“Hey Len, wake up.”
The room was as dark as the night outside, and Len had gone to bed alone, so he figured he must have just imagined someone speaking to him. And the voice was male, unlike his usual night-time visitors, so he rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.
“I said wake up, Len.”
“Okay, who the hell said that?” Len demanded, now alarmed. He jumped out of bed and grabbed his nearby cold gun, but it was still dark and he couldn’t see a damned thing. “Who’s there? You’re gonna regret breaking into my place, asshole.”
He heard a low chuckle from somewhere in the room, but the intruder didn’t seem to be moving around. He couldn’t hear the floor creak, nor the sound of breathing, and didn’t know where to shoot.
“You might find it difficult to get rid of me,” the voice said calmly, and Len suddenly had a sinking feeling in his gut. He recognized that voice.
“Dillon, you come back more often than a bad burger. Get out before I kill you again.”
“I’m still dead, you troglodyte, so your threats are laughable at best. I’m still waiting to jump into a new body, and when I do, you will regret it, but in the meantime I plan to entertain myself by making your life miserable.”
“And just how are you gonna do that?”
“You now have a constant companion who will never leave your side. You will never be rid of me for a moment, not until I get my new body. And then I will use my mental powers to re-mould you into whatever I choose…perhaps a slavering toady, or some kind of pathetic sidekick.”
“You talk too much, Dillon.”
“Well yes, that’s the point. How much continuous commentary can you take until you start to crack under the strain? It’s distracting, isn’t it? I don’t eat, sleep, or take bathroom breaks, and have learned great patience. I can keep it up all day, but can you?”
“I’m not scared of you,” Len replied as he climbed back into bed, and the ghost chuckled again.
“Oh, you don’t have to be. Miserable is good enough for me, Lenny.”
“Don’t call me that again.”
“Sorry, Lenny, no can do. So, tell me how things have been since I died. How are Mick and the rest?”
Len gritted his teeth and said nothing. Perhaps ignoring the ghost would make him go away. Roscoe, however, kept talking.
“I’m sure they’re all doing fine, setting things on fire and getting thrown into prison as always. By the way, I’m going to pay Warden Wolfe a visit once I get a new body, and he won’t enjoy it much. He treated me even worse than you did, so I have special plans for him.”
The ghost paused and Len did not respond, so he continued.
“I saw Lisa, of course.”
Len sat up quickly in bed. “What? Is she okay? Did she have a message for me?!”
His frantic questions were met only with silence, which frustrated him further. “Dammit, Dillon, answer me!”
The ghost had no more comments for the rest of the night, but Len still slept poorly. He couldn’t stop thinking about his sister, and Roscoe merrily added to his discomfort by whistling off-key for hours.
The next morning, Len rose later than usual, unhappy and bleary-eyed. He was exhausted and irritable, which amused his new houseguest.
“Good morning, sunshine!” the voice greeted him mockingly, and Len swore at him.
“Get the hell out of here, Dillon, I’m sick of your crap!”
“Oh no, I think I like it here. I’m enjoying your company, Lenny, so I hope you’ll come to appreciate mine.”
“You’re more of a pain in the ass than when you were alive,” Len replied sourly, and the ghost laughed delightedly.
“Excellent, I’m so glad to hear that. Well, carry on with your day, and don’t let me interfere…I’ll be with you the whole time, so you won’t get lonely.”
“I’ll bet…” Len muttered, and headed for the bathroom. He was self-conscious as he used the toilet and took a shower, because there were occasional comments which made it clear that his ‘friend’ was present.
“Don’t leave that towel on the floor. I’m sure you haven’t cleaned it in months.”
“Shut up, Dillon.”
“I’m just looking out for your welfare. There’s probably an entire bacterial colony living on that floor.”
“If you’re gonna hang out here, you could at least make yourself useful and clean up.”
“Unfortunately, I seem unable to affect the physical plane. Well, mostly.”
The glass holding Len’s toothbrush moved slightly, but it wasn’t very impressive. Len laughed and moved the cup back to its original position.
“Ain’t that a shame. Here you are, totally impotent. And I mean that in more than one sense of the word.”
“So witty,” Roscoe replied, but sounded distinctly annoyed. “A sex joke --- you sure showed me. When was the last time you got any you didn’t pay for?”
“None of your goddamn business, but I bet you’d like to watch, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes, there’s nothing I’d love more than looking at your grotesque genitals.”
“You’re looking right now, aren’t you?”
