Upon discovering that Ange wasn’t back at the motel yet, Shooter had just pulled out his phone to call her when he heard the distinctive rumble of the van’s engine outside. He opened the door to see her climbing out, her eyes bright and her smile broad.
“Oh baby, I found the resort! It’s the coolest place, we have to do a shoot out there! It’s perfectly spooky but also kinda awesome. Did you and Sam go to the museum? Did you find out anything cool?”
Shooter hung his head a bit, worried that Ange might be dismayed to discover they hadn’t made it there.
“Well, after breakfast, I was feeling antsy and went for a run while Sam…actually I don’t know where Sam is. Oh and I won a jelly bean counting contest! That was kinda cool.”
Angelié looked excited.
“What did you win? Was it cash? I love cash prizes.”
Shooter shook his head.
“The prize was the jar of jellybeans. I was hoping it was the bunny, but nope.”
“There was a bunny? You do love bunnies for whatever reason, so that would have been fun for you. Hard on the bunny though, what with all the travelling we’ll be doing to ghost sites. Speaking of, we should get a move on, to get out to the spot I found. I really want to get some footage and upload it tonight. Our followers will only wait so long before they start looking elsewhere for their infotainment.”
“So you’re not angry we didn’t get to the museum?”
“Why would I care about some dusty old relics in a badly lit room? Nah, the real action is out in the hills. I know that we were hoping the motel would make for some juicy content, and I think we can probably get an episode out of it, if we use the video of the girls and splice in some creative story telling. But I think the resort is where the real story is.”
Shooter looked unsettled.
“You went looking for that place? I thought we’d decided it was a bad idea, considering how long it’s been abandoned.”
Angelié was defiant.
“No babe, you thought it was a bad idea. I’m telling you, I was out there and it looks fine. Besides, if we’re going to be any good at this, there will be times when we have to go places which might seem too dangerous to the average person. Haunted asylums and creepy old castles and stuff. This is our dream, baby.”
Shooter pressed his lips together, his brow furrowed with hesitation.
“What is it, baby? Aren’t you excited? I did a quick teaser video on the way back and posted it as soon as I had reception. It’s so patchy out here. How does anyone survive? But anyway, check it out! There’s already 1500 views! And we’ve got 75 new followers! If we get something filmed and uploaded today, I bet our numbers will spike! If we do this right, I bet we’ll make the site famous and lots of people will want to visit. Wouldn’t that be great? Maybe they’ll want to reopen the resort and it’ll be because of us!”
“Yeah, about that, um, I’ve been thinking…” Angelié slid her palm up Shooter’s chest, tucking herself in close and cooing up at him.
“Oh now, baby, we agreed, it’s best if you don’t do that. You’re so good on camera, standing next to me. Who doesn’t love to see a good looking couple doing awesome stuff together? Now, you work out where Sam is so we can go up there while there’s still some daylight and I’ll go get changed into the perfect outfit to get some ghosts!” She flipped open a suitcase and grabbed some articles of clothing, then strutted into the bathroom. A few minutes later, Shooter heard the shower turn on.
He sighed, wondering how he was going to tell Ange that he didn’t really want to do this anymore. He couldn’t stop thinking about what that tiny woman had said about not letting anyone dim your light. Ange didn’t dim his light, she just shone so bright it was hard to get a beam in edgewise, or however that phrase went. He didn’t want to let her down, but the entry deadline for the Mr Wellington contest was in less than a month and it was his secret hope to win it. He’d have to make a decision soon, and he wasn’t sure that Ange would be happy if he took time off ghost hunting for training. She was so excited about the resort, it was only fair to go out and get some footage for the channel.
Maybe when they got back to the motel, he would tell her that this was important to him. And then he thought about how uncomfortable the drive home would be.
Maybe when they got back to the city, he would tell her that this was important to him. Shooter considered her reaction.
Maybe Sam could tell her.
Sam’s phone rang.
“Oh, it’s Shooter. I’ll be right back. Don’t say it, Casey.”
Casey did not say it, much as he wanted to.
As Sam went to take the call, the rest of the group mulled over what they knew about what was happening. Which wasn’t much.
“Ok, so the Entity, which is mighty powerful and has a dog-”
“A fierce, bitey dog.”
“Yes Casey, a fierce bitey terrier dog, is afraid of the Other, because it’s older and has been dormant as long as anyone can remember. Anyone being the Entity because no one else was around who is still alive. And since it’s been asleep as long as anyone can recall, there is no way to know what, if anything, will happen if and when it wakes up but it might, as Herb stated, go full Godzilla on our asses. Have I got that?”
“Nailed it, Tommy. The only other thing is that it’s in danger of waking because it’s sphere of influence is growing due to someone or something feeding it souls. I’m under the impression that it resides somewhere so deep in the forest that humans haven’t been there maybe ever.”
Alex looked thoughtful.
