This story is a work of fiction its characters do not exist outside the story. Any resemblance to living people or places is strictly coincidence. This story is ©2012 Julien Gregg. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This story contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.

This is HORROR FICTION. The story contains scenes depicting paranormal events. This type of material isn't for everyone, so take caution when you read this tale.

The sky was a dreary shade of gray, deeper gray in the center of the gathered clouds than around their edges. The trees swayed and shook with the conflicting winds that touched them from what seemed to be every side. A thin drizzle fell from the sky like a series of light, moist kisses.  The windshield of Brandon "Rip" Kripke's battered Volkswagen Bug was a chaotic mass of running lines that changed and grew as he drove; the tired engine giving the overcast sky a run for its money with dark blue-gray exhaust.

"You know this car's rapidly becoming an environmental hazard," said Phillip Mescar from the cramped passenger seat. The twenty year old Social Science major was holding tight to the scrap of cloth that would hold the tattered convertible top up as he spoke.

"I love this car," Rip said, smiling as he chanced a glance at his blonde haired best friend.

The two had this discussion on a weekly basis. They were roommates and sophomores at Bradley University. They'd been instant best friends shortly after moving into the small room they shared in Tricou Hall. Best friend that he was, Rip couldn't figure out exactly how Phil had talked him into joining his little gang of paranormal investigators, or truth seekers as Phil and Rag were fond of calling themselves. He also couldn't figure how he'd let the others talk him into a night at Asher House.

Asher House was supposedly the most haunted building on campus. The dorm had been closed long before Rip had come to the university. Two people had died in the dorm twenty years ago, and it was said that their spirits haunted the building, driving everyone out one year later. Over the years many students and a few members of the faculty had reported seeing faces in the windows or lights. Electricity had been shut off to the building a year after its closure, and the doors were padlocked.

The absence of electricity and padlocked doors weren't a strong enough deterrent to keep out determined young people bent on scaring themselves silly, so the reports of faces in the windows were easy enough to explain. Lights could even be explained by candles and flashlights, but each person who'd told their tales of lights and faces insisted that it was as if an overhead light was on in one room or another of the building.

Then there was the music. Several members of the faculty, janitorial and maintenance staff alike reported hearing the same song in the building over and over again. It was always "Hysteria" by Def Leppard playing in a location that no one could locate. They heard it no matter where they were in the building and sometimes the song could be heard by people passing the building as they made their way to and from the main campus.

April Linn and Sam Denton had died in Asher House on November tenth of 1988. The pair had been high school sweethearts and come to Bradley University from Riverdale, Colorado in 1986. Though Asher House was an all male dormitory, April's body was found with Sam's in his room on the fifth floor. They'd died together after being electrocuted by a short circuited hot plate in Sam's room. The song "Hysteria" had been playing when they were found. The young men on either side of the room told campus police that the song had been playing over and over all day long.

The song, faces in the windows and lights in certain rooms were enough to get Phillip and his friends' attention. They'd talked Rip into joining them over drinks at The Campus Lounge. It had taken them three trips to convince him. He still couldn't believe that they'd convinced him to join their little paranormal gang.

Rip was no stranger to tales of the paranormal by any means. He'd grown up in Apple Mountain Valley, Montana swimming in rumors about the old Worthington Mortuary at the edge of town sixty feet from the base of Apple Mountain. He'd looked up the facts about the place easily enough. The Library in town had everything he was looking for on microfiche. The grisly story of Harland Worthington III's killing spree that took place inside the mortuary that had been in his family for generations had nearly made him sick.

What had become a local legend in Apple Mountain Valley was the story of the Blakely family who'd moved into the renovated mortuary before Rip's family had move to town. The story was that they'd moved in and within three months of living there one of their sons was hospitalized and diagnosed with catatonia. A few weeks later, the story was that a friend of the family had been killed and found in the back yard of the house, but no one knew what had happened to her. People said that the Blakely's moved out shortly after that and were never heard from in Apple Mountain Valley again, though they still owned the house.

He and his friends used to dare each other to walk up to the house and stand on the front porch. It was only a scary dare. None of them were brave enough to try and break into the house. As far as Rip knew no one had ever broken in. He was sure that someone probably had in the past and had just been lucky enough not to be found by authorities, but no one told any stories about breaking in. In fact, people avoided mentioning the house if they could.

