Curled up in a chair in the hospital room, I watched the “me” laying on the bed sleep for several days. The feeling of being pulled towards the ‘me’ on the bed came and went. I was never more hopeful than the last time it happened. I was within inches of my body when the sensation ceased. I grabbed for my body but, before I could reach it, I was back in the chair, frustrated but hopeful. That was the closest I had been to rejoining. I could feel the will to live.
Why am I separated? What is keeping me from waking? I thought back to all the movies about people crossing over. It didn’t make sense. Wouldn’t I be the one having experiences that would keep me from wanting to come back? There was no tunnel, no light, and no departed loved ones helping me to cross over. There was just me the observer watching my body sleep. Could it be that there were three of us: the observer “me” stuck in the hospital watching my body, the “me” recovering in the hospital bed, and a third “me” visiting Mom and Jim in heaven refusing to come back? I remembered Vicky telling me about our different layers. I just remembered a few: the physical, astral, casual, celestial, and etheric. Or something like that. I think she said the etheric is closest to the physical so that would explain why I can still feel sensations that happen to my physical body like the defibrillator and the patch. She talked about the astral being the closest level to the spirit plane; maybe I was in my astral body. Maybe this “me” floating outside of my body was something altogether different. Something Vicky doesn’t even know about. I was so frustrated and confused. I couldn’t think of anything else that would keep me from wanting to wake up other than being with Mom and Jim again.
I watched as friends and co-workers stopped by with flowers and quick stories about what was happening in their lives and how they missed me and prayed for my recovery. Sam was the only one that didn’t show. I wondered how he was handling everything.
I walked around the hospital in observer mode for what seemed like days. I walked past the staff… unseen. Only a few patients could see me. I assumed they were on the edge of death. I sat with an elderly woman as she pointed out the relatives filling her room to help her cross. I couldn’t see any of them but said pleased to meet you as she introduced each member of her family that had passed. I was hoping that not seeing them was a good sign that I was more rooted with the living than the dead. I spent most of my time in the children’s ward telling stories to the few that could see me. I tried not to think about the fact that if they could see me, they might be dying. I couldn’t remember stories from my childhood, so I made some up. I was sure on some level they knew I was different from the staff. I hoped they wouldn’t ask questions. Questions I had no answers to.
Vicky was the only constant at my side. I watched her as she stretched out on the Lazy-Boy chair. She was the embodiment of all things mystic. Her red hair was long and slightly wild with large loose curls. She called her free-flowing skirts and tops her uniform. I was lucky to have a psychic as a best friend. I was certain I wouldn’t be laying in the hospital bed if it weren’t for Vicky. She was always looking out for others. In her early-20s, Vicky created a Psychic Development group, Third-Eye, Inc. Few with heightened abilities knew how to handle their gifts. Most did not grow up in her environment where the paranormal was normal, and they were more inclined to hide their unique talents than develop them. Vicky helped the members better understand how to use their gifts to benefit the community. She felt there was no greater blessing than to become a bridge to the other side, bringing closure to the living and the deceased as well. Vicky’s guidance was external. Her nudges or messages came from spirit guides. Vicky was free flowing, open, not judgmental, not afraid of being judged. She had a great reputation and made her living reading Tarot cards. She was damn good at it.
I was relieved when the nurses would force her to leave for a bite at the cafeteria. She always came back within minutes with a to-go box in hand. There was something about hospital food that looked even more pathetic in a to-go container than the tray they served it on. There was a sense of irony to it. People took home leftovers or ordered takeout because it was delicious or their favorite food. Vicky picked at the contents and shuffled the food around before taking a bite. Her expression told me hospital food was the worst-tasting food on the planet, well almost. Nothing could beat high school cafeteria food for the worst taste ever, at least in my book.
I watched as Vicky continued to pick at her food. She made a joke about asking for the recipe and, as punishment for putting her through this, she would make me dinner when I got out. Did she pick up on my thoughts? Had we finally connected again?
“Vicky,” I screamed.
Her head snapped in my direction.
“Vicky, can you hear me? I’m here.”
I jumped up and down in front of her. Vicky looked back at her dinner and set it on the shelf next to her.
“Vicky,” I continued to scream.
I grew frustrated at her lack of response.
“What the hell kind of psychic are you? Why can’t you hear me? You heard my cry for help. Why can’t you hear me now?”
I tried to move the food container with my hand, but it wouldn’t budge. I attempted to move it with my mind, but that didn’t work either. Vicky closed her eyes and sank deeper into the chair.
She looked exhausted. The dark circles under her eyes seemed almost like a bruise on her pale skin. I felt sorry for her and ashamed that I was putting her through this. I leaned in and whispered in her ear,
“Thank you for being the best friend anyone could have.”
