Just recently fell in.
I’m not terribly surprised, mind you. It has always been a bit touch and go with their home, and I predicted back in October that it wouldn’t survive another Canadian winter. Look, I said to them. I’ve built an entire home from the ground up. And to other homes I’ve added storeys, reinforced floors for heavy machinery, added switchback stairs. I’ve even built a goddamn stable, and I’m telling you, this house is about to cave in.
Jacques calmly looked at the holes in the ceiling, the splintered support beams, and said, “…nah.”
Now, I don’t really fault him. He had every reason to procrastinate acceptance of the inevitable. He and his husband Ed have lived at that property going on thirteen years. It’s the first place they felt settled post-mortem. And if you are the sort of ghost that needs to feel settled (as opposed to Marcus and I who travel frequently) then that first location onto which you map your energy becomes your home, even if happens to be a clearing in the middle of the woods or a stop sign in the middle of New York City or a crumbling ski lodge, as in the case of our mates..
The ski lodge edges right up onto a forest, which is quite lovely and private. It’s not grand, but it’s spacious, with an open floor plan downstairs and long narrow hallways with luxury guest rooms on the upper with worn carpets and lamps and a bit of that hotel feel left over. And the fireplace…ohhh, the fireplace. It’s still standing, that stone monster.
When they moved in, it was still in relatively decent repair, but over the winters, without any upkeep, it started to sag. And then lean. And then fall in.
So what options does a ghost have when his house bloody topples?
Well, ghosts with homes–unlike outdoor ghosts–need that sense of containment. In fact, they often map their energies onto the walls and structures, becoming, in a way, a part of the house itself. Ed and Jacques had been there long enough that they had also used their energy to patch the holes, create some semblance of a working kitchen, and–their big splurge–purchase an energy television (more on those at some point, promise.)
So, the first thing they needed when all of that collapsed was an immediate sense of containment elsewhere. Naturally, Marcus and I swooped in, picked them up, and took them to our flat, where they had visited before and felt at ease. Ed, especially; Jacques is a bit more independent these days.
Then, as they healed from the shock, they had to decide between three options.
1. Move to another home. With the first one in a state of utter disrepair, their “tether” of sorts could reset, and Jacques has been hoping to move further into Toronto for a while now.
2. Stay at the abandoned home and make repairs. Not that ghosts can actually repair materials that exist in the realm of the living, but we have advanced techniques for building with energy. This would allow the blokes to reconstruct the frame of their old home in energy, and then simply ignore the caved in spaces, traipsing right on through the broken walls and window frames. We are ghosts, after all.
But these “repairs” require a lot of construction permits, a lot of ghost gifted with retention abilities, and a lot of energy, which, on the quota system, functions as our “money” as it were. You can certainly wander through ghost world without any of this nonsense, being something along the lines that alivelies think of as a traditional ghost, but Ed and Jacques decided long ago to live as alively-like as possible.
3. Stay at the abandoned home, living on the side of the resort that didn’t collapse as fully. Ed was all for this option–almost frantically so, since they haven’t the energy to reconstruct–but Jacques found the idea distasteful, especially since he’s been working two years now and put aside enough for a down payment.
After about two weeks in our flat, they were looking frazzled. Jacques managed to get Ed out long enough to tour one Toronto loft, but he went a bit weak about the edges at the prospect, I hear, and so Jacques rushed him back to our flat and resigned himself to living in rubble.
Which is ridiculous, of course.
There was a good deal of awkwardness about the whole thing. Jacques is a proud man, and he didn’t want take money from us. Marcus managed to get him to sign a “loan” which we will treat as no such thing, and then got him very drunk.
Then Jacques had to contact the project manager at the lead Toronto reconstructionist firm. Normally, it would be a matter of luck that he works for them. But the CEO is currently in the process of divorcing–rather, being divorced by–our mate Delphi, so talking to Denis was about as fun as taking a sharp stick in the eye. Marc went with for moral support, and because Denis has never had the stones to stand up to Marcus, despite the man’s astonishing ability to be nasty to the rest of us.
That settled, construction began, with Edward standing aside and watching the whole thing with such a look of relief and starry-eyed hopefulness that Jacques couldn’t help but melt into the process.
He even decided to add a skylight. And Marc decided to upgrade the telly, because they both like to bow before it and scream at American football matches.
So, it’s true, if Jacques had admitted the structural unsoundness earlier, we could have thrown up energy retentions to it at its old lean. If you ever see an abandoned structure so close to falling in that you have to marvel at it’s ability to do otherwise, you better believe the dead are involved in that small miracle.
But this is certainly a close to an “equal best” option, as Marc says.