So he was no stranger to tales of the paranormal. He kept the Blakely House a secret from his best friend because he was sure that Phillip would just be gung ho to load up his pack of investigators and head for Apple Mountain Valley. He couldn't have that. He wasn't sure he actually believed the house was haunted with ghosts that could kill, but he wasn't ready to test the story either. He would keep it all secret from Phillip and his friends for as long as he could; hopefully forever.

"You got quiet on me, man," said Phillip, breaking into Rip's thoughts of Apple Mountain Valley.

"Just thinking about where we're going," he sighed as they pulled into the lot in front of Asher House. He saw Rag's Green Chevy Blazer immediately. Rag and Adam were standing at the back with the hatch open.

"You're not really scared of this shit are you?" Phillip asked, looking sideways at him.

"Scared isn't the right word," Rip replied. "Respectful I think is the word I'd use."

"Well we all respect the paranormal," Phillip argued. "We're not going in there to mock the spirits of April and Sam. We just want to prove that they're there."

"Not to mention getting an A in class," Rip pushed.

"Well yeah, man," laughed Phillip. "This'll be the easiest grade ever."

"Whatever," Rip replied disgustedly as he parked his Bug next to the Blazer as Rag pulled sheets of clear plastic out of the back of the Blazer.  "I see he's prepared for the rain."

"Rag is always prepared for anything," replied Phillip with a chuckle.

"You remembered plastic, right?" Rip said, looking at Phillip and thinking about his seven hundred dollar infrared camera.

"Relax," sighed Phillip. "Let's just do this."

"Where is Dr. Alcott?" Rip asked as he climbed out of the car and started to rummage in the back seat for the plastic he was sure Phillip had forgotten to bring.

"He'll be here," said Phillip, pulling the plastic sheets out from under his jacket. "Looking for these?"

"Wise ass," laughed Rip. "Wrap the cameras."

"Yes, massah," Phillip mocked. "You want to carry them or the case?"

"I'll trust you with my camera as long as you have yours at the same time," Rip said seriously.

Phillip gave him a withering look and then started to wrap both cameras in plastic. Rip walked to the front of the bug to get the case out of the trunk. The rain began to soak his jacket and jeans almost at once. He was glad there were two changes of clothes in the case for both them along with the other camera equipment. He was expecting to hate this night anyway, but to spend it in wet clothing would make it unendurable.

"We got keys?" Phillip asked over his shoulder.

"Waiting on Alcott," replied Rag. "Just put everything under plastic and stack it beside the door. The rain isn't hitting there because of the overhang."

Rip watched the guy place his cases by the doors to the dormitory and cover them once again with plastic. To look at Raglan Matthew Winthrop you wouldn't guess that his family had more money than anyone would know what to do with. He was happy to dress in ripped jeans and worn out t-shirts. The jacket he was wearing that afternoon would keep the rain out, but it looked like it had seen better days. Rip was sure that at one time the jacket had been brown, but it had faded to a dull greenish color.

His hair was cut short and spiked in different directions. It was the color of milk chocolate when Rag wasn't covering the color with black, red or green bandannas. His eyes were a cool gray color that looked like melting ice, and his constant smirk made him attractive in a strange way. His personality made him near impossible to spend any time with however.

Adam Phifer was Rag's best friend and sidekick. He stood at all of five feet, seven inches to Rag's even six feet. Everything about Adam and Rag screamed opposition. As messed and spiked as Rag's hair was, Adam kept his wheat blond locks neatly trimmed and parted to the left. His brown eyes had a strange way of looking amber from time to time, and he had an easy smile for everyone. If Rip had not seen Adam and Rag together he'd have sworn the two could never be friends.

As for Phillip, Rip thought they were well suited as friends and actually could have been mistaken for brothers. Both had the same sandy brown hair and brilliant green eyes. Phillip's face was a bit longer than Rip's angular mug. They were within inches of each other in height, Phillip standing at an even six feet and Rip at an inch and a half over. They got along well as their differences seemed to complement each other.

"I've got food stuff in my case there," Adam said as Rip places his case beside the one Adam pointed to. "No one said anything about food, but I thought we'd obviously get hungry some time tonight."

"Good thinking," Rip replied, smiling at him. "It never occurred to me actually."

"We can't rely on Dr. Alcott for everything," Adam said, giving Rip a lopsided grin.

As if that was the man's cue his red and brown station wagon pulled into the lot. He parked next to Rip's Bug and got out of the vehicle. The man had a case of his own in the back of the wagon, and Rip stifled a chuckle when he saw that the doctor hadn't remembered to bring plastic sheets to save it from the rain. He noticed that the man also wasn't wearing anything to protect his tweed suit from the rain. He looked rumpled and tired. He was in his late forties or early fifties. Rip could never figure out which. His dark hair was just turning to the salt and pepper stage with more gray at the temples, making him look distinguished rather than aged. His long face was only slightly lined from the years, and his blue eyes were clear.

