“Please wake up.”
Erik’s voice sounded far away. A dull ache pounded against the back of her head as Rebecca slowly regained consciousness. She hadn’t opened her eyes yet, but she knew she was sitting. Her hands were bound behind her back. Attempting to open her eyes, she shut them quickly when the bright light intensified her headache.
“Erik? What happened?”
“Oh good. You’re awake.” His relief was obvious.
Squinting hard to keep out most of the painful light, she could just make out the desk clerk crouching in front of her. “What happened?” she repeated.
“Shh. Not so loud. You don’t want to draw attention.”
“Why am I tied up?”
“Be quiet.” He sounded . . . scared?
“Why? Are you going to kill me too?”
“What?” Confusion replaced fear.
Her eyes were starting to adjust and she could make out another blurry figure enter the room. An unfamiliar voice spoke. “You should have stayed in your room.” It was deep, masculine, and full of threat.
“Who are you?”
“Doesn’t matter. You won’t be alive long enough to bother explaining everything to you.”
“Don’t kill her!” That was Erik again. He was standing, facing the new person.
“What are you two doing?”
“Two? I must have hit you harder than I thought.” The man seemed confused.
Erik turned to his head towards her. “I’m not doing anything. He attacked me, too!”
“There’s only me. Unless you’re counting the corpse you’ll be joining.”
Finally able to see clearly enough to get a good look at Erik, Rebecca understood.
“Erik, can you help me out?”
“I’ve been trying, but I can’t seem to do anything to the ropes.”
“Don’t worry about them. Just face him and start screaming and waving your arms.”
“What? How will that help?”
In spite of herself, she sighed. “I’ll explain later. For now, trust me.” It would take too long to help him come to terms with the transition. And the man was approaching her.
“I am going to enjoy this.”
Rebecca muttered a couple of short incantations as Erik began making noise and gesturing wildly. The murderer, who was standing right in front of him, yelped in surprise and stumbled backwards. He tripped over the body on the floor behind him and fell, smacking his head on the cement floor. He did not move again.
“That worked? How did that work?”
As Erik looked in disbelief at the man he had frightened, possibly to death, Rebecca felt the handle of a knife pressed into her hands. With it, she was able to make quick work of the rope that bound her. After she was free, she rubbed feeling back into her wrists and thought her thanks to the bear.
“Seriously, why did he seem startled to see me? I’d been here all along.”
Rebecca looked up at the translucent figure before her. “Erik, I’m sorry. You are dead.”
“What? No I’m not. We’re talking to one another right now.”
She nodded. “Yes, we are. I can see and talk to ghosts.”
“I don’t feel dead.”
“I know. Look at the other body on the floor. The one he tripped over.”
Erik bent down and looked at the face. Shock caused him to fall into a sitting position. He stared. “That’s me.”
“Yes, it is. I’m sorry.”
She didn’t say anything. He needed to come to grips with this himself.
After a few minutes, he looked at her. “So what do I do now?”
“That’s something you have to figure out. You could stay here and haunt the hotel. Some spirits seem to enjoy that. Or you could move on.”
“I don’t know. The living aren’t allowed to know.”
“But you said you can talk to ghosts.”
“The ones I can talk to haven’t moved on.”
Rebecca got to her feet slowly.
“Wait. What about him?”
She didn’t even glance at the second body. “He’s dead. That blow to the head was very hard.”
“Won’t he haunt this place?”
“No. After I made you visible to him, I made sure to trap his spirit. He’s stuck with his body.”
She waited until he said something.
“I don’t know what I should do.”
She really did feel for him. He didn’t deserve to die; few people do. He would get used to his new situation, but it would take time.”
“You will figure it out, I’m sure. And there are others like me you can talk to.”
He nodded, unconvinced. “Okay, Ms. Jones.”
“Erik, you can call me Rebecca.”
* * *
The next night, she walked back into the lobby and was greeted by a new desk clerk whose name she had yet to learn.
Erik also stood behind the desk. “Hello, Ms. Jones.”
“Erik,” she thought at him, so as not to arouse suspicion from the other person.
“Sorry. Good evening, Rebecca.”
She smiled. “Better.”