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When your friend is friends with a ghost

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When Delanie learned that Lydia had a best friend, she had assumed that they were a normal person around her age. An equally gothic teen who probably got into a lot of trouble at school, who was into gross things, and who was very open with the kind of people he was into, based on what she was told. Someone strange but still normal.

She was not expecting the giant snake that scared the crap out of the would-be robbers and possible kidnappers in her house-hold to be Lydia’s best friend. And she was not expecting the snake to be a thirty something year old ghost-demon hybrid that was watching her in amusement when Lydia first tried to calm her down and explain everything after the sleepover went completely south. Of course, this was after Delanie recovered from her panic attack and fainting spell over everything that had happened within half an hour.

It was too much for Delanie to take in one night. When he left the next morning, she assumed it was all a dream, except Lydia’s chats with her brother Daniel about the ghost and the destroyed living room and the shattered window proved otherwise. The fact that she was grounded for two whole weeks for inviting a friend to the house without permission was what helped make sure that the reminder would be permanent.

This was nothing, she tried to tell herself. She had read so much and watched so much stories that this had to pale in comparison to them all.

And hey, it was fine that Lydia’s best friend was an older guy who was almost twice her age–no scratch that, he was hundreds of years older than either of them. Again, there were people who had friends much older than them–wasn’t Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan a real life example? Surely there was nothing wrong with it, right?

Aw, who the hell was she kidding–it was too much. She now knew for sure that ghosts were real and it was all thanks to Lydia’s best friend. Whatever his name was again. Shit, what was it again? Something bug related. Bug Wine? No, that wasn’t it.

Nothing changed after that for awhile. Lydia didn’t bother Delanie about it at school as if she knew the shock was too much to handle still and she needed time to process some life changing events. Life went on after awhile and whenever Lydia spoke to Delanie, she danced around the subject of her best friend as if she were cautious of her.

Eventually Delanie saw Lydia chatting with the strange stripe wearing, green and black haired man in the corner in the school hallway. The shock was enough to make her drop her text books and let out a sound like that of an ostrich getting throttled as it tried to scream for murder. Lydia shot her an alarmed look when the two noticed her, but the man thought for a few seconds before he grinned.

“Oh hey, that’s right!” He waved and came up to Delanie. “You breathers see one ghost and then you can see them all! Though honestly even I don’t know how that works, but hey it’s like getting a superpower, right?! Speaking of which, it’s nice seeing you again!”

“Y–y–y–!” Delanie looked around to see if anyone saw him, but no one did. It was as if he was nothing but the air to them. If any of the other students saw him, they’d either think he was a dirty hobo off the streets, someone who came from a costume party the night before, or a very select few out have probably been giving him the look of someone who had the hots for older men, like how some teenagers had crushes on certain adult celebrity actors, though this man was not exactly an ideal textbook example.

“They can’t see me because you need to say my name three times first.” He informed her. “That’s how Lydia called me over to give you guys a hand, remember?”

“So wait... I can see ghosts now?!”

“Yeah... but actually I’m a demon. Well sort of. It’s complicated, but–”

“You’re a demon?!” Delanie was really panicking and was drawing a lot attention to confused students as Lydia anxiously tightened her books to her chest. “Oh Christ–the Devil’s real too, isn’t he?!” This made the ghost man–what was his name?–shoot her an amused look. “Oh Christ, and I don’t even believe in religion–!”

“I don’t think I should answer that question right now. Jeez, you’re close to screaming and as much as I love to hear people scream, I doubt you want that right now. Everyone else will think you’re insane.” He made a circle next to his head with a finger for emphasis as a lot of students were giving the teenage girl odd looks.

“Oh great, now the ghost-demon is telling me I’m crazy!” Delanie let out a nervous laugh. Then it hit her.

He was the one behind all those strange moments at the school.

All those weird pranks, all those interactions Lydia had with the emptiness, those weird reactions she had in class when no one said a word, those moments where her tormentors were punished in insanely bizarre ways–this was all him.

The bell rang for the next class as she tried to process this information.

