“It’s getting late. I really have to go,” Shelly muttered, afraid of the hostility she sensed around her. It was as if a moist chill was passing through her body.
“No,” Allen said, “You can’t leave me.”
He isn’t going to let me go. Shelly wondered how far a ghost would go to get his own way. “I have to go or my friends will come looking for me.” Would Jeff have come looking for if he was still around? Would any of the so-called men she had dated care if she was late…unless I was preggies, she laughed. I’m on my own. She had to sound logical, not frightened. Keep my voice calm.
“I see,” Allen said. “Just when we were getting to know each other.”
“What if I come back tomorrow? We can talk some more. Maybe I can think of some way to help you by then?” She knew she didn’t mean it. She had no intention of coming back. Just like Jeff had no intention of coming back. She felt the bitterness, but held it in check. First things first. I could have been mugged, or killed, and now I’ve got a ghost after me. I’m never coming back here again, she vowed.
“Why don’t I go with you?” Allen asked.
Oh, oh. “To the girls’ dorm? I don’t think so!” Shelly imagined what kind of trouble a ghost in the girls’ dorm could cause. She didn’t like the idea of any male being able to see her any time he wanted without her being able to see him. “That is a definite no.”
“It could be fun? Just imagine what we could do together. We could spy--”
“NO! I don’t think so! Even a ghost can see that a male living in a girls’ dorm is not a great idea.” What is he? Some kind of a pervert, she thought. He didn’t sound like one, but you never know?
“Why couldn’t you have been a guy,” Allen said. “We wouldn’t have this little problem if you were a guy.” But then I wouldn’t be feeling this way about you either, he thought, wondering exactly what it was he was feeling for her. She certainly seemed to arouse something in him. He felt oddly protective over her. Wasn’t that why he had risked whatever existence he had to save her from that knife-wielding killer?
“That would have been better.” Shelly said, thinking anyone else but HER would have been much better. How do I get away? “I promise I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon and we’ll talk some more. Maybe you can go jogging with me? Would you like that? You looked like you can really run well.”
“I don’t know how I materialized like that. I’ve never done it before.” “You must have the power. What did you do before you ‘saved’ me?” “No idea. It just happened.”
“I saw you,” Shelly said, thinking aloud. “Before the mugger jumped you. I thought you were another jogger…a female?”
“You did see me. That’s a first.”
“That mugger must have seen you too… to attack you like that.” “You’re right. I hadn’t thought about that. But how did I do it?”
Shelly’s eyes wandered to the corpse in the shadows and she shivered having almost forgotten about him. What if someone finds him and I’m sitting here chatting with this ghost? They’ll think I did and lock me away in a crazy house somewhere. Its’ one thing to stab someone in self-defense, but this guy looks like someone sliced him up. That’s not self-defense. How would I explain this?
Allen was still talking. “I know that bum saw me, but I have no idea how I did that. All I remember was seeing you in trouble. That’s all I could think of. I suddenly wanted desperately to help you.”
“Well, maybe that’s it? Maybe when you focus like that, without any other distractions, you are able to materialize?”
“That could be. Like when someone is in trouble and suddenly has almost super- strength…like adrenalin can give you in dangerous situations. That might explain it?”
“It makes sense,” Shelly said and suddenly realized that Allen might have been so focused on saving her that nothing else had mattered to him. She closed her eyes, trying to remember what he had looked like when he had materialized, but no picture appeared. She gave him a small smile, the first he’d ever gotten from her. “I think I know what happened. Allen, you were so worried about me that you took physical form. Maybe you can do it again?”
“Let me try? I’d love you to see how really handsome I was… am.”
Oh brother, Shelly thought, but was surprised she was curious about what he looked like, her desire to escape momentarily put aside. She settled back on the bench. “I’ll be quiet so you can focus all your energies ....”
“Shhh. I can’t concentrate if you keep talking.” “I’m trying to help.”
“Then please be quiet? I’m trying to focus.” “Okay. I’ll be quiet. Now you try to concentrate.” “Shhh.”
Shelly gave him a dirty look, but kept quiet.
Several seconds went by. Shelly kept searching for any sign Allen had materialized, even one part of his body, but there was nothing. Suddenly she heard what sounded like a burst of air escaping from a balloon. “Are you okay?” I’m asking if a ghost is okay? I really must be nuts!
“It’s no good. I tried my best, but I can’t do it. It must have been a fluke or something weird like that?”
Shelly thought he sounded tired. “You probably just need practice. If you did it once, you’ll do it again.”
“I don’t know. They really should have an instruction book for all this stuff.”
“Why don’t you write one,” Shelly said, thinking how crazy that sounded, but maybe it would give him something to do so he wouldn’t bug her anymore? Anything was worth a try.
Allen laughed. “We could do it together. Shelly and Allen’s Ghost Instruction Manual.
You’ll be my ‘ghost-writer’.” He laughed. “That’s a joke. But seriously, we make a good team.”
Shelly sagged on the bench. This guy is planning on a long-term relationship. That was enough to frighten anyone. Relationships with humans are scary enough, she thought, bitter again that Jeff had gone to L.A. even though she had thought they had something that might last.
“I think you and I were fated to meet,” Allen continued. “I only wish I knew why?”
Shelly had a feeling she knew why he needed her, but why on Earth did she need him? If he thought he was going to involve her in some insane scheme to get revenge for his murder, he was sorely mistaken. It was time to tell him good-bye. “I think—“
“I think we have a special connection and that is why I was able to save your life from that guy over there.”
Shelly glanced back at the dead mugger. If Allen had really saved her life, as he kept on insisting, didn’t she owe him at least a little help? Shelly sighed. There were plenty of boyfriends she had had trouble getting rid of in the past, so how on Earth was she ever going to get rid of a persistent ghost?