The Ghost Hunters
Brian and Amy traipsed down the tree lined street; heavily laden shoulder packs making their shadows appear hunch-backed. Amy shivered as she looked towards their destination- a deserted house at the end of the road. The moonlight glinting off the house’s windows made them look like eyes peering from the gloom. She shook off the thought. She was scaring herself before they even got to the house. Some ghost hunter she was going to be.
“Where did you get all this stuff?” she asked, indicating her pack.
“I bought it.”
“You did what?”
“I bought it,” he replied. “I had to. If we’re going to be serious about this we’re going to need the right equipment. You don’t think those two old plumber guys skimped on the equipment do you? And look: now they have their own ghost hunting show. If it’s going to be a business, you’ve got to treat it like a business.”
Amy sighed loudly, muttered under her breath, and hitched up her pack. She still wasn’t convinced she wanted to be in this business.
“So where’d you hear about this house?”
“I told you. I saw a card about it on the bulletin board at a store on
Maine Street. You know, the one that sells the weird shit.”
“You mean Eccentricities? They don’t sell weird shit. They sell antiques.”
“Okay. Old shit? Better?”
Amy rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue at him, knowing he wouldn’t see the gesture in the dark.
“So what did it say? Ghost hunters wanted: haunted house?”
“No. It said ‘For rent: haunted house’.”
“Really? Who the hell would rent a haunted house?”
“People who shop at an old shit store.” He put a finger to his lips and and pointed to the house. They were almost there. “Get out the heat camera.”
“Like I know which one that is,” Amy muttered under her breath. She put her pack down in the yard and knelt down to dig through it. Finally she found the small hand held camera that picked up heat signatures. She scanned the yard, nothing. Brian urged her forward and they went up to the porch. A sound made Amy jump.
“Did you hear that?” she asked.
“Shhh. Jesus, Amy, are you trying to wake the dead?” Brian stared at her.
“Oh that’s funny Brian, har dee har har. I’m not playing around. I heard something.”
They both got quiet for a minute and looked around them. The sound came again. It was a low moaning. They froze.
“What now, Mr. Ghost Hunter?” Amy asked. “What does your book say we do now?”
“We need to get out some more equipment, get some baseline readings…” he broke off as they heard thumping from inside and more moaning.
“Are you sure we want to be here?” she asked. “Because I’m beginning to think I want to be anywhere but here.”
“No. It’s fine. It’s just the wind or something. Old houses settle.” Brian glanced around nervously. Suddenly, the thumping increased in tempo and volume and seemed just on the other side of the door. Amy stared at Brian wide eyed as she fought her body’s fight or flight response to what was obviously imminent danger.
Brian appeared equally petrified. Slowly the door began to swing inward on creaky hinges. With one last look at each other, they turned and fled back down the street, leaving their packs discarded on the porch.
A new sound could be heard coming from the doorway; a soft chuckling followed by a wheezy cough. Karl Barnard stepped out onto the porch and shook his head. It never failed. Some sucker was always ready to play ghost hunter. And Karl was always ready to play ghost- especially when it meant they’d flee without their gear. That left him something to take to Old Louie at the pawn shop for enough money to keep him in whiskey and smokes for awhile longer. Yessiree, this was the best con he’d run in years. He sifted through the packs and whistled through what was left of his teeth. This was high end stuff these folks had left, top of the line and brand new. He’d have some extra dough for maybe a decent meal or two as well as his usual haul.
“Huh?” he muttered to himself as he noticed a glowing set of lights inside the pack. He pulled out the piece of equipment and stared at it. It was some kind of indicator; it had a set of five lights on the tip and they were all glowing a bright red. He looked at the writing.
“E. M. F.” he read aloud. “What the hell…” he broke off mid sentence as a flashlight that had rolled to the end of the porch clicked on by itself. Karl froze. It was then he noticed the temperature had dipped considerably in the last few minutes. The hair on the back of his neck rose and he shivered. Good thing I don’t believe in ghosts, he thought to himself, or I might start believing my own propaganda.
He tried to shake off the feeling of unease, but it refused to abate. In fact, it was getting worse and Karl was sure something stood behind him. There’s nothing there, he thought. Nothing. I’m just letting the dark and that story I cooked up and spread about this house get to me. Turn around, he told himself firmly. Turn around.
Fighting against his own body’s response, he managed to turn. He found himself staring into a face more evil than any he’d ever encountered in his fifty six years of squandered life. It would be the last thing he saw. After several frantic erratic beats his heart gave up and stopped beating. Karl grabbed his chest and fell backward onto the porch steps, still gazing into the hate filled countenance of the house’s very real resident ghost.
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