Beware the 13th

Happy Friday everyone, and to celebrate both April’s Fools (belatedly) and Friday the 13th taking place in April, I am giving away a free book! What better way to celebrate than with something scary.

Just sign up for my mailing list and you will receive a free copy of my novel, Hatched in either Kindle or .Mobi form.

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Dead Friends: Chapter 7

Lizzie didn’t want to go back there. She didn’t want to go back into the house that her friend had died in. She didn’t want to go back inside the small, wooden, decrepit place that some random stranger, old and naked, had come at her and tried to eat her and God only knows what else to her. She didn’t want to go near the place of that shadow man, but even more she didn’t want to go near the maggots.

Why was that troubling her? She didn’t know, and since she’d last been there, she had plenty of nightmares. She’d dreamed about the shadow man and his ticky-tat way of talking. She’d dreamed of the old man as she stared up at him with his member dangling in her face, but the ones she truly feared, the ones that woke her up in a sweat was when she dreamed she was in a bath tub covered in maggots, all of them with their hungry mouths. They were all eating her alive, tearing her apart and laying their eggs inside of her, more maggots bursting out of her.

As she stepped out of the back seat of the car bringing her back there, the image of that single white wormlike creature as it fell on her from the man’s penis kept leaping into her thoughts. Though unlike how it happened, she kept remembering it wrong. In her thoughts, it fell into her open mouth made its way into her stomach and was eating her while lying its eggs. With the butterflies she felt in her stomach, she couldn’t help but think there was some truth to nagging sense.

“Lizzie? You okay?”

Lizzie looked over to her friend who had brought her back there. She didn’t want to be back there, but they needed to get her keys and somewhere in there she had dropped them. The police when they went there hadn’t found them. They’d found her phone, but that was it. Well, the phone, and the bodies. They had found both her friend and the old man, but it was with the old man that things got weird. It was then that the cops questions had turned from helping her to questioning her about what happened because according to them, it couldn’t have been the way she had told them.

She went into the hospital three days ago, had been questioned by the police for the last two days both at the hospital and at the motel room she stayed in upon her release. They didn’t believe her story, and as much as she wanted to run away from all of it, she hadn’t. Something kept her here, pulled her, tied to it by something unseen.

“Are you sure your okay?” Elisabeth asked. Lizzie looked over at her and her boyfriend. She was thankful they had brought her out there, but tepid as she was only beginning to know these people. Elisabeth, it felt like Lizzie was using her to fill the void that Sarah had created, though Sarah, dead or not, was still trying to be her best friend. Her boyfriend though, was just as nice as Elisabeth was, and he had suggested they come out there. Well, he’d suggested coming out by himself so he could get Lizzie’s car and look for her keys.

What had possessed her to say she wanted to come back here? Sure, he’d need someone to come with him as they’d have two vehicles but anyone could have rode with him. She doubted Elisabeth would have come. The girl barely left Lizzie’s side, becoming her protector the more the sheriff dug into her with questions.

The old man…how could he have attacked her and killed her friend? He’d been dead for a week. The sheriff knew the man and had been at his funeral when they put him in the ground. He’d died of bone cancer barely able to lift his own arm, not able to walk for the last three months when the cancer got bad, so how had he attacked them?

Lizzie didn’t know. She had no answers of her own other than what she saw.

Maybe she really was crazy…


Lizzie looked over at her, blinking away some of the thoughts though many remained. She just had to not get lost in them. Don’t focus on them right? That was easier said than done.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just trying not to remember the last time I was here.”

“I get that.” Elisabeth’s boyfriend said. Lizzie struggled to remember his name and felt she should really remember it by now as they’ve hung out for more than a day.

“Chuck, you mind going in first? I’ll stay out here with Lizzie while you check it out.”

“Sure, let me get killed in the spooky old death house.”


The color drained in his face as he realized what he just said. Elisabeth was making jerking motions with her head towards Lizzie and while Lizzie couldn’t see her face, she was sure it was more than just the nod she was using to communicate how insensitive he’d just been.

“Oh my God I can’t believe I just said that.”

It was alright. Lizzie barely even noticed as she had slipped back into her thoughts and looking at the small house in front of her. She hadn’t really looked at it the first time. Sarah had been talking but Lizzie had been on the phone with Richard. Her brother had been having a melt down because his caregiver had a family emergency. Samuel, her brothers normal caregiver had called her and told her what was going on. Samual had called their service and Tommy, the backup, was on his way. She was sure that had been explained to her brother, but he had still called in a frenzy. He had continued on and she had to listen to him rant in that computerized voice as he typed it from his end of the call.

“It’s still a dump.” Sarah said as though she could read Lizzies thoughts. Lizzie looked over, across the car to the other side and there she stood. Of course her dead friend was still with her. No matter where she went, Sarah followed now, though she did have the decency not to follow her into bathroom.

Lizzie tried to pretend she wasn’t there, but it was hard. Closing her eyes never helped. Wishing the nightmare away didn’t do anything. Sarah was there wether she liked it or not.

Sarah was right though, the house was a dump. It looked like it had once been painted a drab yellow, tough not that much of the paint was still visible as much of the original color had long peeled away. The remnants of the paint lied in a bed of debris around the base of the house having been torn away after years of neglect and vicious winters tearing at it..

Outside, you couldn’t really see that the windows were blacked out. With the sun coming down and the boards that looked hastily placed to cover them, the house just looked dark inside. Her uncle really didn’t want anyone seeing in, or he didn’t want to see what was out there. Had her uncle seen the shadow man? Had he been hiding from him?

Maybe there were answers inside? She hadn’t thought about that before, but there could be something in there that explained that thing.

Now your just reaching. You know that. You just don’t want to go back in there and trying to give yourself reasons to go. Nevermind that you’ve come all the way back out there, you need to go in or else you’ll be running the rest of your life afraid to face anything.

And somewhere inside her, she was okay with that. Why not just run away from everything.

“Okay, well, I guess I’ll go in then. It’s unlocked right?” Chuck said as he neared the door. It was obvious he didn’t relish the idea of going in alone.

“Should be. I doubt the sheriff’s department locked up after themselves and I’m not sure where my keys are.” Lizzie said as she finally moved, taking tentative steps around to the front of the car. The dried leaves crackled beneath her, fallen from the trees overhead. There were a lot of them. She was surrounded in trees. The whole area was nothing but trees, and then a clearing with an old house. It was like the house was hiding from modern world, and the only connection to it was that small driveway barely wide enough for one car. “Be careful, the woods all rotted on the stairs.”

She had stopped him just before he had stepped onto the first step. There were only three of them to reach the small landing and the front door overhang. It was odd how it was set up. The overhang was blocked off, walled on three sides so that it didn’t allow for those inside to look out past the person directly at the door. Visitors had to walk up the stairs next to the house. It didn’t allow for someone inside to look out, but outside no one could see in.

Why would he be so worried about someone looking in? It was obvious the overhang was not a part of the original design as the wood was unpainted and it didn’t fit in with the architecture. He had to have built it himself.

“Your uncle was nuts.” She didn’t know who had said it. It was getting hard as Lizzie could no longer tell if it had been Sarah or Elisabeth who said it. They both sounded alike to her.

“I see what you mean. One of the boards collapsed, probably one of the deputies that’d been trampling around out here. I should be okay using the sides.”

“You be careful.” Elisabeth called after him. He disappeared and then there was a door slamming shut, what must have been the screen door as he entered the house.

“I don’t like him going in there alone” Lizzie said.

“This house is a dump. Why did your uncle live out here. It’s in the middle of nowhere, hidden in trees. I’ve heard of getting off the grid but this is going too far.”

“And you live here because?”

“Hey, I live in town. Sure it’s small, but I grew up here and I like it. I know everyone. But this…” Elisabeth holds her hand up motion towards the house and the surrounding clearing, “This wanting to know no one. He was hiding from someone.”

“Well, he did leave me a lot of money.” Lizzie said quietly, biting back what she wanted to say. That dread turning in her stomach. Her gut told her that he wasn’t out there to hide from someone, he was hiding from something and that eventually it got him.

“Yeah, I’d be careful with that money. You got no idea where it came from?”

“None.” Though it was becoming nice having it. The lawyer had somehow found out she was in the hospital and had let her know he had the money already put into her account as of yesterday, a full week sooner than anyone had expected. That allowed her to get ahold of someone, a person that one of the nicer deputies had suggested, that would come out and clean the mess of the kitchen so she wouldn’t have to see the blood.

Once Lizzie had told the lawyer about it, he had taken care of all the details. Lizzie didn’t have to worry about any of it. She guessed with money, none of that stuff was important anymore though the revelation was still mind boggling.

Lizzie started towards the side of the house. She had to see it, to see where it happened but she wasn’t sure she could go in the house. Not yet, but if she went around back…

“Hey! where ya going?” She heard Elisabeth rushing to catch up.

“You can see into the kitchen from the back clearing.”

“I thought you didn’t want to go in there.”

“I don’t. I just want to see in, see where it-“

She didn’t finish saying it as she went around the corner. As she walked along the side of the house she could see more of the back and it was different from what she remembered. When she had left the kitchen through the back door, it had been a small clearing, no buildings just woods, but now she could clearly see a large shed. It was unpainted and old, but definitely used. She saw a well trampled path that ran from the house to it.

What had her uncle been doing in there? It was large enough to fit three cars and something she’d more often find on farms for those large tractors. Back there amongst all the woods, she couldn’t see a way for them to bring in any large vehicles.

But that shed wasn’t why she was back there, and she forced her attention away from it as they came into the back yard.

The kitchen door was open, the screen door twisted at the bottom hinge, the top broken so that the door hung off to the side. The wooden interior door still open as it had been and now as she walked up she could see that the small metal stairs that were supposed to lead up to the door had been pulled away and set to the side where there was nothing but the kitchen wall, looking obscene with their stairway to nowhere. It would have been funny if she wasn’t where her friend had been killed. It did make her wonder about the sickness of the mind that drove her uncle to move them over there, never wanting whoever climbed them to get in.

“Lizzie! Wait up.” Elisabeth called. Lizzie wasn’t sure why she was supposed to wait. She was standing there by the back door. She hadn’t run around the house, so why would it take Elisabeth so long to catch up.

