(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)
They all stared in stunned silence, jaws agape, staring at the glowing disk that ducked in and out of view through the heavy mist.
"I said who are you?" the voice demanded more forcefully. "I don't want to ask you again."
"Um ... we're ..."
"We're house-sitters for the homeowners," Wendy finished quickly.
"What are you doing out here? Which one of you called?"
"Called whom?" JD said slowly.
"Called the police, smart ass. Was it you? Is this a prank?"
"No ... NO! Not a prank, not at all ... but we didn't ... call the police."
"Officer, none of us called the police, so we're not sure why you're here."
"Someone said the homeowners saw someone in their yard. Was that you? Are you three hanging around out here?" The light inched closer.
"Dude, who're you?"
"Dillon!" JD said panicking.
"I'm officer Brown, punk. Who are YOU?"
The three of them stood stock still, shocked.
"Officer ROBIN Brown?" JD said cautiously.
"I'm only going to ask you one more time, then I'm hauling you all in -- who ARE you?"
"We're telling the truth," Wendy pleaded. "We're house-sitting for the homeowners while they're gone. We came out here because ... we thought we ... heard something."
"Yeah?" the voice barked back, the light blazing at her face. "Like what?"
"We thought we heard the window opening in the house," JD chimed in. "When there was no one in the room we came out here to see what was happening."
"Well then who called the police?"
"Dude, we so don't know, man."
"What's your name, hippie?" The flashlight beam shone directly on Dillon's face.
"Dude, I'm Dillon. Nice t'meetcha." He smiled broadly.
"You being a smart ass, punk?"
"Naw, man ... naw, I'm serious. My buddy here's never met nobody like you before." He gestured toward JD.
"He means --" JD spat out quickly, "I've never had an encounter with the police before." He glared at Dillon but it was lost in the fog. The light turned fully on JD.
"What's your name, kid?"
"I'm JD, and this is Wendy. We're honestly just the house sitters. I even have the keys." JD reached into his pocket and pulled the keys out, jangling them in front of the flashlight.
"So who called? If that's a prank, I swear to God I'm runnin' you all in."
"No, Officer Brown, not at all. I ... I don't know who called you. Maybe one of the neighbors? Maybe they claimed to be the homeowners so you'd ... take them more seriously?"
"Or maybe they saw the three of you hippies out here trespassing and decided to call us."
"We're not trespassing," Wendy said quietly, meekly. "We were just concerned is all. We aren't doing anything illegal."
"Yeah? Let me see some identification, then."
JD reached for his wallet with one hand and held the other up to show it held only the camera.
"Easy!" the officer barked, and the light flinched. JD knew he'd lowered for an attack.
"It's ... it's okay. I'm going for my wallet."
"My ID is in the house," Wendy muttered, afraid.
"Uh ... I didn't bring none."
"You don't have an ID? Driver's license, draft card, somethin' like that?" The light was trained on Dillon again.
"N-naw, sure don't ... sorry. Don't shoot me, 'kay?"
"Dillon!" JD produced his wallet and put the camera down at his feet.
"What's that??" the voice snapped, again flinching.
"Camera! It's just a camera!"
"Step back from it!"
JD complied, taking a step back from the camera. He remembered then it was recording. He wasn't sure what exactly was going on, but he was certain the little recorder was still going.
The light trained on the silver plastic, and moved a bit closer.
Then a sound came from somewhere behind the house. All of them jumped at the sound and turned, seeing only the murky fog obscuring everything in front of them. The light shone into the distance.
"You'd better get back in the house," the voice said. "I think I know what's goin' on here. It'll be safer in the house."
"But ... shouldn't you call for back up?"
The light flashed in JD's eyes. "Just get back, kid. Do as I tell ya. And don't go nowhere, I'll be back in a minute."
"Uh ... sure. Okay."
"Officer Brown," Wendy said nervously, "you really should call for back up."
"Just get in the house, miss," the voice commanded tiredly. "Back up wouldn't help anyway."
They all looked at each other as the light bounced away slowly and vanished in the fog.
"Oh my God," Wendy said. "JD, I thought you said it was a recording! How can he talk to us, CARD us, if it's just a recording??"
"Dude, we're talkin' to a frickin' ghost, mofo! A GHOST!" Dillon was ashen faced in the gloom of the fog. "How ... when ... what the f-"
"I know," JD cut him off. "I know. I'm confused too. The only thing I can think of is that the officer interacted with people at the time and the recording is ..."
"Oh, come on, Jaded," Wendy whispered exasperated. "You've got to be kidding me!"
"Dude, give up on that shit right now, man. This was a damned ghost."
"Unless this is a modern day cop, you two."
"Dude. Named Robin Brown, man? Dude."
"He never confirmed his first name. And 'Brown' isn't exactly an uncommon surname."
"JD, we need to go after him and warn him."
JD looked off into the mist. "I ... I don't think it's going to help, Wendy. If we're watching a recording, it's not possible to change the outcome. If this really is the ghost of Robin Brown, we can't help him. He's been dead for 35 years."
"We have to try! It's obvious we're not seeing a damned recording ... he spoke to us, responded to your camera, answered our questions, asked us questions -- please, we have to try and save him!"
"Wen, he's dead already!"
"Dude, does he know that?"
All eyes snapped to Dillon.
"Wh -- what?"
"Does he know that, dude? I think homeboy don't know he's dead, dude. He's just goin' through the moves, man, not knowin' he's all dead an' stuff. Like in The Sixth Sense, y'know?"
"Holy crap, JD," Wendy whispered, her voice low and strained. "God, he's just ... he's going to be murdered all over again. He's not even aware of what the date is, what the events are ... nothing."
"Dude, what she said. I think homes is gonna go get whacked. I think his ghost is doomed to play out the story, dude, 'cause he's not ... you know -- at peace an' shit."
JD rubbed his forehead, his brain processing.
"JD, come on. We have to catch up. Maybe we can figure out what really happened."
"The cops don't know what really happened, Wen!"
"I think they might. I think they just -- let this go. I think they had their minds made up and just let Brown be the scapegoat for whatever was going on up here, in this neighborhood."
"Dude, what she said."
"I ... I gue-ess ... but ..."
"Yes, Jaded -- that means this is a real ghost. A real supernatural event. A real mystery. And Robin Brown needs our help to solve his murder so that his spirit can find rest."
"Dude ... what --"
"She said, I know, I know," JD finished harshly. "Fine. Fine. You want to believe in ghosts and goblins, vampires and werewolves and the Tooth Fairy? Fine. Let's go rescue the ghost."
"Dude. The Tooth Fairy? How's she involved?"
"How do you know it's female?"
"'Cause it's a fairy an' stuff."
"Fairies can be male."
"No they can't, gimme a break."
"How do they make more fairies if none of them are female?"
"Dude, they lay eggs, like oysters an' crap."
"DO YOU TWO MIND??" Wendy snapped through gritted teeth. "This is not the time!!"
The two looked at her sheepishly. "Sorry, Wen," JD whispered. "I guess ... I guess I'm having a hard time with this."
"You're going to miss it, JD," she reminded him. "Come on, we have to hurry to catch up."
"Dude can't be movin' fast in this crap," Dillon said.
"True. Come on, let's go -- I can at least record what happens next."
JD bent and scooped up the camera then moved off in the direction Brown took. Wendy quickly snatched the hem of his sweatshirt and seized Dillon's hand, dragging him behind. JD was moving as fast as he felt was safe, trying to reacquire the flashlight beam in front of him.
He called softly over his shoulder, "Oysters?"
"Yeah, you know ... eggs, then babies," Dillon responded.
"What kind of oysters?"
"Who the hell cares, dude?"
"Hey, you brought it up. If you're going to bring something up, you should at least know what you're talking about, don't you think?"
"Dude ... a'ight, eatin' oysters. The kind ya get at the bars an' shit."
"Several species of oyster are edible. Which one are we talking about?"
"Dude -- I so didn't major in marine food."
"But you did bring it up."
"Can it, please," Wendy hissed. "What is it with you two?"
"He's pickin' on me, Wen. Make 'im lemme alone."
"JD, leave Dilly alone. Bully someone your own IQ."
"Gee, Wen, thanks," Dillon said sarcastically. "My damn hero an' shit."
She giggled and squeezed his hand.
"So ... he did go this way, right?" JD spoke as he slowed. He was sure they should have reached some recognizable point.
"Aw, dude," Dillon groaned, "not this shit again."
"I know," JD said heavily. "I'm ... not sure where we are. Again."
"JD, damn it. Maybe if you'd been paying more attention instead of teasing Dillon ..."
"Wendy, this is not my fault," JD said, turning to her irked.
She looked down and sighed as they stopped. "You're right. I'm sorry, baby. I just ... I just think this is really important."
He softened and smiled. "I know. And I'm doing my best."
She nodded, and reached up with her face to peck him on the lips. "I know. I love you."
"Dude! She 'L' worded you! Do we need ta have this talk again??"
"I love you too," JD whispered, trying not to let Dillon hear him.
"Ah ... that's better, peckerwood."
JD shook his head. "Mind your own business, will you?"
"Can we just, like, stop the lovey-dovey crap now, an' find Robbie boy?"
Wendy sighed. "We're lost again."
JD nodded. "I'm afraid so."
"Aw, dude. You frickin' blew it, man. I bet you sucked at follow the leader."
"You'd know, dummy. If I ever played it was with YOU."
"Oh. Yeah. Well, you sucked."
"Now what, lover?"
JD drew a heavy, deep sigh. "I ... I don't know. We can wait for a sound to get our bearings, or we can wait ..."
As he spoke, the fog suddenly washed over them again and vanished like a thief into the stillness of the night.
"... for the fog to clear," he finished, looking around.
"Dude," Dillon said slowly, softly. "What the fuck is goin' on?"
"I -- I don't ... I don't know."
"Oh, God, baby ... this is ... this is too much ..." Wendy tucked her head into JD's chest and he put his arm around her as she tried to burrow into him.
They were standing at the foot of the porch stairs, as if they'd never even moved.