“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.”

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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
6 months ago

Love the spooky feeling throughout, combined with the main character’s very human compassion and insecurity. Great buildup of fear with use of “soft, moldering earth”. “hissed”, “shrill with panic”, “lurched”. One especially descriptive phrase was “Liberating itself from the gloomy forest canopy. . .” The ending was a real revelation, and came as a complete surprise!

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
6 months ago

Great story, Heather! Scary and spooky to begin with and such a satisfying conclusion. I love the sensitivity of the Psychic Medium as she carefully coaxes information from Alice and although there’s sadness that she’s gone, we can imagine the relief for family and police when they start to find some answers. Very well done; I really enjoyed it 🙂

Juma
Juma (@juma)
6 months ago

Wooo, Heather! What a great story. I’m a great fan of detective stories, like so many of the writers on this site. And a Psychic Medium working with the police is dear to my heart!! I remember a wonderful story you wrote last year – “The Gossamer Curtain”. I loved that one, and I love this one. It’s good to see you back!!

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
6 months ago

A very well-written and thrilling story, Heather. It is a different and intriguing detective story, with a psychic, female detective who lets herself be led by the dead victim. Very clever!

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
6 months ago

This is a great story Heather, one that is open to be extended. I’d love to know how Maureen gets her clients. Does she look for unsolved cases or do ghosts approach her? Good stuff, well done.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
6 months ago
Reply to  Heather C

I’m with you there. I have recurring characters and much prefer the idea of giving them several short stories to star in rather than a book; much less daunting! I enjoy the challenge of getting everything wrapped up in fewer words too, I find that it teaches you to be more economical with words, only using the ones that really matter. Would love to read it if you do extend it ?

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Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
6 months ago

This is a startling and spooky story with a fitting denouement. Nice work, Heather!

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
6 months ago
Reply to  Heather C

You’re welcome, Heather.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
6 months ago

So spooky and thrilling. It is like I am watching one episode of a movie with unsolved case of a detective physic medium working with the police and a touch of horror. Nicely done, Heather.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
6 months ago
Reply to  Heather C

You’re welcome, Heather.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
6 months ago

A chilling story with a satisfying ending. Nicely done Heather.

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
6 months ago

This is a fabulous story, Heather. Each word seems carefully chosen to set the scene of terror and also express compassion for poor Alice. This is excellent writing. It truly deserves the Grand Prize. Congratulations!

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Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart (@melissa-taggart)
6 months ago

This is a thrilling story with a fantastic ending. I love the imagery here, it leaves a satisfying imprint in my mind. This win is well deserved, you should be proud! Great job Heather.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
6 months ago

Congratulations Heather. A super story that deserved a win.

Piyali Ganguli
Piyali Ganguli (@piyali-ganguli)
6 months ago

An absolutely chiling story. You truly deserve the grand prize. Congratulations.

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
6 months ago

Congratulations on your win, Heather! With your great story it was well deserved!

Paul Lewthwaite
Paul Lewthwaite (@paul-lewthwaite)
6 months ago

Brilliant story and fantastic win, Heather. Enjoyed this really well written and atmospheric supernatural detective yarn. Well done again!  ? 

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
6 months ago

Congratulations on your well-deserved win, Heather. I am happy for you. 

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