Authors: Annette Brownlee
Tags: #Adventure, #Paranormal
He couldn’t stop peeking at her. She had a naïve look about her. Long blonde hair, a smattering of freckles on her nose, and wide innocent eyes rang contrary to the danger she presented. It didn’t make sense. Though she did look dangerous in a way he could appreciate a bit too much. Her body looked like it could last for hours. Strong, curvy in the right places and she moved like she enjoyed being physical. But above all that she had a mouth designed by the devil - full lips, the bottom lip slightly larger than the top and both perfectly pink. It made him think about sex and all the things he’d like to do to that mouth and all the things they’d done in his dreams. And that was the last thing he needed to think about, especially on an investigation.
“What’s your problem?” Kat asked coming up alongside him.
“Yeah, right. I see your face when you look at her. Something’s up. You’re all dressed up for our investigation tonight. Wearing your slick leather jacket and your cleanest jeans. We usually get a torn hoodie and shredded jeans. You’re doing your best to ignore her and stealing glances when she’s not looking. Dakota has a hard on for little Chaos.”
She jabbed him in the ribs with her dragon lady fingernail and he fought the urge to grab her hand. Kat was too observant for her own good. And he probably should have worn his damn hoodie and torn jeans. Kat was proud of herself and if he let her get away with it, she’d make his life miserable. “She’s not part of the team yet,” he said trying to ignore her.
“She will be.”
“Great. Ditsy, Bitchy, and Heidi.” He knew he was protesting too much but Kat had a way of getting right to the point and then poking it with a stick until it bled. He was too on edge to banter with her.
“Ouch, Tonto. I thought you liked me. No matter”, she shrugged. “I’ll keep your secrets. Our little non-believer over there won’t know she’s your dream girl.”
Dakota walked away, afraid his face might confirm Kat’s suspicions. Chaos really was his dream girl.
Chaos followed them into Sheila’s old faded lime green 1970s van which sat at an angle in the driveway. It always reminded him of the Scooby van.
Sheila and Kat took the front seat. He normally sat up front with Sheila but Kat beat him to it. She turned and smirked as Chaos slid onto the bench seat beside him. Their equipment took up half the seat so they were wedged together. Their thighs and shoulders touched. It felt nice touching her. Hell, it felt better than nice. He groaned inwardly and closed his eyes. He was going to kill Kat. How could he protect them from her if he couldn’t stop thinking about the things he’d like to do to her?
“Where are we going?” Chaos asked.
“To an old bakery on the east side of Boulder,” Sheila said.
The tension in the van was palpable and Dakota felt bad for her. He quickly wiped away the thought. He couldn’t afford to feel bad for her. While coyotes often symbolized helpful creatures, they were also tricksters. In Navajo mythology the Coyote was considered a god, a trickster, and an evil spirit. He couldn’t be killed.
Dakota knew without a doubt that the coyote at her feet in his dream was a bad omen - the worst kind. She couldn’t be trusted. She had to go home and the sooner the better. If she was uncomfortable with them, then maybe she’d leave sooner and no one would get hurt.
“We don't know if there are ghosts. That's why we are investigating,” Sheila said, catching Chaos’s eye in the rear view mirror. “According to the owners they have a troublemaker on the premises. Kat dug up the historical records and the bakery used to be a boarding house in the 1930s. It has held a few other businesses and residences. We couldn't find anything tragic in the building's history so it may be something like electrical problems and fervent imaginations. Though a bank robber did live there for a few years, so who knows.”
“Is it usually a client’s imagination?”
“Sometimes yes, sometimes no. There are many different things that can occur. Residual energy is quite powerful. And as you know yourself, if a spirit has matter, it can wreak havoc.”
“What do you do? How do you find out?”
Dakota noticed the genuine curiosity in her voice. It surprised him. Five minutes ago she’d been reluctant to go along. Now she was asking questions and trying to get involved. He didn’t know if that was a good sign or a bad one.
“We spend the night in the house with our recording equipment. It may take longer than one night if we don't get any activity but time will tell. All that equipment, she said thumbing over her shoulder to the back of the van, is for recording what happens when we're there.”
Chaos peered in the back. “That's a lot of recording equipment. So we're spending the night there?”
“I don't have a change of clothes or anything.”
“It's okay,” Kat said. “We take shifts. Dakota can drive you to your hotel and you can grab whatever you need.”
Kat flashed a grin at Dakota. He did his best to keep his face passive. The more Kat knew she was getting to him, the harder she’d try. Merciless bitch.
“You're staying here in Boulder, right?”
“Yes. The Outlook.”
“Oh,” Sheila said. “I’d hoped you were at the Boulderado. It’s haunted, you know.”
“Everywhere I go is haunted,” Chaos muttered.
Me too, thought Dakota. Guess they had something in common.
Like a frightened kid in a creepy basement, Chaos couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched. She closed her eyes. It was almost three in the morning and she was beyond tired. It was probably all in her mind. Nothing had happened tonight to indicate the bakery was haunted, not even the stench of Dead Bill.
The last thing she wanted was for him to show up while this team was investigating. Chaos knew it didn’t make sense. If he showed up while they were here then maybe they could get rid of him, but she just didn’t want to deal with him right now. She wasn’t ready to experience his hatred again nor did she want to open herself up like that in front of strangers. Ideally, she’d love for them to wave a magic wand and poof, Bill would be a memory. It wouldn’t be like that, she knew. He was stalking her no doubt and would show up when she least wanted him to.
“Do you want to head back to the van to get a nap?” Sheila asked.
Chaos shook her head. Dakota was in the van and she didn’t want to be alone with him. He didn’t seem to like her very much. “No. I’m just not used to this.”
“There’s a giant espresso thingy machine behind the counter and one in the kitchen too. I’m sure the owners wouldn’t mind if we made some coffee.”
“Do you want to try another EVP session here before we move on?” The whole electronic voice phenomenon thing seemed a bit silly to her but Linda had assured her that the theory that spirits could manipulate waves and energy to create sound had been around since the late eighteen-hundreds and the technology and results were indisputable. And she did have a recording of Bill on her cell phone so she couldn’t very well dismiss it. Since she was now walking around a haunted bakery talking to ghosts, or at least trying to talk to them since they hadn’t really seen anything yet, Chaos didn’t feel like she could be too critical. She had come to them for help after all.
“Yes. Let’s try one more time.” Sheila set her recorder on the coffee table. She scooted down to the other end of the couch. “I’m going to invite it to come sit between the two of us. The owners said it liked to sit beside them on the couch so let’s invite it.”
Chaos shrugged. The owners had said a lot of things. They’d said their bakery ovens liked to turn on by themselves and that customers had been pushed before, rude customers. Which kinda made Chaos wonder. Why would you want to get rid of a ghost that took care of your rude customers?
“They don’t want to get rid of them,” Linda said, entering the room. It was pitch black in the home but she carried a flashlight that illuminated the ground in front of her. “They want to understand who it is and what they want. That’s the way it is for many people. They’re not scared. They just want to understand. I really need to teach you to shield your thoughts.”
Chaos was beginning to agree with her. This uncanny ability to read her thoughts was more than a bit unnerving. Still, Linda seemed like the least judgmental person she’d ever met. Looking a bit like Florence Henderson on the Brady Bunch, Linda radiated kindness and understanding. Chaos had been impressed to see how she’d put the bakery owners at ease by sharing a bit of her own history and making them feel like they weren’t crazy. Linda then gracefully sent them on their way. So while the owners slept peacefully in a nearby hotel, they walked around the bakery with flash lights, cameras, video recorders, digital voice recorders and other equipment that Chaos had never seen before.
Linda placed a box on the table beside the recorder. “Let’s try them both. EVP first, okay Sheila?”
“What’s that?” Chaos asked pointing to the small white box beside the recorder.
“It’s called a ghost box. It’s essentially an am/fm radio set to scan. But instead of scanning for signals, it just cycles through. When it hits white space or static the theory is that the spirits can manipulate the sounds to create words and talk to us. Sometimes it’s easy to understand them and sometimes we get more during playback and analysis.”