“As a matter of fact, no. Out the window. The alleyway is a far more pleasant sight; I guess Lisa got all the looks in your family, didn’t she?”
Len didn’t say anything, and Roscoe realized he’d upset him. Though that was exactly why he’d arrived in the first place, he didn’t take as much pleasure from it as he’d expected.
After a fairly quiet breakfast, Len went to the warehouse the Rogues currently used as their headquarters. He was due to meet some of the others, but did not want to tell them about his new companion, lest they think he was losing his mind.
“I don’t like that Scottish junkie. He’s a poor substitute for Scudder,” Roscoe said to him as the (living) Rogues sat around a table and discussed their recent criminal schemes. Len noted that neither McCulloch nor the others reacted to the statement, so figured the ghost was somehow speaking to him alone. He did his best to ignore the running commentary during the meeting, realizing it would look bad if he seemingly talked to himself.
“Why don’t you tell the others about me?” Roscoe asked in a slightly taunting tone. “They could hear me if I wanted them to, but I’d rather you told them. Or do you suppose they’d wonder why a dead man is so interested in you?”
“Shut up,” Len finally muttered, exasperated, so Mark stopped talking and stared at him.
“What’s wrong?” Mark asked, annoyed at being told to be quiet.
“Wasn’t talking to you, Mardon. Keep going.”
“Smooth,” Roscoe snickered. “You handled that one like a professional, Lenny.”
Len balled up his hands into fists but said nothing, instead concentrating on the human conversation around him. Eventually the others picked up on his tension, wondering what was bothering him.
“Are ye all right, Cold?” McCulloch asked curiously, and Len nodded wordlessly.
“It’s nothing. Just had a bad night, an’ I’m tired.”
“They know something’s wrong with you,” Roscoe whispered in his ear. “It’s only a matter of time before they lose confidence in your leadership abilities…”
“For God’s sake, shut up!” Len shouted, realizing too late that he should have kept his temper. But the constant chatter had really been getting to him, and the stress had become too much. For their part, the others stared at him in silence, and he sighed.
“I know this’ll sound really weird, guys, but I was talking to Dillon…y’know, the Top. He’s been hanging around and bugging me since last night. Say something, Dillon.”
There was no response, and the others continued staring at him.
“Dillon, you stupid fucker! Say something!”
“Cold, maybe you should go home and lie down,” Mark said slowly. He and the others were starting to look concerned.
“Ye’re not drunk, are ye?” McCulloch asked, and Len got angrier.
“I’m not drunk! He won’t shut up most of the time, but now he won’t say anything! Dillon!”
“I’ll take you home,” Mark offered, getting to his feet. Such behaviour was very unlike Len, who was normally the most level-headed of the bunch, and it worried him. Len was the one they all counted on to look after them.
“Dammit…” Len muttered, furious and humiliated. “I know how it looks. But he’s here. He’s up to his usual dickhead tricks.”
There was still no response from the ghost and the other Rogues looked just as skeptical and concerned, so he sighed and finally got up to follow Mark. That’s when the laughing started.
“You should see the looks on your faces…priceless!” the disembodied voice chortled, and all the Rogues except Len looked around wildly. He was simply relieved to be proven sane, if still angry at his tormentor.
“What the hell..?” Mick demanded in shock, eyes wide. The others’ expressions matched his.
“It’s Dillon,” Len explained, annoyed. “Told ya.”
“I thought about continuing the gag, but just couldn’t resist,” Roscoe told them, still chuckling. “You guys are too easy. Anyway, hello. How’s life been since you murdered me?”
“Cold killed you,” Mark protested, still startled that he was talking to the ghost of a dead teammate.
“True, and that’s why I’ve singled him out for special treatment, but none of you gentlemen treated me very well the last time I was alive, and don’t think I’ve forgotten it. All your talk of ‘family’, but it’s applied selectively and conveniently.”
“Yeah, well, you’re an asshole,” Len growled.
“I was insane, and I needed your help!” Roscoe snapped back. “You all turned your backs on me. If you didn’t like me before, you haven’t seen anything yet.”
McCulloch, who had only met Roscoe a few times, was not especially bothered by the criticism or threats.
“Hey, ghostie --- do summat impressive for us, like makin’ the walls bleed.”
“I am not here to perform tricks for you.”
“Ye might as well entertain us while ye’re around.”
“All those drugs have addled your brain. And I still remember how you tossed me through that mirror, you ridiculous Glaswegian thug.”
McCulloch laughed uproariously. “He’s funny as fuck! He can stay.”
