Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I affiliated in any way with TAPS, Ghost Hunters or any of the people involved. The only things that are truly mine are my imagination and the ideas that come from it.
Naturally, everyone had seen the playful exchange between Spook and me in the parking lot, so I spent most of dinner trying unsuccessfully to ignore the knowing looks and the suggestive assumptions about what had happened. To make it worse, Ed and Phil had to recount the events from the quarry, emphasizing how Spook had come to my rescue and how we had then disappeared together and somehow ended up as friends. Even JoEllyn joined in the teasing, telling them what she had seen when she came to pick me up for dinner. I was so uncomfortable that I could hardly eat.
Spook, on the other hand, seemed not to notice the glances, the giggles and the conversation. He, Jason and Grant spent most of the time discussing the night’s investigation. At one point, as I played with a half-eaten slice of pizza, Grant glanced my way and caught my eye. He seemed to pick up on the conversations everyone else was having, and he gave me a look of sympathy. He smiled encouragingly at me and motioned towards the door questioningly to see if I wanted to go outside. I shook my head; the last thing I wanted to do was let on that they were getting on my nerves. Besides, I was afraid Spook might come outside too, which would just add fuel to the fire,
When we finally left the pizza shop, Grant pulled me aside for a moment and observed, “They’re really giving you a hard time, aren’t they?”
I smiled at him ruefully. That’s what I loved most about Grant, the way he always seemed to know when I needed some reassurance. I glanced over at the others and balled my hands into fists and jammed them into my hoodie pocket. “I just wish they’d lay off trying to throw us together. It’s not going to happen.”
Grant’s smile was kind but skeptical, and I hoped he wasn’t going to jump on the bandwagon. Thankfully, he steered clear of that. “I’m just glad you two are finally friends,” he said, putting his arm around my shoulders. “It’s been a long time coming.”
I smiled and glanced towards the TAPS van, where Spook was having a cigarette while he talked to Amy and Amber. I wrinkled my nose at the sight of him smoking, but I couldn’t stop myself from watching the way his jaw moved as he took a drag and the shape of his lips as he blew smoke out. I couldn’t help recalling the second part of my dream, where he had kissed me, and I envisioned myself kissing those lips. Grant cleared his throat and I realized I was staring at Spook again. When I turned back to him, I saw amusement in his eyes, and I thought he’d make another remark about my inability to focus. Instead, he ventured, “So, you have an eye for the new professor?”
It took a moment to realize he was talking about Eric. I smiled quickly and responded, “I might. He’s sweet, smart, kind; he’s just like…” I almost told Grant that Eric was just like him! I amended, “He’s just what I’m looking for in a man.”
Grant’s expression was dubious as I listed Eric’s qualities, and I realized that even to my own ears it sounded like I was trying to convince myself of how wonderful he was. Grant smiled and gave me a gentle shake. “I hope you find what you’re looking for, Kyr. You’re such a wonderful woman; you deserve someone who’ll make you happy.”
I smiled and thanked him, trying to ignore the hollowness I suddenly felt again. I told myself I was just tired and should have gotten more sleep instead of horsing around with Spook. Oddly enough, that was one of the high points of my afternoon.
“Hey, G, you ready to head out?” Jason called, getting into the TAPS van.
“Be right there,” Grant called back. Turning to me, he smiled and said, “I’m sure I already know the answer to this question, but who will you be investigating with tonight?”
Glancing over at Spook, who had just dropped his cigarette butt on the ground and ground it out, I replied, “Spook asked if I’d investigate with him tonight.” In answer to Grant’s knowing smirk, I added, “He wants to do more investigating in the bell tower…” As I spoke to Grant, I noticed he was looking over my shoulder and trying not to smile. I turned quickly, thinking Jason or Spook was clowning around behind my back, but everyone was either in a vehicle or in the process of getting into a vehicle. When I turned back to Grant, his face was unreadable.
