Chapter 5: College Buddy
Ian scowled as he continued to hose off his car.
Man, this stuff was a pain to get off.
His car was probably going to need a new paint job after this.
A frigid wind blew through him and he shivered, glad he was wearing a sweater. What did all this mean? He wondered. The murders, the disappearances, the spectacle. Whoever was behind this, they had to have some sort of purpose.
He had dealt with criminals that went without purpose before, and he could tell that this case was not going to be like that.
Someone here had a motive.
And they just had to figure out what that motive was.
Suddenly, the water coming out of his hose froze instantly, causing Ian to jump back in surprise. He dropped the hose, causing the ice to shatter.
Crap. He thought as a fog started to come in.
Maybe if he hid, they wouldn’t see him?
Without another thought, Ian hopped into his car, rubbing his arms to warm himself up. Like he expected, a whirlwind picked up outside, and he could see the ghost girls start to appear. He winced and covered his ears as they all began to screech and scream.
In dismay, he realized that they had started to circle his car. The little Chevy Cruze started to go nuts as the lights went on and off, and the windshield wipers swished back and forth. In disbelief, Ian realized that the car was starting to be lifted off the ground.
Should he be putting on his seat belt?
The radio buzzed on, and the cd that Ian had in the player began to play.
Suddenly, the screaming stopped.
Ian had been closing his eyes and bracing himself, when he realized that something had changed. Now the only sound to be heard was his cd, which was currently playing a Chopin waltz. The ghost girls seemed frozen in their place, and then they started to shrink back from the car with a fearful hiss. Then, they dropped the car from the few inches it had been up in the air and vanished.
Ian sat there breathing heavily.
“Well I guess they don’t like classical music.” he said out loud to himself.
Jordyn looked around the small room in disgust. Something smelled like feces, and there were suspicious looking bottles of a yellow liquid off in the corner. Posters of animes and video game paraphernalia covered the grimy old walls, and there was so much stuff on the floor, you couldn’t even see the carpet underneath.
On one wall, however, was a large board of clippings and information. Jordyn and Roderick ventured forward past all the junk and trash to get a closer look. There was a yellow piece of note paper that was tacked on top of it all.
This is your last warning.
So, he had received a threat from someone…
But from who?
Roderick looked over the rest of the board carefully, where bits of black goop dripped down from certain places. There were several pictures and papers of different murders that had happened around town. It looked like some of the murders had something to do with the ghost girls and black goop, but the others seemed more random. One man had drowned in his pool, another died of carbon monoxide poisoning after locking themselves in their car, and a teenage boy had been found shot in an alleyway. According to the reports, none of these cases were able to be solved.
Did Jason think that these killings were all somehow connected? But why?
Suddenly, a lightbulb went on in Roderick’s head. The other murders that he had seen in the files seemed to make more sense now. He had a hunch that each one of them would have something to do with someone who had seen too much or found out too much.
Someone didn’t want this mystery solved…
“Who’s this Douglas Smalls?” he asked, looking at a piece of paper connected to several strings.
“I think he’s a crazy old man who lives up the hill or something.” Jordyn responded. “I’ve never been up there, but I’ve heard his name a couple of times. Apparently, he’s lived in Pinnacle Gulch the longest. I think his parents might have even settled the town or something.”
Roderick traced his finger along one of the strings, where it led to a half-splattered picture of a grumpy looking man in a sheriff’s uniform. Underneath the picture, written in sharpie, was the name “Barry Glendale”.
“Has the Sheriff been looked into?”
“I did a little snooping when I first came in, but he looks clean. Seems a little suspicious at times, but I couldn’t really find anything on him. At least, not yet.”
Roderick looked at the Sheriff’s picture, and then noticed that the man had two other strings connected to a picture of a man with a pastor’s collar and a woman with short, curly blonde hair. He couldn’t help but wonder who these people were and why they were connected.
At that moment, Eye of the Tiger started to play from Roderick’s pocket. He ignored it at first, thinking he’d call whoever it was back in a moment as he continued to look at all of this, but then it started to ring again.
“Hold on a second-.”
It was Ian.
“Ian-I think I’ve got some good leads here-.”
Jordyn watched as the private investigator’s eyes grew wide.
“They what? But-what?”
After a moment, he hung up.
“What’s going on? Does your brother need help getting the ghost crap off of his car?” Jordyn smirked.
“No. The ghost girls showed up.” he answered seriously.
“So… Let’s maybe grab this cork board and then head back. Hopefully my buddy Brian will be back soon, so we can get some technical ideas about what we are dealing with here.”
