Returning to the scene of the crime
Lilly had been wandering around the used car lot for nearly an hour, before Jackson pulled up in a newer model silver Kia. “Hop in,” he said, opening up the passenger side door.
Lilly gave him a funny look, as she climbed into the car and took in its fake new car smell. “You know I can’t close that, right?”
Jackson just looked at her for a second with a dumb found look, before the light bulb went off and unhooked his seat belt and stretched all the way across her and closed the door. “Sorry,” he said, putting the car in drive and pulling out of the parking lot. “So, where we headed to?”
“North,” Lilly said, looking to the sky and acquiring the golden glow that would lead her to her unfinished business. “Where’d you get the money for this car anyway?”
“Card shark, remember. Thanks to Darnell’s help. I netted ten G’s on that last poker hand. Any idea how far north?”
“No,” Lilly answered solemnly, her eyes glued to the golden glow.
“Where are you from?” Jackson asked.
“Hey, you didn’t say anything about driving you all the way to Michigan,” Jackson said, the tone of his voice rising slightly in protest.
Lilly shot him an anger filled look. “You can just drop me off where ever then. The next casino perhaps?”
“That was uncalled for, besides it’s my winnings are driving you all the way to Michigan aren’t they,” he said with a smile. “I said that I would help you for getting me out of that mess back there, even though it was my bad behavior that actually saved my ass. I just thought it was going to be a local thing is all.”
“Thanks,” Lilly said, returning her gaze back to the sky. “For everything so far, I mean. I’m just happy knowing that my parents can at least rest easy now, knowing that I’m back home.”
“Maybe we can stop by so you can see them,” Jackson offered.
Lilly didn’t answer.
“Yeah, that might be a little weird.”
“You think?” Lilly responded, laughing just a bit. It was the first-time Jackson had seen the girl smile, but then again what was there to smile about when you’re dead, he wondered.
The next hour, or so, they rode in silence. Jackson kept changing the radio station, to help pass the time. After crossing the state line, Jackson pulled into a gas station. “What are we stopping for?” Lilly asked.
“I gotta take a leak, and I need some road snacks. Want anything?”
“I thought so,” Jackson replied, disappearing into the station. A few minutes later he returned with a bag bar be que flavored pork rinds, an energy drink, a pair of dark sunglasses, and a road map, which he unfolded once he was inside of the car. “Looks like we should make it to Olivet within a couple of hours.”
“You bought a map?”
“How else I’m I going to know where I’m headed?”
“Don’t you have google maps on your phone?”
Jackson shrugged his shoulder. “Well, it’s not really my phone. My so-called friends,” he said, doing air quotes, “cleaned me out of all my cash and cell phone when I over dosed. I swiped the one I was using from an old lady at the slot machines,” he added, taking a cell phone out of his jacket pocket and tossing it into the empty cup holder in the center council. “It’s been turned off. Guess she realized it was missing.”
“Don’t judge me,” Jackson scold. “Besides, the sooner we get there, the sooner you can, I mean we can get your unfinished business done, and you get out of Purgatory.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Lilly replied. “Any idea how we’re going to do that?”
“Not in the slightest,” Jackson replied, putting the car in reverse and backing out of the parking spot. “But I’m pretty good at playing things by ear.”
“Just don’t forget that this guy is a killer,” Lilly reminded him.
“Kinda hard to forget, seeing how I’m sitting here talking to a dead girl,” he retorted, opening the energy drink and taking a long drink. “Any idea who this guy is, or where we can find him?”
“None,” Lilly answered. “I got a good look at him when he was…”
“We don’t have to do this now,” Jackson told her, sensing the hardship she was going to have to put herself through.
“If not now, then when?” she asked. She needed to be strong, she told herself. Stronger than she had ever been before. This was going to be the hardest thing that she had ever done in her life, which she found rather ironic. The emotions she was going to be feeling in a few hours was going to be gut wrenching, but she had to pull herself together. Push herself further than ever.
