"Oh, my God," Kennet says. He hasn't stopped shaking since they left the graveyard. Alternating between rocking in place and pacing restlessly had done nothing to help him process... Process... Tears stung his eyes and blurred his vision. "His mom was right," he sobs. "I am a bad omen!"
"No, you're not," Icolet soothes, clutching a thermos of hot tea with a white-knuckled grip. "Bad omens aren't a..."
"I killed my not-boyfriend!" Kennet shrieks, overriding whatever Icolet was saying. "I killed the man I love!" He drops into the threadbare armchair Calypso's sister Celena bought at a yard sale, hyperventilating. "I killed... I... He..." Kennet wheezes.
They hear the door open. Calypso's sister walks into the living room and stops. Celena resembled her brother with the same round cheeks and soft hazel eyes. "Uh... what are you doing in my house?"
"Celena," Kennet sobs. "I'm sorry... I'm so sorry..."
"No one was home so we used the spare key," Icolet explains. "I made a pitcher of tea for us to share, it’s in the fridge."
"Okay..." Celena carefully puts her bag onto the couch. She glances between the two of them. "Did something happen? Is my mom okay?"
"Your mom's fine," Icolet assures her. She and Celena knew each other from the library. Being on good terms made this easier. She takes a breath. "Calypso had an accident."
Celena studies the two of them. "Who?"
"Who?" Kennet squeaks.
"Your brother," Icolet says. "He..." she glances at Kennet. "We were in the graveyard and he just... dropped." She takes a drink of her tea for fortitude. "We called the police and came here."
"I'm glad you called the police so I don't have to do that. But I don't have a brother." Celena gets some pepper spray out of her bag. "What I have is my library buddy breaking into my house with that weird guy that has all the accidents. Keith, right?"
"Kennet," Kennet corrects, eyes wide. "This... This isn't funny, Celena. Calypso's dead."
Icolet stares at Celena. "When did you start carrying around mace?" She blurts.
"I don't know any Calypso! I started carrying it in case some weirdos break into my house!" Celena gestures with it at the two of them. "Which is what the two of you are."
"Celena..." Icolet holds up her hands slowly. "We're friends..."
"Why are you pretending?" Kennet demands. "How could you?"
"Look, Kenneth, I don't know you or your friend Calypso! Get out of my house, now!" Celena gestures at them and tosses a pillow in their direction. "Our library days are done, by the way. If I'd known you were so insane, I wouldn't have let you take the last copy of The History of Oakenfrost."
"If it wasn't for that stupid book your brother would be alive and you wouldn't be acting like a crazy person!" Icolet shoots back.
"I don't have a brother! I've always been an only child!" Celena tosses another pillow and hits Kennet with it. "Please, just get out of my house!"
"Fine!" Icolet yells. It stung more than she expected for her only girl friend to cut her out like this. "Kennet, we're leaving." She storms over to him and pulls him out of the armchair. "As for you." She tears the book out of her bag and tosses it to the couch. "There's your stupid book."
"Why is she doing this?" Kennet asks around sniffles. "She threw us out, Icolet, why did she throw us out?" Kennet is too listless to resist as Icolet drags him away from Calypso's house. He feels a wave of hysteria rising, threatening to choke him.
"She didn't even recognize his name... How is that possible?" Icolet asks. "None of this is possible." She hovers at Kennet's side as he unlocked the door to his house.
"She didn't recognize..." Kennet repeats. It takes several tries to fit the key into the lock. He pushes the door open. "She didn't... She really didn't know who we were. Who he was." He makes a beeline for the fridge, snags cold bottled water, and gulps it down.
"Kennet!" Kennet's father shouts from the living room. "Is that you?"
"You know me?" Kennet asks, crossing the kitchen to peek into the living room. "What about Icolet, do you know Icolet?"
His father gets up from his chair, tosses the newspaper onto the floor, and makes his way over to his son. "Of course I know Icolet." He runs a hand through his hair. "Please tell me it wasn't you."
Kennet throws himself at his father, sobbing.
"He wasn't the one who died," Icolet says, perhaps unnecessarily all things considered. Still, after the fiasco with Celena, Icolet wasn't feeling up to taking chances.
“What are you talking about? Who died?" His dad hugs him tight. "I was talking about the prank with the old Oakenfrost Cemetery."
"Prank?" Icolet echoes. "What prank?"
"Someone called and said there was an accident at the cemetery and someone had died. But when the cops got there, no one was there. No body. No nothing. Fleming was furious. He called me, and I was really hoping you weren't behind it." He carefully pushes Kennet out to look him in the eye. "You weren't, right?"
"It wasn't a prank," Kennet says fiercely. "Calypso died in that graveyard. I held him in my arms!"
"CPR did nothing," Icolet adds. It was starting to feel as if their world had been flipped inside out. Icolet gasps. "The boundary took his body!"
"What are you two talking about? Whose Calypso? And what boundary?" Kennet's father looks between them. "You two are not making any sense."
Kennet pales. "You don't... remember..."
"Remember what?" Kennet's father asks. "You're starting to scare me. Maybe I should call Fleming..."
Icolet snags Kennet as he backs away. "That won't be necessary," she says, steering Kennet towards the stairs. "We've had a long night..."
Calypso paces back and forth. "I am not dead." He repeats for at least the thirtieth time. His new ghost friend had politely informed him of this. "You don't understand." He turns to the ghost. "I am not dead."
"I don't know," the ghost says, idly toying with the end of their long side braid. "You look pretty dead to me."
"I am not dead!" Calypso takes off running to the gate, yanks it open, and once again is tossed backward for the twelfth time.
The ghost sighs. "That won’t work," they say, shaking their braid at Calypso. "I told you, we're all stuck here until the grim gets its incorporeal butt in gear."
"The only 'grim' I know of is my family. The Grimly's." Calypso huffs. He gets to his feet. "My boyfriend - not-boyfriend - thinks I'm dead!"
"How does that work?" The ghost asks curiously. "A boyfriend-not-boyfriend? Are you together? He took your passing hard."
"It's complicated. We're dating but we can't be too public about it because my mom would make him into a ghost. She thinks he's a bad omen and will lead to my death, so she's been highly discouraging about the whole idea of us being us," Calypso explains.
The ghost nods, their expression thoughtful. "That would put a damper on things."
"A little bit. I was hoping to convince her that he wasn't a bad omen but." Calypso throws out his hands. "Here I am. A ghost. Stuck here in creepy ghost yard."
"Which sort of makes it look like he was, in fact, a bad omen." The ghost tilts their head. "At least for you."
"He wasn't a bad omen. My mother told me never to go to a graveyard. She didn't say that I would die if I did. So really the bad omen was her not telling me the whole truth and expecting to believe this insanity without any proof." Calypso looks around at the graves. "Surely someone here knows something. You can't be the only ghost."
"I'm not, but I doubt you want to talk to the other chatty-chatters since they spend most of their time in the crypt, and you were in there with your man." The ghost points casually in the crypt's direction, indicating a pair of youths peering out intently.
"What? We didn't do anything in the crypt - they were spying on us?" Calypso marches past the ghost and straight for the crypt. "Hey, ghosts!"
"Hi, new ghost!" The ghost with pale hair wearing a long sleeve shirt and worn-looking overalls calls, waving. "It’s so good to see you! Well, not good for you."
"You were spying on me." Calypso hovers in the doorway of the crypt. "Why?"
"Why not?" The ghost asks. "It’s so hard to get any live entertainment anymore."
"It was a private moment." Calypso glances at the stone shelves. "Wait, the books... Do you know what was in them?"
"And very touching!" The ghost agrees enthusiastically. He pats at his companion. "My dear friend here wrote some!"
"Does it say anything about how to leave the graveyard?" Calypso steps into the crypt. "Is your friend here?"
The ghost looks confused. "Of course, he's right... Get back out here!" He reaches through the stone to haul his friend out. "He's shy, sometimes."
"I'm sorry, but I need your help!" Calypso calls. "Please..."
Another ghost appears through the wall of the crypt. "I can't help you. Only a grim can."
"You wrote the books," the ghost chides his friend. "At least give the new guy a crash course." He taps his foot impatiently. When his friend only looks at him, he sighs. "There's this family that is somehow linked to the grims," he says. "They left Oakenfrost generations ago, and we haven't had a grim help out since."
"Okay, then is any of the family here? Maybe they have a relative that can help. Anything?" Calypso begs.
"We just know they disappeared." The second ghost looks at his friend shyly. "But they called them the Grims."
"Which always seemed a little much to me," the fair-haired ghost says. "But what do I know? I'm a deceased farmhand!" He laughs.
"This is not helping. But thank you." Calypso sighs and marches back out into the yard. "There has to be something here." He shudders when a chill sweeps through him. How could he be cold if he's, as the ghosts say, dead?
"Hey!" The fair-haired ghost calls, chasing after him. "What's wrong?" He pokes the newcomer. "Did you storm out because we didn't introduce ourselves properly?"
"Do ghosts get cold?" Calypso flashes to the way he felt right before he ... He turns to face the ghost.
"No," the fair-haired ghost says. He leans in close to get a good look at the new guy's face. "Are you cold?"
Calypso shudders again. "What is that?" Is there ghost wind? He moves around the ghost and along the side of the crypt. He carefully runs a hand over the stone, walking to the back of it.
The fair-haired ghost falls in beside the newcomer. "My name's Toro. To-roe, not tour-o. A lot of ghosts make that mistake."
Calypso glances at him. "Noted..." He steps behind the crypt and starts shaking from the cold. "Are you sure you can't feel that?"
"Nope," Toro says pleasantly. "Now," he prompts. "What's your name?"
"Calypso Grimly," he answers, only half paying attention. He runs his hands over the stone. "Something's... here..."
Toro hums a satisfying note. "Try the thirteenth stone from the top," he suggests.
Calypso glances at the ghost. He carefully runs a hand over the stone and somehow manages to knock the loose stone out, onto the ground. He carefully reaches his hand inside. His fingers touch a metal open that sends a sharp cold through him. He grips the pole and pulls it forward. His eyes widen when what appeared to be a scythe appears through the stone. "What is this?"
"Congratulations," Toro laughs. "You're a grim!"