Cedar Grove Cemetery was in Flushing and was where the wealthy bury their family. I had parked my car in Manhattan. Really not good. My watch told me I’d only been gone twenty minutes, but I was about ten miles from the federal building. Definitely not good. I’d been running faster than human speed along a toll road. At least the moon was still behind the clouds.
If Natalie hadn’t been dead, I’d have been jealous of her. She had the world going her way. She had a normal childhood with no ghost haunting her, and she never had to worry about being able to afford clothes or food. I was also jealous because her friends in college didn’t try to eat her. And now her life was gone, and her body was hermetically sealed under nearly frozen ground.
Nobody ever rejoins the earth anymore. They use too many preservatives in your food and then they preserve you to keep the stench at bay until you’re sealed in your coffin. Nobody’s body pushes up daisies anymore. I’d rather have them cremate me and dump me in the ground with no casket or coffin to contain me. The average lifespan of a pack werewolf – not rogue – is two hundred years. I hoped to live that long.
Why are my thoughts stuck on death tonight? I thought about her case file and all the questions I had, but no way did I want to talk to her ghost. The thought of talking to a ghost was creepy.
“I know Warren didn’t kill you, Natalie. I can’t prove Ethan was your murderer. I don’t even have any idea why he would want to kill you.” I spoke softly. I couldn’t help myself. The words just escaped. Sometimes it’s nice talking to someone who doesn’t talk back. It lets your mind release all the thoughts that have been bothering you without anybody else’s snide remarks. I should have known better.
I heard a sigh behind her headstone, and I about jumped out of my skin. I was, until now, certain I was alone here. It’s not a wise idea to spook a werewolf before the full moon. I felt her fur caressing the underside of my skin and my eyes shifted to let in more light. It took a moment to swallow my heart back down my throat.
“I wish you could hear me, so I could tell you it was Ethan who killed me.”
Murder investigations were never this simple. Why had I never thought about going to a cemetery before? It would have been so much easier talking to the spirits of murder victims – provided someone had found their bodies. Oh yeah, I remembered, ghosts are always wanting something. Then again, where there’s a corpse, there’s usually a spirit. Not always, but usually. If I’d have thought of this years ago instead of running from the dead, I wouldn’t have so many unsolved cases. There was still the difficulty of finding evidence though. At least their spirits could point me in the right direction – provided I got there before they moved on.
Natalie stood up from the other side of the headstone. She wore a classy red dress, and her wavy golden hair fell to the small of her back. Her beautiful face was only marred by a small hole where the icepick had entered her skull, surrounded by an octagonal bruise. Her death was quick. If only Mindy’s death had been so quick. I tried not to stare, to let her know I saw her. At least, not yet.
Wolf didn’t want to talk to anybody tonight. She wanted to run through the grass and chase small things. No, No, I tell my wolf half. Tomorrow we’ll go to the sanctuary where you can run and chase all you want. I need to talk to this girl. In my mind, I saw my wolf sitting back, her tail twitching much like a cat’s, like she does when she’s pissed and impatient. I’d have been happier as a weretiger if there was such a creature.
I don’t usually get out of the city unless the moon is full. This time of year, Noah’s sanctuary’s beautiful trees had every vibrant color of fall. Pretty soon the trees will be dropping the leaves that smelled heavenly. The cool air made everything smell ten times stronger. I wished I was human again, but completely human – no ghosts to see or hear.
I wasn’t much of a human, even when I was one. Everybody treated me like the elephant man because as a kid I tell the spirits to leave me alone. The kids I knew thought was a nut job. Nobody else saw the ghosts like I did. I hoped becoming a werewolf would free me of the ghosts, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Should I let Natalie know I could see and hear her? How many other spirits in this graveyard would take interest in my ability? I tried to add up the number of people who were laid to rest here in the last three-hundred years. Would they all still be here? That would be how many millions of ghosts? According to the Smithsonian’s website more than 850,000 people have been buried on Hart’s Island.
I have no idea what happens to a spirit when their body is cremated. I didn’t want to think about it. Back in Beverly, a few people die on a daily basis, compared to here where the population is a thousand or more times larger.
“Oh please, please, please be able to hear me. These old stiffs are so boring. I only have a few days left before I leave, and I want to see that sorry bastard’s ass in a vice.”
I tried to resist the urge to smile but this spirit had, well, spirit. No wonder she had so many friends. I turned away, covering my mouth and looked like I was crying.
It’s not like me to cry. I gave up on crying a long time ago. Now everybody thinks I’m a cold-hearted bitch. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s painful to have your heart broken repeatedly, and I’m not going there tonight.
“Ethan killed you, didn’t he.” It was a statement not a question. I turned around again and looked at her sad but determined transparent blue eyes in her transparent slender but curvy body.
A smile crossed her face before she jumped up in a Snoopy dance and chanted, “Yes, yes, yes,” as loud as a dead girl could get. “I knew it; you’re different.” She stopped jumping.
“How long have dead people been talking to you?” She asked.
“Too damned long.”
“Awesome! Can you help me?”
“One question…” She started.
“Just one? Pull out the pen and paper, you’re about to get an exclusive, unheard of interview with a dead girl.” My smile faltered as the clouds parted briefly letting the moonlight touch my skin. I almost howled in excitement. I rubbed my sweaty palms down my pants, grateful I wasn’t covered in fur.
“Why the fuck were you dating a vampire in the first place? I thought you were smarter than that,” I said.
Natalie sighed. “My dad asked the same question.” She slumped to the ground, leaned on her headstone, dropped her head to her knees and squeezed her eyes shut. “I made him blood vow never to turn me. I thought he loved me, until I found him with another girl. I went over early to visit him before he went to bed for the day and found him with another girl in his bed, naked. I dumped him and called off the wedding. The next day, Warren kidnapped me.”
She found him with another woman. How cliché. Did her eyes just unfocus? Was she remembering something? Can vampires plant alternate memories and erase the original ones?
“Tell me what you remember about your death.”
I didn’t hear her answer. The clouds chose that moment to release the moonlight in full force. The moon shone above a tree behind Natalie, bathing the graveyard in silver moonlight. Wolf was delightfully distracted by the moon. I pushed wolf back because I wanted to hear the answers to the most public case I was ever assigned, but pain shot through me as I fell to the ground. Claws emerged from my fingers and fur sprouted from my skin. It doesn’t hurt when you welcome the change, but it hurts like hell when you fight it.
“Not now; not yet.” I ground my teeth. “Nothing here to hunt; nothing here to kill.” I attempted to calm the hungry wolf down, but the call of the moon was too strong.
“Hey, are you alright?” I looked up to Natalie’s face and saw the moon highlighting her golden hair in a halo. She had a terrified look on her face much like a deer caught in my sights.
Between her eyes and the moon, my wolf whispered back to me, “I don’t care. I will hunt ‘til the sun comes up.” I couldn’t fight anymore. The promise of freedom, of the hunt without all my human worries had me thinking like my wolf. One more question before I had to go.
“How long?” I asked Natalie, but it came out as a half growl.
“How long?” She seemed confused. I nodded. “Til I move on?” I nodded again. “Two weeks.” I wanted to promise her I’d return, but I had shifted so far that human speech was impossible. In three days, I’d return when the moon wouldn’t be as annoying. I hopped up on my paws and went in search of deer, rabbit or rat. Anything to entertain my beast. I should have left for sanctuary this afternoon. I should have forgotten about work, the very informative dead victim, and got out of town.