Anger started to swell up within her. Anger at herself for feeling this way. Anger at herself for letting this happen to her in the first place. Anger at the man that had killed her, and buried her in the woods. She suddenly realized that the emotions that were making her weak were gone. Anger was the key her she told herself, but just enough so that she could make it through this. Just enough so that she could complete the task at hand. That was when she remembered Fred’s warning about becoming too anger and frustrated, and losing herself. She thought back to how anger had affected Lady Annabelle, and Sebastian, but she also remembered how Sebastian could interact with the physical world. She would have to find that happy medium. Somewhere right in between all the anger and the humanity that she had not yet lost.
“When he was burying me.”
“Jesus,” Jackson replied, suddenly being punched in the gut with his own emotions. “You had to watch that?”
Lilly nodded her head.
“Do you remember anything else he did to you?”
“I remember seeing him in the park, when I was out running. I tried to catch his dog for him and I think he hit me in the side of the head with something. When I came to, I was in the woods.”
“Well, that’s something at least.”
“I guess,” Lilly replied.
A few hours later, and with Jackson bugging her about her parents the whole time, they pulled up in front of Lilly’s house. “I don’t get it,” Lilly said, looking up to the sky. “The golden light is much brighter, but it still seems a long way away.”
“Maybe he doesn’t live around here,” Jackson offered. “Does it still seem like it’s further north from here?” he asked, taking out the map.
“I guess,” Lilly answered. “I had never seen that guy before, so it would make sense that he’s not from around here.”
“Wanna go in?”
Lilly looked to her house, as the flood of emotions she had been holding back creeped a few inches forward. She wanted to see her parents more than anything, but without being able to speak to them, or hold them in her arms, she didn’t really see the point. As she continued to stare at her house, she noticed that her parent’s car wasn’t even in the driveway. “What time is it?”
“It’s about elven.”
“In the afternoon?
“Yeah, in the afternoon. Can’t you see the sun and blue skies?”
“No, Purgatory is quite different,” Lilly answered. “Doesn’t look like anyone’s home. I wonder where they could be?”
“I hate to say but, it’s been a few days since they…brought you back home. They could be having your funeral.”
“Head north,” Lilly said. “For me, the sky is always filled with fast moving dark clouds. There’s no sun. No moon. It’s like an eerie shadow has been cast over the world. Have you ever been outside during a solar eclipse?”
Jackson nodded his head. “Yeah, I always thought the sight of the sun disappearing like that was real spooky.”
“Welcome to my world.”
It didn’t take very long, before they pulled up to a small country side cemetery. Cars lined the narrow road. A large group of people could be seen gathered around a grave site near the rear of the cemetery. Jackson found a parking spot and got out of the car and leaned against the front fender, and lit a cigarette.
“Do you see your parents” Jackson asked.
Lilly spotted her parents standing next to a casket, as it was being lowered into the ground. Her mother had on dark sunglasses, but Lilly could tell that she was crying. Her father stood next to her, stone faced, his arm draped around his wife for support.
“You want to head in?” Jackson asked, again.
“You’re so lucky I’m dead, or I’d punch you right it the nose,” Lilly replied, leaning up against the car next to him. “If I thought going into my house was going to be weird, standing next to my parents during my own funeral is truly demented.”
“Point taken,” Jackson said, taking in a long drag from his cigarette. “You’d really punch me in the face?”
“What do you think,” Lilly responded, flashing him a quick smile.
They waited about twenty minutes for the crowd of people to leave. Lilly’s parents stayed behind for a few extra minutes, before making their way back to their car. Jackson gave them a slight wave as they drove past him. Flicking his third cigarette butt off to the side, Jackson began to walk toward the grave yard. “What are you doing?” Lilly called out to him, staying by the car. He didn’t answer. Lilly waited by the car for a few seconds, before throwing her arms up in annoyance, and rushing after Jackson.
When she finally caught up to him, he was standing right where she had feared he would be. In front of her grave stone. It was made out of a reddish granite, with flakes of clear crystal.The inscription read: Lilly Barnes. Beloved Daughter. Fly free in Heaven.
Placed on top of the fresh earth was a bundle of Lilies, her favorite flower. Tears started stream down her cheeks. She didn’t think that seeing her grave stone would have brought about so many emotions, seeing how she already knew that she was dead, and had been so for some time now.
