Chapter 21: The Evidence in the Barn
Roderick didn’t know how long he was walking in the dark expanse alone. He just knew that he had to find someway to get out. The same unknown number kept trying to call him, but Roderick was not about to answer it again. He eventually turned it off to try to save the battery.
He stopped suddenly.
Was it just his being paranoid? Or was someone really watching him? He turned around to find one of the little ghost girls there. He stepped back in surprise and felt the need to run for it, until he realized that she looked completely normal. She wasn’t even transparent.
“C-Carolyn?” he asked. The little girl nodded, her dark pigtails bobbing up and down as she squeezed her teddy bear.
“Where am I?” he demanded, looking around to see the other ghost girls looking at him curiously from behind mountains of black goop.
“I don’t know. The monster just keeps us here until he makes us do the bad things.” Roderick looked pityingly at the eight year old in front of him. He knelt down to her level.
“How long have you been stuck here Carolyn?” he asked. She looked back at him sadly.
“A long time. I’m sorry the monster got you too. I didn’t mean him to.”
“That’s ok. I know you didn’t mean to.” At that point, he felt someone poke him. He turned around to see that the other girls had ventured forward, and a small girl who could have been six or seven was poking him in the leg.
“So we can touch the people here.” she said proudly, her curly red hair bouncing as she jumped up with this revelation.
“Wait-there are other people here?” Roderick asked.
“Yeah… but they always run from us. You’re different though aren’t you? You didn’t run. You stayed to talk.” the oldest of them said. She was probably no more than fifteen or sixteen.
Roderick gave them all a grim smile.
“Well that’s because I know what the monster is.”
The girls all stared at him wide eyed.
“What is it?” one little girl with short blonde hair asked.
“It’s called a spirit parasite. I don’t know all the details, but I guess it feeds on the bad things that-theeeeee…”
Roderick started to choke, sending him to his knees. He eventually coughed up a little of the black goop.
“You can’t say his name Roderick.” Carolyn said sadly. “We’ve already tried.”
Roderick wiped the black goop from his mouth angrily.
“Well this makes things more complicated. Do you guys know how to get out of here?”
The girls all exchanged glances.
“Yes, but it’s dangerous. And the living people haven’t been able to leave without the monster…” Roderick gave them a reassuring smile.
“Well, don’t worry. I have some friends who are really smart. I’m sure if we leave them some clues, they’ll be able to figure it out and help us.”
At this, the girls’ faces lit up.
“You mean it?”
“Do you guys know anything else about… you know who?” he asked. At this, one little girl stepped up. She had a thin face and shoulder length blonde hair.
“I do,” she said with determination.
Ian was typing away on his computer, frantically trying to find something-anything-that could lead them to his brother. He couldn’t get the image of the officer out of his mind… That horrible black goop dripping from the man’s eyes and mouth… The officer lying dead on the ground…
Suddenly, his computer screen went blank.
Ian wanted to curse.
“Darn-Dag-nab it!!” he seethed, almost throwing his laptop on the bed. Why now?! The startup screen came up, a blue screen with a white line to type in code. Ian tried to press enter to bring it back up, but to no avail. So for a second, he folded his arms and leaned back, glaring at the screen.
His attitude changed when three letters suddenly appeared.
Was he seeing this right?
Hesitantly, he typed into the screen.
He watched and waited, the little white line pulsing against the blue background. Then without any warning, the word “Sheriff” typed itself in over and over and over again. Ian’s eyes grew wide as his little laptop started to smoke, and then exploded in a burst of black goop.
He sat there on his bed, mouth wide open, covered in black goop, staring at his now useless laptop.
Was he telling him that the Sheriff was the murderer?
Or did he simply need to investigate him more?
As soon as Ian had somewhat come to his senses, he jumped up, not even caring to wipe the goop off of himself. Any other time, he would have been livid that his computer had been destroyed, but for now, he was happy to know that his brother was at least trying to reach out and help them.
