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by John L. Morgan III
Part 2 of 4

Last issue: in brief, Jamie and Mike got on a plane to Rhode Island to track down a serial-killing omega. Mike then decided that the last victim was in fact the killer, committing suicide, until the policewoman who had brought them and the FBI agents to the scene was murdered through electrocution, the killer's modus operandi. Got it?

Henry opened the door and stared through the rain at Jamie and Mike.

"Hi," Mike said lamely. Jamie rolled her eyes and brushed past Henry, getting him wet. He stared after her, and then, realizing she'd just ignored him and slipped into the house, he looked at Mike in anger and blocked the omega's passage. Mike, drenched from the rain, looked at the FBI agent in surprise when he realized Henry wasn't going to move. They stared at each other, and then Jamie called out to her partner. Henry reluctantly stood aside and Mike glared at him in annoyance as he entered the house. Henry closed the door and followed the omegas.

The house was large and well-furnished. Jamie was looking into the living room and wringing out her hair. She perused the ornate decorations of the house as she asked Henry "Which way?" She waited a moment, and then turned to him. He didn't answer.

She glanced at Mike. "Jesus," she said, shaking her head, and was about to set off through the house to look for Karen when Mike, sensing with his omega, said, "They're in the kitchen."

He gestured down the main hallway. "That way." Jamie strode off and Mike and Henry followed. The kitchen was at the end of the hallway and to the right. All the lights were on, submerging the room in yellow.

As Jamie entered she saw, standing together, Agent Weller, a man in a black coat that she assumed was the medical examiner, and a police officer. They were gathered around a body on the floor. As Jamie walked closer she recognized Dee Bennett. The dead policewoman looked as if she had suddenly collapsed. Her face and hands were blue, and her eyes were open and reflecting the bright lights of the kitchen. A look of total horror and fear was locked into her features.

A lightbulb flashed. The medical examiner was taking polaroids. "It's a bad position for her to be in," he was saying to Karen as he waited for the photo."Because she was electrocuted, rigor mortis set in almost immediately. It will be very hard to get her clothes off to examine her."

Karen nodded, and Jamie caught her glancing quickly at the omegas and then looking back to the body, ignoring them.

Jamie walked up to her and announced, "We came as soon as we heard."

Karen continued to stare at Dee's body as she quietly replied, "I'm so pleased."

Jamie crossed her arms and grimaced. "So, what's the deal?"

Karen continued to avoid looking at her as she said, "The 'deal' is that Dee Bennett answered a call reporting a disturbance in the home of an elderly couple named-" Karen consulted her notes, "the Vogels, who are currently on vacation. We believe it was the killer who called. And," she glared at Mike, who was walking around the room and examining it, "contrary to your partner's belief that the serial murderer is dead, the killing matches his MO. Electrocution, no ritualization, and as with many of the other victims there is evidence she was murdered quickly."

Mike, who was staring at the sink and the window over it, asked, "Any evidence of sexual assault?"

Karen looked at Jamie now, her face stern and angry, as she answered Mike's questions. "No."

Mike continued, "Point of contact?"

Karen's stare was drilling into Jamie. "We haven't found it, but Carey here," she indicated the medical examiner, who was ignoring them, "has yet to perform a full inspection."

Mike paused, and looked around the space of the kitchen. "How did Dee and the killer get into the house?"

Karen's eyes widened at Jamie. The omega wondered if Karen was trying to get her to shut Mike up. Jamie gave a little smile and thought, "No way."

Mike took a step closer to Karen, and the FBI agent finally turned and looked at him. "Well?" Mike asked.

"Through the front door, I'd assume," Karen said coldly.

Mike shook his head. "An elderly couple have a well-furnished house, go out on vacation, and don't lock up? Uh, no. We came in the front door when we got here, it certainly hadn't been busted in. Was it unlocked when you got here?"

Karen squinted at him. "Yes," she said slowly. "Yes, it was."

"Well, clearly something strange is going on here."

