"It looks like someone sorted all of this out for us." Jack said as he looked through the boxes.
"Yeah. We should have this set up in no time." Derek said as he started to unpack his equipment.
"Is there anything I can do?" Mike asked timidly.
"Start unpacking those small boxes on the table. All the power cords and USBs should be packed in the boxes with them." Derek said without looking up from what he was doing.
"How have things been going, Derek?" Charity asked as she collected the equipment that she and Max would be using.
"Everything's going according to plan. At the end of this semester, I should be ready to start my dissertation." Derek said happily.
"Do you mind if I leave these boxes here?" Charity asked to be sure.
"No problem. You'll need them when it's time to ship things back. I made sure to pack lots of extra tape, so as long as the boxes don't get damaged, we shouldn't have any problems." Derek said with a smile at her.
"Well, I guess that's everything, then." Charity said quietly.
"Here. Why don't you go ahead and take walkie-talkies for you and Max? We've got plenty and that way we'll be sure to have everyone on the same frequencies." Derek said as he held two walkie-talkies out to her.
"Good idea. I'm sure that ours would probably work, but I'd rather not take any unnecessary chances." Charity said gratefully as she accepted the walkie-talkies from him.
"Here's some for you and Kyla, too." Derek said as he handed walkie-talkies to Jack.
"Thanks." Jack said simply as he accepted them.
As Derek was about to suggest that they both take wireless cameras, Charity picked up two messenger bags, then handed one to Jack.
* * * * *
Mike stood by as Derek went through the process of connecting the laptops to the external hard drives.
When Derek noticed Mike watching him, he quietly asked, "So, what's your problem with your dad? Did he molest you when you were a kid or something?"
"What?! No! My dad would never do something like that!" Mike immediately responded.
"I didn't really think so. I just noticed that you've been treating him like shit and wondered if it was because of something that he did." Derek said as he went back to work.
"I don't know why I treat him that way. I guess that I've just got this feeling like if I let down my guard and trust my dad, he won't be there when I need him." Mike quietly admitted.
"What does your dad say about that?" Derek asked curiously.
"I don't know. I've never talked to him about it." Mike said honestly.
"So you'll talk to a complete stranger about this stuff, but not your own dad? That's pretty fucked up." Derek said frankly.
"Yeah. I guess." Mike quietly admitted, then tried to explain, "I'm kind of in the dark right now, dealing with some things and I'm just doing whatever I can think of to protect myself."
"Listen. You're a guy. You do the shit that you need to do, just because it needs to be done. Sometimes you go into it knowing that you might get hurt, but you do it anyway. Don't blame your dad for it, he didn't cause it. That's just the way life is. It's part of having testicles." Derek said seriously.
"There's just a lot of stuff going on right now. I know it's not his fault, but... I don't know. Maybe he's just a convenient target." Mike said miserably.
"Is it college? Because if it is, I've probably gone through the same thing. I might be able to help you with it."
"Yeah. That's a big part of it. Before I left for college, I had this idea of what it was going to be like and I felt like I knew what I was going to do. Everything was completely planned out and it all made sense. When I got there, it was nothing like what I imagined." Mike timidly admitted.
"That happens a lot. Tell me what's bothering you. I've seen a lot and I've developed some pretty good coping strategies over the years." Derek said as he sat back and waited for the laptop in front of him to boot up.
"All the freshmen are required to attend these symposiums on gender fluidity, patriarchal oppression, affirmative consent and things like that..." Mike trailed off.
"Let me guess. The gender pay gap? The campus rape culture? The need for equality?"
"Yeah." Mike reluctantly confirmed.
"Just try to keep in mind that when they talk about 'gender equality', it doesn't apply to you. That's equality for women, as defined by women. Basically, the people who preach those things look at being male as a birth defect or a mental illness. Just about all the college campuses these days have been infected with that horseshit." Derek said simply, then started typing on the laptop.