“Hey, what are you doing back here?” Chuck said, looking at her from where he had been standing in the kitchen.

Lizzie barely noticed either of them, her eyes transfixed on the last place she had seen Susan alive. The tile floor was spotless. The cleaners weren’t supposed to clean up more than the mess the bodies had made, but as she looked in, the kitchen was clean. All of it. She was sure the kitchen hadn’t been that clean in over ten years as it actually now looked like a room that food could be prepared in. It was amazing and they had all done this in just one night.

It truly was amazing what mountains money could move. Who ever had come out there had gone the extra mile, that was for sure, and to have been out there on their own. Lizzie didn’t think she’d ever be able to stay out there by herself. It was all just too creepy. Too much nature, all the bugs and animals. Never mind that the last time she’d been out there, there had been a homicidal deadman out to massacre them. How had her uncle been able to do it?

“Lizzie, we should get away from here.” Elisabeth said. She came up to her gently wrapping an arm around her shoulders. It was soothing and Lizzie wanted to melt back into the woman as she guided her away. Lizzie didn’t want to go though, pushing away from those comforting thoughts as she twisted out of Elisabeth’s grip and looked back at where her friend fell.

“I did… I died there.”

Lizzie didn’t have to turn to know that Sarah was also behind her. She could hear the tears in the dead woman’s voice and knew those tears were for her own death. Lizzie wanted to turn to her but do you comfort the dead?

Maybe that was what she needed to do. Maybe Sarah was a ghost and until she came to deal with it, she’d always be there to haunt Lizzie?

As much as it hurt Lizzie to have her there with her, she wasn’t ready to let Sarah go. She couldn’t help Sarah with her grief when she was barely holding on to her own?

“-nothing..” Chuck was saying, though Lizzie hadn’t heard anything else. They were talking around her about her and she tried to shake free from the thoughts that kept tying her down so she once again could to focus. There’d just been so much in such a short time it kept drowning her in randomness.


“I’d been through the house. I found your phone and keys but other than that, I couldn’t find anything. You sure you lost your purse in here?”

“I thought I had. I don’t know.”

“Well here’s this.” He said as he held out to her her phone, dead from lack of a charge, and her keys. As she studied the phone, she saw the spiderweb or cracks down the screen. She’d hoped she hadn’t dropped it, but looking at the damage she must have.

At least now she could afford to get a new one.

That didn’t comfort her, but as it dawned on her more and more it felt more like a rock growing in her stomach. Just ‘buy it’ was giving her a sour taste.

“Thanks.” She said, her voice flat as she flipped over the phone and saw the scratches on the back. They made up an odd pattern that tickled the back of her mind. She turned the phone back so she could look at the screen. Looking at that shape in the back hurt her eyes, though she didn’t know why.

“Was there anything else we need out here or should we go?” Chuck said as he jumped down the short distance to the ground.

She wanted to say yes, but found herself reaching up and climbing into the little kitchen. She didn’t know why, she didn’t want to go in, but something inside called out to her. She could feel a thrumming course through the wood as she touched it. The air was different, cooler, and she knew if it was winter and cold outside, that air would be warmer. It wanted her in there, and would accommodate for her. She just had to finish going in.

“Woah.” Chuck said as both Elisabeth and him reached out, both grabbing her and pulling her back. She didn’t fight them. They were right, but as much as she knew it, she still wanted to go in there.

“Lizzie?” Elisabeth moved to face her and look into her eyes.

“I’m fine. We can get out of here.”

“You sure?’

“Yeah, lets just go. I don’t ever want to come back here.”

“Yeah, the place is a dump.” Chuck said as he lead them back to their cars.

“You know you love it out here.” Elisabeth was teasing him, wrapping her arms around him.

“In the woods, yes. This house, no way. I saw inside there. There’s voodoo, or witchcraft shit all over in there. I think I’m cursed for just walking through it.”

“You’re kidding.”

“He’s not. Sarah and I saw some of it when we’d gone through. It’s disgusting and creepy in there. I’d never want to stay the night.”

Elisabeth studied the two of them as they stood to look back at the house. In the woods, something rushed through some of the underbrush, and it was loud in the silence around them. There were no birds chirping and Lizzie didn’t hear any flies buzzing around her. The slight breeze pushed back strands of her hair, but the leaves surrounding her remained still and silent.

Where were the mosquitoes. It was fall, but they shouldn’t all be dead yet. There had been plenty in town, and had even been some really big nasty ones larger than she’d ever seen back home. She was here, out in the woods where they should be attacking and feeding on her like a pack of vampires at a feast.

Into the trees, there was the occasional sound of something scurrying, but even those sounds were few and far between. By the house, it was silent, dead, and that silence grew, pressing more as she had now realized it and listened for it. The open clearing and space around her was closing in, suddenly feeling much smaller, almost on top of her.

“Okay, well, I’m thinking we get out of here unless there was something else you need.” Elisabeth said. Chuck nodded and she turned to Lizzie.


“So you get what you needed?”

Lizzie nodded, holding up her keys and her phone.

“Okay, so we’re probably going to head back to my house. You can meet us there if you’d like. You remember the way right?”

“I don’t know. I might just head back home. I should check on my brother, see that he’s okay, and see how Jess and Dennis are doing. Sarah was their friend too.”

“Yeah, you don’t have to follow us. I didn’t know if you wanted to drive this late or not.”

“I’m not sure.”


Lizzie looked back at the house. The sun was lowering on the far side of the house casting the shadow towards them. She just didn’t know how she felt or what she wanted to do. Where should she go? She didn’t know and if left alone, would probably just sit in her car at some parking lot crying. Was that a bad thing? It probably was, but still just felt right. She didn’t want to be around people right now, no matter now nice they’ve been to her.

“So what are you going to do with the house? Sell it?”

“I don’t know.” But she did know. She wasn’t going to do anything with it. She’d be back there again. She didn’t know why, but there was something in there she needed. She should go in and look. Her back muscles wouldn’t relax until she did. That little nestling of a panic attack she’d had all morning, that shortness of breath that never left her wouldn’t go away until she did.

She watched as her friends climbed into their car and she walked over to her own drivers side door. As they pulled away, she opened her door and got in. The world around her feeling like a dream that was fading and for now it was time to leave. She wasn’t going to go back in, not alone.

Sarah was waiting in the car’s passenger seat. She was still crying.

“I’m dead.”

Lizzie nodded.

“I’m dead, and I’m still here. What am I, a ghost?”

Lizzie shrugged. What did she say to her dead friend. Lizzie sure as hell didn’t have any of the answers.

“Can we get out of here please.”

Lizzie nodded again, starting the car and turning around to drive down the driveway. They got to the end of the drive and saw that Elisabeth and Chuck had stopped at the end, waiting to turn on the main road.

Lizzie didn’t feel like she was really there. Everything around her slipping into this unreal around her and she just sat there watching. She saw as the brake lights dimmed on the back of the car in front of her and then creep into the road. Then the truck felt like it came out of nowhere as it struck the car. The car had been a small compact. The semi was a large behemoth of a vehicle in comparison and had been going way to fast at it struck the little car on its broadside.

Lizzie just sat there, not knowing how long for her to comprehend what she had just seen. It had been Sarah tugging at her arm, telling her to call 911 and telling her she needed to rush to help them.

Help who? It couldn’t be? No, not again. But yes, it was all happening again, and more of her friends were probably dead.

Slowly, Lizzie pulled herself out of her seat, getting back out of the car. She knew what she would see, but walked to where the car was positioned against a tree, both sides smashed in by the multiple impacts. There was no rush. Why? She knew what she would find.

Writer’s Rant: Dealing with ‘Scams’

I got a little hot earlier today when I read an article about publisher ‘scams.’ Here is my response and I am curious as to what your take on this is.


I think the term ‘scam’ is often over used in situations like this. Z Publishing has stated well intentioned goals and they’re right. In today’s publishing landscape, if you want to be found, it is best to be included in an anthology with other similar authors.

So I was all fired up to defend them as I run an independent publishing company and that is our intentions when we organize an anthology. However in further researching them, I think their approach to doing the anthologies is off. Having works featured regionally rather than by genre doesn’t sound like it is all that beneficial. At the same time, they’re asking for non-exclusive rights for publishing so it is not like they are stealing an authors work or preventing them from publishing elsewhere.

As to the argument that they are just in this for the money. The anthologies that I’ve published are lucky to break even on the money I personally put into them. This isn’t something that many do in a way to make money. When anthologies are put together like this, it is often due to a passion and desire to help other writers.

I come from an independent film background. You learn quickly in the indie world that if you want to make it, it is by working with others and building that community. You work on another persons film so that in the future they’ll work on yours. That’s not to say, if I put your story in one of my anthologies, that I’ll expect you to put my story in yours. No, what I am saying is that we build up a community of helping one another rather tearing other people down.

And as for the publishers that publish and ‘prey’ off the young…

Yes, the first time I was ever published was in one of these anthologies. I was young and didn’t know any better. So, am I upset that it was a ‘scam’ and that anyone could have been featured? No. I was young at the time, but at a time when I needed it, getting that first publication gave me the confidence to go on for bigger and better things. It kept me writing. It was worth it.

Be careful of what you call a scam, because you can do more harm than good. As long as it doesn’t cost to submit, and they don’t blatantly steal your work by putting they’re name on it, then leave it alone.


Here is a link to the original article.

Dead Friends: Chapter 16

“So why didn’t you sell the tickets?” Lizzie was sitting in the passenger seat of Roland’s car, not sure how she had let herself be talked into letting him drive her. She wasn’t even sure how she had let him talk her into going. Sure she loved Ed Sheeran and up until their break up, had been looking forward to this getaway weekend they had planned. That had been a month ago. She had completely forgotten about the concert and with everything going on, it just hadn’t seemed like something she’d have to worry about.

This was a terrible idea, what was she doing here?

“I don’t know. I just didn’t.”

“And you couldn’t take someone else?”

“Didn’t seem right. Ya know? These were our tickets.”

“You could have just paid me back my half and taken anyone you’d like.” She was watching what she said. It was too early in the night and she didn’t want to start it off with a fight. Still she knew the edge was there and he had to take the meaning of what she was implying…After all, she had dumped him because he had been cheating on her. If he wanted to be with the other girl so bad, why didn’t he just take her. Now there was nothing to stop them from being together. She had done him the favor of letting him go so he could go off and cheat on other woman.

