Through The Door

In a doorway between worlds stood Annalise, one world was the mortal life, a home, her home. The other world was death. Her life was forfeit after the invader shot her down, but she still felt a dim connection to life, as if her time to pass on wasn’t that instant. The door was her choice. Find out her connection or fade into peaceful oblivion.

On the side of death, wistful voices coaxed her to join them in the never-ending afterlife. Something nagged at the back of her mind, telling her that there was more to her death than meets the eye. Life and curiosity won out. Annalise stepped back from the door and closed it. It vanished. She prayed it would reappear when she completed her task.

An anguished wail erupted in the night air as her mother found her body on the floor, broken and bent in unnatural ways. Her stepfather rushed in, the grocery bags in his arms tumbled to the ground as he took in the scene. Her stepfather placed a comforting arm around his wife’s shoulders, completely disregarding the mess of assorted grocery items, tears flowing down his face.

“Call…911,” her mother choked out between racking sobs. Her stepfather dialed the phone, and within minutes sirens and bright lights filled the humid night air. Annalise’s first thought was to hide; she wasn’t used to being dead. The last thing she needed was a superstitious police officer spotting her. Three police officers, a handful of firefighters, and five medics were on the scene. A medic placed comforting blankets around the shoulders of Annalise’s parents as the police addressed them.

“Professor and Mrs. Roberts, can either of you describe to me what happened here tonight?”

“My husband and I went out to pick up some odds-and-ends at the grocery. We left Annalise here by herself to finish some homework and to let her mull over some college options. When we came back, we saw the broken window and then found my poor baby,” she cried, “lying dead on the floor.” Her mother’s sobbing doubled as her stepfather took over.

“As far as we can tell, someone broke in. When they discovered that Annalise was home, they probably became frightened and shot her down.” The officer nodded, as his eyes swept the room. This officer was younger than the rest. He looked to be in his early twenties. His eyes stopped and widened at the sight of Annalise’s spirit hiding, not very well, behind the sofa.

“I am very sorry for your loss, but since Annalise was the only one who saw the intruder well enough to I.D. him, we don’t have much to go on.” He spoke over his shoulder to her parents. Another officer walked in and stood next to him. He addressed him in a whisper. “Collins, escort the Roberts outside and give them anything they may need. I’m going to finish up the interior sweep.” Officer Collins helped Annalise’s parents outside and shut the door behind them. “Annalise, I am Eric Dillian. I am not going to hurt you or expose that you are still here. I just want to help you, and I hope you’ll be willing to help me. I want to catch the guy who did this to you, and only you can I.D. him. Will you help me?” Eric never broke eye contact as Annalise stood and moved out from behind the couch. He didn’t appear frightened that he could see her. She pondered him a moment, then answered.

“Alright. I will help you. But first, you need to know what really happened. My real father works for the CIA and is believed to be dead. Only I know that’s not true. He came to visit me when I was shot. He was being chased by a madman, a suspect, who was wielding a gun. When he stopped by my house, he believed that he had shaken the man off his trail temporarily. But, he hadn’t. The man, who I couldn’t see, shot through the window at my dad, and missed. The bullet caught me in the stomach. My dad attempted to comfort me for a moment but, being in the CIA, his instincts took over. He began chasing the man who shot me. So I was left to bleed out. My father didn’t do it out of carelessness. Of that, I’m sure. He was enraged at the thought of his daughter being hurt. Anyway, when I died, I, my spirit stood in a doorway that no one else could see. Instead of immediate passing, I had the choice to help you find my killer, or fade into nothing. I chose to help, because I know I could never rest in peace unless I know the fate of the man who killed me.” The look on his face said it all. No one had expected that twist in the story.