Aiden’s apartment was a gadget-geek’s heaven. Laptops, desktops, camera’s, and video editing material took up most of the living and dining room. There was a spot for a couch and a large flat screen TV that had two different console games and a computer hooked up to it. A bookshelf in what was supposed to be the dining room held cases of cameras, camcorders, and other equipment. An open drawer on a filing cabinet revealed a multitude of neatly coiled wires and cords for charging equipment. The man had driven the others to a strip mall where they had parked their cars and dropped them off before heading back to his own place. He had lugged in the equipment from the investigation at the asylum. Some items he put away after retrieving memory cards, other things were sitting next to a computer in the dining room. Then the tall investigator had gone to bed. Snow was sitting on the couch in the living room as Aiden slept in his bedroom. Cadence paced the apartment restlessly.
“And here I thought you had done a stakeout before,” Snow commented dryly after spending five minutes watching her pace back and forth.
“I’ve done plenty of them,” she retorted, her arms crossed across her chest as she walked.
“Then why on earth can’t you settle down?”
“Because on my stakeouts we watched for things, we didn’t just sit around and wait while the guy slept.”
“Now I’m sure that’s not true. A great deal of most stakeouts is simply waiting for some sign of the person you are watching.”
“Ugh, fine, whatever. I’m bored.”
“Well you know you could talk to me instead of storming back and forth around here.”
“About whatever is on your mind that has you so worked up. You wouldn’t have kept the rank of detective if you hadn’t been able to handle a stake out, Cadence. So that leads me to believe that something is troubling you other than simple boredom. You can talk to me Cadence. I’m not simply here to work cases with you. I’m here to help with your acclimation to this life as well.”
“You know, I was fine with all this back in the ghost world, or wherever it is we’re usually at. I was fine with it at the hospital, if mad at myself for not having total control over the Ruby situation. But this? I can’t do anything with any of this,” she said, gesturing helplessly at all of the technology. “No checking headlines or playing Angry Birds on my phone. No grabbing coffee or a snack.”
“No life,” Snow concluded. “And being here around all of this stuff is a stark reminder of what you’ve left behind.”
Cadence turned and looked at him for a moment then nodded. “Yeah,” she said and sank down to sit on the floor in front of the couch. “Yeah, no life.”
“I know this will sound trite, but I do understand. I’ve been there. I do remember.”
“How do you cope? How do you just sit around and not do anything?”
“Well, we are doing something.”
“We’re sitting in some guy’s living room. We’re haunting his apartment until he gets his ass up and we can see what he got from the hospital for evidence of a haunting.”
“Yes. There is that. But we’re also talking. That seems to be something that goes more and more by the wayside as years and technologies progress. People talk to each other and listen to each other less and less. I’ve gone around the streets lately, I’ve seen it. People sit in coffee shops and bars with other people, but their eyes and fingers are glued to those phones. Coincidentally, in a stunning turn of irony, they rarely use those phones to actually talk to people. Text message, play games, post those infernal status things on, yes. But to actually sit face to face and talk to someone or listen to them talk? It’s becoming a lost art form.
“That’s one reason you were so successful with Miss Jones. It’s an art form you actually have talent in. It’s an art form a lot of officers possess a talent in because they have to pick up on clues from speech and body language. They have to discern what people are really saying or when they are lying. And when we don’t have a case I’ll take you out and show you what we can do in our spare time. It’s not all sitting around back in the ghost world, as you called it. There are ways to keep up on what is going on in the living world. I promise you Cadence your life will not simply be about working or waiting in your new home to go to work. We’ll be able to do more but that will come in time as you get more settled.
“I believe there is more to your temper than simply being bored, however. I think you think you are trying to spare my feelings by not mentioning it but I am aware that I’m not your Mr. Halleran.” He held up a hand as she opened her mouth to protest. “No. When I started with my mentor, it was the same. He wasn’t the partner I was used to. The partner I’d spent so much time on the job with. It was difficult at first to not make comparisons. It was difficult to talk to him the same way I had with my old partner. You and I are virtually strangers Cadence, we met only yesterday. Now we may not know much about each other yet and we may not have the rapport that we each had with our previous partners, however, this is an excellent opportunity to build it.”
He paused as his words sank in. “So, with that in mind, I have a question for you. Libby? What made you give that as your name?”
Cade paused and smiled a bit at the change in topic. “It’s my middle name. Or a nick name for it at least. I didn’t think her using my first name would be that good if she did end up screaming it and getting caught on tape. Especially since it’s not exactly a common name,” she shrugged.
“You’re right of course. Cadence isn’t a common name. What is your middle name? And why did your parents choose it?” He turned a bit on the couch, shifting position to be able to look at her better as she sat on the floor by the other end of the couch.
