14.530.A Dark Sadness in a Young Heart

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 530
“A Dark Sadness in a Young Heart”

“This stinks.”
“What now? I know you got in trouble for all the damage you caused yesterday, but is it worse than I thought?”
“It actually has nothing to do with my blood tests. Those are perfect. It’s something else entirely.” She growled. “Why is everyone else in such a stupid place!?”
“What?”
“Mama keeps hanging out with that Haner guy and she was feeling bad about her parenting, and it’s just so annoying and I have a bad feeling about what it could mean. Fer-Shi’s getting more irritated with my evil than she used to and she’s down about not having a dream! San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina are still looking sad even though I gave them an inspirational speech! I haven’t even seen Dami, Ai-Reia always hates me, and I haven’t seen Sale-Dessu either. I hate it. Every time it seems like something’s going right lately, something else goes wrong.”
“My, that’s a lot of pent-up frustration.”
“I may complain about you a lot, but you’re a saving grace, Bes-Isa. You’re not as annoying as the others are being right now. There’s even a girl at school who I agreed to be somewhat-friends with called Sara, but she doesn’t have any confidence at all.”
“I’m flattered that I’m the saving grace in this whole situation.”
“I need to see someone who isn’t like all those others. I need some advice, but you can’t give me the advice I need.”
“I’d protest, but point taken. I’m not the biggest fan of all those people you mentioned. Hey, wait a second. I’ve got an idea. If you need to talk to someone who’s not me and who’s not being a total idiot or depressia, what about that girl–you know, the one who claims she’s a ghost?”
“Imagination?”
“Yeah, her. That woman wouldn’t mind because you’d be taking Choungetsu off on a walk. That’d give you time to cool off. And after that you could always stop by the Astineth house. Complain about Sale-Dessu all you like, but he’s just been locked in his house recently. He might not be as depressed or annoying as all the others.”
“Maybe, but he has Eul-Bok there, too. I think Imagination is my best bet. Good idea, Bes-Isa.”
“Why, thank you, La-Iin. And since I’m such a genius as to have suggested that idea, may I come along? I haven’t gotten to see much of this little ghost-girl as you, the furball and Fer-Shi. And I have my own curiosities about her.”
La-Iin nodded. She head downstairs, put Choungetsu on a leash and head out.

***

“This part of town is pretty spooky. You know, you should come by here more often. It’d make for a perfect base or home away from home.”
“Maybe. You know, it’s times like these I wonder how I could ever get irritated with you, Bes-Isa. Then I remember the irritating things you can say.”
“Huh!”
“But you’re still not as irritating as Choungetsu can be,” she said. Choungetsu turned around and cocked his head. “And even he’s still not as irritating as everyone else is being.”
La-Iin turned into the graveyard and was surprised to see that there was no sign of Imagination.
“Maybe she was smart enough to leave for once.”
“Aw, damn. I was really betting on meeting up with her.”
“Why? You barely know her.”
“I have my reasons.”
“Well, I’d like to know–”
Choungetsu stiffened, his eyes widening. La-Iin turned in the direction he was staring.
“La-Iin!” Imagination called out. “I didn’t expect to see you here! Why’d you come to the graveyard? Did you bring Fer-Shi?”
“No, I didn’t. But I didn’t come here to play.”
“We never play, though, so why would you? That makes sense. Why’d you come here, then?”
“I want to talk.”
“What about? If it’s about me being a ghost, that’s boring me. I already told you several times I’m a ghost, and even if you don’t believe me I know it’s true and that’s all that matters.”
La-Iin shook her head. “It’s not about you being a ghost, it’s a stupid problem I have.”
“Aw, your problems probably aren’t stupid,” Imagination said. “What’s wrong, La-Iin?”
“Bes-Isa wanted to talk to you first.” She levitated Bes-Isa up to Imagination’s face. Imagination flinched away slightly.
“Hi, Bes-Isa. You’re a V-Puppet. I remember you a little. I never had a V-Puppet. What’s it like being a V-Puppet?”
“Can you focus on one subject?”
“I am. V-Puppetry.”
“It’s all I know, so how am I supposed to explain it? What’s it like being autonomous?”
“It’s a little different depending on whether you’re dead or alive. Is that what you wanted to talk about?”
“Nope. It was just a little morbid curiosity about what your life was like before you claim to have died. Was the world a darker place back then?”
“I guess a little. Back when I was alive there were a lot of things different. When I left the graveyard today I wandered around Bledger and I saw a lot of Dualbreeds. It’s weird because back when I was alive, if you saw a Dualbreed they probably had Normal in them just like me. But I saw a Minomix-Birdmix and a Lizardfoot-Snowliv! Sheesh, how can you be a Snowliv when it’s getting so hot outside?”
“I wonder that too.”
“But yeah, there are some things different. Though if we lived in Manemica, I could probably tell you even more things that were different. Manemica and Vaelyn are pretty different places. Though I saw a few Manemican influences here in the modern-day, heh heh.” Imagination smiled. “Well, I can tell you more, Bes-Isa, but I’m worried about La-Iin. What’s wrong, my friend?”
La-Iin glanced over her shoulder. “Except for Bes-Isa, everyone in my life is being annoying. I wanted to come to you because I figured you wouldn’t be annoying me, or at least not as much as they are..”
“…thank you,” Imagination said. “But I don’t know how I can help…”
“Recently I got something that’s really great for me. An amazing power I wasn’t supposed to get until I was older.”
Imagination clapped. “Good for you, La-Iin!”
“But then everything went to shit!” Imagination flinched. “Everyone either started being depressing or annoying. And I can’t stand it! This power is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m sick of everyone ruining it!”
“Why are they so sad? Is it because of the power?”
“No.”
“Have you tried making them happy?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Hm…” Imagination paced around the graveyard. “That sounds pretty annoying, La-Iin. I don’t think it would make me angry, but I can see why it makes you angry. And you can’t solve it, hm…”
“It’s not fair,” La-Iin huffed. “I’m evil. Sometimes I wish I was more like San-Kyung and I didn’t care about people as much. But I don’t want to be like he is now.”
“Aw, that’s okay, La-Iin. Caring about people is a good thing. It makes you feel better if nothing else. At least it did for me. You’re lucky because you have friends. I didn’t really. But now I have you and Fer-Shi and Choungetsu, and maybe Bes-Isa?”
“We’ll see about that, ghosty girl.”
Choungetsu looked up at her with a smile.
“Well, whatever happens, don’t let them get you down. You should enjoy your brand-new power to the fullest. And don’t feel sad about liking people. I think everyone likes someone!”
“Huh.”
“You like me and Bes-Isa and Choungetsu. And you have me, and Bes-Isa, and Choungetsu! So while these people are being all sad, I say you focus on the people who aren’t, and then also focus on yourself. You don’t always have to focus on other people, you know?”
“I know that.”
“I knew you did. You’re pretty smart for a little kid.”
“It was good to get that off my chest,” La-Iin breathed.
“Yeah, you look a lot more relieved now.”
“You really do. That’s good.”
“Maybe I should show you my new power. After all, you don’t talk to anyone else.” La-Iin grinned.
“GIVE ME YOUR BLOOOOD!”
“Eek! La-Iin, I don’t have any blood!” Imagination said, dashing away. La-Iin chased after her in the air. Soon enough, Imagination’s shrieks turned into giggles, and La-Iin found herself having genuine fun for what felt like the first time in a while.

