As I left, I told her and the DJs I was going to write up a short story in honor of them about what Kina had told me. Below is an excerpt from my December 1, 2004 query letter to George Seithers, of Weird Tales (no, it didn’t get picked up) that details what Kina had told me:
Enclosed is “Red Hands,” a ghost story inspired by real events. I was interviewed on a local radio station, 95.1 The Peak, and the News Director had told a ghost story about seeing huge red hands come out of her bedroom walls (now I know why she gave me such a hard time about shaking my hand!) above her bed when she was a child in South Central Los Angeles. It apparently happened nearly every night, she says, so she used to sleep with her mother. Her grandmother felt that there was “something else” living there with them, but her mother never thought anything of it.
I wrote this fictional adult story using the real names of all involved (they’re all public figures, in radio, and I set it around my real interview with them). I didn’t know the whole story until after I’d written this.
The on-air staff said I could use their names, so, I’ve left their names in the story. But, while most of the names are real, some are not. I’ve tried to make contact with them “today,” but so far no luck.
This story has never been published.
© F. P. Dorchak, 2004
Kina Foster awoke screaming out her lungs as she leapt out of bed, blundered through her bed sheets and blankets, bounced off her bedroom wall, clipped her left elbow along the edge of her upright dresser, and flung herself out into the hallway, where she broke a nail madly scrambling for the light switch. She spun around as she began her collapse to the floor, several feet farther down the hallway at the top of the stairs. The only thing that kept her from tumbling headlong down those stairs was having whacked her head a good one on the edge of the stair’s handrail.
Dazed, she sat on the floor. Opened her eyes wide…and shook her head.
Kina sat back against the wall, inhaling huge gulps of air and groaning. She cradled her hurt elbow into her body and examined the broken and bleeding nail. She then winced as she closed her eyes and leaned her head all the way back to the wall. Reaching for the head wound, she grimaced. A tear trickled down her cheek and she began to sob.
But her throat was sore…
As if she’d been screaming.
Sniffling loudly, she opened her eyes and stared at the entrance into her bedroom.
What had just caused her to leap out of bed in a blind rage and end up a puddle of mush in her hallway?
She grabbed the handrail. Using it like an anchor, she tried—desperately—to recall…
Dreams. Blinding, horrific imagery she found hard to decipher. Screams, oh, God, the screams! Kina let go of the rail and slammed both hands to her ears.
She could still hear the screams!
And something had come to her…for her…followed her….
If something had followed her…would it stood to reason that it might still be in there?
Kina cautiously pushed herself up off the floor. She scanned the hallway for a weapon. She was across from the bathroom and looked in to the shower. The shower curtain hung part way open on its shower rod. One of those removable wooden poles that pressed against the walls with spring-loaded friction.
Kina shot to her feet and grabbed the shower-curtain pole, tearing it from the walls. Frantically, she knocked off the rubber cup on one end, and hastily pushed off the shower curtain. The pole was strong and solid. Stuck for years in its position, it didn’t compress or come apart. The longer the better.
Did she really believe something had followed her back from a dream? No. But she had to go back in there sometime…and to be forearmed was forewarned. Composing herself…and her new lance held forcibly out before her…Kina left the bathroom for the bedroom.
She flicked on the light switch as she entered it.
Images continued to fly through her mind, but she still couldn’t make out anything. The only thing she could grab and hold onto was an intense and acute sense of fear, pain, and dread that still had a hold over her. She coughed—her throat indeed sore—and glanced at her clock, which read just a little after two in the morning. And the late October winds were howling it up outside her windows. Pole tentatively held out before her, she slowly advanced toward her bed. She whipped to the right as she passed the door.
Turning back to her bed, she examined the rumpled and pulled-back blankets and bed sheet. Poked at them with her lance.
Crouched and looked under the bed.
Additional nothings…but, just to make sure, she swiped the pole back and forth under the bed. Just dust bunnies, loose change, and a lost black sock she’d been looking for for almost six months. Back to her feet, Kina went to her closet and pushed open its folding accordion doors with the stick. Jabbed in and about her clothes.
