“Welcome to-,” Jack’s introduction to the two women was interrupted by the one in a white suit.
“Him?” the pale, dark-haired woman asked the pale, dark-haired woman in a dark suit next to her. Their similarity highlighted their differences. The woman in white sat taller than the other with perfect, flawless alabaster skin and icy blue eyes. Her austere face seemed to be formed solely from sharp angles. The woman in black nodded. Her skin was not as pale nor as blemish free as the stranger in white; but she also had a rounder, friendlier face with dark chocolate eyes.
“Yes, Ms. Sharp,” she replied. The woman in white, Ms. Sharp, glanced at the waiter’s name tag.
“Why are you working, Jack?” she asked.
“I’m sorry?” It was strange to hear someone else a question he’d been asking himself for almost a year. Ms. Sharp’s cool eyes narrowed at Jack until he saw only a hint of blue.
“You are aware that you’re dead, right?” she asked. Jack’s eyes widened; he stepped forward and knelt next to their table.
“You know?!” Ms. sharp nodded.
“My name is Dana Sharp. I’d like to buy your soul.” Jack chuckled and stood up; then, he took a step back for good measure.
“What do you mean?” He glanced around the restaurant but no one seemed interested in the odd conversation.
“You’re a soul without a body; I’d like to know how that happens. I’ll give you a new home and a generous monthly allowance in exchange for consenting to some tests.”
“How generous?” Jack asked. He found the idea of not working very appealing, but he felt he could haggle himself into an even easier afterlife. Ms. Sharp shrugged.
“We don’t use money as such. The ‘generous allowance’ is shorthand for, ‘you won’t want for any creature comforts’.”
“Whoa, I’m in! How soon can I start?” Jack grinned at her. Ms. Sharp shuffled out of the booth and stood up. A tall black portal opened next to her.
“Melody will get you sorted,” she said. She stepped into the portal and disappeared, then the hole closed.
“Let’s get some basic info out of the way,” Melody said. She gestured at the open end of the booth for Jack to sit. Jack looked around the restaurant to see if anyone noticed but everyone went about business as usual.
“Where’d she go?” Jack sat down and stared at Melody with wide eyes. “How come nobody saw that?”
“Time stopped when she stood up,” Melody replied. Then she changed the subject. “How long have you been dead?”
“Eight months. What do you mean time stopped?” He looked around the restaurant again to double check that everyone else was still moving. “It’s moving now. Where’d she go?”
“I mean time stopped. You’re walking around without a body, I wouldn’t expect much else to surprise you. She has an important meeting in an alternate universe. Do you know how you died? What happened to your body?” Melody asked. Jack shrugged.
“Dunno. I died at home. I’m guessing a heart attack, or stroke or something. It was kind of weird to stand up from the couch without my body. Once I realized no one knew I was dead, I needed to get rid of my body. So alternate universes are real too?” Jack asked. Melody nodded.
“You’re a ghost,” she reminded him. “How did you dispose of the body? Is there any chance we could recover it?” Jack shook his head.
“It’s mulch now. I possessed it long enough to walk it into an industrial wood-chipper. After making sure I could get out again.”
“You possessed it? Why didn’t you stay in it?”
“It was already dead. It would’ve kept decomposing,” he explained. Melody nodded. The short woman scooted out of the booth and nodded at Jack.
“What’s your favorite number?” she asked.
“49,” he replied. Surprise flashed across her face but she recovered quickly.
“You’re hired. Go home and wait for someone to contact you,” she said. Then she spoke louder to no one in particular. “I’m ready.”
A tall black portal opened next to her. Jack glanced around the restaurant and noticed the waiters were frozen mid-step. Time started flowing again after a few moments. He realized Melody was gone.