—–
“Let’s see if he’s being a depressio.” La-Iin knocked on Sale-Dessu’s door. No response.
“Maybe he’s asleep.”
“We’ll see about that!” La-Iin banged herself against the door. “SALE-DESSU! OPEN UP!”
As she did that, memories of her time in the graveyard flashed in her mind–she was certain her fangs had met Imagination’s skin, but they had sunk into nowhere. Perhaps she imagined it in the speed of the moment, but it made her feel a mixture of unease and excitement.
La-Iin waited there so long she was ready to leave, but soon enough the door opened and out peeked a familiar face, though now wearing casual clothes, glasses and with maroon-colored hair, La-Iin could still recognize it as Sale-Dessu.
“La-Iin,” he said quietly. “It’s good to see you again.”
“Why do you look like that?”
“An experiment,” he said. “What brings you here?”
“You know what does.”
“Just give me a moment and you can come on in, alright?”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes, but to her surprise it took shorter for Sale-Dessu to set up than it did for him to open the door. “Come on in, then.”
La-Iin smiled to herself as she and Bes-Isa went inside.

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25.480.Imaginary to Imagination

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 480
“Imaginary to Imagination”

La-Iin had been stewing over Imagination’s claims of being a ghost even more since the day she had found the unusual newspaper at the library. Since then she hadn’t stopped by the graveyard much–and her most recent trip there, Imagination was nowhere in sight.
All the while, on her spare time that she wasn’t thinking on her plans for world domination or some other subject that occupied her time, she was thinking on a way she could find solid proof that Imagination was a ghost.
‘That news story is suspicious. But stupid stuff happens all the time. Another Normal-Catori could have died and been strangled. With how transparent she looks, she might even be a Tribreed and not realize it.’
Imagination was certainly unusual, and La-Iin wanted to believe she was telling the truth. Yet she also didn’t want to get her hopes up. The loss of her loved ones was a subject that bothered her deeply. If she could have definitive proof that it wasn’t something she needed to worry much about, she would feel that much more confident in her goals.

“I’ve been thinking, Imagination.”
“Thinking about what?”
“You say that you’ve gone out of the graveyard and people haven’t been able to see you. But me, Fer-Shi and Choungetsu can see you, and we’ve never met someone who can’t.”
“I guess not?”
“So if you want me to believe you’re a ghost, prove to me that there really are some people who can’t see you.”
“That’s a good idea, La-Iin,” Fer-Shi said. “But I’m not sure if I really want to know if you’re a ghost or not. I believe you enough with what I’ve already seen!”
“Thank you, Fer-Shi,” Imagination said with a smile. “But I really want to prove to La-Iin that I’m telling the truth when I say I’m a ghost. So I’ll do whatever she wants in order to prove it.”
“Don’t say that!” Fer-Shi yelled. Imagination blinked. “Why not?”
“If only I had better grave-digging skills,” she sighed. “If Choungetsu wasn’t such a weenie, I wouldn’t need to worry about this.”
Choungetsu glanced at her, his expression blank.
“I’m willing to do it if you want proof. Take me to whoever you want and I’ll show you that not everybody can see me. But, um…the people you wanna show me to, they wouldn’t say anything about seeing me, right?”
“Even if they did, nobody would believe them,” La-Iin told her, though she found herself going over the reactions she expected from the people she’d consider.
‘Mama would probably be really surprised and asking a lot of questions. Bes-Isa might be a little intrigued by ghosts existing. San-Kyung probably wouldn’t care except for the whole afterlife aspect. Rival-boy would be interested and asking a bunch of questions. Sale-Dessu would definitely keep it a secret, but he’d probably be just as curious as rival-boy would be, if not even more curious.’
“So, when do you want to do it?”
“Today. I have two people I can show you to. And if they can both see you, then I’m really going to think you’re lying.”
“You know, La-Iin, even if they can see me that still doesn’t prove I’m not a ghost,” she said. “It might only prove I’m lying about other people not being able to see me.”
“If that was the case then why don’t we see ghosts everywhere? There’s lots of dead people after all.”
“Because it’s not how things work,” Imagination said. “Okay then, let’s go!”
La-Iin, Fer-Shi, Choungetsu and Imagination left the graveyard, each thinking on what was about to happen.
‘I should show her to Sale-Dessu first. Him being able to see her would mean nothing to me.’

