Coyote- Tommy

“No! I said don’t do that. What the hell!” 
Tommy stepped toward the woman as she attempted to sprint between two pair of outstretched arms. The eager arms trying to find lunch, which was the source of the screaming. Tommy winched as the zombie on the left grasp her ponytail. The woman’s face, joyful she had made it past them, would soon change to horror if Tommy couldn’t help her but he had his own problems. The woman’s screams had attracted a mob of zombies but worse, other prisoners had made the zombies ravenous.

The zombie we’re blind, their eyes covered in a cancerous white film but they felt everything. Tommy had developed a particular set of skills, allowing him to avoid the sun bleached, hungry grasped but he also avoided stupid moves like running between two zombies expected a miracle. 
“Miracles didn’t exist”, Tommy thought as he watched the woman fall backward landing on her ass first, then her back. 
“Miracles were part of that Christian revolution that disappeared once the world changed.” He continued the thought as he crouched low and walked forward, careful to avoid any noise. 

“Some of the Coyotes take a stabbing approach…,” he silently explained to himself, running through a speech he planned to give at the Rail Station downtown
later in the day. 
“… but I prefer the silent, stalking, carefully planned approach. Avoiding conflict, wasted energy and potential surprises. It’s a far smarter approach.” His thought concluded. 
He grabbed the woman by the ankles and pulled. The zombie holding her hair grasp tighter as he as his partner began to bend down. 
“Her screaming doesn’t help.” Tommy said to himself as hope of rescuing this group of prisoners disappeared along with the credits he would receive from the families.

“Five thousand credits per, multiplied by ten, now three… possibly two if I can’t rescue this dumb screaming woman. Hold it together Tommy. You can only do so much.”

Tommy lifted the woman by both ankles and violently pulled her toward him. She slammed her head on the concrete beneath her but the zombie holding her hair lost his hold. Tommy pulled again, careful to be as stealthy as he could. Other zombie stood waiting, listening groping for a clue. 
The woman lie under him. “Shut up!” He said looking into her terrified eyes. The look, familiar always haunting. “Your going to kill us both. Stop screaming.”

The woman stopped screaming, for the moment, and Tommy helped her to her feet. 
“We are 200 yards from Station 1,” Tommy said. “You can do this.” He encouraged her as he pulled a large gauze pad from his bag to stop the bleeding beneath her blond ponytail. He held it to her head for several moment as the two zombie approached from behind. 
The two other survivors, that had listened, stood like statues. Every bone and muscle in their body shook but they stood silently waiting. 
“Let’s go, quietly,” Tommy instructed. 
The four, two woman and two men walked slowly toward Station 1, a run-down restaurant with a large plate glass window in the front

Tommy placed the screaming woman’s hand on the gauze bandage and encouraged her to move forward quietly. She seemed to want to comply this time.

The two zombie behind them, encouraged by the interaction with the woman, approached. Their hunger insatiable. Tommy, was aware and searched for anything to lay in the pairs path. 
A shopping cart, covered in weeds, would work. Tommy suggested the group continue forward carefully and quietly as he veered off the the left to get the shopping cart. 
He freed the cart, in moments. Picked up the cart so it would not make noise and turned. 
All three survivors had began running toward the restaurant. 
Tommy cursed like he had never before. “The ignorance of these people,” he thought as he watched one of the men fall and get brutally beaten up, then eaten. The women ran erratically around the zombies that approached. Skillfully, avoiding the hungry lunges of the predators. 
“The zombie, though would overwhelm them,” Tommy thought. He knew it would happen, because it always did.

The numbers around the women grew till the commotion had drawn all the zombie from around where Tommy stood. He stood alone, behind a shopping cart, watching the entire scene. The tragedy of the inability to listen and check the fear for sake of survival. Tommy was void of fear anymore, reborn to this brutal new world of terror. He walked pass the growing mob of zombie and headed toward the back of Station 1. He approached the back door, withdrew a key and unlocked the door. He opened the door and disappeared.