“Cadence Liberty Riley,” she replied with a somewhat embarrassed smile and chuckle. “I come from a heck of an army family. Both grandfathers were in the service, even great grandfathers I think. My Dad was too. So he named me Cadence, after the chants they do when they are training, and Liberty, because that’s what soldiers fight for.”
“That’s a very unique and lovely name.”
“Thanks. What about you? Where did your folks get Osmond from?”
“It means God’s protection. You see I was a second son and my family never intended me for the police. They wanted me to go into the church, thinking it was a far more righteous and proper profession.”
Cadence arched an eyebrow and looked him up and down. “I don’t know… I just don’t see you as a church guy.”
“No,” Snow laughed. “I didn’t either. The declaration of which apparently broke my mother’s heart. It took a while but she seemed to get over it tolerably well.”
“What made you choose the force?”
“Not a what, a who. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He’s the man who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories. I was always fascinated with them ever since I was a boy. I loved mysteries and puzzles. It was sort of a natural progression into police work. What about you? What drew you to it?”
“Well, I told you my family was very military.” Snow nodded. “But the women of the family had always been wives and stay at home moms. Well, I didn’t want to just sit on my ass and wait to get married and pop out kids. And I grew up hearing all the talk about pride and patriotism and protecting the people, doing your duty and serving your country. But when I talked about following in my Dad’s footsteps he forbade it. He didn’t want his daughter in a warzone, especially after we lost my brother Sam.”
“Named for Uncle Sam I assume?”
Cadence nodded. “Samuel Patrick. The Patrick is for Patrick Henry of the Revolutionary war. He gave the “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech.”
“Can’t fault them for following a theme I suppose,” Snow said. “Sorry for the interruption, go on.”
“When we lost Sam, he was a freshman in college and I was a junior. My parents were very into the idea of me staying in college and taking a nice safe job as a secretary or a teacher. But I didn’t want that. And I figured if I couldn’t protect and serve in the armed forces… Well, they hadn’t said anything about me going into law enforcement,” she said as she smiled and lifted her shoulders in a casual shrug.
“I can imagine they likely had a good deal to say about it when they found out.”
“Yeah, that they did,” she said. “I think my Dad shouted so loud he could have put a drill sergeant to shame. Mom just cried. She was convinced I was going to get myself killed.” She paused and looked down at the floor. “At least, they both died before I proved them right.”
“Everyone dies sometime, Cadence,” Osmond said gently. “But you died serving the citizens of your country, trying to make it a better and safer place. That is a noble death.”
“Noble or not it doesn’t keep it from being final.”
“True. However, the term afterlife does apply. This is your life after your previous life. And once you’ve had time to grieve the loss of things you did and people you knew, you will come to find that this life can be as fulfilling as your other one.”
She looked up to Snow, the hurt shining in her eyes, but it wasn’t the pure, incomprehensible grief he had seen in others. “I’m trying.”
“And doing a wonderful job of it, I assure you,” he said. “To change the topic for a moment, if you’ll let me, good job staying on your toes tonight.” Cadence tried to wave the compliment away, but Snow persisted. “No I mean it. This was your first day on the job really. Yet you managed to come up with a brilliant plan of attack for a very difficult spirit. A plan that worked quite well until her room was actually entered. Then you were able to go with the flow and slip into the bad cop good cop routine I threw at you without warning. I must say I’m impressed.”
“Well thanks,” she said. “Andy always said I was good at keeping up. We could switch up tactics with suspects or victims on the fly and we could always keep up with each other.”
“Well if tonight was any example, it looks like you and I will be able to do that as well. I find myself truly looking forward to what this partnership will bring.”
They spent more time chatting, getting to know each other a bit better. Cadence talked about her time at college though Snow was careful to keep the conversation away from the topic of her brother. Cadence asked Snow about what working for the Yard had been like and what life in England had been like half a century ago. Before Cadence knew it, it was light out, and Aiden was shambling out of his bedroom in his boxers to his coffee maker. “So we don’t dissolve into nothing during the day huh?” Cadence asked.
“Not at all,” Snow said with a laugh as Aiden shuffled back to his bedroom. “The myth that we’re only active at night is something we have no problem keeping living people believing. I mean, would you want to think about ghosts perhaps popping in and watching you at any time of the day?”
“The thought that they could do that at all is a little creepy. It doesn’t matter if it is day or night.”
“Exactly. Besides, if our goal is to make people uneasy, it is far easier for us to unnerve them at night. Think about it. During the day, nooks and crannies for things to hide are lit up, easily discernable. In the dark, they blend into shadow making what is in them, or what could be in them, unknown.”