Kina stepped back and lowered her pole. Let out a strained chuckle.
“Good, Lord, it was only a dream.”
She went back out into the hallway and turned off the hallway light, still uttering the occasional nervous chuckle. When she reentered her bedroom, she stood in the middle of it listening to the high winds outside.
Late October…high winds…two-thirteen in the morning…and Hallowe’en in a couple days.
Yeah, no issues there.
Kina went to turn off the bedroom lights, when—quick as lightening—two hands thrust out at her from the wall…two red hands attached to red forearms.
Kina jerked backward, tripping over her feet, and slammed into the upright dresser, knocking it back against the wall with a load crack!
The red hands again thrust out after her, this time up from the floor at her feet.
Screaming and scrambling her feet under her in that pathetically cartoon-like manner, she finally gripped the hardwood floors and swung her pole wildly about her, smashing an antique picture up on the wall behind the upright dresser (that her mother had given her), her jewelry armoire to her left, and totaling her hanging bedroom light fixture above. This, unfortunately, popped her lance apart, shortening it by half, and sending the years-compressed spring ricocheting off a wall and onto the hardwood floor out of view.
Kina backed up against another wall—but the hands again found her, shooting out of the wall around her.
Once again crazy with fear, Kina swung what remained of the bathroom lance-now-baton directly at the spot on the wall from which the red hands had emerged. They were now gone, but that didn’t stop her from gouging out a good-sized chunk of wallpaper and wallboard.
She backed up to her doorway, when the hands again jut out for her. Kina swung her weapon and this time connected with her other dresser’s mirror, obliterating.
“Come on, you son-of-a-bitch! Show yourself, whatever you are! Come on!”
She got back to her feet and angrily swung at walls and the bedroom, which was one of those cheap, hollow things. Her stick stuck in the door , and unable to pull free, she viciously kicked—slipped—and knocked herself out as she connected with the floor….
Kina entered her office at KRDO’s 95.1 (“The Peak”) radio station. She dropped her purse and bags on the floor, then dropped herself into her chair. Sucking on a throat lozenge, she coughed. Her throat was still raw. Shawnee, one of the D.J.s, poked her head into her office.
“You okay, hon?”
Kina barely looked up. Her back was to the door, but she glanced into the review mirror to the left of her computer.
“No…,” she said, her voice squeaking.
“What happened to your voice?” Shawnee asked, entering her office. “We heard you’d had some kind of accident.”
Kina again coughed.
“I had a really, really, really bad dream last night and screamed my head off. Ended up banging my elbow, breaking a nail,” she said in a half-whisper, displaying her wounds, “then smacked my head up real good.”
Kina lightly touched the bump on her noggin.
“Damn, girl, must’ve been some dream,” Shawnee said, trying not to laugh, but smiling broadly.
“Doctor said I’ll live…but I wondered if she’d been the right one for me….”
Shawnee let out a good laugh. She came in farther and leaned against the edge of Kina’s L-shaped desk, right up alongside her as she intently eyed her. She placed a concerned hand to Kina’s back, and said, “Anything you wanna talk about?”
Kina shook her head. “No…just wanna forget about it all. Get back into my every day routine, you know? I don’t really remember anything about it, anyway,” Kina said, lying.
“Nothing? With all those war wounds?” Shawnee said, casually picking away at a stray piece of Kina’s hair.
Kina shook her head.
“Okay. Well…if you need anything, just let me know.” Shawnee again placed a concerned hand to Kina, then left.
Kina stared out her window.
What the hell had happened?
It had to have been a dream, right? Things like this just didn’t happen in real life. That’s Freddy Kruger talk and Freddy’s only a dream—a nightmare—a movie, damn it, a movie. She got herself so worked up and spooked she didn’t know which way was up.
Kina logged in on her computer and began to immerse herself into her work day. Jan Carter had already stood in for her while she’d been to the Emergency Room. Time to get back into her everyday routine….
