Copyright 2010

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My name is Jack Weston and I see ghosts. It wasn't always
like this. I used to be like everyone else. I didn't even think
about ghosts. You see, about five years ago I became a hermit.
I moved to the mountains to get away from the rat race. I had a
small cabin in the backwoods far from the beaten path.

I was doing just fine, reading by candlelight, watching the
discovery channel on my black & white TV with only rabbit
ears for reception, and living off the land. I set traps, fished
and hunted, and grew a few things in my garden. I only had to
buy propane every couple of years to run my generator to
power my freezer and TV. In the winter I would just push the
freezer out on the back porch, and it didn't need power.

Everything was fine until they stopped transmitting analog
TV signals. I decided to go into town to buy a converter and
maybe even a satellite dish. That's when I discovered that I
could see ghosts. I went to an eye doctor to see if something
was wrong with my eyes. He found that I had a cataract in one
eye, but the other was perfect, considering my age. However,
he did find something quite strange about my vision.

Most people with my problem, a cataract in one eye, could
see perfectly well with the other eye. Your mind, when it
receives conflicting information, will ignore the blurry vision in
one eye and accept the clear vision from the other. Both are
only used for depth perception. In my case the opposite was
true. My mind accepted the blurry vision and ignored the clear
vision. It must have been all that reading by candlelight and
watching blurry TV programs that trained my mind to accept
blurry over clear. All of the fog in the mountains didn't hurt

Anyway, as I was saying, I see ghosts. They're everywhere.
You have to see blurry to see ghosts. Sometimes I wonder
what else I may be seeing that others miss. But let me warn
you, just in case you are thinking of training your mind to see
ghosts, don't let them know that you can see them. They all
have unfinished business. That's why they're still here, and
they will not leave you alone until you help them complete it.
They can get pretty upset if you refuse. Fortunately the bad
ones didn't have the choice of hanging around, so there's not
a lot to worry about. It is just that it takes up all your time, and
then they're gone without even a thank you.

Jack awoke to find the room was frigid. He was chilled to the
bone. Jack knew this feeling all to well. "Who's there? Show
yourself," he shouted.

From behind a closet door he appeared. Jack recognized
him. Oh, he didn't know his name but he had seen him on the
streets many times, always in the background. It was as
though he had been following Jack. "What are you doing here?
What do you want?" Jack asked.

Jack knew he wouldn't be able to tell him. They can't talk. Or
at least the living couldn't hear them. Most of the living
couldn't even see them. Jack walked over to his desk and
motioned for the ghost to follow. "Spell it out for me," Jack
said as he pointed to his computer's keyboard.

The ghost pointed to the blank screen. The computer wasn't
turned on. "What difference does that make? You can't press
the keys anyway," Jack said. "Just point to the letters." Jack
picked up a note pad and pencil and began writing as the
ghost pointed first to one letter and then the next.

The ghost needed Jack's help. What a surprise, they all
wanted Jack's help. He had been watching Jack to be sure he
could trust him. "Why are you still here," Jack asked. "What
sort of unfinished business do you have?"

"I finished my business long ago, but I can't leave," the
ghost answered.

"Why not? Isn't that the way it works?" Jack asked.

"I'm in love," the ghost replied. "I want you to help Gloria."
"Many ghosts were in love when they died, but they all
moved on," Jack said.

"They were in love with the living," he replied. "Gloria is a
ghost, and if she can't leave then I'm not leaving without her."

"Why can't she leave? What is her unfinished business?"
Jack asked.

"Oh, if only it was that simple. You see... there are others
like you who see ghosts. They are not nice people. They take
advantage of us when they can. They are forcing Gloria to help
them perform criminal acts. They have threatened to harm her
living relatives."

After getting more of the details, Jack asked the ghost to
meet him at the Downtown Cafe around noon. Jack showered
and got dressed and went to talk to some of his old friends at
police headquarters about the people the ghost had
mentioned. Jack had skipped breakfast, but he knew there
would be plenty of doughnuts and coffee at headquarters.
Jack had gone to high school with most of the officers and
was still on good terms with them despite his stretch as a

These bad guys were relatively new to this area. Not a lot
was known, but some of them were suspects in several
unsolved crimes. Lack of evidence had prevented any arrests.
There was an ongoing investigation so most of the data was

As Jack waited at the Downtown Cafe he thought about the
other ghosts he had helped. There had been all sorts of
unfinished business, but none had been this dangerous.
These guys meant business and it would not be easy to get
close enough to learn more about them. Jack had solved
crimes before that lead to the arrests of murderers, thieves,
muggers and all sorts of vermin, but innocent lives had not
been at stake.

The ghost sat down across from him at the table. He made a
shrugging motion that Jack interpreted as "Will you help me?"
Jack nodded an affirmative and quickly finished his lunch.
They left the diner and climbed into Jack's truck. "When did
you last talk to Gloria?" Jack asked as he sat a keyboard in
the seat between them. Jack watched as the ghost began
pointing at letters. It had only been a couple of days since he
had talked to Gloria. They met almost nightly but had to
communicate through an open window. Gloria couldn't come
out and he couldn't come in without setting off some
mysterious alarm system.

"Talk to her tonight and see if you can find out anything
that might help us help her," Jack said. "And find out what you
can about her living relatives. Can I drop you somewhere?"

"I can get where I want to go much faster than you can get
me there," he replied as he got out of the truck.

Jack had never charged any of the ghosts for helping them
but some had lead him to money and valuables they wanted
him to have. Jack was now a rich man by his standards, but he
had long since lost interest in the things money could buy.
Jack was a lonely man but keeping busy didn't give him time
to think about it much. Tomorrow he would see what the ghost
had learned, and he could get started on this adventure. In the
meantime he would try to get a little extra rest. Things had
been busy and showed no signs of slowing. He wondered how
many others had his gift, and if he would ever meet one of the
good ones.

The next morning Jack woke up to another frigid room.
"Don't you ever knock?" Jack asked. "Never mind ... What did
Gloria have to tell you? No ... wait till I've had a cup of coffee."
Jack started the coffee then showered and got dressed. He
filled a cup and walked over to the computer where the ghost
was already waiting for him. "What's your name? I'm tired of
saying Hey You!" Jack asked.

"My name is Richard, Richard Nash," he replied.

"What did Gloria have to tell you?" Jack asked.

"Only one of the guys that are involved can actually see
ghosts. Without him the others wouldn't know if Gloria was
even there. We should concentrate on stopping him. Her
family lives at 123 W. Elm Street. Her husband and three kids
don't even know they are in danger, and Gloria doesn't want us
to worry them," Richard said.

"What sort of criminal acts are they involved in? How can I
get close enough to learn more about them?" Jack asked.
"Gloria says that they have a weekly poker game in which
Gloria is forced to help the bad guys win. She looks at the
other players' cards and uses sign language to indicate what
sort of hands they are holding," Richard said.

"Well, that gives me a way in, but we'll need more than
cheating at cards to put them away," Jack said. "Tell Gloria to
keep her eyes and ears open to anything that might be

Jack entered the bar and looked around. There were a
couple of guys sitting at the bar that he had seen hanging
around the building where Gloria was being held. Jack sat
down near them and ordered a drink. "Where can a guy find
some high stakes gambling action around here?" Jack asked
the bartender. "I've just hit it big at the tracks and the money is
burning a hole in my pocket."

"What sort of gambling do you have in mind?" asked one of
the guys.

"I'm sort of partial to poker," Jack said.

"I think something could be arranged. Come to 735 E. Main
later today and give them the password PHOENIX. The game
starts at 6:00 pm. Don't be late," the other guy said.

"I'll be there," Jack replied.

Jack went back to his apartment and got some more
money. Jack had heard of tricks like using mirrors or hidden
cameras, but using a ghost was a new one. Jack knew they
would let him win at first to sucker him in and take all his
money in one big pot. Jack was hoping to turn the tables on
them tonight. Make then desperate enough and they will need
to try one of their other criminal activities to make money.
Then he could trap them with the help of his friends at the

Jack knocked at the door and was greeted by a lovely
woman about his age. She was dressed like a dance hall gal of
the old west. "What's the password?" she asked. "I can't let
you in without the password."

"Give me a hint," Jack replied. "Is it bigger than a

"Go away," she warned. "You don't want to be here

"Phoenix, the password is Phoenix," Jack answered. "May I
come in?"

She stepped aside and allowed Jack to enter. "Down the
hall, second door on the right. Good luck," she said. "You're
going to need it."

Jack entered the room and found several men seated at a
poker table. Jack hadn't seen this much money on a table
since he sold one of the antique trinkets a ghost had given
him. "Good afternoon, gentlemen. Have you been waiting for
me?" Jack asked. "Nice of you guys to offer me all of this

"Just have a seat so we can get started," said the one at the
head of the table. As they played for the first hour or so there
had been no sign of Gloria. Jack was doing nicely, having
practically doubled his money. He had determined that there
were two others at the table that were new suckers like him.
They hadn't done badly themselves. As far as Jack could tell,
they were all dealing fairly, no slight of hand. But when you
have a ghost to help you, who needs slight of hand.

Jack watched as the man at the head of the table told one of
the men guarding the door to go and get Gloria. A few minutes
later the lovely dance hall gal who had greeted him at the door
came in with drinks. As she came to his side of the table Jack
said, "Hello, Gloria. Nice to see you again."

"My name is not Gloria. Would you care for a drink?" she

"Thanks ... I believe I would," Jack replied.

"What do you know about Gloria?" asked the man at the
head of the table.

"I overheard you telling one of the guard dogs to go and get
her, that's all." Jack said. "I was wondering when we would get
something to drink so I naturally thought ...".
"Okay. Let's get back to the game," he said as Gloria
entered the room. She was a lovely woman too and Jack could
see why Richard was attracted to her. Gloria stood behind one
of the other suckers. Jack watched the dance hall girl avoid
her as she passed out the drinks. It was obvious she saw
Gloria even though she pretended not to.

"Jack was holding a pair of kings and a pair of queens. Jack
raised the betting. Gloria walked around to his side of the table
and signaled the man at the head of the table. He called Jack's
raise and raised the pot even more. The others began to drop
out. Jack called his raise and raised again. This continued
until the man was all in. They asked for their cards. "I'll take
one," Jack told the dealer. "I'll play these," the man said.

"He probably has a straight or flush. It would do no good to
bluff since he was all in," Jack thought. All Jack needed was a
king or queen for a full house. The cards were dealt. Jack
picked up his card and without turning it over, he placed it
back down on the table. "Aren't you going to look at it?" the
man asked.

"I feel lucky tonight," Jack said. "Besides we're through
betting. Turn over your cards."

"Who says we're through betting. He reached into his
pocket and pulled out another wad of money. I'll bet one
hundred thousand," the man said.

"I'll call and raise you another hundred thousand," Jack
said as he reached into his pocket. "And I don't even have to
look at my card. I can tell you're bluffing with that all in trick
you tried to play on me," Jack said.

The man didn't like Jack from the beginning and he liked
him even less now. He reached for another pocket and called
Jack's bet. "Let's see what you got," he said.

"You first ... you called me," Jack said. The man turned over
a spade flush.

Jack turned over his two pair and looked at the card on the
table. "I knew this was my lucky day. You should have seen
me at the track," Jack said as he turned over the king of
hearts. "Full House ... That beats a flush, I think. Well, it's been
fun. You don't mind if I come back next week ... do you?"
Jack started picking up his money from the table. "Got a
paper bag?" he asked.

"Rita, would you get the gentleman a bag and show him
out," the man said to the dance hall gal.

After Rita returned with a paper bag, Jack gathered up the
money, placed it in the bag and followed her into the hallway.
"That was amazing," she said. "How did you know you had
him beat?"

"Well, since I didn't have a ghost to help me, I thought a
little slight of hand was appropriate," Jack said.

"Ghost? What are you talking about?" she asked, trying to
look confused.

"You know very well what ghost. The one you avoided like
the plague when you were passing out the drinks," Jack

"Was it that obvious?" she asked. "But you ... You can see
ghosts too? We've got to talk about this. I get off in 30
minutes. Meet me later."

"The Downtown Cafe, in 45 minutes," Jack suggested.

"Okay. See you there," she said.

Jack went back to his apartment and dropped off the
money. He quickly shaved and combed his hair. "This could be
an interesting first date," he thought. In a few minutes he was
at the cafe. Rita was entering as he drove up. She wasn't
wearing the dance hall gown, but what she was wearing was
just as amazing. Jack felt like a teenager on his first date.
"This is silly," Jack thought. "She's probably engaged or
married, and what is she doing mixed up with those crooks."

Jack entered and walked directly to the table where she was
seated. "Do I need a password to sit here, ma'am?" Jack said.

"Sit down. This is serious. You knew there would be a ghost
before she even arrived, didn't you?" she said. "Why were you
there and how did you know about Gloria?"
"I might ask you the same thing," Jack said.

"Fair enough," she said. "But then I want to hear your
explanation." Rita lit up a cigarette and took a puff.

"That will stunt your growth," Jack said.

"I'm trying to quit. I only smoke when I'm nervous," she
said. She took another puff and began her story. A ghost had
told her about Gloria. The ghost had been in Gloria's situation
until an automobile accident had killed his last remaining
relatives. He was free now and had asked Rita if she could do
something to help Gloria.

"So. I make you nervous?" Jack said with a smile. "I was
there to try to find a way to help Gloria. Her friend Richard
Nash asked me to help her. What do you do for a living when
you're not a dance hall gal?"

"I help ghosts. Just like you, I expect. If you can see them,
you have to help them," she said.

"And what does your husband think about your choice of
vocation," Jack asked, noticing the ring on her finger.

"My husband was killed in the war," Rita said. "What does
your wife think about your line of work?"

"She died about six years ago. I still wear my ring to remind
me that I once had something worth living for," Jack said.
"Let's get back to Gloria. How are we going to help her?"

"We? Did I ask for your help?" Rita asked.

"I don't usually ask for help either, but I think we could
make a good team. Our special skill makes us unique.
Wouldn't you like to have someone you could share your
experiences with that can truly understand," Jack said.

"I don't know you that well. This is all so sudden," she said.

"Hey. I didn't ask you to marry me ... just work with me,"
Jack said. "Just what are your plans for helping Gloria?"

"I've been trying to find out if they really know Gloria's
relatives and how closely they are watching them. I want to get
them hidden so the crooks can't find them," Rita replied.

"That shouldn't be so hard. From what I've seen, they
couldn't find their butts with both hands tied behind their
backs. But what about the next ghost they intimidate. We've
got to put them in jail where that can't do any more damage,"
Jack said.

"Do you have a plan?" Rita asked.

"Yes ... but it will require your help. I'll tell you all about it
over dinner," Jack replied.

The following week, Jack arrived at the poker game a few
minutes late. "Sorry I'm late fellas, I stopped for a couple of
drinks to get ready. The last time y'all were so stingy with the
liquor that I couldn't enjoy myself," Jack said as he stumbled
through the door. "Now where's my seat."

"Right here, Jack," said one of the suckers from last week.

Jack staggered over to the table and flopped down heavily
into the seat. "Anybody ready for a round of drinks?" he
asked. "Where's Gloria with the drinks?"

"Her name isn't Gloria. Vido ... go tell Rita to bring in some
drinks," said the man at the head of the table. "Are we ready to
play? Jack, where's your money?"

Jack pulled out his wallet, opened it, and hundred dollar
bills went flying all over the table. "Oops. There it is," Jack
said. "Did I bring enough?"

"That will be fine, Jack. Sit down and we'll get it all together
for you. Rita, put down those drinks and gather up Mr.
Weston's money. The rest of you sit back and let Rita take care
of this."

In a few minutes the game began. Jack was getting a drink
from Rita when the man said, "It's your turn Jack. Call or

"You keep those drinks coming, Gloria. Oh ... that's right ...
You don't like to be called Gloria. But I thank it's such a perty
name ... ma'am," Jack said as he patted her on the butt.
"Keep your hand to yourself and cut the cowboy crap," said
Rita as she brushed his hand aside.

"Now Rita, be nice to our guest," said the man. "Call or
raise, Jack?"

"All this money makes me think of banks," Jack said. "I
hate banks. You won't catch me putting my money in a bank."

"Where do you put your money, Jack?" asked the man.

"Under my bed in a special safe. No combination lock, I had
it made special," Jack said.

"Aren't you afraid someone will steal it?" asked the man.

"I have the only key," Jack said as he stood up and reached
into his pocket and pulled out a large pocket knife with a
keyring at the end of the handle, "and if anyone tries to take
this from me ..." Jack fumbled around opening the knife and
the knife went flying and landed in the middle of the table point
first, putting a hole in a couple of the discards. "Did someone
say CUT THE CARDS?" Jack asked as he flopped back into his

"Vito, get over here and do something with this before Mr.
Weston hurts someone. You know what to do, and get us a
new deck of cards," the man said.

Gloria had just come into the room and was standing
behind Jack. "Brrr. I feel a chill. This is just like my apartment.
No matter how warm I make it or how much scotch I drink, I
keep having these chills. Night or day, morning or evening,
every day."

"Sit still Jack, and tell me more about these chills. You say
they happen all the time?" the man asked.

Vito came in with the new deck and Rita entered with more
drinks. As she went around the table she walked right through
Gloria as if she didn't see her. "Brrr," she said as she spilled
the drinks all over Jack, "I just felt a chill too."

"I'm gonna ketch a cold fer sure," Jack said. "You guys will
have to excuse me. I've got to go and get out of these clothes.
Where's my key?"
"Vito, give Jack his knife and show him out. Rita, clean up
this mess. If the rest of our guests will excuse us, we've got a
lot to discuss," the man said.

"See y'all next week," Jack said as he staggered down the

Vito returned to the room. "Guys ... take that copy of Jack's
key and go to his apartment tomorrow and rob his safe," the
man ordered.

"But boss, you know the other guys are afraid of ghosts.
Maybe you should come with us," said Vito.

"The others, huh? Well, you're probably right. We need a
new ghost to replace the one that got away," he said.

The next morning Jack left his apartment and drove off in
his truck. Not even a hangover, thanks to those watered down
drinks Rita had given him. The crooks immediately broke into
his apartment. The boss cornered the ghost and began
questioning and intimidating him. "Hey boss, the key doesn't
work." yelled Vito.

"You guys are hopeless, you can't even make a good copy
of a key," the boss yelled. "So let's bring the safe with us. Let's

As they walked back into the living room they heard,
"Hands behind your heads. No funny moves. Cuff 'em fellas."

"Let me do this," Jack said. "You have the right to remain
silent ... Anything you say will be too stupid to repeat in a
court of law....Maybe you better do it. I forgot the rest of the
Jack Weston didn't want to admit it, but this one had him
stumped. He had spent hours trying to get some answers, but
this one didn't seem to have any. It didn't even have any
questions. Jack had helped many ghosts before and even
though it was obvious this one needed help, it hadn't asked for
it. Jack couldn't believe he was actually volunteering, but there
was something so forlorn about this one that it reminded him
of himself not so long ago.

Jack's life had turned around since he started seeing
ghosts. He had been too busy solving their problems to think
about his. And then he met Rita. Rita was like Jack, she also
saw ghosts. Maybe Rita could help. She had been doing this a
lot longer than Jack. Besides, any excuse to see her again
made Jack tingle with anticipation.

The ghost just sat there on Jack's sofa, staring into space.
She was still quite lovely, but there was something different
about this one. Besides the obvious loss of memory, she
seemed to be more transparent than other ghosts Jack had
dealt with. She looked exhausted. If Jack didn't know she was
already dead, he would have sworn she was dying.

Jack decided to call Rita. "Hello ... this is Rita ... How may I
help you?" the voice at the other end of the line said.