"Mr. Kripke, it's good to see you this evening," said Dr. Alcott as he brought his case to the door. "I'll have this door unlocked in just a second."

He fumbled in his pants pocket for a set of keys, dropping them almost as soon as he pulled them out of his pocket. Rip quickly bent and retrieved the keys and handed them to the smiling professor. He stood back as the man stepped to the double doors and unlocked them.

The building was exactly like the rest of the dormitories in University Row. All five stories were covered with off-white stucco. The roof was slate black and slanted slightly in front and back of the building. The windows were side-openers with dark shudders on either side of each one.

Rip and the others picked up cases and cameras and followed the doctor into the building. The lobby looked exactly like the lobby of Tricou House and Rip suspected every one of the thirteen dormitories on campus. There was very little furniture left in the building, and none of it was in the lobby. All that was there was the counter along the left wall with its bulletin board behind it. They stacked their cases in front of the counter and put their cameras on top.

Dr. Alcott said that with all four of them living in the dormitories a tour was unnecessary because they were all the same. He suggested that they get their equipment ready as he told them the story of Sam and April even though the man had to know that each of them had heard the story several times in the past.

He helped them set up cameras on all five floors. There were motion sensors and alarms that would trip if the temperature dropped in any area of the building. They had microphones that fed into a special EVP recorder. A wireless microphone was placed on every floor with six of them room 510 where April and Sam had died.

The building was so much like Tricou Hall that a few times Rip expected to see some of the faces he'd see on a daily basis. The gray tiled floors and off-white walls were no different than the ones he'd seen for the last two years.

As the sun set and the building grew darker and darker they lit their electric lanterns and armed themselves with flashlights. Rip and Phillip went up to the fifth floor while Adam and Rag took a slow tour of the ground floor. Faces had been seen in the windows of both the ground floor and the fifth floor. None of them could understand why anything happened on the first floor when the couple had died on the fifth, but Dr. Alcott wanted all of the bases covered.

For more than half the night nothing happened. Rip was ready to tell Phillip that everyone was seeing and hearing things were lying when the temperature rapidly dropped on the fifth floor. The two young men looked at each other for a second before Rip grabbed his EVP recorder and Phillip ripped his EMF detector from his belt. Then the music started. It was accompanied by a strange banging sound.

The two young men followed the banging to room 510. When they opened the door they both gasped at what they saw inside. The room was as empty as every other room they'd looked into on the fifth floor. There was no radio or tape recorder in the room, yet the music was suddenly much louder. The window was sliding open and closed again with such force that each time the window opened or closed it banged.

Rip held the EMF detector in front of him as he walked through the door. Phillip was right behind him, but he clearly wasn't happy about it. The young man kept whimpering lowly, but Rip heard it. He nearly chuckled as he thought about Phillip asking him if he was scared of this stuff.

"Look," he said finally. "If you're that scared you can always wait in the hall. Just give me your recorder."

"What?" cried Phillip in a high pitched shriek. "No! I'm not scared. I'm excited."

"Whatever," replied Rip, turning away from his friend. "Just don't flake on me. Stay in this."

"Oh I'm in it," replied Phillip. Rip turned to face him and found a strange smile on his friend's face.

His EMF detector began to vibrate in his hand. He was sure it was malfunctioning when he looked at it. The needle was all the way to the right in the red section. The reading was off the scale. He looked at Phillip again just as everything stopped. The music cut off, the window stopped banging and the temperature returned to normal. The two young men stared at each other with excited smiles on their faces. Both knew that this was only the beginning. It wasn't over. No, this was just a brief pause before the big show would continue. Rip couldn't believe how exhilarating it was. He hoped that they could record a lot more. A grade was one thing, actual proof of the paranormal was another.

They regrouped on the ground floor, each of them wide eyed and excited. Dr. Alcott looked more excited than any of the students. He was babbling about more equipment and further investigation as he carefully wrapped his cameras in plastic he'd taken off the display counter. Rag was bent over his own camera, talking with the professor about coming back later that night. That was when Rip saw that the sun had risen and it was no longer Friday. He wondered if he wanted to come back. He'd seen what he needed to see already. He'd heard and felt it. Did he really need to push the envelope with this? He wasn't so sure.

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