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"Log everything and be prepared to present it in the evidence review. On the surface it looks like we've been able to collect some good evidence, but I suggest that you reserve judgment until we've been able to put it all together and see if it forms a bigger picture." Alana said to the group.
"What about Zoe? Don't we need to do something to protect her?" Kerry asked anxiously.
"We should certainly keep an eye on it, but there's nothing so far to indicate that any sort of attachment has taken place, only the first overtures of a pre-possession scenario." Alana said, then realized that her assurances had only served to make Kerry more worried for his family.
"In other words, we've spotted indications of some traps, but there's nothing to say that anyone has been caught in them." Alana said more gently.
"Is it bad enough to make us stop investigating?" Toni asked anxiously.
"Let's not make any decisions about that until we've finished the evidence review. I doubt that we'll stop the investigation. More likely, we'll reorganize the teams a little, to provide better protection for our less experienced team members." Alana said confidently.
"I can do our evidence review if you'd rather not be reminded of what you've experienced." Jack gently told his wife.
"No. I might be able to provide some insights about what I was sensing at the time. I don't think that I could go back there, but I can do this much." Kyla finished with a reasonable amount of resolve.
"Just let me know if it starts bothering you. We can stop anytime you want." Jack told his wife gently.
"Thanks. I'll let you know." Kyla promised.
"Van, check this out." Hunter whispered loudly enough to gain Van's attention..
"What did you find?" Van immediately responded.
"I don't know. Listen to this and tell me if you think it might be something." Hunter said in a more normal voice as Van crowded in beside him and accepted the offered headphones.
Once Hunter was sure that Van was listening, he moved the slider to replay the segment that he had just been listening to.
Van flinched a little at the loudness of his own voice asking 'What is your name?'.
In the faint muffled sound that followed, Van could barely hear something that might possibly be a voice.
"Is this the original file or a copy?" Van cautiously asked.
"This is what I downloaded from the audio recorder." Hunter slowly answered.
"I'll copy and paste this segment of it into a new file, name it after the original file, and tack 'clip 1-version 1' to the end of it." Van said as he worked.
"Alright..." Hunter said slowly as he watched what Van was doing.
"I'm just telling you so that you'll know how I'm organizing things, in case you need to go back and find something on your own later." Van said seriously.
"Does Kerry do that for you when you two are working together?" Hunter asked curiously.
"Huh?" Van asked as he was jarred out of his concentration.
Before Hunter could reiterate his question, Van realized what he was asking and answered. "We're kinda used to working together now, so he doesn't do it as much as he used to. But starting out, he'd explain what he was doing, step by step, so that I could step in and take over for him if he got called away or something."
"Like copying pieces of audio files?" Hunter asked to confirm.
"Well, not really. That's just copy and pasting." Van said dismissively.
"I was just asking because my moms never really showed me any of their ghost hunting stuff like that." Hunter said bitterly.
"I don't know. I mean, you remembered that blessing, and that was in a foreign language. That tells me that your moms probably showed you a lot more than you realize. You absorbed the things you were interested in or had a natural talent for. They didn't push you to learn more than you wanted to know and you remembered the things that were most important to you. You can't blame them too much for what you don't know. After a certain point, it's up to you to ask questions and do the research." Van said as he sat up and looked away from his keyboard.
"Ya know, you make it really tough for me to blame my parents for my own laziness." Hunter said with a look askance at him.
"Naw, You can still blame them. Nobody ever said that your complaints about your parents had to be based in reality or make sense, take it from one who knows." Van finished with a pained look at his friend.
"I guess that's true." Hunter easily conceded, then continued, "Let's see if we can figure out this audio clip."
"I tell you what. If you'll wear the headphones, I'm going to start running the clip through all the different filters, one after another. Stop me if any of them sound like something understandable."
"Yeah. Okay." Hunter said as he put his hands over the headphones on his ears to help block out as much external noise as he could.
Lacking a reason to do otherwise, Van started at the top of the list of filters and applied the first one. Just as soon as the modification was complete, he clicked 'play' so that Hunter could hear the resulting sound file while he started on the next one.
"That was just noise." Van said a little too loudly and Van nodded that he had received the message, knowing that Van couldn't hear him.
Van continued on and played the next filtered clip.