Coyote Part 2

The Zoo part 3

Tommy turned. Excited to see his old friend. Wishing he would visit more, Sean had passed years ago. He was never going to visit and no one was standing near the bar.

“Damn it, ghosts hovering everywhere in this hell-hole. Sure there is plenty of reason to haunt but leave me the hell alone. I don’t need any false hope. I don’t need any false anything.”

He noticed the bottle of whiskey sitting on the counter, stood and poured a shot of the liquor into his glass. He placed the glass back on the counter and tightened the top.

A door opened and closed. Tommy heard Mary talking to someone. Soon the conversation began to moved toward the front. The voices familiar.

“ Better not be another damn ghost,” Tommy shouted.

“ I ain’t no ghost brother,” came the reply. Tommy smiled when he saw Julian saunter through the door.

“Your brother will not leave me alone,” Tommy said.

“You killed his ass, dummy what else is he going to do,” Julian said, with a laugh. His laugh was short and he swallowed the last part.

“I’m sorry, Julian.”

“Stop apologizing stupid. You did what you had too. I brought help.” Julian adds.

He points toward the swinging restaurant doors leading to the kitchen. Standing in the doorway is a towering figure. The figure ducked under the door frame. The light from the restaurant sank into its dark, gaunt face revealing vile elongated teeth and thin pencil like lips…

Tommy immediately drew his pistol. Julian countered by pulling his own short double-barrel shotgun.

“No, Tommy! He is not a threat.”

“Not a threat, christ. Julian, this creature killed your brother.”

“This creature did not. Put the gun down.” Tommy picked up the tension in Julian’s voice. His own guilt magnifying the image of shooting an innocent man.

The Coyote part 3 – wip

“So what do you think, Tommy?” Mary said.

“Hmm… sounds fun,” Tommy began. “…but really… what do we know.”

“Well,” Mary began as she poured Tommy a glass of whiskey. “As you already said to Mr. Carson, he is part of the Carson…

“What do we know of the New World Group?” Tommy asked he downed the shot of whiskey and placed the glass next to the bottle.

Mary opens a laptop covered in stickers. She searches then says, “per the Network search, looks like New World Group runs several financial companies for a large part of the new Commonwealth. They are based in the New York territory.”

“Of course the New York territory most big companies still work out of the remains of New York City. What does the Network know of this Petty?”

“Well, without the ability to communicate through the internet anymore I will have to ask and wait for that to come back.”


“Charlie,” Mary repeated then paused. “I can dig up information on Charlie. Sounds like he is inside. The Network will be able to find something. Give me an hour. Do you need the usual crew for this job?”

Mary smiled.

“Yes, Mary. You are a superstar. Can I get a refill?” He asked holding the empty glass of whiskey.

“No,” Mary shot back. Her smile disappeared. “I should not of given you a glass of it. Severe lack of judgment on my part.”

Tommy frowned but didn’t protest. “Thank you Mary you’re still a star.” He finished his meal and turned toward the large plate-glass windows within the front of the restaurant. Mary disappeared into the kitchen.

Outside, decrepit sky-scrapers crept into view to his left. Out front and a half mile away was the city wall protecting the residents of the mid-western territory of Gregory. Between the wall and Tommy was a flat plot of tall grass and trees that struck him as odd because of its proximity to the tall office buildings. Tommy took a seat near the front window. A leathery hand scratched at the bottom of the window and caught Tommy’s attention for a moment. The owner of the hand had found itself in front of the window years ago but was too malnourished to be of any threat. Most of the zombie had suffered the same fate. Disabled and doing a better job as plant food then a threat to humans.

They were not harmless. They have killed a fair amount of human prey. Mostly the new prisoners the do not know where to go. The zombie can still pack a punch. Even in their weakened state.

“I should find the 9-iron some day,” he says out loud. The thought appearing suddenly.

“You can’t hit worth shit, Tommy,” says a familiar voice coming from the back of the restaurant.

“Sean!” Tommy replied with a smile. “Been waiting”

The Coyote – part 2

Mornings within the walled off, reclusive world are the worst part of an already fucked up life. The smell of decay mixed with body order, sprinkled with a constant moaning.

