Shelly could hardly walk. “I’m pooped, she moaned, but I also stink in these clothes.” She wished she had a change of clothes with her. She stared at the white lab coat Dr. Lasker had given her. It looked clean enough. She reluctantly decided it would have to do. No way am I sleeping in these things and then wearing them tomorrow again. She let out a yawn.
Shelly had an impulse and walked over to the door, assuring herself it was locked from the inside. “It really is a nice room,” she mused as she undid her shirt buttons and slid her shirt onto the couch. “I hate wearing dirty clothes,” she grumbled again as she tried to smooth the shirt’s wrinkles.
A noise startled her. “Are you here,” she asked, now standing in only her white bra and panties. “I warned you what I would do.” She held the lab coat over her front.
There wasn’t any reply but Shelly rushed on the lab coat. It covered most of her body down to just above her knees. Satisfied she was now protected from any peeping Tom, even a ghost, she pulled off her panties and slipped her bra through the sleeves of the white coat.
“There’s nothing to see, you letch,” she said. “You may as well go back to your room now. I warned you!”
There still wasn’t any reply. Shelly sighed. Let him do what he wants. He’s a damn ghost and there’s no way I can control him. She straightened out her jeans on the couch and walked into the bedroom.
Exhausted, she wished she could just fall on the bed and collapse, but her body was telling her she had one more duty to fulfill. She found the light switch and still not sure Allen wasn’t cheating, she locked the bathroom door.
The room smelled of clean, not like the sickly smell of the dorm bathroom. She pulled the white tub curtain and smiled. “It’s spotless.” What a difference from the shower stalls she had to share with the girls in the dorm. This is like a hotel, she thought, as she could picture herself
stretched out in this gorgeous tub, water playing on her body…no, not just water, oh my god, a bubble bath and body lotions! “This isn’t what I expected,” she said, as the contrast between the super-clean tiled walls and floors of this private…oh boy, a private bathroom…and the slime- feeling, grungy tiles of the gang dorm bathroom imprinted itself on her exhausted brain. “How can I refuse this,” she thought as the toilet flushed the first time and did not require jiggling to make the flow of water stop.
Even the medicine cabinet mirror was a real mirror and not just a slab of metal screwed
into the wall so it wouldn’t be stolen or used for a suicide weapon. “Have you ever tried to apply makeup with one of these distorted crappy mirrors,” she had asked her mother when they joked about dorm life on the phone, but now seeing her face in the mirror, a real mirror, for the first time in weeks, made her realize how much she missed even that little convenience.
She pulled open a drawer in the granite topped vanity and thought about not having to drag her hair dryer and bathroom necessities in that stupid little plastic carry-all with its fake
chrome handle , chrome paper that was already peeling, to the bathroom every morning and night. To be able to keep all of her little goodies inside an honest to goodness bathroom vanity was a luxury in the dormitory of shared everything, dirty everything, slime everywhere. “This is going to be hard to give up,” she thought. But it all came with one catch…one major problem…Dr. Lasker, that arrogant, inconsiderate mad scientist…and, oh yes, her ghost.
Without Allen, the bathroom vanishes. Shelly knew the score even if Allen thought she was naïve, even if Dr. Lasker thought she was just another stupid college brat…even if Dodd….
She stared at the real mirror and saw for the first time how really tired and grungy she looked. What did Dodd think of her? Where the hell is that strange and mysterious mad scientist whose one syllable name seemed to knock her for a loop? Why the hell can’t I stop thinking about him…even if he may have tried to kill me…or was it Lasker? Maybe he’s the one who set this whole thing up? Maybe Dodd and Lasker are in it together? She felt the headache starting again. I need sleep.
Shelly hurried over to a louvered closet in the bathroom. She pulled it open and stared in disbelief at neatly folded towels, all sizes and all uniformly tan in color. No fade spots, no spots that the campus laundry could not seem to remove and which she had no desire to identify. “That’s it,” she said aloud. “That settles it. If he still wants me, I’m moving in.”
