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Resurrection Diaries Entry 41: A Surprise In The Cellar

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 41: A Surprise In The Cellar: Saturday AM Aug 13

I heard them come into the clearing. Peering out from my hiding place in the bushes, I saw they had their flashlights out and were shining them around. It would only be a matter of time before they spotted me.

My mind swirled with the recently imagined truth. Meagan Mitchell was alive. Mischa had been trying to get me to find the missing girl, not herself. Maybe a part of her spirit was restless, but her mission had been something far beyond herself, to save someone else from a similar fate. And for some unknown reason I had been chosen to be the one to see it done. I was the only one who could save Meagan now. I looked at her anklet in my hand. I was going to give it back to her. I wouldn’t let her die.

I stole as quiet as I could out through the other side of the brambles. The small noise alerted police to my presence, but before they could get a bead on me I was off into the woods and heading for the neighborhood on the other side. I came out of the woods and into a street. All was quiet except the buzzing of a streetlight. A sign told me I was on Higgins Lane. I dashed across the street and through some backyards without seeing if I was being pursued. I came around a house and into the next street: Geary Road. This street was silent as well, so I crossed the road, jumped a fence, and went through backyards again. A dog strained on its leash from its place on a porch, but even it too seemed sleepy and didn’t even bark. I saw a sign up on the porch that read “Happy Birthday Karen” and I wondered briefly who this Karen was and if she’d blown out all her candles. I was determined Miss Mitchell would blow out the candles on her next birthday too. I dashed across a yard where a sprinkler sprayed the grass. I ran right through the spray, paying it no mind. In front of me was the next street. A car sat parked by the curb, a small sign on its door that read: “Cleaning By Tess”. I didn’t bother to go around it, but scrambled across its hood and into the street. Mayfair Street.

I looked up at the numbers on the first house. 3111. A small wooden plaque depicting a flowered trellis read “Jackson”. Almost there, I went on down the street towards my destination. I looked behind me to see if anyone were following. No one was. Hopefully the police were lost and stumbling through the woods in the dark.

Two more houses down the street I found it, an old three-story house, the numbers 3115 on its front door. Larter’s House. I bounded up the front steps. They creaked loudly under my feet. I put my hand on the knob, but it was locked. I could hear noises coming from within the house, and a small light in the front window allowed me a peek inside. Through a gap in the curtains, I could see a television set was on. I couldn’t see any other movement, just the flickering images of the TV. For a moment, I wondered if I had the right house. Maybe I’d heard the police wrong. Maybe I was on a wild goose chase.

I climbed over the front porch railing, ducked down behind the windows, and crept alongside the house. There was something familiar about the property, and when I came around to the rear of the house, I thought of a dream from not long ago. A backyard similar to this. Kittens drowned in a kiddy pool. Could that have been the starting point of Larter’s madness all those years ago? I don’t pretend to be a psychologist, but I imagine the power that young boy felt holding the helpless animals under water and watching their lives slip away must have done something to his fragile mind. His parents had shipped him off to his uncle, a preacher, maybe hoping that influence would calm the boy and set him on the right path. But evil is evil, and when Mischa Boudreaux had come into the boy’s life, it set his twisted mind on a murderous course.

I shook these despairing thoughts from my head and approached the back door of the house. It too was locked. I was going to have to break in. Larter wasn’t here anyway, I told myself. He was back at the church, under the watchful eye of police officers.

I braced my shoulder to the door and shoved my weight against it. I felt it give just a little in its frame. I shoved again. The door shuddered, but it wasn’t budging enough to break. I pulled my shirt off. It was still wet from my baptism, but I wrapped it around my hand and made a fist.

I hit the glass in the door and it shattered with a loud noise. I looked around to see if any lights would come on in neighboring houses. Nothing. The night was still. I reached my hand carefully through the broken window and unlocked the door. It opened with a light creak on its hinges and I crept through the doorway.

This part of the house was dark. I could hear the television on in the front living room, a televangelist preaching the folly of sin and punishment of hell. I crept along a hallway towards the sound. I peeked around the corner into the dimly lit room. The picture on the TV glared in the subdued light, but no one was in the room. I thought maybe Larter had left it on to make others think someone was home, or possibly to cover up any noise from other parts of the house.

I went back down the hallway the way I’d come, opening doors and checking rooms as I went. An immaculately kept bedroom, a bathroom, a closet. I opened one and saw a set of stairs descending down into darkness. The cellar. She had to be in the cellar.

I reached around the doorframe and felt along the wall for a switch. I found it and flipped it on. A small light came on, illuminating junk and shadows. I went down the stairs two at a time. When I reached the bottom, I glanced around, but there was no one there. Shelves of canned goods lined the walls, a huge heater sat in the middle of the floor, Boxes were stacked up in one corner, while a pile of laundry sat in another by an old washing machine. I walked around the heater and saw a door in the back of the room. A light flickered from underneath it, and I moved as quietly as I could towards it. I put my hand on the knob and turned. Remarkably it was unlocked, but when I opened it I wasn’t quite prepared for what was inside.

It was a small room, concrete floor and walls. Egg cartons lined these walls, giving it more of an appearance of a beehive rather than a room. I knew this was to muffle sound and then I saw why. A bed was in one corner, bolted to the floor. On the bed, a girl in a ragged oversized nightshirt, her blonde hair tangled and matted, her eyes wild with terror, stared at me. She was handcuffed to the bed frame. She opened her mouth to say something from her dry, cracked lips, but I wasn’t paying attention to her. Instead, my eyes were fixed on the figure that huddled over her, its back to me. In one hand, the figure held a flashlight, shining it on the girl, in the other a hypodermic needle. The figure turned and glared at me balefully.

“Meddling fool,” they hissed, and in the light cast by the flashlight I saw who it was. “You just couldn’t leave it alone, could you? I told him you were going to be a problem with all your damned questions.”

It took me a moment before I could even speak her name. “Mrs. Shiflett?”

I couldn’t believe it. The old woman was standing there getting ready to inject the girl. Gone was the wheelchair or any other infirmity I may have believed about the woman. All this time had she just been putting on the act of a helpless old woman? Had Mrs. Shiflett been protecting and aiding her twisted nephew from the beginning? I wondered if Shaedra had known or found out and that was why she left town so fast.

The woman snarled like a cat and shone the flashlight in my eyes. Momentarily blinded, I held my hands up to my eyes. I felt a sharp pain in my ribs and looked down. The old woman had stabbed me with the hypodermic and was injecting whatever it was into my bloodstream. With my hand still wrapped up in my wet shirt, I punched her in the face. Normally one might consider this a cruel act to hit an old woman as if she were a man, but she had stabbed me and I was beyond caring what she or anyone else thought.