By the time we all got back to campus, it was beginning to get dark. We did some last minute tweaks on the set-up in all the buildings and all met back at Center Command. Looking around at everyone, Jason said, “Okay, guys and girls, are we ready for the last night of investigation?” We all indicated that we were, so Jason continued, “So, we pretty much debunked the activity in the ground floor bathroom in McKenzie. How about the Annex building; anyone have any experiences there?”
We all looked at each other, and everyone shook their heads. Ed laughed and muttered, “I’m telling you, Professor McClure is just your typical absent-minded professor.”
Jason chuckled and replied, “Well, that may be so, but we can’t jump to any conclusions.”
“Right,” Grant added. “We never know what might show up during evidence review, so let’s keep an open mind.”
“That being said,” Jason began, getting out of his chair, “is there any building anyone absolutely does not want to miss tonight?” He looked around at everyone again, and his eyes rested on Spook.
Spook’s expression was serious as he glanced down at me, then spoke up. “Kyr and I are going to start off up in the bell tower. There’s some crazy shit happening up there, and I want to get to the bottom of it.”
While the others chatted about where they wanted to start off tonight, Spook approached me from behind and began rubbing my shoulders. His strong hands kneading my sore muscles felt so good that I closed my eyes for a second and let my head fall forward, just enjoying his touch. He gave me a little shake before leaning in close and asking, low, “You ready for this, Kyr-tastrophe?”
I glanced over my shoulder and wrinkled my nose at him. He grinned at my expression, and I replied, “I guess so.” At least I was hoping so. I shivered, recalling the dream I’d had that afternoon. I hadn’t told anyone about it, and I was really debating whether or not I should.
Spook must have felt me shudder because he tightened his grip on my shoulders and leaned in close again. “You sure you’re okay with going back up there?”
Leaning back against him and involuntarily laying my hand over his, I responded, “I’m sure.” I suddenly noticed that JoEllyn was watching us with a hopeful sparkle in her eye. I quickly brought my hand down and pulled away from Spook.
We all broke and headed out to investigate. As we walked out the door, I caught a glimpse of JoEllyn pulling Grant close to whisper to him. She giggled, and he grinned and tried hard not to look at Spook and me. As we split off from the others to start up the sidewalk towards Appleton, Spook turned back to me and asked, “JoEllyn just doesn’t give up, does she?”
I responded shortly, looking up at Appleton looming before us. My eyes were drawn towards the bell tower, and I again had the distinct feeling that someone or something was watching. I flinched as a sudden flash of distant lightning lit up the sky. I hoped Spook hadn’t noticed my reaction; I didn’t need him teasing me about that tonight. I silently hoped the storm would pass us by.
Spook kept trying to make small talk, but I answered shortly or not at all. Just as we got into the courtyard outside Appleton, he turned to me and playfully punched my shoulder. “I hope you’re not letting everyone get to you. You know, the more you show them it bugs you, the more they’re going to tease you.”
I was surprised that Mr. Mind Reader had misread what was causing my silence, but I still hesitated to tell him what was really bothering me. I simply smiled and answered, “I know.”
His smile faded somewhat as he gave me that look he always gave me when he was reading my thoughts. He looked as though he wanted to say something, but then thought the better of it. He turned and headed towards the door. “Let’s rock and roll.”
I tried to follow him, but my feet froze to the spot. He glanced over his shoulder, then stopped and turned around. Before he could say anything, I blurted out, “Spook, I had a dream…” I grabbed the drawstring of my hoodie and twisted it around my hand, biting my lip. Spook had scoffed at my dream that last time at the Berkeley mansion, and I was sure he’d do the same now.
“I knew something else was bothering you.” He let out a breath and walked back to where I was standing, smiling slightly. He put his arm around me and guided me back to the wall in front of the building and sat me down. “Tell me about your dream, Kyr.”