“Well, as fun as it is to chat with a new breather, I got places to go to.” He grinned and waved. “Believe it or not, I got an appointment with Freddie Mercury to keep and I don’t want to keep the guy waiting around for too long before he loses interest and starts playing with all his cats again. See you around Lyds!” He cheerfully waved to Lydia before he vanished in a puff of smoke and left behind a stunned Delanie.

“Your best friend knows Freddie Mercury’s ghost?!” She squeaked.

*****

Daniel was able to process the fact that Lydia’s friend was a ghost-demon hybrid better than Delanie. In fact, he thought it was awesome and when Delanie reluctantly revealed to him that he came to the school, he got excited and begged to know more. She told him of all the strange moments that happened at school and how she thought that maybe it was all his doing, and Daniel got even more excited. It made her feel conflicted–she wasn’t sure if Beetlejuice was someone Daniel should be around again, and yet it was so rare for her eight year old brother to talk and be social. He didn’t like looking anyone in the eye too often and yet he was doing just that right now as he listened to her and asked question after question. She hated it whenever people pinned all his social oddities on his autism and she wished that she could punch them all in the throats for it–this whole conversation was a nice middle finger to them all.

It was almost a shame that she had to tell him to not talk about the incident to their parents. They would have liked the progress he was showing.

On the other hand, there was still a lot to wrap her head around, because if ghosts were real, and what she heard Beetlejuice say was true, that meant there was a literal purgatory as well as a heaven or hell and she was a bit terrified to know if it was indeed the truth.

Though as Delanie was quick to learn, being friends with someone who was a ghost was going to have some unique perks as well as some more mundane ones.

“Oh hey!” One day in school during a time when she was trying to quietly study in the library, Beetlejuice decided to pop up out of nowhere. “So Lydia tells me you like Japanese stuff right?”

“Huh?” She looked up from her paper and was surprised to see him once again.

“Uh... yes?” She wasn’t sure where this was going to go.

“You know those ghosts in Japan are as weird as they seem to be? Those guys have the walk down and everything! Oh and the ones with the murder boners that want to kill everyone just because they want to! Those guys usually just have huge sticks up their asses, you know?! But it’s still a pretty cool place, you should totally go if you want to have some good times! Oh!” Before she could tell him to leave her be so she could finish her paper, he added. “Those bathroom ghosts? Not the ones that haunt the toilet stalls, but the ones that like to eat literal shit?! Those are real!” He grinned as her eyes widened in shock. “Don’t do your business in the bathroom there if you see one! Trust me, it’d be a bitch if you had to wait in line for five minutes, only to see one of them lapping up the floor! Oh, and the ones that have eyes in their asses! Yeah, those guys are real too! You know what its like to see an eye lodged in someone’s ass looking at you with its piercing gaze as you go about trying to find a good sake bar? Freaking creepy, that’s what it is! Had to get drunk to try to wipe it out of my mind!”

She couldn’t handle it anymore and burst out laughing. She nearly smacked her forehead against the desk and she drew the attention of many confused students. “Wait, seriously?!” She asked in a quiet voice as she tried to suppress her laughter.

“Dead serious. No pun intended.”

“Holy shit!” She snickered. “Thank god we don’t have those here–wait don’t tell me, I don’t want to know!”

*****

Though it may not have been the best idea for her still recovering mental health, Delanie learned that the movie theater was showing an old time horror movie sometime after she was un-grounded. She called Lydia up on it since it seemed like something she’d be into. Lydia agreed to it and well was going well until–

“Ah crap.” Delanie looked at the rating again. The ‘R’ wasn’t very promising. “It’s got an ‘R’ rating. Neither of my parents would go see this one and my cousins aren’t old enough.”

“Yeah, I guess I’m in the same boat...” Lydia’s voice trailed off. “Unless...” Delanie could practically hear the smile in her voice.

“What?”

“I know someone who’d be more than happy to either sneak us in or watch it with us.”

She quickly figured out what Lydia meant.

“How’s that going to work?!” Delanie freaked out. “First off, we’d get caught and I don’t want my parents to get mad again. Second–are you honestly expecting him to just waltz us in, money in hand, fully seen by everyone else?! And what is everyone else going to think, that he’s your uncle who just came out of the forties and survived getting buried alive in the earth?!”

“Oh I need to tell him that one, he’ll love it! Anyway, don’t worry about it.”

