Under the Bridge: A Short Story (Part 1)

Citrus sunbeams broke over the horizon, straight into Lucas’s eyes. Craning his neck, he blocked the glare with the rearview mirror. Georgia sat shotgun, asleep in the seat beside him. She could fall asleep in restaurants, she fell asleep anywhere. Driving while she slept was one of Lucas’s favorite things. Part of him wished they had further to go, but it was time to wake her up.

He pulled over and Georgia’s notebook slid from the dash. Here she kept journal entries and drawings — typically morbid scenes. When the notebook landed at her feet she raised an eyelid. “We’re here?”

“The Colorado Street Bridge,” Lucas said.

Colorado Street Bridge

The bridge stretched over the Arroyo Seco ravine, leading to the San Gabriels in the north and Long Beach in the south. To prevent suicides, the seating alcoves and sidewalks were lined with chain-link fencing. Lucas drove them across the bridge, past the Carmelita Gardens and down a single-lane road going under the bridge. They parked next to a subdivision.

“I can’t believe they built houses down here,” Lucas said.

“It’s crazy. I read this article. Some neighborhood kids were playing under the bridge… and they found one of the bodies,” Georgia said. “It was bound to happen.”

“How long ago?” Lucas asked.

“2017,” she said, putting fresh batteries in her SB7 Spirit Box.

“They really can’t stop it,” he said. “How could anyone live down here?”

“It’s prime real estate, if you don’t mind the jumpers.” She pointed up the hill. “Downtown Pasadena is right there.”

“Still. Not where I’d wanna raise my kids,” he said, getting out of the car.

Lucas wore a loose black t-shirt with a torn pocket. His dark skin looked burnished in the last rays of sun. His hair, twisted in braids, hung over a yellow headband. His gray jeans, distressed at the knees, tapered down at the ankle above white Chuck Taylors. Georgia’s honey-blond hair touched her shoulders in loose brushstrokes, with straight-cropped bangs above her green eyes. She had on high-waisted jeans and a slim-fit, long-sleeve tee, which said “Passion is for Pussies” in twiggy letters. On the back was a spiky drawing of a cat with its eyes crossed out and tongue lolling. She wore a thin gold chain, dangling snake earrings and combat boots.

Lucas went looking for a trail down the ravine. Georgia snapped on her tool belt and followed. They traveled light on scouts. Besides, it was still too bright out to use the other equipment. The trail began on the other side of the road where Lucas stood. He was looking down the switchbacks when he saw something move.

“Look at that,” he said to Georgia.

“Oh,” she said. “It’s a… cat.” The feral tomcat looked up and dropped something from its mouth. When they started down the trail it scurried off. They came upon the body of a small bird, its feathers strewn about.

“Good hunter,” Lucas said.

“I don’t know. This bird looks like a goldfinch. Those are really fast. Too fast for a cat to catch.” Georgia looked up into the branches. “I guess if he was waiting up there…”

“It’s a feral cat, he’s got his whole life to practice,” Lucas said. Deeper in the brush, he saw another pile of feathers. These feathers were black — bigger, too. He peeled back some branches and saw a dead crow on the leaf litter. “See there?”

Georgia wrapped her arms around Lucas from behind. “That little cat wouldn’t have got them both,” she said with her chin on his shoulder.

“Somebody shot them?” He asked. “There’s not much blood.”

“Just a… predator,” she said. “Could even be another bird.”

“To kill a crow?” He asked.

She shrugged. “It’s a good sign regardless.”

“Makes me nervous,” he said. “Feels like a person did this.”

“Or a spirit,” she said.

Garrote watched from his gray van. Using his binoculars, he double-checked their license plate, then saw the couple stop where he’d shot down the birds. It wasn’t part of the plan — just a little target practice with his slingshot. Garrote had been there for most of the day anyhow. Low-hanging branches along the road concealed his van. The van contained his whole life — things he had before prison and a few extras from the army surplus store.

Zoomed-in Shot of Binoculars

Garrote didn’t pick people to follow. To his mind they were chosen for him. Isabelle, Natalie, they’d helped him do things he couldn’t have done on his own. They showed him how to steal, he showed them how to create a distraction while he kicked down the back door. Of course he was locked up, the system would never understand. But a single person — an individual — could be convinced. They needed to be convinced because they didn’t yet know what it was they had for Garrote and what it was he had for them.

