The Last Memories

By: Yinglan Z
(~3400 words)

I stood and watched as my boyfriend Michael approached my headstone.  He wasn’t there at my funeral a year ago, must had been too hard on him.  He bent down and brushed away the fallen leaves on the stone.  “I missed you, Jordin.” He whispered, voice breaking.

“I’ve been right here with you all along.” I said but I know he can’t hear me.  After all, I’m just a spirit.

Michael lowered his head and the cemetery grew silent.  I stared at my headstone and listened to the rustling of the leaves.  The headstone wasn’t big, just big enough for me, a simple girl whose life was violently taken from her.

Engraved on the stone was my motto, “A promise is a promise and it shall be a promise even after I take my last breath.”

I died exactly a year ago and there hasn’t been a day my last moments on Earth did not haunt me. In my opinion, being a spirit is worse than being alive. Not only that you’re all alone but every time when a memory pops into your head, you’re instantly forced to relive it. I learned that during my first hour as a spirit.

It must have been a few minutes or hours after I died, I don’t know. I found myself standing outside by the back exit of the barn where I was tortured and killed. I thought I had miraculously escaped.

The light of the barn was still on and I curiously walked back in. There they were, a group of four men, three dressed in black while one, the tall one, the doctor, I remembered, wore a white lab coat. They were transferring a body into a body bag, my body, to be accurate. It was then I knew I died and became some kind of ghost or spirit, an anomaly linger behind, something no one would ever see.

Then everything from that day projected in my mind like someone pressed playback on a video camera. I heard this high pitch sound in my ears and buzzing in my brain. Before I knew it, my surrounding changed, it felt warmer. Familiar voices sounded beside me.

“But I thought you didn’t like him?” My friend, Amber asked snickering.  That was the conversation from yesterday afternoon, right before I was kidnapped. We were talking about Dustin, a boy in our class Emma had a crush on but she wouldn’t admit.

“I never said I like him.” My other friend, Emma snapped embarrassedly but a second later, a sparkle appeared in her eyes, “But did he really ask about me?”

Amber rolled her eyes, “Same old Emma, you know prom’s coming up.  You better ask him before he takes someone else.”

“What about you two? Found a date yet?” Emma asked.

“I have but I don’t know about Jordin, she’s caught, between Brandon and Michael.” Amber said looking at me giggling.

“No, I’m not.” I whined.  “Brandon is just some creepy weirdo that has some crush on me.  Anyway, Michael’s already asked me a week ago and I said yes.”

New thoughts began to fill my head. Would Michael even go to dance without me? How will my friends react to my death?  Would they cry hysterically at my funeral like in the movies if there is a funeral?

We arrived at Emma’s home, Amber was just next door. Emma unlatched the hook on the gate and walked in.  However, I stayed behind.  “Are you coming, Jordin?” Emma asked as she reached the door.

I smiled and shook my head, “No, thank you, I have to get home.  Mrs. Walters is expecting me.” My foster mom for the last 10 years, Mrs. Walters, and I were going to pick out my dress that day.

Emma and Amber looked at each other and shrugged.  “See you tomorrow?” I smiled and nodded.

I was starting to regret not staying at Emma’s house for a few minutes.  If I had, I wouldn’t have been kidnapped, tortured and killed.

As I turned the corner, a black van pulled up and everything became fast and blurry.  I found myself suffocating from the darkness and next thing I knew, I found myself back in the warehouse, handcuffed.

My hair was a slight mess from a large bearded man ripping the sack off my head. I frantically glanced around trying to make sense of the situation.

A tall lanky blond man came into view. He placed both hands beside his back and lowered to my eye level, lines dominated his forehead. “We’re not here to hurt you.  I just want some information from you.  If you answer correctly, then we’ll let you go.” He said with an English accent.  “If you don’t,” he clicked his tongue and chuckled lightly, “well, let’s just say we won’t let you go until you do.”

I struggled with those wrist pinching handcuffs behind my back. “Please just let me go.” I pleaded.

