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“Hey there! Frankenstein’s Realtor Services, we’re the patchwork for all your supernatural needs. My name is Myra and just as a heads up, this call has already been recorded and reviewed by our precognition department. If they discovered anything illegal, immoral, or unnecessarily mean in this future correspondence, this call will be terminated shortly. Now, what can I do for you this fine day? Uh huh... uh huuuuuh...”

 

Myra tapped her pen endlessly against her laptop’s computer, whacking until there was a steady line of “J”s running across the document. She kept it up until the “K” finally came loose and then started twisting in her chair instead. She stuck the pen in her mouth, tasting an obscene amount of grime, as well as a drop of the milk she’d had with breakfast. When spinning got too dizzy she set about clicking the pen repeatedly—and at that point Myra was trying desperately not to sigh into the mouthpiece.

 

“Yes... yes... of course. Now, I’m sorry, Mrs...? Bowne. Lovely name! I’m terribly sorry, Mrs. Bowne, but if you’d taken the time to look at our website or obtain a telepathic brochure, you’d know that we don’t sell houses to banshee families within a ten-block radius of the cathedral. We—what? Oh no. Oh no, Mrs. Bowne, it’s the stained glass, you see. We just can’t risk it breaking, especially when there are so many spirits bound to it. Why, just last month our branch in North Carolina placed a Kraken family sea-side—standard procedure of course—but their young, wow have they got arms! Strong arms, I mean. Not just multiple arms. Anyway! This little larva was just learning baseball, threw the ball a liiiiitle too hard, hit a church two miles east, took out a window, instantly evicted four spirits… you can imagine the chaos. I’m afraid two passed on and one went poltergeist before the Mender could be summoned and—Oh. … Right. I-I’m sorry, Mrs. Bowne.”

 

Myra ducked down into her cubicle, grimacing at the voice on the other end. The sign was right in front of her too: “DON’T CHAT WITH THE CUSTOMERS!” (and then, in tinnier letters: “That’s my job, girl”), written in Lisa’s tilting scrawl. Myra forced the sign to face-plant with a huff.

 

From the corner of her eye she saw Nicholas fly through the window and weakly waved him over. She was so absorbed in the transformation from winged to walking creature that she nearly missed what else Mrs. Bowne had to say.

 

And what a pity that would have been.

 

“No!” Myra sat up too fast, knocking her pens over. “No, no, I assure you, Mrs. Bowne, Frankenstein’s doesn’t stereotype! We take precautions.” She glanced around. No wraiths yet. At least Myra hadn’t said—or was going to say—anything that could get her fired. “It’s no different from our stance on placing dog and cat mutations on the same street. Or… or selling a wooden house to dragonkin! Really. Now... how about you and I make an appointment? My associates can show you this lovely little place we’ve got out in—hello? Hello, Mrs. Bowne? Mrs. Bowne, are you—SHIT!”

 

 

Myra jerked the phone away from her ear. A splitting, furious screech sounded through the speaker. It reverberated in her cubicle, echoing horribly, and Myra lost all control over her muscles, the phone smashing onto her keyboard and writing gibbering across her computer. She spotted Nicholas howling in pain—pale fingers slapped over his sensitive ears—and Myra was almost convinced that she’d need to summon security when a massive, green-scaled fist rose up over the side of her wall and slammed down on the phone.

 

The shrieking ceased.

 

Myra gulped down at her now mangled keyboard; her sparking phone.

 

“Thanks, Marty,” she said.

 

“No problem,” he replied. At least, that’s why Myra assumed he meant. She’d never been very good at deciphering his hissing.

 

“Are you kidding me, love?” All heads swerved to see Nicholas, still standing with his hands over his ears. That might have explained his inappropriate volume level. Myra knew it didn’t.

 

“‘nother banshee?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“They’re gonna kill you at this rate, mark me.”

 

It was an exaggeration. Basically. A banshee’s shriek coming over a line wasn’t enough to kill Myra, not even enough to knock her out. What it did do was summon up a migraine of horrifying proportions and, she was sorry to see, cause just enough bleeding to stain her yellow blouse. Then again, far as she knew, no one had done extensive research on prolonged exposure to banshee shrieks...

 

Not on all species, at least.

 

Nicholas was suddenly leaning against Myra’s desk, curling his lip at the ruin that was her phone. “Forget banshees then, love.” He said. “You keep ruining Company property and the wraiths will be collecting before the month is out.”

 

“I didn’t ruin it,” Myra sniffed. “Marty did.”

 

“Hiiiiiiisssssssssssss,” said Marty.

 

Myra popped up and peered over the wall. “Okay, I love you and that green shirt looks great by the way—goes nicely with your skin—but I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re saying. Haven’t for two years now.”

 

Marty turned his head 180 degrees and grinned to show four rows of teeth. He let out a series of sharp clicks... then lightly flicked Myra on the nose with his talon.

 

“Did you just insult me?”

 

“No doubt,” Nicholas said. He tugged Myra back into her seat then hopped up on the desk, easy as you please. His waistcoat was riding up and a bit of ash from his mid-morning pipe had adhered to his skin. Myra was about to point it out when ice-cold fingers pressed against her forehead, massaging away the ache that had taken up residence there. Myra sighed in appreciation.

 

“That’s the fourth one this week,” she complained, tipping so that she could nuzzle into his palm.

 

“‘tis breeding season, love.”

 

“Humph.” Myra snorted lightly. “If only some of us matured as quickly as banshees.”

 

The fingers squeezed just a bit too tight, making her yelp, and then immediately started their massage again. Myra let herself relax, confident that there were enough beings working today that she wouldn’t be caught slacking. Nicholas certainly didn’t need to worry. He lounged with all the confidence that came with his age. And what was management going to do anyway? Punish him? Not many options there. Kill him? Myra was pretty sure they only did that to beings capable of resurrection. Besides, how were you supposed to kill the undead?

 

Myra supposed they could fire him. Whoever the ‘they’ was that ran Frankenstein’s. Lisa claimed their boss was a chimera, stitched together from a variety of different creatures—indestructible. Why else would you name your company after the humans’ mythical scientist, one who built the ultimate monster?

 

Myra didn’t know. Couldn’t say she cared either. (Okay, maybe she cared a little). The point was she’d never have any reason to speak to the Boss. Her insignificance on the totem pole slotted right in there with why Nicholas would never be fired.

 

Finding housing for the supernatural sucked.

 

“I thought you weren’t coming in today,” Myra murmured, finally opening her eyes groggily. “It’s super bright outside.”

 

“Now you know that’s just a myth, love. When was the last time you saw us vamps scurrying through the shadows, hmm?” Nicholas nodded backwards, indicating the sunlight he’d flown through.

 

“Still. Enough beings believe it. I’d totally cash in.”

 

“Well now... if one were to announce their vampirism...”

 

Myra slapped his hand away, though not unkindly. It was an ongoing joke with Nicholas. With the entire department, actually. Three cubicles down she could just see the glint coming from Jimmy’s section.

 

“Give it up,” Myra muttered.

 

“You’re gonna tell me one of these days, love. I’ve got all eternity after all.”

