Heller Manor- Chapter 4

Vic walked into their apartment and tossed their coat on the couch. Sounds coming from the bathroom told Mare was at work on the pipe, they walked back to check on things.

“Hey Mare,” Vic said, leaning on the door frame.

“Hey,” she responded over her shoulder as she tightened the new pipe on. “Almost done here. Got any other pipes ya want me to look at?” she smirked, cocking an eyebrow.

Vic laughed. “Sure, look at ’em all, make sure no more are gonna burst.”

“Hmm… that’ll cost you more than just dinner.” Mare replied, dropping the wrench into her tool bag as she stepped out of the shower enclosure.

“Y’could bill me,” Vic said turning and gesturing with their head towards the living room. They walked into the kitchen and pulled a couple bottles of cider as Mare walked over to the couch.

“Hey Diavolo,” she said moving Vic’s coat over, “How was the gig?”

Vic handed Mare a bottle and stepped over her legs to plop on the couch beside her. Vic nestled against Mare, who reached an arm over their shoulders, “Eh, it was fine. Woman was strung out because she saw ghosts and shit. I gave her the intro, warded her mirrors, told her to get cozy with the thing that gave her the visions and see what else she got.”

“Can you make rent this month?”

“Well, I’m going to do her Syndicate intro soon, and they pay well. I’m waiting on her for that, though. It’s entirely possible it won’t happen this month, which would suck.

“I’ve got money coming in on the blog, advertising, patrons, that sort of thing, but it can take a bit to clear. So basically I need more gigs, because $150 ain’t enough.”

“No savings to fall back on?”

Vic looked at Mare with eyes that said “Really?”

“Ok, good point,” Mare said. She sipped from her bottle. “So what are you going to do? You can’t just keep lurching from month to month hoping you’ll get enough gigs to pay the rent or that Chuck won’t evict your shapely ass.”

Vic swigged from their bottle. “Dunno.”

Outside, the skies rumbled, Portland’s daily rain shower starting early this afternoon. Vic groaned as they stood to close the kitchen window.

“Well, what’s the deal with the Syndicates? Didn’t you say they housed some of you guys?”

“Mostly just the ones on the payroll. Princes and bishops and the Revolution Committee and officers and all of that get room and board. Even if I wanted to be part of the power structure, they probably wouldn’t take me. I suppose I could squat with the Cauchemar for a while, but… I’d almost rather live out of my car. I don’t relish the idea of living in an even more neglected building waiting for someone to throw me out again.

“Well… if it comes to it…” Mare started, uneasy about finishing.

“No. We work well as we are. We don’t need to be a couple. Besides, you don’t want to be that kind of Renfield. I start living with you and the Syndicates start expecting me to truly bring you in.”

“Well, you can crash if you need to. I mean, I agree, no way do we need to be a couple, but if you’re looking at sleeping in your car, and staying at my place a bit… My bed’s comfier than your car.”

“Thanks, Mare. I’ll figure something out. Hell, if it comes to it, I can do some work for one of the cults. The Oracles always have some damned thing that needs hunting, the White Lotus probably has something they need done and a place to stay to pay for it with.”

“Why don’t you take those jobs?”

“I like being a slightly more free agent. I mean, the Oracles are my cult, and they send jobs my way, but I don’t want to be a 9 to 5 monster hunter, and the Lotuses… I just don’t have the energy to go crawling through tunnels or records for hours on end at this point in my life.”

“So you prefer living month to month and always worrying about having to load up your apartment in three days or less over a steady, but less than ideal job?”

“I’m young and introverted, it’s a thing with us.” Vic replied, poking Mare in the ribs.

“I’ve looked over their shoulder at tumblr, it really is,” Diavolo chimed in from his perch on a bookcase.

“Well, then you need to find a job that is ideal.”

“Something’ll come in, and in the meantime, I’ve got the blog. Of course, that depends on me getting jobs… unless I just start making things up.”

“Vic, find something. You get emails, right?”

“Yeah, when people get desperate. It’s not like I can really advertise. The syndicates would be so far up my ass that I’d taste all four flavours.”

“Why can’t you advertise? Don’t people sell spells and shit and do ghost hunting shows?”

“Yeah, people who are fakes. The Syndicates basically allow those because they’re good comedy. I could try to set up shop doing spells and shit, but I’d be constantly dodging the Syndicates. Assuming I got any business at all.”

Diavolo fluttered over to perch on Vic’s head, “Don’t mean to interrupt the life talk, but looks like you just got a job, Vic. Check your email.”

Vic fished their phone out of their pocket and flicked into the email app, then to the Esoterica label. “Which one, Diavolo?”

“Haunted.”

Vic opened an email with the subject “ESOTERICA, HELP-MY PROPERTY IS HAUNTED.”

I’m desperate. I’ve tried everything, even a psychic. I got your name as someone who could help. I’ve got to get this place cleared out, or I can’t sell it. I’ll pay anything. Just help me. ASAP.

Heller Manor

549 Heller Drive

Portland

–Phil Robbins, Emmings Reality

“Well, this could be something. Maybe if it fails he’ll just give me the place…”

“And maybe if you get it done he’ll pay you well and keep you in mind for the next place,” Mare said, nudging Vic.

“Alright, I’m going to drive out to this place, check it out, see what’s going on. Mare, can you do some research about this place for me?”

“Yeah, the shop’s slow today, I’ll check it out.”

“Thanks.” Vic squeezed Mare’s arm affectionately. “I’ll probably just do a consult today. Assuming that the place isn’t haunted enough to keep me there…”

“Does that happen?”

“It can. Depends on the haunt, depends on whether the place has a major world bleed.”

“Alright, well, stay safe,” Mare said, standing to leave.

“Will do, let me know what you find out.”