|Note: This story is a part of a larger series of short stories and flash fiction. You can find these stories on the Oubliette home page.|
Pete walked into the Fiddle Griddle, a family restaurant that was just down the road from his father’s funeral home. It was a common meeting place for families to meet after a viewing or funeral. It was also a convenient location for the SHIPS to meet the day after an investigation. Pete ran late and Grace, Chris, and Linda were already sitting at a table. There was no sign that Griswold had joined them.
Linda shook her head, “He’s not responding. I think he shut his phone off.”
Pete sighed as he took a seat, “He was at his apartment. His roommate refused to wake him up. I’ll head over there later and talk to him.”
Grace looked up from the menu, “So, he’s okay?”
Pete answered her, “I guess. His roommate didn’t say much but implied he was pissed.”
Everyone sat silently and nodded. Linda raised her voice and asked, “What are we doing next?”
Grace glanced up from her menu and said, “I can’t review evidence because…”
As Pete looked in her general direction, she went back to looking through the menu and did not say anything else. After a pause, Chris added, “I am going to continue to research that house and try to…”
Grace interrupted while continuing to look down into her menu, “We need to stay away from that house.”
The group’s attention turned towards her. She glanced from the menu and smiled, “I know I don’t want to run into that thing again. We’re nothing thinking about doing something stupid, are we?”
Linda answered, “No, not yet. We can still do more research. I suspect there is more to that house’s history than Chris found so far.”
Grace shrugged and went back to reading the menu as Linda continued, “Also, we need to get our equipment back…”
Pete nodded as he responded, “I can get it…”
“Pete…” warned Linda in a stern voice.
“With a friend if I can’t get Griz… Okay?”
Pete rolled his eyes. Linda made eye contact with him and without blinking, responded, “Yes. I do not want you to go by yourself.”
Pete followed up with a half-hearted salute. Linda threw her head back and chuckled at him. Chris, who had been tapping a finger on the table, cleared his throat.
“Can we talk about what happened last night?”
Grace glanced up from the menu as everybody turned their attention to him.
“First off, I think I understand why you don’t see people of color on ghost hunter shows now. We’re not crazy enough to go looking for… whatever that thing was. That’s my question. What the hell was that?”
Pete shrugged, “I have no idea. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Linda added, “This is the first time we have seen anything paranormal. Pete, do you think it was a demon?”
“I don’t know. It could have been a spirit like the child…”
“I don’t think it wanted to have a tea party,” said Chris as he grinned.
“No, probably not. I do think it was evil.”
Linda added, “It didn’t have a natural feel natural to me.”
Grace spoke as she looked down and avoided eye contact, “Is there something we can do?”
Pete narrowed his eyes and looked at her, “I don’t know. That does beg the question, should we even do anything?”
Everybody was quiet as they thought for a moment.
Linda broke the silence, “There’s a paranormal group on campus. I can try to get some recommendations from them.”
Pete nodded, “That is probably our best option. We might be in over our heads on this one.”
Grace questioned, “Could we turn it over to the campus group?”
Linda answered, “That would be an option. I’ll know more when I talk to them. It’ll have to be in a few days, I have an exam tomorrow.”
The waitress walked by the table and stopped. She introduced herself to Pete and asked for everybody’s order. Everyone gave her an order except Grace. She declined and handed her menu back and began reading something on her phone. Pete looked at Chris and he shrugged in response.
“Bae, are you okay? You didn’t eat breakfast.”
“I’m fine. I’m just not hungry.”
Pete added, “You seem to be distracted.”
“I didn’t sleep well last night.”
“Okay, if you need to talk, we’re here.”
“I know.” Grace went back to reading as she twirled her hair on her finger.