“Fine. What does your friend do again?” she asked as they gingerly started to peel off the board of information and conspiracies. Roderick couldn’t help but try to hide a smile.
“He’s uh… A tech guy. Kind of runs around with different jobs…”
“A tech guy for what?”
Roderick raised a brow devilishly. “For those ghost documentary shows. You know how there’s usually a guy filming it all? That’s usually Brian.”
Jordyn rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, it really is great!” Roderick smiled ignoring her sarcasm and grabbing more pictures off of the walls. “He’s my best friend. Quite a character. I’m sure you’ll like him. Everybody likes Brian.”
Jordyn shook her head.
She was sure that was not true.
After all, she didn’t like most people.
When they arrived back at the motel, they found Ian waiting for them, leaning up against his car, which still had bits of black gunk caked on in places.
“Ok. So, your brother filled me in on how the ghost girls showed up and how they circled your car and stuff, but what stopped them from-you know-taking you or whatever?” Jordyn asked. Ian put a finger up in the air, graciously opened the door and pushed a button on the radio.
Immediately, classical music started to play.
Roderick and Jordyn stood there staring at him, confused.
“Ok… So, you’ve been listening to your boring classical crap again?” the younger brother asked.
“Chopin’s waltz in A minor to be exact.” Ian said proudly. “That my dearest brother, is what stopped the ghost girls.”
“So, what? They like classical music?” Jordyn asked.
“No. I actually think it scared them for some reason. They hissed and retreated when it started to play.”
“But what about-.”
HONK HONK HONK.
The three of them jumped and turned to see a purple van with white ghosts painted on the side screeching into the parking lot. Ian groaned, and Roderick jumped with excitement.
“Brian’s here!!” he exclaimed, running to the van as it jerked into a parking space at an angle. Immediately, a man jumped out of the driver’s seat, loaded with all sorts of gear. He held out an electronic gizmo hooked up to what looked like a vacuum, and looked around quickly with his glowing green goggles.
“Dude. There’s no ghost here right now.” Roderick laughed.
Brian lifted the goggles off his head and flattened his short dark hair. Roderick’s college buddy wasn’t too overweight, but all of the odds and ends attached to him made him look about three times bigger. He pulled off his vacuum thing to show that he was sporting a Minecraft t-shirt.
The two gave each other bro hugs.
“I didn’t realize we called the ghostbusters.” Jordyn said flatly as she and Ian watched the two do a complicated secret handshake.
“You have no idea...” Ian replied with a shake of his head.
“Ok! So, what have we got here?” Brian asked, putting his hands on his hips.
“First, show us what you brought-I want to see the new stuff you got!”
“Ok. Oh! Hey Ian! Still as grumpy as always?” he said with smile, pointing at him ecstatically and waiting for an answer. Ian grumbled something unintelligible in response, causing Brian to laugh.
“Ha! Classic Ian. And-who are you?” he gestured to Jordyn.
“Jordyn Hastings.” She said with pursed lips. “I’m the real detective here.”
“Well, nice to meet ya! I’m Brian. Come on over to the back, I’ll show you what I got.”
Reluctantly, Ian and Jordyn followed the two college buddies to the back of Brian’s van, and he opened it up to show a tangle of wires and old computers that he had disassembled.
“First of all, I made a couple of EMF trackers since the last time I saw you two.” He said proudly, showing two little boxes with screens on them that looked like they used to be used to sonar mapping. They each had a bunch of wiring and battery packs soldered to the back of them. It was clear that Jordyn and Ian were not impressed. Roderick looked at them in awe.
“These are awesome!! But didn’t you just buy some online last time? Didn’t those work?”
“Well, not really. They tended to pick up just any old electro magnetic field, so I built some to specialize for ghosts.”
“I’m not even going to ask for the pseudoscience of that.” Jordyn said with her arms folded. “While this is fun and all, I think I’m going to go back to my room and make a phone call to my superiors. I need to update them on a few things anyway.”
“And I still have to finish getting this crap off my car.” Ian told them grumpily. “So… have fun you two.”
Then, Jordyn and Ian trudged off to what they needed to, leaving Brian and Roderick at the back of the van, holding on to the things he had built.
“Tough crowd.” Brian joked, sticking one of the EMF trackers in his pocket.
“Eh. You know Ian. He cares more than he shows, and he doesn’t please easily. And I’m sure Jordyn will warm up to you eventually.”
Brian shrugged, and then the two of them paused as his stomach let out a loud grumbling.
“Did you eat anything at all on your way over here?”
“Um. I had a burger. A… few hours ago.”
“Dude. You need to eat. Let’s go to the store and I’ll fill ya in on some of the other things that have been happening on the way.”
