When Life and Death Cross Tracks
A 13k-Word Mini-Mystery with a Paranormal Edge
They say The Depot is haunted. But in all the years homicide detective Mark Waters has visited the old train station turned restaurant, he’s never seen proof. Until now.
As he investigates a supposed suicide by train, he learns secrets of a murder that took place eighty years ago may directly affect his case.
Edda should have known he’d deny her. Deny seeing her, deny being with her. Her friend had warned her, but she’d thought he was her chance to escape the life she’d been living. A chance to be someone. A chance at love.
Ever since she’d moved out of her momma’s home, life had been difficult. She could barely even pay her way at the boarding house where she stayed. At nineteen, the only thing she had going for her was her looks and body, even though it’d been a challenge getting her size back down to fit the few clothes she owned.
Wesley had assured her that he’d take care of her. But seeing his face tonight, she knew it had all been lies. He screamed that everything was her fault and that he couldn’t be bothered with someone of her social status. He’d continued to shout while she shielded her ears, attempting to drown out his obscenities and threats of what he planned to do to her.
She opened the door of the bar, hoping her best friend was still working and could give her a ride home. As soon as she stepped on the polished wood floors, she noticed the mess she was making. Black mud covered her new patent leather shoes. Then she saw her new dress she’d ordered from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. It’d taken months to save that money, and she’d spent it all on one dress. But she had wanted to look nice when Wesley took her to meet his parents. Now the dress was in shreds.
How had it happened?
Her eyes darted around the bar, trying to remember how she’d gotten back here after her fight with Wesley.
“Becky,” she called to her friend, relieved that she was still working. “Throw me a towel, will ya? I got mud all over the new floors.”
Her friend ignored her, as did everyone else crowded around the bar. The mostly-male patrons laughed and sung along with the piano man in the corner, but no one turned to look at her, even when the bells over the door had announced her arrival.
“Becky,” she said louder, but no one acknowledged her.
Instead, bodies of people rushed around her, their faces contorting and blurring as though she were in a dream or whooshing by them in an automobile. Men with mustaches and beards reshaped to smooth-skinned faces belonging to women, and then back to men again. Pale-white faces turned dark, then back to white, and then every shade in between. The clothes they wore changed colors, fabrics, even styles. Dresses went from short to longer lengths and then to short again. Business suits and ties changed to dungarees and undershirts. The room lightened and darkened, over and over, as though the sun were circling the tavern within seconds. The thick-waxed floor below her dulled and then disappeared, and within seconds, a new floor had taken its place. Tables spun before her, along with the chairs, as if some invisible entity were installing them and removing them repeatedly, as though they couldn’t make up their mind what style of furniture they wanted.
Her gaze dropped to her hands, noticing thick black blood dripped from her fingertips. The droplets fell, but never landed.
She searched the room, hoping someone would help her, but then the entire room flashed in front of her, similar to when Becky and she’d gone to the matinee a few months ago and seen The Thin Man. When the movie was over, they’d sat and watched as the projector rewound, reversing the entire movie ten times faster than they’d watched it. Only, the scene in the bar seemed to be moving forward, as if the room had sped up.
When the world stopped spinning and twining, Edda raked her eyes across the room, but nothing was the same.
The bar had transformed.
It was the same, but different. A light from the corner of the room drew her attention. It resembled the screen at the show, but smaller. Colorful, bright images of moving pictures flashed on the tiny screen.
Her gaze fell on the two remaining people behind the bar.
Watching them, a fiery hatred singed her insides, causing a flaring passion to radiate through her soul as she realized what had happened to her.
Rather, what he had done to her.
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The Depot Image by Doug Hagadorn Photography