He’d known Georgia since high school and she was a prime example. That day at the restaurant, she said she didn’t remember him, but the heart shape she made in his latte told him otherwise. He’d just done six of seven years — good behavior. When he got out he wasn’t looking for anyone. He never was. But when he saw her name tag, everything flooded back — everything they’d owed to each other since high school. It was right then he knew she was next. He was happy for her. But after six weeks he still couldn’t get her alone.

He’d had a chance the last time — the old infirmary. It was dark, isolated, everything felt right. Garrote was so close, twenty feet away, when he got this funny feeling. Like he was getting closer but floating away, too. Like a rip current, but in the air around him. And then that guy Georgia was always with came out of the bushes. Ruined it. But Garrote knew tonight would be different. This was new territory. And he had that feeling, the complete certainty that nothing could go wrong.

There were two routes to the other side of the ravine — a footbridge to the south and a creek bed to the north, where the jumpers often landed. Leaving the dead birds behind, Lucas saw a string of purple flowers along the footbridge.

“I can cross there and start at the other side,” he said, pointing down at the footbridge. “If you wanna start on this side? We can meet in the middle if nothing turns up.”

“Sounds good,” Georgia said, and set off for the creek bed.

Lucas looked up at the old bridge, where over a hundred people had leapt to their deaths. The pedestrian pathways were shrouded in wire fencing, wrapped around each end and locked shut. But a chain-link shell didn’t stop the jumpers who climbed over. North of the creek bed, there was a wider, newer bridge, built to accommodate the 134 freeway. The two bridges loomed overhead like fossilized creatures.

Lucas crouched down as soon as he reached the footbridge. Digging into his sling pouch, he got out a bag of ketamine, dipped a mini spoon inside and snorted. He pulled against his cheekbone with a curled finger, then leaned back and inhaled. When he felt the drip in his throat, he put the bag away and stared at the purple flowers. A few minutes later, the flowers started to swim between the layers of his perception. Big, billowing petals swayed in the foreground, but came into focus in the background at the same time. It was like seeing things up-close with one eye, and pulling objects from the background forward with the other, until they occupied the same visual plane.

Lucas could go a long time without a supply of ketamine, but he felt his best when he had some around. Georgia didn’t worry because she didn’t know how much he sniffed, how often he induced hallucinations. To Lucas, descending from reality was just another way to check his perspective. Feeling focused and better about everything, he plugged his headphones into the SB-7. Then he tucked the headphones into his ears and bounced along in a duckwalk-lunge, as if he could hear music instead of the crackle of radio waves.

Garrote had crossed the footbridge as the couple got their equipment ready. Now he hid in the trees on the other side of the ravine. He could see that Lucas and Georgia had split up. When he squinted through the binoculars, his lips pulled back, like chapped red curtains being raised on a stage of rotten teeth. His black, long-sleeve shirt was riddled with burn-holes, and his dark gray sweatpants were tucked into his socks as a tick-barrier.

Garrote still couldn’t see Lucas, but he saw Georgia again when she crossed the creek bed. She neared one of the bridge-support pillars. Each one was massive — sixty feet in diameter. She took in her surroundings, but mostly kept her eyes low as she scanned with the SB-7.

Garrote watched her stop at a carpeting of vines and white flowers. She seemed to react to the device she was holding. He saw her take a photo, then type something into her phone. She swept her eyes across the landscape and landed on the footbridge. Garrote followed her gaze to the footbridge where Lucas stood. Lucas looked up from his phone, squinted and shouted something. Then Lucas waved and started crossing the footbridge. He was headed for the west side of the ravine, the side Garrote and Georgia were on. Garrote looked back at Georgia, who crouched down. The flowering vines blocked her, except for her blond head. The spit-bubble clinging to the side of Garrote’s mouth finally burst.

Garrote moved up the gully and traversed the hillside. He pulled a slingshot and a plastic bag from his backpack. The water balloons inside the bag were filled with a mix of egg yolks, chicken livers, vinegar, milk and grass clippings. The homemade stink-bombs smelled like rotting flesh when they exploded. Garrote placed the pillar between himself and the couple. He loaded, aimed skyward and fired. The balloon arced through the air and burst softly in the brambles.

“Did you hear that?” Georgia asked.

“No,” Lucas said. “What?”

“I heard something over there.” She pointed to the pillar.

“Probably the bird killer.” he said. “Now you’re worried?”

“I’m not worried, I just heard something,” she said.

“Yecch. What’s that smell?” Lucas gagged.

“Oh, God, that’s fucking awful.” Georgia squeezed her nose shut. “It’s a good sign though.”

