Schizo: So, what have you been up to? Spectra: Nothing much. - Oh, I did meet some paranormal investigators. Schizo: Paranormal... You've got to be kidding. Spectra: Not at all. They really are the real deal. Schizo: Do they know you're the real deal too? Spectra: Of course not. Don't be silly. Schizo: How did you find them? Spectra: They found Mina, and she introduced me to them. She thought it would be more fun with someone there who's in on the joke. Schizo: Joke? What are you talking about? Spectra: We've been having a bit of fun on their expense. They have no idea about the truth, and we're not giving them anything that cannot be debunked. Schizo: Debunked. Isn't that the word skeptics love so dearly? Spectra: Sure. Skeptics are even more fun than these guys, but we take what we can get. Schizo: Isn't it a bit risky? What if they find out? Spectra: They won't. They're really clueless. You know, the sort that go looking for things that go bump in the night, but if they ever happened to come across those things for real, they'd run screaming back home to mommy. I mean, if they knew they'd come across something like that. It almost makes me want to show them something real, not just party tricks.
Schizo: Do you do it? Go bump in the night? Spectra: I've never figured out what that is exactly supposed to mean, but if it means scaring people witless, not too often. Only when people deserve it. - I've been thinking that he may deserve it. Schizo: Who? Spectra: The guy who's sort of their leader. He's so rude. Always demanding the ghosts to show themselves or show him a sign or say something. I've been telling him that respectful tone and the word "please" would get him a lot further, but he just doesn't get it. Schizo: What's the deal with him? Another wannabe reality TV star? Spectra: I guess. They make videos for their followers in the net, and he is probably after a TV deal. Aren't they all? - We're supposed to go to some abandoned psychiatric hospital next weekend. They always think those places are super haunted, when in fact, they're not. They're probably the least haunted places you can find. Schizo: Oh? I thought with all those crazy people... Spectra: That's exactly it. Most of the patients were legitimately crazy, so they got erased. Schizo: Erased? I'm sorry, I must sound like the most ignorant guy ever, but when it comes to this subject... Spectra: Hey, you can't know. It's not often that the living get to hear these things. I wouldn't tell anyone else, but we sort of consider you as an honorary member. Schizo: Of the ghosts? I'm flattered.
Spectra: Where was I? Oh yes, erased. You already know about upstairs and downstairs, but mentally ill people don't go to either. They don't deserve either, because free will doesn't apply to them. And there is no limbo, that's just another word for being erased. Schizo: Does this erasing mean what it sounds like? Spectra: Totally removed. As if you never existed. No soul, no ghost. - You see, it's like with a faulty metal casting, you just throw it back into the melting pot and try again. Schizo: That's... a bit... Spectra: Don't be so shocked. It doesn't hurt, and when you're non-existent, you cannot worry about the past, present or future. I've always thought they're the lucky ones.
Schizo: You know, one thing I've been wondering... You always talk about upstairs and downstairs. Why not simply Heaven and Hell? Spectra: Those are just one belief system's ideas of what comes after. And the real system is non-denominational. Basically, it's bureaucracy. You get according to the system which you believed in when you were alive. For example, for believers of reincarnation, upstairs is nirvana and downstairs means coming back. Schizo: Doesn't that give a huge loophole for bad people? Just state that you believe in reincarnation and you won't go to hell. Spectra: It's not about what you say you believe, but what you believe deep down inside. That's not so easy to change. And deep down, most bad guys believe in a system where you get punished for your bad deeds after you die.
Spectra: Note also that you get judged according to the system you subscribed to, not according to your own interpretations of it. I'm sure there have been quite a lot of people expecting to go to the heaven or paradise or whatever, but finding themselves somewhere else entirely. Schizo: I can imagine. But what about conflicting beliefs? Spectra: What do you mean? Schizo: Let's say most of the family believes that the whole family will be together in heaven, but some have other ideas. Or don't get to go to heaven. Doesn't that mean that the rest of the family won't get their heaven after all? Spectra: I see. I hadn't thought of that. I'll have to ask Samael the next time I see him, but I expect it's something along the lines of "no system is perfect."
Schizo: So Samael is the source of all this information? Spectra: Most of it. I've done some additional research as well. Schizo: I have one more question. Spectra: Go ahead. Schizo: Who's behind it all? Who runs the system? Who's the judge? Spectra: That's three questions, and the answer to all is "no idea." Even Samael doesn't know. Schizo: Or doesn't tell. Spectra: I guess that's possible. But I really think he doesn't know. Like he says, "first I wasn't, then I was, and I knew I had a job to do." Schizo: So no chance of seeing baby pictures of him? Spectra: Hehe, I think not.