The moaning was worse then the stench at times. A twisted symphony of pain expressed in guttural “Ohhhhs” all day and night.

Tommy stared at the dangling plaster above his head. The room had seen better days but as was the world.

Zombies milled under his window waiting like dogs hungry for breakfast

“Tommy!” Shouted Mary , the station chief.

“You have a phone call.”

Tommy dressed, grabbed his weapons and walked down the neglected wooden steps to the small cafe on the ground floor.

At the bottom of the stairs was a kitchen. The kitchen was immaculate and cooking on the polished stove was a skillet filled with rice, onions, peas and carrots. On a counter to the left was a dozen beautifully polished red candied apples.

Tommy fingered one of the apples and listened to Mary on the phone.

“I understand, Mr. Carter.”

“Tommy O’Neil is the coyote, yes sir.“

“He’s on the way, sir.”

“Listen, Mr. Carter. We give you our word. We will find your daughter.”

“Don’t do that,” Tommy said as stepped into the cafe lobby. In front of him sat a large plate glass window. Mary sat at a small table. A phone sat in the center.

“Don’t promise anyone anything. I am no superhero.” Mary, a thin woman, eyes that understood the horrors of the world, placed the phone receiver in Tommy’s hand.

“Mr. Carter,” Tommy O’Neal began. He sat the phone on his shoulder and slicked back his hair.

“There are no guarantees in this zoo.” He said. “I lost 8 people just yesterday because they wouldn’t listen. “ This daughter is what 22, 25 and a criminal?”

“14, not possible,” Tommy snapped. “They would not push a 14 year old into this shithole.”

“Snuck in! That is ridiculous. No one would sneak into this place. Are you calling from a radio show, your joking right.”

“Your daughter is dead,” Tommy said. “Yes, it’s true. Your daughter has a 15 minutes time-to-live and that has passed.”

“Your apparent sphere of influence has no bearing. The Maxwell-Carter family may have some pull outside the Zoo, but within these walls we make the rules.”

“The Network can be a very powerful enemy, Mr. Carter. I’m just saying, be careful what you wish for… but honestly how much and why should I care?”

Tommy gently tapped the glass on the whiskey bottle. Mary did her best to ignore him and pretended to work nearby.

“I’ll get it myself,” he whispered and she countered by shaking her head no.”

“500,000 credits?” Tommy said with disgust. “What am I going to do with credits. Toss them at the undead?”

His words trailed off as he noticed an odd zombified creature approach the large restaurant window. He pointed with his free hand.

Mary whispered, “I believe those are called satyrs. Half human, half goat.”

“Looks like a demon,” Tommy replied while covering the receiver.

The satyr had a horn twisting from the left side of his head and a second horn, broken protruding from the right side.

It’s fur showed up in patches over its pale, dead human face. Open wounds tracing exposed compound fractures.

“When did they start putting the Freaks in here?” Tommy said as he swept up the bottle of whiskey and poured a second shot.

Tommy swallowed and Mary took the bottle from him. “Your not finishing this bottle,” she said.

“I am listening to you Mr. Carter. You would like me to rescue your daughter and your daughter just happened to slip into a prison full of zombies… and other monsters… with a stone that has the power to create or take away life. So this is a mission to save the world. Did I get that right?”

“Fuck off, with your goddamn super hero mission. I ain’t no super hero. Do it yourself then.”

“I want something else. I want you to have me released. I want out of this shit hole.”

“How did she get the stone.” Tommy asked. “A family of thieves, I see. That certainly makes this job more interesting and more valuable. The Stones haven’t been free from the Maxwell-Carter family for four years.”

He paused, “Mr. Carter this must be embarrassing for you. You seem that type.”

“No one outside the prison will not do shit for 50,000 credits,” he said, replying to Mr. Carson. “I doubt they would step into this zoo for 100,000 and they are definitely not looking for your daughter in West Ransom. They may take your money though.”

The smell of candied apples drift into his nose.

