A Daisy in the Park

Summary:
January 19, 2015: Hellboy and Rain meet the ghost of a young girl who seems to be unstuck in time.

Bronx Park - New York City

Bronx Park covers more than seven hundred acres along the Bronx River, its history reaching back to the late 1880's. Most of the northern end is occupied by the New York Botanical Garden and much of the south is claimed by the Bronx Zoo. There are three major biking paths which pass through the park following the Mosholu Parkway, Bronx River Parkway, and Pelham Parkway, while the park itself is split almost in half by Fordham Road. In addition, two hundred and fifty acres of the Park have been reserved for the New York Zoological Society and another sixty-six at the southeastern end, now known as Ranaqua, is home to the Park's headquarters.


Characters

NPCs

  • Brixton MacLeod (medium)

Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


It's far too late in the evening for people to be out in the park playing chess, but at first glance, that seems to be the case. A spindly older gentleman in a frock coat and newsboy cap and a hulking figure clad in a shabby overcoat and some sort of goggles (?) are hunched over one of the park's outdoor game tables, paying intent attention to the board despite the anemic moonlight. On closer inspection, however, they both seem to be moving their pieces at once. One piece, in fact. The pair are hunched over a spirit board — not the mass-produced sort printed with the alphabet, but some sort of antique decorated with painted figures and scenes. As one steps closer, there's a noticeable scent in the air, fragant but sour, like cut flowers left in the same water for too long.

"You making any sense of this crap?" the larger figure asks, his voice a tectonic rumble.

"Shhh," the other man answers, not unkindly. "Focus on the planchette."


Rain usually flies by night. Flying on a broomstick during the day is too risky for her tastes. Captain rides just behind her, a fedora and goggles on. Cat eyes are sensitive and need protecting, you know. The two have some cargo with them, and they seem to be heading towards Flushing Meadows Park. Hilariously, Rain got her powers doing one of those board games. Go figure. And as their flight takes them closer, there's an odd feeling. That odd smell. "Take us down, pilot. We've got business," The baritone voiced, Gotham accent having cat speaks, tapping the broom with a paw. "Yeah, it feels like the real deal," She pulls her breath in through her teeth. Good thing she has a bandana over her nose and mouth.

Her broom comes in for a landing, gently circling around the table until she lands nearby with a soft fumpf.


At the noise, the larger figure at the table suddenly straightens to an improbable height, nearly knocking the board over. Those apparently aren't goggles on his head, because below them are two yellow-orange eyes that seem lit from within in the dim night. He peers through the darkness, straight at Rain — his night sight must be excellent — and then his posture eases back into a slump.

"We got company. I know her," he says, cutting off the older man's grumbling. The scent on the air seems to have dissipated. "I don't suppose you've been messing around with your magic crap around here lately?" he asks, and from the volume of his voice, it's apparent that he's addressing the newcomer. "That would explain a lot."


They DO have company. Rain's long duster coat billows a little a moment. It would be super dramatic if she weren't so /skinny/. Nevertheless, she puts her broom over her shoulder, like some carry a sword. Then she blinks, peering back at the fellow. She waves. "Oh hey! How are you?" She asks. Rain goes quiet at his question, and Captain ahems.

"No," The cat answers, and Rain interjects, "Someone seems to have been sterilizing and altering a leyline or leylines alongside all of the magical backlash that happens after disasters," She frowns. "We've been cleaning and containing as we can but we need some serious mojo for leyline repair, far as I know. Yesterday, I had cultists on my lawn. I don't want cultists on my lawn. Least of all when they open portals and do donuts in an SUV on it." Sigh. DEEP SIGH. She puts her hands on her hips. "Or uh… was it something different?" She looks sheepish, going red. The woman has deep, intensely purple eyes. The witch's mark. At least she didn't get ram's horns or like, a third boob. That would've been just weird


The hulking figure, easy enough to identify as Hellboy, makes only a disapproving 'humph' noise. His companion, however, is more talkative.

"Hmm. Leyline disruption could have shaken loose a few spirits in the area," the older man speculates quietly. He glances down at his spirit board, then sighs and stands, extending one hand toward the newcomer. "Brixton MacLeod. Medium. We've had reports of a haunting in the park, which we are investigating. I gather you are familiar with occult matters?"

"Witch," Hellboy explains succinctly, already lighting a cigar. "Not one of the crazies. I think." He's still not quite over that whole 'roommates with Loki' thing.


