|Note: This story is a part of a larger series of short stories and flash fiction. You can find these stories on the Oubliette home page.|
Pete stood in his father’s office unsure of what to say. There was an uncomfortable silence as the two FBI agents studied him. Pete saw them as they arrived and did not think much of it. People showing up at the funeral home wearing black suits was one of the normal parts of the business. When his father called him to his office and said it was urgent, that was when he knew something was out of the ordinary. Agent Wood, a man with a bald head and a muscular body mostly hidden by his black suit was an intimidating fellow as he stood behind him.
Special Agent Mara Martinez stood in front of him. There was something about mannerisms that he could not explain that told him she meant business. She swiped and tapped on a cell phone and turned it around in her hand, allowing him to see the screen.
“Do you know the girl in this photo?”
Pete studied the image on the screen. She looked familiar to him but he could not say he knew who she was.
“No, I don’t think so.”
Mara looked at him with a stern expression, “Are you sure? She was in that video that you released to MyVid.”
Pete studied the picture again. Suddenly, it dawned on him. It was the girl that he saw in the video. Except, she wore a faded red tee-shirt and jeans with a rip in the left knee instead of a turn of the century dress. She looked lively and healthy rather than gaunt. She stood in the middle of a school playground smiling at the photographer. If this was her, with whom did he speak over the SpiritMic?
Pete stammered, “I… I don’t under… stand. I uh….”
Pete cut himself off before he said anything about the séance and his contact earlier in the day. He did not need them asking those questions. Mara pulled the phone back and placed it in her pocket.
“Her name is Tiffany Spencer. She has been missing for two years. I need to know how did she come to be in your video.”
“I don’t know, agent,” Pete’s hands were becoming clammy and butterflies swarmed in his belly, “I don’t even have access to those videos. Do you think I had something to do with it?”
Mara continued her expressionless stare, “I don’t think you had anything with her disappearance… not yet. This is not the first time we’ve seen her image. We found her in one of those ghost hoax apps and we’ve been trying to track down the source. What do you mean that you don’t have access?”
“We store our electronic evidence on Cloud Drive. Nobody has access to change files; not even Linda. The only person who could have changed them is Griz because he holds the account.”
“You’re saying that you weren’t the person who made that hoax video?”
It dawned on Pete that these agents were not telling the truth. That video was not a hoax which meant that the picture was fake. Still, he knew if he did not play along, this interrogation was going to stretch out and might not end well for him. He took the easy way out.
“It would have been Griz. He’s the one who uploaded it.”
Pete died on the inside; he just abandoned Griswold a second time.
“I see. When was the last time you saw Mr. Wilson?”
“About what time and did you notice anything unusual with his state of mind?”
Pete did not like where these questions were going, “It was about 11:00. We had a misunderstanding and I have not heard from him after that. He isn’t answering my calls.”
“What kind of misunderstanding?”
Pete lowered his head and said, “We left him behind on a ghost investigation.”
Pete spoke softly. It was slightly louder than a whisper. He had been wrestling with the guilt all weekend and now that he had to admit it to someone other than himself, it truly struck him. Time slowed about him as the gravity of his action weighed down on him.
“Where was this investigation?”
“The Wellington farmhouse, the same place where we got that video.”
Mara took a post-it note and pen from his father’s desk and handed it to him, “Can you give us the address?”
As Pete wrote the address, he asked, “What is this about?”
“Mr. Wilson disappeared and we need to talk with him.”