☰ Jacob's Will (Part Two)

Jacob explained to me that he’d done a ‘gettin’ sort of job for Tess. He’d hidden the trinket she asked him to get for her just before he died. And when he left the world of the living, he was the only person who knew where it was. His contract with her stipulated that he’d be bound to Earth in death if he didn’t:
1. Find someone to finish the job for him, or
2. Get whatever that Witch wanted himself.
Seeing as he was a ghost, it was going to be hard for him to go dig something up, so I would have do it for him and give the trinket back to the Witch.
“So, what makes you so sure you're going to Heaven? You been stealing shit most of the time I’ve known you Jay.”
He laughed.
He looked so real in the passengers seat of my car.
He sucked his teeth.
“Man, I was a good guy.” Then he said: “Any place is better than in between. I can’t interact with anything. I can’t talk to anybody but you. That contract I signed for the Witch, to work for her, it’s bending the rules for a short period of time so I can reach out to one person and get them to help me.”
“That’s why Tess gave me the letter?”
“Yeah, can you imagine me asking my sister to do this? Or Elise?”
I shuddered at the sound of her name. Jacob’s girl.
I said nothing.
“You were obviously the man for the job. The only person I could count on to help me no matter how weird or crazy the circumstance.”
I smiled. “So, all that hocus pocus is real? Witches and the afterlife?”
Jacob laughed. “Yup. Looks that way.”
“And you're not upset? I can’t believe you're not shitting your pants right now. Aren’t you scared?”
“I figure actually dying was the worst part, unless I, you know, go to Hell or something.”
“I still don’t understand who told you you were going to Heaven. You stole a lot of shit, dude.”
He laughed.
I couldn’t help but hope it wasn’t the last time I’d hear it.
We’d been closer than brothers, before… Elise.
“If you can’t interact with anything, how’d you knock on the front door of the apartment?”
He tapped his noggin. “All in your head buddy. I never actually knocked, you just perceived that I knocked, because your name’s on the contract too.”
“My name?”
“Yeah. I had to name someone to help me. I had to chose one person who could see me.”
“What if I’d said ‘no’?”
He scowled. “We both know you wouldn’t say no. But if you had, I’d be screwed.”
We pulled up to an abandoned gas station far outside the city.
Weeds climbed over the building. It looked like nobody had stopped there in years. A rickety mailbox and a driveway stood next to the station, along with a path that led into woods, probably back to a small house.
Jacob led the way down the path.
I’d been half right about what the trees and brush were hiding. They concealed a small travel trailer, in much better shape that the gas station.
“What’s out here?” I whispered. “Does somebody live out here?”
“You could say that.” Jacob told me in his regular voice; nobody could hear him but me anyway, so why whisper?
A gunshot went off and I hit the dirt path as low as I could get.
“Who the hell is out there?” An old man bellowed from the trailer’s front porch.
“Tell him your Zedd’s guy come for the trinket.” Jacob poked at me, but I felt nothing.
“Don’t shoot!” I yelled standing up slowly with my hands above my head, all the while trying to get a better look at the man with the gun.
“Tell him, dumb shit.” Jacob spat, “He’s gonna shoot you, man.”
“I’m work for Zedd. I came for the trinket.”
I’m work for Zedd?” Jacob belly laughed beside me.
“Shut up man, I’m nervous.” I whispered, then to the old dude with the gun: “Did you hear me sir. I’m Zedd’s guy. I’m just here to pick something up. If that’s cool.”
“Yeah, I heard ya the first time, kid. I’m waitin’ on you.”
He’d shouldered his gun. He looked like Santa. Rosy cheeks, white hair, only he had dark skin on his forearms and hands.
A working man. Sun worn and gray-headed.
I brushed the dirt off my pants and shirt then followed the man into this little trailer.
Jacob was silent on the way in. He looked confused and I wanted to ask him what was wrong, but I didn’t want the old man to hear me talking to myself.
Inside wasn’t much more than a table and a very narrow space to walk to get to a bathroom or to sleeping quarters.
The old man reached into a drawer and ripped out a small piece of paper.
