Shelly opened her eyes when she heard a terrible scream.
In the instant Allen rushed Dodd and threw him to the ground, she caught a glimpse of the man who had become the ghost she called Allen. She couldn’t have known it was him, having been unconscious as he struggled to materialize. His back could have been any man’s naked back, strong, lean, but marked with several unusual scars. She let her eyes roam to his hair, almost translucent but clearly brown and wavy. An instant later, the man, the physical being, had vanished and Allen, the ghost again, lay exhausted on top of Dodd, the exertion of materializing to save Shelly sapping his strength.
I saw you, Shelly thought, and closed her eyes. She felt as if she had died. And maybe for a few seconds she had?
The sound of a siren caused her to open her eyes again.
“Are you okay,” she heard Allen’s voice. “This is getting to be a habit…a really bad
“Are you,” she asked. “It was you who saved me again. Wasn’t it?” “I had no choice.”
“You did,” Shelly said, trying to breathe normally. You could have let me die and become a ghost with you, she thought.
“I keep telling you our destinies are intertwined, linked. I had to come when I heard you calling me.”
“I did call you. There was nobody else.” And you had to save me again although you didn’t do it right away…I thought for a second you were going to let me die. I would have been murdered…just like you. We’d have been together then, Shelly thought.
“I would never want you to be like me,” Allen said, as if reading her mind. Something in his voice made her believe that.
The ambulance pulled up and two men came charging out of the vehicle. “Are you okay, Miss,” one man asked, setting down a yellow defibrillator box next to her. “Are you in pain?”
“He tried to kill me,” Shelly said pointing to her throat.
“Who did,” the other man said, moving a gurney toward them.
Shelly gazed at where Dodd had been lying on the ground. “He’s gone,” she gasped, aiming a puzzled look at where she thought Allen was standing.
“I couldn’t kill him,” Allen said as if apologizing. “I learned something else about me. I can’t kill anyone even if I want to…and I did want to. I wanted to kill him for what he did to you.”
“You’re not the killer type,” Shelly said as the medic was taking her blood pressure.
The medic gave her a funny look. “Did you hit your head,” he asked. “Your vitals are fine. Other than a few scrapes and a sore throat, you seem okay?”
“I am,” Shelly said, slowly rising to her feet. She brushed dirt off her jogging pants. “Thanks to you.”
The medic smiled. “You would have been fine without us, but it always pays to be safe.”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you,” Allen said. “What on Earth were you doing out here on your own? You knew someone was gunning for you so what were you thinking?”
“I was looking for you,” Shelly said. “You weren’t there and I needed you.” She didn’t want to tell him she had missed him.
The medic with the gurney had returned to the ambulance, but the other medic had a look of concern on his face. “Are you okay, Miss,” he repeated. “You said you were looking for us.
We’re always here if you need us. Just call 911 or the campus police.”
Shelly understood the young EMT’s confusion and remembered she had to talk to Allen when others weren’t around. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m still in a bit of shock.”
“That’s understandable,” the medic said. “Did you see who attacked you? Can you give a description? The cops should be here any second and will be happy to help.”
“No police,” Allen said. “There’s no way you can explain all this. They’ll think you’re
“I’m fine. I didn’t get a look at his face. He came up behind me.” Shelly suddenly had Dodd’s face in front of her again, that handsome flawless face marred by an insane smile and wild terrifying eyes. “I’d like to leave now. I’m okay.”
“Are you sure? The police will want to talk to you.”
Shelly was on her feet. She bent down and touched her toes. “Do I look like I need any more help? I’m fine. Thank you.” Before he could protest again, Shelly was walking back to the Psych B building. “Are you still with me,” she asked Allen.
“Yes. For as long as it takes.”
Out of sight of the medic who had been following her until she had turned off the main road, Shelly stopped walking. She was panting hard and felt a little dizzy.
“Are you okay,” Allen asked.
“It just hit me that it was Dodd who attacked me…who was trying to kill me all along.” Shelly was bent over trying to calm her breathing. “Why? Why was he trying to kill me?” She almost said, “I thought I could like him,” but decided that was not a good thing to say to Allen, any man, even a ghost, who she had just kind of made up with. “And where were you? Why did you disappear after the crash? I thought you were gone for good?”
Did you celebrate, Allen almost asked, but decided this was not a very good time for that.
Besides he knew she was not the type who would celebrate his disappearance. She might feel relief at being free of her ghost, but she would always wonder what had happened to him…if he was alright. That was the kind of person she was. He understood that now. He knew how he had felt when he thought she had been killed. And yes, he was ready to admit, that at least this ghost
could feel things humans could feel, perhaps even love. “I’m sorry I left you without an explanation. I shouldn’t have done that.”