Rain nods at the two. She is quiet for a moment, looking thoughtful. Captain pulls his goggles off with a paw to look at the two. "Spirits aren't really our expertise," Captain admits. "But …" Then Rain tilts her gambler's hat back. "I know there was a haunting in a building with clones a bit ago and a lady who was a Revanent. That was a pain," She frowns. "And yeah, I often run around as an occult detective. It's politer than 'Witch for Hire: Please, I don't want to Starve'." She is a bit wry, sad and honest about her fate.

Then a smile at Hellboy. "Sometimes it feels otherwise, with all that happens. I mean, I never expected to almost get soul reaved. That sucked." Sigh. "But if we can help, let us know." Nod. She seems pretty sane, despite her haplessness and the Loki thing. "And to be entirely honest, sometimes you just have to keep an eye on the Abyss. Just - not too much."


When Rain mentions not wanting to starve, something a bit like sympathy crosses Hellboy's features, visible even in the half-light. "Well, you can't be any worse with this Wee-Gee crap than I am," he says, gesturing at the game board.

Brixton gives Hellboy a jaundiced glance, then corrects him, firm but polite: "Spirit board. And it is not 'crap,' it is a priceless artifact from seventeenth century France." He turns to Rain. "But he's right about one thing: you can't possibly be worse at it than Hellboy is. And your sensitivity to magical forces might help counteract his attitude, if you would like to join us."

Captain the cat gets a slightly uncertain glance from the Medium; it's going to be difficult for him to get his front paws on the planchette without having his back paws on that priceless board. He'd probably be welcome to watch, though.


"… that's kind of funny. I actually got my powers when we found a demon summoning Ouija board," Rain looks a bit pale and sheepish for a moment. "Well, no one's shoes should get set on fire tonight." Hey, it worked out for her. She looks quietly amused by the two. "We can help, sure. Captain can keep an eye out." For cats, why do they stare so intently into the air? Well, who knows? Captain comes over, sitting nearby. "Yeah, sure. I'll - hang out with tall guy over here. I've never been good with these board things," The familiar admits. He'll help watch the two.

"And really? Seventeenth century? Huh." Wow.


Without stopping to wonder whether the gesture will be taken well, Hellboy reaches out absent-mindedly to rub at the spot between Captain's shoulder blades with one finger. He's just drawn to this action as if by magnetism, like many cat people. Brixton places a chair for Rain, nodding. "It's not the original planchette — that, the BPRD recovered from a cult site much later — but the artistry of the illustrations is exceptional, and the board itself very potent. I also find that using images, rather than the literal alphabet, opens the mind to more nuanced—"

"Brix!" Hellboy interrupts, sitting across from the man. "Less talky, more ghosty."


To be fair, Captain is a cat. He's pretty used to it. Captain purrs a bit at the rubbing. Why not? He is down with it, and even looks up at Hellboy. The two seem pretty comfortable with the duo. Captain's tail even twitches a little. Rain will take the chair and smile at Brixton. "Thanks. And yeah?" She tilts her head. "I see…" Rain is learning. Although, the way the two interact kind of makes her smile.

"Shame I didn't bring the candles or such," She murmurs. "I will follow your lead, then?" She trusts the medium. She's a witch, and this is a bit not entirely her field.


Hellboy generally takes a live and let live tack with other mystical beings who aren't actively trying to eat him or plunge civilization into chaos. Mystical beings with cats fare even better.

"Candles are just for mood," Brixton says with a wave of his hand. "And considering the cold and the darkness, I think we've got all the mood we need." He places his fingertips on the planchette, palms held up off the board, and after a moment, Hellboy does the same. Even before Rain follows suit, that sickly floral scent starts to return. "That scent is not associated with the board," Brixton says quietly, so as not to disturb the mood. "It's specific to this spirit, as far as I can tell."


Rain is pretty okay with Hellboy, maybe even a bit curious. Captain seems pretty cool with it all, too. Hellboy isn't trying to eat them, reave their souls or what have you.

"True enough," Rain agrees with Brixton. She will follow suit after Hellboy. Her hands are slender, skin pale. She pauses at the smell. She listens, hming softly. Rain decides to activate her magic senses, looking a bit zoned and peaceful. Captain keeps watch over them now, his almond shaped eyes peering intently here and there. Whiskers out. Will she feel anything odd? Hmm. The scent.


There is definitely a strong mystical presence in the park. Unusually strong: most old, lingering ghosts are a pale, gauzy little flag of spirit, snagged on the bare branches of the material world. This one is like a thick, fuzzy blanket draped over the ground. The presence doesn't feel frightening or malevolent, but there's certainly something not right about it. The smell of flowers gone bad; a wrong harmony at the end of a symphony, souring everything that went before.