“I kinda figured that you might have needed this,” Jackson said, moving a few inches closer toward Lilly. “I’d give you hug, but you know.”
“I know,” Lilly replied. “But it’s the thought that counts,” she added, wiping her tears away, and flashing a fake smile.
Jackson looked around and saw a handful of people milling about the area. “Is it me, or is that guys color off?” he asked, lowering his sunglasses. He was looking at an elderly man, dressed in a black suit and wearing an old leather pilot’s helmet.
“That’s because he’s dead,” Lilly answered.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Lilly replied. “That’s Mr. Morris. He was a World War two fighter pilot. He died when I was a kid. I remember the town had a parade for him and everything.”
“Explains the leather skull cap.”
The old man looked in the direction of Lilly and Jackson, as the two men’s eyes met. “Can you see me?” the old man yelled out.
“Shit!” Jackson blurted out. “Time to go.”
“Hey, he can see us!” the old man yelled out to the other spirits lingering about. They all began to surge toward Lilly’s grave stone.
“Run!” Jackson yelled, as he was already in motion, and not waiting to see if Lilly was following. The young girl almost didn’t make it fully through the car door, before Jackson stepped on the gas and sped away from the mob of spirits.
* * *
They had been driving for almost another hour. The golden glow in the sky keeping them on a northerly course. “It’s so bright now,” Lilly said, looking up through the windshield.
“What are you seeing?”
“It’s like a giant golden spot light shining straight up into the sky.”
“Like the Bat Signal?”
Lilly shrugged her shoulders. “I guess.”
“Turn here,” Lilly instructed.
Jackson turned the car onto a long dirt road. They passed a large cow farm, and then a large field of corn, before an old farm house sitting on a large empty parcel of land, came into view.
“There!” Lilly said, pointing at the house. “That’s it!” Lilly could see a golden beam of bright light shining directly on the farm house, encompassing the majority of it.
“Are you sure?” Jackson asked, looking around, and feeling rather vulnerable out in the middle of nowhere. “Doesn’t look like anyone’s home.”
“Oh, I’m sure this is the place,” Lilly replied, following the bright beam of light all the way up into the clouds.
Jackson looked into his rear-view mirror and saw an old motor home coming down the road behind him. He pulled into the house’s drive way in order to let the motor home pass by. His throat dropped into his stomach, when the motor home pulled in right behind him and honked its horn.
“Fuck!” Jackson said, pulling his car ahead just a little more so that the motor home could make it around him. The motor home pulled in front of him and stopped abruptly, as Mark Karle quickly got out and started to approach his window. “High there,” Jackson greeted, rolling down his window.
“Something I can help you with?” Mark asked, bending down to take a good look inside of the car.
Lilly looked Mark Karle right in the eyes, as the strong smell of Old Spice assaulted her nose. She found herself frozen with fear, as images of her dead body in that shallow grave flooded her undead mind. She wanted to scream out at the top of her lungs. Leap across Jackson’s lap and punch Mark right in the face, but she found herself unable to move, as she pulled her knees up to her chest, and started breathing heavily.
Jackson knew right away, that this was the guy that had killed Lilly. Man, he was big. He had hoped that Lilly would have had a plan, but judging by her current emotional state, he was going to have to think of something on his own, and fast. He really needed to stop doing things on the fly.
“What are you doing in my driveway?”
Jackson grabbed the road map, and began to unfold it. “Sorry sir,” he began, looking at the map, and trying to find something close by. “Trying to find my way back to the highway. US 127. Had to take a piss so I got off, and then, you know, had to find a secluded place, but I think I must have made a wrong turn somewhere.”
“Why don’t you use your cell phone?” the big man asked, motioning toward the phone resting in the center council.
“Forgot to pay my bill, so it’s been shut off,” Jackson lied, looking toward the phone, and then to Lilly, who’s demeanor hadn’t changed. “Can you help a brother out?”
Mark eyed Jackson hard for a few awkward moments, before telling him how to get to the highway. “And don’t pull into my driveway again,” Mark warned. “I don’t care too much for trespassers.”
