In The Woods
“It’s there,” said Alice, pointing a dirty finger towards a patch of soft, moldering earth.
“Are you sure?” I hated to question her, but memories could be unreliable and facts blurred, especially in cases like this.
“Do you think I could forget?” Alice hissed, her eyes bruised and wide and wounded. “Don’t you believe me?”
I did believe her but, I had been mistaken before and that had been…well, utterly embarrassing. My reputation was already somewhat dubious. It was important I got this one right.
“Yes, yes. I’m sorry,” I implored. “Please let’s continue.”
Alice limped ahead over bulging tree roots and damp earth. One of her sneakers was missing.
She stopped by a rotting log under a stand of pines. Liberating itself from the gloomy forest canopy, a sunbeam illuminated the mound of mossy decay before her.
“If you could show me exactly…” I started.
“I’m not coming any closer!” Alice’s voice was shrill with panic. She shrunk back like an animal, cornered and scared.
My stomach lurched. I knew that’s what she must have looked like when it happened; a helpless, frightened creature, shrieking with horror.
Alice stood trembling in the small woodland glen. Blood ran down into her pale blonde eyebrows from a gash on her forehead. Her dress was filthy. Her skin was ashy, colorless, almost transparent.
I stepped closer to the pile of decomposing leaves and knelt down to inspect the earth. She was right. The ground here had been disturbed.
When I looked up, she was gone; a damp wisp of vapor unfurled in her void, drifting upwards through diffused afternoon light.
Sighing, I stood up and brushed the dirt from my knees. I didn’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to be here either.
Reaching into my back pocket, I pulled out my cellphone and dialed the Norfolk County Police Department. A friendly female voice greeted me, stating that I was on a recorded line.
I cleared my throat. “Hello. This is Psychic Medium Maureen Brennan. I need to speak with Detective Richards regarding the missing person’s file for Alice Sanderson.”