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 you’re 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’re linked somehow, to you, and when you leave, we just are gone and then come back wherever 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,” Elisabeth was holding herself, struggling to hold in tears. “I don’t know why, but it does.”

     “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 now she understood why.

     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, but did she really want the answers?

     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 you’re 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 of 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 anything, 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 until someone saw them. 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 lawyer’s 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 that it would not be forever lost.

* * * *

     The entryway for the lawyer’s 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 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 mother’s 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 read.”

     “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.

     “Sure.”

     “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 he told them the joke while she left the room. Sarah was following and Lizzie wished the rest of them would 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 skin was an ashen pale. 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.”

     “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 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 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 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?”

     “Yeah.”

     “You got a key?”

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

     “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 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.”

     “Really? 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 sweetheart? 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? You’re 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 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 were 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.

Chapter 12

     The phone was ringing. She understood that it was ringing. She had that sensation of being ripped from some shared collective deep in the bowels of sleep to open her eyes to the revelation, and yes, there it was, her phone on the nightstand. The screen was lit up, and she saw the unfamiliar number on her lock screen.

     “Probably a telemarketer,” she mumbled under her breath as she crashed back into her pillow. The room was bright. It was obviously some time in the morning, but she wasn’t ready to get up yet… and really, what was the point anymore. She had no job, no school, no life… Why the hell not sleep in until noon. The idea sure as hell appealed to her.

     She grabbed a spare pillow and turned over, snuggling into it like it was someone lying there with her. It took some work, a little wriggling back and forth, but finally she had found that spot when everything felt comfortable and soft, perfect to go back to sleep and ignore the rest of the world.

     Someone was knocking at the door. She didn’t want to answer it, and the pillow she was snuggling into became earmuffs as she pulled it down over her head.

     “Hey Lizzie! Lizzie! Someone’s at the door.”

     Sarah was her best friend. She had been since childhood and now after death, but right then Lizzie wanted to scream at her. Didn’t she know that Lizzie just wanted to hide and get back to sleep? It just wasn’t fair. All she wanted to do was go back to sleep. Wouldn’t anyone just let her? The world seemed hellbent on preventing it.

     “Lizzie?”

     Lizzie felt the groan escape her and it surprised her to find that she was getting up. The long stretch came and then she was reaching out to her cell phone, glancing at the time but more at the displayed list of missed calls. Majority of the missed calls came from a number she vaguely recognized but her sleep deprived mind couldn’t place it.

     She tossed the phone on the bed as she stood and went to the closet only to realize that she hadn’t checked the time. Sure, she’d looked at it, but had completely blanked.

     “Lizzie, they’re still knocking.”

     “So, let them knock. It’s probably just more Jehovah Witnesses or something.”

     “I don’t think so. They’d have given up by now.”

     That was probably true, she thought as she finished pulling on her pants and tossed on a t-shirt that had hung in her closet. She didn’t pay attention to what it said, she didn’t really care yet. It was still too early for her to deal with people. Whoever was at the door was about to get her at her worst.

     “You know, sometimes I wish you were a ghost rather than whatever you are.” Lizzie said as she straightened the shirt and looked at herself in the mirror. She was never going to win any beauty pageants, that was for sure. She grimaced, wishing she had Sarah’s body.

     Someone was still knocking on the front door, but Lizzie noticed that outside her room it had quieted enough that she could make out the faint sound of someone sobbing.

     Lizzie opened the door to her room to see Sarah sitting on the floor, her knees pulled up to her chest.

     “You know I was just kidding. It was like, so you could float through the door and see who it was. Ya know?” Lizzie said, and Sarah launched into a new torrent of tears.

     “How would you like to be dead, or told you should be a ghost because it makes your best friends’ life better? You’d just love that wouldn’t you?”

     “Sarah, you know it’s not like that.”

     “You know it’s like that. You just said it.”

     The knocking on the front door stopped. Thank God for small miracles as whoever it was must have gone away.

     Lizzie’s cell phone started ringing again.

     “Oh for fucks sake.” She spun and dashed into her room and grabbing the buzzing rectangle. Without looking at the caller ID, she tapped the screen, ready to release the full pulsating rage burning through her.

