Conversation With The Dead
Neither Edna nor Alan knew how long they stayed like this, arms in arms under a starry moonlit sky next to a church. The only thing they knew was that Edna noticed a small orange glow a bit away from them. They parted and headed for the light with the intention to see if it was what Edna thought it was – a campfire. And indeed it was one with Miranya sitting close by and talking to the fire. Tina sat a bit away. She looked up when she heard them approach.
“Oh hello, you lovebirds”, she greeted them with a knowing grin, which made Edna suspect she had seen everything. Although Edna blushed slightly she nonetheless let it slide and gesticulated towards Miranya:
“What’s she doing?”
“Communicating with the dead”, Tina replied. “Has a lot to catch up after not being able to do so for years. She said if either of you got someone dead you wanna talk to, just tell her and she’ll convey your message.”
“Well, there are some people but... I’d rather talk with them personally”, Edna admitted. Miranya seemed to have heard her for she stopped her current conversation and turned her attention to the purple haired woman.
“I never tried letting somebody other than me speaking with the dead, I don’t know if I can do this although...“, she trailed off; her eyes flickering around so fast that the irises were just a blur. “The little girl, Lilli, once spoke to me from the limbo. She told me she was dead but obviously, she’s pretty much alive... unless she really was dead and returned from the afterlife. But I don’t know how she managed this.”
“Well, I can call Amy and ask her if she’s still awake”, Tina offered.
“Yeah, do that”, Miranya agreed. Tina got up on her feet and walked a few meters away before taking out her phone. Edna decided to sit in tailor-fashion on the grass with Harvey on her lap, next to the Medium. Alan took a seat next to Edna, putting his arm around her shoulders. The young woman spotted Miranya glancing their way and smiling to herself. Fortunately, she did not do or say anything to make Edna feel awkward. This was, after all, her first relationship. Wait a second; were she and Alan even a couple? There never was a mention of their being one. She should talk to him about it as soon as possible.
“Ah no, sorry. I haven’t heard from your Siamese twin, Moti.”
Edna got keen-eared when she heard the name coming out of Miranya’s mouth.
“Did you just say ‘Moti’?“, she asked incredulously. The red head looked at her in surprise.
“Uh yes”, she confirmed. “He’s trying to contact his brother, Hoti.”
“I know them! But...“, Edna made a sad face and a worry line appeared between her eyebrows upon making a realization, “if you’re talking to Moti through the fire then that means he’s...”
She could not bring herself to say it. The thought that one of her earliest friends, at least of those she could remember, was dead was painful. True, she only knew Hoti and Moti for several hours but she nevertheless considered them as close friends.
“How did he die?“, Edna asked. Miranya gave her a clueless look and turned back to the fire.
“Hello? Moti? Can you hear me?“, she spoke to the dancing flames. “Here’s someone you know. No, not your brother. It’s Edna.”
Miranya was quiet for a minute, probably listening to what Moti had to say from the other side. Once or twice, she glanced at Edna, who rested her head against Alan’s shoulder.
“Edna’s doing well, though she looks a little exhausted. She seems to be very close to this guy – what’s his name? – the Key Master.”
From the side, Edna could see Miranya frowning and slowly nodding.
“Uh huh... Really? He doesn’t appear to be as insane as you describe him. Then again, he’s not hypnotized anymore...”
Tina reappeared and flopped herself onto the ground. She watched the Medium having a conversation with the flames for a moment and then turned to Edna and Alan.
“I managed to get in contact with Lilli... Well, actually to Amy who woke her up for me... She said you need to be in trance, like when she tried to lift her behavioral blockades”, Tina told them. “That’s how she managed to get to the limbo. But she also mentioned she had no control of where she would land in her subconscious.”
“Are you saying I should get hypnotized?“, Edna inquired, leaning forward.
“Yeah, if you’re willing to, you can go to her house now and do it”, her housemate replied. Edna bit her bottom lip and glanced around, thinking of what to do. The prospect of being hypnotized once again did not appeal to her. Still, it was not only Moti she wanted to talk to. Her main reason for doing this was to get a chance to speak with her father and Alfred and perhaps with her mother too. Edna twisted her upper body around to silently ask Alan for advice. He took her hand and gave her an encouraging nod. This was enough for her to agree with the hypnosis. Tina gave her the direction to Ben and Amy’s house and mentioned she would be going there later too, after having enjoyed fresh air long enough. Alan did accompany Edna.
Meanwhile, back in Amy and Ben’s house were Anika, Gregor, Bianca and Sebastian. These four were all gathered in the living room, on the floor in their sleeping bags and clad in their nightclothes. However, sleep was not on their minds despite the late hour; their worry about Edna and the other three was just too great. Amy had told them everything Miranya told her and Ben and, just like the couple, the four friends were shocked beyond words about the revelations.
“How sick can anybody be? I mean, Doctor Marcel is the head of the local asylum and yet, how he can do is to his patients? They needed help and not something to make their mental illnesses worse! Honestly, who thought it was a good idea to have him run this kind of establishment!?” Bianca ranted. The thought of some people abusing their powers upset her so much that she forgot such people existed. Anika, Gregor and Sebastian just let her be; they knew there was no point in trying to calm her down. Bianca’s rant went on how much she hated people like Doctor Marcel and how unfair it was that injustice was tolerated. It was only when she paused to take a deep breath did Sebastian put his hand on her shoulder and spoke to her in a calming voice:
“We know, Bianca. And I’m sure Edna’s gonna be alright; she’s a tough girl and no one can beat any of her friends.”
