by Ash B. Whitley
Publication date: March 1st 2022
Genres: Adult, LGBTQ+, Science Fiction
With great power comes horrific possibilities…
Former child prodigy, Rowyn Miller, needs to prove her incarcerated and spiralling dad isn’t a murderer. It should be a piece of pish—she is his ‘victim’, after all.
One problem: not a soul has been able to see or hear her for 1,573 days.
Being a living ghost is hell. For starters, her available investigative methods leave Rowyn lagging miles behind the shadowy forces who set-up her dad. Plus, she’s desperate for a proper blether instead of the increasingly gloomy one-sided chats.
At least the creepy government scientists and unkillable terrorists can’t get their hands on her, though, and Rowyn will soon discover there are far worse ‘super’ powers she could have been lumbered with…
Interlude – Lecture Hall A, Linbury Building, Oxford University, 9th March 2015
Rowyn glanced around the unfamiliar lecture hall. This is a world away from physics. The lecturer was equally animated—bounding back and forth, throwing out interesting anecdotes—but the students were not. For a start, few had bothered turning up. Those that had, mostly opted for sleep, some relaxed enough to lie flat out on the leather bench. A bunch of people behind her hurriedly arranged a drug deal whilst broadcasting it to the rest of the theatre. I’m in a zoo.
Under normal circumstances, fifteen-year-old Rowyn would stick out like a sore thumb. She had done since her very first day at uni when christened ‘McDoogie Howser MD’ by one of the more influential mean girls. At least it sounded nicer than ‘jailbait’ though.
“Is it always so relaxed in here?” Rowyn asked, trying to keep the shock from her voice. The woman to her left didn’t respond and continued to take reams of notes in elegant cursive. “Oh, sorry. I don’t usually sit in Arts lectures.”
For three months and seventeen days, she had immersed herself in everything weird and wonderful physics and biochem could offer, in a futile attempt at working out what the flaming hell was going on. Not being able to turn pages or use a keyboard proved tricky. In short, being this was a complete bawache. So, with no clues to go on, Rowyn had opted to take a break.
“… and if you’ve ever met a Londoner, you’ll understand what I’m saying.”
Her companion let out a gentle laugh at the lecturer’s barb. The sound drew Rowyn’s attention, but not the usual pang in her chest she knew so well from her non-ghosty days. This was the third time now that she had sought the woman with the twinkly eyes and the warm smile. Aye, that’s not creepy at all. Following a pretty girl around town, like some kind of horror film boogeyman.
Soon realising her blatant ogling, the young genius cast her eyes downwards. Her neighbour continued listening, unaware. Rowyn turned her attention back to the lecturer and tried to follow her example.
Rowyn turned towards the urgent whisper and gold-flecked eyes. The other woman had slid across the bench, so that it wouldn’t take much movement to meet the pink-glossed lips currently quirked in amusement. Or it wouldn’t do if Rowyn was really there.
“Excuse me, but you and your staring are extremely distracting.” The woman moved ever closer with each word.
Rowyn’s not-quite-dead heart kicked. “Y-you can see me?”
For the first time since this nightmare began, a way out lit up before her. The woman’s smile acted as a reviving shower, pattering across her dried-out husk of a person.
“Why are you even in here, anyway?”
Rowyn’s head was empty. “I’m um—”
“I missed you,” said an unexpected deep voice from Rowyn’s right.
The physicist watched as denim-clad legs slid through her own and took over her seat. With a strangled yelp, she jumped up and into the aisle. After three months and seventeen days of this, you would think her body would suppress the involuntary flinch. She doubted it would ever seem right having someone sitting on top of—well, through—her.
She looked at the happy couple whose heads were almost knocking together as they giggled over some private joke. Despite her face being devoid of sensation and her huffing lungs remaining numb, she knew that tears were streaming down her cheeks.
That smile wasn’t for you.
Neither were the words.
None of it will ever be for you.
Ash B. Whitley is an SFF and mystery writer, hailing from the North East of England. By day she works in Finance and by night (well, post-bedtime story) she hammers away on her keyboard, writing far-fetched stories of superheroes, spies and complex female characters. Although several varieties of nerd, her first love is comics.
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