[Mysteriousheartland.com] Don’t you think it’s risky for the five of us to appear at a major university like this?” Emmet asked from the backseat, his baseball cap tilted over his eyes. Emmet, with Mike, Greg, Davin, and Aurelia, traveled east down University Drive in Mike’s battered Toyota Corolla, windows open. They blared Wintersun from the speakers to drown out the hip-hop emanating from a platinum-colored SUV in the other lane.
“We’re not ‘appearing’ here,” Davin replied with a hint of annoyance. “It’s not like it’s an announced visit. I’m just seeing my friend one last time before we have to leave the state.”
Greg, who sat next to Davin, gave him a shove. “You mean your first and only visit?” he teased. “Where did you meet this girl anyway, the Internet? Does she know you’re a member of a secret team of paranormal investigators hunted by crazed cultists?” He paused for dramatic effect. “Wait, was that your selling point?”
“All right, leave him alone,” Mike said from behind the steering wheel. “At least one of us has a social life.” He grinned. “Besides, this campus is crawling with ghosts, and when Davin is chatting with his girlfriend, I’m going to be checking it out. Who’s with me?”
Greg, Aurelia, and Emmet gave a few halfhearted cheers.
Emmet suddenly sat upright. “Hey, isn’t this a party school?”
Mike cut him off. “No—we’re not going to have a repeat of what happened at the University of Illinois. You guys left to go drink and me and Aura had to deal with that ghost by ourselves.” He looked over his shoulder at Emmet and recalled how Emmet’s skepticism suppressed paranormal activity. “On second thought, maybe you should go off on your own.”
“Slow down or you’re going to miss the turn,” Davin said as the car passed Brophy Hall. “There’s a parking lot on your right. I think we can park there. Tessa lives in Bayliss Hall, which I think is up ahead in this group of dorms.”
Greg laughed. “Her name is Tessa?”
The lot was large and filled with a sea of cars of every type. Ignoring parking sticker signs, Mike drove up and down the aisles until he found an open space. The Fallen got out of their car and waited while Davin whipped out his cell phone. After some polite chatter, he snapped the phone closed and began walking toward the tall, black residence halls that resembled an inner-city housing project. “Tessa is going to meet us downstairs,” he said, and Mike, Greg, Emmet, and Aurelia followed.
Except for Davin, who wore his usual white t-shirt and blue jeans, and Greg, who wore his usual olive green shirt and khaki shorts, most of the quintet wore black. They stood out like sore thumbs against the backdrop of 20-somethings wearing polo shirts, sandals, visors, white baseball caps, colorful sweatpants, or clever t-shirts. Neck beards were everywhere. Some of these students pointed and covered their mouths to hide their laughter as the Fallen walked past.
It was not long before they stood at the entrance to Bayliss Hall, and after a few minutes, Tessa appeared out of the elevator. Blushing, she was short and chubby, with curly hair, a snub nose and pleasant features. She wore pink capris and a yellow t-shirt that featured a cartoon squirrel. Davin and she recognized each other instantly, and they hugged. She eyed the other members of the Fallen suspiciously and with a hint of distaste. “Are these your friends?” she asked.
Davin laughed nervously.
Mike laid his hands on both Davin and Tessa’s shoulders and smiled. “So, why don’t you show us around campus?”
* * *
“So, here we are again,” Mike said as Aurelia and he wandered Simpkins Hall alone. “I can’t believe the other guys would rather go out and drink with a bunch of nubile, free spirited college girls than look for ghosts.”
Aurelia snorted. “I know I wouldn’t!”
“Do you sense anything in this building?” Mike asked as he dangled a crystal from the end of a black cord as he walked. “I’m not getting any response from the pendulum.”
“I sense something, but it’s more like a blanket of emotions. I can’t single out one particular person or entity.”
“Oh, maybe it will be Harold,” Aurelia said, laughing.
Suddenly, Mike’s pocket vibrated. He looked at his cell phone and examined it with a skeptical eye. “It’s Davin,” he announced. “He says they’re in Tessa’s dorm room and Emmet is passed out, so they’re going to experiment with the Ouija board.”
“Uh oh, we better get over there.”
Mike nodded, and the two friends exited Simpkins as quickly as they could without anyone noticing. Outside, the campus was dark aside from the occasional lamp, and laughter and shouts echoed from nearby fraternity houses.
It took fifteen minutes to get from one end of campus to the other, because Mike and Aurelia had walked to Simpkins earlier that evening. When they arrived at Bayliss Hall, they were sweaty and exhausted. Davin and Tessa met them downstairs and the four snuck past the night assistant to the elevator.
Tessa’s room was on the ninth floor. Her roommate, a tall and pudgy sophomore who wore clothes several sizes too small, introduced herself as Sam. As they stepped inside, Mike and Aurelia noticed the Ouija board laid out on the linoleum floor. Emmet was laying, face down, on Sam’s “Shrek” comforter, and several empty bottles of Pucker sat on the desk.
“How did it go at Simpkins Hall?” Greg asked as Mike and Aurelia found seats on the floor in the already cramped space. Aurelia took care to avoid sitting on or near anything pink, but her efforts proved useless.
“It was a bust,” Mike replied, “but maybe we’ll have better luck here. What’s the story again?”
“I heard several girls committed suicide in this dorm,” Sam said. “Maybe even on this floor.”
“Maybe even in this room,” Aurelia said, mockingly.
“Oh my God, do you think so?” Sam replied, missing the tone of Aurelia’s remarks.
Mike cleared his throat and scooted near the Ouija board. “Who wants to start?” He placed his fingers on one side of the planchette, and Davin and Tessa followed suit. They waited quietly for several moments and concentrated on breathing deeply. Then, when the trio relaxed, Mike began asking questions. “Is there someone else in here with us?” He glanced at Aurelia, and she nodded.
Slowly, meticulously, the planchette moved toward “yes” on the board.
“What’s your name?” Sam blurted.
Mike opened his mouth to chide her, but the plastic pointer slid toward the “S.” More quickly this time, it spelled out “S-a-l-l-y.”
Sam giggled and began clapping wildly. Tessa turned and shushed her roommate.
“Thank you,” Mike said under his breath, and then he turned his attention back to the Ouija board. “Were you a student here?”
A door slammed in the hallway and Sam screamed. She reflexively covered her mouth as everyone’s eyes fell on her. Suddenly, the bulb in the desk lamp burned out.
“Mike,” Aurelia said. “I think this is a bad idea. I’m getting a hostile vibe.”
“Give me a minute,” Mike replied. “Did you die here? What do you want?”
“R-E-V-E-N-G-E,” the planchette spelled out.
Aurelia jumped to her feet. “Mike!” “Give me one more minute.”
Suddenly, Emmet fell from the bed and landed with a thud on the floor next to a large plush elephant. His eyes shot open and he cried out in surprise as soon as he hit the cheap linoleum.
Mike, Davin, and Tessa all let go of the planchette at the same time, and it spun around several times before stopping on the Ouija board over the word “bye.” Mike grinned.
“What happened?” Emmet groaned. “Stop messing around.”
There was no reply, but Greg turned to him and smiled. Sam and Tessa were in shock— they had never seen the other side as the Fallen had time after time. There was no going back from that, but the Fallen could not concern themselves with easing the qualms of two college girls—they had to keep moving.
Sam and Tessa chatted about the incident all-night, but in the morning, after a quick dining hall breakfast of burnt bacon and powdered eggs, the Fallen disappeared.
[New episode every Friday…]
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