“I know but...“, Bianca heaved a sigh, “but I just can’t help but worry about them...”
“We understand, we’re worried too”, Anika said sympathetically. She, too, sighed and gazed at the doorway. “How about I go and ask Amy if she heard anything from Edna and the others?”
Bianca, Gregor and Sebastian all nodded silently in agreement and Anika got up and left the living room. She looked to her left and then to her right for her older sister upon entering the hallway. Amy was nowhere to be seen, so Anika decided to go upstairs and see if she can find Amy there. However, the second floor landing was devoid of any humanoids, apart from Anika herself, too. Reckoning Amy might be in her bedroom, she went up to that door and knocked once. No answer. She tried it again and again no answer. After the third time of trying and failing, she surveyed the hallway, soon noticing the door to the guestroom stood ajar. Anika approached the door and lightly pushed the door open. Her eyes immediately fell on the occupied bed, where Lilli slept peacefully in a shirt a few times her sizes that Amy lent her. The next thing she noticed was Amy putting a fresh bed sheet on the second bed. Anika stepped into the room and cleared her throat to get Amy’s attention. The older one of the two sisters turned around.
“Oh hey, Sis, is there anything you need?”
“Um, all we – that is me and the others – wanted to know if you’ve heard anything from Edna?“, Anika questioned, stepping closer to her sister and helping her with putting the fresh bed sheet on.
“Well, Tina called me earlier. She told me she, Edna and the other two wanted to enjoy the fresh air. But they’ll be here soon”, Amy replied before returning to an upright position. “By the way, do you know where the blue rabbit we got from the asylum is?”
“Uh, I think Ben had it last. But why do you need it?”
“It’s not for me, it’s for Edna. You see, there’s something she needs to do and for that, she needs the hypnosis rabbit.”
“I’m not quite sure if I understand it at all...”
Edna and Alan arrived at their destination about half an hour later, after a walk through the village. It was Amy who answered the door shortly after Edna rang the bell. The therapist greeted the two and let them inside her humble abode without asking any question. Edna reckoned Amy knew why she was here; her conversation with Tina was not even an hour ago.
“You two can go to the guest bedroom. Lilli’s sleeping there but I don’t think you’ll be disturbing her”, Amy said, leading them through the hallway, up the stairs to a door at the end of the upper floor corridor. On their way to the guest bedroom, they passed the open door of the living room where Edna spotted Anika, Bianca, Gregor and Sebastian in sleeping bags and watching DVD. Bianca noticed her walking past and raised a hand in greeting but did not do anything else to acknowledge her. Edna imitated the gesture before her friends were out of sight and she was on her way upstairs. Amy left Edna and Alan at the door to the guest bedroom, stating she was getting the blue hypnosis rabbit.
“I’m kinda nervous about this... I’d have never thought I would want to get hypnotized voluntarily”, Edna admitted, looking up the hallway to where Amy disappeared to. Alan snaked his arms around her waist, embracing her from behind.
“You’ll be fine, everything’s gonna be alright”, he reassured her. “And I’ll be there when you wake up.”
“It actually makes me feel better”, Edna replied smilingly. She opened the door and they entered the guest bedroom.
The interior was kept simple with two beds – Lilli slept in one of them – a closet filling out one entire wall, as well as a mirror, seating accommodations and a table. Besides the beds were nightstands and on those were reading lamps. Edna headed for the unoccupied bed and sat on it, taking off her shoes. Alan did the same just as Amy reappeared with the rabbit they got from the workshop.
“Ready? You just have to look into its eyes and not think about anything”, Amy instructed and held the rabbit close up, pulling the string. Edna became immediately entranced by the glowing red eyes, not really aware of what it was saying. Something about not going to dangerous places... Everything swam...
Edna found herself in a particular large room with the finest furniture she had ever seen. Here and there were vases and portraits that must have cost a fortune. However, there was nothing one would find in a modern household – no television, no movie player, nothing. The only electric objects were lamps and even then, Edna was not sure if they ran on electricity for they looked a lot like gas lamps. Really, if she had to compare this room to anything, it would be a mansion perhaps from Great Britain in the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century. However, while the location seemed to be from more than a hundred years ago, it seemed the actual time was much later. The whole place was dark, damp and rundown – an even worse state than her childhood home. Indeed, it looked like a haunted mansion; the only thing missing was the knowledge of an unsolved murder having been committed here and the ghost of the victim haunting this place. Edna swiveled around and found herself facing the lit fireplace. On the mantelpiece were valuable objects and withered plants on the left and right edge. On the wall above the mantelpiece was a dusty portrait. Edna wiped the dust off with her hand, revealing it to be a family portrait... of Mattis and Vivian dressed like a wealthy English couple and Edna as a little four year old sitting on her mother’s lap.
“Edna, what kind of place were you imagining?“, Harvey inquired. Like when he tempomorphed her back to her past, he was able to walk on his own; there was no need for Edna to carry him. She slowly turned on the spot, taking in her surroundings.
“I... I don’t know...”
“Edna! Hey, Edna!”
The young woman slowly revolved on the spot, wondering where Miranya’s voice was coming from. While doing so, she turned around and her eyes fell on the flames, where she saw the Medium’s head looking at her.
“Miranya!“, Edna exclaimed, completely befuddled. “Is that how the people you communicate with see you?”
