Corrie took two quick steps forward, then stopped, uncertain. How did one comfort a ghost, even one who was inhabiting someone else’s body? Did she even want comfort? Corrie didn’t want to touch Lin’s shoulder to comfort Alice. But she didn’t want someone coming to investigate the scream and freaking the ghost out further, either.
The scream suddenly ended in a gasp. Alice’s shoulders jerked, then she suddenly flopped over in the middle, like a marionette whose strings had been cut. Her arms dangled nearly down to her ankles.
Roe rushed forward. “Lin! Are you okay?”
Alice—or Lin—took Roe’s outstretched arm and used it to pull herself upright again. She was grinning wildly.
“I’m better than okay,” Lin said. “I did it! I expelled the ghost! I forced her out of my body!”
Annie stared at her. “But we’ve hardly gotten any information out of her.”
“I couldn’t hear the conversation,” Lin said. “I could just tell she was getting distressed, and…” She shook her head and wrapped her arms around herself. “But the important thing is, I can do it! I can remove ghosts at will!”
“That’s great, Lin!” Roe said, grinning. She and Lin seemed to be the only ones pleased with this development.
Corrie was really confused. “I’m glad that it went well for you, but… that wasn’t very helpful. We didn’t get far in our conversation.”
“We found out that her name is—“ Dawn started.
Lin held up her hand. “No, I don’t want to hear any of the details. This is information for you to use, not me.” She took a deep breath and stood up. “I’m going back to my own room now. We can try again another time. Now that I know I can expel the ghost, I think I’ll be more comfortable with letting it in, but right now I’m exhausted.”
“Do you need anything?” Edie asked. “Help getting back, or some food?”
Lin shook her head. “I’d rather just get back to my room. I’ll get in touch with Roe when I’m ready to try again.”
She left, shutting the door quietly behind her. Annie sat back on the bed, looking stunned.
Corrie took a deep breath. “Well, we’ve made some progress, right? We can look up Alice Atkins. If she was a student, we might be able to find her in a yearbook. We can search online, too. Maybe someone will have some information about her life or death.”
“It’s a start,” Dawn agreed. “When she was saying no at the end, do you guys think that meant she didn’t die here, or was she just objecting to the idea that she died?”
“I think she was just freaking out,” Roe said. “Maybe she just doesn’t like to think about having died.”
“But we have to find out how she died to find out how to appease her, don’t we?” Annie asked.
“It might not have anything to do with that,” Dawn said. “Maybe it was just an accident, and if we find out more about her life we’ll know more about how to help her. Or get rid of her. It could be that there’s some magic tying her here.”
“What if we’ve just made everything worse?” Annie asked. Her face was pinched with worry. “She got so upset, and then Lin kicked her out, so she couldn’t even continue talking to us.”
Corrie could touch Annie’s shoulder to comfort her, so she stepped closer and did that. “Maybe we’ve made things better. Now that we’ve made some real progress in talking to the ghost, she might feel like someone actually cares, and bother you less.”
“If you want to stay in our dorm again, you’re welcome to,” Dawn said.
Annie shook her head. “I’ll think about it.”
“Let’s go to the library,” Edie said, standing up and closing her notebook. “It’s not busy right now, right, Dawn? We can look at the old yearbooks and see if we find any more information.”
“Good idea,” Corrie said. “Better than sitting around doing nothing while we wait for Lin.” She held her hand out to Annie.
Annie half-smiled and took Corrie’s hand. “Yeah, okay. I just hope we can find something.”