I searched his face, trying to see if he was being serious. He sounded like a parent talking to a scared child. I hesitated, then stammered, “Maybe it was…just a bad dream…”
Spook reached up and brushed my hair out of my face. “If it were anyone but you,” he began softly, “I’d roll my eyes and tell you to get over it. But after the last time, I know better.” My heart skipped a beat as I saw both acceptance and respect in his eyes,
“We were on the third floor, just like last time,” I began,, and then told him about the events in my dream—the sense of foreboding, the bell tower door opening, the evil-looking apparition with the maniacal laugh, Spook’s pursuit, the entity’s menacing response to his questions, and then his fall through the floor. “I grabbed hold of you so you wouldn’t fall through to the third floor. Then I saw there was nothing there but a bottomless pit. The entity was pulling you down, and I was trying to pull you out.” I hesitated, not wanting to give him the details of our conversation. I shrugged, then finished, “There was this flash of white light, a scream, and then you came up out of the hole.”
Spook watched me intently as I spoke. When I finished, I waited for him to say something. Finally, he gave me a half smile and asked, “Anything else?”
I hoped he couldn’t read my thoughts or my expression as I shook my head, thinking about the other part of my dream, the part that was still making my knees weak. There was no way I’d tell him about that!
He chuckled and joked, “So Kyr rescued me from the Big Bad Bell Tower Banshee.” When I glared at him, he nudged me with his elbow and said more seriously, “Well, Kyr, I don’t think we need to worry about a bottomless pit opening up. I don’t put much stock in vortices.” He looked at me grimly. “I do take seriously your hunch that we could be dealing with another vengeful spirit. I’ve got some hunches of my own, judging by the way all the reports of the fire have been covered up.”
Glancing up towards the bell tower, I shuddered, wondering what hunches he’d had, but not wanting to find out just before we went up to investigate. I tried to smile and joked, “I’ll bet you guys are starting to think I‘m jinxed the way badass spirits are attracted to me.”
Spook grasped my neck and gave me a playful shake. “Well, opposites attract,” he said thickly, smiling at me.
My heart skipped a beat at his words, but I smiled wryly back at him and contradicted, “Are you sure it’s not ‘Birds of a feather flock together?’”
He laughed and shook his head before joking, “Well, you do seem to attract more than your share of trouble.”
I gave him a good-natured shove, then glanced up at the bell tower again. “Should we go inside?” I asked hesitantly.
Spook stood up and gathered his equipment. Walking towards the door, he reassured, “It’ll be fine Kyr. Just keep your guard up and stay calm.”
I hoped he was right. We walked slowly into the lobby, and Spook went over to check the camera set up to capture the front desk and the first-floor hallways. Lightning flashed again, and soon afterwards there was a distant rumble of thunder. Coming up beside me, Spook glanced outside just as another flash of lightning lit up the sky. “Looks like a storm coming in,” he observed. “Might make for an interesting night of activity.”
Not even trying to hide the fear in my eyes, I admitted shakily, “That’s not something I want to hear.” I wasn’t sure if I was more frightened by the coming storm or by the chance that that storm might give more energy to an angry spirit.
Spook took a step towards me and wrapped his arms tightly around me. I gasped at this unexpected action before relaxing into his embrace, drawing on his strength. He pulled back and asked softly, “Kyr, I know Jay and Grant don’t put much store in this, but do you do anything to protect yourself during an investigation?”
Because of the darkness, I sensed rather than saw the concern in his eyes. “You mean like carrying a rosary?” I asked, recalling that one of the women in my group had one that she carried only on investigations.
Spook chuckled, “I suppose you could do that, but I was referring to something more proactive. Some people use protection spells, some people pray, whatever you believe in.”
Honestly that was something I’d never really considered. I looked up at him and joked, “You mean more than my hasty pleas to God not to let me die when I get scared?”
Laughing out loud, Spook pulled me close again, saying, “Come here, Kyr-tastrophe.” Becoming serious, he rested his head on mine and said a quick prayer of protection over both of us. When he finished, he held me a moment longer before letting go. I was reluctant to leave the shelter of his arms, but I stepped back, looking up at him with a new sense of admiration. He never ceased to surprise me; he was so self-assured and strong that I never would have guessed he put any faith in prayers or spells. Somehow his actions just now made me like him even more.