     “Tik-a-tat, tik-a-tuk, I smell a good fuck,” came the familiar raspy voice. Even through the electronics of the phone she could feel his hot breath on her and her cell dropped from her hand.

     “Hello! Lizzie, you there?” She heard coming from the phone as it fell. She looked at it, not wanting to touch it when it landed. She recognized the voice but that hadn’t been there before. No, the shadow man had called her. What was going on?

     Slowly she bent and reached for it, afraid it was somehow going to reach up and bite her. That was crazy though, right?

     “Hey, Lizzie, I heard you answer.”

     She picked up the phone, though she refused to bring it to her ear.

     “Hey.”

     “Liz, hey, I’m at your door. You mind letting me in?”

     That voice. It wasn’t the shadow man, but another voice that made her recoil. She’d heard it enough threw the last few years, and one she thought she was done with a month ago when she had dumped his cheating ass.

     “Roland, why the hell are you here?”

     “Liz, come on, let’s talk?”

     Ugh, she thought all this was over. Sure, she hadn’t caught him with Natalie, but those hadn’t been her panties she had found in his place. When she’d confronted him about it, he stuttered like a floundering fool, then had the gaul to tell her that she must have left them there. Did he really think she wouldn’t recognize her own panties?

     Such a creep…

     Yet she found herself lowering her phone, hitting disconnect as she tossed in on the bed and going to the front door. There was no knocking but she knew he was on the other side, like she could feel his presence there. She imagined she could hear his breathing, then felt it when his breath held waiting for her to open the door. Her hand lingered on the knob. Maybe she imagined he was holding his breath because she was holding her own.

     “Lizzie, we need to talk.” Chuck said. He had come up behind her, and she hadn’t even realized he had been following her to the door.

     “Not now,” she hissed back at him.

     “It’s important.”

     “Your dead. I don’t think anything’s going to change in the next five minutes.”

     “Liz-“

     “It can wait,” she said just before she opened the door and saw the tall lanky man in the hallway outside her apartment. He was standing there, a bouquet of roses in his hands.

     “What are you doing here?” She didn’t reach for the flowers but he continued to hold them out for her. It felt like a long minute, stretching into eternity as she held his eyes with her glare. Then he gave in, lowering both his arm and his eyes.

     “I heard about Sarah. Guess I just wanted to check in and make sure your doing okay.”

     “I’m fine, you can go now.” She didn’t step into the hall, and she didn’t get out of the door frame to let him in. Her arms crossed, her body language screaming ‘pissed off woman who’d been cheated on and was now ready to get payback’ as she stood there.

     “Liz, I know that’s bullshit.”

     “Yeah, and how do you know that?”

     “I know you and I knew Sarah. You two were inseparable.”

     Lizzie fought to keep her breathing calm and her anger in check, but her chest burned while she bit back the curses she wanted to spew at him. This piece of bile actually felt like he could console her, that he knew something about her? If he knew anything about her, he’d have known not to cheat on her. Where does he get off at implying that he knew her.

     “Liz, can I come in. Maybe you could put these in water?”

     “Just toss them in the dumpster.”

     “If that’s what you want. I guess I can just toss these away too.”

     She hadn’t noticed the envelope that had been in his other hand. She looked at it, and had to think about it. What was the date today… Could those be…?

     He brought up the envelope, jostling the flowers as he needed the other hand to open and pull out the contents. He got frustrated and handed the envelope to her. She opened it and there they were.. tickets to see Ed Sheeran, tonight. The event was in Milwaukee, so they’d have a three hour drive.

     She remembered when they bought the tickets, how they had laughed and made plans to make a weekend of it, getting a hotel and maybe while they were in town checking it out and maybe going to a Brewers game. It seemed like forever ago, and in a away it was a lifetime ago as so much in her life had changed now. For one, she was no longer with Roland. Why would he show up now and still want to go? She would have thought he would have sold the tickets or taken whoever he was screwing.

     He couldn’t be dumb enough to think she’d go with him, right? She had always thought he’d been smarter than that. He was a sure-fire geek/computer nerd. He should have something in that head of his telling him that the idea of them going together would be idiotic.

