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Ghost Counselor (Full First Draft): Some of us are haunted from within.
by Cori Laraway

A counselor learns that her patient has been molested for years, and feels compelled to help her, but must track down the young woman, who has been taken hostage on a killing spree across Texas. NOTE: This is the full rough draft. I'm working on the revision, but it will take a few months. Please leave your comments and suggestions for me. :) I realize there are a lot of holes, inconsistencies, and no denouement yet... I promise, I'm working on it!

Chapter 1
Daddy's Little Girl

Bonnie didn't even notice the tears running down her face as she scrubbed her young flesh clean of her father's cheap aftershave again. The only thing different was that the rage she'd felt for so long didn't dissipate into helplessness this time. Instead, it spiral...

Chapter 2
Another First Day

“And, here’s your immediate caseload,” said Alura’s new boss, Mrs. Elrod, as she plopped five hefty folders and at least ten slender ones into her waiting hands. 

“We have a meeting every Monday morning at 10 a.m., which is m...

Chapter 3
Bonnie Makes Plans

Bonnie was cleaning the kitchen, scrubbing it down, getting all traces of her father’s mess off of the Formica and the sink with diluted bleach, when she started talking to herself. 

It was in her head, though, so it was just a mental conversation, ...

Chapter 4
Alura Meets Bonnie

Alura Watkins opened the waiting room door and said “Bonnie Prescott?” 

A tall, slender brunette walked to her, and Alura led the way to her office. She motioned the girl to the more comfortable chair in her tiny space, and waited as she settl...

Chapter 5
Bonnie's Yearbook

Bonnie wandered aimlessly through the house, looking through the rooms after having cleaned all morning. The house was spotless, just as Daddy liked it, and she had gone to the store and made sure he was stocked up on his favorite beer. It was a catch-22, where he m...

Chapter 6
Alura Prays for Clarity

Alura was still concerned about Bonnie’s situation when she arrived home that night. She fixed herself something to eat and it was tasteless with her inattention, but it filled her stomach, and that’s what she needed at the moment. Her mind was worrying ...

Chapter 7
Alura's Reading for Bonnie

Alura laid out the cards and was amazed at all the negativity. She’d been doing Tarot readings for over 5 years, and this set of cards was the most unrelentingly dark spread she’d ever seen. She hesitated, then noted down each of the cards and their posi...

Chapter 8
A Perfumed Letter

Mike was lying back on his bunk, reading a dog-eared thriller when mail call came. He didn’t expect anything. Nobody had sent him any mail for a year now, since his mother died. There was nobody waiting for him to get out anymore, and he had no idea where he w...

Chapter 9
Ranger Refreshed

Rick Rios didn’t expect much in the way of a greeting when he walked back into the Ranger station after his vacation, and he was right. Besides a few smiles, curt waves, and a lot of nods, nobody even seemed to acknowledge that he’d been gone for a coupl...

Chapter 10
Bonnie's Second Counseling Session

The second visit with Bonnie Prescott went a little more smoothly, but it was even weirder. This time Bonnie wasn’t as guarded, and let her vulnerability show more, letting Alura in. But she also showed more signs of serious personality disturbance, with behav...

Chapter 11
Frustrated Counselor

(NB: I realize that there are some professional / counseling ethics issues with this scene, but I will fix them in the rewrite.)

Alura passed out the copies of Bonnie’s case history at the staff meeting, as requested by Mrs. Elrod. Alura would have preferred to have watched at least o...

Chapter 12
Alura Becomes Popular At Work

The next week went by quickly for Alura. She was called first to present her case study at the next staff meeting, but she knew what was expected now, and picked an easier case to work with, one that she did “right” from the start, using the counseling s...

Chapter 13
Researching Bonnie's Case

Alura made a detour on her way home to the University library, relishing the familiar feel of the towering shelves as she searched for the texts she needed, and sitting down at her favorite computer terminal to search for and print out journal articles relevant to h...

Chapter 14
Bonnie's Third Counseling Session

Bonnie Prescott looked different when she walked in for her third counseling session with Alura. She was wearing a dress and heels instead of jeans, and she was wearing makeup, which made her pale eyes stand out even more against the light tan of her skin.


Chapter 15
Alura's Case Study About Bonnie

The next staff meeting was tense. Alura went first with her case study, this time having rewritten Bonnie’s case study as Mrs. Elrod requested. 

Alura was eager to share Bonnie’s case so that she could get feedback from the others, but at the ...

Chapter 16

It seemed to take forever for Mike to go from his cellar of a cell to the outside world, and the sun was shining so bright he had to shade his eyes. It was right in his face. Freedom. The prison gates shut behind him without the heavy “clank” he’d ...

Chapter 17
Dinner at Bonnie's House

Having Mike over for dinner was a little more stressful than Bonnie had anticipated. 