The planchette starts to slide against the painted images on the board, settling for a moment on an idyllic image of the Garden of Eden, then inching a bit across to focus on the serpent that prowls the icon's perimeter like Jormungand circling Midgard. The glassless lens then roves over to a shadowy figure, then a bowl full of what appears to be blood. Finally, it stops over an image of a family. The parents stare up through the circular hole in the planchette; its frame blocks out the children.


Rain is quiet, her concentration open and extending to what is there. How strange. Maybe it's upset from being disturbed where it was peacefully let alone before? She swallows hard a little. Her slender hand rests, as the planchette starts to slide. Interesting. That's - an odd series of events, or is it? She's not a Ouija translation expert and this board is completely foreign to her. But it's like reading a message in bits.

Captain's triangular nose wriggles, as he watches. Rain's eyebrows furrow. "I -" She lets Brixton speak first, but there is definitely a presence, a nod.


"Eden represents innocence, fertility, or creativity," Brixton begins, furrows appearing on his forehead as he considers the cryptic series of images. "The serpent's meaning is obviously the loss of those things. The shadow is a stranger, foreigner, or anyone poorly understood. The collected blood can be sacrifice or violence, sometimes war. The family is the opposite of the shadow, which is interesting: that which is comforting or familiar. And of course, there's this strange smell of rotten flowers, which must be connected somehow. Perhaps to the garden image?"

Hellboy stares at Brixton for several seconds, then grunts, "So… did it say anything that was actually useful?"


Rain listens, nodding. "I think - what happened was this person had a happy existence until a stranger or disaster came along, shattering it. Perhaps their family was slain in a disaster or by a criminal. And this mayhem either stirred it up or is the root cause," She offers her own theory. "It doesn't feel malevolent, just… discordant," Rain remarks. Her voice is soft, to keep in the atmosphere. "Do we know how old this spirit is?" She asks.

Captain keeps his ears perked, eyes out, tail flicking.


"How old they were before they died or how long they've been a ghost?" Hellboy asks, cocking his head to one side. "Because the little frame thingy was covering up the kids in the image of the family. What if this was a kid who died? So it showed us the parents alone. And a kid dying before its parents? Sounds pretty 'discordant' to me."

Brixton listens to both of them, looking increasingly worried. "The spiritual presence here is very, very strong. I had thought it simply a potent spirit, but it may also have been a recent death. To say there have been disasters in the city recently would be an understatement."


"Either or," Rain offers. "If it's an old spirit, it probably got stirred up or disturbed. If it's newer, it might just need help coping or moving along," Rain considers. The witch nods at Hellboy. "It is - there are lots of others, too." She seems to be in agreement. There's a deep breath taken in. Captain keeps his vigil, watching. "How would you suggest reaching out to it?" Rain is conceding to expertise. She likely could brute force it with magic, but that rarely ends well.

Captain's nose wiggles, and he looks thiiiiiis way and that.


"I could go into a trance, try to draw it into me, to speak directly," Brixton suggests. Despite her deference, he seems just as interested in Rain's input as he is to Hellboy's. Either he's quite open minded, or just curious to learn more about her approach to the supernatural.

Hellboy grunts noncommitally, then rumbles out his own thoughts. "Usually with ghosts, you have to play out something that's holding them in place. Maybe the scene of how they died, or something like that. You think we can —"

There's a sudden shift in the background magical energy of the park, the ley line equivalent of a small earthquake, and then there's a fourth person at the board: a younger girl with a stout, puckish face and a ponytail. "You shouldn't talk about me like I'm not even here," she says.


"I see," Rain considers Brixton's words. "I would normally cross over to them, but I'd have to leave myself behind," She offers. She seems curious in turn. "Or there are spells, but that's kind of a brute force method and some folks get offended," She offers.

Then, suddenly, the girl speaks. Rain jerks, startled. "Oh hi! I'm sorry. We couldn't hear you," She admits. She looks apologetic, realizing she must seem like a complete jerk. "What should we call you? My name is Rain," The witch offers.


At first, the phantom seems very simple and solid, but when you look straight at her, there's a bizarre shifting perspective effect, as though there's a lens between you that is constantly refocusing. She also seems to skitter back and forth in time, like a chopped-up video, and her initial clear statement quickly gives way to a stuttering retread: "You shouldn't — shouldn't / here — I'm / about — not even here." She suddenly vanishes and reappears, standing with one hand against a tree trunk, then returns to her seat. The entire jump happens so quickly that probably only Captain can follow it.

"Is something wrong?" Hellboy asks her in an uncharacteristically kind voice. "Can we help you with anything?"