“Another signal?” he asked.

“Could be. Could be coming from the creek, though,” she said. “Smelled pretty bad when I crossed over.”

“But you got a reading here,” he said.

“Yeah, and it’s definitely a different smell,” she said. “God it’s fucking bad. Let’s go get the stuff. It’ll be dark when we get back.”

“You sure you want to do this?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “There’s been enough signals, it’s worth a shot.”

“Okay. But I’m bringing Haley,” he said.

Georgia tilted her chin. “I wish you hadn’t named your gun.”

“C’mon,” he said. “It’s simple gun-ownership.”

Georgia let out her breath. “Whatever. I’m just glad you know how to use it.”

“Course I do.” He pulled her close and kissed her.

“Mmmph,” she said. “Babe. Not here, it smells like shit.”

Lucas laughed. “Alright.”

“Let’s go,” she said, starting back to the car.

When Lucas and Georgia came back, the daylight was gone from the sky. They wore black hoodies and backpacks filled with equipment. Georgia said it was best to stay unseen to preserve contact points, so they only turned their headlamps on when the trail was steep. Besides, they didn’t want to attract any human attention.

Garrote watched them drop out of sight at the edge of the road. Once or twice he could see one of their lights flash in the darkness, but otherwise he guessed at their location. He only saw them on the footbridge because they were moving, which meant Garrote was hidden when he kept still. The moon was yet to rise and from where Garrote could see, the two dark figures seemed to float across the footbridge. He could see they were heading back to the flower patch by the pillar, and this time Garrote took a closer position. While Lucas and Georgia were gone, he’d hidden two wireless speakers in the brush. He got out two phones, connected to the speakers.

Lucas and Georgia came to the pillar, then found the white flowers again. “I looked it up.” Georgia whispered. “It’s wild clematis.”

Wild Clematis

“They’re beautiful,” Lucas said, watching the petals shake in the wind. “I think I saw some earlier, but not so many — not like this.”

They laid out a blanket and sat down. Seven cycles of breath in unison. Then Georgia set up the infrared camera and Lucas turned on a motion and heat transfer sensor. A sudden temperature drop would trigger the camera to record. They worked in silence, nodding to each other when they finished. Lucas opened his backpack and got out some candles. He placed them in the shape of a pentagram around Georgia, pushing a stick of frankincense into the top of each candle. A few more cycles of breath and he lit the candles and incense.

Meanwhile, Georgia took out a sturdy wooden case. She ran her hands across the top, carved with Latin and Wiccan characters and the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in the top corners. Georgia lifted the lid. Inside the case was her best equipment. Each device was tucked into its own cut-out pocket. Black rubber lining made a waterproof seal at the edges. She took out an Ovilus V, which converted electromagnetic flux into words. Then she fished out the photos she’d collected. Some of the jumpers were easy to find, others she’d had to pull from the Star-News archive. Finally, she took out an audio recorder and pressed record.

Garrote watched them start chanting. It sounded like a foreign tongue. Lucas hummed a steady, low tone while Georgia incanted. Garrote was distracted at first — he’d never seen a seance. But he found his focus again and pressed play on one of his phones. The speaker made a screeching noise. Georgia’s eyes popped open and Lucas whipped around.

“What was that?” he asked.

“Just an animal,” Georgia said, holding her back perfectly straight. Her eyes were open, but unfocused in the swimming shadows of flowers and vines.

“Should I check it out?” he asked.

“It’s fine,” she said, closing her eyes again.

Lucas pulled a bundle of herbs from his backpack. He lit the bundle and circled Georgia, drawing loops in the air with the smoke. He was humming in his lowest register, breathing in through his nose as he pressed the air out with his cheeks. His circular breath kept the noise continuous.

Garrote switched phones and played a new noise — this time a low growl, like a territorial animal. It came from the other speaker, fifty yards southwest of the patch of clematis.

“That was definitely something,” Lucas said, squinting into the dark.

Georgia exhaled for a long time, eyes fluttering. “We just started. Stay focused.”

“Alright.” Lucas made another full circle, still humming. Then he brought out a steel crucible. He placed the crucible on its stand and pulled out a few bottles of oil, squeezing two drops from each into the basin. He sprinkled herbs from a felt bag and poured in a yellow fluid. He placed a tin of canned heat below the crucible and lit it. A trail of black smoke rose from the simmering oil. Using tweezers, he dropped in a tiny eyeball from a glass vial.