“…seven-fifty-seven, Steve Ryan, Dave Moore—and Kina, we’re sorry to say that we have some scary news for ya. We have author F. P. Dorchak, here in the studio with us,” Steve Ryan, of the Peak Morning Show said on-air to Kina.
“My door is closed,” Kina roughly replied back into her mike from her office, “and it’s barricaded!”
Steve and Dave chuckled.
“We’re going to talk about the paranormal and ghosts,” Steve Ryan continued, “and, ah, how they interrupt our daily life and the whole deal, so, ah, I don’t know—you better just, ah, keep that door shut—”
“You know, I work with you two, so I just don’t know how much stranger normal life can get…,” Kina said, laughing.
Oh, but she did.
She hadn’t been able to not think about the events of the early morning. And now add to it that the station was doing a whole week of “weird stuff” …ghost stories…astrologers…psychics.
Now, who was this new guy? An author who wrote paranormal fiction? What was the attraction to this stuff?
She’d never been big on it…well, perhaps more to the point was that she had never been big on it, because she’d always been afraid of it. Ever since she’d been a little girl and her parents had told her about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and that darned headless horseman, she’d never been able to get into anything spooky. Now, she had no choice…she’d awoken this morning to her own personal Freddy Kruger reaching out to her—her—and this wasn’t a movie and it hadn’t been a dream—but it had to of been, right?
Crap like this just didn’t happen outside the movies and books! It just didn’t…it’s like what that guy in there right now does, it’s all made up—fiction.
What had happened to her had to have been a delayed hypnagogic reaction or something…a delayed dream thing…still groggy with one foot in dreamland.
She needed to use the ladies room.
Kina got up, then realized she had to walk past Mr. Paranormal in there talking with Steve and Dave. Maybe she’d just take a quick peek in at the guy….
Kina quietly came up to the studio doorway, and looked in at him. He looked normal enough…short cut, brown hair, even sported an Hawai’ian shirt. A black Hawai’ian shirt, but still. He didn’t look like she’d imagined him to be at all.
He turned to her.
Smiling, Mr. Paranormal got up and made his way toward her, hand held out…and that was when she lost it.
All Kina could see was a red hand.
Those red hands.
Kina barely made it into the bathroom stalls before she lost her Danish and tea….
Kina did about all she could to stay as late at work as possible, but when Jan Carter left it was time to go. Jan showed up at Kina’s doorway, with her ever-present cheery tone.
“Hey-ah, girl, how ya doin?”
“I don’t want to go home.”
“Well, let’s talk about it, huh?”
“I don’t want to. I’ve decided I’m never going to sleep again.”
Jan laughed. “Oh, come on, be a big girl. It can’t have been that bad. Everyone’s been talking about it, but no one seems to know—what happened?”
Kina sighed and cleared her throat. Her voice was feeling decidedly better, but was still rough.
“I had a really bad dream is all—and it’s embarrassing. I kinda…um…messed up my bedroom, I was so scared.”
“How do you mean ‘messed up your bedroom’—you didn’t —”
“Nooo…I, cmm, kinda, um…beat up the walls.”
“No way!” Jan said, laughing.
Kina shrugged her shoulders, giving Jan an “oops” look.
“What brought that on?”
“I had some kind of a nightmare I can’t remember any more. But I do remember how I felt…I was extremely terrified. More terrified than I could have ever imagined. I was so scared it hurt. I felt sure I was going to have an aneurism. I’m not exaggerating.”
Jan went serious. “Anything else?”
“You’re gonna laugh.”
“I saw…in my bedroom, I saw…cmmm…red hands.”
“Red hands? Just hands?”
Kina nodded. “They shot out of the wall at me like this—” she said, and thrust her arms toward Jan—who took a step back.
“Oh, my gosh—that’d scared the bejesus out of me!”
“Well, I woke up screaming—I mean I was screaming my lungs out. My throat’s still sore, as you can tell. I didn’t—and still don’t—remember the dream…just that I was terrified. Once I calmed down I went and got a pole—you know, that bathroom rod that holds up shower curtains?”
“I got that, went back in…checked under and around everything, but didn’t find anything.”