“What if this isn’t sudden?”
Everyone else looked confused. She continued.
“What if this is the culmination of decades of interference? You referred to the Other as a Godzilla type creature. We’ve been told it’s dormant, it’s sleeping. Casey, what’s the name of the sleepy octopus god?”
“I’m not sure that anyone would refer to Cthulhu as sleepy octopus god to his face but-”
“Right, Cthulhu. There are all these legends about ancient beings or prehistoric monsters who were happily sleeping until someone opened a tomb or set off a nuclear bomb or-”
“Dug a mine.”
“Dug a mine. And did some blasting to make room for train tracks. Or a resort. And who knows what other things have happened along the way that we don’t know about?”
“So this might be inevitable. There might be nothing we can do. Especially if someone or something is determined to stir things up until it wakes fully.”
“What if we can find out who or what has been bringing it souls and ask them to stop?”
“Yes, asking a psycho to please stop killing is definitely always the thing which works best. Come on, Cass.”
“Ok, I know that you’ve known me as Cass forever, but I’m Alex now and I’d appreciate it if you would respect that. It’s important to me. It’s helped me to adjust to what’s happening now, knowing that this is my role to play, however it works out.”
Tommy and Casey nodded at her.
“You’re right, Alex. Casey and I have been out of the loop so for us nothing has changed except you know, the obvious. But you have and you deserve to be addressed by your preferred name.”
“Thank you. That means a lot. One thing I’m wondering though, how does one deliver a soul?”
“Well Sam’s mom said she thought there was some sort of magnetic attraction out there. One near and one far or something? Maybe the Entity and the Other? If she can sense them, she must be some powerful mystic dead lady. Maybe it’s some sort of esoteric vacuum cleaner which sucks the souls from murdered people. Maybe that’s what brought me and Tommy back?”
“Tommy and I.”
“Are you for real right now?”
“Casey, just because you’re dead doesn’t mean your grammar should go to hell.”
“First of all, yes it can. And second, Tommy and me are the objects of that sentence..okay wait, just then I should have used Tommy and I, but the first time-”
“I really need you both to shut the fuck up right now. Herb and I,” Tommy leaned into the emphasis on I, “are not in the mood to listen to siblings bicker about stupid shit when the world might end because of random psychos and sleeping CattyLooLoo monsters or something.” She sighed with frustration. “It’s all well and good to know all this, but that still doesn’t help me understand why I’m here or how I can help. I don’t have the solidity to effectively pick up a knife much less deliver a satisfying punch to the balls. How am I going to help you fight?”
Alex smiled at her friend.
“I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that, though I firmly believe that even with half the corporeality, you could probably deliver a stronger punch to the balls. Or face. Or anywhere really.”
Their laughter died as Sam came back, wearing a frown.
“So I’m supposed to go with Shooter and Ange out to the resort. She was out there earlier and is all excited about how spooky it is. She wants to go and do a whole segment on it. Maybe even a series of episodes. Shooter said she’s not a bit mad that we didn’t make it to the museum, which is weird, but I’ll take it. So much for hoping we’d be clearing out soon.”
Herb’s brow furrowed in a way that Alex hadn’t seen since they first met.
“Damn, I was hoping they didn’t know about the resort. Sam, I really don’t think you should go out there. Considering that people have started disappearing again and we don’t know who or what is helping the Other grow stronger or less sleepy or whatever, I think you should sit this one out.”
“I totally agree with you Herb, and I’d really like to, but I know that Shooter can’t say no to Ange and she’s eager to go. If something happened to him, I’d hate myself. I mean, Ange too, I don’t want to see anything happen to her either, but it’s different when someone is walking into something with their eyes open versus going along with it out of loyalty or helpfulness. Which makes Shooter sound a bit like a dog on a leash, but he’s just a sweet guy, you know? He means no harm.”
“And what about Ange? Does she mean harm?”
Sam answered honestly.
“I don’t know. I think people who are hungry can be dangerous, and make no mistake, Ange is hungry. Mostly for fame, I think. I don’t think she’s above making a story grander than it is for clicks and clout.”
Alex looked as though she’d just swallowed something bitter.
“Oh we know all about how dangerous someone can be when they’re hungry for something.”
“Another thing, Ange is determined to go viral, and thinks that putting the resort on the map as a potential tourist destination for ghost groupies might be the thing to do it.”
“Just what we need, more people falling into the clutches of psycho 2.0. I really thought this was finished with my brother gone.”
“I wish we knew who had sent the info to Shooter on that site. They’ve inadvertently set a chain of events in motion which I’m afraid isn’t going to end well.”
Tommy stood up suddenly.
“Fuck that. There’s always hope. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing and no good thing ever dies.”
“Inspiring words, Shawshank, but they feel a bit ironic coming from a dead person.”
“Shut up, Casey.”
Photo by Kristine Weilert on Unsplash