Schizo: Any specific reason for your research? Or is it just curiosity? - Mmm, these donuts are really good... Spectra: It's both. The reason being that I'd like to know how I got to stay. I know I can go whenever I want to, I just need to say so to Samael, but it seems that he can't just take me, which is how it would normally go. Schizo: Did you believe that victims get to haunt their murderers afterwards? Maybe you just got what you believed in. Spectra: That's one explanation. Schizo: By the way, do you think he got erased? Spectra: I don't think so. He wasn't really mad, everybody just thought so, because nobody else could see me. No, I think he got what he deserved. He believed in the Hell and the Devil.
Schizo: Hey, what you've been telling me... Does it mean that if you don't believe in the Devil, he doesn't exist? Spectra: I don't think it works quite that way. He still exists, but he won't bother you. He's only there for the ones that are potentially his, so to speak. Schizo: A bit like Samael and Freya, then. Spectra: Yes, something like that. Except there's only one of him, but I think you'd only be able to see him, if you really believed in the whole package. Heaven, Hell, angels, demons, all that. Schizo: Instead of parallel universes, it's parallel afterlives, huh? Where does that leave me? Spectra: You? Schizo: I'm still alive and hopefully will remain so for a very long time still, but now I know. I don't need to rely on belief. So, what happens when I die some day? Spectra: I didn't think about that. Maybe I shouldn't have told you. - I guess it's one more thing to ask Samael about. Let's just hope he can and will answer. Schizo: Of course I could just decide that you made it all up and keep on believing what I've believed so far. Spectra: That's one option, but could you really? Schizo: I guess not.
Samael: You were talking about me? Spectra: Oh, it's you! Yes, we were. Schizo: What? Hey, is it him? Spectra: Samael. - How did you know we were talking about you? Samael: I sensed it, and there aren't that many options who it could be. So, what's going on? Spectra: Well, we have a bit of a problem and maybe you know the answer...
Spectra: ...so what will it be? Do you know? Samael: You shouldn't have told him. - Of course I know. It's happened once or twice before. And it's the same mess every time. Spectra: I'm sorry. I guess I didn't think it through. Schizo: What did he say? Spectra: That I shouldn't have told you. Schizo: But what about what's going to happen? Samael: Tell him that he just needs to wait and see, like everyone else. I am not at liberty to tell. And you shouldn't talk about these things with anyone else who's still living. Spectra: I won't. I promise. Schizo: What's going on? What did he say? Spectra: Not at liberty to tell. You just need to wait and see, like everyone else.
Schizo: I understand. - As the damage is already done, may I ask one more question? Samael: Just one. Spectra: Go on. Schizo: Have there been any new residents in Valhalla in recent times? Samael: Your friend is a weird one. I guess he's wondering about the old religions. There are still occasional true believers, so yes, there have, but it is extremely rare. Much more rare than the white supremacists would like to believe. Mostly due to the conditions that need to be met. Schizo: Is he answering? Spectra: Wait a moment. - Conditions? You mean that "dying in battle" part? Samael: Exactly. - Now it seems you're getting company, so I'm off. You have already done enough harm, don't do any more. Don't tell the little girl about me. We're not scheduled to meet in a very long time.
Nikki: Hi, uncle Schizo! Schizo: Hello girls. Nice to see you. Spectra: I'm Spectra. You must be Nikki and Pepper. Nikki: How did you know? Spectra: Schizo has told me about you. Pepper: Who was that guy in a cloak? Nikki: What guy? Pepper: The one who left when we came. Nikki: There was no guy. What are you talking about? Pepper: Yes, there was. I saw him. Tall, thin guy in a cloak, and he had this long thing with a blade in it. Nikki: Like a sword? Pepper: Not a sword. It was like in one of dad's old movies. They cut tall grass with it. Spectra: You mean a scythe? Pepper: Is that what it's called? Nikki: Doesn't matter what it's called. There was no guy. Spectra: I didn't see anyone either. Did you, Schizo? Schizo: No. Um... maybe it was a ghost. Pepper: Really? A real ghost? You think so? Cool! Nikki: There's no such thing as ghosts.
