Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ghost Hunters, Pt. 29

(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)

The two shadowy figures tucked and emerged from the fog as it rolled and played around them.  JD tracked them as closely as he could without getting too close.  He wasn't sure what it was he was seeing, but he didn't want to take for granted that the events he was seeing weren't live.  He doubted it.  There wasn't any way a human could've done what he saw with the car lights.  Not without a great deal of choreography, anyway.  Nevertheless, the interaction with Robin Brown -- or whomever it was -- at the house had him a bit skittish about getting too close.

He was able to follow through the dark.  There seemed to be some strange light that glowed from within the fog, and he couldn't decide where the light came from.  Or why it was there.  All he knew was that it was like the cold glow of the snow at night, scattering light so that there was no discernable source; it just ... lit everything slightly.  So the dark shapes of the two figures dragging that clearly heavy object between them was almost backlit against the eerily glowing fog, and JD could follow without tumbling down an embankment or tripping over exposed roots or rocks as he trudged on through the soft forest blanket of dead leaves and soft dirt and moss.

He'd been able to close the distance as well.  That wasn't difficult to do.  The other two were working feverishly to drag that amorphous form between them up the slight grade, toward what he could only imagine was the final resting place of Robin Brown.  He assumed it was his cadaver they dragged along, but couldn't make anything out except the forms, stark black shadows against the ghostly glow of the mist.

They switched sides every once in a while, so that they could drag with the opposite arm and still evenly distribute the load.  Each time they stopped, JD ventured closer, trying to get within ear shot of their conversation.  It was sparse at best, he could tell even at his distance.  The effort of dragging the heavy object required too much oxygen to allow for a flowing conversation.  He tried to stick to the tree line along the edge of the gravel access road that wound and picked its way through the dense tree canopy.  JD tried to think of some sort of industrial operation in the area that would require the access road, but had no knowledge of one.  So he was trying to hear whether the two figures ahead of him would give any indication of where they were and what they were doing.  He realized, however, that doing so would require a confession exchanged between them akin to what he might hear on a television show.  It was trite for script writing; what would be the odds of it having happened in reality?

Or happening now?

He shuddered and balked just a hair at the thought.  He really didn't know if this was live or Memorex, so to speak.  How was he going to ensure his own safety?  He hadn't even brought a flashlight along.

They dropped the load again, rubbing their tired arms in the gloom, and JD froze.  He was a lot closer than he thought.  He crouched slowly, to try and blend with the surroundings.

"Christ, this is heavy," one voice carried to him.  It was clear but not loud, and familiar.  One of the men from the scene they'd witnessed at the house.

"Yeah, well, it's your damned fault, jackass," the other answered, resting his hands on his knees as he bent over to catch his breath.  "Jesus, Stanton, why'd ya kill the bastard?  Ya didn't hafta do that."

"I couldn't just let 'im go, could I?  He was gonna rat us all out."

"You fuck!  Jenkins coulda talked some sense into 'im.  He wasn't gonna screw all of us."

"Bullshit!  He was gonna rat us out 'n you know it!  I did what had to be done."

"Yeah?  Well how ya gonna explain him bein' dead, asshole?  Huh?  Didja ever think o' that?"

"Fuck you, that's not my problem."

"You made it your problem, shit-head.  When they ask us, don't think I'm gonna stick up fer yer ass."

"You're a shit, Migo.  You gonna string me out on this?"

"Fuck yeah.  You deserve it, ya prick.  You coulda just knocked 'im out.  Better yet, ya shouldn'ta hit 'im, period.  Jenkins coulda talked some sense into 'im."

They puffed and panted for a few seconds.  JD listened.  He wasn't learning anything new, but he couldn't exactly go ask specific questions.

"Christ, I need a cigarette," Migo puffed.

"Let's get this shit over with."

They stood up again, and grasped the heavy object between them, one on each side.  With a grunting effort, they hefted it and dragged forward through the fog again.

JD kept pace, following a safe distance behind.  He tried to close the gap a bit more, to see if they were continuing to talk while they moved, but he could only hear their occasional grunts and cursing as they pulled and yanked to get their burden over the bumps and dips of the road.

They began to round a large, granite outcropping, that stuck through the forest like it had been dropped from the air.  And suddenly, JD realized where they were.

It was the granite quarry.

The operation had been shut down since before he was born, but the site was well known in the area.  A once bustling industry had closed up and blown away decades ago, and left a huge scar on the land nestled in the hills.  It was an obvious place to hide a body.  JD was actually wondering how many would be uncovered if the quarry were ever checked.

He watched as they tugged and yanked, getting the load they bore around that corner.  When they vanished from view, JD darted forward, hugging closely to the rocky face that forced the road to curve to his left out of sight, obscured by the huge lump of stone that projected from the hilly earth.

He saw both figures drop the load again, this time stepping away from it.

"This seems stupid," Stanton panted, trying to catch his breath.  "This is first damn place they're gonna look for his ass."

"Bullshit.  It's outta the jurisdiction, ain't been used in years, and the staties ain't gonna wanna invest the manpower to look all up here."