***

Fer-Shi tagged along with La-Iin to her neighborhood. She seemed cheerful, but La-Iin could tell she was scared by the look in her eyes. Once she neared her house, a thought came to mind.
‘Fer-Shi doesn’t know that Sale-Dessu made an autonomous V-Puppet,’ she thought. ‘If I bring her into his house, she might keep asking questions about him and I’ll never get to the point.’
“Fer-Shi, Choungetsu looks like he has to use the bathroom,” she said. “Go inside my house and I’ll be there soon.”
“Um, okay!”
La-Iin waited until Fer-Shi had gone inside, then beckoned to Imagination, who had been standing behind both girls on the walk.
“I’m kind of nervous now. What if these people can see me? And are they adults?”
“Yes, all of them. …well, one of them thinks she’s an adult, but she’s really not. But the guy in this house is an adult.”
Imagination began to look uncertain. La-Iin knocked on the door to Sale-Dessu’s house. It didn’t take long for him to respond.
“Hello, La-Iin,” he said.
“Sale-Dessu, I have something important for you. I want to ask, do you believe in ghosts?”
Sale-Dessu blinked. “I believe in spirits,” he said. “Why?”
“Do you believe we can see spirits?”
“No, I don’t, though I’ve always wished I could. Why?”
“I have something for you that might give you proof about ghosts. Or rather, someone. Imagination, show yourself.”
When nothing happened, La-Iin glanced around for Imagination, but she was nowhere in sight.
“What’s going on, La-Iin? Did you sip a potion or something?”
“No, I didn’t! She just ran away because she’s scared of adults.”
Sale-Dessu looked confused. “I’m not sure what’s going on,” he said. “But I really don’t think that we can see spirits. Don’t spirits go to–”
“FATHER!” La-Iin heard from inside. “I–I THINK I MESSED UP! SOMETHING’S GOING REALLY WRONG!”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “Hang on, Eul-Bok!” He called. “M-maybe you can introduce me to this Imagination girl some other time,” he stammered, before closing the door and yelling something La-Iin couldn’t understand.
“…Imagination, where the hell are you?” La-Iin asked. Imagination peeked her head out from the side of Sale-Dessu’s house.
“I just realized I have an ability I never knew I could use,” she said. “I think.”
“Now what?”
“I think I can turn invisible at will. I didn’t even see my hand when I put it in front of my face. It was so weird.”
La-Iin glared.
“I’m sorry, but I got scared when you said he was an adult. And I saw he was a Warlock too. My Dad always told me I shouldn’t trust strangers.”
“He isn’t a stranger to me, though.”
“How do you know this guy, anyway? Does he have a kid you play with?”
“No,” she said. Before she could respond, a sound reminiscent of an explosion sounded from the Astineth house, followed by yelling. “Let’s just go to my house,” she grumbled, stomping away from Sale-Dessu’s. Imagination followed close behind her.
“The adult in this house is my Mama. I swear, if you disappear on me again–”
“I’ll try not to,” she said. La-Iin gave her an uncertain glance before walking inside.
“You took a long time,” Fer-Shi said. “How much did Choungetsu have to go?”
“He just made me take a detour,” La-Iin said as she unhooked his leash. Choungetsu dashed away, seeming incredibly cheerful.
“So, are we gonna show her to Miss Cahongyun?”
“Yes, if she doesn’t go hiding before we can,” La-Iin muttered. Imagination’s ears folded to her head.
“Huh?”
“It’s nothing.” La-Iin walked past the living room and hallway and into the kitchen, where sure enough Mit-Sun was working on papers.
“Mama!”
Mit-Sun glanced up. “Hello, La-Iin. That was a pretty long walk. It’s been a while since you took one of those.”
“I went on the walk with Fer-Shi. Are you surprised?” She turned to Imagination, making sure the girl was still there. She looked uncertain, but she was still standing behind her.
“Mama, I want you to meet someone.”
“Meet someone?”
“Yes. Imagination, show yourself!”
When she turned around, Imagination had disappeared again. La-Iin’s wings began to flap wildly in her anger. “FER-SHI! IS IMAGINATION OUT THERE!?”
“No, isn’t she with you?” Fer-Shi called back.
“NO, SHE ISN’T!”
“You don’t have to yell so loudly,” Mit-Sun snapped. “Is this some sort of prank?”
“It wasn’t supposed to be,” La-Iin said through grit teeth. “Never mind, Mama. I’m going to my room. FER-SHI, YOU WANNA COME UPSTAIRS?”
Fer-Shi dashed into the kitchen. “Sure!”
The two girls head upstairs; before she left the kitchen, La-Iin noticed Mit-Sun giving her a look as if she were both perplexed and frustrated with her. La-Iin decided to ignore it and opened her bedroom door.
“I have one more person for you to meet, Imagination. If you’re still here.”
“I am,” Imagination said, peeking her head into her bedroom. “Is this your room? It’s a nice room. My room wasn’t as nice as this. Are you rich?”
“No,” she said. “Imagination, if you leave again, I’m never going back to that graveyard to see you.”
She swallowed hard. “Okay, I won’t.”
La-Iin made the hand-motions to wake Bes-Isa.
“Good afternoon, finally. Hey, who’s the newcomer?”
“Oh, she’s just a V-Puppet!” Imagination sighed.
“Really, La-Iin, who is this?”
“This is Imagination, Bes-Isa,” La-Iin said coolly. “The girl who claims she’s a ghost but doesn’t give me any reason to believe she is.”
“I’m sorry!”
“Well, there’s a lot of weird stuff that Imagination can do that I don’t think normal people could,” Fer-Shi said. “She was able to take the hotteok out of her unscathed and she popped up through the ground…”
Fer-Shi paled and the look in her eyes became distant.
“So you claim you’re a ghost?”
“I am a ghost.”
“What brings you to that conclusion?”
La-Iin filled Bes-Isa in on the story before Imagination went off on a tangent.
“…huh. Well, I can see you just fine. Though you do look pretty weird for a Normal-Catori. Sure there isn’t something else in you? Are you a distanced Tribreed?”
“Do those even work the way people say they do?” Imagination asked. “If another species is that far back in your family line, will it even show?”
“Uh, yes. Just how out of the loop are you? Even people who aren’t good at species study know that.”
“I barely leave my graveyard,” she said.
“This must be pretty weird for you, huh?” Fer-Shi asked. Imagination nodded.
“Well, it’s just annoying for me,” she said. “Sooner or later, either Mama will see you or she won’t. And it won’t be because you decided to hide at the last moment.”
“You know, I’m curious now, La-Iin. Are you trying to prove I am a ghost, get me to back up my claims, or prove I’m not a ghost? I really can’t figure it out.”
“It’s none of your business.”
“That makes me wonder lots more,” she said. “But oh well. Thanks for giving me a little something else to do regardless, La-Iin.”
“You didn’t do what I wanted, though. You’ll pay for that in the future.”
Imagination’s ears folded to her head once again. “Well…hopefully someday I can prove to you that I really am a ghost, La-Iin.”
‘I hope you can too,’ La-Iin thought. She caught herself just before the words crossed her lips. “Since you’re here, I might as well show you some things. Wait here and I’ll show you Haven in Dystopia.”
“Didn’t you beat that game a long time ago?” Fer-Shi asked.
“That’s why I’m going to show her that one.”
‘There has to be some other way I can get proof. Maybe next time I should try bringing Mama to the graveyard. I bet I couldn’t get Sale-Dessu to come out with me, but maybe San-Kyung or rival-boy…’
She shuddered at the thought of taking Dosa-Mina out to the graveyard. ‘But Bes-Isa can see her. I guess that means she really did hide. I don’t know what to believe anymore…’

—–
“Hey, what happened to Imagination?”
“I think she just left. I don’t see her anywhere anymore.”
“The nerve…”
“Hey, La-Iin, I’m curious now too. What are you trying to prove with Imagination? Are you really just trying to get her to back up her claims or is there something else going on?”
“It’s none of your business. Don’t you have to go home soon?”
“I guess I do,” she sighed. “Well, I’ll be seeing you, La-Iin!”
La-Iin waved to her, then went back to stewing on new ideas to prove that Imagination truly was a ghost. Her frustration left her on that thought for the rest of the day, from the moment Fer-Shi left until she fell asleep late at night.

12.346.Potentially Imaginary Mysteries

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 346
“Potentially Imaginary Mysteries”

“I don’t know if anyone else can see me, La-Iin. I went out a few times since our last meeting and nobody noticed me even when I did really annoying things.”
Imagination sighed. She stared down at Choungetsu. “At least you can see me.”
Choungetsu yipped.
“But it doesn’t really matter to you at all I guess. You never even really believed I was a ghost, not since the day we met…”
Both girls fell silent. Choungetsu gave a whimper.