She collapsed to the floor, and I pulled the syringe from my ribcage, flinging it to the concrete. I approached the bed where the girl lay. She was trying to back as far into the corner as she could go. Her eyes told me she was afraid of me, that I might be one of them. Maybe it was the look in my eye, the desperation of this evening, that made her fear me. Either way, I had to set her at ease and get us both out of there.

“Meagan Mitchell,” I whispered in a calm voice. “I’ve come to take you home.” I held out my hand.

A look of confusion crossed her face. She hesitated for a moment and then stammered, “Are you a ghost?”

I smiled to reassure her. “No, I’m not.”

She nodded as if she understood, but there was this faraway look on her face. “A ghost comes to me sometimes,” she said quietly. “She said she was going to help. But she never did.”

“She sent me instead,” I told her. “Come on, we have to go now. Your parents miss you and we have to get out of here before she gets back up.” I looked to the floor where Mrs. Shiflett was out cold.

The Mitchell girl held up her wrist, showing me the handcuff. There were tears in her eyes. “I’m not going anywhere. He’s coming back for me.”

I knew she meant Larter. “No, he’s not. The police have him now.” I looked around the room to see if there was anything I could use to bust the handcuffs or pick the lock. There was nothing. I knelt down by Mrs. Shiflett and rummaged through her pockets. “Damn,” I muttered. She didn’t have the key on her. I picked up her flashlight and shone it along the floor. There they were. In the corner by the door. They must have fallen out when she went down for the count. I snatched them up and sat on the edge of the bed. I fumbled with Meagan’s shackles, but soon I had her free. She threw her arms around me, and cried against my shoulder, thankful for a rescue that seemed like it was never going to come. I rubbed her back and patted the back of her head as she trembled in my arms. I didn’t know what else to do but let her cry.

Finally I told her, “Meagan, we really have to go.” She wiped her tears away with the back of her hand and followed me as I got up to leave. We left the room and I closed the door shut behind me. The door had a lock on the outside, so I pushed it in. That would hold the old woman until the police could get here.

Meagan and I went up the stairs hand in hand, but when I reached the top I knew something was wrong. The TV wasn’t on anymore. All the lights were out. And my vision was getting cloudy. “Meagan,” I mumbled. The girl looked at me and her face seemed to distort. I could see the fear creeping back into her eyes. My legs gave out and I went down. She screamed and tried to catch me, but I hit the floor hard.

“Get up, please get up, mister,” she cried, trying to lift me, but I was too heavy for the teenager to contend with. The room swirled around me, and it reminded me of a child’s finger painting or some mad Picasso rendering. The drug was taking its effect. Whatever Mrs. Shiflett had intended for Meagan was now in me, delivered by the hypo she had stabbed me with. I could only imagine it was something to keep the prisoner docile and pliant. Pretty soon, I could barely lift my head from the floor.

“Go,” I told the girl in a slurred voice. “Run.”

But it was too late. A shadow fell across us. Larter was home…

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 40: My Baptism

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 40: My Baptism: Early Saturday AM Aug. 13

I awoke in a quiet panic. Though it was dark and I couldn’t see anything, I got the impression I was in a cellar. I could feel the cold floor beneath me, the cracked concrete cool against my face. There was a dampness in the air and the musty smell of things old and forgotten.

I waited to see if my eyes would adjust to the dark. Soon I was able to make out shapes and shadows around me. The first thing I noticed both visually and physically were that my hands were tied behind me. After several attempts, I managed to roll over onto my back, rocking myself until I could rise to a sitting position. I struggled with my bonds, but they were too tight.

A pain shot up my leg and I remembered that Larter had shot me. He was the killer. Mischa. Meagan. Who knows who else? I wondered to myself just how many girls had disappeared from this town since he had arrived as a teenager years ago.

Sitting there and helplessly tied, I listened for any sound that would indicate where I was. For a moment, the air was still as if the darkness knew I was listening, and then I heard it. An oncoming rush of air. That all too familiar sound I’d heard over the phone on many occasions.

Following the escaping air came the sound of water flowing through pipes, culminating in a steady drip that seemed to be hitting the floor nearby. The loud ‘dink’ noise made me realize I wasn’t on concrete at all, but steel. The floor was made of metal. What kind of place was this?

At first it was just a few drops, but then the water grew more steadily in flow until it sounded like a faucet on at full blast. It dawned on me then, that was why the floor was metal. So that this room could be flooded…

I tried to get up as I felt the first touch of water on the floor. It was steadily crossing the room, making a thin pool on the floor. My mind screamed to get up and I rocked myself back and forth in an effort to rise to a standing position. That’s a hard thing to do when your hands are tied. Finally, I managed to do it and rose on shaky legs. My shoes splashed in the water and I could tell that already several inches covered the floor.

I stepped forward in the darkness, hoping nothing was in front of me to bump into. I had to find the door, the way out of this dark captivity. My mouth wasn’t gagged, so I began to yell, “Hey, let me out!”

I edged further and my toes hit the wall. I decided to lean forward and put my face to it. I couldn’t use my hands, but maybe I could use my cheek, sliding across the wall’s surface to find a doorway, a window, or something. But when I leaned forward, my face didn’t touch anything.

I used my knee to bump the wall and it was still there. So where was the upper part of the wall? It must be only half there. If that was the case, the entire room couldn’t be flooded. I sighed in relief at this thought, but still I was a prisoner.

“Hey!” I yelled again, as I felt the water cover my ankles. The only answer was the sound of an organ somewhere playing a hymn. It was a familiar song, one I knew in real life and in a dream. The words came to me. ‘Would you be free from the burdens of sin, there’s power in the blood, power in the blood.’ It made me wonder how much power Larter felt with blood on his hands.

“Eric!” I called out. The organ playing stopped. “Somebody help me!” I screamed, and the sound of my voice echoed in the space I was in.

Suddenly, a light came on overhead, illuminating my surroundings. I wasn’t in a room at all. It was a pool. Four walls of steel, the front section only half there, topped off by a foot of glass so viewers could watch their loved ones dunked in the water. I was in the baptismal pool at Resurrection and it was filling up quickly.

“Oh my god,” I whispered. Though I was taller than the half wall in front of me, and could not be drowned in my present standing position, I could easily be pushed under with my arms bound as they were. I looked down at the water. It had risen quickly, almost to my knees now.

Larter’s voice came from somewhere off to my right. “You wanted to know what happened to Mischa.” I turned to the sound. The winding wooden staircase spiraled up from the pool’s corner, and he stood at the top looking down on me, malice in his eyes. “Now you will join her,” he snarled.

I shook my head in denial, as he descended the stairs one at a time. In his hands he held a stick or something. I couldn’t really tell.

“But I will give you the same chance at redemption I offered her. All you need to do is repent.”

“Repent? For what?”