"I thought that when I went to college, that it'd be like high school, I'd make new friends and we'd do stuff and hang out and... well, it's not like that... at all. It's completely miserable. From what they said, even walking up to a girl and saying 'Hi' is sexual assault. In fact, you don't even have to say anything, just looking at her can get you suspended." Mike said anxiously.
"First of all, the friend thing will happen when it happens, whether you're in college or not. As far as the 'sexual assault' thing, yeah. We all have to deal with that." Derek confirmed.
"But what am I supposed to do? Even when a girl walks up to me and starts talking to me, I'm afraid that if I do one wrong thing that she'll report me and get me thrown out of college." Mike said desperately.
"I see your problem. You're working under the assumption that there's something you 'can' do or you're 'supposed to' do. There isn't. You have to realize that when it comes to college girls, you can't win. No matter what you say or do, it's wrong. If you agree with them, you're an over-privileged white male hypocrite who's pandering to them. If you disagree, you're a misogynist asshole who was wrong before you ever opened your mouth, just because you have a dick. If you don't do anything, you're supporting the patriarchal oppression of women and the rapists with your silence." Derek said frankly.
"I thought you'd say that I was overthinking it or that I was being overly dramatic." Mike said with surprise.
"Nope. I suppose that it's gotten easier for me in the last few years since I'm majoring in electrical engineering. Not a lot of girls get into that field, so I don't have as many opportunities to get caught up in their traps." Derek said simply.
"But I'm in general studies. What can I do?" Mike asked cautiously.
"First thing, avoid the honey trap. NEVER allow yourself to be alone in the company of a female. Because, when that happens, it's a case of 'he said, she said', and they'll ALWAYS believe the woman. Under no circumstances will they ever believe one word that you say, that is, if they even let you say anything at all. A lot of times, they'll just accept what the woman says and consider it settled. On most of the college campuses, the definitions of sex crimes have been broadened to the point that literally ANYTHING you say or do can be classified as sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape. So if you're accused, you're automatically guilty." Derek said seriously.
After a moment to consider, Mike reluctantly admitted, "That's what I thought after the first symposium, but then I thought that it couldn't really be that bad."
"If a man and a woman meet and have a few drinks while they get to know each other and end up having sex, that was rape. She was drunk and couldn't give consent, it doesn't matter that he was drunk, too. And, the funny thing is, if you remove the alcohol, it doesn't change anything. Even if the sex was completely consensual and wonderful and the metaphorical fireworks went off for both of them, it could still be classified as rape if the woman has even a moment of regret about it the next day, or even a week later when her boyfriend finds out that she was sleeping around. The man has no defense. His reputation will be ruined FOREVER. He'll be thrown out of college and labeled as a sexual predator. If the girl decides that their sexual encounter was rape, the man's life is essentially OVER. And even if he's somehow found 'not guilty' in court... which is by no means a certainty, it doesn't matter. The accusation and stigma will follow him around for the rest of his life. Remember, regardless of the facts, women are always victims and without exception, men are always responsible. It doesn't matter if the problems women are having are because of the decisions that they made, guys are still somehow responsible for them. Women are victims, so by definition, they can't be responsible for anything... ever."
"What can you do to keep from being accused or blamed by them?" Mike asked slowly.
"There's no way to avoid the possibility. But there are some tricks to minimize the likelihood. First, avoid women when at all possible. If you're in a room alone and a woman walks in, you walk out. Don't look at her, don't talk to her, do your best to keep from making any facial expressions and don't make eye contact. Just leave. And even when you're as careful as possible, if a woman decides that she wants to ruin you, she can. There's absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. The best thing you can do is remain beneath their notice and stay separate from them. If some random woman decides that it would be fun to destroy your life, she can call down the wrath of the entire Internet upon you. If she catches you out in the open, she can punch you, kick you in the balls and spit in your face and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. If you try to fight back, push her away or even raise your voice to her, she can, and will, have you arrested. If you try to explain it to the police, they'll just laugh at you as they haul you off to jail."
