Hey, ya’ll! Welcome back to PEP! I’m still working on the new name but will share it soon.
This is the first Monday Short Tale of October and as promised, it’s a continuation of the Haunted College Boys arc. If you haven’t yet, check out last Friday’s post for the entirety of the arc so you know what’s happening.
But before we get to that, first, let me share last week’s Wednesday’s Weird Tales of the Unknown and this week’s Sunday Fabricated Stories. While differing in lightness and darkness, both are spooky themed for October.
Now here’s the latest piece of the Haunted College Boys arc. We learn more about Jason and what ties him here as well as more about the current tenants.
Jason watched idly as Justin and Connor rushed around, gathering their things before running out of the house to their first class.
He turned as Ben yawned.
“I don’t know why they chose 8 o’clock classes.”
“Not sure about Connor but I know one of Justin’s classes he needs for his degree was only offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 am.”
Ben jumped as the sugar bowl suddenly tipped over in front of his plate.
He watched as words were etched out in the spilled sugar.
‘What is he studying?’
Happy that their spirit is friendly now, and clearly regained his energy, Ben answered, “Architecture. I’m studying Music, Ryan’s pre-law; Connor is animal medicine. What did you do when you were alive?”
Eyes shining, mouth would be smiling if he were able, Jason answered in the sugar, ‘Architecture. I designed and built this house.’
Ryan leaned forward, eyes fully engaged now, “Can you remember any of your friends or even acquaintances?”
“You’ve probably already thought about this but any chance anyone mad enough to kill you?”
Ryan nodded, “I’d be surprised if you did, otherwise you wouldn’t be stuck. But all bases need to be covered.”
Jason was pleased to see that this batch of renters were, thus far, smarter than the previous groups.
Ben checked the clock, “Ryan and I have a while before we have to leave for our first classes, can you tell us some about being a spirit. If we know your limits and abilities, it’ll make it easier for us to interact with you to help you solve your murder.”
Jason saw the logic. As such, the next hour before the two living had to leave passed with a pleasant enough, if you ignored the topic, conversation.
Justin yawned as he entered the kitchen after his last class only to pause in confusion. Ben was hanging a large dry-erase board over the long narrow table Jason had knocked the bucket from. Said bucket now had several dry-erase markers in it.
Before he could ask, Connor, who had gotten home shortly before Jason but hadn’t entered the dining room/kitchen, spoke up.
“Why are you hanging that? Do we need a planner or something? There’s a calendar right over there.”
Ben chuckled, “Nope. This is for Jason.”
Justin’s eyes lit up at the mention of their spirit friend, “Oh, so he can communicate with us more! As much as he can, anyway.”
“Actually, he’ll be able to communicate a lot. Ryan and I had a talk with him this morning, after you two left. The reason he ran out of energy so early last night was because Connor had walked through him. It sucked just as much energy out of him as you were cold, Connor. He’s been a spirit 30 years, with a lot of intruders in his home, he’s a very strong spirit.”
That made sense to the two.
As they gathered around dinner, which was order in pizza, Ben piped up, “Why don’t you go up and get Jason, Justin.”
Justin paused before he sat down, “Wouldn’t that be rude, though? It’s not like he can eat.”
“No. But this’ll be a good time to show him the dry-erase board and talk. I haven’t seen any signs of him so he’s probably in his office.”
Jason hopped up the stairs, skipping two steps at a time and Connor turned to Ben.
“You’re up to something, aren’t you?”
Ben simply grinned, innocently.
Neither Ryan nor Connor fell for it.
Justin knocked on the door that led to Jason’s office.
“Hey, Jason? If you’re in there, can you come down to the dining room? We’re having dinner and got something we want to show you.”
Jason heard Justin’s footsteps fade away as he set his book down, curious at the fact he’d essentially been invited to dinner. He shrugged and floated down through the floor to the first floor. He walked into the dining room, making his footsteps audible so the boys would know he was there.
Ben perked up as he heard footsteps and shushed the others.
He greeted, “Hi Jason!”
