YOU KNOW THOSE DAYS YOU'RE forced to face your fear or suck it up and deal with the pain? Those days when consequences for your actions come at a high price regardless of your choice? That was the day I met the ghosts from a case I call the Dentist's Burial Ground.
Fear has a way of numbing the pain. It’s right there, throbbing under the surface, but the feeling connected to the pounding doesn’t really exist as adrenaline pumps through your veins masking it, fooling you into believing it is there. I was in that moment now. It was like the soles of my feet were glued to the cement sidewalk. It was the reason my newest, best-human friend was there at my side.
I could take on ghosts, solve mysteries, and face public ridicule, but I was terrified of visiting the dentist. Irrational, I know. But telling yourself something is irrational doesn’t make the feeling go away. Facing your irrational fears rarely helps you get over it. It is harder than one thinks. I know, I’m studying psychology. The mind creates a programed response to a stimulus usually resulting from a past event. That programmed response becomes reflexive.
Whatever past experience caused me to respond with the fight or flight response was unknown, I’d been fearful of dentists since I was a small child.
“Come on, girlfriend.” Mia pulled me into the office. “The sooner we get over this the faster you can get on with your life and forget about all of this.” She pulled me up to the receptionist counter. “Hello, Bernie,” she read the pretty middle aged lady's name tag, whose smile was inviting and warm.
The woman with curly brown hair and soft hazel eyes matched the soothing atmosphere of the office. One wall was a glass with gentle water falling between the sheets which lined the back wall made of dark stone. The sounds of the water splashing mixed nicely with the music being pumped through the intercom system. There were only a few customers in the waiting room, one flipping through a magazine and the other playing with her phone.
“Wonderful,” Bernie’s comforting voice ran over me like the water in the wall, she handed me a clipboard, “if you’ll fill this out we’ll get your room prepped.”
“And you’ll be putting me under anesthesia?”
“We’ll be prepared to do that if needed.”
“It will be needed.” I told her as I took the clipboard with shaky fingers.
“She’s a little nervous about the procedure,” I heard Mia explain as she directed me to a seat in the waiting room. I shuffled one foot in front of the other taking note how hard it was with each step, like I was wading through quicksand, the mental resistance at every movement was remarkable and scary at how the mind could control your perception of the world.
“Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of her.” Bernie’s warm voice ran over me, reinforcing the comforting ambiance they had created in the place, deep down I knew it was a façade, an attempt to put those dealing with similar fears that I was facing and it was appreciated.
After I filled out the paperwork I was led back to the dreaded chair by the sweet, approachable Bernie, which was short for Bernadette I learned through the small talk she attempted to engage me in. I don’t think I’ve met a person as kind as her, she was so sweet I wondered if it was all an act. Was she fake? If she was, she was a very good actress.
As I climbed into the metal chair covered in blue pastel flowered cushions, I switched on the soothing music I downloaded to my iPod so I could focus on something other than the blood rushing to my brain and the overwhelming desire to run and never look back.
Remember this is an irrational fear, I attempted to rationalize with myself, knowing my inner voice would do very little to appease my anxiety. It didn’t work, but my scientific brain had to try. My inner self simply laughed at me. Yeah, right.
Bernie placed a bib over my chest and I cringed from her touch. She placed a gentle hand on my shoulder, “we’re going to take some ex-rays now so we can see what is happening with that throbbing tooth. Are you ready?”
I nodded, afraid of what my voice would sound like if I spoke. The ex-rays only helped to set off the pain from the metal bar that was placed in my mouth.
“I’ll be back after we take a look at the pictures of your tooth, sweetheart. Can I get you some water while you wait?”
“No, thank you.”
Bernie left and I tried to relax. Unfortunately, that wasn’t something I could do. Nightmarish visions of the chair locking me into place and sucking me into a dark and deadly place appeared every time I closed my eyes. I tried to focus on the relaxing music in my earphones, music that could take me back in time to better places but there were very few memories of better places. The song echoing in my ears at the moment reminded me of my detective Dash. Handsome, strong, daring Dash. Curious, inquisitive, and suspicious Dash. He knew something was strange about me. He knew I hid a secret from him, who wouldn’t? I’ve been involved in multiple crime scenes since he’s met me. Fortunately, he was interested enough in me to train me in self-defense. Self-defense wouldn’t help me from the terror I was feeling in this moment. Heck, being able to defend myself would do little to help me with the ghosts but it might aid in the investigations I get pulled into and it also gave me an excuse to be close to him.