     He kept looking at the floor, occasionally sneaking a peek up at her. He was probably gauging how she was reacting as she let him fidget.

     “What do you think you are doing? What do you expect to happen here?” She returned the tickets to the envelope.

     “I’m not expecting anything to happen. I came to say that I’m sorry. I messed up. In addition to that, I’m worried about you, and I wanted to see if you were okay. As to that,” he raised his eyes and nodded to the envelope she was now playing with in her hand, hitting the corner of it into her palms as she continued to study him. “We’d already bought the tickets. I never felt right about selling them, and I had no one else to take. I thought maybe we could go. Not as a couple, but just as two people. No strings.”

     “You know how stupid that is right? There’s no way I’m going with you.”

     “You don’t have to. You could take yourself. Hell, you can have my ticket. I just thought you could use it as a distraction from, well…”

     If she was honest with herself, she really did want to go. She loved Ed Sheeran and the tickets were really good. Roland had spent more than he should have on the tickets. He’d spent all that money, just to go and do something so stupid. Maybe he really was dumb under all that smart exterior.

     Lizzie was wavering. She knew she shouldn’t be.

     “Shut the door, Liz. He’s not a good guy, and we really need to talk to you,” Sarah said into her ear. Of course, Sarah was listening. Hell, they were probably all behind her, watching and listening. She never had moments alone anymore…

     Maybe she could use that to her benefit. If she did go to the show with him, it wasn’t like she’d be alone with him. Oh, how odd of chaperones they were but they’d keep her from doing something stupid.

     Was she really thinking of doing it though? She thought she was done with this loser. She should shut the door and never see him again, let that be the end of it.

     But she wasn’t shutting the door.

     She could go, but they both go in their own vehicles… No, that wouldn’t work. Milwaukee was what, two hours away, three? She’d never actually been there so she wasn’t sure. Either way it was too far and made no sense to take separate vehicles. Even if he was a creep that she didn’t want to be around, she still couldn’t bring herself to be that wasteful.

     Dammit, she was going to do this. She knew it was a bad idea, stupid really, but she had already said ‘yes’ to herself. It was just a matter of telling the asshole.

     Her stomach twisted with the thought of spending at least four hours in the car alone with him. Then she was reminded that she had just gotten up, was standing on the threshold of the hallway and still hadn’t gone to the bathroom. Her bladder was reminding her that it was not going to be patient for much longer.

     Then her phone started chirping again from the bedroom and she realized she really needed to get out of the hallway.

     “Fine, I’ll go. Give me a call later and we’ll get it figured out when to leave. She started to close the door but then opened it again, ignoring his outstretched hand as he tried to hand her the roses. “Better yet just text me.”

     She closed the door and rushed to her room. The bathroom was calling but going in there without her phone just wasn’t happening. She grabbed it and glanced at the recent missed call. That same number again.

     “Liz, I can’t believe-“ Sarah started, but Elisabeth was talking over her.

     “Lizzie we really need to-“ Elisabeth was saying. In the background she could hear Chuck.

     “For crying out loud.”

     “-you’re going out with him.”

     “-talk to you.”

     She rushed into her bathroom ignoring the cacophony of voices trying to get her attention. She slammed the door behind her.

* * * *

     The voicemail had been from the lawyer and had taken away any joy she had about the concert. His words, a nervous stutter as he bumbled through leaving the message, repeatedly saying there wasn’t much he could say over the phone.

     “Ms. Rogers, I’m calling to say that there has been a mistake in the, in the reading of the will. You see, your uncle, well there’s not much I can, I can say over the phone. You see, he changed his will right before he died, and it had been so recent that our filing records hadn’t rec-recorded it yet. If you can call to set up an appointment, I really need to go over it with you. I’m, I’m sorry for all of this.”

     She’d lost all that money. She knew it, and that was why he was so nervous. He had to tell her that she wasn’t getting it. She was going to go back to being broke. All the good fortune of having that money was going to evaporate and she’d never get to know how it felt to be that rich.

     “Liz?”

     Lizzie looked up to see Sarah looking at her, concern etched on her face. Any signs of the tears from earlier gone, leaving only the gory remains of Sarah’s death. It was yet another reminder that her friend was dead, and any tears were shallow to the tragedy she has already endured.

