(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)
"Holy ... holy smokes," Wendy said, and her voice seemed to ring in the dark of the stillness around them. "What ... what was that sound? I thought I was going to scream. I don't know if I've ever been so terrified."
"Me too," JD said, and another shiver raced down his back.
"That was a scream from the pits of hell, dudes."
They both looked at Dillon.
"No, seriously," he said earnestly. "That was the sound of a soul in torment, y'all. That dawg's sufferin'. Makes me think ..."
JD and Wendy watched him.
"What?" they said in unison.
"... Makes me think maybe this ain't 'bout Robbie. Never was."
"Not about Brown?" JD said stunned.
"Naw, man. I think ... I think maybe it's about Jenky-boy. He's all torn up over this shit."
"My God, JD, what if he's right?"
"Uh ... what ... what if?"
"That would mean it's not Robin Brown's ghost trying to clear himself, or show us the truth or whatever. It means that it's Darren Jenkins trying to clear HIS name."
"Clear it of what, Wen? No one accused him of stealing and being a dirty cop."
"Naw, man, they 'cused him of bein' involved in Robbie goin' bye-bye though."
"Oh!" JD said. "He's trying to ... well, if it's his ghost, he's trying to show us that he wasn't the one that did it. But ... why did he commit suicide?"
"Maybe he felt guilty for not being here when Brown was killed."
"Yeah, or maybe he couldn't handle bein' part o' all the crap that got Robbie-boy whacked. Somethin' like that."
"Yes," JD said slowly. "Or maybe, as we heard, he was supposed to be here and would've stopped the murder. But he did come. Why would he feel guilty about that?"
"I dunno. I'm just sayin' stuff so I ain't left out."
JD shook his head and snorted a sharp laugh. "Figures. You would."
"Yeh," Dillon chuckled.
"But that's true. Maybe Jenkins' being here would have made a difference and he knew that. Maybe Brown would have had more regard for his partner than he did for the two that killed him. Because Jenkins didn't get here when he was supposed to, he felt responsible for Brown's murder."
"I don't know, Wen. It didn't sound to me like Brown was going to listen to anyone. He was determined to put a stop to whatever was going on up here."
"It also sounded like a much larger operation than he expected," she added. "Maybe he was trying to protect Brown. It seemed from the conversation that he wasn't involved at all. And didn't know exactly who WAS."
"Yeah, what SHE said."
"There's something you don't hear often."
"Well, we have to wait for something new to happen now no matter what, so where should we go? Do we stay here?"
"I don't know, Wen. We're beyond any point we'd reached before. I think the next step is to find out what happened to Brown's body. Maybe if we figure that out, we'll ... I don't know. Solve it?"
"Dude, it ain't about him. It's 'bout Jenky."
"Well, do you have any suggestions?"
"Yeah, we need t'come back tomorrow and see what goes on in the house. That's the Jenky part."
"Huh?" JD was openly confused.
"Dude, think about it," Dillon said. "It's not 'bout Robbie. Robbie's all dead an' stuff. It's about JENKY. He's the one that's all tormented over this shit. He's the one that's showin' us what's up. He's the dude in the house, too."
"How do you know that?"
"Yeah, what makes you say that, Dilly?"
"Well, dude in the house was all a shadow an' whatnot. Dude out here cryin' over Robbie's all shadows an' stuff. I figger, it's the same guy."
"How could you tell through that thick fog?" JD said dubious.
"Just a hunch, I guess. I think Jenky was here the whole time, that's why he's all ripped up inside. He thinks he oughtta have saved ol' Robbie, but he was hidin' in the house an' all."
"Hiding? What makes you think he was hiding?"
"He didn't want Robbie t'know he was in on it all, dudes. Duh."
"Wait, Dilly, wait ... why would he care about that?"
"I dunno. Maybe he liked ol' Robbie. Maybe he wanted t'try an' look better to 'im and stuff. Or maybe he was changin' his mind 'bout bein' in it an' stuff. I dunno. But he was hidin' in the house when Robbie-boy bought it, an' he feels all kindsa bad 'bout that."
JD contemplated. Dillon seemed to have more insight than he and Wendy combined. "Dillon ... you're not a ghost, are you?"
"Dude, if I was a ghost, you'd SO be scared right now. I'd be makin' ya crap yer pants an' stuff."
"So you think the next thing to happen will happen in the house, Dilly? What about you, JD?"
JD shrugged. "Uh ... okay. We should monitor the events in the house completely. OH! Dillon, turn off the recorder."
"Oh yeah. Heh." He pressed the button and the recorder beeped softly in acknowledgment.
"All right," JD sighed. "This has been ... this has been a lot more exciting than I anticipated, that's for certain. I guess now we just wait for the next show."
The three of them yawned almost simultaneously. "Goodness," Wendy said. "I'm sleepy. I didn't realize how much I'd miss that nap."
"I'm scared o' what's gonna happen next," Dillon said. "That shit was CREEPY. I bet the rest is gonna be too."
"Don't worry, Dilly," Wendy said, rubbing his back vigorously with her hand. "I'll protect you."
"Yeah? Will you hold me when I'm scared? JD wouldn't."
"Yes, I will."
"And, will you do it while we're nekkid?"
She slapped his back hard and he lurched forward expelling air. "Sorry ... I gotta try, y'know?"
"Well, let's go inside. We can get set up to do all the recording and everything there. Boy, we're going to have some extraordinary evidence by the end of the night."
"No joke, Homey," Dillon said as they moved toward the front of the house. "Who ain't gonna believe in ghosts after this crap hits the 'Net, man?"
"Wow, are you going to put this on the Internet, JD?"
"I ... I don't know. I have to get the homeowners' permission first. After that, I can certainly see having other agencies look at what we've gathered. I'll even surrender the camera so they know I've not tampered with the video electronically."
They trudged toward the house and another wave of yawns struck them, making their eyes water, and JD shook his head to focus his thoughts.
"Wow, what's with the yawn-fest? And I'm gettin' hungry, too."
"What? We just ate!"
"I know, it's weird. But ... I'm getting the rumblies down in the tumblies, dude."
"Ghosts make you hungry, Dilly?"
"I guess so. And frickin' SLEEPY too."
"Yeah, I'm wiped out. That's strange. I guess the energy and the excitement is taking its toll on us. Hopefully we'll be alert enough to manage the events in the house. If there are any."
"Dude, what if we just leave?"
"What do you mean?"
"Just what I said, dingbat. What if we leave? Will all the crap keep goin' like we're here watchin'? Or does it only show 'cause we're here watchin'?"
"I don't know, Dill. There's no way TO know."
"Why not, dude?"
"Because, if we're not here to see it, how do we know if it's happening or not?"
"Uh ... huh. Ain't that whatcha set the cameras up for?"
"Yes ... yes!! Maybe the camera recorded something inside!! You're a GENIUS tonight, Dillon!"
JD sprinted for the door and Wendy trailed as quickly as she could behind. Dillon looked around the eerily quiet night and bolted for the door himself a half beat later.
They caught up with JD, who was staring at the monitor screen, hands on his hips and brows knit over his eyes.
"What?" Wendy puffed as she pulled up along side him. "What's wrong?"
"Dude, you look like you seen a ghost. HAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!! I slay me."
"Huh. I ... I don't know. This is ... this is weird."
"What is it?"
"The tapes ... all the tapes. There's ... something wrong with the time stamps."
"JD, you came bolting in here and now you're being cryptic? What's going on, please."
"Oh ... sorry, I'm not trying to be cryptic. I mean, the tapes seem to ... well, they look like they've been running for a long time. And the time stamps on them are off."
"I think somethin's screwy with the clock on that table, too, dude."
JD looked over at the tiny pewter clock. He tipped his head to the side inquisitively.
Wendy pulled her sleeve back and stared at the face of her watch.
They all exchanged a glance, and re-checked the time pieces.
"This ... JD, this can't be right."
"Yeah, dude ... what's not right?"
"No, it can't. That's ... that's impossible."
"What's impossible, dudes?"
"How can that be?"
"I don't ... I don't know. I don't know how ANY of this could be, though."
"JD, what happened tonight?"
"I have no idea."
"Me neither -- as in, WHAT THE HELL YOU GUYS TALKIN' 'BOUT?"
"Dillon, look at the clock!"
Dillon did look. "So?"
"Do you see the time??"
"Yeah ... so?"
"Don't you realize what's happening here?"
"Dilly, don't you remember what time we went outside?"
Dillon shrugged. "Uh ... let's ... let's pretend I don't. 'Cause I don't."
"It was about nine. Maybe a little after that. Not 9:30 yet."
"And now, the clock on the table, the chronometers on the recorders, and Wendy's watch -- they all say it's just after 2 a.m."
"Uh ... so that means ..." He trailed off and shrugged helplessly.
JD rubbed his hand down his face in exasperation. "Dillon, that means we were outside for FIVE HOURS."