******

“Hello, I am a perfectly normal, living, breathing person.” A heavily disguised Beetlejuice in a huge overcoat and hat spoke in what would have been a normal sounding voice if there wasn’t any of the awkward stiffness in it. “I am here to buy tickets for me, my ‘cousin’ and my ‘cousin’s’ friend.” He grinned at the ticket lady (really just a college student who was clearly trying to pay for classes) as he looked at her through huge sunglasses that were unnecessary for the night. “Can I please get three tickets?”

Near him, Lydia silently snickered. Delanie couldn’t help but force a smile–ok, so maybe this wasn’t all that bad.

“How’s he going to pay for his ticket?” She asked.

Lydia just shot her a blank look.

“What?”

“Take a guess.” Was the only answer she got.

It didn’t occur to her until later that the money actually belonged to Lydia and that Beetlejuice as a ghost wouldn’t really have much need for necessary things like money. Watching the movie itself was... well, an experience, that was for sure. Because somehow Beetlejuice was able to get his own huge tub of popcorn (or so it seemed, but whatever he was chewing on didn’t sound like it) and switched to wearing completely unnecessary 3D glasses. And during the moments when the audience was most likely going to scream due to the sheer amount of blood splattering out in the film or all the near predictable jump scares, he was just laughing his butt off as if it were all a comedy to him.

“Holy crap, look at that! It’s like they pumped a lake into that guy if his body could hold that much blood!”

Often the laughing was a little too loud for the audience nearby to handle and Delanie couldn’t count how many times he got shushed, but she could count how many times Lydia had to pull him back in the seat when he was ready to lung after the ones who wanted him to leave (four times, which was ironically the number for death in Japan, and it looked like an actual murder could possibly happen in the theater itself by the hands of some of the angry viewers, but they were going to be in for a shock if they thought they could kill a ghost). It was no different than taking a child too young to appreciate a movie theater experience to the movies, and Delanie now understood how it must have felt to be the easily embarrassed parent in such a situation.

It made Delanie wonder why on earth Lydia tolerated the ghost. She had observed enough to know that in addition to enjoying a good scare, Beetlejuice was also a bit of a pervert and no one–man, woman, trans, in-between, or neither–was safe from any of his comments or lustful stares. The only thing keeping him from going after them was the fact that he couldn’t be seen or heard thanks to being a ghost when Lydia made him invisible again. Hell, how was she and Lydia spared from all of that?

Then again, when she thought back, it seemed the ghost either respected Lydia more than anyone else, or perhaps even he had standards (she hoped he had standards, otherwise that was something she really didn’t want to look into). He always seemed dying to impress or entertain Lydia, be it scaring some random person by making a gruesome face reflect back at them when they thought they would be seeing their own face on a reflective surface, trying to wow her with some other supernatural trick by pulling his head off, telling her that he knew some well known person from the past or else recount an even that only he could have witnessed many centuries ago.

“Holy crap, that was awesome!” He was grinning after they left the theater. “Never had a real theater experience like that!”

“Can’t you just sneak in and watch a movie?” Delanie asked in confusion. “Or don’t they have movie theaters in the afterlife?”

He hesitated. “Well, not really.” He admitted. “It’s different. Never had to pay for a ticket before, never had to be heard reacting to the movie by the breathers, and I’ve never done it with a friend.” His eyes darted to Lydia for a moment before he shook his head. “Trust me, it ain’t the same. As long as it’s not Brigadoon, I don’t care what movie I watch.”

“Brigadoon? What’s–?”

“The most boring musical you’d ever see. Trust me, even the damn movie trailer is a snorefest if you go look it up on the internet, or youtube, or whatever it is you teens like to go on nowadays. Don’t even bother.”

*****

One day, Lydia didn’t show up for school. It didn’t concern Delanie until she tried to text the girl, but didn’t get a response even after two more days had passed.

She finally talked to the English teacher the girls had together and was told that Lydia was sick, but her dad had yet to pick up the school work to take home to her. By this point, Delanie had learned where exactly Lydia lived and decided to just take the school work she was missing right to her house after school.

