During the late evening Caitlin was one of the last people to leave work. It was getting down to the wire and she decided to take over time, mainly because of the money. She was underpaid as is and behind on many bills that were probably going to get shut off. The good news is Jeanine barely came around to bother her. She didn't have to. Her assistants always come by to do the barking at the employees. Caitlin called them "Jeanine's flying monkeys." Hardly any of them pounced on her today. She was mainly by herself shoveling through paperwork and data statistics.
Caitlin nearly forgot the other thing that happened this morning. Unfortunate mishap, she still believed she was hallucinating from when she woke up. There was no way that man who appeared to her, Barry Allen, was real. Even she came close to believing he actually existed in her mind. But she actually could see his ghost? That was ludicrous.
As Caitlin made her way out the building she did a double check around her to make sure nobody was following her. She stopped listening to her music when she was out walking in the dark. She hadn't cut her nails in weeks so she figured she'd use that and the unopened bottle of pepper spray she stuck at the bottom of her purse.
Making her way to the same train that took her here, she got on the express way, thanking her lucky stars that she managed to get on before last call forced her to take the long way back. She took her seat in the far corner as usual; not particularly looking at anyone but keeping her senses alert for any weirdness akin to what occurred this morning. Caitlin will probably never get over what happened to her. She couldn't get her mind off Barry and what he wanted her to do. She couldn't possibly listen to a mere figment of her imagination. The more she thought about it the more it didn't make sense so she decided to drop it.
When she arrived at her stop she decided to put off going to the store for food and just eat whatever is left over in her fridge. She didn't have the energy to even buy what she needed. She just wanted to soak under a hot shower and dive under the covers for the night, putting all the ballyhoo today behind her.
She made it to the front door, trying to avoid interactions with her neighbors. When she closed and locked the door she breathed in a sigh of relief, trying to calm her mind down. There was no way she could see what she saw, no way. She'd have to be one of those mediums she kept hearing about on infomercials. Caitlin was far from that tomfoolery. She didn't believe in any of that stuff anyway.
Just as she was about to settle in she received a text message from her friend Will and smiled at him worrying about her. She didn't mind when he did that but if it was anyone else, she would feel slightly off put. She sent him a farewell text and threw her phone on the couch.
Walking in the kitchen she got out whatever was left over from a few days ago. She hadn't eaten much and normally she felt like binging as she watched prime time chat shows until falling asleep in front of the TV. She threw something random in the microwave and turned on the kettle for some herbal tea.
Being alone wasn't so bad; she thought she could get used to it now that things in her personal life have slowed down. Not that she worried about having a personal life, there wasn't much of a life, it just was. People her age were still keeping up with the latest parties, mixers and gatherings. She was invited to a couple weddings from work but there was no point in showing up if she was just going sulk in a corner of the reception and practically leave early so she can get a head start on sleep before it was taken away from her the next morning. Caitlin tried to be the life of the party but it just wasn't in the cards for her.
Maybe if she made an effort it would mean something but now, Caitlin didn't fuss over finding a boyfriend. Everybody ultimately will leave anyway; there was no use to starting something that is just going to expire eventually. Silly sap filled notion that everyone was guaranteed someone in their lives. Caitlin begged to differ. If only most of the population would stop worrying so much about finding someone, they might have a little more perspective and she'd consider becoming more affected from being stood up.
Her ringtone jolted her suddenly and she turned it off not wanting to speak to anyone. She just wanted to bask in her solitude. There was nothing wrong with enjoying the very few private moments she was granted. Her noisy neighbors weren't trying to test the limits of their walls. It sounded like everyone was either not home or asleep. Caitlin preferred it that way. There was a breeze outside before she walked in but even that was soundless. It was like the universe was quiet on her command. It must be Caitlin's lucky day; aside from the morning.
She rolled her eyes pushing those thoughts away and pulled the food out of the microwave. She covered it with a large plate to keep it warm and turned off the kettle making her tea to set it to the side. She hesitated before diving in just yet and decided to take a shower first before anything else. She didn't want to be too tired to take one in the morning and having to struggle to style, groom and paint make up on. It would just get it out of the way and save herself the time and energy.
She stripped her clothing, discarding them in the hamper and stepped into the silky warmth of the shower. She soaked for a good few minutes allowing her mind to eventually slow down with the temperature of her body. She didn't think about much but in the middle of her conditioner rinse, there was a face that popped up. It was that guy from earlier, Barry. She shook her head and finished the last bit of cleaning until she figured it was enough.
Stepping out of the shower and into a soft towel she rubbed her face and hair until water droplets were rung away. She had no idea why her mind, even in its relaxed state was stuck on that annoying guy from earlier. For a second she considered what he was saying to be true. She winced, making a face at that possibility. Not on this planet. What happened wasn't fully and completely just a mental hallucination. It explained why her co-workers had been looking her way strangely for the rest of the work day. Caitlin scoffed and got dressed for bed, pulling away from that occurrence all together.
