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First Rough Draft Chapter One of Midlife Ghostwalker

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Life doesn’t have to be a series of blunders, and even if it is, there is no reason you cannot turn the blunders to your advantage.
~Katje

ROUGH DRAFT CHAPTER ONE:

Never trust a man who says he wants to work out an agreement for your divorce over dinner, especially when he is the one doing the cooking. I’m Katje Storm and I’m temporarily dead. Or so, my cheating soon-to-be ex-husband told me, before he murdered me.

I’m not sure how long I strolled through this dead garden of withered flowers, chipped oscillating grayish stones, and eerie morphing cherub faces, reading each headstone, searching for some arcane key CLUE, Shamus said he needed.

He brought me to this place while I was dying explaining the whole time why he did it and what he wanted. He’d shown me two unrecognizable symbols that I was to look for during my search. I found Nada. HE told me he was doing this to activate my Ghostwalker powers, whatever those are, and that I would THANK him later.

HE said. I wouldn’t stay dead. That I had some kind of magical destiny. I had the power to resurrect myself. Was he insane or was I? He better be right about the temporary! If he’s wrong? He’s screwed, because I’m gonna be his worst nightmare. That’s not all. HE said he was a necromancer. IF worse came to worst, he could bring me back from the dead.

WHAT?

That is not exactly how that works. I read urban fantasy. I watch television, its sad to say, a lot of television… ah, “The Walking Dead.” Who wants to be a rotting zombie? Maybe necromancy explains his control issues in our marriage; you know, neat freak, bossy, obsessing over my cloths. He always has to have the last word. I can’t be dead at forty. I still have years and years ahead of me.

I’ve thought about death a lot in my lifetime, not that I was given much choice. I have seen ghosts for as long as I can remember. I used to think everyone saw them. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way normal people don’t see ghosts. I was a cute little kid, which worked to my advantage being an orphan. I lived in several fosters homes over the years. Some kids never got picked.

I learned not to mention the seeing ghost part. Because, that got you sent back to the orphanage quick, or worse, temporally institutionalized.

Yeah. That happened once.

Mostly, I tried not to think about ghosts. I’d tuned them out or ignored them. Sometimes ignoring was easier said than done. Funny thing. I had not seen one ghost since I landed in the nether purgatory or whatever form of ghost nightmare this was–That’s weird, don’t you think?

Some of the headstones in the cemetery dated back before the civil war. There were a few really large, very creepy mausoleums. Rotted vines twined around them, locking them in a cage of dead weeds, with half-mast black roses hanging their little heads here and there.

The crypts had many symbols carved into the stone that I knew due to my career and intellectual pursuits, and some I didn’t. I recognized the protection runes and manifesting sigils, which was strange, even weird. I mean… What do the dead manifest?

Sudden sensation tingled over me, as if someone had just poured ice water over my head. Talk about the creepy-crawly feels. Up to this point I had no sensations at all.

“Oh look boys, it’s a brand new specter.” That gravelly male voice sounded as if his vocal cords had been shredded.

I forced myself to turn around. My jaw dropped. Death is as strange as life.

Three deformed skeletal bodies stood before me, two with hair, one without, slinging Mardi Gras beads, wearing colorful-raggedy pirate garb, one a pirates hat, two a cowboy hat. The third…
A leprechaun hat?

I didn’t know whether to laugh or scream. The SANE part of my brain said scream, but the absurd won out. It’s better to laugh than cry, right?

It’s a stress reaction. “Who are you? Larry, Curly, and Mo?”

I think the slap-stick humor just pissed them off. The short, bald, roundish nightmare… Curly? …lunged, mouth gaping wider and wider, like a black hole, widening past human limitations.
I’m not stupid. I ran. And, then I tripped. Tall funky-hair and bouffant closed in. I think that one was Larry. A bony hand clamped onto me. I kicked. Little good that did me.

I looked up to see three yawning, toothless black masses descending on me.

Fear is a powerful motivator to tap into your dormant potentiality. Especially, when your innate flight factor failed to work. I screamed.

The silence was deafening within the black void that consumed me, and then I realized ghosts don’t sweat their fear; or I didn’t. I vibrated it; between fear and horror, I felt the power surge through me.