The others hadn’t heard the footsteps and looked at Ben like he’d lost his mind until the fifth chair at the table next to Justin’s slid out.
Ben hopped up, “You don’t have to get up, Jason, but look!”
Jason had noticed the new addition to the dining room when he walked in.
Ben continued, “This way you’ll be able to easily communicate to us in here without having to make do with what’s at hand.”
Jason got up, took a look at the markers in the familiar bucket and chose one.
The boys watched as the red marker lifted in the air and wrote, in a familiar neat cursive, ‘Thank you.’
Ben beamed as he sat back down, “You’re welcome!”
They noticed the board move, as if Jason was looking behind it.
“Oh, no worries, Jason! I hung it with Velcro strips. They’ll peel right off the wall without damages.”
The green marker lifted in the air this time and a small thumbs up graced the board.
Ryan turned to an understandably confused Connor and Justin, “Jason was an architect when he was alive. He designed and built this house.”
Justin’s honey brown eyes lit up and he turned to the board, “No wonder you don’t like people in your house. Our landlord mentioned she always rented to college kids. Though she didn’t say why. They don’t respect your house, do they? Which would piss any spirit off but especially one who built the house.”
Justin paused before continuing, “Do you think we could talk shop sometime? I doubt the architecture basics have changed in the last 30 years.”
A green thumbs up followed by, ‘They haven’t.’
Connor had to ask, “How do you know?”
‘I taught myself how to use the tech left around the house by previous renters.’
“Oh, so you know how to use the internet.”
‘And coding programs, music programs, some computer games and those office programs that come on the computers. I also know how to use tablets, smart phones and smart TVs.’
“Oh, so you’re a modern spirit then.”
“Cool. That’ll make this a little easier as we start to do research. Of which, Justin,” Ben looked at him, “you just gave me an idea. The landlord. Surely she knows something of what happened here. It’s illegal to sell a house here in Louisiana without disclosing that there’s been a death in the house.”
The squeaking of the marker caught their attention.
“Oh, she does?”
‘She’s come through, griping about how hard it was to rent this house to a family when the death that occurred here comes to light. She tried adults previously, but they always ran out, screaming about it being haunted. College students usually brush that off.’
“Oh. I wonder why she didn’t say anything to us about it.”
Connor shrugged, “Probably didn’t want to lose us as tenants.”
Ryan snorted, “You kidding. Ben and Justin would’ve wanted to move in sooner.”
The two mentioned simply grinned.
“Tomorrow’s Saturday, then. We’ll talk to the landlord before hitting the library.”
“But first, Jason. Do you remember your last name?”
“That’ll help us find information and you said you lived here 30 years ago?”
Ryan piped in with, “I don’t suppose you can leave the house, can you?”
‘I’ve not tried since shortly after my death. No reason to.’
Ryan was finished eating and stood up.
“I want to do an experiment. Jason, can you try walking out on the back porch with me?”
No response appeared on the dry erase board, but they heard footsteps following Ryan as he headed to the back door.
Ryan headed out to the far railing on the back porch, hearing footsteps following him to the door. He turned, listening intently, hearing faint footsteps still following him.
“So, you can at least go to the back porch. Can you try stepping off the porch?”
Silence and Ryan wasn’t sure Jason was still there with him or not.
Suddenly, a breeze blew past him, knocking him head over feet, landing sprawled over the back porch, the door slammed open, partially imbedding itself into the wall and the other three ducked as pizza and loose items in the kitchen blew over their heads.
When it had calmed, Justin pulled himself up from where he had ducked under the table, seeing Connor and Ben do the same. He headed out to the back porch to help Ryan up and back in. Ryan clutched his head where he had bashed it on the back porch. Justin turned back to the door as it creaked behind them, closing itself.
There was no answer.
Connor was amazed the door was still in one piece considering the imprint it’d left on the wall.
Just then, the back door locked, slams were heard from upstairs and clicks were heard from the windows in the kitchen and dining room.
Ben got up and tried the window nearest him.
“It’s locked! I think we just got locked in!”
Ryan asked, “Jason? Is that you??”
