(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)
"JD, wait!" Wendy stopped him. "We know what happens outside already. Maybe there's more that's going to happen in here."
"Dude," Dillon's voice softly carried, "she's right. Robbie's gonna get whacked out there. But Jenky might come back down here. 'Member, those guys didn't see 'im, so they didn't do nothin' 'bout him."
"And I saw them bury Robin Brown at the quarry," JD agreed. "But ... we should try and follow along, see what happens."
"We will," Wendy said. "We can watch through the window."
"He couldn't see what was going on through this --"
He was cut off by the mournful wail that froze them in their tracks. It carried through the open basement window, chilling their blood, rattling their bones. The sound seemed different somehow, changing in pitch and tone, and Wendy quickly put her hands over her ears and pressed her face into JD's chest. JD reached into his pocket fast and started the recorder again as Dillon covered his ears too, shutting his eyes tightly against the soul-stealing cry.
It faded into the night, and JD shuddered before turning off the recorder. He held Wendy with both arms and felt her trembling against him.
"God ... God in heaven I hate that sound."
"It's like bein' in hell, man."
JD nodded. "It is scary. But it was ... different somehow. I tried to record it."
"Y'already know what he's sayin', don'tcha?"
JD nodded. "I'll just check it later to see if it's the same message. I'm sure it is, but ... there was something different about it, that's all."
"Shh!" Wendy said, staring at the window. "I think he's coming!"
They stepped forward a bit when the shade of Jenkins raced into view at the window's frame, ducking and suddenly scooting back in the way he'd gone out, skittering through the low, open window, and dropping back onto the basement floor. He pulled the sash down quickly, and it squeaked like a mouse as it fell back in place. A moment later, there was another flashlight beam panned over the window frame, and the two voices from earlier carried through the stillness, hushed and conspiratorial.
"... gotta get it outta here now," one of them said, "before Jenkins shows up."
"What do we care if he does?"
"You think I want my wife ta find out about this, moron?"
"How's she gonna find out?"
"She's his sister, dip-shit! You don't think he's gonna tell her??"
"What if he does? She gonna believe him or you?"
"Fuckin' idiot. You killed 'im, not me. But it ain't gonna look good. And I don't want her t'know. I got kids too, asshole."
The voices faded around the corner of the house, and Jenkins opened the window again enough to allow the sound to drift in.
"... gonna hurt her?"
"Someone might. They ain't gonna wanna have this gettin' out. In case you ain't realized, this shit's illegal. You're fuckin' stupid."
"So whatta we gonna do, asshole?"
"'We'? 'We' ain't gonna do nothin', jack-ass. You are gonna bag that body and we'll get it in the truck and get up to the quarry. Jenkins is late. He musta got tied up or somethin'. We get up there, get rid o' the body, an' get back here an' wait for 'im. But he's gonna come here t'get the stuff. When he does, if he finds Brown dead in the yard, he's gonna be pissed."
"So what? You just said he can't talk or his sister'll be next."
"NEXT?? Dick-head, no one was supposta die!"
"I couldn't just do nothin'!"
The other voice snorted. There were sounds of laboring, grunting, a harsh whisper for some help if he didn't want to get caught, and after a time, the sound of a large canvas bag being dredged over the lawn. The three observers moved closer to the window and watched as Migo and Stanton dragged the heavily-laden bag out toward the front of the house past them. Just as JD saw them doing at the quarry the night before.
"They were planning to meet Jenkins here, but they thought he was late," JD whispered. "I guess plan B was to meet up at the quarry. It sounds as if there was a standing plan in place to keep things ... organized."
"Guess that makes this organized crime, eh?" Dillon chuckled.
JD nodded. "I guess so. The stolen goods were probably divided and fenced separately out of town somewhere. Someplace where no one heard about what was happening here, in this little hamlet."
"Like any good idea, it had a contingency for risk mitigation," Wendy breathed.
Jenkins ignored them. He listened, and a few moments later the distant sound of a car trunk being slammed, and the car starting and pulling away, could faintly be heard.
Jenkins shut and locked the window. He gathered the canvas bag in his hand and slung it over his shoulder, then wiped viciously at his eyes with his sleeve, sniffling quietly in the basement. The sound was sorrowful. The sound of a man who'd lost a friend.
JD watched as the shadow moved back toward the concrete block and vanished into it, disappearing from view.
"Okay," JD said. "Now we have to follow. He's going to go up to the quarry a little after they did. He was about five minutes behind them when I was there last night."
"Dillon and I saw him pull up in the truck when we were waiting for you last night."
Dillon nodded in agreement. "But ... we was too chicken t'check it out."
"I don't blame you," JD said. "Come on. We'll need to be ready to follow them to the quarry."
"I'm ... still hungry, though," Dillon said weakly.
"We'll eat soon, Dill, I promise," JD said. "Just let us see the rest of this, okay?"
He nodded. "But, dude ... all this crap goin' on ... what're we gonna do 'bout it? I mean, we ain't got the note, we ain't got nothin' we can show the cops t'prove Robbie ain't the crook here, and we ain't got nothin' t'show that those two dudes whacked 'im insteada Jenky. An' is the house still gonna be haunted?"
JD shrugged helplessly. "I wish I could answer any of those questions for you, Dill. I can't. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with all this information, and I have no idea what, if any, impact this is going to have on the homeowners and their experiences here. It's just ... a waiting game, I guess."
