How to Solve Your Own Murder

"I don't like going to these 'Winter Ball' things. You know that." I scolded my friend Elie for bringing up the subject. She hid her face in her long wheat-colored hair.
"But you didn't go our freshman year or our sophmore year. Pretty soon, you'll run out of chances to go. Sasha and I went as friends last year along with a bunch of other kids. Why won't you go?" she persistently asked as we stepped onto the snow covered sidewalk.
"There are many reasons. The biggest one of all is that people pay $25 for a ticket. They feed us one slice of pizza and one pop. One third of the kids actually dance while the other two thirds watch hockey. Its like that every dance. Besides, I don't even have a dress, nor could I afford to buy one. Also, I rather go with a boyfriend than my regular friends. No offense," I finished.
Elie drooped her head even more. Then she began to trudge with her feet, making thick lines in the snow that traced back to the school where we had left.
"Alright then. You'll be the one missing out, not me. I guess I'll see you Monday," she said as she turned the corner. I'm sorry. If I had a boyfriend, I would go, I thought to myself. I rounded the corner to where my own house was. Suddenly, I saw two strange figures hidden in the brush behind my house. I froze. What would these suspicious people be doing in a small neighborhood like mine?
"Do you have what we need, professor?" murmured a tall, plump shadow.
"Yes. It's all in the briefcase. The documents are in a hidden compartment, see?" the shorter shadow paused as he showed the other one a pouch within the side pocket of the briefcase.
"Good. I expect absolute perfection in these forgeries or else," the tall one motioned a slash across the neck. "It'll be the end of you and your business. I can guarantee you th-," he broke off just as I had gasped.
"Who's there?" the shadow asked in a rather snake-like tone. I slowly stepped behind a large oak tree. My house was at least another 500 feet and I was a slow runner. What if this was a gang? The shadows inched neared. Within feet, I was able to make out their facial features even though the sun was already setting. (Author's Note: In the winter the sun sets pretty early where I'm from.) The tall, plump "shadow" had dark grey eyes that were as cold as stone. He had a faded scar on his left eye and his nose was abnormally large. His hair was ensconced beneath an antique looking Mafia hat. The other one, who was shorter than even me, had blond hair and wore very circular glasses; the kind Harry Potter would wear. He had nervous blue eyes that looked like glass that would easily brake. He must have been no older than 25.
"I sense there is a stray kitty afoot. Cats are sneaky, fragile little creatures. Don't you agree Hanson?" asked the tall one as I saw him pull a shotgun out of a holster by his side.
"Y-Yes. Indeed," the short man stuttered.
"However sneaky a cat might be, dogs can easily outsmart them!" the tall one said as he jumped to my hiding place. His gun was ready to shoot. I stood there like an popsicle. I was unable to move as I looked directly into the barrel of death.
"Hmm. A kitten. Even more disgusting than a cat," he said with his snake-like voice. He let his gun to his side. The venom in his words were like a stun gun. As each second that passed by as he scrutinized my face, I felt sweat pour from my face and my body become stiff with fear. It was like the venom was slowly taking over me.
"That girl's not a spy. Look, she's unarmed. She might just be a civilian," the young blond murmured.
"In anycase, I can't let her rat either of us out. Bossman would be unpleased. Even I have higher authority figures," he said as he took the gun and pushed it to my head.
"We have to make this quick. As soon as the shot is heard, people will come running to this location to find her body. We don't want to be caught in the middle," the man said as his muscles tightened on the trigger.
Oh no! I don't want to die. I'm only 16! What about graduating, getting a job, getting married, starting a family, and living out the rest of my life with my husband? I thought. Usually your life flashes before your eyes. It doesn't matter if you lived through it or not.
Horrible, unimaginable pain washed through my body for a second. It pulsed rapidly from the center of my forehead in quick, white-hot beats. Then it slowed down to a stop within a fraction of a second. Then, I was numb. I didn't dare open my eyes, as I was afraid to see the amount of blood I'd be covered with.
"Run, now! Don't follow me you dulce!" said one of the men in a very low whisper. Then I heard shouts and screams. They seemed so far away. They were quiet screams. Was I deafened by the gunshot? No, they were becoming louder. Then I heard the rustling of leaves, not buried by the snow.
"Corinne? Corinne? SHE'S DEAD! HELP! HELP!" a familiar voice screamed by name. Wait, did that voice just say dead? There's no way. I opened my eyes. I saw Elie and about half a dozen others rushing toward me. I was slumped against the oak tree. I couldn't move, of course, but how can you say I'm dead? There's just a lot of blood. I was a long thin line of blood trickle and split between my nose.
"Check her pulse! Stat!" commanded an elderly man with a deep voice. It was obvious that he used to be a paramedic. A young woman touched my wrist and shook her head. That had to be a mistake! Did she use her thumb instead of her index finger? Maybe they should try my neck?
