Click here to read part one.
Tim was the first to see it. “What is that light?” A bright cloud floated in the far corner. It wasn’t like anything he’d seen before. It glowed from within like a nebula. It definitely wasn’t their flashlights hitting smoke or fog from the outside.
“Quiet, everyone!” Bryce muttered as they paused at the bottom of the stairs. He had swung his camera over to video the cloud with one hand, while trying to work the EM gauge with the other. In the silence they heard something like chains clinking together.
Sherry leaned in closer to Tim, bringing her whispering lips to his ear. “You don’t think this place is really…?” Fear and excitement ran like chills just under her skin causing a slight shudder.
He didn’t answer her unfinished question. “Uh… do you guys see something… walking?” He didn’t have a flashlight, but he did have a laser pointer. When he used it, it seemed to strike something in the darkness just out of reach of strange light, something that seemed to be moving away.
Bryce pointed his camera that way. “Wiggle the beam over it!” When Tim did so, it created a strobe effect, revealing what looked like a man standing. And then the figure darted away, the chain sound jingling louder. They heard whispered voices.
Sherry let out a quick squeal but clamped it down with clenched teeth. “Let’s get out of here!”
“Are you kidding?” Bryce said. “I’m getting all this on video. Proof of ghosts!”
“Freeze it, they just saw me.”
“Do you hear that?” Saly said as she and Teranz hid behind a support column. “They think we’re spirits.” She paused for a moment, then looked up. “I’m going to go scare them away.”
“But what if you change the future? What about a paradox?”
“It can’t be any worse than catching two researchers from the future trying to hide advanced technology. Plus we need this location. It’s the only place in range. If we’re going to go back any further in time, then we can’t abort.”
Teranz didn’t know how to answer. He had a wife and daughter in the future; if he lost them to this… His partner crept off in the darkness. “Saly!”
“Bryce, I think Sherry is right. We ought to-”
“Shhh! Do you hear that?” Bryce scanned the darkness with his camera. It had sounded like a whispered shout, but then nothing.
The next half minute of silence was hardly bearable. Bryce had an eerie feeling. A cold presence seemed to draw closer, unseen. It was something filled with malice. Fear welled up within him. The others must have felt it too. They were silent and stood rigid next to him. They leaned into each other.
It was a drawn out guttural whisper uttered nearby. They all froze, as if their stillness could hide them. Finally Bryce turned his head to see the faint outline of a woman just a few steps away. Though he could see right through her, he could make out the large whites of her eyes and her hideous mouth twisted in hate.
She reached out for him. “Go!”
Shrieking, they raced up the stairs, through the littered hallways, and out into the crisp twilight. They kept going. A few blocks away they slowed down, panting and collapsing on the ground.
They said nothing but shared terror-filled glances.
Ghosts were real.
Bryce looked at his camera, hoping they had caught something.
When they returned to 3066 after planting the anchor, Teranz was afraid of what he might find. Had their interaction with the past caused changes in the future? They had previously learned through experiments the butterfly effect wasn’t as pronounced as had been feared. It seemed time had a course to follow and it took a lot of effort to change things. The question was if they had done too much this time.
The lab looked the same. His fellow researchers were the same. As he made his way home, everything looked the same. He breathed one sigh of relief but held another back. Not until he saw his family would he feel like he had escaped disaster.
As his door slid open, his six year-old daughter raced to him. “Daddy!”
“Sweetheart!” He gathered her in his arms and held her tight. His wife walked in the room and joined them in the hugs and kisses. When he finally set his daughter down he noticed her outfit. “Sweetie, what’s this you have on?”
“Daddy, this is my ghost costume.”
“You know, dear,” his wife said. “For the Halloween party tonight.”
He looked at her quizzically. “Halloween?” The word sounded ancient, maybe as old as the time period from which he had just returned. He couldn’t quite place it. “What’s Halloween?”
“Don’t be silly, dear!”