Ace Bleakley: Ghost Detective

prologue: the voices

And then there were slender fingers wrapping themselves around her neck, squeezing at her windpipe until she was sure that the pressure would crush it entirely. Like the chambers of the kaleidoscopes she had marvelled at as a child the room was spinning wildly out of control, emerald greens and crimson reds painting themselves in stunning succession on her retina as she struggled weakly under the grip of the figure above her. There was a dull ache in her abdomen that she couldn’t quite place, as if it belonged in another world and not in her own. Every nerve ending in her body seemed to have been awoken and all were sending the same white-hot explosions of pain shooting up and down her limbs and into her chest. The pressure on her throat continued to intensify, her eyes rolling into the back of her head and her tongue lolling out of her mouth helplessly.

The figure is saying something -- over and over again, lips moving wordlessly like a film with no sound. Her hearing is dull, muted -- the only sound she hears is a gentle popping in her ears. The figure’s lips still move, together and apart, together and apart. She cannot lip-read -- she desperately wishes now that she had chosen to learn. The popping in her ears continues as she tries to scratch at the fingers around her neck: her last defense. Almost as if by command, the pressure on her throat lessens and she instantly commands her body to take a breath. Her body will not obey. The popping in her ears continues and she realises with a start that it is the sound of her own ragged breathing; sharp, stabbing gasps of air, a plea for a breath to her lungs that will never materialise.

And suddenly the pressure intensifies again, but the pain is subsiding. The world is becoming hazy at the edges and colours have dulled, like a vignette in technicolour plastered across kaleidoscope walls. Lethargy was taking over, nearby objects being swallowed by a dark shroud. An icy coldness spread from her fingers to her toes, and she gave one last weak push at her assailant, willing the figure off of her body one last time.

And her spirit watched morosely with glassy eyes as the figure drained every last breath from her lungs.