Karen crossed her arms and smiled condescendingly. "Nothing more strange than two elderly people, probably losing their grip on reality in old age, forgetting to lock the front door to their home."

Mike grinned incredulously. "And the killer just happens by? No, something else is going on."

Karen and Jamie watched him as he walked around the room. Karen gestured Henry over and whispered something to him, and he lumbered off. Mike continued to look around, and crouched near Dee's body. Carey, the pathologist, gave him a funny look and held his hands away from Dee so that Mike could see her clearly.

Jamie wanted to ask her partner what he was thinking, but she was afraid that Karen would jump on any comment.

Karen, jumping regardless, said, "I assume you're thinking that Paul Trumbell has somehow resurrected himself and decided to celebrate with an accelerated killing spree."

Mike stared at Dee's lower body, waved his hand over her face, and stood up and looked at Karen. "Actually," he said, "that is exactly what I'm thinking."

Karen laughed, a rough, ugly sound. Jamie turned and looked at the wall. "Is Mike serious?" she thought. She suddenly worried that her partner might be losing it. Could Mike be jumping to ridiculous conclusions, being so pissed at Karen he'd do anything to prove her wrong?

Mike was silent, looking like he was thinking of what to say next. Jamie felt her back muscles tighten in tension.

The wind picked up in a gale outside that pelted water against the window over the kitchen sink.

Karen started to say something when Mike spoke again, "Paul Trumbell was here. He killed Dee. I don't know how, but somehow his omega gave him the ability to resurrect himself." Mike paused, his forehead wrinkled. "And there's something else..."

Karen smiled predatorially. "I think you've told us quite enough." She turned to Jamie. "Is he insane?"

Jamie felt trapped. She didn't know if Mike still believed Paul was the killer, if he was lying to Karen for some reason, or if something incomprehensible was happening. She looked to her partner for some clue, but Mike was lost in thought, seemingly staring at a spot on the wallpaper.

Karen turned to Carey and said, "You can remove the body now." The medical examiner, who had been so quiet Jamie had forgotten he was in the room, nodded and mumbled to the police officer to get the stretcher for Dee's body. As he left, Mike turned to Karen and said tensely, "You're supposed to wait until I'm finished."

Karen smiled. "Oh, you're quite finished. Finished looking around, finished being on this case, finished in general."

Jamie was suddenly angry. "Stop acting like you're in charge," she said angrily to Karen. "We are working together. You are not our boss."

Karen glared at her. She turned and yelled out into the hallway for Henry, and then whipped her gaze back to Jamie. "I am an officer of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and you two are civilians. Supposedly, you also omegas, although the only evidence of your abilities I have seen points to delusionary psychosis. I am removing you from this case, and no matter what my orders were I'm sure my superiors will support me when I tell them of your behavior."

Henry lumbered into the room. Karen said to him, "Please escort the chasers from the crime scene, Henry. We will not be working with them any longer."

Henry looked at Jamie, who fiercely met his gaze. Unnerved, he walked over to Mike instead and took his arm. Mike ignored Henry and did not jerk his arm away, but instead said to Karen, "You've got to listen. This house, sure that old couple live here now, the Vogels, but this was the house Paul grew up in. That's why he staged the killing here. I don't know how he can still be alive, but he is."

"Henry," Karen said, lifting her eyebrows.

Jamie didn't know what to do. If only Mike would fight back, but then again how could what he's saying be true? This was Paul's house? What was going on? Frustration and fear roiled in her stomach, and involuntarily Jamie reared back and slammed her fist into the refrigerator next to her. Before she remembered it her omega kicked in, and electrical current coursed around her arm, ionizing the air and lifting a light wind in the room. The surge from her omega pushed against the fridge door, cracking against it with a loud boom.

The medical examiner stared at her. Everyone was quiet. Jamie was horrified. She looked at the fridge and saw that its door was severely dented, a white crack like a lightning bolt running down its center. The machine grumbled for a moment, made a creaking sound, and then resumed cooling the air inside it with a slightly louder whirring than before. Jamie looked at Mike. He was staring passively at the refrigerator. Didn't he realize her mistake had bought him some time? Jamie said to him, "Mike."

