The next day, Selena woke up early and lay in bed, staring up at the dark ceiling. A dim, orange crystal was the only source of light in the room. Dark circles ringed her eyes, and her cheeks looked gaunt. A week of nonstop usage of her powers really took its toll on her. She wondered how the other diligence angels were doing. They were greater angels too, but her mana capacity was higher than theirs. She sighed and sat up in bed. Even if there was no work to be done, her diligent nature didn’t let her stay still too long.
She stretched and climbed out of bed. Her foot touched the floor and she flinched. The tiles were freezing. She shuffled her feet around, looking for her slippers. Her body froze, and a shiver ran down her spine. Her foot had found the slipper, but the inside of it was wet. Hands trembling, she leaned over and pulled the slipper off. A dark-red, viscous liquid fell to the ground with a plopping noise. Selena screamed and threw the slipper at the wall, urging the mana in her body to circle at its fullest. Nothing happened though because she was inside the checkpoint with the walls made out of the red metal.
The door to her room burst open, and Selena let out another scream. She reached for the orange crystal lying on her bedside table and threw it at the intruder. It hit the intruder directly in the eye, causing him to fall over and clutch his face. Selena’s voice shook. “C-captain?”
“You’re a bloody good shot,” the captain said and groaned as he stood up. A trickle of blood ran down his cheek through the gaps in his fingers. “What happened?” He looked around the room with his hand still covering his face. “Your scream nearly made me use the bathroom early.”
Selena pointed at the slipper lying next to the wall. The captain reached behind himself and pressed a button near the door. A white light enveloped the room as crystals on the ceiling started to glow. He frowned when he saw the bloodstain above the slipper. “That’s not your blood, right?”
“No,” Selena said and shook her head. “It was clean when I went to bed. Then when I put the slipper on this morning….” She shuddered and shook her head. “Did someone come into my room at night?”
“It’s the ghosts,” the captain said and lowered his hand. Selena saw a gash on the captain’s lower eyelid. “I told you they were real. There’s something unnatural about this place. They’ve been getting louder at night too, but no one listens to me. I reported it to my higher-ups dozens of times.”
“And what did they say?” Selena asked.
“To paraphrase my superior, ‘Does the widdle baby want a boddle?’” the captain said and grimaced. “No one else believes in ghosts, but they haven’t been here.” The captain shook his head and sighed. “Well, I’ll get you a new pair of slippers. I’ll throw these away for you.”
“Wait,” Selena said as the captain picked her slippers up. “You’re just going to leave it at that? Some freak put blood in my slippers while I was sleeping and all you’re going to do is get me a new pair because ghosts!?”
“I don’t know what you expect me to do, ma’am,” the captain said. The flesh around his eye that Selena struck with the crystal was starting to swell.
“Find the real culprit! Ghosts don’t exist!”
The captain sighed. “You’re just like my superiors,” he said. “How do you know they don’t exist?”
“There’s no documented proof of ghosts anywhere,” Selena said and crossed her arms over her chest. Her room felt unnaturally cold.
“There’s proof right here,” the captain said and waggled the bloody slippers in his hands. “Write it down and it’ll be documented.”
“There’s a logical explanation,” Selena said. “S—“
“Yes, I agree. Ghosts,” the captain said.
“No! Someone is playing a practical joke on all the inhabitants of this checkpoint,” Selena said and furrowed her brow. She was starting to get annoyed. Why wasn’t he listening? “You just have to catch them in the act.”
“With all due respect, Ms. Caelum, we’ve tried. Blood appears in locked rooms that only I have the keys to. You think I haven’t looked for a culprit before? Do you think I enjoy waking up to bloody handprints on my face? If you think you can find the culprit, then you can take care of it!” The captain turned around and slammed the door on his way out. Selena frowned as she stared at the door. She refused to believe in ghosts.
She wiped the bottom of her feet with the corner of her blanket. She sighed and narrowed her eyes at the stain. A look of focus appeared on her face as information started to pour into her mind. The liquid was definitely blood, and it belonged to an angel or something similar to an angel, but she couldn’t figure anything else out with her power. She released the edge of her blanket and sighed while rubbing her head. Her temples started to throb. A headache always built up when she used her powers of knowledge. Her colleague, Pyre, had always joked about it forcefully expanding her brain. Where was Pyre anyway? She knew he requested for leave a while back but had no idea where he went. He’d be able to find these so-called ghosts in a heartbeat with his self-sacrifice boosting his powers of knowledge.
Selena gritted her teeth and braced herself for the cold when she swung her feet off the edge of her bed. It didn’t come. The floor was warm. Her mouth dropped open and she stared blankly at the dark tiles. “But…,” she said to herself and frowned. She checked the other tiles with her feet. All of them were warm. She took in a deep breath. “Okay, Selena. Calm down. There is always a rational explanation for everything, including the tiles suddenly switching temperatures on you. Calm down.” She nodded to herself as she stood up and walked over to the wardrobe to find a robe to wear. “Let’s see. There’s the possibility of the suns starting to shine on the wall, heating up the whole building in the process. Of course, it could also be due to a river of lava suddenly flowing underneath your floor tiles, but that is highly unlikely. You can also be stressed out because you’ve been using your powers so often.” She picked out a clean brown robe and checked it for blood before putting it on.
“See?” she told herself as she made her way to the door. “Reasonable explanations for everything. You came up with three reasons for why the….” She stopped talking and stared at the floor. It was starting to turn cold again. She took off her robe, turned around, and put it back in the wardrobe. She jammed a chair underneath the doorknob and climbed back into her bed. “Even diligence angels need breaks to maintain their bodies,” she said. “Clearly I’m going insane. The best option is to recover my health or the quality of my work will be affected.” She rolled over onto her side and closed her eyes. Moments later they shot open. She thought she heard someone giggle.