She took a towel to her hair, drying out the last of the wetness and almost yelped two feet in the air when she nearly crashed into something.
"Oh hiya. You didn't show up. Figured you wouldn't believe me." Barry Allen said, rolling his eyes as he planted his lanky body over her couch. "What's on TV?" His eyes shifted to Caitlin, she thought he was staring at her legs.
Caitlin instinctively covered her half clothed body with her hands. She grimaced when she realized she wasn't naked but it certainly felt like she was.
Not again, she thought, just when she was beginning to put this morning behind her.
She threw the towel over the chair. "You again, what do you want? Can't even believe I'm actually asking a spook that."
Barry looked hurt. "What? You think I'm a ghost? Shows how much you know."
Caitlin stared at him as if he said something really dumb. She gave him a judging look and he held up his hands.
"Whatever, I'm not a ghost or anything. My body is still, well, I'm not dead, like %100 dead yet. Clearly I know who I am so it's not a Just Like Heaven situation. Trust me when I say this is temporary."
This was like the imaginary friend scenario minus the actual friend part and going straight to imaginary. Who knew Caitlin's life had already turned into a Stephen King novel. Was she Mort Rainy? She was already hearing and seeing things that weren't there. She hoped murdering people and hiding them in a corn field wasn't on her priority list later.
"You know, I could still hear you even though you aren't saying anything. Man, you're one negative person. Seriously, wow..." Barry almost laughed until he saw Caitlin's deadpan face. "Sorry it's just, you seem like you're always pissed off. Hey, at least you're not on the brink of death. You got the better deal."
Caitlin half smiled, trying not to be phased by this guy. "I didn't realize my thoughts bothered anyone before." She eyed him. "No one could hear them."
"I could definitely stay out if you prefer." Barry said, leaning back on her couch, making himself comfortable.
"Yes, I definitely think you should stay out of my head, you weren't invited."
"I'm not asking, Caitlin, is it? Just stating a fact. I could use some positive thoughts right before I'm going to die. Damn, I was only getting started too. What a cluster fuck." Barry threw his hands up and Caitlin was wondering when this was going to be over. "None of this is making sense. I wish there was more I could do, but well, look at where I am now?" Barry threw up his hands as Caitlin shot him a strange look.
She willfully ignored his pleas for help, lamenting. "Oh god. This is like Casper the Friendly Ghost meets Stephen King. If I'm asleep, please let me wake up from this. I'm begging you!" She exclaimed, throwing her hands up in frustration as she plopped down on the couch beside Barry.
"You think I'm not just as confused as you? Come on now. Clearly you don't watch the news, apparently my name is splashed everywhere if you still don't buy it and no I don't have a twin out there."
Caitlin gave a look of disgust and switched on the local news, attempting to ignore Barry until the eyewitness news anchor came on the screen. She turned up the volume and listened in, awaiting the usual news she would normally otherwise hear.
"Good evening, Jovanna Lara with a prime time eyewitness news brief, following up the story on the son of Allen industries, Barry Allen, still remains in critical condition. Channel 7 spoke with Henry Allen, his statement is as follows..."
The camera showed a man, rugged and perfectly in distraught. He barely looked like he could function let alone give a statement. A few microphones were placed in front of his mouth as he began to speak. Caitlin and Barry leaned in to listen, Caitlin's eyes narrowed.
"No word is said and done yet. We are choosing to remain optimistic. My son, Barry deserves to be left alone. This is all I will be saying. No further questions. We..." His voice broke slightly as the woman beside him, presumable Barry's mother, held his hand tightly. "We wish the press to respect our privacy at this time." They shared a look and embracing each other before turning the other direction.
"I've never seen my dad so sad." Barry whispered.
They watched as the Allen's attorneys held their hands up, barricading the reporters from following Henry and his wife, Nora. Caitlin didn't know what to say. It still all sounded crazy. There was no way he was the same Barry Allen she'd seen before laying in a coma. Through her peripheral vision she spied the man beside her, claiming to be the son of the wealthy air of Allen Industries.
She side eyed his clothing. Office space wardrobe. Nothing rich or posh about him. He looked as blue collar as can be; the opposite of what she assumed someone coming from money would resemble. Her eyes remained as large as saucers. They grew bigger when he turned around.
"You can stop staring; I know you don't believe me. This is so fucked up. I don't even know what I'm gonna do now." Barry sighed, feeling exhausted.
Caitlin was conflicted. She bit her tongue when she wanted to say something but followed through anyway, every minute of this was crazy nevertheless she responded.
"I just..." Caitlin trailed off, clearly her dry throat. "This has never happened to me before. You coming here, appearing out of nowhere. Following me around my work. Acting like I should believe this. How do you think I should react? My co-workers are asking if I need to see a psychiatrist! I've never been so embarrassed in my life. You humiliated me. And now you want me to help you?"
Barry winced, holding his face in his hands, doubling over. He couldn't look at her. There was no possible thing he could do to hope she believed him. He hesitated before standing up in her living room in thought. He didn't have a clue what he was going to do but he had to think fast.