“Mary, can I get a plate of your awesome fried rice and a candied apple. I love those candied apples.” Tommy said waiting for a response.

“Sure thing, I got you. Anything else?” Mary said.

A glass of water, please.” Mary disappeared into the kitchen of the diner.

“Are you changing your offer for this job, Mr Carson. You have no other options.”

“500,000 credits, guaranteed by the Carter family and Northeast territory… Nice. Where do you believe they were heading.

“That’s a three station hop and some of the most populated areas of the city. Still very likely she is already dead but I promise I will do my best.

“How will you guarantee I get paid? I am on the inside of this hell on earth zoo. The Blackguards are corrupt as hell and I can’t get out.”

“The Garden. Sure. The Network’s central station. I’ll meet you at the top.

Tommy placed the phone on the receiver. “Looks like we have another suicide job, Mary. Can you call…”

“They are on the way, already. Held up at station 11. Will be here in an hour.”

“You are my favorite station chief, Mary and I love your apples. Gawd.” He said as he bit onto the candied dessert.”

Super human

There is that moment, you play over and over in your head. That event that changes your life forever. Here’s the funny thing about that moment…

It’s not the real moment, it’s a memory that has been edited to make the audience (me) stare in awe and contemplate. Like all great memories, this one takes some liberties with what you remember and what really happened.

Mid-year in 1997 I came home from the military to try to return to ‘normal’ society. I started a job at a grocery store – grabbed what I could and who would hire me.

The first day, sitting in a room in the back with a group of maybe six other new employees. I look to see if I could possibly be friends with any of the people in the group but it’s all business and I’ve never been too good at reaching out.

Second-third-maybe a week later, it’s not clear:
I’m working in furniture monitoring the floor to ensure none of the furniture moves away like it could but she showed up. This super gregarious young woman in a purple outfit. She walked past me giggling and talking with her new friends. My first thoughts were, “Wow, there is something about her. People seem to revolve around her. There is an attraction that emanates from her and I need to figure out what this strange attraction is…”

“It’s not love,” I think. “She just seems to be magnetic to everyone. There is this light/aura that radiates from her.”

I drummed up the courage to talk to this woman, which honestly wasn’t as hard as I expected but 20:20 it makes sense. We got along well and I enjoyed being around her. We were not officially friends till this dork attempted to read a book while also listening to her talking to some friends. I was discovered and surprisingly invited to her table. The conversation was immediately wonderful till a dreaded ‘incident’ happened.

She sneezed in my ear, leaving the side of my face wet and the entire table in stitches. It wouldn’t be the only time and I wouldn’t be the only victim.. but another time.

As with most things involving her, this small paragraph has evolved into an adventure but I have little time to explain the progression in detail so I will skip ahead.

This light/aura/supernatural event poured out of her attracting everyone around her. It was like a superhero moment where the villain started pulling in the whole world leaving the hero on the outside trying to figure out how to stop it… but I didn’t want to stop it. I wanted to figure out more about this woman. How was she doing this? It made no sense so I talked to her every chance I got and I began to notice this glow in her eyes when she talked to me. The gregarious women, who everyone loved, would change slightly when I appeared.
So her power changed/evolved when I was around. Like a responsible superhero I, of course, had to figure out what was going on.

I never figured it out, 20+ years and I’m still trying to figure out why @Sabrina Stitt is so super-powered. There is something about her that is super-human. Happy Valentine’s day.

Green’s Grocery

Greens Grocery sat on the outskirts of a cluster of small villages in Waterloo township. An essential business supplying the township with canned goods, perishables and liquor. At least, that’s what Frank Green always assumed. Frank had, for forty years, thought of himself as an essential worker. If Frank ain’t working the township ain’t running.

Six months to the day, the township stopped working. People stopped coming into the store. Frank knew why, he saw it on the news when the drugs stopped working.
For years, the country had been abusing a drug called Inferno, an antipsychotic but tweaked on the streets to become the last, greatest craze. Antipsychotic became psychotic and people that used it began dying. To counter Inferno, the pharmaceuticals created a new drug. This drug resuscitated the users but eventually drove them further into a psychological rabbit hole. Several corrections later and we have an epidemic world wide.
“A god-damn zombie apocalypse,” quoted some medical expert on the morning news.

