Connect For Love: Part Ten

This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 840 words.

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.

Until today.

The End.

43 thoughts on “Connect For Love: Part Ten

  1. I never saw this coming. I love a good ghost story, and this just took a turn I didn’t expect. So, the person following Kevin in the previous episode was the ghost. I really liked the story, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much, Jennie. Yes, Alice was a ghost all along. How she was able to add a profile and comments to a dating site has to be put down to ‘ghostly powers’. 🙂
      And the revenge she took on those less kind than Kevin is left to the imagination of the readers.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! What a of alternatives to your story. As for me, I loved it just the way it was. It totally surprised me and I never saw that ending coming. I hope you don’t abandon supernatural possibilities in future stories, no matter the criticisms.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well that was quite the twist! My one critique would be along the lines of others have said. It would make more sense to have an open ending where Kevin along with us, was left wondering if Alice was a ghost, or a flesh and blood person wielding vengeance/justice in the name of Alice. Still, I really enjoyed this and I feel terrible about all the mean thoughts I had toward Alice.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think there are two points to be made about the story, as it is written. One has to do with Kevin’s perspective, and the other with the reader’s perspective.

    (1) Based on what Kevin actually knows, his conclusion that Alice must be a ghost does not hold water. There are many possible real world conclusions that he could have drawn. I can think of at least two that would have involved the police. One, Kevin could have concluded that the police were after a copycat killer, and that he was just one of many young men who had taken the bait. Two, he could have concluded that the police had found that Alice’s photo worked very well in tracking down serial killers who used internet dating sites for their victims.

    (2) From the reader’s perspective, we have two important pieces of information that add up to Alice being a ghost. One, Alice Millward is confirmed to be dead. (Kevin also knows this.) Two, Alice is granted a POV in the story, e.g.: “Alice watched him arrive from her well-chosen vantage point.” (Kevin relies solely on photos and written messages.) So the reader has every right to conclude that Alice is a ghost. She’s dead + we’re privy to her thoughts and actions = Alice is a ghost.

    So, based on the story as it is written, the reader (but not Kevin) has every right to conclude that Alice is a ghost. But do we have all the information? There could be an untold twist to the story—even a double twist! The first twist could be that a young lady has assumed the identify of Alice in order to exact revenge on the Scott Lees of this world. A further twist could be that the person who has assumed Alice’s identity has done so unwillingly, as she is actually possessed by the spirit of Alice, thereby keeping the story in the realm of the supernatural.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much for your considered appraisal, David. I think Kevin preferred to immediately believe Alice is a ghost, as in a strange way it explained what had happened. Your other possibilities are of course very credible, but it would have had to be a much longer serial. I did include the fact that Alice could see without being seen, and early on mentioned that she had a ‘haunted look’ about her face. They were very small clues, but I expected some readers to pick up on them.
      I might give ghost stories a miss in the future. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. From your perspective, those are clues. But from a reader’s perspective, they could easily be dismissed. It’s possible from a certain “vantage point” to watch someone waiting at a bus station without being seen, and a person can have a “haunted look” on her face without literally being a ghost. I wouldn’t avoid ghost stories in the future. You’ve written some great ones. I just think it’s necessary to remember that characters in a story usually don’t know as much as the reader, and therefore it’s a bit of a stretch to have them reach conclusions that only the reader can justifiably reach. I would have loved this story had you gone the “double twist” route with a few more installments.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ahhh, Pete…(I know it’s supposed to have only one H but I gave it 3. Ha!) This is my favorite Big P story! A good old fashioned ghost story set in the computer age. And I didn’t see it coming. Masterful use of suspense and mystery colliding with the supernatural. You must submit this story, Pete. If I were a gambler (I’m not) I would bet money that this story will be published.
    Cheers,
    Pam

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well, Pete, I think you played your cards well. I had suspected the photos would lead somewhere, but not there. I think the reader’s reaction might depend on their own beliefs in ghosts and the probability. My Alice would have been much more vindictive given the circumstances of her demise. It was an end I did not see coming.

    I have read many a complaint because the reader disliked an author’s ending. I guess it shows how invested they are in the characters. I liked Alice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much, Maggie. I could have given more details about how she haunted and terrorised the other men she met, but wanted to keep it a reasonable length, and not give away the ending.
      And I also wanted to change everyone’s first impressions of Alice, by leaving that ‘reveal’ until the last moment.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, FR. I wanted a fairly simple set-up, though perhaps it should have been longer and more involved. For some reason, I didn’t think it needed that, so maybe this serial was a ‘misfire’. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The ghost story doesn’t work for me either Pete. Sorry! I could however have understood a friend of Alice setting up men on online dating sites, though Kevin was undeniably naive. Not sure there was enough communication with Alice for him to really ‘fall in love’, but he did sound pretty desperate.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Pete,
    I loved the way the plot and characters were built. But I would take the liberty to say that if Alice could still have been alive and taking it out on online stalkers, that would have made more the story more interesting. Also because nothing in the story give any hint of a ghost being in picture: no shivers down the spine, no nagging doubts, nothing out of the ordinary…
    Still it is my personal opinion. Let me know if you disagree 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good opinion, Shaily. However, if I had given any previous indication that she might be a ghost, then that would have given away the ending. It was always intended for Kevin to realise it was nothing personal, and was always going to be a ghost story as such. But if it had worked better for you with Alice still alive, then that’s fine with me. I am always happy to hear any opinions, believe me.
      Many thanks for sticking with it, and your much-appreciated conclusion. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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