Unable to stand any more excitement, Shelly closed the bathroom light and walked barefoot the short distance to her bed. Flopping down on the thick mattress was one of the greatest delights in her life after nearly a month on the thin university cots through which she could feel the bedsprings.
The hum of the air conditioner was incredibly smooth, no metallic bumping and grinding like the sounds emanating from the window conditioners in the dorm. She had been uneasy about the lack of windows, but the room without windows and heavily insulated kept it free from
extraneous sounds. Soon the sound of Shelly’s rhythmic breathing was a sign that she was finally asleep.
Shelly’s sleep was undisturbed by dreams. Even her headaches had subsided. The bed was like floating on air and she hadn’t even crawled under the coverlet. The only thing hiding her body was the thin white lab coat which was slightly open, just open enough that if someone was in the room they would get a teasing glimpse of Shelly’s firm legs almost completely exposed up to her hips. One shoulder was almost bare and a breast was barely hidden under the flimsy lapel of the coat. The thin coat revealed more than it concealed.
“She really is pretty,” Dodd thought as he stared at Shelly sleeping so angelically in only the over-sized white coat. His eyes ran from her toenails, up her ankles, one curled slightly under the other. He was tempted to run his hand gently up her thigh…he could almost feel her smooth flesh under his fingers.
He moved forward, leaned down. He could hear the rhythmic breathing, feel her breath. It came and went like a tiny warming breeze. Her head was against a pillow, her hair splayed across the beige fabric. Her eyes were closed so he wouldn’t have to see them looking at him, making him feel guilty. Another pillow was nearby. Dodd felt that pillow calling him. A few seconds of pressing that pillow over the girl’s mouth and nose, and she would not be a problem anymore. So why couldn’t he do it?
Dodd let his eyes wander below her chin. He saw her flesh from the vee of her breasts to her slender throat. He stared at this part of her for a long time, feeling a longing inside him that he had never felt before…he’d never had time before to let his sexual needs interfere. He had come to believe that part of him had been killed off by the horrors of his work, the price of being an Ecto. It was as if the sexual side of him had been overcome by the work to develop his sensitivity, the sensitivity that may have destroyed his sanity. At least that is how he understood his inability to function. He couldn’t even make a decision any more or by now the girl would have been dead or he would have made love to her. As she lay alone on that big bed, her flesh peeking temptingly through the lab coat, the pillow waiting for his head, Dodd heard the voices arguing inside him and could not decide what he should do. Murder or sex?
Dodd’s hand inched forward and he carefully lowered the flap of Shelly’s coat so it covered up her legs. He waited until he was sure she wasn’t going to move and stood up.
Looking down again, he felt the confusion inside him. The pillow was so damn close? But she looked so innocent, sweet. She was nothing like what he had expected. Maybe she wasn’t such a threat after all? At any rate, suffocating her with a pillow, feeling her buckling under his pressing hands, was a hell of a lot different than letting a bus or poison gas do her in. No, I don’t think I could stand that, Dodd thought, discarding the pillow idea, at least for tonight.
He backed away from her, his wild-looking eyes searching for any sign that she was awake, that she had seen him. She really looks like a child asleep, he said, taking one last look at someone he had thought of as his enemy, someone he had wanted to destroy. Now, he wondered what she would say if she woke up and felt him lying with her, pressing against her? He found himself seriously thinking of slipping off his jeans and shirt and sliding into the bed next to her.
Could he find happiness that way? Would it make all the pain and horror go away? If only it would?
As he stared at her, Dodd couldn’t help thinking, “It really is a shame to hurt someone
like her.” He bent lower again and whispered, “Shelly, please leave and don’t come back? I don’t want to hurt you.”
Shelly stirred in her sleep.
Dodd wondered if she had heard him. He hoped she would heed his warning. For his sake, and hers, he prayed she would finally take his warnings to get the hell out of his life.