Sunlight broke through the blinds. Lorelei was the first to wake up. She looked over to the TV and noticed the score. “P1 Wins,” It said. It didn’t matter if she won by one point. She won; that was all that mattered. Lori looked over and noticed Connor was sleeping sitting up.
“Connie. Wake up. I think we’re late,” Lori said, sitting up on the couch. Connor didn’t budge. “Connie!”
“What?” Connor said, fully awake.
“Were you awake the whole time?”
“I’ve been awake for a couple of minutes. I heard you calling someone named Connie.” He looked at the TV. “Hey, you won. Good for you. Didn’t you say we’re late?” Conner grabbed his phone. “Oh, ****, yeah, we are. It’s nine right now.”
“My exam starts in thirty minutes! We have to hurry!” Lori ran into the bathroom. “Go start your car!”
“Don’t tell me what to do!” Connor tapped his phone.”i just did. Wonders of technology.” Conner yawned. “Do we have time for food?”
“No, we will get something after!” Lori shouted from the bathroom.
Thomas was glaring at Connor. “You’re so annoying; you know that?” Thomas sees something move in the corner of the room. “Uh…Lorelei? You need to leave!”
“I get it. Don’t worry; I’ll get to work later. I haven’t forgotten.”
“Did you say something?” Conner asked while reheating his coffee. “Also, it’s been about ten minutes.”
“Agh! Why are you so calm? If we’re late, even by one minute, Professor Blake won’t let us in. Automatic fail.” Lori grabbed her keys and started walking to the door. “Come on!”
“Why are you so stressed? You’re super smart. You only need like five minutes to finish the test.” Connor shut the door behind them. “By the way, was Thomas there? I thought I heard you talking to someone.”
“Yeah, he was telling me to start looking into his death. I will.”
“WE will start looking into it. Don’t leave me out of this. You know I always will have your back. No matter what. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spirit or a person. I’m there. So, shut up and let me help.”
“That might be the nicest thing you ever said to me. Thanks, Connor,” Lori says.
“Don’t’ call me…oh wait, you said my actual name. Thanks?”
“Good morning, Lorelei!” A spirit in the form of a child said. “Is this your boyfriend?”
“No, and good morning. Sorry, but I’m late for something. I’ll be back later, okay?” Loi smiled at the little spirit.
“Okay! I’ll wait here. Bye.” It said as it disappeared.
“Another spirit?” Connor asked, pushing the elevator button.
“Yes, it looked like a child. That’s horrible. Poor thing has been dead for so long it lost its original shape. I can still hear his voice. I think it was a boy.” Lori says as they ride the elevator to the lobby. Every spirit has a story. Some get stuck here, not remembering how they died. If they don’t know, then they can’t leave. Lori was their light in the darkness. She attached them like a moth to a flame.
“Do you think others might have the same powers you do? There has to be, right? No way you’re the only one who can talk to dead people.”
“Maybe not, but I’m the only one they like to come to. Or maybe I should say I’m the only one they can come to? No one in my family could do it. As far as I know, I’m the only one in all of Greensboro that can do this.”
“Good old Greensboro, North Carolina. The land of ghosts, and that’s about it,” Conor said. They both burst out laughing.
When they got into Connor’s car, Lori saw it was nine-twenty. “We might as well go get breakfast. We won’t make it.” She says, slumping down in the seat. Lori puts her hood over her eyes and closes the hood.
“Oh, don’t turn into a turtle. If I hurry, we can make it in five,” Connor said, slamming his foot on the gas. “Hold on.”
Lori instinctively grabbed the dash to steady herself. “What the hell?! Are you trying to kill us?! How did you even get your license?”
“What’s a license?” Connor laughed.
“Please tell me you’re joking?”
“Of course I am. I’ve had one of those before. Don’t worry about it. It may have gotten confiscated a week ago,” Connor said, speeding around the corner.
“He’s insane,” Thomas said from the backseat.
“Oh, and now you’re here! Can’t you just stay at my apartment or haunt someone else?” Lori said, going back into the safety of her hoodie.
“Not with that thing in your apartment. I’d rather be with you guys,” Thomas said.
“What thing in my apartment?”
“I don’t know what it was. I got a bad feeling about it and told you to leave. It felt wrong,” Thomas said.
“Something was in your apartment? Oh, hi Thomas.”
“Don’t talk to me,” Thomas glared.
“He said something was in the apartment with us. What did it look like?” Lori asked, looking in the rearview mirror.
“Like a black cloud. It had a bad air about it. Like it was waiting for something. Freaked me out.”
“He said it was a black cloud. I’ve only seen something like this once before. It wasn’t a spirit. It was something else. Something bad. How did it get in there?” Lori wondered.
“You want to stay at my place? I’m pretty sure it’s scary ghost-free,” Connor said, slamming on the brakes. “Ha! Made it with three minutes to spare. Let’s go!” He said hopping out of the car. Lori followed after him. They ran down the hall to the classroom. Professor Blake was closing the door when they slammed into it.
“We made it!” Connor shouted. The whole class turned to look at them. “Sorry.”
“Mr. Miller and Ms. Jones, please take your seats. We’re about to begin.” Professor Blake said, walking back to his desk. Lori and Connor said their goodbyes and found seats around the room. Tests started to get passed around the room.
