Being dead didn’t make Nikola Tesla any saner and it didn’t help that Art Fleming was egging him on.
It also didn’t help (it never helps) that if you’re in a room with more than ten people you are in a room with a fucking ghost expert. They’ve seen Ghostbusters One and Two and they’ve got a respectable Casper collection, two or three long boxes at least, and they watch Ghost Hunter without irony and they know every damn thing there is to know about spirits. Half the time they have a business card that says they’re a “Paranormal Investigator” when they aren’t fixing stereos. Half the time “Paranormal” is misspelled. Half the time, so is “Investigator.”
Business cards should be like drivers licenses. There should be a test.
Their websites all sparkle and dance and seem to be built on Geocities architecture which may be proof enough of demonic possession in and of itself.
Anyway. Tesla was a crazy ass ghost and Art’s suit was shit.
Probably this should have been a lot weirder or scarier or something, but Tuesday seemed ages ago already and we were remembering who we were and fuck it. None of us ran. None of us screamed. Most of us didn’t even stand.
They floated in right through the wall, like if Kitty Pride were old and a dude and creepy and a ghost. And there were two of her. Tesla looked directly at Space and said, “I thought I heard your voice, Gerald.”
Some of us surely thought “Gerald?” But most of us pretty much just thought, “Huh. Ghost.”
Jackson, who is regularly an exception said, “Nobody move. Their vision is based on movement.”
Space wasn’t listening. No one was listening but Space was super not-listening. He threw his head back, rolled it round a few times and shouted at the taller of the two ghosts, which is something none of us had really ever seen. He busted up his cool. Shook it off like rainwater. It was like watching Spock kick the shit out of Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise. Or like watching a Muppet ride a bicycle. It was entertaining but also a little wrong.
“Fuck me!” Space screamed. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
Tesla smiled and the temperature dropped ten degrees. “I’m here to help, as I always have been.”
Space threw a chair at Nikola Tesla. It passed through him like you’d expect. Effortlessly, like a lie through a newsreaders lips.
“You can’t hit a ghost with a chair unless it’s been blessed by a blind rabbi,” Jackson instructed. “Or a blind rabbit. Or Blind Melon. I don’t…I need to brush up. That was a great band, though.”
Space threw a finger out to Jackson who traced the digit back through a sinewy, shaking arm, over a tree-knot shoulder and up to a gritted face. The message was clear. The message was “Shut the fuck up, Jackson.” But Jackson was never a very good reader.
“I was floating by because that’s what I do now. I float.” Said Tesla. “It’s my primary mode of transportation and also my basic entertainment. It’s pretty good cardio, I guess, considering I’m dead and don’t have what you would call a circulatory system any more. Anyway, I was floating by and I felt you and I knew you needed me now just as you always have. I am returned. And you are very welcome”
Art added, “You’re a lucky mook. Nick is the greatest mind of any generation.”
Space threw someone else’s shoe at Tesla and said, “I never needed anything from you but silence and absence.”
And someone else said, “Dammit, that was my shoe.”
Jackson whispered, “Shoes won’t work either, unless they have a proton in them.”
“All shoes have protons in them, idiot!” Scolded Space.
Jackson was undeterred. “Does anyone else smell that? Ghosts often make their presence known through smell.
“He farted!” Space said, raising his voice again. “He’s a farty, farty ghost. And he’s making his presence know by appearing in front of us and speaking condescendingly, jackass.”
“You can’t be so negative,” Jackson said. “Negativity can drive spirits away. It can also make them farty probably.”
“I want him to go away. I hate him.” Space said, his anger deliquescing into something closer to sadness.
“Who is this?” asked Brinkmire while Lucian walked calmly out into the hall. “You seem to know him.”
“Tesla. Nikola Tesla.”
“Who the fuck is Nokola Tesla?”
Space thought for just a moment how to explain a man the size of Tesla to a brain the size of Brinkmire’s and then said, “He’s like, like a hipster Thomas Edison.”
“Not fucking cool,” said Tesla while everyone else laughed at a joke we really didn’t understand.”
Space gave us all a little more, “Mad genius. Mad scientist. Lived in hotels. Only stayed in rooms with numbers divisible by three, hated pearls, ‘bout the only scientist I can think of that hated Einstein.”
“I didn’t hate Einstein.”
“You hated him.”
“A bit, I did.”
Space continued, “Claimed to hate war, too, but he died working on a death ray.”
“It was not a death ray, it was a teleforce weapon.”
“What’s a teleforce weapon, Nick?
Space grinned like the Grinch who hate the canary, “Died in poverty, now he’s on money. The Serbian 100 dinar bill. That’s how I like my irony served.”
Jackson who still hadn’t figured out he was meant to be shut up said, “The hundred? Ballin’!”
Space said, “That’s about a dollar thirty eight, US.”
Jackson seemed sad for a moment but then, “Even better! He’s basically Washington!”
Space turned to Tesla and said, “One hundred, by the way, not divisible by three.”
Tesla said, “Yeah, that one gets me.”
Space went on, “Also, he’s a fuck-off annoying, farty ghost that’s been following me around all my life taking credit for my work.”
“I’ve been your muse!”
“You only ever inspired me to go to therapy because I was sure you were a figment of my imagination. You used to haunt my dreams and I thought it was just because I was a lonely, fucked up orphan who idolized you until I found out how fuck-off annoying you are. But, no, you were actually haunting me, weren’t you?”
Art Flemming was aghast. “You’re not gonna take that? Are ya, Nick? Huh? Huh? Are ya?”
“Oh, come on,” implored the spirit. “I was hugely helpful. You never would have made that Pringles rocket without my help.”
“All you did was convince me to paint flames on it.”
“Looked like it was going faster that way.”
Space rubbed his eyes and gritted his teeth. More than a ghost, it was a migraine that floated through those walls. “I hate you.”
“I also told you to put an AM/FM radio on board.”
“Yeah. I’m pretty sure that’s what made it explode and burn down my parents house and make them leave.”
“Well, you put it in the wrong place.”
“There is no proper place on a Pringles rocket for…no. No. I’m not going to have this conversation I’m just…I’m going to figure out how to kill you. Re-kill you, I guess.”
Tesla’s demeanor shifted, his entire presence contorted into something a little more solid and much less kind and his floating, translucent body went crimson. His voice shook the room now. “You think they’re gonna rename Mars for you now you little shit? Now that the demons are bending Earth? It’ll never happen. And what do I care? I’ve already got a planet named after me.”
“A minor planet!”
“It’s a good size!”
Art Flemming tugged at Tesla’s robes and said, “This guys a graceless ingrate. Let’s bodyjack his ass!”
Brinkmire spoke up again, “And who the fuck is this one?
Space shook his head. “I have no idea. Never seen him before. He wants to jack my ass, though. So that’s funny.”
Lucian walked in the door holding a dust buster that he got we-don’t-know-where. “Think I’ll name him ‘Butt-Monkey,’” he said before switching on the vacuum cleaner and sucking the ghosts up in a well-practiced sweeping motion. He smiled, “Or is that too nineties?”