A few minutes later, they had all gathered in Annie’s room. The room was small and narrow, so it was a bit crowded with all of them there, but they weren’t quite packed in like sardines. Annie and Edie sat on Annie’s bed with a few inches of space between them; Corrie, Roe, and Dawn stood between Annie’s bed and the wall; Lin had taken Annie’s desk chair, sitting on her own.
“Is there anything we need to do?” Annie asked, clutching the notebook in her lap until her knuckles turned white. “To call the ghost or something like that?”
Lin shook her head and closed her eyes. “It will show up.” Her voice was shaking slightly. “It’s… they’re drawn to my presence, and if this is where the ghost spends most of its time, then it shouldn’t take long at all.”
“Unless it hates me, Edie, and Dawn now because we tried to talk to it earlier,” Corrie muttered. She hoped she hadn’t made everything worse by trying so hard to communicate with the ghost. Scratch that, she knew she had—she just hoped it wasn’t something Lin couldn’t fix.
“We just need to wait a few minutes,” Lin said.
“You can’t tell where the ghost is?” Roe asked.
“Just that it’s in this building,” Lin said. “They don’t necessarily take up physical space, it’s more like—oh.” She let out a breath, then took one in sharply, a loud gasp. She was suddenly sitting ramrod straight in the chair, her shoulders so stiff they almost looked pointed.
“You,” she said. It was Lin’s voice, and yet it wasn’t. Corrie could not figure out the difference between now and a moment ago, other than the fury in the voice that definitely hadn’t been there before.
Lin—no, the ghost—glared around at all five of them. “What are you doing here? Leave me alone.”
“We just want to talk to you,” Corrie said quickly.
“If you don’t want to talk,” Roe said, “we don’t have to. You can leave the medium.”
The ghost looked down at Lin’s hands, stiff in her lap, and lifted the fingers to flex them. It was clear that she didn’t want to leave Lin’s body; she was probably enjoying corporeality for the first time in centuries.
“What do you want?” Annie asked. “Why are you haunting this dorm?”
The ghost covered her face with her hands—Lin’s face with Lin’s hands—Corrie didn’t know what to think, except that she was pretty sure Lin had nothing to do with anything her body was doing right now.
No wonder Lin didn’t like telling people she was a medium. It must be incredibly disconcerting to find yourself in a situation in which you have no control over your own body, but something else does. How had she even found out what she could do? “Could do” wasn’t even the right phrase here—it didn’t seem like she had a choice about whether or not to let ghosts in, they just showed up when she came close enough.
“I just want to be left alone,” the ghost said.
“But there must be a reason you’re haunting this dorm,” Annie said. “Did you die here? Did you kill yourself over a man?”
“Is your name Mary Thomas?” Dawn asked.
“No! No! Leave me alone!”
“You’re welcome to leave at any time,” Roe said patiently.
“My name is Edie,” Edie said. Her voice was soft but determined. “What can we call you?”
The ghost swallowed visibly and lowered her hands. “My name was—is—Alice Atkins.”
“I’m Corrie Vine,” Corrie said, since obviously Edie had the right idea and they should all introduce themselves to the ghost. Maybe making a connection to her got her to open up a little bit more.
They all introduced themselves. Annie went last. “I’m Annie McGillan, and you’ve been haunting my room all semester,” Annie said. “Why me?”
Alice looked around. “This is my room!”
“Well, that’s one reason,” Annie muttered.
“So you lived in this room, when you were alive?” Edie asked. “Did you die here, Alice?”
Alice covered her face again. “No! No! No!” The last “no” spiraled into a scream, higher and higher in pitch.