Chapter 1 : Passports Required
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The very young do not always do what they are told.
- Stargate, SG-1
He looked up from his overflowing desk to his bumbling assistant who stood beside it, wringing his hands.
“Yes? Spit it out. I’m extremely busy right now.”
There was something big in the works, something that required angels and heavenly messengers and help from beyond. And who was it that had to draft and approve all those travel plans, coordinate the details, make sure nothing fell through the cracks? Him, that’s who. He didn’t have time for hemming and hawing.
“We have an individual applicant, but I really think you need to handle this one yourself.”
He sighed. This was shaping up to be the longest day in…well…eternity. “Fine, send them in,” he said, sinking into his chair with a groan.
One minute later, the door to his office burst open and crashed into the wall with a bang, as a young man wearing shorts, sunglasses, and a horrid floral shirt strode in, carrying a bulging suitcase.
“Brilliant office you have here, St. –” The young man paused for a moment, studying the nameplate on his desk. “– St. Matthew!” He dropped his suitcase with a thunk and moved over to admire his posters, pausing appreciatively in front of the one for the Jurassic Period. “Vast improvement on what they have down in the Office of Veil Regulation.”
St. Matthew’s chest puffed a little with pride. Well of course it was an improvement over Veil Regulation!
“And who might you be?” he asked.
“Oh, right, sorry,” the young man said, tearing himself away from the posters and walking up to the desk. “Fred Weasley,” he announced firmly, holding out a hand.
St. Matthew shook it without getting up. “And why are you visiting my office?”
“I think this will explain it,” Fred replied, handing him a folded letter.
St. Matthew took and opened it, scanning it quickly. As he did, a frown settled on his face as his eyes scrunched in confusion. Finally, he refolded it and looked at the young man in puzzlement.
“So, wait. Let me get this straight,” he stammered. “You’re applying to…to be a…ghost?”
“Ghost is such a harsh term. I prefer Occasional Spiritual Adviser.”
“But no one ever wants to return as a ghost after making it here! That makes no sense!”
“Look, St. Matt. May I call you St. Matt?”
St. Matthew nodded without meaning to. This young man left him feeling like he was reeling out of control somehow.
“I told you not a ghost – Occasional Spiritual Adviser. Besides, I’ve been dead for five years now, and no offence to the great gig you guys have going on here, but it’s honestly been the most boring five years of my life!”
“What!” St. Matthew rose to his feet in shock. “How can you say that? Haven’t you taken advantage of all the wonderful adventures offered? Have you been to see the Mariana Trench?”
“What about Atlantis?”
Fred pulled apart the edges of his floral shirt to reveal a T-shirt from the Atlantis Gift Shop.
“How about –?”
“And the –”
Fred took a photo album from his pocket and let it unfold in a line, revealing at least a dozen little, glossy photos. “This one of Dumbles surfing on a solar flare is my all-time favorite,” he said fondly, gazing at it with a smile before putting it away. “So, yes, I’ve done all the adventures. And before you ask, I tried harp lessons, but my style of music just wasn’t what they were looking for. The Angel choir director asked me quite politely not to return. And so I’m still bored. You see, St. Matt, I don’t do bored well. I need to be busy – useful.”
“So you came to my office…why?”
“Well, I tried the Office of Complaints first, but they’re out until the Summer Solstice. The Wrongful Declaration of Death Department was actually quite cheeky with me – the nerve. Then the Office for the Petition of Eternal Placement refused to grant my request for visitation rights to Hell. How could they not believe that I just wanted to study the climate? And so I tried Veil Regulation…who sent me here: The Office of Inter-dimensional Travel. By the way, St. Philip asked me to tell you hi, and he wonders if you’re still on for that round of golf on Saturn’s rings this Saturday?”
“Oh…erm…yes. I’ll have to tell him yes.” St. Matthew shook his head, the change in topic throwing him off for a moment. “Anyway, so all that made you decide to ask for a Ghost Passport?” He was flummoxed. This was the most unusual request he’d ever dealt with, not to mention the most unusual person as well.
“Occasional Spiritual Advisor,” the young man said, enunciating very slowly. “And let me tell you, the decision was easy. My family is in desperate need!”
An honest question but one that St. Matthew almost immediately regretted. Fred plopped himself down in one of his spare chairs and stuck his feet up on the desk.
“Where to start? Well, first there’s my brother-in-law – Harry Potter. You may have heard of him? I’m afraid he’ll give in to his darker side – could be plotting to take over the world, which is always bad. My dad collects plugs, which is a cry for help if ever there was one. And then there’s my older brother Charlie…”
-- Ten Minutes Later –
“…and I heard that just last Christmas Mum went berserk, trying to attack the whole family with a wire whisk. I’m hoping it’s just stress, but you never really know. And –”
“All right!” St. Matthew finally bellowed, tugging on his beard. “Fine! I get it! Your family is royally messed up! If I approve your passport to be a…” Fred pointed purposefully to the paper and St. Matthew squinted grudgingly at the script. “An Occasional Spiritual Advisor and give you permission to occasionally travel between the spiritual and physical plains, will you please shut up and leave my office?”
“Why, of course!” Fred answered sweetly. “I would never want to cause anyone stress.”
“George, sweetie, I know how you must be feeling right now, but really, we must get started.”
George tried valiantly not to roll his eyes at his mother’s words. The whole family was walking on eggshells around him as the wedding guests sat fidgeting in their seats.
“I do understand why you didn’t choose a Best Man. We all do, dear, but you’ve kept everyone waiting for more than an hour for this wedding. You know what you’re waiting for is impossible.”
“He’ll be here, Mum. I know it.”
Beside him, his mother burst into tears and turned away, muttering about how her poor boy had finally cracked. George felt bad, making her cry, but he knew he had to stand his ground.
Suddenly, a loud snap was heard. George looked over to the place a Best Man should have been standing in the wedding party.
“Hey, Gred. Nice dress.”
“That’s Reverend Gred to you, and it’s not a dress, it’s my vestments. Fine print clause of my spiffy new appointment as Spiritual Advisor to you sorry lot.” His transparent face took on a serious expression as he pushed the palms of his hands together in front of himself. “I’m here to save our family from the dire spiritual crisis you are all in.”
“Fed the Powers That Be a load of crap?” George asked with a smile.
“I’ll tell you all about your desperate drug addiction later.”
George turned to look at his family, guests, and bride-to-be, who were all staring at the two of them in shock. “All right,” he said, clapping his hands once. “I’m ready now. So, how about a wedding?”