Hey Ya’ll! Welcome back to PEP! As promised, here is all four parts of the Haunted College Boys arc together so you can catch up or refamiliarize yourself if you were here last Halloween before the new piece on Monday.
Haunted College Boys
“Yee-haw! Come on, boys. Here’s our new home for the next two years!”
“Why’d it have to be yellow?”
“Hey, it was cheap and not all of us are moneybags.”
The blond looked at his brunette friend wryly.
“None of us are. Not once my father learns of my change in degree.”
“Hm. You’re stockpiling, though, right?”
“Yes, and I have the trust my grandmother left for after college.”
“Then you’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, I will be. It’s better to do something with my life that I won’t waste away at anyway, right, Justin?”
“You got it, Bennie-boy.”
The nick-named early 20s blond glared at Justin, “You know I hate that nickname.”
Justin stuck his tongue out at him, “Suck it up, Benji.”
Ben whined, “That’s almost worse!”
Coming up behind the two, a tall red-head commented, “Give it up, Ben. You know Justin, he gives everyone nick-names. But if we don’t get a move-on, we’ll still be unpacking come sun-down.”
Ben groaned and Justin snickered.
Justin headed upstairs, hollering down, “Yo, who picked which rooms?”
Ben yelled up, “We haven’t yet! Don’t even think about it!”
“Well, then get up here!”
Ben huffed and Connor grinned, brushing his red hair out of his aqua blue eyes.
A fourth voice spoke, the first two turning to see Ryan, “Come on, then. Before we get shifted out of the best room by default.”
The three boys headed up, instigating a brief squabble over the open rooms.
Justin paused by a closed door, “Hey, guys, what’s in here?”
Connor peered over, “No clue. I thought we went through all the rooms before we rented the place.”
“So did I but this door’s closed.”
“Well, let’s see what’s inside.”
Justin tried the door, only to find it locked.
“What the hell?”
Ben came over then, “Why is it locked? The landlord promised we’d have the full house. She knew we were renting it for four guys.”
Justin shrugged, “No clue. But til we can get a key from her or get her unlock this one, let’s leave it. There’s plenty of other rooms.”
Eventually, they settled on four rooms and moved the rest of their stuff into the house, never realizing they had company.
Jason scowled, watching the latest intruders in his home. No matter what he did, that insufferable woman kept renting it out. Worse than the fact she kept renting his home rather than properly manage it as it should be, but she kept renting it to irresponsible college students that continually destroyed it. Every time renters finally left, there was damage that was not caused by his haunting. It made his spine crawl seeing the damage done. No doubt, these boys would be the same.
He watched them move throughout the house, making plans to scare them out.
Justin jumped the last three steps, landing with a loud thump, making Ryan flinch.
“I smell something good!”
Ryan glowered over his coffee, “Can’t you come in without making racket like a barbarian.”
“Just cuz not all of us are morning people doesn’t make me a barbarian.”
Before Ryan could snark back, Ben stepped in as the usual peace mediator, “Let’s not start this again. Surely we can come to a compromise.”
The look on Ryan’s face screamed that he wasn’t in the mood to compromise and Ben knew Justin wasn’t going to back down. Before they could come to arms, Connor stepped in to assist.
Placing a plate of pancakes before Justin, “Here’s what you were smelling,” and topping off Ryan’s cup, “Drink more. You need it.”
Ryan glowered but didn’t argue and Justin happily dug into his pancakes.
Ben let out a breath and slumped against Connor as Connor hid a grin behind his bangs. They were all good friends, but Ryan and Justin were complete opposites and had been since they’d been neighbors freshman year. But Ryan’s roommate had been the roommate from hell and Ben and Justin had moved Ryan into their room on the sly after finding him slumped over asleep in the common room four times in one week.
