Danger burst through the front door without so much as the courtesy of a knock. Danger, in this case, was a six-foot tall man with spiky hair dyed a garish color of blue and a black shirt barely containing his muscular torso. He barreled through the front of the office, hand clutching a piece of paper as though it contained the secrets to eternal youth or hangover-free liquor. Within five clomping steps of his black boots, he let out a bellow that would have startled all those around if his door-slamming entrance hadn’t already done so.
“AUGGIE! We got it! We got permission for the camp!” The blue-haired bundle of noise, muscles, and horrid fashion sense stopped, gazing across the room with all the anticipation of a dog waiting to be leashed for a walk. His eyes, biologically brown but made green through contact-lenses, rested on another male, this one sitting at a desk instead of traipsing about.
August Parrish, a young African-American man several inches shorter and at least a hundred pounds light than the intruder, glanced up from his computer and tried very hard to keep the exasperation off his face. Once Topher got going, one simply had no choice but to hunker down and ride out the storm. Nearly two-decades of friendship had cemented that lesson in well.
“Topher, we currently have inquires out to three camps, one abandoned mining town, an insane aslylum, and a Denny’s. Could you narrow it down a bit for me?”
“The camp, Auggie, the big one! Camp Tekonichia, the haunted camp out in New Mexico that is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in America. When they let investigators in everyone was getting voice recording and visual anomalies and just a slew of stuff. It’s been locked down for twenty years, and they agreed to let us come investigate it! We’ll be the first ones to use modern tech, think of all the phenomena we’ll capture.” Topher wasn’t hopping from foot to foot like a child waiting for a restroom, but Auggie could practically see the desire to do just that simmering beneath his massive grin. As patience-straining as it could be, that very enthusiasm was why Topher had found such success in his field.
Topher was Topher Nightshade, though that obviously wasn’t his given name, host of Spectre Quest, the online web-show that (for reasons Auggie couldn’t comprehend) drew a massive audience with every installment. It had started as the two of them, a lost bet, and an illegal traipse through a historic graveyard, then rapidly ballooned into an actual profit-generating business entity. Though Auggie was a skeptic at heart (and head, and gut, and like… liver) he did believe in the magic of a steady paycheck. He also believed in fine-print and details, which made him the logistics man of their opertation.
“First off, when can we go? We’re already committed throughout most of March, you know. Secondly, why are they letting us in? That camp has been close for over a decade and they stopped letting other investigators come in long before then. How did you change their mind, and bear in mind that if you say with half our location budget I will booby-trap your microphone to shock you.” In addition to being competent and rational, Auggie was also the tech-guru for the show. He handled equipment checks, repairs, and maintenance. It was a waste of an engineering degree, according to his parents, but he also didn’t have to deal with idiots in management like his classmates struggling under the corporate yolk.
“No way, the guy in charge of it is a fan of the show,” Topher explained. “He likes the way we treat the supernatural, with respect and all, so he was willing to open the gates up to us for only triple our usual fee.”
Auggie suppressed a groan, instead he just scowled. For Topher, that was actually pretty reasonable restraint. “We’ll talk about that later. For now, what about my first question, what’s our window of time?”
“Oh yeah, that’s the best part. I know we don’t have a conflict because it’s this weekend. That’s the only time we can come.”
“This weekend? The one talked about taking off weeks ago? The one meant to provide everyone a chance to rest and recuperate? That’s the weekend you want to spend gallivanting in the woods searching for dead people?”
“Come on Auggie, we can rest anytime. How many chances are we going to get to be the first investigators in decades to check out a place? We can take next weekend off.”
“No, we can’t,” Auggie corrected. “We have to be in Buffalo, shooting in a supposedly haunted taffy factory.”
“Atlanta. Reports of ghosts in a trampoline store.”
“That’s… actually we’re not booked for that yet,” Auggie admitted.
“Then there you go, we’ll take that weekend off.”
“How do you know I haven’t already made plans for this weekend?”
“Because you don’t really do anything without me,” Topher pointed out. “And since I don’t have plans, you probably don’t either.”
Auggie drummed his fingers on the desk several times, trying to think of a coherent rebuttal to the argument. It wasn’t that he didn’t do anything without Topher, not really, it was just that by his nature Topher was often at the center of the most interesting things to do. Plus he usually dragged Auggie into things, otherwise the intellectual young man would probably stay at home, working on his own projects. But Topher would never see thing such as that as plans, so bringing it up would just waste everyone’s time.
“Fine. We can shoot this weekend. However, we are taking that next open weekend off. I don’t care if we get the offer to interview Dracula himself, we’re not doing a shoot. Clear?”
“No problem,” Topher said happily. “Besides, vampires aren’t real anyway. We’re after the genuine paranormal article: ghosts.”
“Then the ghost of Gandhi, you get my point.”
“Yeah yeah, no work that weekend. It’s a deal.” He walked over and set the paper on Auggie’s sizable desk. Topher’s own area of the office was a computer and mini-fridge where he did research on new locations to shoot in. The third member of their team occupied a space near the back, filled with screens and editing equipment, but she tended to come in at whatever hour seemed to fit her mood.
“Here’s all the details.” Topher slid the page across to Auggie. “Do you need help with arrangements?”
“Just tell Kay about the change. If she has any plans she’s probably forgotten them.”
“Who’s forgotten what now?” Kayla Krupchyk wandered in from the hallway, which made Auggie realize Topher hadn’t even bothered to shut the front door in his excitement. She was the shortest of the three, dressed in flowing clothing and with a tangle of light brown hair that always somewhat resembled an unkempt bird’s nest. She wore over-sized sunglasses despite being indoors, a small silver chain with a pendant of a bear around her slender neck, and a bow situated on one of the upper-left mounds of her hair. In her left hand was a dark green thermos with the words 2004 Pie & Whiskey Wrasslin Champion emblazoned across the front.
Auggie ignored the question and just gave her the relevant news. “Topher booked us to go to a haunted summer camp this weekend. Can you come?” There was a lot about Kay that Auggie could, and did, object to, but the quality of the footage she captured and edited was not something anyone could call into question.
“Meh, why not? The parties were looking kinda shitty anyway.” She took a deep glug from her thermos as she walked by Auggie’s desk, heading toward her own, and the smell of alcohol hit like a wave.
“What are you drinking?” He said, half-gagging from the potency.
“Mimosa,” Kay replied, setting the mug down on her desk.
“There is no way on earth that is champagne.”
“It’s a Moscow Mimosa: vodka and orange juice.”
“That is called a Screwdriver!”
“Hence Moscow Mimosoa. You think people in the mother country have champagne just sitting around? Geez Auggie, aren’t you supposed to be smart?”
Without thinking, Auggie half-rose from his desk. “Names aside, why are you drinking vodka at nine in the morning?”
“Social protest,” Kay said, falling into her own seat with the grace of an epileptic rabbit. “Why is it only okay to drink some booze in the morning? Beer with breakfast: alcoholic. Champagne with breakfast: alcoholic. Champagne with a few drips of orange juice: totally acceptable. Fuck that shit, I’m taking back morning drinking.”
“Kayla, even when drinking mimosas, people tend to do it on the weekends. Today is Wednesday!” Auggie wasn’t even sure why he was bothering with this fight, they had it so often he might as well have put it in his schedule.
“Oh. Um… then I’m going with religious rite.” Kay smiled at that one, pleased with her sudden burst of inspiration.
“For the love of… Kesha is not a religion,” Auggie snapped.
“Hey, this is the way people in my faith greet Wednesday mornings. Don’t persecute me.”
“Yeah Auggie, tone it down. You can’t go crapping on other people’s faith,” Topher chimed in. He’d taken refuge at his desk during their battle, experienced enough to know a pointless exercise when he saw it.
“She doesn’t have a faith! She’s making things up on the spot,” Auggie said, aware that his tone was rising as he struggled to defend himself. He was the one in the right, this kind of activity made no sense… so why did he feel like he was losing. Again.
“Religion is whatever I have faith in,” Kay said defiantly. “I choose Wednesday Moscow Mimosas, and Thursday Old Fashioneds, and… bears.” The last one came after a quick glance down at the necklace resting on her chest.
“There are worse religions out there,” Topher added.
Auggie threw up his hands in defeat and slumped back into his chair. “I give up, drink your thermos of vodka, which was highly illegal to walk over here with, by the way. Just do your work quietly while I try to cram two weeks of shooting prep and arrangements into a single day.”
“I asked if you needed help,” Topher pointed out.
“Yes. Yes you did.” Auggie resisted reminding Topher of the other times he’d helped, which had resulted in them flying to wrong towns, waiting for transport that never arrived, and, in one particular low-point, shooting an episode in some kid’s basement because he swore there was totally a ghost down there. There had actually been a busted radiator, which Auggie fixed and tried to invoice the family for. It had not gone over well.
“Where are we going, anyway?” Kay asked, polishing off the last of her thermos.
“Camp Tekonichia,” Topher told her happily. “It’s an abandoned summer camp that was legendary for its hauntings, even when it was still running.”
“It’s a summer camp,” she said skeptically. “What’s it haunted by, the spirits of underage drinking and lost virginities?”
“Trust me, this is going to be soaked with spirit activity,” Topher assured her. “That place is probably crawling with ghosts.”
- Good intro to the three main characters and their dynamics. Wyatt will come in once they arrive at camp. Maybe write one more scene in preparation to give a bit more definition to Topher. Silly-side came through heavy, need to showcase how serious he takes the actual ghost-hunting.
-Reread Kay’s dialogue in a few days. She’s supposed to be a shitshow, but a coherent one. Make sure you’re on the line of “funny-drunk” not “crippling addiction.”
-Next scene will open on a play off Topher’s last words in this scene. Try and keep it light, introduce the ghosts, and set-up the fact that something is amiss. You’re at 1882 already, try not to pass 3000 in the first chapter.
Current Wordcount: 1882