Nikki: Pepper, your dad's a scientist. You can't believe in ghosts. Pepper: Dad says it's possible that they exist. He says it's very unlikely, but you can't rule it out totally, because you cannot prove a negative. Nikki: What does that mean? Spectra: It means that you cannot prove that something does not exist. You can only prove that something exists. Nikki: I still don't get it. Spectra: Let me give you an example. If I told you that unicorns exist, there is no way you could prove that they don't exist. You can say it is unlikely and nobody has ever seen one, but you cannot prove it absolutely. Maybe I just know where they live and nobody else does. However, I could prove their existence by showing you one. You know, finding a real unicorn and showing it to you, so you could touch it and see that it's real.
Nikki: Oh, okay. So I can't prove that there are no ghosts, but I still don't believe they exist, because I've never seen one. Spectra: And that is very sensible. You cannot state for a fact that there are no ghosts, but you can say that without any evidence, you do not believe that ghosts exist. Nikki: Do you believe in ghosts? Spectra: As a matter of fact, I do. I am interested in the paranormal, and I know some paranormal investigators. Pepper: Like in Ghost Encounters? Spectra: You've seen their videos? They are the people I've been talking with. I'm not in any of their videos yet, but I might be in the future as I'm going with them on one of their investigations. Pepper: That is so cool! I've seen all their videos. That's why dad and I were talking about ghosts. He said that the stuff in the videos is not real evidence, because those guys make things up and pretend to hear stuff that isn't there and freak out about normal sounds old buildings make. Nikki: Do buildings make sounds? Spectra: Yes, especially old buildings make all kinds of sounds and it is perfectly natural, nothing paranormal about that.
Schizo: Your parents really let you watch those videos? Pepper: Mom didn't like it first, but dad talked with her about it, and then she said it's okay. I heard her say to dad that the guy in the videos is a doosh, but I'm not sure what that meant. I tried looking it up in the dictionary, but I couldn't find anything like that. I suppose mom meant that the guy is stupid or something. Schizo: Something like that. I wouldn't recommend using the word. Pepper: I won't. I don't use words, if I don't know what they mean, because it makes you look stupid. Spectra: Why didn't your mom like the guy? Do you know? Pepper: Maybe because he's so rude? If I was a ghost, I wouldn't talk to him or show him any signs, because he's not asking nicely. Spectra: See, Schizo? Even the little ones know you need to be polite.
Nikki: We need to go now. We're supposed to write a paper comparing feline and canine holiday traditions. Spectra: That sounds interesting. Pepper: I'd like to write about ghosts instead. Schizo: I'm not sure your teacher would be too happy about that. Spectra: Why not? It's just a question of perspective. Pepper: What's perspective? Spectra: Point of view. If you wrote about ghosts as a fact, your teacher probably wouldn't like it, but if you wrote about what people think about ghosts, it's a perfectly valid subject. In fact, there are many studies on that subject done by very serious researchers. Nikki: Really? Spectra: Really. You see, those are facts. Some people believe in ghosts, some don't. Those that do, have different ideas on what ghosts are like and how they behave and how you can communicate with them. It's all about ethnology, psychology and sociology, and if you add how these perceptions have changed over time, it's also history. Pepper: We could do that. Spectra: Schizo will know where to find me, if you end up doing it and need help.
Schizo: I suppose we should be going too. - By the way, why did you say you saw nobody? Spectra: Samael told me not to tell Pepper about him. He's not that keen on unscheduled meetings with the still living. That little girl has a long life ahead of her. Schizo: That's good to hear. But if that's so, how did she see him? I thought it's only close to death or if he chooses to show himself... Spectra: Some canine children are very perceptive. Schizo: Well, we managed to defuse that situation. Although, I'm not sure what her mother will say, when she tells her she saw a real ghost. Spectra: I suspect she won't be telling her mother. Father maybe, but she probably has good enough judgement already to keep her mother out of it. In any case, it's better that she thinks she saw a ghost than that she saw something that wasn't there at all. Ghosts are cool, hallucinations are not. Schizo: You've got a point there. - I also noticed that you were really nice to Nikki. I thought you said skeptics are fun. Spectra: Children are in the process of forming their world view. No reason to mess with that. Nikki seemed very intelligent and perfectly capable of changing her mind, if she comes across evidence that conflicts her beliefs. It's the adults in denial that I like to mess with, no matter which side they are on.