He ignored me and pulled out a picture from his pocket, “Have you seen this man?”

It was a picture of my birth-father, the same picture I carried with me.  Why would this guy want with my birth-dad? Whatever he wanted, it’s no good. I frowned and shook my head.

“Are you sure?” His eyebrow arched. I nodded. He made a small head gesture to the three men behind him. Then two of the men held me firmly down by the shoulders while the third one pulled a thick rope around my neck.

He pulled and in that very second, I choked as the air was being sucked out. I gagged but he only pulled harder. I felt my eyes roll back as my consciousness slipped.  And then everything came back again. The pull of the rope had receded. The air was coming back slowly.

I breathed heavily as he lowered to my eye-level again, bearing a much more pronounced grin. “I just want you to know that I’ve been watching your every move for the past two week and I know you’re lying.  I saw you talk to him last night.”

I scoffed, playing to my acting skills, “He abandoned me, why would I talk to him?” I said dryly, still slightly out of breath. A promise is a promise and it shall be a promise even after I take my last breath. How ironic, I thought.

He picked my bag off the ground and pulled out my wallet, opened it and retrieved one of the many photographs I kept in my wallet.  He held it in front of me, “Then why do you carry his picture?”

I shrugged. I’ve always admired that stubbornness and gutsiness even at moments like these, “sentimental reasons.”

He scoffed, “You’re sentimental, eh? Well, if you didn’t talk to him, explain this.” He snapped his fingers and someone immediately placed a video camera in his hand.  He held it in front of me and pressed play.  It was taken from my bedroom. “This is two nights ago. He was there last night, too. Ring a bell?”

It showed two people talking and one of them was me. There was no sound but I remembered perfectly the topic of our conversation. Dad was going on and on about this stupid experiment and how one of his psycho colleagues was after it and would do anything to get it.

Could this guy be the psycho colleague? The guy who’s trying to find out where he was hiding the experiment?  “Who the hell are you?” I asked quickly.

“Oh, how silly of me not to introduce myself, I’m Dr. Arthur Willis and I was your father’s colleague. That is until he stole a very important experiment and disappeared.” He explained.  “Now where is your father?” He demanded with clenched teeth.

“I don’t know.” I said slowly.

He straightened up and snapped his fingers, “Well, next phase then. I told you. I won’t let you go until I get what I want.”

A large bald man held a tiny suitcase open. Inside was a syringe filled with clear liquid. He grinned once more, “A simple truth serum should do the trick.” He walked around me and injected the thin needle up my arm.

For a moment, I was braced for the worst, revealing my father’s location to this complete psychotic son of a bitch. He walked back in front of me, “Let’s test it, shall we? What is your name?” He said slowly like he was talking to a 3-year-old.

I sighed, “Jordin Raves.”

“Good girl, now next question, what did your father tell you?”

My heart began to pound. He’d injected the truth serum, there’s no lying but why can’t I feel anything. I don’t feel like telling the truth. I promise, those words echoed in my head. Maybe he didn’t inject me with the truth serum after all, maybe it’s just a placebo, making me think is truth serum.

What should I tell this psycho bastard? Thoughts quickly spun in my head like a spider spinning an enormous web, of lies, I thought. I’m good at this, I tell myself. I’ve always been good at getting myself out of hairy situation. Surely, I can get myself out of this one.

A scene from last night played back in my head as dad leaned against my window sill, “You’ve got to be careful.  My colleague, Dr. Arthur Willis, is looking for me.”

I frowned, “Why?” I asked.

“He wants my experiment. I want to use it to help mankind but he wants to use it to create monsters and I can’t let that happen.  He is dangerous and persistent and he’s going to be looking for you and force you to tell him where I am.  You must never tell him.”

I nodded, “I won’t, I promise.” He turned around, “Wait, where can I find you if I want to see you again?”

He smiled, “Right now, I think the less you know the better but if you must find me, first and second is the key.”

My attention focused back to Dr. Willis who was still waiting for my answer. “He said you want to use his experiment to create monsters and that you’re a dangerous man.”

He guffawed, “He said that? That is mad and you trust him.” He suddenly stopped and bent down, “He’s the dangerous one, dear.” He said it with an English accent.  “Otherwise I wouldn’t bother looking for him.  Now where is he?” He growled that last sentence.

I stared into his eyes and calmly said, “I don’t know.” It was the truth, I don’t know. All he said was first and second is the key. There’s not a first or a second street anywhere in town. What the hell does that mean?

His face grew expressionless like the moment after someone’s been spat at. He stood up.  “Very well, then,” he turned to the bald guy, “Paul, prepare the table. Randy, get her ready.” Then he turned back to me and leaned in close, “I will get to the bottom of this.”

A short muscled tattooed man removed the handcuffs and forcefully pulled me to my feet. The rash from earlier was beginning to itch. I stopped abruptly as I noticed I was walking toward a long metallic table.  “Move,” Randy pulled me forward but he couldn’t support my weight.

I turned around and swung my fist as hard as I could and began sprinting toward the exit.  “Get her.” I heard Dr. Willis shout.

I didn’t dare look behind me, fear I might panic and slow down.  This was the fastest I’ve ever run and even then I fear it wasn’t enough for me to make it out of the barn.  As I reached the exit, I felt a sting on my upper thigh. He shot me with something, my first thought told me. Then limb by limb went numb and before I knew it, I fell and everything blurred.

By the time I was conscious again, I was lying on something cold and hard while a light shined brightly above me and something was sticking to my forehead.  “What did you do to me?”

“You were trying to run away, so I had to sedate cha.  Besides, you didn’t respond well to the placebo.”  I knew it! It was a placebo.

On the other hand, I suddenly felt extremely afraid of what happens next. I looked down at my arms, circular tabs connected to thin tubes stuck on my strapped down arms and legs, obviously for his evil reasons. On the metal tray next to me laid a single syringe, the needle was thicker than before, when he was just using the placebo.

He turned my arm, flat side up and tapped my veins. Then he carefully inserted the needle. It hurt more than before. “What’s that?” I gasped.

“My own version of truth serum and believe me, it’s unpleasant.” The moment he placed the empty syringe back on the tray, he turned back toward me, “Now where is your father?”

I closed my eyes, the truth came to mind. Then, a voice shouted, no, you can’t never ever tell the truth, you promised. Yes I know I promised but what choice do I have. Besides, it’s not like this man can figure it out anyway.

NO! The other voice screamed. He’s your father’s colleague, for crying out loud, a damn scientist, a genius I might add. He will figure it out. Fine, then I’ll just have to keep quiet.

The two voices in my mind went back and forth while a third voice just plainly said, maybe it’s another placebo. No, it’s not, I told that voice. It’s one of his evil creations.

Suddenly I gasped. My skull felt like it was on fire while the rest of me felt like I was being roasted alive. I squeezed my eyes shut tight and with all my strength, willed the headache to stop.

I opened my eyes and saw Dr. Willis looking at me, “Oh, feeling the effects of my special homemade serum. Tsk tsk,” he clicked his tongue, “all you have to do is tell the truth and everything will stop.”

My aches were getting worst. It was even getting hard to breathe. What did he put in this? I can’t do this.  I have to tell the truth. I don’t want to die. “F-firs,” I said in a muttering gasp.

Dr. Willis’s brow arched, “What?”

I swallowed, I couldn’t speak anymore, my mouth felt bone dry. I tried again, my lips quivered and breathed, “F-first.”

“Yes, first,” He said excitedly willing me to continue.

But I couldn’t, I couldn’t remember. My brain felt like 200 degrees, like it’s sizzling on a hot frying pan and it’s getting hotter. I closed my eyes and hot tears squeezed out of my eyes. I’m sorry, daddy, I thought and opened my eyes again. “S-eco,” I breathed my word and then I couldn’t breathe anymore.

As if the world flashed before me and I couldn’t see or hear anything but a white light and a long continuous beeping. It never hit me I was dead until I appeared back at the barn a few hours later as a spirit and that long continuous beeping was when I flat-lined.

I crossed my arms and leaned against the wooden frame and sighed. Let’s face it, there was never going to be a funeral.  These men are probably going to dig a hole somewhere in the woods and dump me there. Then maybe in a couple of years, when I’m decomposed into bones, some strangers might come and dig up my body bag, open it and scream.

I sighed again and it was then I heard a loud bang coming from the other side of the barn, “Police, hands behind your head.”

A SWAT team stormed in, aiming their guns at Dr. Willis and his men who were zipping up the bag.  “Hands behind your head and step away from the bag.”

I walked toward the half-zipped bag and peeked inside.  Just a peek at my stone cold body made me shiver.  The officer took one look at my body and said, “You are all under arrest for kidnapping and murder.”

One by one, the men were handcuffed and led out of the barn.  Then two people rushed into the warehouse, two people I thought I never see again, my dad and Mrs. Walters.

“Dr. Raves, Mrs. Walters, is this your daughter?” They peeked at the body. Mrs. Walters instantly turned away and buried her head in my father’s shoulder, crying hysterically. Poor Mrs. Walters, I feel so bad for her.

“She was my companion.” She sobbed.

“How did she die, officer?” Dad asked calmly.

“We won’t know until we get the report back from the M.E. but it look like some kind of lethal injection.”

“I need some time to absorb all this.” Mrs. Walters continued to sob as she hurried out of the barn. My dad followed.

After I followed my dad out, I saw the police carried my body into an ambulance. What’s done is done. I’m dead and that’s final.

I went to dad’s motel room and stayed there the whole night, watching over him as he called mom to tell her the sad news. To hear mom’s voice for the first time was quite exciting for me even though I knew I would never be able to talk to her.  I could still quietly say, “I love you, mom.”

A few days later, the medical report came out and ruled that I died from a very strange and dangerous overdose.  No doubt the serum Dr. Willis injected me was filled with lethal chemicals.  Speaking of Dr. Willis, he’s got a scheduled court appearance in a few months but until then he’ll be locked behind bars with no bail which means my dad is no longer on the run and he can finally settle down in a more permanent residence.

A week later was my funeral and it was quite a beautiful ceremony, of course the entire school attended as well as Mrs. Walters and mom and dad.  My best friends, Emma and Amber, along with the teachers and principal cried hysterically.  I lingered in the background watching the event.  I was mainly looking for my boyfriend, Michael, but he was nowhere to be found. Maybe he was too upset to come, I may never know.

When it came time for eulogies, my parents were the first one to speak.  Their speeches were quite beautiful and sad.  They said they regret not getting to know me properly and that they knew I was always brave and special even in the times of danger.  Mrs. Walter, my foster mom for the last 10 years told of the special times we’ve spent together and how I took away her loneliness.

Of course, my classmates at school all spoke about me even though I don’t know half of them.  It was strange to see people cry for someone they barely knew.  When it was time to lower my casket into the ground, one by one gathered a rose and gently tossed it onto the casket as I was gently lowered into the ground.

Tears fell from my eyes as I watched my casket lowered into the ground.  Then a thought came to me, now that I’m rest in peace, why am I still here? Shouldn’t there be some kind of light leading me into heaven?

In fact, I’m still asking that question a year later as I stood here watching Michael pay his respects.  Am I going to spend an eternity stuck invisible on Earth while reliving my own awful memories every day?

Michael lifted up his head and stared at the flying leaves from the nearby trees.  A tear fell onto his face and I knew exactly what he’s thinking.  It was how we met two years ago on a beautiful autumn day outside school.  “I will always love you, Michael.”

He stood up and back up until he was standing right next to me.  “I will always love you too, Jordin.”

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