Hey, there. So, the first several chapters of this story, the ones I'm posting now, are available elsewhere... They're just strewn between my handful of short collections. Kinda inconvenient. So, I'm putting them all together. I may be adding another chapter or two for Ectober Week... We'll have to see.
Danny's head swiveled to the right as an intense shiver went up his spine. This wasn't his ghost sense. "Ah, heck," he said.
"What's wrong?" asked Sam, looking up from her vocabulary homework.
"Someone found it."
"Someone found what?" asked Tucker, still absorbed by his PDA.
"It," stressed Danny, shivering again.
"Wait," said Sam. "It, as in it, it?"
"You mean they found your-" started Tucker.
"Yes," hissed Danny. "What do I do?"
"One sec," said Tucker, looking down at his PDA again and typing furiously. "Oh, heck, Danny. The police and fire department are having their annual picnic up there."
"What? Why? Don't they usually have it in Marley Park?" asked Danny, naming the park at the center of town. "Why'd they use William Park?"
"Uhm. Looks like it was... Oh. Ghost fight damage. They've got construction work in there today. Water main. Oof. That was this last fight with Desiree, wasn't it?"
"Sam, Tucker, what do I do?" moaned Danny.
"Nothing," said Sam. "It isn't like there were any fingerprints, or clothes, your DNA isn't in any system, nor is Jazz's, or your parent's, and that's assuming that they can get DNA from it to begin with. There's no evidence tying you to it. Just leave it. They'll never make the connection."
"She's right," said Tucker. "They'll be looking for missing people, anyway. They won't find anyone that matches, because there isn't anyone that matches."
Danny whimpered. "I- Guys. They're digging it up. I can- I can't- I- I've got to go. I've got to go." He vanished.
Sam and Tucker felt the no-longer-eerie sensation of Danny becoming a ghost next to them. A chill, a sign of the presence of an agitated ghost, filled the room. Then, the chill, too, vanished.
"What do we do now?" asked Tucker.
Captain Jones sighed as the body was revealed. It was small. Young. The Amity Park Police Department hadn't had a case like this since the ghosts showed up. Actually, they hadn't had a murder, period, since then.
Everyone thought that it had been a fluke when Daisy, the elderly corpse-sniffing dog, who was more of a mascot than anything else, had alerted to the spot. But there had been that odd cairn of stones, and no one had remembered it being there the last time they'd had the picnic up here, which admittedly was over five years ago.
So Captain Jones had called City Hall to see if there had been some kind of special circumstance, someone buried here who was supposed to be here. When he had gotten a negative response, he had called for digging equipment. There were grumbles, this was supposed to be a day off, but everyone had gotten to work.
Now they had a corpse. A child's corpse. One that had been here for at least a year, and probably longer, according to the medical examiner's initial assessment. One without any clothing, or identification, as far as he could tell.
"Okay," said Captain Jones, turning to the medical examiner. "If you're done, here, we should bring him up."
"Please," said a young, echoing voice, "stop."
The captain whirled, hand going to his gun. He, the ME, and the other police officers and detectives, were looking up, at where the voice came from. Some of them were pointing. A few had gone pale. A few feet over their heads floated Phantom, the most notorious ghost in Amity Park.
He was rarely seen except when fighting ghosts, or putting a stop to some other disaster. Most of the officers had a mixed view of him. He caused a lot of damage and a lot of trouble, but to the best of their knowledge, he had never directly hurt anyone, and he had put an end to a nasty hostage situation a few months ago. The fire department, which was waiting farther away, beyond the crime scene tape, had a much better opinion of him. He frequently helped evacuate people from house fires.
Captain Jones had never seen Phantom this close. He hadn't realized how young the ghost was. He hadn't ever seen him with that expression, either. He looked terrified, hugging himself tightly, as if he was afraid that he would break apart.
"Please," said the ghost again, "just leave it alone."
"You..." started Captain Jones, looking between the ghost and the corpse. "How do you even know about this? Did you have something to do with this?"
"Sort of," said Phantom, a haunted note lurking under his haunting voice.
"You killed somebody?!" exclaimed a junior detective.
"What?" said Phantom, head snapping towards the young woman. He sounded both shocked and offended. "How could you-? No. Never." His gaze slid back towards the grave.
"So how are you involved?" asked Captain Jones.
"I- Um." The ghost shivered violently. "I-" he cut himself off again. "It's mine," he said, finally. "Th-That. It's mine. It's me."
There were several sharp intakes of breath. Captain Jones felt his heart stutter. Somehow, he had never considered that Phantom had once been alive, and it sounded that he wasn't alone in that respect.
"It's you? This is your body?"
"Yes," said Phantom, closing his eerie eyes and shaking.
"You were murdered?"
Those green eyes snapped open again. "No! No. It was my fault. It was an accident. I just- I couldn't- It couldn't be found there, that's all, so I- I- I didn't know what else to do. I hid it."
"You buried yourself?"
Phantom nodded convulsively, and floated down, so that he was at eye-level with the captain. Now he was looking at anything but the grave. "Please, just bury it again, forget you saw anything. It's better that way. Please."
"Why?" asked Captain Jones, forcing himself to look directly at the ghost.
"I didn't want anyone else to be blamed. It was my fault, and only my fault."
Captain Jones didn't spend much time interviewing ghosts, but he'd spent most of his adult life interviewing witnesses and suspects, and he could tell when someone was lying, or not telling the whole truth. He fixed the ghost with his best police officer glare.
"I didn't want them to know I'd died," the ghost whispered.
There was something else going on here, something wrong with that statement as well, but Captain Jones let it go for now. "We can take your word that you weren't murdered," said the captain, "but we can't just ignore a body."
"Please," begged Phantom, again.
"We can make sure that you're buried again," said Captain Jones, "but there has to be an investigation."
The ghost whimpered, and vanished.
"Do you think he's really gone?" asked an officer.
"I don't know," said Captain Jones.
"Captain," called a social worker from outside the tape, who was the spouse of one of the officers, "captain, did you notice how he blamed himself? That's often characteristic of-"
"Of abuse, yes, I know," said Captain Jones, rubbing his face.
"Captain?" started a detective. "This is probably stupid, but I read a lot of ghost stories, and sometimes when a ghost doesn't want anyone to know that they've died, it's because they're faking being alive."
"Great. Just wonderful, Collins." He raised his voice, "All of you, whatever else you're working on, you're working on this now, too. Collins, you and Patterson are in charge. Find out who Phantom was, how he died, and why. I don't care what else you have to dig up or unearth!"