“Hello?!” Delanie knocked on the door to the lovely, yet strange house on top of the hill. “Hey is Lydia home?! I brought her homework for her!” She thought for a moment before adding. “I know ghosts live here! Are any of you guys here too?!”

Moments passed before the door suddenly opened to reveal a pleasant looking woman. “Are you Lydia’s friend, Delanie?” She asked.

“Yeah, I take it she told me about you guys.” She confirmed before thinking. “And you are...?”

“Oh, I’m Barbara!” The woman beamed at the girl with a smile. “Come on in! It’s so nice to see a friend of Lydia’s whose her age and can see us!” Oh ok, so this was one of the two ghosts that normally lived here then. She was a lot normal looking than what Delanie was expecting–more like a person you’d see on the street who’d be more at home shopping locally or at a farmer’s market. The girl came in and as Barbara closed the door, she took out the schoolwork from her bag.

“I thought I’d drop everything off at her house. Oh, and I almost forgot!” Delanie grinned as she took out the huge omnibus from her bag. “I got a collection of Junji Ito manga to lend to her! I was dying to let her barrow it!” She smiled at the macabre cover as Barbara took the school work before asking “So why is Lydia sick?”

“Well, she’s had a bad fever.” Barbara admitted. “Adam and I have been taking care of her so that neither her father or Delia can catch it. She’s getting better, otherwise they’d have taken her to the hospital... but...” She frowned. “She’s not the only one whose sick.” She shook her head. “I’ll go set this in the kitchen, I need to finish something.” She went towards that area and Delanie followed a bit when she noticed an open door that seemed to reveal a set of stairs that lead downward.

Lydia mentioned she had a dark room in her basement. Delanie figured that the girl wouldn’t mind if she took a peak. She broke away from Barbara and headed towards the door to take a look and, sure enough, it was the basement and the light was off. She went ahead and went in.

A couple of steps in, Delanie realized that there was only one light source–the narrow window that allowed a slight amount of sunlight and was opened enough to let in fresh, cool air. She also heard a strange rasping noise, like someone who was sick was trying to breathe. Was Lydia in here? Frowning, she turned to look for a switch and when she did, she flipped it on.

The room filled with a red light–

“I TOLD YOU TO KEEP THAT GOD DAMN LIGHT OFF, BABS!” An all too familiar exaggerated, horribly cartoonish looking human head attached to the body of a snake whipped up and screamed at her.

“OH SHIT, NOT AGAIN!” Delanie screamed as she fell on her butt as the snake monster from her sleepover unexpectedly reappeared once more. What the hell was he doing in here?! Why the hell was he in here?!

The two starred each other down and Delanie quickly realized his eyes were horribly bloodshot and baggy and he looked like complete crap.

“Oh,” He let out in an even more raspier voice than usual upon recognizing her.

Then without any warning, the snake suddenly flopped his neck around, threw his head into the nearest trash bin, made a retching sound, and Delanie was greeted with the familiar sound of someone barfing their guts out while the air suddenly smelled like battery acid.

“Ugh... When the hell did I eat a shoe?” He moaned into the trash bin. “Oh wait, it’s one of mine.”

Delanie winced and quickly hurried back up.

“Uh... he’s not doing so good either.” She stated when she rejoined Barbara, who was opening some bags of frozen fruit.

“They both went to the Neitherworld like they sometimes do together.” Barbara explained. “Despite his boasting, he caught something there and he’s been stuck down there with her. And before you ask, I think its also keeping him from changing completely back to normal.” She paused. “Though I hope to god whatever that form is, it’s not what he really looks like. Sometimes I don’t even know if how he normally looks to us is his real body.”

“Ghosts can get sick too?” Delanie was amazed. “Huh, who’d of thought?” She noticed what Barbara was doing. “Smoothies?”

“Yes, but only for Lydia.” Barbara answered before grimacing. “His drink doesn’t have fruit. You don’t want to know what’s in it–trust me.” She looked like she was about to be sick herself.