“Of course. That’s how it always works in horror movies—”
“Jan—you’re not helping!”
“I checked everything out and found nothing. So, I go to turn off the light switch and go to bed—when…when they jump out at me. The hands—glowing red hands—from the walls. Shoot right out of the wall in front of me! Scared the you-know-what out of me!”
“Kina, darling are you sure—”
“Was it a figment of my imagination? I’m not sure of anything, anymore. When that guy, that-that author—Mr. Paranormal, or whatever his name was—was in earlier, I took a look at him. He looked normal enough, but when he got up to shake my hand…I saw them, again. Those red hands coming at me—”
“Oh, now, honey, you know that all that is is all this Hallowe’en hooey going on this month. That’s all it is. It’s that time of the year when we all get just a little more spooked than normal—”
“This was different, Jan, I tell you. Whether or not that guy’s hands really were red, what I saw in my bedroom last night was real—in some way. In some way, I can’t yet figure out. There’s just something about it. A feeling I got.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, toward the end, I got angry. I mean, really pissed. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t scared any more, and I wasn’t…wasn’t angry at the hands, I realized later, once I thought about it…I was mad at something else…something about the hands.”
“Any idea what?”
Kina vigorously shook her head. “No idea. I just know I don’t want to go back in there. Alone, anyway.”
“I’ll go with ya, girlfren.”
Kina looked up. “Would you?”
“Yeah-ah. And I tell ya what, we’ll just go back there to face whatever it was that happened, then you can stay at my place tonight—or for as long as you need—how’s that?”
Kina smiled, choking back tears.
Kina entered her home first, Jan right behind her.
“Well, things certainly look normal enough,” Jan said, unzipping her jacket.
“But isn’t what you really want to say is that that’s how it always is on Elm Street?” Kina said, removing her jacket.
“My bedroom’s up that landing, then to the rear of the hallway, on the right.”
Jan walked ahead of Kina, then stopped. “Well, time’s awastin’. No time like the present,” she said, turning back to Kina and removing her jacket. “You ready to do this?”
“Then, let’s do it.”
The two walked up the handful of stairs onto the upper landing.
“Nice hardwood floors,” Jan said.
Jan stopped before the bathroom, peeking in. “And that must be where you found your lance-a-lot,” she said, smiling.
“Yeah…was kinda in a hurry, you know.”
“Sounded like a good choice, if you ask me!” she said, smiling.
They approached the bedroom.
“Holy cripes!” Jan exclaimed, entering it. “I guess you weren’t kidding when you said you messed up the place!”
It was worse than Kina remembered.
There was s stick impaling the bedroom door and the now-exposed light switch by the door was reduced to one tiny plastic shard that held on to the screw holding it onto the wall, the rest of it scattered on the floor. Large portions of wallboard and wallpaper hung off the wall and were also all over the floor. Her bedroom mirror was also gone, shards of glass everywhere, mixed in with the hanging light fixture she had also ripped from the ceiling.
“Must’ve been what I slipped on when I knocked myself cold,” Kina said, pointing to the glass all over the floor and rubbing her head. “Glad I didn’t cut myself up.”
“Yea-ah!” Jan said. “Man! Will ya look at this place!”
Two other walls were also torn up and had wallpaper hanging out like gaping war wounds. The broken antique picture frame and picture were also on the floor behind the upright dresser, which had gouged the hardwood floor and was tipped toward the wall, its two rear pine-wood legs neatly snapped off. As for the bathroom shower curtain rod, now popped apart into two pieces, one lay on the floor partially under the bed, the internal spring nearby, while the other part was still wedged into the hollow bedroom door.
Jan chuckled as she fingered but didn’t remove the stick in the door. “Well, I see you’re going to need some serious redecoration action, my friend.”
Kina shrugged embarrassed, coughing a couple rounds.
“And remind me never to wake you from a sound sleep!” Jan added. “Okay, so what happened here? Be specific.”
Kina went over to her bedside nightstand. As she began to relate the events, she found the dream images coming back.
