Chapter 8 Page 55
Posted March 1, 2024 at 04:41 am

*EDIT* Needed more time on this one, apologies! Wasn't happy with it halfway in, going back to the drawing and writing board. Update will be next week, thank you for waiting!

You may remember Sophie Sistermouse from her day job. Thanks for reading! Support Paranatural on Patreon!



        “How’s it hanging, you Phantom freaks?!” meowed Ms. Baxter, strutting through the golden gates of Mayview Academy. “Off the bone in rotting chunks, I hope!”

        The atmosphere of celebration had dimmed to gossiping whispers in the aftermath of Cody’s conflict with the Witch, however, and only one zombie groaned out a wheezing, hollow “Heyyy girrrrl” in response.

        “Sheesh,” Rose muttered, tossing Coach Oop up and down. “You cocktail weenies sure know how to kill a vibe. Guess it’s up to me to raise the roof back from the dead!”

        Rose Baxter licked her lips and scanned the crowd. Tonight was the big night, the climax of her double life’s crescendo. Tomorrow she would drop the act, and quit her job, and—I don’t know, suck the bones from Principal Pleezdoo’s body or some cult nonsense like that. It was supposed to be a nonstop thrill ride, from tonight unto forever... and yet her high was proving tricky to maintain.

        Humiliating Brother Ape into submission had been good for a buzz, of course, as had transforming that Dolph Lundgren-looking ghost into a literal trophy for Razor Rex. But then the triumphant Sister Cat had to wait thirty minutes for a thirty dollar Tacksy up West Hill, and the driver had told her that she looked like a “less hot version of his son’s wife,” and she’d tripped on her robes marching up through slick mulch in the dark on a time-wasting shortcut. The struggle of it all was far too humdrum and familiar.

        “Psst,” Rose hissed down at the Mandrake; it had followed her in silence through her many tribulations. “I doubt Davy Jones would miss a donor or two—he drains half of ’em dry himself! How about you Lifetaker Laser someone into a keg or, like, a bunch of hard drugs? Pretty please?”

        The Mandrake stared back up at her with cavernous indifference. Perhaps it was projectence, as the kids were wont to call it, but Baxter could have sworn the spirit knew she’d seldom seen a substance more illicit than the weed she bought at Crystal Clearance every other Tuesday. In her youth, Rose Baxter had been a buttoned-up, straight A+ student, survived a goth phase in her teens, then ditched it post-bad breakup junior year. Straight-laced study from then on had careened her towards a quite-prestigious college, where Rose had mostly kept her cool beyond a toxic obsession with a roommate or professor here and there. Her reward for her hard work, her prudish ways, and graduating magna cum laude had been an underpaying job back in her hometown, teaching brats who called her “boring” and “prone to wild fits of rage and hopelessness.”

        Was it any wonder, then, that she had sold her soul to the first evil death goddess who’d come knocking? Was it any wonder Rose was finally letting her hair down? The night was young, and it would never age or end from here on out!

        “Look what the cat dragged innn~!” a lazy, lilting squeak of vocal fry sang out from down beside her. “Her sexy self!”

        “Sister Mouse!~<3” cried Sister Cat, donning her aspirational persona. “Glad to see you’re serving whine and cheese as always, you little SNACK—someone has to at a party this black-tie.”

        The two Death Cultists converged for an exaggerated European cheek kiss, then met in the middle for a much more specifically French one. The Mandrake watched with dim disgust; all mortal life could not rejoin the soil fast enough, in its opinion, which was not very progressive of it, or all that fun to hear at parties. Luckily, it never said a word.

        “Say cheese!” chirped Sister Mouse, parting from Ms. Baxter with a smack. She’d raised her phone and taken a selfie before Rose could start to fix her now-smeared makeup.

        “Ugh, babe, at least get my BAD side. It’s got a MUCH better smile.” Miss Baxter donned her grinning feline skull.

        “Aww, c’mon Rosie! Take your mask off, live a little! Live a lot—heck, live forever! It’s the dawn of a deathless age, girl! Chaos reigns! They’re gonna loosen up the PTA’s social media policy any day now! Er, I mean... at any point in the eternal night to come.” Sister Mouse winked. “The world’s gonna be, like, sixty-six percent hot vampires—we gotta queue some thirst traps for those suckers!”

        “Oh, Sophie, at least SOMEONE understands!” Rose wailed, draping herself over Sister Mouse. “Everything’s been tedious tonight. I’m trying to have a BALL, but look! This one’s the best I’ve ended up with!”

        She held Coach Brother Oop-Ape out for Sister Mouse to see.

        “Ha ha, whaaat? That’s wild, Rosie! Wild Rose, that’s what we call you! Hey, listen...” The squat Death Cultist, Sophie, leaned in close. “So, like, I tried to get inside before you got here... and I got turned back at the door! Can you believe it?? VIPs only, they said! Mingle with the other minions, they said!” She twirled a flirty circle in the black of Baxter’s robes with one small finger. “You’re in good with the goddess, right? She thinks you’re a bigger hoot than Brother Owl! You can get me in there, can’t you, Rosie?”

        Sister Cat fell silent. Underneath her mask, her reaction was illegible. A bead of sweat trickled down Sophie’s forehead; had she laid it on too thick, and blown her cover?

        “Heck, what’s one more TROPHY on my arm?” Rose cackled out at last, hoisting up the captive Crush still higher. “Trophy Sophie, that’s what we call YOU!”

        “Ha ha, yayyy!~<3” Mouse clung tight to Cat in yet another violation of natural law, far from the first or last that would occur tonight at Mayview Academy.

        Unseen by Rose, Sophie’s expression darkened with determination. In her youth, Sophie Sibyl had been a button-nosed, well-liked, straight C+ student, embraced a goth phase in her teens, and kept it up when her friends ditched theirs junior year. Partying hard all through highschool had nonetheless failed to prevent her from attending community college, where Sophie had stumbled into a journalism major while attempting to impress an upperclassman. Her reward for that ill-fated fling, her wild ways, and just barely managing to graduate had been an underpaying job back in her hometown, sorting crystals and telling fortunes at her aunt’s half-bankrupt shop.

        Was it any wonder, then, that she had followed up on rumors of an evil death goddess when they reached her through the grapevine? Was it any wonder Sophie had infiltrated the Death Cult to finally put her journalism degree to good use? The night was young, and it would never age or end from here on out... unless somebody blew the whistle on these freaks.

        All the major players had gathered here tonight, and they’d grown bold as victory approached. A few more photos, a bit more proof of the bizarre and supernatural, and Sophie Sibyl, Ace Freelance Reporter, would have her big break—and maybe save the whole town in the process.