“You don’t look so good,” I blurted out.
“Shut up! I know you know who I really am.”
“Your voice gave you away. You should practice lying more.”
“And you,” I couldn’t help retorting, “should also know that no writer would be idiotic enough to buy a book with the title Alice in Wonderland and have it pass off as first edition.”
“The only reason Edith accepted your gift was because she loved the real Caleb—-”
Caleb’s grisly-sounding laugh cut me off. “I get it now. You’re stalling for time.”
“Smart, but just not smart enough.”
And then he was lunging towards me without warning, and I screamed, my arms instinctively lifting up to ward off his blow.
But nothing happened.
I slowly lowered my arms, a part of me already wondering – expecting even – Hadrian to have somehow magically appeared in front of me, my hero coming to my rescue like he always did. But it wasn’t like that.
What I saw instead turned my world upside down. All the ghosts that had been around me…the ghosts that had freaked me out from the very start…those ghosts had thrown themselves at Caleb, and as I listened to Caleb’s tortured screams, I started shaking uncontrollably, unable to comprehend what was happening.
Did these ghosts just…save me?
I learned a new thing today. When your makeshift planchette suddenly breaks into pieces on its own…that’s basically the other party slamming the phone down on you.
I KNOW, I KNOW, YOU have lots of questions, and luckily for you, I’m under house arrest (again). Ergo: I have all the time in the world to break everything down.
First things first: I only started getting suspicious of Caleb when I went through his and Edith’s social media accounts for a second time. Edith had seemed like a nice and honest person to me, so it made sense that she didn’t mention anything about the pink book being a first edition on her Instagram account.
On the other hand, she had made the effort to post it on her stories and even added it to her highlights. She had also given the book a special place in her room, separate from all the other books on her shelves. If I were in her shoes, I would probably have done the same thing if that pink leatherbound book came from someone I loved and whom I thought made an honest mistake. Someone like Caleb, perhaps?
And as for Caleb, you’ve probably already figured out that the first major red flag for me was how he had described the pink leatherbound as a first edition of Alice in Wonderland. It’s just not the kind of mistake you’d expect a professional writer like Caleb would make.
The second red flag was when I had asked Caleb what was keeping him from coming back to my place. He had said that it was just a spell and made no mention of Hadrian’s presence as a deterrent. If Hadrian’s presence didn’t make him feel like running for cover, and Hadrian had repeatedly told me that all ghosts were afraid of him…well, then, couldn’t that mean Caleb wasn’t actually a ghost at all?
If souls could be swapped by magic, and Mission Impossible could have real people switch faces, I figured it was possible that a soul could magically change its appearance, and guess what? I was right about this one, too, and this is where things get a whole lot more complicated.
Once upon a time, a book about forbidden magic ended up in the wrong pair of hands: a psychotic little girl’s hands, to be specific, and when little Kimberly grew up, she put those hands to use in order to free the man she believed was her savior: the book’s author Elijah Moore, a pedophile, serial killer, and secret practitioner of the dark arts who had been given the death penalty in 1958.
Kimberly, whose psychosis remained undiagnosed, was very meticulous in her planning. Because she had wanted Elijah to have the perfect life in his return to Earth, she had gone through hundreds of Tinder profiles until she found Caleb.
He is reasonably attractive and appears in good health, Kimberley had detailed in her journal. He is a private person, too, which is good. No one is likely to ask too many questions if he has to disappear for a time. And his parents are rich. Once Master Elijah is back, he can kill the old folks and all their money will be his.
Once her mind was made up, Kimberley had wasted little time putting her plans into motion. By now, she had known everything there was to know about Caleb, and so it had been easy for her to figure out what to give him to use as a vehicle: a mailed handwritten letter in which she had pretended to be a huge fan of his work. As with all writers, Caleb had treasured this letter, which then allowed Kimberley to use it as a vehicle for a controlling spell, and after that, a swapping spell. When the swap was completed, she had killed Caleb while his soul was trapped in her body, and Kimberley, now in Caleb’s body, had proceeded to the next step of her plan.