Frank donned a red shirt, tie and slacks. He walked down the steps from the apartment above to the store for another uneventful day. He entered the warehouse in the rear of the store and spent the next hour and a half preparing what he had left to be displayed in the aisles.
Paper goods were still plentiful. Frank’s stacked a couple boxes of toilet paper, paper towels and napkins in a shopping cart and pushed it to the door. He unlocked the door handle, chain lock and rolled a large red tool box that blocked the door.
Frank pushed the shopping cart to the West end of the store, near the coolers. The coolers had been off for months, along with the lights. frozen foods, milk and meat expired months ago. Frank’s priority was to prepare for the enviable return of civility.

He turned down the last aisle and moved through, past the coolers on the left, then stopped in front of a trio of empty shelves. He placed the paper products on the shelves. When he was done the shelves displayed three packages of toilet paper, towels and napkins and a lot of empty shelf space. 
Frank pushed the cart to the front customer service desk and entered. He dusted the large counter and the shelves beneath it. The cash register drawer was half open and empty of cash. Frank pushed the drawer closed but it reopened. He pushed it closed a second time then cleaned the shelves beneath. He stopped at a poorly built wooden box. He slid it toward the edge of the shelf and opened it. Inside was a revolver and an open box of ammunition. There were no remaining bullets in the ammunition box but Frank knew there were bullets within the revolver. He grabbed the revolver with his left hand, His hand began to shake. Frank opened the cylinder to verify. He found four rounds ready to use. He closed the cylinder and placed the revolver back in the box. He pushed the box toward the back of the shelf and finished dusting.

Frank searched and found a clean rag, a bottle of window cleaner and a step ladder. He walked to the front of the store. The front window was plate glass, fairly thick. Two eight-foot by six-foot tall panes separated by a small strip. Frank placed the ladder on the left-most end and began cleaning from the top down. 

The dirt and grime came free from the inside of the window revealing a parking lot of abandoned cars parked in front of the store. Like an old photograph, a tranquil scene within the center of town. Except, in reality, there was no tranquility. People of the village milled through the street. No one drove any of the vehicles. They milled with no destination. Something to do as they waited to attack anything not sick and brave enough to make an appearance. 
“Living with such rage,” Frank’s thoughts began to surface. “What was it like trapped in a body or were they just insane? Did they have any conscious thought? 
Frank caught himself staring out the window at a gentlemen in a three piece suit walking slowly past the broken window of Town Bar. The gentleman dressed to kill, clearly a visitor to Waterloo at some point. Maybe a groomsman at a wedding within the township hall. The gentleman passed the broken window of Town Bar, staring forward. A woman approached from the right. Staring forward and oblivious. The man in the three piece suit walking from the left. Eventually they met in the center of Frank’s view. The expected human behavior being to politely move but these two smashed into each other and became a mangled mess. Both managed to stay on their feet, by some miracle, freed them selves, then moved on. No apology, no angry glances. Just acceptance of anything that was… oh well.

“No piss’n and moan’n all the time. Oh I didn’t get my donut with my coffee,” Frank says in a mocking tone. 
The window was half clean when a metallic crash, somewhere in the rear of the store, startled Frank. Frank fell into the window with a thud but the thick glass held.

The act of falling into the window and the noise it created frightened Frank more then the thought of what could possibly be in the back. He settled the ladder and stood near the top. His left hand still on the plate glass. The crowd outside began to become more animated, as if someone had shouted “Help!” and they all wanted to help. They began to search for the source of the noise. Their interest peaked Frank knew he had to be extra cautious to not confirm his location with another noise.
“ I haven’t been hear this long and safe to lose it now,” he mumbled.

Frank heard some of the boxed stock being tossed within the warehouse. He cursed in a whisper. 
“If it’s Gary,” he said. “I’m going to lose it. I told him to stay in that room.” 

