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The adventures of the Ghost Hunters continue - with more exotic locations and hair-raising paranormal adventures than ever before: - Visiting a haunted planet where the normal is falling between two worlds, while John winds up solving being in a coma, away from his body. - The goddes Harpy returns with a simple request for John, a personal and very human one. - Sal has to help John sort out a mental mis-thinking that could kill him off unless unraveled. - A classic murder-detective story, where a ghost re-enacts the scene of a crime. In order to find out how she died. - Even elementals can have mysteries, especially when they were the by-product of terrorists and government experimentation. All in short reads that fit into the time you have to read. Delicious mental snacks that will leave you with new ideas to consider long after the entertainment is over. This Short Story Anthology Contains: - Falling by S. H. Marpel - Harpy's Desires by S. H. Marpel - The 95% Solution by S. H. Marpel - The Case of a Cruising Phantom by S. H. Marpel - The Spirit Mountain Mystery by S. H. Marpel & C. C. Brower Excerpt: (from "Harpy's Desires") A fluttering sound, and then a thump, like a dove flying into the side of a building, but heavier, like a wild eagle, or a buzzard. Maybe even heavier. I got up from my writing to see what the damage was, if there was something I could do for whatever was out there. Opening the heavy outer door, I saw a nude woman laying down on her side, sprawled on my porch. I grabbed my chore coat and squeezed out the screen door to kneel beside her. Putting my hand on her neck, I felt a pulse. No blood, no scrapes, what looked like some deep, but healed scratches on her back. So I covered her with the chore coat to preserve her body heat. As much as it would cover, anyway. Looking around I saw no vehicle tracks, no bare or other footprints. But I had to get her inside and covered before she got chilled in the fall air. Tonight was supposed to be a cold one. I moved her legs away from the screen door and found my doorstop nearby, the one I used to prop it open when my hands were full of something. Because my arms would be full soon. As I crouched down to pull her into my arms for carrying, her eyes fluttered open to look at mine. They were an emerald green, burning like on fire. And then that fire went out, and her eyes closed again, I got my arms under her back and legs, then rolled her toward me. She was a limp weight, her head rolled back and a free arm draped down toward the cabin porch. In a few steps, I was inside the small cabin again. I simply laid her down on my futon-couch for now, and pulled the quilt comforter down from the back of it to cover her. For now, I left the chore coat over her until what was left of her body heat could warm the bed as well. From overhead storage, I pulled down the winter-weight comforter and heavy wool outer blanket that I usually didn't get out for the next month or so. She was going to need to get warmed up quickly, which meant not letting any other body heat get away. These I draped across her and over the back of the futon, as she didn't need all that extra weight. Kneeling down to the floor beside her covered form, I again felt her neck for a pulse, and her forehead for a fever. She seemed fine, just sleeping. Breathing was regular. There was something about her I knew from somewhere. Something familiar... Scroll Up and Get Your Copy Now.
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The 95% Solution
The Case of a Cruising Phantom
The Spirit Mountain Mystery
Don't Miss Out!
Further Reading: Ghost Hunters
by S. H. Marpel
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
GHOST HUNTERS ANTHOLOGY 3
First edition. September 5, 2018.
Copyright © 2018 S. H. Marpel.
Written by S. H. Marpel.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The 95% Solution
The Case of a Cruising Phantom
The Spirit Mountain Mystery
Further Reading: Ghost Hunters
Don't Miss Out!
BY S. H. MARPEL
ONCE OUR SHIMMERING stopped, we immediately began to fall upward. Gaining speed at 32 feet per second per second.
Falling toward the sky.
And once we got well up there, we were falling about as fast as we possibly could, owing to air friction. If Sal hadn't thought to put us in a bubble kind of force-shield, we might have run out of breath and died. Because you can't get much air into your lungs at that speed.
Jude, Sal and I were falling up.
And after awhile, some 30,000 feet or so I figured - about the same altitude that a lot of jet planes fly - we started to see the new "down" we were falling toward. A second set of clouds were ahead of us, but these were opposite to the ones we had been through.
Like the big puffy cumulus clouds we'd been falling through, but now in reverse. They got thicker as we fell through them, just as they had gotten thinner when we had fallen up into the earlier sky.
We were also slowing as we went, barely perceptible at this speed..
The new land below us was still racing toward us. It was another landscape entirely. We had first arrived in a city, a crosswalk across a busy city street. Now we were falling toward a rural, even pastoral setting. Past balloons floating in the high atmosphere, where people with breathing masks and insulated suits were pointing at us. For that was all they could do, since we were out of the grasp for any rescue. Even if we had been, the shock of our hitting their balloon would have torn a hole though any fabric and left them to plummet as we already were.
Our force-shield was protecting us and allowing us to breathe. But we were so much like an over-sized round cannon ball to the world around us. Sal was working to keep the birds away from our path, although the bugs tended to accumulate as we got toward the ground, like those that impact on windshields when driving through swarms on a highway. Jude worked her own spells to clear these away so we could keep seeing through the shield - or as she put it, "wouldn't get too grossed-out."
We were also continuing to now obviously slow as we went.
So by the time we nearly hit the ground, it was almost like reaching the end of a bungee cord. A quick deceleration and a smooth stop.
But like that bungee cord, we didn't. We only started falling back up again.
As the ride back and to where we started would take some time, and I wasn't casting spells, I was able to think this through:
• We needed to phase back out when we landed back at the original spot.
• That phasing had to be instantly, and exactly done.
• So the force shield would be swapped for a transportation spell, triggered by touching the ground with our feet.
• The "speller" would have to get all of us at the same time, in that exact instant.
• So my job, as the one human here, was to hang on to the three of us, keeping a grip on each of the two girls so we couldn't be separated, and the spell could work.
Or at least that was the math I'd figured out.
I sent this as thoughts to the two girls, and they nodded that they understood. Because talking was almost impossible with the noise that the wind was making as it whistled around us. The same reason cannon balls whistled through the air before they landed. Too much air resistance. Making it too loud to hardly think, much less have a conversation. Sal and Jude already literally had their hands full with the spells they were already casting.
So I hung on as best I could to each of them and tried to pull them closer to me.
But as the old phrase goes, "Man plans and God laughs."
The next time we hit, the girls were ready and we phased...
IN ALL MY HUNDREDS of thousands of years of historical experiences, in all the multi-verses I'd been part of, I'd never personally seen this happen. I'd read about it, and been told tales of it happening.
John, Sal and Jude all came back alive and in one piece. But John had simply collapsed on the floor, as if asleep. He had been holding onto the arms of the girls, but then let go once they all shimmered back in. Well, he actually fell about a foot to the ground.
But that wouldn't have caused any coma.
There was no concussion from his landing, no trauma or broken bones.
While the girls were brave, they were also distraught with worry. We'd lost human guides before, but that was usually through sudden death or longer-lasting disease. We'd just never lost a human soul from their body before.
"Ben, you have to do something. Somewhere in those books there has to be an answer!" Sal was almost screaming at me, her hands clenched around the edge of the gurney we'd gotten John's body onto.
"All these machines only say he's fine. Why won't he wake up?!?" Jude was checking and re-checking all the monitors, the lights, and lines and connections, as if she hadn't helped set them up right. She knew how to set them up, and they were all right.
"We've done all we can for now. Granger is bringing me more books and papers about this as we speak. And she's sent off to our other 'verses connections to get any data that might be applicable. Why don't you two take a break, at least sit and calm down." I looked them both in their eyes and they knew I was right. I'd trained them for all I could, but I couldn't train them for anything like this. Because even I, very rarely, didn't know what I didn't know.
They sat and tried to calm down, taking seats in the stainless chairs available in the Infirmary.
And we all waited.
ALONE IN FEATURELESS space.
All my own doing, my own fault.
Because I had thought the one thought no one should think.
And this was the result.
Just me and nothing else.
Probably most people would think this as scary. I've heard and read some stories of people going insane in solitary. But this was much worse than solitary.
It was nothing of nothing.
Imagine no gravity, no air or need to breathe. No heart pumping or body to pump it to.
Nothing of nothing.
Instead of scary, this was peaceful to me. Because I wasn't haunted by my own thoughts, of things I hadn't done, of people I needed to feel complete.
I had nothing that I was missing, nothing to lose.
I'd long ago made my peace with just about everything, just before I decided to turn to writing.
One of those many self-analysis questions I'd read in one of those countless books I'd studied to find the answers I could only give to myself.
This question was one that had changed my life, earned enough financial freedom to be able to do pretty much anything I wanted, let me choose to live in a small writer's cabin in return for managing the livestock at enough profit to keep the farm running.
And that was my answer to that last question: "What do you most need?"
I answered: "Nothing."
Of course, when I got separated from my body, and the physical universe, that answer came back to “haunt” me.
So the multi-verse gave me endless, fathomless, perpetual - nothing.
My first thought after that: "Cool."
A writer's paradise. A writer's job is making something out of nothing. They are re-combiners of everything that is. And can literally build a world out of nothing. So I was existing in a world of my own creation, with endless raw materials to work with.
For a writer, their next question is always - who would I like to share this with? And then: what story would they like to hear me tell?
At that point the typing begins, or the recording in some form or fashion. The “nothing” always comes first, and then the audience. The writer creates the audience.
For me, my closest audience was my two spirit guides.
So: "I love Sal. I love Jude."
"Hey John, is that you?" Sal's thought.
