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Resonance: Chapter Nine

       Last updated: Thursday, July 14, 2005 21:04 EDT



    They moved through to the lounge. Graham sat in an armchair, nursing his coffee, while Annalise flitted about the room - picking up ornaments and photos, examining them, putting them back down. Graham watched her progress - realising he’d have to realign everything before he could face going to bed.

    “So, last month,“ said Annalise, waving a candlestick to emphasise her words, “I got this phone call from the cable network. This guy was trying to contact me, he’d seen the show last year and wanted to meet - real urgent. He was like leaving ten messages a day and the network weren’t sure if he was for real or some whacko stalker. So they passed his number on to me. I called him up and we arranged to meet.”

    Annalise inverted the candlestick and scrutinised the base for a few seconds before putting it back on the mantelpiece.

    “Needless to say I chose a very public place. Big coffee house downtown. Turns out he was on the level. Kevin Alexander, a Canadian guy working for ParaDim.”


    Annalise moved over to the sofa and sat down on the arm, a few feet away from Graham.

    “I see you’ve heard of it. Anyway, he was real interested in the De Santos case. Real interested I said the ringleader had been shot by an off duty cop. ‘How’d you know that?’ he said. ‘My spirit guide, Annalise, told me.’”

    Annalise’s head moved from side to side and her voice changed as she re-enacted the conversation. “Your spirit guide’s called Annalise?’ he said. ‘They all are,’ I said.

    “At which point he starts looking at me real excited. He had these big hands which he held out in front of him, fingers spread wide.“ Annalise mimicked the encounter. “And he like pumped them up and down as he spoke. ‘How many Annalises are there?’ he asked. ‘Two hundred at the last count. Spooky, ain’t it? Must be a real common name on the astral plane.’”

    Graham sat back and listened, mesmerised by her performance. She had such an easy way about her. She didn’t seem to weigh up her words or wonder what anyone might think. She just launched into her story and out it all came.

    “Anyway, he’s sat there, mouth open and big hands stuck out in front like some kinda freaky Canadian lobster guy and he wants to know how I can possibly have two hundred spirit guides all with the same name. How can I tell them apart?”

    Annalise rolled her eyes. “’We have a code,’ I said. ‘I’m Annalise One. Then there’s Annalise Two. Get the drift? We’ve all got numbers. And those that fight over the same number agree on a letter - eventually - so there’s Annalise 9a and 9b.’”

    Annalise stopped and looked round. “Where did I put my coffee?”

    Graham pointed at the cup on the coffee table behind her. She leaned back, reached out and scooped it up in one flowing motion. Graham held his breath as the full coffee cup teetered precariously over his clean carpet.

    “So, this guy - still excited, still pointing those enormous hands at me - asks if I do private consultations. He’d pay, money no problem. He needs to contact some friends on the other side. ‘No problemo,’ says I, ‘but I’ll need a hundred up front. Some of these dead guys don’t like to be found.’”

    Annalise took a sip of coffee and gradually brought the cup into the conversation. Graham watched the liquid lap from side to side.

    “’Not a problem’, he says and hands me two fifty dollar bills, just like that. Then he says how important it is that his friend gets his message word for word. ‘Verbatim,’ he says, ‘exactly as I dictate or it’s no good.’” She rolled her eyes. “These scientist guys. Anyway, I agreed and then he says something really spooky. ‘Tell your spirit Annalise that she has to speak to my friend in person - no phones, no faxes, no emails.’”

    “They have faxes on the astral plane?”

    “Believe me, they have everything on the astral plane. Just ‘cos you’re dead don’t mean you can’t live.”

    She paused and took another sip.

    “As I see it, they’re dead, but they don’t know it. So they go around doing everything  they did before. They live in houses, they drive cars, they shop, they make out. Makes sense to me.”

    It suddenly made sense to Graham too. An epiphany. He’d never understood why people who came back from the dead never talked about their experiences. He’d put it down to embarrassment, shame maybe, some social taboo that said you don’t talk about death or unravelment. But maybe they just didn’t realise where they’d been.

