Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Golden Microphone Part II + Greek Tragedy

Joining the party are two transfer students. The first is Zander Koch, a 19 year old from Quemado, majoring in Military Science, and the second... I'm not sure about, actually. I'll update when I get that info.

Monday, Jan. 21st

While there wasn't much info on the thief, the group learned of an earlier attempt to steal the microphone. As it happens, Lurk Until Dawn was interviewing a few bikers that had purportedly seen a UFO, and the bikers dished out some street justice to the would-be thief. Tracking the bikers down to a bar, the party (now consisting of Will, Zander, and Alistair) sent Will inside. After an awkward introduction, Will managed to learn of the prior thief's place of work - the old Petroleum building, in the downtown. Quickly heading there, they found the thief's beat-up blue Ford parked nearby.

They had done their research - the building was registered to a supposedly clean business, called The Ring, and run by the shady Victor Pryce, the slimy Timo DeKlerk, and the sleazy Chet Addicks. The three ran some sort of investment and research firm, if the business registration was to be believed.

After installing a walkie-talkie app on their phones, and leaving Zander keeping a lookout, Will and Alistair infiltrated the building, bluffing their way past the two guards. Inside, they rifled through some drawers, picked a lock, and generally poked around, but found very little of interest. Most of the entry room was covered with plastic, and it looked like there was a lot of work going on, including building some new walls.

The thief, meanwhile, left the room he was in, heading for the bathroom. The two slipped into the room he had been waiting in, finding nothing but a single plastic-covered object in the center of the room. They didn't have time to investigate, however, as the thief returned! Startled by Alistair, the thief was caught entirely off guard by Will, who grabbed him in a choke hold! After a moment, the thief collapsed. Rifling through his pockets, the duo liberated some petty cash, and rescued the golden microphone! They also stole his keys... After some careful thought, they tied him up and dumped him in the bathroom.

They radioed Zander, who was busy trying to be sneaky, but ended up being spotted; he clicked a response back, and the two crept out of the building, dashing away without the two guards noticing them. Tossing the thief's keys into a storm drain, they returned to their vehicles, they sped back to the radio station and returned the borrowed laptop, as well as the golden microphone. Overjoyed, the station manager gave each member of the team a $50 bill, and his thanks.

After their adventures, it made Alistair's Valentines' Day seem almost tame by comparison. Michele even baked him a cake! Awww. So cute. The knife, though... not so much.

Dead Dave (Thursday, Feb. 28)
Hoping to find a good society to join, Alistair invited Zander and Will along to scope out the society houses. It's just after a soccer game, and the perfect time for the societies to throw a huge collective party, in the hopes of doing a little unofficial pre-Rush recruiting. Eventually, they ended up at Delta Epsilon Delta.

A charming young man introduced himself as Vance Crawford, and took them on a tour of the house, pointing out trophies and awards they had won, and mentioning a number of semi-famous people who were part of the fraternity. Getting them some nice steaks on the grill, Vance got a phone call, and had to step outside. Hardly a minute had passed before the group felt a chill in the air... and a figure stepped up to them. Cheerfully, the newcomer nodded in the direction of Vance, and said, "Man, you gotta watch out for that guy, he can be a real killer sometimes! Ha ha! I'm Dave, by the way, Dave Dalton."

He joked with the group for a few minutes, pointing out the room at the top of the stairs - the "Love Shack", as he called it. Leaning in conspiratorially, he added, "I totally set up a video camera in there that catches all the action, if you know what I mean!"

Just then, Vance returned, calling out to them from across the room. When they looked around, Dave had disappeared. Vance apologized, saying that he had been called away for a bit, but that he was glad to meet the crew. He waved, and headed out. Looking around the room, the three eventually spotted a picture of Dave, with "June 12, 1997 - Sept. 13, 2017" written underneath; they flagged down a member of the fraternity and asked about it. He nodded, relaying the "sad tale." It seems that a year and a half ago, Dave was messing around with another frat brother's girlfriend, but ended up committing suicide out of guilt. The girlfriend dropped out and moved away. They pressed for more details, but the man shrugged. "I dunno, I joined this year, so it's like, history to me. Ask Vance - it was his girlfriend."

