*EDIT* No update this week! I'm taking care of my partner who just had top surgery! See you next week, and thanks for your patience!
Aaaaand I'm back! Hey, did you know you can support Paranatural on Patreon? Pretty neat! Thanks for reading!
Having won the last word on the matter (since Lefty never seemed to have learned sign language), Max let his vision pan across the room, prepared for life to cut away and let him get some rest off-camera. It was then that he discovered, peering past Hissing Pete’s armpit, that life had instead added yet another cast member to its current cluttered set, and was planning to let this scene continue on.
A strange little spindly spirit that looked like the sort of freak a stapler might worship had wandered in through the wall on the far side of the room. It took a few staggered steps forward, seemingly unbothered by the many other occupants.
“Hey!” Max shouted. This was getting ridiculous; as the old saying went, five was company, but six was a crowd. “Get outta my room, man! Can’t you see we’re busy in here??” He wiggled Hissing Pete as if to somehow prove his point.
“Oh, I’m ever so sorry. I do see now, yes. I’ll leave,” said PJ. He turned to drift away.
“Not you, dork. That thing, with the—” Max paused to reach for the intruding spirit’s most prominent feature, then paused still longer once he noticed what it was. The creature’s eyes were glowing... glowing just like his friends’ did when they were lost in spirit trance. Its eerie, slack-jawed gaze was fixed upon an object in the corner, one it was just another stumbling step or two from touching.
Max’s haunted baseball bat was beckoning its next meal to approach.
“No, nope, nope!” Max sputtered, struggling to scramble free from under Hissing Pete. All the blankets slid off Max’s bed alongside him as he dove for the hypnotized thing like a dog about to chug a chocolate shake. In an instant, Max was slipping, crawling on all threes, reaching out with his good arm... but it was too late. The little spirit stretched and spiraled, broken down to pure black energy, as the baseball bat consumed it with a hiss. Max’s hand clasped uselessly against its cold aluminum
“Ugh...” Max groaned from the floor. He hadn’t landed on his cast, at least, which was suspiciously kind of the universe to allow him to avoid. “...Boy do I hope that weirdo wasn’t really all that sentient.” It had been unsettling enough to see any creature consumed by the same phenomenon spectrals used to connect with their spirits. Mr. Spender’s extremely confusing analogy about yarn, the one he’d stumbled through back on the ghost train, echoed uselessly in Max’s mind. That had pretty much been utter nonsense... but he was starting to absorb the central lesson
Ghosts and spectrals and spirits, they were all just sweet, sweet fuel to beasts like Scrapdragon. Max might have been an everlasting gobstopper, sure, but that was still the truth of their relationship. He’d been told the grudge inside his bat had chosen him, that they were partners now, and meant to fight together... but that was, like, kind of completely ludicrous, wasn’t it? His friends were friends with funny little talking spiders and such, harmless spirits—that’s why they could say quaint things like that. This wasn’t some sword in the stone situation. He wasn’t chosen by his haunted baseball bat on the first day of school. He’d just been lured into a gym closet by ghost pheromones, like... like a fly that formed a dark pact with a pitcher plant. Why didn’t he let that Boss Leader lady Freddy Krueger the dang thing when she’d offered? Heck, Scrapdragon’s head was as big as a car. And its jaws were like... that car’s trunk, but—but filled with teeth, like a huge mouth would be! What had Max been thinking, treating that leviathan like an unruly pet?! I mean, just look at it! It was huge! It spanned half the horizon! Which was bright red now, a sunset over fields of metal scrap, just barely visible through the... ruins of...
“Oh for freak’s sake—”
Max had been in spirit trance since he’d first touched his bat. In the distance, and yet far too close for comfort, Scrapdragon slowly turned to face its host.