Spirits: Final.

by | Nov 17, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

I have this package for one of your PhD students.

Jim entered the reception of the faculty office at The Department of Psychology, University of Newcastle; straight into the clutches of the first gatekeeper. She was the stereotypical academic secretary, all attitude and highlighter pens.

This rottweiler in a twin set grinned at him without a hint of humour as he grasped the small parcel in his coat pocket. The gift he purchased for Marguerita was his ticket into the place as well as a thank you for his new found abilities. The only thing missing from the address was her surname.

“Can I help you?” The guardian growled, her chubby pink face was bereft of empathy, help of any kind was the last thing on her mind. Jim took out his wallet and removed the plastic card.

“Good morning James Allen, department of Humanities Northumbria,” he said. His identity card from last year’s Masters was still valid for the city’s other university.

She inspected the card over her gold rimmed spectacles pulling a face as if it had given off a noxious odour. 

“Northumbria, I see.” There was no sign of the lemon she’d obviously just sucked to give her the expression she wore at the sight of the card. “What business do you have here?” she clipped like a sharp pair of scissors.

“I have a package for one of your postgrads,” Jim responded, taking the parcel from his pocket.

“Package? I’m sorry we can’t accept such things, faculty protocol.” He could hear the cogs whirring in her brain. The woman’s grin broadened with self-satisfaction and she returned to her duties without looking up. She closed the conversation with one word.

“Goodbye.”

At this point an older woman entered the reception. The Secretary assumed a subservient demeanour as if The Almighty had appeared

“Brenda, can you copy this file for me please? I’m sorry, am I interrupting?” Jim took his chance to get one over on the witch.

“I was just saying to this lovely young lady. I have this package for one of your PhD students. Would it be possible to deliver it personally?” Jim observed the rage rising in the face of his adversary. The academic smiled warmly in contrast to her subordinate.

“Of course, if they are here. The name is?”

“Jim Allen, Northumbria,” he replied.

“No no no,” chuckled the older woman, “the student.”

“Oh sorry, Marguerita. I don’t know her surname but she’s studying for her doctorate in Grief and Death.” Jim returned her expression.

“I can’t picture her, although I do recall the name. Are you sure she’s a current student? She could be an Alumnus or an applicant for next year. Sheila?” She turned to the secretary, whose face was the colour of a blueberry.

“There’s no such student, Dr Brown. I’ve just told the gentleman,” she lied.

“Oh well, I’m sorry we can’t help. Can I have that for this afternoon please?” She addressed the secretary then nodded at Jim before disappearing through the door from whence she’d come.

“Thank you. For nothing,” Jim said to the young woman through gritted teeth. He turned on his heels and left, crestfallen.

“Really!” He heard her shout with false indignation as the reception door slammed behind him. He was in a state of panic. The beautiful siren was slipping away. He needed to find somewhere to sit. Wandering the corridors, each door he came upon was locked. The card in his pocket wasn’t currency in this establishment.

Reluctantly he decided to cross town to the other place and carry out his research there. He entered the library of The University of Northumbria and found a vacant booth. Taking his laptop he opened the browser 

He typed in The National Museum of Death, Mexico, his only link with his young companion.

The first page was in Spanish and he clicked on the tiny union flag in the top right hand corner. Immediately, Google translated it into English. He selected Menu then Our Team.

There at the top of the page, were Marguerita’s features, transformed into the face of a middle aged man. The eyes, nose and dimples on his smiling face were those of his lost beauty.

Clicking on the photograph, he began to read the short biography. 

Pedro Vasco de Gama Rodriguez has been curator here for twenty two years….

Jim copied the name and pasted it into another search. A list of pages appeared on the screen all in Spanish. He selected several which were mainly news items about the Museum. The next page he selected was that of the local newspaper. The headline had the word Muerte in it twice. Something stirred in Jim’s chest and it tightened.

He selected the link in the text and the two photographs hit him like the blow from a cricket bat. The first one showed Marguerita with the old man, his arm draped around her, cheeks touching. However the second picture froze the muscles in his neck. He could neither breathe nor swallow. The photograph showed what was left of a car, wedged up against a giant tropical tree. It was only recognisable from the single remaining wheel.

Shaking, Jim tried to control the mouse in his right hand. He managed to translate the page and wished he hadn’t. The headline screamed at him like a demented banshee.

Daughter of Death Museum Curate Killed in Road Accident.

With exponential horror, he read on.

The promising young academic was fatally injured when her car left the road and hit a tree. Marguerita Vasco de Gama Rodriguez was planning to study in the UK next year…

Jim slowly closed the lid of the laptop and lay his head on it. The sobs came in waves and he didn’t heed the shushing of several students.

Just then, his left eyebrow began to itch. As he was about to scratch, he stopped himself. Closing his eyes, he concentrated.

“Hello Jim. So now you know. I’m sorry you had to find out this way. However, don’t worry. I’m not going away. As I said, our connection is unique. Let’s talk spirits.”

1 Comment

  1. Ken Childs

    The end really?

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Receive an email notification for new posts

Loading