Frankie: Harvey, could I ask for a really big favor? Harvey: You can always ask, but I can't promise anything before I know what you want. Frankie: Well, you see, I still live with my mom, and now I've decided to move out. I need help with that. Harvey: Need a car and someone to move furniture? Frankie: Yes, that too, although there won't be much furniture as Twyla's house - that's where I'm moving - has everything that's needed. But actually what's needed is more like... um, hysteria control. Harvey: Ah, your mother isn't fond of the idea? Frankie: She's going to think that I'm abandoning her, and she has these total meltdowns when I do something she doesn't like, but if you were there... Harvey: She'd be too concerned about what I think of her and wouldn't get out of control? Frankie: Something like that. Would you...? Harvey: Of course. I've known a few people like that. It can be hard to make the break, but things usually get better once they discover that they've got their own life to live. - So, who's Twyla? Frankie: She's my friend. She lived with her grandfather, but now he's dead and Twyla says it's lonely in the big house she inherited. Harvey: Sounds like it'll be the best thing for both of you.
Harvey: Has your mother always been like that? Frankie: Oh no, she was great when I was younger, it just changed after dad left. I think she never got over it totally. Harvey: Just as I thought. Your leaving is going to remind her of all she went through then, but you shouldn't let that stop you. You've got your own life to live too. Frankie: I know. And I know she'll get over it, but it's still going to be fairly bad at first. Harvey: I hope my being there will help. I could ask Greg to come and help too. Frankie: No, not Greg. Harvey: I thought you like Greg. Frankie: I do, but mom doesn't know. I'd like to keep it that way for now. Harvey: I see. One shock at a time? Frankie: Something like that. She'd never make the mistake of thinking that you... but she would guess about Greg. She's very good at seeing things like that.
Harvey: So, when are you moving? Frankie: Twyla said as soon as possible, and that sounds good to me. Basically, as soon as you have the time. Nikki: Who's moving? Frankie? Where are you moving? Is it far away? Frankie: One question at a time, please. Yes, I'm moving in with my friend Twyla. And no, it isn't far away. Actually, I'll be living closer to you than before. Do you know that old red brick house this side of the park? Nikki: Is it that one? Cool! Can I come and see? I've always wanted to see it. Frankie: Once I've moved in and had some time to settle. I'm sure Twyla won't have anything against it, and anyway, it'll be my home too, so I can invite friends over. Nikki: I can't wait! Can Pepper and Caroline come too? Harvey: Nikki, calm down. Frankie hasn't even moved in yet. Frankie: I'll need to get back to work. Harvey: I'll check my work schedule and will let you know when I'll be free.
Harvey: Hello Pepper. I'm Harvey. Nikki: I've told her about you. Pepper: You drive a limo. Harvey: That's right. Nikki: Uncle Harvey, do you believe in ghosts? Harvey: Not particularly. I mean, I have seen no reliable evidence that they exist. Nikki: That's what I said! Harvey: To whom? Nikki: We met uncle Schizo and his friend Spectra. And then Pepper said she saw a ghost. Pepper: I saw somebody and you didn't, so it must have been a ghost. Nikki: And then Spectra said she believes in ghosts and told us about paranormal investigators she knows.
Harvey: Sounds like you had an interesting afternoon. So, who is this Spectra? Apart from being Schizo's friend, I mean. Nikki: I don't know. We just talked about ghosts. Pepper: She's really pretty. Nikki: Most of uncle Schizo's lady friends are. Harvey: I've been wondering about that. Nikki: Why? He's nice and funny. Just because you don't like him... Harvey: Who says I don't like him? Nikki: I know you don't. I talked about it with uncle Schizo, and he said it's all right. He said that nobody can like everybody, and if you try, you'll go crazy. He said that all you need to do is to be polite as long as the other person is polite too. And that's how people get along most of the time. Harvey: I wouldn't say that you go crazy, if you try to like everybody, but it would certainly be very stressful.
Pepper: My mom was in beauty pageants, and she says that they all hated each other, but in front of the cameras and audience everybody was really friendly and smiling, like they were best friends. Harvey: I know, I've seen it. It's because it's a competition and everybody wants to win. I hope you're not planning on that sort of a career. Pepper: No, I'm going to study really hard and become a biologist or an astronaut. Nikki: You've never told me about that. Uncle Harvey, could Pepper really become an astronaut? Harvey: It's possible, but it won't be easy. The requirements are very strict, and even extremely qualified people sometimes get left out just because there are so few positions available. But don't worry, Pepper, you could always become an astrobiologist. That won't be easy either, but at least there are no physical requirements. Pepper: Astrobiologist? There's one in dad's station in Antarctica. Dad says he studies tiny things that live in really cold places. And once he was in a desert where it only rains like once in ten years or something. They were sort of pretending to be on an alien planet. I could do that. Harvey: Antarctica? What does your father do there? Pepper: He studies penguins. You know, the really big ones. Emperors.