“For your sins.”

I didn’t know what he was getting at. “What sins?” I asked.

“You have held lust in your heart.”

This was crazy. “No,” I replied.

He stopped halfway down, and something in his face seemed to change. His eyes clouded over and suddenly he exploded.

“You have! You can’t hide it anymore. It’s written on your face. It’s in your eyes when you look at him!”

When I look at him? What the hell is he talking about? Then it dawned on me. He wasn’t seeing me anymore. Not Paul, the custodian of Resurrection church. Something in his mind had finally snapped and now he was seeing someone else before him. Someone that had haunted his fractured soul in life, driving him to murder her when she refused him.

“Say you love me, Mischa,” he said, starting down the stairs and looking right at me.

“No,” I repeated, and imagined to myself Mischa may have said the same thing standing in this same spot once. But she had been pregnant then, carrying Tommy Blaine’s child.

He seemed to read my thoughts. “It’s my baby, say it is,” he implored angrily.

“No, it isn’t.”

He was drawing nearer, his face becoming livid with anger. I felt the water rise above my knees. It was filling up too fast. I had to do something.

“Say you are sorry,” he commanded, “and I will forgive you.”

It would have been easy at that point just to indulge him and say I was sorry, that the child was his. Anything to ease his delusional mind. But that would be betraying Mischa. I thought back to her diary and how she’d written her feelings for the young Larter there.

“Mischa didn’t love you, Eric. She never did. Like any girl of that age, she liked the attention you gave her, but you were just a distraction as she searched her heart for the truth. And the truth is her heart belonged to Tommy Blaine. It always did.”

“No!” he screamed. He jumped into the water and wrapped his hands around my throat, trying to choke me. “Say you love me, Mischa! Say you love me!”

He was too strong for me. He pushed me down with his hands and forced me beneath the water. I could hear his garbled voice above me. “Say it!”

I tried to jerk my hands free from behind my back, but I couldn’t. I was going to die. Drowned in the baptismal pool just like that poor girl, whose only fault had been in sharing an intimate moment with a mentally deranged boy. I could imagine her on that last day, trying to grab hold of something as he held her under, her fingernails scratching across the steel walls of this watery tomb.

I struggled within my bonds and tried to break free, but though the water loosened them a little, I couldn’t tear them off. I wriggled my wrists frantically back and forth, realizing I had to get out of here. I couldn’t die like this. Not like she did. It would have all been for nothing if I’d come this far just to die.

His hands grasped in my hair, forcing my face to the floor. I still tried to get my hands free, but the knotted rope held fast . I was starting to lose my breath and knew I couldn’t hold on much longer. Soon I would have to open my mouth to breathe, and when I did I’d be inhaling nothing but water. His garbled voice was fading from me now. There were spots behind my eyes like starlight flickering in a night sky. I knew within seconds I’d black out and then it would be over for me. Finally, with one last twist of my wrists I felt the ropes give enough that I was able to slip one hand free. I don’t know if the water had something to do with my escape, or whether some other force intervened, but now I could fight back. I went to grab for him, but before I could, he let go of my hair and his hold on me.

I came up out of the baptismal pool gasping, wondering why he’d released me. But he was no longer in the pool. I coughed and hacked, trying to catch my breath. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him bounding up the stairs.

“Come back here, you bitch!” he was screaming.

I turned to look out over the glass and into the church sanctuary. Someone was out there, an audience of one, standing in the aisles. She was wearing her yellow summer dress just like the times I’d first seen her.

“Mischa,” I whispered.

I thought I saw her smile for a moment as if to say, ‘don’t worry now, I’ll take care of this.’

Eric came into the sanctuary screaming. “You whore! I killed you once!”

She giggled and turned on her heels, fleeing down the aisle. It reminded me of the first time I saw her, pursued playfully by the boy in the upstairs hallway. But this time it was Larter on her heels, and he was intent on killing her all over again.

For a moment a part of me forgot she was an apparition. “No!” I yelled in alarm, scrambling out of the water and over the glass. There was no time to take the stairs. I flipped over the glass partition and landed with a thud in the choir loft. I clambered to my feet and began to leap over seats to get to the aisle. Larter was stalking to where the ghost playfully danced away. He was taking his time approaching her, like a stealthy predator. He seemed unconcerned that she could get away.

They were almost to the door. I could hear her girlish laughter, and she seemed to flicker like static electricity. She passed by Penny, who still lay where Eric had left her. The dog looked like it was near death, her breathing raggedly shallow.

Just as Larter got alongside her, she struck out. Penny’s teeth grabbed a hold of his pants leg. She wasn’t concerned with attack anymore, just stopping him.

He looked down at the dog, irritated. “Let go of me, you dying mutt!” he growled, shaking his leg, trying to get her to let go. He shook her off easily for she was hurt and in pain, but she had held him long enough for me to get there.

He didn’t even see me. He was looking at the front door where Mischa leered at him. Something dark and sinister had entered her smile. I thought I saw something else besides youthful innocence. I could have sworn it resembled revenge. She passed through the door and was gone.

I grabbed Larter and spun him around towards me. I slugged him in his face and his head reeled back. I hope I broke his nose. I reared back for another hit, but before I could follow through, he took both his hands palms up, and shoved them against my chest, strong arming me with such force I was shoved off my feet and landed on my back.

He was no longer concerned with killing me though, it was Mischa he wanted. He grabbed the front door and flung it wide open.

Suddenly we were bathed in a bright white light, both of us frozen in its sharp glow. It took a moment to register what it was out there. Spotlights. The police were here. I grinned. Someone had called the cops. But who? Oh well, there was no time to worry about that now.

Eric seemed confused by the lights, and then with a start, it finally registered with him too. He reached for the door to step back in and close it. I couldn’t let him do that. I couldn’t allow him to lock us both in here again. He’d kill me this time. It had to end right here. Not only for me, but for Mischa, too. I hadn’t come all this way for nothing.

I got to my feet and dove towards him. I tackled him from behind and we both went out the doorway, tumbling crazily down the front steps of the church.

I could hear voices calling out, “Police! Stop where you are!” and “Hold it right there!” But I was beyond listening. My adversary would not get away. He would tell me what he’d done with Mischa’s body all those years ago. She had to have her final resting place.

We rolled over in the grass, and I could see the figures coming through the light towards us, their guns drawn. Larter kicked away from me screaming, “Help! He’s trying to kill me!”

I tumbled away and one of the officers grabbed me, forcing my face down in the dirt.

Eric was agitated and sounding hysterical. “I bailed him out of jail and then he tried to kill me! He said he was going to do to me what he did to that girl!”

“What!” I tried to say in astonishment, but the police were on top of me and I was having a hard time catching my breath.

One of the cops grabbed Larter and pulled him to his feet. “Who are you?” he asked.

