Summary: #2 in the Tales of Haunted Cascade series.
Disclaimer: The guys from The Sentinel belong to Danny and Paul. Not me, drat.
Blair Sandburg made his way as he hurried through the crush of students. He had promised Jim that he would meet him the police station and help him interview more witnesses in the Edgars case. Six-year-old Will Edgars had disappeared from the backyard of his family's home three weeks ago. So far no trace of the child had been found.
Shifting his papers and books to his left arm, he unlocked the door to his office. His new office. He had been in it less than a week and would still be unpacking if Jim, Joel, Megan, H, Rafe, and Simon hadn't helped him the move from his basement office.
Blair shivered as he stepped over the threshold. His breath frosted the air. Something must be wrong with the thermostat again.
He took a few more steps inside. A strong, nauseating odor enveloped him. Coughing and choking, he started to drop his books and papers on his desk than call one of the custodial staff.
His desk was gone. Another desk stood where his was supposed to be.
Quickly, he looked around the office. At the bookcase, the one thing in the room that was still familiar, a young woman stood with her right arm reaching up for a book on the top shelf. She was turned slightly towards him, but she appeared to be frozen in place. Her dark red hair was pulled up in a bun. Her long-sleeved white blouse, ankle-length skirt, and oxfords made him think of Little House on the Prairie. Blair looked back at the door expecting to see H, Rafe, and Joel there, wide grins splitting their faces.
There was no one there except for the students and faculty that clogged the hall at this time of the day. He frowned. Normally he could hear the noise of the passing traffic even with the door closed but today the sound was strangely muted even with the door opened.
"Would you care to--" Blair said as he turned his head back towards the woman.
She was fading out of sight.
Sunlight streamed across the floor where she had been standing. There was no one else in the office, but he couldn't shake the feeling that someone was still in the office with him.
Hugging his books and papers tight to his chest, he turned and hurried out of the office.
"Mr. Sandburg, you okay?" Cara Gates one of his Anthro 101 students stopped beside him.
"I'm fine." Blair glanced back into his office. It had returned to normal. "I'm fine."
"Out here, Jim."
Jim Ellison stepped out onto the balcony.
"How was court?" Blair handed him an opened bottle of beer.
Jim took a long swallow of the beer, letting it quench his dry throat before answering. "The jury is still out but there is no way that they'll let that bastard walk." John Byers had murdered his stepson, Will, then stood at his wife's side while she pleaded to whoever had her son to return him unharmed. Finally, the man had led them to the boy's shallow grave when he was confronted with the evidence that the Major Crime detectives had gathered. His lawyer was trying to get him off by reason of temporary insanity but there were to many witnesses to his actions before and after the child's murder for the jury to believe otherwise.
He took another swallow. "How was your day?"
"I found her. Her name was Katherine Jacobs." Jim didn't have to ask whom Blair who he was talking about. He was still convinced that someone had played a joke on his friend even though a search the same day had turned up nothing. "I found her picture. She was an English professor at the turn of the century. One day she didn't show up for class. She was already dead when her students found her on the floor by the bookcase."
"Blair, it could have been somebody who looked like this woman."
Blair shook his head, then looked over at Jim. "I talked to some people. I'm not the only one who saw her." He looked back over the bay, watching the sunset.
A shiver raced down his spine as Jim wondered what his young friend had seen.