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Attack of the Killer Frog

"So, what's this curse you guys were talking about?" Haunna asked Theresa and I.
I laughed.
We were in Theresa's car, headed to Millie's place for the meeting. "We started having LHPS meetings at Millie's a couple years ago," I explained. "Theresa and I started riding together, but we could never manage to find our way home."
"Even with a GPS," Theresa added. "Not once could we find the right way. The first time, we had Taylor with us, and we wound up riding some weird road in the middle of nowhere, and suddenly we were in McElhattan."
"The second time," I said,"It was like one of those Stephen King movies where the couple keeps driving into the same town over and over. No mater what direction we thought we were going, we kept driving into Millie's neighborhood."
"We even tried it with the GPS once," Theresa pointed out. "And we still couldn't do it."
"When Charlie joined the team, I figured I was safer riding with her," I said. "But since Millie's moving, tonight may be the last chance Theresa and I have to beat the curse."
It's one of the things I like about being on a ghost-hunting team. After a couple of years together, the memories are there. Not just investigations, but a lot of weird, entertaining memories.
We arrived at Millie's, and went in. Jen, Millie, and Charlie joined us in the living room.
"We need an investigation," Millie said.
"We do," agreed Jen. "Lou, is there maybe an abandoned mental hospital that might let us in?"
"....Maybe," I said. "Let me give that some thought. Theresa, I found something recently---It's an infrared lamp. It's supposed to be used for arthritis, but do you think there's any application for ghost-hunting?"
"You mean, if we needed to light up the infrared cameras more, but still wanted the room dark?" Theresa asked.
"Yeah, something like that, I think."
"Maybe we could. We'll have to play with it, experiment around."
We talked business a while, and then stepped outside so Jen could smoke. Generally, there are a couple of smokers, but Theresa has been quitting---Jen's the only one left. Theresa has been puffing on one of those fake cigarettes for weeks.
"What's that sound?" Charlie asked.
"Tree frogs," said Millie. "They're everywhere, but we haven't seen one yet."
We listened to the tree frog sounds for a minute. They made this loud, chirping noise that was almost birdlike. One of them made a noise by the pool.
We listened as Jen smoked her cigarette, and Theresa smoked her fake one. Charlie and I leaned against the railing. And I stood with my friends, and listened to the tree frogs.
I've had a few perfect moments in my life. Moments that were so perfect, and so peaceful and comforting, that I knew I'd never forget the feeling.
This particular moment had no intention of being one of those.
"That one's close!" Charlie cried, and darted toward the pool.
I followed her. We walked around a bit, listened, tried to focus in. It was a little like looking for a noisy geocache.
Then it chirped again. Charlie and I both looked in the direction.
"Right there," she said. "By the pool."
"We're gonna need a flashlight," I said, and ran in.
Jen and Theresa were inside as I dug in my pack for a flashlight. I said,"We almost got him!"
"No way," said Jen, and followed me out.
You wouldn't think a bunch of professional ghost hunters would get all hysterical about looking for a small frog. But that's because you don't actually know any professional ghost hunters.
We stalked around the pool, shining our flashlights into corners. Theresa and Jen, who originally hadn't been that interested, joined us. We all spread out, checking the pool. Seriously, we're not this organized when we hunt actual ghosts.
Then it chirped again.
"That was right here," said Charlie. We looked at the deck. "It's right around here....Maybe under that pool toy?"
I lifted up the pool toy, and Charlie and Millie gasped.
"There he is!" Charlie pointed.
A little, speckled, brown-green frog was sitting on the deck. I took a photo.
"He's actually kind of cute," said Charlie.
"I don't see it," commented Jen.
"All these years I've been living here," said Millie,"And I never actually saw one of them before. It's nice I got to before I move."

And when we left, this time, Theresa and I had no problem getting home. We beat the curse. Which means we got better at navigating, or tree frogs are lucky.

Henry's Birthday

Theresa popped open the black case she was carrying, and showed me what was inside. Four brand new cameras, with mounts and cables.
"That," I said,"Is beautiful."
"First night we're able to use them," she said. "Tonight is the test run."
"And we can put these anywhere?"
"Anywhere the cables will reach. Do you think we can get one up to the attic?"
"We can try. I got some kids coming by to help set up."
"Good. How many people signed up?"
"A little over thirty. We're making some good money for the museum tonight."
Tonight, two days after the birthday of Henry Shoemaker, we were holding another public ghost hunt of the Heisey Museum.

Often, the museum has trouble raising funds. But every once in a while, LHPS will help out, and hold a public ghost hunt, to which we sell tickets. It's amazing. We announce we're hunting ghosts, and people throw their money at us.
Theresa, Millie, and I have gotten pretty good at running these things. We got everything set up, and around seven, thirty people came in and got seats in the West Parlor.
I made the opening announcements, which I've done a million times before. "Welcome to the Heisey Museum. This is the most haunted and the oldest building in town. Thank you for supporting us, and I hope everyone has a good time tonight....I do have two announcements. First, this equipment here is new---You people get to see it used for the first time tonight. Second, thanks to some student volunteers, our attic is now usable---So you people all get to participate in the first ghost hunt in the museum's attic."
Everyone seemed suitably excited by that. "We chose tonight because this week is the birthday of Henry Shoemaker. Shoemaker was a local writer, and he wrote a lot of old legends and ghost stories. I have reason to believe he's still here, haunting the ice house."
Everyone was listening. I said,"I'll be back in a while, to talk about the research needed for ghost hunting. But first, I'm going to turn this over to Theresa, who will go over the equipment and procedures."
Theresa stepped forward. "Thank you. Before I start, does anyone have any questions?...."
I watched her give the usual talk.
She's gotten pretty good at this. I guess we all have. I remember the first lesson we did, back in October 2008. Everyone was scared to death. Now, it's just business. We've come a long way.
"....So, we'll take a quick break, and then split into groups," Theresa said. "Lou, any preferences?"
"Okay, we'll take these two front rows----" I made several gestures in the general direction of the crowd. "---Except for Lacy, you stay with your sister---And they go with Millie to the music room." Millie had named the East Parlor the Music Room, and it sort of stuck. "I'll take these two rows up to the attic, and you can take the others to the ice house. How's that?"

My team ended up being mostly teenagers, and three old ladies who were more enthusiastic than I'd initially assumed. We headed for the attic. One of the old ladies had a hard time with the stairs; by the time she got to the top, she said,"I hope going down is easier. I just had knee surgery."
"Oh, I'm sorry," I said. "If I'd known, I'd never have brought you up here."
"Oh, no," she said. "I really wanted to come up."
"Do you do public speaking?" One of the other ladies asked me.
"In fact, I do."
"We'd like to get you for the DAR meetings."
It's amazing how often I'm asked to do public speaking, considering that I've never done preparation for a speech in my life---I just make them up on the spot. Apparently, that sells.
"Okay, we're going to start by getting some photos," I said. "Everyone with cameras, split up---Take some random pictures. Does anyone want to use the EMF detector? And the thermometer, how about that? We'll do this for a few minutes, get some baselines, and then have an EVP session."

We did the attic. We did the ice house. And then we all split off, and I rotated----Half my team in the music room, and half in the period kitchen. Afterward, close to ten PM, we all met back in the West Parlor.
Everyone seemed to have a good time. We made the closing speeches, and everyone left, and we started cleaning up.
This team supports the museum. My place. It's my job, and the place I love the most, and they're always there to help out. I'm grateful for that....And sometimes, I'm so grateful I can't even express it.
"Guys," I said to Millie and Theresa,"Thanks for doing this."
"It's good for us, too," said Theresa.
"And I needed to get out of the house," said Millie.
We grinned at each other.
Fortunately, I don't need to express it. Because they already understand.

A Very Haunted Christmas

Everyone arrived at Millie's house about the same time---As Charlie and I pulled up, we saw the others going in. The place was decorated for Christmas, and Millie's kitchen counter was covered with cookies and snacks.
Last year, instead of any kind of a gift exchange, Theresa had declared a cookie exchange instead. We'd been ordered to all bring cookies to trade off. She'd decreed the same thing this year, which nobody thought was a bad idea.
"I didn't have time to bake," I admitted. "I brought a can of store-bought cookies. But I can make up for it. I was at my dad's place yesterday, and I brought back some of the local sodas." I placed several cans on the counter.
"A-Treat!" Ailish said. "You told me about those!"
Jen took a can, smiling. "I remember A-Treat."
"That's right, you lived out that way, didn't you?"
Millie tried a blue raspberry one. "These are really good."
"Yeah, they're excellent sodas."
"Well, I want to try a sarsparilla," said Theresa, opening one up.
"I brought presents," said Jen, and passed each of us a special can of cookies and a card.
I smiled. "Thanks, Jen. That's sweet."
"Millie, I love your icicle lights," said Haunna.
"Sometimes, I just sit and look at them," Millie told her. "They're nice to watch."
"So, did anyone get anything from the investigation at Sara's place?" Theresa asked.
Charlie took out her camera. "Only one orb."
"I got some EVPs I want you all to look at," said Jen.
"Let's grab a seat, and go over things," said Theresa. "Lou, you had that overnight investigation with the other team?"
"Yeah," I said. "I was going to report on that. There was some stuff they did pretty well. They worked well as a team, and they were ncie people. But---And I know I'm prejudiced here---I gotta say I prefer you guys. You're my friends, and I'd rather be with you."
"Did they have a kick-ass grandmother on their team?" Millie asked.
I grinned. "No, that's another thing they were missing."
I looked up at the icicle lights on Millie's window. They actually were sort of hypnotic.

The Halloween Meeting

A witch, a gypsy, Mother Nature, Darth Vader, and the Emporer stood around a table eating sandwiches.
There's no punchline. It isn't a joke.
Maybe I should back up a bit.
Charlie showed up at my place around six o'clock. I let her in, and she petted the dogs as they gathered around. I said,"Got your lightsaber."
"Oh, cool," she said. "I didn't have one of these double-bladed ones. I have the robe, and I put some makeup on my face."
"Got my helmet," I said, pulling my Darth Vader helmet on. "I picked it up at the Goodwill last spring for about two bucks. You ready?"
She nodded. "Let's go."

LHPS has a meeting every month. This meeting was at Millie's house, which is realistically the only place to have a meeting in October. Millie loves Halloween, and decorates her place more elaborately than the White House.
Theresa had decreed that this meeting was to be a costume meeting, with no wussing out. Charlie and I had decided to go on a Star Wars theme, and been discussing it all week. I was Darth Vader, and she was the Emporer. We looked pretty bad-ass.
"Hope we can find the place again," commented Charlie. "We all seem to have trouble getting in and out of Millie's."
"It won't be a problem this time of year." I grinned. "When Halloween rolls around, you can see Millie's front yard from space without a telescope."
We found the place. Millie already had gravestones and punpkins all over her front yard. We pulled in and got out of the car, and threw our costumes on. Jen came out, dressed as a gypsy.
"Cool, Jen," I said. "You look like that Annie Snyder painting in my office."
"I don't know if that's a good thing," she said.
"Sure it is. Annie Snyder was a talented artist."
Charlie started into the house, and jumped---Millie had a small electronic animal making growling noises on a motion detector. "I thought the cat was growling at me," she said.
"That will likely not be the only thing jumping out at you tonight," I warned her.
"Can you even see in that helmet?"
"Minimal."
In the kitchen, Millie was elegantly dressed as a witch. She had the food out, and we all gathered around. I ducked down the hall for a minute, and came back. "Green glow sticks in the toilet, Millie? Really?"
"Isn't that neat? I got the idea from a magazine."
"And I thought you went overboard last year."
Theresa came in, dressed in an elaborate Mother Nature outfit. She looked at the rest of us and laughed. "We gotta get pictures of this."
"I'll get my husband to take one of us," Millie said.
I handed my camera to Jen. "Get one of the two Sith Lords."
Charlie and I stood together, and Jen took our picture. I said,"I have no idea why I just smiled for that."
"Everyone gather up---Taller people in the back. Lou." Theresa organized us, and we got a group photo taken.
"Who wants a sandwich?" asked Millie.
As we gathered around the food, Theresa said,"I talked to Matt briefly about the ghost walk. And Lou, you had the Heisey event?"
"It's the 28th," I said. "Fundraising. If you guys can make it for that, I'd be grateful. And Sara from Bellefonte wants us to investigate her place again...."

The Storm

We sat around a table in the Castanea railroad station, doing an EVP. Theresa's newest trick, a radio receiver, sat on the table, ready to pick up messages from ghosts.
Around the table sat Theresa, the team leader. Ailish, the photographer. Jen, the secretary. Millie, the EMF expert. Charlie, the rookie. And exchange student from Germany named Clara, staying with Theresa and Ailish. And me. The adventurer.
For practice, we were doing an investigation at the railroad station. Normally, we investigated the Heisey Museum. I was the one who gave the team access to both places. I'm the curator with the Clinton County Historical Society.

As it got dark, we returned to the museum. The oldest building in Lock Haven, the Heisey Museum had been a farmhouse, a hotel, a doctor's office, and the mayor's mansion. People had lived there and died there for the entire history of the city. It was the most haunted place in Lock Haven.
Theresa was setting up another one of her new tools, an IR illuminator. I walked upstairs to my office---I've been working at the museum four years, and it still amazes me that I rate an office---And I checked the weather.
I walked back down to the team. Millie, Jen, and Charlie were chatting in the West Parlor. I announced,"Gonna be a good night for this. Not only severe thunderstorm warnings, but a tornado warning, too."
"Cool," said Jen. "Be a good night to do your house."
"Yeah. Unfortunately, my wife is sitting around in bed, eating chips with her injured foot propped up."
I walked outside to the front walk, where they saw me through the window. Thunder, lightning, and dark clouds were moving in from the northwest. I cheered, and jumped in the air. I love thunderstorms.
In the front hall, Theresa asked,"Lou. Would you give Clara the quick tour of the museum?"
"Oh, sure," I said. I took her through the West Parlor, the East Parlor, the Period Kitchen, and then upstairs. In the children's bedroom, Clara said,"Okay, let's leave now. The dolls are creepy."
"They actually are," I admitted. "There's a story of a doll that walks around the museum at night, but that comes from a joke played by an intern. Don't worry---All the ghosts here are friendly ones."
We went back downstairs. Theresa said,"Everything's set up. You ready?"
"Yeah," I said. "Let me just go check the weather."
With Clara following me, I walked out the front door to the porch.
With a loud, sudden CRACK, the tree out front came down, crashing to the ground in front of the museum.
I propelled myself backward, knocking Clara back through the front door. The tree crashed to the ground and bounced, broken branches falling. Leaves blew past us into the front hall. The whole thing happened about as fast as someone could shout SHIT!, which, believe me, I was.
Everyone else came running to the door. I called,"Tree down. Millie! Jen! Run upstairs and check for broken windows!" Theresa's the team leader, and I defer to her. But the museum is my responsibilty.
I walked outside and inspected the damage. Millie and Jen told me no windows had broken. Then I called my boss at home.
"We got problems," I said. "There's a tree down."
"Is it that one out front?" the executive director, Anne, asked. "I've been saying we needed to get that one down for years."
"Well, it's down. We got tornado warnings here. It's in the front yard."
"Is it across the sidewalk? In the road?"
"Not in the road. It is lying across the sidewalk---There's not a damn thing I can do to move it."
"Who called you to report it?"
"Nobody---I was already here. The ghost hunters wanted to meet here tonight---The damn thing almost hit me when it came down."
"What damage?"
"Miraculously, not much. We lost the decorative knob off the gate, but nothing else---it's lying in the open gate."
"It fell through the gate?"
"I told you it was miraculous. The fountain may be a bit banged up, but nothing too major. And the gutter didn't even take much damage."
"Can Bob fix it?"
"With his hands. Seriously. That's how lucky we got."
"Okay. Call the comm center, then the tree removal people. Don't we have a tour Monday?"
"Yeah, but they'll just have to use the side door."

After a flurry of phone calls, the situation under control, we sat down in the East Parlor to do the investigation. With the video, the cameras, and the recorder running, we began our EVP session.
During the questioning, we heard a noise. Charlie said,"That was me---Taking a drink of water."
A moment later, there was another noise. I said,"Charlie's bottle."
"No," said Charlie. "It wasn't."
"It wasn't?"
Theresa and I checked the corner and took photos. We had an unexplained noise. Almost immediately, Clara heard another noise, which she thought came from upstairs.
Jen is the sensitive one in the group---While not really being psychic, she is very sensitive to the supernatural. She said,"I have goose bumps....And I feel like I have to cry. I don't like it."
"Lou," said Theresa,"Do we know when that tree was planted? Who put it there?"
"Maybe the Heiseys, or more likely, the Balls, when they owned the museum," I said. "When we get it cut up, I'll count the rings."
"Maybe the ghosts were throwing trees at us tonight," suggested Charlie.
"I don't know," I said slowly. "There's remarkably little damage. Nobody was hurt. I think, if the ghosts were involved, they were protecting us."

Later, during the team smoke break, we walked around and looked at what Jen would later call "The Great Tree Crash of 2010." I lit a cigar, and said,"I need one of these. In fact, I need the tavern artifact."
"Did you imbibe?" Theresa asked me, amused.
"No....It's an investigation, gotta remain professional. But if you guys are up for it, let's all pass it around."
The tree had fallen directly through the gate, mostly missing the fountain, not hitting the porch or the roof. Considering how bad it could have been, we had minimal damage. We'd taken worse when one of the tents had blown over.
"I gotta check the hole for artifacts," I said, and walked toward it. I looked at the gloriously undamaged museum, and at my friends.
"I'm glad you guys were here tonight."

First Summer: Part Three

A couple weeks ago, Ailish had dropped into my office with a newly discovered Henry Shoemaker story. It detailed a Civil War deserter who hid out in a local mountain, and found a cave that turned out to be haunted by the ghosts of Indian warriors, who had chased him out because of his cowardice. Using the maps in my office and the details in the story, we'd figured out what mountain it was, and roughly where the cave should be.
And we were there.
A rock underneath me gave out, and I started to slide down the mountain. I whipped around and grabbed a fallen tree root with my left hand, not dropping the camera. I dangled for a moment, then reached up and set down the camera on the tree trunk, and climbed up.
"Are you allright?" caled Ailish.
"Oh sure." I wiggled the tree root. "I'm lucky that held."
I took my photo, and then we started climbing back up. Pausing at the top to rest, I lit a cigar. Ailish stared at me.
"You almost killed yourself falling down the mountain, I'm out of breath, and now you're smoking a cigar?" she asked incredulously. "That's so cool, like a movie character!"
"Victory cigar," I said. "We found our cave."

The LHPS team met at the McElhattan McDonald's at six. Not for dinner, but to go investigate the Giantess statue. I rode over with Kara, and we met Kathy and her father, Karen, Theresa and Ailish, Jen, and Millie. I had my whip, and I'd worn my best Indiana Jones hat because I knew it would amuse Ailish and Kara.
After some food, we proceeded over to Zindel Park. Carrying all our equipment, we walked in. I'd been worried about smoking around Kathy's father, who was there to supply the underwater camera. But when I asked if anyone would mind if I smoked a cigar, he asked if I had an extra for him. I gave him a Cuban Mistake.
We walked in to Zindel Rock Garden together, and got our stuff---While we got set up, Ailish hid her own geocache, and I took the reading. She's been dying to place a cache there since the first day I took her. Kathy and her father hooked up the camera, and everyone gathered it around while they lowered it into the water.
Which was more murky than before. And a dead spider floating on the top didn't comfort some of the girls any. So we pulled the camera back up through the grate, and Ailish, Theresa, and I pried the trap door up again. There were two huge spiders, which sent Jen and Ailish running, and I suddenly found Kara velcroed to me. Which was pleasant. I knocked the spiders away with my whip.
We lowered the camera down through the trap door. Turned it, spun it, got a few glimpses, which were intriguing. Everyone gathered around, but we didn't have much control of the camera. We pulled it back up---This was like looking for the Loch Ness Monster.
"Can we tie the camera to something?" suggested Kathy. "To get better control over it?"
"Anybody got string? Duct tape?" suggested Theresa. Everyone dug through their packs and bags.
Twenty minutes of digging and messing with the camera:
"Can we strap it to this stick?"
"Nobody has string?"
"See if my hair band will hold it!" Kathy.
Kathy and Ailish tried to strap it on the with hair band, which didn't work.
"Here!" I held up my first aid kit. "I have some cable ties."
"We can use my tripod," suggested Ailish. This went better.
"If I use two zip ties, I can get it on," said Theresa.
Theresa and Ailish finally got the camera strapped on. Ailish lay down on the concrete, and lowered it in through the trap door---I give her credit, she wasn't letting the spiders stop her. Everyone gathered around the screen, and Ailish moved the camera at our direction, to focus on the Giantess. And everyone got a clear look at the thing for the first time.
"Ooooooh!" Everyone, all at once.
"You see why the Kids and I were so excited over this?" I asked.
"Yeah," breathed Jen. I have to give Jen credit, though she was afraid of the spiders, she hadn't run, either. All of us wanted to see this thing pretty badly.
"It's humanoid," said Kara. "Look, there's a head."
"Can someone take over for me, so I can see?" Ailish asked. I went over and took the tripod, and she went to the screen.
"Tell me when I'm close," I said.
"Ailish, he's got longer arms than you," said Theresa. "He can get closer in."
Ailish, mostly, directed me. I got very close to it with the camera, and everyone tried to get their own still photos of the screen. When we had enough evidence, I pulled the camera back up.
As we packed our stuff away, Kathy said,"Guys, you did really well tonight. I saw some very good teamwork."
"Thanks, guys," I said. "Usually, when I make a discovery like this, I gotta do this stuff alone."
But I'm not alone any more, am I? I don't have to do it alone. I'm part of a team.

We gathered in the Mackeyville area a few days later. Millie had proposed an investigation of Cedar Hill Cemetery. Ailish and I were interested in finding the Chisholm family, who had been murdered in Mississippi by the KKK around 1877. Also, a geocache.
We met for ice cream, headed out to the cemetery. The first meeting we'd had, at the hospital, was stilted and uncomfortable, all of us judging one another. But by now, we'd gotten to be a team. More than a team----We'd become friends.
We entered the cemetery at dusk.

First Summer: Part Two

We all agreed on it later. We'd had meetings, a few practice runs, and we were getting to know each other. I'd hung out a lot with Ailish and Kara---With my background, it wasn't surprising I'd end up taking the younger members under my wing. But this was our first actual investigation, a place in another county. And we all agreed on it later: It was the first night we'd come together as a team.
I rode up with Kathy and Jen, with Millie driving. This was good. I'd already gotten to be friends with Kathy, and I'd become close to Kara and Ailish, but I hadn't gotten to know Millie or Jen all that well. So this gave me a chance. I showed off my new GPS to Millie. "We have 48.7 miles to go. You're going 30.6 miles an hour. At this speed, it will take 1.6 hours."
"Does that thing really say that?" said Kathy. "You're kidding. Let me see that. Hey, there's a little guy walking on the screen!"
"Don't show me," said Millie. "I'll want one."
When we got there, Kathy led the team in a sort of protection prayer. As an atheist, I'm more comfortable with the thought of fighting off a ghost then I am in the prayer. So I'd pitched the idea to Kathy about letting me go in unprotected, to see if any hostile spirits were truly in the house. In the name of science. Ailish and Kara both followed my lead on that, and later confessed to me that they weren't so comfortable with the prayer, either.
"You have a hard time being a grown-up, don't you, Lou?" asked Theresa.
"I don't know," I said. "I've never tried."
We split into groups, took different rooms, did the investigation.
"Setting up the video."
"Temperature eighty-three, and steady."
"I'm going to take some negative photos, see if I can catch anything."
"Lou, can I try your listening device?"
We found very little in the daylight. So we broke for dinner, except for Ailish and I, who skipped out and found the closest two geocaches.

It was almost dark when we went back for more investigating. As we walked back, wearing our brand-new uniforms, someone called from a porch,"How come you guys are all dressed alike?"
"We're twins," I said.
Kathy, being the responsible team leader, stopped to explain that we were paranormal invesitgators, and hand them a business card. Then we went back to the investigation.
Negative photos. Infrared cameras. EVPs. EMFs. How did I ever end up in this business? We did some recording, and sat and talked in the dark---Ailish was still intensely pleased with kicking a cursed statue in the face.
Kara and I decided to go sit in the attic. We sat in the dark together, taking films and talking.
"I don't know, Kara, when you described this attic, I pictured bare beams and insulation," I said. "This is really pleasant. Indiana Jones never has pillows and quilts."
"You know, you don't have to be up here," she said. "I can do this alone. I'm tough."
"I don't doubt it," I said. "I am not casting aspersions on your toughness or your courage. I fully believe you are capable of anything, probably even kicking a cursed sculpture. Maybe I'm your friend and wanted to spend time with you, ever think of that?"
Kara smiled. And we talked. About anything---Movies, books, our favorite TV shows. Things we'd done, people we knew. I brought up a Jason Lee movie that was made from a book by Dave Barry. "You ever hear of Dave Barry?"
"Oh, yeah, I love Dave Barry."
"My god, Kara, I've married girls for less than that."
I asked what five movies she'd want if she were stranded on an island. It was from a newspaper column I'd read, years ago. She considered it, and said,"Can I ask what your five movies would be?"
"Oh sure. Casablanca...."
"I love Casablanca!"
"Me too, but nobody wants to watch it with me, because I mouth along with all the lines."
"Yeah, I do that, too!"
"Monty Python and the Holy Grail...."
"....'Tis but a scratch!"
"Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, because I love the whole series, but I'm limited to one each. And I sometimes flop between Spider-Man and the Princess Bride."
The radio went off. Kathy, downstairs. "Lou, we're going to pack up in a few minutes."
"On our way."
Kara and I grabbed our stuff. I slid all my equipment into the pockets of my black vest. "Hey, Kara," I said. "You did good tonight. I'm proud to have you as a friend."
"Thanks," she said. "Me, too."
When we all compared notes downstairs, Kathy had a photo with a strange face in the fireplace, and one from Theresa with an odd black shape in it. Kathy said the closing protection prayer, with me, Ailish, and Kara waiting in the next room. (Perhaps considering I'd dealt with curses and evil spirits all week, this was pushing our luck.) We packed our stuff, and went out to the vehicles to head home. I turned on the GPS.
"Be careful going home," Kara called across the parking lot.
"Promise," I called back.

First Summer: Part One

We entered the cemetery at dusk.
There were seven of us. Kathy, team leader. Theresa, electronics expert. Her daughter Ailish, photographer. Millie, EMF person. Kara, publicity. And Jen, Wiccan and secretary to the group. And me.
Kathy had been forming a ghost hunting team, the Lock Haven Paranormal Seekers. She'd visited Radio Shack, and picked up equipment---And also picked up Theresa, who managed the place. Theresa had recruited Ailish, who'd brought in Kara. Kathy, looking for historic information, had come to the Heisey Museum, where I work, and picked me up. And during a tour, I'd met and recruited Millie.
In the initial days, we'd also been through a couple of people who had turned out to be flakes, and a psychic who had turned out to be a fraud. But we'd narrowed it down to us.
We walked into Highland Cemetery, to do a walk-through, have me show the important spots, and practice our investigation.
It was the beginning.

It was the morning after a meeting. Ailish and Kara, eighteen and twenty respectively, picked me up before work, and we hiked out to Zindel Park. Ailish had gotten hold of an underwater camera, and planned to climb down into the pit with the Giantess, to get photos.
"You're her mother," I'd said to Theresa at the meeting before. "Can't you do anything about this?"
Theresa had shrugged. "I figure, let her."
The Giantess was from a Henry Shoemaker story about an Indian prince who had a giant sculpture carved in the form of the woman he loved. But this sculpture had a curse put on it, so that it caused death and famine every time it was placed anywhere. The Indians chose to bury it in McElhattan Creek, and there it stayed. The story ended with a spooky little clause about "think what happens the next time it's discovered!"
That had been this summer, and it had been me who discovered it.
"I thought we'd just sort of, you know, stick our hands in the water with the camera," I said. "Is there any way I can talk you out of this?"
"Are you kidding?" said Ailish. "This is the most fun I've had all summer."
"Oh, yes," I said. "And I'd like to thank you, Ailish, for giving me a pretty good sense of how my boss feels all the time. That's really what I needed, more sympathy for Anne."
We walked in, me smoking a Cuban Mistake. No snakes this time---The weather was cooler. I'd brought my whip from home, just in case. I'd shown Ailish the one at work, in my desk drawer. Ailish had been highly amused at the idea of a "work whip". When we got there, we took a prybar, and lifted off the metal trapdoor.
"You sure I can't talk you out of this?"
"Oh, ease up, Lou," said Ailish, and went down the ladder.
She put on her goggles and tried going under, but couldn't see a thing. So, clinging to the ladder, she held the camera under water, and got several photos and a minute of video. She flailed around in the water for a minute, trying to get a better angle, and then emerged, grinning.
"I kicked it in the head," she said. "Maybe I shouldn't do that. Didn't this thing kill a whole lot of people? I am so bad-ass!"
"Well, come on, bad-ass," I said. "Let's dry you off. And then, if you guys got time, let's stop at McDonald's. I owe you a breakfast."

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