"It's Jack ... Jack Weston ... I hope you remember me."

"How could I forget. How are you doing ... cowboy?"

"Not so good. I've come upon a real puzzler. I need your
advise. Can you come over?" Jack asked. "I'd come over
there, but I had enough trouble just getting this one to my
place and I'm afraid to leave her alone."

"Sure ... I'll be right over as soon as I finish up a few things

Jack decided to tidy up the place a little, maybe even tidy
himself up. Jack wasn't a slob, but he was far from being a
neat freak. The years of being a hermit and hunter had taught
him that cleanliness was important but scented toiletries were
unneeded. Shaving was also optional. It was hard to get back
to the old ways and he wasn't even sure he wanted to except
when he was going to see Rita. His apartment wasn't tiny, but
it wasn't a large apartment either. It didn't take long to
straighten up.

Jack sat down and watched the news on TV for a while and
then there was the knock at the door. Jack quickly ran his
comb through his hair and rushed to the door. It was the paper
boy coming around to collect. Jack gave him the $5.00 and
went back to the couch. Where was the ghost. How long had
she been gone. Jack ran to the door and opened it.
Rita was just starting to knock. "So now your psychic," she

"No ... I'm looking for the ghost ... it just vanished. Did you
see one as you drove up," Jack asked.

"Tell me about your problem. Maybe that will answer some
questions. What's so special about this one?" Rita asked.

"She doesn't remember her name or anything about herself.
She can tell me what she did last week or last month but her
memories don't seem to go back farther than that," Jack
replied. "I want to help her but I've got to find out more about

"Did she ask for your help?" Rita questioned.

"No. But I know she needs it," Jack replied.

"That's not like you, Jack. Our last conversation made me
think that you considered your gift a burden. Have you had a
change of heart?" Rita asked.

"There was just something about her that reminded me of
myself," Jack replied. "I had to try to help."

"You are changing. Well that's a good sign. Did she seem
different in any other way?" Rita asked.

"Yes ... it's as though she's dying. I know she's already
dead but if you saw her you would see what I mean," Jack

"Where is the nearest mirror?" Rita asked.
"In the bathroom. This is no time to fix your makeup. We've
got to find her," Jack said.

"Come with me. I think I know where she is," Rita said as
she walked towards the bathroom and looked inside.

The ghost was standing in front of the mirror looking at her

"What's she doing?" Jack asked. "How did you know?"

"They all do this when they get to this stage. Maybe she's
trying to recognize the reflection, or maybe she just wants to
be around another ghost. Maybe she knows she's vanishing
and is checking on her condition," Rita answered.

"What do you mean .... this stage?" Jack asked.

"She's losing her ectoplasm. They all do ... over time," Rita
answered. "They don't take in energy like we do when we eat.
Fortunately they don't need much. Only their minds continue
to require it and their minds require far less than ours because
they don't have to control bodily functions. Their long term
memories are the first to go."

"Is there any way to restore their ectoplasm?" Jack asked.

"Only one way that I know about. You've heard of mediums
channeling the spirit of a ghost. Their minds link and the
medium can share the ghosts memory," Rita said.

"So ... let's get a medium," Jack suggested.

"Not so fast. The waking contact doesn't do anything for the
ghost. It actually weakens them as well as the medium.
Subconscious contact is what's required," Rita said.

"What do you mean?" Jack asked.

"You have to sleep with her, literally," Rita answered.
"You'll have to take a sleeping pill, of course. Otherwise the
despair she is feeling will prevent you from getting to sleep."

"Now wait just a minute. You talk like I'm going to do this. I
don't want her memories. Isn't there some other way? Couldn't
you do it? You seem to know all about it," Jack said.

"She seems to trust you and this is your problem. You only
asked for my advice. If you do this, you must help her finish
her business and get her on her way to the afterlife. We can't
have her hanging around and telling other ghosts how to
restore their ectoplasm," Rita said.

"So that explains it," Jack said. "That's why I've seen
ghosts following drunks around at night. They're waiting for
them to pass out or fall sleep. Looks like they already know."

"If you're going to do this, I'll stick around and help you. I'll
make sure the ghost lies still while you are connected so we
can get it done in one shot. You'll not want to do it a second
time," Rita said.

"Okay. But I don't have any sleeping pills. How about you?"
Jack asked.

"No. But I have a prescription that will work even better. It's
for an eye condition I have that causes me to see ghosts," Rita

"I'd been meaning to ask you how it is that you can see
ghosts," Jack said. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"Maybe some other time ... some other place," she said.

Jack took one of the pills and swallowed. "How long before
this takes effect?" he asked.

"About a half hour and you'll be sleeping like a baby. Tell
me about some of your other adventures with ghosts while we
wait," Rita said.

They talked and compared experiences. Jack lay down on
the bed while they talked. Rita sat in a chair beside the bed.
The ghost stared at her image in the dresser mirror. Gradually
Jack nodded off. Jack began to have feelings of sadness and
despair. Familiar feelings but with a hopelessness Jack had
never known. The pain ... it was like an abscess in his very

Jack awoke to find Rita standing over him, calling his name
softly. That voice. It wasn't Rita's voice. Jack knew that voice
but was still too dazed to put a face with it. "Where have you
been, Jack. I've been looking every-where for you. You
disappeared a week after my funeral and I was afraid you were
dead," the voice said.

"Linda ... Is that you?" Jack asked.

"It's me Jack. I've missed you so much. I thought I'd never
see you again," the voice said. "You've forgiven me. That
makes me so happy. I couldn't move on until I knew."

"Of course your forgiven, but how did you know?" Jack

"Our minds were linked. I know how much you've always
loved me," the voice answered.

Jack suddenly realized he knew how Linda felt. He took her
in his arms and kissed her. Linda began to unbutton his shirt.
He looked into her eyes and realized they were Rita's. "We
can't do this. We can't use Rita this way." Jack said.

"I know how you feel about Rita. I understand." Linda said.

"And I know your all right with it. After six years, it's time
for me to get on with my life. I'm so glad you feel that way."
Jack said.

"Goodbye Jack. I've got to go. Be happy," Linda said.

"Is she gone?" ask Rita.

"Yes, she's gone. Thank you so much for making that
possible." Jack said.

"It's the least I could do for the man I love," said Rita.

"Your confused," said Jack. "Those are Linda's feelings.
Maybe we shouldn't see each other until they wear off."

"If that's what you want," Rita said with a tear in her eye.
"But I know how I feel."

"I hope you still feel that way the next time we meet," Jack
said. "With all my heart."
"Oh. It's you," Rita said as she opened the door half way.
"What do you want?"

"I'm sorry I made you angry. I'd hoped you would
understand. I wouldn't bother you if there was anyone else I
could go to. You wouldn't answer the phone and I didn't want
to discuss this with your answering machine," Jack said.

" What is it, how can I help you?" she asked. "Another
ghost problem?"

"I'm not sure. I saw something this morning while I was
jogging and I can't explain it. I think it was a ghost, but it was
different than any ghost I've ever seen," Jack replied.

"Different ... how was it different?" Rita asked.

"For one thing it could move objects. It was swinging on a
swing in a school yard. When I approached it, it ran away, and
I mean ran away, not floated away," Jack said.

"That doesn't sound like a typical ghost, maybe a
poltergeist, but they can't walk or run," Rita said. "Was there
anything else that was strange?"

"Oh, you're not going to believe this but it still had color.
You know how ghosts are just shades of gray, well this one
looked alive except it was transparent," Jack said.

"Are you just trying to find an excuse to talk to me? You'll
have to come up with a better one than this to get in my door
again," Rita said.

"Don't flatter yourself. I'm telling you the truth. I'd hoped
you would have some answers," Jack said as he turned to
walk away.

"Wait ... Jack ... I'm sorry. You're really taking this ghost
thing serious. I was afraid that after seeing your dead wife, you
would go back to your life as a hermit," Rita said, opening the
door further.
"The thought had crossed my mind, but I can't just leave
you to handle things all by yourself," Jack said. "You need me
as much as I need you."

"Come on in and we'll see what we can figure out about
your ghost, or whatever it is," Rita said. "Could you recognize
a photo of the ghost if you saw one?"

"Maybe. I didn't get a really good look," Jack said.

"I have a database on my computer of all the school
pictures taken over the last 20 years. What was the name of
the school?" Rita asked. " He was probably a student there at
one time."

"Obama High School, the one on the east side of town,"
Jack said.

"Okay. Sit down and look at the photos and see if you can
recognize him. It was male, wasn't it?" Rita asked. "I was just
going to cook something when you came to the door. Would
you join me?"

"You can cook too? I'd be delighted," Jack said.

"I think I've found him," Jack said as Rita placed the last
dish on the table. "Ken Wentworth. But he's still enrolled at
that school."

"This is getting more confusing all the time. Are you sure
he was transparent?" Rita asked.

"Yes, I'm sure. I know what I saw," Jack replied. "But I don't
think he could go through solid objects. He went out of his
way to go through a gate as he was running away, and I could
hear him running."

"Did they list a phone number for him? I have an idea," Rita
said. "But let's eat before it gets cold. Would you like some

"If you don't mind. It's not often I get real home cooking
except for my own and it's not really cooking, it more like
thawing," Jack said.
"Well, don't get use to it. It probably won't happen again,"
Rita said.

"What did you expect me to do, take advantage of you while
you were in that condition?" Jack asked.

"It just bothers me that you didn't want to," Rita said. "I
thought you cared about me."

"I never wanted anything more. But I care too much." Jack

"Can we just forget it ever happened. I'll try if you will," Rita

"Okay. We'll start over," Jack said. "By the way, what is
your idea?"

"Hello. We're the people that took the school pictures and
we believe your son may have left something here. If I could
just talk to him to see if he can identify it," Rita said.

"I'm sorry. My son is hospitalized. He's in a coma," the lady

"I'm so sorry. What hospital is he in? We'd like to send
some flowers," Rita said.

"Grand Memorial. Emergency ward," she answered.

"He's in a coma, at Grand Memorial. We need to find him
right away," said Rita. "Let's drive over to the school and see if
he's around."

"Okay," said Jack. "Your car or my truck?"

"We can take mine. I've seen you drive," said Rita.

On the way to the school, as they drove past the park, Jack
spotted something out of the corner of his eye. "Stop. There
he is. By the lake," Jack said.

Rita stopped the car and turned off the engine. "How do we
handle this so he doesn't run away?" Rita asked.

"You walk over as though you don't see him. I've never
seen a teenage boy yet that would run from a beautiful
woman," Jack said. "When you get close enough, call him by
name and tell him you mean him no harm. Signal me when
he's okay with me coming over."

Jack watched as Rita walked around the edge of the lake.
The ghost was sitting under a tree on the other side of the
lake. He seemed to be watching as she approached. In a
moment they were talking, or at least Rita was talking. In
another minute or so, Rita signaled for Jack to come over.

"What did he tell you? Did you find out how he ended up in
a coma?" Jack asked.

"He tried to overdose. Someone must have found him
before it was too late," Rita said.

"Ken. Do you know you're still alive?" Jack asked. "Just
nod. I don't read lips."

Ken nodded yes.

"Well, you won't be for long. They're about to pull the plug
and that will be the end for you. Since you tried to commit
suicide, you'll not be walking into any bright lights, and they
won't let you hang around here. Why don't you go back to the
hospital while you still have a chance. When the grim reaper
starts dragging you off, kicking and screaming, I won't be able
to help you. I know you must have had a tough time to make
you choose suicide, but trust me, it wasn't as bad as it's going
to get," Jack said.

"Which hospital? Grand Memorial. You'd better hurry before
they pull that plug," Jack said.

As the ghost ran off in the direction of the hospital, Rita
turned to Jack and said, "You're such a liar, Jack. I don't know
if I will ever be able to trust you."

"I hope lying isn't a mortal sin because I'd do it again if it
would save a kid's life," Jack said.

"It's so beautiful here. Let's go for a walk," Rita said.

Jack took her hand. "Is this a date?" he asked.
"As close to one as you're likely to get," she replied.

Jack had just sat down to breakfast and the headline
caught his eye. Drunk sees Elvis at Graceland. Amos Peabody
claims to have seen Elvis's ghost lying in his bed during a tour
of Graceland. "But I wasn't drunk when I saw him," says
Amos. "After all, they let me on the tour."

"I've got to tell Rita about this. You don't suppose there's
anything to this. His ghost couldn't last this long," Jack
thought. "Still ... stranger things have happened and they all
seem to happen to me. Imagine, meeting Elvis Presley."

Jack finished his breakfast, grabbed the paper, and headed
over to Rita's apartment. "I probably should have called first,"
Jack thought. "She might have even answered. The last time I
saw her didn't go too badly. If I'm going to Memphis, I've got to
be sure she can handle things while I'm away."

"Elvis! You're kidding. You think Elvis's ghost could still be
around after all of these years," Rita laughed, "and with only a
drunk's word that he saw him, a drunk that you've never even

"I've just got to check it out. This is Elvis Presley we're
talking about, not just any ghost. Can you handle things while
I'm away?"

"No. There's no way you're going to Memphis and leaving
me here. I'm going too. I love Elvis. My mother was his biggest

"My dad was an Elvis impersonator. Not a very good one,
but none the less, I grew up hearing all about Elvis," said Jack.
"I've seen all of his movies and know the words to every song
he ever sang."

"When do we leave?" asked Rita.

"As soon as you can pack. You don't mind if we drive. I hate
flying," said Jack. "Meet me at my place when you're ready."
"We better stop and try to get some rest," said Rita. "It's
getting dark and I don't like driving in the dark."

"There. That one looks okay," Jack said. Rita slowed down
and turned toward the motel. They got adjoining rooms and
put their luggage in their rooms. "We should get something to
eat," Rita said, "before the motel restaurant closes."

"What are we waiting for. I'm starving," said Jack.

Later, back in their rooms, Jack was just starting to nod off
when the door, between his room and Rita's room, opened.
Rita stood in the doorway, the light from behind her shining
through her nightgown. Like an X-ray, Jack could see every
curve of her beautiful body. "There's no heat in my room. I'm
freezing," Rita said.

"Do you want me to go get the manager?" Jack asked.

"No. You're already in bed. Just get me warm," Rita

"Come on over here and get under the covers. You'll be
warm in no time," Jack replied.

A few minutes later... "You were right. It is warm. I don't
think I'll need this nightgown," Rita said.

Rita removed the gown and tossed it across the room onto
a chair. Jack reached over and pulled Rita's body against his.
"Jack," Rita said.

"Yes, Rita."

"I need you to drive. I'm getting sleepy."

"What ???"

"Wake up, Jack. It's time for you to drive."

As Rita closed her eyes, Jack said "Pleasant dreams."

The following afternoon they arrived in Memphis and found
a motel near Grace-land. After checking in, Jack grabbed a
brochure of the Graceland tour. "Looks like we can catch the
last tour today," Jack said. "but we'll have to hurry."

Finally the tour entered the bedroom. There on the bed, in
light blue pajamas, lay what seemed to be the ghost of Elvis.
His dark black hair and sideburns were unmistakable. "He's
just like Ken," said Rita, "the ghost of that kid that was in a

"You're right. But that would mean that Elvis is in a coma.
But look at him, he doesn't look any different than the day he
died. Even in a coma, Elvis would have aged and so would the
ghost," Jack said.

"Then what's going on. Is this the ghost of an Elvis
impersonator that's in a coma?" Rita asked.

"Oh, no. That's Elvis. I'm sure of it. I don't know how, but
that's Elvis," Jack said.

"So what do we do?" Rita asked. "We'll never be able to get
in here alone with him. This place is better protected than Fort

"We'll need the help of someone who can get in here," said

"Come along. The tour is moving on," said the security

"Who do we know that can get in here," Rita asked.

"We don't know them yet, but we'll meet them on the tour,"
Jack said.

"We're going back on the Graceland tour?" asked Rita.

"No. We're going on the Memphis Ghost Tour," Jack said. "I
saw a brochure in the lobby of the motel."

"Jack, this is a waste of time. When a place is suspected of
being haunted, it's usually because someone heard or saw
something they can't explain," Rita said. "You know as well as
I that ghosts are neither seen nor heard by your everyday
mortal unless they have our talent or the ghost is a poltergeist.
A poltergeist will be of no use to us."
"What so special about a poltergeist?" Jack asked.

"A poltergeist is a ghost that in life suffered from a mental
disorder. Without his medication or guidance from a loved
one, he has trouble adjusting to the frustrations of being a
ghost. While these frustrations turn to feelings of
hopelessness in your typical ghost, it manifests itself as
extreme anger in a poltergeist. This extreme emotion, at its
peak, gives the poltergeists their unique abilities. They are
able to move small objects, make muffled sounds, and even
make themselves visible. This usually manifests itself as
whatever the viewer was expecting to see. It's more a mental
thing than a visual one. "

"Then you don't want to go on the tour?" Jack asked.

"Don't be silly. I can't wait. I loved haunted houses as a kid,
before I started seeing ghosts for real," Rita said.

"When are you going to tell me about that? How did you
start seeing ghosts?" Jack asked.

"I don't know. It's kind of personal. Someday," Rita said.

Rita had been right about the tour. It had been fun, but
fruitless. Not even a poltergeist to write home about. As Jack
and Rita talked on the bus after the last stop on the tour, Jack
glanced over his shoulder toward the back of the bus. Sitting
in the last seat was a ghost, a young girl that looked to be in
her mid teens. Jack and Rita got up and moved to the back of
the bus.

"Don't be afraid," Jack said. "We need your help. We can
see you and we're not scared, and you shouldn't be afraid of
us. We can't hear you so don't try to talk, just nod if you

The ghost nodded. "We'll talk after we get off the bus," Jack
said. The ghost nodded again.

When they got back to the motel, Jack used his usual
method to communicate with the ghost. "How would like to
meet Elvis Presley?" he asked.

"Who?" the ghost asked.
"Elvis... You know... Blue Suede Shoes... Love me Tender...
Viva Las Vegas," Jack replied.

"Doesn't ring a bell," said the ghost.

"Lisa Marie's dad," said Rita.

"I know her. She was married to Michael. You know, I
believe my grandpa may have mentioned him. He must be
really old now," said the ghost.

"Not as old as you might think," said Jack. "We need you to
go inside Graceland and tell Elvis we need to talk with him.
Tell him we can see ghosts. We may be able to help him. Have
him meet us at the front gate."

"What's in it for me?" the ghost asked.

"You help us and we'll help you with your unfinished
business so you can move on," Jack said.

"So all I have to do is go in and tell him you want to see
him," the ghost said.

"It may not be that simple. Since ghosts don't sleep, I
believe he was in some sort of trance. You'll have to make
mental contact in order to wake him. I'll give you all the
details," said Jack.

Jack and Rita waited in the car for what seemed like hours.
Parked across the street, they had a clear view of the gate and
the road leading toward the house. Suddenly Rita screamed.
"Sorry, ma'am. I didn't mean to scare you but since you can
see me, I guess you're the ones I'm looking for," Elvis wrote on
a paper pad and handed it to Rita.

There he stood. Even in his blue pajamas there was an aura
of majesty about him. The teenage ghost stood along side him,
her eyes fixed on Elvis. She had a look of wonder and

"How did you get here. We were watching the gate. Why
didn't we see you coming?" Rita asked. Jack had questions
too, and he intended to ask them as soon as he could close
his mouth.
Elvis motioned for them to follow him. Jack and Rita got out
of the car and followed Elvis and the teenage ghost towards
one of the buildings. After they entered the building Elvis
locked the door behind them and led them to a bookshelf
against one wall. Elvis pushed one of the books and the
bookcase swung open like a door. After they entered, Elvis
pulled a lever and the door or bookshelf closed. A golf cart
blocked the path ahead. Elvis sat down in the driver's seat and
the teenage ghost sat beside him. Jack and Rita took the
remaining seats.

