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by on October 5, 2014

It is not an easy thing to investigate someone’s disappearance, but it’s exceptionally difficult when they never existed to begin with. Madeleine’s day had started with a call to a room where a woman, Pamela Percy, had stepped out a window and vanished into thin air. Pamela had been a famous television star. Only by the afternoon, no one remembered her show or her face. By that evening, all records of her existence had blipped out of the universe. Madeleine had gone back to the room. It was now occupied by an elderly retiree who’d sworn he hadn’t left it in five years. Madeleine checked with the building super to confirm. She had spoken with him that very morning, along with the police. Now he had no memory of her or her law enforcement associates.

Madeleine pondered the case on her drive home. She could’ve flown, but at that hour the sun would’ve been in her eyes, and she hated that. She also hated time things, and this was definitely a time thing. Someone had tinkered with the blasted continuum, and wiped poor Pamela from existence. But why? Who had she ticked off? Madeleine started to wonder how, if Pamela had never existed, she could have upset someone enough to cause her non-existence, but then she decided emphatically that she was not going down that route. That was exactly why she hated time things. So, as the empty countryside flew by past her window, she pushed the case from her mind and turned on some music.

An old wooden sign came up in the beams of her headlights. She didn’t bother reading it; she had seen that sign every night for the past three years working Edison City. It hadn’t changed. It advertised that the suburb ahead of her had was home of the state basketball champion of ’63. The suburb was many years past its glory days, and the basketball team had never made it back to the heights, but the sign hung on. Madeleine barely glanced at it as she went by. Then she slammed on her brakes and skidded to the side of the road. Pamela Percy was standing right next to that sign.

Madeleine leaped from her car and dashed up to her missing person. “Where’ve you been?” she demanded. “And what happened-”  Then she noticed that Pamela was transparent.

“Ooooooo,” Pamela wailed enthusiastically at her. “I am the spirit of Pamela Percy, come from beyond the grave to-”

“Knock it off,” Madeleine said. She didn’t have much patience with ghosts. They were far too melodramatic for her taste. “Right. How’d you die, and how come no one remembers you?”

The ghost looked wounded.  “No one? At all? But.. my ratings… my show…. I worked so hard.”

“Sorry. But you don’t exist anymore. You’ve just gone from the time stream. At least I thought you had. Guess something stuck around.”

Pamela sighed ghostily. “Great. I get erased from time, I’m dead, and for a haunt I’m stuck with a little patch of road way out in the boonies. And no one even remembers my show! It’s so not fair!”

Life’s not fair, Pamela,” Madeleine said. “Look at me. I get superpowers, right? The usual thing. Squished a radioactive bug, genes went wrong, chemical accident, whatever. But do I get the cool powers? No. I get your basic flying brick combo. And I can burp fire.”

Pamela snickered. “You’re Gaseous Girl? Armpits of Armageddon? That was, like, hilarious.”

“Laugh it up, ghostie. At least I exist.”

The poor spirit’s laughter dissolved into tears. Madeleine felt a tad guilty. “Look,” she said, not unkindly, “I’ll figure out who erased you, and try to get you back. No promises. Best I can do. Okay?”

“Okay,” Pamela sniffled, wiping her transparent eyes with an ethereal tissue.

Just once, Madeleine wished she could take a normal client. A plain old murder. A missing cat. Anything. Just once.

This story was written for the inaugural writing challenge by Suzanne of Apopletic Apostrophes, posted at her new writing site. I figured I would join the party. Also, since I’m inordinately fond of story arcs, this one relates back to Disappearance. I did try to make it reasonably self-contained, though.

  1. As always, very entertaining! I love the interaction between the ghost and Madeleine, and how the ghost mocked her. Too funny 🙂

  2. A missing cat? I like the way your mind works. I remember Disappearance and I enjoyed it. This is a fine sequel.

  3. So do all your fabulous characters ever come together in one place? Or is that just wishful thinking on my part? Yet another wonderful read!

    • Some of them do. Hadley and Rain have, and I already have another past character joining Mr. Stamper soon.

  4. So happy to see you here, Michael! And I’m really glad you chose to continue this one – I like Madeleine’s character a lot. (Maybe because I feel the same way about time things…) Oh, and this line: “wiping her transparent eyes with an ethereal tissue” is fantastic. 🙂

    • I’m happy I could be a part of your exciting new venture. ::) Yeah, time things are not fun. So messy, with paradoxes and killing one’s own grandmother and all…

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