“Sweet. Sounds like a plan to me!” Brian grinned, hopping closing the back of the van. “Any plan that involves food is fine by me!”
On the way to the store, Roderick filled him in as much he could with what they were dealing with.
“You’ve dealt with ghosts before, right?” he asked from the passenger seat.
“Weeeell…” his friend started hesitantly. “It’s mostly turned into a bunch of theatrics, and I just make the ghost teams look good, but I think I did have a run in with a real ghost once.”
“But you know what it’s supposed to be like right? And if these ghosts are a fraud?”
“Oh, I’ll definitely be able to tell if the ghosts are fake.” Brian said proudly. “I’ve seen enough fake ghosts to know what program someone might be using.”
“Good. That’s what I was looking for. Cause these ghosts sure do seem real, but you know how skeptical we Vendeleer Brothers can be.”
“Oh, I know.”
Brian made a sharp turn and made another horrible parking job in front of a convenience store.
“Time to get me some Doritos!” Brian exclaimed as he and Roderick raced to run in there first.
The small grocery store was relatively quiet as the two men wandered around stuffing things into a grocery cart. As the two of them caught up with each other, talking about what had been going on since the last time they had been together, they unfortunately became oblivious to the other customers in the store, who seemed to have a nervous air about them. The yellow lights above them flickered ominously, but Brian and Roderick failed to notice as they continued to talk about that one time in college when they snuck into Ian’s apartment and painted his fingernails.
The two of them jumped.
“What is that?” Roderick asked, wincing and sticking a finger in his ear.
“That’s my EMF tracker…” Brian shouted over the high-pitched squealing. He pulled the device out of his pocket, wincing at the noise. The lights on it were going crazy, and the little needle was pointing all the way over to the right.
“What the-” Brian said in surprise as he looked down at it.
“Has it ever done that before??” Roderick yelled louder as the thing got higher pitched.
With one more high-pitched shriek, the thing exploded out of his hand. Brian shook his burned hand in surprise, blowing on it and hopping from one foot to the other. On the ground, the tracker sparked and spun around until it finally died.
The two friends approached it cautiously.
“And what’s that thing supposed to do?”
“Tell me when ghosts are nearby.”
“And it’s never done anything like that?”
“Nope. The farthest I’ve seen the needle go was almost to the yellow.”
At that moment, the lights above them seemed to grow slightly brighter as they flickered on and off, and an eerie moaning echoed through the aisles. A few of the other customers in the store could be heard whimpering in fear over the sound of the buzzing lights above them.
Then they watched in disbelief as a couple of the things from the shelves started to eek out a thick black goop.
“What the freak?!” Brian exclaimed, holding on protectively to the Doritos he was planning on buying.
With a pop, the lights above them went out suddenly, leaving them all in darkness. Terrified murmurs filled what would otherwise have been silence. The two of them looked at each other, and then ran towards the light that led outside. When they reached the cash registers, there was a group of people around the door, trying to get it opened.
“It’s sealed shut somehow!!” a woman lamented, pulling on the door.
“Move over!” a larger man told her gruffly. He pulled on it with no success, and had even less success when he tried to ram it open.
“Well I’m not going to wait in here and be killed by some ghosts!” a younger guy in a beanie yelled, picking up a cart.
“Wait! Not my store!” an older man in an apron and a nametag pleaded.
The guy did not listen as he flung the cart towards one of the large windows.
Roderick expected it to crash and break the glass, but surprisingly, the cart simply bounced off.
“You idiot! You think that would work?” A middle-aged woman with a little boy clutching on to her pants leg scolded. “Once they come, they won’t let anyone leave until they get a victim. And I certainly won’t let it be me or my son! I say we let the ghost girls have you!”
“Why are you more important than I am??” the young delinquent argued back. “I say we let them have the old man-he doesn’t have many years left anyway!”
“Well what good are you going to do? All you teenage boys do is break things-.”
Brian and Roderick watched the two of them argue as the rest of the customers in the store started to argue in hysterics. The large burly man at the door continued to try to break it down, but he kept bouncing off-just like the grocery cart. The arguing stopped as blinds suddenly fell down in front of all the windows, casting the group in total darkness. A red safety light came on from somewhere.
In the silence, a little girl giggled, which echoed through the silent store. Slowly, the group turned to see a small figure standing at the end of aisle six, only slightly illuminated by the red light, the rest of her in shadow.
“Well, you wanted ghosts right Brian?” Roderick whispered nervously. “This real enough for ya?”
Brian squeezed his bag of Doritos a little too hard until the bag exploded and crunchy cheesy chips went everywhere.
“Yep.” he squeaked.