It’d taken some time but the two had found common ground in activism. Ben could still remember when the two had come in, completely covered in rainbow paint, leaving tracks all over the dorm hall, their dorm room and the shared bathroom. He’d known Justin was going to the rally for LGBTQ rights, had invited him but he hadn’t dared go against his father just yet, but he had not known Ryan was going. Justin had run into Ryan at the rally and that cinched their brotherhood, especially considering Ryan was straight.
Just then, all four jumped a foot when a bucket on the long narrow table behind them suddenly crashed to the ground.
Justin turned while Ryan peered over his shoulder and Ben and Connor turned to look.
The bucket hadn’t had anything in it, fortunately, but the confusing part was how it had fallen when no one had been near it.
“Uh, any ideas?”
The other three shook their heads to Justin’s query.
“Could it have been the wind?”
Ben looked outside, “No wind. And even if there was, none of the windows are open and the doors are all latched.”
Justin jumped on the table and Ben shoved Connor back as the vase, platter, pens and pencils and the globe brought from Ryan’s home crashed to the ground from the same storage table.
“Okay, now how the hell did that happen? We were all looking at that table!”
Voice barely steady, Ben spoke, “There has to be a rational reason. Right? Right.”
“Of course. We just have to figure out what it was.”
As if laughing at Ryan’s statement, the hall tree crashed, sending Justin’s baseball cap and Connor’s leather jacket flying.
Justin frowned, climbing off the table, “That’s it. Who’s there? Come on, answer me.”
Ryan looked at him as if he’d lost his mind.
“There’s no one there.”
As if insulted, Ryan’s coffee mug tipped over, spilling his coffee all over his lap.
He slammed his chair back, “Damn it!”
Ben was concerned, “Are you okay?”
“Yes. Fortunately, it was half-cold.”
“Still certain there’s no one there.”
“There has to be a rational explanation.”
The house was silent.
“Did they leave?”
“There wasn’t anyone there.”
Connor and Ben whirled around as the knife block tipped over, sliding all the knives to the floor.
“If one of those knives floats, I’m outta here!”
They watched with bated breath.
Jason sat on the counter next to the knife block, sly smirk on his face. As much as he wanted these people out of his house, he wasn’t going to make it that easy. He’d long since learned that lesson. Make it too easy to get them out, they just come back once they’d gained control of their senses, convincing themselves they were seeing things. It would then actually be harder to get rid of them. No, it was better to let the men calm down and do more later.
With that, he picked up the two chairs on the side of the table the boy named Ryan had been on, and tossed them into the chairs on the other side of the table, the four young men having moved towards the door in case a knife did float.
He then vanished up to his quarters, leaving the four staring at the mess of wood.
Ryan eyed Justin who was currently slumped over his necessary nectar of life.
“Enjoying your coffee?”
When there was no answer, Ryan reached over the table and poked Justin in the shoulder.
He jumped, knocking his coffee over, eyes wide, “I’m up, I’m up!” and Ryan reared back.
Connor asked, having watched the entire mishap, “You okay, Justin?”
Justin shook his head, “I haven’t had a full night’s sleep this whole week.”
“No. Actually, I’ve gone to bed at a decent hour. I do have classes and am trying to be more responsible, being a junior and all.”
“At about midnight, every night, there has been a loud, screeching noise, right outside my door. But by the time I get to the door, there’s nothing in the hallway. At all! Much less something that could’ve made that noise. Then for at least the next hour, footsteps go up and down the hall.”
“You’ve looked for the intruder?”
“The first few nights, I did. But after sitting on my bed, with the door open and a flashlight the third night, with nothing in sight, I’ve given up.”
Connor glanced at Ryan, “How come we haven’t heard any of this?”
“Because we’re on the other side of the floor.”
They turned to Ben who’d kept quiet so far.
“We’re on the west side of second floor while Justin took the corner room on the east side. The two sides are isolated from each other by distance and the staircase.”
Ryan turned back to Justin, “We’re sleeping in your room tonight.”
“K. But I need another cup of joe.”