Spook pulled out his K-II, all business again, and headed slowly back the hallway, pausing every so often just as he had the first time we were here. I followed slowly, pausing when he did, trying to pick up on anything that might be in the hallway. By the time we reached the stairwell, I was somewhat discouraged; I hadn’t felt anything on the first floor. Spook turned to me, smiling as though he knew what I was doing. “Sensing anything?” he asked.
Sighing, I admitted, “Not a thing.” I wondered if he still thought I was a sensitive.
He chuckled, “Me neither.” Glancing up, he continued, “I have a feeling all our activity is going to be up there.”
I’d had that idea too, but I wasn’t about to voice it out loud. There was another flash of lightning, and I flinched as I saw Spook’s silhouette in the stairwell window. I tried to suppress the thought that this scene was beginning to resemble a scene from one of the horror movies Trevor had always watched.
Spook began to walk quietly yet purposefully up the stairs towards the third floor, his K-II drawn. I followed a few steps behind, getting my digital voice recorder ready. On the second floor, he stopped and turned to look at me. Our eyes met briefly, and I shuddered as I saw in them the apprehension I’d seen in my dream. As I glanced up towards the third floor, I felt it, the foreboding sense that something was lying in wait for us. My pulse quickened, and I had to fight to keep my breathing steady. I glanced at Spook to see if he felt it too, or if my imagination was getting the better of me. He smiled grimly and answered my thoughts, “I feel it too, Kyr. She’s waiting for us.” He took my hand and urged, “Let’s go. Stay close to me and keep your guard up.”
The air became heavier and more oppressive as we got closer to the third floor, and I fought the urge to run. I knew I wouldn’t; I couldn’t leave Spook to face the entity alone, not after what I’d dreamed. He seemed to sense my struggle. His grip tightened, and he turned to give me a tight-lipped smile. I was too tense to be irritated with him. I was scared, and I didn’t care if he knew.
The K-II lit up solid as soon as we reached the third floor landing. Spook let go of my hand and gave me the K-II while he quickly checked the camera and set up the laser grid. When he finished, he took a step towards the bell tower door, pausing and cocking his head as though he heard something. “Something is moving up there,” he whispered, more to himself than to me. He tried to open the door, but it was locked. “Playing your game again, are you Mary?”
I looked at him, confused. “Mary? Where did that come from?” I whispered back.
Spook looked towards me, just as confused as I was. “I don’t know. I just have a feeling that’s her name.” His expression was almost apologetic, and I knew he was thinking about the times he had scoffed at my hunches. I gave him a self-satisfied smirk in reply.
A streak of lightning illuminated the third floor. I jumped back against Spook with a yelp as I saw a shadow figure in the hallway. Too late, I realized I had just caught a glimpse of our own shadows. I bit my lip and glanced sheepishly up at Spook, who tried unsuccessfully to hide a smile. “Why don’t we start off down here on the third floor,” he said, sitting down across from the bell tower door.
I nodded and headed down towards the middle of the hall. Just like last night, the third floor was relatively quiet; outside was another story. Flashes of lightning were becoming more frequent, and rumbles of thunder grew louder. I tried to concentrate on our EVP session, but I flinched and cowered with each streak of lightning and clap of thunder. Even if the entity would have responded to my questions, I doubt if I would have heard her.
I gave up hoping I was hiding my fear from Spook, although he said nothing. After a while, however, he got up and walked quietly over to where I was sitting and settled in next to me. He stopped his voice recorder for a moment and chuckled, “Is there anything you’re not afraid of?”
Glowering at him, I replied casually, “Spiders, bugs and snakes don’t bother me at all.”
Spook laughed out loud and put his arm around me for a moment. “Well, I guess you’re one up on Steve.” He looked at me more seriously and continued, “But you know, this could be a long night for you if this storm continues.”
“I know,” I muttered miserably, spinning my flashlight on the floor. “I’m not trying to be afraid, you know.” Another flash of lightning made me flinch.