    Wouldn’t that explain his father’s reaction? That first time he’d come back from the dead. Graham still remembered every moment of that morning. Getting up, going downstairs, walking towards the kitchen expecting to see the tear-stained face of his mother still grieving three months after her husband’s passing. But hearing laughter instead. A man’s laugh. He’d slowed in the passageway, not knowing what to think. The kitchen door ajar, unable to see all the way in, he’d hovered outside for an age. And then the man spoke. It was his father! His father had come back!

    He’d raced into the kitchen, thrown the door back against its hinges and jumped on his father’s back. The sheer joy of finding him alive!

    “Dad, it’s really you!” he’d said, his voice breaking.

    “Of course it’s me, who’d you expect? The milkman?”

    His mother had laughed. “How come I don’t get a hug like that?” she’d asked.

    “Because you weren’t dead,” he’d replied and, suddenly, all the world went very quiet.

    But now, looking at that scene again, he could see it had been shock on his father’s face. Not embarrassment. All those years Graham had thought he’d broken some unwritten taboo and dared to tell one of the returned that he’d been dead. But it hadn’t been that at all. His father hadn’t been embarrassed at his son’s outburst, he’d been mystified. Because he hadn’t known he’d been dead.

    “Earth to Graham.” Graham returned to find Annalise waving a hand in front of his face. “Where’d you go just then?”

    “Sorry, I was thinking about what you said about dead people.”

    Annalise shrugged. “That’s cool. Now where was I?”

    “You had to send a message to your spirit Annalise.”

    “That was it. And I had to learn it by heart. I wanted to write it down but lobster guy didn’t want any of that. ‘Nothing on paper,’ he said. ‘Can you memorise a twelve digit number?’ he asked. ‘For another hundred bucks, I can.’”

    “The message was a twelve digit number?”

    “Part of it. He wanted me to get in touch with the same Annalise that told me about the bungled De Santos kidnapping. Very insistent. It had to be her and no one else and she had to contact Gary Mitchison, some doctor who worked at the Queen Alexandra College over here in London. ‘Resonance wave,’ she had to say. ‘I have a message for you from Kevin Alexander on 015 498 226 373.’”

    “Was that his telephone number?”

    “No, I checked. And it wasn’t a URL or anything internetty. I double checked. Probably some code the two of them had worked out before the guy passed over.”

    “Why would anyone do that?”

    “To prove they were who they said they were. Houdini started it all. It’s a way of checking the medium’s for real. If the medium comes back with the wrong code then she’s a fake.”

    Annalise drained the last of her coffee.

    “Anyway, that was supposed to get this spirit guy’s attention. Then came the rest of the message. ‘Danger, be careful what you broadcast, remember everything’s monitored. Resonance project teams are being closed. No longer safe. Take research off line. The girl can be trusted. Pay her. She’s the only secure line of communication. Resonance wave intensifying, repeat, resonance wave intensifying.’“

    “What’s a resonance wave?”

    “You don’t know?”

    Graham shook his head. He hadn’t a clue.

    Annalise tilted her head to one side and looked closely at Graham. “Lobster guy and his dead pals sure seem to think you do.” She paused. “They think you’re the key.”

    Graham swallowed hard and looked at his feet.

    “Anyway, there’s more of the message. ‘Access the Census logs,’ it went on. ‘Look for traffic on Graham Smith and cross-reference with disbanded Resonance projects. Can’t be coincidence. Why the interest in him and why were the projects closed soon after? End message.’”

    Annalise paused to deposit her empty cup on the coffee table.

    “Spooky, right? What kinda census logs would a dead guy look at? Some kinda dead guy inventory? Or is there something a dead guy can do that a live one can’t? Like pass through locked doors and check out classified files?”

    “But what could any of that have to do with me?”

    He was totally confused. Why would anyone in Canada or anywhere else for that matter have the slightest interest in him? He was as near to a nobody as you could get. He could disappear tomorrow and no one would notice. He had no family, no friends, no…

    And then it came to him. It was obvious.

    “They’ve got me mixed up with another Graham Smith, haven’t they? It’s a very common name.”

    “Urrrr!” Annalise pressed an air buzzer with her finger. “Wrong answer, Graham. You haven’t heard the dead guy’s reply.”

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