Sheila nodded. “We’d like to invite whoever is here with us tonight to sit on the couch with us. We’re not here to harm you or scare you. The people who live in this house just want to know who you are and how they can help you.”
Chaos swore she felt the air in the room change. It felt thicker, heavier. It’s just your imagination. Still, she wondered if it was Bill. Her heart slammed against her ribs. She didn’t want to see him. She wasn’t sure she could endure another encounter. “Please make yourself known, Linda said. “Tell us your name. Say it loud and clear so we can hear you.
Sheila waited thirty seconds to give the spirits time to talk and then spoke, “Tell us why you are here. Did you die here? Is your name Tommy?”
According to the owners, the spirit might be a young boy named Tommy. Kat said she’d dug into the historical records and found that a boy named Tommy had lived here. There was no record of his death, though. The bakery itself dated back to 1911 and ownership records were spotty. Any number of people could have died here or the haunting, if there was one, might be related to an antique in the home. Linda said spirits sometimes attached themselves to objects.
Chaos felt the couch shift beside her. Frowning, she looked at Sheila. Sheila hadn’t moved. The couch beside her was depressed as if someone were sitting there. Chaos looked to Linda who nodded. Her face was calm and serene - as if she were in the midst of angels.
“I see you’ve joined us,” she said. “Would you care to communicate? I have a box on the table that may allow us to speak with you.”Sheila reached over and turned on the ghost box. “Chaos, would you please hand me the camera?”
Chaos held out the camera to Linda. She took it and placed it on the table so it could capture the space on the couch between them. Linda then moved over to sit in the rocking chair. “My name is Linda. You’re sitting between Chaos and Sheila. Would you please tell us your name?”
The ghost box cycled through clicking and chirping as it searched for white noise. The static was occasionally interrupted with a radio announcer’s voice or a bit of music before it slid back into static. The constant noise set Chaos’s already tense nerves on edge.
“Say fuck,” Sheila said.
Chaos laughed. It seemed shocking to hear that word come out of Sheila’s mouth. She was too perky and preppy to swear. “Why?”
“You can’t swear on the radio. If we can get it to swear we know we’re hearing a spirit and not something else. Would you please say asshole so we know you’re here?”
“Would you please say that again?” Linda said, her voice ever calm.
They waited as the ghostbox cycled through, making chirps and squeaks. Chaos felt ready to give up and move on.
It was clear as day. Chaos couldn’t help but snicker. Maybe it was the fatigue but listening to a ghost curse seemed ludicrous.
“Great. Thank you. What is your name?”
“Please repeat your name for us so we know we got it right.”
Chaos was learning that everything had to be confirmed at least twice to be sure they were getting an actual result and not something else. It was a bit tedious but it helped make sure no one jumped to conclusions.
Linda nodded. Goosebumps rose on Chaos’s arms. They had confirmation. If it was an anomaly or some sort of hiccup in the radio waves, they wouldn’t hear the same name twice. Certainly not after they’d asked for a name.
“Susan. It’s very nice to speak with you. We’re so glad you’re here. Could you please tell us why you’re here?”
“Warning. Warning. Chaos. Warning.”
Chaos’s heart pounded. Warning? Chaos?
“Stay calm, dear,” Linda said. “Susan, if you’re sitting on the couch, would you please, if you could, touch the person you’re talking about.”
Chaos felt someone touch her arm. “No freaking way,” she said, sucking in her breath. It wasn’t cold or warm but there was a definite pressure on her arm. You’re imagining it, she told herself. It’s the power of suggestion. The pressure increased. She wanted to run. She wanted to cry and she wanted this thing to take its hand off of her.
“Thank you, Susan. I can tell by the look on Chaos’s face that you’re touching her. You’re being very helpful. Why are you warning her? About what?”
“Bill,” a soft voice whispered in her ear.
Chaos shivered. “Did you hear her?”
Linda and Sheila nodded. “We’re well aware of the danger Bill poses to Chaos. Is he here right now?”
“Is Bill here?” Chaos asked again. She needed to be sure.
“Thank you, Susan. Is there anything that we can do for you?”
“You want to stay here in the bakery?”
“Susan, why do you want to stay here in the bakery? Why don’t you want to go to the light?”