I focused on the pastel blue walls of the examine room. Everything about this place was geared toward comfort and soothing, too bad it didn’t help the irrational fear pounding through my veins. The next song came on through the mini ear buds, a song that made me think of high school, that wasn't a good time in my life. I had difficulty fitting in. I was always trying to float under the radar so I could be unseen. I was sure anyone who paid attention to me could see the words, ‘she sees dead people’ written across my forehead… another irrational fear. No one knew, did they? Surely not. No one said anything and people were happy to ignore me. Especially, the mean girls. There was only one girl in our class that made an effort, Lila. She was so sweet, nothing like the mean-popular girls you would see in movies and she was the one everyone gravitated towards.
“Hello, Miss O’Grady, I’m Doctor Lavender and it looks like there is a nasty abscess under your gums. I’m afraid the tooth will need to be removed. Lucky for you, it’s a wisdom tooth and will cause very little issue cosmetically once it is removed.”
I gulped, “you’re going to pull my tooth?”
The kind looking doctor pushed his wire rimmed glasses up his small nose, “I’m afraid so.” He didn’t look like he could hurt a fly that was until I noticed that he looked like a famous actor. He sort of reminded me of the actor Jason Alexander from the Seinfeld television show. After watching all of those episodes growing up, the association wasn’t helpful. The character he played on that show could be devious at times.
“Isn’t there something else you can do?”
He shook his head, “nothing that I would suggest. The tooth is growing sideways and forcing itself on your molar. If this continues it will damage the molar and also damage the rest of your teeth.”
“I promise you, this is really your only option.” Doctor Lavender slipped on his blue latex gloves. “I’ll make the procedure as quick and painless as possible.” He nodded to Bernie, “we’re going to start with a local numbing shot around the tooth.”
“No.” My eyes grew large as Bernie came toward me with a large syringe. “No, can’t you put me under? I don’t think I can handle being awake for this.”
Doctor Lavender placed a steadying hand on Bernie’s arm, “why don’t we start with the gas.”
Once the gas was in effect the rest of the appointment went well. I was at ease, feeling like I was three sheets to the wind, I even remarked at how my feet felt like they were spinning around like helicopter propellers and I was worried they would fly me away.
When the tooth was removed I remembered Bernie and Doctor Lavender telling me I did a great job, but when they left me alone I was suddenly surrounded by what seemed like twenty ghosts.
A woman with dark hair and olive skin tilted her head and examined me, “you can see us?”
“Yes, where is Michael? Abel? Why am I seeing you right now?” I asked in a whisper.
“Your inhibitions are down, Cassie, I can’t shield you from them while you’re in this state.” Michael looked apologetically.
I covered my mouth with my hand, the cotton ball in my mouth that was supposed to help stem the flow of blood from the gaping hole in my jaw made me feel like a squirrel storing nuts in my cheek one moment and the next I was fighting off the urge to upchuck because my gag reflex was set into overdrive. “As you can see, I’m not in the best place to talk right now,” my voice sounded muffled, like I was speaking to them through a tunnel made by my hands.
“Will you help us?” Various voices asked, they were weaving in and out of my vision like waves of the sea.
I was beginning to get motion sickness.
I closed my eyes to the harsh reality surrounding me. The reality that I've tried for years to run away from. The voices remained, begging me to help them. Help them? I couldn’t even help myself was the last thought I had as I allowed myself to escape into the dark abyss.
copyright @JamiBrumfield 2016
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In the meantime, grab a copy of the first and second mystery adventure of this series on Amazon...
Lost (Ghost Connection Mystery Adventure 1)
Death Does Not Become Her (Ghost Connection Mystery Adventure 2)