The apparition stares right at Rain, ignoring Hellboy, then skips three times over a single word: "Talk — talk — talk."


Captain tenses, seeing what he sees. His fur poofs, and he looks alert, worried. The witch herself, blinks. "I wonder if she's stuck due to the local energy being disrupted." Rain pauses. Right, "Hello there. We're sorry about that. May we help you? What should we call you?" She asks, looking to the girl, as if she were having a perfectly normal conversation. She's going to try to offer the girl - perhaps some sort of spiritual energy to help her out? But then, what is going on? This doesn't feel right. Rain watches it all, trying to take it in. Time anomaly? Weakening spirit? Corrupted?


The spirit becomes a little more solid, a little more focused, as Rain extends her energy toward it, but perhaps not in the way that she expected. This is quite a strong ghost, and it doesn't seem to need the power so much as the offer of it. The connection to a living being serves to strengthen the spirit's connection to the physical plane. The connection will also give Rain a mental sense that the spirit is trapped, whether by the shift in the ley lines or some other factor is not clear. But the way the girl keeps repeating the same chunks of time, unable to escape even her own words, certainly strengthens the impression.

"Daisy," she says, quite clearly, although her eyes aren't focused on Rain when she does. Now she peers intently at Hellboy. "I need help. Please. Someone was in the darkness."

Then she's skipping again: "Some- / dark / about me — shouldn't / here — help / talk." With no transition, the ghost is in tears, her face buried in her hands.

Hellboy reaches out as though to soothe her, but of course, she has no physical form. "Who was in the dark?" he asks, his voice like boulders shifting.


"Daisy," Rain repeats quietly. Rain looks concerned, looking to Hellboy. She nods as he asks the question, and hers would merely be an echo. Captain is still comcially poofed out, but he watches. Thinking, Rain quietly reaches over and pets him. She's casting a spell. Enter: GLOWCAT. He glows gently, like a large firely. Except all of him glows, not just his butt.


"Someone — someone — someone — help. Please. Someone," Daisy says, no longer crying, her words a recursion rather than an answer. Then she reasserts herself: "Have you seen my mom and dad? They're going to be so scared." Her eyes well up and her hands come upward. She's about to burst into tears — the tears she was in just a moment ago — when suddenly she's standing by the tree again, one hand on its trunk, her expression mild. She scuffs the toe of one shoe in the grass, disturbing the earth next to a little patch of wildflowers.

Where Captain's light touches the specter, she seems even more insubstantial, although it doesn't seem to affect her in any way. The warm light does seem to take some of the otherworldly chill out of the scene, at least. Brixton is still shaking, all the same.


Rain looks puzzled. She shakes her head. This poor girl, trapped in recursion or is she recursion? She looks around, perhaps trying to see if any other spirits might be strong enough to be identifiable. "I don't think so, but let me look around." That poor gi— then there's a puzzled look. Captain stays nearby, perhaps to take away some of the chill. Rain is grateful for her long coat, even if it's tempting to hunch for warmth.

She's not shivering, but her face is pale, lips a drained pink. Rain is concerned. "I wonder if the broken ley lines or something have her trapped in a loop."


"That makes sense," Brixton agrees, speaking up again. "Many spirits are trapped acting out scenes from their lives, but she seems trapped in this moment, speaking to us. She doesn't need to resolve a problem from her life or death, but rather, one that cropped up after she died."

Hellboy emits a deep hum as he processes this. "Could be good news. Usually you have to fix the scene to make the ghost leave. If we are the scene, maybe we just have to worry about what's happening now."

Over by the tree, Daisy is looped again, but this time, it's simply her toe nudging at the earth again and again. She doesn't even seem to notice the trio trying to help her pass onward. And she is definitely the source of the spiritual energy surrounding them: no other spirits are in evidence, especially not any so strong.


"Mmn." Rain nods. "Man… moving a ley line is - no small feat though," She rubs the back of her head. "I know that repairing this place will help a little, but I don't know how much," She admits. "I'm not very good at the oracle thing, to be honest. Even if I were, I'd be leery of putting too much stock in it," Rain admits. She is thinking. "I wonder if the best we can do is keep her steady until the area mends itself. Or …" Think Rain, think. "That's going to take awhile."

She looks to the two. "We could, alternatively, move what she is anchored to."


Brixton grimaces, but nods slowly. Hellboy seems less willing to follow Rain down this line of reasoning. "What do you mean, what she's anchored to?" he asks gruffly. "What would she be—?"