He looked at her, understood instantly, and wrenched his arm out of Henry's grasp. The motion made Karen turn to look at him, and Mike met her gaze. Then he walked over to the wall he had been staring at earlier, ran his fingers along an edge of wallpaper near the ceiling, and in one quick pull tore a sheet of it down.

Karen opened her mouth in surprise and anger, but then she saw, along with everyone else, what was written there. In a penciled circle the previous owners of the house had written, "This house, built, decorated, and wallpapered by the Trumbells." Beneath it were two illegible signatures, and beneath them, in the red crayon writing of a child, was the name "Paul."

Mike turned to Karen, "You see?"

Karen's face tightened but was otherwise impassive.

Jamie was watching all of this, but she felt as if she were drifting far away. Everything was ganging up on her, she'd forgotten her omega, she just wanted to leave.

Mike, clearly struggling to keep his voice steady, said, "He was there, at his apartment when we were looking at the body. He was the presence I sensed. He made the bullets fall out of Dee's gun as a kind of joke, and then he came here and made the call, knowing she would answer it. Don't you see?"

Everyone was silent. Finally Karen scoffed and muttered, "Insane."

Mike sighed and held out his hand to Henry. "Can I borrow your phone? I need to call our superior."

Henry snorted. "You don't have your own phone?"

Jamie sharply breathed in, too loudly, and everyone looked at her. "I, I need to go back to the hotel, I think." She looked to Mike, "I'll just take the car, and you can work out things with Agent Weller. I'll, um, I'll see you later." Mike glanced at Karen, who was scowling, and then nodded to his partner.

Jamie walked quickly out of the kitchen and then out of the house. Rain assaulted her, slamming into her and pricking her with tiny, freezing daggers. She walked resignedly to the car and got in. She looked at the house, aware that right now Mike and Karen were yelling at each other inside it. She looked at the medical examiner's van, where the policeman was crouching and trying to figure out how to get the stretcher inside the house without getting it wet.

Jamie sighed, turned the car on, and drove away.

They were in the green field, the one Jamie remembered so clearly and yet had never been able to find after the one time they had visited it. Years later she had asked her mother about it, but because Jamie was unable to attach any name or place to it, Mrs. Gatling had only shrugged.

The grass was tall and soft; there was none of the tough cow grass that bit against Jamie's knees. It shined in the golden sunlight. Jamie turned her small head to the sky, equal parts deep, clear blue and pure white clods of cloud. The sun was a fearsome circle, brighter than bright yellow, directly overhead.

Jamie was running down the gentle slope of a hill at the edge of the field, when suddenly the decline sharpened, the great angle of its fall hidden by the grass, and Jamie was running despite herself towards the dark and imposing woods. The thick trees towered over her and seemed about to close in over her head, sucking her into the black spaces between their trunks. She wanted to stop but knew that if she did she would only fall down and roll into the forest anyway. She opened her mouth to cry out when suddenly she was lifted off her feet and heaved into the air.

She was high in her father's arms, the sky surrounding her. She turned her head and looked down into his bearded face. His blue eyes were squinting at her as he said, "Ran a little ahead of yourself there, didn't you tiger?"

Jamie blinked, and in opening her eyes found that she was awake and in a hotel room.

She had been waiting for Mike to return, and must have fallen asleep. She murmured to herself in annoyance, irritated that she had dreamt of the one thing she had avoided thinking about all day: her father.

She had a bad taste in her mouth, and she could hear it still raining torrentially outside. She lied still on the bed for a moment, trying to decide whether to get up or go back to sleep. Finally she slid off the bed and got a glass of water from the bathroom.

As she filled it from the faucet, she examined herself in the mirror and reflected that she looked much better than she felt. "It's because I haven't cried yet," Jamie thought.

She wasn't paying attention and water overflowed onto her hand. It was freezing and in her jerk back her omega ignited, electrical current coursing down her forearm and impacting against the sink. The glass exploded outward, spraying the counter with tiny shards.

