Lewy was sitting on one of the headstones, his legs crossed and dangling merrily. “Looking for someone you know?” he said. “Why is it always that looking in on you and yours is such a grave responsibility?”

Charlie had been poking around, reading the stones with a guarded expression on her face, occasionally stopping for a moment of respectful silence. “Why isn’t it for you?” she said.

Rocketing across the distance between them, Lewy rested his chin atop the headstone, grinning. “Maybe because me and mine are right here with me,” he said. “All holed up in the Fox Mansion, a little dysfunctional family straight out of a soap opera. Except our bubbles are interdimensional and we’re cleaning worlds of filth instead of just circling the drain.”

Charlie looked down at the stone. Adrian Abbott, Beloved Husband and Father, 1939-1999. “I knew his kids,” she said. “He died real suddenly when they were still in school. Was kinda hoping he lived in this Higbee.”

“Makes perfect sense, seeing as folks are always going around and carving stones for people who’re still alive,” said Lewy.

“Does making fun of me make you feel like family?” said Charlie, glowering.

“Poking fun at mean-spirited times is the very heart of family,” Lewy replied. “What sort of family did you grow up in?”

“We’re trying to make Higbee better,” Charlie said. “I talked to the Margrave about it. I’m allowed to be sad if I want to be.”

“To be sad about someone you knew in another universe, another dimension, that might have nothing more in common with this bag of bones than a birthdate and a general physical appearance?” Lewy shook his head. “We’re here to destroy this place, Chuck. Kick the door in and watch the whole rotten structure collapse. Sad is just gonna make you hesitate when it comes time, if the little Abbott kids can’t run fast enough.”

“Don’t you ever wonder?” said Charlie. “You came from Higbee too. Things might’ve been…different.”

“I learned long ago that if things were gonna be different, I had to do it myself.” Lewy tapped the stone. “But I tell you what, when we make this place perfection, maybe we’ll bring back Mr. Abbott as a sentimental gesture.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!