Flashback! I originally conceived and wrote this back in the winter of 2008, posting it to UniFans.org. I decided to relocate it here for the sake of completeness. Jenny was written with C.J. Carella’s WitchCraft, published by Eden Studios, in mind, but her story is vague enough to fit into most urban fantasy or horror settings.
The Ghost Writer
Every Tuesday night for the last two months, Jenny Torres has sat down at her kitchen table at exactly 6:59 PM. When the clock strikes seven, her hand grabs a pen from the coffee mug full of them and starts writing in a fresh composition book. The curious thing is Jenny has no idea what she’s going to write. Something else controls her hand and it won’t let go until midnight.
It began when Jenny got in a car wreck. Driving home from her waitressing job late one night, Jenny’s car was T-boned by a drunk driver. The driver got a broken arm and two points on his license. Jenny got a coma. So the doctors were amazed when she woke up three days later. All Jenny could recall was leaving work, and then some vague impressions of a gray land, where people blew around like leaves on the wind, and the sense of having just had a very long conversation.
The night she went home from the hospital, Jenny was in her kitchen when her hand seized a pen and started scribbling in German on a bit of note paper. When it finally stopped, at midnight, she’d filled an entire pad with mathematical notations and German text. She was at the movies the next time it happened, one week later. Her hand dragged Jenny out of the theater and began to scribble on napkins from the snack bar. By the time she got to her car, she was well on her way to completing The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Having grown up with a bruja for an aunt, Jenny wasn’t a complete stranger to the mystical and unexplained. And as a would-be author herself, Jenny takes a certain vicarious pleasure in the manuscripts she facilitates. For now, she’s accepted her lot. She keeps a stock of blank notebooks and writing instruments – some of her older authors prefer quills or styluses, so there’s also plenty of bottled ink. One grabbed a black felt tip pen and covered the kitchen walls in what Jenny later discovered was Sumerian cuneiform. She’s not sure what to do about that.
Sometimes Jenny gets a famous author. Taking advice from her aunt, she’s tried enticing certain spirits by arranging their published works on the table, or cooking their favorite food. Shakespeare has yet to pay her a visit. More often, it seems to be ghosts who have a story they never got the chance to tell in life. Jenny’s hands have penned penny dreadfuls, plays, nuclear physics papers and, of course, novels. When she can read the language, sometimes it’s good, sometimes wonderful, and sometimes dreadful. Death doesn’t seem to aid the creative process any, although it certainly gives Jenny’s authors a new perspective on things. Jenny once compared an author’s living work with the beginnings of a sequel written post-mortem. The differences gave her the creeps.
Jenny’s not sure what’s going on. She thinks maybe she made a deal while in that coma. Perhaps it was a trade: the rest of her life for being ridden five hours a week by the restless dead to get their unwritten dreams and ideas down on paper. She certainly doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do with the mounting heaps of manuscripts. Right now, Jenny’s looking around for publishers who either wouldn’t ask questions, or would buy right into the “ghostly author” angle.
While her soul drifted in the Threshold, for she was in critical condition those three days, Jenny might have struck a deal with one of the lords of Geburah, sephiroth of the dead. If she did, there may be more to the bargain than she now realizes – perhaps ghosts will start riding her completely. Right now, she’s just taking dictation. What happens when one tries to pull some crazy stunt? In such a case, Jenny’s benefits from the bargain might accordingly increase, in the form of boons from her unnamed Spirit Patron.
Or Jenny might have spontaneously developed the Gift and a talent for dealing with the dead as a result of her brush with death. If so, it’s only a matter of time before some ghost tries to use her for more than psychography. As a fledgling necromancer, Jenny could be an informal apprentice to one of the Cast Members, or introduced to the larger death-oriented Covenants.
In either case, both the House of Thanatos and the Twilight Order would take an interest in Jenny’s unique situation as a seemingly involuntary psychographer who strictly channels spirits wanting to write. The Twilight Order would not only investigate why so many souls retained their mortal identities after death, but seek to ease them back into the cycle of reincarnation and move on to new lives, instead of lingering over the remains of their past existences. The House of Thanatos, on the other hand, might encourage and support Jenny’s writing sessions. Literature from beyond the grave fits right in with the Thanatoi philosophy. They might even have a venue for the manuscripts to be published. Both associations would have the knowledge and ability to help Jenny whatever metaphysical powers she might have developed, or further interact with whomever she made her deal with.
The History of the Victors: One of Jenny’s authors, a high-ranking Roman senator, pens a tale purporting that a secret order founded by the emperor Constantine grew to become the primary mover behind many of Europe’s monarchs and nations. Naturally, the Combine is eager to prevent this book from ever reaching the presses. Jenny will need help just staying alive if she persists in her efforts to get it published.
Dangerous Ideas: For the last three Tuesdays, one particular entity has taken Jenny’s hand. Each night, she copies out sheets and sheets of arcane diagrams and notations. It could be a deceased magician, trying to complete his final work; a servant of a Mad God, transmitting instructions to its followers on Earth; or perhaps a message to Jenny herself, from the entity with whom she made her bargain, or a higher power altogether. Whatever the being is, its messages are wearing Jenny out. She needs help deciphering, and, if necessary, stopping them.
Out of Print: Hod’s city of Dilmun holds all the unwritten books and Malkuth all those in existence, but where do the destroyed books go, the ones the very memories of which have died? If the Cast Members find themselves in need of a text with no surviving copies, Jenny might be able to help them. Rather than being possessed by dead spirits, perhaps Jenny taps into the Akashic Record. With practice and guidance, she could learn to retrieve any text ever written. This would put her services in great demand – and, potentially, her life in danger.