 

“In your dreams.”

 

“Don’t dream.”

 

“In you blood-muddled daydreams then.”

 

Nicholas straightened his tie in mock affront, giving her as cool a look as he could manage. He gazed down his angular nose at Myra.

 

“Manners,” he drawled. “See if I ever touch that pretty head of yours again.”

 

She threw a grin. “Like you could resist. No more than you can resist cleaning blood from your precious cotton shirts. You’re a terrible vamp.”

 

“Silk, love, silk!”

 

Myra rolled her eyes. Of course she knew it was silk—just like she knew his shoes were leather and his cufflinks real gold. Nicholas was as incapable of wearing twenty-fifth century clothing as she was of opening that window and flying south like a griffin. Apparently, having lived through the 19th century, he had seen, “The Eden of fashion and I cannot go back, love, impossible, simply impossible. Let the space age arrive with its chrome and its plastic. Let us return to our loincloths and barren toes. I look forward to being the only stunning creature left.”

 

Right.

 

“Speaking of,” Nicholas tutted. He reached forward to try and clean the blood from her shirt. Finding it already dry, he wet his thumb and discovered a bit still clinging to her ear. He sucked it delicately into his mouth. “You’re quite right though. Wouldn’t want any blood on your clothes; such a waste.” His fingers returned, gently massaging the lobe of Myra’s ear. “Quite uncivilized, those banshees. Darlings sigh and pose and cuddle close until they’re ready to blow your head in with their... acoustics. Simply barbaric.”

 

“What’s barbaric?”

 

Both looked up to see another employee, sitting balanced on the top of Myra’s cubicle. At first she didn’t recognize them. When she did, her mouth positively dropped.

 

You are!” she hissed. (Marty peered over curiously). “Lisa, what are you wearing?”

 

‘Wearing’ had quite the number of meanings. Lisa’s clothes weren’t anything to be concerned with—a grey dress, ankle boots, and a high ponytail that looked like it was held together with hairspray and willpower. A normal outfit for them. What concerned Myra was that Lisa appeared to be about seven-years-old.

 

“What?” They shrugged. Lisa tilted backwards, demonstrating their balance. “It’s what the human men like. I can’t help their preferences.”

 

“It’s not a preference, it’s a perversion,” Nicholas snapped. “Do change.”

 

“... Fine.”

 

Myra watched as they grew, just as fascinated with this transformation as she was with Nicholas’. Lisa’s chest widened, their arms pooled out, and their legs stretched, stretched, stretched until they were hanging over Myra’s laptop. A boot clad foot tapped against the screen. They hadn’t bothered to change their clothes... which meant the dress was still just as short.

 

“That’s not much better,” Myra groaned.

 

Lisa shrugged. “Take what you can get,” they shrugged again. “If it were up to you I’d starve. You know...” They leaned forward, tapping Myra under her chin. “It is nearly lunch. If you told me what you liked I could be whatever you wanted. Then we’d both be pleased.”

 

“Except I don’t want any of that. At all. Ever.” Myra let her chin weigh down Lisa’s finger, smiling up at them. “Besides, you just want to have sex to feed on my aura.”

 

“Of course.”

 

“And you only want my aura to taste what I am.”

 

Lisa didn’t answer. Just pursed their lips—like they were trying not to laugh—and cast an exasperated look at Nicholas.

 

“I’m getting nowhere,” they said. “It’s up to you.”

 

“Isn’t it always,” Nicholas sighed.

 

“Hissssss,” Marty said. Followed by a “rah, rah, rah” sound.

 

Myra blinked. “What?”

 

“He asked if anyone other than him was going to do any work around here and because of our laziness we should all be marginally ashamed.” Lisa translated. “What?” they said in response to Nicholas’ look. “I’m a succubus. Harder to seduce creatures when you don’t know what the hell they’re saying. Got my degree in linguistics before I ended up in this dump.” They waved their arms at the surrounding office.

 

“Succubus today then?” Myra asked. She was learning over her cubicle, eyes narrowed at Marty. His scales seemed to shift in amusement.

 

“Yeah. Wasn’t feeling very incubus-y.”

 

“For the record, I take issue with your definition of ‘laziness,’ Mr. Marty,” Nicholas called. “I just got here.”

 

“I got a mermaid to sign off on land and sea property.” Lisa waved. “Some of us do work before goofing off.”

 

Myra poked the back of Marty’s enormous skull. “Someone smashed my phone.”

 

“Sssssss.”

 

No translation needed there. He was definitely laughing.

 

Nicholas sighed. “Well, neither of you loves are quite as entertaining as I’d hoped. Perhaps it is time I attempted to improve this wretched century. You,” he cocked a finger at Myra. “Had best inform management that you need a new phone. Another one.”

 

Myra smashed her face against the cubicle wall. “Nooooo.”

 

“It’s not as if you’ll be getting any calls from that broken thi—”

 

Ring, ring!

 

Myra’s eyes popped open.

 

Ring, ring!

 

She looked to Lisa. Lisa looked to Nicholas. The three of them leaned closer.

 

Ring, ring!

 

The top part of Marty’s head reappeared, yellow eyes narrowing into curious slits.

 

“Is it ringing?” Lisa asked, incredulous. They stared at the mangled mess of plastic and wires.

 

Ring, ring!

 

“For once,” Nicholas said slowly. “I do believe your insistence on stating the obvious is quite appropriate.” He pointed to the shambles, mouth dropped so low Myra could see his fangs hanging in the back. “Love? It is ringing, yes?”

 

“Yeah...” Myra said. “Huh.”

 

Ring, ring!

 

“Hhhs!” Marty said sharply, shoving Myra’s head forward. Just answer it already.

 

So she did. Or tried to at least. How did you answer an almost soupy collection of wiring? After a few more rings Myra decided to just dive straight in—with her hands, that is. She slipped off her rings (one for general protection, one that colored her hair a pretty pink. It faded back to brown within seconds) and then eased her fingers under the pile. Lifting it gently, she shook her hair over her shoulder and pressed it all suspiciously against one ear. After another moment of the would-be phone still ringing (“Gotta answer it, love”), Myra just let her hands… spasm, squeezing it all and hoping she hit the right button.

 

She did.

 

There was an audible click.

 

“Hello?” she whispered.

 

“…Hi,” came a teeny, tiny voice.

 

“Heey!” Myra called back, in her element now that she had a customer to talk to. “Thanks for contacting Frankenstein’s Realtor Services, we’re the patchwork for all your supernatural needs! Now, my name is Myra and before we get started you should know that—hello?”

 

There was another click, then a whirring that Myra recognized. A second later a familiar, hypnotic voice sounded over the line.

 

Greetings. This is the Precognition Department.” (Myra looked to Lisa. Nathaniel and Marty exchanged glances). “We regret to inform you that your future call does not meet with Company guidelines. Please update your telepathic Employee Manual or contact a being from Management if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your current and future service.”  

 

Another click. This one somehow sounded snotty.

 

“What the hell,” Lisa said.