“Eric Larter, I’m an elder here at the church.”

“Let’s see your ID, sir.”

Larter handed him his wallet, glancing over at me with a sly look. He was going to get away with it and blame me for everything.

Two officers pulled me up and put a hand on each arm holding me in place. They were rookies and seemed unsure on whether I should be handcuffed right away or not.

“Eric Larter,” the lead officer spoke loudly, reading the information off the plastic ID. “3115 Mayfair Street.”

Mayfair Street. That was only three blocks away, right on the other side of the woods, just a short walk from where I’d found the duffle bag Penny had dug up. Oh my God, I thought, she’d been this close all this time.

“And you,” the officer said, turning to me. “I already know who you are. I arrested you earlier.”

Recognizing him, I realized I wasn’t going to get another chance. They weren’t going to listen to me. In their mind, I was guilty, and Larter just another victim of my rages. I relaxed just a minute, and felt the officer’s hands on my arms loosen their grip, sure that finally I’d given up and realized it was over. With a sudden surge of energy, I lunged forward and out of their hands before they even realized what was going on.

“Hey!” they yelled, but I wasn’t listening. I was sprinting across the lot to the woods. I could just imagine them all raising their weapons and shooting me dead on the spot. “Stop!” they cried. “Hold it!” I could even hear Larter shouting, “Shoot him, he’s getting away!”

A bullet ricocheted in the dirt at my feet, but I was at the woods already. I dove through the brush and rolled as another bullet whizzed by me. I was up and running through the woods, heading towards the abandoned playground. My leg was still on fire where Larter had shot me earlier, but I couldn’t let it deter me. I had to find her. In fact, I already knew where she was. But I had to do this on my own; I couldn’t rely on anyone else to see that she got peace.

I heard the police giving chase behind me. I wondered if they’d all come in pursuit of me and left Larter standing there alone. But there was no time to think of that now.

“Okay Mischa, I got it now,” I breathed wearily, as I came crashing into the clearing of the old playground. I went over to the thorns and shrubs where the duffle bag of incriminating evidence had once lay in hiding. I got on my belly and crawled in the dirt, the briars and brambles scratching my arms and face, but I kept going. I scrambled into the bushes as best as I could and then stopped. My hand had come to rest on something. I picked it up. It was the anklet. The same one that had followed me around no matter what I’d done to get rid of it. The initials “MM” engraved in its charm.

What the hell? How did this end up here? I had given it to the Mitchells. Unless…Mischa had brought it here. But why? Was it to show me this was her resting spot?

I started to scrape at the dirt, trying to dig into the ground where the anklet had lain. But it was too slow, this was getting me nowhere. It would take forever to dig this spot out without shovels. “Mischa, I’m sorry,” I began to sob. I could hear my pursuers coming through the woods.

I looked sadly at the anklet in my hand. MM. This anklet hadn’t been Mischa’s, so why was she using it to show me where she was buried? Or was that it at all? Could it have been placed in this spot, knowing I’d come here to dig up Mischa and find this first? Suddenly it hit me, what Mischa had been so desperately trying to tell me all this time. “Oh my god,” I whispered. “Meagan Mitchell. She’s alive…”

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 39: Out Of The Frying Pan

Wow, only 5 more entries to go! If you need to catch up, or are just getting started, click the link below to go to the table of contents and find your place. Thanks for reading!

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 39: Out Of The Frying Pan: Late Friday Night Aug. 12

An hour went by, and Larter didn’t show. There was a television out in the hallway and I was on the news. A reporter was saying a local man, the janitor of a nearby church, had been charged with the abduction of Meagan Mitchell. The police weren’t giving many details, but that more charges were pending. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. Then I realized I was already in a hole.

Finally after three hours of being in the holding cell, an officer came and unlocked the door. “You made bail,” he said.

“Bail?”

“Yeah, somebody bailed you out.”

When I got out front and they gave me my things back, I saw Larter waiting. I sighed in relief. He walked over to me. “I couldn’t let you sit in there all night. It wouldn’t be the Christian thing to do.”

“Thanks,” I said. “But from the look of things, they’ll be throwing me in there again soon anyway.”

He shook his head sadly. “Come on, the car’s out front. Let’s get you out of here.”

We went out to the car, and thankfully there weren’t any reporters waiting like you see in the movies. I guess they were waiting for the big news: that I was being charged with murder. I dreaded that thought and made a quick prayer that the real killer would be caught and I’d be absolved of all this.

“I called the church’s lawyer,” Larter said. “We will help all we can, but if the church gets implicated in all this, it won’t be easy.”

“I didn’t do anything,” I replied.

“I know that, Paul. You seem like too nice of a guy to bring harm to anyone, let alone a defenseless girl.”

“I can’t afford to pay your lawyer.”

“It’s okay, we’ll worry about all that later. He’s on his way to the church now. I told him we’d meet him there.”

“I can’t believe this is happening to me,” I said. “I have lost everything, even my wife. All over a missing girl. I should just kill myself.”

“Hey, don’t talk like that. It’s not the end of the world. We’ll find an end to all this, you’ll see.” He put his hand reassuringly on my shoulder.

“Thanks Larter.”

He smiled and we pulled into the church lot.

“Our lawyer’s not here yet,” Larter said. “You want to go over to your place and change or anything? I’ll wait here at the church for him to show.”

“No, that’s okay. I might as well wait with you.”

He nodded and we both went in the church. I flicked on the lights and closed the door behind me. For a moment, I thought I saw something at the edge of the woods close to my house. It was now dark, so I couldn’t tell what it was, but something out there had moved, I was certain of it.

“Come on, we’ll wait in the office,” Larter said, and I followed him, trying not to think about who was out there moving around. Should I say something to him about it? No, the less he gets involved the better.

I went into the office and he excused himself to use the restroom. I sat down and waited. The secretary’s desk was a little cluttered, a stack of papers sitting on the edge waiting to be signed, another pile of outgoing mail. A paperweight sat on one edge and I reached over and picked it up. It was a photo cube, and inside I could see pictures of the church, the pastor, and what appeared to be a photo of the former staff. Larter was there, as was the secretary and several other gentlemen. But what stood out was a man who clearly had custodian written all over him. Could this be the guy I had replaced?

Larter came back in and sat down beside me. “Did you know this guy very well?” I asked, showing him the cube.

“Not much. He wasn’t with us for long. He died of a stroke.”

“In the church?”

“Outside on the lawn. He was mowing the grass.”

“Oh.”

“We had a lady clean for us for awhile, but she said the church was too big. Personally I think it creeped her out to be working in here by herself, if you know what I mean.”

“Yes I do.”

We sat in silence for a while and then he asked a question. “They said you had some of that girl’s things, is that true?”

