(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)
JD checked his camera again, nervously making sure he knew where the controls were located. He checked the lens for dust as carefully as he could. He clicked the flashlight on and off and watched the red beam blink on the wall. Stuffing it in his pocket, he grabbed his hoodie sweatshirt from the back of his chair and headed for the doorway.
"Dude, where y'goin'?"
"Outside. Didn't we just talk about this?"
"I said it bites, dude. I didn' say nothin' 'bout goin' out there."
"Is it time now, JD?" Wendy was still shaken from the last few moments, and her eyes were wide in her ashen face.
"You don't have to do this, Wen," JD said softly, his eyes sympathetic. "It's no problem. Really."
"No," she said resolutely, shaking her head slightly. "I'm okay. I want to go with you, babe."
"All right, Dillon," JD replied, smiling. "Just stay here and monitor all the activity that goes on while we're outside."
"What ... what activity?" Dillon stammered.
"While we're outside watching events unfold there, the replay is likely going to continue in here. You'll see things and hear things. I'll need you to record them and document carefully what goes on."
"Like ... like what? Like what, dude?"
"Oh, you know -- people moving, sounds in the house, the appearance of whoever that was that disappeared into the wall ... that sort of thing."
"You ... you mean ghosts, dude? You talkin' 'bout ghosts?"
"Well, I don't like that term, but that's what you've been calling them, yes."
"Are you frickin' serious, dude? You so are not serious, dude."
JD raised his eyebrows to emphasize his answer. "Oh, but I am. The replay isn't geographically isolated. It's not just going to be outside. ALL the events -- in AND around the house -- are recorded."
"Aw, man," Dillon said, rolling his head in resignation. "Okay, okay ... I'll go with ya. DANG."
JD shrugged. "Suit yourself. We need to go now, though. I want to be ready to capture the whole thing, from the beginning."
"Why's that important, JD?"
"Because if there's any key information or event we didn't see last time, it could help us understand ... something."
Wendy chuckled in spite of her nerves. "Something?"
JD shrugged and smiled. "Well ... I can't know all the angles. I just think I should be prepared. I don't know what kind of new information the replay may provide if we see more of it. Besides, we've seen more in the house than we did last night; maybe we'll see more outside, too. It could help us unravel this ... mystery."
"Dude ... I can not believe you want MORE ghosts than last time. That so doesn't make sense t'me, dude."
"I know. It's okay. I just ... need to know. I need to understand what's going on here."
"Ghosts, dildo, THAT's what's goin' on!"
JD sighed. "Whatever. Until we have more information, this is what's required. We keep compiling evidence and information."
"Ugh. That is SO lame, dork-wad. SO lame."
JD shrugged again. "Yeah, whatever. Let's go."
Wendy exhaled through her lips making them flap as she took her own light hooded jacket from the seat of another chair. Dillon snatched his from the back of his own chair as he muttered his way out of the room.
JD waited for them to collect in the foyer.
"Last chance," he looked at them. "Are you both sure you want to do this?"
"No, dude, I don'."
"Yes, I'm sure."
"I ain' stayin' here alone, butt-head. I'm goin' 'cause bein' in here's creepier."
"No one's forcing you to do this, Shaggy."
JD shook his head, grinning. "So we're all in? It's probably going to be more intense than last night."
"Can we just go outside now, Coach?" Wendy said, folding her arms across her chest. "The night's not getting any younger. It's not like we're going voluntarily into battle in Iraq. We're just going outside. Sheesh."
"You're a lousy motivational speaker, love. Just go, 'kay?"
"Yeah. Got it."
JD opened the door and the clear, crisp air of the night greeted them. It was quiet, and the trees loomed darkly and ominously over the yard, their denuded limbs menacing them as they stepped onto the creaking porch. The leaves skittered in hushed whispers like furtive voices in a church as they rattled under the gentle, calm breeze. The lone street lamp was drowning mournfully in a black sea, its feeble puddle of amber dying on the sidewalk beneath it some hundred yards away.
