Four hundred and ninety heartbeats later they sat in the small, battered and rather institutional remnants of a Soviet office. The Gregori Usipov spirit thing (rather dapper, in an overblown, new money billionaire sort of way) took a seat behind the desk. The still living, severely trembling Russian prisoner occupied a squeaky old chair placed in the spot where the petitioner would normally sit. Frantic ape-human, ghost hybrids screamed from the space next door. The prisoner swiveled back and forth like an idiot. He wanted to bolt, but he was so completely terrified and besides, where would be go? The place was still dark. Every room was dark. The only reason he could see anything was the 'glow.' The spirit 'glow.' Apparently, they could emanate a form of illumination. Ghosts? Spirits? Who knew?
Finally, the prisoner found his voice, shaky as it was, and said - Are you a ghost?....... The vampire, oligarch eyed him judgmentally and said - Only temporarily. Did I 'die?' No, I never died, unless you count when I became vahmpyr. But to me, that is not death. No, not 'true' death. Though I am without my body..... And then he grinned..... Believe me. You don't want to see that grin..... The poor prisoner silently studied the empty, worn, institutional gray, metal desk top and said nothing. Even the frantic screams from the ape-human hybrid ghosts next door stopped. There was no sound, save the wind, from somewhere out beyond this hidden place.
And the Russian, vampire, oligarch... the 'ghost' though not a ghost, told him certain things... Of his time (at least in mortal terms) with the elusive entity known as Madam Shang... Of their visits to other worlds and different, temporal planes.
For a while the prisoner was entranced and listened attentively. Tiger hunts in Old Baroda and chime-like auroras on worlds far from our own. But when the disconnected spirit spoke of losing his own body somewhere along the way and the near perfect 'harmonic' match he had with the still living mortal there before him, that mortal started to have second thoughts, right about when that 'baby' thing crawled in and said - Don't worry.... You'll like it here....
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