 

“An excellent question,” Nicholas murmured. He pulled a hip flask from his jacket, taking a few quick swings. He was just as likely to keep blood as alcohol in there and the metallic smell of the flask made it impossible to tell which. Still, Lisa made a grab and took a sip. Their expression a second later told the others exactly what the flask contained.

 

“Unicorn,” Nicholas said, frowning at Lisa’s expression. “I’ll have you know that’s quite rare.”

 

“Whatever.” Lisa continued to smack their lips unpleasantly.

 

“Liquid courage comes in many forms, darling.”

 

“Would you two concentrate?” Myra said. She shook the crushed phone, still held up by her ear. Her expression descended from puzzled to frustrated. “Who was calling?”

 

“Sss,” said Marty.

 

“Well then how were they calling?”

 

“Sssssss.”

 

“Did I really choose friends who are completely and utterly use—”

 

Ring, ring!

 

“Oh!” Myra squeezed the wires, her hands spasming here and there until she finally heard the click. “Hello?”

 

“... Are you the house people?” It was the same voice. Myra started bobbing her head up and down until she realized the gesture couldn’t be seen.

 

“Yes! We’re house people. Well. Not people. Creatures. Beings. Not to be rude, but hasn’t anyone taught you that not everyone is a person? I mean, that’s pretty standard etiquette and I’m not easily offended, but others might… oh.” Myra looked up to find Lisa giving her a ‘hurry it the hell up’ gesture. Nicholas had his face planted in both hands. Marty was... doing something to her shoulder. Myra couldn’t see what. Probably for the best.

 

“Right... right! Houses, you got that part correct. Well done. Sorry, but, quickly, quickly: if you could just give me your name, I—”

 

Greetings. This is the Precognition Department. We regret to inform you that your future call does not meet with Company guidelines. Please update...”

 

“It’s the same message,” Myra whispered, tucking the wires against her chest.

 

“Yes, love. We can hear.”

 

Marty kept squeezing her shoulder.

 

“Sounded young though,” Lisa mused. “Like, really young. Like, how I was just a few minutes ago young...”

 

“Another succubus?” Nicholas suggested.

 

“One of the fae?”

 

“Shape-shifter.”

 

“Or a vamp that got turned too early.”

 

“Please, anyone who’s turning children is an absolute fool.” Nicholas shook his head sadly. “What’s the point of living forever if you can’t even drive all those gorgeous human cars?”

 

“Or carry a gun.”

 

“Or see R-rated films. Ah, I did see the loveliest flick just last week. I’m free this weekend if you’re at all interested. Wouldn’t mind a second indulgence—”

 

“No movies!” Myra interrupted, waving her arms. “Not right now! ...But I’m invited too right? Oh good. Thanks. Seriously though. Right now we need to figure out the who and the how and the when and the why and the what, Marty?”

 

He was still squeezing her shoulder, only if felt more like a light tapping now. Myra was vaguely concerned that his talon would rip a hole in her blouse (already blood stained. She didn’t need to pay for tailoring too, thanks), so she looked, noting that the tapping had changed into hurried pointing.

 

“Hhhhhhhhhhs,” Marty said, jabbing his meaty fist to the right.

 

They turned.

 

“Speaking of the fae…” Lisa murmured.

 

It was Breena, sitting two cubicles across. Her wings were out, curving in slightly to create her own, personal bubble. Above her—and falling directly within that bubble—was a tiny grey cloud that was sputtering out a constant, light shower of rain. It fell on her like a mist, letting her occasionally shake the droplet from her face and run them through her hair. Every once in a while the cloud also shot off a tiny bolt of lightning, with a sharp, unnatural ‘crack!’ Neither of these things were particularly strange. More than one employee, Myra included, had donated a towel to the ‘keep Breena’s area relatively dry’ cause. The lightning wasn’t much of a distraction either. It just granted them a bit of variety from all the florescent lighting and the sound it made was quiet enough to be covered by the phone calls. Really, a perfectly normal picture.

 

Except for the cloud hanging above the storm.

 

That one was lighter in color, more of a translucent blue than grey. Myra thought it was giving off lighting too, except that when she peered closer she saw hundreds of strands of light, constantly moving, longer and wavier than the average bolt. They didn’t appear to be restricted to the cloud either. Though nearly invisible once outside it, Myra was able to track one up to the ceiling... where, yeah, the overhead lights did look a little brighter than usual. Marty tapped her arm again and pointed anxiously. Myra was just able to catch another hitting the cell on Loll’s desk. The alarm went off in a blaring ring and she smacked it distractedly, casting only one, confused look before going back to work. Myra was already disinterested in her though, following other strands that she could spot.

 

Nicholas and Lisa appeared to be doing the same.

 

“So...” Nicholas said slowly. “Hundreds of years under my belt, darlings. It will be quite the disappointment to learn that you knew of this when I did not.”

 

“Happy to reassure you then.” Lisa leaned on his shoulder to get a better look. “I sure as hell didn’t know. The elements, obviously. Spirits too sometimes, with the stronger ones. I’ve fought my far share of fae-folk for a meal. But electricity?”

 

Myra shrugged, even though she was just as enthralled as the others. “I mean, lightning is electricity, right?”

 

“Indeed, but the fae have their rules, love. ‘All that is natural.’ A storm is one thing. Cell phones and light bulbs... that’s something else entirely.”

 

Lisa shivered. “Kinda scary.”

 

“Liiiisss,” Marty agreed.

 

“She’s so sweet though,” Myra mused. “I baked her cookies one time.”

 

Three heads snapped her way. Nicholas’ remarkably faster than the others.

 

“You what?”

 

“Yeah. She offered me chocolates. It was only fair.”

 

“But you didn’t take any... right?” Lisa looked rather horrified at the prospect.

 

Myra shook her head. “No. I was sick that day. Really shouldn’t have come into work at all but, you know, I’d missed a few days last month because my brother was off realm, and I needed to watch my niece, and my attendance record is pretty good, except that one time I got a creepy letter from Management that had wraith mist all over it, and I didn’t want to chance anything, so I came in even though my stomach felt really, really awful,” Myra took in a huge breath. “So yeah, I didn’t want any chocolate.”

 

“Though you gave her cookies in turn?” Nicholas asked, still speaking in a decidedly dazed manner.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“And she accepted one?”

 

“Three, I think.” Myra said, tapping her chin.

 

“Then that explains it...”

 

“Explains what?”

 

Just then another bolt of electricity appeared, right in front of their noses. It soared into the mangled phone, seeming to jump-start it. Within seconds Myra heard the now familiar ring, ring! as it came back to life.

 

“It explains why she’s helping,” Lisa hissed quickly, finally jumping off the cubicle wall. “The fae are super weird about food, Myra. If you accept anything you owe them. But if they accept something then they owe you. She’s paying you back by keeping that disaster up and running, probably trying to get around the Pre-cog department too. Just answer it!”

 

Myra fumbled for the phone.

 

Hello?

 

“... Why do you keep hanging up on me?”

 

The voice was still soft, almost timid, but now there was an undercurrent of anger too. Myra gulped a little as Marty raised what passed for his eyebrows.