He ran across the parking lot to Brian’s van, and then threw open the back doors, where Jordyn, Joey and Brian looked up in surprise from observing the ghost in the bottle.
“Um… Why are you covered in crap?” Jordyn asked.
“Sheriff.” Ian gasped. “We need to look into the Sheriff.” At this, Jordyn rolled her eyes.
“Um-that’s what I’ve been saying this whole time-.”
“No-you don’t understand. Roderick told me to look into the Sheriff.”
“Through my computer-which… I can’t use anymore…”
“What exactly did he say?” Brian asked hopefully, putting down the bottle with the vengeful spirit inside.
“All he said was “Bro” and “Sheriff”. I think that wherever he is, that’s all he was able to get through.”
At this, Joey lifted the bottle with the vengeful spirit.
“Well while you were doing that, we’ve been trying to get Janet to calm down. Are you ready to calm down Janet? We’re simply trying to help you. Do you need more essential oils?”
The little cloud in the bottle stayed very still.
“Ok. We noticed from the records that your body was never found. Do you think you can lead us to it?”
The ghost inside the bottle moved slightly.
“Ok. We’re going to let you out, so don’t attack us. Lead the way.”
The others leaned away from the bottle as Ian did his best to wipe away some of the black goop from off his person.
Joey then screwed off the lid.
Immediately, the ghost poured out of the bottle, but instead of attacking them, it rushed out the back of the van.
“After her!” Ian exclaimed, jumping up and running after her. The others followed suit.
The four of them followed Janet down roads and turns, unsure of where she was taking them. At times, she would get too far ahead, and they could see her waiting for them at intersections.
Brian was lagging behind, swearing that he was in better shape than this and couldn’t they just walk after the ghost instead of running. Finally, they all ended up out of breath in front of the Sheriff’s house.
“Where-did-Janet-gasp-go?” Jordyn panted looking around.
“Jordyn! The barn!” Joey gasped pointing. They all looked into the backyard to see that Janet’s ghost was indeed right outside the barn. When she knew they could see her, she slipped inside.
“I knew there had to be evidence in there!” Jordyn whispered as they all snuck into the backyard and towards the old barn.
Finally, Jordyn opened up the double doors and the four of them went inside. Over off to the side, they could see Janet’s ghost hovering over a wheelbarrow. However, she did not look like her vengeful spirit self anymore, but like she might have when she was alive, other than the fact she still had a gunshot wound in her chest. She pointed to the dirt floor immediately below her.
“I have a feeling we’re going to need to do some digging…” Jordyn said grimly, grabbing a shovel and moving the things out of the way. Ian nodded, grabbing a shovel as well, and the two of them started to dig as the ghost of Janet disappeared.
“Oh my gosh… I swear if we find a dead body…” Brian whimpered, taking a step back. “I’ve never seen a dead body before…”
“Yes you have. You just saw Nathan Price yesterday.” Joey commented.
“Yeah, but he was freshly dead… Not… buried dead…”
“Hmmm. Good point.”
This did not quite defer them from looking into the hole that Jordyn and Ian were digging though.
After a few feet of digging, Ian almost had a hard attack when he uncovered a decaying hand.
“Holy crap.” Brian grimaced, unable to look away.
“Janet’s here alright…” Jordyn winced, coughing and putting an arm over her nose at the stench of having uncovered a head-the eyes already eaten out, beetles scurrying over bone that was sticking out of the rotted flesh.
Brian turned around and started to throw up.
Ian climbed out of the hole to rest a second and to get away from the stench. Joey continued to look in with interest.
“No maggots. Definitely not freshly dead Brian.”
Brian groaned and threw up again.
“Since she died of a gunshot wound, that can hold some strong evidence for us.” Jordyn commented, climbing out of the hole to also catch her breath. She wiped the sweat from her brow. “That Sheriff sure has it-.”
The four of them stopped what they were doing and turned to see the Sheriff in the doorway, gun drawn and pointing at them.
“So I see you found my wife.”