Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Specter of Death- Part 10

Billy’s sigh on the other end of the call sent an icy dagger into Kim’s heart.
            “Hey, I’m gonna put you on speaker phone but hold off on telling us what you found. We’re waiting for Gillian to change … she came home soaking wet. I don’t even want to imagine what went on inside my morgue.”
            “What was she doing inside your morgue without you?” Billy asked.
            “I told you they were using that Ouija Board tonight.”
            “You didn’t say they were doing it inside the morgue. What the h—”
            “She back,” Kim interrupted.
The time for grilling Gillian about what happened would come but Kim had been on the edge of her seat, waiting to find out what Billy had unearthed.
            “I have to say, there are some incredible people at the university. I had fellow professors, grad students, and even a few suck-ups from my classes all working on these symbols. Overall, the consensus is that they’re ancient runes but we don’t know if they’re Old Norse or Anglo Saxon.”
            “Why must there always be a ‘but’ in there?” Angela groaned. “A clear cut answer would have been nice, for once.”
            “Tell me about it,” Bill agreed. “The meanings behind the symbols are totally different in many cases, even though they look exactly the same.”
            “So, how do we know which is the correct interpretation?” Kim asked.
            “Well, I’m on my way now. I should be there in a few hours. I think it’s best if we all review them together with the detective working this case. Kim, can you call her and set up a meeting for sometime tomorrow?”

*** In the push to get my next book launched there will be a two week hold until Part 11 so I will see you all back here on Tuesday, June 2nd. Happy Memorial Day and thank you to those who served or are currently serving. You have my deepest respect! ***

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Specter of Death- Part 9

Soaked to the bone in stagnant water from the sprinkler system, the three women sloshed across the room, arms outstretched, looking for the shut off valve and the light switch. Without their candlelight, blackness swallowed the room and everything in it. They tripped over table legs and stubbed toes on corners as their fingertips caressed the walls in search of the elusive switches.
            “Shit!” Kenj shouted as she and a tray of autopsy tools fell to the floor with a crash. “Oh God … this isn’t good. Um, anyone make it to the door yet? I really need some light over here.”
            “I’m working on it,” Marie replied. My fingers are so cold I’m losing feeling. We’re gonna catch pneumonia at this rate.”
            “Jilly? What about you?” Kenj called.
For several seconds there was silence except for the sound of water pouring down on them. Kenj wondered if the icy shivers up her spine came from the cold water, her injury, or worry.  
            “Marie,” Gillian replied though her voice trembled. “You found me. You can take your hands off my shoulders.”
            “Um, I’m over here. I’m not touching you; I swear.”
Before fear could send an icy dagger through their hearts, the lights flicked on, leaving them momentarily blinded. All three let loose a scream that reverberated off the walls. When Marie opened her eyes, three firefighters were standing in the doorway. One still had his hand hovering over the light switch. Another raced off, seeking the shut off valve for the sprinkler system.
            “Are you ladies okay?”
It was then that they noticed Kenj on the floor with a scalpel sticking out of her thigh and more than half the length of a Hagadorn Needle embedded in her hand. Beneath her, the pool of stinking water was tinged red. Both firemen sprang into action, gingerly lifting her as if she weighed nothing and whisking her outside to the waiting EMTs.
     Gillian shivered, both from cold and shock. Thinking quickly, Marie grabbed her bag and placed the board inside before anyone from the fire department returned. She didn’t want anyone to see what they’d been doing. Even though she was willing to do whatever it took to catch the killers, if word got out it would damage her reputation in the force. Gillian rushed to her side, soggy candles in her hands. Once the room was clear, they went in search of Kenj.
            “Oh God, are you okay, Kenj?” Marie gasped.
            “Don’t worry, Detective.” She answered. “I’m fine. It was my own clumsiness. I was just telling the guys how we were discussing the latest case when the power cut out. They think maybe the power surge set off the sprinklers because, obviously, there wasn’t any fire.”
The deliberate tone of Kenj’s voice said more than the words she’d carefully chosen. Marie gave her a kind smile and sat down beside the injured MDI that had effectively thrown herself on a live grenade to protect what they’d been doing inside the morgue. Despite her protests, the EMTs insisted on taking Kenj to the hospital.
            “I’ll follow behind the ambulance,” Marie offered. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
            “I don’t see any reason why Rodriguez here can’t just stitch me up here,” said Kenj. “C’mon, we both know there’s no reason to waste anyone’s time, especially mine, at the E.R.”
            “I’ve got two words for you,” one of the EMTs responded. He held up two pudgy fingers in front of his devilish grin to demonstrate  “Mor— phine. They’ll gave you a little and you’ll sleep like a baby instead of the agony you’ll suffer through if you let any of us sew you back up.” The EMT gave her a wink and attached the gurney straps around her.
Sensing she was outvoted, Kenj sighed in defeat. “Hey, Gillian, you should head home so you can get out of those wet clothes. I’ll give you a call in the morning. Thanks for your help tonight.”
     Gillian hauled herself to her car and cranked up the heat. Warm, dry, air washed over her, chasing the chill away. As she rode across town to Kim’s home, she couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching her. Shadows cast from the streetlights above seemed to take on ominous shapes that shifted to rear their ugly heads. Even when she pulled into Kim’s driveway, a dark form dashed across the rearview mirror. I need a hot shower and a good night’s sleep, her inner voice insisted.
     Inside, the house was well lit and cheerful, leaving Gillian to wonder if stress had made her jumpy. Kim and Angela were waiting at the door to welcome her.
            “Oh my God! Are you okay? You look … wait, why are you all wet?” Kim asked.
Gillian shook her head and raked her hand through her still-damp hair. Before she could reply, the phone rang.
           “Billy! Hey, how are you? Please tell me you have some news for us.” 
***By now, you know the drill. Unless the zombies rise up, I'll be here next Tuesday for another installment of Specter of Death***

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Specter of Death- Part 8

At quitting time, Kim gathered up her things and wished her friends luck. Both she and Angela had made their feelings known. There was nothing more they could offer on the subject. No one doubted her sincerity or concern.
            “Please, be careful. Okay?” Kim’s voice was heavy with emotion.
            “Don’t worry,” Marie replied. “Besides, we might not be able to make contact and you’ll have gotten yourself all worked up over nothing.”
            “I hope you’re right, Marie. I hope you’re right.”
Gillian walked her friend out to her car, reiterating there was no need to worry. The feeling of dread in Kim’s stomach said otherwise.
            When Gillian returned, Marie and Kenj had set up small table surrounded by three chairs, in the center of the room. The board was in the center with the planchette resting on the table next to it. Candles flickered on nearby surfaces, making Gillian wonder what OSHA would think of such a fire hazard.
            “I was starting to wonder if Kim and Angela talked you out of it,” Marie teased, throwing Gillian a wink. “Looks like we’re all set up … I think it would be best if you ask the questions since you knew Seth and we didn’t. He’s more likely to respond to your energy than mine.”
            “I read that someone ought to write everything down. Technically, they don’t actually take part but when that pointer really gets going it helps to have someone jotting every letter and number down.” Kenj added. “Do you want me to do that, Detective or would you rather?”
            “You can do it, if you don’t mind taking the back seat on the action,” said Marie. “I’d like to be involved and I can’t help wondering if Kim and Angela might have made you a little nervous. It’s best to approach a situation like this without uneasiness or negativity. Positive energy is our best shot at making a connection and we desperately need some answers.”
While Kenj settled in with a pad and a pen, Marie turned off the overhead lights so that only the dancing flames atop each candle provided light. The three ladies took a deep, cleansing breath, exhaled, and then nodded to signify they were ready. At the same time, Gillian and Marie placed their fingertips on the planchette.
            “We’re trying to reach my dear friend, Seth Lee. Seth, if you are here, please speak to us. We need your help.” Gillian’s voice was clear and calm even though excited little butterflies danced in her stomach. “Seth, are you here with us tonight?”
     The planchette did not move. Marie looked deep into Gillian’s eyes and gave her a nod of encouragement.
            “Don’t give up,” Kenj whispered. “Sometimes it takes a few minutes. Try again.”
Gillian called out again to her departed friend on the other side. Beneath her fingertips, the piece of plastic trembled then slid a couple of millimeters.
            “Seth, is that you? Are you here with us?” This time the planchette moved back and forth across the board.  “Marie, are you moving it?” she demanded.
Not wanting to interrupt whatever connection they’d established, Marie shook her head no. The detective’s wide eyes reflected sincerity and honesty.
            “We are looking to make a connection with Seth Lee. Seth, are you there?”
The pointed end moved rapidly to the corner marked ‘YES’.
            “Seth? Is it really you?” Gillian’s eyes clouded and her chin quivered when the plastic under her hand slid away from YES circled the board once and then returned. “We want to find whoever hurt you and stop them from harming others. Do you know who attacked you?”
Faster now, the planchette jerked away from the ‘YES’ mark and made sloppy ovals before returning to the same affirmative marker.
            “Good! We need you to give us a name.”
Erratic, rapid, circular motions gave way to loops like an infinity symbol or a figure eight before landing on ‘NO’. Marie had to bite her tongue to keep from saying anything aloud but her inner voice muttered a few choice profanities.
            “Seth, we want to stop them from hurting others. You don’t want anyone else to be killed, do you?”
The pointer circled back to ‘NO’ which gave Gillian hope. She knew Seth was always reasonable; it just took time to get him to come around sometimes.
            “Good, we don’t want anyone else to get hurt either. Together, we can stop them! Now, please, tell us who did it.”
Their hands swirled across the board and Marie drew in a sharp breath when they moved too close to NO but they did not return to it. Instead, the clear circle encompassed the letter C. Kenj scribbled it onto her pad, followed by A then N. Frantic circles whipped across the board until it settled on the letter T. After several seconds, there was no movement.
            “C’mon, Seth. Don’t tell me you can’t!” Gillian groaned. “Yes you can. Give me the name.”
Before her sentence finished the planchette was moving again in rapid swirls. Marie made a mental note to look up the meaning of an infinity sign on the Ouija Board later. The letters came in rapid succession: SCARRED.
            “Yeah, Kim told me about the scar. It looks like someone branded you, she said but it was an open wound when she first saw you.”
The pointer went back to ‘NO’ making Jillian sigh in frustration. Kenj held up her pad. It had one word: scared, followed by a question mark.
            “Was it scared? Is that what you were saying?”
‘Yes’ was the reply which quickened the breathing of all three girls.
            “You don’t have to be scared, Seth. Not anymore … we’re going to catch whoever is responsible. And when we do, Marie is going to arrest them. Did I tell you she’s a detective?”
            “Sorry, I should have introduced you. She wants to help but she needs a name, Seth. Please?”
Faster than ever, their hands circled the board. Gillian wondered if she’d pushed too hard. Seth’s agitation showed in the rapid, jerking, movements but she said nothing. The first letter, D, appeared for just moment before the spinning recommenced. The rest followed in quick succession, almost too fast for Kenj to see: E-V-I-L. Startled, Gillian lifted her hands for just a second and planchette flew across the board and struck Marie just below her collar bone on the left side. Before any of the ladies could react, the candles flickered for a second, as if a breeze blew through the room, and then the overhead fire sprinklers doused the entire room in icy water.
             "Damn it!” Kenj shouted. “Where’s the turn off valve?”

**Please return next Tuesday for another installment of Specter of Death**