, never know what she’s got hidden in there.”
“It’s obviously not the statue, why can’t you just….”
The banter between Kelpy and T’kk’tck faded as D’ng shook her head and walked away down a different hallway. The temple was actually five. Each with a separate faith. These inner sanctums were the private worship areas of the respective clergy and their more important or more discrete clients. She walked carefully looking for the source of that terrible agonizing wrongness.
“You don’t feel the grating displacement? I would have thought ghosts would notice.”
Ann tilted her head and cocked her hat back with the barrel of one pistol.
“Hmm. Describe it.”
“It’s like the sound of an out of tune piano. Like watching someone write sentence after sentence with all the words wrong. Like seeing a cow hatch from a chicken egg. All at once. In your skin. I feel it in my bones.”
“A clock with skin and bones.”
D’ng raised an irritated eyebrow. “A ghost with someone else’s soul.”
Ann’s eyes went wide and her face went pale. “How did you-“
“I walk with them, but I’m quite clearly not one of them as you’ve commented repeatedly. Your disaffection with the rules of the afterlife is fairly clear cut to my eyes.”
Ann sheathed her gun and pulled her hat brim back down low. “Well, it’s none of your business. And since you are being nosey; let me return the favor. Why are you here anyways? With that clueless oaf and that… something.”
“T’kk’tck called, reached out and beckoned. I answered. We’re right for each other. I think I stabilize something broken in him. He grants me an exceedingly rare opportunities to see this world, so far from the heart of the universe.”
“You’re his lady? I would have thought-“
D’ng stopped in her tracks, grabbing the ghost and spinning her around. “Let’s get one thing straight. I don’t belong to him. He’s not even clockwork. He’s like…. Ewww just ewww. Why would you even think that!? Ick.”
For a moment a comical almost childish disgust overwhelmed her machined features. An uncharacteristic shiver ran through the crystal wings. Chimes of discordant tones echoed softly in the halls. Ann grunted and then snickered.
“Ick huh? What is it? The softness?”
D’ng straightened and untangled her feathers. “I don’t want to talk about it. It’s gross and I find it distasteful.”
“Aww, come on. You can see what my soul looks like and I can’t even find out what you think is ick. . .”
The deep hissing sigh like steam being released was loud in the silence of the building.
“Okay fine. It’s all the fluids. They are like walking mud bags. Blood, excrement, tears. All wrapped up in an easily torn bag. I’m sure there is some natural logic and order to it but I’m not a student of the animal kingdom and I don’t ever want to be.”
She stared off into the distance. Then crystal eyes focused and narrowed. “And you thought I’d… oh ick ick ick.”
D’ng stormed down the hall, leaving a flabbergasted Ann floating in the holiday staring with her mouth open. As she ducked around the corner she heard the specter’s giggles turn into guffaws.
“Stupid ghost. She probably misses all her fluids.”
Three step later the discord that had only been a nagging pain in her head roared into an open flame of backwards misplaced other.
In front of her was a huge pedestal easily fifteen feet tall and located in the middle of a mostly empty room. Around the room on pillars stood grotesque gargoyle figures hands upraised as if to hide from the large eye shaped gem planted on top of the pedestal.
Everything about the gem was wrong. Its atoms didn’t align into a lattice, the light didn’t reflect properly through it, and it made the dimly lit room look bright.
Ann floated up behind her still grinning. When she saw the gem she stopped.
“Was that what you were looking for?”
“I guess, it hurts and Kelpy said.”
D’ng stopped and frowned.
“I just quoted Kelpy as a subject matter expert. I’m starting to rethink some of my life choices.”
Ann pushed her shoulder almost knocking her over.
“Stop being so serious, Angel. Let’s go get the others. Kelpy or no Kelpy I’m sure this is what you were wanting to find.”
They made their way back quietly. D’ng was lost in thought. There was something wrong she couldn’t identify, but the thought left her as she turned the corner and found the rest of her group.
T’kk’tck was on the floor his hands tied behind his back with one of Kelpy’s stockings. She was straddling his chest and beating his face with a shoe while trying to wriggle her neck out of the stranglehold of his legs.
They both froze. T’kk’tck went red and lost focus. Kelpy took the chance to free herself and hop up. As she retrieved her shoes she kicked him in the head.
He swore and made his way to his feet. “The stupid girl won’t give over about the statue. And then she assaulted me for not helping her climb it.”
“Deserved it!” Kelpy flounced over and past them. “So you found it. Show me where! We’re running out of time and cake.”
She picked up a mostly empty cake plate on her way out of the room.
D’ng frowned at T’kk’tck before making her way after.
“I thought better of you, ya know.” Ann shook her head. “The things fools do for it.”
“What? Do for what?”
“Oh you don’t even know that? Fool indeed.” Then she too left, leaving T’kk’tck alone in an empty room still tied up with a dirty stocking.