Dead To Rights - Episode 3
by Catherine Dale
Tia drives her car down a long driveway into a work area filled with cars and parts of cars.
There’s a small house at the edge of the chaos.
Tia squints at it before climbing out of the car.
Anything look familiar?
It ALL looks familiar, hamster-brain.
It’s Grandpa Hurley’s house — I’ve been here plenty of times.
I meant does it remind you of anything useful?
It reminds me that you shouldn’t be here.
You could have just kept texting, or even called her on the phone.
That would have made it too easy for her to lie.
I want to see her when she talks to me.
I really don’t think she’s got anything to do with what happened to me.
Then it’s fine that I’m here.
She said Grandpa Hurley was out and she was home alone.
She starts toward the house.
Before she can knock, the front door is opened by a woman with long grey hair and colorful, flowing clothes.
Tia! Oh, sweetheart, it’s good to finally meet you.
I’m sorry it’s because of such a horrible situation.
I told Kieran he should bring you by, but — well, it never happened.
Yeah, Kieran mentioned that.
But my parents told us to stay away from Grandpa Hurley.
Sounds like Kieran thought I’d rat him out.
You’re still using the present tense. And you’re talking as if —
Is there something I should know?
Something like what?
Now that she’s seen Aurora, it’s hard for Tia to imagine her being involved in anything violent.
She has an aura of kindness and empathy – and something more.
Has Kieran told you anything about me?
Has he mentioned my — sensitivities?
My interests in the spirit world?
The spirit world?
Yes. The afterlife. And the spirits who send us messages from the other side.
Like dream visits, unexplained scents or temperatures, strange coincidences —
Possessed cell phones, maybe?
What? I — no, I’m not familiar with that technique.
She steps forward, clearly excited.
But oh my goodness, it has such potential!
Not just static or dropped calls, but actual…
Texts. Lots of them.
Texts? Actual words?
Yeah. I know, it sounds like a scam.
We — your grandpa and I — we got a few texts from Kieran. From his number.
Aurora is speaking carefully, trying to be gentle.
Right after he disappeared.
They were enough to convince your grandfather that Kieran was fine.
But, sweetie, it would be easy for someone else to send a text, wouldn’t it?
These aren’t coming from his number.
They don’t seem to come from a number at all. They just show up.
Even with the battery out of the phone.
And he knows things.
Twin secrets.
Stupid stuff he wouldn’t have bothered to tell anyone else.
It’s him. And — even though Kieran was a jerk sometimes, he’s my brother.
My twin.
There’s no way he’d fake his own death.
No, I agree. He wouldn’t do that. And I felt his passing.
He and I don’t have the same connection that you do, but I have some gifts.
And I was worried about him when he left here that night.
So I meditated on it and I felt —
I’m sorry, Tia, but I felt his fear. His pain.
And then I felt him move on.
He left here? With who?
The two women are distracted by the arrival of a battered pickup.
It is being driven by an equally battered man.
He climbs out of the truck, wearing denim and leather and tattoos.
His hair is gray and wild.
Is that—
Zachary! Come over here. This is your granddaughter.
Grandpa Hurley stares, then whoops. He jogs over and wraps Tia in a big hug.
She stands with her hands at her sides, and when he releases her she steps back.
Hello Grandpa Hurley. It’s — I guess it’s nice to meet you.
But I’m not here for a visit, really.
Grandpa Hurley frowns and steps back.
What does that mean?
What did you get Kieran mixed up in? What happened to him?
What? No, nothing bad.
Damn it, Aurora, have you been telling this girl your tales?
The boy’s fine!
He’s taking a bit of a vacation.
Getting away from all the stress in his life.
He’s just taking a break.
No, he’s not. He’s — passed.
Grandpa Hurley shakes his head and brushes past Tia and Aurora, heading into the house.
They follow him into the living room, which contains eccentric, threadbare furnishings.
Tia, you need to be careful with this.
Spirits who don’t cross over when they should? They change.
Kieran’s still your brother now, but that might not last.
If he turns angry, and you’re still in such close contact with him —
That could be dangerous for you.
Dangerous how?
The boy’s fine.
He was talking about California, about getting away from it all.
They found his car! It was covered in blood.
They? The police?
Oh, they’ll say anything to scare people, to turn you all into good little sheep!
He’s texting me! He SAYS he’s — dead.
No. Dead boys don’t send TEXTS, Tia.
Tia’s phone chirps and she looks down at it, then back up at Grandpa Hurley.
Quietly this time, she tries to reason with her grandfather.
He’s texting me right now.
Aurora looks intensely at the phone.
Grandpa Hurley scowls in disbelief.
He says he’s remembering things now.
He’s remembering men cutting him.
And he says they went too far…
They said it was like that time in Chicago.
He says he doesn’t know what that means, but he thinks you will.
And you do, don’t you? You’re all pale.
Grandpa Hurley steps backward, looking shocked.
No. No, they wouldn’t have!
They said — they needed me to do a job.
Planning a jewelry store thing — just planning, Aurora!
I wasn’t part of it. I said I couldn’t.
I said I was starting fresh and wouldn’t get involved.
But they wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Kieran had been hanging around.
They just — they pulled a gun and took him.
Said they’d let him go as soon as I did the job.
And I did the damn job! I did it!
So they let him go. He was upset.
Freaked out. Said he needed some time away.
But they let him go!
He told you all that by text?
Grandpa Hurley deflates, realizing he doesn’t have any real proof that his grandson survived.
Somebody sent you those texts from his phone, maybe.
But it wasn’t Kieran.
But I did what they wanted.
They’ve been coming back, wanting more help.
I’ve been cooperating.
They’re psychopaths, Zachary. You know that.
It’s why you stopped working with them in the first place.
He buries his face in his hands.
No, no, no.
They’re all quiet for a while.
Look, I’m sorry. This is hard, I know.
But he says — he says he’s having trouble hanging onto himself.
He got angry earlier and broke my phone. His spirit broke my phone!
He says he needs to find his body before he can move on.
But I think maybe he means he has to catch these guys.
He needs justice. Will you call the police and tell them —
Just then, Tia’s phone beeps.
When she doesn’t look at it immediately, it sets off all the sounds at once.
Songs, ring tones, every notification sound ever stored on it.
It sounds like the phone is screaming.
Tia stares at the screen.
Get out! Get out!
I remember them, I remember!
They’re coming. They’re in the driveway.
Get out, get out, they’re coming, they’re here.
Run, run, run…