Follow the light
“What the hell was that?” Lilly asked, once everything returned to normal. She turned toward Fred when he didn’t answer, and became a little perturbed when she spotted the Reaper hastily leaving the room. When she finally caught up to him, Fred was standing in front of the elevators again. “What was that back there?” she asked again, just as the elevator doors opened.
“What?” asked Fred, stepping in and waiting for Lilly to do the same.
Lilly followed the Reaper into the elevator car, and just gave him an evil stare.
“Oh, that,” Fred replied. “That was Mr. Jennings getting his just deserts. Nothing to get…”
“My panties in a bunch?”
“I was gonna say, all riled up about, but whatever works for you.”
“And that thing?”
“Dagon? He’s a Demon,” Fred answered, as the elevator doors opened.
Fred opened a door that had a sigh, which read: Roof Access, on it and stepped through. He held it open for a second, allowing the young girl to follow. “Didn’t they teach you anything in Sunday school?” Fred asked, reaching a metal ladder that reached up to a trap door in the ceiling.
“Yeah, but I didn’t actually think it was real.”
“Oh, it’s real,” Fred replied. “Heaven, Hell, Angel, Demons, Ghosts, and Purgatory,” he added, motioning around them as he said Purgatory. “Good people go up, and bad people go down. It’s the circle of life.”
“But a Demon,” she said, slowly shaking her head in disbelief.
“What? Dagon? He’s really a nice guy under the…chainmail and flesh pants. Yeah, now that I say it out loud, I can see where you’re coming from,” Fred remarked. “I mean, deep down, he’s got a really big heart. Now, don’t get me wrong, he is a Demon, and will flay the skin from your bones without thinking twice about it, but other than that, real solid kinda guy.” he added, pounding his fist against his chest a few times. Without saying another word, he climbed up the ladder and opened the trap door to the hospital’s roof, and disappeared from Lilly’s sight.
The young dead girl blew out a sigh of frustration and began to climb the ladder. When she found Fred, he was standing before a small wall, which served as the roof’s protective edge. He was staring off into the distance.
“What’s that!” Lilly asked, coming to stand next to the Reaper and pointing at a bright golden light on the horizon. She had no idea where the source of the bright light was, but she felt that it was really far away. She noticed that the sky was still the same as it had been when she first appeared in the clearing, but it didn’t seem to matter, as the golden ray of light held her complete attention.
“That is your unfinished business,” the Reaper answered.
“And what’s my unfinished business?”
“How the hell am I supposed to know? It’s your unfinished business, not mine,” Fred responded, taking out his watch and checking the time. “Look, everyone’s unfinished business if different. Maybe you need to say good bye to someone special, or something like that.”
She thought about the Reaper’s words for a moment. She had always had a great relationship with her parents. There weren’t any secrets, or anything she had regretted doing or saying to them.
“No?” Fred asked. “Nothing there?”
Lilly shook her head. “I don’t think so.”
“Well, what’s the one thing that’s really gnawing at you right now. The one thing you really feel like you need to do?”
Lilly thought about it, as she reached up and began to play with her hair. Then it hit her like a ton of bricks. Her hair. “It ticks me off that that guy killed me and just buried me in the woods like I was garbage.”
“Your killer took a piece of you, didn’t he?” Fred asked, touching the area of Lilly’s hair, where the strand had been cut and taken as a trophy. “He can’t hide what’s not his. Follow the light and you’ll find him.”
“And what is it that I’m supposed to do when I find him?” Lilly asked.
“Bring him to justice. Make him pay for what he did to you,” Fred answered.
“But I’m a ghost! No one can see or hear me, remember? How am I supposed to do that?”
“You’re a smart girl, I’m sure you can figure it out, but you need to be quick about it,” Fred warned, putting his watch back in his pocket.
“The longer your spirit remains in Purgatory, the more frustrated you’re sure to become, and with frustration comes anger. Stay angry for too long and you’ll forget what it was that you were meant to do, and then you’ll be stuck here forever,” Fred warned. “And don’t be fooled by the perception of time either,” the Reaper added. “It’s not the same as before. Remember your time in the woods?”
“And how am I supposed to get there?”
“Beats me,” Fred said shrugging his shoulders. “Take the bus, hitch a ride, ask some who cares. Now you better get going,” the Reaper added, picking Lilly up from behind and tossing her off the roof. “Clock’s a ticking.”