“Pretty much. I’ve sent Moti your way. Is there anyone else you want me to send over to you?”
“Yes, there are some”, Edna crouched down so that she was eye to eye with Miranya. “Can you try to find a boy named Alfred Marcel?”
“Did you just say ‘Marcel’? As in that mad doctor who enjoys ruining people’s lives?“, the red haired Medium asked incredulously.
“Yes, there’s something I gotta tell him...“, Edna admitted. Miranya raised a skeptical eyebrow.
“Alright... Anyone else?”
“Yes, Mattis and Vivian Konrad.”
Miranya’s head made a movement that was unmistakably a nod and disappeared. Now alone with Harvey in this mansion, Edna started to wander around to pass the time. She wondered to herself how the owners of the mansion lived and how they got so wealthy. Did they inherit the money? Or did they have a marvelous idea for a product the world was waiting for? She wondered what kind of product, if it were the case. Or they had some kind of title, like Lord and Lady. That would explain the mansion and wealth, too. But what intrigued her more was the question if the mansion was haunted because a mysterious, unsolved murder took place here. She found this back story really interesting and creepy, although she could go with something even far more creepier.
“What do you think happened here, Harvey?“, Edna asked the blue lagomorph for his opinion.
“I think it’s whatever you imagined it to be but...“, Harvey stared questioningly at his friend, accidentally breaking an ornamental vase. “Why couldn’t you imagine a more exciting place? Like the moon? Or Cardassia Prime? I wouldn’t even mind a Borg cube!”
“Dunno. But really?“, Edna raised an eyebrow. “A Borg cube? D’you want to be assimilated?”
“Well, a Harvey Borg doesn’t sound so bad”, the rabbit shrugged. Edna shook her head, thinking to herself she did not want to be a Borg just as she saw someone entering the room through one of the doors. It was an overweight man and he was semi-transparent. His skin was dark, his nose was big and his hair was black. His outfit consisted of a gray suit that did not fit to his personality, in Edna’s opinion, and shiny black shoes.
“Moti? Is that really you?“, she asked, approaching the newcomer.
“Edna!? Huh, I almost didn’t recognize you”, he replied, also walking closer. Edna would have liked to give him a friendly hug but she had a feeling it would not work seeing he was not solid. “You really have changed since I last saw you. Back then, your hair just hung from your head and was in need of a wash and you wore a hospital nightgown.”
“Well, a lot of things have happened since our breakout”, Edna replied, smiling modestly.
“Yeah, I heard you and the Key Master have gotten very close”, Moti sounded like he did not approve of this relationship. Edna knew the last time Moti saw the Key Master, he was still a lunatic. Therefore she did not blame him.
“Moti, old chap! How’re you doin’?“, Harvey exclaimed joyously before Edna had time to explain it all.
“Hello Harvey, I hope you’re taking good care of Edna”, Moti reciprocated the greeting before frowning at the girl. “But when I see who she’s getting close with...”
“But it only happened over the last few months... and tonight. And Alan has changed – that’s his actual name”, Edna added at her friend’s puzzled expression. “He’s not the insane man you remember and it wasn’t even his fault.”
And Edna proceeded to give Moti a recap of what Doctor Marcel revealed only this night. Like everyone else who heard this, he was shocked too. Edna was willing to believe that there was no decent human being who would not be appalled. In this case, it led to long rant on Moti’s side about Doctor Marcel’s heinous acts.
“Woah! Calm down! It makes no sense ranting about this!“, Edna exclaimed, trying to put her hands on his shoulders but went through. Moti took a deep breath and was back to his tranquil self.
“I guess you’re right”, he said.
“And now tell me, what’s with the suit? That’s just not you”, Edna inquired, giving her friend a once-over.
“Well, you see I went back to the asylum after everything quieted down. I was declared clinically sane and was discharged. I took a job as bank teller but I was shot on my first day during a bank robbery”, Moti recounted.
“Oh... have you ever found out who did this – in afterlife, I mean”, Edna asked before making a questioning face. “Wait a minute; you were discharged from the asylum?”
“Yes, as unbelievable as it sounds. But I was the only one who went back. Don’t know where the others have gone. But tell me, how have you been doing?”
Once again, Edna spent a long time telling her friend what had happened since she left him and his twin Hoti in the crashed car. However, she left the parts of Alan committing murders out – he did not need to know that.
“I really can’t imagine you as a convent girl”, was the first Moti said after she finished. “If you tell me you were a nice, obedient girl, then I know that part was a lie.”
“I kept a low profile but I still caused mischief”, Edna replied, smiling impishly. “I don’t think I will ever stop being that way.”
Moti chuckled and looked at her like an older brother being amused by the antics of his younger sister.
“I’ll go now and see if I can get in contact with Hoti. Maybe I’m lucky tonight”, he said.
“What do you mean ‘lucky tonight’? Haven’t you been able to get in touch with him?“, Edna asked, frowning.
“I’ve never been able to get in contact with him. Perhaps you could tell him I want to speak with him when you see him?”
“I can’t make any promises but I will try.”
Moti smiled gratefully at her and bid her good bye before leaving. Edna watched him disappear, feeling both happy of having seen him again but also sad of his being dead. It would have been so nice if they all could have done something together, like going to the movies or a fair. Hopefully, Hoti’s position was better and she was able to find him wherever he was. But even if she found him, would he be somewhere near Miranya or any other Medium? Was there another way to communicate with the dead?
