Jess feels trouble on the horizon after she rejects Eric, and it comes when she gets a phone call from Mrs. Stefan telling her Ashley is missing. Jess rushes to confront Eric and save her friend, but she’s unsure if she can save them both.
I was so glad to get back to my dorm and be left alone that I fell asleep the minute I collapsed on the bed. All the stress of the cemetery visit and my argument with Eric was just too much. I just wanted to block it all out, and sleep was the best remedy. I don’t know how long I slept, but by the time I woke up it was getting dark outside. I raised myself off my bed like the living dead and grabbed a bite to eat from a college student’s most reliable food, potato chips.
Munching away on my not-so-healthy food, I glanced out the window. The sun would set in about an hour and the world would once more be plunged into darkness. I rested a hand on my chest. The heavy feeling was there, though still not as heavy as before Eric and I had our fight. I wondered if he’d gone back to the cemetery, to that crypt that tried to trap me within its dark walls. Maybe he would allow our connection to break and leave me alone, and we would go our separate ways.
My heart sank at that thought. He really wouldn’t be going anywhere, and where was I to go? To a life with a bunch of what-ifs? Then again, was a life with a ghost really a life or somewhere in-between? I sighed and my shoulders slumped over. This was all so confusing and frightening. I’d never had to make many large decisions in my life and this one was proving to be a doozy of a choice. To go with this strange phantom, this ghost who had admitted to killing people, or to leave him behind knowing I was chaining him to that horrible existence of wandering and waiting.
“Damn…” I muttered to myself. This just wasn’t fair. Why’d all these questions have to come up so fast? Why couldn’t I have a week more? “Because that connection would be broken sometime tonight, that’s why,” I answered myself.
I felt a headache coming on and pinched the bridge of my nose. All of this was just so complicated, which brought my mind back to the story Eric had told me about his demise. That was intrigue at its finest. A young man spurns local maidens and is killed because of that insult and his nice land. A terrible reality, if it was a reality. I only had his word to go on, but it did line up with what Mrs. Stefan had said about the family getting the land from the dead man.
An insatiable curiosity arose within me to find out if that really was the truth. I hoped it would help me decide whether I could trust Eric enough to see him in the next couple of days. Then again, did I want to see a homicidal ghost ever again? I rolled my eyes at my mind’s evil indecision. “Just find out about the story and go from there,” I commanded myself.
I got my phone and dialed Ashley’s number. The other line rang and rang until it hit the answering machine. “Hey Ashley, it’s me, Jess. Think we could talk for a bit? Call me.”
I hung up, but there was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Something felt wrong, mostly because Ashley always answered her phone. They were joined at the hip. I decided to call the house to see if everything was alright. The phone rang a few times before I got an answer. It was so quick after the pickup that I almost didn’t catch the greeting.
“Hello?” Mrs. Stefan’s voice spoke up.
“Hi, Mrs. Stefan. This is Jessie. Could I talk to Ashley?”
Her reply was given in a frantic, fearful voice. “I-I don’t know. I can’t find her anywhere. The last time I saw her she was standing on the front porch.”
“Did you try calling her phone?” I knew that failed for me but maybe it would work for her.
“Yes, but I just got the answering machine. I’m so worried, Jessie. You know how she always answers her phone.”
“Yeah, I know. I just tried to call it, too, and got the machine.” My mind furiously tried to find some logical, non-scary reason for her going AWOL like this. “Maybe she took the car somewhere?”
“No, it’s still here,” Mrs. Stefan choked out. She was about ready to burst into tears. “Oh Jessie, I’m so worried about her.”
“It’s okay, I’m sure she’s just fine. Maybe she fell asleep somewhere around the farm. Want me to go over there and help you look?”
I was glad to hear a faint hint of relief. “I would be so grateful if you would. I’m sure she’s fine, but after hearing about what happened to Rob and Brent I’m just a little nervous.
I wished she hadn’t mentioned them in the same sentence as my vanished friend. “No problem. I’ll go borrow a car and get over there before it gets dark.”
I grabbed a flashlight, got a car from another friend and drove toward the farm. My mind was abuzz with frantic thoughts of Ashley’s disappearance and her family’s dark connection with the ghost. A wild idea popped up into my mind about Eric’s fate to walk, er, float the earth until he found his love. My worry was that maybe, after telling me his story, that he’d got the idea to get his revenge on the family rather than wait for another girl to come along, especially after I spurned him yesterday.
The sun was setting when I passed the cemetery. I slowed the car down to a crawl, then a stop, as I gazed at the open gate. It invited me in for a long stay that I didn’t want to experience at such a young age. All around me the shadows lengthened and my mind kept nagging me to move, to drive away. Mrs. Stefan expected me; I couldn’t stay here or she’d be worried about two girls instead of one.
And yet there was something in there; I felt what I was looking for was in that cemetery. Maybe it was intuition, or maybe the pull of whatever was inside of me from Eric. Either way I turned the car and drove up the old road. The headlights flowed over the headstones and skeletal trees as I passed through the gate and out into the open cemetery. The place was eerily quiet, as always, and there wasn’t a soul in sight; not even a wandering soul.