February 10, 2010
PHIA Presents: My Senior Experience
It was a dreary and cold day when the amateur ghost hunting team, PHIA was started. Sam Johnson sat at her laptop at her friend’s house, typing a list of questions and her other friend, Alisa, was playfully filming over her shoulder.
“What are ya doing?” Alisa asked Sam while holding the camera in her face. Sam, annoyed, held up her hand to the camera lens and smirked playfully.
“I’m trying to get this list of questions done,” she answered, removing her hand and continuing to type.
“Ah? What for—oh, wait! Is it that investigation thing for school?” Alisa asked, pushing back her long hair with the hand that wasn’t holding the camera.
“Yeah, it is. Now will you put that camera away?” Sam looked up, exasperated while Alisa smiled sweetly.
“Just figuring out how to work it. Hey! I could help you, you know. You don’t have to do this by yourself.”
“No. I don’t need anymore people. I think I can handle it,” Sam looked back at her screen and cupper her chin in her hands thoughtfully. “I’m missing some questions though. I know little of the history at Joanna’s place,” she continued.
“Sam, if you can’t do it, I don’t think anyone can. C’mon, you’re a good writer, I’ve read some of your stuff before,” Alisa was still filming Sam.
“I haven’t!” exclaimed a man who was sitting across from them, half watching the television and half listening.
“Clint, could you please turn that down?” Sam asked, trying to be nice. Clint gave her a look, shook his head slowly and resumed watching the television, the remote untouched on his knee.
“Clint,” Alisa scolded.
Clint looked at her, “what?” At Alisa’s quick look to the TV he sighed and grabbed the remote to turn it down. “There! Jeeze you guys. You could always go to the kitchen; you don’t have to be out here.”
Sam stopped contemplating the screen above to look at Clint with a disapproving look. “Do you mind?”
“Not really,” Clint laughed. “I’ve never been good at that sort of thing. You know how it is?” Alisa chuckled and turned the camera directly onto Clint who shook his head and sighed. “What exactly are you guys doing?”
“My senior project? Duh, c’mon I’ve been telling you about this for the last couple of days,” Sam replied.
“And it involves cameras in my face? I don’t think so.”
“Would you rather be behind a camera?” Sam asked sarcastically. Clint stopped to think about it.
“Sure, why not?”
“Really?” Sam and Alisa asked in unison.
“Yeah? Pshh, why not? It’s not that hard. There’s the ‘on’ button and the record button. That’s all I need to know right?” Clint asked.
“I guess,” Sam answered hesitantly.
“Well I’ll do it. Count me in, it sounds like it could be fun. What’s the project about?”
“Joanna Harper. Her ex-husband seems to be haunting her house,” Sam replied.
“Creepy. So why’d you choose that place? Why not…Deadwood?”
“Who’s gonna pay for gas money and everything else we have to pay for?” Sam asked, now annoyed once more.
“Not me, that’s for sure!” Clint replied being smart alec.
“Nah, we’re just gonna go there this afternoon, interview Joanna and then discuss what we think about it back here afterwards. If it’s something we want to get involved in, we’ll do an investigation of the place tomorrow night,” Sam stated, now looking back at the computer.
“I have to work tomorrow night, but I’ll help ya today, if that’s cool. I’ve got nothing better to do,” Clint smiled.
Alisa set the camera on the table, still positioned on Sam and sat down across from her. “We could get a couple more people too if we had to. Jimmy might help us out. Maybe Spencer?” These were high school friends of Sam.
She shrugged. “I dunno. I could call them.”
“Well do it now, before they’re off doing something else,” Clint suggested, his interest half captivated by the TV once more. Sam nodded and got up to get the phone. Several minutes later, she hung up the phone and with a smile, nodded.
“They’re in. Now turn off the camera, Alisa! You’re wasting—” Alisa turned off the camera.
“Please guys, be professional, ok? I know you guys volunteered and I’m grateful for it, but this is like a job interview. Just be cool, ok?” Sam asked her small group outside the door to Joanna Harper’s old house. She had a camera on them and then turned to go inside. The steps leading up to the door were concrete and the thought of them made her shiver.
Jimmy, a good friend of hers smirked and laughed while Clint mocked her behind her back. Alisa had caught it on film, having the other camera rolling. Spencer drifted not too far behind them, looking at the house oddly, like it made him feel weird. Sam noticed, but didn’t say anything. She knocked on the door and waited.