Hunter listened for a moment, then said, "Hiss."
Van nodded and moved to the next.
"Hold on. I heard something in that one." Hunter said seriously.
"Could you make out what it was saying?" Van asked hopefully.
"No. It was just 'Whaa Whaa Whaa', but I could hear something like a pattern of speech in it. Hold onto it and we might be able to overlay it with something else later to make sense of it." Hunter said seriously.
Van nodded and created a new folder to house copies of potentially useful clips.
As soon as he was done, he filtered the next clip and clicked on 'play'.
"Hold on. You need to hear this one." Hunter said as he took off the headphones.
"What'd you get?" Van asked excitedly.
"I don't want to say. Listen to it and tell me what you think it is." Hunter said urgently.
Van put on the headphones, then clicked on 'play'.
After listening for a moment, Van hesitantly asked, "The ghost's name is Manny?"
"Yeah. I think so. It was still a little garbled, but that's what I got out of it." Hunter confirmed.
"Let's run this through the other filters, then move on with the rest of the EVP session. If we let this slow us down too much we'll be at it all night. We haven't even gotten to the video evidence yet." Van said anxiously.
"Why don't you go ahead with the filters on this clip while I start listening to the rest of the EVP session? That way you can take the time to get the evidence as clean and sharp as you can while I scout ahead and flag anything else that sounds like it could turn out to be something." Hunter said professionally.
"Yeah. Just make sure to get me if you need any help making copies or anything." Van said as he took out a second pair of headphones and plugged them in.
"I can use a computer. I just don't know the setup of that program that you're using." Hunter said petulantly.
"I know. That's why I'm telling you to get me if you need a sound clip copied. We don't want to take a chance of messing up the master file." Van said reasonably.
"Yeah. I guess." Hunter reluctantly agreed.
"And tell me right away if Manny says anything else." Van quickly added.
"Count on it."
Kerry focused his attention on the video from the hallway outside the room he and Teresa had been in.
While he could 'hear' the sounds of knocking and footsteps, no matter how he tried, he couldn't 'see' anything causing the sounds. He tried speeding the video up, slowing it down, and applying various different filters to suss out some cause for the variety of very deliberate sounds. All things considered, he had to admit that it could just be an old building settling.
He was able to sync his handheld audio to the audio from the video, but that didn't yield any additional information.
As he plodded on, he sincerely hoped that his and Teresa's investigation of the hotel rooms would end up with something to focus on and investigate further.
"Dad!" Toni called across the room, breaking the long contemplative silence.
"What's wrong?" Kerry asked as he hurried to her side.
"You do this a lot more than I do. What is that?" Toni asked as she pointed to the image on her laptop screen.
"Mr. Potato Head?"
"I'm just kidding. Why don't you take a step back and take a good look at what's in front of you. It's blurry and ill defined. From the look of it, I can't be sure if you've found something or not. It could easily be a case of pareidolia, where your mind automatically compensates for missing information. In this case it could be making this blurry image appear to have recognizable humanoid features. My advice is to log it, remember it, and keep looking for other instances to corroborate what you might have discovered here." Kerry said firmly.
"But it does look like a ghost, doesn't it?" Toni pressed.
"Log it and get the team's advice in the evidence review. Until then, keep working. If you can find another instance of this same... manifestation in the video or other still photos, then you might well have a piece of 'Class A' evidence here." Kerry told his daughter professionally.
"Right. I'd better get my head in the game or Lorra's going to become a full fledged paranormal investigator while I'm still chasing ghosts." Toni said seriously.
Kerry gave his daughter a quick firm hug before returning to his own evidence review.
"Can't we do the brat ghost now?"
"No. We can't have our dessert until we've finished our dinner."
"You sound just like my mom."
"Thanks. Your mom's a great person. Being just like her sounds like a good way to go." Lorra said frankly.
"Yeah. I guess." Malika reluctantly agreed, then further explained, "No matter what I do, I just don't feel like I'll ever be as good as she is."
"You won't be." Lorra said simpy, then playfully added, "You're two very different people. You'll only ever be as good as yourself. Just make the most of what you've got and I'm sure she'll be proud of you."
"You know, you're way too perky to be a ghost hunter." Malika said with a barely restrained smile.