“No prob lem oh,” Jackson responded, putting his car into reverse, and backing out of the driveway. As he drove off, Jackson kept an eye on Mark, who kept his own eye on Jackson, until he was out of sight. A few miles down the road, and when he was sure that Mark wasn’t following him, he pulled the car over. “So that was him, huh?”
Lilly didn’t answer, as her eyes were fixed straight ahead. Her stare was a million miles away, and her body shivered, just slightly.
“Lilly!” Jackson exclaimed, snapping his fingers in front of her face.
Lilly’s eyes blinked a few times, which seemed to bring her out of her trance. “I’m sorry,” she managed to say, as her breathing began to slow. “I don’t know what just happened. I didn’t think it was going to be…like that.”
“What’d you expect it was going to be like?” Jackson asked, taking out a cigarette and lighting it. “The guy killed you and buried you in the woods for Christ sakes. I think you acted the way any normal person would have, given the situation.”
“But I’m not normal, remember. I’m a ghost.”
“That’s right, and you need to remember that. He can’t hurt you anymore, so you don’t have anything to be afraid of,” he told her, flicking some ashes out of the window. “Now, me on the other hand.”
“We need to do something, before he kills another girl,” Lilly stated.
“I agree, but what can we do?”
“We should go to the cops,” Lilly suggested.
“No way in fucking hell,” Jackson responded. “I’m not going through that again. Besides, we don’t know anything about that guy, other than he killed you, and I’m not telling anybody that I see ghosts again. Sorry, but I can’t. That last cop was this close to throwing me in the looney bin,” he added, showing Lilly a very small space between his thumb and pointer finger.
“Then you need to take care of him,” Lilly told him.
“Take care of him? Did you not see how big that guy was?”
“Can’t you get a gun or something?”
Jackson gave Lilly a shocked expression. “I’m not going to do that. I don’t care what he did, I’m not going to kill someone.”
“You don’t have to kill him. Just shoot him in the leg or something, and then call the cops.”
“And they’re going to do what? Unless you’ve got some physical evidence or something else that the police can actually use, all you’ve got is me shooting a guy for no good reason, which ends with me going to prison.”
“No good reason?” Lilly asked.
“Don’t do that,” Jackson retorted. “You know what I mean.”
“I know,” Lilly confessed. “I’m just so…frustrated right now! I mean he’s right there!”
“I get it, really I do, but unless we do this the smart way, we got nothing, which means he’ll just skate if we go in halfcocked.”
“If you’ve got any suggestions, I’m all ears,” Lilly replied.
Jackson flicked his cigarette out of the window. “First, we need to find out this guy’s name, for starters. And you said that he took a piece of your hair, right.”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“That’s called physical evidence. That is the one thing that links him to you,” Jackson told her. “He would have a lot explaining to do if the cops could find that anywhere near this house.”
“And how are we supposed to find that?”
“Not we, you,” Jackson said.
“Me! Why me?”
“Because you’re the ghost, not me. He can’t see you, or hurt you.”
Lilly let out a loud breath, as her left leg started to bounce up and down. “I don’t know…”
“Hey, you got this.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then you’re going to end up like old man Morris, back there. Turning all gray and shit and wandering around your grave.”
* * *
Lilly had walked the few miles back to Mark Karle’s house by herself. She had followed the road, which she knew was the long way, instead of cutting through the fields and small wooded areas that surround the old two story farm house, but she needed time to think. Was she really going to go into that house? The house of the man that had killed her. The man that had probably done other things, that she didn’t want to think about. For the first time, she was thankful that she had never woken back up.
She concentrated on the words that Jackson had spoken to her, back in the car. Words that resonated through her undead mind. You’re dead, remember? He can’t see you, which means that he can’t hurt you. She knew that what he had said made sense, but that didn’t mean that it made this walk any easier.
She slowly made her way up the driveway, but didn’t see the motor home anywhere. Maybe had left? Then she saw the tire tracks going around to the back of the house, and followed them, until she found the old RV parked out of sight behind the house. She heard a strange whining noise coming from underneath it, and bent down to see what it was. The yellow lab that she had seen in the park, came charging out of the darkness beneath the motor home. The dog growled and barked at Lilly, causing her to fall backwards, as the young girl saw that the dog was chained up to the frame of the vehicle.
