(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)
He stood motionless for a few moments, staring into the dark. He fished into his pocket, but remembered he left the flashlight with Wendy. He realized then it was stupid to have done so. He'd be stumbling back through the dark with nothing to guide him. He had no idea how much time had elapsed, either. He could have been gone for a couple of hours. There was no sign of daylight in the blackness, though, so he knew it wasn't near dawn. With any luck, he hadn't been gone very long. Maybe things moved in real time for a change.
He wanted to go forward into the dark, to find that burial spot and mark it somehow. He had to figure out a way to tell the police what was there. He couldn't think of one.
Turning, he started toward the car again. The crunch of gravel beneath his shoes would have to suffice to steer him along the access road. If he wandered too far either direction, he'd run into trees. But somewhere nearby was a water-filled quarry hole. He did not want to discover its exact location by accident.
He started down the hill, hands at the ready to catch his fall. His eyes could somewhat see through the darkness -- he wasn't totally blind. But he took his time, working his way down the hill. He could feel the worn access road, now full of hassocks of dried grass and tree roots, as it rose near the edges. He tried to keep to the lower, less raised portion, and continued down the way he'd come.
They had the location of Robin Brown's body, and he had no idea how to tell anyone about it.
He considered this as he strode, plodding through what seemed a moonless night. He let gravity carry him along, his footfalls thudding on the ground. It felt as though they were loud as thunder to him, in the hush of the woods. The road wound to his left a bit more sharply than before, and he could see the car below him.
Wendy and Dillon were standing beside the car. He picked up his pace, carefully. He still couldn't see very clearly. When she heard his footsteps, she moved away from the car and came rapidly up the hill toward the gate. She waited there, and then turned the red flashlight on him. He could see the roadway at last, and he began to walk at a normal pace to the fence where she waited.
"Hi," she said quietly.
"Hi back," he smiled, and caressed her cheek.
"Was that it? Was it Robin Brown's body?"
"Did the dude's dead bod get up an' scare the crap outta ya?"
"Yes. I mean, no, Dillon. But yes, it was ... well ... it's the burial site, anyway. What remains of Robin Brown, I don't know."
"What ... what happened up there?"
"I ... I guess the two men that murdered him brought him here. They buried him in the quarry."
"In the lake?" Dillon stepped forward.
He shook his head. "In a crevice dug out during the mining, I think. I know the approximate location. I ... I should have brought a flashlight up to mark the exact spot, though."
"You sho' shoulda."
Wendy held the light out to him. "Here's this one."
He contemplated. Sighing, he took it from her. "I guess I should go back up."
"We'll wait here for ya, bro."
"We'll go back with him, you mean."
"You ... you're going to go too?" JD said confused.
"Yessir, mister. You're not going to leave me here worrying again. Uh-uh."
"What about me?"
"You can wait here if you want, Dilly."
"HELLZ no. Alone? What're you, on drugs?"
JD chuckled. "It's a bit of a hike, I'm afraid."
"If those two bozos could do it dragging a full-grown man behind them, we can do it with just a flashlight, baby."
She started over the fence with Dillon helping her to the top, and JD took her by the waist and lifted her down to the other side. She landed with her arms around his neck, her lips close to his.
"I missed you, lover."
He smiled. She kissed him long and warmly.
"A-HEM, dudes. Dillon, still here. Makin' out, not welcome."
They ignored him. When they parted he was flushed, flustered and breathless. "I ... I missed you too. More than I'd realized, apparently."
She giggled. "C'mon ... show us where this is."
"An' tell me why I wanna know."
JD and Wendy walked side by side, with Wendy tucking her hand into JD's back pocket. Dillon trailed along behind them.
"I guess the murder wasn't part of the plan," JD muttered, more to himself than to Wendy. "When they realized he'd been killed, they must have gone back to get him. This is the place they used to load the stolen items into a truck and carry them to wherever they stored or sold them."
"While you were gone," Wendy said slowly, "another vehicle pulled up. It looked bigger, like maybe a truck or something. Someone got out, but I couldn't see anyone. I heard them walking up the road. We were going to come find you when the fog vanished again."
"Dude, that's ... freaky. I hate fog now, man."
JD nodded. "I think ... I think it was Darren Jenkins."
"Why? Did you see him?"
JD shook his head. "No ... no, it was weird. It was like ... it was like the figure we saw in the yard. He didn't have any -- he didn't have any features, really. Just a shadow, a silhouette. Like the one we saw in the yard, and sneaking in through the window in the parlor. Nothing distinct, not even clothing. A black outline."
"Hmm. What made you think it was Jenkins then?"
"His brain, same as all th' other crap that comes out of 'im."
"Well ... for one thing, he was ... weeping."
"He was crying?"
"Dude's a pansy?"
JD nodded, guiding Wendy easily along the access way's winding route. "Yes, I think so. That he was crying, that is, not that he was a pansy. He was hiding, watching the other two bury the body. Before they finished, he disappeared back down the road through the trees, like he didn't want them to know he'd been there."
"Hidin' and cryin'? Yeah -- pansy."
"How did he get here?"
"He drove the truck here, is my guess."
"He was the delivery driver?"
JD shrugged. "I can't tell. The other two didn't know he was here, though. They were just working on burying Brown. When the other figure hid in the trees, the fog lifted. It was the end of the replay."
"Did ... did you interact with them?"
"Yeah -- are they ghosts too?"
"Oh ... I don't know." JD's face shrank and he shook his head. "No. I was too afraid. I guess ... I guess I got spooked. I know it's stupid, but I wasn't sure ... I wasn't sure if they could do more than talk to me."
