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Authors: J. P. Hightman

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BOOK: Spirit
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H
e had questions but no answers.

The police officer watched Tess Goodraven sitting quietly on the seat in front of him. She had hardly spoken throughout the questioning.

The rescuers had taken the blind children into safe custody in an empty residence in Blackthorne. They had placed Tess in one room, Tobias in another, for there were serious concerns that something involving the occult had happened.

They were the only true eyewitnesses to survive.

And they were not talking.

Tobias Goodraven proved no more helpful than his youthful wife. The two of them seemed to have had their fill of horrors, and asked only to move on.

“If they are victims of something, what are they victims of?” asked the policeman. “Was there something in the forest that…lost its strength after the storm?”

Tobias looked off into the distance.

“I don't know how to ask about any of this,” said the policeman, embarrassed to confront the question. “I suppose I'm asking if there's such a thing as ghosts.”

“There is but one thing I know of ghosts.”

Carefully, the constable watched Tobias's empty expression.

“There are two kinds,” Tobias Goodraven went on. “Ones who want to make their peace with life and move on. And those who want life so badly they'll do anything to get it again.”

The constable replied, “Did you see something out there, Mr. Goodraven? The only other survivors, of course, saw nothing. So we rely on you.
Were
these murders?”

“If indeed there be spirits here…they could no more be blamed for these deaths than a child for breaking his toys. They meant no more harm than a storm passing over.”

Tobias stopped talking, and allowed the policeman to stare at him. “I've heard from people in Salem that you have a vile sense of humor, Mr. Goodraven, and if you're being funny…,” he said severely. “There are bodies out there; we've lost near a hundred souls today.”

“They might've lost their bodies. They didn't lose their souls,” Tobias said. “Fear not for them.”

And that was all he said. The policeman let Tobias out into the hall, and Tess came out with the officer who had questioned her. They all moved away to confer as Tobias and Tess joined hands—nerves frayed, tired and relieved.

They heard one policeman say, “I'm not sure what they remember. They're just so very disturbed….”

The men looked toward the couple.

Several male rescue workers entered at the door, one carrying a shattered cello, the second, a case. “I got them out,” the first man said proudly. “One of them came through in serviceable shape.”
He motioned to the intact cello case and looked at Tess solemnly. “I'm sure this meant a lot to you. Would you want to take it with you now?”

Tess eyed it emotionlessly. “No,” she said, for it no longer held any meaning to her. It was a thing of the past, an outdated prop Tess Goodraven no longer needed to smooth out the jagged edges of life.

Outside, Tobias and Tess moved past the rescue workers, safe at last.

T
ess and Tobias Goodraven settled in Salem, their new home, their new beginning, after all the chaos.

They took a small apartment, and it was enough for them, with a window view of the city in the growing light of spring.

To watch them on a typical evening, one would say they needed little from life except each other's company. Every night Tobias and Tess sat down for a meal together. The room would be quiet, often somber.

Then Tobias would look up and talk to Tess.

He would speak German.

She would answer him, saying something about the richness of the food they were eating, and she'd go to the kitchen, bringing back tea. They would appear to be an ordinary couple at home, enjoying simple pleasures, except for one thing.

He might stare at his hand, pondering the lines there that he had not made, and she might take his hand in hers, as she sat beside him.

She might say—in German, of course, “Feels good to touch you again, after so long…”

The room would grow colder, and they might look up ominously at something almost beyond consciousness, something there just for a moment…as books were rattled off the shelves…as dust was blown from the windowsill of a closed window. The two would be staring ahead as ghostly strains of cello music would cascade down around them. It would pass, and the two would prepare for another uncomfortable meal, alien in their own skins.

The haunted having become the haunters, Tess and Tobias were now only shadows in this world, spectres whose unseen eyes would bear down upon those who had taken their flesh to possess as their own.

They'd stand there boldly, invisible and watchful. They had left behind their physical selves in that frigid land. And no one knew it.

Their lives had been stolen.

The couple at the table, the ones that called themselves Tess and Tobias Goodraven, would stare back blankly into the emptiness of the room.

These were not the same people who got on that train in Salem.

Only their bodies remained the same.

About the Author

J. P. HIGHTMAN
is a professional screenwriter and the author of
THE SAINT OF DRAGONS
and
SAMURAI
. He divides his time between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. You can visit him online at www.jasonhightman.com.

Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins author.

Cover art © 2008 by Douglas Mullen

Cover design by Michelle Gengaro

SPIRIT
. Copyright © 2008 by J. P. Hightman. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

Adobe Digital Edition July 2009 ISBN 978-0-06-194834-3

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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