She could feel the anger starting to well up in her again, a rising tide that edged for her to start up the old fights. It wanted the war of words again, as the fire hadn’t faded as much as she thought it had.

Get your mind off of it.

She looked into the back seat, noticing again how empty it was, and took a long, deep breath. Her dead friends weren’t with them. She took another breath and looked down at the bump under her sweater where the talisman rested on her chest. It felt cool to her skin and it was weird but she swore she could feel a faint hum thrumming through her.

She had found the talisman when she had finally opened the letter from her uncle. Jessica had left shortly after chasing away the dick who’d hit his girlfriend. She’d said that she wasn’t feeling to well, and Lizzie agreed with her. She’d become extremely pale, and dark bags had formed beneath her eyes.

Lizzie had been left in the parking garage, Josh once again hounding her to open the damned envelope. So after feeling the bulging contents, she had done just that.

It came with a cryptic note, telling her only that she should put on the necklace right away and then go to his house. There, she would find a letter explaining everything in his bedroom. There would be a box she was to go through with pertinent information about the legacy he had left her.

The sane part of her had chuckled in her mind at this and thought, “Money isn’t really a legacy, but if he was referring to his own special kind of lunacy, that was a legacy he had left for her.”

But she hadn’t been able to take comfort in that thought. There was too much of the crazy. It now surrounded her to make her feel that money was not the legacy he was referring too. Yeah, her legacy was dead people and they were throwing a party around her.

Josh had bust out laughing when he read the note over her shoulder. He wailed, screamed, shouted into the air. When that had not been enough, his emotions running him through the gamut, he started crying as he fell back into a nearby car. His legs had given out and he worked himself onto the cold cement.

Lizzie had watched him and had almost felt sorry for him. She had known he was hoping for some kind of answer in the note, something that would tell him why he was there; why they all were. Instead there was some crappy necklace and instructions to go to his house. What, had the guy been so paranoid that he didn’t trust his own lawyers with whatever his ‘legacy’ was?

She had looked at the odd looking thing as she pulled it from the envelope. The object was on a strand of cowhide that had been tied into a large loop. She’d seen the type of work before, often when visiting Native American tourist traps and in Indian gift shops. Hanging on it though, looked like something a medicine man might have made. It was a large round ring with string crisscrossing on the inside. Inside the ring and tied to the strings we’re a animal teeth. It was impossible to tell what the teeth were from, it was definitely vicious as the teeth were long, fang like, and sharp.

She had held it up to the light, dreading wearing the thing.

“What the hell is that?” Josh asked.

“Liz, the man was nuts. Are you sure you can trust…that?” Sarah asked as she pointed to the necklace. She looked disgusted by it and was glaring at it like a snake getting ready to strike her.

Sarah was right though. Her uncle had obviously been nuts, but what had made him that way?

What the hell?

Lizzie put on the necklace and Josh and Sarah both disappeared. She wasn’t sure but she assumed that Chuck and Elisabeth were also gone. She was free. They were free. Now maybe she could return to some kind of sanity.

“Earth to Liz. Lizzie anyone home?”

Lizzie blinked, bringing her back to the car she was in and the man who sat behind the wheel of the car.

She looked over at him. Roland was watching the road, but stealing looks when he could spare them to study her with those bright blue eyes.


“Really? So what do you say?”

“About what?”

“You weren’t listening.”

“What were you asking.” Lizzie said, getting increasingly annoyed. He used to do this to her all the time. He would talk and drone on about some kind of boring crap until she got to the point that she couldn’t take anymore and would zone out. Then he would start asking her about it, like there would be some great quiz on whatever useless crap he had told her.

She thought she had become an expert on tuning him out. How had she put up with his useless rambles while they had been dating. Oh yeah, she’d talk over him, not allowing him to get rolling into what conversation he’d started. When she’d talked long enough, he’d shut up.

She hadn’t done it this time because she hadn’t felt like talking as much. It wasn’t that she had nothing to say, as so much was happening in her life. No, she didn’t like to talk because she was afraid of what she would say and who she would say it to. The last thing she needed was to people thinking she was crazy. If she started talking to people who weren’t there, that would be the end of it. She’d be in the padded room and hitting the walls.

It was an effort, but she tried to bring herself back into the conversation.

“I asked a few things.” She said, and realized she had no clue what she was even talking about.

“Huh? No you didn’t. You’ve sat there for the last half hour stealing glances to the back seat like you’re expecting to see someone back there. What I had been talking about was me asking you if you were okay.”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Lizzie said, pulling herself around so she sat straight in her seat. She didn’t know if she was really doing it, but it felt like she was pulling herself in upon oneself, taking up as little space as possible and becoming as small in the seat as she could. She didn’t like that he could read her like that.

“Really?” He stole another quick glance at her.

She didn’t look back, keeping her eyes on the road. She guessed they were nearing Madison as she saw the sign for the Cascade Mountain resort that was near Portage. She hoped that wasn’t the case as if it was, they’d only shared the car ride for under an hour. She was already getting antsy and wanting to pull her own hair out.

“Because I see a mess. I can tell you haven’t been sleeping. You look tired as all get out and your skin is getting pale. I mean, you’re always white but this is ghost white. I don’t think you’ve seen the sun in weeks.” He stole another glance over. Lizzie wasn’t sure how she looked, and didn’t think it was any of his business. Inside though, she felt a heat in her chest and knew there was wetness forming at the corner of her eyes. Who the hell was this bastard, to think he could tell her she looked like a wreck. “Have you? What have you been doing since Sarah died? We share friends, I know none of them have seen you. We’re all worried about you.”

He finished, and they sat in the car in silence for a mile with her mind racing. They were driving to a concert, hours away so he would have her alone in the car. Jessica asked her out to lunch all in the same day. Jess had acted shocked about them going, but had she faked it? Lizzie wasn’t sure and as she thought about it, she was beginning to feel like she was set up. They all planned this.

But who in hell thought it would be a good idea for Roland to be the one to get her alone. She was going to kill them. Really, who in the hell thought she was going to bare her soul to Roland?

“Who were you originally going to give my ticket too?”

“I told you-“

“No, you told me some excuse to get me to go with you. Was it Natalie?”

“I don’t want to go into that again. I was never with Natalie. Please, let’s not fight.”

“But who were you going to take?”

The car grew to the unsteady quiet again as they drove miles down the interstate listening to only the hum from the road and the occasional car that passed them.

“Sarah said she’d buy your ticket. She was going to buy both tickets and I think she planned to take you. She knew how much you wanted to go.”

Lizzie felt the anger that had been ballooning up inside her deflate, and a single tear found its way to rolling down her cheek. Sarah. Sarah wasn’t with her anymore. With the necklace on, her friend was always there and now Lizzie was going to have to start grieving. Her best friend was dead, and one of the last things she had planned was to take her to see her favorite singer.

Lizzie wasn’t sure what to say. This time the silence that stretched until they made it past Madison was broken only by the sniffles as she fought to hold back the flood gate of tears. She couldn’t stop herself from looking into the back seat, this time hoping to see Sarah sitting back there, smiling at her. It would have been a relief just to have her tell her how stupid she was being going to this concert with him. Her friend would scold her, call her out on this bullshit. Her friend who would be there for her.

She felt the pinching between her breast when she shifted in the seat, the rings of pain from the teeth causing her to wince briefly. She had put the necklace on. She had sent her friend away, releasing her. Now Lizzie would be alone.

She couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t haven’t any friends. Sarah had been her bestie since…since… well long enough that she couldn’t remember a time without her.

Now she had no one.

She felt utterly alone, stuck in hell with the lying sack of shit she had allowed herself to listen too. It was fitting really. It suited her, didn’t it? They deserved each other. His lying and her betraying her friend, getting her killed and now sending her away.

You didn’t send her away. You released her. Now she’ll be wherever dead people go, with any luck it was a better place and her friend was up in heaven somewhere.

Though as often as she tried to convince herself of that, she didn’t truly believe it.

“So what’s your favorite Sheeran song?” Roland said. The silence must have stretch to a point that he couldn’t help himself and tried again at the dangerous art of talking.


“What’s your favorite Ed Sheeran song?”

“I like all of them.”

“Sure, but you gotta have a favorite.”

“I do.”

“What is it?”

“It changes. For like, the last month I’ve been listening to ‘Happier.’”


“Yeah, why?”

“Just not sure I know that one.”

“You do. It goes ‘Only one month we’ve been apart, you look happier…” Lizzie screeched out. Roland started laughing as he shook his head.

“Please, please stop.”

“Hey now, I can sing,” she said.

“Remember, I heard you Karaoke. No, you can’t.”

“Fine, like you can do any better.”

“You’re right, but I know my limitations.”

“Oh, you karaoke just as bad as the rest of us.”

“I’m not going to argue. Just I know to wait until I’ve had enough to drink that I don’t realize how bad I am.”

Now it was Lizzie who was shaking her head, and an honest laugh that welled from so deep within her, that the painful memories from earlier was momentarily slipping away from her. With any luck, they would stay away for a little. The wetness that still hovered in the corner of her eyes threatened that they weren’t going to be gone for long.

“So, oh wise one, what’s your favorite song?”

“The A-Team,” he said and in such a way that made it sound like he was announcing it proudly, which was odd. She couldn’t imagine him liking any of Eddie’s music that way.

“Really? Why is that your favorite?”


“Oh no, give.” Lizzie was having a hard time repressing the smile she had somehow slipped into her voice. They were doing it, for better or worse, that old patter of returning barbs to one another and everything was mentally hidden under the fog of the last month.

She wasn’t sure she liked that, but it was hard. They’d been dating for a year and much of it had been a lot of fun.

“How can I not love the A-Team?”

“You’re stalling.”

“No, just don’t see why I need to explain it. I didn’t make you explain yours.”

“Yeah, you do.”


“Because I want to know why the A-Team?”

“Well… it’s the A-Team. How can’t you love a song referring to an old school 80’s show.”

Lizzie sat there, staring at him, not sure if he was serious or just playing with her. She knew her mouth hung open and she was looking at him dumbfounded, but really, how could anyone blame her. There was just no way he could be this ignorant. Either that or he’d never even listened to the song.

