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Chapter 34

It had taken months for Shelly to get used to sleeping in a dorm room at Stone Wall. Her roomie was a night-owl and loved to watch late-night television when she was home…when she was alone. It was much worse when Lisa brought someone back with her to the tiny room. That girl could make the walls rock when some guy was pumping her like she was an oil well. And it didn’t seem to matter who the guy was. Shelly had tried talking to her, working out some kind of amicable arrangement, but some roomies just can’t compromise, so every few nights Shelly had to try to sleep with either the noise of the television, the sounds of people getting high on pot or whatever they could find, or the sounds of her roomie and whoever, slapping bodies on the creaking springs of the dorm cot and one time even the floor.

At first the loud springs of the cot had almost sounded funny to her, then irritating and eventually Shelly had become resigned to it all, covering her ears with a pillow, but still hearing Lisa and whoever, going at it like rabbits in heat. She planned to ask for a new roommate at the end of the semester, but had not figured out how to break that to Lisa who assumed Shelly was okay with her, even if Shelly wasn’t a party girl. Had Shelly known the reason for Lisa’s fear of sleeping alone, she might have been more sympathetic. Lisa never told anyone about the ghosts in her house, but might have confided in Shelly if she had known about Allen.

The silence in this wonderful room was truly amazing. Shelly hadn’t slept like this in forever, and had just about made up her mind that it would take dynamite to make her give it up. No more Lisa and her creaking bed and creepy bed-mates if she could stay in this room. Even working with an arrogant character like Lasker might be worth it for a few nights of real sleep and a bathroom all her own. Oh yeah.

It didn’t even raise an eyelash when Shelly woke up and found her lab coat was completely buttoned and she was covered by the soft tan blanket. She assumed she had woken up and done that herself. And besides the room was locked and no crazy roomie! “I haven’t slept

like this in ages,” she thought, trying to see the time on a clock resting on the white night table. “Holy crap! It’s after ten! I’m late!”

This is not a good way to start, she thought, especially since she decided she wanted to

take up Lasker’s offer. She still wasn’t sure about this Professor and his strange Parapsychology department and the Ectos…whatever they were called, and Lasker still reminded her of Dr.

Frankenstein, with his weird equipment and sinister laugh. But then again what should a professor of parapsychology be like? “He works with ghosts for goodness sake,” she reminded herself. “And I’ve got a damn ghost.” She had almost forgotten that detail.

She walked into the bathroom and a motion-sensing fixture bathed the room in a delicate tan light. She looked at the shower as if she’d never seen one before. It was gorgeous, but most importantly, it was clean, not one sign of someone else using it. “I’ve got to,” she said happily

and reached for the faucet embedded in the tiled wall. She leaned down to feel the water. “Oh my God, it’s perfect.” Before it had a chance to become either too hot or freezing cold, she was about to step in, about to drop her lab coat to the floor, when she remembered Allen. “Are you

here,” she asked. It would be just like him, she thought and then decided that even if he was, she didn’t care any more. She dropped the lab coat and stepped into the shower. The water was amazing, the spray perfectly adjusted, not hard-hitting needle-like, but almost gentle, landing softly on her skin and drifting slowly down the curves of her body. “This is heaven,” Shelly said. She unwrapped a bar of soap wrapped in silvery foil. Against her body, the soap felt smooth and aromatic, the smell of lavender. The bubbles were luxurious and she could have stayed in the shower all morning, except she realized that she had things that had to be done…she had made a promise to Allen. Reluctantly, she shut off the water and placed her feet on the bath rug, for once not afraid of what creepy crawlies might be hiding in the worn fibers of the dorm mats. She eyed the lab coat from last night with distaste, and suddenly saw a lush white robe hanging on a hook in the tall closet next to the bathroom door. “Lasker thought of everything,” she mused as she slipped into the soft cotton robe, cinching it around her middle. “Now, I’ve really got to please him,” she thought.

She rushed to the sitting room and stared with distaste at her clothes draped on the couch, worn the day before. “I have no choice.” She slipped the panties on under her robe. “Allen, good morning. Are you here? Tell the truth. I won’t be angry. I promise.” I know you’ve seen it before, you letch, she thought, as she searched the room.

Not hearing a reply, Shelly slipped the top of the open robe off, down to her waist.

Running had given her a trim and firm body, but there was no time now for exercising today. She thought of not putting on the dirty bra under her translucent white shirt. “That would give that Professor a heart attack,” she laughed, and reluctantly put it back on. Her blouse looked okay, but she wished she had a fresh one. Fresh clothing always makes me feel better, she thought as she gazed at the mirror.

“I’m starving! I wonder if there’s a kitchen in this building?” She headed for the door and saw a key with a rabbit foot on a lamp table next to the love seat. She groaned at the sight of the rabbit’s foot, a mix of light brown and white, hopefully fake fur, with a wire frame. “Someone around here is superstitious,” she thought, “but not me.” She picked up the key and pulled open the door. The hall was deserted. Relieved the key fit the lock, she locked her room, as she now considered it, pocketed the key and rabbit’s foot in her jeans and walked toward Allen’s door.

Leaning against the door, she tried to hear any sign Allen might be inside. She remembered another time, years earlier, she was eleven, when she had stayed outside a bedroom door and heard sounds that changed her life. Her mother was holding her hand…her face showed she was in pain. “Do you hear that,” she asked Shelly.

Shelly had been too frightened to reply, but she had heard the sounds of a woman calling out repeatedly in what she mistook for pain. And then she heard a man’s voice. It was a deep voice, and though she couldn’t make out the words, she thought it was strange how much it sounded like her father.

Her mother yanked her backwards and aimed her eyes hard into Shelly’s face. “Never

trust a man. They’re all sonofabitches,” she hissed, and dragged Shelly down the stairs. In a few days, her father moved out.

Shelly suddenly realized she had been following her mother’s angry advice ever since

that night in the hotel corridor. She backed away from Allen’s door. She wondered if she could sneak by and get a few minutes to talk to the professor alone before Allen could hear and cause more trouble.

“What were you listening to,” a voice behind her made Shelly jump.

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