Garrote played the first speaker again. It was the same noise as before but with more distortion. Georgia opened her eyes and Lucas thought he saw a shadow cross her face, but it might’ve been the smoke rising between them. “Go,” she commanded. “Go see what it is.” Her voice was a pitch lower than usual — gravelly. He knew it well from her trances.

“I can’t leave you here,” he said.

“You need to go, now,” she said. “I need to be… Just go. Whatever’s making that noise, it’s getting in the way.”

But how could he leave her here? If it was an animal he could scare it off and come back, but what if it was something else? Georgia had showed Lucas how to believe in things he never thought he would, and for that he was grateful. But her talents had become so advanced, so quickly, that Lucas knew she might end up in a place where he couldn’t protect her. Yet everything they had was built on trust, the same trust she needed now to make contact. He could see she was close, and she needed to go the rest of the way on her own. Lucas sighed. If he left her alone awhile, he could do another bump…

“Are you sure?” Lucas asked. Georgia kept silent. He pulled Haley, his Glock 9mm from his back waistband. He checked to see that the magazine was loaded, then set it down on the lid of her equipment case. Georgia looked up at him, then at the gun. She nodded. Lucas held her gaze until she closed her eyes again. Then he backed away into the shadows.

Once Lucas left, the only sound was the far-off freeway traffic. Parting the branches, Garrote looked for a well-hidden path to Georgia. He kept a hand on his tool belt as he picked his way through the brier patch, fingering the rope and zip ties which dangled there. He felt the weight of his .45 Ruger slung in its holster.

He was twenty-five yards away when the air thickened. He was moving his arms and legs through it like he was learning to swim. All of a sudden he remembered the feeling — like the air was salt water. He’d felt it the last time at the old infirmary — pulled closer to Georgia and pushed away at the same time. If she was a black hole, he needed to cross her event horizon. He waded through the grass and trees and there she was, completely unaware. Alone.

Night with Moon

He could almost feel her throat, his hand wrapped around it. He could almost feel her lips against his palm, her cheekbones, and the perfect line of teeth beneath her lips. Her kicks, her whipping arms would be useless once he tied her hands. The soupy air was thinning, every step shallower. He was crossing over. The candlelight danced on her skin when the gust came. The wind was so strong that he turned around, but then the air was still. He looked to see if something was dripping on him, something to account for the chill that had prickled the back of his neck. But there was nothing there, nothing but the light-polluted sky.

Creaking branches all around. Garrote smelled decay. Like a rotten, wooden floor — no, a crawlspace. Pain spiked behind his eyes, then pulsed in his temples. His termite-infested, childhood home came flashing back. His stepfather’s ruddy face grimaced as he pointed a flashlight into the piles of termite nests beneath the house. The wind came again. Hot, dry, in front of him now. It was like one of those musty drafts that riffled through the crawlspace, smelling of moth-eaten curtains and mildew. His throat suddenly felt like it was coated in toxic powder. He lurched, catching a cough before it escaped.

Making a noise would ruin him, so Garrote lay down on the slope and buried his face in his jacket. Each breath he took was like a drag from a fiberglass cigarette, and each cough he suppressed was a nail bomb bursting in his lungs. The jacket wasn’t enough. He pressed his face into the soil. His throat smoldered, flaking off into smoke clouds in his belly. The grass was wet, and he inhaled the earthy vapors, the air cooling his throat enough to crawl away. But he couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of him. Black spots filled in his periphery, his vision tunneled. Spitting out bits of dirt, he pulled himself onto a fallen tree. He heard a voice behind him.

“Garry…” the voice said.

The trees, groaning in the wind? But it came again.

“Garry…” it hissed.

He knew the voice but he couldn’t place it.

“Garry… you little piss-pot,” it said. The voice rattled between consonants, like an anchor being lifted on a chain. He knew it now. It was a woman’s voice. A woman he tried not to think of. A woman he hated. His mother.

“Garry…” His mother’s voice, unmistakably. Louder, closer, just over his shoulder.

He whirled around, lost his balance, and spilled over the tree. The ground and the sky spun around him, then his foot snagged and the voice broke off. The tendon stretched from heel to calf until it popped. At first he couldn’t feel his foot at all, like it was severed, expecting to keep tumbling down with a stump on the right side. But then the pain replaced the shock — shattered its way up from his toes to his waist, like his leg was made of glass.

