Chapter 1

It felt wrong to be here. Even worse that Stevenson was here.

We were in my bedroom. My room was actually the attic so the floor was wooden and the ceiling tended to slat either one way or the other. Windows lined my ceiling and I had used many pieces of see-through colored paper blue tacked to the windows so that the room was just covered in colors during the day - not that I was here much at daytime. The walls were lined with pictures - of my friends and family - all apart from the one wall behind my desk. It was covered in newspaper clippings. Red strands of thread connected some pictures to others and to the notes that were pinned to the wall. Also a wide range of colorful post-it-notes covered the wall - some with notes whilst some just had huge question marks on them.

"Clever, wasn't she?" Stevenson's deep baritone voice said to no-one. Well, I did not count any more. I felt proud that an actual detective liked my work but even I knew that I was still a rookie and that this probably amused him. Judging from the way the right side of his lips turned upward, I was right.

It felt odd having him look at my work. Pick apart my life. I had a few friends but none had ever really come up here, none had seen all of the work I had put into this. And here he was – a stranger, looking through my life, seeing what may have been before he came here. What may have continued if I had been careful...

Stevenson took some pictures of my work before searching my desk and I cringed. To do so he had to move my chair, on which sat one of my bras. He hesitated before abandoning the chair completely. In my first drawer held some notebooks. He skimmed through them quickly, replacing the ones that held my school work and keeping the two I kept for the murders. In the drawer below that were some more photos of crime scenes and I suddenly felt embarrassed. I'm pretty sure that is illegal.

"So she was the anonymous caller." He murmured. He was right. For the past three murders - not including my own - I had found the bodies before the police and had taken my own evidence. I shuddered at the memories.

My mother - Joanne - came up the ladder. "Do you need anything?"

"Yes. Would you mind if I were to take some of these things with me?" Stevenson put on a disarming smile for my mother. She was an older version of me. Exactly the same apart from a few wrinkles and blue eyes.

"I would actually. What things?" Mum was careful not to look around the room. To look at the reminders of me.

"Nothing personal. Just the things that she had discovered about the murders." He gestured but mum's eyes did not move from the 'safe' place in on the ceiling just above Stevenson.

"Oh that. You can keep that. If it wasn't for that ridiculous hobby Cour-she would still be here." It hurt that my mum could no longer say my name.

"Yes... do you know why your daughter took an interest in these murders?" Stevenson frowned.

"No. We assumed that it was a faze and we weren't about to complain. Cour-my daughter had been depressed for a very long time, you see, she had witnessed her own father's suicide when she was only nine years old and never really got over it." Mum's eyes were still attached to the crack on the ceiling.


Mum and dad were yelling at each other downstairs. I don't know why. I was hiding in my room, hands over my ears as I tried not to listen. Their yelling scared me. I heard the door slam - when mum had stormed off - and the car roar to life outside when I made my way down the stairs.

I wandered all around the house for my dad, I knew that he would give me a hug and would dry my tears. Dad had always been like that. Cheering me up, stopping mum from going too far... I couldn't find dad anywhere so I walked back upstairs. I paused to pick up my doll outside of their bedroom when I saw red. Curious I walked inside to find my dad hanging from a rope, his wrists slashed and his green eyes - the same as mine - staring blindly at me. I screamed until mum came home and found us.


"Truth be told," Mum's voice brought me back, "I'm afraid that you may be wasting your time looking for her, it isn't unusual for her to go missing. She will come back soon or she will turn up in hospital after another failed attempt." Cheers mum. I'm not coming back.

I knew that my depression had nothing to do with this, not this time. I remember wearing the clothes that I am wearing now – a cream high neck jumper, black jeans, tanned hiking boots and my tanned coat. I remember that I had left in the middle of the night because I had wanted to follow up something that I had found but I can't remember what that something was or where I was going.

"Tell me, how many times did you hit Courtney, Ms Rudnick?" I stared at him. So did mum.

"How dare-" Stevenson cut her off.

"I dare. Your daughter has more foundation than any other make-up and I assure you that she had a very lovely complexion. You are an alcoholic as I can tell by the bottles outside, the stench and the shaking in your hands. I think that Courtney could deal just fine with her father's death if you would have only let her. Now, if you don't mind, I am going to look a little longer before taking what I need." He turned his back on her.

My mother looked murderous as she made her way towards the ladder before Stevenson stopped her.

"Oh and Ms Rudnick, if your daughter is actually alive then be rest assured, I will make sure that you never see her again." He went back to my desk as my mother left - her pride too high to let her answer back.

He walked around my room once, touching random things here and there before getting on his hands and knees. His tapped his knuckles lightly on the wood paneling floor. Suddenly his knock changed. Sounded more hollow. Right above my secret place. I fell to my knees beside him and he shivered. Like he knew I was right here.

He lifted the wood paneling to reveal the small hole in the floor containing a small grey box. He lifted it out and I sighed in relief. I had remembered to lock it. At least one secret was safe.

Stevenson frowned lightly as he pulled the lock softly and I smiled. He wouldn't get in there – the key is under my mattress. Not the best place but he wouldn't look there. Hopefully.

He palmed the tiny lock for a moment before simply twisting it off and I gasped. Turns out he may have some muscle on him after all. He dropped the tiny lock onto my desk before sitting on my messy bed. I blushed. It was bad enough that a man was in my room, this was getting a bit much. I may be dead but I could still get embarrassed.

He opened the small box and his frown softened. I looked away. I never wanted him to know that. I never wanted anyone to know that. He closed the box before tucking it under his arm, grabbing a bunch of the photos and going to his rusty second-hand car outside.


Back at his tiny office he cleared one of his walls and copied my work. Then from there he added his own notes and more professional findings to the clues. Together we leaned against his scabby desk and admired our work. For the first time since being murdered I wasn't confused, I wasn't scared and I wasn't worried. For some reason I just knew that Stevenson would find out who killed me. All I had to do was figure out how this ghosting worked.