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Chapter one "Return to Angel's Bluff"
It was a cold autumn afternoon, Miss Parker sat at her desk watching the leaves tumble downward from the tree outside. The delicate shades of brown, yellow and red were entrancing as they drifted to the plush green grass below. Each new gust of wind rustling a new batch to fall from the thinning branches above. She thought for a moment how amazing it was that each year trees were allowed to rid themselves of old weathered lives only to be given renewed buds in the spring. It was as if each year they were allowed to start over fresh. She thought that it was a shame that people where not allowed the same freedom.
"Miss Parker?" Sydney said, opening her door and putting his head inside.
"What?" She grumbled annoyed, keeping her eyes focused on the beauty of the outdoors.
"Broots found something I think you should see." He said stepping into the room fully.
"I'll be right there." She sighed still not moving from her place at the window.
"Is everything all right Miss Parker?" concern dripped from Sydney. "Is there something you need to or want to talk about?"
"I'm fine Freud stop psychoanalyzing me. I said I'll be right there."
Sydney opened his mouth to speak but thought better and closed it again. He stood for a moment just watching her before he stepped over to the door and slipped out into the hall.
Hearing the door shut, Miss Parker released a heavy sigh. She closed her eyes imagining for a moment that she was a leaf drifting freely carried on a cool autumn breeze,tumbling and twirling through a soft, white cloud speckled sky. Foot steps in the hall drew her attention back to reality and she opened her eyes. Turning from the window, she walked over to the door. She beckoned the ice queen from with in her. With her game face in place,she headed to see Broots.
Waltzing into the computer lab, she spotted Broots holding a book. She moved over to him and found upon further investigation that the book was entitled "Casper the friendly ghost." She smirked and looked at Broots. "Doing a little light reading?"
Broots' checks flushed a light shade of pink. "No. . No this was in the package that Jarod sent."
Reaching into the box, Miss Parker pulled out a 35mm camera, a roll of 1000 speed film, a flashlight, a compass, and a video tape. Placing each item down on the table she stopped and read the title of the movie in her hand aloud. "Poltergeist" She shook her head and placed it among the others things on the desk. Then turning to Broots she asked, "So Sherlock, what's Wonder-boy up to now?"
"Well assuming that the book and tape are actually clues to what Jarod doing and taking into consideration the other items in the book. I would have to guess that he is working as a paranormal investigator."
"Leave it to the Labrat to go chasing real ghosts on Halloween." she sneered picking up the camera and looking it over. Pushing the film door button she watched as it sprang open to reveal a used cartridge of film already inside. Pulling it out, she handed it to Broots. "Get this developed, yesterday."
"I'll take it down to Tammy in developing. You know Tammy she is the girl with the cross eyed sister that works in the tech lab on SL12."
"Did I ask for another Centre employee update?" She growled. "Just take the film and bring me back the pictures NOW."
Broots nervously placed the book in his hand on the table and shuffled his feet out the door.
"Your going to give that poor man a heart attack one of these days." Sydney said, walking over to picking up the the compass.
"So Dr. Frankenstien what is your little monster looking for this time?" She scoffed ignoring his comment.
"I'm not sure. It is interesting that Jarod would be interested in investigating paranormal activity."
"Yeah a real shocker." She said sarcastically.
"I mean to say Miss Parker that Jarod is usually interested in the living. It seems odd that he would spend his time focused on the dead."
"I hear Jarod made contact." Lyle said walking into the lab. He picked up the book and laughed. "What is he going to be Casper this year?"
"We all have our little quirks on Halloween Lyle. I see your going as the Grim Reaper again this year.' Miss Parker scoffed.
Lyle shoot her an angry glare. "If you find anything you're going to follow up on you report to me."
"Been eating that candy from Raines again?"
"I mean it Parker. Where ever you go I go, got that?"
She sauntered towards the door, looking back over her shoulder she smiled. "Right brother dear."
Sydney held back the chuckle that was tickling his throat. He tossed the items from the desk back into the box. Giving one last look at Lyle he picked up the box and followed after Miss Parker.
An hour later Broots came into Miss Parkers office carrying a small stack of photographs. He walked over to the couch where she and Sydney were taking a longer look at the items Jarod had sent. "Well here they are all 24 pictures on the roll."
