A page turned.
The speaker was a hot girl sitting on the Library circulation desk. For some damn fool reason she had an umbrella indoors, and too much pretentious eyeliner, and she wanted Pierce’s attention. He was almost inclined to give it to her.
“Manic Pixie Dreamgirl,” he said, by way of acknowledgement.
“I’m only allowed to refer to a stereotype if it comes from TV Tropes,” said Pierce. He stuck out his chin. “It was the Genre-Savvy-Metaguy-Token-Rainman’s idea. The Ragtag Bunch of Misfits have decided that I’m Maliciously Stupid rather than Obfuscatory Stupid.”
She twirled her umbrella. “Did it work?”
“You tell me, Perky Goth,” said Pierce. “So what are you, Starburns’ latest? Because let me tell you, I think he can do better.”
Over by the computers, Annie screamed. The Goth hopped off the circulation desk.
“No,” she said, cheerfully, as more people screamed and ran over to where Annie was pointing. Shirley was yelling something about baby Jesus. Troy was just yelling. “You’re dead. I’m Death, and you’re dead.”
“Screw you, lady,” Pierce replied. “I’m a Reformed Neo-Buddhist. I’m not walking towards any lights.”
“You don’t have to walk towards any lights,” said Manic Perky Dream Goth. “That’s not how it works, Mister Hawthorne.”
“So where’s available for haunting?” asked Pierce. “Are the ladies change rooms over in the gym free?”
“You don’t want to go haunting. Gets boring after a while.” The girl picked up a book and flipped through it, obtrusively putting it back so that the cover showed. Pierce deliberately didn’t look at it.
“I don’t give a shit,” said Pierce. “If I’m dead, I’m going to write REDRUM on all the mirrors and make ectoplasm drip down the walls.” The commotion in the corner was getting louder. “And I’m going to sit in the change rooms and jerk off.”
“That’s oddly specific,” said the girl.
“What, you never fantasized about what you’d do as a ghost?” asked Pierce.
“No,” said the girl. “I’ve never fantasized about what I’d do as a ghost. And if I did, it wouldn’t be jerking off in the ladies change room. I could do that already if I liked.” She used her umbrella to drag him closer, like in a vaudeville show. “Pierce, do you really want to haunt a community college?”
Pierce looked around him. Britta was awkwardly patting Troy on the shoulder. Annie and Jeff were attempting CPR, although why Jeff had to be the one applying his lips to Pierce’s could only be answered by the universe being a bitch. Shirley was praying. The Dean was trying to achieve as much gravitas as a man wearing spandex and a dog collar could. Abed, disturbingly, was looking at the Manic Perky Dream Goth, as if he could see her. He hadn’t acknowledged Pierce.
Ghost Pierce was going to fuck with all of them royally. He wondered if ectoplasm was self-generating, or if he needed to excrete it.
“In a few years I’ll be reborn into the body of a billionaire wizard king,” said Pierce. “I’ve got nothing better to do until then.”
“A school isn’t a real school until it has a ghost,” Abed supplied helpfully.
“Can he see us?” asked Pierce. “Abed, do you see dead people?” He considered the prospect, and then made an obscene hand gesture. “Are you related to the Manic Perky Dream Goth?”
“I’ve really got nothing to do with dreams,” said the Goth. “That’s more my brother’s domain.”
Troy had progressed to taking advantage of being in mourning, and he was sobbing noisily into Britta’s chest while simultaneously giving Abed the thumbs up. Abed thumbed in return, and then turned his attention to the Goth and Pierce.
“In a manner of speaking,” said Abed.
Pierce raised an eyebrow. “And so what are you, the spirit of spoiling people’s days?”
“No,” said Abed. “I’m Dénouement.”
“Oh peachy!” said Death, smiling brightly. “You’re the mortal who read Destiny’s book. I was wondering when we’d meet.”
“What the fuck did you read?” asked Pierce. “And do all you fucking people have a name that starts with D?”
Abed shrugged. “I have my ways.” He turned back to the study group. “I should go and comfort people.” He nodded to Pierce. “Pierce. Have a nice death.”
“I could be called Douchebag,” said Pierce. “Because I certainly intend on being one.”
The whispery brush of pages turning undercut the noise of unsuccessful CPR. A loud pageturn was not overly surprising, because they were in a library, but Death’s smile widened at the sound.
“I think there’s been a change in plans,” she said. “I can’t say I’m not—“
Pierce opened his eyes with Winger’s lips on his and a pain in his chest like there was a nest of bees living in there.
“He’s awake! He’s awake!” Britta’s voice had taken on the cadence of a seagull with the last french fry.
“Oh thank God,” said Winger, sitting back on his haunches. “Any more CPR and I would have to throw up.”
“Oh my God, Pierce!” Annie threw herself at him. “Are you all right?”
“You bastards,” said Pierce, although Annie’s tits were at just the right angle to grope. “I was going to haunt the ladies change rooms.”
Shirley folded her arms. “Told you we should have left him to it,” she said.
“Pierce, this is important. Did you see a light? Did anyone encourage you to walk toward it?” Dean Pelton patted Pierce’s hand as he spoke.
Abed looked as concerned as Abed ever did, which was not at all. He winked. “Was it fun?”
“Abed!” said Britta. “You can’t ask things like that!”
“Why not?” Abed asked. “Next time I make a movie, I want to depict death accurately.”
Pierce thought about it. “Annie in eyeliner,” he said. He tried to sit up, failed, and didn’t even mind when he realised that his head was in someone’s lap. Perhaps there still was something to want to live for in this Crapsack World after all. He was just getting settled in for more sympathy until he looked up, and he realised that the lap was Jeff’s. He rolled off, bees in his chest or no bees.
“What’s wrong with you?” asked Jeff.
“I’m experiencing a Downer Ending,” said Pierce. “What’s wrong with you?”
“I’d say it was more Cut Short,” said Shirley.
“Something dear to Pierce is going to be Cut Short if he gropes my breasts again,” said Annie. He did. “Pierce!”
“Left Hanging,” said Abed, seemingly to the empty air. “Cool. Coolcoolcool.”
A page turned.