She watched him, still in disbelief that she's actually looking at an apparition. A big piece of her was still in denial.
"If..." Caitlin said, almost regretting it as it was coming out. Barry looked at her, holding on to what she said. "If you are Barry Allen, and by some reason I'm the only one who can see and hear you, why was I picked? Can you explain that to me? You seem to have all the answers. Tell me, why is it me that is supposed to help you? Why should I care about any of this?"
Barry didn't have an answer.
"Great...now I just feel like I'm going really crazy, imagining things that aren't there. Even a ghost is ignoring me." She crossed arms.
Barry's mind blanked, this was a disaster. How was he going to convince her that he's telling the truth? If only there was a way to—
"What?" Caitlin asked apprehensively.
"I think I have an idea."
"What? You know how this happened?"
Barry shook his head. "No, how I can prove it to you. About all this."
Caitlin didn't appear thrilled to hear that. She wasn't enthusiastic about hearing his plan.
"Oh god, do I have to be dragged into this?"
Barry looked amused. "Seriously? You go to work, come back and eat left overs for dinner. Don't tell me you don't rinse and repeat this every day? How motivating. You seriously got something better to do?"
Caitlin said nothing; it's not as if she was ashamed of living a boring, mundane life; but hearing someone else judge it made her feel weary.
Barry sat down near her again, almost taking her hand but holding back. She looked like she wanted nothing to do with him; she didn't even need to think it. This was going to be more challenging than Barry thought. But it could convince her he wasn't lying about his identity.
"I feel like this is my last straw. I don't know why you are the only one who can see and hear me; but I need to make you understand something. I am the same guy on the news. I am Barry Allen. My real name is Bartholomew. My dad is Henry Allen, my mother is Nora Allen. I have no brothers or sisters. I'm from New York originally until my dad relocated for his firm in Central City to do business with other wealthy investors. My girlfriend Olivia—"
Caitlin scoffed, rolling her eyes. "Girlfriend? Someone dates you?"
"Someone nearly married me. Don't go there."
Caitlin waved him off, slightly annoyed. Barry begrudgingly continued.
"Anyway, this is who I am. You can look me up. Google me if you have to. Search the schools I went to. My friends. My social security. My wedding date, only I would know that since I told it to my friends. I have two passports. British and American. Hell, I'll even throw in my pin number. My safety deposit box. That's not including my trust fund and life insurance in case I die."
"Life insurance? How rich are you?" Caitlin finally asked, half caring about his situation.
"It's more than enough. My mom took it out before moving out of the house. As soon as I turned 21 my trust fund was linked to the life insurance. Once I die it reverts to the sole heir, my girlfriend's name was included. She must have talked with my attorneys, made sure she was the sole beneficiary. I can't believe she would do that!"
The more Caitlin heard, the more her thoughts circled around the possibility of seeing into this deeper.
Barry hung his hand in his hands again, getting more worried by the second. "It's pointless if you believe none of this."
"Wait..." She paused, gathering all the evidence so far, only from what he told her. "So you're saying all this money will go to your fiancé? So? Why do you care?"
"Because it's malpractice. She spoke with my attorney's before the accident. I never put her on the life insurance. I was still deciding then. My parents are the only ones who are still on there. I wanted them to have it. My aunt warned me about this! She must have messed with it."
"Olivia, Liv, my girlfriend. Er—fiancé. She only wanted me for my—" He couldn't finish the sentence. It was embarrassing for him even in front of a total stranger. "I was so stupid to believe it was me she wanted this whole time. I should have known." Barry said dejectedly.
Caitlin grimaced; painfully surprised she was showing an ounce of empathy to this man. There was something about his eyes, they looked somber, raw and too valid to ignore. She hadn't seen eyes like his and it was making her shiver.
"OK...say, there's a slight chance I don't think I'm off my gourd here, what are you going to do? With everything I mean?"
Barry shook out of his glum memory and sighed heavily. "I don't know, I can't do anything like this. My body is still on rigorous life support now. I checked my vitals, I'm not improving, I don't think my mom would stick it out for me. I don't even know about my dad, I hope he wouldn't. I don't know what they are thinking right now. They wouldn't take me off, no, I don't believe that, but God! Olivia would. I'm pretty sure I'm fucked here."
Caitlin bit her lip and placed her chin over her palm. She couldn't believe she was actually going to say it but she felt it come out of her mouth in spite of herself.
"Maybe I could make sure she doesn't get anything."
Barry almost slowly turned around; his expression in pure shock mode. He was unsure of what to say to that.
"I could...maybe I could, get involved? Ugh! I know I'm gonna regret this." Caitlin's replied in a sour tone.
Barry observed her, still in disbelief that she actually wanted to help him; he was going to test this to make sure she wasn't lying.
"I don't even know what you could do. What's your plan? How do I know you're actually going to help?"
Caitlin felt that shivering feeling in the pit of her stomach, saying the first thought that came to mind.
"Because I've seen the movie Ghost and I wanna god damn sleep."