“He sure as hell can’t,” Len grumbled. “I’m sick of him already.”
“I love you too, Lenny.”
“How are we going to get rid of him?” Mark pointed out. “Until the Ghostbusters are real, I think we’re stuck with him.”
“That’s the spirit, Mark! Pun intended, of course. Anyway, you might as well all get used to me, because I’m not going anywhere until I get my new body.”
“How you going to do that?” Mick asked, and there was a disembodied snort.
“Sorry, that’s a secret.”
“Means he don’t actually have a plan!” McCulloch cackled, slapping his palm on the table in amusement.
“Don’t you have some coke to sniff?” the ghost asked, annoyed, which simply made the Scotsman laugh harder.
“He better not,” Len muttered, casting a suspicious eye at McCulloch. He was always watching him when he could, but knew he couldn’t keep tabs on him all the time.
“He has some in his pocket,” Roscoe announced cheerfully, and McCulloch stopped laughing.
“The ghostie’s lying! I dinnae have anything!”
“Check his left pocket. It’s wrapped in plastic.”
McCulloch looked as though he wanted to run, but Len pointed his gun at him and walked over. Rifling through the specified pocket, he pulled out a small bundle of drugs in plastic wrap, which he pushed into McCulloch’s face.
“What the hell did I tell you about keeping drugs around, huh? What did I tell you?”
“Ye said not to do `em, nowt about keepin’ `em,” came the sullen reply, and Len smacked him.
“Idiot! We all know you’ll be tempted if you have them around!” He threw the bundle on the table. “Mick, burn it.”
“Nae!” McCulloch protested in desperation, and watched with dismay as Mick incinerated the cocaine.
“Thanks, Dillon,” Len said with a nod, a bit surprised the ghost had helped him.
“McCulloch, if I catch you with drugs again, I’ll beat you until you have to eat through a straw. Remember that.”
“Go tae Hell,” McCulloch muttered under his breath, barely audible.
“They didn’t hear you!” Roscoe declared in a singsong voice.
“You go tae Hell too, ghostie!”
“I was already there, but it wasn’t to my liking, so I left. I’m told the good people down there are waiting for the lot of you to show up again someday.”
“You are so full of shit, Dillon,” Len replied darkly.
“Don’t believe me if you’d prefer, but you’ll see. The whole gang’s down there, so you’ll be in good company…Scudder, Jesse, Digger…and Lisa…”
“Lisa’s not in Hell, dammit. She couldn’t be. You’re a lying sonuvabitch!” Len shouted furiously. If it were possible to punch a ghost, he would have done so repeatedly.
“She is,” Roscoe said, and there was a note of sadness in his voice. “But I’ll get her out when I get my new body. I’ll find a way.”
“You should be looking after her!”
“I’m doing what I can. Like I said, once I get a new body. There’s not much I can do for her when we’re both trapped in Hell.”
Len was not certain he believed him, but there was little he could do. He had no experience in these matters, and couldn’t help his sister, but Roscoe had returned from the dead several times and presumably knew what he was doing. Still, ‘trust’ and ‘Roscoe’ did not go together in his vocabulary, and the entire situation depressed him.
“I gotta go,” he said abruptly, and stood up. “See you guys around.”
“I suppose that’s my cue to leave too,” Roscoe declared. “I’ll be back whenever Lenny is. And I saw that obscene gesture, Mr. McCulloch.”
Len had left the building in a hurry, so the ghost had to rush after him to catch up. They were both silent for the trip home.
When Len returned to his apartment, he grabbed three beers and went to brood in his darkened bedroom.
“What’s wrong?” Roscoe asked, and for once he wasn’t trying to be annoying. His tone was softer than usual, and Len sensed it.
“I just feel so helpless about Lisa,” he confessed as he took a deep swig of beer. “I miss her so bad and wish I could do something.”
“I miss her too. In fact, I didn’t realize until today how much I missed all of you.”
“You seem to be under the impression you’re the only one without a family. You guys were all I had…the Rogues and Lisa.”
“You sure have a funny way of showing it.”
“I didn’t say we were always a well-adjusted family.”
Len chugged the rest of the bottle and stayed silent for several minutes before speaking.
“Well, I hope you can really bring her back. You weren’t lying about that, were you?”
“No. It won’t be easy, though, because she doesn’t have mental powers like I do. But I have a few ideas. At any rate, it’s all moot until I get my own body, since I can’t affect the physical plane in this form, as I said.”
Pondering this for a few moments, Len rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“Okay Dillon…I’ll help you.”