Ricky Jones sits alone at the monitoring station, putting in his time as the newbie of the group. Four screens bathe him in a vaguely blue illumination, a spotlight in the darkened students lounge of the old science building. He studies the four images before his milk chocolate eyes. Two screens are stationary while the other two are in constant jerky motion.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
INTO THE FOLD
Val and Marnie, in the upper left screen, are exploring a storage area in the attic. Books, equipment and a few old skeletons fill the claustrophobic space. Footsteps have allegedly been heard reverberating through the rafters. Ricky wishes Marnie wasn't in charge of videoing because she jumps at the slightest noise. Val is in his film class, so she knows how to hold and move a camera in a variety of situations.
Lexi and Derek, in the lower right screen, investigate a peculiar lab in the basement. A metal surgical table centers a room full of broken or long-unused equipment. Old newspapers have documented numerous accounts of eerie sobbing emanating from the bowels of this abandoned building. Ricky wishes Derek would focus the camera more on the surroundings and less on Lexi, who is encouraging him with flirty smiles and laughter. Derek is intensely attractive, so people often make allowances for him, including Ricky.
The lower left screen displays a classroom, it's lab tables cluttered with test tubes, microscopes and miscellaneous science class contraptions. Claims of objects being hurled in this room have been reported. A specific hallway on the first floor can be seen on the upper right screen. It's an old university legend that the spirit of a night watchman stalks this corridor, searching for lost souls with the aid of an oil lantern.
Ricky Jones is searching for proof of an afterlife. In the last year, he watched his grandmother waste away from cancer. It's impossible for him to believe that the woman who raised him after his parents flaked is simply gone, like she never existed. He needs to know for certain that she goes on in some form. This drew him to the university's ghost hunting group. His reasons for wanting to join touched each of the members, so they gladly accepted him into their fold.
His alert eyes dart from screen to screen, waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the others to encounter unexplainable phenomenon. Waiting for what appears in the upper right screen. A dim light hanging in the air begins illuminating the hallway, immediately catching his attention.
Ricky stares as the light on the screen grows brighter and begins moving towards the camera. He leans forward, mesmerized, when all four screens suddenly go dark. Urgency hits him and he grabs for his walkie to contact Val, but finds the charge is gone. Urgency morphs into panic as he realizes the students lounge should be as dark as the screens.
The guttural scream echoes throughout the old science building and then abruptly stops. Marnie clutches at Val in the attic, while Lexi plunges into Derek's arms in the basement. Hurried, whispered discussions lead the pairs to one decision. Flashlights in hands, they quickly converge on the monitoring station, calling out for Ricky. All that answers them is the silence of his empty chair bathed in a vaguely blue illumination, as if Ricky Jones never existed.
2020, John L. Harmon
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