I nodded. “Yeah. But I found them.”

“That doesn’t look too good,” he reasoned. “You being the new guy in town and all.”

“I know.”

He stood up and went to the window. Looking out, he said, “I know what it’s like to be the new guy. In small towns like this, they always look at the outsider first…Ahh, there he is.”

“Who?”

“Our lawyer. He just pulled up.”

Larter walked out the office and I followed him. We walked down the hallway towards the front door to greet the legal counsel, and he talked the whole way.

“When I first moved here as a kid, nobody liked me. They looked at me like I didn’t belong.”

I nodded. I certainly didn’t feel like I belonged here anymore either.

“I thought since my uncle was the pastor I’d be readily accepted,” he went on. “But I wasn’t.”

“Your uncle was the pastor?”

“Yes. But no one took that in account. I was thought of as the bad egg. I thought for a while there was one person who understood me, but in the end she didn’t.”

His uncle was the pastor? He lived here in his youth? There was a girl? Something was clicking into place and I didn’t like it much.

“Mischa Boudreaux?”

He grinned and spoke as if he was lost in his own little world. “Yes, pretty little Mischa. She understood me so well she was pregnant with my child. She said it wasn’t mine, but I know it was. Her other boyfriend was too goody goody to get that far. And now he’s legally mad.” He laughed at this.

I swallowed hard. Finally, I knew who the mystery boyfriend was. It was Larter. Eric Larter. But did he kill her? No, there was no Mischa. It had been this girl Meagan the whole time, I thought. Oh my god, could there be two of them? Mischa and Meagan?

“Eric,” I said, speaking his name for the first time. “Did Mischa go away?”

“Yes, I guess she did,” he replied. We stopped at the front door, and he positioned himself in front of it, blocking any means of escape. I was praying the lawyer was on the other side of that door, and with him the police. But I knew he wasn’t there.

“There is no lawyer coming is there?”

He smiled, but there was no mirth there, only darkness. “You got me.”

I had to figure a way past him. I had to alert someone that it was Larter. “She came back,” I said.

“Oh really?”

“Yes, she’s here in the church.”

This threw him off a little. “Where in the church?” he asked warily.

“In the baptismal where you drowned her, just like those little cats in the kiddy pool back home.”

He didn’t know what to say. His face turned white, as if I had presented him with a ghost. And I had. I couldn’t stop there either. Something was in motion and I had to know.

“What’s the matter, Eric? Did she spurn your advances? Choose the other boy over you? Or do you just like killing defenseless things?”

I was feeling brave now. I figured if I could be on the offensive, I just might be able to get out of this one. I was wrong. He grabbed me and slammed me up against the door. It shook with the force.

“You don’t know nothing,” he hissed loudly. “You think you know me? You think you can just come here and play detective? Think you’re so smart? You think you have it all sewn up, don’t you, Sherlock?” He slammed me into the door again, his fingers wrapped up in my shirt’s lapel. I tried to push him away, but he was leaned up too close, keeping me pinned to the door. “Oh no, my friend, you don’t know anything,” he whispered in my ear with a quiet menace. He grabbed hold of my shoulder and turned me to the door. “Time for you to get your comeuppance.” And with this he flung the front door open and pushed me out into the night.

I stumbled on the church steps, and he went to grab me again, but there was a sound that made us both turn. From the corner of the building it came, and suddenly I realized what had been out there in the woods earlier watching us…Penny.

The dog growled and came at us running. She lunged at Larter, her jaws catching the wrist he’ d raised to defend himself with. They both went down, Penny on top of the murderer of children. I heard the grinding of her teeth on bone as she bit down hard and he screamed. “Get her off of me!”

I did no such thing. I ran back into the church and slammed the door behind me. I had to get to the phone and call the police. Once in the secretary’s office, I snatched up the phone and managed to glance back out the window. Penny still had Larter and they were rolling in the grass. “Yes, baby, yes,” I smiled. “You get him.”

I stopped smiling. There was no dial tone. Just that damned hissing. The same old sound that had been there times before. Except now there was something else, a voice. And it whispered something. It was ghostly and faint, but I heard it. “I want to go home,” it said.

Then I realized something. Outside there was silence. I went to the window and looked out. Neither Larter nor Penny could be seen. “Damn, where are they?” I muttered.

I heard the front door slam with a bang.

“I killed that damn dog of yours,” Larter’s voice cried out triumphantly. I ran out into the hallway. He had dragged Penny inside by her collar. She wasn’t fighting him as he set her down. “I think I broke her ribs and punctured a lung.” I could see the dog’s chest heaving laboriously up and down. “She doesn’t have long,” he grinned. “And neither do you…”

He stalked towards me, and I noticed he had a gun in his hand. He was done playing. “I could have just shot her, but I won’t waste a bullet on a bitch,” he sneered. “On you however, it’s a different story.”

“Shit,” I realized and turned to run. But no matter how fast you run, it’s hard to outpace a bullet. I had almost made it back into the office when he pulled the trigger. The bullet hit me in the back of my leg. It was hot, and my whole body felt like it was on fire. I collapsed to the floor in a cry of pain .

Larter took his time getting to me. I tried to pull myself across the floor and shut the office door behind me. He stopped it with his hand and leaned over me, the gun trained on my face. “Time for a baptism,” he grinned.

He grabbed my hair with one hand, and with the other he hit me hard in the head with the gun. Everything started to go black. I shook my head, trying to shake off the darkness. He hit me again and I began to slip into oblivion. No, this can’t be happening, I thought. Not like this, dear Jesus, don’t let him kill me.

Mischa, please help me. Then the darkness took me, until I woke up again into a whole new terror…

+ + + + + + + + +

“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 38: The Mitchells

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 38: The Mitchell’s: Friday Night Aug. 12

In the most important times in a man’s life he can behave quite stupidly. When others depend on him he does things without thinking how foolish his actions really are. With that said, I wasn’t thinking very clearly when I went to The Mitchell’s. I tried calling first, but lost my nerve the moment someone answered. It was a very feminine voice and I couldn’t bear the thought of delivering the news I had to tell over the phone. If this was Meagan’s mother, I didn’t want to just come out and say I think your daughter is dead.

It took me all afternoon to work up the courage to go to their house, but I finally decided it had to be done. I couldn’t keep it to myself, the knowledge that their missing daughter wasn’t coming home again. They needed closure, and I needed to know for certain that what I felt inside was true. Maybe the girl’s parents could give me the missing link to the whole puzzle.

I arrived at the Mitchell house shortly before dinnertime. It’s a typical two story suburban home, with an enclosed garage and front walk lined with flowers. On the porch is a welcome mat that says “God bless this home.” When I knocked on the door I should have just turned right around and walked away. If I’d known what was coming maybe I would have.