     “Yeah, I’m fine.”

     “Yeah, you don’t look it.”

     Her phone buzzed and she took a quick look at it. It was Roland. She lowered the phone realizing just how late in the morning it really was. It was past ten, she slept in for most the morning. Five minutes ago, that wasn’t a problem, but now with the prospect of finding a new job looming, sleeping in this late felt like such a waste.

     What was she going to do? Go back to school? It’d be too late to register for this semester, and she hadn’t decided on a new major, having given up on her last one shortly before deciding not to go back.

     What the hell!? She thought her life would be getting so much easier, and now she was getting nothing but all these problems.

     “Lizzie, we need to talk.” Elisabeth said. Then a crash came from the other room and Lizzie rushed to see what was going on.

     Lizzie’s apartment was not that large and like most she guessed. There was the front door that opened into a split between the nook that was the kitchen and the open area that most would use for a living room. The little space between she had guessed would be a dining area, and the hallway then lead back to the two bedrooms and the tiny bathroom. It was just like nearly any other apartments she had ever seen, and she looked forward to one day not living there.

     Though with her currently not having a paycheck and no income in the near future, it was a bit above what she could afford. Even working, it had been tough for her.

She hurried into the living room to find Chuck and the stranger standing nose to nose squaring off gain, but the picture that was on the floor was on the other side of the room. It had been a picture of her and Roland that has been setting on the corner shelf between the curbside find of a couch and the lazy boy that had been a goodwill special.

Sarah was standing near the picture staring at it in horror.

     “What’s going on here?” Lizzie scanned the room. Sarah looked at her apologetically but the other two didn’t turn away from one another.

     “Just don’t like being told what I can and can’t do.” The large man said, then sat in the Lazy-boy.

     “I get that.” Lizzie said.

     “Lizzie, something weirds going on.” Elisabeth said, moving to stand next to Sarah. Chuck continued to glare.

     “I know… I know you two from somewhere. And that ain’t good.” The stranger said to Chuck then point to Elisabeth.

     “Really? You do?” Elisabeth said, the shock evident.

     “Let’s start simple. What’s your name?” Lizzie said.

     “I told you last night.” The man said.

     “Yeah well, middle of the night. I just remember you were fighting with Chuck and another picture got broken. So yeah, I wasn’t really focused, or really even awake.”

     “Names Josh.”

     “Okay Josh, and you know your dead right?”

     “Yeah. Just because I blew my brains out doesn’t mean I don’t have any.”

     “Nice. Really funny.” Chuck said.

     “Give’em a break. It’s not like you were much better when you first got here. Until he came you were Mr. Grumps.” Lizzie turned back to Josh sitting in the chair. “Now the big question, do you know how you got here?”

     “Nope. I shot myself in the morning after my wife went off to work and woke up here last night.”

     “Really? So, you didn’t show up here right after you died?”

     “Nope. Not even sure if it’s the same day. What day is it?”

     “Lizzie, something else is going on.”

     “What?” Lizzie asked, turning slowly, lingering her gaze on Josh.”

     “Broken pictures” Sarah said.

     “Yeah, all our frames are getting ruined. I’m going to have to go to the dollar store later and buy some more.”

     “I’m not talking about that.” Sarah went to the next picture on the shelf and then with an intense look of concentration, she reached out and pushed it. “Remember when I first came back, and I couldn’t interact with anything. Well, we can’t grab anything as far as I know, but look at this.”

     “I know I recognize you two.” Josh grumbled as Lizzie watched Sarah push the picture frame until it fell from the shelf and crashed to the floor.

     “Sorry.”

     Lizzie’s phone rang, the chirping sound making her jump. Lizzie didn’t look to see who it was, she clicked “answer” as she brought it up.

     “Hello?”

     “Ms. Rogers.”

     “Yes?”

     “Hello, I know I’ve called a few times this morning, but I really need you to come to my office. I’ll be able to meet you any time, I’ll reschedule whatever I must, but it really is rather urgent.” The lawyer sounded frazzled. That wasn’t good.

     “Is everything okay?” She felt the dread creeping up into her voice.

     “Yes, just there’s a new will we found with some new details we need to go over.”

     She remembered the text she had gotten earlier and pulled the phone away from her face so that she could swipe and see it.

     “How about we leave at 2?” Roland’s text read.

     “I can get there in half an hour.”

     She could have Roland pick her up from the office. Maybe she’d get lunch while she waited for him after meeting with the lawyer. That was if she still had any money.

     Damn! She couldn’t believe she had allowed herself to get talked into going with him. Eddie, I hope you know how much I love you to put up with his cheating ass.

     “I got it!” Josh exclaimed, and he stands quickly. “It’s you two! You’re the idiots that pulled out in front of my truck! You fucking idiots ruined my life, I’m going to kill you, you son-of-“ and with that Josh was leaping across the coffee table which was surprising with his large mass, and slammed into Chuck who had stood there frozen with shock. They both fell to the ground, everything on the table clattering out of their way, remotes, books, and magazines flung to the floor.

     “Fuck this, I’m out.” Lizzie said, grabbing her keys and purse, then storming out the front door.

Chapter 11

     It took Lizzie longer than it should have to realize that she was waking up from the nightmare. The world around her still shook and the laughter, his laughter, followed her even when she opened her eyes and saw she was back in her bedroom. 

     Had all that only been a dream?

     “Lizzie, wake up!” Sarah was yelling at her and the shaking? It was Sarah and Elisabeth somehow, Lizzie wasn’t sure just quite how they were doing it, shaking her bed.

     They hadn’t been able to move things before, how were they doing this? She didn’t have time to think about it too much as she saw their worried faces as they were looking down at her. They were scared, but they were dead. What could scare them?

     “What?” She said. Her voice was little more than a whisper, her throat dry and raspy as she was still not fully awake.

     The laughing wasn’t going away, but it changed. It didn’t sound like it had in her dream. It wasn’t that growing cackle that had shook the room, but it was a deep raucous sound that was exploding out of the other room. It was coming from Sarah’s room.

     Lizzie’s face went pale, and she turned to her best friend, then to Elisabeth.

     “Where’s Chuck?”

     They both turned to the open door. Across the hallway was Sarah’s old room, the door wide open.

     She hadn’t stayed at Jessica and Dennis’. They had been kind enough to offer and had pushed saying that they had plenty of room for her, but she still said no. She understood their concern. They didn’t want her sleeping alone, not there in that apartment she had once shared with Sarah. What they didn’t realize was that she still shared the apartment with her.

     The first night she had slept in the apartment she had done just like she had always had. When she had gone to bed, she had made sure the door was locked and the inside doors were all closed.

     It had driven her three guests nuts. Well, one dead roommate and two guests. The apartment had been Sarah’s too, and when she’d been woken up around two a.m. because they were all bored, she had been reminded of that. It seems that dead people don’t sleep, and without friends to torment, they get bored.

     Since then, she’d gotten in the habit of keeping open all the doors in the apartment and the television on. That is, all the doors but her own. Not her room. Her door always stayed closed. Last night had been the exception.

     Coming home after the funeral and being with Jessica and Dennis had left her in an awful state and she couldn’t stand to be alone. Lizzie and Elisabeth had been happy to stay with her and it had almost felt like a slumber party until she, mid-party, crashed.

     That had left her leaving all the doors open, even her bedroom’s. Oh no, that meant that Chuck could have been in there watching her sleep at anytime. Who knows what he might have tried to do.

     She knew this was a childish thought. It wasn’t like guys hadn’t seen her naked, though never when she hadn’t wanted them to. Him checking her out while she was sleeping was not cool.

     She looked at Sarah who was still looking at the other room, scared. The thought returned… What could spook a dead woman? She was already dead.

     “Sarah? What is it?”

     Sarah slowly turned to look at her, her remaining eye wide. “He’s in there,” she whispered.

     “Who, Chuck? What’s he doing in your-“ Lizzie was going to say room, but before she could say this blunder she saw that Sarah was already shaking her head.

     Lizzie looked back to the open door. If it wasn’t Chuck, then who was in that room?

