It disappeared a moment later, serving as nothing more than a short reminder of the last moments of her life. The same thing had happened during previous transformations, always accompanied by a pang of sadness at the tragic loss of life.
This time felt stronger however, much more recent and violent than previous occasions.
A thought implanted into my brain explained away the phenomenon: my job had changed. This contract was different than the regular ones.
This time, I hadn’t been contracted to bring closure to a loved one. I wasn’t supposed to comfort her family because they had no idea she died.
For once I was truly meant to live her life, if only for twelve hours, to help catch the kidnappers who’d murdered her.
She’d head about them only a day before her disappearance: the Rollinsville Kidnappings, as the press had titled them. Young girls around her age were disappearing then turning up dead a week later.
Her eyes had been glued to the television screen as she memorized the faces of each of the victims. Their locations across the state became ingrained in her mind as her brain created patterns in a desperately futile attempt to comprehend the situation.
She would become the ninth victim and without me the case would never be solved.
I stand at the exact spot where on of the three burly men had dumped her corpse. The body was now alive but the aura of death remained poisonous in the air.
I took a step forward only to fall to my knees, crippled by a sharp pain in my left ankle. The broken bone caused swelling and bruising.
My entire leg felt paralyzed by the limb, stiff and twitching. The muscles tensed against the uncontrollable sensation in a desperate attempt to protect against it.
My senses heightened instantly as if my brain was searching for the cause of the pain. The sense of impending danger pulsed through my veins as my sight and hearing grew sharper.
Over the deafening pounding in my ears I could hear the whoosh of cars rushing past in the distance. Judging from the frequency and volume of it, I must be near a freeway.
With renewed vigor I drag myself forward, relying on my arms and my good leg to push me through the thick dead grass.
Exhaustion spreads across my limbs but I force myself to go on regardless. The clamor of traffic grows increasingly louder as I approach. Soon enough I can see the edge of a beige brick wall.
Civilization waits on the other side. If I can just make it to an opening…