"Yeah. I know. I really need to work on that." Lorra chuckled, then said more seriously, "I think I'm ready. Let's see if we can get this video and external audio to sync up."
"The clips are all loaded, just tell me what to do next."
"How are you doing over here?"
"Fine." Max said in puzzlement, then slowly asked, "Did you need something?"
"Actually, that's what I wanted to ask you. I saw you working alone over here and since your teammate and our teammate ran off to do other things, we wondered if you'd like to join us." Mike said frankly.
"Charity shouldn't be away too long. I'm just going through things and queueing up potential evidence so that she can look at it with her advanced knowledge and years of experience." Max said frankly.
"We could do that, too." Norville said from Mike's side.
"Yeah. Instead of bumbling through a bunch of stuff that we don't really understand, we can get everything lined up for Derek to check out when he gets back." Mike confirmed.
"Thanks for offering to help, guys. I appreciate it. It really makes me feel like part of the team." Max said timidly.
"Yeah. But we should be thanking you. I think we're probably going to do a lot better job because of what you just told us." Mike said timidly before ushering Norville away.
Max smiled at the interaction before turning his attention back to his work.
"Where do you want me?" A woman's voice asked, causing a few of the members of the team to look up from their individual tasks.
"You can have that side of the table to yourself, if you'd like to be able to spread out." Alana said as she indicated the table just inside the door.
"Have you already reviewed the footage from the room?" Marsha asked as she began to place her equipment on the table.
"No. Since you said that there wasn't any activity, I've been reviewing the video of my walkabout, trying to find any environmental cause to explain what I experienced." Alana said simply.
Marsha nodded her acknowledgement as she continued to set up her work area to her liking.
"Alana, we've finished our walk-through. Would you like for us to retrieve any cameras or anything on our way back?" Charity asked over the walkie-talkie.
"No. Let's leave them a while longer. After the evidence review we'll go as a group and retrieve the equipment. That has the best chance of yielding something of interest."
"Right. We'll be down in a few minutes then." Charity happily responded.
Alana looked around the room at all the different people working on her behalf and cautiously asked, "Does anyone need any help with anything before I dig back into it?"
"If you've got a minute, I'd like to show you something." Jack hesitantly responded.
Alana looked around the room to be sure that no one else needed her attention before walking to stand behind Jack and Kyla.
"The pictures that I took aren't the same thing as what we saw when I was taking them." Jack said seriously.
"There was something or... someone standing in the picture looking back at us." Kyla elaborated.
"So do you think that you imagined seeing something more in the painting or maybe a psychic insight?" Alana asked in a leading tone.
"If it's something like that, there wasn't any indication that it was unreal and we both experienced it." Jack said seriously, then added more quietly, "Honestly, I just don't know. But if it's not our imaginations, then maybe it's some sort of optical illusion that the camera can't pick up." Jack said uncertainly.
"Keep looking for answers. But failing that, perhaps you could come up with a list of observations and suggestions to guide the next team in the right direction." Alana said seriously.
"I'm really sorry for dumping this on you." Jack said repentantly.
"Don't worry about it. Doing it this way may actually be better for the investigation, we can approach the same thing from different directions and apply different methods of investigation to it." Alana said frankly.
"I like the sound of that." Jack cautiously admitted.
"And this way you'll still be included in the investigation, even if you aren't on the front line conducting it yourself.
"We'll get right to work on our review." Jack assured her.
"Alana?" A low woman's voice tentatively asked to draw her attention.
"Yes?" Alana cautiously responded, girding her emotions for a probable assault.
"I couldn't help but overhear your discussion with Jack and Kayla. They're investigating the haunted painting aren't they?"
"Yes. That's right."
"I'm well versed in the lore of such things and since our investigation doesn't seem to be yielding very much at the moment, perhaps I could offer to share my expertise on the phenomena with them." Marsha offered encouragingly, which was in strict contrast to her usual brashness.
"That sounds like a good idea. I'd like to see what we come up with in the evidence review before making any decisions about restructuring the teams, but however that ends up going, I'll be sure to take your wishes into account." Alana assured her.
Marsha was obviously not happy with being told to wait, but fortunately didn't appear to have the will to press the issue.
"How's it going Norville?" Mike gently asked, not wanting to startle him.