Jack and Rita looked at each other with looks of excitement
and anticipation. In a few minutes the cart came to a halt near
the other end of the tunnel. Elvis unlocked and opened a door.
They all went inside and Elvis closed the door behind them.
Opening a drawer in his desk, Elvis pulled out a diary and
handed it to Jack. The first page was dated about ten years
after Elvis's suspected death. As Jack flipped through the
diary, reading bits here and there, it became clear that Elvis
had written this. There were gaps of three to four years
throughout the diary. The last entry was dated about two years

"This will take some time to read all of this. Will it give us
enough answers so that we can help you?" asked Jack.

Elvis shrugged. "Should I read the whole thing?" Jack

Elvis nodded "Yes."

"Then we better get back to the motel. It's getting late and
I've got a lot of reading to do," Jack said.

Elvis picked up a pencil and piece of paper and wrote
"You're welcome to stay here. There are several sofas and
another bedroom. I don't mind the company and these rooms
are not monitored by the security system."

"Rita and I will still have to get something to eat. I'm sure
she's as hungry as I am," said Jack.

"I can get you into the kitchen. I've had to trick the security
system a few times so I could bring objects in here. There
won't be anyone around at this time of night," Elvis wrote. He
turned to Rita and wrote, "Would you join me for dinner,

After dinner Jack settled down in a comfortable recliner and
began reading. Rita listened to some of Elvis's records on an
old record player. Elvis took the teenage ghost on a tour of
Graceland. A few hours later they returned as Jack was
finishing the diary. "It doesn't say what type of terminal illness
you were diagnosed with," Jack said.

"I can't remember. I never was much good at understanding
that medical mumbo jumbo," Elvis wrote.

"So you hired a doctor to find a cure or a way to help you
last till a cure could be found?" Jack asked. Elvis nodded.

"Any idea what woke you after ten years in hibernation?"
Jack asked. Elvis shook his head "No."

"Where did you learn transcendental meditation?" Jack

"From my karate coach," wrote Elvis.

"So you were able to leave your body. After you discovered
the doctor was killed in a car accident, it says you spent some
time trying to find his ghost or anyone that could help you.
Finally you became exhausted and had to return to your body.
The next time you left your body you saw that you had grown a
beard. You had aged slightly due to exerting all that energy. So
you shaved your body's beard to make you more recognizable
and decided to spend most of your time in a trance in your
bed. Since you couldn't go to them, you let thousands of
people a day come to you," Jack said.

Elvis nodded.

"So the doctor is dead, you made him keep all of this a
secret, and you don't know what illness you have or how to
bring your body out of hibernation," Jack said. "This is going
to take longer than we anticipated."

"We don't have much time, the nutrient supply that is
keeping my body alive is running low," Elvis wrote.

Three weeks later Jack and Rita were sitting in Jack's
apartment talking about what they had learned while helping
the teenage ghost they had met at Graceland. Jack had gone
to answer the doorbell. Jack walked back into the room
holding a letter. What do you suppose this is. There's no
return address. It simply says "Do not Return to Sender." "You
don't suppose..."

"Open it, Jack," said Rita.

"It's a letter from Elvis. I'll read it to you," said Jack.

Dear Jack and Rita,

I just wanted to let you know how things are going. Amos is
working out fine as my new business manager. Thanks so much
for recommending him. We got the results of the blood test. New
testing techniques showed the original diagnosis was a false
positive. I wasn't dying after all. There is the possibility that I will
awaken if the nutrient feed is stopped, but more testing is need-
ed. My body and I are not in a hurry to take the chance.

I've been talking with Lisa Marie on My Space. I don't think
she believes it's really me, but she's already treating me like a
father. I took your advice and reentered my body more frequently.
I am not as forgetful and I'm already starting to remember
some of what I thought I had forgotten. My body seems like the
twin brother I never knew. It's having happier dreams than be-

I know what they said about my death, and I want you to know
that I did not abuse drugs. My life was so fast paced and I had so
little time to myself that I sometimes blew up at my friends. I told
them it was the drugs. After that if I wanted to be alone I would
pretend to be high on drugs. I didn't want to hurt their feeling by
telling them to leave me alone. Someday I hope my fans will
know the truth; that I didn't desert them by choice.

In case I haven't already said it, Thank You, Thank You Very
Elvis Aaron Presley
"But I need you to come with me, Rita," said Jack. "It's only
for two weeks, three at the most."

"The last two week trip lasted a month, and we drove clear
across the country before it was done," Rita said.

"We only have to drive to Houston, I promise," Jack

"Just to Houston. You promise. Well okay, if it's that
important," Rita said.

The next morning they were on the road. "What's this all
about Jack? I can't believe I didn't ask when you were begging
me to come along," Rita said.

"It's a ghost problem, as usual, but I believe there was foul
play," Jack said. "It may take two of us to watch each others

"Wake me when you need me to drive," said Rita. "I didn't
get much sleep last night. I had a lot of things to finish so that
I could leave today."

Jack should have told her, but what if she had refused to
go. This would be a lonely trip without her. She'll understand.
She'd do the same thing for one of her ghosts. It was almost
noon and Jack was getting sleepy now. He needed some
coffee and wouldn't turn down a meal. He saw a sign
advertising a truck stop a few miles ahead. "Wake up, Rita,"
Jack said. "I'm going to stop in a few minutes at this truck stop
up ahead. Are you getting hungry yet?"

"I could use a cup of coffee and a light meal. How long were
you driving?" Rita asked.

"A little over six hours. We're over halfway there," Jack

"I told you I would drive some. You should have waken me,"
Rita said. "I must have been sleepier than I thought."
"I'll go fill up the car if you'll get the check," Jack said as he
drank his last sip of coffee. "We've got to drive clear across
Houston in rush hour traffic before we get a motel."

In a few minutes Jack had nodded off. "We're almost into
Houston ... Jack ...wake up," Rita said.

"Already. I guess I was pretty sleepy too. Now I'll be up all
night," Jack said. "Just stay on this highway all the way
through town. I'll drive if you want be to."

"No. I'm fine for a little longer. I'll let you know," Rita said,

"I was thinking. It's silly to pay for two rooms when we
could get a king-sized bed," Jack said sheepishly.

"Since when are you concerned with saving money. You've
got more money that the Vatican," Rita replied.

"Well, I thought it sounded like a good idea at the time,"
Jack said.

"Actually, you're right. We're friends and I know I can trust
you. Can I trust you, Jack?" Rita asked.

"Sure, Rita. You can trust me," Jack replied.

"Wake up, Jack. It's morning. What are you doing on the
sofa?" Rita asked.

"The mattress was a little on the firm side. I was more
comfortable on the sofa," Jack replied. "Did you get enough

"Slept like a baby," Rita replied. "If you don't mind, I'll take a
shower first."

"Need me to wash your back. That's what I'm here for," Jack

"You said watch each others back, Jack," Rita replied.

"I could do that too," Jack replied.

"Now Jack, after last night, we both know you're harmless,"
Rita said as she let her gown drop to the floor before entering
the bathroom.

"Damn," Jack thought. "Women."

Jack walked over to the bathroom door and gave the knob a
twist. "Damn," he said. "Locked."

As Jack turned into the entrance of the Johnson Space
Center he could see the look on Rita's face though he tried
desperately to avoid her glance. "Jack Weston and Rita
Richards to see the commanding officer," Jack told the guard.

"Go right in. He's expecting you. Follow the green signs,"
said the guard.

Jack followed the green signs to the base headquarters.
Rita followed closely behind as Jack walked up to the
receptionist's desk. "Go right in. He's expecting you," the
officer said.

"You must be Jack, General Dwight D. Wilcox here, and
what can I do for you?" the general asked.

"I understand you are the commanding officer in charge of
Space Stations 1 and 2 as well as the Luna 1 moon base," said
Jack. " I have a question for you and I need an honest answer.
You know who sent me here and that gives me top secret

"Just how do you know the President?" the general asked.

"You might say I was very close to his dear deceased
mother," Jack said.

The President hadn't sent Jack here, he had simply gotten
Jack in the door as a favor. He had no idea what Jack was up

"Okay, what's your question?" the general said.

"I was watching a program on TV the other night and it said
that there had not been a single fatality on either space station
or on Luna 1. Has there been any disappearances that have
not been accounted for?" Jack asked.

"Why yes, a couple of them. But that was never released to
the public," said the general.

"We'll need two top clearance passes on the next shuttle to
Space Station 1," Jack demanded. "The president wants us to

"Space Station 1, I'm going to kill you, Jack," Rita said as
they entered the car. "So we only have to drive to Houston.
That's not funny Jack."

Jack followed the direction on the card the officer had
handed him until he reached the launching pad. They were
already loading passengers and cargo. Jack opened the trunk
and asked one of the soldiers to take care of getting their
luggage aboard. He and Rita got in line behind the others.

"Now Rita, this is perfectly safe. I've read all about it. Why,
on their maiden voyage last week the trip was quite
uneventful. This new technology is much safer than flying."

"I still can't believe you've talked me into going to the space
station," Rita replied.

Jack and Rita entered the shuttle and followed the others
down a long hallway to a large room. Everyone were finding
seats and fastening their seat belts. The seats were securely
fastened to the floor of the room. The shuttle itself was a large
cube. Cargo was stored in areas between the passenger
section and the outer walls. It served as protection from
cosmic rays. Two cables, passing through the shuttle,
stretched from Earth to Space Station 1 in geosynchronous
orbit 1000 miles above. These cables supplied power to the
space station and the shuttle would tap some of this power to
run its magnetrons and power the life support.

"Are you doing research on SS1?" asked a stranger in the
next seat.

"Just passing through," Jack replied.

"Passing through? To where Jack ... passing through to
where!" Rita exclaimed.

"Didn't I tell you? We're going to Luna 1 Colony on the
moon," Jack said.
"The moon, have you completely lost your mind? You said
we would be back in 2-3 weeks," Rita screamed.

"We should be. It only take a couple of hours to get to SS1.
A short flight to SS2 and 1 1/2 days on the lunar shuttle," Jack

"I thought you hated flying," Rita remarked.

"I hate flights over 10 minutes. This one won't last that long.
You see ... SS2 is in a moving orbit that always keeps it
between the earth and moon. That way cables could be run
from it to the surface of the moon, just like the cables from
Earth and SS1. Once a day SS1 and SS2 pass within a few
miles of each other. The flight from SS1 to SS2 is very short at
that time of day," Jack said.

"Fasten your seat belts. We are preparing for take off," said
the pretty flight attendant on the large viewing screen. In a few
minutes the screen was showing the Earth becoming smaller
and smaller. "Feel free to roam about the cabin. You will be
notified if you need to return to your seats. We accelerate at a
constant rate of 1g. The gravity you feel is equivalent to earth's
gravity. In about 30 minutes you will be asked to return to your
seats. There will be a brief period of weightlessness in which
you will transfer to the seats attached to what is now the
ceiling. Maintain a tight grip on the ropes while making this
transition and have your paper bag handy. Throwing up in zero
gravity is not a pleasant sight. We will then begin deceleration
at a slower rate which will duplicate the space station's
gravity. Be sure to walk around at that time to become

A while later, during the weightless period, a person near
Rita missed their paper bag and the odor was pungent. "Jack,
you're so lucky they didn't allow me to bring a weapon on
board," said Rita. In a few minutes the room smelled like
honeysuckles and the attendants had used hand held
vacuums to remove all the droplets that were floating around.
A while later they were all filing out of the shuttle and onto the
space station.

Jack and Rita had about three hours before their flight to
SS2. They decided to look around. There were booths
everywhere selling everything from souvenirs to tooth-
brushes. Jack and Rita walked over to one of the viewing
windows where they could see Earth. What an amazing sight!
"I should have brought my camera," Rita said. "Wait here while
I go buy one." Rita hurried off as Jack continued to look at the
Earth, trying to make out the different continents. Rita returned
in a couple of minutes and began snapping pictures.

After boarding their flight, Rita turned to Jack and asked,
"How did you know about the disappearances, Jack?"

"I was watching live documentary on Luna 1 and I saw a
ghost standing near one of the speakers. When they
mentioned that there had been no fatalities, I had a feeling
that something was definitely wrong," Jack said.

As they entered SS2 they saw that it was almost a duplicate
of SS1. They decided to get something to eat before they
boarded the lunar shuttle. Surprisingly, the food wasn't much
more expensive than airport food back on earth. With the multi
daily shuttles the cost to transport items was rapidly dropping.
The food wasn't all that good, but it was filling and they didn't
know what would be available on the shuttle.

In a few hours they were aboard the shuttle and headed for
the moon. Just before takeoff the large video screen
activated. The same pretty flight attendant reminded them to
fasten their seat belts. "After takeoff, you may move around
freely. Through the doors directly in front of you, you will find
the buffet, to your left is the casino and to your right are the
movie theaters. To your rear are the sleeping compartments.
Your passes indicate your room numbers. We will arrive on the
moon in exactly 35 hours and 25 minutes. The rooms are
limited and only have one small bed. You will have to share
with one other passenger, but you should be able to alternate
your sleeping times. Have a pleasant trip."

"What do you want to do first?" Jack asked.

"Well, I'm not sleepy or hungry so it's either a movie or the
casino. Let's see what movies are playing," said Rita.

After a couple of movies, Jack and Rita stuffed themselves
at the buffet and decided to try the casino. "Don't try any of
your slight of hand here," Rita said. "I'd hate for you to get
thrown off and have to walk home."

"I think I'll stay clear of the poker tables. The slots will keep
me busy for a while," Jack said.

"I'm not much of a gambler, mind if I tag along," Rita said.

"Be my guest," said Jack. "I'll turn you in to one before the
night's over."

After several hours Rita asked, "Do you play gin rummy?"

"I love gin rummy. 10 cents a point?" said Jack.

"You're on," said Rita as they headed for their room.

They played for hours until the buffet began to take affect
and neither of them could hardly keep their eyes open. Jack
looked at his watch. Only eight hours until we land. So much
for alternating our sleep times. Time flies when you're having

Rita turned down the lights and they got ready for bed. She
couldn't blame Jack, this was as much her fault as his. "Jack,
you're on my side. Move over," Rita said.

"Don't I even get a good night kiss?" Jack asked.

"After what you've done, dragging me off to the moon
without even telling me," Rita said. "Actually though, I've been
wondering about something for quite a while and this is as
good a time as any to find out."

"And what would that be?" asked Jack.

"Do you remember the only time we kissed. I was
channeling the ghost of your dead wife. Those feeling I felt,
were they all her feelings or were some of them mine," Rita

"Well, there's only one way to find out," Jack said as he
reached over and kissed her. "Well, did you get your answer?"

"Let's try that again," Rita said. "You can never be too

The next morning they headed for the lunar shuttle. The
message above the door said that the shuttle would leave in
six hours. "Jack, what's going on?" Rita asked.
Jack looked at his watch and replied, "I forgot to reset my
watch. We're in a different time zone now."

"Jack, I really am going to kill you one of these days," Rita

"How about some more gin rummy. Give me a chance to get
even," Jack said.

"Well, okay, but I was hoping for a little more competition,"
Rita said.

Six hours later they departed the shuttle and entered Luna
One. Jack had seen documentaries of the early years of Luna
One. Life had been tough for the early pioneers. Things had
changed a lot, but Jack had seen recent documentaries and
wasn't surprised. Rita, on the other hand, was pleasantly
surprised at the comfort level so far from Earth. If not for the
dome, you would think you were in one of the cities on earth
about thirty years ago. "Let's get checked into our hotel so we
don't have to drag our bags around," said Jack.

As they headed up to the rooms Rita said, "Jack, you
actually got us separate rooms. You really didn't have last
night planned."

"You could check out of your room tomorrow if you miss
me too much," Jack said.
"Think of the money we could save."

"I'll give that all the consideration it deserves," Rita said.
"Where do we begin our investigation?"

"I have a copy of the documentary I was watching when I
saw the ghost. I want you to see what we are looking for," said

"I know what a ghost looks like, how many could there be?"
Rita replied.

"No, silly, I want you to see what kind of uniform he was
wearing," said Jack. "That might tell us where he worked on
the base. Ghosts don't usually go far from where they hung
around when they were alive."
"Good thinking, Jack. So we look for someone in that type
of uniform and find out where they work," Rita said. "What
time is it here?"

"7:15 P.M.," Jack said, "and I did reset my watch. How
about we meet for dinner in a couple of hours."

"Sounds good to me. I'm going to soak in a nice hot bath,"
Rita said.

The following morning they were both up early. After
breakfast they began their tour of the city, looking for anyone
wearing one of those uniforms and keeping the other eye open
for ghosts. During lunch Jack remembered something. "The
ghost appeared in the documentary when they were filming
the shipping facilities," Jack said.

"Then he either worked in the shipping facility or close by,"
Rita responded.

"Exactly, now you're getting the hang of this," Jack said.
"The shipping facilities should be near where we exited the
shuttle. Let's go take a look around."

An hour later they were back at the shuttle port. There were
a couple of guys wearing the uniforms they were looking for.
They were unloading cargo. Jack watched as one of them on a
forklift drove into a nearby warehouse. "Let's take a look in
there," Jack said.

Jack waited till the forklift driver came back out and was
well on his way back to the shuttle port. "Let's go. We're not
going to wait for an invitation," Jack said.

The warehouse seemed empty. There were what looked like
offices deeper in. "Let's check those out," said Jack. As Jack
and Rita approached the offices, Jack saw a light on in one of
them. He could see two men talking and he could see the
ghost standing near the two men. "We'll have to wait till we
can get him alone," said Jack.

They waited for what seemed like hours until the two men
left. The ghost followed them. Jack and Rita hid behind a crate
as the two men passed. Jack signaled to the ghost who was
walking a few yards behind. The ghost walked over to where
Jack and Rita were hiding. "We're here to help you," said Jack.
"Where is it safe to talk?" They followed the ghost into one of
the offices with no windows open to the outside. The ghost
pointed to the light switch. Jack turned on the light.

Jack saw a computer keyboard and explained to the ghost
how they would communicate. As Jack asked questions, the
ghost would spell out words by pointing at letters on the
keyboard. Rita wrote it all down. The ghost had worked in the
shipping department. It was his job to inspect the cargo to
prevent smuggling. He had suspected that gems were being
somehow smuggled with shipments of radioactive material.
When he asked for higher power x-ray equipment that could
penetrate the lead containers, he was murdered.

"Who knew about the requests?" Jack asked.

"The same person that murdered me, Carlo Santini, the
president of New World Shipping," the ghost said.

"Can you prove that?" Jack asked.

"Well, not so it would hold up in a court of law, but I know
he's behind this. I never quite figured out exactly how they did
it. I weighed the shipments before they left and they were
weighed again when they were emptied earth side. Not even a
gram was ever missing," the ghost said. "They were sealed
before they left and the seals were unbroken when they arrived
on earth. It's a real mystery."

"Can you show me one of the containers?" Jack asked.

"Sure. There are some close by," the ghost said. "Follow

Jack examined the container for a few minutes while Rita
and the ghost stood by. "I believe I know what's going on
here," Jack said. "When is the next shipment due to leave for

"There are shipments on every shuttle that leaves here.
This is our major export," the ghost said.

"If we get him convicted will that finish your business so
that you can move on," Jack asked the ghost.

"I believe so. I can't think of any other reason to hang
around here," said the ghost.

