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A cold chill traveled up his arms, Mitch Reyas squinted at the camera screen wanting to see something but not just anything. It had to be real. Something moved across the room. Ghost? Maybe.He held his breath, not wanting to scare away any entities. The screen flashed a bright red figure on the far wall. The hair on the back of his neck bristled.
“What the hell?” Geoff McNial gasped beside him.
“Did you feel that?” Mitch asked.
“Stop, let’s back track.”
They both took a few steps back, retracing their path into the room. “There it is again,” Mitch said.
“Oh, it’s only your reflection on the glossy door. See,” Geoff raised his arm in front of Mitch. The red image on the screen copied him.
“Damn, I thought we’d gotten something.”
“It’ll happen eventually.” They moved through the room, not finding anything else. “Thanks for selling off your skateboard collection. You know you didn’t have to.” Geoff stopped moving forward, and turned on his flashlight, illuminating the century old house they’d borrowed for their first outing with the thermal camera.
“I know but it would have taken months of both of us working two jobs to get the cash for all of this.” Mitch stepped forward, sure he’d seen something and then backed up. “Dang it, just another reflection from that window.”
“I’m just damn glad you’re in this with me.”
Mitch smacked Geoff on the shoulder with his fist. “I couldn’t think of a better person to do this with. One day we’ll catch a real ghost on film or maybe something else spectacular. In the meantime, we can build our business. You know, debunking and helping people find solutions.”
“Yeah, I think we have a client. They left a message on my cell phone.”
“Really? Who? Where?” Mitch couldn’t believe their luck. A real client. Wow, things just kept getting better and better.
“A guy who owns the old church downtown. You know the one where they gutted the inside and turned it into a house. His name is Mason. He sounds like he’s seen something interesting.”
“You know him?”
“No, just a cute name.” Mitch scratched his head, thinking about the hot dude with beautiful eyes he’d seen in one of his classes last spring. The lecture hall had been packed, but Mason had been a breath of fresh air in a world filled with cynics.
“You sure you don’t know him?”
“Yeah, I’ve never met his before but I’ve always wondered about that place.”
“You think we’ll find something good?” Geoff turned off his flashlight and continued sweeping the room, looking for a tell-tale red flash of heat from a real apparition and not their reflection.
“It’ll be fun even if we don’t find a ghost. We need to do some research on the place.” Mitch smiled to himself as they finished their sweep of the farmhouse. They’d advertised around town, gotten a spot on the local cable channel, but so far no one had wanted Paranormal Investigators to come in and hunt for ghosts. This could be the break they’d been waiting for. Having Mason’s house as their first real investigation was a plus he hadn’t expected.
Geoff listened to the voice mail again. Mason offered to pay whatever they asked if only they could find out what was going on in his house. He couldn’t help but smile. A real live client begging for their services. Now they only needed to finish the research on the place and write up their investigative plan.
The door flew open and Mitch rushed in amongst leaves on the wind. He took off his jacket and shook another leaf to the floor. “What’s that goofy grin on your face for?”
“We have a real client. Your uncle Joe is great for volunteering his house, but you know...I mean, like I appreciate his help, but think about it. A real client.”
“It’ll come together for us,” Mitch said.
“I know. Joe’s a great guy, but how many times can you investigate the same house over and over again. Do you think we need to hire someone for research?”
“Not liking the bookwork there, hey Geoff?”
“It’s not that. Ignore what I said. I’m just caught up in dreaming about the future.” Geoff pushed the other chair out from under the kitchen table. “So listen to this.”
“You want one?” Mitch pulled a beer out of the fridge.
“No thanks, I’m too keyed up already, with that I’d be flying.”
“I can see. You going to tell me what’s up?” Mitch sat across from Geoff, smiling at his joy.
“Yeah, yeah. Boy, I didn’t sleep at all last night. I kept thinking about this church.” Geoff flipped a page in his notebook and checked the facts, not wanting to get anything wrong. “Okay, here’s the deal, seventy five years ago there was a man, Charles, who asked this woman, Ann-Marie, to marry him. He showed up at the church on his wedding day to find another groom in his place. His father hated Charles and thought that if he substituted in man to his own liking his daughter wouldn’t have the guts to not go through with the ceremony. Especially with all those people looking on.”