She squeezed him closer, resting her head on his chest. "Oh, baby -- don't beat yourself up, lover. This is scary. It's not like anything we've seen before."
"No," JD agreed, chortling softly. "No, it certainly isn't."
"I think ya should beatcha self up. You wimped out, dude."
"Dilly! Baby -- strange lights and cold spots are one thing. Falling objects and disembodied voices are something again. But this? This is just flat strange."
"And how," he agreed, hugging her. "Still, I should be more rational and reasonable than that. I did try to stay close enough to hear their conversation, but it was mostly just about where and how they were going to dispose of his body. They decided against the lake. But this quarry lay outside the jurisdiction of their police force, and they knew that the State Police wouldn't want to conduct a search of the whole woods. As it turns out, it doesn't matter anyway, because Robin Brown's body was never sought."
"I can't believe that. That's just ... that makes no sense to me at all."
JD shook his head slowly, contemplatively. "I know. I can't quite figure that out, either. But if he had no family to protest, and the police here are telling state authorities that he absconded with all the stolen property, and all the burglaries stopped after he disappeared ... I guess it could be considered a closed case."
"But how? A man is missing, and he's a cop. Don't they usually want to band together? Aren't cop-killers hunted worst of all criminals?"
"They so are, dude."
"Maybe not if it's one of their own. And from what I learned at the library, Jenkins was considered for the crimes too. He named Brown in the robberies too, but that ... with what I just saw, with him crying over the burial site, I just don't see how that can be."
"Maybe ... well, maybe they threatened him?"
"Yeh! He is a pussy an' all."
JD nodded. "My thoughts exactly ... Wendy. He was forced into silence. Maybe they did threaten him, or any family he may have had."
"I'm not sure his actions make sense to me."
"They do when ya think of 'im as a wimp."
"They don't to me either, but if you consider it from a life-threatening standpoint, maybe it does. His career may be in jeopardy. His partner was viciously murdered. If he tries to come forward, they'd not only ruin his professional life, but perhaps kill him and any family members. It wouldn't surprise me, based on what we heard tonight, if he was told to name Brown or face the same consequences as the other person who went against their plan. If he had family at stake, he probably wouldn't be willing to put them in harm's way. And self-preservation is pretty strong."
"I guess. How can we prove any of this?"
"Feelin' ignored, here ..."
"Well, we can't. Not really. But we can go back to the library tomorrow -- sorry, later today -- and see if we can find anything more on Jenkins. There was very little there before, but the librarian, Bea, seemed to know him. Maybe she can direct us toward something that will turn up some information."
"Aww, duuuuuuude. More boring?"
"Sorry. Lots of legwork involved with an investigation."
Dillon exhaled, flapping his lips loudly. "Great. Can't wait."
"Hmm." Wendy and JD reached the point of the road where it ended near the quarry's main operations area. JD pointed to the trees to his right.
"That's where I was hiding when the third figure appeared. He moved over there ..." he pointed to the trees ahead of them, "then was ducking in and out of the rocks over there while they were burying Brown." He pointed to the huge chunks of hillside scattered around the weed-riddled clearing, the brown stalks and empty seed heads rattling like miniature skeletons with the least disturbance in wind. "Finally, I hid among the rocks in that area." He moved the flashlight toward the huge craggy outcropping just ahead of them and to their left.
"Good place to hide a body," Wendy said, scanning the location.
"You keepin' notes in case ya gotta whack JD, Wen?"
JD continued. "Far from the road, and not easy to search. 35 years ago, there would have been even less traffic here, and the quarry had already been long dead."
He led her by the hand around the big granite hillside, and panned the flashlight around the area. Dillon was on their heels a moment later.
There were three distinct possibilities. Each one was a dip between huge pieces of the hill that had been either knocked down or had crumbled into the clearing. JD looked around, and tried to relocate his position among the boulders, with Wendy following closely enough behind him to see in the illumination of the flashlight's red beam. Finally, he sat down on his haunches and shone the light into one of the crags.
"That one. That's where they buried him."
"95%, yes. I was seeing it as it was 35 years ago, so a lot has changed, but I seem to recall the position from where I was hiding here."
"Pff. 95%? Dude. I got test scores higher 'n that."
"No you didn't."
"How ... should we confirm that?" Wendy said, touching her finger to her lips in thought.
"I have no idea how, without digging him up."
She arched her eyebrows.
"No! No way! Absolutely not! That's a matter for the police, Wen!"
"Aw, dude! I am SO not diggin' up a body an' shit! Naw, man, naw way!"
"But, JD -- how're we going to get them to listen to us, love? We can't just tell them a ghost led us to a body! We have to have something they'll believe!"
"How would we even explain why we're up here? I'm certain this is private property. If it's not, it's state property, which is even worse. We'd be trespassing on government-owned resources. That's probably a felony!"
"Not good, y'all," Dillon muttered. "Felonies are bad. I don't do jail."
She cupped JD's face in her hands. "Come on, babe -- what do we do? We can't just leave him there, undisturbed. We have to tell this story. I'm sure that's what this is all about, love. We have to tell this story to someone and have the wrong righted."
"As soon as I can think of some way to do that, Wen, I will. I promise. But right now ... I just want to mark the spot and get some sleep. We're all exhausted, and I need to go back to the house again tomorrow night."
"Tomorrow night? Why? I mean, I know I need to pick up my car, but I thought we could do that during the day time."
"Dude, I so don't want no more ghost-night BS."
"This isn't the end, Wen. There's another part to all of this, and I need to see it. All of it."