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Chapter 9 Part 1
As Josh and Zach headed to Mr. Baxter's class, neither said anything about Kendra's outburst. He had a silly thought that Zach didn't even remember it, and if asked, Kendra wouldn't either. But that was stupid. There was no supernatural force blanking their memories. Why would he even think something like that?
They walked into the classroom and found the girls already there. Kendra gave him a big smile and discreetly pointed to Whisper before she gravitated over to Zach. What had that meant? Whisper looked up from the computer screen and smiled. His heart skipped a beat. Had Whisper been talking about him with Kendra? Or was Kendra simply trying to play matchmaker when Whisper wasn't interested like that?
He pushed it out of his mind for the moment and stepped forward to the monitor. "These are amazing," Mr. Baxter said. "You four got some great pictures. There are energy blurs, energy balls, mist, partial apparitions, and even some full-bodied ones. And you're not pulling one over on me? These were all taken yesterday afternoon in that half-hour?"
Whisper nodded. "It might have been a bit longer than thirty minutes, but if so, it wasn't by much."
"Forty-five minutes, tops," Josh added.
"Yeah, but Josh and Whisper had all the fun," Zach said. "They actually saw some cool stuff. Kendra and I couldn't. And believe me, I tried."
Mr. Baxter nodded as if he expected it. Josh didn't think it would be proper to ask right now, but he filed it away. He glanced over to Whisper, and they shared a look that said she'd caught it, too.
Mr. Baxter continued scrolling through the pictures, and when he reached the end, he pointed at the shots of the tree. Josh shuddered when he thought of the ghost cycling through its last moments before the hanging. "I don't see anything on these last few. Why did you take them?"
"That was all Josh and Whisper," Kendra said. "They said they saw some funky ghost hanging himself or something. Gag."
"Yeah, but we didn't see anything," Zach said. "And we looked even after they left."
"Nothing," Kendra echoed.
Mr. Baxter looked up at Whisper and Josh. "But you saw something? Something that wouldn't stick to the digital photos?"
"A farmer," Whisper said. "He hung himself."
"We watched him do it over and over. Like he was stuck in an endless loop."
Mr. Baxter nodded. "Yeah, I expected plenty of residual activity there, but these other photos. Wow."
"You expected stuff?" Zach said.
"Sigh, Mr. Baxter. You're showing your nerd."
"I'll ignore Ms. Phelps, and say, yes, I was expecting a few bits of evidence. It would be hard not to get something at that place. But this? This is almost unimaginable."
"What do you mean?" Josh asked. "What kind of place is it?"
He waved his hand to shoo the question away. "Not now, not now. But can you four do me a huge favor? With the cameras again?"
"Back to the dirty old spooky farm?" Kendra asked.
"Not today, but maybe tomorrow." He glanced up at them, a look of concern etched on his face. "You don't mind giving up a Friday afternoon at the farm tomorrow, do you?"
"No way," Zach said. "You couldn't keep us away."
"Yeah, I guess that pretty much sums up all of our opinions," Josh said. "Except maybe Kendra."
She stuck her tongue out at him. "Shows what you know. I don't mind." She gripped Zach's arm a bit tighter, though.
"Yeah, that goes for me, too," Whisper said. "I can't wait to go back. But why tomorrow? Why not this afternoon?"
"I have another task for you. As I said, if you don't mind." When they each nodded, he continued. "I'd like you to go in teams of two to separate locations. A park, a shopping center, a gas station, anywhere. Take a few pictures and examine them on your own computers when you get home. Email me if you find anything strange." He handed them each a business card with his name and email address--the generic Gmail one he gave to all his students.
"Ooh, I like this assignment, Mr. B," Kendra said. "Come on, Zachy. I want to go take pictures at the mall."
"Good, good," Mr. Baxter said. "Mr. Hart, Ms. Douglas, maybe you two could go somewhere a bit less crowded. A local park perhaps? Don't stay long," he chuckled and looked at Zach. "Though I believe you may be out of luck, Mr. Riley."
"Sigh. I'll be good, Mr. B. We'll take pictures before we shop."
Zach shot a pleading look to Josh, who laughed. But then it sunk in. He was going to be alone with Whisper again. That was way awesome, but butterflies flapped around in his stomach. And they started to multiply.
He turned to Whisper. Was she blushing? "Are you okay with this? Would you rather go with Kendra?"
Kendra make a clicking sound, and when he looked at her, she mouthed, "Don't be dumb," and motioned at Whisper.
Before Whisper could answer, Mr. Baxter said, "You don't mind, do you Ms. Douglas? Because I'd really like to team you up with Mr. Hart in this one."
Whoa! Was Mr. Baxter trying to set them up, too? No, why would he do that? But what was going on?
Whisper blushed harder, noticeable to Josh this time, and nodded. "Yeah, it's fine. He proved he's a gentleman yesterday."
Kendra rolled her eyes at Josh, grabbed Zach's hand, and walked out. "We'll see you guys tomorrow."
"Pictures, Ms. Phelps. Remember the pictures." As they got to the door, he added, "And homework!"
"Don't worry," Zach called back as they left.
Whisper giggled, and Josh and Mr. Baxter just shook their heads. "Doesn't really matter," he said. "I believe you two are the key, being as you saw the apparition in the tree and they didn't."
"What's going on, Mr. Baxter?" Josh asked. "Something more than you're telling us. That's easy to see."
"I know, Mr. Hart, but you're just going to have to trust me today. Email if you see anything this afternoon, and head over to the farm tomorrow after school. Don't bother coming to see me. Email me tomorrow night about the farm, whether anything big shows up or not. Take as many pictures as you can, but only stay a short time, just like yesterday. Got it?"
They both nodded.
"I'll clue you in later, I promise. But I don't want anything tainted until I see more of what's going on. Okay? Now get to it. I'll see you both in class tomorrow."
They both said goodbye and headed for Josh's car.
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