***

“Thinking about something, La-Iin?”
La-Iin laid on her bed, lost in thought. Her meeting with Imagination was on her mind, along with the last meeting the two had had with Fer-Shi. She recalled all the things she and Fer-Shi had asked her about that she didn’t know.
Was she isolated from the world or a ghost? La-Iin wasn’t sure which one to believe anymore.
‘Maybe I shouldn’t try and find out through Imagination. Maybe I can find out some other way.’
Skeptic as she was about Imagination’s claims, she half hoped it was the truth. She couldn’t help but wonder if that would make living out a thousand years easier on her.
‘And maybe I could still commit atrocities from the grave…’
La-Iin hopped off her bed and snapped her fingers. She walked downstairs and into the kitchen, but Mit-Sun wasn’t there. She decided to try her room instead.
Mit-Sun was sitting at the computer. La-Iin sighed.
“Hello, La-Iin. Are you ready for school?”
“Are you ready for work?” La-Iin said sarcastically.
“Don’t be that way with me. You got up early today but just because you’ve had more time to yourself before school doesn’t mean you don’t have to go today. What did you want, anyway?”
“Not to say that I wasn’t ready for school, even though I really don’t want to go,” she huffed. “I wanted to use your computer.”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “What for?”
“Research.”
Mit-Sun blinked. “Research on what?”
“…someone mentioned in history class. Not anyone evil. Although I would like to look at that…I could–what I said before!”
“You don’t need to snap at me,” Mit-Sun said, standing up from the computer chair. “I’m happy to hear that you want to do research. I don’t even care if you research evil people, because you can learn a lot from them. And I don’t mean get ideas,” she added dryly.
“I’m not going to get ideas from old evil people. I’m just going to figure out what made them fail so I can do better.” When she noticed Mit-Sun’s agitated expression, she added, “But the main person I want to look up is a goody-goody.”
“I’m not sure I completely trust you with my computer,” she said. “If you don’t act out I might let you on after school. We’ll see. I don’t want you intentionally installing a virus on there, after all…”
She pushed La-Iin forward. “Come on, we have to get going.”

The students from Class D began to migrate to their next classroom, all except for La-Iin, who stayed in the hallway scouring the crowd. She ran into it when she noticed familiar chestnut hair and pulled on his shirt.
“Hm?” Dosa-Mina turned around. He walked out the crowd, La-Iin following him. San-Kyung’s rapid glancing around the crowd went unnoticed by both of them.
“What’s the shirt pulling for?” Dosa-Mina said, his tone playful. La-Iin wanted to sigh. ‘He’s just going to mess with me. Maybe this was a bad idea.’
“I wanted to talk to you.”
“What about? San-Kyung? He’s been fine lately, don’t worry. You’ve seen it yourself. He’s still pretty weak in December, but he’s a lot better than he is in November! You could have asked him that yourself.”
“Hearing you go on about San-Kyung is annoying,” she spat. “I wanted to talk about something else.”
Dosa-Mina’s expression became more serious. “If this has to do with anything private, then no.”
“You know, you’re not making it any easier to ask you this, but I thought you might know best, so listen up.”
Dosa-Mina smiled. “Does it have to do with species study?”
“Not exactly.”
His smile dropped. “Then what’s it about?”
“I know you do lots of research on species study because you don’t shut up about it sometimes.”
“San-Kyung’s told me the same. I’ve tried to cut down on my tangents a bit.”
“I wanted to know how you do research and find out things that are actually true. Do you watch people like you watch me?”
“No, not really. The only reason why I watch you is because what you can do is something that’s not really documented. You probably don’t remember if you’re asking me this, but I told you a few things about that in the past. For starters, as tempting as it might be, the internet isn’t exactly the best place for research. It’s fast, mostly, but it also has a lot of misinformation you’d have to sift through…it depends on what you’re looking up how much there is, but I definitely recommend books. Especially the older your subject is. Books can be wrong too, but at least they’re more trustworthy.”
“I don’t know how old it is,” she said. “Do you know how I could find somebody by name?”
“Well, I’m sure there are records on those sorts of things somewhere.”
“How about information on locations?”
“How big of a location are we talking about? La-Iin, I do do a lot of research, but whatever you’re looking in to sounds a bit out of my main field of expertise. Also…” He glanced up at the clock. “Biology class starts soon, so make it quick.”
“A small location.”
“You probably won’t find a very good source.”
“How about names of fatalities!?”
Dosa-Mina blinked. “…are you looking into a murder case or something?”
“Maybe.”
“I had to ask,” he chuckled. “It all seems pretty weird put together. Well then, that depends. If it’s local you might be able to find it in the news records at the library. Otherwise that might be a bit more problematic, and could require using the internet to find possibly fake stuff…” Dosa-Mina glanced up at the clock again.
“I have to go. Hope I can still get my seat. Good luck on your murder case, La-Iin!” He said before dashing off.
La-Iin started to think on his words as she walked outside. ‘Rival-boy wasn’t very helpful. But I guess thinking about the internet was a bad idea. Well, Imagination says she’s buried in Bledger, right? Maybe it was a local story. If she had a funeral, then maybe it actually happened….’

When La-Iin got home, Mit-Sun was scoffing at Choungetsu.
“I know we weren’t home, but you didn’t have to go upstairs to do that!” She snapped. Choungetsu’s ears were folded to his head and he was looking up at her with wide eyes. When the door creaked, both turned to see La-Iin.
“Hello, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun said.
“Mama, I changed my mind about using your computer. Can we go to the library to see something?”
Mit-Sun’s eyes widened. “Okay,” she said. “You must feel pretty strongly about finding out about this person…” Mit-Sun turned back to Choungetsu. “We’re going out again. I took you out, so if I find anything fresh, you’re going to be in serious trouble.”
Choungetsu gave a whimper.
Mit-Sun and La-Iin left the house and head for the library. “I’m surprised to see you so into this research. If it was about someone evil like one of the Rynghs, I might be able to understand. And you seemed pretty into species study too. I’ve seen you read my books before. And I’ve seen you struggle.”
“That’s not important,” La-Iin said. “I know how to read at least.”
“Well, if you need me to read anything, you just tell me,” she said. “But anyway, you said this research was on someone good. Were they connected to someone evil, by any chance?”
“Not really.”
“Did they discover something that interests you?”
“No.”
“Were they some sort of rare species combination?”
“She’s a Dualbreed, but no,” La-Iin said, then covered her mouth.
“Is that why? I know one of the reasons you said you liked Usl-Thaehey was because she’s a Dualbreed like you…I know you get conceited about that sometimes.”
The two walked into the library. “I have my reasons for being interested in this girl. Where’s the news records?”
“They’re near the back,” a bespectacled Minomix said. “And don’t talk so loud in here.”
Mit-Sun and La-Iin head to the back of the library. La-Iin couldn’t help but look up at the high shelves that avians browsed. The shelves low to the ground were already quite tall and she wondered how many books were in them.
‘How many of these books are garbage?’
“There’s the news records,” Mit-Sun whispered. La-Iin walked over to them. The news records were split into sections by years and the type of news being reported. La-Iin started to look through the crime reports and tried to think back on all she had learned from Imagination.
‘She said she was strangled. And the newspaper would probably say her species. She lives in Bledger. She seemed to be alive when Makeshire was alive. She was surprised by all the hyphenated names.’
La-Iin glanced through several news records, all the while being tempted to stop at particularly interesting sounding ones. She didn’t stop until one headline caught her eye.
At this point in time where crimes against the people are high all around the world, one particular case has people wondering just how low some people can sink. The decaying corpse of a young girl, a Normal-Catori Half-Breed, aged around ten to twelve, was discovered on the sidewalk of a neighborhood earlier this week. From the marks on her neck it appeared that she was strangled.
The family of the girl, who wish to remain anonymous, state that they had begun to panic about the whereabouts of their daughter especially in times like these. They state that they had been fearing the worst, but prayed they were wrong. Today they’re not sure whether to be grateful they at least found her or to give into their despairs.
Suspicion initially arose around the girl’s father, who had reportedly been out of the house around the time the girl was killed. However, his location was confirmed by his workplace, who was able to provide witness reports on his presence there on recent days. It is not known exactly when the girl died, but it is assumed it was the same day she went missing, a day for which both parents have alibis.

