|Freaky links are My Problem
Author: TheRedRidingHood PM
Freakylinks meets Dead Last in a festival in a haunted town. Something odd starts happening to Vaughn and Derek that may or may not be linked to a murdered girl with a psychotic grudge.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Horror/Humor - Words: 16,104 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-12-05 - id: 2577096
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Okay kids, this is a Freakylinks/Dead last cross over because i loved both shows and thought they could potentially exist within the same universe so I've come up with a story that hopefully succesfully combines the two! I will admit now im lacking on a few character details and appeals for assitance have not been forthcoming so if you spot places where i have slipped up please feel free to point them out and i'll do my best to correct them. This firsr chapter is really REALLY long but it sets up the story so bear with it please! I dont own any of the freakylinks or dead last characters but i would like to, warnings for content, there is talk of murder and rape, and maybe some language too. Please and R and R!
Vaughn climbed out of the van, swinging the door shut behind him and wandered casually over to Scotty as the husky voiced drummer asked the girls where they where heading.
"Who's this?" a particularly buxom blonde asked as Vaughn clapped a friendly hand on Scotty's back.
"Oh this is Vaughn, he's the singer, I'm the drummer" Scotty grinned as a red head repeated 'drummer' with a grin.
"Yeah, we're The Problem" Vaughn shrugged.
"Oh! I have your CD's, I saw you guys play in Texas! I knew you where familiar!" The red head squealed, hopping out of the car.
"Yup, that's us" Scotty nodded, winking at Vaughn who chuckled back "We're just on our way to our next gig in some backwater town somewhere" he told the girls.
"Don't you have like, a tour bus and roadies and stuff?" one of he girls asked a little doubtfully.
Scotty balked. "uh, well " he started to stutter.
Vaughn stepped forward "We could have had the bus but we decided we didn't wanna get full of ourselves…drivin around in this van, seeing all the back roads and little towns…its more real" he lied smoothly.
The girls ooohed and nodded as if they understood the crap Vaughn had spewed while he shot dirty looks at Scotty who shrugged helplessly.
"So what town you heading for?" one of the girls asked.
"Some place called Willow Fields" Scotty held up his hands in a 'I don't know' gesture.
The red head raised an eyebrow. "Willow Fields? You guys playing the festival?" she half smiled.
"Um, Dennis, he's our manager, he mentioned it being something like that, yeah" Vaughn shrugged, looking to Scotty who shrugged right back.
"You mean you don't know?" Red head looked back and forth between them.
"Uh, guess not" the guys shook their heads.
"Oh my god, you guys, it's the biggest festival for supernatural enthusiasts in this state! We're headin down there in a couple days but we're visiting Lisa's family first" she nodded to a brunette who waved at the boys.
"Wait, why!" Vaughn snapped suddenly.
"Because, duh, the murders!" Red head exclaimed. "I know its so stereo typical small town but there's this old house in Willow Fields, called The Romford house…twenty five years ago, a whole family was like, bloodily slaughtered in the house, but no body knows who did it, they think it was a drifter. Any way a year to the day of the murders, the townspeople held a candlelight vigil in memory of the Romfords, and all go into the house…well something freaky happened, and ever since people claimed the house was haunted…the town has a lot of haunted house stories, its pretty old, so the town council saw the cash side of things and set up the festival. They get bands to play there, KrazyTV does a live show, it's a big deal…I'm surprised you never heard of it" the red head frowned at the boys. "Hey are you okay?" she asked concernedly.
The boys had gone pale, or in Vaughn's case, paler. "Scotty, Vaughn, I paid for the gas I got some snacks and I got the map" a voice called and the sexily clad girls turned to watch the blonde haired bassist jogging over.
"You're in the band too" the red head stated "There's something wrong with the guys"
Jane nodded by way of greeting and stared at the silent musicians. "Guys, what's up? Come one we gotta get to this town or Dennis's gonna have a baby!" she stated.
"Um, we might need to rethink the gig" Vaughn said, his voice strained.
"What!" Jane and the girls in the convertible snapped at once.
"Tell her about the festival" Scotty stated dully.
The red head repeated her story to Jane then took a step back as Jane cursed long and loud. "No way, I totally forgot about that! I used to watch the damn thing all the time! How could I forget that! God damn son of a bitch, shit!"
"What's the matter with you guys!" Red head asked angrily.
"We just…we have to go" Scotty sighed, grabbing Vaughn and Jane's jackets and pulling them back toward the van.
"Well, will we see you at the concert?" the red head yelled after them.
"Maybe…we'll look out for you" Scotty called out the window as he put the van in gear, "Don't…put more clothes on or anything" he managed a smile as the red head grinned dazzlingly at him.
They where a couple of miles down the road before Vaughn let out a low moan. " I hate ghosts!" he groaned, thumping his head against the dashboard.
"We can't go to this! There'll be hundreds of em, all wanting help!" Jane threw up her hands in exasperation.
"But KrazyTV do a show…" Vaughn stated, "I watch it too, they love unsigned bands! I mean this could be the exposure we've been looking for" he added "It may not be that bad, if we ignore them-" he started.
"Ignore them? There are gonna be literally hundreds of people there maybe more, and who knows how many ghosts! What are we supposed to do, avoid making eye contact with every one? For three days?" Scotty snapped.
"We should just call Dennis and tell him we can't make it" Jane sighed.
" No, come one, this is a big deal, its not a ratty gig in some dive somewhere, it's a full on festival! Dennis probably had to pull every string he has to get us this, if we bail, we'll never ever, ever hear the end of it…besides, KrazyTV!" Vaughn said "Come on, how bad can it be…we got through New York ok!" he reminded them.
"Well…"Scotty started to say, his tone implying he could be swayed. " But she said murders, what if we can't avoid seeing them and we get dragged into something…"he let the thought finish itself.
"Then we don't look at any single person, not one!" Vaughn shrugged.
"Oh yeah, right, like that'll work!" Jane scoffed, but she too sounded more and more un sure.
"Look, it probably wont even be all that bad, I mean those girls said themselves that it was a tourist thing right? Think about it, a small town, bad murders, something like that can screw up a towns income, so they make up a bunch of haunted house stories and hey presto, money machine!" Vaughn surmised.
"I guess" Jane reluctantly agreed "but what if this place is flooded with Ghosts?" she asked.
"Then we stay for our gig, and bail as soon as we can" Scotty answered.
"Exactly!" Vaughn agreed.
Jane thought about it, taking her time considering the pros and cons. After what seemed like, well, a while she nodded. "Fine, but we're agreeing, here and now, that we're not helping anyone got it!" she looked back and forth between the boys.
Scotty looked over at Vaughn who raised an eyebrow "I got no problem with that"
Derek Barnes twisted the view screen on his camera so that he could see it with out twisting his head thirty degrees the wrong way and pointed the view finder at Jason, who smiled briefly into the camera before turning his eyes back to the road.
"Where we goin Jase?" Derek asked, running a hand through his auburn hair.
"We're heading to Willow Fields for the annual Romford festival, and not just any Romford festival folks, oh no, it's the twenty fifth anniversary special oh yeah!" he jokingly announced.
Derek turned the camera back to face himself and spoke into it.
"That's right freakers, Romford, you all know the story so I bet you're wondering, what oh what is a legitimate site like freakylinks doing investigating a known tourist trap? Well freakers, what hasn't been announced to the public yet, is that the biggest tourist trap of em all, the House itself,has beenclosed to the public for the duration of the festival! Now as it has been much publicised, the House and the tour that is held there, is the biggest money maker of the festival, literally thousands of dollars change hands over the three day period of the festival alone! So why is it closed? Well according to research done by the lovely Lan" Derek pointed the camera at the Puerto Rican computer whiz who waved at the camera then went back to her book, "There have been a series of odd accidents at the house over the past few weeks, mostly around area's being 'spruced up' for the festival. People have gotten hurt, one guy was electrocuted and almost killed after touching a power cable which he swears he had disconnected!" Derek paused to take a breath, his expressive face settling briefly into a calm expression before he shifted in his seat and carried on with his story. "There have been reports of strange goings on in the house for years, that's how it's stayed open so long, but never in this short a space of time. Our resident psychologist Chloe has a theory…" he turned the camera again, pointing it at the pretty brunette.
"I hold that it's all in their heads…all the workers who have gotten hurt are outside contractors who like everyone in this state, know the story of Romford House. They buy into the ghost story story, which makes them nervous, which makes them sloppy which causes accidents which they attribute to ghostly activity." She smiled sweetly at the camera.
"Thank you captain buzz kill" Derek said quietly into the lens. "But we are a split group here, Jason and me think it's genuine ghosts, Lan and Chloe think its nerves…we'll have to see what we see freakers, Derek out" he hit the stop button on the camera, and flipped the screen closed.