Delanie realized she still had the manga in her hands and meant to give it to Lydia. Against her better judgement, she went back to the basement and this time she was more cautious about waking the demon-ghost up, though the red light was still on. As she walked down the steps, she first saw that there was a laptop propped on a table and a handful of horror film DVD cases nearby as well as some familiar looking books, including a copy of John Gardner’s Grendel, which was the current book they were supposed to be reading for English. Then she saw that the snake monster was coiled around a mattress that his head and part of his neck was resting upon. Also on that mattress, lightly covered with a white bed sheet, wearing a black tank top with black hair sprayed out, also looking like complete crap, and yet dead asleep, was Lydia.

Correction–she was dead asleep and clinging to the snake’s long body like he was a body pillow.

Why would a highly sick Lydia be choosing to hug an equally highly sick Beetlejuice–come to think of it, the guy was cold to the touch, so why would she–?

Oh that was it. She got it now.

If Lydia was running a fever, she’d want something to bring her temperature down, and the ghost was a perfect source to cool herself down to lessen her misery. Actually that didn’t sound like a bad idea, especially for the summer time. The way he was stuck now probably made it easier, though Delanie had no clue what he was getting out of this in exchange and would of rather been in a pit of rabid hamsters out to gnaw at her than hug that snake monster.

Though if what Barbara said was true, then being stuck like that for days, unable to have access to your arms or hands would of had to have been an utter bitch for him.

Come to think of it–Delanie took a closer look. Beetlejuice’s head somehow became more normal looking like when he appeared as his normal self and apparently he was also asleep as Lydia’s head stayed tucked right under his. Though he looked paler than normal and his hair was completely black this time.

If it wasn’t for the fact that his body wasn’t human looking at the moment, or that he most likely still had barf in that mouth of his, the sight would have seemed oddly sweet. In fact, the way he was positioned around the teen made him look protective of her. If Delanie recalled correctly, he supposedly did prevent Lydia from dying more than once, and the action made sense when thinking about what happened at the sleepover.

She shook her head and went back up. She’d leave the manga with Lydia’s school work. She didn’t want to bother either of them or catch the sickness. Also she couldn’t stand the battery acid smell and hoped it’d get fixed soon.

“Ok, I guess I’ll leave them be.” Delanie set the book by Lydia’s schoolwork as she approached Barbara. “I’ll–” She stopped when she noticed two cups. Barbara was pouring the smoothie fresh from the blender in one cup, but Delanie was eying the other one. Not only was it a sickly green, goopy looking mess, but there were honest to god beetles of varying sorts mixed in, along with strange tan colored blobs that instantly made her think of chunks of animal fat.

Delanie quickly turned her head and had to take a few breaths before there’d be a third person in the house who’d be sick.

When she did her homework later that night, she kept thinking back to that bizarre sight down in the basement. She wondered if the two were together down there because they were either trying to cancel out each other’s illness or to just have some company when everyone else probably needed to avoid them half the time. The handful of DVDs and the laptop was a sign that they were both being miserable down there together for awhile, and Delanie wouldn’t have been surprised if Lydia was reading that book for what was likely the third time in a row for her. She also wondered which poor sucker in that house had to help feed that snake monster if he couldn’t hold that cup of nasty crap on his own because it probably was not going to be Lydia. She did hope that they’d both get better–even Beetlejuice, who may or may not have almost attempted to kill her back then.

****

Unknown to Delanie, it was around that time that the ghost finally recovered enough to resume his usual form and the moment he realized it, his arms wrapped around Lydia as she kept resting against him. At the start her body had felt like a fire to him, but he could feel that it had dropped down to the point that it was close to a normal human’s body temperature. Still, a little friendship hug wouldn’t hurt speed the process up.

Being sick sucked, but on the other hand, he also got to traumatize some people in the process.

****

The next time Delanie would get to go back to the house, her whole family was invited over. According to Lydia, everyone else in the house felt like it was safe now to allow more than one person over, though they were still cautious about having a repeat of what was known as the ‘dinner party incident.’ Delanie couldn’t help but feel a bit on the edge as she looked forward to that day, not knowing what to expect other than that her parents should not be able to see any ghosts, but her brother might thanks to that one night.

The moment the Page family entered the Deetz residence at around five thirty on a saturday night, Delanie cautiously eyed the place over. Everything looked tidy and prepared for her family’s arrival, and there was no sign of the ‘Ghost with the most’ though she still shot a careful glance at the door to the basement. She watched as Lydia’s father and her soon-to-be-stepmother exchanged pleasantries with her parents and it wasn’t long until they all sat down and started talking.