“Did you find it?” Mit-Sun asked.
“…yes. Mama, you can go and look at something else for now,” she said. She stared back at the newspaper.
‘I have to show this to Imagination.’

***

“I want to show you this,” La-Iin said. “Read it before it gets too dark.”
Imagination stared at the paper, squinting her eyes slightly. “That sounds like me,” she said. “But I don’t really know because they didn’t say much….but I remember my dad was at work when I died.”
Imagination looked La-Iin in the eyes. “Is this why you came back the same day? Do you believe me now, with this?”
“I don’t know,” La-Iin admitted.
“Well, even if you still don’t believe me, thank you for bringing this to me,” Imagination said, a smile starting on her lips. “I feel like maybe now I can somehow get a little closure…La-Iin, if you find anything else that sounds like it’s maybe about me please let me see it. I’d like to know about all the things I didn’t know about between the time I died and the time I became a ghost.”
She reached for the paper. “Can I keep it?”
“I don’t care.”
Imagination took the paper from La-Iin. “Thank you, La-Iin. See you again soon maybe?”
“Maybe with Fer-Shi next time,” she said. “See you, Imagination.”
The last thing she saw was Imagination’s smile. After she left the graveyard, when she peeked back in, Imagination wasn’t there.
‘I wonder if she’s going to put it someplace safe. She probably knew I took it from somewhere.’ La-Iin thought. ‘Well, the library had more than one of that newspaper anyway, so they won’t miss that one.’

—–
La-Iin lay in her bed that night, thinking on her discovery.
“She probably IS a ghost, La-Iin!” When she had told Fer-Shi about her discovery, she had sounded a mixture of excited and terrified. She wondered if it was still on Fer-Shi’s mind as it was on her’s.
La-Iin wondered if it was because of her lifespan that she felt skeptic about ghosts. But she still hoped Imagination really was a ghost. She would never admit that to her.
But at least it would mean that all the people she loved would still stay with her.
‘Maybe I could even meet Makeshire someday…’

26.269.Gravely Good Time

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 269
“Gravely Good Time”