“Well, I awoke, stark raving mad—as in crazy—and was screaming my lungs out. I jumped out of bed, here,” she said pointing, “and rammed my elbow into the edge of the dresser, here.” She suddenly remembered the wound and rubbed it. “Then I went out into the hallway, broke a nail, and collapsed. Grabbed the shower curtain rod and reentered.”
Kina walked past Jan, who turned to follow her narration.
“I came back in, searched the place, and found nothing —that’s always how it happens on The Nightmare on Elm Street. Then—also just like on Elm Street—the red hands thrust out at me—here—from the wall, just under the light switch,” Kina said, showing her.
She was initially reluctant to touch the wall, but she found new confidence coursing through her (confidence always strongest with others around). Though the memories and images no longer scared her, she did feel something strange about them. Like they were still out there. Still…needing?…her.
“That’s when I opened fire. Took out my room. The rest is history.”
“You’d said earlier that they followed you? Is that right?”
“Yeah,” Kina said, hedging, again walking past Jan for the broken upright dresser. “Over here, they came up out of the floor at me.” Renewed confidence or not, she avoided the spot on the floor where the hands had materialized up out of the floor. “Then, over there, out of the wall. Then back out over there,” she said, pointing back to the wall near the light switch. “Then the mirror.”
“Well, do you feel anything now? Any, I don’t know—tingling sensations, or whatever it is you’re supposed to feel in real-life horror movie situations like this?”
“No…well, I do kinda feel like they’re still…‘out there,’ in some way, but perhaps the strangest thing is that I no longer feel scared. Can’t explain it.”
“Did you catch much of that paranormal author’s show today?”
Kina chuckled. “I know what you’re gonna say. That he feels that many ghosts out there aren’t really out to get us; that they’re actually just caught in-between worlds or something…what did he call them?”
“‘Lingering anxiety ghosts,’ or something,” Jan said.
“Right. Or could be—”
Kina stopped dead in her tracks.
“Oh, my God.”
Jan came to her. “What? What is it?”
“It just hit me.”
Kina pulled away from Jan but turned back to her, a look of surprise on her face.
Then Kina changed her mind and said nothing, and turned back to the wall, lifting her arms before her, palms up, as if mesmerized. She stared at the light switch wall by the door then slowly turned back to Jan, her arms and palms still upraised, a look of horror on her face and approached her. Jan backed up as Kina approached.
“Kina, honey, are you okay?”
Kina stopped just before her.
“Jan…it was something Steve and Paranormal Guy said…about how in the movies they always make the ghosts out to be bad or evil, always out to get everyone.”
“Yeah…honey, now you’re scaring me….”
“Well, they felt—Paranormal Guy felt—that they—ghosts—weren’t so much out to get us, as they were just trapped maybe, or confused. Maybe even dreaming back about their just-departed lives…”
“Dreaming? Do the dead dream?”
Kina just looked at her.
Jan continued, “Okay…and?”
“Jan, look at me. Look at me! What do I look like? What do I look like I need?”
Jan looked to Kina…really looked to her…how her arms—her hands—were held out before her.
“Oh, my G—”
“Help. I look like I need help, Jan, that’s what they look like.”
“Well, now, then, that would put a different spin on things, wouldn’t it? Good Lord, I have chicken skin all over me….”
“And I’d turned it away! I turned it away, Jan! Don’t you get it? I may have turned someone away who needed my help—reached out to me….”
“Yeah, but reached out to you from where, honey?” Jan said.
“Does it matter?”
Jan came to Kina and grabbed her by the arms. “Oh, honey, don’t worry about it—”
“But I have to! What have I done—because I was afraid? Had I hurt someone—ghost or not?”
“But you don’t know that? And it was just a dream.”
“But I feel this…something…right now. Right this minute. It’s still out there, he/she/it is…is still out there….”
The images did continue to fly around in her head…still screaming through her mind at light speed. Still, she was unable to make anything out. But she felt the red hands were still out there…still needing….