"Okay, then you'd better pack your bags," Jack said. "Rita,
let's get back to the hotel and make some arrangements.
Looks like we'll be heading home tomorrow."

"What can I do? You haven't needed my help yet," Rita said.

"Earth has no extradition laws with the moon. That's why
many of the workers moved here. We've got to get Carlo to
come back to Earth with us so he can be arrested. He has no
criminal record so he won't be afraid to return, but we'll still
need a good reason to convince him. That's where you come
in. Think of something," Jack said.

"But what are they going to arrest him for. We can't prove
the murder," Rita said.

"Just leave that to me. I'll put him so far under, they'll have
to pipe in sunlight," said Jack.

Jack made a few calls to Earth and notified the hotel they
would be checking out tomorrow. Now it was up to Rita to
convince Carlo to come back with them. The next day as Jack
waited at the depot he saw Rita approaching with a short man
in a black suit. "Jack, I'd like you to meet Carlo. He's the one I
told you about, the one that the President is honoring in day
after tomorrow's televised ceremony," Rita said.

"Honored to meet you, Sir," Jack said as he shook his
hand. "We'd better get on board. Can I help you with your
luggage, Carlo?"

"As they exited the shuttle on Earth, the General was
waiting for them. "Arrest this man. You'll find he is in violation
of laws governing the transportation of radioactive materials.
You'll find cargo containers that have had the lead walls
hollowed out and used to ship precious gems. This reduces
the effective shielding below the requirements of the law. Set
up some of your men to capture his accomplishes when they
try to recover the gems. I'm sure some of them will be willing
to sing to avoid life in a lunar prison. He is also suspected of
murder, but that may be hard to prove unless someone is
willing to talk."

"Can you stick around a while? I have a lot of questions,"
said the general.

"I'd love to but I promised to have this little girl home by
midnight," Jack replied.

"I can't believe you're flying," said Rita.

"Well, it's not every day that the President of the United
States invites you aboard Air Force One. Can you believe it,
we're going to get medals for the work we did on Luna 1," said

"Being invited to the UN to attend his speech isn't bad
either," said Rita.

"We should have a couple of days to do some sightseeing
before the speech. I've never been to New York City," Jack
said. "Have you?"

"No, I haven't. I want to see the Empire State Building and
the Statue of Liberty," said Rita.

"I heard that the speech is about global warming and a new
energy source they have developed using that radioactive
material they're shipping from the moon," said Jack.

"They've been promising to do something about global
warming for as long as I can remember, but it just keeps
getting worse," Rita said.

"I think they're ready for the medal ceremony. Too bad it
has to be a secret ceremony, but they would have trouble
explaining the risk they put the public in by shipping the
radioactive material on the same shuttles as passengers. Of
course they believed it was perfectly safe, but good intentions
are no excuse," Jack said.

Jack and Rita walked to the rear of the cabin where
everyone was gathered and stood on their marks facing the
front of the cabin. The President entered the cabin and
stopped a few feet in front of them. Taking the medals from
one of his assistants he pinned them on Jack and Rita and
shook their hands. A brief speech and the ceremony was over.
"Take your seats ladies and gentlemen. We will be landing
soon," said the loud speaker.

Jack and Rita exited the plane and were led to a limousine
which would take them from DC to New York. "Too bad they
couldn't have dropped us off at JFK," Jack said.

Four hours later the limo pulled up in front of the Plaza
Hotel. "Here are your keys. You're already checked into the
presidential suite. I'll take care of your bags," said the

"Feel like a stroll in Central Park before we go in? I need to
stretch my legs," said Rita.

"Sure. Central Park sounds great. We've got a couple of
hours before the sun goes down," Jack replied. "I think that
picnic lunch we had in the limousine will hold me over till

As they strolled through the park something caught Jack's
attention. "Do you see what I see?" Jack said. "Over there in
that clearing ."

"There must be six of them," said Rita. "I've never even
seen that many normal ghosts in one spot. That's really weird
Jack. What is this, a comatose convention?"

"Or an out of body convention," Jack said. "Let's stroll over
that way. Don't let on that you see them until we can get a
closer look."

One of the ghostly figures glanced up and motioned to the
others. They all turned and looked in Jack and Rita's direction.
One of them pressed his finger against his wrist and the entire
group vanished. "It was as though they recognized us, Jack.
Now this is really weird," said Rita. "Did you see the clothes
they were wearing. They went out of style 20 years ago."

"If we are going to keep running into these kinds of ghosts,
we need to give them a name. They're not dead and not really
ghosts, they're just invisible. We could call them 'beings out of
body'," said Jack.

"I can just see it now. We're in a crowded room and I say
"Jack, would you look at those BOOBs?" said Rita. "I don't
think so, Jack. Let's just call them Sprites because they are so
close to Spirits."

"We should head back toward the Hotel. I wouldn't want to
get mugged our first day here," said Jack. "The sun's starting
to set."

Over dinner, Jack and Rita discussed the sprites they had
seen in the park. "What sort of device could make them all
invisible to us. It had to be the device, Elvis never mentioned
that he could disappear," Jack said.

"Neither did that kid in a coma," said Rita. "But we can't
rule that out completely. We're learning as we go."

"But the way they all vanished at once. It has to be the
device," Jack said.

"I hope they have more than one bed in that suite. Did you
know that you snore?" Rita said as they walked to the room.

"I don't snore. Linda never told me I snored. Are you sure?"
Jack said.

"It's not a loud snore. It's actually quite adorable, come to
think of it," Rita said.

"They could put a tennis court in here. They did put a tennis
court in here," Jack said as they entered the suite. "Only

"I've told you a million times not to exaggerate," said Rita.
"Whoa! You weren't exaggerating. This is huge. We could go
for a stroll in here."

The next day they took a tour of the Empire State Building.
When they entered the observation deck they saw them. The
same group they had seen in the park. Jack and Rita stayed
out of sight and watched the group for a while. They acted like
any other group of tourists. In a few minutes they vanished
just like before. "I'm sure they didn't see us this time. Maybe
that's just the way they travel," said Jack.

"But who are they, where are they from?" asked Rita.

"We'll probably never know. What are the odds that we
would see them twice in one day in a town this size?" said
Jack. "But they do definitely act like tourists."

"Did you notice that their clothing was more in line with
today's style. What kind of ghosts, I mean sprites, bring along
a change of clothes?" Rita said. "This just keeps getting

"The more I think about it, the more sure I am that they
recognized us in the park. So why didn't we recognize them?"
Jack said.

"Like you said before, we'll probably never know, so let's
not worry anymore about it," said Rita. "Let's get back with the
tour and try to enjoy the scenery."

The day of the speech, Jack and Rita arrived a couple of
hours early and took a guided tour of the United Nations
Building. The main chamber where the speech was to take
place was still empty, except for guess who,"They're back,"
Jack said to Rita. "The sprites are back."

As the crowd began filing into the chamber, Jack and Rita
headed in the direction where they had seen the sprites. The
crowd was so thick you couldn't see six feet in front of you.
The ushers forced everyone to take the first available seat.
Jack and Rita took a seat but continued to search the room
visually. There was no sign of the sprites. In a moment the
ceremony began. After a brief introduction the president took
the podium and began speaking. Jack was still scanning the
room in search of the sprites. As the speech came to an end
Jack saw the sprites stand for a moment and then vanish.
They had been seated in a roped off section of seats reserved
for international dignitaries. Many had boycotted the speech,
leaving a lot of the seats vacant.

As the crowd burst into applause, Jack turned to Rita. She
was applauding along with everyone else. Jack had missed the
entire speech, but there would be weeks of reruns on CNN. As
the crowd left Jack and Rita remained seated.
"Let walk down to where they were seated," Jack said. "I
thought I saw one of them drop something."

"That was the most inspiring speech the president has ever
made. Do you think he will succeed in uniting the nations to
fight global warming?" Rita asked.

"I think we witnessed a great moment in history," said Jack.

"What makes you say that?" Rita asked.

Jack handed Rita a ticket he had retrieved from one of the
seats. Rita examined it. It was strangely transparent. She read
the writing. "Admit one. Histories Greatest Moments' Tour".
"Look at the date," said Jack. "Humanity is going to be around
for a long time to come."

"Excuse me. I believe you have something that belongs to
me," said someone with a metallic sounding voice. Jacked
turned and saw one of the sprites. He was holding a device to
his throat to help him speak.

Jack reached over and placed the ticket into the pocket of
the sprite's jacket. The sprite removed it from his pocket. "I
wish I could keep this as a souvenir but it's simply not
allowed," he said as he gave Jack's business card back to him.
The guys back home are never going to believe that I met the
great Jack Weston. Now if you'll give me the real ticket, I'll be
going," he said.

"Can't you stay a moment? I have a million questions," Jack

"There's no time. Hmm. I made a joke," he said as he

"Did you hear that? I'm going to be famous," Jack said to
Rita. "Do you think it has something to do with the medals we
just got."

"I got a medal, and he didn't mention me," said Rita. "It's
probably something you haven't even done yet."

"It's nice to think that my better days lay ahead," said Jack.

"We'd better leave while your head can still fit through the
door," Rita said.

"Rita. Those are double doors," Jack said.

"Okay ... so we've got a little time," Rita replied.

Jack and Rita were having dinner and discussing their
latest adventure when Rita's phone rang. "Hello, this is Rita ....
Yes, I know Martha .... She recommended me? .... I see. Give
me your address and we'll be right over," said Rita.

"Where are we going, and who's Martha?" Jack asked.

"I helped Martha with a ghost problem a few years ago. She
recommended me to a friend whose little girl claims there's a
ghost in her room," Rita replied.

"You realize that this sort of thing is almost always a case
of overactive imagination. Kids who actually see ghosts are
almost as rare as adults," Jack said.

"Well, it shouldn't take long to check it out. You'll be back in
time to watch Ghost Hunters," Rita assured Jack. "Besides,
you owe me."

"Always happy to help out a friend of a friend of my friend,"
said Jack. "Where are we going?"

"It's only a few miles from here. It's in an older established
neighborhood. The ghost may have lived in this house before,"
Rita said. "From what the mother said, it might be a
poltergeist. It has the little girl terrified."

"You know I hate poltergeists. What are you getting us
into?" Jack asked.
"After all the things you've gotten me into. You've got a lot
of room to talk," Rita replied. "You always come out on top,
that's why I want you with me."

"So, you're nervous too. It's hard to tell since you quit
smoking," Jack said.

"Well, here we are. Let's go in and get this over with," Rita

"Hello. You must be Rita. Come on in. And this is...?"

"Jack Weston, at your service, ma'am," Jack replied.

"Could we talk to your daughter before we go to her room?"
asked Rita.

"Cindy. Turn off the TV and come in here and meet our
guests," the mom said. "She doesn't usually see things and
she's not easily frightened."

"Hi. Are you going to capture the ghost?" Cindy asked.

"Yes, Cindy. We'll have you back in your room in no time."
said Rita. "What did the ghost do to frighten you?"

"It grabbed my arm and pulled me down. It had a frightened
look on its face," Cindy said.

"You mean a frightening look, don't you, Cindy," asked

"No. It was frightened. That's what frightened me the most,"
replied Cindy. "If there was something there that frightens
ghosts, I'm not going back in there."

"I don't blame you dear. You're a very smart little girl," said
Rita. "Is your daddy here?"

"No. He works nights. Why do you need him?" the mom

"What does he do? We want to make sure the ghost didn't
follow him home," Rita said.
"He's an emergency room Doctor at St. Helens Hospital,"
she answered.

"I see. Well, you two stay here. Where is Cindy's room?"
Rita asked.

"Upstairs. Second door on your left," she said.

"Are you ready, Jack?" Rita asked.

"I have some more questions," Jack replied.

"Come on, Jack. Quit stalling," Rita said.

"Okay...okay. I'm coming," said Jack " Remember... fools
rush in..."

As they entered the room they could feel a slight chill.
There was no ghost in sight. Rita opened the closet and there
it was, crouched in the corner. "Come on out. We can see you.
We just want to talk to you," Rita said. The ghost came out of
the closet and tried to speak. "Wait a minute. We can't hear
you, we can only see you. We'll find a way to communicate in a

"Jack, look in the play room we passed in the hallway and
see if there are any alphabet blocks or a speak and spell. Wait,
we'll go with you," Rita said.

They found a speak and spell and instructed the ghost to
point to the letters to communicate. "Why did you frighten
Cindy?" Rita asked.

"I actually frightened her twice. The first time was by
accident when she first saw me. I had no idea she could see
me, or I would have been more careful," the ghost said.

"How long ago was that?" Rita asked.

"I'm not sure. I lost all track of time," the ghost said. "When
the parents came running I was frightened and ran into the
closet. I actually ran through a mirror leaning against the wall
of the closet. It was as though I entered another dimension. I
got lost and don't know how long it took for me to find my way
"And the second time?" Rita asked.

"I saw Cindy stick her arm into the mirror. I guess I
overreacted. I pulled her back and caused her to fall down,"
the ghost said. "I was only trying to protect her."

"Cindy's missing! I can't find her anywhere. I sent her to her
room to get her hairbrush and she never came back," the mom
yelled. "I thought you guys were in there."

"The mirror," Jack said. "Let's go."

They rushed into Cindy's room. The closet door was open.
Jack could see the mirror that the ghost had spoken of. "Do
you have a flashlight," Jack asked. "and some string?"

In a moment she returned and handed a flashlight and a ball
of yarn to Jack. Jack tied one end of the yarn to his belt and
handed the ball to Rita. "I'm going in," he said. "If I'm not out in
five minutes, call 911."

"And tell them what?" Rita said. "You'll be back. I have faith
in you, Jack."

"In a moment Jack was back. The flashlight doesn't work.
Have you got any batteries?" Jack asked.

"But I tried it before I gave it to you. The batteries are
almost new."

"Jack flipped on the switch and the beam illuminated the
entire closet. It didn't work in there," Jack said.

"What did you see?" Rita asked. "Did you see Cindy?"

"It was really strange. I saw what you see when you look
into the mirror. But it was like a narrowing hallway. I tried to
call Cindy, but I couldn't make a sound. When I stepped
outside that hallway, it became completely dark and I couldn't
even see the hallway," Jack said.

"But there was air in there?" Rita asked.

"I'm not sure. I don't remember breathing. I don't even know
how long I was in there," Jack said.
"We've got to come up with a way to find Cindy. We don't
know how long she can last. You were only in there for
second, and it doesn't matter how long the ghost was there.
He doesn't have to breathe," said Rita.

"I've got an idea. I'll be right back." Jack walked over to the
dresser beside Cindy's bed. The hairbrush was still lying there.
"I'm ready," Jack said, "but I need you to go with me. Will you
hold the ball of yarn?" Jack asked as he handed the yarn to
the mom.

"I'm right behind you, Jack," Rita said.

"Hang on to the yarn. Don't let go under any condition,"
Jack said.

Jack and Rita walked into the mirror. Rita followed Jack
about ten feet down what appeared to be a hallway. Jack knelt
down and pulled Cindy's hand mirror from his pocket. Using
the mirror like a flashlight, he scanned the darkness. "There
she is," he tried to say. Instead he pointed and made sure Rita
could see her. He handed the mirror to Rita indicate that he
wanted her to hold the mirror steady as he went to get Cindy.
In a moment they were safely back in the bedroom. "You're
safe now, Cindy," Jack said.

"We've got to go back in. Can you hold the yarn a little
longer?" he said to the mom.

"What are we looking for?" asked Rita.

"I'll know it when I see it," said Jack.

Using the mirror again, Jack scanned the darkness. "There
it is," Jack said. "I've got it, now let's get out of here. You

"Did you lose this?" Jack said as he handed it to the ghost.
"That's why the portal never closed. You left something inside.
Now what can we do to help you? Looks like you were a
patient at St. Helens Hospital from the looks of that ID
wristband you lost."
"Now that's something you don't see every day," said Jack.

"What's that?" asked Rita.

"A light blue polyester leisure suit right out of the 80's,"
said Jack.

"I see it. Jack, that leisure suit and the guy wearing it just
walked through a phone booth," Rita said.

"So. Did he place a call?" Jack said.

"No. I mean he walked right through it. He's a ghost or one
of those sprites or whatever," Rita said. "Pull over. Let's check
this out."

Jack parked about half a block ahead of the guy and waited
for him to walk by. "You're right. He's transparent. Should we
follow him?" Jack asked.

"We've got nothing pressing, and this could turn out to be
interesting," Rita replied. "Since we don't know how far he's
going, we should follow him in the car. Don't follow to close,
we don't want to scare him off."

The ghost stopped and looked to be having a conversation
with someone. Jack looked at Rita. "I don't see anything. Who
is he talking to?" Rita asked.

"Don't ask me. You don't suppose this guy is nuts, do
you?" Jack said.

A moment later the guy walked straight over to Jack and
Rita's car and got into the back seat. "My name's Harvey. You
must be Jack and Rita. I was told that I could trust you," he

"Who told you that, the person you were just talking to?"
Jack asked.

"You saw her. That's not possible. Mortals can't see ..."
"See what? You expect us to believe you were actually
talking to someone?" Jack asked.

"It does know our names, Jack. Someone must have told
him. We've definitely never met before," said Rita.

"All right. Let's all settle down. Tell us how we can help you.
You said that you could trust us, so spit it out," Jack said.
"Hey, wait a minute, we can hear you."

"Well, not exactly, you can read my thoughts if I direct them
at you," Harvey said. "I need you to help me find someone."

"If you're looking for a date, I'd recommend a new outfit.
You're just a little behind the times," Jack said.

"Let him finish, Jack. Can't you see he's serious or he
wouldn't even be talking, I mean thinking, to us," Rita said.

"I've lost her. I don't know if she just wandered off or if
she's trying to avoid me," Harvey said. "I watched over her for
twenty years until she passed away yesterday morning. I've
simply got to find her."

"Can you describe her?" Rita asked.

"She's 75 years old, about 5'5" and 145 pounds with gray
hair... gray everything now ... she's a ghost, you know," Harvey

"You said you watched over her. Were you a nurse or an
employee?" Jack asked.

"I'm from heaven and I'm here to serve as a gait," Harvey

"A the spirits have to pass through you to get to
heaven?" Jack asked.

"That's the silliest thing I've ever heard. Not gate... but GAIT
... Guardian Angel In Training," Harvey said.

"Guardian angel?" Jack asked.

"In training," Harvey replied.
"And who told you that you could trust us?" Jack asked.

"Your guardian angel," Harvey replied.

"Is Rita's guardian angel here too?" Jack asked.

"Well ... yes," he said.

"Two guardian angels and we can't see either one?" Jack

"Well, not exactly," Harvey said. "There's only one guardian
angel, but she watches over both of you."

"We have the same guardian angel. How is that possible?"
Rita asked.

"Full fledged guardian angels may watch over 20 or 30
people. They get to pick the ones they watch over and can
even trade with other guardian angels if it improves their
efficiency. She chose the two of you because of your unique
gift. Guardian angels specialize as they gain experience. I had
my ward assigned to me. I was supposed to go back to heaven
with her and get a new assignment, but she insists that she
isn't ready to leave yet. I can't leave till she does, so I need to
find her before she leaves without me."

"You really are new at this. This sort of thing happens all
the time and the ghost rarely completes their unfinished
business without someone like Rita or me to help them. Do the
guardian angels accompany all of them when they go?" Jack

"No. When I get my wings, I will be able to watch over many
more at one time and won't have to go back for evaluation and
new assignments. I'll be able to choose my own," Harvey

"Will you ask our guardian angel if she has other wards like
us?" Jack asked.

"She can't tell you. That's classified," Harvey replied. "She's
still mad that I let it slip that she was the guardian of both of

"Jack, you're getting a parking ticket," Rita said. "You
should have put money in the meter."

Jack honked his horn and surprised the meter maid. She
immediately walked around to his side of the car with a stern
look on her face. This soon turned to a wide grin. "Jack, I
haven't seen you since junior prom. How's Linda?" she asked.

"She passed away about seven years ago. How have you
been, Cindy Lou?" Jack asked.

"Fine. Can't complain. I thought I saw you guys talking to
someone in the back seat. What's going on, Jack?" she asked.

"It's a long story and I'm sort of in a hurry. Are you going to
give me a ticket? I was just leaving," Jack said.

"Well, in that case, and since it's you, I'll let it go this time,"
she said.

"Tell the guys at the precinct that I said hi," Jack said as he
drove away.

"Where did you see her last?" Jack asked Harvey.

"In her apartment, late last night," Harvey replied.

"Which way to the apartment?" Jack asked.

With Harvey's instructions, Jack drove quickly to the
apartment. "Can you get us in?" Jack asked.

"Sure, I know where she hides her keys," Harvey said.

As they entered the apartment, Jack could hear pups
barking, but they weren't barking at them. They were clawing
at one of the bedroom doors. "Is the body in there?" Jack

Harvey sadly nodded. "Rita, call the police and report a
death. I'll feed the pups and try to calm them down," Jack said.
"We need to get out of here before the police arrive. It would
be to hard to explain how we discovered the body."

"She loved those collie pups. She called them Laddie and
Lassie. They were her babies," Harvey said.
"Let's go. We need to get there before dark," Jack said.

"Where are we going?" Rita asked.

"To find our ghost," Jack said.

"As they left the city limits, Rita turned to Jack and said,"
Jack, you know ghosts don't travel this far without a good
reason. What are you up to?"

"I'm going to give her a good reason," Jack replied.

Jack turned into a gravel driveway and drove up to a
farmhouse. "Who lives here?" Rita asked.

"Cindy Lou's parents. They were very close to my parents
when I was a kid," Jack said.

A lady in her early sixties came out on the front porch as
Jack and Rita got out of the car. "Jack ... Jack Weston ... Is that
really you. The last time I saw you, you had that cast on your
arm from falling out of the old oak tree. Come here and give
me a hug," she said.

"I saw Cindy Lou today. She's almost as pretty as you are,"
Jack said.

"Oh... Jack, you always were a smooth talker."

"I've got a big favor to ask of you. I can give you some
money to help with the costs," Jack said.

"Honey, whatever it is, you know I'll be glad to help," she

"I can still remember the two collies you had when I was
growing up," Jack said.

"Prince and Lady. Those will always be my favorites," she

"Rita ... Open the back door," Jack yelled.

As the collie pups jumped out of the car and began running
wildly through the yard, her eyes lit up. "Oh, Jack. You
shouldn't have. How can I ever repay you?" she said.
"Just love them. They need a good home. This will make
someone extremely happy," Jack said.

"Do you mind if I show Rita the old oak tree?" Jack asked
as he looked back at the car. The ghost and Harvey were
walking down the gravel drive away from the house. Jack
motioned to Rita and headed towards the back of the house.
"Well, here it is. The old oak tree where I broke my arm as a

"Very nice Jack, but why did you want to show it to me?
Jack ... what are you doing?"

"I'm carving our names in the tree?" Jack said.

"Let me see?" said Rita. Rita read what Jack had carved.
"Jack loves Rita."

"That's so sweet, Jack." she said. Then she continued to
read "Jack loves Betty Sue ... Jack loves Cindy Lou .. Jack
loves Linda ."

"Well, I guess I've have to be your last girlfriend ... for the
sake of this tree." Rita said. "You're going to kill it if you keep
carving on it."

Jack pinned Rita against the tree and kissed her like he had
kissed the others before her, but somehow he knew this was
not just puppy love.
"Park here, Jack. I think she's stopped," said Rita.

They had been following this ghost for several minutes, and
she seemed to be headed somewhere in particular, not just
roaming aimlessly. The ghost was that of a high school aged
girl. She seemed to have reached her destination and was
watching a baseball game. Jack parked in the parking lot area
just behind the bleachers.

The ghost was behind a wire fence near first base. Jack and
Rita watched for a few minutes from under the bleachers.
"Wait here while I try to approach her," said Jack.

As Jack approached the ghost, it turned and looked in his
direction. Suddenly a look of fright appeared on the face of the
ghost. The ghost pointed slightly to the right of Jack. Jack
started to turn to see what had frightened the ghost when the
lights went out.

"Jack ... Jack ... are you all right?" Rita said as Jack opened
his eyes.

"Did anybody get the license number of the truck?" Jack

"You were hit by a foul ball, Jack," said Rita.

"Where is the ghost? Do you see her?" Jack asked.

"She's right here, Jack. I think she tried to warn you," said

"Right here. I don't see her. Where is she?" Jack repeated.

"You're looking right at her, Jack," replied Rita.

"I can't see the ghost," Jack moaned.

"He's in shock, he's delusional Better get him to a hospital,"
said someone in the crowd that had gathered.

With the help of a couple of young men, Rita got Jack into
the car and headed for the hospital. Jack's eye was severely
swollen and was turning black and blue by the time they
reached the emergency room. "Can you walk, Jack?" asked

"I'm telling you I'm fine. As soon as the swelling goes down,
my vision will be fine," Jack insisted. "The same thing
happened to me as a kid."

"That explains a lot," said Rita, "but since we're all ready
here, it won't hurt to have you checked out. Can you walk or
should I get a wheelchair?"

"I think I can walk, just let me put my arm around you," Jack

Rita waited for well over an hour and finally asked what was
taking so long?
"He was moved to the O.R. an hour ago. If you prefer, there is
a waiting room on the 5th floor near the Operating Room," the
nurse said.

Rita went up to the 5th floor and waited again. Finally a
doctor entered and asked,"Anyone here with Jack Weston?"

Rita stood up and asked, "How is he? Is he going to be
okay? Can I see him? Is he ..."

"Whoa ... one question at a time," the doctor said. "He's
fine. The operation went well and he's completely out of
danger. There's a 50/50 chance that he will fully recover his
sight. He's resting comfortably in room 507. You can see him
for a few minutes, but he needs his rest. That was a long and
grueling operation so he's still lightly sedated."

Rita went to room 507 and the door was open. A nurse was
taking Jack's pulse and temperature. Rita sat down in the chair
beside the bed and waited for the nurse to leave. "How are you
feeling, Jack?" Rita asked. "Can I get you anything?"

"I'm scared, Rita," Jack said.

"The doctor says you're completely out of danger," said

"No. I'm scared of not ever being able to see ghosts again.
If I can't see ghosts then I would be of no use to you. I'd just be
in the way," Jack said.

"No use to me! Jack, I love you," said Rita.

"What we do, or what you will do is bigger than the two of
us. Promise me you'll find someone else that can help you,"
Jack said.

"I never knew that I needed anyone till I met you. You're
going to be fine, now stop talking like that," Rita said.

"I'm sorry, visiting hours are over until 9:00 A.M.
tomorrow," said the nurse.

Rita returned at 9:00 A.M. and entered Jack's room. "Where
is he?" Rita asked a nurse.

"He checked himself out about two hours ago. Just paid the
bill and left," the nurse said.

Rita went by Jack's apartment and used her key to get in.
Jack was nowhere to be found. Rita sat down on the sofa and

One week later, Jack had just made a beautiful cast and
began reeling in the lure. A huge trout took the bait. Jack set
the hook and began reeling in the fish. As he got it ashore he
screamed,"Oh yeah, who's the best fisherman on earth?"
"God I miss Rita and the way she would bust my chops every
time I got a little too arrogant," Jack thought as he set the fish
free. Like Mack Davis said in a song ,"Oh Lord, it's hard to be

Jack picked up his rod and tackle box and turned to head
back to the cabin. "I thought I'd find you here?" said Rita.
"Where did he go?"

"Where did who go?" asked Jack.

"The greatest fisherman in the world. I heard you talking to
him while I was back at the cabin."

"He's probably on the other side of the lake, by now," said
"And he took all of his fish with him, I see," said Rita.

"Yeah ... I probably should have gotten some lessons from
him," Jack said. "It's not nearly as hard to be humble around
someone as perfect as Rita," Jack thought.

"What are you doing here?" Jack asked. "You've got more
important things to do than to come up here checking on me."

"I've known where you were since you left the hospital, and
I was perfectly willing to give you all the time you needed to
get your head on straight, but I need your help, Jack," Rita
said. "You remember that ghost at the baseball park?"

"Is she here?" Jack asked.

"Standing beside me," Rita replied.

"I told you I would be of no use to you. I can't see ghosts,"
Jack said.

"That not the only thing you're good for. Do you still have
that scuba gear?" Rita asked.

"It's in storage, along with everything else from my
apartment," Jack replied.

"We've got to go back to town anyway. How soon can you
leave?" Rita asked.

"What's this all about?" Jack asked. "Does this have to do
with the ghost's unfinished business?"

"Yes, Jack. Just come on up to the car and I'll explain on
the way to town," Rita said.

"Okay, what do you want me to do?" Jack asked as Rita
pulled out of the driveway.

"Find an engagement ring at the bottom of a lake," Rita

"How did it get to be at the bottom of the lake?" Jack asked.

"She threw it there during an argument with her boyfriend,"
Rita replied.
"Well, they're not going to get married now, so why does
she need it?" Jack asked.

"They were in an accident driving home that night because
they were still arguing. She was killed," Rita said. "Her
boyfriend blames himself. He's gone back to that lake every
day after school, until sundown, trying to find that ring. She
wants him to know that she doesn't blame him and that he
should go on with his life. The ring will make him believe us."

Rita drove to the lake. "This is the lake where we saw the
boy that was in a coma," Jack said. "You expect me to find
that little ring in that big lake?"

"The ghost knows exactly where it is, she'll tell me and I'll
guide you," Rita said.

Jack put on his wet suit, scuba gear, and goggles and
entered the water. "Swim straight out till I tell you to stop,"
said Rita.

"Okay, Jack. That's far enough, now about three feet to
your left. That's it. It should be directly below you," Rita said.

After about ten minutes Jack came walking back toward
shore. He walked straight up to the ghost, who was also in the
water, and showed her the ring. "Is this the one?" he asked.

"Jack! You can see her. You can see ghosts," Rita yelled.

A surprised look came upon Jack's face as he realized Rita
was right. He lifted the goggles and the ghost disappeared. He
lowered the goggles and the ghost was back. "Do you realize
what this means, Rita? With the right contact lens, we're back
in business, partner," Jack said.

Rita ran into the water and threw her arms around Jack, and
they both wound up sitting in three feet of water. "Don't you
ever scare me like that again, Jack. I thought I'd lost you," said

"You only misplaced me for a while, Rita. You'll never lose
me," Jack said as he kissed her trembling lips that were
already turning blue. "Let's get you inside the car before you
catch pneumonia. This water is freezing."
"I hadn't nnnnnoticed," Rita replied, her teeth chattering.

Jack started the engine and turned on the heater. "We'll just
wait here until the boyfriend appears," said Jack. "Is that warm
enough for you?"

"The ghost is pointing at someone, Jack," Rita said. "Is that
your boyfriend?"

The ghost nodded. "Do you see who that is?" Jack asked

"It's the boy that was in a coma," Rita said.

"Now we know why he tried to overdose," Jack said. "He
blames himself for her death."

"Well, at least it will be easy to convince him that we can
see ghosts," said Rita.

"This isn't working," said Rita. "She doesn't understand
English, and I don't understand Japanese."

"Well, we can't just get anyone to translate. We need
someone who speaks Japanese and sees ghosts," said Jack.

"We don't know anyone else who sees ghosts, or speaks
Japanese as far as that goes," said Rita.

"Well, we've got to find someone, or we're not going to be
able to help her," said Jack, "and we've never given up before.
Let's go online and see what we can find."

"This looks promising," said Rita. "A convention in Las
Vegas this weekend. These guys claim to see ghosts, and they
all ride Harleys."
"How many Japanese Hells Angels have you met?" said

"Have you got a better idea?" said Rita. "Even if we don't
find someone who speaks Japanese, it would be worth the trip
if we met anyone that might be helpful to us in the future."

"Okay. Vegas it is," said Jack. "Are we taking her with us?"

"Yeah. We can't just leave her here. Beside, she'd probably
follow us anyway," Rita said. "She hasn't left our side since
she realized we could see her."

Saturday morning Jack and Rita were in the lobby of the
convention center. "Here it is," said Jack. "The Honorary
Organization of Ghost Seers. Here's a picture of the group with
their Harleys. I'll bet they call themselves HOGS."

"Because they ride Harleys?" Rita asked.

"That, and the group's initials," said Jack. "It's actually
quite clever."

"It says here members only," Rita said.

"They'll let us in when they find out we're members of
PIGS," said Jack.

"PIGS?" asked Rita.

"Paranormal Investigators of Ghostly Sightings," said Jack.
"You're the vice president."

"Why do you always get to be the boss?" asked Rita.

"You can be co-founder," said Jack.

"Co-founder of PIGS? I think you deserve full credit for
that," said Rita.

"Well, let's go in and find a seat," Jack said.

"Uh. Excuse me. Where do you think you're going?" said
the huge biker. "You're not members."

"We're members of PIGS, " said Jack. "Paranormal
Investigators of Ghostly Sightings."

"Do you drive Harleys?" he asked.

"No. Our members are all ex-football players. We like to
toss around the old pigskin."

The biker looked at Rita and then looked at Jack. "Well,
you've got to have cheerleaders," Jack said.

The biker smiled. "That's sort of neat that you're called
PIGS, and you like to toss the old pigskin."

"Just like you guys," said Jack.

"Uh. What do you mean?" he asked.

"Well, you're called HOGS and you ride HOGS," said Jack.

"We are?" he asked.

"Sure. The initials of your club spells HOGS."

"Oh yeah ... I wonder if the other guys know that?" he said.
"Go on in, I've got to talk to Lugnuts and Dipstick and see if
they know about this."

"Somehow, I don't think they have a ghost of a clue either,"
said Jack.

"Now be nice, Jack. We're guests here," said Rita.

As the speaker began talking, a ghost walked across the
stage and stopped behind the speaker. The ghost began
making bunny ears behind the speaker's head. The speaker
continued talking and no one in the room seemed to notice.
Suddenly a man seated about three rows back yelled out.
"Frauds! You guys wouldn't know a ghost if it sat in your laps
and farted." A roar of laughter erupted from the crowd.

"Quiet ... quiet!" the speaker yelled. "That's not funny."

A silence fell over the crowd. "Rocko. See our guest out
and make sure he stays out," the speaker said.

"Let's go," said Jack. "We need to talk to that guy."
As Jack and Rita entered the lobby, they saw the Japanese
ghost wondering through the lobby. "I thought you convinced
her to wait in the room?" Jack said.

"I thought I did, but I can't tell what she understands and
what she doesn't," Rita said. "I'll get her, you catch up with
that guy. I'll meet you back here."

"Hello, I need to talk to you a moment, if you don't mind,"
Jack said.

"What about?" the man asked.

"You could see that ghost on the stage behind the speaker,
couldn't you?" Jack asked.

"See it. I put the ghost up to it. I wanted to prove that no
one in that room can see ghosts. They're all frauds. Except for
you, I see," said the man.

"Can you speak Japanese?" Jack asked.

"No. Only English and Spanish," the man said.

"What about your ghost. Can it speak Japanese?" Jack

"I don't think so. We can ask him," the man said. "You're
trying to communicate with a Japanese ghost, aren't you?"

"Let's go back into the lobby and find our ghosts," said

Rita was waiting as they reentered the lobby. She had both
ghosts with her. "He can't speak Japanese," Rita said referring
to the ghost.

"Do you know anyone else that sees ghosts?" Jack asked.

"I'm afraid not. You two are the first I've seen and I've been
looking for years," he said.

"Do you have a card, in case we need to get in touch some
day?" Jack asked. "Here's mine."
They exchanged cards and parted ways. Jack, Rita and the
Japanese ghost went up to the room. It was still early enough
to check out. "What are we going to do?" said Rita. "We can't
even tell her that we can't help her."

"I know what she wants. She wants to talk to her husband,"
Jack said.

"You're right. I just got the same feeling. It came to me right
out of the blue," said Rita.

"Did you say blue ..... ? Harvey, is that you? Show yourself,
Harvey." Jack said.

"Sorry, guys. I just got promoted to GAIT level 2. I can make
myself invisible to even you guys. I just had to try it out,"
Harvey said.

"Guardian Angel In Training level 2, congratulations,
Harvey," said Rita.

"I've been talking to your guardian angel to see what I could
do to pay you guys back for helping me. He told me about your
situation. I would have been here sooner, but I had to brush up
on my Japanese," Harvey said. "She wants to talk to her
husband. Mainly she just wants to say Sayonara."

"Where's your leisure suit, Harvey?" asked Jack.

"Like it?" said Harvey. Harvey was wearing a light blue

"You look very nice, Harvey," said Rita.

"The ghost can lead me to her husband. I'll let them
communicate through me. Afterwords I'll accompany her to
the afterlife. I might even get another promotion for this. You
know what they say about good deeds," Harvey said.

"No good deed goes unpunished," Jack replied.

"Gee ... I never heard that one before," said Harvey.

"What were you going to say?" asked Rita.

"A good deed is good indeed," said Harvey. "That's what
we always say."

"I like that better," said Rita.

"What can we do?" asked Jack.

"Enjoy Las Vegas. You've earned it."

"Do you see that?" Jack asked. "Is that an angel?"

'Well, he has wings," said Rita. "But what is he wearing?"

"I believe it's a diaper," said Jack. "Extra large."

"A six foot angel wearing a diaper. Now I've seen
everything," said Rita. "Is he real or just someone in a

"I think he's real. I don't believe anyone else sees him,"
Jack replied.

"He looks like he's looking for someone," said Rita. "Should
we introduce ourselves?"

"I don't know. He's got a weapon," Jack said.

"That tiny bow. I don't think he even has any arrows," said

"You don't suppose that's Cupid?" said Jack. "I always
pictured him as a tiny naked cherub."

"Looks like he's all grown up, and he's kinda cute, too,"
said Rita.

"I guess we could offer to help," Jack said, "but let's wait
until he's alone."
"It looks like he's going into that church. Let's go in and see
what's going on," said Rita.

"It looks like a wedding," said Jack.

"No. It looks like a rehearsal. There's no one in the
audience, except the angel," said Rita.

"He still seems to be looking for someone," said Jack. "He
keeps looking over his shoulder."

"Let go sit down behind him and see if he will talk to us,"
said Rita.

Jack and Rita walked over and sat down behind the angel.
As the angel looked over his shoulder, Rita smiled at him.
"You must be Jack and Rita," the angel said.

"Yes ... but how did you know?" Rita asked.

"I've heard of you. You obviously can see me, so that
narrows it down," he said.

"Are you Cupid?" asked Rita.

"Cupid was the God of Love. Do I look like a god to you?"
he asked.

"Well, yeah, but then I've never seen a god before," said

"Trust me. I'm not a god. I work for God. You can call me
Fate," he said.

"Fate? You determine what will happen in our lives?" Rita

"Well, not exactly. I step in when someone tries to change
fate," he said. "I have to set things right before everything gets
screwed up."

"So what's your problem? You look like you've lost
something or someone," Rita said.

"Both. I lost my arrow, and the ghost that took it," Fate said.
"You let a ghost steal one of your arrows?" asked Jack.

"I only have one arrow. I've never missed until yesterday.
The ghost distracted me. I think it was intentional. When I
missed, the ghost grabbed the arrow and vanished," Fate said.

