Johanssen took a fresh puff from his cigar. “Phantasms are manifestations of residual emotional energy, kid. That means when you get right down to it, they spring from the human mind. And as anyone ought to know, the human mind is a seriously messed up place. God really should have taken that one back to the blueprints.”

“Like what?” said Adrian.

“For example: the more agitated you are, the more emotional energy you put out and the more likely it is to stick around,” Johanssen said. “So a lot of the really fun phantasms tend to be associated with old mental hospitals. A drooling lunatic with paranoid delusions puts out major emotional wattage in the same padded room for twenty years, you’ve got a good chance of a phantasm. He croaks, you’ve got a good chance of a motile phantasm. Best of all, there’s a strong chance the phantasm will take the form of something from the nutjob’s coconut.”

Adrian crossed his arms and looked at Johanssen expectantly. “You’re not going to just leave it at that, are you?”

In fact, it was clear from the fire in the old man’s eyes and the rate at which cigar smoke belched out of him that he’d been tearing at the bit to share ever more. “This one time we were called in to sweep a San Fran kookhouse. Found a whole nest of ’em. Loquacious bunch, too: Gil got them talking. There was the Chosen Sloth of the Beginning, which came out of a paranoid delusion of a luminous treehanger that was going to remake the world in its own image. Then you had the Banjo Skeleton, which really doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. And the Disco Colossus of the Drive-Through…well, maybe when you’re older.”

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