“Do you think Imagination will really be here to see us again?” Fer-Shi asked. “I know you met her at this graveyard, and I met her at this graveyard, but I can’t really imagine someone wanting to stay at a place like this for a long time….and there’s never anybody in this area, it’s weird…”
“Unless she actually got smart and finally left, we will,” La-Iin assured her.
At school that day, Fer-Shi had asked about Imagination, the girl the two had met. La-Iin decided to head back there to see if Imagination was still there.
La-Iin was still skeptic about Imagination’s claims that she was a ghost. But she didn’t mind the girl and loved the graveyard atmosphere, so she decided that visiting her again wouldn’t be a problem.
“I’m still worried about her…” Fer-Shi said. La-Iin noticed that she was starting to shake slightly. “I don’t know if I imagined what I saw that time, or…or what, but maybe Imagination really is a ghost…”
“How can she be if you and I can see her?” La-Iin said. Choungetsu gave a yip. “I didn’t forget you, Choungetsu, but if you couldn’t see her I still wouldn’t take that as proof.”
“Why not?”
“Because Choungetsu is stupid. If somebody stupid can’t see something, then it’s not surprising.”
“Who’s stupid?”
Both girls turned around. Imagination was standing right next to them.
“GYAH!” Fer-Shi shrieked. “You scared me!”
“I’m sorry. But it’s nice to see you two again. Are you just in the area or did you come to see me?”
“We came to see you,” La-Iin said. “Me, Fer-Shi, and Choungetsu too.”
“Hello Choungetsu,” Imagination said. Choungetsu gave her a startled look. “I like Choungetsu. Some people think we Catoris don’t like dogs. Well I guess I’m half-Catori. But I love dogs.”
“Nobody says that in Vaelyn,” La-Iin said.
“Oops. I told you I never got fully adjusted to life here. Although I learned the language pretty easily!” Imagination said with a smile. “Sometimes I wonder if the knowledge of it just became ingrained in me when I died and I didn’t really know the language all that well when I was alive….because I can’t really remember.”
“…” La-Iin gave Imagination a side-glance.
“Um! Now that we’re here, shouldn’t we do something together?” Fer-Shi adjusted her backpack, then gasped. “Oh! I have snacks!”
“Snacks?” Imagination asked.
“Mm-hm. Although….are you gonna be able to eat them?”
“I don’t know,” Imagination said.
“She probably will be,” La-Iin said. “Why wouldn’t ghosts be able to eat living food?”
“So you finally think I’m a ghost?” Imagination asked.
“No.”
Imagination glared.
“Well, they say ghosts are able to go through things, so maybe food would just go through them…” La-Iin noticed that Fer-Shi was still shaking as she spoke.
“That’s what I’m thinking would happen,” Imagination sighed. “But it would be fun if I could.”
“Well, let’s see.” La-Iin opened up Fer-Shi’s backpack.
“Hey!”
“We need to try for a test.”
“Let me just set it up then,” Fer-Shi sighed. She pulled the backpack away from La-Iin, set it down on the ground, and pulled out several snacks.
“What are those!?” Imagination exclaimed. “I’ve never seen some of those before…”
“You really don’t know much about Vaelyn,” La-Iin said.
“No, I don’t…” Imagination’s tail drooped and her ears folded to her head.
“That’s okay. I can tell you what it is. This is Twibap. It’s made from puffed rice!”
“Puffy rice?” Imagination asked. “Sounds strange.”
“It’s really good. And this is Hotteok! It’s a pancake.”
“Pancakes!” Imagination exclaimed. La-Iin rolled her eyes. She noticed Choungetsu staring at the snacks eagerly, his tongue lolling as normal and his tail wagging wildly.
“This is Beondegi. You might not like it.”
“Why, what is it?”
“Bugs!” Fer-Shi said enthusiastically. “I like it a lot, though.”
“Bugs? Why would you eat bugs?”
“They’re tasty.”
“Okay….ooh, that looks familiar. What’s that?”
“This is a choco pie!” Fer-Shi said. “My Mom made me a homemade one. She said I shouldn’t eat it unless I run out of the rest of my snacks.”
“Is that why she gave you four snacks, so you’d never get to it?” La-Iin asked.
“I–I don’t think so…well, she knew I was going with you, so maybe she thought I’d get down to it by eating snacks with you! Although I didn’t think she expected a third person to eat snacks too…”
“I don’t have to try,” Imagination said. “I don’t get hungry anymore.”
“Well, you should eat something…” Fer-Shi handed Imagination a hotteok. Imagination stared at it quizzically, then ate it in nearly one bite.
“Are you sure you’re not hungry!?” Fer-Shi gasped.
“I couldn’t really taste it…” Imagination said.
“It didn’t fall through,” La-Iin said. “She’s not a ghost! It would fall through on a ghost.”
“I don’t know if it was good or not. I’m sorry I wasted your pancake. Do you want it back?”
“Want it back!?” Fer-Shi screamed.
“Yeah, let me get it for you…”
Fer-Shi flinched as Imagination opened her mouth and pulled out the barely-scathed hotteok. “Here.”
“GYAAAAAH!”
“That’s disgusting,” La-Iin said. “And kind of cool.”
“Well I don’t think it matters whether I eat or not. I wasn’t hungry and the pancake didn’t make me full, and I could barely taste it except that it seemed like it was kind of sweet, but like I said I couldn’t really tell…”
“Imagination, do you mind if I talk to La-Iin for a second?” Fer-Shi asked. She had visibly paled and her hands were shaking wildly.
“Sure, I don’t mind.”
Fer-Shi grabbed La-Iin’s shoulder, took her to the side, and whispered, “I–I think she might really be a ghost, La-Iin!”
“You don’t really believe in ghosts, do you?” La-Iin said.
“Well I always thought they’d be more…evil…”
“I just want to know how she coughed it up without getting it all spitty and chewed up.”
Fer-Shi didn’t respond. Choungetsu walked over to her and started licking her leg.
“If you want proof we can look at the gravestones.”
“N-no! I don’t know if that would be a good idea…”
“Stick our hands through her?”
“…no.”
“I don’t think she’s a ghost because she’s never shown me anything to prove it. She didn’t even remember where her grave was.”
“Wanna look for it?” Imagination asked. Fer-Shi screeched and jumped away from Imagination, landing face-down in mud.
“Are you okay, Fer-Shi?”
“Y-yeeees…..” She sat up and Choungetsu started to lick the mud off of her face, only to start snorting a moment later and drooling out the mud.
“Don’t be so scared,” La-Iin said. “We’re gonna look for your grave now, Imagination.”
“Okay. I’m sure it’s around here somewhere. I saw my funeral in this exact graveyard. I wonder if my parents are buried here too.”
La-Iin helped Fer-Shi up. Fer-Shi was still shaking as she followed La-Iin and Imagination over to a grave.
La-Iin dusted off the grave.
“1972…”
“What’s the name?”
“Botokssen…”
Fer-Shi turned to Imagination. “That…that isn’t your family name, is it?”
“No, I think mines started with K, but then again, I’m not sure…if you saw one that said Imagination though, you’d know for sure.”
La-Iin had quickly moved on to another grave. “1967…born 1940….Etikivok.”
“Etikivok?” Fer-Shi said. “That doesn’t sound like a Vaelis name.”
“I’m not even sure this is a Vaelis graveyard. It’s really weird.”