"What would a ghost want with an arrow?" Jack asked.

"It wouldn't be the first time a ghost has taken an item just
because they can. They can't hold on to worldly items, and
when they run across something they can hold, they tend to
not want to let it go," Fate said.

"Then you should have been better prepared for this," Jack

"Normally I am on alert for this sort of thing. But since I was
in your city, I guess I let my guard down," Fate said.

"In my city?" Jack asked. "What do you mean?"

"Everyone knows what a great job you and Rita are doing.
There's hardly any ghosts running around loose here,
especially the older ones that have forgotten their unfinished
business. They're the ones that give us the most trouble," Fate
said. "We actually come here on vacations to enjoy the peace
and quiet."

"So you think this is an older ghost?" Rita asked.

"No. It moved too quickly and with too much purpose. It
knew what it was doing," Fate said.

"So what happened exactly? You said you missed. What did
you miss?" Jack asked.

"His heart. In fact I missed him completely," Fate said.

"Whose heart? Who did you miss?" Jack asked.

"The groom. He's not supposed to marry this girl. Someone
has interfered," Fate said.

"Any suspects?" Rita asked.
"Normally I would suspect one of the mother-in-laws, but
they are both alive and well. This was a lady about their age,
but she was quite dead," Fate said.

"You said both mother-in-laws. What about the mother of
the other girl, the one he is supposed to marry?" Rita asked.

"What difference does it make if he marries the wrong girl?
What's the big deal?" Jack asked. "So one person's life is

"It's not that simple. The girl he should have married will
marry someone else, and the bride will not marry the person
she was supposed to marry. It goes on and on until eventually
no one follows their intended fate. Without fate, anything could
Fate said.

"And that's bad?" Jack asked.

"I just follow orders. My boss thinks it's important and
that's good enough for me," said Fate.

"Okay. So you were trying to kill the groom because he's
marrying the wrong girl. Then what happened?" Jack asked.

"Not kill him. Make him fall in love with the right girl," said

"I thought that was Cupid's job," said Rita. "Are you sure
you're not a god."

"I'm sure, and I wish history would get it right. I'm tired of
him getting all the credit for my work," Fate said.

"Let's stick to the point. You were trying to shoot the groom
and the ghost distracted you. How did she manage that?" Jack

"She stepped in front of me just before I shot. Before I
realized it was just a ghost, I guess I flinched," Fate said. "I
was so stunned that I had missed, I forgot about the arrow for
a moment. I'd never had to retrieve one before. By the time I
realized it, she had already picked it up and was vanishing
through a wall."
"So, obviously the mother of the other girl doesn't want her
to marry the groom. Wait a minute, is the other girl here?" Jack

"Of course she's here. She's the maid of honor. I had to
shoot the groom in her presence to make this work," Fate said.

"We need to find out if her mother is a ghost," said Rita.
"Do you know her name?"

"Sure, but how did her mother know what I was up to?"
asked Fate.

"Well, let me see ... an almost naked 6' angel, with wings
and a tiny bow and arrow," said Jack. "Cupid on steroids
would have been my first guess. What's with the diaper,

"It's not a diaper. Haven't you ever seen a Djinn or a Sumo
wrestler. In some societies my clothing inspires respect." Fate

"Well, when in Rome," Jack said.

"Okay, you two. We've got work to do," said Rita. "Give me
her name and I'll cross check the resent obituaries."

"Susan Wheeler," said Fate.

"We should talk to her after the rehearsal," said Jack.
"Maybe she can tell us something that will help."

"Here it is. Wanda Wheeler passed away 2 weeks ago," Rita
said. "Looks like we have a ghost trying to finish her own
unfinished business."

"We're going to need a good excuse to ask our questions if
we are going to get any answers." Jack said.

"Let me handle that," said Rita. "Jack, look around for the
ghost but don't take Fate with you. She'll see him coming a
mile away."

"What should I do?" asked Fate.

"Try to think of an alternative plan in case we fail," said
Rita. "How long before the actual marriage ceremony?"

"One week. I'll try to come up with a way to postpone it."
said Fate. "Once the marriage takes place, I won't be able to
change things."

As Jack and Fate went their separate ways, Rita waited for
the rehearsal to end. "Excuse me, Susan. I'm Rita Hopper. I'm
doing a TV news article about weddings. The bride and groom
said you could give me some background information about
this one." said Rita.

"Sure. What do you need to know." said Susan.

"Tell me about the bride and groom. As the brides maid,
you're obviously a good friend of the bride, but what about the
Rita asked.

They talked for an hour before Rita got Susan to talk about
her mother. Her mother had definite plans for Susan. She had
been an Olympic figure skater and had won a silver metal. She
was determined that Susan would win the gold. She was an
excellent coach and Susan loved skating but she didn't have
the competitive nature to be a champion. The long hours of
practice had prevented her from developing any sort of
serious social relationships other than a couple of friendships.

Even now, with her mother gone, Susan found it hard to
think about letting her down. Her mother had hired a new
coach before she died and made Susan promise to make the
Olympic team. Seeing her friend Adam about to get married
had made her realize that she had feelings for him that went
beyond friendship. Dianne, her only other friend was to be the
bride. She wished her the very best, but at the same time, she
wished it wasn't Adam.

Rita called Jack and waited in front of the church until he
returned. Jack had not been able to find the ghost. "Did you
learn anything from talking to Susan" Jack asked.

"Quite a lot. I think I know what we have to do," said Rita.
"We need to go to Susan's house."

"I've already been there," said Jack. "Her mother wasn't
"But she will be," said Rita.

They drove to Susan's house and knocked on the door.
Susan answered and invited them in. As they talked, Rita filled
Jack in on Susan's dilemma. "Can I see your mother's silver
medal?" asked Rita.

Susan returned with a small shoe box containing several
news clippings and the silver medal. "You need to get rid of
this," said Rita. "You'll never be able to have a life of your own
with this to remind you."

Suddenly the ghost appeared and ran at Rita, the arrow in
her hand. Before Rita or Jack could react, the ghost stabbed
Rita in the heart. Rita fell into Jacks arms. In a moment the
arrow disappeared. "Are you okay," Jack asked. "You can't
die. I couldn't live without you."

"I feel the same way, Jack," said Rita. "I feel fine now. I've
never felt better."

Fate appeared. His arrow in his hand. "Well, no harm was
done." he said.

"No harm!" Jack said. "She tried to kill Rita."

"Buy you can't kill anyone with this arrow. It simply made
her love for you stronger. Don't worry, it was fate that you two
would be together." Fate said. "Now if we can just get Adam
over here, we can finish this."

"Jack, get the door. I'm tossing the salad," said Rita.

"Okay, I've got it," Jack said as he approached the door.

"Hello, is Rita here?" the stranger asked.

"Who's asking?" said Jack as he looked the young soldier

"Just tell her that her husband is here," he said.

"Rita!" Jack yelled. "You had better get in here."

"Who is it?" Rita called from the kitchen.

"Hey, Princess, it's Ricky," he replied.

The sound of shattered glass and then silence for a
moment as Rita entered the room. "Rick, it is you. But you're
dead. They said you were dead," Rita said, her mouth still
open. "You haven't changed a bit since the last time I saw

"You're prettier than I remembered," said Rick.

"What are you doing here ... how ... where have you been?"
asked Rita.

"It's a long story and unfortunately I don't have all the
answers," Rick said.

"What do you mean?" asked Rita.

"I've had complete amnesia. I'm just starting to remember.
When I remembered you, I had to see you. I'm not even sure
why," Rick said. "Will you help me to remember?"

"I can't get over how young you look. You must be 29 or 30
by now. If anything you look younger than you did when you
left, and you were 21," said Rita. "Do the doctors have an

"I've only had a general physical. Most of my time has been
spent with psychiatrists," Rick said. "I'm in perfect physical

"How long have you been back in the states?" asked Rita.
"Have you seen your mom and dad?"

"Excuse me," said Jack. "I've got to run. You remember I'm
helping the police on that case I was telling you about."

"Okay. I'll talk to you later," said Rita.
"I've been back about three months. I don't remember my
parents or where they live," Rick said.

"We've got to go see them. They'll be so excited," Rita said.

"But what if I never remember them. Wouldn't that be worse
for them?" Rick asked. "If you'll help me, maybe I'll be able to
remember everything."

"Sure, Rick. I'll help you," said Rita. "I've got a photo album
around here somewhere. Maybe that will trigger some

"Who was that, the guy who answered the door? Does he
live here?" Rick asked.

"No. That was Jack. He's a close friend. You'll like him once
you get to know him," said Rita. "I still can't believe it's really
you. It's so incredible."

"What kind of police case is he working on?" Rick asked.
"He said he told you about it. Does he work full time for the

"No, this case is special and requires Jack's expertise," Rita
said. "Let's talk about us. What do you remember?"

Jack arrived at the stake out location and joined the other
officers. "Anything new?" Jack asked. "Has the suspect left
his apartment today?"

"No, but he made a couple of phone calls. We're running
checks on the people he called, but so far, nothing useful,"
said the lieutenant.

"Any luck identifying the suspect?" Jack asked.

"All we know is that he registered using an alias. We think
he's ex military," replied the lieutenant.

"Who would want the senator assassinated? Do you still
think he's not acting alone?" Jack asked.

"If we didn't, we'd pick him up now and sweat the details
out of him," said the lieutenant.
Jack looked through the window. "I've got to go grab a bite,
get you anything?" Jack said. "My dinner was interrupted

"No, we're fine. We ate about an hour ago. Hurry back. If he
moves we can't wait around for you."

Jack walked across the street and into the dark alley.
"Louie ... I saw you come through here. It's Jack ... Jack
Weston." A ghost approached from behind a trash bin.

"Slow down, Louie. It's dark. I can barely see your hands.
Sign slower." Jack said. "No. I'm not here to rush you, but you
know you don't have much more time. I need your help. It will
only take a few minutes."

Jack waited for Louie's return. Now he really was getting
hungry. In a moment Louie returned. "His dog tags said
Sergeant Joe Horten? Thanks, Louie, I owe you one. No, the
Cubs aren't in first place. Louie, you can't wait around for them
to win the pennant. Why don't you go into the light. I'll bet they
have baseball in heaven. You might meet some of the old
players from when you were a kid."

Jack called Lieutenant Jameson and told him something
had come up. He would meet them tomorrow night. As he
drove back to Rita's, he debated on whether or not to stop for
food. If he didn't stop, that might give him an excuse to hang
around longer. He needed Rita's laptop to check out the name
Louie had given him. Sooner or later, he would have to get his
own laptop or one of those newfangled phones, but later was
just fine with him.

Rick answered the door. "Rita, set another place at the
table. Jack's back," Rick said.

"Thanks, I'm starving." said Jack. "Rita, can I borrow your
laptop for a few minutes?"

"Sure, but don't screw everything up like you did the last
time," Rita replied.

"Thanks, is it in the bedroom?" Jack asked. "I mean, where
is it? I don't see it in here."
"I'll get it. Just give me a second," Rita said. "Does this
have anything to do with the police work?"

"I spoke to Louie today. He told me something that I need to
verify," Jack said. "It shouldn't take long."

"Dinner is almost ready. Once you get started on the
computer, you can't stop till you get your answers," Rita said.

"Okay. I'll wait till after dinner," Jack said.

"Interesting case?" Rick asked.

"Just your normal police work, nothing special," Jack said.

"Rita said that they needed your expertise," Rick said.

"What else did Rita tell you?" Jack asked.

"She didn't seem to want to talk about you. Is there a
reason for that?" Rick asked.

"You'll have to ask her," Jack said.

"Okay, guys, it's ready. Let's eat," Rita said. "My ears are
burning. You guys weren't talking about me, were you?"

A silence fell over the room that lasted until the meal was
almost over.

"Can I take the laptop with me. I just realized there are
several other things I need to check on and I don't want to
keep you up," Jack said to Rita.

"Why don't you stay over. Maybe you can come up with
some ways to help Rick regain his memory. You're not keeping
me up," Rita said.

"I was going to offer Rick a lift. I assumed he had a place to
stay," said Jack.

"No. I just arrived in town. The only reason I'm here is to
see Rita," Rick responded. "Stick around. I'd like to talk about
your police work, sounds extremely interesting."

"When I'm finished, we need to talk about you. That sounds
extremely interesting," replied Jack. "If you'll excuse me, I
need to get started on the computer."

Jack googled the name Louie had given him. The sergeant
had been missing in action for over six years. He had just
recently returned to the states. There were no details available
on those missing years. He had gotten a clean bill of health
and released from the army. He was currently working as an
aide to Senator McConley. Jack googled Rick. A similar profile
appeared. Missing in action, discharged from army, no details
of missing years. Both had been officers and trained under
General Dwight D. Wilcox.

"I'll email the general and see if I can get more information.
Surely he will remember me from the Lunar Base episode,"
Jack thought.

"Are you about done, Jack?" asked Rita. "We could use
your help."

"Yeah, just finishing up. Be there in a minute," Jack said.
"Okay, how can I help?"

"It's stuck. We can't get the sofa to open up into a bed," Rita

"Don't worry, I can sleep on it the way it is," Jack said.
"Let's talk about Rick's problem. That's why I thought you
needed my help."

"Okay, if you're sure you'll be comfortable. Come on in to
the kitchen and I'll make some coffee while you two get better
acquainted," Rita said.

"While I was on line, I googled Rick and he was stationed
under General Wilcox before he went overseas," Jack said.

"I could have told you where he was stationed. We were
married on base just days before he left," said Rita.

"You didn't mention that you knew the General when we
met him in Houston," Jack said.

"I never met the General. I only knew what base Rick was
stationed at," Rita said.
"Well, maybe the General can help us to discover some
facts Rick has forgotten," Jack said. "What do you remember
about your time at the base?"

"Nothing. My memories start about three months ago. I was
being checked out by the base doctors. About a week ago I
remembered our wedding. That's when I decided to find Rita to
get her help to remember more," Rick said.

"Excuse me. That's my phone. I have to take this," Jack
said. "Hello, Jack here."

"Inspector Jameson here. We picked up the suspect and
questioned him. He doesn't remember trying to kill the
Senator. He passed all the lie detector tests. He actually thinks
he's innocent. His lawyer is going to use an insanity plea,"
said the inspector.

"Sorry I couldn't have been of more help. I guess you won't
need me for the stakeout tomorrow night," said Jack.

"No, it looks like we're done here. Thanks for your help
anyway," said the inspector.

"Any idea what triggered the memory of your wedding?"
asked Jack as he hung up his phone.

"I was talking to someone on the phone. I can't even
remember who it was," Rick said.

"Have you had other memory lapses like this in the last
three months," Jack asked, "or any memory flashbacks?"

"A few," Rick said.

"And what were you doing when these occurred?" Jack

"Talking on the phone, and I don't remember who I was
talking to on those occasions either," Rick said.

"I have a few things I need to check out, but I think we may
be getting somewhere," said Jack. "We need to get the
inspector to put a trace on your phone."

"Let me help," Rick said. "I want to get to the bottom of this
more than anyone."

"Okay, we'll get started tomorrow. Let me know if you
remember anything else that might help," said Jack.

"Okay, I'm going to bed now," said Rick. "I think I've got jet
lag. "

"Spare bedroom's on the left at the end of the hallway. See
you tomorrow," said Rita.

"He seems like a nice fellow, Rita, but you must have
robbed the cradle," said Jack.

"He looked that old when we got married. It's the strangest
thing I've ever seen," Rita replied.

"Suspended animation, like Elvis ... or cryogenics maybe ...
or some sort of reverse aging," said Jack.

"Your guess is as good as mine. But I sense something is
missing," said Rita.

"You mean other than his memories, right?" asked Jack.

"He doesn't have any feelings for me, and for some reason,
I'm not attracted to him," Rita said. "I thought we had a love
that could never end."

"Maybe it's because he reminds you of a kid, instead of a
man," Jack said.

"Maybe ... but I don't think that's all of it," Rita replied.

"Well, we'll get some answers soon. We'd better try to get
some sleep," Jack said as he kissed her goodnight. "Now I
wish there was more room on the sofa."

"Good night, Jack," said Rita.

The next day Jack and Rick visited police headquarters.
Jack had them put a tracer on Rick's phone. "Any results from
those calls you traced of Sergeant Horten's?" asked Jack.

"I don't remember telling you the suspect's name, but no,
none of the calls he placed were significant," the inspector

"What about calls he received?" asked Jack.

"There was one. But it was a one-sided conversation in
some Asian language. We've got our people trying to translate
it," said the inspector. "It may have been just a wrong

"I think it's significant. Can you tell me where the call was

"It was a local call. We narrowed it down to one block in the
warehouse district," said the inspector. "Let me write it down
for you."

"Here's the phone. We've installed all of the latest
equipment. If it rings, we'll know whose calling before you can
answer it," said the officer.

"Thanks, guys. I'll let you know if I discover anything you
can use," Jack said. "Well Rick, it looks like we're going to
visit the warehouse district."

As they approached the area where the call had originated,
Jack began looking for any building with Asian names on
them. There were a couple of them, one at each end of the
block. A single vehicle was parked near one of the buildings.
No other vehicles were around. "Let's park and watch for a
while. Put this number into your phone and be ready to call it
when I tell you," Jack said.

After about an hour, Jack saw a small Asian looking man
come out of one of the buildings. "Place the call," Jack said.

As the man opened the car door, he hesitated and reached
into his pocket. He looked at his phone but didn't answer. He
closed the car door and returned to the warehouse. "I think
that's our man. We've got to get in there," said Jack. "Let's
check around back for a window or any other way of getting

As they turned the corner at the rear of the building, the
little man was waiting. He had a gun pointed at Jack. He spoke
in Vietnamese. Jack recognized the language but not the
words. Rick slowly walked over to where the man was
standing and took the gun. He turned and pointed it at Jack.
Rick had a blank expression on his face. "Shoot him," the little
man said.

A shot rang out and Jack fell to the ground. Another shot
and Rick fell forward landing inches from Jack. The little man
tried to reach for the gun. "Put your hands up. We've got you
covered. Move another inch and you're dead," said Inspector

"Jack, are you okay?" Rita yelled.

"I think I'm fine. Just a little shaken," said Jack. "What are
you doing here?"

"Jack, I'd like you to meet Rick ... my ex husband," said

Jack looked up and saw a ghost standing beside Rita. It
was an older version of the kid lying beside him. "He was a
clone. But how?" Jack asked.

"I'll explain it all on the way home. Are we finished here?"
Rita asked.

"The police can handle it now, but we need to fill them in
with any details we can learn from Rick," Jack said.

"I filled in the inspector on the way over," Rita said. "Let's
go home."

"So this is your ex husband. Good to finally meet you,
Rick," said Jack.

The ghost reached out his hand and then pulled it back. "He
can't get used to being a ghost. It's still new to him," Rita said.
"I've told him all about you."
"I deny most of it. I've been hearing a lot about you, too. At
least we thought it was you," Jack said.

"The clone. That must have been awkward for you; Rita's
husband returning from the grave," Rick thought.

"What does he know about these clones?" Jack asked.

"He only knows about his clone. He's not sure when the
clone was created. He first met the clone when it was about
ten years old. The clone aged rapidly until puberty and has
aged normally after that," said Rita.

"Who did this? What was their reason?" asked Jack.

"He doesn't know. I guess they wanted someone to take
Rick's place that they could control. They gave the clone all of
his memories," said Rita.

"They didn't do a very good job. How did they do it?" Jack

"They would bring the clone to him every day. They
drugged Rick and told him to think about a particular time in
his life, usually corresponding to the clone's age. They had
him and the clone wear some sort of helmets with wires
attached to them," Rita said.

"But the clone didn't remember much of anything," said

"That's because, at the time, Rick had amnesia. It wasn't
until after the clone shot him that he regained his memories,"
Rita replied.

"The clone shot you? Why?" asked Jack.

"It was the final test of its programming," said Rita.

"It looks like we're being followed. I'm going to pull over
and see what they do," said Jack.

Jack pulled over and stopped the vehicle. The other vehicle
pulled over in front of them. Two men in black got out of the
car and walked up to Jack's door showing ID's as they
"National Security Agency ... What's this all about?" asked

"You're under arrest. Get out of the car and come with us,"
one of the men said.

"What are the charges?" asked Jack.

"That will be determined later, depending on how
cooperative you are," said the other man.

"When will I be able to visit him?" asked Rita. "Do we need
a lawyer?"

"Can't say, but don't call us, we'll call you," the first man

"Where are you taking him?" Rita asked.

"That's classified," the other man said.

"Go with Jack," Rita whispered to Rick.

"I beg your pardon. I didn't quite hear that," said the first

"Nothing. Just praying for Jack," Rita said.

Rita didn't bother to try to follow the car. She knew Rick
would tell her where they were holding Jack. Still she was a bit
concerned that she didn't know what they thought Jack had
done. She was sure Jack was innocent and would be released
as soon as he could straighten it all out. Just in case, she had
an ace in the hole if things got tough.

When they arrived at the station they removed the cuffs and
placed Jack in a room with one table and a few chairs. A large
two-way mirror covered one wall. The other walls were bare
except for a single door. In a few minutes the agents returned
to the room and took a seat at the table across from Jack.

"You googled the name of a suspect at least an hour before
the police knew his name. Where are you getting your
information?" asked the older of the two agents.
"I can't tell you that. That's confidential," said Jack.

"We're talking national security here. We can hold you
indefinitely until you answer our questions," the agent

"What is that going to gain you. Look at my record. Talk to
the police. They'll vouch for me," Jack said.

"You wouldn't be the first A+ citizen to be corrupted by
money. Can you explain your bank account. There seems to be
quite a lot of money for a guy with no real profession," said the

"Stock market knowledge and a little luck," Jack said.

"Give us the name of your source and we'll release you
right now. Otherwise, I wouldn't make any holiday plans," said
the agent, "and you won't be seeing that lady you were with in
the car."

"So there's no way for me to tell Rita that I'm being held in
the basement of the Sears building," Jack asked as he grinned
and glanced at Rick.

"Check him for a wire. Make sure his phone isn't active,"
said the older agent.

"He's clean," the younger agent reported a few minutes

"We'll give you a few minutes to think it over before we lock
you up and throw away the key," said the older agent.

Jack watched as Rick disappeared through the wall.
"You've already got my answer. Now release me or lock me
up," Jack said.

"Lock him up," said the older agent.

When Rita arrived home, Rick was waiting. After discussing
the situation Rita got on the phone and placed a couple of

The following morning Jack was awakened by the two
agents. "Get your clothes on. You're being released," they told

"Released to whom?" Jack asked.

"Rita, the girl from the car," the older agent replied. "She's
in my office insisting that we turn over copies of all of our case
files. Does she have the authority?"

"The last agent that questioned her authority is tagging
polar bears somewhere north of the Arctic Circle," said Jack.

"I'll get right on it," said the younger agent.

"Will you be cooperating with the agency during you and
your partner's investigation?" asked the agent. "I've been
ordered to assist you in any way possible."

"Sure. I'll need one of your agency phones with all the
features so we can work together effectively," said Jack.

"So, we're not going with you?" asked the agent.

"We work better alone. But we'll need a liaison back here to
run errands and do paperwork," said Jack.

"I see. Are you mad about the way we treated you?" the
agent asked.

"I don't get mad," said Jack.

"How did we get to be the a-team," Jack asked Rita as they
got into car.

"It was the only way the president would help. He insisted
we head up the investigation," Rita said. "I guess he was really
impressed with our work on Luna 1."

"Let's get home and look over these case records and see
what we're up against?" said Jack. "Are you willing to stick
around for a while and give us a hand, Rick?"

"He said he's not leaving until he's sure I'm safe," said Rita.
"I already asked him why he was still here."

"There's nothing here," Jack said as he tossed the case
history onto the coffee table. "No wonder they wanted to know
what I knew and where I got my information. They don't have a

"Do we have a clue?" asked Rita.

"Well, there are these clones, we don't know how many,
who don't know they are clones and spies. They probably hold
sensitive positions in government agencies. Their only
identifying feature is that they look young for their age, but
unless we go around asking everyone their ages, I doubt that
will be of any help. There is some good news, the ghosts of
the originals will probably be close by," said Jack.

"So where do we start?" asked Rita. "Washington DC?"

"Is there anything that Rick has told you that could be of
use?" Jack asked. "Does he have any idea if this was done by
a country, a large radical group, or a few individuals?"

"He thinks it's an independent group. During his capture,
when he was hooked up to the clone, he picked up a few of the
clone's memories. They consisted of phrases in Vietnamese.
Rick had learned to speak Vietnamese during his capture. I
wrote them down just in case they're significant," said Rita.

"The police told me that Rick's clone died instantly when he
was shot by the officer. I was inches from him and I'm sure
that a ghost didn't leave his body. Is it possible that the clones
don't have souls?" asked Jack.

"That's what was missing, his aura. He didn't have a soul,"
said Rita. "I told you there was something missing."

"Then you may be able to detect the clones. How obvious is
this missing aura?" Jack asked.

"Now that I know what I'm looking for, I think it will be easy
to spot," said Rita.

"Would you be willing to try to find the ghosts?" Jack asked

Rick nodded, "Yes."

"I am going to text these phrases to the NSA agent and
have him test them out on the one suspect we have in
custody," said Jack. "Then I'm going to check my emails and
see if the general has any clues."

"Don't stay up too late, Jack. You know how you are when
you don't get your rest," said Rita. "See you tomorrow."

"Rick, since you don't sleep, you could go on ahead to DC
and begin your search for the ghosts. We'll meet you in front
of the White House at noon, Saturday, unless you find us
first," said Jack.

After sending another email to the general, Jack lay down
on the sofa to wait for a reply from the NSA agent. In a few
more minutes, just as he was about to nod off, the phone rang.

"Hello, Jack here."

"Agent Dawson, NSA. Jack, we have a problem."

"What sort of problem?" asked Jack.

"Our suspect has escaped. You told us to expect some
strange behavior when we used the phrases on the suspect,
but we didn't expect this," Agent Dawson said.

"Expect what?" said Jack.

"The suspect is trained in the martial arts. He took out at
least seven agents before we lost him," Agent Dawson replied.

"Anyone seriously hurt?" Jack asked.

"A few broken arms and legs. Nothing that won't heal," said

"Get some added protection for the Senator. The sergeant
may try to finish what he started," said Jack. "Do you have
anything broken?"

"No, I'm fine. Thanks for asking," said Agent Dawson.

"You will have something broken if you screw this up," said

Jack opened the door to Rita's bedroom. "Rita?" Jack
whispered. "Are you still awake?"
Rita didn't answer. "I guess I'd better let her sleep," Jack
thought as he walked back to the sofa. "Our first chance to be
alone and you've been thinking about work. Idiot! You didn't
even thank her for getting you out of jail."

Jack lay down on the sofa, tossed and turned for a while,
and finally nodded off. "Wake up Jack. It's 8:00 A.M. We
overslept. We're going to miss our flight if we don't hurry,"
said Rita.

Jack rushed to the shower and got in. Before he could
reach for the soap, Rita stepped into the shower. "You get my
back and I'll get yours," she said. "Stop it, Jack. We don't have
time for that."

"We could get a later flight," said Jack.

"I was hoping you would say that," said Rita.

"What?" asked Jack as he moved his head out from under
the shower.

"Wake up. It's 6:00 A.M. I didn't know what time you wanted
to get up," said Rita. "I've already had my shower. I hope
there's enough hot water left."

"That's okay. I could use a cold shower about now," said

The flight was uneventful. Jack and Rita were met at the
airport by a couple of NSA agents. "Just wanted to give you
our cards in case we can assist you during your stay in DC.
We have the airport covered in case the escaped suspect
shows up. We have your phone number from Agent Dawson,"
said one of the agents.

"Thanks, we'll be in touch if we need anything," said Jack.
"Do you know the status of the senator's condition?"

"Improving. He's still heavily sedated, but they say he's out
of the woods," said the agent. "As you know, we've doubled
security in and around the hospital. There's been no sign yet
of the escaped suspect."

"We'll have to check on him tomorrow. I want to be there
the moment he's able to answer some questions," Jack said to
Rita. "I find it hard to believe they would have gone to all this
trouble just to assassinate the senator. You don't have to get
that close to someone to kill them."

"Just take the shuttle to your hotel. Give the valet at the
hotel your name and he'll retrieve your agency vehicle," said
the NSA agent. "You have a room reserved at the Hilton. That's
not far from the hospital. There's a map in the vehicle."

"Has the general replied to your email?" Rita asked as they
exited the airport. "What exactly are you expecting from him?"

"A list of all MIAs that have turned up in the last year.
Especially those that can't account for their whereabouts over
the last few years," Jack replied.

"That would be useful. At least it will give us an idea of how
many we could be looking for," said Rita.

"By the time he gets back to me, Rick will have found all the
ghosts in this town. If we're lucky, they will all be here," said

"If we can stop the people behind this, then the clones will
be harmless," said Rita.

"They are guilty of killing their originals, if Rick's
experience is typical. And what about them not having souls,
what might that imply? Who knows what they may have all
ready done," said Jack. "Even they probably couldn't tell you.
They will have to be found eventually."

"I can't believe they had to release that little man from the
warehouse. He was obviously controlling Rick's clone, and he
ordered him to shoot you," said Rita.

"Since they couldn't prove that the clone was a paid
employee, he couldn't be held on attempted murder charges,"
said Jack. "They still have him under surveillance, but he's
aware of that and not likely to lead them anywhere."

"We're here. Let's check in and get something to eat," said
Jack. "We've nowhere to go until tomorrow. The agency has
my number if anything comes up. We might even have time for
some gin rummy."
"I brought the cards and the score sheet from our last
game. When were you going to pay me what you lost the last
time?" asked Rita.

"Not to change the subject, but do you want a waterbed or
regular king size in your room?" asked Jack.

"Regular," said Rita.

"Make that two regulars," Jack said to the hotel clerk.

"Here are your keys, Sir. Your bags will be brought up to
your rooms," the clerk said. "You have adjoining suites."

"Do you need to freshen up before we eat?" asked Jack.

"I'm fine. Once I get to the room, I'm not coming back out
unless the hotel catches on fire," said Rita.

After their meal, Jack and Rita arrived at their rooms. "I'm
going to slip into something a little more comfortable and we
can play rummy," said Rita. "Come on over when you're ready
and bring your money."

"What does she mean by a little more comfortable?" Jack
wondered. "Should I put on my jogging outfit or just my

Jack gave her a few minutes and entered the room. Rita
came out of the bathroom wearing some faded jeans and

"Did they deliver your bags? I couldn't find mine," said Jack
as he stood there in his boxers. "Maybe I should call the

"Give them a little more time. They looked sort of busy
when we came in. They'll get it straightened out," said Rita.
"Ready to play?"

"Let me just put on my t-shirt," said Jack. Back in his room,
he put on the t-shirt and slacks.

When he reentered the room, Rita was wearing her panties
and bra. "They weren't as comfortable as I remembered," she
said as she pointed to her clothes lying on the bed.

"I forgot my wallet," Jack said. "Be right back." Jack
slipped off the slacks and picked up his wallet.

"Ten cents a point, just like last time?" asked Jack.

"If you can afford it?" said Rita.

The next morning, after breakfast, they arrived at the
hospital. The agents informed Jack that they had talked with
the Senator. He had caught the suspect sending sensitive
information over the internet. When he confronted him, he was

"We have our internet specialists checking out the
computers in the Senator's office to see if they can determine
who he was sending it to," said the agent.

"Jack, that doctor doesn't have an aura. He just went into
the Senator's room," said Rita.

"I wouldn't do that," Jack said to the clone as he
approached the Senator's bed with a hypodermic in his hand.
The agents had their guns pointed at the suspect. "Lie down
on the floor and put your hands behind your back."

"Take him into custody and question him around the clock
until you get some answers," said Jack. "Let me know as soon
as you do."

"The general sent me the info I requested. There were seven
MIAs with missing memories. I have photos and other
information in my phone. I've emailed you a copy. See that
other agents get that info if they're working this case," Jack
said to the agent. "One of the suspects is dead and this one is
in custody so that leaves five others."

"We need to get to the White House by noon to meet Rick,"
Jack said to Rita. "I think we're through here."

As they drove up Pennsylvania Avenue they soon spotted
Rick with four other ghosts. The ghosts piled into the back of
the vehicle. "It's a good thing they gave us a van," said Jack.
"Imagine trying to fit them all into a sub-compact."
"It's good to see you again, Rick," said Rita. "Great job
rounding up the others. Are we certain this is all of them?"

Rick shrugged. "Okay, we'll discuss it when we get back to
the hotel," said Rita. "Jack can cross check against his
information to see who's missing. It's possible one or two have
already passed on."

"Rick, do any of these guys know the identity of the people
behind this or the whereabouts of their clones?" Jack asked.
Again Rick shrugged.

"Jack, turn up the heat. The windows are starting to fog up
and I'm freezing," said Rita.

Back at the hotel, Rita and Rick talked as Jack checked
each ghost's appearance against the photos in his phone. The
clones of the two that weren't accounted for had jobs in
Washington, so they wouldn't be that hard to locate. If they
were clones, Rita would be able to determine by just looking at

"Jack, the other ghosts don't have any memory of clones or
of being held captive," said Rita.

"Does Rick have any idea why they can't remember?" asked

"He thinks it's because they didn't have amnesia when they
were hooked up to their clones. They were too busy thinking
about their pasts to pick up any memories from their clone.
The drugs used during the memory transfer worked very well
on them to prevent them remembering the transfer, since they
had very little to remember in the first place," said Rita. "They
didn't even know what drew them to come to DC."

"Then why did they come with Rick to help us," asked Jack.

"They didn't. They came to meet us because we see ghosts
and can help them," said Rita.

"Well, they'll have to take a number. If solving this case
doesn't do it, then we'll do our best to help them later," said
Jack. "There still may be a way for them to help us."

"Rick, ask the ghosts if they will each find their clones and
watch them closely for the next day or two. We can tell them
where the clones work and live. I suspect they could find them
on their own if they just went with their feelings. They seem to
be drawn to them," said Jack. "We need to know who the
clones are secretly communicating with. They can meet us
here if they get any useful information."

"Rita, you and I need to find the other two and verify if they
are clones too," Jack said to Rita. "If they are clones, then Rick
can watch one of them and the ghost of the clone in custody
can watch the other."

"Let me look at those photos," said Rita. "Auras will show
up on the photo."

Jack handed her the phone. "They're clones," she said after
glancing at the photos.

"Okay, you've all got a clone to watch. Check back as soon
as you have any information," said Jack. The ghosts all left the
room and Jack and Rita were alone.

"So, are you ready to settle up on your gin rummy debt?"
asked Rita.

"I demand another chance to get even. You distracted me
during our last game," said Jack.

"You want to get comfortable before we start?" asked Rita.

"Be right back," said Jack.

As Jack reentered the room, Rita was still dressed and Rick
was sitting in Jack's chair. "I'm just going to put on some fresh
clothes and I'll be right back," said Jack.

"What's he doing back all ready. Did he discover something
that quickly?" Jack wondered as he put all his clothes back

"Rick found the clone but his ghost was already there. Rick
convinced the ghost to work with us," said Rita. "He came
back here so we could reminisce about old times."

"I'll just check in with the NSA to see how they are doing.
See you tomorrow," said Jack.
"You don't get off that easy. It's your turn to buy dinner. I'll
let you know when I'm ready to eat," said Rita.

"I was just about to call you. We traced the data sent from
the Senator's office and arrested the people behind the whole
thing. We'll be picking up the clones any time now," said the
agent in charge. "We can't thank you enough for your help,
and the senator is your friend for life."

"Just glad we could help," said Jack.

"Jack, all the ghosts are back. What's going on?" Rita said
as she opened the door. "Whoa, cute butt, Jack. I'll get rid of
these guys, and we can play some serious rummy."

"Will you marry me?" Jack asked as he knelt by the sofa.

"You know I will," said Rita. "Just what have you got

"I know a beautiful little island in the South Pacific. We can
get married tomorrow and be there by the weekend. We'll have
it all to ourselves except for the servants," Jack said.

"What if I had said no?" asked Rita.

"We could still go. It just wouldn't be a honeymoon," said

"Your phone is ringing," Rita said as she picked up Jack's
phone. "It's the President. You'd better take it."

"Now what. Doesn't he have the FBI, CIA, NSA and the
entire armed forces to call on?" Jack said as he took the

"Hello. Jack here. What can I do for you ... Sir?" said Jack.
"I need you and Rita to meet me at the airport. We'll pick
you up with Air Force One, and we can discuss this in private.
We arrive in two hours. Have your bags packed for at least a
two week trip," said the President.

"Yes, Sir. Should we pack for a cold or warm climate?" Jack

"That's classified, at the moment," the President said. "I
can't discuss that over the phone."

"Okay. We'll see you in two hours. Good bye, Sir," said Jack
as he hung up the phone.

"See him in two hours? What's going on, Jack?" asked Rita.

"I don't know. He's picking us up in two hours at the airport.
We've got to pack for a two week trip, and I have no idea what
the weather will be," said Jack.

"Great. What about our honeymoon?" said Rita.

"I guess we'll postpone it a couple of weeks," said Jack.
"We've got about fifteen minutes to pack."

As they boarded Air Force One they were greeted by
several Secret Service agents. "Let them pass. You don't need
to search my friends," said the President. "Good to see you
again, Jack ... Rita."

"Nice to see you," Jack and Rita replied.

"Find a seat. As soon as we're on our way we can discuss
why I called you here," said the President. "I can't tell you how
glad I am that you agreed to help."

"I don't remember agreeing to anything," Jack said to Rita
as they were buckling their seat belts. "What have I gotten us

"Whatever it is, you can bet it probably involves ghosts,"
said Rita. "After all, that is our specialty."

In no time they were airborne, and the President motioned
for them to follow him into his private office. "Make yourself
comfortable," he said.

Jack and Rita took a seat on the sofa. "You're aware of
Lunacyte, the ore we receive from Luna I and of course you
heard my speech at the UN so you know that we use it to
produce electrical energy using nuclear fission."

"Yes, Sir," said Jack.

"Well, it's so radioactive that we have to use titanium to
produce the rods used in the reactors. Compacting the
Lunacyte into solid rod was not possible because of the
critical mass," the President said.

"Why are you telling us?" asked Jack. "We're not

"Recently, the shipments we've been receiving have
somehow been diluted to the point that the Lunacyte is perfect
for making solid rods and saves us millions by not having to
use titanium,"
said the President.

"That's great. But where do we come in?" asked Jack.

"No one is willing to take the credit. They claim that they
haven't changed their processing procedures," said the

"Have they raised their prices?" asked Jack.

"No. But we need to obtain some quantity of Lunacyte in its
original form. They say they can't supply it," said the
President. "I want you to find out why?"

"I still don't see why you chose us?" said Jack.

"Oh, did I forget to mention that the miners claim that the
mines are haunted," said the President.

"I see," said Jack, "then you've come to the right people."

"We're going to drop you off at the Johnson Space Center.
The lunar shuttle is waiting for you," said the President.

Four hours later, Jack and Rita were aboard Space Station 1
with a four hour layover before their flight to SS2. "Let's find
somewhere to eat," said Jack.

"Okay. But let's find a nice place, even if it is your turn to
buy," said Rita. "I don't think I can take McDonalds again."

"Fine, you can pick, but you get the tip," said Jack.

"Deal," said Rita.

"Look," said Jack. "One hour blood tests. We could get that
out of the way and get married any time we're ready."

"You're so romantic, Jack," said Rita with a bit of sarcasm
in her voice.

"Just thinking ahead," said Jack. "You can never find one
when you're looking for them."

"And you know this because ... ?" asked Rita.

"That's generally true of everything. I'm just applying it to
this situation," said Jack.

"Okay, let's do it. We can get the results after we eat," said

Two hours later they were back for the results. "You both
check out fine. There's no reason you can't marry," said the
clerk. "That will be two hundred plus tax, or did you want
separate checks?"

"I'll get it. How's that for romantic?" Jack asked Rita.

"You swept me off my feet, or was it zero gravity that did
that?" said Rita.

"We've still got two more hours before we depart. What do
you want to do?" asked Jack.

"Get married?" replied Rita.

"Sure, I'm ready. Let's find a chapel," said Jack.

"I'm joking," said Rita. "I want a real wedding with our
friends and relatives. You could get me an engagement ring if
you're wanting to speed things along."

"Who said I was in a hurry?" asked Jack.

"Jack!" said Rita.

"Okay! Do you want to pick it out or do I have to do it?"
asked Jack.

"You don't have to do anything except be a jerk and I wish
you didn't have to do that," said Rita. "You've just wasted two
hundred dollars."

"You know how I feel about you, even if I don't show it
every minute of the day," said Jack. "When I said 'do I have to
do it', it didn't come out the way I meant."

"I'll help you pick it out. You pick it and I'll tell you if I like
it," said Rita.

"Okay. Let's do it," said Jack. "There's a dollar store right
over there."

"Very funny, Jack," said Rita. "Follow me."

Rita and Jack walked across the concourse and into a
Tiffany's. "How can I help you today?" said the sales lady.

"We'd like to see some engagement rings," said Rita. "Your

"Nothing's too good for my angel," said Jack. "Show us
your very best."

"Better make those wedding rings," said Rita. "We've
waited long enough. We can get remarried later with all of our
family around."

"Do you mean it? You've made me the happiest man on ...
SS1," said Jack. "We don't have time to find a chapel. The
captain on the lunar shuttle can marry us. Is that okay with

"That's fine, Jack. Relax," said Rita. "Let's find the boarding
After a short flight Jack and Rita arrived at SS2 and
immediately boarded the lunar shuttle. Once the fasten seat
belt light went off, Jack and Rita began looking for the Captain.
"I believe he's in the chapel. There are several couples that
wanted to get married," said one of the officers. "The chapel is
that way. Take a left at the end of the corridor."

Jack and Rita walked into the chapel to find four couples
standing before the captain. "May we join you?" asked Jack.

"Are you wanting to get married?" asked the captain.

"Yes sir," said Jack.

"Well step right up and sign your names in the book," said
the captain. "You have blood test results, I assume."

After the wedding, Jack and Rita went straight to their
room. "I hope they have room service," said Jack.

"I believe I remember seeing a menu the last time we took
this shuttle," said Rita. "Here it is. Don't tell me you're hungry
all ready?"

"No, but you're the only person I want to see for the next 36
hours," said Jack.

"That's sweet Jack, but I doubt you can last that long," said

"If you let me get some sleep every now and then, I might
surprise you," said Jack.

34 hours later. "You surprised me, Jack," said Rita. "I didn't
know anyone could sleep that much."

"What are you talking about? I hardly slept at all," said

"I was kidding, Jack. You were wonderful," said Rita.

"You're not so bad yourself, Rita Weston," said Jack.

"We had better get dressed. We're almost there," said Rita.

"A quick shower and I'm ready," said Jack.
"What's your plan. Where do we begin our investigation?"
Rita asked as she buckled her seat belt.

"I want to go right to where they've seen the ghosts," said

"Listen to yourself, Jack," said Rita. "What's the chance
they can actually see ghosts?"

"Well, they've obviously seen something to make them
believe there are ghosts," said Jack.

As they exited the shuttle, they were met by a security
agent from the mine. "Do you need to go to the hotel first?" he

"No, take us to the mine," said Jack. "I understand that it is
shut down during the weekend. Will there be anyone there to
fill us in on these ghost sightings?"

"I probably know as much as anyone. There haven't been
any actual sightings, just mysterious occurrences," the agent

"What sort of mysterious occurrences?" asked Jack.

"Tools lost and later found, footprints in secured areas,
voices when no one's around, that sort of thing," he replied.

"How do you protect the miners from the radioactivity?"
asked Rita.

"Shielded suits. The miners don't actually do much manual
labor. It's almost fully automated," he replied. "They don't get
anywhere near the actual digging."

"Do they wear the suits during their entire shift?" Rita

"Most don't wear them at all. They spend all their time in
shielded rooms watching monitors and pushing buttons. It's
only when something goes wrong that they need to use the
suits," he replied.

"We're here. Let's go in and I'll show you the layout of the
mine," the agent said. " If you're going into the tunnels, you'll
need suits and you'll be on your own. Cell phones don't work,
but there are land phones in the tunnels. Rules require
someone to be in the control room while others are in the
tunnel," he said.

"We'll definitely be going into the tunnel. Is there a time
limit with these suits?" asked Jack.

"How long can you go without food?" he asked. "There is
water enough for a couple of days in the suits. The air is
filtered and as long as you don't stir up a lot of dust, it should
be good for almost a week. You can refill the water supply at a
few key locations in the tunnels. There are also oxygen tanks
at each of the watering stations just in case."

"How long is the tunnel?" asked Rita. "Are the suits

"The tunnel is a little over three miles long at this time. It
gets a few feet longer each day we dig. The suits weighs
around twelve pounds. You have mikes and speakers in your
helmets so you can communicate in close proximity to each
other," he said. "Don't remove these suits under any condition
until you are back in the decontamination room."

"What about lighting. Are the tunnels well lit?" asked Jack.

"There is no lighting at all in the tunnels. You'll each get a
flashlight to carry and a spare one in your utility belts," he
said. "I wouldn't suggest carrying anything else you don't
absolutely have to take. You can't get lost, just follow the steel
tracks till you reach the digger. There are no side tunnels. Call
me on one of the land phones if there is a problem or to keep
me up to date. Just pick it up and talk."

"Did the radiation levels of the ore change overnight or was
it more gradual?" Jack asked.

"It changed almost overnight. We were about 1.5 miles in
when it changed," he replied.

"Has anyone checked the radiation levels at the dig site?"
asked Jack.

"We plan to do that the next time we have to go in to do
repairs on the digger," he replied.

"How often do you have to do repairs?" asked Jack.

"It varies, but it has been quite some time since it last broke
down," he replied. "You can check it yourself when you reach
the digger. Your utility belt contains a monitor. Just push the
button to take a reading."

"Let's get into our suits," Jack said to Rita.

"We'd better use the restroom first. The suits will make that
impractical later," Rita said.

"Good point. The rest rooms are down the hall," said the
agent. "After you put the suits on, continue to the end of the
hallway and press the button. I'll open the airlock and let you

"Okay. We appreciate you using your day off to help us,"
Jack said.

"Oh, I'm being well paid to do this, but hurry up every
chance you get. I have plans for tomorrow that don't include
the mine," he replied.

As Jack and Rita reached the airlock, Jack pressed the
button. The airlock opened with a loud hiss. After they entered,
the door closed and the opposite door opened. The first part of
the tunnel was dimly lit by the light above the airlock door.
Jack turned on his flashlight and directed Rita to do the same.
"Can you hear me okay?" Jack asked.

"Loud and clear," Rita replied. "Can you hear me?"

"Yes, I hear you," Jack replied. "Are you ready?"

"Ready as I'll ever be. Let's go," Rita answered as she took
the lead.

"Keep your eyes open for anything out of the ordinary,"
said Jack.

"What's ordinary? I've never been in a mine before," said
"Hopefully we'll know it if we see it," said Jack.

The tracks were identical to railroad tracks back on earth.
The tunnel walls made it impractical to walk outside the tracks.
"Let me take the lead," said Jack. "We'll need to walk in single

"I'd hate to be in here when the train is running," said Rita.
"It could get awfully crowded."

"I saw the train parked back past the air lock," said Jack.

As they walked along there was complete silence except for
the footsteps. "Wait a minute. I thought I saw something," said
Jack as he raised his flashlight and aimed it a little ways down
the track. "Look. A pair of eyes. Some sort of animal, I think."

"Seems pretty small. Probably a rat. I hate rats," said Rita.

Suddenly the eyes disappeared. As they reached the point
where they had seen the eyes, Jack took a close look at the
track. "The rat, if that's what it was, has been gnawing on
something. This is odd. This should be solid steel," said Jack.

"What should be solid steel?" asked Rita. "Was it gnawing
on the rail?"

"No, it was gnawing on this brace that connects two rails
together. These braces should be solid steel," Jack said as he
tapped his metal flashlight against it. "This one is plastic and
coated to look like all the others."

"Why would they use plastic instead of steel?" asked Rita.

"Because it's a nonconductor," said Jack. Jack pulled a
knife out of his utility belt and used the blade to fill the gap
between the two rails. A small spark and then the entire tunnel
glowed bright blue. "I can't see. Can you?" Jack said as he
pulled away the knife.

"No. Are the flashlights on?" asked Rita.

"I think so," Jack said as he stood up. "I'm dizzy. Where are

"I'm right here. I'm dizzy too. Reach out your hand. There
you are. We'd better sit down for a minute," said Rita.

"That flash of blue light must have blinded us temporarily,"
said Jack.

"You can see now?" asked Rita.

"Not yet, but it has to be temporary. I've got to see your
face again," said Jack. "I think I'm going to have to lie down,
I'm getting sick at my stomach."

"Me too. What do you think that light was?" asked Rita.

"Something to neutralize the radiation of the ore as the ore
cars move pass this point. Someone doesn't want earth to
have the ore in its pure form," said Jack.

"But who would want that? The ore is shared by all
nations," said Rita.

"A closer look at the technology may tell us something, but
I'm in no condition to check it out now," said Jack. "How far
away was that last phone we passed?"

"I don't remember exactly," said Rita. "Ten feet is too far in
our condition."

"I'm getting sleepy. I can't keep my eyes open. At least I
think they're closed," said Jack.

"Me too. Hold me, Jack. I'm scared," said Rita.

Jack awoke on what seemed like a reclining bed. Indicators
above his head seemed to me monitoring his life signs. "I've
died and gone to Trekkie heaven," Jack thought. It reminded
him of sick bay on Star Trek. Jack looked to his left and there
was Rita lying on a similar bed. "Wake up, Rita. Are you
okay?" Jack whispered loudly.

Rita opened her eyes and looked around. Seeing Jack, she
smiled. "Where are we?" she asked. "Are you okay?"

"I think I'm all right but I have no idea where we are," Jack
said. "The agent must have called for help when we didn't
"We're not on the moon, Jack. Try to raise your arm. That's
earth gravity. They have hospitals on the moon. They wouldn't
have taken us back to earth," said Rita. "There's something
going on here beyond the ordinary. Take a look at this
technology. Have you ever seen anything like it?"

"You're right. I think we may be dealing with aliens," Jack

"Jack, look at the markings on the monitors. They're in
English. I think we've traveled through time," Rita said.

"Very good, Miss Hopper. You're even smarter than Jack,"
said the stranger who just entered the room.

"That's Mrs. Weston and only in some ways," said Rita.
"Jack is smart in his own way."

"Thanks, Rita. Now tell us what's going on here," Jack said
to the stranger.

"You two were injured by our neutralizer beam. You would
have died if we hadn't found you when we did," said the
stranger. "We were investigating why the beam was triggered
on a weekend."

"Why are you reducing the ore's radiation?" asked Jack.

"I guess we'll have to tell you, since we need your help," he
replied. "We can't allow humanity to use the ore in its pure

"I guessed that, but why. Are we going to blow ourselves up
or something?" Jack asked.

"Nothing that dramatic, but devastating just the same," he

"Get to the point," said Jack.

"They would used the ore to develop an energy source
capable of creating warp drive. They will discover another
planet capable of supporting life. Half the people on Earth
move to this new planet, taking most of the ore with them," he
"That's great, man has always dreamed of going to the
stars," said Rita.

"Well, this star went supernova a few hundred years after
they arrived. They had already scrapped the space ships and
used the materials for other purposes since they had already
used most of the fuel. When the supernova occurred, they
were trapped there with no hope of survival. The gamma rays
from the supernova struck Earth a few years later killing 95
percent of all remaining life."

"That's terrible," said Rita. "But what can we do?"

"We're preventing Earth from using the ore to create warp
speed. We need you to convince Earth to create a power shield
capable of diverting the Gamma Rays when the star goes
supernova," he replied. "You can't tell them about us or what
you now know about the future."

"But such interference would change the future so that your
future will never occur," said Jack. "We're talking about a
paradox if those Earthlings that went to the other planet
remain here on Earth instead."

"If Earth doesn't come up with another way to create warp
drive, we'll give them the technology. Those people have to
leave. But they will have a chance this time if they can get
there and still have enough fuel to leave before the supernova.
Earth will be protected if a shield is developed," he said.
"That's where you come in."

"Can't you just give them the technology?" asked Rita.

"We try to avoid this sort of interference in Earth's
progress. We will give it to them as a last resort, but that's
assuming someone who knows about this conversation is still
around when the time comes," he said. "Every time we
interfere, the chances of that becomes slimmer."

"The agent back at the mine must be worried about us.
You've got to get us back immediately," said Jack.

"You two will need another two weeks to fully recover.
When you're ready, we'll get you back two minutes before you
activated the beam. Think of this as a honeymoon. Enjoy
yourselves," he said.
"There's this little island in the South Pacific," said Jack.
"Do you suppose ... ?"

"Say no more. If it is still there, it's yours for two weeks," he
"It's the least we can do for the man who's going to save

"Rita, you never told me how you are able to see ghosts.
Were you born with that ability?" Jack asked.

"My grandma always claimed that she could see ghosts.
Most of the family didn't believe her, including me. I always
thought she was a little bit strange," said Rita.

"So you inherited the ability from her?" Jack asked.

"Well, not exactly. You see ... I have my grandma's eyes,"
said Rita.

"I have my father's eyes, but what does that have to do with
anything?" asked Jack.

"You don't understand. Let me start from the beginning. It
all started when I got the word that Rick was missing. We had
only been married for a week when he shipped out, but we had
been sweethearts through most of our college years," said

"You had never seen ghosts before then?" Jack asked.

"No. And I still couldn't see them at that point. Let me finish.
This isn't easy for me," Rita said.

"I'm sorry. I'll try not to interrupt," Jack said.

"I was an emotional wreck. Rick and I had such wonderful
plans, and we loved each other so much. It had been hard
enough while he was away, but at least I could look forward to
his coming home," Rita said.

"Did he write?" asked Jack.

"Every chance he got, at least once a week," said Rita.
"Then the letters stopped."

"What did you do? How long before they notified you that
he was missing," asked Jack.

"I talked to the recruiter, but he wasn't any help. It was over
a month after the letters stopped before I got word that he was
missing and supposedly dead," Rita replied. "I cried myself to
sleep every night."

"And after you got the word from the army, what
happened?" asked Jack.

"I went to live with my grandma. I sold our house because it
reminded me of my loss," said Rita. "I still hoped Rick would
return but until he did, I couldn't go on by myself in that

"Did your grandma teach you about seeing ghosts?" asked

"Jack, you keep interrupting," said Rita.

"Sorry again. It's just that I'm so curious," Jack replied.

"Grandma and I talked a lot about ghosts. She didn't believe
Rick was dead because she hadn't seen his ghost. I wanted so
much to believe that. I guess that was why I began to take her
seriously," Rita said.

"Was she like us? Did she help ghosts?" asked Jack.

"Ever since she was a young girl. She told me about the
pleasure it gave her. It was what made her life worthwhile,
especially after Grandpa died. I wanted that feeling. I tried so
hard to see ghosts, but it was no use," said Rita.

"But you finally learned," said Jack.
"Who's telling this story, Jack?" said Rita. "Be patient. I'll
get to it when the time comes."

"How long did you stay with her?" Jack asked.

"A couple of years, until she died," said Rita.

"Was she ill long?" asked Jack.

"She was never ill. Oh, there was the typical cold, but never
anything to put her in the hospital," said Rita.

"So how did she die?" asked Jack.

Rita began to cry. "I don't know if I can tell you the rest of
the story. I'd forgotten how much this troubles me," Rita said.

"It's okay, darling. I'm ready to listen whenever you're ready
to discuss it," Jack said. "Stop crying. I hate to see you cry,
especially if I can't do anything to help."

"I want to tell you, but it hurts so much," said Rita.

"Tell me more about her while she was alive. I believe I
would have liked her," said Jack.

"You would have loved her, and she would have loved you
too," said Rita.

"Did you learn more about ghosts from talking with her or
from your own experiences?" asked Jack.

"A little of both. You see, even though I wanted to believe
everything she told me, it wasn't until after she died that I
knew it was all true," Rita said. "I'm afraid a lot of it went in one
ear and out the other."

"Did she know that you didn't believe it all?" Jack asked.

"You couldn't put anything over on Grandma. She could
always see right through me," Rita replied. "And she helped
ghosts right up till the end."

"What did Grandpa think about all this when they were
together. He didn't see ghosts, did he?" asked Jack.
"I don't remember him ever mentioning it. I never asked
Grandma if he knew. Surely she couldn't have kept it from him
all those years. He did work full time as a traveling salesman
so I suppose it was possible," Rita said.

"She never found anyone else after he died?" Jack asked.

"No. She said she didn't have time for that sort of thing. But
I think she had a thing for the mailman," Rita said. "She was
always baking cookies for him, and he always had time for a
chat and a cup of coffee."

"Did she know Rick?" asked Jack.

"Rick was her favorite. Of all my boyfriends through high
school and college, she liked him best," said Rita. "She said
he reminded her of Grandpa in his younger days."

"Just how many boyfriends were there?" Jack asked.

"That's not important. We can talk about that some other
time," said Rita trying to change the subject.

"Your eyes seem to light up when you talk about her. Were
you with her when she died?" asked Jack.

"Well ... yes and no. You see, we were in a car accident, and
I was unconscious until later in the hospital. She was
pronounced dead on arrival," Rita said as the tears began

"Were you badly injured?" asked Jack.

"My eyes were damaged, and I was totally blind. I didn't see
my injuries until later when they had mostly healed. I was in
terrible pain when I wasn't drugged," said Rita.

"How long before you regained your sight?" asked Jack.

"About a week after the operation. I was so nervous when
they removed the bandages. Guess who I saw first?" Rita

"Your grandma's ghost?" asked Jack. "What sort of
operation could have left you with the ability to see ghosts?"
"A transplant," said Rita. "Grandma was the donor."

"You really do have your grandma's eyes, and they're so
beautiful when you're not crying," said Jack.

"Grandma wanted me to have some heirlooms that ghosts
had given her. She had quite a collection and had never sold a
single one," said Rita. "She only took them because the
ghosts insisted. Thanks to those heirlooms, I was able to
devote full time to helping ghosts just like Grandma had

"And helping ghosts is how we met. I can never thank her
enough," said Jack. "Now about those boyfriends, how many
did you say there were?"

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