Everything was quiet back in the world of the living. Amy and Ben had gone to the living room to join Anika, Bianca, Gregor and Sebastian. They had also offered Alan to come along too but he declined. He wanted to stay with Edna; he told her he would be there when she woke up. Also, he needed his time to think... He had already started to suspect a long time ago that Edna might feel more than friendship towards him but he had never been quite sure. He had not received any kind of affection since he was a young adult. How could he have not confused true friendship and love? But hearing her confession was like a mug of hot chocolate in a cold winter’s night if not even better. Never would he have imagined she would reciprocate his feelings. But what were they now? Sure, they had kissed once and admitted their love for one another but did that make them a couple? Perhaps he should officially ask her? Nevertheless, even if Alan was unsure of their current relationship status, he saw a couple of things that occurred between them over the last months in a new light. It certainly explained why Edna was so unhappy with the prospect of his leaving the country or never letting go of each other when they held hands. A half-smile appeared on Alan’s face as he caressed Edna’s cheek with the back of his hand. If anyone would have told him what he would feel for the girl that appeared one day at the glass to his cell, he would most likely have killed the person or at least hurt them.
Meanwhile, the four guests in the living room had paused the movie they were watching. They, with the exception of Bianca, intended to ask about those who were not with them at the moment. So, the moment Amy had taken a seat on the couch, she was bombarded with questions by Anika, Gregor and Sebastian.
“Is Edna here yet?”
“Do you know when she’ll be here?”
“Is anyone else in her company?”
The questions the three asked melded in a near incomprehensible word salad unless one were to listen closely. Amy looked kind of overwhelmed with the rush; Bianca decided to liberate her before she was flattened by her own sister and the two males.
“Guys, calm down!“, the half-Italian raised her voice to make herself heard. “It’s alright, Edna’s fine. I saw her walking past the door earlier; she’s in company with her green-skinned friend.”
The three who had been close to interrogate Amy had the resemblance to wax figures in light of this new information. None of them seemed to have noticed their purple haired friend when Bianca did. It was so ironic, they had been so worried about her and when she arrived, nobody noticed her. But perhaps it was better this way; Edna did look like she needed rest. Thus, having them all gang up on her to interrogate her too would not be an intelligent thing to do.
“And I think it’s better if we wait until tomorrow to question her”, Bianca declared in a stern voice, suddenly coming across like she was the oldest and not Amy and Ben. Gregor and Anika returned to their sleeping bags, they seemed to agree with the dark haired and pale skinned girl. But Sebastian seemed to be on the verge of arguing; he had not moved but stared at Bianca with a wide open mouth.
“But what if she needs someone to talk to? We should be there for her and listen to her!“, the youngest male in the house argued but seemed shrink down in every aspect at Bianca’s reaction. She rose to her feet, put her hands in her hips and narrowed her dark eyes. Her nostrils flared. At the moment, she looked as dangerous as a bad-tempered bull.
“When I say we should let her rest now, we let her rest”, Bianca hissed like a snake. Afraid she might attack him, Sebastian returned to his sleeping bag faster than one could say ‘hop scotch’. Smirking in satisfaction, Bianca sat down again. Amy and Ben chuckled.
“Don’t worry, Sebastian, her friend with the pale green skin is with her. She can talk to him if she needs someone to talk to”, Amy assured him. “Now then, let’s watch that movie to get our minds off things.”
Gregor snatched the remote for the DVD player and pressed the play button.
Edna decided to look around a bit more and left the room with Harvey in tow. The door they went through led to a large foyer with several other doors leading to different parts of the mansion as well as outside. She chose to go through the latter, wanting to see the property. But one step on the old front porch and she noticed outside was not any better than inside.
“What happened here? It looks like a barren wasteland!“, Harvey exclaimed in a mix of astonishment, shock, and a little bit of glee at the thought of the mayhem that happened here.
“Save for the trees, although they look like they had better days”, Edna remarked. She and Harvey walked off the porch and wandered around. On the mansion’s right side, they found a garage devoid of any vehicles but the walls laden with tools and such. Behind the mansion, they found a large paddock and a burned down horse stable. A bit farther away, in a ramshackle barn found Edna a beautiful carriage – at least she assumed it was beautiful since it was in the same rundown state as everything else. Not too far from the mansion stood a smaller house. Edna ran towards it, wondering what it could be but the windows were so dirty that it was impossible to look inside. She wiped the dirt off, and then picked Harvey up so that they could look inside together.
“What do you think is this?“, Harvey asked.
“Well, the premises are large and I can imagine they had loads of ornamental plants and flowers. Besides, large mansions like this one always have a gardener, so I reckon that’s his house”, Edna mused, surveying the cozy-looking living quarters.
“Maybe he’s responsible for the whole state here? You know, it’s always the gardener”, Harvey said.
“Or the butler”, Edna added.
“Or if the rich owner of the mansion was old but had a young wife, then it was the wife”, said an unknown yet familiar voice behind Edna. A soft gasp came from her mouth as her eyes widened slightly. She whipped around and came face to face with a woman who looked a lot like her. There were only a few differences, like the shape of the eyes and the newcomer having pouty lips. Also, her hair was a lighter shade. But nonetheless, anyone could see that this was Vivian Konrad, Edna’s mother who was murdered when Edna was only four years old. Emotions swelled up inside Edna, tears were filling up her eyes. So long had she wished to see her mother again and there she was, smiling at her. Forgetting she could not touch her, Edna broke into a run, wanting to embrace her mother. But the memory of this little detail returned when she went right through her. Vivian smiled sadly at her daughter.
