The brilliant scientist, Portage McPeeve, does not want to take over the world.
He’s discovered a way to travel the stars, using them as gateways into other realities. With his Gateway Manipulator, he hopes to rule all the worlds of the multi-verse with an iron fist. However, when his beloved kitten becomes lost through the machine, he does not hesitate to cast plans for multi-world domination aside; instead, he follows her through the cosmos – encountering zombies, higher education for Supers, Greek gods, and killer ninjas along the way.
Will Portage find Mrs. Bumblefrost before it’s too late?
“What the heck is this? Why is it black?” asked the colorless, translucent ghost of Granny Wimple, as she bent to pick up the small bundle. “Oh, heavens!” she cried as her hands went through the tiny feline. “It’s solid! A living thing? What’s it doing here?” Her cold fingers passed through Mrs. Bumblefrost, but the sleeping kitten never stirred.
“What is it, ma’am?” asked Colonel Smythe. He propped a clear, long-barrelled gun with a bayonet at the end against a colorless wall and leaned over the new arrival.
“I can’t pick it up,” said Granny Wimple. “I can’t… wait a minute.” She concentrated, then bent once more as her form solidified. This time she succeeded in picking up the kitten. She struggled to keep her solidity, the strain plain upon her face, but it was no use. Soon the cat fell through her arms and woke when she hit the ground. She meowed angrily in protest.
“Do you realize what this means?” asked Granny Wimple.
“It’s alive. It’s ALIVE!” said the Colonel, cackling with glee. “This is just what the Professor was talking about. If we bring this creature to him-”
“But how did it get here?” asked Granny. “The living have never come to the Ghost Realm before! I can’t believe this.”
“What do you mean, my dear woman?” said the Colonel. “I’ll admit, when the Professor first told us, I thought it unlikely but-”
“A living creature…,” said Granny.
The Colonel eyed the kitten.
“We’ve got to tell him now,” said Granny, “before it goes somewhere else and our opportunity is lost forever.”
“It won’t go anywhere else,” said the Colonel with an evil grin. “Without some sort of divine intervention, it’s not going anywhere. The Professor himself said that everything ends up here or Hades eventually-”
“He was talking about the inevitability of death, you ninny!” said Granny. “We need to secure the beast for the machine.”
“Go fetch Charles,” said the Colonel. “Him or that Ernest fellow. I hear he’s good with cats.”
“No, Charles will do,” said Granny. “He’s got a soft spot for the living. I’ll have him care for the beast, at least until the Professor is ready.”
The Ghost Realm, whose denizens tended to resemble themselves at the time they died, was largely populated by the young and sickly, the young and gory, or the old and very dead. These differed from each other by degree but not kind. The very dead were usually crankier and more decomposed, their ectoplasmic bodies mirroring their state of mind when they finally ‘let go’ of their claims on life. A very dead ghost was never a pretty sight.
On the other hand, Charles had always had a childlike outlook on life; consequently, when it was over, he was ready to come inside and rest. Inside, in this case, being the Ghost Realm – the alternate afterlife inhabited by spirits that refused to rest under someone else’s leadership. Alternative afterworlds did not appeal to them, so they had formed their own independent republic whose citizens had either escaped alternate afterlives or simply chose not to exist in them.
When Granny Wimple sent for Charles, he came. A polite man throughout his life, he saw no need to change his behavior once that life had ended. He had been familiar with Granny ever since he first died; he suspected he reminded her of her son. When Charles arrived, Granny presented him with the small dark bundle of fur – or rather she gestured to where the kitten had parked herself among her knitting supplies. Charles understood why the old woman would recreate something like that, one of the comforts of the home she’d known while she had lived. Spirits often longed for the illusion of the lives they had lived.
Though the Ghost Realm could be made to resemble anything the ghosts had experienced and wanted to ‘take with them,’ those things – living quarters, clothing, and other accoutrements – were composed of the same material as their own bodies – ectoplasm. The mysterious substance allowed spirits to pass through solid objects while also giving them the ability to physically interact with them – provided there was sufficient energy and a substantial act of will.
All living things required energy to exist, and the same was true for those no longer living. Matter could be neither created nor destroyed, but physicality of spirit required a draw of energy both physical and mental, so that when ghosts chose to appear before the living, rooms chilled, radios went dead, and lights flickered. The energy of appearing in another world, the world of the living – for even an instant, meant that by the time they manifested themselves, the energy of their self-creation was almost depleted. The living would hear a voice, glimpse a shadow, and then they would be gone.
But now that a living creature had come into their realm, a unique creature capable of giving them the energy they needed, they finally had the means to make their dreams come true. They would be reunited with the living – their loves, their foes, their friends and family – one way or another.
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**Look for the next exciting installment of Pinholes next Tuesday, same cat-time, same cat-channel… uh, blog. I mean, blog.