“Reminds me of graveyards back home…my family wasn’t originally Vaelis so it would make sense why they’d bury me here.”
“Yeah…”
La-Iin dusted off another grave. “1452…”
“Eek!”
“Died 1970. Must be a Vampire. Your demons won’t affect you on the other side. Ze…Zezullo.” La-Iin sighed. “This is going to be tedious. There must be almost thirty graves in here. Maybe it would just be easier to dig them all up. Then if we find one with Catori ears and–”
“Nooooo!” Fer-Shi yelled.
“I wouldn’t mind you digging me up for proof, but I think that would just be rude to do to the other people here. Although they maybe forgot their graves since I never see them…”
“I don’t need to do it. Choungetsu could do it.” La-Iin tugged on Choungetsu’s leash and pointed at a grave she hadn’t dusted off. Choungetsu sniffed at it, sneezed, froze up and then ran back to La-Iin.
“Coward,” she spat. She walked over to the grave and dusted it off.
“1951….”
“M-maybe we shouldn’t be looking through these graves, La-Iin,” Fer-Shi said. “If anyone comes by, we could get in trouble, and if there are ghosts around, they probably wouldn’t like it…”
“Yeah, and you had a point there earlier, there are a lot of graves. It might take forever before you find mine…”
“This one is all messed up. I can’t even see who it belongs to….”
“Are you even listening, La-Iin!?” Fer-Shi exclaimed.
“Stop getting so worked up,” La-Iin said. “I just wanted proof.”
“You seem like the type of girl who would believe in ghosts without any proof, though, sort of,” Imagination said. “I mean your fascination with suffering and death seems like it would mean you thought ghosts existed too. I’m sure some ghosts suffer after death maybe…”
“Yes, well, if I want proof, I…”
“Is something wrong, La-Iin?” Fer-Shi asked.
“No.” She tugged on Choungetsu’s leash to pull him away from some dead plants he had been sniffing at. “…would you mind sharing some of your snacks, Fer-Shi?”
“Nope!”
“Imagination, tell us about yourself,” La-Iin said. Imagination nodded and sat down. Fer-Shi handed La-Iin a hotteok as Imagination began to talk.
“Well, I’m not from here originally,” Imagination said. “I came from…Manemica, I think. Someplace that speaks Enlash anyway. So I grew up there with my Mom and Dad. I didn’t really know the rest of my family all that well and I didn’t have any brothers or sisters.”
“This hotteok is really sweet…” La-Iin said. Fer-Shi shushed her. La-Iin glared.
“I’m half-Catori because my Mom was a Catori. Anyway, I remember spending lots of time with my Mom and Dad, but I don’t really remember much of what we did. I didn’t have many friends either.”
“That sounds kind of lonely…” Fer-Shi said.
“I was okay because I had Mom and Dad. Anyway, one day my Mom started teaching me Vaelis. I had a hard time getting the hang of it at first, but even though I wasn’t the best I learned better than Mom and Dad. Then they told me they were teaching me Vaelis because we were going to move to Vaelyn soon. …I’m sorry, I don’t remember why we were going to move to Vaelyn. I don’t know if it was a job thing or some other reason….I wasn’t really upset about moving to Vaelyn, well not much, but I was kind of scared to go so far across the world. It was really weird when I first moved to Vaelyn. Lots of things were different from Manemica.”
“I think it would be really weird to move someplace so far away,” Fer-Shi said.
“Now look who’s interrupting,” La-Iin said. She dusted off a grave behind her. Fer-Shi sighed. “Sorry…go on.”
“When we first moved to Vaelyn there was something big going on, like some sort of conflict but I don’t really remember what. Actually maybe that’s why we moved from Manemica. I think a conflict was going on there too.”
“What sort of conflict? Like a war?” Fer-Shi asked.
“I don’t know what kind of conflict. Just that it was big and a lot of people were scared. But I wasn’t really because I didn’t really know what was going on and I didn’t know Vaelis all that well yet. I mostly learned Vaelis after we moved to Vaelyn from people on the street and books and stuff….my Mom and Dad mostly spoke Enlash at home because they had a really hard time with Vaelis, but they tried to speak Vaelis to each other sometimes. I think they always did that whenever they had a secret to keep from me and I knew I couldn’t understand all of what they were saying.”
“I see….pay attention, La-Iin,” Fer-Shi said.
“There’s always conflicts,” La-Iin said.
“I think this one was really big. Anyway, I don’t have as many memories from Vaelyn than I do from Manemica, at least not from when I was alive. While we lived in Vaelyn one day I went out on my own to get something for my Mom because she was sick and Dad was at work. And I got it, but then I got strangled and I don’t know who did it. Then like I told La-Iin, I woke up here and watched my own funeral. I think my Mom and Dad were there but I don’t know. There was a lot of Enlash spoken in the funeral which I thought was weird since it was a Vaelis funeral, but then I thought maybe they’re doing a Manemican funeral since I was Manemican. But I didn’t really know how Manemican funerals went either. So I just assumed.”
“You remember being strangled?” Fer-Shi asked.
“Yeah. That hurt a lot and it was really uncomfortable. But that was the last time I was ever in pain. That’s one good thing about being a ghost, you can’t be in pain. Well, you can be very lonely….I’ve seen people since I died but I haven’t gotten to interact with anyone since my parents, until I met La-Iin and Choungetsu. And then I met you too. I’m glad I met you. I hope I can maybe make more friends.”
“Do you think you’ll ever leave this graveyard?” Fer-Shi asked.
“Maybe someday. But then you two won’t know where to find me. I’m always hoping you two will come back.”
“I’d like to come more, but it scares me over here…”
“I don’t blame you!”
“Are you sure you don’t remember your family name?” La-Iin asked.
“I just think it started with K. I’m sorry.”
“…what year did you die?”
“I don’t remember that either.”
“Ooh! What kind of things were around when you were alive? Did you have television?”
“…television? I thought I heard of it.”
Fer-Shi blinked.
“I only remember hearing it by its Enlash name back in Manemica, though…”
“You must have been alive some time ago, then…”
“Maybe with all the information Imagination is giving us, we could do research,” La-Iin said. “I unfortunately know someone who’s good at that sort of thing, although I don’t know if research on a supposedly-dead girl is in his field.”
“Well if you could find proof, then you’d know for sure that I’m telling the truth. I wouldn’t normally care so much but you’re so adamant about it that it’s almost always all we talk about…”
“Well, then tell us more, Imagination. Just little details at this point. We practically got all your life story.”
“No, you didn’t. I just don’t remember much of it. But I’m happy to tell you anything you want to know. So ask whatever.”
“Well, I’ll start with a simple one then–tell us, if you had heard about television in Manemica, then you must have been alive while Makeshire was. So tell us what you know about him.”

