(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)
They shrieked, recoiling like a snake struck at them as the screeching scrape of the window opening raked through the room. In an instant JD regained his composure enough to dart forward, snatching the video recorder from the table and moving quickly -- but not too closely -- to the end of the table nearest the rising sash.
"OHMYGODJDLOOKATTHISSHITDUDE!" Dillon was rattling in full abject terror, his chair already pressed back against the wall.
Wendy was cowering next to him, her hands clutched over her mouth to stifle the scream. JD flicked the camera on, his heart pounding in his chest and shaking his hands so badly he had to breathe through his mouth to slow his body. The sash rose about halfway up its runners and then stopped. JD managed to get the lens cover off the camera and pressed the recording button.
The camera failed to go on. He scrambled to check it.
A shadowy shifting, morphing from out of the blackness of the open window, formed beneath the sash.
JD was frantic, trying to steady his hand as he pressed the record button again.
There was an electronic beep, and a red LED flicked on at the rear of the camera beside the view finder.
JD raised the camera quickly to his eye -- too quickly, and there was a hollow "thunk" as it knocked against his forehead. He cursed under his breath and tried to steady the camera, but the room was too dark for him to get the camera in focus.
"Shit!" he swore softly, trying to adjust the camera to the dark environment.
The morphing shadow seemed to pour itself through the open window, right through the taut metal screen outside, and started to stand, rising in front of them.
"Shh!" JD spat, his eyes flitting with furtive glances from the window to the recorder as he tried to get the camera settings to cooperate.
"Oh my God ... JD ..." Wendy was near tears as they watched.
"Shh!" JD repeated, sweat rolling down his face as he tried again to slow his breathing.
The shadow began to form from the black mist.
JD opened the tiny LCD viewer, and the sudden burst of bright gray light temporarily blinded him.
"DUUUUUUUUUUDE ..." Dillon whispered, his voice quavering.
"Be quiet, dammit," JD hissed through his teeth, snapping the viewer closed again. "C'mon, you stupid piece of ..."
The camera finally started to show the room; he'd found the setting.
A man's shadow knelt at the window, and pulled the sash closed again, faster this time, the screeching less pronounced on the path back down. JD pointed the camera and was hunched over, in a position to spring if necessary, shuffling sideways to get the black silhouette into the center of the shot.
When the window closed all the way down, the shadow shifted as if the figure crouched on the floor were turning toward JD.
He froze, breath catching in his throat.
The shadow remained motionless, then the head cocked first one way, then the other.
As if it were listening into the dark room.
JD held perfectly still except for his trembling hands, and tried to steady the camera to no avail.
Wendy and Dillon were stock still, frozen in terror.
The seconds ticked by ... soon it was a minute. The crouching shape was still except for the head, which swiveled from one side to the other. Two minutes passed. Finally, slowly, the figure stood up between the window bays and held again, the head again cocking to listen.
JD watched wide-eyed, trying to keep perfectly still and silent. The figure moved then, across the room, deliberately, and JD again side-stepped to follow, watching carefully through the view finder and moving along behind the tables. He nearly fell when he stepped on the stock-still and cowering Dillon, who yelped in surprise. JD jumped, nearly dropped the camera, and caught himself on the table's edge.
"Damn! MOVE, Dillon!" he whispered harshly, and Dillon obediently scooted to let him pass. Wendy followed suit, getting out of his way quickly and quietly as he followed the figure toward the end of the row of windows and toward the corner where he'd aimed the wireless camera earlier.
The figure moved toward the corner, stopped for an instant, the faceless, featureless head again moving back and forth in the darkness, and then the figure pulled open a door that wasn't there.
JD gasped, and Wendy clutched his arm and pressed her body to his.
"DUUUUUUUDE ..." Dillon repeated, and the figure vanished into the darkness of the poorly lit corner.
They were silent for a moment, staring in disbelief.
JD finally cleared his throat. "I ... I think I got it."
"Oh, JD," Wendy said, a shiver wracking her body violently. She shut her eyes and pressed her face into his arm. "Oh my God ... That was ... that was creepy ..."
"It's okay," JD said, putting his arm over her shoulder, but he was trembling too. "It was sort of frightening. It's over now."
"Dude," Dillon choked out, "what was that, man? A door? Was that, like, a friggin' door, dude? 'Cause there ain't no door there, man. There is so no door there, JD."
"I know," JD said, nodding. "I ... I know."
"Dude, what's goin' on, man? What's that all about, dude?"
"I don't know, Dill," JD said, shaking his head slowly, still staring into the corner. "I really don't ... don't know."
"You recorded it, JD? You got the whole thing on the recorder, right?"
JD nodded, stroking Wendy's arm with his still draped over her. "Yes. I got it."
"Dude, that was ... that was freaky, man," Dillon's voice was still wavering. "I ain't never seen nuthin' like that before, dude."
"I haven't either," JD agreed.
"JD, what now? What do we do now? I'm still shaking."
"It's okay, Wen," JD soothed softly, "it's the same thing you saw last night, except we got it in full detail this time."
She shivered again, and he held her more fully, putting both arms around her.
"Dude, I could use a hug too, man."
"You're on your own."
"Dude. Hold me."
"You're on your own," JD reiterated. "Right now, we've got to get ready. We have a few minutes -- ten, maybe? -- before the replay outside begins. I want to be certain that we get that on video too, and I don't have a wireless camera I can use out there."
"Should we take the one up there?" Wendy pointed to the camera mounted in the corner.
"No, I don't have time to move all the recording equipment. We'll take this one and the flashlights. That should be enough. I hope."
"Dude, I need a hug, man."
JD scowled at Dillon, but Wendy moved and embraced him, kissing him on the cheek. "It's okay, Dilly. It's over now."
"It's so not over, Wen," he shook his head, voice tremoring slightly. "The crap we're gonna see outside's gonna make this look like a kiddie ride at Disney World, dude. We are so gonna get the crap scared out of us."
She nodded and laid her head on him. "It's going to be okay, though."
"Remember," JD spoke as calmly as he could, "the stuff we're seeing happened already. This is not something we're seeing unfold now. It's old stuff already."
"Dude," Dillon shivered violently and hugged Wendy's arm tighter, "I don' EVEN care 'bout that crap. This shit's all kindsa creepy, dude. It's, like, Stephen KING creepy."
"I know it's frightening if we don't remember what's happening," JD restated, "and if you want to go home, Dill, you can take my car and go. Or, Wen, you can drive him if you're too scared, too. This looks to be a bit more intense than it was last night."
"No way," Wendy said, shaking her head emphatically. "No way. I'm in for the whole thing. I'm staying with you, babe."
"Dude, I am so not driving back through this creepy-ass place alone," Dillon said. "I'm stayin'. I guess."
JD shrugged. "Okay, then. It's time for us to get ready for whatever comes next."
"Outside we go, I guess."
"Dang, man. That part kinda bites."