Spook suddenly started, hissing, “Did you see that?”
“See what?” I asked, irritated that my fear of lightning had caused me to miss something. “What was it?”
Grabbing my flashlight, Spook muttered peevishly, “Of course you didn’t see it. You had your damn eyes closed.” I stared at him, stunned and hurt, as he shined my flashlight under the door across from us. His head was on the floor as he tried to see into the room. “When the lightning flashed, I swear I saw the shadows of someone’s feet under the door.”
I jumped up quickly and tried the door; it was locked. That’s strange, I thought, going to the next door. That one was unlocked. I tried several other doors, and all were unlocked except the one where Spook had seen the shadow under the door. “Why is this door locked?” I asked aloud. “All the others are unlocked.”
Spook was still on the floor looking under the door when another flash of lightning came. “There’s nothing there now,” he said, putting his hand against the crack below the door. “Kyr, put your hand here. Feel how cold the air is.”
I did as he told me to. He was right. There was an icy draft coming from under the door. I ran to the room next door and put my hand to the bottom of the door. “There’s no draft here,”
Spook and I looked at each other suspiciously. What was going on in that room? Suddenly at the end of the hallway, we heard the unmistakable click and creak of the bell tower door opening. We both looked towards the end of the hallway and then back at each other. Spook got to his feet quickly. “Looks like it’s show time. You ready?”
I was anything but ready, but since my ego was still bruised from his comment, there was no way I’d let him know how I felt. “Let’s go,” I replied, hoping he didn’t hear the quaver in my voice.
He started towards the bell tower door, and I followed, feeling my pulse quicken with each step. When we reached the door, it stood wide open, as I knew it would. We stood staring up into the inky blackness. A strong feeling of doom seemed to emanate from the tower. Spook turned to look at me, and I involuntarily threw myself against him, still staring up the steps. “Is she there?” Spook asked quietly, still looking at me.
I let out my breath and answered shakily, “No, there’s nothing there.” I shuddered at what I felt. “But it feels like it felt that night on the levee, like someone is standing there watching us.” I half hid my face in his chest, sensing that she would manifest any second.
Spook pulled out the K-II and held it in front of him. The lights lit up solid. Putting his arm around me for encouragement, he whispered, “I feel it too. Something is going to happen up there tonight.” He stood for a moment, staring grimly into the darkness before making his move. Firmly taking my hand, he started up the stairs. I had no choice but to follow.
At the top of the stairs, we paused, trying to get a feel for the room and what was about to happen. The bell tower looked the same as t had last night, but there was a subtle change that I couldn’t put my finger on. “Do you feel it?” I whispered suddenly. “There’s something…different.”
Spook shined his flashlight around the tower before he nodded. “The atmosphere seems charged,” he began. “Of course, there is a storm tonight.”
As if on cue, the lightning flashed again, casting strange shadows from the clock face across the tower. I tried not to flinch and almost succeeded. I sensed Spook smiling down at me, but he said nothing, and I didn’t look up at him. I heard the clock of his voice recorder as he began, “Hello, Mary. I’m not going to ask if you’re here, because I know you are. Will you talk to us tonight?”
As expected, his question was met with silence.
“Was that you in the room downstairs?” I asked, shining my flashlight towards the far end of the tower. “Why do you stay here?”
Suddenly, right next to my ear, a female voice growled loudly, “Get out now!”
I gasped and jumped back, grasping Spook’s arm. He turned to me in surprise and asked, “What? What happened?”
Giving him an incredulous look, I exclaimed, “You didn’t hear that? It was clear as day! A female voice, right next to my ear—Get out now!” I touched my ear; to my shock it was cold as ice. “Spook, feel my ear!”
He touched first one ear and then the other and acknowledged that the one I’d heard the voice in was definitely colder. “I didn’t hear a thing,” he said. He fumbled with the voice recorder. “I wonder if we picked it up on audio…” He quickly rewound the tape and replayed it. I shook my head in disbelief. We only heard the sounds of our own voices and the storm outside. “Unbelievable,” he muttered.