“What’s the call number for the order?”
“C-call number?”
“He’s talking about the number I registered the memory under.” Jacob informed. The old man looked at me funny, like he knew I was hearing someone other than him. I played it off and acted like I was recalling the number he needed.
I cleared my throat, and Jacob finally told me something I could use.
“I think it’s 5…7…721478…3?” I repeated after Jacob.
The old man wrote it down.
“The name’s Jug, by the way.” He told me as he folded the paper up into a little ball, then popped it into his mouth.
“Woah— dude, why did you just eat that, there’s no way I’m going to remember that twice.” I blurted.
I rubbed my hands through my hair, massaging my temples.
“I’m so screwed now.” Jacob mumbled as he ‘ghost’ hyperventilated beside me. I tried not to look effected by him. He added something about making the wrong call.
Jug grabbed my arm and yanked it towards him.
He pulled out a knife.
I yelped and tried to regain my arm with no luck.
“You want the trinket, you gotta get the memory from me.” Jug said right in my face. The tiny table was between Jug and I, but it wasn't enough space to keep his hot breath off my face. It was rancid, smelled of coffee and cigarettes; from two days ago...
My eyes cut daggers into Jacob who tried to look hopeful for my benefit.
“Yes, Yes! It is possible I gave the memory to Jug because I knew they were after me. I did something with it and gave away the memory so they wouldn’t be able to find it.” My best friend told me.
I wanted to ask him who 'they' were, but with Jacob, I could only assume he was speaking of whoever he'd stolen the trinket from in the first place.
Jug looked into the empty air beside me and then back at me.
“Okay.” I told the old man, wide eyed and weary. “Gimme the memory.”
He sliced the knife across my skin and covered up the wound with his hand.
Jug chanted and white light crested from under his fingers.
Memories that weren’t my own flooded into my mind. But most of them were just fragments. As if many parts of them were missing.
I saw a little statue, buried somewhere in the woods. The longer Jug held my arm and pushed Jacob’s memories into that cut, the clearer I could see the trinket’s surroundings.
A few minutes later, Jug sent me on my way.
He said I didn’t owe him anything, that he’d already been paid by 'the other guy'. He probably meant Jacob, but I didn't ask. Jug was weird and he freaked me out.
The dude ate paper and spit out memories.
It was creepy.
Jacob chattered happily beside me as I made my way to the car. My arm was still bleeding, but Jug had given me some gauze to wrap over it.
“Whoa, man, what a fuckin’ ride!” he exclaimed waving his ghostly arms about. “I had no idea that this wasn’t the place I’d left the trinket. I thought I’d hidden it here. Imagine how shocked I was to find out my own memory was wrong!”
I deadpanned.
“You mean missing. What else don’t you know Jay? You almost got me freakin’ killed in there. Get your mind right.”
“It should be easy from here on out. No more curve balls.” He passed through the door of the car and sat down on the passenger's seat as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
“Why’s that? The trinket, or statuette or whatever it is, is in the woods somewhere. I’ve an idea where it is, but I’m not positive. I think we’re gonna need a shovel and some flashlights; it’s getting late.”
“Home Supply it is then.” Jacob told me.
His smile was radiant. I don’t remember him smiling so much in life.
Was I forgetting him already?
“Does being dead make you super happy or something? Because you are way too excited for a guy who just passed away.”
“Dude, I’m going to Heaven after this, what’s not to be happy about?”
I grunted and turned the key within the ignition.
The engine rolled over and I backed out of the abandoned gas station parking lot. Back onto the empty thoroughfare.
“I don’t know. Won’t you miss us?” I asked.
“Who, you and Elise?”
I scowled. I hadn’t said her name, he knew that’s who I’d meant, but I lied about it anyway. “I meant the living.”
“Yes, but you and Elise will probably find your way back to each other. There’s nothing I can do about it either way.”
I stepped on the gas harder than I should have.
“I told you, that was a huge mistake, I’ve begged forgiveness because I am more sorry about Elise than any other human who has ever screwed up in the same way. I told you the truth before you died. I- I told you I was sorry.”
“Look, I know you're sorry. You betrayed me. My trust. She betrayed me. It doesn’t negate our whole friendship, does it?”
I shook my head, confused. “It did before you died. You were livid.”
Jacob rubbed at his eyes, something he always did in life when he was overwhelmed. “Things change when you die. I’ve got bigger problems to worry about that a little infidelity.”
“It was just a kiss, Jay.”
“Yeah, yeah. Like I told you earlier, help me do this and I’ll forgive you.”
“Okay,” I told him as we sped towards the nearest home supply store. “Forgiveness here I come.”

The shovel was on sale, so that was a nice surprise, but the flashlights were not. And like a dumb ass, I’d bought two, thinking Jacob would need one.
“You always were cheap.” Jacob chuckled behind me as the cashier checked us out and handed me my change. I didn’t defend myself to Jay, because I didn’t want to look like a complete crazy person in front of the nice checkout lady who thought I was by myself…
When we returned to the car, I loaded the supplies and got in.
Jacob was already in the car.
“So, now you know where to go?” He asked me.
“Yup. Kinda.”
There were a few moments of silence, then I asked: “How did you get into all this magic crap? Doing odd jobs for Witches?”
Jacob sighed. “I needed cash.”
“For what? You had cash.”
“It was personal, okay?”
“Oh my God, you were going to buy Elise a ring.” I breathed.
He rolled his eyes. “Yes, okay.” He shook his head. “Quit bugging me. It wasn’t meant to be.”
“I guess it wasn’t, seeing as you died trying to get it.”
“Lander, shut up man.”
“Why couldn’t you have just asked me for help?”
“I’m asking you now.”
“Now is too late. You're already dead.” I snapped.
“Oh my God, Lander, fucking drop it!”
“Sure.” I stayed quiet until we pulled up in the visitors area of Grover National Park.
The place was empty, surprisingly, seeing as it was on a late Wednesday afternoon in the middle of the summer. It was a cold summer, but there should have been at least a few people running around, getting ready to go camping or coming back from going camping, but there was no one.
I dug the shovel out of the trunk and walked past the passengers side of my car to see Jay still inside.
“You coming or what?”
He glided right through the car door to stand next to me.
“Let’s go.”
He was still pissed at me.
We walked up a wide trail in silence for a few minutes, but I had to ask about the thing that was driving me nuts.
“Jug said you already paid him.”
“Okay? What about it?”
“When I got your memory, about the trinket, I also got the sense that you were missing more than a few other memories when you gave him the one about the statuette.”
“Yeah. That’s what he deals in, memories. I remember that.”
“Did you give him a lot of memories, all together?”
“Yeah, maybe so, but I couldn’t tell you which ones.” Jacob stopped walking and looked at me. “Why does it matter, I don’t need them anymore.”
I started walking again, hoping to cut the tension between us with movement. “No. I guess you don’t.”
My cellphone went off in my pocket and I had to reposition my entire body to wiggle it out enough to answer it in time.
Shit, it was Elise.
“I stopped by your apartment, but you weren’t home. I was hoping to pick up a few of my things from Jay’s room, but it’s getting late.”
“Yeah, I’m not home right now, can I — can we do this tomorrow, after I get off work?”
“Sure. Just call me when you feel up to it.” She paused. “How are you? I noticed you weren’t at the reception.”
“No. I went home, but something came up.”
She chuckled softly, mildly offended.
“What could be more important than Jay? Saying goodbye.”
I knew she wanted to ask what I was doing. Wanted me to come hang out with her so she could talk to someone about Jacob. I would have loved to be there with her, but Jacob was more important. If I could just do this one last thing for him, his whole afterlife would be for the better.
If that ain’t friendship, I don’t know what is.
“Look, Elise, I’ve  gotta go. Can I call you tomorrow?”
I could feel her sorrow seep through the ear piece and into me.
“Sure. Goodbye, Lander.”
I hung up.
Jay was twiddling his thumbs like he’d just had to wait through the longest phone conversation known to man.
“All done?” he asked snottily.
“Don’t be an ass. She wanted some stuff from the apartment.”
“The apartment?Already?
“You've been dead three days.”
He ignored me. “What are you gonna to do with me gone? Get another roommate?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Maybe Elise will take my spot.” He looked friendly, but I could see the malice behind his words when our eyes met for a split second.
He looked away and smiled. It looked fake at first, but it didn't take long for the smile to melt into something genuine looking.
I said nothing, not wanting to start a fight when he might be gone soon.
Forever this time.
“Are we close?” he asked.
I nodded. “Just up this hill.”
We climbed the hill and as soon as I rounded the top, I could see the circle of disturbed earth. It stood out at the base of the mound.  
I started to dig, while Jacob waited.
I wasn’t even ten shovel fulls in when I heard the telltale clink of something that wasn’t forest soil.
“Okay.” I said, bending over to brush the rest of the dirt off by hand, revealing a small metal case. I pulled it out of the earth.
“That’s it.” He said. “Can you open the case? I just wanna make sure it’s in there.”
I flipped the two latches on the side and opened the case. Inside a foam cutout lay a crude doll made out of metal sticks.

“Ugh.” I moved back. “What is that thing?”
Jacob smiled. “Just lift it out and see if anything’s broken on it.”
“I’m not touching that thing.”
“Come on Lander, don't be a wuss, it’s just a doll.”
“It’s a Witchy, creepy effigy of something not right. Just looking at it is making my skin crawl. And it must be one hell of a doll, because getting it for your friend is keeping you out of Heaven.”
“Please. You owe me at least this. Just pick it up, give it a look over and put it back. I don’t want to give that Witch a broken statuette. I don’t know what she can do to me.”
I cursed under my breath. “Fine.”
When I picked it up, it felt too light to be made of metal, and cold. Like someone made a crude doll out of sticks and then dipped it in liquid metal.
Jacob pretended to inspect it.
He looked so real, so unlike what you’d expect a ghost to look like, I didn’t even flinch, or think it strange when he reached for the doll too.
His fingertips slid over the almost weightless doll and everything I knew—  just, blinked out.
Like turning off a light, or changing the television channel to static.
No ebb or flow of a breeze, no nothing. I couldn’t say how much time passed when we switched, when I was pushed out of my body and thrown out as a ghost.
Then, everything was normal, only, I was looking at myself standing there holding the doll.
Jacob smiled. A real smile, only on my own face, it looked— wrong.
Something screeched in the background, and I jumped.
“What have you done?” I whispered, then I repeated it and it grew into a yell. “What have you done?”
He laughed out loud.
Held his head back and laughed.
“I can’t believe it fucking worked.”
I was shaking, petrified.
“Why?” I whimpered. “Because of Elise?”
He guffawed obnoxiously, seeing him do such a thing in my body was sickening.
“Elise? Man, you really loved her, didn’t you? I knew you had it for her the day I met the girl. I just wanted to see how long you’d let it go, before you finally said something about it.” He looked thoughtful. “You never did.”
I grabbed for the doll. He didn’t even try to move it out of the way. My hands passed right through it.
“Oh, it’s way too late for that. Whatever crazy mojo this thing has, the Witch said the same two people could only use it once.”
I kept hearing things in the woods.
“You would leave me like this?” I whimpered as I followed him back down the trail after he collected the doll back into its case.
“I’m sorry Lander. I want to live.”
“So do I!” I yelled.
“Be careful. You shouldn’t yell at night.” He warned.
The sun was falling and it was getting darker. I knew Jacob had just utterly screwed me over, but the more noises I heard, the more I began to believe my ex-best friend wasn’t my biggest problem anymore.
Another growl, followed by scratching.
“What the hell am I hearing?” I mumbled mostly to myself.
Jacob chuckled and heaved the shovel and flashlights into the back of my car. Closed the trunk.
“Oh, about those creatures. ” he stopped just before getting behind the wheel. “I dunno what they are, but I know they're hungry.”
The last smile he shot me, was real and it didn’t look as horrifying as I’d expected it to; maybe it was because I thought I could see a piece of Jacob poke through the disguise.
“You're forgiven now." He actually winked at me. "Welcome to the in-between.”

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