“Why do I get the feeling you’ve scared off a few living breathing humans in your day?”
“Sometimes it’s part of the job. Sometimes we have to keep the breathers away from certain areas for their own good. Occasionally the most effective way to do it is to prey on their fears.”
Cadence grinned at Snow. “Breathers?”
Osmond had the grace to look a bit embarrassed. “That is a common term among our kind for the living.”
“Well, Ozzie, looks like you might be some fun after all,” she said. Her voice held a teasing tone and in return he grimaced.
The smell of coffee filled the small apartment and brought a longing groan from Cadence, who rose and made her way to stand by the percolating machine and gaze at it longingly. Aiden emerged from his room a second time, this time in jeans and a T-shirt. He flipped on a computer and began hooking equipment up to it.
“Well, this chap doesn’t waste any time. Good,” Snow said.
“I have just come to the conclusion that I really, really, really miss coffee,” Cadence said. She gave a wistful sigh as she stood over by the coffee maker.
“Focus, please. The job is at hand,” he said.
She begrudgingly left the coffee pot and came over to hover by the computer with Osmond. “Alright,” her partner said. “He seems to be starting with young Derrick’s still camera. Good. We’ll get to see what shots he caught.”
Other than a very vague streak of light in the feeding chair in one shot the camera came up with nothing. That was a fact that relieved Cadence greatly. Aiden saved the one shot and moved on to the camcorders after he got himself a cup of coffee. He perused the tapes from the three cameras and other than some orbs, which Snow seemed unconcerned about, he moved on.
“Good,” Snow commented as the tech began switching equipment around. “All we have left is the audio recordings. Orbs, light anomalies, those things are fine.”
Cadence nodded and shifted position a little bit. The first tape, which was Lauren’s, began to play and had nothing of any consequence on it. The second tape, which was Dan’s, had two EVP’s on it. One was very clearly Ramon yelling “Over here!” It must have been when they were trying to distract the others away from Ruby’s room. Aiden marked the time, copied it over to the computer, and then wrote down what he thought it was, along with a “Class A” notation. The second EVP on that tape was simply a bunch of footsteps that apparently were happening while Dan was standing still.
Then both Snow and Cadence tensed as Derrick’s tape was put in. This was what they had been waiting for.
They heard the tape set down on the metal tray of the feeding chair. They heard the metallic scrape and thump as the chair was moved and a raspy female voice could be heard saying “bitch.” Cadence threw a concerned look to Snow, who shook his head, indicating she shouldn’t worry.
Then Derrick’s voice was heard, crying out a bit as he was scratched. That was quickly followed by the sound of footsteps and Derricks voice asking if the spirit could tell him its name. There was no answer.
“How many spirits are in this room?” Derrick asked.
“Four!” The raspy response was quick and clear. Aiden didn’t react, as if what he was hearing was just your ordinary average run of the mill conversation. He simply made notes about what he heard and let it continue playing, pausing if he needed extra time to mark a note down.
“Are you trapped here?” Derrick asked through the recorder. There was a long pause with nothing heard. Then once more Derrick’s voice rang out in the supposedly empty room. “What do you want?”
Very faintly, the name “…Libby…” came from the recorder. Cadence gave Snow a stricken look and he shook his head.
“It’s fine. Good thinking using your middle name,” he said in order to calm her.
“But they weren’t supposed to get anything,” Cadence said.
“No.” Snow corrected her. “They aren’t supposed to get anything too conclusive. No solid apparitions, no disembodied voices spilling all the secrets of the afterlife. A few words, some footsteps, a vague shadow, orbs, these things are fine. Relax Cadence. We did a good job last night.”
Cadence nodded slowly, letting out a slow breath. “Alright, if you say so. Just don’t want to get into trouble on my first case.”
“You won’t, trust me.”
They watched Aiden for a little while longer, making sure that no other evidence had been captured. Once they were satisfied that he was done, Snow gestured for her to come close. “Take my hand. I’ll get us back to the office.”
“You could teach me how to teleport on my own so you don’t have to do it for both of us.”
“Yes, I am going to. Though I’ll still keep with you until I’m positive you have it in hand. I’ll just need you to think of the clear area right outside our office door. Can you do that?”
She gave him a wry look. “I’m a grown woman. I think I can concentrate on a location for a moment.”
Snow shrugged. “With the stream of consciousness thought you experience as newly dead, I wasn’t sure. Now close your eyes and concentrate.”
“Sure thing Ozzie,” she said. Her grin as she said it provoked a bit of a frown from her compatriot.
They disappeared from the apartment and Aiden, the intrepid ghost hunter, was never even aware of their presence.