A woman answered the door. Dressed casually with an apron over her clothes, I knew right away this was the missing girl’s mother. And when she spoke, I realized this was the woman whose voice on the phone had caused me to hang up.

“Mrs. Mitchell?” I stammered nervously.

“Yes,” she replied, a cautious tone to her voice. Maybe she thought I was a reporter or something.

“My name is Paul and I work over at the Resurrection Church.”

The cautious look left her face and she smiled brightly. “Hi, how are you?” I could tell she was relieved. “How is Pastor Chiles?”

“Umm, he is fine. He hopes to see you there this Sunday,” I lied.

“He knows we’ll be there. Haven’t missed a service since…”

“Mrs. Mitchell, I need to ask you something,” I interrupted before she could finish. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the anklet I once believed belonged to Mischa. “Does this belong to you?”

A look of complete surprise came over her face, followed by a choked cry from her lips. “It belongs to my daughter. Where did you find it?”

“I found it in the church. I’ve been trying to find the owner based on the initials inside, and well, I saw the news earlier and your daughter’s name was mentioned… so I thought maybe it was hers.”

“Do you know our Meagan?” a voice said from behind her, and she stepped away from the door to let her husband stand with her. Mr. Mitchell was dressed smartly, and I could tell maybe he’d just gotten home from working in a law office or was an accountant or something.

“No sir, I didn’t. I mean I don’t.” This was not going to be easy, I could tell that.

“Where in the church did you find it?” he asked, and I knew he’d been listening all along.

“In the recreation room. I figure she must have lost it there.” I was starting to fidget on the porch.

“Well, thank you for returning it,” he said.

“No problem,” I replied, realizing he had just closed this conversation and dismissed me from my good deed. But I couldn’t stop, I had to tell them. “But I think something bad has happened to your daughter.”

They both looked at me as if they had never considered bad news, like any minute the girl would run around the corner and say, “hi everyone, I’m home.”

“I’ve been seeing some strange things lately, and I’ve come to believe that somebody did something terrible to her.”

“What kind of things have you seen?” the man asked curiously, yet with a hard look in his eye.

Uh-oh, here it goes, I thought. “A girl in a yellow sun dress. I first saw her in the church. No one was supposed to be there, but she was. And then I think she was in my house…”

“Your house!” the woman gasped in alarm.

“Yes, in my house. But I think something happened to her in the baptismal of the church. She keeps trying to tell me something.” I had started talking and then it came out like a runaway freight train. I didn’t realize how all this would sound to them.

“What was she doing in your house?” the man asked angrily, and I realized then I had crossed the line, that I’d made a mistake. Here I was, a grown man, telling them their missing teenage daughter was in my house. I had to ease things real quick.

“I mean she was on the television. In my house.” He knew I was lying; it was all over his face. And his wife was nearly in tears. “I didn’t mean like she was IN my house,” I tried to convince them.

“Would you like to come in for a bit?” the man suddenly asked, and all the alarms went off in my head. I tried to tell them I had to be going, but he insisted I come in and talk with them over coffee. The way I looked at it, I only had two choices: to go inside or run. I should have run…clear out of town.

We’d been sitting in the Mitchell living room talking and drinking for about fifteen minutes when there was a knock at the door. Mrs. Mitchell got up to answer it, and when she returned there were two police officers with her. Her husband must have called them when he went to get us coffee. The officers asked me to step outside for a minute, that they wanted to talk to me. When I got out on the porch, they turned me over to two other officers who were standing in the yard. Then they went back inside, I suppose to talk to the Mitchell’s.

“What’s wrong, guys?” I asked, trying not to sound nervous.

“You tell us,” one of the cops said.

“I was just coming over to return something I thought belonged to the Mitchell girl. I work at the church and…”

“Have you seen Meagan Mitchell?” the other one asked.

“Ummm, no. Like I said, I just…”

“We’d like you to take a ride to the station with us.”

“What for? What did I do?”

“We just want to ask a few questions and take a statement.”

They were lying I could tell it. They thought I’d done something to the girl. So I panicked. I bolted away from them and across the yard. They weren’t expecting it, and I heard them yell my name in alarm. Damn, they knew who I was already. I cut through a couple yards, leaped a fence, and was almost to the next street when they caught up to me. One had a gun drawn and was ordering me to stop. I thought maybe I should.

Things weren’t much better at the station house. They kept me there for hours, asking vague questions, trying to get me to tell them something revealing. I kept telling them I didn’t know Meagan, and finally a runt of a detective showed up and grilled me with questions like, “where is Meagan?” and “where did you get her things?”

“What things?” I asked stupidly.

He grinned. “The things we found in your house.”

“My house?” This wasn’t going good at all.

“In the duffel bag in the closet,” he pushed.

“Oh no,” I mumbled.

“Oh yes.” He smiled as if he had just solved the case of his career. “We found Meagan Mitchell’s clothes in your house. Her parents have already identified the items as being the last things they saw their daughter in.”

“I found those,” I replied.

“Where?”

“In the woods behind my house. There’s an old playground back there and they were in the bushes.”

He wrote something down on a notepad and looked back up at me. “Why didn’t you call the police?”

“I didn’t know they belonged to a missing girl.”

“And so you just decided to keep them?”

“Yes sir.”

“Now why would you do that? Your wife couldn’t wear them. They aren’t her size.”

“My wife?”

“I just finished speaking to your wife, Paul. She says you have been obsessing over a teenage girl lately. And that’s why she left you. Said you even told her the girl’s name. She thought you said Mischa, but I’d be willing to bet it was Meagan, wasn’t it?.”

“I didn’t do anything to her!” I yelled. “I didn’t do anything to anybody.”

He leaned real close. “Let me tell you something,” he said. “Right now, everything points to you. You had her jewelry, her clothes, and inside a side pocket on that duffel bag, we found something even more interesting.”

“Like what?” I stammered.

“A fingernail. It’s being tested right now, but I’d say offhand it’s Meagan’s, wouldn’t you?”

“I don’t know,” I said and closed my eyes. A thought came into my head, an image of the girl underwater in the baptismal, her fingers scraping across the tile, trying to find something to grab hold of.

“I think it would be best if maybe you called yourself a lawyer,” the detective finally said. He got up. “You’re under arrest for the abduction of Meagan Mitchell. It’s only a matter of time before we find out what happened to her, so when your lawyer gets here I think it would be in your best interest to tell us.”

I got angry and snapped at him. “You couldn’t find Meagan if she was sitting on your desk, asshole.”

He turned around and grinned. “You have anger issues. That’s not going to look good in court.” And then he was gone. As for me, they threw me in a holding cell. They slipped me a phone and allowed me one call. I didn’t know whom to call. I couldn’t afford a lawyer. Donna wasn’t going to be able to help and I don’t know if she would now anyway, so I called my boss, Mr. Larter. Maybe the church could get me some legal help. He said he was on the way and bringing a lawyer friend with. I hung up and waited in my cell for them to arrive. I put my head in my hands and cried. Everyone thinks I killed that girl.

