I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. The moment I had seen the figure, I knew that there was something I was missing. And then it all came back and it fit together so well. I noticed that two girls stood next to me and had apparently witnessed the incident. They were holding hands and looked at me concernedly. But I would soon add surprise to their looks, because I had a fascinating story to tell.
“You know, I never really believed in ghosts. At least not consciously, I guess. It’s not that I didn’t want to; they make for great stories. But I didn’t think they would make the transition into the real world and now I have seen it for myself! Have you heard about John Cheesely?” They exchanged a confused look. “He was this dude who lived a couple of hundred years ago, wanted to divorce his wife but didn’t want to pay alimony for her and their plethora of children. The case goes to court, the judge – apparently the only fair official in Edinburgh at that time – rules that he should pay. So he plots his revenge and on Easter Sunday he hides in St John’s Hill next to the judge’s house, follows him till they get to St Giles and then shoots him in the back of the head, right in the middle of the crowd. They’re enraged, of course, and so they get ready to lynch him. The police arrive and after assessing the situation decide to join in. They torture him by the book, asking again and again whether he regrets. When he states again how proud he is of his doing, they chop of the arm that held the pistol and hang him at the Grassmarket. Then his body is chained to a fence to serve as a reminder and his arm displayed and left to wave with every gale. Then suddenly his corpse disappears, is never found again, and people have claimed to see his ghost ever since.”
The girls didn’t say anything, so I went on: “And now the murders! It didn’t seem to make any sense but now it all fits! It is around Easter, the murders happened on the route Cheesely and the judge took, there were no bullets because the weapon wasn’t real!”
“Hi, I’m Caitlin”, the one girl said in a tone like a nurse talking to a deranged patient. “Are you feeling alright?”
“I’m great!” I exclaimed. “I mean, I probably shouldn’t expect you to immediately believe my theory but I’m pretty sure I struck oil here!”
“I don’t mean to be insensitive”, said the second girl like she did indeed mean to be, “but you are dead.”
Oh. Of course. It all added up now: “You are the girls who have been murdered! So… you must be ghosts as well?”
“Bingo.” So this was Jenn.
“And I’m afraid you are as well”, Caitlin added. “I’m really sorry.”
“Oh, it’s okay! This is the most exciting thing that has happened to me in, like, ever! I could write a book about, you know, if I wasn’t dead…”
Caitlin seemed taken aback by that and Jenn took over again: “So, if what you’re saying is true, could we use it to stop this guy?”
“We would need to find his body, maybe trace his patterns and find a convergence point…”
Caitlin excitedly joined back in: “That must be why he always goes back to the building site! It’s where his body is!”
I was going to ask about this but Jenn interrupted me: “Even if there is something to the whole lore of spirits being tied to bodies and restless if not buried properly, it’s not like we could do anything about it. We can’t even get hold of ghost-Cheesely, let alone his mortal remains.”
“Maybe we can’t exhume him, but we could get someone else to do it. Someone less… dead.”
I felt Caitlin’s hand tremble and reached out to take her into my arms. “I tried”, she sounded as if she was about to cry. “They can’t see us; can’t hear us. I thought maybe they could feel us but that was probably just wishful thinking.”
“Shh. It’s okay, honey.”
“It’s just…My mum. Seeing her like that. You could have thought that she had been the one who died.”
The newest member of our group finally came off his high: “I’m really sorry about that… I would hate for something like that to happen to my family.”
He didn’t realise how ridiculous that sounded. It seems like genius doesn’t protect you from the shock of being corpsified. Or could it be that the loss of the back half of the brain impacts one’s abilities as a ghost? That is likely the kind of cruel unfairness the world would exhibit, knocking you down even after you’ve died…
“But all hope is not lost!” This dude sounded like he had jumped out of a novel. “I never really believed her – and neither did anyone else – but my aunt’s friend Eliza is a medium! We should talk to her!”
Tamara was listening to Everything thas Dies by Matthew and the Atlas while writing this piece.