A MISPLACED LIFE Excerpt - Chapter 9 on Eat Sleep Write

November 13, 2013
by Adam Scull

A Misplaced Life - Chapter 9 by Kathryn Layne

I tried to appear several times the next day.  But, each time I did, the detective seemed distracted.  I thought it might be me.  Perhaps I could no longer appear on a whim.  Maybe I’d drained that energy away in my time in another realm.  I couldn’t be sure.  So I tried his partner.  I followed Jake to the men’s room and just when he reached for his zipper as he stood before the urinal, I concentrated.  I knew my plan had succeeded when the man glanced over, jumped and exclaimed, “Jesus Christ!”
Boy, did I high-tail it out of there.  Though I was mildly concerned that I’d done some permanent damage to him, at least I knew I could still appear as a spirit to others if I desired. 
The problem was Sam.  I entertained the idea that it had more to do with a person’s belief system that anything.  If a man was open-minded and he believed in the unexplained, then he would see more.  If, however, an individual was far too practical, much to the point of excluding things that might be deemed as inexplicable, then he would go on his merry way, oblivious to the wonders of the universe. 
Sam was a tough nut to crack.  I briefly wondered if Julie might have some influence on him, but there was no time.  She was hardly in a rush to move forward with him and a part of me couldn’t blame her. 
Trent was getting too close to Julie though.  She was in danger and I was not corporeal enough to lend a hand.  I needed to find a way to get Sam on the right trail.  If he suspected Trent, he would dig deeper.  And he might discover something. 
I was eerily certain that I was not Trent’s first.  Rarely did psychopaths get created from nothing.  It was likely he had done it before, or many times.  And he was so sure he wouldn’t get caught.  His arrogance was obvious.  I had to defeat him somehow.  And I had one more trick up my sleeve.
I trailed Sam for the rest of the day and followed him home.  When he had taken a shower, ordered a pizza and downed a beer, I pounced.  I pulled every trick in the book.  I rattled doors and windows, opened and closed cabinets and moved objects.  I got no response, however, just an eyebrow and then he went right back to watching a game on TV. 
I groaned, frustrated.  How could Julie stand him?  The man was infuriating.  I stepped over to his desk and took the case file and pushed it off onto the floor.  Papers and photos popped out of the folder.  The picture my parents gave to the police gave me some pause. 
I tried hard, but I could no longer remember the day it was taken.  It seemed like a lifetime ago.  All I could remember was my parents, Julie and this man across the room.  And Trent, of course. 
Tears started in my eyes.  I had lost my memories.  I tried to picture my house, but there was nothing.  I tried to remember what I was wearing the night of my death, but it didn’t seem to matter.  I gasped.  “What’s wrong with me?”
When I looked up, I saw an odd shadow flash briefly in front of the window across the room and then it slowly faded.  Curious, I followed the odd shape to the door.
I somehow ended up in the corridor of the apartment building.  I followed the abnormal shape.  It was a bright flash, nearly the color of white, then gray, then it would vanish.  I felt compelled to find out what it was.  I followed the object to the stairwell, where a girl, probably about seventeen, stood leaning against the wall.  She was wearing white pants, a pale blue shirt and she had hooked her thumbs in her belt loops.  For a moment, her eyes met mine and then slowly shifted away.
I knew then that she could see me.  I moved towards her.  “Who are you?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“I’d like to know.”
“My name is Rebecca.”
I took a deep breath.  “Are you…are you like me?”
She shrugged.  “That depends on your definition.”
The girl was starting to grate on my nerves.  “Are you following me?”
She dismissed my words with a wave of her hand.  “You waste your time with the living.”
I felt the burn suddenly in my chest.  It was like heartache.  “They’re all I have.”
“That’s not true.  There are whole worlds ahead of you if you just open your eyes.”
“My eyes are open.  And I haven’t seen anyone like me until now.”
“I never said I was like you.”
“Then who are you?”  I sighed.  What are you?” I emphasized.
She shook her head.  “I came to give you a chance to move on.”
“All you have to do is take my hand and come with me.  I can take you to another place, where the world of the living will be forgotten.”
I gasped.  “I don’t want to forget!  He has to pay for what he did to me!”
She frowned.  “Vengeance is not the way.”
“I want justice.”
“And over there, all of that will seem insignificant.”
“I don’t want to forget,” I whispered.  “Why am I forgetting?”
“You waver between the two worlds.  You must choose a side or be lost forever.”
“I won’t forget.  They still need me.”
“Do they?  They’re learning to move on.  Perhaps you should too.”
“I can’t.  He’ll get away with it.  I can’t let that happen.”
“Very well.  You’ve made your choice then.  I can’t promise you’ll have another chance, Alexa.  The harder you cling to the living, the harder it will be to move on if the time comes to make that choice again.”
“I know.”
The girl nodded and started to fade.  I reached out to grab at her.  “Rebecca?”
She wavered for a moment.  “Yes?”
“I am relieved that I’m not the only one here.”
She frowned.  “You are not.  Others are struggling too.  If you open your eyes, you can see them.  Part of what is holding you here is blinding you.  Your revenge has clouded your judgment.   But, if you let yourself, you will see them.  They must make a choice as you have today.  I wish you well, Alexa Hamilton.”
“Thank you.” 
And then she vanished.
I stood in the stairwell for a long time, alone with my thoughts, before I started back up the stairs, determined more than ever to convince Sam that I was real and that it was essential to find the proof to finally put Trent away.

I appeared in his apartment, right in front of the television.  It took no effort this time. 
Sam’s gaze widened and he blinked.  I had to give him kudos for his composure, but he stood up so fast his beer can spilled to the floor.  That would make an interesting mess.  “Holy-“
“Don’t panic,” I began.  “I was desperate.  I’m afraid he’ll go after Julie.”
He frowned.  “What in the hell are you talking about?”  Then he groaned.  “I can’t believe this.  I’ve completely lost my mind,” he muttered, sweeping a hand through his hair.  “Too many beers, that’s what it is.” 
“You’re not crazy.  Or drunk.  It’s me.  Alexa Hamilton.”
“I know who you are,” he spat out. 
I nodded.  “Of course you do.  I imagine you know more than you want to by now.”  I grimaced.  “Well, don’t believe everything you hear.”
He frowned.  “What do you want?”
“You have to stop him.”
“My killer.”
He released a shaky breath.  “I know.  And I will.  I never walk away from a case.”
I breathed a sigh of relief.  “Well, that’s good.  But, you’ve overlooked something.  He’s getting away with it.  And he’s going after Julie.”
He frowned.  “Why?”
I shook my head.  “She knows too much or at least he thinks she does.”  I sighed.  “You’ve got to protect her.”
Sam nodded.  “I will.  I promise.”
The burn in my chest eased a little.  “Thank you.”
The room grew silent, almost eerie.  Sam cleared his throat.  “You’re not going to tell me who it is, are you?”
I shook my head.  “I can’t.  There’s no evidence at the moment.  He’s good.  He knows the system,” I added, hoping that the hint would be enough.
Then a hard pain pierced through me suddenly and I staggered.  I heard Sam call my name distantly just as I was transported.