She didn’t worry about how clean the house was. She kept it spotless, and you could eat off the floors. But the furniture was shabby and worn, and some pieces were...

Chapter 18
Alura's Premonition

Alura couldn’t stop thinking about Bonnie’s last counseling session. She had never felt such an ominous feeling around a client, and she didn’t know what to make of it. 

She felt, for a few moments at the end of the session, as if her li...

Chapter 19
Alura Checks on Bonnie

Alura felt dread when she parked in front of Bonnie’s father’s house and got out of her car. Why did she feel this way? She was only checking on Bonnie. 

Of course, she might be meeting Bonnie’s father, too, considering that there was a ...

Chapter 20
Tying Up Loose Ends

Bonnie caught Alura as she fell from the stool, and she laid her out neatly on the floor. Her father didn’t even notice, his TV show was so loud. 

She looked down at Alura, who was probably lucky she’d turned at the last minute. If she hadn&rs...

Chapter 21
Alura Calls 9-1-1

Alura woke in a strange house, disoriented. She was on an old floor, linoleum tiles over concrete, and she was cold. There was a light on nearby, and a television loudly broadcasting the nightly news. 

She blinked slowly, trying to remember what was going...

Chapter 22
Bonnie's Honeymoon

The only thing marring this glorious day was this old beater car. Honestly, couldn’t her beau find something a little fancier to hotwire for their big day? Bonnie tried to ignore it, tried to get it out of her mind, but even looking straight out of the dingy w...

Chapter 23
Interviewed by the Detective

Alura’s Monday started badly and got worse from there. 

The news of Bonnie’s father’s death made the news multiple times over the weekend, the bizarre nature of the murder bringing the sensationalism that the media loved. 


Chapter 24
Alura Gets Raked Over the Coals

Alura slunk into Mrs. Elrod’s office, trying to make as little impact as possible. She slid into a chair and waited patiently while her boss finished her phone call.

Finally, the call was done and Mrs. Elrod was staring at her over steepled fingers, her ...

Chapter 25
Getting To Know Bonnie

Mike walked around the RV, checking on the tires, making sure the swapped plates were liberally splashed with enough mud to cover a couple of the letters and numbers, but not the entire plate. He splashed more mud around the wheel wells and around the back bumper fo...

Chapter 26
Seeing Double

Alura didn’t know what to do with herself after she left the office. She drove around town, looking for something to catch her eye, but nothing seemed important enough to stop. 

She stopped when she felt hungry, in a new part of town that she hadn&r...

Chapter 27
Bonnie Shows Her Hand

They were in their new RV and had only driven an hour or so when it became very clear that they needed to stop for gas. Bonnie had been deep in thought for the last hour, since they’d commandeered this vehicle, and she could tell that her husband was worried a...

Chapter 28
Breaking News

More murders were all over the news. 

Alura learned, with many other listeners, that Bonnie Prescott and Mike Maldonado had been married in a civil ceremony last Friday afternoon. Later that evening, Bonnie Prescott’s father had been killed, and fin...

Chapter 29
Alura Can't Sleep

Alura tossed and turned in her bed that night, unable to keep the thoughts of Bonnie’s father and how he’d looked with knitting needles protruding from his eye. 

She’d been sleeping fine since it had happened, but it seemed as if she&rsq...

Chapter 30
One Ranger

Ranger Rios was handed the Prescott/Maldonado case on a hot Thursday morning. He wasn’t surprised. The case had been splashed across the headlines all week long. 

The only real surprise had been that it had taken this long for the Rangers to get inv...

Chapter 31
Bonnie Lays It on the Line

They were in their new RV and had only driven an hour or so when it became very clear that they needed to stop for gas. Bonnie had been deep in thought for the last hour, since they’d commandeered this vehicle, and she could tell that her husband was worried a...

Chapter 32
Patrolman Down

Ranger Rios got a call soon after the convenience store clerk and the patrolman were gunned down by Bonnie. The video footage was enough to let all of law enforcement know that Bonnie was the shooter, but the way she shot the patrolman was particularly telling. ...

Chapter 33
The New Normal

Bonnie was amazed, but Mike seemed to be much happier now that she'd told him how it was going to be. He was tapping his fingers on the steering wheel in time to the music on the radio, and whistling now and then. It was weird. 

Not that she was totally a...

Chapter 34
Alura's New Perspective

Alura woke up with a purpose, and felt energized. She was tired of moping around her apartment and feeling sorry for herself. She might be crazy, dammit, but she was going to figure out how to make it work for her. 

She did a quick review of that book on ...

Chapter 35
Second Interview

Alura was in the middle of a candlelit supper for one with the novel she’d been waiting to read, when the entire apartment shook from the force of the knocks on her door. 

She would have ignored the knocks if she could have, but they would have woke...