     She couldn’t stop it. The memories of that naked man as the maggot slid from his scrotum to land on her chin twisted her stomach. The laugh wasn’t right. She was pretty sure of that, but could she be certain? She remembered the penis lurking over her and later looking into Sarah’s eyes, but other than that most of that day had become a hazy blur. Could she say for sure that wasn’t his laugh? She didn’t think she could.

     But how could he have found her? The police had said he had been dead. It couldn’t be him.

     He could find me. He had already been dead when he attacked Sarah and I, so what was possible didn’t make sense anymore…

     Yet she was surrounded by dead people. They were becoming a part of her everyday life. She was beginning to think that the dead just don’t stay dead anymore.

     No. that had not been his laugh. It had stopped of course, the other room now eerily quiet. The whole apartment was. The two people hovering over her weren’t making a sound. All of them were watching that open door and the other room.

     “What’s going on? Sarah?” Lizzie tried to whisper as quietly as she could.

     “Some guy showed up. He went in there.”

     “Should I call 911?” As soon as she said it, she realized just how stupid the question was, but it was too late, the words had already escaped her. To her surprise, Sarah shook her head.

     “I think he’s dead.”

     “If not, he’s got a terminal case of missing-the-back-of-your-head disease.” Elisabeth whispered and Lizzie had to struggle to take her eyes off the woman. Of course, if it was another dead person now joining her undead entourage they would be able to see how the person died. All of them had the tell-tale signs like gory tattoos, each identifying their deaths. They were the bleeding but not bleeding wounds, as blood sometimes seemed to trickle but no messes were ever found beneath these walking corpses that followed her.

     “Who’s dead?” Lizzie whispered as she tossed away the tangled covers and pushed herself out of bed.

     “No clue.” Sarah said as she looked over at Elisabeth who shared her ignorance and was shaking her head.

     Who the hell was in the other bedroom? She didn’t want to go in there, but she had to find out. Besides, they couldn’t hurt her, right? Both her and the dead person would get intensely sick, so it wasn’t even possible.

     The wood panel floor was cold to her bare feet as she stepped into the hallway. The air in the apartment had a chill as well and she wondered what it was like outside? Had the temperature finally dropped? Should she be turning on the furnace. The little fog of her breath escaping as she breathed made her think it was time.

     Behind her, Elisabeth and Sarah both hung back in her room. Of course, the two dead people were hanging back afraid. After all, what did Lizzie have to lose? Only her life, so you know, no big deal.

     She gave them both dirty looks before turning back and taking another step towards the room.

     A crash came from inside the room and Lizzie quickly was beginning to realize that everything she had thought she had known or had learned about the dead was wrong.

     Fearing the worse, she held her breath and took the last step, entering the room.

* * * *

     There was another crash as she entered and this time she saw the glass from the picture frame gliding across the room, stopping just inches of her foot. She looked at it and then where it came from to see two dead men entangled and fighting each other. One she recognized. The other was a stranger to her.

     Chuck was underneath, but the new guy was on top and had Chuck pinned down. Chuck was flailing back and forth, fighting. The two of them were kicking out, thrashing the bed, Sarah’s dresser, her clothes hamper… and the furniture was moving as they did. That wasn’t possible but it was happening. The picture that had fallen had been on Sarah’s dresser. These two had knocked it down. The hamper was swaying back and forth ready to topple over at any time. Then with one swift kick, it fell out over and a week’s worth of forgotten dirty clothes spilled out.

     Lizzie’s jaw hung open as she watched the fight, but then she heard the gasp come out behind her.

     “Stop it!”

     The first yell didn’t come from Lizzie, but from behind her. “I said stop it!” Sarah bellowed and the stranger turned to them in surprise. Chuck took the opportunity to push him off and the stranger rolled with the push and used the momentum

     “Yeah, and who the hell are you?” The stranger’s voice was a raspy gurgle and Lizzie watched as exposed muscle tissue from under his jaw waved with the motion of what was left of his mouth. Half the bottom row of teeth was missing, one dangled there, and flesh from his neck hung strung down in what seemed to only be held together by hair from his overgrown beard. She could almost see through the long hair, the large hole through his chin. It was hard to look away, but she had to as she thought she was going to puke. She had started to get used to the disfiguration of her friends, they weren’t looking good themselves, their own deaths all gruesome leaving them horrified remnants to follow her around. This stranger who was obviously dead was much worse.