The apparition interrupts, skipping back through snippets of their conversation helplessly. "So scared — mom — scared / darkness — help. Please — shouldn't / here — shouldn't / be so / here." Then she's scuffing at the patch of wildflowers again.

Hellboy stares at her for a second, then turns to Rain. "How do we figure out what she's anchored to?"


"Unless someone has something better? I'm pretty open to be honest. The last rebinding I had to do -" Captain firmly interjects, "NOT THAT AGAIN. Not to me." He's poofed out again. Rain look back to the other. "I think possibly to this place. Especially if she lived here. She seems to scuff at the wildflowers a lot. That may be significant. Spirits tend to have attachment to things they love, hate or even places. It's really kind of complex," She rubs the back of her head.

Captain is watching, but he's in full pouf mode and is not going to help in this ritual. "I suspect if we moved her, it would be easier to get a response and help her on. If we had a gravestone, that'd be a good place to shift her to, but… Sympathy's only gonna get us so far. We could also use an object of significance. Maybe flowers? I'm really, really open to something else… do either of you do -?


Brixton takes a deep breath, as though he's about to launch into a long, detailed speech, but Hellboy holds up his stone hand to forestall the dissertation. "Flowers," the demon says, pointing at Rain with his left index finger. "Daisy." He looks at the apparition, who is crying at the table again, but at least doesn't seem to be skipping. He stoops over, looks at her with his otherworldly eyes, and asks, "You're stuck here, aren't you?"

The ghost slowly quiets and looks up, then nods at the towering demon. She doesn't seem disturbed by his appearance in the least.

"Where are you stuck?" Hellboy asks.

"Under the —" She suddenly cuts out, cutting through flickers of conversation so rapidly that the sounds can't even be assembled into words. Then she resets to a moment earlier. She nods, listens to an unasked question, and answers, "Under the daisy." She wipes her eyes, stands and walks over to the tree, putting one hand on its trunk to steady herself, and then scuffing at the clump of wildflowers with one toe.


Rain has no problem with the dissertation, but there is a girl in trouble here. She looks to Hellboy and nods. Captain keeps watch, still comically poofed. "I see… that makes sense, then. She must have died around here, and things shook up. I'll figure it out later. Is there somewhere in the city not touched by the funked up leyline we could take her? Then we might be able to help her on…" Rain chinrubs. This is challenging her immensely. "IF she wants such a thing, anyway. But I am pretty impressed." Hellboy and Brixton seem like really good people.


At the very least, they've had to puzzle out this sort of mysterious message from the spirit world before. Hellboy sighs and follows the girl over to the spot she has indicated. "I don't map ley lines," he says, his voice even more gruff than usual. It's almost enough to convince someone that he's putting up emotional walls, and getting some distance so that the others can't see through them.

Brixton watches him, then turns to Rain sympathetically. "If her… remains are still here, Hellboy knows the priest at St. Patrick's. We can have her disinterred respectfully and given a proper burial," he says. "Maybe that will be all it takes."


Phew. Rain looks to Hellboy, tilting her head. The young witch nods, politely respectful. Then she looks to Brixton. "Sure, we can take a look. We'll try that first before - trying to unbind and move the spirit. It's not a ritual undertaken lightly," She admits. Rain is silent, respectfully so.

"Well, if you need my number, I can leave it with you. Else you know where I live. My roommate is usually out more often than not. I haven't seen him in ages, outside of when I was in the hospital." It's to reassure them.


"No surprise there," Hellboy answers. His voice is gruff but he glances at Rain with an expression of gallows humor, holding the line of humanity against their grim situation. "Guy's kind of a flake, from what I've heard."

The apparition flickers back to the beginning of their encounter, when she wasn't as scared or sad, and finally answers a question asked ages ago: "Nice to meet you, Rain. My name is Tamara." Then she flickers back to the tree and the end of their encounter, glances at Hellboy somberly, and starts walking toward the young witch. In what is, perhaps, a promising sign, she begins to slowly fade to transparency, as she just as slowly starts to smile.


Rain smiles weakly at Hellboy. "I ended up his apprentice because I shot him in the face with gun magic. I guess he hadn't seen magic channeled through a gun. I'm just glad I didn't get smote," Or would she really have to worry about it? She goes respectfully quiet. She looks to the apparition and watches quietly. "It was our pleasure to meet you, Tamara." She nods. She smiles back, as the girl walks towards her. Even if there's a bit of sadness about it all. It seems unfair in a way.

Captain seems less poofed out, and the two fall silent. Sometimes, there's no words, no answers. Only a quiet somber that hangs around like the soft smoke of fog in the dawn.


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