Chapter 1: Straight Outta Hell
“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.”
Chapter 2: The Soul is Eternal
Somewhat like a buddy comedy-drama, although here the buddies hate each other and steal corpses.
Barter was a recurring villain in the Hawk and Dove series. Roscoe made a deal with him to get resurrected at the end of the '90s H&D series, but never did fulfill his part of the bargain (killing the heroes).
This was certainly one of the more unusual situations Len had found himself in; he was engaged in a planning session with a ghost. As much as he usually hated to hear the other guy natter on, he mostly stayed quiet and took notes, as he’d been instructed. The ghost couldn’t write anything himself, and he did know what he was talking about.
“First of all, we’re going to need a corpse for me,” Roscoe began. “Or someone who’s brain-dead. I’m not really picky, although it has to be very recent, and I’d prefer a male in reasonably good condition.”
Len bit his tongue, rather than snark at him about so many of the things he’d just said.
“And then we’re going to need a body for Lisa. Again, it has to be recent, and since she won’t be able to alter it like I can, it should probably be that of a young woman. We’ll never hear the end of it if she doesn’t like the body we choose for her. And…hmm…”
“And what?” Len asked.
“Well, the real problem will be figuring out how to get her soul into the body. I’d like to consult a mystic about it.”
“How are we gonna do that?”
“I know a few. I had to talk to someone the last time I came back.”
“So are we going to dig up a body?”
“God, no, that’d be disgusting. We’ll go to the morgue or the hospital. Or we could find an accident scene…those have been very fruitful for me in the past…or cause an accident to get a nice fresh one.”
“You’re a real freak, Dillon.”
“Desperate times require desperate measures. Are you in, or aren’t you?”
“Yeah, yeah. Just don’t make me handle the stiffs or anything. When do we start?”
“As soon as possible.”
Len had done a lot of crazy things in his life -- he’d even sneaked into a morgue to steal a corpse before -- but this had to be the creepiest mission he’d ever gone on. Taking the body of Professor Zoom so the Rogues could give him a funeral was a lot less ghoulish than stealing a stranger’s corpse so a ghost could inhabit it, and it bothered him that Roscoe was so calm about it. For his part, Roscoe had done this before, and thus considered it a fairly routine operation.
Len carried some breaking and entering tools and spare clothes in a bag, and crept quietly into the morgue, hoping the ghost was following him.
Goddammit, this is creepy, he thought to himself as he looked around. The place smelled strongly of antiseptic and decay, and he wanted to get the hell out.
“Find a fresh male,” Roscoe told him, and both wandered around the facility, checking the notes on the body drawers. Len knew there had to be guards or attendants around, and prayed he didn’t run into them or attract their attention; it would be a fairly difficult situation for even Captain Cold to explain.
“Hey, this guy died today,” Len whispered as he bent over a bottom drawer.
He jimmied the lock on the drawer and pulled it open, turning away in revulsion. The body was of an elderly man who had clearly been in poor health when he died.
“Find another,” Roscoe said crisply. He had already inhabited an old man’s body before, and didn’t really enjoy the experience. Len closed the drawer as quietly as possible, and both went back to searching for a more suitable corpse.
“Ah, here’s one,” Roscoe announced a few minutes later, and Len broke open the drawer. This body was of a young man in his early twenties, clearly the victim of a car accident. His injuries were awful, and Len winced at the sight, but the ghost was pleased.
“This is perfect! Now then…hmm…will I actually be able to hop into it..?”
“What do you mean, ‘will’ you be able? I thought that’s what you do!”
“The last time…I needed a little help. Now shut up and let me try, please.”
Len was pissed, wondering if this trip had all been for nothing. It was not the kind of jaunt he wanted to waste his time on. He was turning away in disgust and anger when he suddenly heard a rustling noise behind him.
The corpse was moving.
As he stared at it in shock, the eyes opened and it let out a low groan.
“Holy shit!” Len yelped, and took a few steps back.
“It’s me, you idiot,” the corpse croaked, and put a shaky hand to its head. “This is so disorienting.”
Len didn’t think there was anything quite so horrifying as a pale naked man with obvious physical trauma attempting to sit up. His broken neck flopped to one side, which Roscoe roughly wrenched into place with a hideous cracking sound.
“Give me the clothes and let’s go. I would really like to lie down,” the former corpse rasped feebly, and Len helped dress him in the spare clothes they’d brought. Roscoe’s walking was awkward and clumsy, so Len stole a wheelchair, forced him into it, and hurriedly wheeled him out of the building to the nearby getaway car.
Len spent the rest of the day getting stinking drunk, trying to forget that he’d just seen a dead guy rise from a slab, and that the aforementioned dead guy was now sleeping it off in his bed. Roscoe was weak and exhausted, still trying to heal the injuries to his host body, and Len let him take all the time he needed. He also couldn’t believe he’d helped resurrect one of his worst enemies (especially after he’d taken the time to kill him in the first place, and Roscoe had vowed revenge). But he’d done it all for Lisa, so she could come back to life. The one thing the two men had in common was their love for her. However, Len suspected their truce would last only as long as they needed each other, and then hostilities would begin anew.
Two days after regaining physical form, Roscoe was out of bed and ravenously hungry. He quickly emptied the contents of Len’s fridge and cupboards, eating anything he could find. His new body was mostly healed, but strangely gaunt -- hence the desperate need to eat -- and had dark circles around its eyes. He still didn’t look entirely healthy.
“What the hell?” Len exclaimed when he woke up and found his guest eating all his food.
“I fucking guess so! You gonna replace that food?”
“With what money? I’m legally dead.”
“….fine. Guess I’m lucky you’re not eating my brain or something, you fucking zombie…”
“Not much sustenance in it,” Roscoe retorted with his mouth full, and turned back to his food as Len wandered off in disgust to watch TV.
Roscoe had been thinking intently to himself as he ate, and returned to his ponderings after the other man left the room. Now that he’d returned to the living, he could get his revenge on Len, just as he’d always planned. He didn’t really need him anymore, not even to bring back Lisa, and was still angry about being killed. However, she’d surely be upset with him if he hurt her brother, so with some resignation, he decided not to harm him. There were other ways of getting payback.
The next day, Roscoe spent much of the afternoon using Len’s computer, which he claimed was for “fact-finding” purposes. Len didn’t have much interest in what his roommate was doing and left him alone most of the time, which was probably for the best; Roscoe blocked the screen whenever he wandered by anyway.
“There better not be dude porn on it when you’re done,” Len advised him, and Roscoe snorted.
“Why are your only bookmarks to porn sites? That’s pathetic and creepy.”
“What else is the Internet for? Top-fetish sites?”
“I do not have a top fetish.”
Len merely laughed. “I know all about you, you freak. Lisa told me stuff.”
As a matter of fact, Lisa had never told him anything particularly racy about her boyfriend (nothing he’d listened to, at any rate), but the bluff was worth it to see Roscoe squirm. Still laughing, Len left to go buy groceries as Roscoe clenched his teeth and began printing out photos and files from the site he was visiting.
His Internet research had paid off, and after a few phone calls, Roscoe had the number of Barter, the old associate who had helped him acquire his last body. Barter wasn’t entirely delighted to hear from him, however.
“As I recall, Mr Dillon, you didn’t fulfill the terms of our deal.”
“Well…I did the best I could. I did get Hawk to stop working as a hero, which I’m sure helped your operations.”
“But you didn’t stop Dove, nor did you kill either of them!”
“All I want is information, Barter --- please. I have Captain Cold working with me, and I’m sure we can hammer something out.”
There was a heavy sigh on the other end of the line.
“…all right, just so long as you understand that you owe me. What do you want?”
“To find someone experienced in raising the dead.”
“Why do I hang out with you?” Len grumbled the next day as they walked to their appointment. “You’re an asshole and you have weird friends.”
“And you shattered me into a hundred pieces. I suppose that makes us fairly similar.”
“You don’t even look right. What the hell is up with your eyes?”
Roscoe’s eyes were extremely bloodshot and slightly crossed. It might have been comical if it didn’t seem so eerie.
“The body wasn’t as fresh as I would have liked,” he admitted. “It’s malfunctioning a bit. Turns out there are limits on how long it can be dead but still viable…a learning experience, I guess. I can always jump into another one.”
Len said nothing, but wondered for the thousandth time what his sister ever saw in him; he hoped that maybe she’d dump him upon seeing his bizarre eyes, or whatever else might be wrong with his corpse body. The man couldn’t wear sunglasses forever.
“In here, I believe,” Roscoe announced, pointing at a nondescript storefront. “After you, of course.”
Len glowered at him as they went inside. The front room looked like any ordinary office, nothing to arouse the suspicions of a casual observer, but the rooms behind it were reminiscent of a gloomy haunted house. It reminded both men of their stays in Hell, actually, and made them distinctly uncomfortable. They stood closer to each other than usual.
“Welcome,” a tall woman dressed in red greeted them, and Roscoe stood up straighter to make himself seem more imposing.
“You’re the Necromancer..?” he asked cautiously, and she smiled.
“It’s one of the things I do, although I don’t usually call myself that,” she replied. “How can I help you?”
“We want to resurrect a soul,” Roscoe said, and she scrutinized him carefully.
“You’ve recently returned yourself; I can see it all over you,” she mused, taking his chin in her hands and moving his head around slightly to get a better look at him. He stood frozen in place, unaccustomed to being touched by strangers, and suddenly quite frightened of her.
“Yes, this isn’t even close to being your original body. You’ve been dead several times. How do you keep coming back?”
“I…” was all he could say, suddenly aware that this woman could probably do terrible things to his soul, the one part of him that stayed alive and strong despite his repeated deaths. He began to sweat, and Len didn’t like where this was going.
“Okay, enough. Yes he’s dead, yes he’s a pain in the ass, and yes he was ugly even before he got into this body, but he’s not why we’re here. We want to bring back my sister,” he said, yanking Roscoe out of her grip. Shaken, Roscoe moved behind the other man to get away from the priestess, and even Len couldn’t bring himself to make fun of him for being afraid.
“I understand,” she replied. “Do you have a body?”
“What the fuck was all that?” Len asked as they headed back to the hospital. He was driving, while Roscoe sat in the passenger seat and simply looked stunned.
“I don’t know.”
“Do we really need her?”
“Yes, or somebody like her. Believe me, that’s not what I want either. She was staring into my soul…it felt like she could have ripped it out at any moment. As though she wanted to consume it, or keep it in a bell jar.” He shuddered.
“Well, now we gotta go body-hunting, which I’m sure will cheer you up.”
“I’ve had enough for one day…but yes. We’ve come this far, we need to keep going. We can have Lisa back soon.”
“So, we’re looking for a young woman,” Len stated.
“Correct. Preferably one that looks like her. The freshness isn’t as important, though, since the mystical ceremony should take care of the body’s condition.”
“I really hate the way you say ‘freshness’.”
They visited several morgues -- and were discovered once, forced to make a run for it -- before finding a satisfactory body. It was a beautiful young blonde who’d died of a drug overdose, and painfully reminded them both of the woman they’d lost.
“This was someone else’s sister,” Len said sombrely as they hauled her body out of the morgue in a hospital laundry cart, buried under linens.
“We can’t help this one. We can bring back Lisa,” Roscoe reminded him.
“That’s the only thing that keeps me going,” Len admitted with a weary sigh.
They returned to the priestess’ office with the body, and she began to prepare for the ritual. Roscoe kept a wary eye on her, still not liking the way she looked at him, which Len had to admit he found very funny.
“We’ll need some blood from her brother,” the priestess announced, pulling out a huge gilded knife. Len looked at it with dismay, but was willing to do anything to help Lisa, even after a large cut was made in his palm and the blood collected in a bowl.
“And from you, Ghost, I need you to take your clothes off,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. Roscoe simply looked appalled.
“I don’t think so! What for?”
“You were her boyfriend, were you not? To help anchor her to our world, we’ll use blood from her brother and sex from her lover…although I’ll spare you from actually having intercourse with the corpse. Unless, of course, you want to.”
“Fuck no,” Roscoe muttered, the only time Len could ever recall hearing him swear.
“Stop being a whiny bitch and take `em off, Dillon. I’ll turn away.”
“This is ridiculous,” Roscoe grumbled under his breath as he peeled off his clothes and sullenly sat down naked on the floor.
“You only have to be naked. I have to look at you,” Len grunted, sitting across from him on the other side of the corpse. “Cover up your junk better or I’ll hit you.”
“Be silent!” the priestess ordered them. “Both of you, take one of her hands. Use your wounded hand,” she instructed Len. “I will perform the ritual.”
She began to chant as she sprinkled blood and powder over the corpse, and Roscoe could feel a terrible wrenching sensation, as though his soul was being pulled from his borrowed body. His head was pounding, and he saw bright bursts of light exploding in front of his eyes. And then Lisa was standing in front of him, smiling; but when he reached for her, their hands went right through each other, and suddenly she was gone.
Len was shaking him as his body convulsed with life.
“Wake up, you stupid zombie, you’re ruining everything! You passed out!”
“No, he momentarily left his body,” the priestess noted calmly, bending over him. “I wonder why?”
“I saw Lisa…” Roscoe murmured, his lips flecked with foam and blood. “Don’t let her get away…”
“She hasn’t gone anywhere,” the priestess said with a smile, getting up to wash her hands. “Enjoy your reunion.”
Len’s eyes widened, and he immediately rushed to the sheet-draped body, pulling off the cover. “Lisa..?”
“Lenny!” the young woman exclaimed, sitting up to hug him. “Oh my God, it’s so good to see you! Where am I?”
“It doesn’t matter,” he said through happy tears, hugging her more tightly than he’d ever held anyone. “I can’t believe it worked…it worked…”
Roscoe slowly pulled himself from his prone position on the floor, looking like death warmed over, and Lisa narrowed her eyes at him, trying to figure out why he seemed slightly familiar.