"I keep starting to fall asleep, but I don't think I missed anything. So far there's just been some bumps and the sounds of wind blowing. I wrote it all down." Norville said seriously.
"That's fantastic. I was thinking that everyone might appreciate it if we could take a break. Since you know where everything is, maybe we could make some coffee or something for everyone." Mike suggested hopefully.
"I'm not good at making coffee. Every time I try, I mess it up and the grinds get in everything." Norville said regretfully, then quickly added, "But I can make really good hot chocolate!"
"That sounds great. I think everyone's probably ready for a break." Mike said frankly.
"Do you want to come with me? I don't like going in the kitchen by myself at night." Norville asked hopefully.
"Yeah. Let's get our equipment." Mike said with a smile at him.
"Do you want us to do ghost hunting while we're there?" Norville asked hesitantly as he stood.
"No. But if a ghost shows up, I'd like to be able to prove it." Mike said simply.
Norville demonstrated his agreement by gathering his equipment.
"How's everything going down here?" Derek asked as he walked into the conference room.
"Did you find anything?" Alana asked as she hurriedly stood.
"Possibly. But so far nothing that would indicate an entity. Charity and I are going to need a few minutes to gather our evidence and put everything in an understandable order. I don't want to speculate too much, but I think you'll be interested in what we found." Derek calmly explained.
"I'll look forward to it." Alana said honestly.
"Where are Mike and Norville?" Derek asked as he looked around.
"I didn't see them leave. They were just here a minute ago." Alana said as she looked around uncertainly.
"I'm sure they'll be back by the time Charity and I are done with this." Derek said decisively.
"I'm sure they will be." Alana said with a reasonable amount of confidence.
"Did Derek fill you in?" Charity asked as she approached the pair.
"He basically said that he couldn't tell me anything until you've had a chance to review your evidence." Alana said simply.
Charity considered for a moment, then said, "That's basically all there is for right now. We may have something... we may not. We'll tell you all about what we've found in the review."
"I can't wait."
"Who's ready to take a break?" Mike asked as Norville followed, pushing a service cart.
"What have you got there?" Kerry asked with a curious smile.
"We were starting to get a little punchy, so we decided to make hot chocolate and bust out some cookies so that we can take a little break together." Mike explained uncomfortably.
"Thanks for doing that, Mike. I think we're all about due for a break." Kerry said honestly.
"Something warm to drink sounds pretty good to me right now." Derek said as he quickly approached the service cart.
"Here you go. I hope you like it." Norville said as he ladled a cup of hot chocolate from the steaming pot.
"It smells wonderful." Alana said with a smile of girlish delight at her approach.
"Yeah. They don't use instant here." Mike said simply.
"For some reason that doesn't surprise me." Jack said as he accepted his steaming cup.
"These cookies are amazing!" Kyla said enthusiastically.
"Juliana makes them. I think she said they're her own recipe. They're really good." Norville explained.
"Yes they are." Alana agreed before taking a second one for herself.
"This is really good, Norville. Thanks for making it for us." Charity said gratefully.
"Yes. After traipsing around in the cold and the dark, this is a welcome relief." Alana agreed.
"It was Mike who thought that everyone needed a break." Norville timidly explained.
"Thank you too, Mike. It was an excellent idea." Alana said with a smile.
"Yeah. I'm glad you're enjoying it." Mike muttered uncomfortably.
"So, has anyone come across anything that they want to talk about?" Derek asked curiously.
"I don't want to encourage anyone to jump to conclusions before they've had a chance to fully investigate." Alana cautioned.
"Yeah. I get that. But if one of us actually saw something, it might give the rest of us an idea of what to look for." Derek said in his own defense.
"It's a moot point for me. I didn't see anything anyway. I just had some creepy feelings." Alana said simply.
"We got some of those creepy feelings too." Hunter said unenthusiastically.
"Are we the only ones to have a visual manifestation?" Derek asked with surprise.
"We had visual phenomena, but so far as we can tell, none of it recorded." Jack said unhappily.
"We may have something." Charity said to the group, then turned to Max and asked, "Did you find anything on my handheld?"
"I haven't reviewed it yet. I wanted to get the mundane tasks out of the way so that we could do the exciting part together." Max timidly admitted.
"That's kinda what Malika and I did, too." Lorra said with surprise.
At Charity's curious look, Lorra explained, "We're making sure that all the plain ordinary stuff is as plain and ordinary as we expect it to be. That way we can have all the rest of our time to work on the things that might actually lead to something."
"That sounds like a good way of clearing out the bulk of the work without letting the tedium draw you down." Charity said approvingly.
"Plus, you don't have to worry about leaving things undone if you find something you want to investigate further." Max helpfully added.
"So far everything's going great. Even when we're not finding a ghost, we're still doing something by proving that there's really nothing there." Lorra explained.
"Just remember that many times you can't prove a negative. Do your best, but accept that sometimes it just isn't possible, then carry on with what is possible." Charity said sagely.
Alana nodded her agreement to the advice.
"We're not giving up on our hot spot, but since nothing's happening there, do you think we should work on the other ghost that we found or check out more of the rooms?" Hunter asked curiously.
"Other ghost? That's the first I'm hearing of this. What did you find?" Alana asked with interest.
"The first time we looked at our hotspot there wasn't anything there, so we decided to check out the rest of our area, just to see what's there, and we ended up finding... I don't know... a poltergeist or something. He didn't really do much while we were there, but when we checked the audio, we actually got something." Hunter carefully explained.
"What did you get?" Derek asked curiously.
"Something. We're still working on it. We should be able to tell you about it in the evidence review."
"Yes. Take the time you need to present the best, most well researched evidence that you possibly can." Alana said seriously.
"You don't have to worry about us. Kerry trained me right and Hunter's been on investigations with his moms, he knows how serious this stuff is." Van said confidently
"What more could we ask? I can't wait for your presentation." Alana said pleasantly.
"Does anyone have anything they think the whole group should know?" Charity asked loudly to be heard by everyone.
"It looks like we've got a ghost that targets men. Once we've had a chance to look at everything, we might end up needing a woman's help to sort it all out. It's still too early to decide anything for sure." Derek said frankly
"Just keep us up-to-date and we'll see that you get the help you need." Alana assured him.
Derek nodded his confirmation, then glanced at Mike and Norville, in case they had something to add.
After a look at each other, Mike and Norville gave nods of agreement to the stated plan.
"Anyone else? This is a good chance for you to draw on the emassed knowledge and lived experience of the other teams. If there's something you're not sure of, this is your chance to get, if not an answer, then perhaps, another point of view." Alana said seriously.
"We've got a ghost who likes to slam things like a spoiled little kid who's not getting his own way. Is there anything we can do to get a ghost like that to talk to us, or should we just leave him be?" Lorra asked seriously..
"There's a chance that you may be assigning emotions to actions that aren't justified. But assuming that you're correct about the entity's state of mind, I suppose the best thing you can do is be firm, set boundaries, and follow through when you say that you're going to do something. In other words, don't threaten an action that you're unwilling or unable to realistically take." Alana said thoughtfully.
"Yeah. That sounds good." Lorra muttered as she thought about how to apply Alana's advice to their situation.
"If it gets too bad, surround yourself with light. That's what got rid of our ghost." Van said seriously, mostly to his sister.
"Is it like the meditation thing that Mom tries to get us to do?" Malika hesitantly asked.
"Yeah. Me and Hunter used it on our ghost and it worked." Van said frankly.
"If I start feeling scared, I'll try that." Malika said tentatively.
"Yeah. And if you get stuck or something you can call us on the radio. We bulldozed one ghost with our light, we can bulldoze another." Van said confidently.
"I think we can do this, but we'll call if it gets to be too much." Lorra said confidently.
Van nodded his acknowledgement and seemed satisfied with the response.
Alana looked around the gathering of people sipping hot chocolate, nibbling cookies, and chit-chatting amiably. As her gaze finally lingered for a moment, she finally said, "Jack, you were saying that you'd like to take a step back from your investigation. Do you still feel that way?" Alana asked cautiously.
"I'm sure that Kyla would rather that it be more than one step, but yeah." Jack reluctantly confirmed.
"Marsha has mentioned that she's interested in helping you with your investigation, since she's studied that specific realm of paranormal research. If you'd like, maybe the three of you could work something out so that Marsha can focus on the physical investigation while you and Kyla do research and brainstorm more in the background." Alana cautiously suggested.
"That's not a bad idea." Jack said consideringly, then turned to his wife and asked, "What would you think about that?"
"As much as I'd like to forget that that painting ever existed, having someone to act as a buffer sounds like a reasonable compromise. You can have the best of both worlds, you can investigate while maintaining a reasonable distance." Kyla said frankly.
"What do you think about it, Marsha?" Jack asked, officially inviting Marsha into the conversation that she had obviously been listening to.
"I'm interested." Marsha cautiously admitted.
"There could be some danger. We don't know if we've got a ghost, a demon, or possibly even some form of gateway, opening at random intervals." Jack explained.
"It's for experiences like this that I joined a paranormal team. I can't wait to get started." Marsha said, ending with a slow smile.
A few looks flashed around the room, although everyone had the good grace not to verbalize their feelings about Marsha's smile and all its creepiness compared to the 'nasties' they were there to study.
Jack finally broke the uncomfortable silence by asking, "Would you like to help us finish reviewing our evidence? So far we haven't found anything, but maybe you might be able to spot something that we missed."
"If Alana doesn't need me..." Marsha trailed off with a cautious look at her employer.
"I have no reason to believe that we have recorded a single shred of evidence in our investigation, so I don't have any problem finishing the review myself. Hopefully you'll be able to bring a new perspective to their investigation."
Marsha was obviously pleased with the response and moved to gather her things and join Jack and Kyla.
"Does anyone want some more hot chocolate before I put the fire out?" Norville cautiously asked the group.
"Fire?" Derek asked with surprise.
"They've got some kind of a double boiler chafing dish or something that he's using to keep the hot chocolate hot. I saw him set it up. It's really top notch." Mike explained, finishing with a quick smile at Norville.
"Well, since you've been keeping it hot, I think I'd like another cup." Derek said as he held his empty cup forward to Norville to fill.
As one might expect, a queue formed up behind Derek, giving everyone a second go at the delicious treat.
"Everyone! Find a good stopping place and gather your evidence." Alana announced, startling more than one person in the room.
"Do you want me to wake Norville?" Mike asked wearily.
"No. Let him sleep. We'll wake him up when the review starts." Derek said as he stood.
"Do you need any help?" Mike cautiously asked.
"Actually, yeah. If you'll take another look at our evidence, you can make sure that we've got a copy of everything in our presentation folder." Derek said as he went through the process of setting up a laptop.
"I don't know what to do. I've never done anything like this before." Mike said honestly.
"You've done fine collecting the evidence files. Now just make sure that we have copies of everything in one place so that we can present it. Worst case scenario, you'll miss something and we'll have to go back and find it. That's no big deal." Derek said seriously as he simultaneously lowered a large projector screen at the side of the room.
"I wish more places had a setup like this. This is nice." Charity said as she appreciated the high quality equipment and well thought out placement.
"It'd make client presentations a lot easier." Derek agreed.
"Were you able to get all your stuff done all by yourself?" Toni asked her father curiously.
"There really wasn't anything for me to find. I've got tons of audio, but nothing visual to account for it. You could take all my evidence and label it 'a chorus of a settling building'." Kerry said frankly.
"I can't wait for you to see what Zoe and I got." Toni said excitedly.
"Did you have enough time to get through all of it?" Kerry asked with concern.
"I didn't get to go through every recording, but I was able to listen to at least one recording from each of the EVP sessions." Toni said seriously.
"Good. That will help you narrow it down. If you do find anything, we can go back and look at the same time stamp on the other recordings." Kerry told his daughter seriously.
Alana looked around the room at all her researchers and calmly said, "It looks like everyone's almost ready. Who wants to go first?"
To Be Continued...
Editor's Notes: Well, for me, the situation seems to be coming to a point where we can see several different perspex unfolding and maybe finding som enlightening information
Generally, when it comes to the so called supernatural events, It is difficult to provide substantial observations that will hold up under close examination using technology.
The human senses are usually more attuned to the various signs and signals being presented, than electronic or mechanical devices can detect.
I guess wi will jut have to wait and see what develops, so to speak.
I hope things will be found and exploited to the fullest extent possible,
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher