Chapter 1 – Jaclyn’s Ghost by Dorlana Vann
Jaclyn’s Ghost by Dorlana Vann
Another One Bites the Dust
Jaclyn Jade felt the sensation of a trillion tiny needles prickling just beneath the surface of her skin. She opened her eyes to darkness. “Why am I standing on my bed?” Gradually, the tingling faded, but the overwhelming contentment made it difficult for her to shake the suspicion that something was terribly different. She squinted and blinked her eyes as she searched her bedroom for answers.
The room seemed normal. Even the earliest of the morning brought an orange glow through her sheer curtains; so obviously, she had woken up in the middle of night. Jaclyn’s scan stopped abruptly when she spotted an unfamiliar six-foot silhouette in the shape of a man. It moved, causing an involuntary shriek to burst out of her mouth. As she attempted to run, she stumbled over a huge lump in her bed and fell, face first, onto the floor. She recovered to her feet in a flash, turned to see what she had tripped over, and then dashed out the door.
She stopped in the hallway, right outside the bedroom door, already doubting what she had seen. No one followed her out. “Stupid.” After a moment, she put her hand on her chest trying to regain her composure. Oh man, I slept in my party dress. “Keten’s going to kill me.”
“I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Jaclyn looked up to see a man standing right across from her. She sucked in a deep breath and responded appropriately with another piercing scream and ran back into her room.
“I know you’re confused,” the man said from behind her. “If you will give me a moment, I can explain everything.”
She looked for something to use as a weapon. “If you don’t get the hell out of my house this instant,” she cried and turned around, “you’ll be explaining everything to the police.”
The intruder stood in the doorway, his face covered by the shadow of his hat.
If I can just get over to the table by the bed, I can get my phone. However, as soon as her focus drifted toward the bed, the heap that had caused her to trip earlier grabbed her attention. Is someone under there?
“What’s the last thing you remember?” the man asked from the doorway. “Give yourself a moment. It’ll come back to you.”
She had to force herself to concentrate. Frustration and fear made it difficult for her to rummage through her memory. I feel so strange. “Why can’t I remember anything?”
All of a sudden, as if someone had smacked them into the back of her head, her memories of the night before emerged. “The party,” she blurted. “That’s it, the champagne.” She nodded her head in satisfied realization. “I just partied a little more than I should have. Keten must have brought me home and just stayed over. He does that all the time. I must have been sleepwalking and caught you in the middle of, who knows what. I suggest you disappear before I wake up my boyfriend and he—”
“Pretty shoes,” the man said and nodded toward the bed.
“I say, your boyfriend sure has pretty shoes.”
Jaclyn stared at the foot that stuck out from under the blankets. When she recognized the shoe, she looked down at her own feet. She wore the same exact pair of pink, pointy-toed sling-backs. Not Keten. Did a friend, who was wearing the same exact shoes, come home with me? She would have noticed that before. She would have remembered shoe duplicity.
“OK,” she said. “That’s it. I’ve got to get this over with.” She took a small step toward the bed.
“Poor bunny, are you sure you want to go over there?”
Jaclyn stared at the stranger. Nothing made sense. He wore a black jacket over a double-breasted vest and dress pants. Clearly it had been bought off the rack, but still, it was a bit much for a burglar. She also wondered why he hadn’t left when he had the chance. If he wanted to hurt her, why hadn’t he even tried? The way he leaned against the doorframe, his arms crossed, he almost seemed to be amused by her chaos. “Did someone hire you to pull a prank on me? Is that it? Are you an actor? Just tell me what’s going on and who’s in that bed, and maybe I’ll tell the cops to go easy on you.”
“If that’s truly what you want.” He held up his hands and took a couple of steps inside the room.
“Now you’re starting to piss me off. Just tell me who is in my bed!”
He grinned. “It’s you. Well, the former you. You see, now you’re you, and that’s just a body.”
The man stood a handshake away. Jaclyn tried to ignore the hazy luster around him—too much to think about at that moment—but she couldn’t disregard his attractive face, his square jaw, and his deep black eyes, which at that moment seemed insanely sincere. “Oh… my… goodness.”
“I know… it’s really crazy.”
“No. You’re psychotic.” Without giving herself another chance to chicken out, Jaclyn marched over to her bed and tossed back the bedspread.
Her mouth fell open as she took a step back. It’s just a trick. It’s just someone who looks a lot like me and went to a lot of trouble to play a joke. She had the same long dark hair, the same skin tone, the same nose and the same… everything.
Jaclyn decided to wake the imposter and tell her to take her boyfriend and get the hell out of her apartment. But when she reached down to shake the woman, her hand went smooth through the shoulder like it was made of smoke. She jerked her hand back immediately and took an apprehensive breath.
“It’s screwy seeing yourself like that.” She heard the man say.
She stood there, examining her body in the bed as a calm embraced her. “Why am I not freaking out? Shouldn’t I be upset, screaming, and freaking out?”
“When you die, the psychological need for your physical body ends. You instinctively know that you don’t need that body anymore.”
“I look really pitiful,” she said. “What happened? I’m not sick or anything.”
She looked around to see if she noticed any hints as to what took place. She eyed the phone, close enough now that she could grab it and call someone if she wanted, and laughed to herself. Who? What could she say? She noticed a container of pills and a bottle of champagne beside the phone on the nightstand. She tried to pick up the pills. Yet again, her hand had no substance and went through the bottle. “Ahh, this is driving me crazy. Can you pick those up?”
The man stared at her blankly, and then a small, concerned expression seemed to grow across his face. “What?”
“Something’s wrong with me. Would you mind?” She moved out of the man’s way so he could get to the table. He inched his hand really close to the bottle and then snatched it back again.
“Oh, just forget it,” she said.
“No, it’s no problem.” He grabbed the bottle and studied it, turning it one way and then the other.
“Well? Does it say what they are?”
“There’s no marking of any kind. The torpedo must have left them. I apologize. By the time I arrived—”
“Hit man, assassin, hired gun… torpedo.”
“Hit man? That’s ridiculous. I’ve accepted every ludicrous thing you’ve said so far, but now you’re actually trying to tell me… what? That I was murdered?”
“You must have your share of enemies.” The man nodded as he looked down at the body in the bed.
Jaclyn stared at the man, not believing his gall. “Wait… who are you, and why are you in my house?”
“The name is Logan Smith.”
“OK… and why are you here?”
“I live here.” Logan crossed his arms as he leaned back against the wall. An arrogant smile appeared on his lips as well as in his eyes. “Just your friendly resident ghost.”
“As in boo?”
She ran her hands through her hair and exhaled in defeat. “Well, that would explain your glow.”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“Does that mean I’m a ghost, too?” Jaclyn looked down at her hands. “I look the same.”
“But you’re not.”
Jaclyn thought about it for a moment. OK… I’m a ghost. This warranted sitting down, but when she went to sit on the edge of the bed, she fell through to the floor. She just stayed there with her head poking up through the mattress. She crossed her legs under the poof of her cream-colored gown and sighed as she considered her demise. “You’re wrong,” Jaclyn finally said. “I don’t have any enemies. At least not ones who would want to kill me.”
Logan sat on the bed. “Then, it’s a mystery.”
Jaclyn glared at him. “How did you do that? How come you can sit on the bed?”
“There are things you’ll have to—”
“And where the hell is my light… and tunnel and stairway to Heaven?”
“It’s complicated,” Logan said. “Well… not really. Some people go straight to Heaven and others, for some reason or another, are rejected.”
She stood up and faced him. “Rejected? You’re telling me I didn’t make it into Heaven. What then? You can’t seriously be saying I’m going to—”
“Hello,” a man’s voice spoke from behind her.
Jaclyn shook her head and turned around. What now? She had her hands on her hips, ready for combat, but was ambushed by the new man’s appearance. His beauty rivaled Logan’s masculinity. What is this? An audition for a Calvin Klein ad? She opened her mouth to protest his intrusion, but her voice turned out to be just as flabbergasted.
“Give her a break,” Logan said. “She just bit the dust.” He stepped beside Jaclyn and then gestured to the new arrival. “May I introduce Charles Charles.”
“Charles Charles?” Jaclyn said, coming out of her trance.
“I’m taking her now,” the man said.
“Taking me? Taking me where?” Panic caught in her throat. She had just found out about this rejection thing and needed more time to process what had happened.
“Exactly where you should be, Butterfly… Hell.”
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