Chapter 16: Janet
“You broke into-and talked to a ghost and-then took my car-and then flipping took a guy and-YOU’RE GOING TO GET YOURSELF KILLED RODERICK!” Ian seethed, secretly relieved that his younger brother was completely fine.
Roderick leaned against one of the posts outside of the hospital, feeling tired from being up half the night.
“Well I saved a guy’s life and got new information didn’t I?” he yawned. “It adds about ten years to our killer. How many names does that take off the suspect list?”
Ian paused to brood for a moment.
“Like four of them. Cohen Massey, Kirsten Mahogoney, Wade Bentley, and Marvin Attwood. They’re all too young.”
“And…?” Roderick asked expectantly. Ian rolled his eyes.
“And it also takes off some of the people who are crossed off.” Ian admitted. Roderick nodded with satisfaction.
“I think Carolyn Smalls was the first one to die.” he told his older brother. “Maybe that’s why I felt like we needed to look into Douglas so much. There could be something there that could lead us to the killer.”
Ian took off his glasses and cleaned them with his shirt.
“Is this Douglas guy going to be ok?” he asked.
“I think so. He had a heart attack, but I got him here quick enough. His daughter saved his life.”
Ian rubbed the tiredness out of his eyes.
“Ok whatever. We can’t stay here all day. I arranged a meeting with Principal Jennings of the elementary school.”
Roderick yawned again.
“No time for a nap?”
Roderick rubbed his eyes.
“Caffeine it is then…”
The only reasons Ian had ever been inside a principal’s office had to do with Roderick. He started to think about the time he and Roderick had broken into a teacher’s classroom all because Roderick was convinced that they had murdered someone.
That was an interesting conversation with their parents…
Ian came back down to Earth to focus when the the principal walked in, a black man in his late fifties.
“I take it you two are the new private investigators that the mayor hired?” the man asked giving a smile that seemed to be masking worry.
“Yep. That’s us.” Roderick yawned, wishing that one of the others could have come with Ian instead. But Jordyn was dead set on finding something against the Sheriff, and Brian needed Joey’s help on working on something that was supposed to be “a surprise.”
Which with Brian could mean anything.
“So uh… What do you fellas think about all this ghost business?” the man laughed nervously.
“It’s… definitely interesting…”
The principal paused as if he was debating something within himself. Finally, he sighed.
“Look…” he said hesitantly. “I really don’t know why the Mayor keeps bringing new people in to try to solve this whole matter. My advice to you would be to leave. Go home. Before something happens.”
“Sorry. We’re not leaving until we figure this out.” Ian said obstinately, making his younger brother silently feel proud.
The principal twiddled his thumbs.
“Just trying to warn you…” he mumbled.
“Look Mr. Jennings-if we can’t be chased off by a bunch of ghost girls trying to kill us, I doubt your warnings are going to do much else.” Roderick said flatly. “But anyways, how long have you been working here?”
“Oh for about thirty years.” he told them. “I started out as an art teacher of all things.”
“And, most of the ghost girls came through your school right?”
“Why, yes. Even the older ones passed through here, not that I knew all of them that well.”
Roderick was about to ask another question, when he suddenly noticed something on the shelf behind the principal.
An old teddy bear…
“Where did you get that bear?” Roderick suddenly asked. The principal looked behind him.
“Oh! Yes. A student gave that to me.” he said almost dismissively. Roderick narrowed his eyes.
“Was that student Carolyn Smalls?”
The principal suddenly sat there very stiffly.
“...No.” he said slowly.
He was lying.
“How well did you know Carolyn?” Ian pressed, catching up on the hints like his brother was.
“I-I didn’t really know her-.” he stammered, obviously flustered. “I-I don’t want to talk about this, I have to go.” And with that, he stood up, nodded to them, and then left the room in a hurry. The two brothers sat in their seats for a moment, processing what had just happened.
“Well that was weird.” Roderick commented.