“Oh, my God, Jan…I think I might have done something very, very wrong…I’ve never felt this way before…I suddenly feel a little sick…”
“But what if…what if, I don’t know, you bring something evil here, into our world? Paranormal Guy didn’t talk about that—”
“No, not on-air, but I snuck up beside the door when they were talking off-air, him and Steve and Dave, and he said that he feels a lot of the evil stuff is actually confused energy coming from us…that there really isn’t any such thing as…how did he put it, ‘an inherent Devil’—”
“Well, that may be, but what kind of an expert is he? He writes fiction, for God’s sake…he’s no expert. And, really, who among us knows? What human has the be-all, end-all knowledge about the afterlife and is a hundred percent correct? What if—I don’t know—what if these confused spirits really can get nasty, like The Exorcist nasty, or something, and kick our asses? What then?”
Kina dropped her arms, a look of exhaustion falling over her face.
“Thanks for doing this, Jan,” Kina said, reaching for one of Jan’s hand. “I’m fine, now. Really.”
Jan cocked her head, skeptical. “Don’t you want to come with me, stay the night?”
Kina shook her head, confident in her decision. “No…I’m going to stay here, in my own bed. I’ll be fine.”
“You’re not planning on pulling in those hands, are you?”
“Another thing Paranormal Guy said was that ghosts are not physical…so I can’t very well do that, now can I? He said he didn’t believe what we saw were so much physical images as mental images we translate into a physical-like image. No—you go home, now, Jan, I really appreciate all you’ve done, you’re a good friend. I’m just mentally and spiritually exhausted. Thanks.”
“If I was a really good friend I wouldn’t leave you here and would protect you from your own bad self—”
“Fine. Then I’ll make us some dinner and you can sleep in my guest room….”
Kina was absolutely exhausted by the time they’d both cleaned up the bedroom’s mess. She made dinner, Jan made her calls, Kina put Jan up in the guest room and then made her way to her own bed. She looked forward to sleep….
Kina again awoke just a little after two a.m. to use the bathroom. The full moon shown in through her bathroom window and the wind still howled for a second night in a row. She stared at the moon and smiled as she sat on the toilet; closed her eyes.
If you’re out there and you need help, Kina thought, reaching out to the red hands, come back. I’m ready for you, now.
This time I’ll help you….
Kina washed her hands, then dried them…but as she turned to return to bed, she again had that weird feeling. She paused; felt a little bit of fear rising within, but just told herself to get over it—that there was no need to be afraid.
She knew—in her bones—there was nothing to be afraid of.
At least not in this instance. She told herself.
Yeah, Nightmare on Elm Street….
She knew what she would find before fully turning around.
She didn’t bother flicking on a light.
She saw them. Dark, glowing red hands, reaching down and out from above her bed…hands spaced about two feet apart, just short of the union of the wall and ceiling crease.
They just silently hung there. Not motionless, per se, but still…as if a person really were on the other side of them, reaching out to her.
And she wasn’t scared. Not in the least.
Cautiously, Kina approached them and came to stand beside her bed and the nightstand.
She looked up to them…then placed one foot onto her bed, and, grabbing the frame of the bed in support, pulled herself up. She faced the wall and looked up to the red hands. Spreading apart her feet on the bed…she lifted her hands…but stopped short of actually grabbing them.
They really were hands—and they really were red.
And it was really two-fifteen in the morning.
Kina looked toward her closed bedroom door, thinking about Jan Carter, snoring soundly away in the guest room. She smiled.
Then looked back to the hands. She closed her eyes then reopened them.
Bracing herself, Kina went for it and reached out to them.
She didn’t grab them—at least not physically, anyway—but did grab onto…something…because she was suddenly flooded with emotion that was like drinking though a raging fire hose. She tried to slow it down, but couldn’t. It wasn’t intentional, she didn’t think, by way of the emotion of the link she was now attached to overloaded her, but felt it was more like this ghost had so needed her…so needed her help—and yesterday—that it was like the opening of emotional flood gates and there was no turning it off. This…creature, this ghost…had a lot to download, and needed to do it as soon as possible. Needed her to be there…to help open those flood gates and let the emotion flow.