"Sal, John, where are you?" Judy's thought shortly after.
"Oh, wait girls, let me put a setting there." I thought to them both.
- - - -
AROUND US FORMED A huge round room, wooden tongue-and-groove pine floor with windows on every side of those circular walls. Probably 16 or 32 flattened "sides" to that big circle, or some number in between. Some thin curtains on them, so that the sun was kept from shining in blindingly, but it was still before dawn and sunrise was not for some time yet. We had just enough light to see what was going on.
The ceiling overhead was timbered in sections right up to a central metal collar where they all bolted on. They didn't rise straight up, but curled up to meet it, flowing counter-clockwise. Concentric slats wound around, evenly spaced, and insulated in between with curving filler that could have been plaster or plastic or hand-laid fiberglass, regardless, it was a tannish off-white that complemented the clear-coated ceiling beams.
We lay in a huge bed, queen-sized, just the three of us. And from where we lay, there was nothing outside those windows but lightening sky. Which meant that we were probably at the top of some tower in the middle of nowhere.
I was in the center between these two girls I loved, with my arms around them and under them. Of course, that put me on my back looking up at this gorgeous, spacious room.
Sal raised her head with her to-die-for, all-natural, long wavy blond hair from her fluffy pillow with its white cotton pillow case. "Well, hello sleepy-heads. Good morning, I guess.”
Jude then batted open her eyes and raised her raven-haired head from my shoulder. "And hello to you, too." She brought a hand up to rub her face. "I think your idea of a pillow rather than a muscular shoulder might have been a better position. No offense, John, but you'd probably like to be described in your stories as having a great set of muscles than being soft."
I just smiled. It was great to be with them again. "No offense, of course. Your compliments are always welcome."
Jude pulled the sheets up and looked down at her body below it. "Darn, you are such a prude. You know I like to sleep in the raw. And you're even wearing cotton jammie bottoms. I never saw these in your cabin."
I glanced down. "You have to admit yours is a fetching black negligee, though."
Sal pulled up the sheet on her side and whistled in relief. "Ooh, white satin. Now that's a nice touch. Not as revealing as Jude's, but slinky enough to show..." And turned beet red, as she clutched the top sheet to her chest.
"Your choice of plaid could use some work though," said Jude, still looking underneath. "Red and green interlocked with light-blue, almost teal accent lines? And then you put a purple cotton pocket t-shirt on? You'd think it would be at least black and white with charcoal or light gray." She turned back to me with pouted lips and then grinned, dropping the sheet and putting her head back on my shoulder, her arm across my chest. "Doesn't matter, I like it. A lot."
Sal moved the sheet on her side around her top more fully, and rolled over toward me, covering Jude's hand with hers. "I'd have to agree about how enjoyable this is. Nice clean fun early in the morning."
I brought my arms up and hugged them both. "It's a great day to be alive and back at our adventures." I was smiling broadly and didn't let go for awhile. There's peace and then there is peace. The more you share, the better it gets.
"Oh, ladies, in case you were wondering, there was no 'before' to this picture. This is where we started." I said with a tease, knowing what was coming.
Jude pouted her lip and turned her head back to look at me. "Darn. You didn't even try to reach any bases at all. You are such a spoil-sport."
Sal eased one arm out from under mine and grabbed my hand with it, pulling a finger up and back to cause a little pain. "And just to let you know that it's a good idea not to try anything without first asking permission."
I feigned emotional and physical anguish. "Oh, OW. I'm hurt ladies, really. OW. You can both quit any time now."
At that both Jude and Sal sat up and turned toward me again. Sal continued to hold the white cotton sheet up in front of her, while Jude simply let it drop away, exposing perhaps far too much where the intricate patterns of the black negligee fabric covered little of the rest that was sheer. Both were smiling from ear to ear.
I just put my hands under my head and looked at them both. It was good to be alive and in such good company. But Jude was right. My horrid color combination were becoming more obvious in the brightening room.
Sal just rolled her eyes at all this. In her mind, it was time to get to work. She made a simple gesture with her free hand and shimmered into a standing position on her side of the bed. She was now dressed in her usual off-white, gold-pinstriped business jacket over matching slacks and polished brown block-heeled pumps. Her makeup was simple, all in light shades of brown and tan. She checked the ruffled, high collar of her white blouse, then pulled her sleeves down from inside her jacket to expose the ruffled cuffs. Her long blond hair was now coiled into a bun on the back of her head, with a pair of some sort of carved ivory hair pins holding it in place.
She then raised an eyebrow at her sister, still in bed at my side.
Jude sighed, and leaned over, pulling my head over to kiss me on the cheek. She brushed her top over my chest as she did. Then made a simple gesture with that same hand.