That evening, the other three boys camped out in Justin’s room, Ben in his office chair and Ryan and Connor sat on either side of the open door. Justin settled on his bed, reading a book with his booklight.
“Ya’ll can relax. You’ve got about 5 minutes yet.”
“Yeah, but I want to be paying attention so we can spot what it is.”
A few minutes later, even though he was expecting it, Ben jumped half a foot when a loud, floor shaking screech sounded in the hallway.
Ryan and Connor immediately jumped up, dashing into the hall. Connor hit the light switch, turning on the hall light.
They both turned, looking up and down the hallway.
Justin stepped out, followed by Ben, “Nothing, right?”
“It wasn’t but seconds ago. There’s no way they could’ve gotten out of sight before Connor turned the light on.”
Just then, the wooden floor creaked between the four, distinct footsteps headed down the hall, yet no one was visible.
Ryan pointed, hand waving, mouth open, baffled. Connor’s eyes were wide, and Ben’s head was moving back and forth.
The footsteps moved towards them once more and Connor moved into the center of the hall, determined to catch whatever was walking. The steps walked between the three and Connor froze, blood ice cold.
Ben frowned, “Connor?”
Arms covered in goosebumps, skin pale, Connor’s mouth opened and closed a few times.
Ben moved towards Connor, but he put his arm up, holding him off.
“I don’t know what it was, but something just walked through me. It was ice cold and just creepy feeling. For a moment, I didn’t think the feeling was going to leave, like it was going to stay.”
He shivered, “I’d be fine never feeling that again.”
Ben swallowed, “I think you were just nearly possessed.”
Justin frowned, the footsteps were silent for the moment, so he wasn’t sure if whatever it was, was even still here.
But he had to try, “Whatever, or whoever, you are, what do you want? Why are you here?”
Ryan spoke, “You think someone’s here?”
“You don’t? After what happened Monday in the kitchen, something keeping me up this whole week, all the other little strange things happening, Connor just being walked through… Something’s here!”
Ben spoke, “Usually, if a spirit is here, there’s a reason. They need something. Question is, what?”
“That’s what I want to know. Are you still here?”
Jason was standing next to Justin, recovering from walking through the redhead. Of all the things he’d done in the last 30 years, walking through a living human wasn’t one of them. He didn’t like it any more than the redhead had. He focused in on what the brunette was saying.
The problem was, he couldn’t answer even if he knew what it was he needed. He could interact with his surroundings, but he couldn’t talk to the living. That required a voice and he hadn’t had one in 30 years. Not a distinguishable one that could be understood as anything other than moans and groans.
Justin asked, “Why are you keeping me up every night?”
Jason frowned, in this case, he wasn’t purposefully antagonizing the living. The screeching had been happening in this hallway every night for the last 30 years. The footsteps were him trying to figure out what it was. He knew, in his gut, that it was connected to the night he was killed. He wanted answers just as much as they did.
Justin sighed in frustration before trying once more, “What is it you want?”
Jason always listened to his gut and so, even though he’d never done this before, seeing the intruders in his home as the enemy, he decided to give it a try. He walked into the brunette’s, whose name he believed was Justin, room.
Justin raked his hand through his hair, “I guess whoever it was left.”
Just then, squeaking came from in Justin’s room.
Justin turned and his jaw dropped. The other three crowded behind, jaws dropping and eyes growing wide as the black marker moved across Justin’s dry erase board on the opposite wall.
Justin asked, “Ya’ll see what I’m seeing?”
The other three mutely nodded.
Connor began reading it aloud just to make sure he was seeing what his eyes were screaming they were seeing.
“My name is Jason. I have been here 31 years, 30 as a ghost. I don’t know what the screeching is. It’s happened every night the last 30 years. The footsteps are me trying to figure out what it is.”
Justin crept towards the board, carefully picking up the black marker that had just been set back down.
“There’s no warmth to it. It really was a ghost holding it.”