A couple minutes later, a woman whom Sam assumed to be Joanna, opened the door with a flourish and a wide—almost too wide—smile on her face.
“Welcome! Come in, come in!” Joanna’s demeanor made Sam feel a bit awkward and off kilter herself. Something wasn’t right, she could feel it.
“I hope you don’t mind, Joanna, but I’m going to film the interview. This part is also for my senior experience,” Sam explained. Joanna smiled again—she smiles a lot, Sam thought.
“Oh it’s not a problem. I’m sure Marcus wouldn’t mind either,” Joanna said off handedly.
“Marcus?” Jimmy asked from right behind Sam.
“My dead husband,” Joanna replied as she led them to her cluttered and messy living room. The reply made the hair stand up on the back of everyone’s neck. Alisa remained just at the entrance to the living room while Spencer, Clint, Jimmy and Sam crowded into the living room. Sam handed Clint the camera with a look that meant “Please do a good job” and Clint smiled at her before bringing the camera to eye level. Sam sat down in a chair kitty corner to Joanna’s seat on some kind of bed. Spencer grabbed the clipboard from under his arm and fished a pen out of his pocket and sat on the floor by Clint’s feet and prepared to take notes.
Sam stalled for a moment before looking past the group to Alisa who gave her a thumbs up. Clint followed this transaction with his own camera while Jimmy honed in on Joanna; Sam had opted him in for helping with the interview process.
“So, your husband knows we’re here?” Jimmy asked.
“Probably,” Joanna smiled again, her eyes twinkling madly. Jimmy stepped back and accidentally kicked Spencer in the knee.
“Ow!” Spencer complained with a frown at Jimmy.
“I’m sorry, man.”
“Anyways, this is my team, Jimmy, Clint, Spencer and Alisa’s over there,” Sam explained to Joanna. “And I’m Sam Johnson, the lead investigator of our group.”
“Do you have any idea what you’re doing?” Joanna asked, suddenly serious.
“Yes, I do. We all do, I briefed them on the finesse of paranormal investigating. So it should be all good. So, please, Joanna, don’t keep me waiting. Tell me about why you asked us to come here,” Sam prodded gently.
“Ah. Why you’re here. Why you’re here?” she said it like a question. “I’m not sure why you’re here. Why are you here?” Joanna asked. She seemed really out of it. Sam glanced up at Clint who was filming her. She looked taken aback, like a slap in the face. She had just talked to Joanna just the day before. What was going on? Spencer was taking notes like crazy. Sam vaguely had the thought that if he was just doodling, she’d slap him silly.
“Oh! Yes! My dear Marcus. He’s still in the house. Doing odd little things. Like this one time, I’d set down my glass on the kitchen counter and it slowly started to move away from me! And when I reached for it, it shot off the table of it’s own accord! I know he’s probably mad at me for leaving him so many years ago. But it’s his fault. When he died, I got the house. I didn’t really want it, though,” Joanna now looked sullen, her eyes downcast to the floor.
“A glass shot off the counter when you made to reach for it?” Sam asked incredulously. She had been taught to approach paranormal investigating as a skeptic.
“Yes. It did. Broke the glass too! I was so angry I threw Marcus down the stairs and locked him in the basement. That was a few weeks ago. I’m pretty sure he’s out and about now,” Joanna rambled on, sounding extremely crazy. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. Sam watched her comrades’ shift in uncomfortable embarrassment from Joanna’s story. None of them believed it.
“You threw your husband down the stairs?” Jimmy asked, smirking.
“Oh! It’s true! I do it all the time, but he comes up through the vents and messes with the curtains!” Joanna replied, smiling mischievously. Everyone’s eyes turned to the curtains on the windows around the room. They were still and unmoving. “He’ll do it soon, just you wait.”
“Mrs. Harper—” Sam started.
“Joanie. That’s what Marcus used to call me,” Joanna corrected with a far away look. She was really not all there, Sam realized. She’d hoped though, that her time would not be wasted.
“Ok, Joanna—Joanie. What happened? How did your husband die?”
“Oh, a house fire! It was horrible. I was out to the grocery store one day and then came back to see the paramedics carrying him out of the house. Through the front door! Can you imagine?”
“Oh my, I’m sorry,” Sam apologized condolingly. “That must be horrible!”
“It was. He never leaves the front door unlocked. The fire marshal said that it was unlocked and opened. He also said that the fire had started in the bedroom. But that don’t make sense,” Joanna began to rock back and forth, not making eye contact with anyone. Sam heard Clint mutter unintelligibly. She gave him a warning look and he smiled reassuringly.
“Whoa, why not?” Jimmy asked.
“Because. None of it makes sense. Oh, I can still see his dead body, his skin was like…sooty wax. All charred but so white. It was the worst day of my life—until he came back.”
“He came back?” Sam swallowed. She tried to understand what was going on, but simply couldn’t.
Suddenly, Spencer coughed, making everyone jump. He looked up from his writing and stared straight at Joanna. Out of the corner of Sam’s eye, she saw something moving. She directed her attention to it and saw to her shock that the curtain on the far window had moved! It hadn’t moved a little, but it was all the way open.!
“Oh my god! Look at that!” She glanced back to make sure both cameras were on the scene. Joanna didn’t even bother to look as Sam jumped up to investigate the curtain. “Are you serious?”
“He does that sometimes, I tell ya what. But I know why he’s here! He knows I know his secret. His secret. His secret…” Joanna repeated herself.
“His secret?” Jimmy asked.
“Yes! His secret, indeed,” Joanna began to whisper. “Come, I’ll show you. Mind that room though, we can’t go in there. He doesn’t like it when we go in there,” Joanna motioned to the room on the right with a tilt of her head. “Excuse me,” she waded past the group and threaded her way to the kitchen. “The attic’s just here, I have something up there that I found after the mess the fire left was cleaned up.”
The group watched as she pulled down the ladder to the attic. “You go on up there,” she said to Sam who nodded. She climbed up, shakily and grabbed the camera from Clint. She took it up and stopped on the top step.
“It should be just right there,” Joanna said, gleefully. Sam turned on the flashlight to her camcorder and stopped short at a weird (color) bundle. She pulled at it and it came out in her hands, a big bundle of some kind of rug. Joanna reached for it and pulled it eagerly from Sam’s hand. At this, it fell to the floor with a loud thump. Sam, a bit freaked out, quickly handed the camera back to Clint and climbed down. Joanna bent down and unrolled the bundle. It was a rug—with some kind of dark stain on it. She continued to unroll the rug and a rusted hammer fell to the floor. It was all bloody on the head and made the hair on the back of Sam’s neck shiver.
“This is what I found! He killed someone! He’d even bought a new gas can…but they never found it after the fire. Not even melted remains of it. Marcus was a weird man,” Joanna picked up the hammer and cradled it. Sam looked to Spencer who looked like he was about to vomit.
Suddenly, music began to play. “Where’s that coming from?” Sam asked, looking around.
“I don’t know. He does it often. He doesn’t like new people,” Joanna noted.
“The basement?” Clint asked, the first time he had spoken since he had been there.
“Maybe?” Sam asked Joanna who just shrugged and look down lovingly at the hammer in her arms. Sam didn’t feel safe, but she kept going. “May we go down there?” Joanna simply nodded.
Sam opened the door to the basement and the music stopped! She saw the stairs in the bright light and felt for the most part, uncomfortable as hell. She rounded the corner to the left and froze as she saw a figure disappear into the room right on the left. Just a flit out of the corner of her eye. Then, the door slammed shut. “OH MY GOD!” she yelled, jumping back into Alisa who’d been right behind her with her camera. Alisa was frozen to the spot.
“Did you see that?” Alisa asked, excitedly. “Clint! Did you see that?” All was confusion for a moment until Sam put up her arm to silence the group and traversed the last couple of steps to the door that had just been slammed shut. Her heart was hammering in her chest. She once more froze at the door. She heard footsteps beside her and saw that Jimmy had come down to the door. He looked at her, a smug look on his face, trying to prove his bravery and he reached for the door handle, when suddenly, the handle shot out! He jumped back, yelled and pushed himself against the wall, staring at the handle.
“What happened?” Asked Spencer, clipboard in hand.
“That—that just didn’t happen—oh my god look at that—did you see that?” Jimmy kept saying over and over.
“My camera just died,” Alisa murmured softly from behind Sam. Clint stayed at the top of the steps, shooting down them, Joanna right behind him and smiling once more.
“He’s here, that’s for sure,” she said. Then, Clint’s camera died.