Absurd power.

The undulating overwhelmed me followed with a deep thrum-rhythm, and steady whooshing sound lulling my senses, filling every atom and molecule that death had not drained. I literally felt my hair and toenails start to grow, micro-shoots extending, as sensations of ice and fire burned through my system, waking every cell and igniting each atom. I was consumed by the internal firestorm, yet I knew the intense burn was part of my soul, not my flesh, even if I did not fully understand it.


Cool air brushed my skin, sending a chill across my body. I felt every hair, even the really faint ones on my chin. You know, the ones you can’t really see without a microscope, but they grow really long.
I call them my cat whiskers.

I swear someone must have gorilla glued my eyelids shut.

Distance foghorn sounds morphed and stretched. The underwater sensation persisted, until my ears popped, and then everything painfully amplified.

“Welcome back to the land of the living.” The last voice I really wanted to hear, Shamus Doyle.

That’s right. My cheating soon-to-be ex-husband. I groaned, rolling into a sitting position. My body ached in ways that had nothing to do with being forty years old. The ass-wipe had put a paralytic in my food, and then methodically explained what he needed me to do. And when he finished, he overdosed me with morphine. HE said, he didn’t want my death to be painful.

Wasn’t that so kind of him? He cheated on me. Caught him in our bed, in our house, but still…

Perhaps I just wanted to believe there was still something between us. I thought he loved me, or at least cared deeply. For goodness’ sake, we still did date night, until I walked out the door. But murder? That was a whole nother-level of betrayal. The depth of his deceptions shattered me. I swallowed to force down the knot that had risen into my throat. My dry mouth tasted salty.

The smell of fresh cut grass, roses, and dying carnations made my stomach wobble. A hint of honeysuckle laced the air. The monochrome landscape of death, now glaring with color, left me feeling kind of disconnected. The graveyard was peaceful, beautiful…

The decaying vines that crawled all over the mausoleums were vibrant ivy greens mixed with white, yellow, and red climbing roses. There were spots of blue bonnet, Indian paint brushes, and dandelions, typical of Texas, covering the ground. The best part? Life was beginning, not ending.

The menacing cherub looking faces of stone had regained their full angelic expressions. I couldn’t have been dead that long. Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling of disconnect, like I wasn’t quite all the way back, or something was—not wrong, just off.

I scanned the area. All appeared totally normal for a graveyard.

Shamus stood over me with his blond hair movie star looks and dancing brown eyes, that belied the manipulator and cheater that made up his black heart. No regret on that handsome lying face. I wanted to slap that smug smile right off his face but gravity was still wrestling with my sluggish body.

“See.” He practically sang. “You’re back. You should trust me. No harm, no foul, just like I said. Did you find it?”

I tried to speak. Choked. Swallowed. Cleared my throat, managing to rasp out, “You murdered me.”

I knew he was too self-involved to be intuitive enough to hear the faint quiver of vulnerability in my voice. It was there, covered by the gravel in my throat.

“I did not murder you.” Shamus offered me his hand. “I knew you wouldn’t stay dead.”

I ignored his hand, standing. “Like that makes a difference. Did you sign the divorce papers?”

He actually looked hurt. “No. I don’t want a divorce. You need me.”

That just pissed me off more. “No I don’t, sign the papers. You MURDERED ME.”

“I did not. This is what you were born to do. You can’t just blunder through life. You need to settle and focus. You need to find that key.”

Shamus was a lot of things but murder had not been on my list. If there had been a chance for reconciliation, there wasn’t now. “You remember what you said right before I died?”

He frowned, cocking his head. I watched him study my face trying to divine the answer. “I said several things. I’m sorry?”

“No you didn’t! Not even once.”

It was the sharp chill, in the otherwise sultry Texas heat, accompanied by a icy-cold gust of wind that made us turn. Something had returned with me.

Early Access to revised and expanded rough draft scenes/chapters as written, for Midlife Ghostwalker: Katje Storm, book one, in planned six-book series. Welcome to an inside look at my process.

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© copyrights Juneta Key

Not official Cover–May use for a short story in this world. Cover Made by Vanessa Wells using Adobe
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