"What are they of?" She asked reaching for the pile.
"Well all of them are of a house and what looks to be the property surrounding it. I am having Jim downstairs try and pin point the exact location of it."
"Miss Parker?" Sydney said called .
"I know this house, I've seen it somewhere before." She said awed.
"Where?" Sydney asked taking the photograph from her hand.
"I'm not sure."
"Look." Broots called excitedly.
"What is it Broots?" Sydney asked stepping over to where he was.
"The sign at in the lower corner of this photograph it says Angel's Bluff. I bet that is the name of house. I bet Jarod included that to tell us where to go."
"Broots get me an address." Miss Parker said getting to her feet and pulling the photograph from his hands.
Broots scurried out the door again leaving Sydney and Miss Parker alone.
"What are you going to do if Jarod is still there?" Sydney asked.
"What I always do." she scoffed going back over to look out the window. "What did you expect Sydney that after Carthis the rules would change? You know better or you should. Nothing ever changes at the Centre."
"I had hoped that your time with Jarod would help you to come to see he does not belong here."
"What I think doesn't matter Syd my job is to catch and return him, that choice was made for us a long time ago."
Sydney was speechless. He had hoped that their time alone together would have brought them both some kind of understanding. He had hoped that they were able to reconnect with each other. Her coldness on the matter of bringing him back was simply more proof that she was right nothing was ever going to change, Jarod would keep running and she would remain his huntress, They would all remain trapped in the world the Centre had designed for them. It was a truth that was if nothing else heartbreaking. "I'll be in my office." he whispered softly as he turned to go.
Miss Parker sighed and turned around to explain but found that he had already gone. Walking over to her desk she pulled open the bottom drawer and pulled took out a bottle of Scotch. Reaching for a glass, she poured the remainder of the amber liquid into the glass. She gulped down the first drink allowing the liquor to flood over her tongue and slid down her throat in a burning wave. She reached down and picked up one of the photographs from her desk. "What have you found now Jarod?" She whispered to the empty room.
"I've got it Miss Parker. I know where Jarod is." Broots bellowed triumphantly as he walked back in the room. "Angel Buff is on the northern coast of Maine."
"What are we waiting for? Tell Haines to get the jet ready. We'll grab Sydney on the way out." She said downing the last gulp of Scotch from her glass. She walked over and grabbed her coat then headed to the door.
Broots stood there for a moment just looking at her. She could tell by his face that he was trying to find the courage to say something.
"What is it Broots?" She sneered annoyed that they were wasting time.
"It's Halloween Miss Parker." Broots said reluctantly.
"And I care about this why?"
"Well Debbie is having a Halloween Party and I. . . well I promised her that. . "Broots began to ramble shifting his weight nervously from one foot to another.
"Go home Broots. I am sure Syd and I can handle this one." She said grabbing the door handle.
"Thank you Miss Parker." Broots smiled.
"Tell Debbie I said hello." With that she headed out the door and down the hall to Sydney's office. As she reached for the door she remembered what Sydney had said earlier about hoping things had changed. She let her hand drop to her side again and sighed. She knew that Sydney thought that Jarod should be free and she decided that she would investigate this lead on her own. She usually got more accomplished that way anyway.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Arriving at the airport in Maine, she made her way over to the car rental desk. Once she had gotten a car, she asked the clerk if he knew how to get to Angel's Bluff. He reluctantly gave her directions and she was on her way. As she drove along the coast, her mind drifted to the time she and Jarod had shared on the Island. They were thoughts she seemed unable to escape from since their return. She played each moment over and over in her mind. Always wondering what if she had done things differently. Trying to shake the thoughts from her mind, she tried to focus on the beauty of the countryside she drove through.
The meadows that lined the roadway on her journey where beautiful. The lush green grass brushed with the wet autumn dew seemed to glisten in the late afternoon sun. Leaves floated down all around her, dancing across the sky as they were freed from the colorful tree tops that hovered over the roadway. As she drew closer to her destination, she could feel the butterflies begin to swarm in her belly. She wasn't sure if it was from the prospect of finding another family secret or just from the aspect of actually catching Jarod this time. Up ahead in the distance ,she saw the a weathered sign that read "Angel's Bluff right 3miles".