     “Doesn’t matter. You’re in my fucking room.” Sarah said, quickly passing Lizzie to loom over him.

     “Like hell it doesn’t. What the hell’s going on here. Wait.” He was confused, Lizzie watched as he struggled to fight with himself when it came to forming words. “Why can’t I talk right? What’s wrong with my mouth?”

     “Half of its missing dumb ass. That’s what happen when you blow your brains out.” Chuck grumbled as he pushed himself up from the floor. He glared at Lizzie and then turned that hate at the rest of them standing by the door.

     “Missing? Blown Brains.” The man was confused but getting angrier as he tried to speak.

     “Can you tell us who you are? Because we don’t know you. Right?” Lizzie looked at Elisabeth and she nodded. None of them knew who the hell he was so why was he here? So far Lizzie kind of understood why her friends were coming to her. They all had at least some connection. She didn’t know why they were back from the dead, but she knew why they came to her. She’d been the last one with them, each of them before they died. Unless this man died in the same apartment, it didn’t make sense for this stranger to be there.

     “I…” He looked at them strangely, his hostility shifting, transforming as Lizzie could see his eyes getting wet. He looked around the room at them, his gaze lingering on Elisabeth, his brow raised in curiosity. Then that look was gone, and he turned back to study Chuck. His hostility returned and with a fire he turned that blazing stare back to Lizzie.

     “Josh. My name’s Josh.”

     “Any idea what you’re doing here?” Lizzie asked but Sarah was quick to snap herself back into the discussion, and more importantly what she wanted to know.

     “And what the hell are you doing in my bedroom?” You would think Sarah had found them going through her underwear drawer and had pulled out one of her panties.

     He just glowered at Chuck. If they were dogs, they’d be growling at each other, both with their macho egos on full display. Lizzie was getting sick of it.

     And then she noticed the glass on the floor. She hadn’t thought too much of it before, but there was something odd about that. She couldn’t place her finger on why it bothered her, but it did.

     “So, are we done here? No more fighting?” Lizzie said.

     “Who the hell are you people?” He barked. Lizzie didn’t know how she understood him, his speech was garbled by the missing parts of his mouth, but she still did. She let it go, but still ignored him, her glare lingering on Chuck.

     Chuck shrugged his shoulders, looking from Josh and then back to Elisabeth. A weak smile flashed as he stepped over to her and hugged her. It felt right to see them hold each other and Lizzie realized that since they had died, she hadn’t seen them touch one another. It had been like they had been avoiding it. Now they did, and the hug grew stronger, and she barely heard him whisper to her, “It’ll be okay.”

     Lizzie hoped so and she turned to Sarah.

     “You guys figure all this out. I’m going back to bed.”

     Sarah nodded and then to everyone, “Okay everyone, now let’s get out of my room. Out out out!”

     “I want to know just what the hell is going on! Who are you people and how did I get here?”

     “Josh. Your dead. Face it and live with it. We don’t know who the hell you are or why your here, but there it is. Next time don’t blow your brains out.”

     Lizzie heard her friend giving Josh the low down, but she didn’t wait to watch her get them out of her room. She was too tired and felt like she was going to have a lot of bullshit to deal with in the morning. She walked across the room, closed the door, and crashed down onto her bed.

     She knew she’d been tired and after the initial surge of energy from being forcefully awakened waned, she was ready for sleep.

     Questions haunted her. There were many of them. Why had people she had known, some friends but Chuck she had barely met, come back from the dead? Why were they hovering around her? What was the connection to the new guy, the one no one knew anything about? Though he did seem like he recognized them. She might be wrong, but she thought she had seen it, just a hint of it when he looked at Chuck. And why had they been fighting?

     And there was something about the glass, how it had shattered and slid across the floor. There was something odd about that and she couldn’t place what it was? Maybe in the morning she’d figure it out.

     A long yawn escaped her, and by the time she’d stretched and settled back into bed, she was drifting off into sleep. This time, the nightmares left her alone.