As expected, there was no reply from Alice. Kevin spent most of Sunday in his room, wondering why she would have done what she did. At least his parents hadn’t nagged him about it, even though Mum now had enough food to see them through most of next week. He really didn’t understand why she would arrange to travel all that way, then not even bother to get on the coach. And she had then deleted her profile on the site, so he could probably never contact her again.
Later that evening, he looked at the three photos she had sent him, saved in his laptop picture gallery. He didn’t know that much about computers, but maybe he could find out a bit more about the photos. He right-clicked on the first one, and examined the options available. One of them was ‘Search Google for image’. He clicked on that.
The first hit at the top of the list showed the same photo. It was on the front page of the local newspaper, The Southend Echo. The accompanying headline sent a chill up Kevin’s spine.
POLICE SEARCH FOR SUSPECT IN MURDER OF LOCAL NURSE
Kevin clicked on the link, and was presented with the full front page. He read the text below the photo of Alice.
Following the discovery of the body of local nurse Alice Millward (22) in her London Road bedsit, Essex Police are appealing for information as to the whereabouts of local man, Scott Lee (25). He is the main suspect in the murder of the young woman, whose body was discovered last Friday, together with that of her cat, which is believed to have died of natural causes. Ms Millward was an orphan, and lived alone. She worked at Southend Hospital in the radiotherapy department, and her colleagues described her as a quiet young woman who was tiny, almost child-like in appearance. (Story continues on page three)
Despite trying many other links, he was unable to access more pages, so he tried clicking on the other photos, with no success. Going back to the front page again, he suddenly noticed the date, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up.
Friday, 14th September, 1996.
That was almost two years before he was born.
He decided to say nothing to his parents. Some cruel person must have been using Alice’s details on a dating site. How sick was that? Disgusted, he closed the laptop, and went to get ready for bed. He had work in the morning, Alice or no Alice.
The next day, Mr Reynolds could see that Kevin wasn’t himself. He tackled him during the tea break, and Kevin confessed what he had been unwilling to discuss with his parents. The older man seemed concerned. “I remember that case, she was strangled by someone who was stalking her. My nephew works on The Echo. Why don’t I arrange for you to meet him there, and examine the archives?” Kevin nodded. “I would like that, Mr Reynolds. I can’t believe Alice is a fake, and would like to hear the whole story”.
After work the next day, Kevin went to the offices of the newspaper, to meet up with Teddy, Mr Reynolds’ nephew. He had got the microfiche files ready, and had a serious expression. “I asked about that case, Kevin. Most of the older staff remember it well. The girl met a guy called Scott Lee, on a date arranged through a friend at the hospital. But it didn’t work for her, and she wasn’t interested. After she told him that, he wouldn’t leave her alone. Texted her, followed her, and stood outside her flat. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.
She reported him to the Police, and recorded all his texts and phone calls. Eventually, she got a restraining order, and he got a Police Caution. Then one night, he must have got into her flat, and killed her. Strangled her with her own tights, and raped her too. He went on the run, but the Police found him in Spain, some place where she had once gone on holiday. When they caught him, they found he had a photo of her in a swimsuit, taken from her flat. They got him back here, and he got life imprisonment, after being found guilty.
It’s all on the files here mate. Help yourself”.
Kevin nodded his thanks, but didn’t know what to say to him.
He skimmed through the various newspaper files, taking in some of the details. But he didn’t really need to read the whole story. Alice had been betrayed by a date. He had harassed her, stalked her, and finally raped and killed her. And now she was taking it out on anyone who was dating. She was making sure that nobody ever suffered as she did, and she would be doing that for all time.
Kevin had lived his twenty-one years never believing in ghosts.