 

“I don’t!” She cried, then cringed at the shout. “Sorry. That’s not me. That’s someone else. Entirely. I’m really sorry—” Just then Myra heard static, like another voice was trying to intercept, but a second later it was gone. She peered over at Breena, who turned just far enough to give her a wink. Then she went back to her computer.

 

“Three tries for three cookies,” Nicholas said.

 

Lisa nodded. “Must have been some damn good cookies.”

 

“I’m a really good baker,” Myra whispered, then returned to the phone at Marty’s gesture. “Okay. Hey. Looks like we actually have a moment here, alright? I’m Myra. As said. This is Frankenstein’s Realtor Services. As you know. Now! How can I assist you today?”

 

“I want a house.” The voice was stronger now, determined.

 

“Great! That’s... exactly what we do. Well, to be fair, houses and apartments, condos, housing in the spectral realm... etc. etc. You get the idea. Do you know exactly what it is you’re looking for? ”

 

“... Just a house.”

 

“Okay. Wow. That’s remarkably easy-going of you.” Myra frantically waved off the mouthing and gestures of the others. “Easy-peasy. I love it! Why don’t you give me your name, species, contact information, and a time when we can set up an appointment? Then we’ll be good to go.”

 

Silence on the other end. Myra thought they she might have lost the connection—half expected the Pre-cog recording to worm back in—but then she heard the breathing: shallow and just a little bit panicked.

 

Myra cupped her other arm around the wiring, looking for some privacy. “Hey there. Hey. You okay?”

 

“I’m Cindy,” the voice suddenly said. It picked up speed. “You can’t call the House because Ms. Linton doesn’t answer and I don’t have a cell. I can’t do those other things either.” The briefest of hesitations. Then, “I’m human.”

 

“Ooooooh.” Myra’s eyes went wide. She sat up straight, welcoming the other three as they fell into an even closer huddle. Lisa was nodding in a sort of annoying manner, like they’d known it all along. Nicholas was shaking his head. Marty just looked sad.

 

Myra swallowed. “Honey, I’m sorry, but our services are reserved for supernatural entities. We can’t just—”

 

“I’m at The Park,” Cindy said. “By the blessed fountains. I have money.”

 

“Cindy...”

 

“Just come, okay?”

 

There was a click, this one decidedly more final than the others.

 

Another voice immediately began, like it had been waiting to barge in the whole time: “—cognition Department. We regret to inform you that your future call—”

 

Myra threw the mess on top of the desk. The others were silent beside her.

 

“You can’t go, love,” Nicholas finally said. His hand returned to her hair, gently massaging and stroking.

 

“Saaaaaaah,” said Marty.

 

Lisa nodded. “Marty’s right though. Can we just leave her there? The Park’s no place for a human kid.”

 

“And it’s a place for Myra? Hardly. You’re not a field realtor. That takes training. Besides, what would you do if you went?” Nicholas let out a light laugh. “Sell her a house? Honestly.”

 

“Well we can’t do nothing.”

 

“We’ve already done enough. The Company has at least three reports from the Pre-Cogs now. They obviously knew it was a human calling long before we did. No doubt they’ve already informed the proper authorities.”

 

“Yeah right,” Lisa snorted. “This isn’t the 21st century, Nathaniel. Protect and Serve doesn’t give a shit about humans. Trust me, they’ll let her sit until something comes along to eat her.”

 

“Nnnnhhh,” Marty gestured violently, nearly hitting Myra’s already damaged computer. “Sh-sh-sh-sh.”

 

Lisa clucked their tongue. “Exactly.”

 

“You’re not hearing me, darling. Myra said it herself. They’re already on her back for some foolish, perceived lateness. Now a broken phone, keyboard, and three calls from a human girl? Do you want her fired? Because I assure you, as much as our job is maddening, it’s simply not worth giving up, not in this economy. But if our young one here does anything else foolish, those wraiths will drag her out, slice her up, and leave her to the mercy of welfare. She’ll—Myra?”

 

She’d stood up, just a little too quickly, jamming her leg against the underside of the desk. With a curse Myra stumbled out of the cubicle, grabbing her purse along the way.

 

“Love... where are you going?”

 

“Clocking out. Early.” Myra shrugged, trying to look nonchalant and failing miserably. “We can do that right? Sometimes? Maybe? Oh hey, Breena, thanks for the help.” She twiddled her fingers at the fairy.

 

“You are welcome, child.” Breena said. Then her head cocked, like a gorgeous cat sensing prey. “You don’t feel like a sister, and you certainly know nothing of our ways.” A rustle of paper sounded, like a laugh. “Still, I must ask, are you one of the fae, child?”

 

“Nope. Good guess though!”

 

“... Pity.” With a languid motion Breena produced another cloud. On it were balanced fruits, nuts, and something that glittered like gold. It floated to Jimmy’s cubicle and deposited itself there.

 

Myra turned to walk backwards. “Coming or what?” She grinned.

 

Marty immediately leapt forward, covering half the aisle in one bound. Lisa likewise popped up happily.

 

“I was due to clock out soon anyway,” they said, running to catch up.

 

With a sigh Nathaniel stood too.

 

“I never even clocked in.”

 

***

 

As they exited the building—wary of cameras and telepaths—Myra of course passed Jimmy’s cubicle. It had been empty since he’d left, just two weeks after she’d arrived.

 

Well... not exactly empty.

 

It was filled with everything but a new occupant. Treasures mostly, of every sort: precious metals, potions, captured bits of aura, currency from multiple realms, food, one employee’s prized baseball card collection... there was more than one ancient suit in there too, curtsey of Nathaniel. The game these riches accompanied was a simple one. Every week or so, someone would make an educated guess at what Myra’s species was. Inevitably they’d get it wrong and they’d be forced to pay up, filling the ever bulging cubicle with more treasure. Theoretically, whoever figured it out would get to take the whole pot home.

 

Myra was pretty sure no one would win. Not any time soon.

 

She wasn’t entirely sure why the Boss let them get away with this. He had to know, otherwise the wraiths would have disintegrated the collection years ago. Maybe he thought they needed a distraction from what proved to be a surprisingly stressful job. Maybe he just didn’t care.

 

Or maybe, as Myra sometimes contemplated, he knew. If he’d chosen the name Frankenstein for a more obvious reason then even Lisa suspected, maybe she and the Boss had more in common than anyone would guess.

 

And wouldn’t that be funny.

 

It couldn’t be a complete coincidence that, yes, Myra sometimes messed things up a bit and no one had come to kick her out yet. Today would have certainly been the day, but no one even tried to stop them. They left the Company and took a left, heading for The Park without a single wraith standing in their way.

 

Out in the sun, Myra lifted her face to the sky. She thought about this little Cindy girl. She thought about Jimmy. She wondered where the werewolf was now and if he’d managed to befriend anyone else like her.

 

He might have even sought them out. After all, he was the only one who could smell it.

 

Myra opened her purse, spritzed on some perfume, and led her friends towards The Park.

 

***

 

“Sure you’re not going to burn up out here, vamp?”

 

“Sure you can contain yourself around all these lovelies?”

 

“Naaaaaassss.”

 

“Marty just gave you the sickest burn ever.”

 

“Oh he did not, I am far too old for such nonsense.”

