Chapter 6

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As I scrolled through an image search of missing teenage boys, I gave Jack the short version of why high school had scarred me for life. "Did you know that I puked my first day of freshman year? Right in the middle of homeroom. They called me Hurly Girly the next two years."

"See, this move means you have an opportunity to spend your remaining two years of high school without a vomit-related nickname."

"Who knows what awaits me at Dorn High, though. Maybe they'll call me Pizza Princess because of my parents, or I'll trip and fall down the front stairs."

"Relax, there aren't any stairs leading to the front of the school, so you can at least cross that one off your list of pending calamities."

"What?"

"I said, you can cross the stairs off--"

"How do you know there aren't front steps at Dorn High School?"

"Oh." He floated up an inch again. "I'm not sure."

"I am! There's no way you could have known that unless you'd been to that school. Jack, don't you know what this means?"

"I'm from Dorn?"

"I was right! Geography does matter to ghosts! Plus, it means you remembered something concrete."

"It doesn't mean I was a student there."

"No, but you're familiar with the building. Jack, this is huge!"

"If it's huge, then why haven't we found any evidence locally of my, you know, my untimely demise?"

I moved my head from side to side. "I hate to say it, but this is going to take some boots to the ground research. I'm going to have to leave the house again."

"Oh, the horror!"

"Don't laugh! If I walk around Dorn for too long, I'm afraid someone's going to slap a milkmaid costume on me and hand me wooden clogs."

"Isn't that a Dutch thing? I thought Dorn was based on some little village in Sweden."

"I'll try not to be gone too long. Do you want me to leave the TV on for you?" He couldn't yet enter the living room, but the television was angled in a way that made it viewable from the kitchen.

"Yes please."

I flipped through the channels trying to find something he was interested in, finally settling on a nature show about polar bears.

"Are you sure you want to watch this?"

"Sure. Look how cute the cubs are!"

"Yeah, and doomed. Cue the global warming equals emaciated polar bear babies scenario."

"Really?"

"Maybe you have been dead a while. Or you're just clueless. Oh my God, I hope you're not one of those climate change deniers. Please tell me you believe in facts and Bill Nye the Science Guy isn't your anti-Christ."

"The dude with the bow tie? No, he's cool. Can you put something else on, though? I don't want to see polar bears starve."

"Changing the station won't solve the problem, Jack."

A movie with a garish set of clashing eighties patterns came up a few clicks of the remote later. In front of a red and yellow carnival tent, a slow talking man in coveralls was being accosted by a clown with rotting teeth.

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