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Chapter 27: Time for Plan B

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

Jay’s father was one of the others. She’d just spent a couple hours painstakingly combing through online census records on her laptop at the kitchen counter to confirm it—her family tree went back to intersect with the family line of that crazy researcher named James… Roger’s dad’s research partner. Which meant maybe Jayana’s father couldn’t enter her family’s property, now that he was a ghost. The barrier to keep the others out might have overridden his tie to Jay’s mom by marriage.


That would explain why Jay had never seen him here at the house with the rest of the ghosts. But… Roger had told Jay to confront the others. Had he known about Jay’s father? Known that he might be there? Or had Roger just hoped Jay could force the others to help her find a way to shut the cube down so her family could be free? That wasn’t likely to happen, in Jay’s estimation. James wanted to use the cube, not shut it down.


But Jay knew one thing for sure… she could not do anything to harm the others if her father was part of them. Besides, there had to be innocents on both sides, right? Not everyone in that business partner’s family line could be an obsessed lunatic ghost, and the normal others didn’t deserve to suffer for the sake of the crazy ones. No, Jay had to find a way to shut the cube down and free her family without hurting the others’ family lines. With any luck, by the time all this was over, both family lines would be at rest and no one would ever have to think about the cube or any of this nonsense again.


Jay scrolled back through the census records she’d compiled, anxiety building into a churning lump in her stomach. Why hadn’t Jay seen her father, though? She’d been off the family property plenty of times. Had he just not known where to find her? Or had the others figured out who Jay’s father was… and had him trapped somewhere? Or worse? Jay wasn’t sure a ghost could be in danger in the normal sense... but was there some way the others might harm him, if they knew who he was? The thought sent Jay’s churning anxiety into a panic.


She shot up from the barstool so quickly that it toppled backward.


Ryan popped up from his nap on the couch with a grunt. “Wha—huh? Jay? What’s wrong?”


Kyle came limping out of the bedroom, where he’d been helping Jay by combing through her family’s old photo albums. “You okay, Jay? What happened? Did you find something?”


“Yes, I found something—but more importantly… We need to find my father. We need to go, right now, to find him and make sure he’s safe.” Jay could figure out the rest later.


Ryan and Kyle were already heading toward the door.

“But isn’t your father, um…” Ryan asked, though he didn’t finish his question.


“Your father?” Kyle asked as he leaned against the couch to stuff his feet in his sneakers. “Like your ghost father? Do you know where he is?”


“Tell me where to drive and we’re there, Jay,” Ryan said as he grabbed his keys from the table.


Jay hurried toward the door—then stopped in the living room. “No, wait… no…”


She paused, her thoughts clarifying as her initial panic gave way to logic. “We can’t just barge in to confront a bunch of psychotic poltergeists unprepared. That would be…so stupid.” She squeezed her eyes shut and pinched the bridge of her nose, forcing a deep breath, then opened her eyes. “We’ll need a plan, or some protection… just… give me a second to think.”


Ryan’s face lit up. “Wait right here. Give me twenty minutes.” He glanced at Kyle. “You got this, in case something happens?”


“Yeah, of course. We’ll wait here for you,” he said, though his face looked uncertain. “Where are you going?”


Ryan grabbed his keys and rushed out the front door without answering. A moment later, Jay heard his car start, then pull out.


Jay glanced at Kyle. “What do you think he’s going to get?”


Kyle laughed. “A posse of beefed-up paramedics? Who knows.”


Jay smiled at him, and for a moment, they just stood like that—smiling, their eyes locked onto each other.


Then Kyle cleared his throat. “So, uh, since we’re here, there’s something I’ve kinda been wanting to, um…”


Jay’s phone rang. “I’m so sorry, just a second.” She reached for it—it was Ryan.


Jay answered.


“Uh, Jay?” Ryan’s voice asked. “Does the end of your street always have a big, glowing blob?”


“What?” Jay rushed to the window and peeked through the blinds. She could see Ryan’s car, stopped halfway down her short street, and he was right—a great, glowing mass was approaching from the end of the street, bobbing slightly.


“Uh, Jay, on closer examination, it’s not a blob,” Ryan’s shaky voice said over the phone. “It’s a bunch of separate blobs, like… marching, zombie-sized blobs? Maybe people? But… uh… shimmery and glowing.”


Kyle came up beside her, peering out through the other side of the blinds. “Jay, what is it?”


“The others,” Jay hissed. It had to be. “Get back to the house, Ryan! They can’t come on the property, but they definitely can hurt you out there.”


Kyle glanced at her, tense—he already understood just how much the ghosts could hurt people when they tried.


“Alllright,” Ryan said, and from the window Jay saw his car head in reverse back toward her house. “Guess it’s time for Plan B.”


“What’s Plan B?” Jay asked, hoping it was something amazing.


“The Ghostbusters costume in the trunk of my car,” Ryan said, and Jay heard the car door slam as he jumped out and ran around to his trunk.


The call disconnected, and Jay yanked open the front door.


Ryan rushed in with an armful of stuff, looking like some of it was quite heavy, and dropped it on the couch with an oof as Jay closed the door behind him.


Jay turned around. It was, in fact, exactly what Ryan had said—complete with the logo on the sleeve and a very sturdy-looking ghost-catching contraption modeled after the one in the movie.


“You had a Ghostbusters costume in your trunk?” Kyle asked, staring at the pile. He pointed at the ghost trap. “Is that made out of metal?”


Jay stared up at Ryan. “What was Plan A?”


He shrugged. “Liquid nitrogen, but that doesn’t matter now. Probably wouldn’t have worked anyway.” He grabbed the shirt and pants. “Here, put these on.”


Jay shook her head. “Me? Are you crazy? Those won’t even fit me, you’re huge!”


Ryan glanced at Kyle. “Good point. You?”


Kyle shook his head. “Nope. Not happening.”


Ryan shrugged, then scooped up the costume and headed to Jay’s bedroom. “Suit yourself,” he called back over his shoulder, “but you’re probably going to wish you’d come more prepared!”


****


By the time Ryan emerged from Jay’s room, fully dressed like an imitation Ghostbuster, the glowing mass of others was waiting at Jay’s curb.


Jay took a deep breath and headed for the door.


Kyle gently grabbed her hand. “Wait, Jay. Are you sure you want to do this?”


Jay glanced out the window. Did she want to? No. Chances were, the moment Jay stepped off the property, the Others would try to hurt her. Which made her have to wonder… why hadn’t they done more to harm her when she’d been out and about? They’d certainly tried, but there had also been limits to what they’d done… They’d never directly attacked her. They’d always used other means, like arranging catastrophes and threatening her. Was there some reason they couldn’t directly harm her? Jay had the sinking suspicion that had been only practicality, not any kind of actual barrier protecting her—because they wanted her help finding the object and the location of the cube. Now, they seemed to know the location—because they were here. They’d never come to her en masse like this before.


Roger had said the power that the Others used was loosely tied to the cube—maybe once she and Roger started interacting with the cube, they’d been able to feel its location? That kind of made sense. Until today, the cube definitely hadn’t had many visitors or interactions over the past few decades. And that meant, after all the years Roger had worked to keep the cube safely hidden—in one reckless moment of contact, Jay had inadvertently brought the Others right to it.


Jay drew in a long, shaky breath, then forced herself to meet Kyle’s eyes. “I don’t want to confront them…but I need to.”


“Then I’m going with you,” he said, holding her gaze.


Ryan stepped up behind him. “And so am I.”


Jay glanced between them—her two knights in shining armor—and she was immensely grateful to have them both in her life, even if one of them was currently dressed as a Ghostbuster.


“Listen,” Jay said. “I don’t know what might happen, so I just want you both to know that I—I mean—the two of you have been—” She stopped, her throat going tight. Apparently, facing psychotic ghosts together was a sufficient bonding activity to have endeared both of these guys to Jay irrevocably, despite how short a time she’d known them. “I just mean, I couldn’t have asked for better friends. I mean that. And no matter what happens today, I—”


“We’ll still be in your life, Jay,” Ryan said gently. “At least, I will. Good friends are hard to find, and turns out I really like you. Homie over here may not survive this without appropriate protective gear,” he said, nodding at Kyle, “but if he does, he can decide for himself.”


Jays’ eyes widened, but Kyle smiled at her.


“I’ll be fine, Jay—and yes, I’ll still be in your life. I would love to be. I… consider you a good friend, too.”


Kyle’s eyes held a guarded emotion Jay couldn’t quite read as he said that, but she could still tell he meant it. She sighed in relief. “Good, because I know we haven't known each other all that long, but at this point I really don’t want to imagine my life without either of—”


“Little Jayaaaana,” a booming, spectral voice echoed from the edge of Jay’s yard.


Ryan, Kyle, and Jay all exchanged worried glances.


“You might want to come outsssside, Jayana,” the voice continued in a hiss that felt like it was snaking in through the cracks of the windows. “I have sssomething you’ll want to sssee.”



***

Author Note:


Jay confronts the others in the next chapter… and the thing they have to show her is definitely going to throw a wrench in her plans! (Not that she had much of a plan, yet, but she was getting there. Lol.) We’re barreling toward the end, now… only five chapters to go! If you’re enjoying this story, please hit the Like button! Thank you!

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