She took a deep breath and turned the car on to an old cobble stone road. The trees seemed to form a web above the roadway blocking out the sun and leaving the traveler with an eerie feeling of foreboding. A chill crept up her spine leaving a tingling trail of goose bumps along her skin in it's path. Her body seemed to tremble with unease as the house came into site. She scolded herself for such nonsense, reminding herself that this was most likely some elaborate plan developed by Jarod to give her a good Halloween scare.
Pulling her car into the widened driveway at the end of the road. She turned it off and stepped outside. Reaching behind her, she pulled her 9mm from it's resting spot on her lower back. With gun in hand, she began to take in her surroundings. The large white house was overgrown in spots with green ivy that seemed to entangle itself into the structure itself. Large oak trees speckled the grounds littering the green grass with a myriad of colorful leaves. The sound of waves could be heard crashing on the rocks below as the cliff seemed to hold this house delicately over the ocean. Suddenly she heard a voice calling out and she made her way over to the edge to look at the rocky shoreline below. All she found was a few seagulls hovering in mid flight.
Turning her attention back to the house, she thought she spotted someone moving in an upstairs window. She darted up the pathway to the house. Reaching the porch, she walked over to the entrance of the house. She immediately noticed that each of the wooden doors had the letter "P" carved into them. She reached up tracing them with the tip of her finger before reaching for the door handle. As her finger clutched the cold metal knob in her hand, She could hear the sounds of footsteps coming up behind her. Raising her gun, she spun around expecting to find Jarod, but the porch was empty. "Great Parker now the labrat has you hearing things." She said aloud as she turned back to the doors. They were open.
She hadn't remembered opening them so she figured that Jarod must be lurking near by. Stepping cautiously into the house, she raised her gun once more. When she was in the middle of the entrance hall the doors slammed shut behind her with a thunderous crash. Surprised she jolted around to look at them. "All right Jarod play time is over." She scoffed looking around for him. Voices drew her towards the living room. Stepping through the archway, she found herself in a room that appeared to be frozen in time. It was decorated with furniture from the seventeenth century, delicate aged lace graced the table tops and the backs of the couches and chairs that adorned the room. Photographs, yellowed with age, were lined along the stone mantel of the fireplace. Her eyes immediately fell to the painting that was placed on the wall above the mantel. There was a man and woman sitting on the love seat surrounded by four boys, at the their feet was a beautiful young girl. At first glance it appeared as though the girl was crying, but when Miss Parker looked again the tears were gone.
"Jarod, what the hell are you up to?" She hissed annoyed that she was getting sucked into his newest game. Footsteps above her head, sent her to find the stairwell leading to the upper floors. As she climbed the stairs the tingling sensations returned flooding her body with goose bumps once more. She stopped and took a deep breath attempting to steady her nervous. "Get a grip here Parker." she repeated over and over to herself as she commenced her journey up the marble staircase.
Reaching the next floor, the footsteps she had only heard faintly in the living room were thunderous, like thick heavy boots on steel plates they echoed through the halls. Her first instinct was to call out to Jarod, but she refrained telling herself that it would only send the pretender running in the opposite direction. Instead she moved slowly door the hall in the direction of the footsteps. They seemed to be coming from the room at the end of the hall. She stopped in front of the door and took another breath. Raising her gun, she reached down wrapping her hands around the marble door knob. In one fluid sweep she threw the door open and moved inside. The room was empty. Confused she lowered the gun and moved around the room. It seemed to be an office or study of some kind. There was a large weathered wooden desk in the center of the room. On it sat more aged photographs, like the rooms she had seen in the living room, and a stack of dusty old books, one of which was the bible. The walls were covered from bottom to top with endless rows of books allowing only enough room for the two windows that faced the southern point of the house. As she stepped closer to the desk, she noticed that one of the desk drawers was slightly open. Curious she reached down to pull the drawer open a little more.