“I wish I could take you into my arms...“, she said mournfully.
“I wish that too”, Edna replied before glancing around. “Where’re Dad and Alfred?”
“They wanted to give us some alone time together since we didn’t have so much time together before I died”, Vivian responded. A small smile appeared on her face. “Tell me how you’ve been doing. I watched over but you’d be surprised how many want to talk to the dead, even if they don’t know the person.”
“Perhaps they just like talking to the dead?“, Edna shrugged. “But I’m quite well... as one in my situation can be... You know what I mean, do you?”
“You mean your lost ten years inside a mental institution, which led you to have your education much later than everyone else your age?“, Vivian inquired and when her daughter nodded, she made the same movement with her own head. “Yes, all that time, I had wished I could have walked up and taken you home. You didn’t deserve any of the torture he forced you through...”
Suddenly, her gentle face became twisted in fury. Indeed, her whole semi-transparent being was on fire.
“Ooh, I can’t wait until he ends up in afterlife too! He won’t ever rest in peace; he’s gonna get his ass kicked!“, Vivian vowed furiously, scaring Harvey so much he hugged Edna’s leg. “I won’t ever forgive Doctor Marcel what he did to my little girl and what he plans to do with other children in the world!”
“You know about that?“, Edna questioned in surprise.
“Well, I told you I’ve been watching over you”, her mother replied, calm once again. A kind yet teasing smile spread across Vivian’s face. “And I know about your new relationship. I hope I don’t need to give you the talk.”
“Mom!“, Edna exclaimed indignantly. Vivian chuckled and assured her she was only joking. Edna narrowed her eyes at her, then she sighed and looked off into the distance.
“I’m not even sure if we’re a couple”, the young, still living woman admitted. “Sure, we admitted our feelings for each other but it doesn’t mean we’re automatically together...”
“Then you should talk with him, the worst he can say is no. But I’m confident you two will be a couple in a few hours”, Vivian smiled but Edna raised an eyebrow:
“Why in a few hours?”
“Well, I can imagine you’d want to rest up after such a hard day.”
“Hm, you got a point there”, Edna agreed eventually. It was true; the whole day had been exhausting for her. She could not wait to go to bed properly. But not before she had her talk with the other two she wanted to see. Edna opened her mouth but Vivian answered her question before she asked:
“Your father and Alfred will be here any moment now. Come on, let’s take a walk.”
The two Konrad women started walking a leisure pace with Harvey trotting along beside them. It felt unreal to Edna, being able to do this with her mother, even if it was only happening in a limbo while she was in a trance.
“Mom, when did you know that Dad was the right one for you?“, Edna asked as they traipsed around the paddock. Before she finished asking her question, she realized she had stopped calling Mattis by his name like she usually did. Maybe it was because it sounded kind of wrong to call her own father by his first name in her mother’s presence.
“Oh... I’m not sure... But I... I think I always knew... just not consciously”, Vivian replied softly, gazing off to the distance with a faraway look. “Perhaps it was the day he tried to ask me out on a date but stumbled over his words. It was a miracle he even managed to get any words out at all.”
Vivian chuckled fondly at the memory. Edna, who could visualize this all, did so too. The mother-daughter pair kept chortling for a few more minutes but then Vivian stopped and sighed somewhat mournfully.
“Mattis was a good man and he was good with children but not with raising them...“, she glanced at Edna. “He did a lot of things wrong with you but I could see he meant it well. His methods were just wrong...”
“Funny... I thought the exact same thing a few months ago”, Edna remarked, unable to resist a grin. Vivian smirked.
“Well, you are my daughter after all. You know, I kept watching over you and Mattis after my death. He did not so well when you were being naughty but I noticed he was at ease and relaxed whenever you do did something together, like bicycle tours or watching movies.”
“When you say you watched over us... have you seen me watching movies I shouldn’t have watched yet in secret?“, Edna asked tentatively. Her mother’s smirk was answer enough for her. Edna gave a sheepish smile and laughed awkwardly but Vivian did not reprimand her.
“Don’t worry, your crime has already long lapsed”, the mother replied, still smirking. She and her daughter went on with their stroll through the barren property of the mansion. Edna still could hardly believe that it was real; she and Vivian – together. Prior to her meeting Miranya, she had thought it would not happen until she herself was dead.
“Mom, have you known?”
Vivian looked at her daughter questioningly.
“Have I known what?”
“That you were pregnant again when you died?“, Edna elaborated. Vivian stopped walking and sighed; Edna stopped in her tracks too. The dead woman gave the living woman a sad smile.
“I didn’t know, I mean, it was still early in pregnancy when I lost my life...“, Vivian sighed again and gazed at the blue skies, the weather so tantalizingly beautiful in contrast to the depressive state of the women’s surroundings.
“Well, I did notice I didn’t get my period one month but I didn’t think anything about it. It happened before that my period skipped a month only for me to have it the next month but it usually only happened when I was under a lot of stress”, Vivian went on. “If I hadn’t died and noticed that I didn’t have my monthly joys, I would have gone to a gynecologist.”
“I think I would have liked a little brother or sister”, Edna remarked. “Although Tina has become something like sister to me.”
“I’ve seen your friends when I watched over you. You know, I’m happy that, because of you, two age groups that would otherwise never interact together became friends.”
