The Vendeleer Brothers

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Chapter 8: Joey Washburn

Ian was limping through a dark, cramped, and leaky, place that was unfamiliar, leaving a trail of blood behind him. He had to get away… He had to!! He bit back the pain and then ducked behind a wall, trying to catch his breath.

Someone was whistling Chopin’s waltz in A minor, dragging a knife somewhere from down the hall. Ian had his back to the wall as the whistling echoed in the empty expanse, his heart thumping madly away in his chest. He clutched at his bloody arm, fighting the urge to choke on another sob.

There was no escape…

No escape…

No escape…


Ian jolted awake, realizing that he had fallen asleep at his laptop while trying to research stuff about ghosts.

This was crazy.

Ghosts weren’t real.

Maybe.

Ian wiped the sleep from his eyes, feeling tired and disoriented. He glanced at the clock on the side table to see that it was 6:45 am. Guess he had slept through the night. He looked over to see that Roderick was still asleep, his head in the middle of a case file.

Looks like he had also fallen asleep in the middle of his research.

Knock knock knock.

So maybe it wasn’t just the dream that had woken him up.

Groggily, he stood up to answer the door.

It was Brian.

“I think I might have found someone to help us.” the man said cheerfully. Ian looked at him, unamused as he stood there at the door. He probably could have done with a coffee to wake him up, but then he remembered that he hated coffee.

“Fiiine. Come in.” Ian said grumpily. “Roderick. Wake up. Your friend is here at the crack of dawn to tell you something.” With that, he gave his brother a good whack to the back of the head, causing him to jump awake.

“What’s it-!” he jolted, looking around, a piece of paper stuck to his face. He then realized that Brian was there and rubbed his eyes.

“Morning dude…” he said with a tired smile. “You just drank a ton of Monsters didn’t you?”

“Yup. I think I found someone who might be able to help us with this ghost stuff.”

“Are you sure it’s not some quack just trying to make money?

“Well, half the time she doesn’t accept money. And-it is kind of weird cause she’s against a lot of standard stuff that people in that crowd are into, which I thought might be better to look into since the iron and salt stuff didn’t work.”

Ian raised a brow.

“Ok. So, who is this person and where are they?”

“Her name’s Josephine Washburn, and she’s not too far. She just lives up in Bishop, which is just a few hours from here.”

“Did you call and talk to her yet?” Roderick yawned, scratching the back of his neck.

“Yeah. She’s willing to meet with us.”

“Does this mean we’re going to have to drive all the way up to Bishop?” Ian lamented.

“Heh..heh…”

“Well fan-freakin-tastic. What about Jordyn?”

“Oh, I already talked to her. She’s up and ready to go.”

Ian scowled. Maybe he could sleep in the car then…


The ride up to Bishop, California was rather uneventful. They were interested to see if the ghost girls would try to prevent them from leaving town, but they turned out to be a no show. Maybe they knew they would be back anyways. On the other hand, Ian was able to take a much-needed nap in the back of Brian’s van while Roderick kept looking at the video over and over again.

The mountains to their left started to get taller and taller, until they were finally passing the snowcaps of Mt. Whitney as they drove through the small town of Lone Pine. Slowly, they started to come out of the desert as more and more trees started to show up. Soon enough, they were traveling through an odd little town surrounded by trees and mountains. Ian woke with a start when Brian started freaking out about seeing a peacock on the side of the road.

“Chill man. It’s just a bird.” Jordyn exasperated, rolling her eyes as Brian kept trying to decide whether or not they should stop and take a picture. “Besides. We’re here on important business. I want to see if this lady is a kook or not.”

After a few minutes of driving down a windy dirt road, they soon came up on a very interesting place.

The trailer was nestled beside a creek, and there were many interesting things in the yard that could have possibly been art projects. A clothes line also stretched from a few trees, and there were dream catchers of all shapes and sizes everywhere. Brian pulled into the driveway.

The travelers stretched their cramped limbs as they climbed out of Brian’s van, and then a little hesitantly, they walked up a stone path to the door.

Before they could knock, the door opened to reveal a rather large woman with the craziest hair any of them had ever seen. The curly brown mop on her head frizzed out to make her head seem twice as large, and it didn’t help that she wore very large glasses to go along with it. Feathers and other charms entangled themselves into her hair, and she wore several different necklaces over what could have been a homemade shawl. The woman smiled, adjusting the glasses on her freckled face.

“Hello there.” she said in a dreamy voice. “I saw you all coming up the driveway and thought I would meet you.”

“Are you Josephine?” Brian asked slowly.

“I sure am. But I go by Joey just so ya know.”

“I’m Brian-we talked on the phone?”

“Ah yes! Come in come in! Watch your step-there are some potted plants on the floor.”

Jordyn raised a brow and glanced back at the brothers, giving the “I think this lady is crazy” expression.

If they thought the outside of the trailer was weird, they had it coming for the inside, for there were several plants all around the place, (mostly on the floor,) and odd paintings and drawings on the walls. It was packed with all sorts of knick knacks, and could have probably been mistaken for a hoarder’s house if everything wasn’t so particularly placed.