Feeling a heavy hand on her shoulder, she jerked upward and turned around to give Jarod a piece of her mind, but there was no one there. She was found herself over taken by fear and darted out of the study into the hall. As she ran down the hallway, she could hear the distant echo of laughter and it only fueled her feet to move faster. As she ran the hallway seemed to stretch never allowing her to reach her destination. Pushing herself forward she found her feet on the stairs at last. After she was halfway down the laughter seemed to grow closer and she turned her head to look behind her. Suddenly her body collided with something throwing her off balance and lunging forward. She could feel herself begin to fall and her gun slipped from her finger tips floating through the air until it landed on the floor at the bottom of the steps. In an instant, two strong hands wrapped around her upper arms steadying her. She let out a loud involuntary scream that echoed through the house.
"It's all right it's me." Jarod's voice reassured her.
"Let go of me Jarod." She yelled as anger and embarrassment boiled inside her. She yanked herself from this arms and glared at him. "What did you think it would be funny to scare the hell out of me? GROW UP!" She spotted her gun and headed down the steps to retrieve it.
"What are you talking about? I didn't even know you were in the house until you nearly knocked me down the stairs." Jarod defended himself.
"Right so the voices and footsteps where all my imagination." She growled picking her gun up off the floor and turned to point it at him. "Well fun is over there is nice cozy room waiting for you. Let's go."
"We both know you aren't going to use that thing." Jarod said walking towards her and reaching out and taking the gun from her hand.
"What the hell are we doing here Jarod?" She growled running her hand through her hair.
"Do you remember when we were kids and you told me about the house up the street from yours. You thought it was haunted. You told me all about how you were going to go inside it on Halloween and investigate. You told me that Halloween was the one night when sprits of the dead could walk among the living." Jarod began handing her back her gun.
"Yeah, but Daddy found out and threatened to ground me from seeing you for a month. I never went." Parker said smiling slightly at the memory. "I'm not a little girl anymore Jarod. Contrary to your screwed up belief system, I don't want to go traipsing around some creepy old house anymore."
"This isn't just any old house Miss Parker." Jarod smiled and walked into the living room.
Releasing a heavy sigh, she reluctantly followed him. "What the do you mean by that? Who's house is this? And what are we doing here?"
"Looking for ghosts." Jarod stated simply as he unloaded his bag.
"Thanks but I had enough ghosts on the island." she scoffed. "What is all that crap?"
"This is a video camera and a tripod," he smiled, as he adjusted the camera on the tripod.
"No shit Sherlock. I can see that." she hissed, growing more annoyed, as she shoved the gun back in it's holster.
"This is a tape recorder with an omni-directional microphone and an unidirectional microphone for recording wide and specific applications. These are wide-biased tapes to record on. A compass, to detect any alterations in magnetic fields. A thermal-scanner to detect rapid temperature drops and colds spots often associated with ghostly presences. Motion detectors there self explanatory I think. This is an Electromagnetic field detector otherwise known as an EMF to sense disturbances in the area. Night Scope because this place doesn't have electricity. And two way radios in the event that we get separated. Oh yeah and flashlight, and first aid kit." Jarod explained as he pulled each one out of his bag.
"So giving up sainthood to become a ghost-buster?" she raised an eyebrow at him.
"I never tried to be a saint. I just wanted to help people, to make up for all the pain I helped to create when I was doing sims for the Centre."
"Oh right, I forgot Saints don't torture their students of humanity." She said sarcastically moving around the room. "That would make you what a superhero? Our own little superman, how sweet."
"Cute, not funny, but cute." Jarod smiled.
"So are you going to explain or am I going to haul your butt back to the Centre?"
"If you were planing on taking me back you would have by now." Jarod said reaching into his bag and pulling out a bag of candy corn. "Want some? It is very good."
"What are we doing here Jarod?" She hissed, anger lacing her words.
"When we left the island I decided to investigate what Ocee and your fathers had told us about the scrolls. I wanted to know what kind of power these supposed scrolls contained that so many died in their search for them. I started in Carthis, with your great-grandfather. What I discovered was that up until he was hired as the crypt keep there was no record of him on Carthis at all. He had lived in the United States with his parents and siblings here in Maine before he moved to Carthis, in hopes of finding the scrolls."
"Thanks for the family history lesson." She scoffed.
"That wasn't all I learned Parker." Jarod said timidly, reaching for his bag once more. He pulled out a book, the binding worn and tattered leather. "I came across this diary in my search." He handed the book to her.
Holding the weathered diary in her hand she noticed a name etched into the leather. Isabella Parker. Confused, she looked up at him.