Click to read Chapter Three
Mr. Baxter scrolled through the pictures, stopping long enough to see the anomalies on each. He asked some questions about a few--which way they were facing relative to the sun, how much glare they noticed, and other such concerns--but for the most part he clicked through. Josh followed along with him since he hadn't seen Zach's pictures on a big screen yet. He had to admit they were impressive, and though every instinct inside of him screamed that these were legitimate, he wasn't ready to call them supernatural.
After Mr. Baxter finished with Zach's pictures, he took Josh's phone and plugged it in. With a much smaller amount to go through, it didn't take as long. As he got to the last two, the ones Josh had a hard time disputing himself, he looked up at both boys. He pointed at the figure in the upper floor window.
"What do you see, Mr. Riley?"
"A farmer." He turned to Josh. "Wow, I can't believe you got him. That's who I saw. Remember? It was that dude right there."
"Do you see him, Mr. Hart?"
Josh nodded. "Yeah. Last night I figured it was because of what Zach said. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me."
"Do you see it, Mr. Baxter?" Zach asked.
"Plain as day. If it's a trick of the light, it's a hell of a trick." He pointed to the next picture. "How about here? What do you see?"
Josh and Zach both answered. "A headless person."
"Yeah, me too." Mr. Baxter sighed. "No offense, Mr. Hart, but I wish you had a better camera built into that phone. This one's not nearly good enough. To get proof, we need professional equipment."
"Mine are pretty good, though, right?" Zach said.
Mr. Baxter mulled that over for a second. "Yeah, those are okay, but we need something better. At home I have digital cameras that would give us our results. What do you guys say? If I bring a couple of those in tomorrow, would you be willing to go back for more pictures?"
"You bet," Zach said. "Sounds like fun."
"I suppose we were going to go back anyway. We might as well do it with better cameras."
"Excellent. No need to mention this to any of the other teachers or students. Most people don't quite get the concept of ghosts."
As Mr. Baxter unplugged Josh's phone, Kendra, Zach's girlfriend and one of Josh's best friends, walked in. Behind her stood the most beautiful girl Josh had ever seen. He'd never noticed her at school before.
"Hey, guys. Hello, Mr. Baxter." She walked over and gave Zach a quick hug. The girl stood back at the door. "Come in, Whisper. They won't bite. Well, I don't know about Josh, but Zach and Mr. B won't."
"Hey!" Josh said.
"I'm kidding, Joshy." Kendra turned to the new girl. "Josh is actually a really sweet guy." She turned and gave him an innocent smile. "Doesn't mean I can't pick on him, though."
The new girl gave them each a smile and walked closer. Yeah, he'd have remembered her. He smiled and mumbled a hello, but she didn't seem to hear.
Kendra took care of the introductions. "This is Whisper Douglas. It's her first day, sort of. She actually starts tomorrow, so I'm giving her a tour of everything."
Whisper gave a little wave and said, "Hello," just a bit louder than Josh had. Whisper. What a beautiful name.
Kendra pointed at Zach. "This is my boyfriend, Zach, who I was telling you about. I already mentioned, Josh. And that's Mr. Baxter. He teaches U.S. History."
"Nice to meet you, Whisper. I believe you're in my fifth period class. I was told I'd be getting a new student."
She pulled out a piece of paper which was likely her class schedule and nodded. "Yeah, there it is. Fifth period, U.S. History, Mr. Baxter."
Damn. Why couldn't she be in third period with him? Oh well, maybe they had another class together. He wanted to ask her what else she had, but his voice stuck in his throat. Kendra gave him a funny look. Oh no, she knew what he was thinking. How did she do that? Hopefully she wouldn't clue Whisper in.
"You lucked out you got Mr. B instead of Ms. Fredricks," Zack said. "His lessons are way cool. He even talks about ghosts and all kinds of other cool stuff."
"Thank you for the endorsement, Mr. Riley. I'm glad to know I'm getting through to you in my own little way."
They all chuckled, even Whisper. She had the laugh of an angel. Josh smiled again, and then felt himself blush as he figured Kendra was watching. Oh man, she was going to pick on him later. Hopefully out of Whisper's earshot.