“Whoa, lovers triangle. I don’t know, sounds dicey.”
“That’s not the whole story. Ann-Marie’s father is a bit of a control freak,” Geoff said.
Geoff looked up and caught the smile on Mitch’s face. This is what they’d dreamt of for years. He couldn’t believe that it was finally coming true “Yeah, well, Ann-Marie finds out about the stand-in groom and kills herself. Meanwhile, Charles realizes what’s going on with the new groom and starts hollering for Ann-Marie. Her daddy gets all into his face and pushes the young buck around, toppling him off the dais. Charles strikes his head on a wooden box used to help young alter boys light candles.”
“Now that’s a story. But what about activity?”
“I’m getting to it, just be patient.”
“I want to hear about Mason,” Mitch said.
“Mason? I thought you wanted to hear about the ghost activity.”
“I do, that’s what I meant to say.”
“Are you sure you don’t know him?” Geoff asked.
“Yeah, I’m sure.”
“It’s just that you get this look on your face when we talk about him.”
“I’m just excited about this case,” Mitch said.
“Sure. So Mason says that there’s loads of stuff happening.” Geoff glanced at Mitch, the goofy grin was gone and in its place the serious mask that was typical Mitch on the job. “He remodeled the church a few years ago. During the remodel is when things started to happen. Every since then there’s been problems.”
“So the thing about the other man, was that true?”
“What other man?” Geoff asked.
“Charles and Ann-Marie.”
“Oh yeah, Ann-Marie’s father set it all up. He arranged the whole thing thinking that he would follow his lead like sheep to the slaughter. It was a money thing from what I read.”
“I’m ready to go out there and do this. So, what’s our plan?”
“Halloween.” Geoff’s smug smile lit up the room.
“Geoff, you’ve got to be kidding me. Halloween night. Please, that’s too much of a cliché.”
“No, it’ll be the best night. Charles and Ann-Marie both died on October 31.”
Mitch took a long swig of his beer. He leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes.
“It’s just a day and we have to jump in at some point, might as well get our feet wet with a case like this.”
“I’m just thinking. They really scheduled their wedding to take place on Halloween?” Mitch asked.
“Yeah, not the most romantic day, but time was of the essence.” Geoff could feel the excitement building. He’d been waiting for a chance like this. Their new equipment would work great for an investigation of an old church. He did feel a bit strange about going looking for spirits on Halloween but what better way to start off their business.
“You mean because of daddy dearest?” Mitch asked.
“Something like that.”
“Okay, well let’s check everything and call back to confirm the date. I’m in, even thought it’s Halloween night in an old church that was remodeled recently. Should be interesting.”
“Yeah, it should be great.”
“Maybe we should set a preliminary meeting with Mason.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Geoff took a good long look at Mitch. Something was off. “You want to meet with the client before we go in to investigate? What about keeping the relationship pure and simple before we investigate? What if he digs for information and sets stuff up to trick us? I think there’s another reason that you want to meet with Mason. You do know him.”
“No, I don’t.” Mitch turned towards the door then hesitated. “Okay, so I haven’t met him but there was a Mason in my history class last year. It could be the same guy.”
Geoff couldn’t believe that he was going to have to ask Mitch this question. Hell, he would have place bets before today that he and not Mitch would have been the first to jeopardize an investigation with a personal relationship. “Is this going to be a problem?”
“No way, I won’t let it be a problem. I promise to keep the relationship professional.”
“Good, because you don’t need that pressure on you.”
“Your right.” Mitch scuffed his foot against the floor, his cheeks flaming pink. “You take the lead on this investigation.”
“Are you sure?” Geoff held his breath and his heartbeat slowed. Time felt like it stalled as he stared at Mitch. They’d discussed this in length, Mitch was the lead. Geoff could handle the responsibility but his talents were best used elsewhere.
Mitch opened the door and looked back over his shoulder. His jaw was set and his mouth drawn into a thin line. “I’m sure.”
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