“Oh, I’m sure it would have happened without me too. Bianca’s brother did spend some time in the hospital and that’s how their mother met Amy and Anika’s mother.”
“Yes, they would have met but their relationship wouldn’t be as close as it is now. They would be acquainted with the occasional invitation to tea but nothing more. Perhaps after enough tea and pastries but most likely not as close as they are now because of you”, Vivian explained.
“Makes me feel like I’m an important part of something big”, Edna remarked.
“Aw, who cares about what might have been? I say we should live our lives without thinking too much about it”, the blue lagomorph at Edna’s side commented.
“He’s right, you know. You’ve been thinking too much about the past and what might have been”, Vivian said. “It’s time for you to let go.”
“I know... but –”
Suddenly, Harvey startled them with his shriek.
Miranya had sent Moti to Edna to get in contact with her once she was in a trance as well as Vivian, Mattis and Alfred. However, it was not easy to tell them when she was in trance; therefore Miranya just told them to get to her. The dead could get to her whenever she liked while she held her séances, so she assumed it would be the same when they wanted to communicate with those in trance. However, just to be sure, she nevertheless checked if Edna was ready yet and it was just a big coincidence she saw her.
“Ugh, what now, Max Mixmo?“, Miranya groaned when the deceased barkeeper appeared before her. Even after she found someone – Lilli to be precise – who would write down the recipe for his ultimate cocktail, which incidentally happened to be the cause of his dead, he still pestered her in the short time she was still free. Still, the Medium was happy to be able to talk with the dead again after so long, so she would even endure Max Mixmo. Therefore, she listened to his ramblings and answered his question about where she had been. When she had the chance, she explained why she had not talked to anyone in the afterlife for years. It did not help that none but one ever visited her and the single one that came to her was not very talkative. In retrospect, she wondered whether it was an actual ghost or if she wanted to believe it was one... But whatever, she had never seen this ghost, whether it was real or not, or any other ghost again.
“Yes, I know what you mean but be more patient with Vivian. You said she has a child who’s still alive and as far as I know, you have none. So give her more time to watch over the living”, Miranya advised patiently, feeling like a counselor. Then she remembered that one of the people from the afterlife Edna wanted to talk to was named Vivian and she wondered if this Vivian and the Vivian Max Mixmo mentioned were one and the same and if, it were the case, the child was Edna. It would surely be a funny coincidence if it was be the case.
One would think people had no worries after they died but it was amazing how much they still had on their minds, usually unsolved matters they had never been able to solve in their lifetime. There was a lot to catch up with and a lot of new deceased to get to know. For instance, there was one she spoke with before Max Mixmo interrupted. Some man who told her he was murdered with his tie by a man with green skin. At once, Miranya had the picture of the man in her head and she did not like it. She tried to convince herself it was somebody else but how many men had green skin?
“Hide me, Edna!“, the blue rag doll rabbit yelled, hiding behind her leg. He looked fearfully at something or somebody behind her and Vivian. Both women frowned at the lagomorph before looking behind themselves and seeing two figures approaching them. One was a thin, lanky man with glasses and the other, who Edna suspected was the reason Harvey screamed, was a little boy of eight years. Edna, who only had her upper body turned to look behind her, now twisted the rest of her body to watch Mattis and Alfred coming closer, both looking the way they did back in 1998. Once again, Edna felt her emotions swelling up inside her. At last she had the chance to ask her father and her childhood friend for forgiveness. Would she finally be able to forgive and stop blaming herself? Edna took a hesitant step forward, unsure how to word her apology. However, she was spared from it for the time being.
“Edna! Look at you! How you’ve grown”, Mattis exclaimed. His daughter made a grimace; she always found this kind of greeting annoying when she witnessed other kids hearing this from relatives. At least she was fortunate to not have heard it too often – only once before from her paternal grandmother the last time she saw her before she died. Vivian did not seem to have liked this kind of greeting either, for she made a grimace too.
“Mattis, more than a decade – actually it’s getting close to two decades – have passed. Of course she’s grown!“, Vivian remarked.
“I wasn’t quite sure what else to say”, Mattis admitted somewhat sheepishly. Vivian rolled her eyes and shook her head, smiling nevertheless. Edna took another step forward, one deep breath and addressed both Mattis and Alfred, saying the words she had been wanting to say for so long:
“D-dad... Alfred... I’m... I’m so sorry you died because of me... I never wanted this to happen...”
She now addressed only Alfred:
“I really meant it when I said I wanted to be nicer to you... But when you took Harvey... and threatened to have him taken away from me, I got scared. It never occurred to me you might... die when I push you down the stairs...”
She trailed off and averted her eyes. The words she said were true and yet, she felt they would not suffice. If only there was a way to show Alfred how much she regretted her actions.
“I was really angry at first when I came to the afterlife”, Alfred admitted. “But your mother’s taken good care of me and when we watched over you and saw what my father did to you, I felt pity and sympathy towards you. Even if there was a time I wished something bad happen to you, what my dad did to you was never what I had in mind – a broken arm or leg perhaps”, he gulped at Vivian’s glare, “– but never you being locked in and having your personality rewritten.”
“So... you don’t agree with your father’s plans, do you?“, Edna, who had her eyes back on him, asked. Alfred shook his head:
“No, childhood is an important aspect in life. It shouldn’t be taken away.”
Edna smiled at her old friend. She was glad he was more decent and sensible than his own father. Still, there was one last thing she had to ask both males:
“Do you two forgive me?”
