What would have happened next was too horrible to contemplate. He would have watched as his body withered and died, and no-one who loved him had come to his bedside. He would have gone, alone to his own funeral. The only family he had were herself and her Aunt Abigail in Australia. Abigail had tried several times to contact Katherine, mortified at being unable to get to the funeral, but her daughter had been in hospital bringing the next generation of their family into the world. Katherine had avoided the calls though; too hard at work to begin with and then too embarrassed to talk to the woman she had been so close to as a child. So, apart from one or two of his cronies from the chess club and a few of her mother’s friends, there was no-one at her father’s funeral.
After the funeral, he would have stayed by his own grave for almost two weeks before his only daughter finally found the time to visit him. If, as he had surmised, his soul had been unable to move too far from his body, he would have been trapped there alone. Perhaps there was enough of his blood running through her veins to allow him to follow her. In a way she hoped so, at least then he wouldn’t be doomed to become a cliché, traipsing eternally round the graveyard and scaring the relatives of the newly deceased. On the other hand, it would mean that he would be with her forever. Was she ready for that; her own father as a kind of invisible stalker, trying to look the other way as she showered, but beside her always? She shuddered at the thought.
Irritated, she shook herself. Of course he wasn’t here. He had used himself as a human guinea-pig for his private obsession and had killed himself in a failed experiment. She grasped at her coffee, trying to find herself in the earthy smell and warmth of it.
“Dad, I’m so sorry I wasn’t there.” It was the catch in her voice that made her realise that she was crying. She wiped her eyes with the back of her sleeve, glad that she couldn’t be seen from outside her office. She walked over to the small window overlooking the main laboratory floor and eased aside the blinds. This was her life, her pride and joy. Her work here was important, it had already led to the development of a new method of screening for cancers and it could change the way the world was understood on a sub-atomic level. Surely he would understand why she had been unable to leave. She could not shake the image of him, standing by his own death-bed, wondering where she was. The tears were falling freely now, ignored as she let the horror of what she imagined her father’s last days were like take over. The musky smell of his
aftershave wafted at her once more and she couldn’t shake the feeling that he was close enough to touch.