He once was a Skeptic.
“I don’t believe in ghosts.” Stan crossed his arms defiantly. As he said this a cold chill whipped around them.
“What in the world are you doing in this group?” Dusty sighed.
“I’m here to prove you wrong.” Flashes of light from their torches streamed across the empty church. Even with the flood of shimmering light, they were aware of how decrepit it had become. Every step spun tendrils of dust spiraling in the glow. The only thing worse was the stale smell that punched them right in the nostrils.
“Do you hear that?” Dusty slowly approached with his torch in hand, eyes darting.
“I heard you breathing in my direction.” Stan grumbled.
“I understand having a skeptic around makes this experience more believable to you, but this is a serious investigation.” Dusty chided. Upon returning his gaze, he noticed a shadow peeking out then disappearing just beyond the beam of light.
“There!” Maddy shouted. Stan rolled his eyes as he quietly followed behind the group. Maddy and Dusty at the front as Zorn doddles near Stan.
“I think you scared.” Zorn said. His accent as painful as his broken English.
“I think you a dope.” Stan retorted.
“Not pleasant.” Zorn growled.
Zorn, Stan, Dusty, and Maddy made their way to the front of the church where the grand alter stood in front of the enormous crucifix. To pay their homage, they sign the cross and bow their heads in unison. Though, not religious, they knew better than to upset the spirits they were searching for.
The permeating darkness penetrated their consciousness as they ventured around the alter. Stan stood arrogantly proud, of course. He only reacted slightly when below their feet a rumbling began. “Rap, rap, rap, tap, tap, bang” rattled the sound beneath their feet.
“Hello.” Dusty said. He kneeled, placing his ear against the cold tile. Silence ensued.
“Can you hear us?” Maddy felt the horripilation grip her as she glanced around suspiciously. Despite being as closed as it can be, a chilly wind sought them out to tickle their senses.
“Must be an open window.”
“I swear to God, sorry,” Dusty said, “you have got to remain silent through one investigation.”
“I’m just saying.”
Maddy brought out a pad of paper and a pen, sitting cross legged on the tile. She took a deep breath and aimed her torch at the paper. “I am Maddy. I would like to get to know the person here. Can you help me write some information down?” She placed the pad of paper and pen on the tile.
“Do you have questions for us? Can we help?” Dusty joined Maddy on the tile as he too lit up the area. Zorn adjusted the camera to face the spot. Stan bit his tongue. He was much quieter when the camera was rolling.
Five minutes pass until there was even a quiver from the pen. Stan bit his lip again. The camera still faithfully aimed at the spot. Maddy and Dusty sat, almost in a trance, as they closed their eyes. Zorn sang softly, a pretty song in his language, hoping this would inspire a reaction from the specter.
“That is such a beautiful song.” Maddy’s trance broken by the melody.
“Thank. Mother sang as a children.” Zorn said, causing Stan to cringe due to his improper English.
Emily Elkins. Fourteen years old.
Dusty said aloud. Twenty minutes at most before there was a response. Maddy, nearly brighter than the light the splashed across her face, suppressed a squeal. Everyone knew when she wanted to squeal because of her flaring nostrils.
“That’s incredible.” Maddy said.
“Humph.” Stan whispered. Dusty dismissed his skepticism. As Dusty waved his negativity away, he noticed a white figure paint the darkness to his right. It appeared to move toward the hallway leading to the underbelly of the church.
“Bring it with us.” Dusty leapt to his feet without another word and darted in the direction of the white figure. Maddy followed suit without a whisper. Zorn, holding the camera, fled with them. This left Stan sitting on the tile by the alter.
“I grow weary of their antics.” Stan leaned against the wall. As he laid his head back to stare up at the crucifix, he met the gaze of a disembodied face that he did not recognize. Stan did not even react to this anomaly. I mean, how do you stare at a disembodied face hovering above you and not react? What is wrong with you Stan?!
“Who are you?” Stan asked incredulously. The face disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Stan stood with much consternation as he attempted to find the group. He is not even a little nervous? I am starting to “grow weary of his antics” at this point.
Maddy and Dusty were the first two to be found, standing by the desk in which a priest would give his advice, then Zorn could be seen standing to the right. What was it that he walked into? Well, the pen met the paper aggressively with the camera rolling.
“Do you see this?” Stan merely sighed. He appeared unenthusiastic at the sight. There is an unseen force writing a novel and Stan has nothing to say about this.
“I can not believe we are making a successful contact.”
“It like It here.” Zorn’s atrocious accent presenting itself again.
“I am here.” A disembodied voice whispered, before the pen fell and the church fell silent. It was as though the spirit said what it needed to say.
“I would say this is a success.” Maddy held out her hand for a high-five.
“Yup. Great session.”
Stan stood nibbling on the inside of his lips, clearly bored. Maddy glanced around, she felt something, but no one else noticed what she saw. Stan did this time. Finally, another reaction that was more than an eyebrow raise or smirk.
“You saw that too?” Stan asked. Maddy nodded with a grin noticeable even in the murky darkness. Stan had an unreadable expression. Maybe he was starting to believe.
First thing they do is retrieve their equipment, bring it to the van, and drive to their headquarters. Dusty reviews the video footage on the camera, and Zorn reviews Maddy’s camera. Maddy joins in with her audio recorder while Stan mopes around or naps. Stan’s commentary usually is the sprinkles on the frosting.
“What did you see in there?”
“Nothing I can take home and tell mom about.” His eyes were glued on a portable game system, probably playing a video that required his full attention. The group chattered amongst themselves with an unspoken alliance of how annoying Stan had become. As they parked the van at headquarters, Stan appeared pale and gaunt looking.
“Do you need some water?” Stan stood deathly still. His watery eyes seemed to sparkle against the sky.
“I saw a face floating above me when you went to search for the figure.”
“You actually saw something? Why didn’t you say anything?” Dusty shouted, almost offended he neglected to mention this sooner. Stan stammered. Stan stammered a lot before he even came close to saying what he wanted to say.
“I don’t know what I saw.” Stan said. Dusty was beyond excited when he heard the hesitation and fear in Stan’s voice as he detailed his account.
“You have no idea how big this is!” Dusty exclaimed. Maddy was equally as excitable, though she appeared more stunned than excited. Zorn, well Zorn wanted to be excited.
“I cannot even fathom what you witnessed.” Maddy’s eyes were unblinkingly transfixed on Stan.
“It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Now do you believe in ghosts?” Dusty inched closer with anticipation. Stan sighed at the question. He was reluctant to answer, but it was an unavoidable one.
“I will believe it when we review the footage.” Stan snapped out of his initial fright to his usual self.
“Fine.” Dusty set up the feed while Maddy and Zorn sifted through the hours of footage. Some footage had come from the earlier recording when they were in the cemetery. The cemetery was surprisingly uneventful. The church on the other hand had quite the active spirit. Two hours with the family, two hours in the cemetery and an hour in the church. Stan watched intently as Dusty inspected the footage frame by frame in some areas and fast forwarded through others.
One section caught Stan’s attention. He was unaware that there was a camera set up to tape the alter, which had been left by accident. Which means that when Stan was looking up at the crucifix, there was a camera taping him sitting there. Upon Dusty inspecting it, frame by frame, the disembodied face appeared. Stan’s reaction clearly visible in night vision mode.
“It does not appear to be attached to anyone.”
“So, the face was there.”
Stan sat quietly, in contrast to the other three as they watched the clip repeatedly. I would have also. Dusty reveled in this moment, but another moment seemed to catch everyone off guard. That was before they left when they were in the office. Remember how Maddy thought she saw something? Remember how Stan thought he saw it also? It was caught on tape too. Maddy turned the camera when she turned her head, and there behind Stan stood a figure. The dark gray figure was lighter than the shadows but darker than their lights. It stood much shorter than Stan but had no discernable features.
“I think I believe in ghosts.” Stan said quietly. Never in his thirty years would he have imagined the words uttered. He said them plain as day with witnesses.
“I do too buddy. I do too.”