Lilly had never screamed so loud in her life. The sensation of falling from eight stories high was almost too over whelming for her. The wind whipped at her hair. A sensation of adrenaline coursing through her veins filled her head. The pit of her stomach made its way to her throat. She flailed her arm and legs about, and somehow managed to spin around and was facing the sky above, as she fell. The only thing missing was the beating of her heart, as it threatened to explode from her chest. Then she hit the ground, and the ride was over. Lilly stared up at the sky, which hadn’t changed since her death.
The young girl picked herself up off of the ground, and instinctively brushed herself off. That fall should have killed her, she told herself, amazed that she didn’t even have a scratch on her. Then she remembered that she was already dead. She looked up to the roof and found that the Reaper was gone, leaving her alone once more. It could be worse, she thought. She could still be attached to her dead body. The thought of her decaying corpse made her shiver. She looked around and wondered what she was supposed to do next.
She needed to head toward the light, that’s what Fred had told her. Toward her unfinished business. That was the only way for her to get out of Purgatory, but which way did she need to go? From the roof of the hospital she could see the bright golden dot of light quite easily, even though it was a long way away, but on the ground, and surrounded by buildings, her sense of direction was off. She couldn’t even tell which was north or south, due to there not being any sun in the sky. She looked back toward the top of the building. When she had been standing there, the dot of light had been almost directly ahead of her. She spun one hundred and eighty degrees on her heels and started walking.
Lilly headed toward the nearest street. Whatever city she was in, it seemed like an average size city. After a short walk, at least she thought it was a short walk, she found her way to what appeared to be the center of town. There were a handful of business, which all appeared to be closed. On the other side of the street was a bar, with loud music and bright lights emanating from its windows. A few blocks down the street, she found the Sheriff’s department.
She stood on the street looking at the old building, and wondered if the Detective had discovered anything new about her case yet. He had just left her at the morgue, so she didn’t think that he would have had time to come up with any new leads, at least she thought he had just left her. She remembered what Fred had said about time, and she decided to go in and see where he was at with her case.
Lilly walked up to the glass door of the Sheriff’s department and reached out for the large metal push handle, and became frustrated as her hand passed right through it. “You’re dead dummy,” she said to herself. She stood there for a while waiting for someone to open the door for her, but no one ever did. The thing about getting stuck at the bottom of an elevator shaft made her very hesitant about just walking through the door, but she couldn’t stay out here forever. Besides, she could see through this door, and knew that there wasn’t an elevator shaft waiting for her on the other side.
She took several confident steps toward the door and went to walk through, but stopped again. Reaching out her hand, she pushed it through the solid surface of the door, and stared in disbelief. She pulled it out and looked at her hand, as if inspecting it for damage. She shrugged her shoulders and went to step through, but stopped once again. She moved as close to the door as she could, without touching it. Taking in a deep breath, and holding the air in her lungs, she slowly pushed just her head through the door. Look before you leap, she thought. Her head was about half way through the door, when a large, male, Sheriff’s Deputy opened the door and walked out of the building, and walked through Lilly in the process.
“Whoa!” she exclaimed, as her body rippled out of control for a few seconds, before regaining its composer. She took a few long strides forward, and found herself in the lobby of the building. “Let’s not do that again,” she said to herself. On one of the walls of the lobby she found two large maps. One was for the City of Laflamme, which she guessed was the city that she was in. The other was a map of the state of Ohio. “I’m in Ohio!” she yelled rather loudly.
She immediately cupped her hand over mouth and looked around. There was a Sargent, sitting behind the welcome desk. She stared at him, waiting for him to look her way and tell her to quiet down, but he never did. Looking back at the map of Ohio, she saw that the City of Laflamme was on the east side of the state, near the Indiana border, and was just shy of what she would consider to be the halfway through the state.
She made her way toward the secured door, leading from the front lobby to the actual police department. She thought about waiting for someone to open this door, but decided against it, and walked through the door without any hesitation.
Lilly wandered aimlessly through the building. Not ever having been in a police department before, she really didn’t know what she was looking for. She saw a sign on the wall next to a wooden door, which read: Detail Room. She stepped through the door and found a long table filled with Sheriff’s Deputies seated around it. There was a Sergeant at the head of the table flipping through some paperwork, while the rest of the Officers talked amongst themselves. Lilly looked around the room and didn’t recognize any of them, from her own crime scene, so she decided to continue her search.
Eventually she found the Detective Bureau. Detective Brandt was who she needed to find, she reminded herself, as she checked each office. The area seemed void of life, so she checked each name placard on the doors, until she found Brandt’s office. The door was closed, so she couldn’t tell if anyone was actually on the other side or not. She placed an ear close to the door and listened, trying her best to eavesdrop on any sounds that might let her know if the Detective was there. Then she remembered that she was dead, and that no one could see her, so she walked through the door.
Detective Brandt’s office was a lot smaller than Lilly had expected it to be. There was a small desk against one wall, which sat next to an even smaller window. There was a large stack of paper work, in the middle of what the young girl could only describe as clutter. On the top of the pile was a file which read: Jane Doe. She instinctively reached out and tried to pick up the file, but grew frustrated when her fingers simply passed through the paperwork. She blew out a depressing sigh, as a wall of photographs caught her attention. They were all black and white, eight by ten sized, and taped to the wall. She took a few steps toward the wall of photos and saw that they were from her crime scene. A cold shiver ran down her spine, as she turned away from the grizzly reminders of her demise. That’s when the sound of laughter pulled her attention from the office.
Lilly stepped out into the hallway and listened. After several minutes of silence, she heard it again. It was laughter alright, but it was no laughter she had ever heard before. It came in short bursts, and was filled with insanity. Probably some crazy drunk laying half unconscious in a jail cell, she told herself, laughing in their sleep, but for some reason she felt compelled to find its source. It was as if the sound was taunting her to seek it out.
She had no idea how long she had searched for the source of the crazy laughter, but she found herself standing in front of a door, which lead to the department’s basement. The laughter resounded throughout the building once more, filling her ears, and almost pulled her through the door. This was the part of the scary movie, where her heart beat would start to increase at the anticipation of something jumping out and making her scream, except, just like when she had been tossed off the roof of the hospital, her dead heart didn’t make a sound. She hated watching those movies, but found that she couldn’t help herself. Then the irony hit her. She was in a real life scary movie, and she was the one walking up the stairs, when she should be running from the house.
On the other side of the door she found a metal staircase, which lead her to a long hallway. The floor was tiled in a yellowish color, with near matching tiles on the wall. The florescent lights hanging from the ceiling cast an eerie glow about the hall. There were several doors on each side of the hall, but it was the one at the end of the corridor that reproduced that cold shiver running down her spine. The door was solid metal, and had been painted a peach color. Before she knew it, she was standing in front of the door, wondering what laid beyond.
“This is ridiculous,” she told herself, saying that it was ok if she didn’t go any further. The demented laugh echoed out from behind the door, as the light above her flickered briefly. She blew out a loud breath and passed through the door. Before her was a hallway about twenty feet long. On both sides of the hall were four iron barred cells. Four old lightbulbs rested above her, on the ceiling, with the last one appearing to have been burnt out, allowing the last two cells to be covered in shadows.
The first two cells where filled with an assortment of old, dust covered boxes, as were the next two. Lilly slowly walked down the hall, imagining that at some point in the building’s history, these cells would have been filled with people. The next set of cells, were identical to the first set. Cells five and six were packed with old desks, chairs, and file cabinets. Lilly reached the end of the hall and looked to the cell on her right first. It was just like the others, filled with old things that no one deemed useful anymore. She turned to face the cell on her left and saw only darkness. The cell appeared to be empty, for the front half of the cell was dimly lit from the sparse light from the hall, but the back portion of the cell was a veil of solid blackness.
Lilly took several small steps forward and stopped just inches away from the iron bars. For a brief moment, she thought that she saw some kind of movement from with the black void, but thought that it was imagination getting the better of her, but still she thought, the laughter had to have come from somewhere. “Hello?”
Two eyes blinked into existence against the black curtain in front of her. They were large white eyes, with bright blue pupils. They started at Lilly with an intensity that the young girl had never seen before. They narrowed briefly, filling with anger and resentment, before surging forth toward the bars, with a loud shrieking scream. The eyes belonged to a man, with gray faded skin, which had aged in an unnatural way. He was wearing a ragged black and white stripped jump suit, and Lilly could see a long, wide, black mark stretched across the man’s throat, almost like a bruise.
Lilly screamed out loud at the man’s sudden outburst, and instinctively jump backwards. She cried out in pain, when her body slammed into the iron bars of the cell behind her. To her disbelief, they were solid, stopping her momentum, but she had no idea why they had burned her. The three lightbulbs, illuminating the hallway, all burst at the same time, casting the holding area into pitch blackness. The ghost of the man in front of her hooted his craze filled laugh, as his eyes still shone brightly in the blackness. Lilly ran from the basement and the police department as fast as she could.