“We almost didn’t move here ourselves, but Connecticut was a nice change from Pennsylvania.” Delanie’s father chatted with Lydia’s father. “Its quite beautiful around here and I don’t really miss the loud sounds of the busy streets in the dead of the night. Have you ever gone out and just took a nature walk near the wooded areas?”

“We all had and Delia and I took a trail a few times when we just wanted some time to ourselves.” Her father agreed. “I can see how it can appeal to those who prefer the country.”

“I actually prefer sculpting.” Lydia’s future stepmother, Delia chatted with Delanie’s mother.

“I only took art in high school and took an art history class at college myself.” Delanie’s mother replied. “Delanie and Daniel’s grandmother does drawings and sketches.”

Delanie eyed her brother, who was clearly not happy about having to sit through these conversations, especially without a book to keep him occupied. He kept eyeing his sister and she knew what he was mentally asking her, but she couldn’t dare say anything in front of her parents.

“Hey come on.” Lydia grabbed Delanie’s hand and pulled her up. “I want you to meet the others.” She lead her up to the attic.

Once up in the attic, Delanie saw two people. The first one she was quick to recognize. “Delanie!” Barbara beamed and hurried over to the girl. “We were looking forward to meeting you!”

“Hi Barbara!” Delanie smiled and waved before glancing to the man who was approaching them. “And Adam, right?” She asked.

“That’s right!” He smiled. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Same!” Delanie grinned. “Lydia had a lot of good things to say about you.” She smiled at the pleased Lydia. “I don’t know what to expect, but I’m glad you both look normal! Sometimes this supernatural stuff being real can get to me–but it’s not all bad!” She quickly added. “A lot of it is pretty cool! You guys seem like cool people to me!” “It’s alright, it was strange for us when we died.” Adam admitted, though he smiled at Delanie’s compliment. “I wish we could go down to see the rest of your family, but we don’t want to take any risks if your parents don’t know.”

“Who cares what they’d think? I like Lydia too much to listen to them if they so much as tried to get me to stop hanging out with her.” She didn’t see Lydia smirk at this. “Anyway, tell me a bit about you guys. You owned that hardware store right? It’s still up and running from what I know. In fact one of mom’s clients bought it!” She recalled with a smile.

Unknown to Delanie, her brother had long since given up sitting in the living room and went off to explore on his own. At the same time, she had no clue that the house’s frequent guest was also in the house. As peer the orders of the Deetzes and the Maitlands, he was not to pull any pranks and if he wanted to stick around, then he needed to be out of sight. Naturally he was sulking about this with all the grace of a moody child in time-out.

“‘Oh hey, why don’t you go hang out somewhere else instead?’” Beetlejuice mocked Lydia as he hovered over the bed in the spare bedroom. “‘Because I don’t think my friend’s parents would let me hang out with them if you pull any of your pranks on them?’ Ah please!” He huffed as he crossed his arms around his head. “Hey, did it ever occur to you that maybe I don’t want to be stuck up here while everyone else gets company?!” He continued to rant to himself, unaware of the door opening. “So if she’d chose all the dead people in the household to show off, she’d chose the boring couple over me, wouldn’t she? Whatever happened to scaring the crap out of–?!”

“You’re here!”

Caught completely off guard, Beetlejuice shot up and cursed before turning around to see a small boy. “You’re the snake guy!” The boy grinned and his face practically lit up. “I knew you’d be here!”

It took Beetlejuice a moment to recognize him. “Oh you’re Delanie’s brother, ain’t ya?” He smirked. He recalled how this kid apparently thought him being a big scary snake was the coolest thing ever, which automatically earned him some points. To be honest, he had mixed feelings about children (and he didn’t like being around dead kids–they were just depressing for too many reasons), but he did have a soft spot for the odd ones or the misfits.

“Yeah, I’m Daniel!” The boy approached the ghost as the door closed behind him. “My parents are downstairs with Lydia’s parents, and Lydia wanted to take Delanie to meet the other ghosts, but I wanted to see if you were here. And I didn’t want to just stand around while everyone else is talking. It’s really boring.” He stuck his tongue out at this. “I usually just day dream to entertain myself and make them think I’m listening when they do that.”

