“Stay, Illusion…” Part II

by E.V. Jacob on January 13, 2013

Part I  |

I scrolled through the search results, but there was nothing of value there—nothing I didn’t know already.  I rubbed my thumb against the cool metal of my newest possession, sickeningly comforted by its presence.

My desk was littered with newspaper clippings and printed pages from an assortment of news websites.  The wall over my computer was quickly becoming a collage of data, research, and investigation notes.

A soft knock pulled me from my thoughts.

“Come in,” I said, shuffling my paper into a stack to hide my most recent acquisition.

Lynn opened the door and walked in.  She could have just walked through it, but she probably hadn’t yet adjusted to the idea of being dead.  After all, I had told her only an hour ago.

When I revealed it, she stared at me for a moment in shock, asked me to repeat myself a few times, then quickly excused herself.  She’d left the apartment, and while I was worried, I knew there wasn’t much that could happen to a girl who was already dead.

She made her way across my room and sat down on my bed.  I swiveled in my computer chair to face her.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey,” she echoed.

I was nervous.  I had known that I would have to tell her sooner or later, and that once I did, the questions would come.  I knew that, I just wasn’t sure I was ready for it.

And I knew she wasn’t ready to hear the answers.


I waited for her to continue, to collect her thoughts or work up the courage to speak.

“Sam…” she repeated, pulling her legs up and hugging her knees.  “What…happened?  How is this even possible?  I mean…” she shook her head, looking lost.

I sighed and got up, going to sit beside her on the bed.

“How can I be dead and not know it?” she asked.

“I…I really don’t know.  This is my first experience with…you know…this stuff.”

She was quiet for a moment, like she didn’t know what to say, so I asked her a question.

“Where did you go?  Earlier, when you left?”

She looked down at her hands.  “I went to my parents’ house.  I…wanted to see how they were doing.”

“Did they see you?”

“No.  I didn’t want to scare them.  I just…I don’t know.  My sister was there.  They were all so…depressed.  It was weird.  I wanted to go comfort them but…” she wrapped her arms around herself and shook her head.

I wanted to pat her on the shoulder, to hug her, to do something, but I didn’t.  I just sat there like an idiot, wondering what to do.

“Why don’t I remember dying?” she asked, more to herself than me.

My stomach knotted.  I had a theory on this, and I wasn’t looking forward to discussing it with her.

“I mean, dying. That’s…wouldn’t you remember that?”

“I…wouldn’t know.”

She turned to me, looking on the verge of panic.

“How did it happen?  How did I…you know…die?”

There it was, just like that:  The question I couldn’t answer.

I looked away, then rubbed the bridge of my nose.


“Yeah…” I sighed and turned so I was facing her.  She did the same, fixing me with her dark, intense eyes.

“I…I don’t know all the details.  It’s still…a lot is still kind of…unknown.  All I know is that you…you were…”

My breath was catching in my throat as I tried to make myself say it.

“You were…murdered.”

Lynn’s eyes widened.  She opened her mouth, but didn’t say anything.  She just stared at me.

“At least, that’s what we think happened.  Because…you were kidnapped.”

“What?” she whispered.

But now it was all spilling out like a flood, and I couldn’t stop myself.

“I didn’t even know you were dead until you…ghost-you…showed up.  I thought…we knew you were missing.  You went missing two weeks ago.  Your family was panicking, we were all looking everywhere for you, talking to the news, the police…”

“I was kidnapped?”

I nodded.

Lynn got up then and started pacing.

“So…then what?”

“Well, I came home one day after searching for you, going around with your picture asking if anyone had seen you, and…you were here.  At first I thought you’d returned, and I was so relieved, but…then you started talking…and I realized you had no idea you’d been missing.  It was like there was this big, blank space in your memory.  Like you thought no time had passed from the last time I saw you to when I found you in the apartment.”

I took a deep breath and kept going.  “I was about to call your mom and tell her, but then she called me…told me to cancel the search…they’d found your body.”

Lynn was standing perfectly still, her face unreadable.  I looked up at her, trying to decide if I’d said too much.

“My…body.  Do they know who…?”

I shook my head.  “No.  Not yet.”

Lynn started to pace again, stopping as her eyes landed on the wall above my computer.

“What’s this?” she asked, pointing to the articles and pictures pinned to the wall.

I jumped up.  “Um…it’s…just…”

“Are you…researching my murder?” she whispered.

I looked down, weirdly ashamed.

Lynn looked like she might cry.  “Why?”

“Because…I can’t stop thinking about it.  And I…just…I want to figure out who did it.  Who…did this to you.”

She was at my desk now, shuffling through the papers.  Before I could reach her, before I could stop her, she froze, rigid now with a different kind of shock.

Lynn turned to me, her face stark white.

“What is this?” she whispered, holding up my new gun.

“It’s just…” I started to say, but she knew.

“Why?” she choked out, starting to shake.

There was no point in lying.  I took a deep breath and looked her right in the eye.  “So I can kill the person who killed you.”

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