“You can’t hurt me,” she told the dog, moving forward and swiping her hand out toward the dog. The dog stopped barking and gave Lilly a curious look, when her hand passed right through him.
Lilly looked up toward the second story of the house. That was a woman’s voice she had just heard. She stood up and made her way toward the back door of the house. The dog, starting barking again, but she ignored him, as she came to stand directly in front of the old wooden door leading into the back of house. “You can do this,” she told herself. “He’s just like the dog. He can’t hurt you.” She took a deep breath and walked through the door.
The first thing that hit her was the horrid smell of shit. Just inside of the back door was a small enclosed back porch, which was full of bags that contained used adult diapers. Lilly saw another door, on the other side of the porch and ran through it as fast as she could. The inside of the house didn’t smell much better. The scent of feces wasn’t as bad, but it was still there, this time it was mixed with mildew, and…she wasn’t sure what the other smells were, but she found herself standing in the kitchen, and judging by the pile of unwashed dishes, in the sink, and stacked up around it, as well as the over following trash can, she had a good feeling where the other smells were coming from.
“Marky! God damn it! I heard you come home.”
Lilly made her way through the kitchen and into the living room, where she found all of the walls filled with pictures of a young, pretty blonde girl. The golden beam of light shined through all of the windows, almost blinding Lilly, when she turned at certain angles. She found the stairs leading up to the second floor, and found the same young girl’s face staring at her, as she passed picture after picture. She suddenly felt like she knew why she had been chosen.
She made her way down the long hallway, past more pictures of the same girl, until she came to the door, where she was sure that the voice had come from. She swore that she could feel her heart threatening to beat out of her chest, but she knew that was impossible, but still that feeling of fear was there.
The sound of the voice made her jump.
“Just a minute,” came the voice of Mark Karle from somewhere down stairs. The sound of his voice made her jump even more, as her breathing started to rapidly increase.
“You can do this,” she said to herself, using the most confident tone she could muster. “You have to do this.” She took several steps forward and walked into the room. She found Norma Karle laying in her bed. There was shit filled diaper on the floor, as well as a pile of sheets and blankets, that were all smeared with shit. Her hair was unkempt, and full of knots, and her eyes had an almost wild like look to them.
“You shouldn’t be here,” a voice said from behind her. It was a feminine voice, which made Lilly feel a little bit better, but if the voice was talking to her, that could mean only one thing. Lilly slowly turned around and found a girl, about her own age, staring back at her. They were almost identical in both height and weight. The girl standing before her was dressed in a black tee shirt, which was several sizes too big for her, so it hung below her crotch. On the front of the shirt was the movie poster for the movie Tron. She had on a pair of underwear, which were as gray as her skin.
Lilly swallowed hard, and took a step back. Judging by her color, she had been stuck here for a while.
“You need to leave now.”
“I…I can’t,” Lilly answered.
“You have to,” the ghost argued. “You must go and bring back help. He…he has new girl in the basement.”
The ghost of the girl nodded.
The ghost led Lilly down to the basement. As soon as they set foot upon the cold concrete floor, the door at the far end of the basement opened, and Mark Karle came rushing out toward them. Lilly moved out of the way, as the big man passed through the ghost of the girl, and raced up the stairs. The ghost stared at Lilly and pointed toward the door. Lilly took several deep breaths, and walked through it.
The room on the other side of the door measured about ten feet by ten feet. A long, bright, LED shop light hung from the ceiling, making the room almost blindingly bright. The floor was concrete, like the rest of the basement, expect that this room had a small metal drain cover in the middle of the floor. The walls and ceiling were covered with thick white foam panels, making the room virtually sound proof. There was a large ornate chair in the closest corner off to Lilly’s right. It looked like one of those big wooden chairs that a priest might sit in during a catholic mass. In the far corner to her left she found Mark’s newest toy. She was laying on an old piss stained mattress, and appeared to be asleep. She was naked, as the day she was born. Around her right ankle, was a large metal cuff, which was attached to a large black chain. The other end of the chain was attached to a large metal hoop, which was embedded into the concrete floor.