Mike thought for a moment, then quietly asked, "Do you think that all girls are like that?"
"No, of course not. But look at it this way, you see a candy dish filled with Skittles, sitting on the coffee table. You like Skittles and when you notice them, all bright and colorful and smelling nice, you're tempted. But you also know that mixed in there with the Skittles are twenty or thirty highly toxic Skittles that will kill you with a horribly slow agonizing death. Are you going to take that chance or just avoid the Skittles altogether?"
"Are you saying that I shouldn't have anything to do with women at all?" Mike asked cautiously.
"You're an adult and you can make your own decisions. I'm just warning you about the toxic Skittles. That's all. You know that they say one bad apple can ruin the bunch. It goes for Skittles, too. You can find the most beautiful, colorful, fragrant Skittle in the dish that's perfect in every way, but when you're not looking, the toxic skittles can still spread their poison." Derek said seriously, then thought to add, "By the way, once you're off the college campus, there's usually only four or five toxic Skittles in the candy dish."
"It shouldn't be like this. What can we do to change it?" Mike asked thoughtfully.
"You can't do anything. You're a Western European descended binary cisgender heteronormative male."
"A straight white guy. It turns out that you're a member of the last group that it's socially acceptable to mock, denigrate, publicly disrespect and humiliate. Face it, society hates you. You are considered to be unworthy of notice so your thoughts and feelings are seen as unimportant and will be disregarded. As far as anyone's concerned, you're the dimwitted butt of the joke or the expendable resource who's supposed to silently work himself to death. Men are disposable. If a man stops bringing in the money or doing as he's told, he's just kicked to the curb and a new man is plugged into his place without interruption. 'Man up' means shut up. If you speak up and draw attention to yourself, it won't change anything important in the world but society will crush you as an example to keep all men in their place. Keep your head down and your mouth shut and if you're really lucky, you'll be able to get through college. Once you've got your college degree, then you can get a job doing what you love to do and get yourself financially secure. When all that's done, the women will still be there."
"But what if they aren't?"
"Take off the blinders, man. If you get a good job, a nice house and a steady income, they'll line up around the block to throw pussy at you." Derek said with a grin.
Mike thought for a moment, then cautiously asked, "But what if I'm not interested in gold digging whores?"
"In that case, there's one more step that you'll need to take."
"After you've got your dream job and started making good money, you'll need to invent a time machine so that you can go back to the early 1900's, when women were feminine and wanted to be with men instead of wanting to be men."
* * * * *
"How are things going in here?" Alana asked as she walked into the conference room.
"Everything's right on schedule. I've got the camera cases lined up by the door and the personal equipment set out on the table. Everything is charged up and ready to go." Derek said pleasantly.
"Good work. After we've had our meeting in the dining room, I'll get each team to come in here and pick up their equipment." Alana said decisively.
"Do you need for us to be at the meeting?" Derek asked curiously.
"No. I don't think so. I'll just meet with each group to fill them in on their individual investigations, then I'll send them in here to you to get outfitted." Alana said thoughtfully.
"As soon as everyone has their remote cameras set up and everything is being recorded, Mike and I will head out to do our own investigation." Derek said seriously.
"Sounds good. I'll leave you to it, then." Alana said with a smile before leaving.
* * * * *
After a long silence, Mike cautiously asked, "Do you think that you'll ever get married?"
"No." Derek answered simply.
"Probably not. I can't really see myself willingly entering into a legally binding contract with someone who'll be entitled to half of everything I own. Then there's a better than fifty percent chance that at some point she'll divorce me and take the house, take the kids, take half of everything I have at that time and probably more than half of everything I will ever have for the remainder of my life in alimony and child support. Remember, once you get married, your fate is sealed. If she stays, you pay. If she leaves, you pay. If she cheats, you pay. And if you leave, you pay. Forever and ever. Amen. When you enter into that contract, you're legally obligated to financially provide for the woman and her offspring forever. And when she signs the contract, she's legally obligated to do... whatever the hell she wants. At any point, for any or no reason, she can hit the 'eject button' and leave with her cash and prizes."
"You said her offspring. Wouldn't they be my kids, too?"
"When she dumps your ass, who do you think the court is going to give legal custody to? What do you think the chances are that you'll even be allowed to see those children again? If you do, what kind of nice things do you think your dearly beloved is going to be telling her offspring about you in your absence. And besides all that, statistically speaking, there's about a one in three chance that the kids won't actually be yours, anyway."
"Personally, I'm inclined to go with plan B, which is to masturbate, play Xbox and occasionally spend time with my friends and drink too much."
"It sounds like that might be the way to go."
"Try thinking about it this way, if you see a woman and you notice that she's pretty or seems to be a nice person, that apparently makes you a misogynistic pig because you're objectifying her... somehow. I'm not exactly sure how that works, but I've figured out that what they demand of you is that no matter how pretty, how ugly, how outrageous, how morbidly obese or how slutty they are, you're supposed to treat them as equals... which means like goddesses as you grovel at their feet."
"Yes. That seems to fit in with what I've seen."
"Remember, being a man used to mean that you had a code of honor and that you believed in chivalry. Your word was your bond and nothing was more important than your reputation. Now, being a man means that you have a penis... Well, I guess it doesn't even mean that, since women can 'identify' as men, if they want to. Don't beat yourself up if you don't know what it means to be a man in today's world. No one knows. Anyone who says that they do know is lying to you."
"Yeah. I guess I always figured that I'd grow up to be like my dad." Mike said weakly.
"Your dad's got a sharp mind and a lot more courage than I would have expected of him. But since he's a confident, self-assured man, I doubt that he'd last five minutes at college."
"I never thought of that. I kind of figured that he had it all figured out and that there was something wrong with me because when I left for college, I couldn't seem to get it right."
"It's not you, trust me. But speaking of college; I almost forgot to warn you, watch out for women who are obviously mentally ill. Don't fall into the trap of trying to 'help' them or even worse, 'fix' them. At the first sign that a girl is crazy, get the hell out of there. I'm serious, don't mess with crazy, it'll ruin your life."
"Did that happen to you?"
"No. One of my old roommates."
"What happened to him?"
"He met some batshit crazy girl on an online dating site and made the mistake of talking to her. They exchanged, like, two emails, and then she decided that they were soulmates and that he was in a committed relationship with her. So she felt that it was her right to call him repeatedly and text him several hundred times a day. One time, she showed up at our dorm room at three in the morning, banging on the door, demanding to be let in. She started showing up at his classes and when he avoided her, she trashed his car and then she went TOTALLY psycho on him."
"How did he get away from her?" Mike asked cautiously.
"I'm not sure that he did. The last I heard from him, he said that he was in Panama." Derek said frankly.
"I can't believe that I didn't hear about stuff like this before. Shouldn't we tell people?" Mike asked thoughtfully.
"You can if you want, but I've learned not to bother. You can scream at the top of your lungs but they won't hear you. To them, anything you say doesn't matter." Derek said matter-of-factly, then thought to add, "If you're interested in how it all works, read up on Marxism."
"Do you have some stuff for us?" Toni asked as she walked into the conference room, followed by Malika, Lorra and Zoe.
"Mike, would you give everyone a walkie-talkie, a K2 meter, an IR thermometer, an audio recorder and a flashlight? I'll get the rest of what they'll be needing." Derek asked as he got up from in front of the laptops.
"Sure." Mike said as he walked to the other end of the table.
"How do you like working in Tech? Is it fun?" Toni asked her older brother excitedly.
"It's been very educational." Mike said honestly as he started handing out the equipment.
"Alana said that we need two remote cameras." Toni said quickly, mostly toward Derek.
"Grab two of those messenger bags with red yarn on the handles from by the door. I'm also going to give each of you a handheld nightvision DVR and a digital camera." Derek said as he gathered what he would need.
"What do we need the cameras for?" Malika asked curiously.
Before Derek could answer, Toni said, "When you take a still photograph, sometimes you can catch things that you won't notice in a video."
"That's right." Derek confirmed with a smile, then added, "And in situations like this, where most of the activity is auditory, we tend to gather good evidence with the still cameras."
"Is this everything?" Toni asked as she finished clipping various pieces of equipment to her belt.
"That's all I've got for you, but remember, if you come across a location that you think needs a stationary camera, call and let me know." Derek said seriously.
"Got it. We will." Toni assured him.
* * * * *
"What do we do now?" Mike asked as he walked around the table to look over Derek's shoulder at the laptop screens.
"We're going to have a few more teams showing up to get outfitted. After that, we'll wait until all the remote video cameras have been set up and we're sure that they're recording." Derek answered professionally.
"What about our investigation? I've never done anything like this before. What should I expect?" Mike asked cautiously.
"Basically, we're just going to walk around and record everything that we see and hear. Chances are, not much is going to happen. But once we get back here, we'll go through all the audio and video recordings and try to find whispered messages and ghost images. It can be a little spooky, but it's kinda fun, too." Derek answered thoughtfully.
"I just don't see what you get out of doing this." Mike said frankly.
"Oh. Well, like I said, the spooky thing is kinda fun. But because I'm studying to be an electrical engineer, I'm always working on new ideas for how to detect and record paranormal phenomena. As more and more people come to the realization that this stuff is really real, there's going to be a growing market for more sophisticated equipment." Derek explained.
"That makes a lot of sense. I wish that I had something like that... you know, that I felt passionate about and wanted to make a career of." Mike struggled to explain.
"Live your life and keep yourself motivated. The most brilliant ideas come to you when you least expect them. Just, whatever you do, don't stop living. No one ever had a brilliant idea when they were wallowing in a rut. You have to be out there living and doing things to inspire you." Derek said frankly.
"Do you have some equipment for us?" Hunter asked from the conference room doorway.
"Sure, come on in, guys." Derek said as he got up from his chair.
Mike walked to the end of the table and started handing out the meters.
"Do you have any blessed water?" Hunter asked hopefully, then explained, "I guess I'm so used to my moms bringing it, that I didn't think to bring any."
"Sure. Let me give you these cameras, then I'll get you some. What did you need it for?" Derek asked as he carried the DVRs and digital cameras over to them.
"Whenever I go with my moms on a job, we always do a protection ritual, first thing. So, I don't know, maybe it's a habit or something to do for good luck." Hunter explained, then quickly added, "Besides, Van hasn't seen the ritual before."
"Go ahead and grab a messenger bag with red yarn on the handle. Van, you remember how to set up the camera, don't you?" Derek asked curiously.
"Yeah!" Van said happily.
"I'll be waiting by the computer for your signal. Remember to call me on the radio if you need anything." Derek told him, then turned to Hunter and said, "Here's your holy water. Did you need anything else for your ritual?"
"No. I'm good. Is that everything?" Hunter asked as he slipped the vial of holy water into his pocket.
"You each get a handheld nightvision DVR and a digital camera. Remember to snap a few still images whenever you hear anything, even if it's just bumps and creaks. That's usually when we get our best stills." Derek said seriously.
"Okay. We'll do that." Hunter promised.
"That's it, then. You're good to go." Derek said with a smile.
"We'll set up the camera as soon as we get there. It should just be a few minutes." Van said seriously.
"From what I saw of the map, it's probably going to be longer than that. But we'll be here waiting, whenever you're ready." Derek assured him.
* * * * *
"How's it going in here?" Kerry asked as he walked into the conference room.
"Everything's fine so far. Are you here to get set up?" Derek asked curiously.
"Yes. Teresa's having a little talk with Zoe before she leaves to investigate with Toni. So I'll need equipment for two." Kerry said pleasantly.
"Zoe's going to investigate?" Mike asked his father uncertainly.
