At first there was nothing, and then she appeared in front of me, her copper-gold curly hair and green eyes as always the first thing I saw. She was dressed in skin-tight denim jeans and a loose-fitting, not particularly warm-looking silvery-grey pullover. She didn't wear a coat; ghosts don't feel the cold, and the rain just passed right through her.
"Hi, Jay," she said, with a glossy lipstick smile that matched the colour of our hair. She looked around and up at the unmistakeable round building. "The library? At this hour? It'll be closed."
I gave her a wry smile in return, still amazed as always by her appearance. Although she'd been only four years old when she died, Becky had aged at the same rate I had, and now she appeared to be in her mid-twenties. I had asked her about it once and she said it was because she was technically the elder twin, and she hadn't wanted her little brother to overtake her and leave her behind.
"Closed is a problem," I replied. "I was hoping you could help me with that." I pointed at the door.
Becky approached the door and lifted one hand to touch it. She frowned a moment and then seemed to dissolve into the drizzling rain, leaving only a wisp of blue-grey mist that slid through the crack underneath the door. Thirty seconds later she re-solidified in front of me. "There's a perimeter alarm on the door, and there's a lot of security cameras inside, probably more perimeter alarms on the interior doors too." She let out a breathless sigh. "No live security guards but the place is wired up like a bank."
"There's a lot of really old books in there," I pointed out. "Probably worth more than what's in the safe at the average high-street bank. Anything you can do?"
"Well... I could short out the whole system at the main fuse-box, that would kill it all at once."
"Yeah, and have the police here in three minutes flat." I frowned. "I can't do what I need to do that quickly."
Becky gave a pout more like a four year old than a twenty-four year old. "I can't think of anything else. That spell you do might hide you from people but it won't hide you from a camera recording."
I thought for a minute, my hands thrust deep into my pockets. My fingers touched the crystal and I closed my hand around it, feeling it pulsing slightly. The energy was strong here, stronger than it should be, and there was a nasty, oily slickness to it that I didn't like. "I need to know, Becky," I said, pulling from my other pocket a piece of stiff wire. "Go kill the system."
She dissolved into mist again and disappeared under the door. Ten seconds later the floodlights illuminating the building's exterior all went dark. Without a moments hesitation I stepped up to the door and pushed the wire into the keyhole, feeling for the levers inside the lock barrel. One by one I felt the levers give, and click, and the door moved slightly as it unlocked. It moved barely a millimetre. I turned the handle and pushed, but it remained locked.
Becky returned and resolidified with an audible sigh and a look of alarm on her face. "There's a deadbolt on the other side," she said.
"Can you move it?"
She shook her head. "Its big, and heavy, and it's iron. No way I can move that, not even a little bit."
I cursed and banged my fists against the door. Like most ghosts, Becky had the ability to make some interaction with the physical world, but her ability to move objects was weak, and limited to small, light things, and subtle movements. I briefly contemplated simply breaking the glass and opening the bolt myself, but the glass was probably toughened, and in any case I could see a metal grille covering it on the other side. But that gave me an idea.
"Becky, how high is the bolt?" She pointed to about eye-level. I smiled, and rummaged in my pocket for a roll of wire, the same sort as I had used to pick the lock. I unrolled about twelve inches of it and made a loop at the end, big enough to fit around my thumb, and securely tied. I gave it a tug to test it and it held secure. "Do you think you could move this?" I asked her.
Her face set in concentration for a moment and I felt the wire twitch in my fingers. "Good," I said with a smile, and told her what I wanted her to do.
It was already two minutes since the power had gone off and I was starting to worry that the police would arrive before I'd even got inside. As Becky slipped under the door again, I pushed the wire, loop end first, through the gap between door and frame, a little higher than Becky had indicated the position of the bolt. With six inches pushed through, I waited. My fingers on the wire, I felt it move slightly as Becky worked on it. I willed her to hurry up, and heard her voice in my mind, hissing at me to shut up.
It felt like an hour, but it was a little less than a minute and a half, finally the wire went tight and I knew she had succeeded. I tugged it, as hard as I dared, there was a clunk as the bolt slid back and I fell through the door as it swung open. I glanced back at the wire as I pulled it free; the trick had worked perfectly, the wire wrapped around part of the window-grille had acted as a lever with the loop hooked over the bolt handle. I pushed the door closed, bolted it again and pocketed the wire.