A crease appeared between her brows as she regarded them with a mixture of uncertainty and plea in her purple ocular organs.
“I’ve already forgiven you a long time ago!“, Alfred exclaimed with his wide grin that made him increased his resemblance to a frog more than ever.
“And I never blamed you. But if I had known what letting you have Doctor Marcel as your guardian meant for you and your life, I would have looked for someone else”, Mattis replied. “I hope you can forgive me for that and everything else I did wrong.”
“Already happened... a long time ago”, Edna smiled at them all, tears streaming down her face at last. It was impossible for her to hold them back with all the emotions swelling up inside her like a balloon. Never had she imagined she would see them again in her life – only when she was dead – and it was better than she had ever imagined. And to think that Mattis and Alfred had forgiven her a long time ago made it all even better. They all took a walk around, reminiscing about old times and talking about Edna’s current life.
“Edna, how about I leave you three alone for you to catch up while I stay here with Harvey?“,
Vivian suggested just as the group reached the front door of the mansion. Edna frowned at her mother.
“Don’t you want to come along too?“, she questioned, hardly able to imagine why Vivian would not want to join her and Mattis and Alfred.
“Of course I want to but I’m sure there’s so much for you three to catch up that I would feel like a third wheel”, Vivian explained. “But don’t worry, I will still be here until you want to leave the limbo and return to the world of the living.”
“Well, alright...“, Edna agreed at last.
“See you three later”, Vivian smiled and waved at her daughter, husband and her daughter’s friend as they walked away. Once they were gone, she looked at Harvey. “Well, it’s just you and me now.”
By now, the local police and the police from the next town had reached the open main gate of the asylum. Gerret had checked the crash site for Doctor Marcel’s two minions but found they had already left. However, the limousine was still there. Well, the doctor might not need it for some time after tonight but if he behaved, he should get a toy car. At the moment, their police vehicles blocked the main gate. It would not be easy to snake through the cars to flee the property.
Gerret stood next to the watchtower, and addressed every present policeman and woman. Each one, he noticed, had a serious expression on their faces, although a couple of them had it mixed with confusion. He could hardly blame them since rarely anything that would force them to go to a scene of crime ever happened in the middle of the night around here. It was usually only bar brawls when one patron had too much of a drink and that was something the local police could handle.
“Ladies and gentlemen, tonight I received information that Doctor Marcel had committed a number of crimes over the last few weeks! I want you to find him and arrest him and, while you’re at it, find as many pieces of evidence you can! Look in every nook and cranny! Oh, and don’t forget to arrest his minions too!“, Gerret ordered in a loud and clear voice... well, as loud and clear as it was possible with his hoarse voice.
“Uh Gerret? If everyone who works here is behind bars, who will watch over the patients?“, Maya pointed out. Gerret did not move a muscle when he heard his friend’s argument but he gave himself a mental slap. He had completely forgotten about the patients! How could when he knew the scene of the crimes was the asylum?
“Well, I suggest some of us stay here and watch over the patients until actual guards, who are not in jail, arrive”, Maya went on before Gerret could think of an alternative. The pale man nodded in agreement to her suggestion.
“Yes, that’s what we do. Any volunteers?”
None stepped forward; none seemed to be eager to have the job. Everyone either looked at each other or flickered their eyes around. One or two beheld the night sky with their hands overlapped as though they were praying. Gerret and Maya exchanged a look of exasperation before the latter loudly addressed their colleagues:
“Well, if everyone’s so eager to do this, I will pick... hm, how about five?”
She peered questioningly at Gerret, who held up six fingers.
“Oh okay, I will pick six of you to take over this task. Neumann, Meincke, Hengstler, Honeck, Hoegel and Sablik, you all will take over the task!”
The six individuals stepped forward when Maya called their names.
“You six stay put while we arrest every employee”, she ordered while Gerret gave another group their instructions about checking the watchtower, the garages and the basement. After he was done, they scattered to these places, although some of them stayed with everyone else. It made no sense for them to scamper away if they were going to check the basement and everyone else was going to storm the building anyway. So, every police man and woman who had not yet received their specific instructions stood in rank and file, ready to storm the building. A nod from Gerret and his saying the word “now” and every police officer stormed the front door, startling the man who guarded the entrance and who was about to doze off.
“Wh-what? What the hell’s goin’ on?“, he exclaimed, goggling disorientated at the large numbers of police officers filing through the entrance. However, they stopped dead and their jaws dropped simultaneously.
“Gerret, when were you going to tell us that the patients are running around like a bunch of crazy chickens?“, Maya questioned as she watched open-mouthed the patients causing mayhem.
Edna, Mattis and Alfred strolled around the mansion’s property, reminiscing about all the activities they did together. It was only now that Edna realized how much she enjoyed the rare trips to the beach, mountains or big cities and the annual bicycle tour in fall. Sure, she already knew for a long time of the enjoyment she felt but never the extent.
“Remember when you took a nap at the beach and I built a sandcastle on you?“, Edna reminded Alfred chortling.
“I couldn’t move!“, the little boy with the resemblance to a frog exclaimed in the same panicked voice he had back then.
“Ah come on! You can’t deny it was hilarious!“, Edna laughed. A glance at her grinning father told her he found it funny too.
“Well, I guess it kind of was...“, Alfred mumbled quietly, a little smirk spreading across his face. It became bigger a second later. “But I see you’ve got a boyfriend now.”