 

“Speaking of nonsense—what are you doing, Myra?”

 

She’d snuck in between Nathaniel and Lisa, linking arms with both. Despite their words, Lisa immediately tugged her closer while Nathaniel twisted so that he carried her in a more gentlemanly pose. Without asking, Marty took up the rear, spreading his wings so that he flanked all three of them like an overprotective bodyguard.

 

Actually, that might have been his previous job. Conversations about past employment had always been a bit muddled.

 

“Just keeping close,” Myra chirped, going for the innocent look.

 

In truth, Lisa’s words back at the Company had hit a little too close to home. The Park wasn’t a good place for a human kid, or really anyone who couldn’t properly defend themselves. The largest collection of natural acreage within The City, The Park attracted all manner of beings: for recreation, business, hunting, recharging of spirits—both literally and figuratively. This lead to numerous creatures encountering other creatures that frankly they shouldn’t be encountering, not if one wanted to avoid a fight. Most beings were powerful enough to at least defend themselves in a pinch... but Myra? Not so much. Good thing she had a vamp, succubus, and lizard-thing for protection. Right?

 

Myra realized she’d been sending hopeful grins between the three of them. Nicholas cast a look at Lisa over her head.

 

“Not powerful then,” he murmured.

 

“Oh, I knew that ages back,” Lisa teased. “Not knowledgeable of the Fae either. That’s new info. What could you be...?”

 

“You do realize, love, that at some point we’ll simply run out of creatures to guess at.”

 

“No you won’t,” Myra laughed. “You can’t even name all the species there are. You don’t know. No one does.”

 

Another reason for avoiding The Park. Lisa was right about the authorities too. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to help... except that’s exactly what it was. They didn’t want to help. Supernatural authorities often held too many feuds with other creatures to do much good on the whole. Centuries old grudges didn’t just disappear because you’d taken an oath. If anything, some species deliberately joined Protect and Serve, with the knowledge that they could attack their enemies under the guise of the law. It made Myra’s stomach churn just thinking about it. Even those few interested in helping, they couldn’t exactly do much good. For every powerful creature in uniform, there was a more powerful one causing the trouble. And of course the humans didn’t stand a chance. They’d all but given up on joining law enforcement. Didn’t help that humans seemed to be giving up in general. The latest multi-realm census Myra read had the supernatural out numbering the humans ten to one.

 

Guess that’s what happens when some species get immortality.

 

Totally not fair.

 

Myra felt a cool, calming breeze against her back. Marty was gently beating his wings, attempting to cool them in the hot air. Myra titled her head back to smile at him.

 

Nicholas gently pinched her arm. “I do wish you’d tell us your plan, love.”

 

“No plan,” Myra admitted. “But we can’t just leave a little kid sitting in The Park all day.”

 

“We could.”

 

“Could not.”

 

“I could feed on her.”

 

“Don’t you dare.” Myra pinched him back.

 

Nicholas sighed. “Very well then. I’ll play your game. What? We shall collect this child, treat her as any other prospective buyer, show her a few houses on the market—despite the fact that we are only trained to answer phones, mind—and then we’ll all head out for an ice cream on this hot, dreadful day. Yes?”

 

“Yes,” Myra agreed, grinning fully. Marty let out a purring sound behind her.

 

“Good God.”

 

“That’s one species that hasn’t been proven yet,” Lisa laughed. They tugged them forward, their boots changing to sandals halfway through the steps. “I’m in. Holding you to that ice cream though.”

 

“Tttsss.”

 

“Insect flavor for Marty.”

 

Myra unhooked an arm to blindly reach back and pat him. “You’re lucky I love you because that’s really disgusting. But insect flavor it is. Onwards!”

 

“Park is this way, love.”

 

“... right. Knew that.”

 

***

 

They heard The Park well before they saw it: the din of hundreds of species, all going about their energetic business. Myra had actually only been there once before, but it appeared exactly as she remembered. Massive, stretching out across a large, winding chunk of The City. Per regulations there weren’t any wards up, but the entire area was surrounded by an ornate, black gate. There was only one entrance. Myra had heard, as a child hears scary stories, that during blue moons the gates would close, trapping all those inside to face… something. Something horrible no doubt. She edged just a little closer to Nicholas who smiled at her in amusement.

 

“Yes,” he drawled. “What a terrifying place. This area of sun and grass and trees.”

 

“The gates are creepy,” Myra muttered.

 

“Have to agree with you there.” Lisa reached out a hand as they passed inside, trailing it over the carving of some sort of imp. It suddenly lashed out at their fingers, its metal teeth nearly clipping their nails. Lisa surged forward in return, their face becoming concave, blackening, showing a thousand expressions at once. The imp skittered to the highest spire, trembling.

 

“Rude thing,” Lisa muttered, shaking their hand.

                     

Luckily the rest of The Park was, as Nathaniel said, rather cheery. Remarkably so, given the company. Myra saw a group of young centaurs picnicking on the grass, a group of even younger Cyclops trying to climb and ride on their backs (luckily for them, the centaurs were more interested in their food than the interruption). Some creatures Myra couldn’t name were skating down the sidewalk. At first she thought they had boards... but no, those were their legs. Something was cutting through the water over in the nearby pond, large enough that Myra saw that it was forced to turn within the two seconds she’d been looking. A group of many somethings peered out from the trees, their eyes yellow and never blinking.

 

For all the variety though, there were no humans that Myra could see.

 

Except for one.

 

They spotted Cindy easily. It was hard not to. With everyone going about their business there was a great deal of movement. Cindy, in contrast, kept totally still. Seated on a bench—right next to the blessed fountains, as promised—she kept her legs locked tight and her arms ramrod straight, like a little toy girl waiting for a spell to come alive; or for something with a conscious to pick her up and play. She was dressed the part too: a simple white dress that paired well with her bob of curls. It looked expensive from afar, but as they hurried closer Myra could see that she’d been deceived. The dress was sack-like, stained, and mended by an amateur. Cindy kicked her feet briefly and Myra saw cracked soles in her flip-flops.

 

All of this was incidental though, interesting only because they knew her to be human. What gave Cindy away was the designs at her feet. She’d taken a piece of chalk and drawn an intricate series of circles around the area that she sat, yellow markings just visible on the white sidewalk. Myra recognized them immediately as wards, simple ones meant to keep strangers out.

 

The only other thing worth noting was that Cindy appeared to be about seven-years-old. Eight at the oldest.

 

“Called it,” Lisa muttered. “Ridiculously young.”

 

“I can hardly remember such a time,” Nicholas admitted. “I’ve claimed centuries at this point.”

 

“I’ve got more than a couple of decades to brag about.”

 

“What about you? How old are you again, love?”

 

“Nice try,” Myra said, smirking. “But that info’s just a little too telling, dontcha think?”

 

“Foolishness aside, we should call someone,” Nicholas said, his expression sobering as he stared at the little girl. Even he didn’t sound convinced though.

 

“Who?” Lisa waved their arms. “We’ve been over this. Besides, Cindy did call someone. Us!”

 

“We’re not calling anyone. If only because I can’t afford the minutes. And I’m not a telepath. Even though that would be really great right now. But I’m not. So c’mon!”