Elie burst out in tears and ran to my side. Elie should take my pulse. She got a B+ in First Aid! But she was too upset to do anything but cry and look at my face, especially the bullet hole.
I tried to move. My limbs each felt like F-150's. I wasn't trying to move trucks! These are my limbs for Pete's Sake! Why can't I move them? It took all of my strength before I freed them of gravity's curse. Instead of moving my arms and legs however, it seemed as if I shed my skin. Two long pale legs emerged from the folded ones that helped support my body against the tree. The same went for my arms and even my head and torso. My entire body was pale, even transparent to an extent. I had become a spirit. I looked at my face. My neck was bent in an awkward position. My mouth hung slightly open, showing my front teeth and my fangs. My eyes were glassy but relaxed open. Now, time to look at the gruesome part. A small scarlet circle was in the center of my forehead. It was only about a centimeter in diameter. It was dark and seemed to have layers. It was the opening to a river of blood down my face and body. There was no splattering because the gun was placed directly to my head. Strangely, I wasn't as disgusted as I thought I would be. I saw plenty of CSI episodes as well as NCIS and Monk, but you'd think that seeing a real dead body, especially your own, would make you go insane. But to me, this looked like it was a normal part of life. As soon as I thought of this, a large white van appeared. I recognized it as the coroner's.
"So, this is Corinne Hall. Age 16. She was walking home from school with her best friend Elie White. They parted ways. Then Elie heard one shot and came running to the victim's house and found the body 500 feet away," read a red-bearded man in a white lab coat. "She lives by herself, receiving support from her parents who travel abroad. The neighbors know her as a nice, quiet girl with good grades and a good heart. She quit Girl Scouts at age 12 but became a member of Key Club once high school started. Well, lets lift the girl up into the van," the man sighed. "Then we'll let this become another cold case. It seems the suspects covered their tracks quite well," shouted a man with a swab by another oak tree.
Then they hauled by body and left. I don't want to be forgotten. How can they just leave my murder for a rainy day? I know that I was ok with my death but still. I don't want to be left behind in some file for years on end. I'll solve this myself. The first question is: Who were those men and what were those documents? I hope I can become a good detective.
I left the crime scene feeling a little edgy and let down. Where to go now? I could wander the streets. Suddenly, an idea flashed through my mind. Hanson! One of the men's names's was Hanson! If I can research it, I might get some leads. Too bad the van already left. I'd have to search through a police database for something like that, I thought. Wait, I could fly over there. Ghosts can fly, right? I wondered to myself. I jumped up and down at least 5 times trying to get some air. It was no good.
"What the hell?!?" I screamed aloud. I knew would be able to hear me anymore so I kept screaming.
"Will you stop that! Its too early for this!" scolded a young man from out of the brush. He had shaggy dirty blonde hair and was rubbing his right ear. He was about 16, give or take a year. "Even in the afterlife, there's no peace around here," he complained. "Oh, its a newbie. I bet you were trying to fly, right? What an ass," he said while looking the other way.
I stood there dumbfounded. Actually, dumbfounded wasn't quite the word. Of course I was surprised that there was someone able to see me. Then again, I was also a little pissed that some guy randomly comes out of the woods calling me an ass just for a little yelling.
"Who are you?" I asked, scrutinizing his unkempt appearance. He wore a dirty white shirt and torn up blue jeans. In his back pocket was a black knit cap that he had probably just taken off since his hair was mussed up.
"Who am I? I should be saying the same thing to you, noob," he talked back. Obviously he was some kind of punk who didn't like others in his territory. Typical.
"My name is Corinne Hall. Now what's your name?" I asked with my temper rising.
"Duke Watson," he said looking the other way. I held back a ferocious laugh. As impolite as he was, I was expecting a name like Johnny Q or something. Not some British gentleman name.
"So, how is it that you're the only one able to see me? No one else could!" I asked as soon as my inner laughter died down.
"Ain't it obvious? Spirits can see spirits. Humans can see humans. Humans can't see spirits but we can see humans because we were once human ourselves," Duke explained in a rather intellectual tone.
"But why are we here?" I asked, perplexed.
"What? You want the meaning of life too?" he asked raising an eyebrow. then he picked up a nearby twig and started scratching his back. "We are here because of limbo. Actually, to put it in terms you would understand, there's a waiting list to get into God's Kingdom. A very long waiting list. So many people die each day that the angels have to run background checks before they let people into Heaven. No doubt your angel is working on the "paperwork" right now. It takes anywhere from 1 week to 100 years to get "approved" for Heaven. If you don't, then you either stay here and commit some good deeds to meet the requirements or you go to Hell," Duke shrugged. "I've been waiting about 34 years,"