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 37: Help Me

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Entry 37: “Help Me”: Friday Aug. 12

It rained hard last night. I had to let Penny in, but I always enjoy her company anyway. I had tossed and turned, but with her at the foot of the bed I felt a little safer and protected. I wanted to sleep in a little this morning. Still, I found myself waking early with thoughts of Mischa and what she wants me to see. Once again I turned on the TV to watch the morning game shows, still believing there was something there she wanted me to take notice of. But like the day before, I saw nothing to give me great revelations about the ghost of Resurrection Church. I was just going to have to go see Tommy Blaine again and get the answers there.

I turned off the television and was getting ready to go back to the bedroom to get dressed when it happened. I had let Penny outside and usually she would bark if there were an intruder. So when I heard her yapping, I went to the front door. The dog was out in the yard barking at the house. Not in a menacing way, but the way a puppy would if she were excited. But the porch was empty; no one was in the yard with Penny. Maybe she was wanting me to come out and play, I thought.

Then I felt something brush past me in the doorway. It wasn’t a physical brush, as one feels if someone bumps into them, but I felt something different in the air. A change in the temperature. A warmth that one would feel standing close to another person. But there was no one there. I looked around the room and I noticed something moving down the hallway away from me. The only way I can describe what I saw was that it was like heat rising off the pavement in high summer; a haze in the air that blurs everything else around it.

It passed from the hallway into the bathroom, and I heard the water come on. Whatever it was, it had just turned on the bathroom faucet. I walked cautiously down the hall. I didn’t have anything to defend myself with, and though part of me felt fear, another part of me was simply curious. I imagined as I rounded the corner, I would see someone there in the bathroom, staring into the mirror, water overflowing onto the floor. But when I looked in all I found was an empty restroom.

The water was on and running fast. Hot steam had risen from it and nearly fogged up the whole room. I stepped carefully to the sink. The heat coming off the running water met my hand as I reached for the chrome faucet, but I managed to turn it off without burning myself. The steam started to dissipate, and again I felt something move past me and out of the room. I turned to follow, but the bathroom door closed behind it, preventing me from following the hazy apparition. I tried the knob and it wouldn’t turn. It was as if I were locked in.

“Hey!” I yelled. I turned around, looking about to see if there was anything I could pry the door open with, and that’s when I saw the message in the mirror. Steam still lingered on the glass surface, and traced in the humidity were six letters. H…E…L…P…M…E…

“Help Me,” I muttered. “I’m trying to help,” I called out. “Just tell me what to do!”

Other letters began to form on the moisture-laden mirror. A…G…A…N…

I read them all together. “Help Meagan”. Meagan? Who the hell is Meagan? I was puzzled, what did it mean? “Help Meagan,” I repeated, hoping that saying it aloud would help me make sense of the message. I turned back to the door. It was now open.

I heard the television come on in the living room. I could hear the music and credits of the last game show going off. I walked into the living room and picked up the TV remote.

“I don’t want to watch TV,” I said to the haunted room. “I want you to tell me what is going on.” I put my finger on the ‘off’ button, ready to shut it off. Suddenly I froze. On the TV, the news had come on and a face that looked familiar was staring right back at me. A blonde haired teenager, innocent smile, yellow dress. A thought came to me, Tommy’s note: ‘She wants you to watch something other than game shows’. This is what she wanted me to see.

“Oh Mischa,” I whispered, and then the announcer came on.

“Still no word in the disappearance of local teenager Meagan Mitchell,” he said. “For the third month since her disappearance the police say they have no leads in the case. Miss Mitchell was last seen on her way home from a friend’s house. She was wearing a dress similar to the one pictured here.”

And again that face looked out at me from the television. It was not Mischa. It was Meagan. It always had been. The dress Penny dug up from the playground, the anklet with ‘MM’ on it, the “help me” message on the chalkboard. It was all about this missing girl, Meagan.

After the initial shock, this new revelation, I grabbed a phone book, hurriedly flipping through the M’s. I found the Mitchell’s phone and address. It wasn’t far from here, only five blocks away. Oh my god, I thought, this girl had disappeared shortly before Donna and I got here.

And the dog Penny. Maybe this stray wasn’t a stray at all, but belonged to the Mitchell’s. Maybe it was Meagan’s and she was just following her mistress the best she could.

I ran outside looking for the dog, but she was gone. “Penny!” I called out. She didn’t come around the corner or out of the nearby woods. It was as if now that I’d made the connection, there was no need for her to be there anymore.

I went back inside, got dressed and found the anklet that was Meagan Mitchell’s. I put it in my pocket. I had to let her parents know. I had to tell them I’d seen her. Her ghost haunts the church. I thought it was Mischa, but it had been someone else all this time. How could I have been so wrong?

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 36: Watching Game Shows

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Entry 36: Watching Game Shows: Thursday Aug. 11

I thought about Tommy’s note all last night. What did it mean? The question plagued me. What is it Mischa wants me to see? There has to be something I’ve missed. I’ve been so wrapped up in other things, there has to be a truth out there close by if I’ll just open my eyes. But what is it? Talk to me, Mischa. Show me what you want me to see. What was that in the note about game shows? Maybe there was something in the game shows, I thought. Some clue to what happened to her.

I got up this morning, fixed breakfast and when the ten o’clock hour came, I turned on the TV and settled myself in front of it. For two hours I sat there transfixed, studying the scenes that flickered across the television. I listened to the contestant’s names, where they were from, and the answers they gave to the questions they were asked. Just looking for some clue to leap out at me like a revelation. But nothing came. They were ordinary daytime game shows on just another ordinary day.

I looked at the note again:

“She wants you to open your eyes to things other than game shows.”

The game shows were going off, replaced by the news and soap operas. I turned off the TV and felt it was just best to get on over to the church and work. I walked outside and Penny greeted me with her usual tail wagging self.

“Hey there old girl.” She growled at me and I laughed. “Okay, so maybe you’re not so old.” She barked a high bark and took off after a rabbit that had crossed the churchyard. I smiled, once again marveling over the simplicity of a dog’s life.

I wondered briefly if maybe I should get in the car and try to go see Tommy Blaine. I didn’t think they’d let me in this time, but could it be worth a try? After all, he did send me a note in the mail. Didn’t that mean he wanted to talk to me? I made a mental note to try and see him tomorrow afternoon so he can explain his message to me.

All day long as I worked, I turned over the events of recent times in my head. All the strange happenings, all the things I’d learned. The answer had to be in what I already knew.