“Her name is Norma Jean.”
“He just brought her here today, didn’t he?” Lilly asked, remembering when Mark had pulled up behind Jackson’s car in the driveway earlier. “I have to help her!” Lilly exclaimed, rushing to the young girl’s side. She tried to grab the metal cuff, but grew angry when her hands passed through the metal.
“You can’t,” the ghost told her.
“But I have too,” Lilly cried.
“You know you can’t.”
“Wait!” Lilly said, getting to her feet and rushing toward the door. “I’ve got a friend waiting for me outside! He’s alive, but he can see spirits like us. I can have him call the police. We can save her! And then with her safe, and him in jail, we can leave Purgatory!”
“But what about the others?”
“What others?” Lilly asked.
“There are five of us trapped in this hell because of him. If your friend can do what you’re saying that he can, then only the two of us will witness his downfall, only two of us will have completed our unfinished business, and only two of us will be able to cross over.
“What will happen to the other three?”
“They’ll be forced to stay in Purgatory until the End of Days. But, if you can find them, and bring them back with you, we can all cross over together.”
“What about her?” Lilly asked, fearing for Mark’s newest toy. She couldn’t possibly fathom all of the things he would do to the young girl.
“He will keep her alive for at least a couple of months, maybe longer, if she’s strong.”
“How do you now all of this?”
“Because I was his first,” the ghost said, walking through the door and disappearing from sight.
Lilly looked back and stared at the unconscious girl, and started to cry. She didn’t want to leave her here. She didn’t want to leave her with him, but if the ghost of the girl was right, she had some time before he decided to bury her somewhere, like he had done with her. Her thoughts drifted back to Lady Annabella, and to how long she had been forced to stay in Purgatory, and then to the lengths she had gone to just to be able to leave. Lilly didn’t want to wish that fate on to anyone, and if there was a chance for all of this bastard’s victims to cross over, and to be free from this hell, then she owed it to them to at least try.
Lilly ran out of the room and followed the ghost of Mark Karle’s first victim. She led her upstairs to his room. When Lilly walked through the door, she found the other ghost standing in front of small wooden desk. The contents laid upon its surface were neat and orderly. A dispenser of clear tape. A stapler. An old laptop, which was seated in the middle of the desk, but near the back. And in front of the lap top was a simple, black in color, photo album.
Lilly came to stand next to the girl, as the spirit reached out and flipped the photo album open to its first page. There, in between a sheet of clear plastic, was a missing poster of the girl standing next to Lilly. Her name was Tracy Lafond. The date on the missing poster was July Seventeenth, Nineteen Ninety-Eight.
The sound of the door chime went off, telling Tracy that another customer had entered the gas station. She looked up from the magazine she was reading and saw a man in his early thirties perusing the candy aisle. He was a big guy, kind of muscular, with brown hair and a matching mustache. She looked out toward the gas pumps and spotted a shiny black Buick Grand National sports car. The man had been in the store a few times before, a Tracy would always catch him staring at her.
The man picked up a candy bar, and then made his way to the beer cooler, where he grabbed a case of Budweiser. He placed them on the counter, and gave Tracy a flashy smile.
“Hey,” Tracy said. “Is that your car?”
“Yeah,” the man answered, taking out his wallet. “Like it?”
“Hell yeah,” Tracy answered. “I bet its fast.”
“Sure is,” the man said, placing a twenty-dollar bill on the counter. “Are you?”
Tracy gave him a coy smile. She didn’t really have any friends. Everyone thought she was a little weird, but boys were still boys, and they would fuck the weird ones too, as long as no one ever found out. “Sometimes.”
“My names Mark,” the man said, extending his right hand and introducing himself.
“Tracy.” She shook his hand, and felt a small electric shock when their fingers touched.
“I can take you for a ride whenever you’d like,” Mark told her, motioning toward his car.
“You gonna drink all of those beers by yourself?” she asked.
