Dr. Lasker wished he could learn more. He was hurriedly thinking how he could check if this was a set up or for real. She looked like she was seriously talking to someone, but maybe she was a good actress? These young girls, especially the pretty ones, can be pretty deceptive, he thought.
“I don’t want you following me around anymore,” Shelly said.
“I guess you don’t want me saving your life either? That’s three times! Three times in two days that I’ve saved your life and you won’t let me even stay in your room?”
“I have a headache. Ever since you’ve shoved your way into my life, I’ve had the worst headache ever!”
“At least you’re alive to have a headache! Stop feeling sorry for yourself and think of somebody else for a change.”
Shelly nodded. “Okay, you’re right, but that doesn’t change anything. You can’t stay in my room. That is final!”
There wasn’t any reply. Shelly realized the professor was staring at her. “He gets stubborn sometimes and refuses to talk. He’s like a child sometimes.”
“I am not,” Allen shouted. “You take that back!
“Now he’s threatening me,” Shelly said. “He doesn’t like to hear the truth.” “You are the only one who can hear him,” Dr. Lasker asked.
“Yes. Can you? Listen carefully. Say something to the professor, Allen.” “I will not.”
“Did you hear that?”
“What?” Dr. Lasker was concentrating very hard but heard nothing.
“He can’t hear me. Only you can,” Allen said. “Consider it a special gift. We have a special link…like I keep telling you.”
“Did you hear him that time?” Shelly was praying Lasker had heard Allen. It would prove she wasn’t having delusions or hallucinations or whatever else this haunting could be called.
“He spoke?” Dr. Lasker was still scanning the room.
“Yes. He said I should consider this a special gift.” She looked angrily at where she
thought Allen might be. “It’s more like a curse! Ever since I’ve met you, all I’ve done is face one insane thing after another, and now I’m here in this basement lab after almost being gassed by…” She gasped, “Allen, could Dodd be another ghost?”
“I don’t know,” Allen said. “I suppose it’s possible. If he is a ghost, he may be far more expert at ghosting than I am. He seemed quite real to me.”
“To me too.” Shelly turned to the professor. “Are you sure you haven’t got an assistant or know a student named Dodd?”
Dr. Lasker looked annoyed. “I’ve told you before I’ve never heard of Dodd and I still haven’t seen or heard your apparition either.”
“So I guess I’m stuck with IT,” Shelly said.
“We’re both stuck,” Allen remarked. “We’re stuck with each other since nobody apparently believes in ghosts around here.”
Dr. Lasker was studying the girl with almost twenty years of experience behind him. Her whole body seemed to be aimed at wherever her ghost might be while he was supposedly talking to her. Her body language seemed the best proof that she really believed in this ghost. “You don’t seem like someone who would lie about this ghost of yours? Would you?”
“Why would I do that? He’s caused me nothing but trouble! You’ve got to believe me.
I’ll do anything to get rid of him if I could.”
“Oh thank you. This after I’ve saved your life three times in just two days!”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. I just mean that my life was so simple and straight forward until you showed up.” Shelly involuntarily pulled the top of the lab coat she was wearing tighter. “It’s not personal about you. It’s just I want my life back. And my privacy!”
“I only showed up because you were about to be mugged by that hideous character in the park. I don’t know what would have happened if he had gotten to you? It was destiny that we were both in the same place. How else do you explain that you are the only one who can hear me?”
Shelly realized Allen was telling the truth. She could have been raped or killed if he hadn’t been there. Her voice was softer when she said, “You’re right. This really isn’t your fault.”
“What isn’t,” Dr. Lasker asked.
Shelly realized she had been more focused on Allen than on Dr. Lasker again. “I’m sorry. He just said that his showing up at the park wasn’t his fault, that he had to do something to save me from that mugger. I guess he’s right.”
Dr. Lasker shook his head. Kook or saint? So convincing…so damn convincing. How could she be a fake? He had to take the risk. “I am going to take a chance on you. As crazy as this whole thing sounds, and I’ve been in this parapsychology business a long time, I’ve never quite experienced something like this association you may have- I did say “may”- with something or someone from another dimension. It is possible--”
“You believe me?” Shelly sagged with relief back into her chair. Maybe he wasn’t such an ass after all?
“He doesn’t believe you. He just wants to use you. You’ll see.”
“Not you again!” She aimed furious eyes at Allen. “What if he can help you? Isn’t that worth taking a chance?”
Allen didn’t reply.
“What did he say,” Dr. Lasker asked, searching for anything to prove she wasn’t faking.
“He says you don’t really believe me and you just want to use me and him? He’s paranoid.”
Dr. Lasker frowned. “Well, he’s partly right. Before I admit this thing you seem to be conversing with is real I would have to run some tests on you. Shall we say tomorrow morning?”
“I have classes until one,” Shelly said.
“Forget your classes. If this thing is real, you will be changing majors. I am not investing my time and expertise in a part-time project. If your ‘friend’ is real, he is right, I do have a special use for you as a member of my department. I assure you there is nothing more exciting than becoming an Ectoplasmic Research Assistant. But If you are not the genuine article, then you may go back to your former life and become a teacher or whatever pedestrian occupation you wish. I will not press charges. I give you my word. Do we have a deal?”
“I don’t like him and I don’t trust him,” Allen said.
“Shhh,” Shelly barked. “I’m thinking. Maybe he can help you find out who you are?
Wouldn’t that be worth a few tests?”
“Your friend doesn’t know who he is,” Dr. Lasker asked.
“He says he has amnesia. He doesn’t even know his name.” She realized how insane that sounded.
“A ghost with amnesia?” Dr. Lasker mused. “Now I have heard of everything. Well, what do you and your amnesiac ghost say? Do you want my help or not?”
“Can you start the tests right now?” Shelly gave Dr. Lasker a hopeful smile. “You have no idea what I’ve been through!”
“You really want to get rid of me that bad,” Allen said. “Fine, I’ll give this joker a chance, but only for you. I don’t trust him one bit. How do we know he isn’t lying about Dodd?”
“He says he never heard of Dodd and I believe him.” Shelly looked questioningly at the professor. If Dodd really wasn’t his assistant as he had claimed to be, then who was he? Shelly tried to picture him in her mind, but all she saw were those blazing blue eyes. Were they eyes of love, or the eyes of a murderer?
Dr. Lasker shivered at Dodd’s name.