Mischa Martin / Boudreaux, age 15, believed by some to have run away, is really dead. Murdered by a killer unknown, quite possibly in the baptismal pool at Resurrection Church. I have her dress, her anklet, and her diaries. I’ve seen her ghost, felt her haunted kisses on my cheek, read her messages on chalkboards, followed clues she left me. She is at unrest. For some reason, she can’t leave this earthly plane until her killer is revealed and the truth of her death is known.

And what of her killer? Is it Mrs. Shiflett’s mysterious nephew, the son of her late husband’s brother? Everything seems to point to him. The entries in Mischa’s diary and rumors of his kitten drowning episode makes me think he drowned her in the baptismal pool, and if not, something very terrible happened in that otherwise peaceful place anyway.

Still with everything I know, there’s much I don’t. There are still questions abound. They flit in and out of my mind, and I wonder if I’ll ever know the truth.

I got home around five. In thinking of Mischa, my thoughts were also on Donna, so I called her at her mom’s. In a couple more days she’d be coming home, but I wanted to hear her voice. Some unspoken thing was nagging at me, as if it might be the last time I’d be talking to my wife for awhile. I don’t know why such a feeling of dread came over me as I entered our house. A morbid thought crossed my mind: what if this were to be my final resting place? What if it is my fate to follow Mischa’s footsteps and go down her tragic path? I shook the thought from my head, trying to allay my fears in the sound of Donna’s voice on the telephone.

We had a nice conversation. She said she was looking forward to coming back home and that she missed me. I told her I was happy she was coming and I missed her too. When I finally hung up, I was smiling, and thankfully had forgotten the dreadful thoughts of earlier.

Now as I write this though, the feeling has returned. I know, without a shred of doubt, the threat of death waits around the corner. The truth of things are going to come to light

+ + + + + + + + +

“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th anniversary edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 35: Nephew Hunting and Tommys Note

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Main Page

Entry 35: Nephew Hunting & Tommy’s Note: Wednesday Aug. 10

I wanted to talk to Mrs. Shiflett today. I couldn’t put off direct confrontation, no matter how heated, any longer. I know the key to Mischa’s death and subsequent ghost is the nephew. I have to find him, and the only way is through her. But I imagine, like most families, she will go to great lengths to protect him. I’m not looking for an admission of guilt from her though, just his whereabouts.

But first things first. I went to the church this morning and asked the secretary to have a look at the membership records of years past. She asked me several questions as to why, but I think it was just her natural curiosity, not a need to protect anyone. She let me have access to the locked file cabinet in her office when she went to lunch. I immediately dug in, searching for the information I wanted.

Pastor Shiflett was the first I found, of course. He and his doting Sunday School teaching wife. I read about how long they had been members and what offices they both held, but there was nothing about a nephew. They were the only two Shifletts found in the files. I ran across other familiar faces though, people I had seen in the church on Sunday, sitting dutifully in the pews listening to the service. I even saw the membership file on Mr. Larter. I barely glanced at it, as I was in search of other things, but there was a picture in there, a younger version of the man smiling for the camera. I liked him. There was something warm about his smile, the kind of man others would easily gravitate to. No wonder he was a church elder. But still no sign of the Shiflett’s nephew. If anything had ever been in the files, it was gone now. Not even a bare mention. It was almost as if he never even existed as far as the church was concerned. I had no choice; I was going to have to go to see the old woman again.

When I arrived at her house, she was already gone. A moving van was sitting out front, and across the street sat a car I recognized. Larter. He was loading some boxes in the car seat. When I pulled in front of the house and got out of my car, he saw me and waved.

“Hello Paul,” he smiled. He walked over and shook my hand vigorously. “Come to see Mrs. Shiflett?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I wanted to ask her something.”

“Well, I think you’re just a little late. She’s gone.”

“Gone?”

“Yes. Moved into the nursing home. Her assistant quit and she really needs to have someone around her. The church is helping her move.”

“Is the nursing home close?”

“Yes, it’s just across town, but she’s not really settled in yet. I’d give it a couple days. What was it you was wanting to talk to her about, if I may ask?”

“I wanted to ask her about her nephew.”

He looked at me strangely. “Her nephew?”

“Yes. I was doing some research into the church history, and well, he seems to be missing from the church records. His name has come up several times in talking to locals, but I can’t find anything about him anywhere.”

“Well, church history isn’t exactly my interest, I’m more rooted in the here and now,” he grinned. “But since it’s her nephew you’re wanting to know about, you got the right idea coming to her.” He looked at me curiously. “Is he important to the church’s past? Something we should know?”

“I’m not sure. But there was a girl who went missing years ago and I’ve heard that he knew her. I was kind of curious what happened to her and thought maybe she told him if she was running away or something.”

“Sounds interesting. Like a real mystery.”

I grinned. “Yes it’s proving to be.”

“I could take you to see her at the nursing home in a few days if you like.”

“That would be great.”

“Let’s see, today is Wednesday.” He pulled a little book out of his coat pocket and began to flip through it. “How bout Monday? Give her time to get settled.”

I thought for a minute. I was hoping to talk to her sooner. Donna was supposed to be coming home on Monday. I should be home for her that day. “Well I really didn’t want to wait that long. I’ll just go over there myself and see her this weekend.”

He nodded. “Okay. Yes, she should be settled by then. I have other plans this weekend, otherwise I’d take you. Can you find it yourself?”

“Yeah I’m getting used to driving around town.”

“Fitting right in, huh?”

“Trying to,” I smiled.

“Well Paul, I have to get a few more things from her house and help the movers put her stuff in storage. It was good to see you again.”

“Yes, you too,” I smiled and we shook hands goodbye. As I got in the car I noticed something on the palm of my hand. Make up. Women’s makeup. Larter must have been packing up cosmetics from Mrs. Shiflett’s bathroom. I’m glad Donna doesn’t wear all that much makeup. Man, I miss her.

When I got home I collected the mail from the front porch and noticed I’d gotten a letter from Tommy Blaine. It had the hospital’s return address on it, so I knew he was still there. I sat on the porch and Penny sat down at my feet. I opened the envelope and looked at the small note inside. It was only one sentence long:

“She wants you to open your eyes and watch more than game shows.”

I find this odd. What does it mean? How does he know I watch game shows? And I can only assume the “she” is Mischa. What is it then she wants me to see? There is obviously something important I am missing.

“Penny, what do you think she wants?”

The dog looked up at me and playfully wagged her tail. I laughed and patted her head. “Oh, but if only life was as simple for humans as it is for dogs. All you have to worry about is chasing rabbits and where to bury your bones.”

Bury your bones. That thought troubles me now as I write this. Somewhere Mischa’s bones are buried. And somewhere hides the one who killed her. I have to find them both…

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th anniversary edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.