Connor shook his head, gut tightening, “I don’t think he’s even in here. This is something else.”
Justin nodded, “Of all the things Jason had tried, he never actually meant harm; just to scare us out of here.”
Ben asked, faint tremor in his tenor voice, “Jason? Are you in here?”
Justin turned, “I’m going upstairs.”
The other three followed. Justin headed directly to Jason’s office.
“Jason? Are you in there? Are you okay?”
Inside, Jason clutched his sides, transparent body trembling from the tremors of pain.
He couldn’t, of course, speak and as much as he wanted to get up and phase through the door to let his new friends know he was still here, he couldn’t.
As such, for the first time in 30 years, the door unlocked.
Justin heard the click and grabbed the handle, turning it. The door creaked open, hinges rusty.
He stepped in, partially registering awe that the interior wasn’t even dusty, simply abandoned.
The greater half of him asked, “Jason? Are you okay? Tap once for yes, twice for no.”
Two taps came from the direction of the sofa.
The four filed in, careful to not sit on the sofa, not knowing where Jason was on it.
“What was that? What happened?”
Jason concentrated on a pad of paper, yellowed from age, on his desk and a pen he knew had ink. The pad refilled itself every time he used it, stuck in the same time tunnel he was as a spirit, but he’d lifted some pens from various tenants as the original pens eventually dried out or ran out of ink.
The four watched the pen scrawl across the page, the handwriting not quite the neat cursive they’d become accustomed to with Jason. It was similar enough they knew it was him.
When the pen stopped moving, Connor picked it up and read, “I made it to the porch but the further I walked across the porch, the more pain I was in. When I stepped off the porch, before my foot even made contact with the grass, I was blasted back inside and teleported back in here. I’m still feeling some pain and am physically too weak to try moving from this couch.”
Ryan winced, “I’m sorry. I was hoping that if you could leave the house, you could go with us to the library and be able to point out anything that might be familiar in our research.”
The pen moved again, ‘Don’t be. You had good intentions. None of us knew that I was truly trapped here. Some spirits can move about, some cannot.’
Ben declared, “We’ll just have to make copies of anything we find to do with a Jason McKay in the 80s and bring it back.”
The pen picked up and wobbled before hesitantly scrawling another name.
Ben, Connor and Ryan were confused but Justin realized the significance.
“That’s your partner, isn’t it?”
A single tap.
“We’ll look him up as well; see if we can figure out what happened to him.”
Recognizing the tension in the room and realizing what it was about, Ben assured Jason, “We have no issue with your partner being a man. We’re either gay, bisexual or a straight LGBTQ ally here.”
Justin continued, “Things have changed since the 80s when you were alive. There are still issues, there’s still miles to go in equality and acceptance but it’s not generally hated like it was when you were alive.”
Connor offered, “I guessed as much, actually, when you used the word partner last night. Most that use that word are referencing to same gender.”
Pain still trembling over him, making him wonder if this was the pain he’d been in when he died, Jason did relax considerably. He’d known general consensus of homosexuals when he was alive of course and the bit that the tenants had ever talked about when they briefly lived here hadn’t led him to believe it’d changed.
Justin stretched, feeling considerably wiped out despite it only being 8 pm. He was trying to ignore the fact they were currently locked in. Hopefully it was only a temporary reaction to Jason trying to leave.
“Tomorrow’s Saturday. I vote we go on to bed, since I don’t know about ya’ll but I’m wiped, and get an early start in the morning to the library and landlord at minimum.”
The other three living agreed and left the office.
Justin peered around the room, taking in the colors and books, “Are you going to be okay in here on your own, Jason?”
Slight amusement lighting his royal blue eyes, Jason tapped once.
“Alright. I know you’re a spirit but you’re also not alone anymore.”
With that, Justin left the room, closing the door behind him.
Jason relaxed back on the couch, letting his body relaxed in hopes the pain would ease, and locked the door behind Justin.
No, he wasn’t alone anymore.
So, what will the boys find out tomorrow? Will a new face help or hinder their efforts? We’ll have to see next Monday.
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