"If Jenkins gets all the crap outta the house, I guess this could work."

"It's gonna work, fuck-head, just don't do anything else stupid.  Like you can help it."

"Hey, screw you, asshole."

"No, you already did that, shit-head.  You killed Brown.  That could screw all of us.  Dick-head."

Stanton held his piece while Migo sparked a cigarette.  His face did not illuminate with the bright orange flames.  He remained shrouded as a shadow despite the shot of sudden light from the high flame that erupted out of his stainless steel Zippo.

"Go find some rocks," Migo commanded, blowing a blue plume from his mouth into the swirling fog.  "We gotta cover the body good.  Someone might find him in the water, we don't wanna put him there.  We'll have to ditch him in a crack somewhere and cover him with gravel an' shit."

"That's gonna take all fucking night!"

"That's your fault, asshole!  Now go get some goddamn rocks!"

Stanton was cursing under his breath as he stomped off to find enough material to cover what JD knew now was Brown's body.

JD watched Migo smoking casually, trying to shake feeling back into his arms.  There was only the stark stillness of the night behind them for sound.  JD wondered, just briefly, how long he'd been gone.  He wondered if he'd entered a time warp, as they did before, and had lost track of time.  He wanted to check his cell phone for a signal, but didn't want to alert Migo -- or whatever he was watching -- to his presence.

He heard the soft, stealthy crunch of gravel and dead leaves behind him.  He turned, expecting it to be Wendy and Dillon, coming to see where he'd gone and what he was doing.  He'd assumed Wendy would cooperate with his instructions for a short time, but it wouldn't be long before she came to find him.

Instead he saw another black shadow standing right over him.

He gasped and froze.

That figure stood there, silent and still, until JD heard the slightest of sounds from it.

A sniffle.

The figure was weeping softly.

JD nearly panicked as the figure drew closer, one step, then another, haltingly.  The hand wiped viciously across where a face would be if one had been visible, and then stepped forward again, past JD, giving him no acknowledgment of any kind.  Cursing and struggling, Stanton came back into view and stood beside Migo.

"Okay," Stanton panted, out of breath and clearly exerted.  "I got some damn rocks.  Let's do this shit."

Migo dragged hard on his cigarette again, and cast the butt away into the fog.  "We gotta find a spot first."

The two figures moved off, past the huge outcropping again, out of sight into the swirling fog.  The silhouette standing just in front of JD moved forward then, toward the object they'd dragged up the hill with them, and bent low.  Reverently, it laid its hand on the bag, and the head dropped sadly.  The kneeling figure shook, sobbing for just a moment, but the sounds of footfalls and gravel drove the shadow back, into the trees, out of sight.

Migo and Stanton reappeared.  "All right, let's get this shit over with," Migo spat.  "Jesus, this bastard's heavy."

They again hefted the bag with one arm each, and with greater effort than before they pulled it along the rocky surface, back away from the line of sight.  JD moved to follow, but froze when he saw that third figure poke its head from the tree trunks where it'd hidden.  In a moment, the figure moved away again, farther ahead of JD and again nestled into a stand of trees on the far side of where Migo and Stanton rested.

JD took a chance and moved around the rim of the huge rock, and tried to duck and hide behind the smattering of gargantuan boulders and cut or blasted sections of rock that tumbled haphazardly around the basin just before the main quarry opened.  He could barely see the dark, black water reflecting flatly against the strange glow of the fog, a huge maw in the ethereal mist.  JD waited then, watching as Migo and Stanton hefted their load forward, toward what looked like a deep black gash in one of the giant rocky hills that had been cut for the ore.

"All right," Migo said, "onna count o' three we toss 'im far as we can.  Ready?"

"Yeah," Stanton panted, his chest heaving with great gulps of air.

"One ... two ... three!"

They lifted and flung the object between them and it was a half-beat before JD heard a sickening thump and a crumpling tumble as the heavy thing they'd lugged so far up the little hill vanished into that carved niche in the rocks.

"Okay ... now ... get the ... rocks," Migo puffed.  He was again bent over with his hands on his knees.  JD caught movement out of the corner of his eye, and watched as the third figure emerged and moved among the rocks, hiding there for a few moments.  It watched as the other two caught their breath, and in another moment, moved away into the mist.

The other two finally stood, and grunted loudly and with tremendous effort as they began to roll large rocks into the hole where they'd thrown the thing they'd carried.  The thing JD now knew was Robin Brown's body.  Over and over they strained, the effort pulling primal sounds from them, as one rock after another rolled down into the hole, landing with a solid stony "thunk!"

JD watched as they ceased their efforts, and then sat among the rocks trying laboriously to breathe.

"Gimme ... gimme a few minutes, then we get the shovels and ... cover the rest with gravel an' ... shit like that.  By then ... Jenkins should ... be there with ... the truck."

Stanton nodded.  "All right.  I just want this ... to be ... over."  They both gasped and panted, huffing in gulps of air and trying to compose themselves.

And in that moment, that last instant, the fog washed away and into the trees and over the rocks like a sheet being pulled over JD's head and disappearing into the darkness.

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