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Chapter 39

When Shelly tried to find Dr. Lasker and notify him that Allen and she were willing to visit the house in the photograph, she was surprised to find his office locked. The doctor did not appear to be anywhere in the building. Instead he had left a note on her door and a set of car keys. The note said she was to use the car to collect her things from the dorm and bring them back with her asap. It also said he would see her at dinner on the top floor of the psychology B building at four thirty sharp.

Shelly noticed the key fob attached to the car keys was once again a rabbit’s foot. “Someone must be very superstitious,” she said, as she went to find Allen who she supposed would be back in his room. When he didn’t reply to her repeated calling, she decided to leave him a note taped to his door. It read, “Have gone back to dorm to get clothing.”

Once she had taken care of that loose end, Shelly walked over to the stairwell and pulled at the knob. It wouldn’t open. “Why would they lock this,” she wondered. She studied the key fob and tried a key marked with a red dot, nail polish perhaps, she thought. Sure enough the key fit and she pulled open the heavy door.

The stair well was very dark. She searched for a light switch, but was unable to find one. Shelly had to feel her way up the stairs, her hand gripping the banister. Usually she could run the

stairs, but not in the dark, not in an unfamiliar stairwell, not when she could not see where she was heading.

She climbed four sets of stairs and was surprised to find there wasn’t a door on the landing. “I guess I have to keep going,” she thought, wondering why the building was built so strangely. After the sixth set of stairs she saw the door that said 1st Floor and pushed open the door. “That’s the darndest thing,” she mused. “It took six stair cases to go from the basement to the first floor. I must have miscounted? No big deal though.

In the lobby she saw a different guard seated at the information desk. He was reading a comic book which he quickly hid when the stairway door opened. He looked puzzled seeing her.

“Hi,” she called. “I’m new.”

“Hi,” he gave her a quick smile. “I’m old.” Shelly laughed. “No, you’re not.”

“Thanks,” he said, “Sometimes on this job I feel like I’m getting old.” He leaned forward. “There isn’t much to do here. Hardly anybody comes into this building.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m Andy Weil.”

“Hi Andy. I’m Shelly and brand new.”

“You came from that stairway?” Andy was studying her face with its clean, intelligent lines, no heavy makeup (hate that goth stuff) and sharp blue eyes. “Are you in psych?” He

laughed. “I guess you must be or what would you be doing in the psych building?” “I’m with Dr. Lasker,” Shelly said. “I’m thinking of becoming an assistant.”

Andy looked around. Satisfied nobody was nearby he leaned forward. “I’m glad he got rid of his old one. He never even talked to me. He gave me the creeps.”

“And I don’t give you the creeps,” Shelly asked, knowing she was teasing him.

“That’s it! You’re flirting again,” Allen hissed. “I can’t leave you alone for one second.” “Oh no, not you again.” Shelly whirled toward where she had heard Allen’s voice.

Andy looked confused. “Excuse me. What did you say? Have we met before?”

Shelly turned back to the guard who was staring at her as if she was crazy. She saw he had a nice face, tanned skin, no beard or mustache, neatly arched brows and soft brown eyes. He looked muscular, but not muscle-bound. “No. I would remember if we’d met before.”

Andy smiled. “Yeah. So would I.”

“I can’t believe you,” Allen roared. “Why don’t you just save the chit chat and jump on his bones already?”

“I don’t do that,” Shelly barked and saw the confused look in Andy’s eyes. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean you.”

The look on Andy’s face told her he was protecting himself from the crazy new assistant who was replacing another crazy assistant. “It was nice talking to you Andy.”

His look softened. “Me too,” he said softly, as if afraid she would dissolve into madness again if he was too loud. “Good luck. I hope you get the job.”

“That’s not all he hopes,” Allen hissed. “You really do need my protection. You just don’t understand men.” Allen wondered why he should even care that she flirted with every guy around, but as weird as it was, he did. No amount of logic seemed to take away the anger he felt when she appeared to be angling for a date. Can a ghost be jealous, he wondered. What the hell can I hope for in a relationship with a human? I don’t understand it at all. “

Shelly gave Allen a dirty look and forced herself not to reply to him, knowing that would only serve to confuse anybody who was listening. “Thank you. It’s a tough decision, but I’m

thinking about it more now.” She flashed him a brilliant smile. She knew it would aggravate Allen, but she didn’t care.

“Well, I’ll say one thing for you. You have a much nicer smile than the last guy.” “I’m getting sick,” Allen said. “I’ll wait for you in the car.”

“What car,” Shelly said. “I forgot to ask the professor what car?”

Andy looked into his desktop computer. “Professor Lasker has several cars listed in his department. May I see the key?”

Shelly handed him the key.

“Is that a rabbit’s foot? I haven’t seen one of those in years. Are you superstitious?

They’re supposed to bring good luck.”

“Except for the rabbit,” Shelly said and laughed at her own joke. “Oh brother,” Allen sighed. “We’re losing time here.”

“I guess you’re right. I never thought about it before but for centuries rabbits have had to sacrifice themselves so others could have protection from bad luck. Weird huh?” Andy gave her a smile and went back to searching the key chart.

“I’m leaving,” Allen threatened again.

Shelly sighed. “I never thought of it that way before.” She also realized that she had never thought that to protect some strangers from god-knows-what-kinds of monsters, Dr. Loco was willing to sacrifice Allen and herself…”I’m a rabbit,” Shelly said softly.

Andy didn’t hear her. “This key is from a Ford van. I see on our monitors it is parked behind the building.” He returned the key.

“I was hoping for something more exciting,” Shelly murmured. Andy smiled. “I have a 66 Mustang? Original bucket seats.”

Shelly smiled and then quickly looked serious, just in case Allen was still around.

Invisible chaperones are the worst, she thought, wondering how much longer she was going to be saddled with her ghostly companion.

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