Another streak of lightning illuminated the bell tower, and on the far side of the tower loomed a tall shadow figure that vanished as soon as the room went dark again. Spook’s eyes zeroed in on the spot where the figure had stood, and he quickly pulled his flashlight from his back pocket to shine it around trying to see what might have caused it. Finding nothing, he started across the room. I took a step to follow him before a hard shove made me cry out and stumble backwards.
Spook turned quickly and caught me before I fell. “What the hell happened?”
Catching my breath and looking around for my attacker, I responded, “I just got shoved. Hard!” I pushed my hair out of my face and looked up at him. “I guess she meant it when she told me to get out.”
Squeezing my shoulder, Spook looked around and called out, “Okay Mary, I’ll come alone, but Kyr is not leaving this room, you hear me?” To me, he said, “You stay here and shoot video.”
I looked up at him, feeling the fear rising in my throat. This was becoming too much like my dream. With a choked voice, I whispered, “Spook, no, what about…”
He put a finger over my lips and responded softly, “Don’t worry about your dream. Everything will be okay. Forewarned is forearmed.”
As he handed me the video camera and turned to go, I impulsively threw my arms around his neck. “Spook,” I said, fighting back tears, “Please don’t go over there. She wants to hurt you, I know it.” He put his arms around me tentatively, and I continued, “If anything happens to you…”
He pulled back and gently took my face in his hands. Laying his forehead against mine, he laughed a forced laugh. “Don’t be a drama queen, Kyr. Nothing is going to happen to me.” We stood like that for a long moment, as I felt Spook willing me to be calm. In that moment I was barely aware of the storm outside; I only saw Spook, felt his warm hands on my face and his breath mingling with mine. As my heart stopped pounding and slowed to a normal rhythm, Spook pulled me close again. Without thinking, I turned my face towards him and brushed a kiss against his cheek. After a sharp intake of breath, Spook drew back and smiled, whispering, “Let’s do this, okay?”
I sniffled once and nodded. Oh Lord, I just made a fool of myself, I thought. “Just be careful,” I whispered back. “And watch the floor.”
Spook chuckled and replied, “I will, Mom.” Taking his flashlight and voice recorder, he began to pick his way cautiously across to the far end of the tower.
I raised the video camera and began recording. Spook reached the far end of the tower and gave me a thumbs up before starting his EVP session. The lightning outside was becoming more frequent, rain was coming down in sheets, and wind was howling, making it hard to hear anything else, and I wondered how we’d be able to hear any responses he might receive. Still, Spook went ahead with his questioning.
“Okay, Mary, I’m in your corner, and I’m alone. What do you want?” I would have been too frightened to say anything if I were in that corner alone, but Spook had an almost defiant attitude. Apparently he was no longer interested in sympathizing with the entity, but went right to provoking. When he received no response to his question, he tried again. “You need to give me some kind of sign that you’re here. Or did you use up all your energy trying to intimidate Kyr?” He pointed at me. “See, Mary? Kyr’s still here. You didn’t scare her away. Your bullying isn’t working. You have something to say, say it. You want us to leave, tell us.”
My breath caught in my throat as he said my name. Don’t bring me into this, I thought. I certainly wasn’t feeling as brave as he tried to make me out to be, and I didn’t want Mary coming after me to test me. However, as I focused on Spook’s face in the viewfinder, I saw something in his expression that sent a warm shiver down my spine and gave me a tiny shot of courage—in the moment he glanced in my direction, I saw a flash of admiration in his eyes.
My eyes misted over for a moment as I glanced up from the viewfinder to smile at him. As I did that, I caught movement close beside him, so I quickly turned my attention back to filming. A shadow danced around where Spook stood, although I couldn’t tell if it was actually a figure or if it was just light play from the storm outside. “Spook,” I whispered, “are you seeing that shadow moving close to you?”
