(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)
JD quickly leaned forward and whispered to Dillon, "Get the recorder turned on! We want to capture as much of this as we can, at least the audio!"
Dillon moved in the dark doing something, and JD could only hope that he was turning the recorder on. He then whispered to both of them, "Get low and try to blend in with the bushes. If we don't interrupt this sequence, we may find something out here!"
The three of them lowered. The hushed whispers were still coming toward them from the side of the house, and gradually grew more clear as the invisible speakers approached.
"... he's frickin' late, that's all I'm sayin'," one of them hissed.
"He'll be here," the other snapped back. "He'd damned well better be if he knows what's good for 'im."
"I don' trust 'im," the other answered. "He's too jittery an' nervous, man."
"Just keep it down an' watch for 'im, he'll be here. If he chickens out, we'll deal with that later."
"We're risking a lot, asshole. You'd better be right."
"Just shut up and look for 'im."
The two figures fell silent, and JD peered silently back through the viewfinder of the camera. The fog was impenetrable; all he saw back was the gray-white sheet of fog.
"Damn," he whispered, barely audible. Wendy was hunched beside him, clutching his arm in both of hers. He could feel her trembling. He wished, for a moment, he had something comforting to say, but couldn't think of anything. He just watched instead.
"Where the fuck is he, dammit??" Again the voice rasped in the murk. The three huddled near the back of the yard couldn't see anything except flashes of silhouettes. There were no hard figures they could make out.
"Why don'tcha turn on the friggin' flashlight? Maybe he's lost in this pea soup shit."
"No, shithead, we don't wanna let everybody know where we are. Just keep watchin'."
Dimly, far off, there was a faint illumination.
"Here 'e comes now. Toldja he'd show."
"Over here, Jenkins," the other voice called softly.
"Him too?" a third voice spoke, not as quietly. It was familiar to the huddled trio in the bushes.
"Who's that?" the second voice spat back, terse, edged with danger.
"Brown, asshole. Where's Jenkins?"
"Brown? What the hell are you doin'?"
"I oughtta be askin' you that. I said where's Jenkins?"
"Look, Brown," the first voice spoke, "you're bein' stupid. Why don'tcha just go home and forget about this?"
"Gimme a break, Rick," Brown answered tiredly. "I told the cap I was bringin' this crap to a stop. I shoulda known you'd be in up to your fuckin' eyeballs."
"Don't be stupid, Brown," the second voice again. "You're gonna make trouble for all of us now? You coulda gotten in at the beginnin' but you wanted t'be an asshole. You think we're just gonna sit here an' let you ruin all o' us?"
"Can your crap, Migo," Brown hissed. "You gonna threaten me now? For what? -- not bein' an asshole an' doin' what you do?"
"Jenkins is in too, Brown," the voice belonging to Rick interjected. "You gonna ruin your own damn partner?"
"He shoulda known better'n to get involved with you fucks," Brown answered. "I hoped he didn't. If he did, well ... I guess I'll deal with that."
"You're a fuckin' RAT, Brown," the Migo voice whispered so harshly it was clear his teeth were gritted. "You ain't gonna screw all of us. We're ALL cops. You think we ain't all gonna stick together?"
"Yeah, I figgered you would," Brown said, "and I don' care. I'm doin' what's RIGHT, because it's RIGHT. And I'm takin' this shit down. ALL o' you."
"You fuckin' prick!" This from Migo again.
Suddenly there was a thump! and whoosh! -- JD strained into the murk to see what was happening but couldn't.
"You ... better be ... careful what ... you do, Migo," Brown's voice strained out, out of breath.
"You ain't bringin' NOTHIN' down, asshole."
There was a huge, clunking and hallow knock, and suddenly Brown's flashlight rolled into view, a faintly glowing disk casting a weak patch of light through the fog on the moist ground. Then a sickening crunch, and another, and a third. The three of them listening clandestine in the bushes and darkness winced at the sounds, nearly jumping each time it rang with a faintly metallic ring following the blows. JD knew this is what they'd witnessed the night before. It was out of sight but embedded in their minds.
A moment later the heavy pants of the attacker was all that could be heard.
"Sweet Jesus," the Migo voice came back. "Oh, sweet Jesus, we gotta get outta here!"
"I couldn't just let 'im leave, could I?? I hadda do SOMEthin'!"
"Christ, I think ya killed 'im, Stanton! I think I heard BONE!"
"I hadda do somethin' didn't I?? Huh??"
"What about Jenkins??" Stanton was panicking. "He's gonna be comin'! This wasn't supposta happen, man! Whatta we do??"
"C'mon, Stanton! We gotta get outta here! Fuck Jenkins, we gotta go!"
The sounds of two sets of footfalls retreated away from the yard, but the fog was too thick for JD to see if they went toward the gate or off toward another yard. He listened quietly, then stood, pulling Wendy up with him. He couldn't see either her or Dillon.
"God," he whispered, but it was almost a moan. "I ... I thought it would be less shocking this time somehow."
No one answered him.
For long moments they stood in the mist, expecting it to clear.
"JD? Why is the fog still here?"
"I ... I don't know."
"Dude ... more stuff's gonna happen. It ain't over yet."
"How do you know, Dill?"
"'Cause. That's what the fog means. Ain't it?"
"Uh ... well, so far, I guess so, yeah."
"So ... there's more."
"Dilly, how'd you get so smart?"
"I just figger if the fog's all about the ghosts, and when they're done an' all it goes away, it must not be over or it'd be ... goin' away. It ain't brain surgery or nuthin'."
JD shook his head. "I guess not. So we wait and see what happens now."
"What ... should we move or anything?"
"I -- I have no idea whatsoever."
"So ... we just kinda hang out an' stuff?"
"I guess so."
"Dude, that's boring."
"You think this has been boring?"
"Not th' other crap, jus' the waitin' crap. Y'know?"
"Well, not really. But then, I don't have the attention span of a goldfish."
"How d'ya know?"
"You a goldfish?"
"Um ... not last I checked, no."
"Then how d'ya know what their 'tention span's like?"
"There's this really great stuff people use to figure things like that out. It's called 'science.' Maybe you've heard of it."
"Oh, y'mean the same stuff you tried to use t'splain all this stuff happenin' right here?"
"Just because I can't do it doesn't mean someone else couldn't have."
"Yeah, but all we got's YOU, dude."
"You guys, seriously -- is there something wrong with your brains? Because we're standing here, in a mystical fog, waiting for a GHOST to appear, you're bickering about ..."
"Shh!" JD interjected quickly, "Shh! Do you ... do you hear that?"
Softly, somewhere in the mist, there was a squeak, like a rusty unused hinge operating for the first time in decades.
JD moved forward, toward where he thought the house should be, trying to will his eyes to penetrate the dense vapor. He groped forward, hands tentatively in front of him trying to feel for the wall he knew would come at him. There was a second creaking of that hinge that snuck out of the fog to his ears, and he followed it, moving quickly but cautiously forward.
Suddenly there was a rush as the fog began to diffuse, to clear, and for a moment he could see. He was a scant few feet from the corner of the house, stopping quickly, and around the corner came the shadowy dark outline of a man, running past the house toward the fallen Brown's body, crumpled in a heap behind and to JD's left, the flashlight more clearly showing the scene. The dim shape of his body on the ground was covered by the new form, pressing its head down on his chest as it fell hard on one knee.
In a moment, the figure rose slightly and seemed to grope at the neck of the prone form, then pressed his head to the chest again.
Then there was a mournful wail, a sound from out of the fog as the form tipped its head and called into the mist, and it cut like a blade through JD's skin, rifling up his spine and making his hair stand on end. He shuddered violently, involuntarily, and pure, abject terror seized his heart and froze him in place. A scream of complete primal fear forced itself up from his diaphragm, slammed against the back of his throat and hit the back of his teeth, goose flesh rising over the entire surface of his body.
And then the fog raced past, shooting away into the dark and vanishing into the night. JD released his voice to hear only the slightest whimper come from what he thought would be a scream from the depths of his soul.
He shook violently, frightened to his very essence, staring in stark disbelief at the empty yard around them.
"I think I wet myself," he heard Dillon mutter.