And there was something else….
Kina felt as if she was going to explode…her entire body felt as if it was spiritually and physically expanding…out to the ends of the universe—yet was simultaneously face-to-face with some invisible entity right before her face.
It was a feeling of expansive contraction…of swirling and spinning…of being there…standing on her bed yet also simultaneously being flung to the farthest reaches of the universe. And through all this, she was crying…unabashedly sobbing. Her entire being quaked with sorrow…pain!…there was intense pain in this spirit…anguish. Anguish she had never experienced before. Every synonym for pain and hurt filled her soul…and there was no shutting it off. Now, she was starting to get scared, but told herself to shut the hell up…there was so much more at stake here than her being a fraidy cat of the unknown….
Kina cried out…screamed in loving rage at where all this pain in this ghost was coming from. She reached out to it with intense, powerful thoughts of hope and peace and that this ghost needed to release itself from whatever horror it was experiencing.
It needed to move on!
That it was dead and there was nothing that need hold it to wherever it was. Whatever pain it was experiencing. It had to leave.
As if the emotion couldn’t get any stronger, it did…but this time Kina felt a difference to it…felt a change in conviction…a focusing. Kina poured more of herself into her link with the ghost…leave, she commanded, you can do it! I’m here to help…focus on me… explode away from wherever you are! Whatever is holding you back! Do it NOW!
There was a mentally bruising explosion of light in her mind and Kina experienced a singular burst of energy that felt like a supernova—
And it was over.
She collapsed to the bed, emotionally and spiritually spent. She looked up to where the red hands had been…but they were gone.
Kina closed her eyes and swallowed hard. Her mouth was really dry.
Kina shot upright. Looked around.
She leapt off the bed and turned on the bedside lamp.
No one. There was no one in the room with her—yet she’d distinctly heard the words “Thank you” spoken out loud.
She rushed to Jan’s room, but she was still sound asleep, snoring loudly though peacefully.
Who’d said that?
Kina chuckled, then returned to her bedroom.
She knew there was no one else in the house with them. Knew it hadn’t been Jan talking in her sleep, nor had it just been all in her head. She’d heard those two words clear as day, as loud as if someone had been standing shoulder to shoulder with her.
She had heard someone thank her, and she knew who that was, even if she didn’t know who it was.
She’d helped save a life. Ghost or otherwise.
Kina brushed off the bed sheets from where she’d been standing and got back into bed. The wind had even died down. She smiled and turned off the light.
“Good night,” she said, aloud, and rolled over and fell asleep.
She could have sworn she felt a light kiss brush her cheek….
December 13, 1967
A Siberian Gulag
A nameless, faceless prisoner lay strapped onto a rough-hewn board, various tubes and wires attached to numerous places on his scared, broken, tortured, and burned body. Both his legs had recently been broken, but he didn’t know what “recently” meant anymore. On all his limbs were open, infinitely painful, raw wounds from having been methodically and carefully burned. To his head were attached electrodes, and in his arms more tubes. His tongue had been removed. He hadn’t been allowed to sleep, hadn’t been allowed to dream, and had been kept as barely alive as possible through science and chemicals and ever-present torture.
But as totally controlled as his captors thought they were over him, there was one thing they couldn’t get under control with all their methods…
His ability to think what he wanted to think.
He was fine with losing his body—and if he could get free he had no qualms with slitting his own throat, or putting a couple well-placed bullets to his brain. But that was never going to be. He was their experiment and would die of old age, if they had their way.
So he had decided to reach out…reach out to whatever might be “out there”…whatever might have mercy on him and help him free himself from this hellish nightmare. What else had he? What had he to lose?
So he had.
And he had found someone.
A ghost? A figment of his imagination? He didn’t know and didn’t care. All he knew…was that he had—finally—put an end to his suffering and had willed his own freedom. Willed his own death. Freed himself with the help of someone or something, he didn’t know. All he knew, was that he was free…free to move on….
And he did.
But not before he thanked the woman who had braved her own fears and had helped set him free.
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