He hadn’t. She should have seen it. Eddie wasn’t his normal stuff. She had known that since she had first started dating him. He liked all that heavy crap with squealing vocals and where the singer, if you could call them that, was grunting indiscriminately throughout the song.

“What?” He asked, glancing over at her, registering her look of utter amazement at him as she realized something else. He would have never bought these tickets if not for how much she had wanted to go. How had she never seen it before?

“That’s not what the song is about.”

“What do you mean?”

“Eddie’s A-Team. It’s not about some obscure-“

“The A-Team was not an obscure show. It was huge.”

“Whatever. So. The song is not about some show trapped back in the 80’s”

“There’s also a movie.”


“The movie had Bradley Cooper and Liam what’s his name in it. That ‘Taken’ guy, he played Hannibal. It was awesome.”

Lizzie had never before wanted to smack her head into the dashboard as much as she wanted to right then. The pain had to be less than listening to Roland as he tried to explain the song has something to do with whatever show he was talking about. She had never been able to understand his love for ancient television. She knew he also loved to watch old black and white twilight zone episodes on holidays. How lame was that?

“The song… it has nothing to do with the movie… the show, any of it.” She said. She had a hard time not yelling the words at him. He was an idiot, how did she ever put up with him? “It’s about angels. The song is about drug addiction and angels. A young woman who drifts away and because she’s too blind to the path her life is taking she overdosed and dies. The angel’s die. Get it.”

They sat in silence for awhile as the miles passed by, marked by the white lines and green signs. Finally he glances over at her. “Na, I still say it’s about the A-team.”

Her mouth dropped open and he sees it, returning her stunned expression with a smile of his own. If he wasn’t driving, she would have hit him right there, putting all her strength and weight into it, because right then, the only thing she wanted to do was to knock that smile right off his lips.

“I’m just kidding with you. Loosen up. Try to have some fun tonight, okay?”


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Dead Friends: Chapter 15

“I must really be losing it. I could have sworn I heard you talking to Sarah.”

Lizzie looked over Jessica’s shoulder to where Sarah was hovering over her. She had a pang of guilt. She really wanted to tell Jess just how right she was. She wanted to confess everything to her. Sure she had never been as close to Jessica as she had been to Sarah, but they’d still been friends. Lizzie really felt like she needed one. Well, one that wasn’t already dead.

They were both sitting outside. The day had warmed up to were it wasn’t uncomfortable and many of the cafes and pubs had opened up their front areas to outside seating. Someone from colder states might have felt it a bit chilly, but Jessica and Lizzie were born Wisconsinites and the chill was refreshing.

It hadn’t taken them long to get to the cafe as it had been just around the corner and they been able to quickly walk there. It went unsaid that neither of them wanted to ride in a car and drive over.

“Oh come on, can we just get some food for take out.” Josh groaned. He had made his opinion clear that he didn’t want to sit around while a bunch of damned women jibber-jabbered, his words. He wanted out of there. He didn’t want to be there or anywhere.

He was coming to grips with the fact that he killed himself. He’d been high, drunk, and stupid and had gotten the gun from his security case. So he deserved to be… somewhere. He didn’t know if that meant hell or just an eternity of nothing. It didn’t matter. What did matter was that he wanted it all to be over with. He wanted to slip into the dark and let the world around him go away. His family was gone, what did he have to exist for anyway.

“Lizzie, earth to Lizzie.” Jessica said, snapping her fingers. As she did, the waitress was lowering their salads in front of them. Lizzie looked briefly at it, thanking the server before looking back at her friend. She’d gotten so used to dead friends around her always talking amongst themselves, it was getting easier to just zone out when someone living was talking to her. She knew that wasn’t a good thing. She’d have to work on getting better about that.

“Sorry about that?”

“About what?”

“Drifting off there. My mind keeps doing that lately.”

“I’m sure. It’s been hard on all of us, and well, we’re worried about you.”

“Who’s we?”

“Some of the sisters. I know you didn’t get into the sorority, but my sisters still care. And Dennis, as well as Tammy and Cynthia. You have friends you know. We’re all here for you.”

Funny, as Lizzie couldn’t remember the last time she’d talked to half of the people on Jessica’s list and the sorority had made it clear that she had not been good enough stock to be one of their sisters. Though Lizzie wouldn’t say anything about that to Jessica, she couldn’t do anything about the comebacks and the thoughts that festered.

“I know,” was all she said, keeping her eyes downcast, studying her salad. It was what she’d ordered and normally she loved the Mediterranean salad with grilled chicken, but she was losing her appetite. Hearing Jessica talk about all these artificial friends as though they actually were people who cared about her made her wonder just how much Jessica cared. After all, it’s been nearly two weeks before they had even seen each other and even now something was off. It was like there was this rift between them now, and Lizzie wasn’t sure what to say anymore.

They sat in silence for a minute that stretched into another.

“Come on, this is bullshit. Let’s just get out of here.” Josh said. He kicked at a chair and it fell over. Sarah looked at it shocked but Lizzie didn’t notice it. Elisabeth and Josh were gone again, walking somewhere nearby. More and more they seemed to go off to be on their own.

Lizzie looked up and saw that Jessica was looking at something. She turned and saw that Jessica was looking at the chair toppled over. She didn’t see Josh standing there but Lizzie saw as he squatted near it. He looked puzzled, like he wanted to reach out and touch it but kept pulling his hand back not daring.

“That was odd.” Jessica said and Lizzie looked back at her. She had a far away look like she was thinking about something. “You know, it’s weird but sometimes I feel like Sarah hasn’t moved on. It’s almost like I can feel her and know she’s here with us.”

Lizzie felt the pang of guilt and looked at her dead friend. Should she tell Jess? How would that go? She could see three possible outcomes. Either Jessica would be making some phone calls and getting Lizzie committed, getting pissed at Lizzie for thinking she was messing with her, or some off chance that she actually believed Lizzie.

Lizzie highly doubted that Jessica would believe her. She knew she wouldn’t had positions been reversed. Just how would she take it? She wasn’t really sure. She knew she wouldn’t get Jessica committed, so that was off the table. She didn’t think she’d think her friend was messing with her, but she also didn’t think she’d believe her.

No, she knew what she would do and her passive aggressive nature was probably to blame. She’d listen to her friend, tell her it would all be okay, and over the course of the next few days or weeks, stop calling and asking to hang out. She’d distance herself until months down the line they would find themselves getting together and she would casually ask, “So hey, you still seeing dead people?” and if she said yes, would drop her out of her life completely.

She looked at her friend who was reading something off her phone in one hand, holding the fork in the other, and munching on some of the salad. She was completely oblivious to Lizzie across from her and her inner turmoil.

“I know what you mean.” Lizzie said as she pushed around a radish until it fell out of the salad bowl.

“I think we need to get out of here.” Josh said quietly into Lizzie’s ear. She recoiled from it as he had never been that close to her before. It was kinda freaky.

“Liz, I think he’s right. Did you see what he did? That shouldn’t be possible.”

“I keep saying we need to get out of here and read that letter. Somethings gotta be in there about all this.”

Lizzie didn’t think so. With how crazy her uncle had been it was probably just some crazy wish like, bury me with Elvis, or don’t go in his house. He had been nuts. There’s no way any of this was related back to him.

She felt something pinch her butt and looked at Josh who was on the other side, both hands in view.

What the hell? She reached back and found the letter, that stance bump in the envelope right where she had been pinched.

“Dennis just texted, wondering what your doing tonight.”

“Got plans.”

“Really?” Jessica looked up from her phone, setting down the fork. “With Who?”

Great. Open mouth and insert foot. Lizzie did not want to tell Jessica that she was going with Roland to a show in Milwaukee. She should lie. It was the only way. She should just up and lie.

“Roland. We’ve had tickets to see Ed Sheeran.” Dammit. What is with you?

“For fuck’s sake, will you just open the damned envelope” Josh screamed. She tried to ignore him.

“Wait, What!? Your going with Roland? I thought you dumped him because he was fooling around with that Natalie tramp.”

“Yeah, well..” Lizzie fidgeted with her salad. Now it was starting to feel like old times. These were the conversations she remembered having with her BFF’s. Though she did wish she wasn’t the one to be on the hot seat discussing how she was going out with the ex-boyfriend she had dumped. She did deserve it. She was the idiot who had said yes to going.

“Yeah well what? I mean come on. He turned you into a wreck. You’ve still trying to get over him and now you guys are going back on a date. He already cheated on you once.”

“It isn’t a date.”

“He’s picking you up?”

Lizzie nodded, not trusting her mouth anymore. It seemed to have become too honest for her own good.

“And your going to a show together. How is this not a date?”

“I don’t want it to be. I can’t stand the asshole. We just… We got the tickets and I really want to go to the show.”

“So go by yourself or hell, take me.”

“It’s not that easy. He showed up at the apartment and he’s-“ her phone started buzzing and she flipped it over from how she had put it on the table to see that Roland was calling. “Shit.”

Jessica stood so she could look down at the caller ID from the other side of the table. “Here, let me talk to the son-of-a-bitch.”

Lizzie clicked on the side of the phone, silencing it until it went to voicemail.

“We’d bought the tickets long ago when they went on sale. He’s held on to them, and God, I just want to see my Eddie. They’re really good tickets.”

“Your Eddie huh.”

“Yes, my Eddie. He’s going to look down at me from that stage and realize how much he needs me in his life and going to take me off to tour with him.”

“You are a dreamer.”

Lizzie threw a carrot at her.

“Someone kill me. Again. And again.” Josh said as he started slamming his fist into his head. “This is hell. There is no big mystery. I’m just in hell.”

Lizzie’s phone buzzed again, and she looked down, this time to see the text message Roland had sent.

“Rdy to pick u p.” She saw on the screen and she quickly mentally translated to ‘I’m ready to pick you up.” She shook her head and turned back over the phone. She wasn’t ready to deal with him again. Not yet.

And you still have to survive a three hour car trip with him.


“So tell me how is this a good idea.”

Lizzie winced, shrugging in acknowledgment that her friend was right. “I get to see Ed Sheeran and try to have him run away with me so I can have wonderful beautiful babies with him.”

Jessica lowered her head, shaking it. They were both giggling.

