My name is Eloise. Two weeks ago I was killed by a lorry that hit me as I was on my way to my ballet class. But it’s okay, because I came back, much to the surprise of the doctors and my family which surrounded me as I opened my eyes. I don’t intend on going quite so quickly.
“The girl is mad.” Rich dropped the newspaper onto the metal-topped café table and looked over at his companion, a student with a shock of red hair, who returned the glance with something close to animosity. “I don’t know how you can say there’s anything in the story. It’s completely ridiculous.”
“That’s as maybe,” the student replied. “But that doesn’t explain why they turned off the life support and her heartbeat stopped, as did her breath, yet four hours later she woke up. There’s something going on in this place, mark my words.” He ran his fingers through the ginger mop on his head, dislodging several raindrops that had been lodging there so that they fell into his lap, and shook his head. “You’re in denial, but that doesn’t change the facts.”
“The girl can’t have died completely.” Refusing to admit that he could possibly be wrong in a matter of supernatural interference with human lives, Rich got to his feet, his manner as confrontational as his voice. “You’re just saying this because you refuse to believe that people would lie like that.”
“All right,” said the student, whose name was Owen. “All right. Let’s see what you say after you’ve talked to her, then.” He signalled to the waiter who hurried over, requested the bill and fumbled in his pocket for his wallet. Rich knew that his friend could not afford to pay this, not with the extortionate fees he was expected to pay, and so he took out his own credit card.
“Allow me,” he said gently. Owen nodded and withdrew. The moment the receipt was in Rich’s hand they were on their way out of the café, hurrying towards the bus stop that stood alone at the far end of Green Walk. Not that the road really was green, because it was as grey as concrete, and nobody walked down it-–at all hours it was congested with traffic, cars and buses fighting to get through before they were late for work or school or a casual meeting with friends.
“I’ll take you to meet her,” Owen was saying enthusiastically. “I’m sure you’ll believe me then. You’re an expert in the paranormal, right? You’ll know she’s for real the moment you talk to her.”
“I’ll hold you to that one,” Rich warned. “Anyway, surely the kid’s under lock and key after what happened? You can’t just ‘arrange a meeting’ so spontaneously.”
“What makes you think it’s spontaneous?” asked the student with a grin. “Oh, I knew you’d need a bit of convincing. I rang her up last night. Talked to her myself, personal-like. It took a while for her to come round, but with my expert powers of persuasion I got there in the end.”
Rich winced. He had all too often been on the receiving end of Owen’s persuasive powers and although this girl may have survived death, she sure wouldn’t have enjoyed that particular conversation. “Was that really a good idea?”
“Hey, I was gentle,” objected Owen. “You don’t trust me, do you? Well, let me tell you that I hardly threatened her at all.”