—–
“I hope I can see you two again sometime,” Imagination said.
“We’ll definitely be back. Because I want to come here, but I can’t come here alone,” Fer-Shi said.
“Bye for now, Imagination. Maybe next time I’ll introduce you to Bes-Isa and we’ll actually talk about non-ghost stuff next time.”
“Okay. Sounds good. See you, La-Iin, Fer-Shi. And you too Choungetsu.” With those words Imagination disappeared back into the graveyard.
“So let’s see,” La-Iin said.
“She’s never heard of Usl-Thaehey,”
“She was surprised to hear Makeshire was dead,”
“She was also surprised to hear that it was the 2000s–not to mention the 2010s…”
“She was surprised that everyone’s using hyphenated names,”
“She said she thought that Quarbreeds were just a myth and there was no such thing,”
“She didn’t know who Ukyon Sae-Kyu was,”
“…”
“…”
“She must really be from a long time ago…”
“Or really out of the loop.”

15.166.Introducing Imagination

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 166
“Introducing Imagination”

“Where are we going, La-Iin? I don’t think you’ve ever taken me to this part of town….it’s kind of spooky here.”
“I don’t think many people live here.”
“Is it abandoned?”
“How am I supposed to know?”
La-Iin, along with Choungetsu, led Fer-Shi down a familiar path. Fer-Shi glanced around constantly, as if she were nervous, though her expression was calm.
“So, um, you never answered my question….where are we going?”
“To a graveyard.”
Fer-Shi shrieked. “A GRAVEYARD!? La-Iin, you’ve gone too far now! I won’t be an accomplice in whatever it is you want to do! I’m going home!”
“We’re not going to the graveyard to dig up dead bodies.” ‘Although that would be fun.’ “There’s something I want to see near there.”
“A corpse!?”
“Fer-Shi, I need you to follow me all the way. I want to see something!”
“La-Iin, you want to see something. Near a graveyard. That’s exactly why I’m out of here!” She turned to leave. La-Iin grabbed her by the collar of her dress.
“Do you want me to suck your blood straight from your jugular?”
Fer-Shi swallowed hard. “U-um, n-no….”
“Then come with me.” She dragged Fer-Shi along by her collar. Fer-Shi struggled against La-Iin, but it seemed to be to no avail. La-Iin heard her choke more than once.
Once she reached the entrance of the graveyard, she called out a name.
“Imagination.”
No response.
“Imagination!”
“Why is someone calling for me? ….oh, is that you, La-Iin?”
La-Iin stood in place. Imagination peeked her head out of the graveyard. “Hello again, La-Iin. It’s nice to see that we didn’t forget each other. And you brought your dog again too!”
Choungetsu’s ears folded back to his head as Imagination reached out a strange-looking hand. “And you brought someone else with you too? Who’s this?”
“Fer-Shi, can you see her?” La-Iin asked. Fer-Shi blinked at her in confusion. “Wh-why wouldn’t I be able to?”
“Oh, I see,” Imagination said. “You were trying to prove whether I was a ghost or not!”
“A ghost!?”
“Oh, calm down, Fer-Shi. I can see her, Choungetsu can see her, and you can see her. She’s probably not a ghost.”
“Hello there. My name is Imagination. La-Iin doesn’t think I’m a ghost, but I know I am. Hi!”
“U-um….” Fer-Shi’s face had gone pale. “I’m…Sanhuun Fer-Shi….nice to meet you?”
“Nice to meet you too! I’m sorry, is the graveyard scaring you?”
“More than a little bit…” Fer-Shi said. “U-um, Imagination, was it? Can I….talk to La-Iin for a little bit before I get to know you?”
“Of course.”
Fer-Shi grabbed La-Iin’s hand and walked a short distance away from Imagination.
“La-Iin?”
“What now?”
“Did you bring me all the way out here to meet her?”
“Yes. I wanted to see if you could see her. You heard her say she’s a ghost. I figured if she was really a ghost, maybe only me and Choungetsu could see her.”
“I see….well, she is kind of transparent-looking….and she’s really close to a graveyard….she seems nice enough, but having a graveyard as a backdrop for a meeting place is kinda creepy!”
“You tell her that yourself.”
“Ho-how did you meet her anyway?”
“I was taking a walk and she decided to talk to me. It was kind of annoying, but I like the graveyard. She sort of reminds me of you, if you went off the deep end.”
“Why!?”
“I don’t know.”
“W-well, I guess we should get back to her, then…” Fer-Shi turned around and walked somewhat stiffly back to Imagination, whose ears perked up.
“So you’re Sanhuun?”
“Yes…um, Imagination?”
“Mm-hm?”
“Can we, um….talk somewhere away from the graveyard? It’s kind of freaking me out…”
Imagination smiled. “Of course. See, you seem so much more normal, Sanhuun. La-Iin was interested in the graveyard and even went in.”
“YOU WENT IN!?” Fer-Shi screeched. La-Iin’s wings gave an involuntary flap. “What did you expect?”
Fer-Shi took a deep breath. “Yeah, what was I expecting with you?”
“Have you two been friends a long time?”
“Well, I guess you could say that….”
“Since you were babies?”
“No, not that long…”
‘They’re getting along pretty well.’ La-Iin realized. She sighed.
“So, um, Imagination? Are you really, um….a ghost?”
Imagination nodded. “I remember dying, and I remember watching my funeral. Unless I was just watching the funeral of some girl who looked a lot like me….I know people would think I’m crazy, but I’m pretty sure I’m dead. Also, I haven’t grown up at all since I saw my funeral, and it feels like it’s been a really long time since then…”
“Um…”
“I’m sorry! Was I weirding you out? I’ve just been kind of lonely. When La-Iin came by, I was happy because somebody could see me again. Nobody else has been able to see me, and not many people walk around this area either. I’m glad it was La-Iin too, because she actually wanted to go in the graveyard. Other people might be scared by a graveyard girl.”
“I was scared, definitely.”
“See? And then after La-Iin visited, she didn’t come by for a while. But then when she did come back, she came back with you, and you can see me too! That made me happy. Although…are your parents okay with you being this far?”
“Mm-hm! They’re pretty much okay with me going anywhere in Bledger so long as I’m with somebody.” La-Iin noticed that Fer-Shi’s tone was starting to steady.
“It’s like that with me too.”
“That seems weird…you’re only with each other.”
“To my Mom and Dad, La-Iin counts!”
“And Choungetsu already counted for me. Fer-Shi’s an extra.”
“Hey!”
“I’m jealous of you two. You seem so close…”
“I guess we are pretty close!” Fer-Shi said. “But don’t be jealous. I’m sure you’ll find a really good friend someday!”
La-Iin stared at both Imagination and Fer-Shi in silence, blocking out the two’s conversation. An idea had popped into her mind.
“Fer-Shi, can you go ahead? There’s something I want to ask Imagination. …a secret something.”
“What? Can’t you ask me?”
“No. Also, Choungetsu looks impatient. If you could take him ahead, that would be…nice.”
“Why are you so eager to get rid of me?”
“I’m not. I’m just curious about something about Imagination, and I don’t know if she’d want you to know what it is.”
Fer-Shi pouted. “Is it something bad?”
Choungetsu whimpered and tugged on La-Iin’s leash. “Forget what I want to ask her. You should at least take Choungetsu ahead.”
“But I–”
Choungetsu whimpered again.
“Fine,” Fer-Shi sighed. She took the leash from La-Iin. “Come on, Choungetsu!”
A look of surprise crossed her face as Choungetsu bolted off.
“….what did you want to ask, La-Iin?”
“You say you’re a ghost, right? Then I want you to do something that I think would be good proof.”
“What?”
“Scare Fer-Shi. I mean not a normal scare. Scare her badly. Pop out of something you shouldn’t be able to go through or something.”
“Why?”
“To prove you’re a ghost.”
“Does she like scares?”
La-Iin grinned. “She’s used to them…”
“If you say so…okay, I’ll do my best.”
Imagination walked ahead of La-Iin. La-Iin glanced at Fer-Shi briefly. When she turned back to Imagination, the girl was gone. She braced herself for whatever scare Imagination was planning and walked up to Fer-Shi.
“Hi, La-Iin.” She glanced around. “Where’s Imagination?”
“She said she wanted to go back.”
Fer-Shi glared. “Did you ask her something strange, La-Iin?”
“No. I didn’t do anything. I guess she just wanted to leave.”
“Well, I wish she’d told me…I wanted to talk to her more!”
A scream sounded behind Fer-Shi. Fer-Shi turned around. The color drained from her face before she let out a scream of her own and fell to the ground. La-Iin watched in awe before taking Choungetsu’s leash from her. By now, Choungetsu looked ready to run away, and he tugged hard at the leash.
“Did you see that, La-Iin? Is that proof enough for you? Because it looks like it was proof enough for her.”
“That was cool!” La-Iin said. “What did you do to get her to scream like that?”
“I stuck myself halfway in the ground…didn’t you see?”
“No.”
Imagination sighed. “There goes my proof…”
“It was never about proof, Imagination. I just wanted to scare Fer-Shi.”
“That’s kind of mean…”
“I don’t care.” She smiled. “It was worth it.”

—–
“La-Iin….?”
“Oh, you’re finally awake. It’s getting late. We should go home.”
“Ah!” Fer-Shi sat up abruptly and glanced around. “Where’s Imagination!? Is she alright!?”
“I’m fine,” Imagination said. Fer-Shi took one look at her and gasped.
“M-maybe you’re right. My Mom and Dad are probably worried about me…” She stood up and walked away. La-Iin turned back to Imagination and grinned.
“You did a really good job of scaring her.”
“I know….but is she gonna be scared of me forever? I don’t want that…”
“Oh, she won’t be. I’ll get her to come back here. She’ll get used to you.”
“Are you sure she’ll want to come back?”
“I’ll make her come back, whether she wants to or not.”
La-Iin turned away from Imagination, then glanced back at her and waved. “See you, Imagination.”