This is a tough life (?) to get used to. Your perspective on things begins to change in ways you wouldn’t have thought possible. Fitz suggested that a good way to come to grips with our new existence is to help a troubled spirit pass on. They certainly seem to be in abundance, but Kaya and Michaels seemed to know of one who hangs around a police detective; specifically, the detective who’s been helping Kaya with the case of her almost-murder. It seemed as good a starting point as any.
It turns out that this ghost is the deceased wife of Detective LeMain, who died under mysterious circumstances about two years ago. Michaels and Gabby decided to look for information; Kaya and I would go to the police station to get a chance to talk to Paula LeMain. Kaya set up an appointment with the detective, while I stayed out in the waiting room, speaking to Paula in Korean, with my cell phone up to my ear.
But where do you start with a tortured spirit unable to pass on to the afterlife? Simply asking “Why are you here?” Might as well try. She told me, again and again, that Terrence was the reason she was still here. Terrence is here, so she has to stay here. So that they can be together.
I borrowed Fitz’s metaphor of the world as a Lake: we all must eventually cross from the land of the living to the land of the dead, but some boats get wrecked on the coast of the living, leaving their passenger wandering here when they should be crossing over. And if we want either side to mean anything, we have to respect that journey and cross over when it is our time.
But Paula seemed rather insistent that it is not her time, and she does not have to cross. She has to stay here, with Terrence, so they can be together forever. She said that Terrence knew she was still here, which seemed more than a little odd to me. But the real crazy came when she mentioned the bedroom. That she/they had to stay because of the bedroom. I asked what she meant. What happened in the bedroom? But she seemed profoundly unwilling to proceed with that conversation, insisting that she needed to go talk to Terrence. I decided not to risk an astral confrontation in the police station, and let her go, but this was not over.
I asked Paul the next day if he had any advice on how to deal with such a stubborn specter, and he suggested going to check out the bedroom myself, a thought I had already reluctantly entertained. So on Saturday, I did exactly that. Michaels and I went to an abandoned house near Detective LeMain’s and buried me alive in the garage. The night of the Bargain came rushing back to memory: the crushing weight of the earth, the total darkness, the sense that something was happening that was not quite of this world. But it was not the same, and my spirit did not die.
Things look different in Twilight. Everything seems further away somehow, and less real. The first time you pass through a solid physical object as if it were a hologram leaves you with an unshakable feeling that this is far too dream-like to be real. But there was the house, as real as can be. And the detective was not home, which meant Paula would not be home, either. Assuming that tempting fate would be unwise, I made straight for the bedroom, and sure enough there was a large death-stain on the bed, a little faded after two years, but unmistakable. No other signs of anything unusual, like blood or a fight, but there has to…
That closet. That closet looks far too shallow. That can’t be right, the outer walls are too far back for this to be the end of the closet. And I just so happen to be able to walk through walls.
Behind the closet’s back wall is a room more terrifying than anything campfire ghost stories could conjure. The walls are plastered with pictures of Terrence and Paula, covered with the phrase “Terrence + Paula Forever”, scrawled in red ink. Two mannequins rest against the walls wearing necklaces with wedding rings on them. Whips. Chains. Bondage gear. A closer look reveals that many of the pictures have a third man in them (including some depicting rather indecent scenarios), whose face has been burned out with a cigarette. In one picture, you can see that the third man is a police uniform; no rank insignia, but the badge bears the name “Arnhem.” And in the corner is a small black book. A small black book that I cannot open because I’m currently in Twilight, but maybe in time, I cou-
“What are you doing here?”
Uh oh. Think fast, Tae-Song. “Gathering information.”
“You’re not supposed to be here. Get out.”
“Paula? Is that you?”
“Is this Paula?”
What came next sounded like a firecracker and felt like getting hit in the chest with a whip. I came back to my body in an instant, with far more information than I had been expecting. I can’t imagine I got on Paula’s good side, though, but I think we’re closer to helping her. Much more work to be done, of course.
What’s that saying? “It’s always darkest before the dawn?” I sure hope so, because that closet felt like midnight, and I could use some sunlight.