Correctly surmising that Dave was, in fact, a ghost, Alistair and Will called GlenMac, who excitedly began setting up ghost hunting equipment near the table. The commotion - fueled by Alistair - allowed Will and Zander to get into the room next to the Love Shack, and quickly hunt through the air vent. They found a camcorder, though its battery was long dead, and it used firewire and a digital tape rather than SD cards. After rifling through the frat brother's stuff a bit (and finding he had interesting tastes in adult entertainment), they crept out of the room, signaling to Alistair that they were done. Meanwhile, Michele showed up, wondering why Alistair was avoiding her. He apologized; luckily, it was open dorms, and the four walked back to Alistair's dowm, where he had a few charge cables. The cable from the previously-destroyed camera happened to fit, and after a few minutes of charging, they rewound the tape. While Alistair distracted Michele, likely by discussing her dreams for the future, Will and Zander watched the tape. A minute or two after the tape started, Dave walked into the sparsely-furnished room, leading a young woman. They talked, then started making out; just as things were getting heated, the door flew open! There in the doorway, barely in the shot, was none other than Vance! He screamed in rage, and drawing a gun, fired at Dave! Dave fall back onto the bed as the young woman screamed. Vance waved the gun in her face. "If you so much as breathe a word to anyone, I will straight-up kill you. You understand? Not. One. Word. Get out of here - I don't ever want to see your face again!"

The young woman grabbed her clothing and dashed out of the room. With a heavy sigh, Vance holstered his gun, then wrapped Dave in the bed-sheets - including the plastic sheet underneath. He hefted the body onto his shoulder, then hauled it out of the room. The rest of the tape showed the empty room, until the tape was full and the battery died...

Unanimously, the group decided to hand the tape over to the police - after making a copy, of course. They claimed it had been turned in to a lost-and-found, and they dug it out and discovered the evidence. The police immediately arrested Vance on murder charges, and thanked the group for their help. Alistair, as it happens, was not invited to that fraternity...

A few days later, Alistair got a knock at his door. Outside was a man and a woman; the man introduced himself as Kit Mueller, and his partner Deana Scolaidhe, both FBI agents. He asked a few questions, seeming interested in the supernatural aspects of the case; he seemed to have already figured out it wasn't just a tape from the lost and found. After some friendly questions, he left his card, with the suggestion to call him if anything else weird showed up.

Over the next few weeks, Will and Alistair told the other members of their group the various adventures they had experienced. Halfway through telling them about the bank robbers, Will suddenly made a connection - Jake Busar, the bank robber! He must be the Jake B. in the picture! If the girl was Monica Dragic, and the man behind her her father, Morgan Dragic, that only left two members of the photo to find - the white-haired man, and the slightly irritated man off to the side... However Jackson managed to get a hold of this picture, it was certainly related to his disappearance. Hopefully, cracking that mystery would solve the greater one - where was Jackson Green?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Missing: Jackson Green

Things calmed down, and a month later, everyone was just getting back from Thanksgiving break. School was going well, everyone was passing their classes, and a lot of the weirdness from the previous months was slipping into comfortable obscurity...

...When Will got a phone call from Jackson Green.

The two had met a few times, enough to exchange phone numbers at least, but Will wondered why he would be getting a call from him. He answered, and Jackson quickly interrupted in a strained whisper: "Hey, sorry, y'all're th' first person I c'get a hold of - sump'm's following me, and I need help. South Green Trailer Park, back corner o' th'-"

He was interrupted by a crash; his phone clattered to the ground, then the roar of a shotgun filled the line, just before the phone went dead! Concerned, Will called Toby and Alistair, and they quickly made their way down the street to the nearby trailer park. Jackson's trailer was obvious; a police car was there already, and another was just pulling in. Concerned neighbors crowded around. The large bay window in his trailer was smashed in, and there were dents from shotgun pellets across the side of the building. The door hung halfway off its hinges.

After a little snooping, Alistair and Will found there were no tracks around the back of the building - whatever cause the damage either stayed to the road, or took a rockier path to the side.

Toby spoke with a policeman, and after confirming that he was a friend of Jackson, the officer allowed him to accompany him into the building.

Inside, the damage was obvious: the broken-in window, pinpoints of light from the shotgun blast, and a knocked over lamp... as well as a smear of blood on the ground. Toby uncovered Jackson's cell phone - screen smashed - under the sofa, and almost invisible against the carpet, a three-inch, tapered, plastic-like object. He pushed it with his foot, and it shimmered a little in the dying light. He carefully palmed it, and headed back outside.

Meanwhile, one of the officers' radios squawked to life:
"Unit 3, check."
"Unit 3, we’ve had another boogeyman sighting on campus. Can you do a wellness check on a witness at the LeTourneau's student center?"
"Dispatch, we have another 45 minutes here then we can head over."
"Unit 3, roger that. Dispatch clear."

The officer sighed, something about "prank calls again," and went back to keeping the rubberneckers out of the building.

The three friends, meanwhile, decided to head over to the student center, as long as they were going back to campus. Just inside the building, they found Leslie Merspin, the student writer for Cryptid Underground! She looked pale and shaken, and as soon as they showed up, she jumped up and threw her arms around Will. Somewhat baffled, he did his best to calm her down.

"I was on my way back from Glaske, taking the long way 'round to get to my dorm - going behind the materials joining lab. I heard this freakish noise, like a growling, purring sound mixed with a swarm of bees. I tried to hide around the corner. Somebody came past, heading towards the maintenance building, and they were dragging somebody all hunched over with them. I didn't really see them... but nothing human could make noises like that."

Michele, seeing Alistair talking to a strange girl, immediately came over to see what was going on.

The ROTC student who was sitting with her looked a little skeptical, but offered to stay, while the party went to check it out. Will found some distinct tracks - footprints from a human, and footprints from something much, much different, a three-toed creature of some kind. They tracked them to the new greenhouses, built at the edge of campus for the biology and horticultural students. The tracks lead to the third building, and they could hear weak cries for help coming from inside!

Inside, the air was thick and humid, obviously designed for the tropical plants inside. Two paths lead down the center of the greenhouse; Alistair and Michele followed one, while Will and Toby followed the other. They stepped out at about the same time, to see a woman, holding a nasty-looking stomach wound, and... the chupacabra! Will, Toby, and Alistair weren't frightened by the creature, but Michele took one look and ran screaming from the building. The creature turned towards them, but the woman on the ground seemed to divert its attention through some mental means. She held it for a moment, but the effort proved too much, and she passed out. Immediately, the creature leaped towards Alistair! Alistair tried whacking the creature, while Toby and Will helped the woman; the chupacabra turned on Alistair, but its claws merely raked across his bulletproof vest harmlessly. He struggled with it, until Toby ran up behind, and with a mighty chop, hacked into its back. Already injured from Jackson's shotgun blast (as they correctly inferred), the creature fell to the ground, dead. Alistair immediately began harvesting quills from the creature, as Toby and Will pulled the woman outside and bandaged her up as best they could. As they finished, two black vans pulled up, and several men in suits stepped out. One introduced himself as Officer Johnston, and declared that he and his fellow officers were part of a task force hunting the creature inside, and were part of the Longview Police Department.

Alistair, meanwhile, had followed the path to the end, and uncovered a hidden lair the creature had undoubtedly been living in. Inside were bones from small animals, as well as what were likely the bones of homeless people it had killed and eaten!

He tried to hide from the agents entering the greenhouse, but only succeeded in tipping over a plant. The three were told to return to their rooms...

In the following days, they learned that the greenhouse had been burned to the ground; Will, through his contacts with the police, also found out that there was no special task force, and that no one named Johnston worked there. More intriguing was a package that showed up, with a simple note from Jackson Green to keep its contents safe, and secret.

The package includes a photograph, with the words, "June 17th, 1986 - Monica & Jake B at Dad's office! Best buds!" written on the back. It's a picture of a young girl, maybe 8 or 9, and a slightly older boy, maybe 13 or 14; behind them is a middle-aged man, wearing a small label pin (a phi symbol), a white-haired man, and a younger man, standing a little apart with his arms crossed.

A little research later, and Toby was quite sure that the girl in the picture was Monica Dragic, current owner of EyePhi! The middle-aged man was her father, Morgan Dragic. The other name - likely the young man - resulted in no information, but everyone was sure they had heard the name before, but just couldn't remember where...

After Christmas break, there was still no sign of Jackson Green. GlenMac was sure he was still alive, somewhere, but there were no leads available.

The group was contacted by a radio show, Lurk Until Dawn, a show that interviewed interesting personalities and touched on the strange, the alien, and the supernatural. Having heard about their interactions with the chupacabra - called by students the Needler, due to its ridge of spines - the show invited them to come and talk about their adventures for a little.

The interview went well, but halfway through, there was a commotion out front; as they raced to find out what was going on, they saw a man holding a gun! The secretary was standing nearby, her hands in the air and her face white as a sheet, as he forced her to unlock a display case and yanked a golden microphone from it. Waving his gun, he dashed out of the building and to his running vehicle.

Alistair ran after, trying to spot which way it went, but it had already vanished in traffic.

Inside, the manager fumed; the microphone was really only of sentimental value. It was a gift at the station's 75th anniversary, back in 2004. He promised a reward if it could be returned. The station engineer, Jessie Achord, loaned the group a laptop to do any research they needed, while Ryan Lunemann, the "voice" of Lurk Until Dawn promised to reschedule, as they had already gotten a good response from the interview.

The only information they had to go on was a video of the getaway truck - free of a license plate - and a good shot of the thief.