"You really buy into it being ghosts?" Chloe asked him casually.
"I believe it's worth investigation. And if we don't find anything, we still got a kick ass festival and some of the best skiing and snowboarding slopes in Massachusetts to make good use of!" Derek grinned that joyous smile of his and hi fived Jason who laughed as Chloe shook her head.
Lan spoke up, her high pitched voice sounding hoarse from the cold she's only just gotten over "It could just be a publicity stunt you know, I'll bet they open the house on like, the last night of the festival…if they play it right they could make more money in one night than in the whole three days" she guessed "I mean twenty five years on and all of a sudden there's all this activity again? And the third night just happens to be a full moon?" she raised a doubtful eyebrow.
" okay the full moon thing goes out of the window, the weather reports have all been saying the same thing, overcast clouds and snow snow snow. But the publicity thing…That's also true…which is why we're going to investigate" Derek smiled like a lunatic and turned back to the road, holding his camera in his lap for when they reached the out skirts of town.
From the back, Jane 'woohooed' groggily and pulled her self to a sitting position, running her hands through her tangled hair.
Vaughn was at that stage of sleepiness where he was too tired to really speak or move but at the same time he was running on adrenalin and couldn't actually fall asleep.
He blinked slowly, hoping that sleep would take the hint and wash over him, but it didn't and he opened his eyes just as the van drove by a gap in the trees and he got an eyeful of light reflecting off snow. Groaning as blue spots danced in front of his eyes he rubbed them with his thumbs and sat up, leaning back in his seat.
"Vaughn just go to sleep" Jane said to him as he shuffled around in his seat trying to get comfortable.
"I can't" he told her "I'm at that weird stage where I'm exhausted but got like, one last burst of adrenalin that's keeping me awake" he explained "I feel like I got bugs crawling around under my skin" he growled.
"Give it a minute it'll pass" Jane said sympathetically.
Vaughn nodded in agreement and went back to gazing out the window, hoping he would just fall sleep if he stopped thinking. Then he saw a girl, a child no more than nine or ten, standing at the side of the room, looking over her own shoulder at the forest behind her. She was wearing a heavy dress and boots as her only protection against the snow but her hair was uncovered by any kind of hat and whipped in the wind that was whistling around the van.
Vaughn frowned and leaned forward slightly, wondering what a child so young was doing alone on the side of a highway, but then he realised what it must have been and turned away as the van sped past and she turned to look at it.
He made himself stare at the road in front of the van until they travelled around the curve on the road and he was sure the girl would be out of view. When he looked back, she was gone, and he let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding.
"Whoah, that was close!" he told the other two as Jane pulled a thermos out of her back pack and began pouring out coffee into three plastic mugs.
"What was?" she answered, passing him a mug.
"Ghost on the side of the road, almost saw me!" he sipped the coffee gratefully.
"No way, where?" Scotty looked in his side mirror to try and see her.
"Dude don't look! She was back around the curve, this little girl" Vaughn told them "Looked…like maybe ten?" he shrugged, "It's okay though, don't worry about it, she missed me" he reassured them.
"Good, ghost kids freak me the hell out" Jane confessed "I always feel guilty, like I should have helped them before they even died, even when they're clearly from like, fifty years ago!"
"Yeah me too! And then I wanna help them but then I think, if I do, I'll have to help all the others…of course then I feel like a jerk…it's a vicious cycle" Vaughn sighed, looking up at the sky as snow began to fall. "Will the concert really go on in bad weather like this?"
"But we still gotta wrap up warm right?" Chloe asked. She was already wearing a thermal ski suit, looking like the stay puff marshmallow man with a wig.
"Yes even in the town centre it can get freezing cold…but the same concert rules apply, lots of water and fluids cos you'll sweat under your clothes" Lan continued.
"It's not even that cold Chloe" Jason looked at the young woman in the rear view mirror.
"Maybe not for you Mr born and bred Boston boy, but us Florida residents aren't anywhere near as used to cold weather as you Ya freak" she added jokingly.
Jason chuckled and looked back at the road, shooting a look at Derek who had set the camera down and pulled a laptop out of his backpack and was scrolling the pages. "Derek, you think it's too cold?" he asked his friend.
"Not really" Derek muttered distractedly.
"What you reading?" Jason leaned over a little to see.
"Just the history of the murders" Derek turned the laptop so Jason could see the images and files on the screen.
Jason had seen the grainy photo's of the crime scenes before, they all had in the weeks preceding the festival.
One of the larger photo's showed the family before they died, the two smiling all American parents, their four cheerful children. The parents, Hilary and Andrew Romford had bought the house in the summer of nineteen seventy five, moving in early in the season so they had the summer to settle in before the kids started school. They had lived for five uneventful years, blending in with the neighbours immediately, becoming well liked and respected members of the community. The kids had all been popular and intelligent enough that they never had to worry about grades. The oldest, Andrew Jr had plans to go to Harvard and in the spring, while his siblings, Jenny, who was sixteen, and the twins Simon and Ricky, aged only ten, would have inevitably shared in his successes, given the chance. But it was a chance they never had. On the night of the nineteenth of November, 1980, according to the witness reports, Hilary and Andrew Senior had been visiting the local market, picking up supplies for a family night in, a tradition in the Romford family history. They had run into a drifter who had passed through the town in the past, staying for a couple of weeks each time, sleeping in a room at the church rectory, then moving on again. Most of the towns people knew him on sight and he had often been paid to do odd jobs and work on the houses, including the Romfords'. Andrew and Hilary had stopped to talk with the drifter, Zach, asking how long he would be staying in town. He had told them, honestly, about the rectory being closed while remodelling was done to add more rooms, and that since he had nowhere else to sleep he would be moving on. With a blizzard on its way, he Romford parents had invited Zach to stay with them in their home. The next morning, the whole family was dead and Zach was no where to be seen. There was money and jewellery missing from the home, a fact which led police to the belief that Zach had murdered the family and stolen the missing items in an act of desperation after being caught with Jenny.
The whole town had been shocked by the violence with which the family had died, all of them stabbed and slashed by a knife or some other kind of blade. For months, none of them had been able to speak to any one other than the police about what had happened and the entire town, in a year, had gone from a thriving community to a near ghost town, shops closing down daily, people simply up and moving away from the memories of the tragedy.
But then, one year on, the mayor, knowing that his town was dying had organised the vigil, hoping a memorial service would force the townspeople to confront the reality of what had happened and begin to move on, and in the process, save the town. And it had worked, in a manner of speaking. The people had arrived at the house shortly after sundown, not that you could tell that from the overcast sky. They had entered carefully, cautiously, knowing that the family had died all over the house, that Ricky's body had been found at the bottom of the stairs, directly in front of the front door, as if he had been running to escape. They had avoided stepping on the dried bloodstains, and filled the lower floor of the house until there was no more room and people had to stand outside. No one had gone upstairs, no one had the courage. The vigil had mainly involved lighting the candles that had been handed out, praying for the souls of the families and after an hour or so when the mood was calmer, reminiscing about the 'good old days', about the Romfords themselves. The mayor, Josh Lawrence had sensed that his plan had worked that the demeanour of the people had already changed, that they where more relaxed. One or two of the men who happened to work in the various facets of construction, had begun talking about repairing some of the damage done during the investigations into the murders, about even pulling up the old, blood stained floors and replacing them.
The women had started talking about one day coming into the house and cleaning the place, top to bottom, the way Hilary would have liked it, washing the dust and grime off the windows and surfaces. A woman who worked in real estate talked about maybe thinking about putting the house on the market, about getting a new family in town, injecting some fresh 'blood' into the town. Things had been going well, the men had broken off and where making notes about what would need to be done, about what they should fix. They where discussing the best kind of wood for the floors and about updating the wiring, something Andrew had always planned to do but never gotten round too before his death.
The woman where actually taking down the curtains, planning to take them home and wash them there, see what they had to work with. Mayor Lawrence had been encouraging all of them telling them that he had known this would help and they had agreed, all of them had agreed. The house was going to turn into the towns new project, and its lifeline. But then one of the women noticed that her daughter, a girl who had been friends with Jenny Romford, had disappeared, and as the levels of alarm began to rise, odd things had started happening. A man had sworn he felt someone touch his shoulder, and a light switch had shocked another as he wandered into a darkened room.
The mother of the missing girl claimed she could here a woman screaming and had ran up the stairs, frantic to find her daughter. She had opened all the bedroom doors, thinking the girl had gone to Jenny's room, but there was simply no sign of her. The last room was the spare room, which had housed drifter Zach the night of the murders. It was in here that Jenny's body had been found. There had been signs of sexual assault and the belief was that Zach had accosted her in the night, forcing himself on her. The commotion had attracted her father who had found them together, and Zach had responded by killing the whole family to keep from being caught. He had fled into the night, taking the knife with him, and left the family to die.
The missing girls' mother had pushed open the door and shrieked as she saw Drifter Zach standing in the centre of the room, covered in blood, reaching out for her. The woman had scrambled away from the room as other townspeople had run to catch up with her. When they looked into the room Zach was gone but a smell had filled the room the sickly, cloying smell of rotting blood and meat. The lights had begun to flicker and flash and the people had simply left, emptying the house like water out of a jug. The girl who had gone missing had, as it turned out, been in the garden, laying a flower at the base of a tree Jenny built a tree house in, in her first months in town.
No one except those who had gone in had seen any of the commotion, but the reputation of Romford house was cemented in the minds of the people for ever. It hadn't taken long for the more business minded to see the potential a genuine haunted house held for a town like Willow Fields, and had given it three months before they opened it to the public, inviting people to stay the night in the place, if they dared. It had worked for another three months, revitalising the town as tourists flooded in and dozens of other haunted house stories had suddenly cropped up. The town was a couple of hundred years old so the stories had carried over well enough to make the town money, and towns people had opened hotels, motels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, café's and gift shops all to cater to the influx of tourists. But then, after that first three month rush, it had stopped, less and less tourists had been coming in. So the mayor gathered together his advisors and the business men and together they had devised the idea for the festival. They had noticed that a lot of the tourists coming through had been supernatural investigators, and had been young. They had asked the youths of the town, found out the most popular kinds of music and struck gold when they realised that the owner of one of the biggest record companies in the world had been raised in Willow Fields. The guys parents had made some calls and in time for the second anniversary, the festival was a go. And it was more successful than anyone could have predicted. The rest, as they said, was history.
"D, we're almost there man, you want the shot?" Jason's voice pulled Derek back to the present and he scrabbled for the camera as Jason slowed the car enough to give him time to set up the camera.
Derek wound down his window and leaned out into the snow, letting the shot set up itself. He couldn't have done it better if he had tried. Despite the early hour the sky was gloomy, and the snow was falling thick and fast. The sign hadn't been replaced in at least thirty years and was soiled by dirt and exhaust dust, but the word 'Willow Fields' still shone through. One of the many willow trees that gave the town its name grew beside the sign and the long tendrils framed the words perfectly. "Wow" Derek breathed as they slipped past the sign "Spooky"
"No way is that an accident" Lan said sceptically, "They've just painted over the words without cleaning the sign!" she pointed out.
"Good effect though" Derek shrugged, keeping the camera rolling on a few more trees. He snapped it shut and sat back in his seat, his nose and cheeks red from the cold.
"Derek film this, film it!" Jason snapped, and Derek whipped up the camera again to get the shot.
Willow Fields literally did sit in a valley, the larger than normal town nestling into the valley floor. It was framed by the sides of the valley, covered in willow trees and evergreens. The road leading into the town was higher than the town itself so that Derek could film the entire thing as they drove down the winding road.
"It's kind of beautiful" Chloe gasped, and Lan 'uh hu'd' in agreement.
"Yeah…you wouldn't think a murder like that could happen here" Jason nodded in agreement.
"Oh, hey, there it is!" Derek lifted the camera and focused it in on the Romford House.
The old building was not atop a hill, it was not right next to a graveyard or miles away from any kind of help. It sat in a residential street like any other Like other houses in the town it had a small, amount of land that kept it separated it from the others, a fence cutting it off from the other houses, but if you didn't know what the house looked like from studying the photo's taken of it over the years, you wouldn't be able to tell anything had ever happened there. Well, if you could ignore the signs and crowds of people waiting, even this early, to go into the house.
As one or two people began to walk away from the house, followed steadily by more, Derek realised that they had announced the house was closed.
"That's it?" Chloe asked, her tone echoing Derek's thoughts about how un impressive it really was.
"What did you expect, the house from Amityville?" Lan said incredulously. "Big windows looking like eyes or something?" she giggled.
Derek chuckled along with her as Chloe shrugged and wriggled in her seat "I don't know, just, something more impressive I guess. It's just an ordinary house" she stated.
Jason nodded "They all are though, if you think about it, they're all ordinary until something extraordinary happens in 'em" he met her eyes in the rear view mirror. "I mean, Adams house was pretty ordinary until-" he started to say.
"Dude!" Derek angrily cut him off "Not cool" he stated.
"Right, sorry man, I don't know why I…sorry" Jason shook his head as if confused by his own behaviour.
"Cool man" Derek said, his tone genuinely forgiving "I know what you where trying to say just, you know, don't" he half laughed but it was a hollow sound.
"Look at the stages!" Lan pointed, acting excited enough that it came off as genuine elation and not just an attempt to change the subject.
They all looked as the town centre and the stages came into view. There where four, set up in a sort of square, one a every corner of the even diamond shape that made up the town centre. The stages where arranged so that if you where front row for one stage, you where back row for the one opposite it. Lining the streets that led into the town centre, along with the usual shops and restaurants and hotels, there where stalls being set up, people selling things ranging from New Age healing crystals, to t-shirts bearing the logo's of the bands scheduled to play. There where tents for psychics next to tents for body piercing and tattoo's, wiccans and witches wandering the streets, mingling with hairy grungy rockers.
Derek grinned as he spotted the usual collection of ghost hunter types, people who, like Derek, believed that the Romford House festival was more than just a way for a dying town to make money.
"This is awesome" he grinned maniacally "This is gonna be incredible!"
He looked beyond the town itself to the snow covered peaks just beyond the valley and whooped excitedly at the sight of the chair lifts and the tiny moving black dots that he knew to be early morning skiers and boarders.
"You see it, look Jason, check it out!" he pointed, like a little kid, at the slopes.
"Oh hell yeah!" Jason high fived Derek again as they came to the edge of the town proper. " Alright man, now dig out the address of our hotel and we can get this party started!"
"Uh, Dennis, what's up man?" Scotty grinned at their manager, walking over to him.
"I didn't think you'd come" Dennis gasped.
"Well here we are!" Jane smiled at him too.
"But I didn't think you would, and you did and here you are…" he broke into a truly terrifying grin and walked over to them "You said you would be here, here at what could be the biggest gig of your careers, you actually came!" he clapped a hand on Scotty's shoulder and one on Jane's, pressing them close together, trapping Vaughn in the middle. "I'm so sorry that I doubted you, all this time, I booked you as an 'up yours' to the music business cos I thought you wouldn't come and I'd be a disgrace and I would retire and start a farm but you came…I…I love you guys…I love you, you came, I love you" he broke down, weeping as he clung to Jane and Scotty's coats, the cold wind whistling around them as they stood there, unsure of what to do.
Jane looked wide eyed at Vaughn who was straining with the effort of trying not to laugh. She nodded her head in the direction of Dennis who was still slumped and crying, telling them he loved them, as if to say 'say something' but Vaughn shook his head desperately, covering his mouth with his hand.
"Scotty!" Jane hissed.
Scotty shrugged and ducked his head slightly. "Uh, Dennis, are you okay?" he asked cautiously.
"Yes!" Dennis sobbed happily, "I'm just…you came!" he grinned at them all, tears and melting snow running down his face.
"Dennis, maybe you oughta…like, go lie down or something, when are we on?" Scotty asked, hoping that reminding Dennis why they where here would calm him.
It worked, Dennis took a deep shuddering breath and nodded, his face snapping into business mode.
"Um, later today, at twelve, you're opening the lunchtime shows for today, it's…a really good slot, really good!" Dennis repeated "…oh and I got you an interview with KrazyTV" he said it casually but he couldn't hold in the smile that accompanied the news.
The band, as one, stared at him, their shock turning to joy as they realised what he had said.
"KrazyTV? As in KrazyTV?" Vaughn gasped.
"They have an unsigned bands segment on their show and they want to talk to you guys…in about a half hour actually" he frowned slightly.
"A half hour" Jane repeated.
"Well, forty five minutes, so you gotta go get cleaned up or eat or what ever you need to do now, right now!" Dennis told them.
"Uh, yeah!" Scotty once again dragged his band mates into the van and drove them to the hotel, narrowly avoiding several crashes on the way.
They broke their own all time records, getting checked in, washed and changed and back to the lot in something like twenty seven minutes.
Dennis was standing where they had left him, albeit a little colder .
"You guys look, perfect!" he almost squealed as he saw their outfits.
Jane hadn't needed to wash her hair, and had instead pulled strands at the front back and clipped them so that her hair wasn't too unruly but instead hung in golden waves down her back. In deference to the weather she had opted for purple ski pants and a black shirt under a long jacket that emphasised her figure, and simple black boots.
She wore her usual necklaces and bracelets and only the lightest make up, which actually worked with the out fit.
Scotty wore his trademark baggy pants and sweater but looked just right any way, giving off an air of effortless self confidence and cool.
Vaughn had pulled on loose leather pants and a simple black t shirt. Over the shirt he wore a purple dress shirt and a black fitted long coat. His outfit seemed Gothy but some how it was perfect. Vaughn had washed his hair and let it dry on its own while he dressed, in way too much of a hurry to try and even comb it straight, which usually worked if he did it enough, and as a result, his natural, silky black ringlets fell to eye level, framing his startlingly green eyes. His already pale skin seemed to glow under the falling snow and emphasised his naturally shadowed eyes, showing how dark the lids where. Even Jane had nodded approvingly when they had met up in the 'lobby' of the tiny hotel they where staying in, and he had nodded back, his eyes widening at the sight of the clinging top she wore instead of her usual nice but floaty and concealing hippy vests.
"Perfect, just, perfect, you got it just right, Scotty, the casual laid back drummer with an eye for style, Jane, the beautiful bassist showing you can be feminine and be in a rock band and Vaughn, the broody and aloof lead singer…and the best bit…it doesn't look planned" Dennis's eyes blazed a little scarily.
"It's not, this is literally what we had in our cases, this shirt is creased all to hell" Jane started to say.
"Dennis?" a voice called.
The manager and the band looked over to the guy who was jogging over to them, waving to them all.
"Mitch, I'd like you to meet, The Problem" Dennis stepped aside, presenting the band.
They waved and said 'hi' as he nodded to them all in greeting.
"Guys, good to meet you all, I'm Mitch Ansen, I work for KTV, I specialise in doing segments on unsigned bands such as your self's" he grinned at them "You know you're doing the interview in just a few minutes right?" he grinned as they nodded. "Right, well I'm here to put you guys at ease, it won't be too long an interview, long enough to learn some stuff about you, about the group, the tour, but nothing that'll drag! Um, it wont be too personal, so you don't gotta worry about any old sins being dragged up," he paused for them to laugh and they obediently chuckled. "But the interviewer might hit you with something unexpected, I don't know exactly what he's gonna ask, so just be on your toes, okay?" they nodded again. "Great, so shall we go?" he stepped back and held out an arm to direct them where to go.
They glanced around as they followed him. "You see any yet?" Vaughn asked under his breath.
"A couple maybes" Jane hissed back, "but I haven't looked at anyone long enough to be sure"
"Yeah, same for me" Scotty added.
"It's weird, I thought there would be more" Jane said and Vaughn sighed.
"Don't say that, dont risk jinxing it" he half smiled.
Jane nodded and pulled an 'oops' face as they jogged after Mitch, and out of the cold.
"Freakylinks rule!" the group yelled in unison and Derek cheered again.
"Yeah!" he giggled, turning the camera to face Jason. "Where we at Jase?"
"We're in Willow Fields, about to ask the Romford House officials why exactly the house is closed right at the beginning of the festival" Jason told the camera as they pushed through the crowds of tourists and teens looking for kicks who had gathered for the hourly tour.
"We're sorry, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the house is closed, it might be open tomorrow but for today, it's closed. Once again, we're sorry" the balding man held his hands up as a pacifying gesture as the crowd groaned and booed angrily.
"Come on now, there where some accidents while repairs being made, at the moment its not safe to go in!" he shrugged helplessly and the crowd began to disperse, grumbling about the amounts of money they had each paid to get there.
Derek and Jason, having left Chloe and Lan to peruse the stalls, pushed their way forward to the fence gate that acted as the ticket booth for the tour.
"Excuse us, Layland Carter?" Derek leaned over the fence as the balding man turned away.
The guy, Carter, stopped and turned back to face them, a dubious look on his face.
"Yes, can I help you?" he asked cautiously.
"Hi, I'm Derek, this is Jason, we're from we investigate weird goings on, we wanted to ask you some questions?" Derek held the camera so that it captured Carter perfectly.
"I'm really very busy" Carter sighed, starting to turn away.
""Please, we just want to verify some facts for our page on the House on our website" Derek gave the guy puppy dog eyes, knowing how well it worked on, everyone.
"What facts?" Carter walked back over to them.
"Um, the family, uh, they knew Zach the Drifter really well right?" Derek stammered.
"Yes, as it says in all the police reports which I'm sure you have read cover to cover, Zach was a frequent visitor to Willow Fields, he had worked on the house with Andrew Romford on several occasions" Carter told them.
"Right, and uh, there where four kids?" Derek scrambled his brains trying to come up with good enough question to lead into what he really wanted to ask.
"Yes!" Carter snapped, clearly not buying into Derek's questioning.
"And why is the house really closed?" Derek asked quickly.
"Because there where reports of" Carter started to answer but stopped himself.
"Reports of what? Of ghost activity, poltergeists, did somebody get hurt by a ghost?" Derek snapped, zooming tight on Carters face.
Carter hesitated, then stepped forward almost angrily. "Why is it always ghosts with you people, it can't just be accidents?" he snapped.
"Because if it was always just accidents you wouldn't make any money" Derek snapped right back, grinning like a lunatic.
Carter looked on the verge of yelling but took a deep and apparently calming breath. "Okay, there where a couple of…inexplicable incidents a few days ago…stuff that sounds like what happened that first night, the night of the vigil, but our official position is that there where just some accidents…the guy who runs this place now, does it for the money, he's a total sceptic, doesn't want us saying there could actually be ghosts in the house…you ask me, something freaky is goin on in here" Carter shrugged helplessly at them.
"Thanks man" Derek shook the guys hand and turned back the camera to shoot himself as Carter walked back to the house. "Ok, there you have it freakers, first day here, first interview, and we have an employee of Romford House it's self telling us something 'freaky' is going on" he raised an eyebrow, grinning madly again "And that his bosses are trying to cover it up…" he trailed off, shooting a look at Jason.
The chocolate skinned sometime cynic shrugged and took the proffered camera, angling it so he could comfortably film Derek while they walked.
"So our next stop will be at Piper Joe's, a bar that has been open since before the original murders happened. The Joe who owns the place knew both Andrew Romford and Drifter Zach and after some convincing calls made by the lovely Chloe, has agreed to give us an interview. Now freakers, this is a rare thing, Joe aint an interview kind of guy so this is, in all senses of the world, exclusive!" he walked backwards as he spoke, bumping into people without apparently caring…or, Jason suspected, actually noticing. "This interview is gonna give us an insight into the victims of the murders like no other, Joe knew Andrew and Zach, served them drinks, heard them talk about, who knows what!" Derek was exclaiming "now Joe's story isn't really a part of the murders, but interesting nonetheless, Joe's family has lived in the town since it was founded over two hundred years ago and the family itself has an odd history. Two of Joe's relatives died under mysterious circumstances as children, another murder where the killer seemed to vanish" Derek told the camera "How ever in that case, tragically, it turned out that the killer was the children's own sister…spookily, the family lived on the sight of what would later become, Romford House's back garden!" Derek explained, never seeming to halt and take a breath, ever. "But since the killer was caught and it was a sibling who's history we have studied and who Chloe feels was most likely suffering from schizophrenia, that doesn't really do more than add a little Spielberg. Stephen King factor to the Romford story" Derek raised his eyebrows over those big blue green eyes again. "Any way, Joe is not even close to the generation who lived through that murder but he knows a little so we'll ask a few questions. Okay, here we are, Piper Joe's. Our interview isn't actually for a half hour so we're gonna go in and get warmed up and we'll see you in a little while" Derek nodded to Jason who smoothly switched off the camera.
They stepped into the smoky bar which didn't look as tourist friendly as the other bars in the area. The grizzly old men who sat in the gloom gave the pair a cursory glance then went back to drowning their sorrows.
Derek headed for the bar while Jason went to find a booth, settling into the warmth of the bar as he sank into a leather seat, dumping the camera beside him.
Derek came over to the table and set down two cups of strong black coffee. "Beer is only good cold and it's way too cold for iced drinks" he said by way of explanation.
Jason nodded his agreement and wrapped his still gloved hands around the mug.
"I saw Joe, he said we could go in the back with him in ten minutes to do the interview, then after that we can go find the girls and relax for a few hours, maybe get some sleep?" Derek suggested. His hair was hidden under a bright red beanie hat, only a few strands curling over the edges.
"Not too much though, I want to see some of the bands that are playing" Jason stated.
Derek nodded as he sipped his coffee, 'mmming' at the strong taste.
"That's good coffee" he chuckled.
Jason pulled off his gloves and shrugged out of the jacket he wore. "Then tonight…" he let it be a question.
"Tonight…tonight depends" Derek explained. "If tonight doesn't go as planned then we're goin snowboarding on the night slopes…but if it does go as planned…we're getting into Romford House and we're seeing what we see"
Tag turned to them. "Great interview guys, good job, I really think people are gonna be interested" he said, seeming genuine.
He smiled at Jane, checking her out without leering as Scotty and Vaughn stood up. "So you guys are what, gonna sound check?" he asked them.
"Um yeah, we're on really soon so…"Jane trailed off shyly.
"So…after your gig, you want to meet up? I'm only doing the morning shows so I'm free in the afternoons and nights…we could get coffee?" he raised an eyebrow.
Jane looked to Vaughn and Scotty who shrugged.
"I guess that would be nice, yeah…but we're leaving here pretty fast, we have to get to our next gig so…come find me?" she half grinned.
Tag smiled back at her "Sure, I know what hotel you're in so I'll call you?" Tag enthused as the camera guy told him he had thirty seconds.
"Yeah, definitely, call me, that'll be, yeah" Jane babbled nervously as Vaughn pulled her off the stage and the camera guy gave Tag some signal that mean they where live again.
He dove straight in to his next segment, introducing the next group to be interviewed by his co host in another booth, but first here was a special on the history of the festival…as the pre made film rolled Tag looked over at Jane and smiled again as the boys pulled her outside.
"He was really cute" Jane nodded to herself "Really cute!" she grinned.
"Yeah and now we're stuck here" Vaughn reminded her as they headed back in the direction if the van.
"What do you mean?" Jane asked.
"Hello? Do the gig and go, remember?" Vaughn almost snapped "That way we don't get stuck helping any body" he put emphasis on the last, giving it more meaning than it would ordinarily have.
"Oh. Yeah. But it's only today, he said! And besides, I think we would be safer getting some rest before we head out again, you two look like you're gonna drop!" she told them honestly.
They both paused. "I would like to check out the slopes" Scotty confessed.
"Yeah" Vaughn agreed.
"And those hottie's from the gas station said they would be here" Scotty continued.
"And hanging out back stage at a gig like this...think of the networking" Scotty added.
"Yeah" Vaughn stopped dead in his tracks and cast a very careful glance around the lot. "I guess…what can it hurt right? I mean we're here, it doesn't look too bad-knock on wood- I say…how about, we stay as long as it feels safe to#o…any slip ups, any body accidentally seeing some body we shouldn't…we bail?" he suggested.
"Sounds good to me" Scotty nodded, looking over at Jane.
"I don't see why that can't work" Jane agreed.
"Okay, so, that's the plan, and its final" Vaughn stated. "Now let's get the gear, I wanna do this show and get some damned sleep!"
"Oh man it was soooooo great!" Derek answered through a mouthful of hot dog.
"Chew and Swallow D" Jason told his friend as he took a hotdog from Lan.
Derek hastily finished off the bite and gulped it down. "We didn't get much insight o the murders, except that it is held to be a concrete belief that Drifter Zach was the killer, but we found out that like, Zack and Andrew where really good friends, Andrew would always have Zach around for dinner when Zach was in town. Zach was friendly with the whole family, he would even play with all the kids and the first year the family lived in the house Zach helped Jenny build the tree house that's still out there! I really want to get a look at that, inside it too if possible…its one of the only places not accessible to the public on the tour" he explained.
"Tell her the bit…"Jason nudged Derek with his elbow but Derek understood him perfectly.
"Oh yeah, there are missing diaries!" Derek grinned again.
"Huh?" Lan and Chloe shot each other confused looks.
"Jenny, the girl who was…attacked before the killing started, apparently she kept all of these diaries, dozens of them from before they ever moved here, but when they've never ever been found!" he had lowered his voice as he spoke, almost whispering as the crowds moved around them, heading for the town centre for the beginning of the afternoon show. "The police never told any body cos they figured, if they ever caught the guy, they could ask him what else he took from the house and that way they'd know they hadn't made a mistake or picked up some loony wannabe or something" Derek finished his hot dog and swigged at the bottle of water Chloe had given him.
"We got all of it on tape, and we got a guy who works at the House saying he thinks something weird is happening but that his bosses don't want a fuss made!" Derek raised an 'I told you so' eyebrow at Lan who just shrugged.
"An employee of the house just happened to tell you that?" she asked him.
"Yes, and before you say it's a publicity stunt again, why would his bosses want it kept quiet if it's for publicity? That wouldn't make any actual sense" he answered.
"Maybe" Lan agreed, "or maybe that guy was told by his bosses to tell a couple people that it was ghosts, with the knowledge that they'll spread it around and come the third day of the festival, and the actual night of the anniversary, everyone will know about the supposed sudden ghost activity and will be 'shocked' when the house is opened to all visitors" she theorised.
Derek genuinely considered her idea, but still shook his head. "Nu uh, this guy was genuine" he looked to Jason for confirmation. Jason nodded.
"Well, we'll find out more later, but for now, I wanna listen to some music" Chloe grinned as everyone cheered in agreement and headed for the town centre.
"Holy shit!" Vaughn grinned wildly "They loved us, that was possibly our best ever gig!" he yelled.
Jane whooped and hugged him, turning to Scotty then to Dennis, squeezing the manager lovingly as Vaughn and Scotty high fived and congratulated each other on the performance.
"Dennis! The man himself, thank you soooo much for getting us this gig!" Vaughn hugged Dennis too, then stepped back running a hand through his still wildly curly hair.
"You guys where amazing!" Dennis gushed "I mean that, wow, you did…amazing!" he just kept on grinning.
"And the best part" Scotty cracked his knuckles "Is that we have played our set, kicked serious ass, and know we have the whole festival to enjoy, and all the privileges of being a performer to enjoy it with" he held up the laminated backstage pass which all the performers had been given. As well as getting them backstage it also guaranteed half price at almost any restaurant in town, free access to any of the tourist spots, and was a line jumper for the ski lifts.
"I'm gonna go break this baby in on the slopes, you kids in?" the blonde haired drummer turned to grin at his companions.
"Actually I'm gonna go meet Tag" Jane reminded him.
"I'm gonna go…go and lie down" Dennis said blankly, wandering away dazedly.
"I…will meet you up there, I wanna go explore all the tourists spots, for free, mwahahahahahah!" Vaughn mock laughed.
"Say, the lifts in an hour?" Scotty suggested.
"I'm there brother" Vaughn grinned back.
"Alright" Scotty nodded and turned away, practically strutting through the backstage area.
Jane jogged after Dennis, calling back "I'll just see he gets to the room in one piece, if you see Tag tell him I'm in the room!"
Vaughn waved to her, then turned and surveyed the backstage area. It was crowded with people, performers, roadies, techs and tagalongs. Vaughn pushed through the crowded area and reached the exit, slipping through it as quickly as he could. There where a few waiting fans but Vaughn, in a rare mood, snuck past without attracting their attention. He wandered out into the public area, slipping easily through the crowds as he made his way put of the town centre and into the streets.
His stomach was growling and he was craving a cheese burger, so he passed all the stalls and ducked into the diner he had spotted before, taking a seat as quickly as he could. A waitress with shiny blond hair ran over and took his order, winking as she set the receipt down on the table.
Vaughn grinned, gazing around the diner happily. He saw a girl sitting at the counter, hunched over slightly. She wore jeans and a woolly sweater and had thick brown hair falling over her face. Vaughn tilted his head slightly to try and get a better look at her at the exact same time that she looked up and saw him and her eyes widened in a way that had become all to familiar to Vaughn. He didn't look away immediately, choosing instead to simply slide his eyes away casually as he hadn't seen anything. He managed a casual blink and sigh and for a second he thought he'd gotten away with it. But then the girl was sitting across from him, staring at him intently, waiting for him to admit he'd seen her. He ignored her as the waitress set down his plate of food and his soda, telling him to enjoy, again with a wink.
The ghost girl, who couldn't have been more than sixteen was staring at his face, obviously trying to catch him out as he let his eyes slip unseeingly over her again. He had learned from experience that too sudden a reaction to seeing a ghost, ie looking away suddenly, looking shocked, avoiding looking at them completely, acted as a big give away to the ghosts who wanted to be seen. By acting as if she wasn't there at all even when he was basically looking right at her, Vaughn was guaranteeing the ghosts uncertainty about whether she'd been seen. He looked right through her, not literally, ghosts wheren't transparent , but in the way that, hot supermodels look at nerdy guys trying to pick them up, as if there is nothing there.
Without trying, he saw and heard the girl curse, muttering about thinking she had found one as she stood up. She stayed beside the table for a minute more while Vaughn put his every thought into maintaining the blank look you get when you eat alone.
"I know you saw me" the girl said to him, but her voice wavered with uncertainty "I saw you looking at me. But that's okay, what ever…hey, what is that…" She seemed to lean towards him and he resisted the urge to flinch away. She gasped, or made a noise that sounded like a gasp and he sensed rather than saw her grin. "Well I'll be damned…another one…that's two in one day" she said cryptically. "I guess I'll be seeing you" she waved brightly and skipped away.
Vaughn waited before relaxing, making absolutely sure with another cursory glance around that she had gone before he sighed heavily and shook his head.
He grinned slightly to himself, marvelling his own great escape as he finished the burger, paid, tipping more than generously and leaving a number to boot, and walked out of the diner feeling on top of the world.
He got about ten feet down the road before a wave of dizziness hit him like a tonne of bricks and he staggered, bumping into a stall selling silver jewellery.
Out of the corner of his eye he could see the ghost girl watching him, her pointed, pixie face carefully devoid of any emotion. The wave passed and he shook his head to clear it, deciding that his exhaustion had finally won over the adrenalin and coffee he had been running on. He reached the tiny hotel and dragged himself up the stairs and into the room. Kicking off his shoes he pulled back the duvet cover and climbed into a bed, falling dead asleep before his head hit the pillow.
Derek took deep breaths, fighting to clear his head as the dizziness washed over him. He grabbed Jason's arm as Chloe and Lan looked on, feeling the wave begin to pass even as he thought it never would.
"I'm okay" he muttered "I'm fine, I feel better now" his voice grew stronger with each word "I don't know what that was, I think I'm tired" he raised an eyebrow at the gangs questioning looks.
"Maybe you should go and lay down before tonight, you don't want to be wigging out while we're…exploring" Jason.
"He's right Derek, if you're tired now you'll be dead on your feet later" Chloe stepped toward him, raising a hand to feel his temperature.
"Chloe you still have your gloves on" Derek pointed out.
She pulled a face and slid the glove off her hand, pressing it to his forehead. He squirmed like a little kid but didn't pull away from her hand.
"You feel kind of hot" she frowned.
"That's because I'm wearing these thermal clothes and I was just standing in a crowd…that's probably what it was, I just got too hot…I'm fine now, I swear to Buddha and Colonel Kentucky!" he grinned again, that bright joyous grin of his.
Chloe raised a doubtful eyebrow, shooting a look at Lan who wrinkled her nose.
Derek looked back between the two, sighing heavily. "Fine, I'll go sleep!" he gave in "But if you guys don't wake me up at…nine tonight, I am kickin you guys off've the site" he looked at all of them, his expression deadly serious.
"We'll wake you up, we promise" Lan assured him, "But you really do look exhausted, go sleep!" she gently pushed him, trying to make him walk.
He shot an almost sad look back at them then turned away. Watching him go, unseen by anyone at all, a sixteen year old girl with thick brown hair grinned evilly. She wore a jeans and a woolly sweater and seemed to be gloating about something.
"Vaughn man, what happened, where'd you go?" Scotty sat on the edge of the bed, shaking a few melting snowflakes off his jacket as he slipped out of his boots.
"I…got tired so I came to lay down for a little while and I…what time is it?" the black haired singer raised himself up on his arms, looking around the darkened room.
"It's just before nine, dude, are you okay?" Scotty turned concernedly to his friend.
"Yeah I was…I got something to eat and then…like, the adrenalin buzz kinda died and I just crashed" he stated.
"You missed killer slopes man!" Scotty told him "I mean seriously killer slopes, and all the snow bunnies" he rolled his eyes and grinned wickedly "You would have made a killing! I waited for you a couple of times but you never turned up and then I was freaking out cos I thought I must have missed you or something…you slept the whole day?" he walked over to his own bed, un zipping the thick jacket he wore.
"I guess" Vaughn kicked the duvet cover off slowly and pulled off his own jacket off. He was too hot.
"You sure your okay man?" Scotty asked him.
"No, actually, I got made!" Vaughn remembered the girl in the diner suddenly. "When I was getting something to eat, this girl, I looked at her without thinking and she saw me…I mean…sort of, I looked away from her and I did a really good job of acting like I hadn't and she left but didn't buy that I hadn't seen her" he rolled his head on his neck, trying to work some life into his stiff neck muscles.
"Dude, seriously?" Scotty asked, his voice holding more than a hint of dismay.
"Yeah…I think she'll leave me alone but I really, really don't wanna risk sticking around just in case…"
The door to the room swung open, Jane stepped through and slammed it shut, kicking the back of it for good measure.
"Whoah!" Scotty jumped to his feet, "Jane, what the hell, what's wrong!" he asked.
"Friggin Tag buddy is a sleaze bag, that's what!" she yelled.
"What did he do?" Vaughn asked as he and Scotty stepped toward their friend, ready to kick Tag's ass if need be.
"Nothing…bad, he's just…we went for dinner and all these girls where all over him all, 'Oh Tag we love your show, blah blah blah' and he's just all over them and we got kind of separated and the last I saw he was cleaning some big boobed Barbie a like's teeth with his tongue" she shook her head "I'm so embarrassed…can we go? Please, I can't face him, I'll knock him out or hit him with the van…please lets go?" she looked endearingly at them both.
"I'm all for leaving, I almost got made" Vaughn admitted.
They turned to Scotty who looked devastated. "But, the snow bunnies" he stated "All bunnylicious in skin tight ski suits…killer slopes…free stuff" he trailed off weakly, looking between them both.
"Scotty we made a deal" Jane shrugged apologetically.
"I guess…but you guys so owe me" Scotty pointed at them both "And I'm gonna hold you to it" he nodded.
"We'll make it up to you" Vaughn stated, smiling thankfully.
"Okay, well we're pretty much packed any way…do we want to get some food before we go?" Scotty looked between the two.
"Take out" they said in unison.
They walked quickly through the shadows, emerging on a residential street untouched by the activities of the festival. They jogged along the street which ran parallel with the street holding Romford House, dipping into another side road as they reached a certain point. They came upon the long back garden of Romford house, the thick, knarled old willow tree holding the tree house, crouching at the bottom like some malevolent beast.
Jason filmed the garden, the tree, the house, Derek sneaking over to the chain link fence. He threw a stick at it to test if it was electrified or wired with any kind of motion detectors, but nothing happened. As Jason watched, Derek, muttering under his breath, disappeared into a shadow, then came back holding a tabby cat in his arms, stroking it and cooing soothingly. He climbed up the chain link fence one handed as Jason, Lan and Chloe exchanged confused looks, and dropped the creature neatly over the fence. It hissed angrily and ran toward the house, yowling as it crossed the lawn. "Why did you do that?" Lan asked Derek as he scaled the fence and dropped to the ground on the other side.
"Security lights with motion detectors" Derek said as if it explained everything. Which it sort of did. "They apparently don't have them" he added as Jason passed the camera over the fence and began to climb after him.
Chloe and Lan followed next, following Derek as he ran in a half crouch toward the tree. The long tendrils curled on the floor and where so thick they created a kind of cave around the trunk. There was a ladder cut into the trunk, reaching high enough for the branches to take over and act as the steps. The tree house sat above their heads, hidden almost completely by the thick branches. Derek reached the trunk and began to climb the carved ladder, once again reaching for the camera as he sat on a thick branch. Jason made his way up as Derek filmed the tree house from below, commenting as Jason climbed past him. "Okay, we're in the tree, making our way up to the house…oh, check this out, there!" Derek turned the camera to point it at something on the bark " 'Jenny's Place'" he read the carving aloud, tracing it with his fingertips. "According to the neighbours and friends, Jenny enjoyed time alone and would come up here with a sketch pad, or to listen to music, sometimes even with her dinner and a sleeping bag and stay the night" he told the camera as Chloe climbed past him. "It's the belief of sceptics that the reason the tree house was never included in the tour, is that it was locked by Jenny before the murders ever happened, and with the 'open and shut' aspect of the case, no one had the heart to open it and invade her personal space" he held the camera in one hand again as Lan half slipped and he pulled her up with his free hand.
She thanked him as she too climbed up past him, and he followed her, climbing one handed.
"How's it look?" he asked Jason.
"It's padlocked and the lock is really old man…we can't get in here with out people knowing it" Jason stage whispered back down.
"Well…the place has windows right…could you check them from there?" Derek suggested.
"Gimme a sec" Jason called back.
"Hey how are you feeling?" Chloe asked as above her, Jason edged away along a branch.
"Better, after sleeping, I think it was just being tired" Derek told her. "I fell asleep as soon as I got into bed so…"
"He was still buzzed from the gig I think" Scotty chuckled as he ate a French fry, "He just me handed the address for the next gig and kept on smiling at me"
Vaughn, eased on the gas as the tires found the road under the snow, and sipped his soda. "He's still buzzed from the gig? I'm still buzzed from the gig!" he told them.
"I don't wanna jinx it" Jane started as a sudden strong breeze rocked the van sharply "But do you think that this is like, it, the gig that does it?" she asked them.
"I hope so" Scotty admitted "I'm so sick of driving around to these bum hole gigs in nowheresville USA!" he stated firmly.
"Preachin to the choir!" Vaughn laughed, "Oh god I hope it is the one gig, I'm so sick of those run down motel rooms with like, damp stains in the corners and funky smells and what might be blood on the walls from where the last guy who stayed there hated it so much that he just exploded!" he sighed "I want to spend just one night, in like, a Hilton hotel, with full room service and pay per view movies and the record company footing the bill" he grinned "That would be heaven"
"Wow, is that as steep as it looks?" Scotty leaned over in his seat to point out of Vaughn's window as the road dropped away to reveal a sweeping drop covered in snow. The snow screwed up the depth perception, making it impossible to tell if the drop was frighteningly steep or a harmless slope.
Vaughn was easing on the break, letting the van crawl along as another strong breeze shook the van on its suspension and Jane grabbed the back of his seat to steady herself.
"Just keep doin that, crawl man" Scotty nodded as Vaughn dragged his gaze away from the drop.
"The trees pick up again up ahead, the wind wont be as bad up there" Jane pointed to where the road levelled off again.
"Take your last look at Willow Fields guys, say 'bye bye town'" Vaughn joked in a sing song voice.
"Bye bye town!" Jane and Scotty mimicked and Vaughn stepped on the gas, driving the car forward.
"Damn…what do you guys think?" Derek looked up at the group who shrugged and shook their heads respectively.
"I think we need to do it for the site but I mean, wouldn't posting it be like sending a letter to the cops saying 'we did it here's proof!' ?" Chloe held up a hand in a 'what can you do' gesture.
"She's right D, its way beyond risky" Jason agreed.
Derek frowned as he thought about what they had said. "There's definitely no open windows or anything anywhere?" he asked.
"Well they're painted shut…if we came back with some tools and the right kind of paint we could scrape the paint away, get inside, do our thang, and repaint the window ledge to look as good as it was which would make it kind of impossible for cops to prove we had broken in at all, but it would take a while…we could get the gear tomorrow and come back in the early evening?" Jason explained.
Derek nodded, "Okay, so we'll come back?" he looked to the girls.
"Sounds good" Chloe nodded as Lan grinned her agreement.
Derek began to climb back down, and the others followed. They made it back to the fence again and Jason and the girls climbed over first. Derek passed the camera over then climbed up, straddling the fence momentarily to regard the House. Chloe had been right hearlier on, it did just look like a perfectly ordinary house. He shook his head sadly at the thought of what had happened there, then looked down to see if it was clear for him to just jump instead of climbing down.
"Derek come on already, somebody's coming" Jason hissed, and Derek turned to begin the climb down. Then he fell, his hands simply slipping away from the fence as he passed out mid climb and dropped like a stone toward the earth.
"But then you would be too dead to play genius" Jane reminded him.
"So I'd come back and make sure they went to some one who really deserved them then, or that they where buried with me!" he chuckled.
"You could have like, a pharaohs tomb of rock memorabilia," Vaughn suggested, "Complete with groupie girls to be mummified with you and follow you into the next world to be your groupie noogie for all eternity" he laughed as Scotty's eyes gleamed with thoughts of the possibility's such an idea held.
"Oh man, I'm putting that in my will!" Scotty yelled happily.
Vaughn slumped over the wheel, going from conscious to unconscious in the blink of an eye.
Jane screamed as the van swerved wildly, tossing her against the wall as it hit a bump in the road and teetered over on two wheels as it's fishtailing brought it nearer to the tree's. Scotty was struggling to get out of his belt and grab the wheel when the van tipped over on its side then up onto its roof, rolling down the hill before slamming into the side of an ancient looking evergreen.
"Ow" he heard Jane groan from the back of the van and as he reached for his belt buckle, he realised that he was upside down, that the van was in fact sitting on its roof.
He reached up, or down and pressed one hand to the roof, bracing himself as he unclipped his belt so that he didn't fall quite so hard.
"Jane?" he called out, turning to that he crouched between the inverted seats.
"I'm okay " she called back "I don't think I broke anything important...my bass hit me in the knee…ow…it really hurts…are you okay?" he saw her pull herself toward the front of the van, using her left knee as little as possible.
"I'm fine, I had my belt on…you got lucky back there huh?" he half grinned.
"Actually I did, wow!" she marvelled briefly. "Vaughn, you okay?" she shouted, and Scotty realised what had been niggling in the back of his mind since he opened his eyes.
"Oh shit" he snapped, turning to where Vaughn lay slumped on the upturned ceiling of the car.
"Vaughn buddy, you okay?" Scotty asked, leaning over his friend to see the singers face, which was turned away from Scotty.
There was a deep gash on Vaughn's forehead and blood covered one half of his face. He was breathing, but totally unconscious.
"He's hurt, he needs a doctor like, now!" Scotty told Jane.
She pulled herself into the front of the van as Scotty crawled out of the hole where the wind shield used to be, leaning over Vaughn the way Scotty had and gasping tearfully when she saw how still and pale he was.
"I'm gonna go and try and get help, don't move him but try to wake him up, I'll be as fast as I can" he told her.
"Hurry back" Jane nodded, and Scotty turned and ran back up to the road. Thankfully, he didn't have to go too far and as soon as he reached the road he turned back toward Willow Fields, running as fast as he dared on the icy, snow covered road.
"He was trying to get a better shot of the house so he climbed up the fence and he just, fell, like he fainted or something, his head hit the floor really hard and...here we are" Chloe only half lied, about why Derek had been on the fence.
"Just fainted, no warning, no complaints of dizziness or nausea?" the doctor frowned inquisitively at her as a nurse passed him a large brown envelope and he pulled out Derek's x-rays. "No fractures" he stated spartanly.
"He was dizzy earlier to day" Chloe told him "But we all sorta thought it was because he hadn't really slept in a couple of days…he slept all afternoon and said he felt fine" she shrugged.
The doctor hmm'd and looked back at the wound. " A few stitches and I'll keep him here overnight…he should wake up soon enough, and if not, well then we'll see" he reached for a suture kit and looked back up at Chloe "You can wait outside, I'll call you when he wakes up" he said, his kindly tone reassuring her despite his serious expression.
She stepped out of the cubicle and walked back to the waiting room, which was populated almost exclusively by drunken festival goers who had partied too hard, to find Lan and Jason who where sitting side by side on uncomfortable plastic chairs.
"Doctor says he'll be fine once he wakes up" she told them, dropping into a chair beside them.
"What even happened, he just seemed to drop" Lan shook her head in confusion.
"I told the doctor that he fainted, and about him being dizzy before, he said he would keep him for observation but he didn't seem to want to look any deeper into it…I think he thinks we might have been drinking!" Chloe added the last in hushed tones.
"Maybe he's sick, I mean Lan you're only just getting over that cold, maybe you gave it to Derek and he made it worse by tiring himself out?" Jason suggested.
"Could be" Chloe agreed.
The doors to the tiny ER opened and a gurney carrying a young man with curly black hair and a serious looking cut on his forehead was wheeled in. The paramedic spoke as he wheeled the unconscious Vaughn through to the treatment area. "RTA, got a male approximately eighteen to twenty years old, apparently passed out at the wheel of the van, got a serious head lac and has been unconscious since the crash happened" the guy rattled off to the doctor who walked along side the bed. "Patient is unresponsive to vocal stimuli, but pupils do dilate" the medics voice cut off as he stepped through the doors.
A second gurney followed carrying a blonde haired girl who was conscious and not I a good mood. "Patient is approximately eighteen to twenty, same RTA as our head lac-"
"I'm twenty and the head lac's name is Vaughn, and I'm Jane!" Jane snapped angrily.
"Conscious and responsive on scene, complains of pain in the left knee, seems to have serious discoloration in the area, possible dislocation, a few minor cuts and bruises, other wise perfectly okay" the second medics voice cut off just like his companions had.
A guy with blonde hair and a soul patch and small cuts on his face walked into the waiting area, talking to a guy in a uniform who looked like a local cop.
"So why where you leaving?" the cop asked.
"Jane kinda struck out with a guy and didn't want to face him…we'd played our set and done everything we needed to so we thought we would set out early for our next gig" Scotty, like Chloe had done, didn't exactly lie, he just didn't tell the whole truth.
"And Vaughn was driving?" the cop looked up form his note pad.
"Yeah, he slept all day so he felt the most refreshed, I didn't sleep at all last night so we thought it would be safer if he drove" Scotty told him.
"And was he drinking?"
"No!" Scotty frowned at the officer who just noted it down casually.
"So how did you crash?"
"I…don't know, we where talking, then all of a sudden, Vaughn just kind of, fainted, I don't know, he just slumped over the wheel and the van fishtailed then flipped" Scotty ran a hand through his hair, shaking his head as he tried to think.
"He just fainted?" the cop repeated. "He got a history of fainting?"
"Not since I've known him" Scotty shrugged "which is long enough to know if he was the fainting type"
The cop flipped his notebook closed. "I'll go get a statement from your girlfriend, and from you buddy once he wakes up…I find out he was driving drunk and you're covering for him there is going to be trouble" the cop didn't say it as a threat, it was a simple fact.
He left Scotty standing alone, and Scotty stayed that way, pacing for a good fifteen minutes before Chloe, who had been listening carefully to what was said, called over to him. "Hey, come over here…what time did you friend faint?"
"What?" Scotty looked at her, stepping closer to hear the question.
"What time did your friend faint" Chloe repeated.
"Like, forty minutes ago, no, just over an hour now…why?" Scotty frowned suspiciously.
"Our friend Derek fainted a little over an hour ago, he fell off a fence because of it" She told him.
Scotty sat down a couple of seats away from Chloe, Lan and Jason.
"We where driving out of town when Vaughn just blinked out like a light, the van flipped a bunch of times and hit a tree" he told them "Jane, that was the girl they took back there, she was in back with all the instruments, she was lucky she wasn't more badly hurt" he blinked as if he had only just fully realised that himself.
"You're The Problem right? We saw you play today, you kicked some kind of ass" Jason reached out a hand "I'm Jason, this is Lan, and this is Chloe" he pointed as he spoke, and Scotty shook first his hand, then the girls.
"Scotty, uh, Jane was the hurt girl, the hurt guy was Vaughn" he waved a hand vaguely at the treatment area beyond the doors. "So are you guys here for the festival?" he nodded to the camera Jason had sitting in his lap "Making a video or something?"
"No, we run a website, we investigate supernatural goings on, we where doing an investigation into the Romford House" Jason told him.
"Supernatural…so you guys believe in ghosts and stuff?" Scotty said a little hopefully.
"Yeah, when we can prove it" Lan nodded.
"How often is that?" Scotty asked.
"More so than you would think…the worlds a pretty strange place" Lan shrugged.
"Have you ever heard of the Amulet of Sorren?" Scotty tried to make the question casual.
"I have" Lan told him, "It was supposed to give those who possessed it the ability to see ghosts" she explained for Chloe and Jason's sake. "But it was lost a couple hundred years ago"
"Um" Scotty tried to think of a way to present the Amulet when a doctor poked his head through the door and shouted, "Vaughn, Jane and Derek, friends and family?"
The four stood in unison and walked over to the door, stepping through into the corridor beyond. Derek, Jane and Vaughn all lay on the same side, their beds in consecutive cubicles. Jane was leaning over the rail in her bed to watch to Vaughn who was groggily answering the cops questions, telling the same honest story about the accident that Scotty had.
Derek was still on his side but smiled as Chloe and Lan ran over to his bed. Jason simply nodded.
"How you feeling?" he asked his fallen comrade.
"My head hurts…what happened, I was on the fence then I, I guess I blacked out huh?" he looked at his friends.
"It was scary Derek, you just sorta, dropped, totaly lifeless, like a rag doll" Chloe told him.
"I don't know what I did that brought this on but I really don't want to do it again" Derek stated.
"How is he?" Lan called over to Scotty who was hovering near Vaughn's bed while the cop finished up.
"Good, I think" Scotty smiled nervously back at her, his concern for his friend making it hard to just relax.
The cop stood and walked away, telling the band they would need to call the station about the van.
As soon as he was gone, Scotty stepped over to Vaughn, pulling up a chair so that he sat between Vaughn's and Jane's beds.
Vaughn looked pale and drawn, and the gash on his head was now stitched closed and surrounded by a deep purple bruise. "Dude?" Scotty asked by way of greeting.
"You guys both okay?" Vaughn asked hoarsely.
"My knee's a little screwed up but he doctor said it would be fine in a few days" Jane told him "And Scotty was the poster boy for road safety, he had his belt on!" she half smiled.
Vaughn nodded slowly. "I passed out?" he asked, "I remember driving , something about your will Scotty, then nothing 'til now" he frowned, wincing as the movement hurt his injured forehead. I wasn't drinking" he stated firmly.
"We know man…the same thing happened to this guy" Scotty pointed to Derek who waved over.
"You wigged out?" Vaughn turned slowly and painfully to look at Derek.
"So I'm told" Derek grinned.
"You frightened the crap out of us D" Jason stated.
"Yeah, you too Vaughn, we thought you where like, dead or something!" Jane nodded earnestly.
"I think if I was dead you would be getting some weird looks right about now" Vaughn joked knowingly.
Derek frowned at Jason and the girls who matched his confused expression before Lan gasped and stepped forward. "You asked about the Amulet of Sorran" she reminded them, "What did that joke mean just now, about weird looks?" she frowned suspiciously.
"Um…just that it would be weird if they where sitting here talking to me and I was dead" Vaughn told her, racking his brains for a better lie.
"Well obviously it would, but that's not what you meant" Lan countered.
"How do you know it's not what I meant, you don't even know me?" Vaughn frowned defensively.
"I have ears, you meant something else. Do you have that Amulet!" Lan stared open mouthed, as Scotty, Jane and Vaughn all suddenly looked very interested in the floor, ceilings, their nails.
"No way" Lan breathed "You did it, you activated the Amulet and now you see dead people!" she pointed at them, covering her mouth with her other hand.
"Look out, it's Hailey Joel Osment waving a copyright contract!" Vaughn yelled, pointing over Lan's head at nothing.
Lan raised a distinctly un amused eyebrow, and crossed her arms, fixing the band with a glare "Look, we deal with this stuff for a living, we're not gonna let this drop!" She snapped at them.
Vaughn looked at Scotty who was frowning thoughtfully. "Dude?" Vaughn made it a question.
It's possible that I mentioned the Amulet to her in an effort to learn more about it" Scotty admitted sheepishly.
"Great, now we're gonna get locked up in a mental institution because we claim to see ghosts!" Jane snapped angrily.
As lan gasped Scotty 'ahemed' and stated quietly "I never actually told her we could see ghosts"
Jane paused and her face twisted from anger to surprise as she realised that they could have gotten away with it had she not spoken. "By which I of course mean…seeing ghosts' is a musical term, it's what you call it when, uh, you write a sad song about your own past?" she tried the lie out.
"So we see ghosts, so what?" Vaughn raised an eyebrow at Lan, ignoring Jane's whispered orders to shut up.
"Seriously?" Lan grinned inanely and stepped forward.
"Yes, but it's not a good thing, they all want something, its why we can see them, they all have unfinished business and because we can see them we're the ones who get to help them out. Which sucks." He stated.
"Can you see any right now?" Lan smiled.
"I'd rather not look" Vaughn sighed. "You don't under stand how inconvenient this is, sometimes they'll want something we cant possibly give them and they wont leave us alone unless we can convince them otherwise. We had a ghost girl once who asked her to dig up her body and re bury it next to her sweethearts body, they died together in a car wreck- any way, as it tuned out her honey's graveyard had become a mall and we ended up carting a body around. Which is just so very illegal!" Vaughn glared at Lan.
"Plus sometimes ghosts can hurt you, one tried to drown me once, and almost got Vaughn killed by a sheriff!" Jane added.
Scotty nodded emphatically.
"Please?" Lan, pleaded.
Vaughn looked around the room then nodded to someone Lan and the Freakylinks gang couldn't see.
"What?" Vaughn asked thin air as Jane and Scotty stared at the same empty spot Vaughn was talking to.
"Seriously? The twist at the end of Usual Suspects? Kevin Spacey was Kaiser Soze all along, he made up almost everything on the spot." Vaughn said.
There was another pause.
"No he's right, it turned out he wasn't even crippled" Scotty agreed.
Yet another pause, and then the three looked over at the Freakylinks group.
"There, happy now?" Vaughn asked.
"That's it?" Jason looked between Vaughn and the empty space.
"Yeah. He's gone now. He had a heart attack while watching the Usual Suspects for the first time and all he wanted to now was what the big twist ending was" Vaughn shrugged. "Its not that impressive unless you can see the ghost too, but you cant so…" he trailed off.
The Freakers looked at one another and Jason reached for his camera.