Those of the Margin

By: T Patrick Phelps

a Paranormal Suspense Thriller

Derek Cole Suspense Thriller Book 2


His visits began in the same manner: A slight chilled breeze carving out a narrow stream into whatever area he was invading, followed by the briefest scent of rotting, foul decay. In a matter of seconds, he was there.

His transformations from one stage to the other were not always as quick as they had become. At first, there were delays as windows were missed and his formation waffled between one plane and the other. But he understood the importance of expedience. Though each visit brought unimaginable risks, he practiced at moving from one plane to the other until he was certain there was not even a sliver of a second left to be carved out.

“How ya doing, Robby?” he whispered.

“Okay, I guess. You don’t need to whisper today. My parents aren’t here.”

“Yeah, I know that,” he said, his voice still held whisper thin. “Know where they’re going?”

“To meet some guy, I think. They said they’re going to talk to someone who can help me.”

“Help you with what?” he pressed.

“With you.” Robby sat still, pausing his video game and giving his attention to his visitor. He had been told that being distracted when he had a guest was rude. He was no longer terrified of the visits but he understood that they were not normal. Though none of the previous visits ended with him being hurt, he sensed that potential existed. “They want to find someone that can make you go away, I think.”

“But I go away all the time,” he answered, a smile dancing on the corners of his lips. “We don’t need help with that.”

“To make you go away and stay away.”

He paused, holding a deep gaze into Robby’s innocent eyes.

“Is that what you want? For me to go away and never come back?”

“I don’t know,” Robby said, breaking his gaze as he feared his statement would reveal his doubts. “People think that there’s something wrong with me because of you.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you, Robby. Not one thing wrong.”

“Phillip,” Robby said after allowing a smile to invade his face, “I know you told me before, but, why do you visit with me?”

“To keep you safe.”

“Yeah, I know but you never told me what you’re keeping me safe from.”

“From people who want me to leave you and to never come back.”

“Do those people want to make me go away and not come back?”

“One does,” he said.


“We didn’t know where else to turn.”

“I hear that a lot,” Derek said as he sat, huddled against the cold breeze blowing off the Maine shore. The bench he shared with his potential clients was perched near the highest point on the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine. The ocean vistas the Way awarded those who chose to walk from the Ogunquit beach to Perkins Cove were stunning. One and a quarter miles of beautiful homes on one side and the vast, open expanse of the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

In summer, the Marginal Way would seldom be without a steady stream of vacationers crowding along its narrow path. But in January, when the ocean’s breath was more punishing than rewarding, the path was lonely, isolated, and filled with promises that would be granted when summer again returned to the coast of Maine.

“You understand that whether or not I can help you, my meter is running?” Derek asked, a question he had grown so accustomed to saying that he wondered if it still delivered any impact.

“Yes, we understand,” the woman said.

She had the look of someone who had moved beyond feeling desperate and into utter helplessness. Her name was Margaret Bryant. She sat beside her husband, Jack, and held her hands folded with her fingers laced tightly together. She held herself in the protective position, not to brace herself from the cold, but to steel herself against the possibility of hearing, “I can’t help you.”

Jack Bryant was a man of slight build. His hands, rough from years of carpentry work, were engaged in nervously scratching his thighs.

“Tell me, as briefly as you can, why you contacted me, and how you learned about the services I offer my clients.”

“Something is wrong with our son. We have reason to believe that someone has done something to him, and no one will listen to us,” Margaret said.

“What do you mean someone may have done something to him?” Derek asked.

“We don’t know,” she said. “Only that he’s not the same anymore. We don’t know what happened to him, but we need your help. Please, no one else will listen to us.”

Derek had no doubt that whatever may or may not have happened to their son, Margaret and Jack Bryant were certain that something had happened that changed their son. The question of what “it” was that they believed had happened to their son was at the core of Derek’s decision of whether or not he could help.

“I need to know what you think happened to your son, why you think it happened, and who you think may have done it.”

Derek had been a freelance detective/private investigator for over three years. Once he had proven himself to be someone who provided excellent results, his calendar – and his bank account – were filled. Two years after opening his agency, Derek decided that whenever a potential client contacted him, he wouldn’t ask for any details of the case. He instead asked for a down payment of $5,000 to be sent to an online bank account. Once the deposit was confirmed, he would arrange a time and location to meet with potential new clients. If the client’s balked at paying the $5,000, Derek would simply dismiss the case, assuming that he would end up having to fight for payment after his services were rendered or, worse yet, would be forced to negotiate his fees.

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