We found Daniel's obituary online as soon as we got back to the station, then spent a couple hours lurking on his social media pages. There hadn't been any activity in months—long before Daniel had died—but we were able to get a glimpse into enough of his life to help me find him. There were photos of him and Cassandra together, always smiling in that sickeningly cute way couples do at the beginning of a new relationship. He seemed to be a normal, happy young man—but then, that was the whole point of social media. If not for the things Kali had told us, I wouldn't have guessed they'd had problems.
After a while, I started to feel the connection as a vague tingle at my fingertips. It spread and grew stronger as we clicked through more photos, and soon, the tingle became an electric current coursing through my entire being. I just needed to focus it.
"I think that's enough," I said, turning away from the computer. I closed my eyes and visualized Daniel's face in my mind. The buzzing energy became a pull, and I followed it out of the station.
Jason barely had time to grab his gun and keys from the desk as he ran after me. "He's still here, then?"
I gave a curt nod, not wanting to break my concentration.
"Great. So where are we going?"
"I'm not sure yet. Just drive."
We got into the car and I gave Jason directions. They were very general at first. Drive south. Turn east. Keep going. As we got further into the city, the pull grew stronger. I closed my eyes and made Jason drive around the same block a few times until I was sure we'd found the right building. He knew better than to bother me when I was trying to track down a spirit, so he didn't say anything, and it wasn't until we got inside that I realized where we were. This was Cassandra's apartment building.
I no longer needed to rely on the connection to find Daniel. We hurried up the stairs to Cassandra's unit. The yellow police tape had been stripped from the entrance, and a mop in a bucket of sudsy gray water propped the door open. Jason pushed the door further and called out, "Hello?" When no one answered, we stepped inside together.
Another spirit stood in the center of the living room. His back was turned and he didn't seem to notice us until I spoke his name. "Daniel?"
"Yes?" he responded.
"We need to ask you a few questions," I told him.
Daniel turned. His dead eyes were hollow and bloodshot, his clothes disheveled, his dark hair in tangles. He wore an expression of amused frustration, like a hunter discovering that his quarry has outwitted him. Jason looked at me, and I knew that what we were seeing unnerved him. We had both seen countless spirits driven insane by the never-ending monotony of a lifeless existence. The crazed, animal look in Daniel's eyes was beyond any of that.
"You found out, didn't you?" Daniel's voice quivered on the thin line between control and madness. His mouth stretched into a mean, crooked grin that did nothing to reassure me of his sanity.
"Found what out?" asked Jason.
"What I did," Daniel said. "How I killed her."
How he killed her? The pieces clicked into place. "You were haunting her," I said. It happened sometimes when a person died. Most spirits still craved contact and interaction with their living loved ones, and some would hang around whether they were welcome or not. Based on what we'd learned in the past several hours, I wouldn't have put it past Daniel to disrespect Cassandra's boundaries. He could have tormented Cassandra in any number of ways since his own death. Perhaps that had driven her to kill herself; I'd heard of similar things happening before.
YOU ARE READING
The Dead LifeShort Story
Ruben Vasquez is an experienced homicide detective with a fervent dedication to solving even the most difficult crimes. There's just one problem: he's dead. In an alternate version of our world, the spirits of the dead have become visible to everyon...