"For a little bit. If she gets frightened or starts getting tired, Toni will bring her back to us." Kerry answered simply.
"Can you get your dad set up while I get the cameras together?" Derek asked hopefully.
"Um, yeah." Mike said reluctantly.
"Are you okay with doing this? I really didn't want to push you into doing something you didn't want to. I just wanted to get you out of the house." Kerry said quietly.
"It's okay, Dad. Thanks for pushing." Mike muttered, then started handing his father the equipment that he would need for an investigation.
"Are you going to need a wireless?" Derek asked as he placed a nightvision DVR and a digital camera on the table in front of Kerry.
"Yes. We're going to be staking out a hallway, so you should be able to get a pretty good view of whatever's going to happen." Kerry said frankly.
"You know the drill. Grab a messenger bag. Remember to let me know if you'd like a fixed position camera anywhere else." Derek said seriously.
"Will do." Kerry assured him, then turned to Mike before saying, "Call if you need anything."
Mike silently nodded his response.
* * * * *
"Well, that didn't go too bad." Derek said with a smile.
"I don't know why it's so hard for me to tell him that I'm sorry." Mike said with aggravation.
"It's a guy thing. But it gets easier with practice." Derek said simply, then added, "Even if you can't make yourself say it, I think he already got the message. For a minute there, you were almost nice to him."
"Thanks for making me face it. I hate acting like a jerk, but after a while, it started being a habit." Mike tried to explain.
"I think you're right on the money with that one. A lot of people get waaaay too comfortable being jerks, or whining or acting entitled. I'm just glad you snapped out of it, because if you didn't, this was going to be a seriously long and miserable weekend." Derek said frankly.
"It still could be." Mike said honestly.
"Nah. Even if we don't find one speck of evidence, I'm pretty sure that we're going to have a good time, just hanging out." Derek said confidently.
Mike considered for a moment, then broke into a reluctant smile before saying, "Yeah."
"How are things going in here?" Alana asked as she walked into the conference room, followed by Marsha.
"Everyone's got their equipment and I think each group got a wireless camera to take with them. We're just waiting for them to get their cameras set up so we can start recording." Derek said seriously.
"So, no problems?" Alana asked cautiously.
"Not a one." Derek assured her.
"Good. Then I suppose all that's left is for Marsha and I to get our equipment." Alana said with a smile.
"You got it, Mike?" Derek asked as he walked to the far end of the table, where the DVRs and digital cameras were stored.
"Yeah." Mike said as he went through the, now familiar, task of gathering the equipment that they would need.
"I'd like an extra flashlight." Marsha said as she accepted a K2 meter and IR thermometer from Mike.
"No problem." Mike immediately responded.
"Here you go. Are you just going to need one wireless camera, today?" Derek asked Alana curiously.
"We're going to try it out, but I'm afraid that it might be out of range. If it can't connect, I'll just come back down here and get a DVR." Alana said seriously.
"Yeah. We've run into that on other jobs, so I've taken the liberty of giving the transmitters a little 'boost'." Derek said professionally, then looked around and added in a whisper, "Don't tell the FCC."
Alana smiled and nodded.
"Since I don't know exactly where the other teams are positioned, I really can't guess who might have connection problems, but I think we'll probably be alright."
"Give me a second and I'll do up a map for you, in case you need it for anything. But I think that all we can do is wait and see." Alana said honestly.
"Well, we've got plenty of stationary DVRs, so however it goes, it shouldn't be a problem." Derek said simply.
"Derek? This is Charity. Are you ready to connect?" Sounded from a walkie-talkie beside one of the laptops.
"Excuse me." Derek said before hurrying around the table and picking up the walkie-talkie.
"I'm here. Go ahead." Derek said seriously.
"Are you getting a signal?" Charity asked cautiously.
"Yes. It's crystal clear, but could you raise the angle about twenty or so degrees? I don't want to have to look at the ghosts from the navel down." Derek said with a smile.
"Picky, picky. How's that?" Charity asked.