Shimmering into view on the other side of the bed, Jude appeared in her usual black Timberland lace-up boots, tight black low-cut jeans, a black high-collared bolero jacket. Today she wore a black v-neck knit crop top, that exposed a small bit of white midriff. Her wavy black hair cascaded over and well past her shoulders to mid-back, parted on one side to sweep in long bangs that nearly covered one eye. Dark lipstick and shadowed eyes completed the goth look she loved. Arms akimbo on her waist, she smiled at me.
Returning my appreciative look, Jude asked, "Well, are you going to lie about all day? Isn't there something we should be up and doing?"
I sighed. The party was over. Turning to her sister, "Sal, do you mind?" And gestured at what I was wearing.
Both ladies made a simple motion, and I found myself standing at the foot of my bed, in a typical pair of worn leather work-boots, work-faded dungarees, red-pocket cotton t-shirt covered in a work jacket. In one hand was my old worn denim ball cap, the other had a bandanna - with the same ugly color combination as my former pajama bottoms had.
"Nice touch, ladies." I held the bandanna up.
"The least we could do was to give you a reminder of the night we didn't have," Jude joked.
Sal smiled at that as well.
I just stuffed the bandanna in my back pocket and put my cap on the back of my head. "So, where do you think we are?"
"BEN?" I ASKED TO THE void.
"I'm here, John." A voice in the misty semi-dark/semi-light swirling gray that seemed to move around me.
"What's 'here'?" I asked.
"I don't truly know." Ben replied.
"How come I can't see you?"
"Something to do with your thoughts and mine. If it helps, I can't see you either. Just a bunch of swirling gray mist." Ben sounded calm, or more likely, a disciplined calm. "We wondered where you had gone to."
I worked to calm my own mind. "So how did you find me?"
Ben paused, "Or you found me? This is just a deep meditation state. And I don't even know that this is real, other than it seems we both want it to be."
I was silent for a time at this. "Can you tell me what happened?"
"John... Sorry... Some data... can't share... can't know. Must think."
Then, silence ruled again in the swirling mists.
Well, John, you certainly did it this time. Better get to thinking and sort this out. Ben would be back if he could...
- - - -
A CLASSROOM. LONG BLACK-topped, maple-legged science tables in rows faced the front of the room, with high chairs pushed up next to them on the student side. Beakers and burners were all stowed away on shelves below the table tops, as well as below matching shelves around the room.
I was an only student that day. Back of the room, by myself. Sitting on one of those gray, unpadded high chairs. One leg on the metal cross-member, the other on the floor. White lab coat covering my arms. Over my typical red pocket t-shirt, blue jeans, work boots. My work jacket was hung across the back of my high chair.
No class in session, no texts on the desk, just some marks left on the chalk board in front of the classroom.
So I got up and walked forward to read them.
"A. Plus experience
"B. Minus experience
And only that was written there, or anywhere.
No notes on the teacher's desk or his podium. Chalk in the tray as if it had just been laid down after making these notes.
I picked a short stub-piece of chalk, but couldn't really add to what was already there. Not without knowing what the question or equation was that needed to be solved or resolved.
THE SUN WAS UP OVER the horizon now, and we could see through the thin curtains. All around us was prairie, and a thin dual-track of a country dirt road that lead due east as far as we could see. There were intermittent willows, cottonwood, and birch in the various low lying areas, where the rains drained off into larger draws and gullies, all on their way to some creek and then river somewhere.
For us, we saw no habitation within eye-shot, meaning it was at least 12 miles from where we stood to any civilization.
We had no clue of time or area we were in, so shifting anywhere might be hazardous.
The obvious next action was to find out how to get down from this "lighthouse" on the prairie.
The answer was under my feet. Sal pointed out the thin line that formed a square under my feet, and had a recessed ring-pull on one side. I was standing on a cover cut into the floor that probably led to stairs down below. Moving to the side, I pulled on that ring and raised the hatch. Dark below, we could see stairs leading down.
The ring matched with a clip-hook on the nearest sidewall, so I hooked the door back. A small handrail was on the underside of that hatch cover and enabled access down the first few steep steps.
Jude insisted on going first. "When you can start manifesting non-burning fireballs, then I'll start letting you go ahead of us to do your 'protective male' thing ahead of us," she told me.
I just smiled. Like these ladies needed my help. I'd seen their powers at work many times before this, and they'd only gotten stronger and more skilled at using them since we'd been working together.
Jude started down the steps with one hand on the railing and the other out in front of her, lighting the way. I followed and then Sal took the post position, with another light floating just off her free hand.
With the two lights, we could see a circular staircase that we were following as it wound down inside the wall of this lighthouse. Even with landings every few dozen steps, it was still a tall building and a long decent. Our lights gave us little more than a view in front and below us. The dim light coming through the open hatch barely made a dent in the gloom, although as our eyes adjusted, we started making out more details.
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