“He never listens…”

Another crash, followed by several additional crashes, prompted Frank to stumble from the ladder. The ladder stuck the front window. 
Frank watched as a hairline fracture spread out from the impact. Outside the window, the infected took notice and began to inspect the front of the grocery.

Blind, the infected, listened for additional evidence. They milled around the front of the store occasionally slapping the glass to prompt a response from any unfortunate frightened creature.

Frank wasn’t frightened, he was pissed. His perfectly manicured situation was in danger.
He was going to rectify this and take it out of Gary’s ass.

The split/the rift

The street was wet and the air smelled like rain. It was the middle of the night and the residents of this small suburb were asleep.

A small white orb floated in chaotic circles till settling above the suburban street. The orb sat motionless for several moments. Stretched downward in a vertical line, illuminating the street and homes on either side of it. A man stepped from the light and onto the street. He sniffed the air, determined the rain would not be a bother, and tossed his large coat back into the light.

The man stood and took in the scene. The monochromatic homes lined up on both sides of the street but one stood out. The man smiled and stepped toward the home. The man stepped under a street lamp within a disc of light spilled across the ground. His face was scarred and burned. His eyes red from lack of sleep. He pulled a glowing sword from a leather sheath on his left side. The sword hung from his hand, pointed downward. He followed a blue aura pulsating from the bedroom. He stopped, for a moment, at the outside wall then floated through.

Appearing within the bedroom he searched for the origin of the blue aura. Two humans lay in a queen-sized bed but the aura floated up from behind the bed. He stepped around the bed and found a small dog sleeping. The aura floating from its body.

The man grumbled, his scarred face dripped with disappointment.

“Barely enough to heal a broken fingernail,” he growled. “Two perfectly delicious human subject, not damn ready.”

He grasp the sword, approached the dying creature and cut him from neck to rear. He reached into the body and yanked a glowing blue seed from beside the heart. Staring at the two humans, sleeping and unaware, the man swallowed the seed. The redness left his eyes. The light from his hands increased in intensity. The man grunted as the soul of the animal meshed with the many already within.

The human man woke and shook the sleep from his eyes, followed by the woman. The human man sat up and browsed the room but it was dark.

“What’s going on,” said the woman.

“I don’t know, a light woke me. Maybe lightning… not sure.”

“That’s weird,” said the woman.

“It is,” the man agreed, swung his feet over the edge of the bed and set them down. He recoiled as moisture soaked his naked toes. He flipped the light on and gasp at the sight of his tortured dog.

The man reappeared outside, beside the tear of light over the drive, and stepped inside. He bent over, recovered his coat and disappeared, taking the light with him.

The Ordinary world -part two

Ken turned to address the spirit and found Caroline floating very close. Ken gasp and stepped back and fell into the company van.

“You… gawd…” his voice shuddered.

Caroline disappeared and reappeared in a moment father away. She waited.

Ken composed himself and stood. He took in a breath and spoke.

“Don’t”, he said.

“I’m sorry, distance is hard to judge from the Aether.

“The Aether?”

“Your otherworld, land of the dead, the place where spirits go to stay.”

“I’ve heard of this Aether from other dead.”

“So you are a seer?” Caroline asked as a beam of sunlight shown through her.

Ken turned, placed the remaining items in his trunk then turned back hoping Caroline was gone.

She was waiting a comfortable distance away.

“I am,” Ken said. “All my very uncomfortable life. Your different… intelligent…”

Caroline smiled. She shimmered in the light then disappeared.

Ken grumbled and cursed under his breath.

“What next?” He thought. “I have some contacts at the police station but it’s been a while. I may not find anything.”

“She will be back. They always come back. “

The Ordinary World

A crowd stood staring at a grisly scene inside a meticulously manicured hospital hallway. Ken Davidson stood near the scene. He stared at the scene with a large duffel full of cleaning supplies and a dry mop.

A large pool of congealed blood sat over the square tiled hospital floor and a large splattered pattern was splashed over the wall and a light blue door. A rectangular sign identified the door belonged to the security team.