His foot was glued to the spot where his ankle had twisted back, and he bit down on his forearm to keep from screaming. His toe pointed up the hill, his knee pointed down. He squirmed around to realign his leg, the snapped ligaments in his ankle like overcooked spaghetti. Gritting his teeth and leaning uphill, he tried to free his foot. No good. He tried to yank his knee up. Nothing. But then his foot came loose like a magnet losing its charge, like it was never stuck at all. His knee smashed into his face and he bit his tongue. His mouth filled with the taste of hot copper. Then he was falling again. Thorns shredded his skin until the back of his head collided with something solid.

The voice whispered again, diaphanous. “Get… under there…” But he barely heard it before the wind swept it away, whipping at his face again and rushing down the gully. All along the ravine the branches swayed.

Garrote reached down to touch his ankle. The pain drove all the way to the bone like a long needle. He got to his feet and put his weight on the good leg — the left one. For a moment there was only a dull throbbing. But then, that explosive, glass-shattering pain came rushing back. He fell to his knees and crawled through the serrated leaves and clinging barbs, searching for something to use for a cane. He pulled at a tree root but it wouldn’t budge. Finally a branch came loose.

Garrote had forgotten about Georgia. Only thing now was to get to the road. Down… down, he thought. Over the creek. Then back up to the car. But every step across the rocky creek bed was like an icepick, hammering itself deeper and deeper into his ankle. And his bones felt brittle as he hit the slope on the other side. He dropped the cane and started to drag himself on all-fours, scraping and pulling at loose roots and bunch grass. He slid down a foot for every two or three he scrambled up, but he finally got to the ledge below the road.

Garrote heaved himself over the stone wall between the ravine and the road, and crawled across the street to Georgia’s car, tiny pebbles sticking to his palms. When he got there, he snapped on a GPS tracker under the wheel well. Later, he sat in a gas station parking lot, icing his ankle. He sipped from a bottle of Old Crow and chewed his lips, waiting for his rational mind to smother his fear.

Whatever it was had run off. Lucas first heard something hacking, or else the mating call of a nocturnal animal. Then a crashing in the bushes, and later, light rustling down by the creek bed. Going to these haunted places, Lucas had never been truly scared, but something about tonight was different. He and Georgia had usually been in houses or on tours with other people. Even the last time, at the old infirmary, there was some murky sense of security he couldn’t explain. Whatever it was, he certainly didn’t feel it now. Maybe Georgia was right — there might be something here, something not so human under the bridge. The breeze came and he shivered. He dipped his little spoon in his little bag, had a bump, and closed his eyes. As he shambled back to the pentagram he started to feel better.

His relief to see Georgia turned to concern. She was speaking, but not to herself. Her eyes were fixed on someone or something Lucas couldn’t see. He sat down beside her and placed a hand on her thigh, letting her know she wasn’t alone without breaking her focus. Now and then she glanced down at the Ovilus V. Words glimmered on the monitor, replacing themselves with new words almost as soon as they appeared. “Danger, follow, danger, away, stay, soon, stay, home, follow,” the monitor said. Lucas looked up at Georgia, who only seemed more captivated. The drugs were wearing off, and his nerves were creeping up again, slowing climbing the steps from the catacombs of his mind, when suddenly Georgia spoke.

“Show me,” she said, jerking her chin upward. Lucas held the back of her head, worried by the speed with which her neck moved. Georgia sometimes suffered neck pain after contact. It was gone after a few days, but risking injury for all of this didn’t seem right. When had it become more than a hobby? Although he was invested now, it’d always been Georgia’s thing first. He wondered if she still wanted a normal life.

Georgia bounced to her feet. She moved her head stiffly, like a wind-up toy, towards the nearest bridge-support pillar. Looking up at the great concrete arch crossing the creek bed, she said, “Show me,” again, then made for the pillar without looking down at her feet. Lucas took hold of her elbows and started to stagger madly, doing his best to keep Georgia upright as they trampled through the brush.

Georgia circled the pillar while Lucas lit the way with his headlamp. He tried to turn on Georgia’s headlamp but she swiped his hand away. He wondered how she could see anything as she stared up into the shadowy belly of the bridge.

“There…” Georgia said. “Okay, ready.”

All around them, the dim light on the trees grew more reflective. Lucas looked up. The stars were like holes in a moth-eaten blanket of sky. He’d forgotten the moon, but it must have risen when he didn’t notice. Now its pallid face emerged from a cloud.

Full Moon Emerging

“Turn off the light,” Georgia said.

