Two communities have taken residence in the historic city of St. Augustine, the Eidolon (ghost beings) and the Flesh-eaters, who are zombies. Each barely tolerates the 'other' community and when several of the Eidolon's loyal living workers are found to be murdered, toleration begins to disintegrate; the ghosts are quick to point the finger. And In a world of the dead, hostile enemies will find a connection that prevails way beyond death; a heart finding its soul.
Clarissa Schofield woke on the eve of her twenty-ninth birthday to find herself dead. It was an unsettling and quite new experience to be dead. She had never died before and therefore had no idea what to expect.
Looking at herself in the mirror, she frowned at the face staring back at her. It looked very real - very human, but at the same time it was not. Even as inexperienced as she was by the logistics of death, she knew with no uncertainty that she was a ghost.
To be honest, death wasn't how she had envisioned her birthday celebration to play out. Clarissa should be eating guilt free birthday cake and laughing with her friends, opening gifts and drinking enough cosmos to get her to that point where she was tipsy but not overly drunk. Birthdays were a celebration of life and the fact that you made it one more year. However, being dead took the helium out of that would be happy moment, turning her balloons of life to lead and her dreams to dust.
Turning away from her spectral visage in the mirror she transported herself from the Orlando hospital to the open streets of an entirely different city.
She didn't know why she was here or what had drawn her to this city. Something inside her had compelled her to this exact spot like a deathly honing beacon. Somehow, Clarissa knew this was where she belonged.
The old city gates stood at the entrance of the oldest part of St. Augustine; a lasting monument to the history of this ancient city. St. Augustine boasted the fact that it was the oldest city. More accurate, it was the land where oldest colonized settlement existed; predating the settlements of Jamestown and Plymouth by forty some odd years. That first settlement no longer exists, but the structures that stand in their place give visitors a personal look at American and Florida history. Preservation and tourism are keys to keeping this ancient city alive and thriving.
St. Augustine was a cultural and historic icon, but even more famous than the Spanish charm of its buildings, the colossal structures built by Flagler and his ilk or simply the tropical beauty of the land, were the legends of its paranormal inhabitants. Long before New Orleans claimed itself a Mecca for the unnatural world, St. Augustine laid the grounds for ancient magick. Within this city of old there existed the deathly inhabitants of two communities.
They co-exist with a frayed and thin strand of mutual understanding. As long as the two abide by the rules laid down long ago, their acceptance of the other remained intact. Their bitter and apathetic attitude of the other likely stemmed from the simple truth that each possessed what the other could never have again. For the flesh-eaters, that was a soul and for the ghosts the feeling and look of human flesh.
And in this land of ancient magick, Clarissa found herself a new member of the Eidolon, (ghost) community. She knew nothing of the legendary flesh-eaters and even less about being a ghost. To her, the entire paranormal world was the warped imaginings of oddball people. Clarissa prided herself on living in the real world, not fantasy land. But she no longer lived anymore.
Evening darkness was just now descending on the city, heralding the tourists who were beginning to emerge from their hotel rooms, ready to prowl the streets for drinks, shopping and excitement.
A family of out-of-towner's walked casually past Clarissa on their way to a sightseeing tour of the city. It was a ghost tour, one of many which the city provided for visitors to the area. Too bad they didn't know they had just walked right past a very real ghost. The living creatures didn't as much as turn their heads in her direction. It could certainly be seen as a waste of their time and money to go on these tours if they didn't even have the capacity to see one right in front of their fleshy faces.
Clarissa folded her arms around herself, a tight hug to hold herself together as she stood at the entrance to St. George Street which led to the Spanish quarter of St. Augustine. She felt ridiculous simply standing alone in a crowd of living creatures, not knowing what to do next. There should have been a handbook to go along with being dead like in the Beetlejuice movie. Yet, despite her discomfort, Clarissa felt a strong compulsion to remain here, like the essence of the city was calling to her. In her deathly form she seemed more attuned to the magick of this land.
"Good, you didn't get lost. I was hoping we wouldn't have to go looking for you."
Clarissa whipped her head around, focusing her eyes on a man as he came strolling up the sidewalk. She watched him as he maneuvered through a group of tourists who didn't bother to glance in his direction as he came ever closer to where she was standing.
He looked to be in his early forties with silver wings on the sides of his otherwise dark brown hair. Clarissa always thought that on men peppered gray hair gave them a distinguished and worldly look, a sexy unconventional look. He smiled at her as he drew closer, showing a little dimple in his handsomely scruffy cheek.
"Are you talking to me?" Clarissa asked hesitantly.
She gave herself a mental reprimand. It was obvious that he was addressing her, as his sharp focus was undeniably right on her otherworldly form and not on anyone else. It was the first time in days that anyone had actually looked at her and not through or around her. To others, it was as if she no longer existed. But she did exist, even if it was in a strange and unnatural form. More than anything she wanted to be acknowledged; for someone to speak to her, even just a glance at her in passing. It wasn't much to ask for.
Clarissa had spent the first days of her death walking the halls of the Orlando Regional Medical Center, not knowing why she was there or even who she was. Her death was a blur of mixed up feelings and thoughts. In death, even her own name was beyond her grasp. All she knew was that she had died and was now relegated to this deathly animated state for an undisclosed amount of time.
No one would speak to her. And as she screamed and ranted at them to take notice of her right in front of their oblivious faces the truth of her new existence became clear. She was a freak of nature now, an abomination of the natural world. So the doctors, nurses, hospital staff and patients ignored the hysterical ghost and never took notice of her effervescent presence.
After six days of haunting the halls of the hospital, she gave in. A trip to the nursery where they kept some of the newly born living had solidified the truth in her mind. Normally she wouldn't have been allowed to see the tiny living creatures, but because the nursing staff ignored her deathly presence, she could slip into the room undetected.