He set the duffel on the floor closest to the scene and pulled a plastic bottle from the bag. He combined the bottle with a sprayer when the questions began.

“What happened here?… What’s going on?… Did someone die?… Oh my god”

Ken returned to the bag and pulled from it a pair of large wireless head phones and put them over his ears. He began to apply the cleaner to the scene when someone tapped his shoulder.

Ken turned to see a short man, dressed in a dark blue police officer shirt and slacks waiting for a response. Ken remove the headphones and the men stood awkward for several moments.

“Ken Davidson, do you not recognize me, it’s Paul.” “Paul Shepherd, remember? I was a rookie cop.”

Ken frowned but managed a smile. “Paul, how are you? I’m sorry but I don’t recall much of anything from that part of my life.”

“I’m sorry to hear that Ken,” Paul said with disappointment. “Sorry about what happened to you. You were… are still a hero to many of us.”

“Thank you,” Ken replied. “But if you don’t mind. I have a hallway to clean.”

“Yeah, sure Ken. If you need anything I’ll be over here.”

Paul disappeared from Ken’s view. He returned to work on spraying the floor.

Music flooded the thoughts and sounds of the people queued behind him. They exchanged rumors and guesses while he ignored them.

After spraying the hallway, Ken began to mop up the blood and gore. The traffic in the hallway began to increase as the morning aged.

The bright orange cones redirected the strangers for the most part. Occasionally someone just had to know what happened but Ken ignored them. He kept his head down and his gaze away from anyone. Until someone tapped him on the shoulder.

He turned to growl at what he assumed would be a glasses-clad, disheveled looking man but was surprised to see a brown-haired woman in a eye-catching white sun dress. She smiled at him.

Ken smiled back. An automatic response but one that he hadn’t used in 5 years. He was a bit shocked his face had the muscle strength to smile that widely.

“You have a beautiful smile,” she said, standing in a column of light from a set of windows.

“So do you, it’s a bit intoxicating,” he blurted.

The woman laughed. Ken’s heart shook itself from its sleep.

“I get that all the time,” the woman said then disappeared from view.

Ken stood staring in her direction for, it seemed like an hour, but she can disappeared.

A business man walked up to Ken and asked if he knew what had happened.

Ken automatically explained that a woman had been killed over the weekend.

“That’s all I know.” Ken then smiled again but this time he caught himself. He canceled the smile and added

“I need to finish up, thanks.”

The vision of that woman never left his head. He finished cleaning up the messy scene, packed up his tools and packed them into the portable rolling cart. Questions pelted him mercilessly.

“Who was she? Why did she disappear? Why did she appear? Do I want to know?”

“Rules are rules,” he said to himself. A reminder to not follow his warming heart to find this woman but he was losing that fight.

He knew it was the woman killed in the hallway a few days ago. He had no proof but he was fairly confident. He had been visited before by spirits. They haunted him on occasion but…

There was something about this woman. An intoxicating sense to her. She had the ability to knock him off his feet but she was dead.

“She’s dead.” He confirmed to himself.

He stood and stared at the Security door. He thought to himself, a persistent overwhelming thought.

“Knock on the door, you idiot,” a woman said. Ken spun to see the woman in a sun dress standing in the hallway.

“Ask them.”

“Will it help you?” Ken asked but the woman disappeared when the door to the Security room opened.

The door opened revealing an array of monitors displaying different rooms in the hospital. A large man stepped from the room.
Ken bit his lip then spoke.
“How’s it going? The woman killed, what do you know about her?”
“I don’t know,” said the guard. “Angry boyfriend? I heard an argument then boom. I crapped my pants.”
“Do you know anything about her? Name, where she lives?”
“Why do you care?” Asked the guard. “You just clean up the mess.”
“Don’t be an ass,” Ken warned.
The guard pursed his lips, “honestly, all I know is the guy called her Caroline.”
“Thank you,” Ken said then turned and left.
Ken dumped what was left of the mess into a drain, washed the mop and bucket and stood at the rear doors of his white box truck. He felt a chill creep up from the ground.
“What do you want me to do for you, Caroline?”