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Entry 19: The Anklet Returns: Thursday July 28
The phone woke me up this morning. I could hear it ringing back in the bedroom before Donna picked it up. Soon she came out into the den, her night robe wrapped about her.
“It’s for you,” she said, holding the phone out to me.
“Who is it?” I asked.
“A girl,” she replied, as I took the phone from her hand.
“Hello,” I said, speaking into the receiver, as she stood watching.
There was no one on the line. But there was something else there. Faint in the background. That familiar rush of escaping air as if it were steam coming from a hollow pipe. The very same sound I’d heard on the phones at church.
“Hello?” Still there was no voice. “Who’s there?”
I broke the connection and handed the phone back to Donna. “Wasn’t anybody on there,” I told her.
Her eyes told me she didn’t believe me.
“What did they say when you answered?” I asked her.
“She asked to speak to Paul. She was young. Just a girl. Must be your damn ghost.”
She turned on her heels and coolly returned to the bedroom.
I sat there thinking all this had to have some significance. That’s the third time I’ve heard that hissing of air over the phone. It had be a factory or industrial plant of some kind. Someplace where they used steam or compressed air. Whoever was calling, was calling me from there.
I got on the phone and called Larter. I asked him if there were any factories or mills around town somewhere.
“What kind of factories?”
“Any kind,” I replied.
He told me there was an industrial park on the southern outskirts of town. Several industries had factories there. So I decided I’d check it out. But first I had to do my church work.
I put the picture of Mischa back in the photo album at the church library. I didn’t need it anymore. It has already gotten me in trouble. I walked the familiar upstairs hallways where the ghosts had appeared before. Now there was nothing. I shook my head.
“Paul, you’ve been so stupid,” I mumbled to myself.
I was getting ready to head back downstairs when I heard it. The giggling. I stopped and turned, looking back down the long hallway. Nothing.
“Hello,” I called out.
“Hello,” a girl’s voice answered back, somewhere further down the hall. I froze. The hair on the back of my neck rose.
Again the giggles.
I walked down the hall cautiously, checking each room as I went. “Where are you?”
Still I was met with only small laughter. It was coming from one of the rooms at the end of the building. I passed the rec room and went to the last door. I heard the giggling from inside. I put my hand on the knob and jerked it open.
“Boo!!!” A girl jumped out of the room at me. Followed by a tall boy. I jumped back and almost fell on my ass as they ran past me. I tried to grab the boy. I caught his shirt and felt his arm beneath the fabric, but he jerked away from me, giving me a little shove. I caught myself against the wall, as they sprinted away down the hall to the stairs. They went down and I heard them hit the first floor door. It banged on its hinges and I knew they had fled outside.
They weren’t ghosts. They were real kids. Must have snuck into the church somehow. Maybe to skip school or to indulge in some hanky panky.
I regained my composure and laughed to myself. I was being ridiculous. But they had shocked me back to reality. I walked back up the hallway and passed the rec room again. Just as I walked past, I heard the giggles again.
“Damn it!” I exclaimed. I walked into the rec room angry. “I’m sick and tired of all you kids!”
There was no one there. The rec room was empty. But I knew I had heard them. I smiled to myself.
“I know where you’re hiding.”
I went over to the only hiding place in the room: the closet. I grabbed the door and jerked it open. The closet was empty. No, it wasn’t quite empty. I looked to the floor and there it was. The anklet. The very same one I’d dropped down the toilet and flushed away last night. I began to tremble and sob. The tears came. Part frustration, part anger, and part just wishing it would be over with. But I knew it would never be over with. The anklet would keep coming back until I returned it to its owner. Mischa would not rest until the mystery of what happened to her was resolved. I knew this and cried. I didn’t know what to do.
“What do you want from me?” I sobbed.
There was only silence. A huge empty silence…
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.