Chapter 36
Tweet for Bonnie

Alura couldn’t stop thinking about what Rios had said when he’d been there trying to bully her into revealing information about Bonnie. She knew it was his job, but she found him a lot less attractive when he was pushing her buttons to get information ou...

Chapter 37
Alura's Fired

Alura picked up the phone and was startled by her boss’s voice, which snarled “What do you think you’re doing, Ms. Watkins? Calling Bonnie Prescott out in some sort of challenge on Twitter? It’s the talk of the office, and not in a good way.&...

Chapter 38
Rick Is Haunted

It was at this point that Rick threw himself back in the recliner, and Alura saw very clearly the feminine figure in smoky white outlines for a stark moment before it sank backward into Rick’s body. The two came together and the female figure disappeared entir...

Chapter 39
Peaceful is Boring

Now that Bonnie had set Mike straight on how things were going to be, and now that he was so calm and relaxed, Bonnie didn’t quite know what to do with herself. 

Things were too calm, too peaceful, too quiet. There was no tension between them, excep...

Chapter 40
Time to Move Out

Bonnie was Fed Up. She had tried to beat up Mike and he seemed to be enjoying it. At least even if he wasn't enjoying it, he was not fighting back. She kind of wanted him to fight back. He knew how to fight, didn't he?

Bonnie was outside in the dark smoking a ...

Chapter 41
Rick's Mirror Moment

Rick couldn’t figure out why it bothered him so much that Alura had not only lost her job, but that she seemed to blame him for it. Sure, he had suggested the idea, but she didn’t have to follow through on it. That was entirely her own decision. He hadn&...

Chapter 42
Bonnie's Chew Toy

Mike was getting very tired of Bonnie and her crap. 

“Steal me an RV. Steal me a car. Have weird cold sex with me. Clean the RV.” And the way she called him “Sugar” all the time was really starting to get on his nerves. 

Chapter 43
A Call to Alura

There was a sequined cell phone in the glove compartment of the car Mike stole for her. She directed him to go across Houston, to a bedroom community almost opposite of where they were now, and she started doing a search. 

It was far too easy to find Alur...

Chapter 44
Getting Ready

Alura put down the phone after her call from Bonnie and looked at Rick on his cell phone.

He nodded at her and spoke into the phone "Great! I'll be there as soon as I can." He hung up and then spoke to Alura. "You did great. We got a fix on her location and w...

Chapter 45
Too Much Information

Mike awoke to a glorious morning breeze coming in through the RV's windows. He wondered if today was the day he would die. It wasn't as painful a thought as he'd expected it to be. He knew he'd brought himself to this point, and if he had it to do over again, he wou...

Chapter 46

"Who just said that?" Alura said.

"I did," said a voice inside her mind. "You can call me Zuri."

"Zuri." Alura stopped for a moment, unsure of what to say, what to ask. "Are you a ghost?"

"No, I'm not. There are similarities between what you're exp...

Chapter 47
Dark Thoughts

How was he going to make Bonnie pay for what she had done? To him, to all those people, Mike wanted Bonnie to pay. Pay big.

He was outside of the new RV, in the predawn dark, smoking a cigarette. He'd pulled out his own pack, and crept out before she woke. He...

Chapter 48

Bonnie was no dummy. She knew what was going through Mike's mind. It had to be. He had played his hand close to the vest, but she'd finally gotten that peek at his cards. He was crumbling. He was finally showing that strain that she was putting him under. She knew i...

Chapter 49
So Many Questions

"This is crazy," Alura said out loud. "You know that this is not a good idea, right? She's going to kill us."

"There is a possibility that you might lose your life, yes," said Zuri, but her attention didn't seem to be on the conversation.

"What do you m...

Chapter 50
The Smart Thing to Do

On the off-chance that she might not survive this encounter, Alura decided to do the smart thing, although not as smart as it would have been to tell Rick about this in the first place.

She wasn't up to a conversation with him, especially if he got upset that...

Chapter 51
Guard Duty Gone Wrong

Mike paced in front of the farmhouse where Bonnie had decided to have her last talk with Alura. She'd been very clear that she needed to talk to a woman, and she was already familiar with Alura, so that made it a lot easier for her to open up.

Mike did have t...

Chapter 52
Bonnie Got Her Gun

Bonnie was in control. She loved that feeling. She had Alura on the ground and the Ranger at her disposal. She had a gun on both, and she knew that she was the only person that would be walking out of that room alive. It filled her with a sense of purpose, of power,...

Chapter 53


Zuri felt Alura's shock as the shot rang out, but she was well used to firearms. She had reason to wish she wasn't, but there was nothing for it at this point.

The troublesome ghost wasn't through with them yet...

Chapter 54
Plan B

Zuri felt amazement for a moment, for she'd never seen the blow coming. She had never been expelled from an aura she was inhabiting before, although she'd expelled other spirits many times. She knew what the Traveler that had stayed inside Alura's body was thinking,...

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