I could kill for a hot bath, Shelly thought after calling Allen through his door and not getting a response. Where could he be? Had the explosion finally destroyed him? Could a ghost be destroyed by an earthly event? I never wanted that. She let out a deep sigh. Maybe I did?
Shelly unlocked her door and saw her clothes, retrieved from her former dorm, were neatly hung in the closet. “I’ll have to thank someone for that,” she thought, and suddenly
realized she had not met anyone else from the department yet. “All in good time,” she could hear the professor say in his deep voice.
Thoughts about Allen kept hitting her at the strangest times. About to step into the shower, she suddenly wondered if he was watching her. Just my luck to get a letch of a ghost. “Allen, are you here?” She deliberately stripped off her blouse. “Come on Allen. I know you’re enjoying this if you’re here?”
Knowing him the way she thought she did Shelly knew he’d have some comment to
make or perhaps deliver a great wolf whistle at the sight of her topless. I guess he’s not here, she thought.
A bath was so tempting, but she had no time for that now. First things first. She quickly stripped off the rest of her clothes and stepped into the enclosure. The shower water was cold but
quickly turned warm and then hot, perfectly modulated. The water felt lovely as the warm pellets messaged her aching body. She let her finger touch the welt along her stomach. No showing that off to anyone for a while she thought and then remembered how lucky she was to be alive…most likely thanks to that troublesome ghost. She shut off the water and stepped out of the tub, a towel wrapped around her.
She gasped and whirled around surveying the room. Someone had written a message in the fog of the mirror. It read,
U R Fre LU A
She read it again. Was it a warning? Was it a threat?
She sat down on the toilet seat. “U R Fre. LU A?” She understood almost immediately what the message said, “You are free. Love you Always…no, Love You…Allen”.
Why did he have to write that? Shelly sighed. It must have taken a lot of his strength to materialize enough to do that. She could almost feel his struggle trying to make the crooked letters.
She got up and stared at the writing again. “It was him! He was the one who left that message in the shower, warning me about Dr. Loco. I knew it.”
Shelly grabbed a washcloth and erased the message. She got to the LU and hesitated. “A ghost can’t feel love,” she said, and before she changed her mind rushed the cloth over the letters, wiping them out over and over. “Damn you Allen! I wanted a bath and a nap and now I’ve got to go and find you.”
She dressed quickly in a fresh jogging suit and slipped on her running shoes. The hall seemed deserted. The whole building seemed deserted. This is the strangest university department I’ve ever heard of, she thought as she headed for the stairway.
She trotted up the stairs and again looked for a door to the first floor after charging up four flights. There wasn’t any exit on the landing. She wondered how that could be, as she headed for the final two flights. I’ll have to ask about that later. “Loco,” she imitated Desi Arnaz, “You got a lotta explainin to do.”
“Hi Andy,” she said, smiling at the guard. He nodded at her.
“How are you doing,” she asked, casting him an even warmer smile.
He looked around as if wondering if she was throwing that warm smile at someone else. “I’m fine. Are you okay? I heard about your accident. You look fine?”
She nodded. “I have to go find someone, but maybe we can talk sometime?”
A frown appeared on Andy’s face. “My day off is Thursday.” He looked furtively at his monitors and whispered, “Can’t talk now.”
“See you later,” Shelly said, wondering why the secrecy. Was everyone in this building
Andy gave her a little wave, nodded, and buzzed her out the door.
She wondered why he was so nervous. Was he afraid he was being watched? Why would anyone want to watch a guard? She looked back, but Andy was already reading his comic book.
“I don’t know,” Shelly muttered, uncertain if a comic-book reading guard was much of an improvement over a mysterious, perhaps murderous Dodd, a pompous and chauvinistic Lasker, or even a hard-to-figure-out ghost. “I have absolutely the worst luck with men,” Shelly said, “Even dead ones.”
Shelly hesitated outside the door. It was already getting dark. Do I really want to do this now? The parking lot was empty. “Where the hell are you, Allen,” she asked aloud.
She looked at the road leading away from the building. On campus, I’m safe, she thought. She bent down and did a few stretching exercises and then began jogging down the same road on which she had driven the van.
There weren’t any cars. It amazed her how empty the B lot was. Even the A lot had about a dozen cars splattered around its massive expanse.
Her sneakers were making a soft slapping noise on the asphalt. A man’s shoes make a heavier sound. Shelly knew if someone was waiting for her, the sound of her shoes was a dead giveaway. She had a flashback of the mugger who had started this whole mess. She could almost see him running after a yellow-suited jogger, lunging forward and falling through a ghostly
cloud. “Allen,” she panted, “What the hell do you want from me?”
She tried to pace herself, but the recent accident and her lack of training were making this run difficult. She sensed she was vulnerable…danger could be anywhere. She had planned it that way, knowing if he was near. If Allen still cared, he would know she was in danger and he would respond. The link between them had been forged and until he was freed, Shelly knew they had to stay together. She believed it now.
“I’m waiting,” Shelly shouted, advancing farther from the safety of the building.
Shelly had had plenty of time to think as she was recuperating in the hospital. She had decided she was tired of waiting for the next attack, fed up with searching every corner and alley, suspecting every car. She had made up her mind that this time she was ready for Dodd, or anyone else who took the bait.