(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)
JD stood staring up at the clear night, the camera dangling uselessly from his hand. He was uncertain -- really, definitively uncertain -- of what was going on. For the first time, it sank in that he was involved in something he really didn't understand. He was completely lost, and the stark, jagged tree limbs that knifed down into the dimness at him were like accusing fingers pointing at him, mocking and taunting. The night seemed deathly still, the quiet itself nearly palpable in the darkness. He glanced left, and in the distance that lone street lamp stared with its baleful illuminated iris at him, watching safely in the distance for what he would do next.
The only thing he could think to do was sigh. It wasn't helpful, it got him no closer to the answers he thought he wanted, it didn't help him clear his head or think more clearly, and it wasn't productive toward his quickly deteriorating investigation. It was just all he could think to do.
So he sighed.
The night didn't respond to him. It sat motionless and mute, giving him the silent treatment. Beside him the others stood as solemn and static as he was. The tension was thick, their nerves jarred. His brain continued to work out possibilities, likely logical explanations in the background. In the fore, he was confused and distressed, even a little frightened. He'd lost any semblance of self-assurance he had. He felt like a child in a large and busy mall who'd lost his parent. Everything felt bigger, alien and scary. He wasn't ready to panic, of course, but it was kind of like being lost in a foreign city. He wasn't sure where to go and had no one around him he could ask for help.
"JD?" Wendy's soft voice was tight with fear and nerves. "Baby, what ... what do we ...?"
He looked at her and smiled weakly. "What do we do?"
"I have absolutely no idea."
She sank. "Oh. I thought ... maybe you ..."
"Sorry, Wen," he said humbly. "I've never been involved in, or seen, or heard of for that matter -- anything like this."
"Whoa, man," Dillon whispered. "This is ... this is WEIRD. I didn't expect NOTHIN' like this."
"Neither did I," JD concurred heavily. Then he hesitated. "Hey ... why aren't you freaking out?"
Dillon looked at him. "'Bout what?"
"About all of this," JD chuckled. "For less than this you've been on the verge of panic in the last day and a half. Why are you so calm now?"
Dillon tipped his head quizzically. "I ... y'know, I dunno. I should be all flipped an' shit, I guess. But it wasn't ... I dunno. It wasn't as bad as I thought. Dude didn't have a face all fulla worms an' crap, he didn't, like, scream like a demon or nothin' ... didn't even rattle shit an' go 'ooooh!' Nothin'. So, all in all, it wuddn't too bad, y'know? I guess it wuddn't scary as I thought it'd be."
Wendy moved and hugged him around the middle, laying her head on his chest. "You did good, Dilly."
"Heh, thanks," he said, hugging her back. "You didn't do too bad, either. How YOU holdin' up there, Einstein?"
JD smiled at him. "I'm certainly no Einstein. In this arena, I'm afraid I'm a bit over my head."
"Yeah? Well, don't worry, dude -- you'll get it. You just gotta settle down and fire up that big ol' brain o' yours."
He shook his head. He was flattered, but had nothing. No answers, no ideas, and no clue what happens next.
"Do ... do you think it'll happen again, JD?"
"I don't know, Wen. I wish I could tell you. I'm not sure why we had only a portion of it just now. I thought for sure we'd get more when it showed more in the house. But this was ... just a different part. Not more, but different. What happened in the house was ... more. I'd say more, would you guys?"
They saw his eyes, pleading for help without saying anything.
"Dude, you SO don't look like you're sure 'bout that."
"I'd ... I'd say it was more. Don't you think so, Dilly?"
"I ... sure, yeah. More, fo'shizzle."
JD sighed again. "Look," he said slowly, trying to be earnest. "I'm sorry about this, you guys. I've got zero-point-zero experience in this type of thing. Normally it's people telling me they hear a baby crying at night, and it turns out to be two cats screwing in the alley. Or someone says a mysterious voice spoke to them through the walls. It was actually their neighbors arguing and the sound carried through the air conditioner to the ducts. It's never been anything even remotely like this. They've all been pretty straight-forward and simple cases of people misunderstanding what they see."
"This definitely ain't that, is it, bro?"
"No, it's absolutely not that. This is something ... something strange. Something I can't explain. Something -- I don't know. Supernatural, I guess."
"You didn't want to say that, did you, baby?"
JD shook his head. "No. Even now, part of me wants to find the rational piece that I've been missing all along. I can't; I mean, I can explain the wandering around aimlessly in the yard as being lost and disoriented in the fog. I can. But that's not really a very strong possibility. We COULD have moved only in circles, and the fog was really thick, to be sure. But to end up back where we started, both times, as if we'd never even taken a step? I mean, look at us: we're all in the same position we were in when the fog rolled in."
The others did look. It was as if they stopped at the bottom of the stairs coming out of the house and didn't move again the entire time they'd been outside.
"I can't explain the fog, either. I didn't get a chance to look at the weather for last night, but I'm almost certain there was no fog in the forecast, and I'm betting that there wasn't any fog anywhere else ... just this yard."
"Do you really think so, hon? Is that honestly what your heart is telling you?"
JD chuckled. "I don't know if it's what my heart is saying, Wen, but I've got a very strong suspicion that would be the case. I can't explain how we can talk to an officer Brown here tonight at the gate of the house -- and I KNOW we went to the gate of the house BEFORE the fog set in -- and spoke with him. It could have been a different, modern-day officer Brown, but then where is he? Shouldn't he have come back by now? Where's the car, the squawking radio, the flashing lights? Who called? Why would he be moving in stealth? No, I don't think so. I think that was either Robin Brown, dead these 35 years, or it was Darren Jenkins, also dead for years. And it wasn't just a recording playing back; we couldn't have interacted with that. Robin Brown, or whoever it was, spoke to us and responded to us speaking back. He carded us. He was acting like someone alive, someone coherent, someone that could hear us and see us and yet was carrying out his destiny."
"That's a lot to have on your mind, love. Maybe we should call it a night."
"I've SO had enough ghosts for tonight."
JD nodded. "I'm sure that's the best thing to do. I don't know if the events will continue or not. I can't be sure of anything at this point. For all I know, the most significant events are in the house going on while we're out here. I'm sure just calling it a night is the best decision."
"Are you sure, JD? We can just go inside and sit for a while, maybe take a look at the video you've shot tonight and see if we can get any sort of hint as to what's wrong."
"No," JD answered soberly. "Thank you, Wendy. I ... I love you. But no ... I don't think I should do this anymore. I think this has proven to me that I'm not very good at this sort of thing, and should just let the homeowners know what happened. I think I have their email address at home. I can give them a summary report, let them know they should contact someone more professional, more organized, and let them take over."
"What're you sayin', dude? You gonna QUIT?"
JD pondered. "Well ... yeah. I guess so. Maybe with all this, and three credible eye witnesses, they get someone really great like Benjamin Radford to investigate. I bet he'd know what the next step is."
"That's BULL, dude."
"You heard me. Dude, I known you since fourth grade. You ain't ever quit NOTHIN' you started, and you NEVER give up. I can't believe you're gonna do that now, dude. It just ... it just ain't in ya. You ain't built like that, homes."
"Dillon, I appreciate your support, but --"
"Naw, man, it AIN'T support. Dude, I been tellin' ya this is a ghost the whole time. You tried t'deny it an' shit, but you didn't really have anything solid for that crap. The reason you ain't able t'get your head around this thing is 'cause it's NEW. You tried new shit before, dude, an' you ALWAYS figger it out. Always. You ain't been stumped for long in your life, man. Soon as you bone up an' let your own bad self believe this is a ghost, an' not that dumbass water-DVD thing an' shit, you're gonna figger out what t'do, bro. You so will. I seen you do this before, trust me."
"Dillon, this is completely different --"
"No, hon, he's right."
"Yes, me too. He's right. You're just not giving yourself the option of believing in ghosts. That leaves you with nothing to stand on, nothing to proceed from. If you give yourself the chance to believe this is real, you'll think of something. You'll get excited about the investigation again. You'll figure something out."
"Wendy, you don't get it, I ..."
"I DO get it, Jaded. I do. You really, REALLY wanted to debunk this. But it's not debunkable, so you don't know what to do. It's real, and you're lost because you weren't really running an investigation, sweetie -- you were trying to prove someone wrong. You were trying to disprove their beliefs. You were trying to make yourself right, instead of just being open minded. When you are, you'll see it in a new way, and I know -- I KNOW -- you'll have something in your hip pocket to pull out."
He watched their eyes, ablaze with expectation of him. He couldn't just make the feeling of helplessness vanish, couldn't just renew his confidence in the fact that this was not what it appeared. He was shaken, he was confused, and he wanted more than anything to just move on to something he could understand.
And yet, they stood looking at him, watching him, expecting more than resignation of him.
He drew a deep breath.
"All right. All right ... I'll keep going. I have to assume now that this is a ghost. There are many kinds, but I'll worry about that later. I have no idea whether or not the events will replay any more tonight, but I should stick around for a couple of more hours to make sure they don't. I'll come back tomorrow night if that's the case and see if the same thing happens."
"Now that's the JD I fell in love with."
"Uh ... let's see. Okay, so compared to last night, we got a different piece of what happened, but we also got less of it. The interaction with us took up a lot of time, relatively speaking, so then the ..." He trailed off, his brows knit.
"What?" Wendy said, concerned.
"Dude, don't go all freaky an' stuff. Whattup?"
"No, nothing," he said, processing. "It's just that last night, we were on the side of the house. Tonight we intercepted him at the gate. What if we interfered? What if we delayed him too long at the gate?"
Wendy shook her head. "I don't get it. What're you thinking?"
Dillon stepped in closer. "Oh, dude -- I think I see where you're goin' with that."
"Yeah. Like, nothin' held ol' Robbie-boy up at the gate back in the day, right? So when we did, it kinda like made the DVD jump an' all."
"You mean, the record skipped?" Wendy was still not following.
"Yes, sort of," JD said. "Because we caused him to stop at the gate, the timing of the rest of the events was off. If we had been standing there 35 years ago, Robin Brown may not have been killed. The timing of these events are critical. He only delayed for a couple of seconds last night, then moved on. He blew right past us without so much as a request for ID."
"Oh my God," she said. "We may have saved him in this replay. So it stopped because things aren't right. It has to ... reset, sorta."
"Yes!" JD said. "Yes, and if we don't interfere the next time the events are rolling, we will see them in their entirety."