“You dumb bitch!”

Lizzie was getting used to Josh cursing and yelling at her that it took a moment before she realized that wasn’t Josh yelling. For Jessica it hadn’t taken so long and she had quickly looked up and past Lizzie to the screaming behind her. By the time Lizzie did turn, she had been just in time to see the man a few buildings down as he slapped the girl he was with. Lizzie assumed he was with.

That was all it took for Jessica as she was already up and rushing to the too strangers. She had looked at Lizie as she rushed past. Had those red rings returned to her eyes? Lizzie wasn’t sure but she remembered them easily enough from a little bit ago and thought about how close Jessica had nearly come to getting killed.

What if…? What if something was killing her friends or those close around her. It was crazy but just what if? It was killing them and leaving their spirits with her. It was targeting those she cared about. Jessica was someone she cared about. What if that red ring was some kind of marker…? Then Jessica could be in danger.

That’s a lot of ‘what if’s’. There’s also the what if that she could be crazy and imagining all of this.

Still, Jessica was her friend. She wasn’t going to let her go alone.

As Lizzie stood, she noticed that the few others that had been dining outside had looked, but were now focusing intently on their food. Everyone seemed to be actively ignoring what was going on.

“Now get in the car and let’s get home.” The man was yelling. Lizzie was paying more attention to him as they were getting closer. He was taller than them both and pretty muscular. Lizzie didn’t find it attractive but she could see other girls fawning over him, though he had that Magic Mike vibe and damn, that was such a turn off. He was flat out pawn scum to her as he stood hovering over the shorter dark skinned woman who was holding her face. He was leading her to his car, door open for her.

“What does she think she’s doing?” Sarah yelled. It sounded like she wasn’t that much farther than Lizzie, hurrying behind her.

“This woman’s crazy.” Josh said and Lizzie could swear she heard him laughing. This was her friend they were dealing with and that asshole is laughing. Lizzie would have to talk to him later.

“Read what’s in that envelope and he won’t be so ornery. It’s all he’s asking for,” her inner voice told her. It was far more calm than she thought it should be as she was running on full alert chasing her friend.

“Hey asshole.” Jessica said. Lizzie cringed. She had no idea what her friend was going to do. He was a beast. Jessica was a fly when it came to him. A fly on the wall and Lizzie was worried that the fly was about to get swat.

Well, flies can bite, but it was right then that Lizzie realized her friend wasn’t a fly. She was a full on hornet. She ran right at the man and as he turned, she slammed her fist straight into his jaw.

Lizzie stopped and felt a force and a crushing instant headache as Sarah slammed in behind her, but it couldn’t be helped. She was left awestruck watching the blow and the cascading effect of the shock registering on the large man’s face.

“What the fuck.” The man spit out blood from his new busted lip. “You fucking hit me. What the fuck you dumb bitch, you fucking hit me.”

That was all the man was able to say. While he had staggered back, spitting out the words with blood punctuating the curses, Jessica had swirled around, somehow in the process kicking off her shoes. She was near dancing on her toes as she moved and with precision, she had made a complete 360 to finish with a sweeping kick. The large man crashed to the ground, first with a crunch on his ass and then Lizzie watched as his head smacked the pavement with a loud crack.

She held her breath as Jessica stood. Did they just kill the man? He wasn’t moving. What kind of trouble would they be in? They had attacked this random man on the street surrounded by witnesses. Jessica murdered him. She could go to prison. They’d send her away with the death penalty. What was the law in Wisconsin? Was it life or injection?

Then the other thought hit her like a fist to the gut and she quickly looked around at the surrounding crowd. What if he did die… and came back like the others.

She didn’t see him in the crowd. Yeah, she didn’t see him, but all the others had come back in the middle of the night. He might not come until she was asleep.

“You okay?” She heard Jessica saying. She looked at her, about to reply when she saw that Jess wasn’t talking to her. She’d walked over to the other girl and was looking at her. The girl was crying but she still nodded.

“It was my fault. You shouldn’t have hit him, he’ll only be upset when he gets up. It was my fault. I had forgotten to pay the cell bill and his phone was turned off. I shouldn’t have forgotten.” The woman was in tears, backing away from Jessica as Lizzie approached. She was shaking her head vigorously back and forth. It was obvious that Jess wasn’t going to get anywhere with her.

“Fuck!” The man screamed from the ground. He started rolling back and forth grabbing at his head. Tears were streaming down his cheeks.

Well, at least he wasn’t dead.

Lizzie moved to help the girl, moving slow as the girl backed against the wall of a corner grocery store. She saw inside how people were gathered near the window watching the commotion outside. Sure and none of them were willing to come outside and help. Assholes.

“It’s going to be okay.” Lizzie said. Jess must have realized she was not being any help as she turned away from the woman and walked back to the man on the ground. Lizzie didn’t turn around but it didn’t take long before she heard him screaming.

“She shouldn’t be doing that. It was my fault.”

“I know. She’s a mean person. It’s going to be okay.”

The woman wouldn’t look up at her and Lizzie continued to ease herself closer to her. The woman kept her eyes locked on her boyfriend. She was a mess, but Lizzie could see that when her makeup wasn’t smeared and she wasn’t hiding herself in this pity, she was beautiful enough to be a model. Maybe she was. She was rail thin, had that long brunettes hair that was perfect even with all the craziness going on around them.

Lizzie almost admired her. But then, how could someone this beautiful be with such a jerk. Did she not see how amazing she looked? She could go out and find anyone better than this piece of shit with no problem, but here she was.

Lizzie was finally close enough to touch her and gently lied her hand on her shoulder. The woman shot up, her eyes looking directly into her own and they immediately opened wide in fear. It was like the touch electrified her. Her mouth started moving wordlessly and she was sliding on the wall, trying to get away. She was desperate to get away, pulling her shoulder away breaking it free from Lizzie’s hand.

Finally she found her voice as she whispered, “moun ki gen madichon.”


“Madichon. Madichon!” The woman hissed it at her, then spit to the ground. Before Lizzie fully realized what was happening the woman turned around, and ran. She didn’t just jog away, she ran at full speed like she was running for her life, to get away from Lizzie.

“What the hell was that?” Jessica asked. She stepped up next to Lizzie as they watched the woman running across the street nearly getting hit by a car.

Lizzie looked over at her friend. Behind her she could see the man getting up. He was staring at them with venom, but he was also holding his side and could barely stand. She didn’t think he was going to start anything and he didn’t as he stumbled and climbed into his car.

“Don’t know,” Lizzie said and then cocked her head back in the direction of the man. “So where you learn all that?”

“Remember that guy Dennis told you about. Well he’s one hell of a self defense teacher… and he teaches a little boxing on the side.” Jessica said with a wry smile.

“Excuse me. Excuse me. Are either of you going to pay or do I need to call the police?”

They both looked over to the waiter who was standing next to their table, their checks in hand.

Both of them broke out in laughter and walked back to the table.

Sarah and Josh were already there, sitting in their abandoned chairs. Where the hell was Elisabeth and Chuck and how had they missed all the action?

Lizzie was going to have to ask them, if they ever returned.


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Working on another project, I just discovered that Inside the Mirrors PRINT edition is currently on sale for only $2.08 on Amazon. If you have Prime you won’t even have to pay shipping.

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Dead Friends: Chapter 14

Lizzie ran. She wasn’t sure if she should be running away. That was her instinct. Run, and get away from whatever was going on. Screaming wasn’t good and she’d heard enough of it in the last month. She thought she had recognized that screamed and ‘oh god,’ she knew it was Jess. Deep in her gut, Lizzie just knew it and there was no way she could run away and leave her friend to die. She’d done too much of that lately, she was not going to let down another one of her friends.

And if she had run away, she knew what was coming. She knew that soon she would see her friend. That Jess would be joining her for lunch and every other lunch soon thereafter. She would be with her eternally as one of the dead that surrounded her.

That sinking feeling in her stomach had already stole any thoughts of an appetite. That couldn’t stop her, and she didn’t let it.

So Lizzie was running, but against all her desire, she ran towards the screaming. It didn’t take her long. Within fifty feet she rounded the corner, and at the lower edge of the ramp she saw where there was a car stopped, it’s hazards flashing and the driver’s side door open.

Lizzie had somehow known what she would see. She knew there would be a car stopped, the driver out to examine a body, shock already clutching their rational mind as they stood over the dead or dying while they were immobile.

But that wasn’t what she saw. Yes, there was the driver outside of his car and the door open, but what what Lizzie hadn’t been expecting was to see her friend, Jess, standing there yelling at the driver and occasionally punctuating words with slamming her large oversized purse down on the man’s hood.

“-but you need to get your damn eyes checked. How the hell do you pull out here and not see me. Pay God Damned attention you asshole.” She was yelling at the man. The man stood there and as Lizzie approached she could see his mouth opening and closing, never allowed to get a word in. He looked like a fish as he would just open and close, open and close, never given that moment to speak out and defend himself.

Jess was a professional talker. At least she should be. She could talk forever and not let anyone else get a word in. Lizzie had learned never to argue with her as it was impossible to win. The woman just browbeated you into submission.

Lizzie almost felt sorry for the man. He towered over Jess, but as Lizzie approached, she could tell that Jess was dominating him. He was already backpedaling to his car, occasionally looking over his shoulder to assure himself the door was still open and he’d be able to make his getaway.

“Watch it, watch it, watch it.” Jess continued to slam her purse down, already there was a dent from previous purse attacks.

“Leave the pour man alone.” Lizzie felt her heart relaxing and she took a deep breath as she slowed her walk up to her. Her friend was really still alive, and she was A-okay with that.

“I didn’t see you, you came out of nowhere.” The man insisted, taking the chance to finally speak when Jess had turned her head away.

“And you still think you don’t need glasses? I mean really, how can you not see this.” She ran her hands up and down her bright orange dress as though presenting it to him, though her face you could tell this was no offer. She was still red, her face burning with anger as Lizzie came up to her.

“So who’s your new friend?” Lizzie asked.

“Some blind man who somehow convinced the DMV to give him a license. I should get your plate number and report you. You were driving like a maniac through here.”

“Hey!” He tried to get more out but Jess had turned back to him and was bringing her full attention down on him.

