It was an old-fashioned elevator: a steel cage with a door that folded in and out like an accordion, and black floor-buttons protruding from a brass plate. Tara and Steven stepped in, the latter pulling the door closed after them; it screeched and rattled along the track, then crashed shut. Steven tugged on the handle to make sure it had caught, then turned to Tara and nodded.
She pressed the button next to the ornately-engraved 4.
The elevator shuddered, then the bars vibrated as the motor moaned into life and they began, slowly, to ascend.
“Good thing Paul couldn’t come,” Steven mused. “Three of us in here might have done this thing in, once and for all.”
“I’m sure it carries more than three people on a regular basis and does just fine,” Tara said. “It’s old, but it’s perfectly usable. They must inspect it on a regular basis.”
“Why spend the money? I mean, you can only fit maybe four people in here. Four undergrads in 200 years is an acceptable casualty, right?”
“The lawsuits wouldn’t be so acceptable.”
The elevator came to an abrupt stop and bounced sharply; Tara threw her hand against the side for balance. Steven raised an eyebrow.
“Not a word, Trent.”
He snorted, squeezed the handle and slid the door open.
The stacks were dark, save for a small bulb that illuminated the light switches – and even when Tara flipped these on, the rows and rows of books were only dimly lit. The overhead fixtures hung down in hemispherical metal shades, grimy with dust.
Tara started walking, and Steven followed. She studied the card in her hand, then began scanning the call numbers of each row she passed. Suddenly she stopped and frowned. "Did you hear something?"
Steven drew closer to her, then stopped, listening closely. For a moment he thought she was imagining things; then, he heard it, too: a faint whispering sound.
"Maybe someone else is up here?"
"Maybe." Tara held her breath for a moment – then exhaled and shook her head. "Probably nothing. Come on."
Seven rows in, she turned left between two bookcases. It was even darker here. Steven could barely make out the printing on the spines of the books.
Tara was apparently having trouble as well. She leaned in close and squinted, looking back and forth from the dimly-lit spines to the list in her hand. Then she folded the card in half and tore it in two. She handed half to Steven. “Here. If we both search, we’ll be out of here sooner, and probably save ourselves a hell of a lot of eyestrain.”
“I hear you.”
Together they scanned the shelves, pulling down books as they located them. A few minutes later, with three books cradled in her arms, Tara turned to Steven. “How are you doing?”
Steven, four books tucked under his left arm, was frowning at the numbers. “I can’t find this last one.”
“Don’t worry about it; I couldn’t find two of mine. Sometimes they’re just not here. I think seven's a good start.”
They returned to the elevator and rode it, rattling all the way, back down to the first floor. Tara went straight to the reading room, while Steven stopped at the counter to retrieve the articles that he had printed out.
The student on duty approached with a stack of pages, shaking his head. "Dude, I'm sorry; our ink cartridge must be busted or something. Funny – I thought that printer was black and white." He handed the pages to Steven.
The articles were printed in red.
Tara Martin – exceptionally accomplished neurobiology major with a troubled past. Steven Trent – confident political science major with an irresistible attraction to Tara. Paul Stratton – history major who is able to hear spirits. Together, they make up the Society for Paranormal Researchers at their prestigious New England University. When they’re not in class or writing papers, the three friends are chasing their passion….ghosts.
When the group learns of a local retired couple trying to sell a house they claim is haunted, they decide to investigate. As the clues unfold, a familiar spirit interrupts their investigation and Tara finds her life in danger. Can her friends save her before it’s too late?
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Genre – YA paranormal, NA paranormal
Rating – PG-13
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