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The Reaper

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Strange led Morgan up several flights of stairs and through countless hallways to a small bedroom. “There’s a computer on the desk, if you need to contact anyone,” he told her. She thanked him, and he left back the way they came, presumably off to tell Wong what his findings had shown.

Morgan pulled at her itchy clothing and went to sit at the desk. She didn’t want to get the bed bloody. She turned around to see that Tony’s ghost had settled on the bed, and yawned, her jaw popping. “Do you think I really missed two whole weeks somehow?” She asked him, settling into the chair.

“The facts don't lie, and unless you’re missing a lot of days somewhere else, I think that’s the only thing that could have happened.”

“But why?”

Tony leaned back against the wall, and she noticed that he didn’t make an indent in the quilt. He thought for a moment. “Maybe something happened and you were frozen for a bit, like the super popsicles?”

“It’s summer though. There’s no way it was cold enough to freeze me.”

He looked at her carefully, squinting as if he was looking at something that wasn’t quite there. “It’s a bit of a stretch, but what if you died?”

“Why would you think that?” She asked, confused. He had been the one who insisted she was alive back in the clearing, why did he think she was dead now? “Why did you say I was alive before, if you think that?”

“Because you are alive,” he said, leaning forward, looking as though he wanted to get up and pace, “You have some of the qualities of a soul that’s passed on, but you are also clearly alive, It’s like you’re both dead and alive at the same time.”

Morgan put her head in her hands. She really didn’t want to think about if she was dead or not right now. She was far too tired to process what exactly had happened to her. Morgan could feel a wave of panic start to wash over her. She took a few deep breaths to calm herself slightly.

Tony looked at her in concern and looked like he was about to say something when she said, “I-- maybe. Can we talk about something else right now please?”

“Yeah, sure. Are you ok telling me what happened when you were kidnapped?”

Morgan laughed internally. What a horrible turn of events where a kidnapping was the easier option to discuss. She nodded. “A bunch of people in tactical gear found me on my second night in, after I had deviated from my planned course. They were driving one of the tour busses from the park. There were maybe about fifteen of them?”

“You left your planned course?”

“I had reservations at campgrounds for the first three nights, and they were all about a day apart from each other. I got sick on the first night, and slept late the next day. It was too late to make it to the second campsite by the time I left, but I thought I could make it to the third one in time for the reservation there. I slept past the treeline off the road on the second night-- or I tried. They grabbed me a few hours after sunset.”

“So they knew where you were, and were presumably following you.”

“Something like that. Nobody but family knew I was taking this trip though. I don’t know how they could have followed me. They tried very hard not to kill me though, I think me getting shot wasn’t in their plan.”

“Motivated by ransom then, most likely. Was there anything notable about any of them?”

“All of them had red eyes. And they ran too fast to be normal humans, and found me far quicker than I expected when I tried to run.”

“Enhanced, then?” Tony asked.

She looked at him sarcastically, “You think?” They sat in silence for a few minutes. “I should probably contact FRIDAY.”

“That is a wonderful idea. We should have done that first. She’ll be able to figure out what’s going on better than we can.” Tony mused.

That wasn’t why Morgan wanted to contact FRIDAY, by the way. She just really missed the AI and regretted not bringing her with on her trip. But Tony’s idea held merit and was probably the most productive use of their time, so the first thing she did when she booted up the old laptop was connect to FRIDAY. Which was no easy task, needing passwords and identity verifications, and a secure wifi connection (Which Tony needed to coach her through. A software engineer she was not).

Eventually she got the computer hooked up to FRIDAY’s servers. Hardly a moment had passed before the AI’s voice echoed out of the speakers. “Morgan? Why are you in Kathmandu, Nepal? Aren’t you supposed to be in Alaska?”

“I am indeed supposed to be in Alaska right now.”

The AI sighed, sound crackling in the speakers in a way quite different than her usual soft tones. “What happened?”

“I may have gotten kidnapped while I was on my trip and I might have somehow obtained the ability to see my dad.”

“Boss is dead, Mini Boss.”

“Yeah, I know,” Morgan said, trying to come up with a way to convince FRIDAY she was telling the truth.

It was unnecessary. “That’s very interesting. I’ve never heard of anything like that before.”

“You believe me?”

“You have no reason to lie to me.” Morgan looked at Tony, who was grinning fondly at the computer. Morgan also began to grin, overjoyed that someone believed her, without needing proof.

She turned back to the computer and began searching for red-eyed people, with FRIDAY pulling up relevant results. She spoke to the AI while they worked, catching her up on everything that had happened, including the fact she had missed two weeks. She could see Tony watching her work out of the corner of her eye, a proud smile on his face.

After about ten minutes she started to yawn widely, her exhaustion finally catching up to her. “Why don’t you go to sleep Morgan, and I can continue searching?” FRIDAY suggested. Morgan nodded in agreement, then realized that FRIDAY couldn't see her, because the computer had no camera.

“Yeah, I will. Thanks Fri,” she said, and turned away from the computer. Morgan turned to Tony. She started thinking about how she had possibly died again, and could feel the ocean of panic waiting for her. She took a moment to clear her head, and in the process had an idea. “What if I can see you because I’ve died?” She addressed Tony.

He considered the idea for a moment. “That’s fair, I suppose. But what brought you back to life?”

She huffed in frustration, not at Tony, but at the idea that she didn’t know what was happening. It didn’t feel very good, to not know. She was so used to being on top of everything; school, family, friends, work. Morgan hated when situations were out of her control. She always felt like she needed to pretend to know what was going on, and that was so exhausting.

It was simpler to just ignore the problem. So Morgan decided right then and there, to ignore the issue until it went away. It would drive her crazy to linger on what had happened. It was better to move on, right?