“Really?” Beetlejuice raised an eyebrow at the child. “That does sound like a good trick. Let me guess–they talk about their jobs and politics, economy, and a bunch of other lame stuff that all living adults like to obsess about for no reason?”

“I don’t know, but yeah I guess. If it was about video games, books, or reptiles I’d probably listen.”

“Yeah, your interests seem way more fun to talk about.” The ghost now had a more genuine smile. “Well, I’m bored too–can’t go scaring your parents, unfortunately. Then again, you’d probably never see me again if they found out and tried an exorcism on me, and you don’t want that. Why don’t you tell me a bit more about one of those things you like?” He dropped down onto the bed. “Because I got to admit–I’m not as up to date on everything like most people would think.” He watched as the boy thought for a bit.

“Well... if you can turn into a snake monster, does that mean you like snakes and reptiles too?” He asked.

****

“Oh my gosh.” Delanie grinned at all the photos up on Lydia’s wall that she took. “I don’t even recognize some of these places and I’ve lived here almost my whole life!” She turned to Lydia, who was sitting on her bed and petting the cutest little black kitten that Delanie had ever seen. “You have to take me to some of these spots! They’d make great photo shoots! Or no–you got to let me put you in some outfits and let me take photos of you at some of these spots!”

Lydia laughed as Percy–the black kitten that she had adopted a few months back–purred in contentment. “Thanks, but you’ll owe me a coffee later if you do that.”

“Hey, no prob!” Delanie sat down on the bed beside Lydia and began to pet Percy too. Lydia gave the girl a thoughtful look and began “You know, I thought I’d hate this place and when I went to school, I thought I’d hate everyone even more. But not all of our classmates are that bad.” She admitted. “Some of them are nice and decent human beings. But you’re the only living friend I made down here that also knows about the ghosts and the supernatural side of my life. And the fact that you hadn’t run away and avoided me like the plague at school or called me a witch is really nice.”

“Hey, you’re looking at someone who’s a weirdo herself!” Delanie smiled and playfully, yet lightly punched Lydia in the shoulder. “Screw reading about celebrities, screw having six purses and twenty pairs of shoes, and screw needing to spend two and a half hours before school doing a stylish hairstyle when you really want the time to get some sleep in! And I do think it’s cool that you got this other side to you, even if I don’t act like it at times. Besides, if you didn’t, then who knows what could of happened to us or to my brother that night.” She frowned at the memory. “Seriously, I owe you big time for it. If anything had happened to Daniel, I’d never live with it.”

“Hey, you don’t owe me anything.” Lydia shook her head.

There was a knock at the slightly opened door and when Lydia gave the “Come in,” it was Delanie’s father. “Hey girls.” He smiled before asking. “Have either of you seen Daniel? He left the room awhile ago and hasn’t come back.”

“No?” Delanie shot Lydia a confused look. “I didn’t even know he wandered off.”

****Somewhere on Saturn. Or Sandworm Land. One of them, take your pick.*****

The eight year old stood in awe at the huge sandworm that loomed over him in a certain area where you could see sand and sky for miles and miles. “Whoah!” He wasn’t even afraid as the creature lowered her head to get a better look at him. “That’s so amazing! It’s like a California kingsnake, but larger!”

“Now this is Big Sandy.” Beetlejuice introduced the boy to the sandworm as he stood by. “Don’t worry, she only eats ghosts... and demons.” He admitted. “She seems ok with you, so you can pet her.”

“Wait, she’ll really let me?”

“Well you aren’t dead, you didn’t scream in her face and hurt her feelings, and I don’t think she’s seen a living human child yet, so yeah, sure.”

Daniel reached out to pet the side of Big Sandy’s head. She let out a pleased sound as she moved her head closer into the boy’s hand, causing him to smile even more.

“Well what do you know, I guess she likes you.” Beetlejuice then had an idea. “You want to ride her?”

“Can I?!” The boy had a huge smile on his face as if his birthday came early.