“Was planning on it, unless you want me to save you some,” Mark said, with an inviting smile.
“I get off work at Eight,” Tracy told him, handing him his change
Mark picked up the change and slid it into his pocket. “Pick you up then,” he said. He started to walk away, but stop when Tracy called out to him.
“Don’t forget your beer,” she said. “And pick me up around the corner.”
Tracy howled. As she felt the wind upon her face. The speedometer of Mark’s Grand National hit ninety miles an hour, as the car raced down a long country road. Tracy opened her fifth beer, and took a long drink, before howling again. She loved the feel of adrenaline that a rush like this always brought her, though things like this were few and far between, and she could honestly say that she had never done anything so adventurous as this. Fucking dumb high school boy in the woods out behind her house was one thing, but offering herself to a grown adult was something totally different, and she liked it.
Mark turned the car down a small two track trail leading into the woods, and parked the car when they were out of sight of the road. He had barely put the car in park, when Tracy took her pants off and climbed on to his lap. She stuck her tongue in his mouth, as she felt his hands wandering all over her body.
“I want you to fuck me,” Tracy whispered into his ear, as she slid her hand down to his crotch. She found that Mark wasn’t hard yet. She undid his jeans and started to stroke him off, but after a minutes, there wasn’t any change. “What the fuck,” she said, taking her hand out of his pants and straightening up.
“Sorry,” Mark said, feeling embarrassed. “Not sure why this is happening.”
Tracy moved off his lap and started to give him a blow job, and could feel his cock started to get hard. Tracy kept sucking for a few more minutes, before climbing back on to Mark’s lap. She pulled her underwear off to the side and slipped his cock inside her. “What the fuck!” she said again, as she felt Mark going soft. “Are you gay or something?” she asked.
“What?” Mark asked.
“Are you gay?” she asked again, this time in a slow mocking voice.
“NO!” answered Mark offensively.
“Then why won’t you fuck me? Why can’t you get it up you little bitch?” She was drunk and mad, but for some reason started to laugh out loud uncontrollably.
Tracy’s head snapped back, as Mark punched her in the face. She could feel her warm blood pouring from her nose and running across her lips, as the taste the iron filled her mouth. Her world began to spin out of control. She tried to climb off of Mark, but he grabbed a hand full of her hair, with his left hand, and pulled her head backwards. She saw the reflection of light on the steel blade of a knife that was now holding in his right hand.
A piercing pain erupted from her chest, as Mark plunged the knife into her. She screamed out in pain, as he pulled the blade from her chest, only to stab her over and over again. Tracy saw her blood spraying against Mark’s face, but he didn’t seem to care. His face was so twisted with anger, as he continued to stab her again, and again, over and over. Tracy felt her life leaving her. She closed her eyes and the darkness took her.
Tracy found herself standing next to Mark in the back yard of some old farm house. He was standing at the lip of a deep hole, which he had dug, near the end of the property. Picking up a shovel, Mark started to quickly fill the hole from a large pill of dirt.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Tracy asked, but Mark ignored her. “Hey! I’m talking to you!” she yelled, stepping up to Mark and giving him a hard shove. “What the…” she said, watching her hands pass right through him. The young girl just started at her hands in disbelief, before looking into the hole. Tracy screamed out loud, and fell to her knees, when she saw her own face staring up at her, from behind several layers of clear plastic.
Mark finished filling in the hole, and smoothed the dirt out around the area. Tracy, still sitting where she had fallen, watched through tearful eyes, as Mark disappeared into the garage, only to reappear carrying a red gas can. He walked over to his car, which was parked in the field next to the yard. He opened the doors, and poured the contents of the gas can all over the interior of the car, leaving just a little, so that he could pour a trail away from the car. Reaching into his pocket, Mark pulled out a book of matches. Striking the red top of the match against the black, rough strip on the back of the match book, he brought the match to life and ignited the entire book. He watched it burn for a few seconds, before tossing it down upon the gas trial, which whooshed to life, and sped off toward the black car.
Tracy watched Mark stand there for several hours, watching the flames of the burning car. She could still see her blood smeared all across his face and hands, in the reflection of the fire’s light, before he simply walked into the house, as if nothing at ever happened.
