Click to read Chapter Nine Part Two
The four of them walked around, snapping pictures as they went. Everywhere Josh turned, he could see something, but nothing substantial. By the looks on Whisper's face, she experienced the same. Zach and Kendra grew giddier and giddier as they went.
"Man, this is so cool," Zach said. "Are you guys getting all these blips and streaks on your cameras?"
Kendra snuggled up next to him. "Totally, babe. It's pretty awesome."
Josh walked over to Whisper. "I don't know. Cool and awesome aren't the first two words coming to my mind."
"Yeah. Creepy is first, second, and third for me. And I'm getting a lot more than just blurs and blips. How about you?"
"Uh-huh. No fulls, but plenty of partial apparitions. I wonder if we have enough for Mr. Baxter yet."
Zach turned and snarled at them. "We're not leaving yet, you chickens."
Kendra grinned in a dark way Josh had never seen from her before. "Come on. It's just starting to get fun."
"But you didn't like it here the other day," Whisper said.
"Whatever. Now I know it's fun."
Zach pointed to the barn. "Let's go inside. I want to see if we can meet that old farmer dude and his headless henchman."
Kendra snuggled up to him as they quickened their pace, while Josh and Whisper slowed down. "Do you think we should?" Whisper said.
"No, but maybe we'll get some sort of clue about what's going on in there. It does seem to be one of the major hotspots in this whole place."
She hesitated, then nodded, and they followed Zach and Kendra. She clutched Josh's elbow with one hand, while the other held her camera, which clicked almost non-stop.
The balls of light, the streaks of energy, and the apparitions swarmed around them, but they didn't get much closer. It was like the energy was herding the group into the barn, and Josh didn't like that one bit. He almost said something, but didn't want to freak Whisper out any more. He needed to see inside.
Zach and Kendra reached the door, oblivious to their surroundings. Josh had no idea how they couldn't sense all the ghosts around them. They were all in the middle of a supernatural sea on the verge of drowning. The claw-like grip on his arm proved Whisper felt the same. Before the expected wave washed over them, they made it through the barn's door.
"Jeez, it's freezing," Whisper said. It had been unseasonably cold in the field, but it was like a meat locker in here. Zach had an arm around Kendra, presumably to keep her warm. Without thinking, Josh did the same for Whisper, and she snuggled into him. A tiny part of his brain recognized what just happened, but for the most part, he focused on the interior of the barn.
Though it felt a hundred times creepier in here, there was no sign of any ghosts. Josh had expected all of the visible energy from outside jammed into this tiny space. That there was nothing set him on edge even more.
Whisper shuddered against him. Zach and Kendra stood in the exact center of the floor plan and snapped picture after picture. They didn't stop to examine any of the shots. Josh raised his camera to take a few of his own when movement caught his eye in the hayloft.
Before he could ask what it was, Zach's voice rang though the small space. "Cool, it's the headless henchman." Kendra squealed as if she had found a basket of kittens.
Josh whirled around and saw it in the far corner. It made no move, but ill intent bled off. If it had eyes, he imagined they'd be sizing the group up.
"What is it?" Whisper asked.
Josh almost blurted out that it was a ghost, but that wasn't the full truth. It felt like all of the other apparitions they'd encountered, but there was something more to it. Much more, and he couldn't begin to explain. At least he had the wherewithal to snap a few pictures.
"There he is," Zach said, pointing up to the hayloft. Josh's attention shifted. Whatever Zach saw must've been what he noticed a minute ago.
The farmer looked down at them. Like the headless ghost, an aura of something more surrounded him, like extra power from beyond the grave. Whisper stiffened, and Josh felt his own legs turn to jelly.
Though the farmer was mostly transparent, he looked like he could do some actual damage. Especially since he held an overlarge machete in one hand. The look in his eyes said he both knew how to use it and wouldn't hesitate to do so.
"This is so cool," Zach said.
Kendra let out a shriek like she'd just found a great deal on a new purse. "So awesome, babe. Keep taking pictures."
Josh turned to Whisper and saw she agreed with him. This was anything but cool and awesome. Kendra did remind him, however, that he had a camera. He pointed it up towards the farmer and snapped away. Whisper joined in.
"Leave, Ghost Betweens," the farmer said. His mouth moved, but the words came to Josh's mind, not his ears. "You're not wanted here."
"But we are here," Whisper said. Josh was impressed with the forcefulness she put into her voice.
But it hadn't been her voice. Not really. He'd heard her in his mind, too, like the farmer.
Scuffling in the corner reminded him the headless ghost was still there. It stalked forward a few steps, and Josh had the distinct feeling it'd be salivating if it had a mouth.
"I can't hold him back much longer, Ghost Betweens. He may not have the power to destroy you, but I assure you your friends will become meat ribbons in short order." The farmer pointed at Zach and Kendra, who seemed oblivious to the conversation and kept snapping shots.
"What are Ghost Betweens?" Josh said. He meant to say it out loud, but the words traveled through his mind before they reached his lips. He wanted to ask more, but the sensation of telepathy, or whatever this was, stunned him.
"Don't play coy with me." The farmer took a step forward, off of the hayloft, and floated down to the ground.
"Cool," Zach and Kendra said simultaneously. It might have been funny in another circumstance, but right now Josh wasn't laughing.
"Your friends can stay," the farmer said, motioning at Zach and Kendra with his huge blade. "But you two must leave."
"You just said you'd let the headless one kill them," Whisper said.
"Alone they're safe. Don't test our patience any longer by lingering."
When they didn't move, the farmer nodded. The headless one leapt forward.
To be continued in the book...
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