Alive Inside

Posted on: December 30, 2014

We last saw Anna as she turned to a group of rabbis to cast the spirit of Lucas into her own body. Read the whole Anna the Extractor Series--"The Extractor," "Bury Their Own," "Beloved," "A Tremor in Your Name," and "Stress in the Workplace," "Common Denominators," "Inhabit," and "Calling" (an introduction)--to learn more about Anna and her supernatural adventures.

Memory is a dark and hazy thing, full of shadows and uncertainty. We remember in the ways that serve us best, waxing ourselves heroic as our shortcomings lurk in the darkness.

What’s happening?

Why is she yelling at me?

God, I’m drunk.

Stop pushing me.

Shit, I just want to lie down.


Anna feels her fist, no, someone else’s fist collide with the side of the woman’s head. She watches her hit the wall, then bounce toward the floor, neck connecting with the seat of a wooden chair on the way down. Then, nothing.

Anna wakes up on a dingy couch with the television on. But this isn’t her couch, and this isn’t her house. This isn’t her almost two hundred pound body. She sits up, only to throw up in a man’s lap, wiping the spittle away with the back of his sleeve. She stands and locks eyes with a very handsome, hungover man. But he is in a mirror.

He is her reflection.

Anna doesn’t call the shots; it’s as if she’s merely a spectator residing in his body, stepping over beer bottles toward the bathroom with a sudden urge to piss. But she feels the relief just as he does when the stream hits the water, and the refreshment of water from the faucet against his face. And she feels the confusion and the horror at once when they both notice the body on the kitchen floor.

Then, Anna remembers the rabbi blowing the shofar as a circle of men chanted in Hebrew. She remembers that they exorcised a ghost named Lucas out of a young man and cast him into her body. She remembers the damp chill of his presence within her, like a foggy November morning. Anna remembers being scared because it’s a strange thing to possess the ghost that possesses you, a being that has the power to make you bleed and make you kill.

So, Lucas is trapped inside her body, and Anna is trapped inside his spirit and locked within his memories.

Lucas crumples to the floor as he takes the woman’s body into his arms, weeping, groaning. There’s an opal on her left ring finger, and Anna realizes that he killed his fiance. She can taste his tears in the back of his throat. She can feel his heart race with dread. She feels the cold death emitting from the woman, and the presence of her ghost hovering just behind Lucas. Anna knows he does not sense her spirit, only its absence from the body he cradles.

“Dana,” Lucas groans, “Dana, Jesus Christ, Dana. Oh, God, I’m sorry.”

Memory is where Dana haunts the man who loved her, and killed her when he drank too much for the hundredth time.

“Who are you?” Dana asks, and Anna knows that she’s not talking to Lucas.

I’m trying to help him cross over.

“You can’t. I tried.”

He can be helped. We just have to figure out how.

“Love wasn’t enough. What else could change him?”

Forgiveness. He needs to be forgiven.

“Forgive him? For killing me? For killing our baby?”

Where’s the baby?

Dana’s presence wavers.

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Did he know? Does he know?

“Yes, he knew. Despite his addiction, he knew.”

Dana, this - all of this - won’t stop unless you forgive him. He’s gone mad in the living realm. He possesses men’s bodies and uses them to kill women they love.

“What good is my forgiveness if he can’t forgive himself? He can’t escape what he’s done.”

Anna feels Lucas crawl away from Dana’s body across the floor like a sloth, pulling himself forward with desperate fingertips. He’s in their bedroom. He reaches under the bed. His hand closes around the grip of a revolver. She feels the barrel in her mouth as he sits up and leans back against the dresser. And she’s screaming inside of him, inside a figment of himself. But it’s too late. It’s been too late for decades.

Then, nothing. Just the haze of memory, painting us prettier than we are.

What’s happening?

Why is she yelling at me?

God, I’m drunk.

Stop pushing me.

Shit, I just want to lie down.


She lives through Dana’s death and Lucas’ suicide twelve times as Dana’s ghost and heartache shiver close by. Anna starts to feel herself lose it because she’s trapped. The rabbi should have cast Lucas out of her by now, and she doesn’t understand why suddenly feels damp. Wet. It’s hard to breathe.


The piercing scream of a little girl is making the realm of Lucas’ memory flicker around her. Dana fades, mouthing something Anna can’t quite make out, but she barely cares because it’s like she’s swallowing mouthfuls of water. She’s gasping for air. She feels herself detach from Lucas, but he’s still clinging to her like cement bricks pulling her into the deep.

Then Anna knows the voice, Lydia’s voice, her spectral sidekick residing in the cross against her chest, screaming for her to come back to the land of the living. Anna finally sees the sunlight streaming through the surface of the water and she kicks against his will to drown her. She breaks through and gasps with horror and relief, recognizing the city’s harbor. She forces herself to swim for shore and hits the sand coughing up water, hearing Lydia reassure.

“It’s going to be okay. We’re going to get through this.”

But the little ghost isn’t trying to comfort her. Anna may have regained control of her body, but Lucas’ spirit still trembles inside her, like a dog abandoned in a cage. Lydia speaks peace over the spirit of a man who killed the love of his life, the mother of his unborn child. She’s whispering compassion over his self-loathing and Anna wails with a grief not her own, letting Lucas use her body to mourn as only a living being can.

Written by: Natasha Akery
Photograph by: Jaemin Riley

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