Sam was deep in thought, as he turned a silver dollar in his left hand. He could feel an epiphany coming on, but as this thing approached he dropped the coin to the ground. All hope of a breakthrough was lost to a feeling of embarrassment and a desire to chase the rolling coin. He checked his jacket pocket for another dollar, but only found packets of ketchup, pepper and salt from his lunch at Burger King.
He hoped more people saw him look cool twirling the coin than had seen him drop it on the ground like some chucklehead. At least the floor was carpeted, so it didn’t make much noise. Maybe he could pretend he still had it, twirl nothing, and then reveal that his hand is empty like a magic trick. Yeah, that could be cool.
What had he been thinking about?
The gaunt, mustachioed man entered the room. He was carrying a silver tray upon which sat tiny folded pieces of cardstock. Sam though for a moment that they looked like tiny cub scout tents on some sort of metal campground. No doubt that this was what the future looked like to the people of 1955. The scouts would be wearing aluminum jumpsuits that would protect them from nuclear fallout and the like.
Sam wondered for a moment if he had remembered to take his pills. It felt as though he forgot to put on deodorant this morning, so forgetting his medication was firmly in the realm of possibility.
The mustachioed man had started talking some time ago. Sam attempted to pay attention.
“-since 1987. It has been boarded up ever since, that is, until this very night. Ladies and gentlemen, you shall be the first in what I hope will be many to partake in-“
Nope. Sam couldn’t pay attention. He saw the coin on the carpet and devised the subtlest way to get out of his chair, bend down, crawl under the table and retrieve it. He would have more room if he scooched past the woman in the black sequined dress, but he could probably reach it just as easily is he went in between the sequined woman and the man with the velveteen suit and monocle. Geez, what was his deal?
Sam chose the former option, and while there was more room this way, the sequined woman nearly kicked him in the face. Sam though that her feet smelled really good, and then worried that thoughts like those were the thoughts of a sex pervert.
Sam pinched the coin off the carpet, but came to the realization that this wasn’t his coin. His was silver and had Susan B. Anthony on it. This one was gold and had a skull on it. Still, keepers are finders or however it goes.
The golden coin felt cold to the touch, and seemed both light and heavy at the same time. There seemed to be something otherworldly about it.
Sam put it in his pants pocket.
He tried once again to listen to the mustachioed man. Unfortunately, by this time, he was nowhere to be seen.
“It looks like it’s you and me,” he heard somebody say. Sam carefully crawled out from underneath the table but still managed to bonk his head on the way up. Standing next to him was a young woman with pale skin, black hair, and purple framed glasses.
The other people in the room seemed to be standing in pairs. Sam supposed he should do that as well. “Hi, I’m Sam.”
“I know,” she said motioning to his name tag.
He read hers. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Aina.”
“My name is Gina.”
“Oh. Well it looks like an A.”
“I assure you it isn’t.”
“You can see where I’m coming from, can’t you?” explained Sam.
“I’m sure you are a well-traveled man of the world who has met a hundred girls named AIna who all have wonderful penmanship.”
“How did you know?”
“Let’s just go to the bowl.”
“Yes. The bowl. Were you paying attention at all?”
Sam just stood there much in the manner of a chucklehead.
Gina walked over to a large crystal bowl and pulled a folded piece of cardstock from it. “You want to read it?”
Sam took the note, read it, and nodded his head.
“Aloud?” Gina requested.
“Allowed to what?”
Gina ripped the note from Sam’s hand. “Attic! How hard is it to say attic!”
“That’s what the card says.”
“Let’s head off to the attic.”
“It’s probably upstairs.”
The ceiling of the attic was just high enough in the middle for Sam to stand up. The room was full of boxes and old furniture covered in sheets. A few bare bulbs hung from wires providing sparse light.
Sam felt a draft, but wasn’t sure where it was coming from.
“Well, we found the attic.” Gina declared. “Now what?”
“Wanna make out?” Sam asked.
“Sure don’t,” came the reply.
“Maybe later then.” Sam pulled a sheet off of an old sofa and tossed it aside before sprawling across the couch. The sheet stayed in the air.
“Holy shit!” Gina exclaimed.
She pointed at the floating sheet.
“Oh. It usually doesn’t do that at my house.”
Gina pulled a tiny bottle out of her handbag and methodically poured its contents in a circle around her.
“Oh.” An epiphany. “I’ve got some too! He reached into his pocket and produced a tiny paper packet. He ripped it open and swallowed the contents.
“That’s not how it-” Gina started to explain.
“Oh shit. That was the pepper. Hold on.” He held a finger across his nose. That’s what they always did in cartoons. “Hold on.” He sneezed, and shot snot all over his hand and the floating sheet.
“Gina! Gina! Gina! I slimed the ghost!”
The sheet twisted and folded. It bubbled and grew. Its shape became more human yet more monstrous. Cloth became translucent decaying flesh. The apparition was dark yet glowing at the same time.
Gina muttered something that sounded like old timey Catholic mass.
The sheet stared at Sam. It somehow had a face now.
“Ha ha!” Same yelled. “I know your secret! Here!” Sam screamed, holding the coin up to the apparition. The sheet monster didn’t pay the coin any mind.
“Um,” Sam said, “Would you like some ketchup?”