The smile on Edna’s face faded away and was replaced by a deep shade of red on her cheeks. Of course he would know about it, Vivian did say they watched over her, so it was obvious Alfred would tease her about her current love life. Alfred seemed to be pleased with himself that he managed to render Edna speechless.
“Ah yes, my only regret is that I will never be able to intimidate him or claiming no male is good enough for my little girl”, Mattis smirked good-naturedly. Edna arched both her eyebrows at her father:
“Dad, let’s be honest, you were never the most intimidating person in the world”, Edna pointed out. “And really? No one would be good enough for me? I overheard you once saying me and Alfred would make a great couple.”
“What!?“, the boy exclaimed disbelievingly but was ignored.
“Would he never be good enough for me either?“, the young woman went on, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Well, I would have intimated him”, Mattis admitted. Edna noticed Alfred stepped away from her father. “But you should know best I’m only joking about it.”
“True”, Edna smirked, letting her arms fall to her sides. She nonetheless would have liked to see how Alan would be intimidated by her spineless father. The image was amusing.
“I can’t look into the future, Edna, but I wish for you two to be happy together”, Mattis smiled. “But never forget, even if you have your fights, it does not mean it would be the end to your relationship. It’s common for couples to fight but also common to make up.”
Edna had a hunch how her father imagined a couple making up, though she was not sure if every couple made up like this.
“I keep that in mind. Is there anything else I should be aware of or do?“, the young woman questioned just as her mother appeared along with Harvey.
“Not much, just do little things for each other, like breakfast in bed or going out even when there’s no special occasion”, Vivian advised. “And just generally show your affections for each other every now and then.”
Mattis stepped towards his wife and took her hand. Edna’s parents gave her such a smile she felt its warmth to her core. The only living human being in the limbo reciprocated the smile as her eyes traveled from Mattis to Vivian and even to Alfred.
“I will do my best to heed your advices”, Edna promised, addressing her parents. Then she turned her attention to Alfred, wanting to tell him so many things but not finding the right words. Thus, the little family and the friend sauntered around the limbo for a while longer.
“Sweetie, it’s time for us to go now”, Vivian said after an hour or so. At least that was what Edna felt like. She was unsure whether or not the passage of time in the limbo was identical to the world of the living. “We have to return to the afterlife and you need your sleep and no trance, which I don’t see as a well rest.”
“But...“, Edna did not want to go yet. She had not seen any of them since her age was written with only a single digit number and the amount of time she spent with them was not enough. Vivian, however, gave her daughter a kind smile.
“We will see each other again, and I mean while you’re still alive”, she assured her. Then she took Mattis’s hand and placed her other hand on Alfred’s shoulder. “We could try to visit you in your dreams but I don’t know whether it’ll work.”
“O... okay”, Edna relented. She knew she had to return to her realm. There were people – friends and an eventual boyfriend – who were waiting for her. “Try to see if you can visit me in my dreams.”
“We will”, Mattis promised. With one final word of departure and the promise to see each other again, they all left the limbo. Edna and Harvey by returning to the living world and Vivian, Mattis and Alfred by going back to the afterlife. Everything Edna saw in the limbo – paddock, garage, barn, old trees, the gardener’s house and the mansion itself –slowly disappeared as Edna awoke back in her realm.
Despite having her purple eyes closed, Edna became aware of her surroundings. She felt she lay on something soft, most likely a bed, and that she held something small and soft close to her with her right arm. Somebody sat on her left side on the bed and held her hand. Although she could not see it, she had a feeling they were looking at her and she knew she wanted to see the person too. So, she slowly opened her eyes, purple meeting green.
“Hey”, she greeted Alan with a soft smile, slowly sitting up. “Were you watching me all the time?”
“Actually yes... I was kind of afraid you won’t be able to wake up from your trance”, he admitted. Edna moved closer and rested her head on his shoulder.
“What would you have done if I wouldn’t have been able to wake?“, she wondered aloud.
“I would have done everything to wake you up”, Alan responded. Edna gazed at him and moved her head so that she could look directly into his eyes. Plucking up her courage, she leant forward and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. He stroke her hair with the back of his hand, moving the hand down to her waist where he let it rest.
“Your friends have lent us nightwear”, he told her, nodding at a chair close to the bed. Pajamas and a nightgown were neatly folded upon it. “I can leave the room and change in the bathroom while you change here.”
“Okay”, Edna nodded and they parted. Alan took the pajamas in his arms and left the room. Edna waited until she heard the door close before she took of her clothes, bar panties, and put on Amy’s nightgown. She examined herself in this teal colored article of clothing in a mirror. It was a size too big but she was going to manage it for one night. As she gazed at her reflection, she realized how tired she looked and felt. She had bags under her eyes, not unlike those she had when she was still a prisoner of the mental institution. Yes, perhaps it was better if she would go to sleep now, like her mother suggested. She could always discuss her relationship status with Alan the next day. She put her clothes over the back of the chair and went back into the bed just as Alan re-entered the room. He was dressed in scarlet pajamas which were also too big for him. He placed his neatly folded clothes on the chair and then joined Edna in bed, putting an arm around her. She snuggled up to him and placed her arm around his waist. Her head was close to his chest and she could hear the rhythmic beating of his heart. It was such a beautiful sound to fall asleep to. Why had she not realized it sooner? Even if she had not been exhausted, she would surely drift off to sleep to this sound. She could barely hear him biding her good night before she was out like a light.
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