Jamie yelped, stopped, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. She opened her eyes. The sink seemed all right, although the faucet was bent slightly out of shape. There was glass everywhere, and Jamie was still clinging to pieces of it, now bloody, in her left hand. She dropped them into the sink and lifted her hand in front of her face. Small shards of glass were cut into it, badly in two places. She carefully brushed them out with her right hand, and her blood began to flow freely. She washed the cuts off under the faucet, grabbed a small towel from the rack behind her, and wrapped it around her wounds. The pain was sharp but localized. She tightened the towel, muffling her hurt to the point that she could ignore it. She looked at the mess of glass and blood on the counter, sobbed suddenly, and went and sat on her bed.

Why was she here? What was going on? And despite herself, she thought the thought she'd been suppressing for hours, the thought that had crept into her mind quickly and quietly, although not without being noticed, when Mike had pulled away the wallpaper and she'd seen the name "Paul" written in red crayon. If Paul could live on as a ghost, could her father have as well?

A gale picked up the rain outside, and Jamie turned at the sound of the wall of water smashing against the window of her room. Slowly, she got up and parted the curtains for the first time. Outside was a parking lot and then the highway. Everything was covered with the bullet hits of the rain, lit up by the streetlights that were holding off the approaching night.

Something moved against Jamie's mind.

She turned back to the room, her eyes wide.

It brushed by her again.

"Dad?" she said, her voice desperate. "No," she thought, "Not again, not now, of all times not now." She was feeling her father's presence, the way she had periodically since he'd died. Before she'd always told herself it wasn't real; now she wasn't sure. And it had been years since she'd last felt him...

Jamie walked into the center of the room. Someone touched her mind. It was as if a lasso had found her soul and tightened, and instantly Jamie knew her father was standing behind her, at the window, looking at her. She stopped. Stopped moving, stopped breathing; she would have stopped her heart if she could have.

The room was still and silent.

Extremely slowly, Jamie turned around. She caught a glimpse of someone by the window, and forcing herself to look directly at her father, she saw-

"Nothing," she thought to herself. She felt hollow, as if she would crack and there would be stale air and nothing else inside her. Her father was gone.

There was a sparking sound, and Jamie felt a stinging, powerful slap against her back, pushing her forwards. She managed to reach out with her toweled hand and catch the table before it clocked her in the head. Spinning and clutching her left hand, suddenly throbbing in pain, Jamie searched the room with her eyes.

In a moment a glowing current appeared near the bed, and coalesced into a human form. It was a naked man, and as the purple and blue sparks tightened around his face she recognized Paul Trumbell. He was smiling, the same malevolent grin that he'd carried with him into death.

Jamie, in terror, inched back against the window. He walked slowly towards her, and Jamie could see, as the blue lines of his body tightened, that he was excited. She began to breathe heavily, and thought to herself with a surreal detachment, "Why aren't I fighting back?"

As he took another step, so that he was now near the table, she kicked her right leg up. It passed through him, but her omega sparked, more powerfully than usual, and the electrical force of it appeared to slice through Paul's shifting energy. His face lengthened in shock, but before Jamie could hit him again he slammed the table to the side with a slash of current from his right arm, while his left shot out and caught her in the throat.

Sparks flew from his hand, shocking Jamie's skin along her neck and up onto her face. Paul was grinning again, and Jamie tried to swing her right arm out at him. He slapped it aside with his left, and pushed against her with electricity. Her insides jumped in response, and as her body convulsed Jamie wondered distantly if she would have a heart attack.

Feeling unconsciousness approaching, Jamie reached out with her left hand, but the towel around it prevented her omega from igniting. Staring into the blue, sparkling orbs of Paul's eyes, Jamie knew she was going to die, and as he positioned his body closer to hers, she cried out in horror to the only person she could think of to help her.

"Dad!" she screamed in terror, and again, for the last time, she cried out:


Next: The conclusion to "Ghosts." A bittersweet revenge, and a final goodbye.

Copyright 1996 John L. Morgan III

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