 

A talon hooked onto Myra’s arm though, just as she tried to get around the centaurs, ready to meet Cindy. Marty let out a low, continuous growl down in his throat, interspersed with what sounded like a whine. He tugged Myra back against him.

 

“He’s right,” Lisa said. “We’re sure she’s human?”

 

“Only one way to find out,” and Myra ducked, slipping out and jogging over before any of them could stop her.

 

“Hey, there!”

 

Cindy’s head whipped up from where she’d been staring at her hands, no doubt startled by the woman that suddenly skid to a stop in front of her. That, and the vamp, succubus, and giant lizard that came running up afterwards. There was a brief, awkward moment while one party stared at the other.

 

“Are you Myra?” Cindy finally asked. Her voice was soft. Steely though too. “And… is that blood on your shirt?”

 

“Sure am.” Myra deliberately ignored the second question (“Great impression,” Lisa muttered). She stuck out a hand, running it through her hair when Cindy didn’t take it. “The one and only! Representative of Frankenstein’s, at your service. I come bearing... three other representatives. Overkill like this is completely normal, I assure you.”

 

“I don’t care.” Cindy spoke with the assurance of the young. “Can you get me a house? If you can get me a house I don’t care if there’s fifty billion of you.”

 

“Well now, that would be quite the welcoming committee, wouldn’t it, little one?” Nicholas dropped on his haunches, extending his own hand. Cindy didn’t take that either. “I think four employees will service you well. Hard to show you any houses though when you’re bound up in those silly wards.”

 

Cindy pulled farther into the bench, drawing up her knees.

 

“No? That’s too bad. Is it all right if we wait with you until you’re ready? Don’t mind me, little one. I’ll just seat myself right over here.”

 

Myra’s mouth dropped open as Nicholas plopped himself onto the ground—dirt, grass, and larva in all. He’d always been overly cautious with his clothes, most of which were antiques held together by charms. It was a testament to their friendship that he so often leaned against her desk, risking wrinkles in order to chat with her. Now though, Nicholas acquainted his pants with the dirt, rather willingly. A rodent with three eyes even ran by, skimming the edge of his coat. Still, Nicholas didn’t look away from Cindy.

 

“Uhhh,” Myra said.

 

Marty followed his lead, folding his wings and sitting with a decisiveness that made the earth shake. Lisa did the same, pulling Myra along, and as they did their lips whispered against Myra’s ear:

 

“The tops of her arms.”

 

Myra looked. There, barely hidden under caped sleeves, were a series of bruises. For a second Myra wondered how you got bruises up there—on both sides no less—until she noticed that they were placed rather... specifically. Myra peered down at the shape of her hand and swallowed bile.

 

She sat beside Nicholas, able to feel how tense he was now. He drew in a massive breath and Myra wondered if he could smell the injuries on her.

 

“Mind if I smoke?” He asked, drawing out his pipe. From where, Myra had never been good at figuring out. Nicholas filled it (more supplies he didn’t have room for. Myra suspected multi-dimensional pockets) and soon had a fragrant smell filing the air. Something sweet. Nicholas drew the harmless smoke into his lungs and let it out again in large, fluffy puffs.

 

“There,” he murmured, soothingly. “You picked a lovely spot for a meeting, little one. A beautiful day too. Quite smart of you. Where was it you said you were coming from again? A Ms. Linton?”

 

Hesitantly, Cindy nodded.

 

“Ms. Linton’s foster home?”

 

Another nod.

 

“Marty, please make a note of this establishment for my personal records.” Nicholas’ voice was barely contained. Myra could see his fangs inching forward and she quickly laid a hand on his back.

 

Lisa wasn’t much better. From the corner of her eye, Myra saw their appearance flicking through numerous options within a matter of seconds, clothes as well as features. They rarely lost control like this. Marty was likewise admitting a continuous growl. Myra was worried it might close Cindy off even more, but she actually started to relax. Her knees were released and her feet planted back on the ground. She looked like something small, relaxing under a gentle purr.

 

“Can’t see too many houses sitting here though,” Nicholas said lightly.

 

“I’m pretty sure there’s a nice one owned by a witch couple not to far from here,” Lisa added.

 

Cindy gnawed at her lower lip. It was split in places and pealing. It looked like Myra’s lips in winter, though today the weather was warm and bright.

 

“You’ll really show me houses?” Cindy asked.

 

“Promise.” For the first time, Myra actually felt like she was speaking for all of them.

 

“You did call us, little one.” Nicholas reminded her. “And if you need some... ah, proof as to our intentions...” Nicholas lifted a finger, pointing it towards the circles she’d drawn. “It’s an excellent attempt, excellent indeed, but not quite right I fear. You’ve drawn the sigils, but not in the correct order. That,” his finger moved to the third line from the middle. “Overlaps that, when quite obviously it should not. A few other mistakes, but a valiant attempt all around. The point is, little one, that your wards are entirely useless. Every creature here knows it.” Nicholas spread his arms. “Yet here we sit.”

 

Myra hadn’t known they were useless. She went cold at the thought of Cindy sitting here, unprotected, and suddenly it felt like every other being was looking their way. Cindy was lucky—in one manner at least—and Myra was determined to help that luck continue.

 

She crawled forward on her hands and knees, extending her arm alongside Nicholas’. Myra couldn’t see, but she’d be willing to bet that Lisa and Marty were doing the same.

 

“Houses?” she asked.

 

Cindy still didn’t take their hands. She did slip from the bench though. “I want to see the witches’ house,” she said and scurried forward, casting continued glances behind her.

 

“What the hell have you gotten us into?” Lisa muttered, hauling Myra to her feet. Beside them Marty nodded rigorously. Nicholas put away his pipe. “Oh no. I hope there’s actually a witches’ house. I heard about it last month and it could have sold by now.”

 

“I guess we’ll see,” Myra said faintly. “Nicholas? You okay?”

 

“Never better, love,” he said, all bright eyes and pointed teeth. “By the by, little Cindy spoke true on the phone.”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“She is all too human.”

 

***

 

Cindy proved quick on her feet and, for all her tentativeness on the bench, surprisingly hostile. She tore a path back through The Park, glaring at any creatures who seemed to even contemplating getting in her way. Most just met her stare with amusement, but Myra worried about the ones that didn’t, sticking as close to the kid as she dared. Luckily—lucky again it seemed—there were three others trailing behind her. Any who met Cindy’s stare too long eventually caught eyes with Lisa, Marty, or worse, Nicholas. They backed off quick after that.

 

It wasn’t until they were back on the street that Cindy slowed down. Probably only because she didn’t know where to go.

 

“That way,” Lisa said, pointing down an alley. Cindy started up again, her flip-flops slapping.

 

They walked in silence for a time.

 

“Soooo...” Myra said. She looked back for help, but Lisa and Marty just shrugged. Nicholas was drinking from his flask again. “Cindy. Cindy, Cindy, Cindy. Cindy what? Don’t humans normally have last names?”

 

“Just Cindy,” she said shortly. But after another few seconds of silence she peered over. “Do you not have last names?”