“What’s your name again? Bobby what? I want your license number and your address. Who’s your insurance provider?”

“Jess, let him go. You hungry? I’m ready for lunch.” Lizzie said. Behind her, she heard Josh whispering to someone.

“Who the hell is this girl?”

“That’s Jess. We’ve all been friends since freshman year. Trust me, you do not want to get on her bad side. She can use that tongue like a green beret can use a knife” Sarah said.

“This little asshole almost killed me. He came speeding around this corner, and I just barely got out of the way. He’d have gotten me if I hadn’t jump so yeah, I feel he needs to be … I don’t know, something.” Jess through her hands up in frustration and let out a long sigh before turning back to the bewildered man.

“I didn’t see you, you just came out of nowhere. I came around the corner and there was nothing, then a big flash of light and I saw you there jumping to the side. I jerked the wheel or I still would have clipped you. I stopped and there you were.” He was talking in a rush. He probably never noticed Lizzie’s open mouth as she turned to looking at her friend. There, just barely reflecting from the light above was the cross Jess always worn around her neck.

Lizzie didn’t have time to think about it as Jess was already approaching the man. He was rushing to get into his car, he must have seen it too, the fire burning in her eyes.

“Jess, come on.” Lizzie said, reaching for her.

“Damn this is getting good. Cat fight!” Josh yelled from behind her.

“Cat fighting is two woman going at it. She’s going to tear that man apart.” Chuck said quietly.

“Nah, that man’s enough of a pussy to qualify.”

“I’d like to see you try to go up against her.” Sarah said, rushing to keep up with Lizzie. The man had made it back into his car, closed the door and to his credit, had locked himself in.

Jess, however, wasn’t letting him get away that easily. When she had pulled on the door handle and found it wasn’t going to open, she started kicking the door. Though there wasn’t much to the kick as she was wearing open toed heels and after one kick, had pulled her foot back howling. Which only fueled her anger as she started hitting the window.

Lizzie felt sorry for the man. He looked so scared in his car.

“I’m calling the police,” he said, holding up his phone to show Jess the screen. ‘911’ was already keyed in and all he would need to do is click the round red button to initiate the call.

“I’m hoping he calls them. Can you imagine the cop when he shows up. I mean, he knows that’s only for emergencies right?” Josh said. Lizzie looked over and saw him leaning against a Ford pickup parked a stall down.

She was surprised that they were being good, so to speak. Maybe they were all just enjoying the show, but not Sarah. She was right there with her, and that made sense. Sarah was Jess’ friend too. There had been many times Sarah had to hold Jess back. She was small, talked a lot and came off as being really nice, but Jess had one hell of a temper once you set her off.

“Get out of there you little shit.”

“Jess, when did you eat this morning? Jess…” She wasn’t listening and gingerly Lizzie touched her shoulder. Jess turned and looked at her in surprise and Lizzie’s next words stuck to her tongue.

Jess didn’t look right. Her eyes were open wide to where Lizzie could see red forming around them. It wasn’t like her eyes were bloodshot, but a ring of dark red ran the rim and were they stared at her, it didn’t feel like Jess actually saw her.


She was breathing heavily. Her whole upper body was quivering. Lizzie thought she was having a seizure as her body was spasming. The eyes rolled up into her head and only the whites remained. Drool dripped down the side of her mouth. It was like she was having a convulsion and Lizzie was left standing there not sure what to do or how to help.

Then Jess closed her eyes and Lizzie had just enough time to see her body go limp to reach out and catch her. She couldn’t keep her up, Lizzie was nowhere near strong enough, but she could hold her and ease her down to the cold hard cement.

“Is she going to be okay?” Lizzie heard the man ask. She didn’t turn to face him, but looked at Sarah instead who was also kneeling. Sarah looked just as scared as Lizzie felt.

“Did you see her eyes?” Sarah asked.

Lizzie nodded, then looked over her shoulder at the man. He was still in his car probably with the doors locked but he had rolled down his window.

“I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

He nodded, then looked to the lowering slope of the parking garage and then into his rearview mirror. No one was there. They were alone. “Look, I didn’t see her, she just came out of nowhere.”

Lizzie nodded and then looked around, noticing for the first time that she didn’t see Jessica’s car, which was odd if she had just parked there and was coming towards Lizzie. Which how did she know where exactly to find her? That was some pretty amazing dumb luck of Jessica’s part as Lizzie had only told her the name of the lawyer and where his office was located. She hadn’t told her anything about what parking garage she had found a space in or where she had parked.

“You should get out of here.” Lizzie said, and she didn’t have to look at Sarah to know she was drilling her eyes into her. “She’ll be fine.”

“Here,” he opened his door and handed her a business card, she didn’t look at it as she slipped it into her jeans pocket. “If you need to contact me.”

She didn’t watch him, but heard the door close and then the car pull away.

“Did you see her eyes,” Lizzie said to Sarah as she sat their with her friend.

“No why?”

“There was something wrong. They were red. I mean, like well part of them were. It was weird.”



“Hey, What’s going on?” Josh said, pushing himself off the truck to walk over to them.

“You ever seen anything like that?” Lizzie turned to Elisabeth who had been standing back. Chuck had his arm around her and they were keeping a distance from everyone. Had she been crying? Something was up with those two, but Lizzie didn’t think now was the time to pressure them.

“I didn’t see. What happened?”

“Her eyes were red.” Lizzie said.

“Like blood shot?”

“No, like she had a ring of red around her normal blue eyes.”

“Shit, who cares? What does any of this have to do with us. Nothing, unlike that envelope you conveniently forgot and slid into your back pocket.” Josh said, already losing interest.

“That’s odd. No, I’ve never heard of a red ring. Bloodshot or red eyes are burst blood vessels that can look and turn the pupils red. Just a red ring, that’s just very… well odd.” Elisabeth raised her arms in frustration and Lizzie turned back to Sarah. Jess sighed, and her headed rolled back and forth as she vaguely started to come around.

“Lizzie? Sarah?” Jess whispered, her eyes still shut. Lizzie’s eyes shot straight to Sarah, who’s own eyes had gone wide. Around them, everyone else grew still and it felt like all the air had been sucked out of the parking garage, everyone afraid to breathe.

“We’re here. I’m here Jess.” Lizzie said, holding her hand. Jessica’s eyes fluttered then open and at first she just stared at the cement ceiling. Thank God, her eyes were normal, the red ring was gone. Then those eyes fell to Lizzie and focused on her.

We’re here?” She said.


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Dead Friends: Chapter 13

She wasn’t surprised when she climbed in the car, to find Sarah in the passenger seat with Chuck and Elisabeth sitting in the back.

“Where’s Josh?”

“Who cares? I don’t.” Chuck said, obviously still upset that he had been attacked by the larger man.

“Okay, I meant to ask you guys this last night because I gotta know, what happens when your not with me, in the car or whatever?”

Lizzie turns to Sarah who shrugs, “I’m not really sure. It’s like, yesterday when you left with Jess. We were with you in the cemetery, but once you climbed in the car, you were gone and then we were back with you when you got out. It’s like … well I don’t know how to describe it.”

“It’s like we don’t exist and then we do.” Chuck said, obviously frustrated.

“It scares me sometimes. You’ll leave and we just disappear, and, well I don’t know what this is. I mean, we’re dead right, but we are linked somehow, to you, and when you leave, we just are gone and then come back where ever you are. Well, what If we don’t come back some time. What happens then? Do we move on? Are we lost in limbo? The darkness scares me, and I don’t know why.” Elisabeth was holding herself, struggling to hold in tears.

“And what happens when you are in the car? Why did Josh not come with? I mean, I know there’s not enough room for him, you really need a bigger car Liz, but who chose that he would be the one in the darkness?” Sarah added.

“It’s scary.” Elisabeth said.

“I hate not having any kind of control.” Chuck continued as he turned to look out the window.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what happened, why you’re here. I’ve googled it and such but I don’t know. I wish there was something I could do to help.” Lizzie said as she started the car.

“We know that. Liz, you’re like a sister. I know you’ll be here for us. And we’re here for you, anytime you need us.” Sarah said as she reached out for a hug, but stopped herself remembering that they couldn’t touch.

“Love you sis.” Lizzie said as she put the car into gear, wiping away tears of her own.

* * * *

Lizzie hadn’t been surprised that once she parked the car and got out, Josh was standing there waiting for them. He was disoriented, looking around at the parking structure, and she now understood why. From what she’d learned, just a few seconds ago he had been with her and the rest of them at her apartment, fighting with Chuck. Now he was somewhere he didn’t recognize with no clue how he got there.

The rest of them soon appeared around him, not having to get out of the car, but just at one moment sitting there and the next to be standing outside. None of it made any sense and what was controlling it was all things that itched at Lizzie, but she was never quite sure that she actually wanted to know.

Josh immediately turned to Chuck and Elisabeth, his fist already clenching.

“Stop it!” Lizzie said forcefully. Something must have shifted in her voice because all of them had stopped moving and looked at her. She quickly glanced around to see if she saw anyone in the structure before continuing. “We’ll talk about this later. Josh, I get that your pissed. Not sure what your situation is as we don’t know you, right?”

She turned to Elisabeth and Chuck to confirm that they didn’t know him. They both shook their heads.

“So we’ll talk later and work this out. Right now, I gotta find out what’s going on with this lawyer and why he needs to see me so bad. I can’t have you guys fighting while I’m trying to talk to him. You guys make it hard sometimes when I’m talking to living people that I’ve been lucky no ones sought to have me committed. Please, not in front of the lawyer who actually could and probably would have me locked up. I don’t know if I trust this guy, he’s a lawyer.”

“The only good lawyer is a dead lawyer.” Josh quipped and Lizzie nodded.

“So please, no getting upset,” she turned and looked at Sarah, “with whatever news he has for us. We need to remain focused.”

Josh was seething. She could tell he didn’t want to do what she was asking, his fists opening and closing were signs he was ready to throw another punch.

“Josh, I don’t know what you’ve been through,-“

“I was losing everything. All of it was going to slip away. My lawyer said I’d never see my family again. All because these two idiots.”

“Josh. Listen to me,” she moved so that she could get him to see her, then her eyes locked on his. It was hard with his disfigured face to look at him but she fought to keep her disgust in check. “We don’t know what’s going on and I’ll be honest, we should have tried to figure this out. We really should have, but Sarah… I was being selfish and I don’t know how I’d been able to handle her being dead. So her and these two… I’ve been selfish. You being here now, that changes things and we’ll figure this out. I don’t know what’s happening or why you’re here, but trust me. Okay.”

Josh wasn’t saying thing, but just watched her. Maybe she was getting through to him. She’d like to think that maybe some of those psych classes were paying off but in truth she just said what felt right. Those psych classes had just taught her about Pavlov and Id and superegos. She hoped that speaking from the heart would help him.

“I don’t know you.”

“I know that. We don’t know you either which is-“

“I don’t know you so I have no way of knowing if I can trust you. Why should I?”

A car door slammed shut nearby and Lizzie turned, scanning to see if she saw anyone. In the distance, the sound of another vehicle making its turns in the garage as it circled through the layers trying to find a parking spot. It was getting closer.

“I know you don’t know me. I’m just asking you work with me for a little while and go from there.”

Josh continued to stare at her and she felt like the scene was going to continue on until someone saw them and it would become awkward, her standing there glaring at nothing. Then her phone rang and she was relieved for a break in the growing tension.

“Yeah?” She said as soon as she tapped the green button that was just below the glowing picture of her friend Jessica.

“How ya holding up?”

“I’m doing okay Jess.” She said. The group of the dead around her started to walk around her, some growing uncomfortable with just standing around in the parking structure.

“Really? Its okay. You know you can talk to me.”

“Who is it.” Sarah mouthed even though she had to know Jessica couldn’t hear her.

“Jess” Lizzie mouthed back, and then into the receiver, “Yeah. While I was in the hospital I had met with a nurse and she’s helping me through it.”

“A grief counselor? That’s good.” Lizzie wasn’t going to correct her, but it helped if her friends thought she had already been talking to someone. She knew that if she’d said anything else it would be the beginning of phone calls from a variety of friends and acquaintances, all offering their ears and their advice on professional help. This way, Jess would get word out she already had someone helping.

That was much easier than explaining that she wasn’t really grieving because she hadn’t really lost her best friend. She was right there, and continued to be with her.

“Fine, I’ll trust you for now but can we just get going? This parking garage has me uneasy. Don’t know why but it makes me feel like I’m in my own grave.” Josh said as he leaned against her car.

“You know, I’m also here to talk and hey, I wanted to ask,” she said, “Dennis is working today, but I’m off with nothing to do. You want to get together later?”

“I have plans this evening.”

“How about lunch?”

“Sure. I’m at the lawyers office now but can meet up when we’re done.”

“Okay, when and where?”

“I’m thinking sushi.”

“Hmm, well,” Jessica said and Lizzie could picture her as she closed her eyes thinking about her favorite places downtown. “We could go to Little Joe’s”

“That works. Meet you there?” She said as Josh started pounding against the car. She turned from him and started walking towards the stairs.

“Is that really necessary?” Elisabeth hissed at him just before he quit and followed Lizzie.

“I don’t know what’s worse between the two of you.” Sarah said. Lizzie wasn’t paying any of them attention and missed the look Sarah gave the two men. “You two keep acting like a bunch of children. We’re dead. Get over it.”

“What the hell did I do?” Chuck asked, running a little to catch up.

“Both of you have acted like children. Your no better than him, yelling all night long.”

“I get bored.”

Lizzie didn’t wait for them as she entered the stairwell, the fire door slamming shut behind her. The silence enclosed around her and she embraced its briefness as her and Jess finalized their lunch plans and she disconnected the call.

She took in a long deep breath, letting it out in a sigh. She was alone and it felt great.

“So what floor is this lawyer on?” Sarah asked.

Lizzie opened her eyes to see that they were all gathered around her. Her solitude was gone, she hoped not forever.

* * * *

The entryway for the lawyers office wasn’t much better for privacy and Lizzie felt cramped in the little amount of space that was used for a waiting area. She had been surprised her first time there, and it hadn’t changed in the last two weeks. It was nothing like she’d ever seen when she watched them lawyer shows. Where was all the glass and the polished metal? There was none of it.

Instead, what she found was that the office was in a complex, the third floor and over a bank. The front office area when she walked in had a younger man sitting behind a desk, an older computer and a monitor littered in post-it notes. The desk was covered in folders, and in fact, folders of paper were everywhere. The walls were lined with filed cabinets and even these had files on top of them. The whole room was a graveyard of dead trees as there was enough paper to fill a forest.

Quickly after introducing herself to the man, his name was Adam and he had a slight lisp, she sat in one of the two chairs. Both were old leather chairs, dark brown and not really fashionable to the light decor of the room. Though the room itself didn’t have much of a theme going for it. The walls were an off white, and Adam’s desk was was gray with dark accents. Someone really needed to fire the interior designer, but that wasn’t her place. At least it didn’t smell bad in there.

Her first time there, she had thought she was in the wrong office. It was only after confirming she wasn’t that she thought the phone call and letter had all been some sort of scam. After all, who would leave her anything? She had forgotten about her uncle and her parents had long since passed away, and the little family on her mothers side was nonexistent. She never knew why, but her mom wouldn’t talk about it.

Now she was there again, and her dead entourage took up the extra room around her. She had to wonder about whatever force kept them with her and how it worked? Especially with the size of the small room, it would be nice if one or two of them had vanished into that in between nothing Sarah had told her about.

Immediately Josh had taken the other chair and was quickly becoming bored with waiting. She was starting to get the sense that he was a highly impatient person. Maybe that had something to do with how he had barreled into Chuck and Elisabeth.

“Thank you Mrs. Robbins. I’ll talk to you again next week.” Adam said into the phone. He had been taking a payment and now lowered the receiver as he looked over to her. “I can check to see if he’s ready yet.”

“Thank you.”

He rose and stepped though the door behind him. Other than the entrance it was the only other door in the room.

“Hurry up and wait. Just as bad as being in the military.” Josh said as he slumped down in the chair.

“You have some big date?” Elisabeth gave him a frustrated glare and Lizzie was suspecting that the truck driver was getting on many of their nerves.

“Hey Charles, tell me, you like a good joke?” Josh said, not even looking at him, keeping his eyes returning Elisabeth’s stare.


“You can come in,” Adam said as he quickly emerged from the office. Lizzie was quick to stand, already feeling crowded by the bickering dead people  scrambling around her. The dead could be so annoying even if they couldn’t physically interact with her.

“So this man was working out on his roof and it was hot and all that. He was putting down some new shingles with his friend helping him. His friend was getting frustrated and asks him, ‘Hey, what time is it?’” She heard Josh as telling them as she left the room. Sarah was following and Lizzie wished the rest of them stay in the outer office.

If she’d been unimpressed with the piles of files in the outer office, she was equally unimpressed with the lack of files and the dingy furniture in the inner room. Even the computer looked liked it had been out of date five years ago. The desk looked like one of those back to school specials on sale for fifty bucks at any office supply store and the chair was a thrifty high back rolling chair with its faux leather torn along the back side. She sat in the chair across from the lawyer.

The man behind the desk looked tired and old. When she’d seen him before, he had been an older man yes with a complete matching set of silver hair and beard, but it had been perfectly in place. In fact to all the chaos his office represented, his appearance had been perfect.

What has happened to this man? He looked so haggard now, his hair on end and she could imagine him having running his hands through it in frustration. His eyes were dark, deep shadows under them as though he hadn’t slept since she’d seen him. His suit could have been the same one he’d worn then and has since never been removed. It was wrinkled and fit him poorly. Had he lost weight since she’d seen him?

Oh no, he’d better not be dying. If he did would he become one of her ghosts? Something about this unkempt old man following her around sent a twinge of disgust through her. It just seemed wrong.

“Hello Miss Rogers” He said as he looked up from his computer screen. “Do you like music?”

She was surprised by the question and he must have noticed as he smiled at her and his pale face colored with embarrassment. She could see red stains on his teeth in that smile and she barely suppressed a shudder as she thought of the naked man as he crushed Sarah’s skull.

“I’m sorry. I just, sometimes in rough times, get lost in a good melody. I didn’t mean to keep you waiting but had been listening to Dylan and was lost in that soulful way he releases his pain.”

“The man saw as his watch slipped off but he couldn’t stop it, it was going to go off the side of the roof.” Josh said, watching Chuck for any kind of reaction as they entered the room. Chuck lingered in the doorway, not entering quickly filling space.

Lizzie briefly glanced up at them, annoyed. “I listen to mainly Imagine Dragons and stuff like that. I love Ed Sheeran.”

“He has some good stuff. Nothing as intense as Dylan, but it’s great to just disappear into the rhythm and let your thoughts fade into.”

“Stop it!” Elisabeth hissed at Josh who didn’t care as he kept telling his joke.

“So the man ran across the roof, slid down the ladder and was running back around to the other side of the house, back over to where he had been when his watch had slipped off. All of this while his son-“

“Thought you said it had been a friend helping him on the roof.”

The lawyer seemed to have drifted away, looking blankly out his window, studying the view of the neighboring rooftop. Lizzie was relieved as she glared at the men that only she could see and hear and who had no regard that she was trying to have a conversation. Neither of them paid her notice and she briefly caught Elisabeth’s eye as she shrugged apologetically back at her.

“Your right, his friend-“

“I’m sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, sorry about that. I haven’t been sleeping well and as my partner passed away last month. I don’t know if you remember me telling you that, but he had, and this had actually been his case. He’d been managing much of your uncle’s dealings for the last ten, fifteen years.” The lawyer said. She tried to pay attention to him, but the lawyer spoke softly while Josh was loud, his voice boisterous.

“But the man ran around to the side of the house. He was huffing of course by this point and the friend watched him, wondering why he was hurrying so much just to pick up his watch that by this point would have fallen to the ground.”

Lizzie was shaking her head, getting frustrated with all the noise confusion floating around her. It was all too much and she found herself closing her eyes to help herself focus. At the funeral it hadn’t even been this bad, but with both of them talking, Josh and the lawyer, it was like she had struggled to listen to two fighting, squabbling kids as they talked over one another. She just couldn’t do it.

“-Are you okay?” The lawyer cut off whatever story he was just about to tell her when he’d seen her shaking her head, noticing the first in the latest set of tears.