Ryan wanted to scoff, being the least superstitious out of the four but he couldn’t deny what his own eyes had seen.
Ben finally shook off his shock, “Does that mean you don’t know anything about the day you died?”
Justin jumped when the black marker floated out of his hand before it returned to the board.
Justin read it this time, being right in front of it.
“I know it was late evening. I was still up, waiting for my partner to return home, in my office down the hall. I know it was brutal. But I don’t know by who, why or what happened to my partner. They never returned that I saw.”
Jason left out the part that it was at least a day after he died that he returned as a spirit as his body and definite mess from his murder was gone when he’d reappeared here.
Connor had to ask, “The room down that hall that’s your office, is it the one that is locked?”
The marker didn’t pick up again.
Jason tried to pick up the marker, but he’d used up all of his energy for the moment. He’d need to recharge before he could do it again.
Ben’s brows furrowed when the ghost, no, when Jason didn’t answer. He’d been so helpful just a moment before. Struggling to remember what his grandmother had taught him as she’d considered herself a minor medium before she’d passed, he stumbled on the answer.
“You can’t pick up the marker again, can you? You’re tired. Tap the board once for yes, twice for no.”
There came a single tap on the dry erase board.
Ryan was baffled, “I didn’t know ghosts could get tired. They’re not living anymore, are they?”
Ben shook his head, “No. But they still consist of energy just like us, it’s just manifested differently than our living bodies.”
Justin turned to Jason, “Is that true?”
Another single tap.
Connor had to ask, “How do you know this, Ben?”
“My grandmother believed herself to be a minor medium before she passed.”
“Minor? I didn’t think size mattered.”
Ben chuckled, “Not quite like that. Minor such as she could do tarot readings and crystal balls, even contact the occasional spirit for an answer or two, but she was never able to make full contact with a spirit, nor could she hear or see them.”
A beat of silence, “What about you?”
“Not that I know of. I can’t see or hear Jason any more than you three can.”
Connor stifled a yawn, “I don’t know about you three, but I vote we get some sleep. We can’t get any more answers to the mystery surrounding Jason’ death tonight anyway. The library is closed, and Jason is out of energy.”
“There’s the internet.”
“And how much of that should we dare to believe?”
“Point. To bed then. Are you alright to sleep in here, Justin, or do you want to crash on the floor of my room?”
“I think I should be fine. The screeching only happens once a night and now that I know what the footsteps are, I’ll be okay.”
“Alright then. Good night.”
The other three boys departed, and Justin fell backwards onto his bed with a deep sigh.
He didn’t know if Jason was still in the room or if he’d left but he spoke anyway.
“Would I be correct in guessing you’re stuck here until you can either find out who murdered you and why? Since I’m going to assume they were never caught. Or perhaps until you can find out what happened to your boyfriend? I caught the him before you erased it and wrote partner. If there’s a yes to any of that, if you even still in here, tap yes.”
A single tap came from the nightside table and he sighed.
“We’ll find the answer. No one deserves to be trapped for 30 years, especially separated from their lover. But you’ve gotta stop making a mess. That was you downstairs, right?”
Another single tap.
Justin settled in for the night before speaking once more.
“You don’t have to answer right now, I know you’re outta energy. But what we’d do to deserve that treatment, huh? Night.”
Jason frowned in the darkness after Justin had turned out his light before he walked through the walls to his office. He sat down in his chair, deep in thought.
Never before had anyone not run screaming from his haunting. No one had ever offered to help him solve the mystery of his murder and what happened to Marshall. He had no idea who killed him, why they killed him and so brutally, or what had happened to Marshall after that night.
He settled in to recharge, thinking that perhaps things were finally changing to the good.
~~~~Fin for Now~~~~
For those of you that remember, you’ll notice there has been a couple of name changes. I never really liked James for my spirit’s name, nor the full name of Thomas. So, now it’s Jason and Marshall.
Let’s see what happens next, next week, shall we?
‘Til Next Time, Friends