He stepped off the last groaning step as though he descended into unknown terrain. Before him the walkway rolled straight to the short, arching garden gate, its pickets stabbing upward like mock skeletal ribs knifing the air where the dense, hoarding shrubs parted briefly to the outside world. The lawn spread out from either side, vanishing into the night out of their vision like English moors. And the night was like a blanket over it all, smothering every sound and stilling the world around them.
"Wow, it's quiet," Wendy whispered.
"It's an affluent neighborhood," JD said softly. "The people are paying for that very quiet. The subdivision still abuts the forest preserve, even after all these decades ... or more. They don't seem the rowdy, noisy type of people."
"Dude, what now, man? We're standing 'round doin' a whole lotta nothin' again."
"We wait, Dillon," JD said patiently. "More waiting."
"I figgered. It's like that with you."
"It's like that with every investigation."
"Not those guys on TV."
"Those two plumbers?"
"Yeah. They don' sit 'round doin' nothin'. They do stuff. You don' do jack, dude."
"They're also edited for television. They'd have a really small viewership if all you saw was the immense amount of observation and waiting they have to do."
"Still ... we oughtta be doin' somethin'. I think."
"No you don't," JD muttered.
"Guys, put a lid on it ... jeez, you're like an old married couple."
"I get t'be the man," Dillon followed quickly.
"Do let us know when you get to be a man, Dill."
"Aw, man ... you're gittin' colder while yer gittin' older."
"Okay, just listen. We might have a few minutes. Whatever you do, remember the fog is going to be very, very thick ... I think. So stay close together and try not to get separated. Dillon, I'd suggest you watch for trees, but apparently it didn't help last time so it probably won't help this time."
"Ah, ha ha ha," Dillon said flatly. "Dude, you're so funny. Why ain'tcha on Comedy Central an' shit?"
"Just stay as close to me as you can, okay, Wen?" JD was softer as he stared at her flashing, dancing eyes.
"As close as I can?" Wendy cooed, snuggling closely to his chest. "I don't know, baby ... I can get a lot closer than this."
JD blushed, smiling.
"Uh, dudes? Keep the porn t'yourselves an' crap, 'kay? I don' wanna know, y'dig?"
"Okay, I'm sure it's nearly time," JD said, glancing at his watch. "Get ready."
"Ready for what?" Dillon said.
"For the replay, Dillon. You know, the reason we're standing out here? The whole 'ghost' thing?"
"So you're sayin' it's a ghost now?"
"I'm not doing this with you right now."
"I'm just askin'."
"Pay attention instead."
"Ladies, please, please," Wendy said, putting a hand on each one's chest. "Save it for the mud wrestling ring. Are you both ready?"
"I ain't. Even if I was, I dunno what I'm supposa do, dude."
"Just watch as carefully as you can," JD said seriously. "Three sets of eyes are better than one. And I'll be looking through the display of the video camera for the most part, so I'll have to count on you guys to guide me through the fog."
"Yeah, I'm all over that shit."
"I'll help you babe."
"Okay -- Dillon, take this voice recorder. Whenever there's anything spoken, record it. Here's the record button, at the top. Press once to record, again to stop."
"Gotcha. Press an' press."
"Wen, you're my navigator," he said, grinning and kissing her forehead. "Is that okay?"
"More than," she said, and pecked his lips playfully. "I'll take my payment later."
"Dudes, please!" Dillon pleaded. "I can't take the mushy crap!"
"Want me to take you home, Dilly? Then I can get all freaky on my man and you don't have to hear it."
"Well, if you're goin' freaky, I wanna tape it. Internet's all about that shit, dude."
"Oh, so it's okay if you get to watch, but not if you just have to hear?"
"Naw, naw ... I want the sounds an' shit too. But only when there's, like, people gettin' all nekkid an' horny an' shit. If the clothes're stayin' on, then that's bunk, dude. Get nekkid and I'ma be all about payin' attention an' documentin' and shit."
"OH, so you just want the hardcore stuff, huh?"
"You got it, babe. Th' other crap I can see in a PG movie, y'know?"
"So you're okay with hardcore, but not the romance? Boy, you must be fun on a date, Dilly."
"I'm a blast on a date, dude."
"Seriously ... okay, you get nekkid right here an' I'll show ya how fun I am."
"No time for that," JD interjected suddenly. "Here comes the fog."