“-Yeah” she gasped.

She could feel more tears welling up inside of her and she had no clue why. Why now? Why here? She could feel her chest getting tight and knew she was on the verge of letting loose.

Come on girl, get it together.

“Liz?” Sarah asked. Lizzie heard the lawyer getting up from behind his desk. She tried to push them all away, but found that the harder she tried, the more she thought of Sarah lying there on the floor.

That had been her fault. All of it was her fault. Sarah wouldn’t have been there if it hadn’t been for Lizzie asking her. Sarah would still be alive, with her her today and really be there for her.

“Are you okay? Can I get you something or call someone? I mean-“

He was hovering over her and she wanted to listen to him and get this over with, but she just couldn’t tune it out. Josh was telling that hideous joke and with all the chaos around her, she just kept hearing him.

“The man reached out and grabbed it. The friend had watched and couldn’t believe it. He called down and asked, ‘how’d you do that?’ and the man replied, ‘well, the watch always was a bit slow.’”

Lizzie couldn’t help it. The joke wasn’t even funny, but she found herself giving in and letting the laughter take her. It brought with her more tears and she truly thought that the last bit of her sanity had just snapped.

“Lizzie, come on. It’s going to be okay.” Sarah was saying. Lizzie had her head in her hands, the laughter shaking through her, but she could feel her friend close to her.

“I’ll be fine.” Lizzie said, trying to reign in the fluttering of different emotions inside her.

“Are you sure. I can get you a glass of water.”

“I’m fine, really.” And if she just kept repeating that long enough, she might actually start to believe it herself.

“You sure Lizzie?”

“Yes, I’m fine.” Lizzie said, looking briefly at her best friend before looking back at the lawyer. She knew eventually she’d remember his name. It was something to do with food, she remembered that much.

The lawyer was going to the door anyways and she had no doubt he would return with a cup, probably filled from the fountain in the hallway. So then, she had been surprised when a figure emerged in the door handing the surprised lawyer a bottle of water.

“Thought she could use some water,” Adam was saying to the much older gentleman who nodded his appreciation. Though as Adam went back into the outer room and the lawyer was turning away from the door, she noticed that he was closing it behind him. Josh had quickly ducked into the room, pushing up against Elisabeth, leaving Chuck to sit it out in the waiting room.

“So you want to hear another one.” Josh said as soon as the door was closed and the lawyer returned to his seat behind the desk, passingly handing her the water as he had gone by.

“I hadn’t realized you and your uncle were so close,” he said as he started sorting through his piles of folders, looking for one he eventually found near his computer. He pulled it out and perused the contents, occasionally looking at her. It took a few seconds to realize that he was purposely avoiding eye contact.

She glared at Josh for a moment longer, long enough to see the little smirk and his quick glance to her. The smug bastard was enjoying this and he was doing it on purpose. He was doing it and she was sure it was because he knew she couldn’t do a damn thing about it. She couldn’t’ just walk right over there and knock that damn smirk right off of his mouth.

She would have too. She’d never hit another person in her life, but she felt the anger, the violence rising up inside of her. She had never wanted to hit someone so hard in her life.

“We weren’t. I don’t know if I’ve ever met him. He had a huge fight with my dad and they’d never talked until just over a year ago, shortly before my parents passed away.”

“Oh, my misunderstanding.”

“My best friend just died last week.” She turned to look back at the lawyer who was now looking up from his folder and studying her. She could feel those judgmental eyes on her, and she hoped she was about to wipe that right off him. “She had been murdered in my uncle’s house while we had checked it out.”

She watched the color drain from his face and his jaw was ready to hit the floor. Win! Score one for the crazy person. We’ll see if he still wants to judge her for breaking down in his office. Though she didn’t feel like a winner. Far from it.

“I…I’m sorry for your loss. This happened at your uncle’s house?”


“You got a key?”

“Yeah, Adam had given it to me when I had stopped by to sign the paperwork you left for me.”

That started to bring the lawyer back. He seemed like he had checked out there when she had told him about her friend. It had probably been a cruel thing to say to him, and she did feel a twinge of guilt. There had been no point in telling him other than to poke him with his own arrogance.

“Right right. Hmm,” he studied the piece of paper again that he had pulled from the folder. Then he pulled out an envelope that she hadn’t noticed before.

“Is there a problem?”

“What? For you, no, probably not. For me, maybe. It all depends on how you would like to proceed and if you decide to come after us, I completely understand. I just want to start by saying, I’m sorry about all of this.”

“What’s going on?” She looked at Josh, surprised that he was actually staying quiet. He was still smiling at her, but didn’t say a word. He just made that childish motion of zipping his mouth and then flicking over his shoulder as though throwing away a key. She turned back to the lawyer who was again looking her over.

My God, he thinks I’m crazy.

“I’m sorry but we misread the will. That is to say-“ cutting her off as he could see she was obviously about to say something. “We left something out.

“You see, your uncle changed his will a few days before he passed and we hadn’t logged the new will into our system so we went off what we had recorded in our latest file.” He handed over the envelope. “This was left to you by you uncle.”

She gingerly took the envelope. It was yellow with age, probably having sat around that dirty old house for years before he finally used it. Then she looked at the front to see her name delicately printed in that messy handwriting of his. Each word of her name was printed large and readable, and he had spelled out her whole name, not the nickname everyone else called her. “Elizabeth” plainly visible as she took it.

She immediately noticed the hum that emanated from it the moment it touched her fingers and there was something inside it. There was a lump of something larger and irregular and she felt a piece of a sharp edge that was ready to bite her.

“Okay, so what is so important that I needed to rush down here.”

“Well, that’s it. The new will stated that you were not take possession of the house or have any of the money until you took possession of that envelope. We couldn’t transfer the money or move ahead with anything else until you had it.”


“So what’s inside it?”

“No clue. It arrived sealed.”

“Okay then, well that’s odd, but so was my uncle.”

“Never met him. All his business was normally through my partner. This thing with the new will, it’s all strange. Doesn’t make sense to me, but-“ The lawyer doesn’t finish what he was saying and instead looks out his office window. “Tik-tok”

“What?” She looked around to see that everyone else had heard it too. They were all studying the lawyer. Even Josh who probably had no clue who the shadow man was had caught on and turned to watch the lawyer.

“Tik-tok.” The lawyer seemed to break out of whatever trance he had gone into and turned to look at her, though she didn’t feel like he had fully returned. His eyes were glazed over and he had this dreamy quality to his voice as he spoke. “Tick tock, it’s getting close to lunch and I have a meeting. Was there anything else I can help you with?”

Lizzie shook her head and got up slowly, not taking her eyes off the man. He had already dismissed her and had gone back to shuffling around paperwork on his desk. She watched, and wasn’t sure if he even realized he did it, as he slipped her folder to as far away from himself on the desk and as if that wasn’t good enough, buried it under all the other files.

She left the office, catching out of the corner of her eyes him turning back to the window and gazing out. The sounds of Johnny Cash followed her out. She hadn’t even seen him press play or turn to his computer.  As she waved to Adam who returned it politely, she could hear the soulful chorus of “When the man comes around.”

In the elevator she realized she was still holding the envelope. Why hadn’t she opened it in his office or even now as she was in the elevator?

She turned it over and studied the writing. It was her name, written in large letters. Whoever wrote it had taken great care to get it right and there were indentations from the pressure from the pen.

“You gonna open it or just stare at it all day?”

“Shut up Josh.” Sarah hissed at the larger man.

“What you gonna do to me sweet heart? Kill me again?”

“Calm it down.” Chuck said. Lizzie ignored them, something that when no one else was trying to talk to her, she was getting quite good at.

“Go ahead playboy, take another shot. If not, then just stand there in your corner and let the adults here have a conversation.”

“What the hell is your problem?” Chuck was getting closer to Josh, his fists clenched.

“My problem?  Really? Your going to ask me what the fuck my problem is.” The door to the elevator opened and Lizzie was quick to exit into the parking structure. “My problem is I’m fucking dead. I’m dead because my life was ruined when you two dipshits pulled out in front me. I was facing vehicular manslaughter charges and my scum bag of a lawyer said the best he could get me was six years in jail. I was going to jail, no way to support my wife and kids all because of you two dumbasses.

Then it gets better because I just don’t die, I’m stuck in some kind of limbo purgatory hell with you two shits, that glaring bitch, and some kid who we follow around with no fucking control, always just whisked away to wherever she is.

This is bullshit, and she’s got an envelope, something in her hand, right there, and she’s not rushing to open it. Fuck this. Fuck you! I want this shit to end, and she’s not doing a damned thing about it.”

Lizzie hadn’t really thought much about it but noticed it struck her as there was something different. It was how she heard him talking so crisply. She looked at her friend Sarah and noticed that, yes, her face was different. Like part of it had healed a little and wasn’t so disgusting to look at and that she’d been able to speak clearly the longer she was dead.

“Lizzie?” Sarah was looking at her, those soft blue eyes that had melted away many hearts still had the ring of blood shot, but it had clearly faded since she had first come back from the dead.

“Don’t trust the dead.” Isn’t that what someone had written on her parents tombstone? Something close to it. What did that mean? Had someone else been completely surrounded by them.

“Just open the fucking envelope.”

“You think all this has something to do with her uncle.” Elisabeth said, looking back and forth from Lizzie to Josh and then back.

“And you don’t? Are you that fucking dense?”

They were all looking at her, she could feel their dead eyes collectively drilling into her.

“What about all that creepy shit we saw there. It was like, like he worshiped the devil or, I don’t know.”

Lizzie had forgotten about the carvings on the floor, the drawings, what had looked like blood, the burned candles. All of it was pushed away and she hadn’t realized just how hard she had tried to forget it. It was like how she kept forgetting that her best friend was dead, which it was so easy to do because there she was, standing and talking to her. But that wasn’t her, not truly. That dead thing was not the girl who had slept over at her house.

She turned the envelope over in her hand and then grabbed a corner to rio it open.

Her phone chirped breaking her focus. Then another chirp. She pulled it out and looked at the screen. There was nearly ten messages, all from Jess, the last one saying “There you are! I see you. Walking over.”

That was when Lizzie heard the screeching of tires, a horn blaring and amongst all of it, she heard the screaming.


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