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Summer of the Occult

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"Hey, ____, what do you think the world looks like through a ghosts' eyes?"

It wasn't the first time your cousin had asked a question of this nature.

About ghosts. About spirits.

"Even if I wanted to ask, I don't know if I'd get the answer you want, Dam."

About the things you could see that others couldn't.

The whole "I see dead people" shtick wasn't all it's cracked up to be. You didn't know if you were born with it, maybe you were, because even your oldest memories held vague images of translucent people who could walk through physical objects. You didn't call it a gift, but you weren't pessimistic enough to call it a curse. It was just... an ability. A thing you could do. Seeing and hearing the dead. "Afterlife Communication," you called it, you're mum had more specific terms for it, but you didn't care enough to remember right now.

Ah, right. You were at least lucky to have parents that didn't think you were a raving schizophrenic when they accidentally found out what you could do. After all, it sort of was their fault to begin with. Or just kinda sorta your entire extended family.

Yeah. Your entire family had psychic abilities of some kind.

"You're probably right. You think Great Aunt Lori asked once? I mean, there are plenty around town to ask, right? Hell, there are plenty right here at the Inn! She's had to have asked one of them at some point!" Damion exclaimed. You just sighed at his normal dramatic self.

"Dam, are we going to the farmers market today, or next century? You know how Aunty Nina gets when she can't make the guests food at the proper time."

"I'm coming, I'm coming! You got the list, right?"

"Like anyone lets you keep track of anything alone anymore."

"Ok, now that was just mean! I'm not that bad!"

"You lost the guest book, five guest's coats, your shoe, and a flag pole, in an hour."

"..... That was a really bad day ok? And we found everything just fine after."

"Except your shoe."

"I still don't know where it could have gone! It just vanished!"

Your conversation continued in this sort of manner, hopping from one topic to another. Your (mostly) immediate family ran the local Inn here in Little Ebbot Village, the exceedingly old 'village' sitting a little ways from the base of Mt. Ebbot. It wasn't very big, a population of a little over 600 made it easy for everyone to know everyone. Most all the buildings were anywhere from some decades to a good century or so old, the newest structures being the tourist center, some of the park buildings, and the paved roads. Honestly though? Everything was damn well taken care of. Yeah, the buildings needed renovating every so often, but most everything still kept the old styles the buildings were build in. They just got upgraded as the times changed.

The Farmer's market was near the center of town, and the late morning shoppers bustled about. At least, the few you could see.

"It's... less busy than normal." You furrowed your brow in confusion. Usually there were a lot more people buying stuff to make their lunch. "Is there something going on today that I don't know about?" Your cousin hummed, fiddling with a bracelet of his.

"Wait, wasn't there a thing over at town hall today over the vote thing on what to do with the um... Monster thing?"

Oh. Ooooh, right, that thing.

It had been very early autumn when the barrier that used to be only legend around Mt. Ebbot broke. It was kind of a huge deal. The old fairytale about monsters under the mountain being freaking true? A whole war actually happened? How did no one know this?!

Well, you see dead people, so monsters can exist too right? Oh, and the Inn was actually hosting the big government hotshots they sent to negotiate with the monsters. Oh boy, the closest you'd ever gotten to seeing any actual government official before this was the Mayor, but everyone knew Old Man Ackerman, so he didn't really count. The seriousness was so very uncomfortable, you avoided them like the plague if you could.

Around mid-winter the government officials had proposed an idea to the town; have the citizens vote what to do with their new monsters neighbors. A few ideas were proposed and muddled over, a ballot was made, and a vote was cast. You had placed your own vote when you could.

Now, spring was ending soon, and the final vote had been counted. The town's decision had been made.

But, even if you wanted to go see what had been voted on, you still had a job to do.

"Dam, why don't you go see what they decided on, while I get everything for Aunty Nina?"

"You sure you can carry everything?"

"I'll manage, you know I always do."

"Right, I'll come tell you the news when it's over."

Damion bolted towards Town Hall as you continued through the market. You trudged steadily on, chatting a bit with the shopkeepers as you collected the items from your list. You smiled lightly, it was lovely out, and it seemed everyone you talked to was having a good day as well. You felt contentment settle in your heart, and a spring in your step bounced you along.

"Ok, got that, got that, got those..." You glanced over the list, checking once more to make sure you have everything. It hadn't taken you long to get everything. With so many people over at Town Hall, it was easy for you to flit from one stall to the next. "Alright, time to head back."

You checked your watch. From where you are, it would take about 15 minutes to walk back to the inn, but Aunty Nina wouldn't get angry without her ingredients for another half hour. You secure your hold on the bags of food and start an easy pace, allowing your mind to wander.

You wondered about the monsters briefly. Your town was full of kind, open people. Mostly, at least. Even such a peaceful and happy place has a few bad eggs, but no one really let that bother them. You hoped the vote went in favor of the monsters, you really wanted to meet them. You couldn't help your bit of excitement.

"My, my. Your head is up in those clouds pretty far. I've been here for the last few minutes and you haven't taken a notice of me."

You prided yourself in that you didn't jump at the sudden voice next to you.

"Good morning, Ms. Turner." You replied quietly.

"And a fine morning it is!" You smiled at the translucent lady. Miss Georgia Turner was the ghost of a mid-19th century woman, decked out in a dark green, old style dress, with dark hair in a bun and bright green eyes. She was a rather chipper spirit, as she told you she was in life, and a bit of a gossip. She 'haunted' the farmers market, where she had been mugged and murdered, so she often popped up when you went grocery shopping. She probably could pass on if she wanted, but she lingered because 'Have you seen how much the world has changed in the last 160 something years!? Why would I miss that!?'

It was easier to chat with her than some other spirits, Georgia happily bouncing from one topic to another without your input. You didn't have to keep your voice quiet and lips as still as you can. You didn't really want to look like you were talking to thin air, even with how accepting everyone in town was. No one in town knew your family were a bunch of psychics and mediums. You were just one of the oldest, biggest, quirkiest families in Little Ebbot.

The walk back breezed by with Georgia chatting your ear off.

Now, the Old Ebbot Inn&Suite was, like with many of the old families, something your family had founded way back when the town was in its infancy, going back a couple hundred years at least. It had a rustic appearance, like most all of the town, wooden and well cared for. It was the tallest building in town, being four stories high and quite large. It stood closer to the park pathways that headed towards the base of Mt. Ebbot, with only a couple of buildings after it between the Inn and the forest proper.

For you, it was home.

(Though 'home' was technically the cabin next door.)

You said goodbye to Georgia and stepped into the lobby. You nodded and smiled at your Mom sitting behind the front desk, writing in something. Probably doing paperwork. This wasn't unusual, it only just meant your Dad was out, since one of them usually did paperwork while the other watched the lobby, unless both were out.

"Dad off somewhere?"

"Went with the officials to discuss something. Didn't tell us what, but we're pretty sure it has to do with the voting results today."

"Wait, they actually wanted to talk to one of us?" You raised an eyebrow. The officials were pretty hush-hush about their conferences with the monsters. Not that you or anyone tried to find out. You may have been curious, but you knew whatever decision would come to light eventually.

"Like I said, sweetie, they didn't say anything, just asked one of us to go with them to talk about something important." She shruged. Your face pinched in confusion, but you shruged as well. Oh well, time to put the groceries away, your arms were starting to ache.

"Aunty, I'm back!" You called, heading to the kitchen behind the guest dining room.

"Welcome back, dear." Your aunt turned to you while stirring a pot of some sort of soup. Your Aunt Nina was the oldest of of your aunts and uncles, dark auburn hair peppered with grey, but was spry and her sky colored eyes sparkled with life.

"Now, where did my little Dam-dreamer go? He was supposed to be with you, wasn't he?" You snorted at the punny nickname. Your aunt was a jokester if you ever knew one.

"The results of the vote over what to do with the monsters is today. I told Dam to go see the results while I shopped." You heaved the bags of food onto the long counter and began sorting and storing them.

"Ah, I see." She chuckled. "Probably the better idea. 'Specially since them government snobs hauled your Pa off somewhere."

"Aunty! You could cause a scandal with such words!" You mock gasped. The two of you laughed, as long as none of the officials were there, you all made fun of them every chance you got. Well, only the ones who deserved it. Entitled assholes.

You passed the time chatting and helping your Aunt with cooking and taking food out to the buffet. She had turned on the small radio sitting on a window sill above the sinks at one point, letting it be a pleasant background noise.

You had just finished putting out a platter of sandwiches when Damion burst through the front doors. Everyone startled and came out to see the commotion.

"GUYS HOLY FUCK!!!"

"DAMION!!! LANGUAGE!!"

"SORRY!" Your cousin sheepishly apologized before shaking out of it. "No time for that! Guys, the vote! It was in favor!"

"Of the monsters?" Your mom asked, smile beginning to spread across her lips.

"Yeah!" Damion cheered, then withdrew. "Ok kinda. So, here's what's gonna happen." Damion plopped himself into one of the lobby's couches and began to explain.

"So, since no one is still sure how to handle monsters, the vote went to having a small group of monsters stay here for a time so both sides can get used to each other."

"Ok, that sounds... kinda fair. It would maximize damage control should something happen, and it would get us used to the fact that they exist, while they catch up on things they've missed since they got trapped down there." You reasoned.

"Was my husband there?" Your mom spoke up. Glancing back at her, you saw that she was looking at her cell.

"Oh. Oh my god. That's the best part." Damion looked like his face was going to split in half with how much he was smiling.

"We're going to host the monsters." Both Damion and you mom said. Your aunt let out a whoop.

You grinned. Well, this was going to be interesting.