“Wait…Roscoe, is that you?”
“Yes,” he replied, almost shy. They’d been apart when she died, busy with their own lives, which seemed monumentally stupid and selfish now. He was embarrassed by his own foolishness, and suddenly afraid she wouldn’t want him.
“I’m so glad to see you too!” she declared affectionately, flinging her arms around him and pulling him close. “Don’t leave me again!”
“I won’t,” he whispered between choked sobs as they embraced. “Never.”
“Jeez, put some clothes on already, you two,” Len demanded, a bit jealous at losing the focus of her attention. “If I have to look at Dillon’s bare ass another second, I’ll go blind.”
“Oh, Lenny…” Lisa cooed, putting an arm around him. “Don’t be so sour. I love you too.”
Roscoe gallantly offered his clothes to her, and wrapped her sheet around himself.
“It’s a toga,” he said cheerfully, his mood significantly improved by the happy reunion.
“Take me home, boys --- I want to get caught up, and I’m sooo hungry,” Lisa told them, and they were happy to oblige. They paid the priestess a huge stack of money, the entire haul from Len’s last robbery, and returned to the apartment.
The entire evening was spent in Len’s living room, eating, talking, and laughing. The guys explained how they’d brought her back, and she wasn’t bothered by having a new body. She’d understood when Roscoe had returned in Henry Allen’s body, and accepted that having a new one of her own was a fair price for returning to life. Len was a bit disconcerted by her new appearance and the memory of it recently belonging to a sad-looking corpse, but was happy to have her back, and Roscoe simply didn’t care about her change. He was now accustomed to swapping bodies.
After hours of lively conversation, Lisa yawned and laid her head against Roscoe’s shoulder.
“Time to sleep, hon?” he inquired, and she nodded.
“Lenny…would it be all right if we slept in your bed?” she begged. “The couch isn’t big enough for both of us. Pleeeeease?”
Len was not impressed at being kicked out of his own bed, much less so his sister could sleep with her boyfriend, but acquiesced. He could rarely say no to her.
“Thank you,” she whispered, kissing her brother on the cheek. “Don’t worry, there’ll be no hanky-panky tonight. I’m way too tired.”
True to her word, the couple simply snuggled in each other’s arms and slept.
The next morning was another matter entirely, though they kept it quiet; having Len pound on the door would have been a real mood-killer.
“Oh, I missed you,” Lisa sighed in post-coital bliss, resting her head on his chest. “And your current body is such an improvement over Henry’s.”
“That’s right, I guess the last time we did it was with his,” he mused contentedly. “Far too long ago.”
“Where’d you get this one?” she asked.
Roscoe thought to himself for a few moments. Now that Lisa was back, perhaps it was finally time for his revenge. The relevant files were stashed in his suitcase.
“Lisa, what do you know about my last death?”
Fifteen minutes later, Lisa stormed out of the bedroom in search of her brother.
“Lenny!” she screamed furiously, a folder in her hand, which she threw at him when he looked confused.
“What? What’s wrong, sis?”
“You murdered Roscoe!”
“Shit…” he muttered. “It’s not as bad as it sounds…” he began, but she cut him off.
“You even killed him the same way I was killed! How could you do that? You know what he means to me!”
“You were dead!” Len protested. “And he was threatening me!”
“You didn’t have to kill him, Lenny!”
She went back into the bedroom, gathering what few things she and her boyfriend owned, while Len stood helplessly still. He bent down to look at the folder she’d tossed, and found it full of printed police reports and graphic photos of Roscoe’s half-frozen body parts. He stared at it in shock, and suddenly became aware of Roscoe standing nearby, a slight smile on his face.
“I broke into the police’s files, and found their report on my death. They catalogued quite extensive evidence of my remains in the aftermath of the ‘Rogue War’,” Roscoe said calmly, his smile broadening. “Did you know they dumped the pieces in an unmarked grave?”
Len felt sick. “I’m…sorry.”
“No, you’re sorry she found out. I’m not an idiot, Len. Anyway, we’ll be going now.”
“Where are you gonna go?”
“I’ve already reserved an apartment across town. It’s amazing what one can do on the Internet.”
“With what money?”
“That would be telling,” Roscoe said with a wink and a smirk. “But just so you know, I now consider us even.”
“Let’s go, baby,” Lisa declared, glaring at her brother. “He makes me so mad I want to hit him.”
“Violence isn’t always the answer, Lisa,” Roscoe replied with that enigmatic smile. “Sometimes it’s better to get payback in other ways.”
And with that, the couple slammed the door behind them.