I meant it. If it hadn’t been for Vicky’s sixth sense, it would have been the coroner’s office taking me away instead of the EMT.
“Things are going to be different when I get back. I’m going to let people in. I’m going to have deep, meaningful friendships. I’m going to let go of my past and live for today.”
I tried to brush the hair from her eyes. She leaned into my hand. I felt a wave of excitement. We are connected, I thought.
I looked around the room for anything that could help me make contact. I attempted to pick up the remote control. I could blast the volume on the TV and then she would focus on why that happened. She would feel me then. I just knew it. Just like the container, my hand rested on the remote, but I couldn’t turn it on, or move the volume up.
Deciding that I couldn’t wait for my body to pull me back in, I took a running start and leaped onto the bed falling backward. I hoped the momentum would shove me back in my body. Instead, I went through my body as well as the bed and ended up on the floor underneath. I stared up at the bed frame and mattress. “I’m in hell, I thought. I’m sure of it. I’m doomed to watch myself for eternity.”
My next strategy was to lie on the bed. If I were a fragment of the Kate on the bed, maybe I could connect. Perhaps I would see what she was seeing, see what was keeping her from returning. I crawled out from underneath the bed. I’m sure I could have just risen through it, the same way I fell through it. It just felt normal to crawl out and climb on top. I wanted to feel normal again. I wanted to feel solid. I lay next to my body and placed my head gently against my physical head and waited to merge with my body’s dreams, thoughts, and desires. For the first time since being separated, I felt myself drift into a deep sleep. It was like a movie was playing in my head. Was this a dream? It wasn’t in color, more like a translucent gray.
I was an observer, similar to when I observed my rescue and watched my body as it recovered in the hospital bed. This couldn’t be heaven, could it? Had I found Nirvana? I couldn’t believe my eyes. I watched a dream-like movie unfold in front of me. Dream-Kate was living the life I had always wished for. Mom and Jim were very much alive. Jim was an adult in his 30s, and Mom had graying hair. She looked vibrant and healthy. Scenes of shared meals flowed quickly. Everyone was bantering back and forth like we used to when we were kids.
I screamed for them to hear me. I couldn’t believe Mom and Jim were alive. They couldn’t hear me; they couldn’t see me. I felt my heart racing; it was beating so fast I could feel it in both the observer me and in my body. I felt panic rising. The image started to blur. The heart monitor attached to my physical body sounded an alarm. The nursing staff ran into the room and surrounded my body. Something was injected into my IV. I was losing the connection with the images of the life I had always dreamed. I screamed no as loud as I could. I could hear the nurse yelling for a crash cart. I didn’t want to return to my body. I tried to calm myself; I didn’t want the images to go away. I didn’t want to be pulled back into my physical body. I didn’t want to wake up. Even if they couldn’t hear me, even if they didn’t know I was watching. I wanted to be a part of their world. I wanted to see them, watch them. I tried breathing in and out slowly, seven counts in, hold for two, seven count out, hold for two. It was working, the visions became clear again. The alarm on the monitor ceased. The staff seemed satisfied that the injection worked. Even though I wasn’t in my physical body, I could feel tears flowing down my cheeks. I could taste the salt on my lips. My lips continued to quiver despite the breath work.
I focused on the vision again. Dad brought a turkey to the dinner table and picked up a large knife. He pretended that it was a samurai sword and held it to the sky honoring its role in the family dinner. Mom laughed and called him a nut. He and Mom seemed so happy together. I could feel my heart beat faster when I realized I had a family of my own. I had a husband and a beautiful daughter. She had my blonde curls, and they hung over her eyes and bounced off her shoulders when she laughed. I knew it was just a dream, but I could feel the joy Dream-Kate felt as I watched her experiences. I took a closer look at Dream-Kate’s husband. Not bad! He was handsome with a kind, gentle demeanor; he looked like … like … the captain? Had Dream-Kate married the captain? I never thought of the captain romantically; in fact, I never wanted a family. That awareness didn’t rear its head until this very moment. I thought of Sam. It was never about Sam not being my soulmate, it just wasn’t what I wanted.
Observing Dream-Kate began to feel more like recalling memories than dreaming. It felt like the experiences I was watching were suddenly merging with mine as though they were my own. The emotions associated with these experiences filled my body with an intensity that was dizzying. The sense of loving someone so deeply and being so connected filled my heart where all the holes had been. I was no longer just observing; I was pulling Dream-Kate’s experiences into every cell of my body, edging out the old feelings of anger, loss and abandonment.