“Definitely something up with him.” Ian agreed, looking around the room for any other possible clues.
“How much you wanna bet he was her teacher?” his younger brother smirked.
“I’m not betting anything with you. I learned my lesson last time.”
“Oh come on-it’ll-.”
With that, they finally left the principal’s office and traveled down the painted walls of the school.
“I think I’m going to meet up with Jordyn and see if she has anything on the Sheriff yet. You start doing some digging on Carolyn Smalls.”
“Sounds good. And then we can-.”
The two brothers stopped dead in their tracks as the lights suddenly went off, leaving them in almost total darkness. A few screams were heard from the different classrooms in the elementary school.
“This… can’t be good…” Roderick whispered.
“Why are you whispering? The ghosts probably already know we’re here.”
“Then why are you whispering?”
“Why do you always-.”
The brothers’ banter was cut short when a soft moaning echoed through the dark hallway. The temperature suddenly dropped several degrees inside the building, and Ian could feel the hairs on the back of his neck standing up.
“Something’s coming bro…”
“You don’t have to tell me that!”
The two brothers turned around, expecting to see a little girl at the end of the hallway, but instead saw nothing.
“Where is that coming from?” Roderick asked, turning back around.
There was an upside down face right there.
“HOLY MOTHER OF CRAP!” Roderick yelled, jumping back as the ghost of a woman came upside down out of the ceiling.
She looked nothing like the ghost girls.
Instead of blank white eyes, she had dark sunken holes where her eyes were supposed to be, and instead of black goop, dark blood dripped out of her mouth. Her short blonde hair was filthy with what looked like dirt and more blood, and a gunshot wound in her chest spilled out onto the floor.
“Kish….nu…” she murmured, her head leaning forward unnaturally and her grotesque fingers curled into claws. She reached out for the brothers, her face filled with fury.
“I’ll… KILL YOU!” she screamed, reaching out as if to strangle them.
“RUN FOR IT!” Ian yelled as he and Roderick booked it.
The ghost glided after them, screaming with rage. The two brothers ducked down a hallway and tried to escape through a door to the outside, only to find that it was sealed shut.
“Dang it! Just like the grocery store!” Roderick murmured. Ian quickly pulled him down another hallway as the ghost turned the corner. Eventually, they found themselves running through some double door and into an auditorium. Quickly, they shut the doors behind them and then leaned over to catch their breath.
“Um. What’s going on?” a familiar voice asked.
The brothers looked up and were surprised to see several children all seated on the floor, with a group of people they recognized standing up discussing something. Several teachers were using their phones as flashlights since it was still kind of dark. The only light to be had was from a few of the windows.
“What are you all doing here?” Roderick asked.
Reverend Passey, Mayor Cottam, Sheriff Glendale, Deputy Ledford, and Principal Jennings were all there, as well as some other people that they didn’t recognize.
“We’re here for a school assembly on local leaders.” the Mayor explained, looking at them warily. “What… were you two running from?”
As if to answer, there was a scream from somewhere in the school.
“Well it’s not a ghost girl…” Roderick whispered, backing away from the door. “It’s a ghost, but it’s a woman this time-and she’s-different than the others.”
“What do you mean by different?” the Deputy asked.
The double doors the Vendeleer brothers had come through suddenly burst open with a torrent of wind, causing a few of the eight year olds sitting on the ground to cry out in fear, running to their teachers.
Ian waited for the ghost to come through the doors, but she didn’t. Instead, papers began to fly everywhere as the wind in the building picked up.
The ghost rose up out of the floor, her head moving unnaturally to the side, her arms shaking with rage. A couple of chairs lifted off the floor and started to move around her as well. Several people behind them gasped.
“J-Janet?!” The Reverend exclaimed, looking sickly.
“Who the heck is Janet?” Ian yelled over the wind.
The Sheriff took a step back, his face full of fear.
“That’s my wife.”