"Perfect. Yes, yes. I can see you. That's fine." Derek chuckled.
"I guess it's time to get to work!" Charity said cheerfully.
"Call if you need anything." Derek reminded her.
"You, too." Charity said seriously.
"Here's a map for you. The number by each person's name shows which floor they're on." Alana said frankly.
"Thanks. This'll help a lot." Derek said gratefully.
Derek and Mike both noticed Marsha's eyeroll before she left the room, preceding Alana.
"Toxic Skittle." Derek said simply as he took his seat behind the laptop.
Mike immediately nodded his agreement.
* * * * *
"Excuse me. Am I interrupting anything?"
Mike and Derek both looked up from the laptop screens in unison.
"That's fine, Norville. We're just waiting on our teams to check in. What did you need?" Derek asked pleasantly.
"I don't need anything. My pa just asked me to stop by and ask if you were alright. You know, if there's anything you're missing and need for me to get for you." Norville said timidly.
"No. We're doing fine. As soon as our last team checks in, we'll be ready to get started on our investigation." Derek said frankly.
"Pa said that you're trying to find ghosts." Norville said cautiously.
"Yes. That's right." Derek confirmed.
"What are you going to do if you find them?"
"What do you mean?" Derek asked curiously.
"Are you going to make them go away?" Norville asked slowly.
"No. Not necessarily." Derek said seriously, then continued, "If we could tell that a ghost were suffering or if the ghost were causing someone else to suffer, then we might try to cross them over. But if they're not hurting anyone or being hurt, then we'll probably just do our best to find out who they are and why they're here."
Norville seemed to think about that for a moment, then he quietly said, "I guess that's alright, then."
Derek tapped Mike's arm, then pointed down the table to the audio recorders.
"Can you tell us anything about the ghosts?" Derek asked cautiously.
"Pa says if you talk about 'em, it makes 'em come that much more. If you just act like you don't see 'em, then maybe they'll start acting like they don't see you, either." Norville explained.
Derek accepted the digital audio recorder from Mike, then turned it on.
"That's an interesting theory, Norville. But since we're here to see the ghosts, could you tell us about the ones that you know about?" Derek asked hopefully.
"I'm not too smart. I don't remember some things too well." Norville said shyly.
"That's okay. I just thought that maybe you'd know some details that Mrs. Whitlow didn't think to tell Alana." Derek said honestly.
"I can tell you about Alydia!" Norville said suddenly.
"Okay. Who is Alydia?" Derek asked cautiously.
"She's the ghost that people see when they first walk in. She's always by the front door because she wants to personally welcome everyone who walks into her hotel." Norville said seriously.
"Do you mean that she's in the reception area, right down the hall?" Derek asked with surprise.
"Yeah. We can go there now and see if we can see her, if you want." Norville said excitedly.
"I have to stay here. I have to make sure that everyone has their cameras set up and recording." Derek said as he reluctantly looked toward Mike.
After a moment to consider, Mike finally asked, "What do you need for me to do?"
Derek smiled, then said, "You saw the equipment that everyone else got. Go ahead and get outfitted and I'll get a nightvision DVR ready for you. Then, all you'll have to do is go with Norville and record what he shows you. Don't get frustrated if you don't record anything, we'll be able to come back and try again later and we can do the full range of tests then."
"Derek, this is Jack, are you ready?" Sounded from the walkie-talkie.
"One minute, Jack." Derek quickly answered, then made sure that the night vision was turned on and recording before handing it to Mike.
"Just go with Norville and record what he shows you, then come back here and I'll probably be just about ready to go." Derek said seriously.
"Yeah. I'll be right back." Mike assured him.
Derek seemed to be pleased with the answer and hurried back to his laptop before saying, "Okay, Jack. I'm ready when you are. Go ahead."
Wow, it looks as if Mike is beginning to respond a bit more calmly, and without so much attitude. That's sure an improvement.
I find this story to be extremely compelling. I want more.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher