Page 9 of The Body Departed

There was nothing in the mirror.

I wasn’t in the mirror!

Maybe they weren’t mirrors. I walked over to it, reached out a finger to touch it, and…My finger passed straight through the mirror as if it weren’t there.

No, a voice in my head said. It’s you who isn’t here.

I next looked at my hand. It was there, true, but I could actually see through it. Through my own hand.

Jesus!

I turned in circles, panicking. Where was I? The mirrored hallway…the smooth granite floor…the polished wooden ceiling fans…

I knew this place. I had been here before.

Think!

I tried to think, but there was no memory at all of who I was or why I was here. Fear gripped me. Pure, unadulterated fear. And now I found myself backing away—and into the mirrored wall behind me.

And backing through it.

In a blind panic, I found myself running down the hallway of mirrors. I turned wildly around a corner and was about to head outside along what appeared to be a connecting outdoor walkway—and slammed headlong into something invisible, and hard.

I stumbled backward, disoriented, thoroughly confused. I reached for a stucco column to support myself, but my hand passed straight through it, too.

Please, God, let this be a bad dream.

I staggered, found my balance. What the hell had I hit? I didn’t know, but now I inched forward slowly, reaching out my hand cautiously before me. Beyond the railing of the hallway was a steep hill covered in dense shrubs. A small wind touched me—and then promptly passed straight through me.

I’m dreaming, I thought. I have to be dreaming.

I took another step, then another, and my outstretched hand touched something. Something hot and electrified. I recoiled instantly.

Jesus, what the hell was that?

Suddenly, an image flashed in my thoughts, of a man being shot to death in his sleep. The man looked familiar. Very familiar. I was suddenly certain I knew who this man was.

But my brain wasn’t working, refused to click into gear, refused to draw up any memories at all.

Another flashing image. A very cute little girl. My heart instantly warmed. My girl. Yes, that was my girl.

But I couldn’t remember her name or even if she was a little girl anymore. More images. A woman I knew. An apartment I knew. Gunshots. Flashes of light. Images of a golden tunnel in the sky.

I continued backing away from the outside walkway, continued backing away from the invisible barrier that impeded me. And I backed straight through a stucco wall, to find myself surrounded by mops and brooms and buckets and cleaning agents. A janitor’s closet.

Disoriented and confused, I found myself falling. Straight through the floor.

Down, down.

Screaming.

13

I dropped into an apartment.

Inside, flashing by me in a blur, were a woman and a toddler playing near the TV. The toddler turned its little head, saw me, and pointed excitedly with a chubby finger…

But I was already falling down through the hardwood floor. I instinctively covered my face and screamed—and passed straight through into another room.

This one was dark and vacant. I braced myself for the coming floor, expecting to pass right through it, as I had done the others…

But this time I hit the floor hard and something close to pain coursed through me. Or was it the memory of pain? I lay there for a moment, scared and completely bewildered, and realized I wasn’t in pain at all.

“They’re all memories,” said a voice behind me. “You cannot feel pain, James. Not really, not the way you used to. But you remember how it felt, and sometimes that’s good enough.”

I looked up from the ground where I lay, and there stood an angel across the dark room, glowing softly. I slowly found my feet.

“I’m not an angel,” she said, blushing slightly, the color red rippling through her silvery, ethereal glow. “But I’m honored you think so.”

“You just read my thoughts,” I said, backing away.

“Yes, and you’re reading mine, James.”

Indeed, her mouth never moved, yet I heard her words perfectly clearly.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Just a friend,” she said, although she sounded mildly hurt. Her incandescent glow now rippled with green.

I was in what appeared to be a storeroom, filled with dismantled sinks, dented trash cans, toilets, and rows and rows of unused lumber.

“Why did I stop falling in here?”

“Because you are earthbound to this building, James, and as long as this building stands, you will never leave it. And should this building ever be destroyed, you are bound to the empty lot. For all eternity.”

“I don’t understand,” I said, and felt the rush of fear all over again.

“Yes, you do, James. Make yourself understand—it’s important that you do.”

“Why do you keep calling me James?”

“Because that’s your name.”

I suddenly wanted to run. I wanted to be anywhere but here in this creepy room.

“Anywhere but here?” she said, reading my thoughts. “I could take offense at that, James.”

“No offense, it’s just that—”

“You’re scared.”

“Yes.”

She continued hovering before me and glowing serenely. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. And at that thought, she smiled warmly at me, and in her smile, there was so much love that I nearly broke down in tears.

“Why do you look at me like that?” I asked.

She did not answer me; instead, she continued smiling, continued sending me wave after wave of love.

“Why do you love me so much?” I asked. “I don’t know you.”

But her smile never wavered. I thought of the dead man I had seen in the vision, the man who had been shot to death. I looked down at my body now, at my chest and stomach. Both were dotted with bullet wounds. “I’m the dead man in the vision,” I said.

She continued saying nothing, but something horrible started happening. She started fading.

“And the girl in my vision is my daughter,” I cried out to her.

She smiled and faded and said nothing.

“And I’m dead,” I said.

But she was already gone.

And in the empty silence and darkness of the storage room, I found myself looking at my own glowing hands. Hands that I could actually see through. “And my name is James,” I said to the emptiness.

And with horrific clarity, I remembered everything in a rush of ghastly memories, and I found myself on my knees, weeping molten tears that fell from my cheeks and shriveled and dissipated before they hit the cold concrete floor.


Tags: J.R. Rain Books Horror Books
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