“You have two hours. Leave when you’re done,” Professor Blake said, already looking at his phone. “Start.”
Lori opened her test and flew through it. Connor was right. It would take her a few minutes to finish. Lori and Connor were in the criminal justice program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Both of them were good at it. They used to watch hours of shows like True Crime and Law and Order. Connor wanted to be a private investigator, and Lori wanted to be a crime scene investigator. Lori figured that she would be great at it and not just because she could talk and see spirits. Actually, knowing how victims died was like a cheat code. She didn’t think of it as cheating. Solving the case was all that mattered. That didn’t help here. Actual deaths were easier to solve than fake ones Blake made.
“Ugh! Why is this so hard? I’ve never had this much trouble. It’s already been thirty minutes.” Lori thought. Suddenly, an alarm started blaring around the room. Students’ phones started to buzz and ring. Lori looked at her’s and saw a campus-wide alert.
“I told all of you to turn off your phones.” Professor Blake said.
“Um, sir? I think something happened. It says someone got attacked near the student union. They say to evacuate the area. Doesn’t that include our building?” A student asked.
“If you’re done, sure. If not, no. You’re safer here anyway.” Blake said. Lori looked around and saw students starting to leave. Even Connor was about to head out.
Connor passed by her seat. “I’ll wait for you outside.” He said, walking out of the room.
“Lorelei! Hey, Lorelei! You need to go to that student union place. I think it’s related to my thing,” Thomas said. He looked at her test. “Just choose C.”
“I’ll choose C if it’s C…****, it’s C. Lucky guess.” Lori said. “Done!” She said out loud. Blake looked up. “Good for you, Ms. Jones. Mind turning it in?”
“O-Oh sure, sorry.” Lori handed in her test and hurried out of the room. Connor was getting a Coke out of the vending machine. “Hey, Lori! How’d it go? I hated it.”
“It was whatever, Listen we need to head to the SU. Thomas thinks that alert is related to his death. Let’s go.” Lori said, grabbing his arm and hauling him out of the building. “That’s not good.” Lori looked across the lawn and saw cops blocking off the building. Emergency vehicles lined the street. Crowds of students huddled around the barriers. Some gasping, some were taking pictures, and some were live streaming. Lori tapped a student on the shoulder. “Hey, what happened?”
“Some dude went crazy and attacked a girl. I think she’s dead.” The student said.
“Dead?! Seriously?” Lori asked.
“Yeah, they already took both bodies away.” The student said.
“EVERYONE EVACUATE THE AREA! LEAVE NOW! ALL CLASSES ARE CANCELED FOR THE REST OF THE DAY. GO BACK TO YOUR DORMS AND WAIT FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS. ANYONE STILL HERE IN THE NEXT FIVE MINUTES WILL BE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE!” An officer yelled over a megaphone.
Students started to leave the crime scene. Some stragglers lingered for a while despite the warning. A woman stood in front of the barriers. She just stared at the lawn. He jerked her head up and looked straight at Lori. Lori saw the woman was missing her left eye.
“Well, I think I see the victim,” Lori said, walking closer to the spirit.
“Ma’am! You need to leave now!” An officer said, blocking her path. His badge read Hector.
“Sorry, Officer. I was trying to, uh, get my bike. It’s over there. I kind of need it to go home.” Lori said.
“Uh-huh. Sure you did. Well, it will be fine until tomorrow. Now, go.” Officer Hector turned and walked back to the crime scene.
“Well, that could have gone better,” Lori said. “Thomas, can you go tell her to come here?”
Thomas walked over to the spirit and talked to her for a while. After a moment, they both walked back to Lori.
“Hi,” The spirit said quietly. “I’m Heather.”
“Hi, Heather. I know this can’t be easy for you. I want to help. Can you tell me what happened?”
Heather looked at Connor. “Can he hear us too?”
“No, this is Connor. He’s my…helper.” Lori said.
“I know you’re talking to spirits right now, but I’m not your “helper; I’m more like your partner,” Connor said. Lori could see him blushing a little.
“Right, anyway. I was just waiting for my boyfriend to come out of the SU. He was dropping off some books in the bookstore. He came back after a few minutes. I thought it was weird because the line was so long when we got here. He said he wanted to show me something. I asked him what, and he… punched me. His nails grew super long, and he ripped my right eye out. He looked like a monster. I couldn’t believe he would do that. The last thing I remember seeing was Mike, my boyfriend’s body behind the dumpster. Well, I’m sure it was him. They were wearing the same shoes. How did no one see me getting killed? I would’ve thought that would be pretty **** noticeable.” Heather started to cry.
“This sounds like what happened to me. Kind of. It was here, Lorelei,” Thomas said. “Look! By the dumpster!”
The group looked at the dumpster and saw a black cloud next to where Heather said Mike’s body was found.
“Lori, what’s up?” Connor asked. “You look like you saw a ghost. Sorry, probably not the best time.”
“The black cloud that was in my apartment is where Mike’s body was found. Heather’s boyfriend. Heather is the spirit that’s in front of us. She said that someone who looked like him killed her. I think it killed Mike first and took his form. Also, I think we have another problem.”
“And that is?” Connor asked.
“The black cloud over there. Suppose it’s related to the one in my place. I think whatever killed them was in my apartment.”
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