The best way Roderick could think to describe it was cluttered, but not messy.

“So, uh, you like plants?” Roderick asked a little awkwardly as they all squeezed onto a couch.

Joey smiled.

“Not really. But if they die I know there’s a spirit sapper around.”

“I’m sorry-a what?” Ian asked, feeling rather grumpy as he was smushed in the middle between his brother and the detective.

“It can cause depression, which can be dangerous if you live alone like me.” she told them with a smile, as if that was a good enough explanation. There was a slight pause as the visitors tried to figure out what to say or ask.

“I’m guessing you guys don’t really believe in ghosts or spirits?” she asked, leaning back in her chair and observing them with her small dreamy smile.

“Uh… Kind of? Well… up until recent events…” Ian admitted. He was beginning to second guess himself in coming here. How could he really think that ghosts were really behind all of this?

“So… do you do seances or something? Ouija boards?” Jordyn asked.

For the first time, they saw a look of disdain on Joey’s face.

“That stuff’s dangerous.” she said distastefully. “And that’s not how things work. That usually just opens up a whole can of worms that people aren’t prepared for.” She sat there brooding for a moment, and then dropped the dark mood and smiled up at them again.

“So, Brian here said you’ve been having a ghost problem?” she asked.

“Well… maybe?” Ian ventured, wondering why he was doing this.

“So, back in Pinnacle Gulch we….” Roderick trailed off, suddenly getting distracted as he watched a perfectly healthy plant on the floor in front of him completely wither and die within a matter of seconds. Joey followed his gaze and then gave an exasperated sigh.

“Don’t tell me that thing is back again.” she grumbled, reaching under her chair and pulling out a little case filled with different bottles. The visitors gawked as a transparent face of a young boy appeared over her shoulder.

“Help me Joey… Why won’t you-.” it whispered as the lights flickered. Nonchalantly, she pulled out a spray bottle and sprayed the thing without even looking at it.

“Go away Dulagar.” She said distastefully.

The face coughed and then changed to more of a dark purple shadow of a face, and then disappeared with a disgruntled expression.

“Now, where were we?” she asked, as if everything was completely normal.

The four newcomers stared at where the face had vanished.

“Ok what the hell was that?” Jordyn asked as Ian started to look around for any possibilities for projections.

“Oh, that was just a spirit sapper. He just comes by every now and then to try to sap out my happiness and part of my soul.”

“Excuse me?”

“What did you spray on it?” Brian questioned, leaning forward a little in curiosity.

“Essential oils. It’s complete baloney when it comes to healing ailments and sicknesses, but they really come in handy when it comes to spirits. You just need to know what kinds to use.”

With that, she closed her case of bottles and then sat back in her chair again.

“Now what problems are you having in Pinnacle Gulch?” she asked.

“Wait a second-that-that face kind of reminded me of that thing we saw in the video.” Roderick realized. Joey looked intrigued.

“Video? Did you capture some spirits on video?”

Silently, Brian brought out his laptop so he could show her. Joey sat there seriously as she watched the video, nodding slightly.

“Well, first thing you need to know, is the difference between spirits and ghosts.” she told them, closing the laptop and handing it to Brian.

“There’s a difference?” Jordyn blurted in disbelief.

“Yes. Ghosts are the souls of those who are innocent or just simply lost. They really mean no harm to anyone. Usually they look like regular people, but a little transparent or something like that. Spirits on the other hand, are the souls of those who have become warped into some other devious purpose. They lose a lot of the form of what they looked like when they were alive, and usually are brought out due to their surroundings or the bad decisions and choices of people.”

“So… the ghost girls are just taking people for fun then?” Jordyn said sourly, crossing her arms. Joey shook her head.

“No. The spirit parasite is making them do that. At least, I think it’s a parasite, but those usually come with this weird black gelatinous substance and can only attack one lost soul at a time.”

The visitors looked at her curiously.

“Brian, did… you tell her about the black goop?” Ian asked. Brian shook his head. Joey looked back in forth between all of them.

“Wait-so there has been black goop?”

“Uh… yeah… quite a lot of it actually… It swallowed a whole car.”

At this new information, Joey looked quite intrigued.

“When are you all going back down to Pinnacle Gulch?” she asked.

“Uh… Probably in an hour or so?” Brian said hesitantly. Joey nodded in understanding.

“Do you mind if I come with you? I would love to have a look at these ghosts myself.”

Ian and Roderick stole glances at each other. Roderick didn’t need to speak for Ian to know exactly what he was thinking.

Maybe she could help… Roderick’s expression seemed to say. Ian narrowed his eyes.

I don’t like this… Ian’s expression spoke back.

But do we really have any other good leads on anything?

Fiiiiiiiine.

“Sure.” Ian said blandly, wondering what in the world they were going to get into next. Why not let a stranger come down with them to a ghost infested town? The three hour car ride could always do with awkward socialization with people they didn’t know that well…

Joey smiled.

“Excellent. I’ll go get some of my things that might be useful then.”

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