As the feelings flooded my body, I could see why the “me” on the hospital bed didn’t want to wake up. It was getting harder to distinguish the feelings of merely observing a dream with the feelings that I was living a life I had always imagined. The family scenes swirled away and then slowly a new scene came into view. This felt as real as the family series I had watched. I watched as Dream-Kate examined the contents of the Alexander case file. She was working on the same cold case I had inherited from Larry Sadler when he went on disability for a bad back. I saw the photos of the crime scene. Only they were slightly different. Saul’s hair was longer and Sarah, his wife, was much younger. The children were two boys instead of a boy and girl. It was different, but definitely Saul and Sarah. There was a picture of a train and a crumbled train schedule. I tried yelling again.
“That’s my case, that’s my case,” I screamed at Dream-Kate as she flipped through the case file. She glanced over her shoulder as if in response, but didn’t seem to see me. She turned back to her folder. My heart raced again when she turned towards me. Suddenly, I felt myself being pulled backward with a speed that made me reach for the walls to slow myself. Only it wasn’t walls. It was more like a tunnel of swirling smoky purple and gray hues. I had seen this tunnel before. Where?
I opened my eyes and glanced around the room. I saw Vicky sleeping in the Lazy-Boy chair. I was back in my body. I didn’t want a life without Mom and Jim. I started to cry.
Vicky woke up and ran towards the bed. “Kate, are you okay? Shit, you gave us a scare.”
Before I could respond, she hit the buzzer for the nurse.
“Where am I, what happened? I saw Mom and Jim. They were alive. They aren’t here are they?”
Vicky held my hand and looked towards the door. “Let’s hold that conversation for later,” she said as she squeezed my hand.
The head nurse ran in and saw me awake. She called the doctor and the on-call psychiatrist which was standard protocol for all suicide attempts. Both arrived within minutes.
The hospital psychiatrist entered the room as the nurse was taking my vitals.
“Is this a bad time?” he asked.
“Not at all. Almost done,” she responded.
She entered my vitals into her tablet, turned on her heels, and exited the room.
“I’m Dr. Rogers, one of the staff psychiatrists.” He turned to Vicky. “Can you give us a moment? I’ll have the nurse call you when you can come back in.”
“Yes, of course,” Vicky said.
He walked to the side of the bed and pulled the straight-back chair closer to the bed. He sat and crossed his legs.
“How are you doing?”
“I’m not sure. I feel a little disoriented.”
“I’m not surprised. You have been in a coma for almost two weeks. You are in a monitored suicide room. Do you know why you are here?”
“I don’t know how I got here, but I know why. I tried to kill myself.”
“Is this the first time you have tried to kill yourself?’
“Yes.” I lied.
“Are you on any medications for depression or anything?”
“I’m not taking anything for depression. I take sleeping pills on occasion. ”
“How long have you been taking sleeping pills?”
“On and off for a few years. I’m a detective. I see things that make it hard to sleep sometimes.”
“Do you feel like your work may have triggered your suicide? Do you have a history of depression in your family?”
“No, my work is what keeps me going. I feel like I’m making a difference. It’s not my work. My Mom killed herself when I was 12. I guess you could say depression might run in the family.”
“Do you have depressive thoughts? Was there a specific event that triggered the attempt?”
“It was my wedding day and the anniversary of their deaths. I guess I was overwhelmed by how much I missed them and had a panic attack and left the church. When I got home, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I just wanted to end it so I did or tried to.”
“My brother died in a freak accident; Mom killed herself two years later.”
“Were you trying to reunite with them?”
“How does surviving make you feel?”
“Are you asking if I regret surviving the attempt?”
“That is exactly what I am asking.”
“I remember I regretted taking the pills as soon as I took them. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about surviving the suicide.”
“So much has happened since I’ve been in a coma,” I said.
“What do you mean?” He sat up straight in the chair.
I remembered Vicky’s warning not to talk about Mom and Jim.
I decided to shift the focus. “I mean, I could hear when people visited me. I guess I never realized how many people cared about me.”
“You are not the first coma patient to recall hearing conversations while in a coma. Did you have any other experiences?”
“I felt it when people squeezed my hand or kissed my forehead. It made me feel loved, but also guilty for worrying them.”
He flipped through my chart which included a list of visitors. “You have had a number of visitors. What is your fiancé’s name?”
“Sam Gallegar,” I said. His attention turned back to the list. “Don’t bother, he didn’t visit,” I said.
“You said it was your wedding day. Did you cancel the wedding or did he?”
“I had a panic attack and couldn’t go through with it.”
“Do you have those often?”
“No. Nothing as intense as that day. I get a feeling sometimes that I need to course correct, that something isn’t right. Nothing as intense as what I felt waiting for the wedding march to start.”
“Why do you think you needed to course correct? Tell me about Sam, how you met, how long were you engaged?”
“I met him during a case I was working on a few years ago. He was the District Attorney assigned to my case. We worked well together and would have a few drinks after work. We both had busy schedules and had been in relationships with people that didn’t understand our long hours. We dated for a few years. It just seemed natural to take the next step. But at the church, I felt like I was about to marry someone that wasn’t the person I was supposed to grow old with. He wasn’t my soulmate.”
“Did you talk to him?”
“No, I just bailed. I know that was a horrible thing to do, but I couldn’t think about anything but getting out of the church.”
“You took charge, and you listened to your instincts. That’s not a bad thing,” he said.
He brought his attention back to the list. “I noticed there are no visitors with your last name. No other brothers or sisters? Is your father still alive?”
“I have no living brother or sister. My father is still alive, but we are not going to boil this down to mommy or daddy issues. I’m not going to talk about my childhood or point the finger at anyone but me.”
Ugh, a raised eyebrow, not a good sign. Bad move. I had just given him ammunition for digging deeper into my childhood. God knows when I would be released from the hospital if we started down that path.
“No problem. I’m not trying to point fingers or blame anyone,” he said. “Just share what you are comfortable with. What is your relationship like with your dad?”
“We are estranged. But it wasn’t always that way. Dad didn’t fully pull away until Mom died. After Mom’s death, he shut down. I barely saw him, and when I did it was from a distance. When he was home, he would shut himself in the den.”
Dr. Rogers sat in silence, waiting for me to continue. I took a deep breath.
“I could see the pain on Dad’s face every time he looked at me. I couldn’t blame him. I was the spitting image of Mom and Jim. I’m sure it was like a knife stabbing his heart with every glance.”
This time, he prodded. “You couldn’t blame him because you look like your Mom and brother? That’s very forgiving,” he added.
“I know that on some level, he couldn’t take another loss and that he hardened his heart as a protective measure. However, knowing why doesn’t make being abandoned any easier to handle.”
He just stared at me, waiting for me to continue. The dam was open, and I let it all spill out.
“I feel like it would have been easier for him if it had been me instead of Jim. I wish it had been me,” I confessed.
“What was your relationship like with your Dad before Jim died?
“Dad would weave elaborate crime stories, and the three of us would solve imaginary cases together. The stories ended the day Jim died.”
“Did you try to engage him in stories after Jim died?”
“I don’t know. He was the one that always started the stories. I was so hurt that he stopped that I didn’t think to try to be the one to start them up again. I was 10. Why should I be the one to pull us through?”
“Didn’t Dad think I would be a good detective? Had I only been in the stories so I wouldn’t feel left out? Those are rhetorical questions,” I said when I realized he was about to respond. “I’m not asking you to help me find the answers. I’m not sure why I even mentioned them,” I stuttered.
Once again, he nodded.
“Is that why you became a detective, to prove something?”
“No. I walked into it knowing I will never be able to measure up in his eyes. We work in different units. He doesn’t even tell people I’m his daughter. When someone seems surprised to find out he is my father, I just tell them it’s not something we announce. I want my career to unfold on its own, not because I’m the daughter of the infamous James Hanson. After a while, I just avoided using my last name. I would introduce myself as “Katie, just call me Kate” to deflect the fact that I didn’t throw out my last name.”
He shifted his questioning from dad to asking about the wedding and my relationship with Sam. As I responded to his questions, a small part of me hoped that would be the end of it. I told him that I felt glad to be alive and regretted taking the “coward’s way out” as my father would have put it.
As I described the wedding and how I felt when I left Sam at the altar, all of the memories of observing my rescue, hugging my body in the ambulance as well as the memories of watching Dream-Kate surfaced.
I kept those details to myself. It would have to wait until I was out of here. The image of Doctor Rogers wrapping me in a straitjacket, locking me up, and throwing away the keys made me shudder.
“I’m glad to hear that you regret trying to take your life. To be safe I’m going to prescribe medication for depression. It’s protocol for police officers to undergo psychiatric treatment before returning to duty. I’m assuming the same is true for detectives. I will contact your department tomorrow to discuss your follow-up treatment plan. You will need to stay in the suicide room for a few days and then you will be transferred down to the main floor for three days. Once we both feel it is safe for you to leave the hospital, we will work on your discharge plan. Do you have someone that can stay with you for a few weeks after you are discharged?”
“Yes, Vicky can stay with me.”
He patted my hand. “I’ll check on you in the morning. You get some rest. If you need anything, let the nurse know. I’m on call and can be here within 20 minutes.”
“I’ll be fine. Can you let Vicky back in? I want to let her know she will be staying with me.”
I hope you have enjoyed the sample chapters. Walk-In Investigations, Streaming Sarah ebook is free on Kindle Unlimited.
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