 

Myra gave a noncommittal shrug while the others nodded vigorously, happy there was some form of conversation going on.

 

“We generally only care for given names,” Lisa explained. “Last are superfluous.”

 

“Su...”

 

“Unnecessary,” Nicholas said. He nodded in Cindy’s direction. “Sight. Smell. Numerous senses you don’t even have. We don’t need names to tell one another apart.”

 

Cindy turned then, her dress flaring outwards, and as it did Myra saw another bruise at the top of her knee. She bit hard into her tongue, walking instead of questioning. Cindy started strolling backwards, her eyes locked on the others.

 

“Vampire...” she said slowly, pointing to Nicholas. He toasted her with his flask. “Lizard...” Marty grinned. “You’re...?”

 

“Succubus,” Lisa said, bowing in turn. “‘least today I am.”

 

“And...” Cindy’s gaze came to rest on Myra, who mimed closing her mouth with a zipper.

 

Marty’s wings gave a mighty beat. “Raaaaaahs.”

 

“If you mean, ‘That is the million dollar question,’ then yes, Marty, I quite agree.” Nicholas lifted his arms in a careless gesture. “This lovely creature here refuses to tell us what she is and the only one with the talent to figure it out,” Nicholas tapped his nose, “left us some years ago. Wouldn’t share on the way out either, more’s the pity. Now our department has a little wager going” (Lisa snorted at ‘little’), “in which we all attempt to guess what exactly Myra is.”

 

Nicholas smiled at Cindy. All the while the three of them had been edging closer, creating a semi-circle around the girl that they hoped wasn’t overwhelming. Cindy’s arm briefly brushed Marty’s scales, but she didn’t move away.

 

“Have any guesses of your own, little one?”

 

Cindy stared at Myra, who tried not to fidget too much. She finally gave an awkward laugh and waved.

 

“You’re nice,” Cindy said and shrugged tightly. Then she picked up the pace again.

 

“‘Nice,’” Myra whispered from the corner of her mouth. “She thinks I’m nice! That’s amazing!”

 

“She thinks you’re getting her a house,” Lisa muttered back.

 

“Maybe I am,” and at Lisa’s sharp look Myra made sure to keep her expression blank—nothing but seriousness right now, folks. After a moment, Lisa nodded.

 

“Yeah. I hear you.”

 

“Take a right, little one.” Nicholas called, directing Cindy. “No, no your other right—Myra! You too!”

 

“Oops.”

 

“Ss-ss-ss-ss” Marty laughed.

 

“Can you believe we’ve got two of them now?” Laughing themselves, Lisa dodged Myra’s smack.

 

As they were roughhousing though, careful not to bump anyone else on the street, Myra saw it; unexpected, as quick and as brilliant as lighting:

 

Cindy smiled.

 

***

 

Ta-da!

 

Myra said it loud and exuberantly, hoping to evoke another smile. She didn’t, but the house was still impressive nonetheless. The City was admittedly a city, but it had its pockets of nature comfort for those beings that desired it, this being one of them. Technically the thin, slightly slanting house was wedged between two others, but there were thick walls of ivy and moss growing on either side, giving the illusion of privacy. If one were to tunnel their vision—as Myra did now—they’d see a house situated in a forest, perhaps not too far from your first wrong turn. A wild garden helped to complete the image, as did the waving flowers at the windowsills. (Literally waving. Myra waved back). As they crowded up the cobbled walkway, Myra saw the “For Sale” sign off in the corner. Vines had encroached there too... though oddly. Half had risen up and seemed to be pushing the sign back towards the earth. Others were raising it towards the sun. Myra opened her mouth to warn that there might be an issue when the door slammed open.

 

“We don’t want any!” The woman howled, raising her cane. It might have been humorous in a stereotypical-get-the-hell-off-my-lawn kind of way, except that the cane was sparking with magic, the woman was heavily muscled, and those two things together were absolutely terrifying.

 

Cindy thought so too. She immediately cringed back from the cane, right into Lisa. It seemed to shake the woman from whatever uncalled-for rage she was in.

 

“Eh?” She peered at Cindy, translucent eyes watering. “Why, you’re just a teeny one, aren’t you? What could you possibly be selling? Nothing good, I’d wager.”

 

“We’re not selling anything,” Myra said, hurrying to get between Cindy and the woman. “My name is Myra, employee of Frankenstein’s Realtor Services. These are my associates, Marty, Lisa, and Nicholas. We’re here to see the house?”

 

Myra smiled benignly, more so when steam began to literally pour from the woman’s ears. With a growl in a language Myra had never heard before (though Marty and Lisa looked shocked) she turned on her heel, completely ignoring them, and hobbled back towards the house. The only distinguishable word was an enraged call of, “Cy!”

 

“Okay,” Myra said. “This is fine.” She absently pat Cindy’s shoulder, retroactively pleased when she didn’t pull away. “So...” she waved her arms dramatically. “You like it?”

 

“... It’s perfect,” Cindy said.

 

“Woooow. Your standards are like, non-existent.” Marty nudged Lisa hard enough to topple her.

 

Cindy ignored them. She slipped a flip-flop off and dug her toes into the grass.

 

Myra nodded in encouragement. “Perfect,” she whispered. “No client ever told me the house was perfect before. Not that I show them the houses. You’re my first. But what a first! Let’s go.” Careful in how much more she touched her, Myra steered Cindy up the path, giving whatever was slithering under the dirt a wide berth. “You like the house. We like that you like the house. Now let’s see if we can’t get that shouty woman to like things too.”

 

Easier said than done. The five of them poked their heads through the open door, finding a much lither woman standing just off the entrance. She beckoned them in with an exasperated expression. Shouting still came from a few rooms over.

 

“Ignore Ny,” the woman sighed. “She does that to everyone. Really. My great aunt visits twice a year and she gets an earful every time. Only thing I’ve found that calms her is cake. You didn’t bring any cake did you?”

 

“No...” Myra said.

 

“Pity,” and the woman began levitating out baking ingredients left and right.

 

Lisa was staring around the kitchen. They dodged an incoming Bundt pan. “Aren’t you supposed to feed us?”

 

“Well I would if I’d known you were coming! Is this Frankenstein’s policy now? Sending a whole group unexpected? Does this house look open to you?” She gestured to the mess that was the kitchen table, covered in potions, herbs, and... a fish? “Though I’m one to speak of manners. I’m Cy.” She held out a floured hand that all but Cindy shook. “Seriously, ignore my fool wife. Yes the house is for sale. By the love of everything, take it off my hands.”

 

“YOu’lL taKe iT FroM MY coLD DeAD cORPSE!”

 

“With pleasure!” Cy shouted back and rolled her eyes. “To think I’ve lived with her for nearly a century. What’s to be done though? She’s a part of me as sure as my own mop of hair.”

 

“I hear baldness is in,” Nicholas drawled. Cy winked.

 

“Cy and Ny...” Lisa mused. “You married someone with such a similar name?”

 

“A product of nicknames and inside jokes.” Cy started up a batter, tasting it as she went. “What’s more remarkable is that beings think we look alike. Ha! Imagine that. Then again, they also say beings look like their pets...”