*****

Delanie and Lydia continued to look for Daniel on the bottom floors as Adam and Barbara tried to help and see if they could spot him from on the upper floors or the top of the roof. It took so many rooms, but there was no sign of him.

“Delanie!” Delanie turned around to see her mother smiling at her. “I hope you both will be joining us downstairs as soon as you find Daniel! It’s been awhile since we spoke to Lydia. I must say, you certainly have a beautiful house to live in.” She smiled at the goth teen. “If there were more houses like this one here in town, I would have loved to live in one myself.”

“Thanks.” Lydia smiled.

“Uh, Lydia?” Lydia didn’t turn around, but Delanie did when Adam came out. “We aren’t finding Daniel anywhere.”

“We’ll be joining you guys soon.” Delanie promised her mom. “I just remembered there was one thing Lydia wanted to show me!”

“Well alright.” Mrs. Page turned around and left. As soon as Delanie knew her mother couldn’t hear her, she asked Adam “He’s not outside?!”

“We couldn’t find him in any of the other rooms.” Lydia added. “Not the bedrooms, the basement, the garage, the–” She stopped.

“Delanie,” She began in a tone that Delanie didn’t like. “You said he liked Beetlejuice, didn’t he?”

“Yes?”

“He’s in the house right now. Or he should be but I didn’t see him where he’s supposed to be.”

Just when Delanie thought all would go well, there was going to be something to give her another early heart attack. “Oh God... tell me he didn’t take my brother out of the house!”

“No, he wouldn’t, he’s not that stupid... unless...” Lydia then realized it and groaned. “There’s one other place and it’s not outside.”

*****

Daniel was screaming with joy as the ghost kept a secure hold on him as they rode atop Big Sandy who was charging through the sands at top speeds. “THIS IS AWESOME!”

“I KNOW, RIGHT?!” Beetlejuice also screamed with glee. “I’M GLAD I GOT OVER MY PHOBIA OF THESE GUYS JUST ENOUGH TO DO THIS KIND OF STUFF!”

Big Sandy let out a roar that was probably something of a similar nature.

Moments later, an invisible door in the sky opened up to reveal the way back into the Deetz-Maitland residence. It also revealed both Lydia and Delanie who took a few moments to try to locate who they were trying to find and when they did–

“HI LANIE!” They couldn’t see the boy waving from atop the giant sandworm, but they sure heard him.

Delanie promptly began to have a panic attack and let out a series of inhuman sounds before clasping a hand over her mouth, but that barely did much to stifle the scream that still came out.

“Oh shit.” Lydia let out a nervous gulp. “Yeah, we better stop them before your parents kill us both.”

*****

It took awhile, but they finally managed to stop Big Sandy in time to bring a very reluctant Daniel back into the house (and Beetlejuice was due for an epic scolding at a later time by the entire household, both living and dead). When asked why both girls and Daniel were partially covered with sand, Lydia lied and said that there was some sandbags that they got into on accident. Meanwhile Delanie was trying to recover from yet another early aged heart attack.

She didn’t dare speak to Daniel about the incident the rest of their time there. Not even when she and her family left the house and when she saw her brother waving at it, she looked back to see a familiar black and white figure on the roof waving right back and giving the boy a friendly smile before shooting an amused look at Delanie and waved to her.

It was when they got home and the siblings were alone in Delanie’s room that she set the rules for Daniel.

“Daniel, did Beetlejuice tell you how to summon him?” She asked.

“No.” He shook his head. “I didn’t know you could. Could we summon him some time? Maybe get him to play video games with us?” He gave her an eager look, but she shook her head.

“No, and if he so much as tries to take you to whatever that place was–and it could be the Netherworld for all I know–you tell him that first he needs to ask Lydia for permission and then ask me for permission. If he tells you that we don’t need to know, tell him that I will personally remove a certain body part of his and he’ll be left without it for the rest of his afterlife if you don’t get my permission. And I have to be with you if by some insane chance he does it again–there’s no telling what that place can be like.”

“Sure.” He shrugged.

“Also–” Delanie was a bit reluctant to admit this, considering the circumstances, but whatever. “Is there anyway that I can ride that thing next time?” She asked, causing the boy to grin at her. “Because I admit that it did look like fun.”