“Lilith, Shannon’s dead.”
Jason’s words kept repeating over and over and over in her mind until her heart beat to their rhythm.
She had run out of the house, desperate to get away. To get somewhere sane, where people stayed alive and frolicked among the daisies in sun-dappled meadows and never had bad dreams and never lived in houses near waterfalls and certainly never went crazy and killed people.
“Are you okay? You sure ran out of there like your hair was on fire and your ass was catching.”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Listen, can we go to the library today instead of the office? I have an appointment.”
Lilith made a mental note that she really needed to buy her own car. Or start riding the bus. Sitting next to old Crazy Kevin would be better than this. Would probably smell better too.
She got out of the cab and turned towards the library doors, willing her mind to be cool and still and silent.
Her vision cleared just in time. She put out her hands to steady herself.
What part of still and silent did her stupid brain not understand?
“Err, nothing to see here. No one going crazy or having weird visions or cracking up, not here. I am perfectly sane. Perfectly perfectly sane.”
Lilith looked around but it appeared that the denizens of Sunset Valley thought it much too early for visits to the library. She breathed a sigh of relief and continued up the steps.
Lilith was surprised by the steadiness of her voice and mentally cheered her vocal cords on.
“Oh, is that you Ms. Parker? I’m just up here by the science fiction. Come on in.”
“Yes Lilith, please do come in.”
She started up the stairs and tried to ignore the trembling in her legs.
She made it to the top of the stairs without tripping or dying or otherwise embarrassing herself. So far so good.
“Good morning, Mr. Sekemoto.”
“Good morning, Ms. Parker. I understand you wished to speak about Seth Morrigan?”
“Lilith, Shannon’s dead.”
“Are you all right, Ms. Parker?”
“Oh yes, I’m sorry. Didn’t sleep that well last night. Yes, Seth Morrigan. I was wondering if you knew anything about him. I’ve been told that you’re the person to go to for information on Sunset Valley history.”
“That is certainly high praise. I must ask you who said that. But for now, let’s see. Hmm, yes, Seth Morrigan. He moved here with his wife about fifty years ago.”
“The fire comes for us all, Lilith.”
“He was a valued scientist at our local research facility and won several awards for his work on rare flora and fauna like lifeplants and deathfish.”
“Yes, I read about all that in our archives at the paper. I was wondering if you knew anything about his wife’s disappearance or a mysterious fire? I found this story online last night that mentioned things like that and I was wondering if there was any truth to it.”
“Oh. Err. That. Yes.”
“Lilith, we’re all dead. Especially you. Hah!”
“We don’t really like to talk about that.”
“The chamber of commerce doesn’t really like it to get around, you understand. Bad for tourism and such. They really don’t like me talking about it.”
“I understand that, Mr. Sekemoto, I do. But well, you see, my boss sort of dropped dead under mysterious circumstances last night after assigning me this story. So I kind of need to know. Now.”
“It’s too late, Lilith.”
“It is not too late! It’s not it’s not it’s not! Don’t you see?! She’s not dead! She’s just off frolicking in a freaking damn sun-dappled meadow!”
“Okay, I can see you’re upset. Anyone would be. I’m truly sorry for your loss. But I cannot speak of that here.”
“Why the hell not?!”
Lilith threw up her hands in frustration. She’d totally lost her cool and blown any pretense of professionalism, but she didn’t care. It wasn’t like there was anyone to fire her.
“Well, there is one thing. Do you by any chance know Bella Goth?”