He sounded genuine. “Then why did you? I…I hate to admit it but I was worried about
“We’d better get back. I don’t want that maniac to get a second shot at you.” Allen had been searching for Dodd around every tree along the park-like roadway. “I think he’s really lost it. I wish I knew why?”
He really sounds concerned, Shelly thought as she started walking quickly, aware that the doctor would be looking for her, suspecting that Dodd might be too. “We can talk while we
walk,” Shelly said. “You can do two things at one time, can’t you?”
Allen realized she was teasing him, but he didn’t laugh. He was watching her to be sure she was okay for the long walk back. He also knew he had been weakened by materializing for his fight with Dodd and if she were attacked again might not be able to come to her rescue.
“Why did you leave? I really want to know.”
Allen sighed. “To tell you the truth I couldn’t stand to see you being hurt. You were
almost killed three…four times…I’m losing count.” He gave an uneasy laugh, knowing that he wasn’t telling her the whole truth.
“All the more reason for you to stay,” Shelly said. “Not if I’m the reason you’re in such danger.”
Shelly stopped walking. “So you think the reason I’m being targeted is because of you?”
“It started after you met me.”
“What about the mugger in the park? Was that your fault too?” Shelly started walking again, feeling a chill in the air as darkness approached.
“Do you believe there’s a reason for everything that happens in life,” Allen asked. “I guess I do now,” Shelly said.
“I believe that now too. I think you and I were meant to meet and that mugger was just part of the plan.”
“Well, if that’s what you believe then you know we can’t escape our destiny, and right now you are needed right here, by me.” Shelly found it hard to believe she was asking a ghost to stay and help her.
“That’s why I came back when you were in trouble. Hey, you’re always in trouble!
Taking care of you is like a full time job.” He had to lighten things up or he might spill how he really felt about her. “You need a damn body-guard.”
“You’re hired…at least until I can be rid of you,” Shelly said and quickly added, “I’m teasing you. Don’t get your sheet in a knot.”
“Hey, that’s pretty funny for a girl who can’t afford to make any more enemies.” “Dodd. You had him and let him go?”
“I couldn’t hold him once I dematerialized again. I wish they had an instruction manual for this ghosting business. I’d love to know how to control this tricky power. I can only stay solid for a few seconds at most.”
“While you had him did he tell you why he wants to kill me?” “Not really? Did you find out?”
“He was too busy trying to strangle me to tell me,” Shelly said, wondering if Allen was keeping something back just like she was.
“I have a feeling he won’t try again after what I did to him,” Allen said, remembering how Dodd had reacted when for the first time in his life he had made contact with a real ghost. You should have seen the look on his face, Shelly, when he heard me yelling at him. Allen thought of telling her what Dodd had said, but then he would have to tell her the rest. She would have to know that Dodd, maniac that he now apparently was, had once been Dr. Lasker’s very sane assistant…worn down by years of the kind of work she was about to undertake, work whose horrors had traumatized him to the point of insanity, work which Shelly was determined to do in order to help rid her of her ghost…in order to help him find his murderer. How could he tell her that? He needed time to think, time to sort out his conflicting feelings about what Shelly was about to do. He knew his fate rested in her decision.
Shelly was quiet the rest of the walk back. She wondered what Allen was thinking about since he was unusually quiet too. She wondered how he would react if she told him the truth about Dodd, not that she knew he was still a terrible danger to her, but something far more significant, something that would ruin any hope she had of helping Allen. Shelly now understood that the agonizing work Dodd had done as Dr. Loco’s assistant had taken a devastating toll on him. She didn’t know if it was because he was already predisposed to madness, or if it was the accumulated burden placed on his brain from dealing with so many horrendous and perplexing cases. She only knew that if she told Allen what she now believed caused Dodd’s sickness, the
ghost would never let her sacrifice herself to help him. How could she let him suffer like that endlessly, without any hope of learning the truth about his life, his family, his murder?
So they walked back silently, neither wanting the other to know the terrible risks they were willing to take to help each other. A ghost who was willing to remain unresolved and homeless rather than have Shelly lose her mind and risk her life, and a beautiful, young girl willing to sacrifice herself to inevitable horrors that might result in madness, to help a ghost ‘friend’ find out about himself and finally have the peace she thought he deserved.
When the door opened to Psych B, Shelly and Allen were resolved to do whatever it would take to help the other survive.