* * *
“He’s been killing girls for that long?” Lily asked, seeing the date on the missing poster.
“No,” Tracy answered, “I was his first, and his last for a while. I tried my best during those first few years to bring him to justice, for what he did, but I could figure out a way to do it. He had so much rage built up within him, I figured that it wouldn’t take long for him to kill again, and then maybe I could do something then, but he never did. I think me making fun of him that night pushed him over the edge. He released all of his anger onto me, allowing him to move on and live a regular life, for the most part. He moved around a bit, and I followed him everywhere. Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta. He never hurt anyone else. Then his father died, and he had to come home and take care of his mother. She can be a real handful. It wasn’t until she started acting out, that he started killing again.”
“How long did it take them to find you?” Lilly asked. “It took them six months to find me.”
Tracy didn’t say anything, as she moved to the bedroom window. Lilly could see a single tear running down the dead girl’s gray cheek.
“They never found you, did they?”
Tracy solemnly shook her head, wiping away the tear.
“Do you know where you’re buried?”
The young girl pointed out the window. Lilly followed Tracey’s finger, and saw a stone bird bath near the end of the yard.
“I tried to stop him. I made his dog get all riled up and jump on his lap when he was behind the new girl, in his RV. He crashed into the back of her by accident. I thought that that might have scared him off, but he…”
“You did the best you could, given the circumstances,” Lilly said, trying to comfort the girl, who she knew was blaming herself. “Did you feel compelled to stay with…you know…your body?”
Tracy didn’t answered. Moving away from the window, she returning to the scrap book. “Remember their names,” she said flipping the next page. Lilly saw a missing person’s flier for a girl named Jessica Watkins. Her resemblance to the two girls looking at her picture was uncanny. She was from Sault Ste-Marie Michigan, and went missing on December sixth, two thousand and fifteen. Tracy stared at Jessica’s smiling face. “And he’s become good at covering his tracks. He only takes one girl, once a year. He always takes them from one place, and buries them in another, and he never does anything anywhere near here, except for me,” she added, turning the next page of the scrap book.
Allison Murphey was on the third page. She was seventeen when she went missing. She had long blonde hair, like the rest of them. She was from Boonville, Indiana.
The last girl that Lilly would have to find was named, Laura Elliott. She was from Oak Hill Ohio, and like the rest of them, was young and had long blonde hair.
“Flip the next page,” Lilly said, after seeing Tracy remove her fingers from the book. She knew whose picture was next, but she still needed to see it.
Tracy flipped the next page, as Lilly gazed upon her own picture. She heard the sound of heavy footsteps approaching, as Mark burst through the door. Lilly froze, as fear’s grip tightened around her. The smell of Old Spice, filled the room, as Lilly fought to breath.
“He can’t hurt you,” Tracy told her, but it didn’t seem to help much.
Mark reached under his bed and pulled out the wooden box, that held his trophies. His fingers were visibly shaking, as he lifted the lid and peered inside. Lilly could see a bright golden light emanating from inside of the box, making it impossible for her to see its contents, but she had a feeling she knew what it contained. Mark closed the lid and returned the box to its hiding place. He turned to leave, but stopped when he saw the open scrap book on his desk. He gave it an odd look, which he held for several long seconds, before closing the book and rushing back out of the room.
Lilly started to have second thoughts about going out and trying to find the ghosts of the other girls. Maybe it was because she wanted to end this now, once and for all. Or maybe it was because of the new girl in the basement, and the things that she knew Mark was going to do to her. She wanted nothing more than to just cross over and be done with this whole ordeal. But then she wondered what the other girls must have gone through, before Mark had lost interest in them. What they had gone through in trying to complete their own unfinished business. Did she deserve to cross over any more than the others? No, she told herself. They all did. And she was going to do everything in her power to see that they all got their happily ever after. “How do I find them?”
“I’m not sure,” Tracy confessed. “They all made their way here eventually. Guided by their light. But after a while their frustration got the better of them, and they moved on from this place. You might want to start where they were taken from.”