 

Marty stifled a laugh.

 

The batter was poured quickly into the pan and practically thrown into the oven. Cy briefly pressed her head against the door handle, whispering, “Bake quickly.” Myra didn’t know if that was a prayer or an actual spell.

 

“Now. I suppose you’ll be wanting a tour? Well too bad, because my hips is screaming something awful. We’ve got a kitchen, living room, spell room, bedroom, guest room, medium room, three baths, an attic, and a few other spaces that come and go as they please. I know, I know.” Cy waved a hand to forestall them, though none had moved to speak. “Buyers want to know exactly how many rooms are in a house. I think that’s a little unrealistic, but that’s just my opinion. I assure you though, they fall into their routines. You’ll get used to it. Are you two planning on any kids?”

 

‘You two’ turned out to be Lisa and Marty. They looked to each other, wide-eyed, and simultaneously said, “No.” Marty definitely did. Myra didn’t need a translation for that.

 

“Kids.” Nicholas said faintly. “Exactly how—”

 

“Actually,” Myra interrupted, laughing awkwardly. “They’re my co-workers. Not buyers. Co-workers. Remember?”

 

“Oh yes, dear. My memory isn’t that faulty yet.” Cy smiled. “I just thought they’d make a cute couple.”

 

“The house is for me,” Cindy said quietly, over the sounds of fake retching behind her.

 

Cy gasped. “She speaks!” Her smile disappeared real quick though. She looked between Cindy’s determined expression and Myra’s thumbs-up in the background. When neither wavered, Cy planted both hands on her hips.

 

“But you’re only a child!” she cried. “Myra—Myra, yes?—for all your unprofessionalism and my wife’s claims to the contrary, I am trying to sell this house. We are witches. We are witches who have lived in the same area for seventy-two years.”

 

Myra understood then, as did her friends. It wasn’t just that seventy-some years was a long time (though it certainly was), it was that stationary existence was fairly dangerous for a witch, let alone two. Certainly they’d claimed territory generations back, but that was long in the past. Now, witches were in many ways worse off than any other being: not human, but not quite supernatural either. They were homo sapiens in every sense of the word, except that they had the unexplained ability to manipulate their surroundings, essentially feeding off the energy of others. Tension grew thick once creatures realized witches were living nearby. Myra was surprised they hadn’t moved sooner.

 

Angry pacing sounded from down the hall. Well, perhaps easier said than done.

 

“I assure you, madam.” Nicholas said with great gravity. “With all the assurance that Frankenstein’s can offer, we are in the process of helping this little one find a house. Odd as that may seem, it is the truth. Though I certainly wouldn’t have believe it just a few hours before…”

 

“Well I just don’t see how—ooh!”

 

At the ding of the oven (spell, definitely) Cy shuffled away, directing cake, plates, and knife onto the already laden table. She flipped the pan and started sprinkling powdered sugar everywhere. It was while she was in the process of making an absolute mess that she paused, head hanging over her cake and sighing.

 

“This is highly unusual,” she said. “Though I can’t say I’m picky about who claims this place anymore. I suppose the only real question is how the little Miss plans to pay?”

 

Cindy’s dress had pockets. Deep ones apparently, because it seemed like half her arm disappeared as she rummaged. As she did her capped sleeves shifted, causing Cy to frown, but before she could comment Cindy had pulled out a collection of coins, no more than ten in total.

 

“It’s everything I earned from Ms. Linton. Mowing the lawn and capturing gnomes. It took me ages.”

 

Cy looked at the paltry sum, and though her eyes were sad, she raised them expectantly towards Myra.

 

Right.

 

“Would you excuse us for a sec,” Myra said. “Cindy, just a moment...”

 

She dragged Lisa, Marty, and Nathaniel back into the hall. They already looked half resigned when she gave them her own, sad smile.

 

“You cannot be serious, love.” Nicholas said. It was mere formality though. He gestured weakly behind them. “We don’t know the girl.”

 

“Don’t think anyone does,” Lisa put in. They shrugged. “Part of the damn problem.”

 

“Haaaassss. Cla-cla naaaaahhhhhw.”

 

Lisa jerked their head at Marty. “He’s been living in the swamp. Commute is awful. For the record, this place is about as nice as what Frankenstein’s said I could get in my benefits. I’m in.”

 

Nicholas took a long drink from his flask. Then he rested his forehead against the open cap. “I don’t want children,” he muttered.

 

“Good! Luckily for you she’s just a singular thing.”

 

“I don’t like you creatures nearly enough to live with you!”

 

“Liar.” Lisa nudged him in the ribs. “Look at that face.”

 

Nicholas did look at Myra… and then immediately threw up his hands. “Oh fine! Lovely. What’s a few decades out of immortality? Honestly. Could this day get any stranger? Do not answer that, Lisa. Love, I will do this for you. BUT,” Nicholas held up two, slender fingers. “One, you are responsible for figuring out how we pay for this monstrosity. And two, you will tell me what. You. Are.”

 

Myra smiled. She grasped his two fingers and gently shook them.

 

“Sure. I’ll do both right now. Cindy!”

 

She came running, skidding to a stop before Myra. Getting down on her level, Myra spread her arms widely to show off her entire being.

 

“Hey, Cindy. Question. What am I? Besides nice.”

 

Cindy cocked her head, her brow furrowing.

 

“You’re human,” she said, like it was simple. So simple. To her it probably was. “Can I buy the house now?”

 

“Sure can. Because you just came into a very large jackpot. Congratz! Hey, Cy! Do you like gold? And potions? Of course you like potions. There’ll be some suits in the transaction too. Ny might like those. Oh! Also. I promised my friends ice cream earlier. Can we have some celebratory cake instead?”

 

Myra didn’t turn around to see her friends’ expressions. She wasn’t sure she wanted to see them. Not just yet. Instead she skipped into the kitchen, laughing at Cy’s demands that Ny come eat cake already, noting that Cindy definitely had a sweet-tooth. Myra cut herself a massive slice and ate it by hand, looking up when a coo-coo clock chimed five.

 

Closing time.

 

Eating her cake, Myra wondered idly if she was fired yet.

 

***

 

Three days later Myra walked through the halls of Frankenstein’s, exploring corridors she’d never had reason to explore before. She wasn’t quite sure what floor she was on, and she definitely wasn’t going to ask a wraith for help. Instead Myra took her time, turning here and there, smiling at all the whispers that followed her.

 

There was a new betting pool going: how long would the human girl last?

 

Myra finally found it, the door labeled Frankenstein, just like the sign outside. She knocked once, as she’d been instructed, and waited, bouncing slightly on her heels. As she did she stared down at the card in her hand. It was simplified paperwork, stating only that the house previously in the possession of Cy and Ny had been sold. The residents were a shocking collection of beings, but even more absurd was the co-ownership signatures of two humans: Myra and Cindy.

 

Myra smiled at the writing. Her grin grew even larger when the door finally opened and a very human-looking arm snuck out to take the card.

 

“Thank you, Boss.” Myra said. She bowed, curtseyed too for good measure, and then went on her way.

 

Heading home.

 

Fin.