He switched off his headlamp. Was the light on the trees really getting brighter or was it his eyes adjusting? Lucas followed her gaze, where high upon the pillar a wash of light fell. Looking for the source of the light, he looked down at the creek bed. There was a bright glare, where perhaps a shard of mirror was stuck in the silt, beaming the moonlight back upon the pillar.

When Lucas looked up again, a woman was floating at the top of the bridge. Or was it a play of light? No, she was truly there, swaying impossibly, her white dress blowing upwards. She was gone in an instant, but her bright, flowing dress against the dark sky behind her was burned onto his retinas. He looked just to the right of where she’d been. He gripped Georgia’s hand as he read what was written there, shimmering on the pillar in a silvery scrawl. “Peril,” it said, then disappeared when he blinked, along with the afterimage of the woman’s white dress.

“Garry,” Georgia whispered.

“What?” Lucas said, turning toward her, holding both her hands and wishing she would look down. Would she ever take her eyes away?

Georgia collapsed, and Lucas nearly slipped as he lowered her to the ground. He told her everything was okay and settled her head into his lap. Her eyelids quivered then opened as she looked up at him.

“Georgia. Hey. Babe,” Lucas said.

“Wh-where… I can’t remember,” she said. “What did I just say?”

“You said Garry,” Lucas said.

“No,” she said. “No, it’s… Susan.”

“Susan? Georgie… No, you said Garry. Who’s Garry?” He asked.

“She, she’s the one I told you about… she…” Georgia trailed off but then looked around like she remembered where she was.

“But who’s Garry?” Lucas repeated.

“I don’t… remember,” she said. “Susan…”

“Ok babe. It’s okay, tell me about Susan… You’re okay,” he said. “I’m right here.”

“Susan… she jumped off. With her daughter…” Her eyes flicked up to the bridge. “Cassie. But she doesn’t know… she… Cassie…” she said, her voice dry and raspy.

Lucas had a little canteen in his sling pouch. He held it to her lips. She drank fervently and began again.

“She… she said I was in danger. She… said there was a man… was trying to hurt me. Not you… another man and she showed me his face. With a… with bloody, yellow teeth and scars on his cheeks… and black, oily black hair… Black — deep black eyes.”

It crossed Lucas’s mind that the man with yellow teeth might be Garry, the name Georgia had said first, but couldn’t remember now. But he pushed the thought from his mind. “You’re okay, Georgie,” he told her. “Don’t worry. No one’s coming after you.”

“I know, I know. I don’t know… if I should believe her. But either way we have to find her daughter and bring her back. She’s trapped. She can’t move on until Cassie forgives her. Look—” She pointed back to the patch of white flowers. “The clematis is where Cassie fell.”

Suddenly Lucas remembered the story Georgia had told him. It was one of the reasons Georgia was dying to come here. Twenty-three years ago, Susan Drake threw her three-year old daughter, Cassie, off the bridge then jumped off herself. Susan died when she hit the ground but Cassie survived. Her fall was broken by a divine assortment of tree branches. Susan’s motivation was still a mystery, although it was rumored her husband, Norman Drake, had something to do with it.

Lucas frowned a little. “We don’t know what happened for sure.”

Georgia’s eyes narrowed and she sat up. “Maybe we don’t know everything. But we know that Cassie survived. Susan has no idea. She died instantly, even as Cassie crawled toward her. Imagine you lived forever. Smelling this… fucking place every single day. Being alone every night. Lucas… she’s stuck until we help her. Think about being here always. Not alive… not really dead. Never being able to leave.”

“But—” he said.

She cut him off. “I went to C-SUN with a girl named Cassie Drake. Everyone said her mom committed suicide, but never any details. Why was I able to speak to Susan? It’s because I knew Cassie. We need to go find her. We need to see if it’s the same girl.”

Lucas gazed into Georgia’s eyes. They were lit with a familiar passion, the unshakable audacity to help others at all costs. The look he’d fallen in love with.

“Okay,” he said. “Let’s go and see.”

As they crossed over the creek bed, Lucas looked back at the bridge where the message had appeared. There seemed to be some kind of graffiti up there, written in silver paint. But if it was legible, they were too far away to read it. And how would anyone have gotten a tag up so high? He turned back to the trail. They’d come to a set of stairs, chalk-white in the fading moonlight. The clouds had returned. He took Georgia’s hand and when they reached the landing he looked back again. But he could no longer see where the ghost had been.

To be continued in next month’s issue…

You can read Part 2 of the story here.

1 comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *