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Dead less than twenty-four hours, with a job that doesn’t pay, a fashion disaster for a uniform and more afterlife rules than she can shake a stick at, Bridget Sway thinks it’s as bad as it can get. And then she finds a dead ghost stuffed in her locker.
Since the police are desperate to arrest her for murder, Bridget’s new best friend convinces her the only way to save herself from an eternity in prison is to solve the murder themselves.
With a handsome parole officer watching her every move, an outlaw ghost befriending her and two persistent mediums demanding her attention, solving the murder is not quite as easy as it sounds. And when “murder” turns into “murders” Bridget needs to solve the case … before she becomes the next dead body stuffed in her locker.
I’d always had a problem being punctual. My mum used to say I’d be late for my own funeral. Thankfully that wasn’t being held for another week or so yet, not that I was exactly sure what the etiquette would be for me attending. I’d probably still be late, though. And I mean ghost-me would be late, not dead-body-me. Dead-body-me’s punctuality was in someone else’s hands, so I was fairly certain that me would be on time.
I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to get the time off work. Yes, you heard me right. I had a job. One that I was running late for. Though technically, being dead, I suppose I was “late” for everything now. And, in all fairness, I didn’t feel my lack of punctuality in this instance was entirely my fault. It was the fault of whoever had crammed a dead-ghost-guy into my locker.
Of course I wasn’t completely sure he was dead. Or doubly dead. I didn’t even know if ghosts could die. You see it in movies all the time, ghosts reverting back to their “death form” or whatever to scare people. It was highly possible he was waiting for me to try to get something out of my locker before springing to life and scaring me to death, if you’ll excuse the pun. An initiation of sorts. Though if that’s what it was, he had the patience of a saint because I’d been staring at him for nearly twenty minutes and he’d yet to so much as twitch.
Initiation or not, I hoped he’d not bled onto my uniform because I was pretty sure the Bureau of Ghostly Affairs would deduct it from my measly pay cheque. That was if they paid me at all. They’d been conveniently sketchy on the pay details during my very brief “Welcome to Your Afterlife” induction. In fact, they’d been sketchy on all the details. The only two things I knew for sure was that I was dead and I still had to work.
“Hey! Bridget!” Bertha strode into the ladies’ locker room, all skinny five feet of her clearly meaning business. “Move your fake-tanned ass! Get your uniform on and let’s go!” She had an annoying habit of punctuating every exclamation with a sharp clap. And my ass was not fake-tanned.
“I’d love to, Bertha. Really I would. It’s always been my dream to toil for eternity with limited rewards in the belted mauve sack you call a uniform, but, unfortunately, someone’s crammed a dead-ghost-guy into my locker, which is sadly preventing me from getting to it.” I flashed my recently bleached teeth at her. “Any suggestions?”
Bertha harrumphed, covering the space between us in a flurry of fairy strides. She glanced at the contents of my locker and paused mid-step. Frozen in place, with her knee in the air, she toppled backwards and hit the floor with a thud in a dead faint.
“I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then, shall I?”
No one would ever have described me as squeamish, but in life a dead body probably would’ve elicited more from me than a staring match with the victim. However, it seemed my shock receptors had frazzled out after the whole dying and becoming a ghost thing. I was certain I’d feel differently in the morning, though I was hoping they’d have moved him by then.
Alex, Bertha’s partner, pushed the heavy locker room door ajar and called Bertha’s name through the crack.
“She’s fainted,” I said as I stared at her prone form, feeling oddly detached. I should probably care about this. “You’d better come in.”
“Fainted?” Alex poked his head into the room. His eyes widened in worry when he saw her. As if unaccustomed to moving faster than a strut, Alex scurried awkwardly over and knelt by Bertha’s side. “Get me some water to splash on her face,” he instructed me without taking his eyes from her.
“Yes, you.” He pointed through the archway to the shower area at the far end of the room. “Go.”
I folded my arms and pursed my lips. I’d always had a bit of a problem with authority.
“What are you waiting for?” he asked when he glanced up to see me still sitting there.
“A ‘please’ would be nice.”
“What?” Alex stared blankly at me. “Fine. Whatever. Please can you please get me some water please? Was that okay?”
“It was passable.” I adjusted my white suit jacket as I stood and then headed across the murky grey linoleum. “It would’ve worked better without the attitude, though. She’s only fainted.”
I walked under the arch and into the open area beyond. It was like a school shower room flashback. A central wall divided the room. Shower cubicles lined the far left wall and toilet cubicles faced them on the central divide. A row of sinks ran along both walls to the right with individual mirrors above them. In what world did twice as many sinks as there were toilets make sense? Several sporadically arranged empty blue tumblers stood on the thin shelves above the sinks. I rinsed one before filling it and caught my reflection in the soap smeared mirror.
Thankfully I’d had my fire engine red hair coloured and trimmed a few days earlier. It usually made my sky blue eyes look electric and my skin appear sun-kissed; today I just looked haggard, tired and sallow. Death did not look good on me. Leaning closer to inspect the dark circles under my eyes, I realised my white trouser suit probably wasn’t helping my deathly complexion. I’d have to go shopping for a whole new wardrobe on my next day off. That’s if I got a day off. And where did the dead shop? I readjusted my perfectly trimmed fringe and sighed. Alive or dead, the important stuff was never in the inductions.
“What are you doing in there?” Alex snapped, interrupting my mental shopping list. I’d started to list individual things and then realised I should just change it to one word: everything.
I walked back across the floor, handed Alex the tumbler and then flopped heavily down on the wooden bench next to him. I was too tired to do anything but watch while he tended Bertha. Dying had really taken it out of me.
Alex was tall, dark and almost handsome. He ticked all the boxes on paper – muscled, square jaw, boyish dimples, perfect smile – but somehow didn’t pull it off in reality. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. A bit like Bertha. She was dainty with long auburn hair and big brown eyes like pots of melted chocolate. She had a dusting of freckles across her nose, but instead of looking petite and delicate her features seemed oddly out of proportion.
Alex moved Bertha’s head so it rested on his knees and then flicked a few drops of water onto her face. No reaction. He sprinkled a little more then dragged a rough hand through his neatly styled short hair. “What happened? What did you do?”
“Me?” My voice hitched up an indignant octave. “Nothing!”
“And why aren’t you dressed for your shift?” He sprinkled a few more drops onto Bertha’s face, to no avail. “First impressions count.”
Yeah. And my first impressions of this afterlife business so far? Not impressed. “Give me that.” I took the tumbler from his hands as he gently tapped Bertha’s cheeks. We were going to be here all day at this rate.
I stared at him blankly. “Well what?”
“Why aren’t you dressed?” he gritted out. Clearly neither he nor Bertha dealt with stress very well.
“Oh. Right.” I nodded to my locker. “Dead-ghost-guy.”
Alex’s head spun around so fast I heard his neck crack. And while he was distracted I threw the contents of the tumbler in Bertha’s face.
About Jordaina Sydney Robinson
Jordaina Sydney Robinson grew up and, despite many adventures further afield, still lives in the North West of England. For fun she buys notebooks, gets walked by her husky puppy and sings really loudly and really badly whilst driving her trusty old Seat, Roger. If you want to find out just how bad her singing is then you can visit her official website at www.JordainaSydneyRobinson.com and ask her.