"I have a feeling that this is just someone's way of getting the truth out," Wendy said, and she stared up at JD. "I think when this plays out, and we've seen the whole thing, it'll stop. I think someone just wants ... just wants the truth out, that's all."
JD smiled weakly. "We can only hope. But right now, we need to go."
"An' you promise we eat after this crap?"
"Ugh. Fine. Let's go."
They headed up the stairs, Wendy holding JD's hand, Dillon scooting along behind. They went through the door into the servants' pantry, and wove through the kitchen to the foyer, JD depositing the camera on the stairs as they went to the door. They stood on the porch, JD pulling it closed and checking to make sure it locked behind him, and then moved quickly toward the gate.
There was a thick fog over the neighborhood. Not the dense, unearthly clouds they'd seen before, but a heavy, diffused mist that left visibility low. Peering down the street, JD saw a silhouette trudging up the street ... toward where the truck was hidden.
JD headed for his car, but Dillon caught his arm.
"Dude ... let Wen drive, man."
"Well ... uh ... why?"
"'Cause, when she gets all race-car-y it's hawt, dude. Really hawt."
"Do I ... do I want you thinking she's hot?"
"I already do," he smiled. Wendy giggled.
"Come on! Get in, quick! Let's go!" she called, and unlocked her car doors as she spilled herself inside.
They piled in after her, snapping seat belt buckles and yanking doors closed, but the specter disappeared around the corner in the fog, headed up the grade toward where they'd encountered the truck. She fired the engine and whipped the car around the narrow street in a sharp U-turn, toppling Dillon and making JD clutch again at the hinged handle over his door.
"Easy!" he chided nervously as she roared up the street.
"Don't wanna lose him, lover," she smiled.
"Not ... not a problem," he said, eyes wide as she rounded the corner quickly, his body pulling left hard. Dillon chuckled in the back seat.
"Nice," he grinned. "Real nice."
There was no one in the street when they began to ascend the grade, though. She slowed the car rapidly, pulling as far to the right as possible without going off the pavement. She was just creeping along now, staring intently out the windshield, leaning forward in her seat slightly.
"Where'd he go?" she mused.
"I ... I don't know."
"Who cares? Drive fast again, Wen!"
"I will, hang on ..." she said absently, edging forward. The headlights spread and died against the heavy mist, illuminating just a few yards ahead of them.
The eruption of light made her gasp, and JD cried "Look out!" as the headlights burst out of the fog. Wendy yanked the wheel right ferociously and laid on the brakes, slamming Dillon's head against the back of the passenger's seat and snapping the safety belts taut over them. Soundlessly the two disks passed through the mist and vanished down the street, the red tail lights disappearing behind them into the gloomy night.
JD was panting slightly, trying to extract himself from the binding belt over his chest. Wendy exhaled sharply and her body went lax while Dillon groaned and rubbed his forehead.
"Good thing we ... weren't going fast after all," JD muttered.
"Yeah. Yeah." Wendy's knuckles were still white over the steering wheel where she clutched it.
Silence as the seconds ticked away. Wendy finally backed up and turned the car around to head back down the street.
"Still ... still want to go after it?" JD seemed timid.
"I'll be more careful," Wendy said, slightly irked. "If you could handle it, I can too."
"I need a crash helmet, dudes," Dillon moaned. "My head hurts."
"Sorry, Dilly," she said more gently. "I know it's off the main highway, but I don't know exactly where the quarry is, JD."
"Um ... well, it's about halfway up toward home, I guess," JD said. "I'm ... not entirely certain either. Hopefully we can find the -- truck again and ... well, follow. It's not a marked entrance that I can tell, and by then we were immersed in the fog."
She nodded absently, and headed for the highway. It only took a few minutes to find it, and even on a Saturday night, the road was empty and dark. Wendy kept her speed reasonable, trying to watch for indications along the side of the road of the quarry entrance. All she saw was the dried, brittle underbrush and the stark, bare bones of the trees standing like soldiers in the woods. They drove for long, long minutes in complete silence, each with eyes trained out the windshield.
"There!" JD whispered, sitting forward a bit. "There it is! The truck!"
The tail light configuration was right, but they had no way of knowing whether they were seeing a vision from the past or an actual truck traversing the highway. Wendy drew to it rapidly as it rounded a bend, and applied the brakes aggressively to keep from ramming the vehicle in front of her.
It was stopped.
She watched, checking her mirror nervously. In a moment, it proceeded forward.
"There's ... there's not a stop sign here, is there?"
"No," JD said flatly. "The one I followed last night stopped like that too. I thought it might be a real car at first, but then it matched and mimicked my movements."
Wendy slowed the car down, seeing she was within a few meters of the tail lights in front of her. They slowed to match. She stopped, and they stopped. She accelerated quickly, watching her speed climb toward 30, then 40 miles per hour, and always the lights stayed the fixed distance away from her.
"Just like last night," she reiterated. "This is the truck.'
"Dudes, you sure we need t'do this?"
"Yes," they intoned together.
"Okay, Olsen twins, okay," Dillon conceded, sitting back on his seat and staring out the window at the fog.
She followed at what she felt was a safe speed, and then the truck brake lights blazed on as it slowed nearly to a stop before turning right.
"The quarry," JD said.
"Thanks, Captain Obvious," Dillon said flatly. "Where would we be withoutcha?"
"Cut the crap," Wendy ordered sternly. "Let's get ready to see this through."