"That's cool," Whisper said. "The history teacher at my old school was so boring. Any little thing will help."
"Do you like ghosts?" Josh asked. Lame, but it was all he could think to say. Kendra fought hard to keep a straight face, so he looked away and focused on Whisper.
"Yeah, some of the supernatural stuff is pretty interesting."
Zach perked up. "Do you believe?"
She bit her lip. Oh, god, that was cute. And a bit sexy. If that was how she mulled most things over, Josh needed to ask some thought provoking questions just so he could watch her do that.
"I want to," she finally answered. "But I don't know. I've never seen one."
"You and Mr. Hart might be surprised," Mr. Baxter said.
Before Josh could ask what he meant, Kendra let out a big exaggerated sigh. "Enough with the ghost stuff. What are you guys doing anyway?"
Before either Josh or Zach could answer, Mr. Baxter said, "We're talking about starting up a digital camera club. Don't say anything to anyone yet, though. We don't want to get hopes up if it doesn't take off."
"I love taking pictures," Whisper said. "If you do start it up, can I join?"
"Yeah," Josh said. "You're in."
Zach gave him an odd look, and Kendra had to turn away, he assumed to laugh. Whisper just gave a little shrug of joy. Wow, he so needed to make her do that more often. That was hot.
Kendra composed herself and turned back around. "I want in, too." She batted her eyelashes at Zach. "You don't mind, do you, sweetie?"
He shrugged. "No, that's fine. I like hanging out with you."
She flicked her hair back, a smug smile on her face. "We should probably get on with our tour. You ready, Whisper?"
"Yeah. It was nice to meet you all."
"You, too," Josh said. He wanted to add something else, something witty, but nothing came to mind, so he waved.
"Why don't you two meet us back here tomorrow after school and we'll talk more about the digital photography club. Remember, don't mention it to anyone else yet. Okay?"
Both girls agreed, waved, and left. When they were gone, Zach punched Josh in the arm. "Dude, we weren't supposed to tell anyone about any of this. Why did you invite her?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. She said she liked taking pictures. Besides, I didn't mention the ghosts."
"No, it's fine," Mr. Baxter said. "I saw her file, and I think she'll be a good fit."
"What did it say?" Zach said.
Mr. Baxter shook his head. "We're not treating this so-called club very academically, but remember, I'm still the teacher and you're the student. I'm not sharing that sort of info."
"Dude, he could get sued," Josh said.
"That, too, Mr. Hart, but more to the point, it's unethical. Anyway, Ms. Douglas should fit in fine. I have a bit of a worry about Ms. Phelps, though. I can't see her taking this very seriously."
"If she gets bored, she'll go do something else. Don't worry about her."
"Besides," Josh said, "I've known Kendra since we were five years old. If she gets caught up in something, she'll be obsessed. She could be a good asset for us."
Mr. Baxter rubbed his chin and nodded. "If you guys are fine with it, it's okay with me. You'll be the one at the farm, not me."
"How come? Don't you want to see the ghosts?"
"I'd love to see the ghosts, but I can't join you on this. District policy."
Josh wanted to say that it'd be like a field trip or sporting event or something, and plenty of teachers did those. Why couldn't Mr. Baxter? He didn't want to ask, though, in case it was something so obvious it made him look dumb.
"Okay, boys, come back tomorrow after school. I have plenty of cameras for all of you. Remember, say nothing about this. Ghost hunting wouldn't be a club the PTA or school board would endorse."
Josh and Zach said goodbye and headed out of the class. Before they got out the door, Mr. Baxter said, "And Mr. Riley, don't forget to do your reading for class tomorrow. There just may be a pop quiz."
"Ah, man. I hate pop quizzes. But how come you tell me and not Josh?"
Mr. Baxter kept a straight face, but Josh saw the sparkle in his eye. "Because Mr. Hart doesn't seem to have a problem getting his assignments done on a regular basis."
Josh laughed while Zach scowled. They waved goodbye and headed for the parking lot.
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