“No,” he replied, tense and ready to move. “But I can feel a presence nearby, and it’s not friendly.” He took a few steps back towards me before calling out, “Instead of trying to intimidate me, why the hell don’t you talk to me? Come on, Mary, say something; do something!”
A sudden bright flash of white light and a tremendous thunderclap shook the whole bell tower. I dropped to my knees and screamed; Spook cursed loudly. I raised my head tentatively to look around. My eyes widened in horror as I saw flames in the roof overhead. “Spook!” I cried, unable to say anything else.
He turned his head in the direction my eyes were staring, and he swore again. The fire was already spreading rapidly, and embers and pieces of burning wood began to drop into the bell tower. Looking frantically in my direction, Spook yelled, “Kyr, get out of the bell tower!”
I was poised to flee, not wanting too be trapped yet again in a burning building, but I refused to leave without Spook. “I’m not leaving you here,” I cried, already in tears.
“Damn it, Kyr, I’m not planning to stay here,” he growled impatiently. “I just want you out of my way so I can make a run for it.” He kept glancing anxiously between me and the blazing roof, ready to spring forward.
I shot him one last look before turning and sprinting for the stairs. Just as I reached the top of the stairs, I looked back to see Spook dash across the tower. In his haste, he forgot about the weakened part of the floor. I reached towards him and screamed, “Spook, no!!!” just as the floor gave way beneath him with a sickening crack.
He was chest deep in the floor and struggling to get enough leverage to pull himself out. I dropped my equipment and ran to him, grabbing his arms and trying desperately to pull him to safety; he wouldn’t budge. Grimacing in pain, he growled, “Kyr, just get out! Take the equipment and get outside and call for help!”
I wouldn’t leave him; I couldn’t. But more and more embers and burning pieces of the roof kept falling around me, and I could feel the wind and the rain coming in from the growing hole above me. Frantic and sobbing, I fell to my knees to embrace him and then kiss him quickly before dashing back to the stairs. I looked back once and tearfully whispered, “I love you, Spook,” not knowing if he heard me, before grabbing up the equipment as best I could and stumbling down the steps.
When I reached the first floor, I saw the red and blue flashing lights of the campus police vehicle out back. I burst through the back door to see the same officer Grant and I had encountered our first night of investigating. He was standing with one leg still in the truck, looking up at the burning bell tower and talking to someone on the radio. He spotted me and said something hastily into the mike before calling to me. “Is there anyone else inside?”
“Yes,” I yelled tearfully. “Spook is trapped in the bell tower. He fell partially through the floor and can’t get out.”
The officer swore and said frantically into the mike, “We’ve got one person trapped in the bell tower. Repeat, one person trapped in the bell tower. Over.”
I heard the response. “Copy that. Company 65 responding. ETA three to four minutes.”
The officer replaced the radio and dashed over to where I stood with rain pouring down over me. I looked up at the bell tower and felt my stomach drop sickeningly. The fire looked much worse from here. I futilely tried to say a prayer for Spook’s safety as I felt hands on my shoulders. I turned to look up at the officer. The red and blue lights reflected off his badge and his nametag—Officer Daly. “Come now, miss,” he said reassuringly. “Come over and sit in the truck. We’ll get your boyfriend out; the fire trucks will be here soon.”
It didn’t even register at first that he had called Spook my boyfriend, and at that point correcting him was the last thing on my mind anyway. I allowed him to lead me to the passenger side of the truck. As I sat down, I bumped against my walkie still strapped to my belt. Suddenly recalling that the others had no idea what was happening, I grabbed my walkie and called urgently, “Kyr to TAPS team.”
Almost immediately, Jason responded, “This is Jason. What’s up, Kyr?”
Barely able to stop crying long enough to get the message out, I sobbed , “Appleton bell tower took a lightning strike. It’s on fire.” I took a deep breath and continued, “I’m out, but Spook is trapped. The fire company is on the way.”
“Sit tight, Kyr,” Jason replied tensely. “I’m on the way. Grant, do you copy?”
Grant’s concerned voice responded, “Copy that. I’m on the way too.”