I called the police, but I still couldn't get through. I had one ear cocked to listen for Nick and Maryanne coming back down the stairs, and as the minutes ticked by I got more and more nervous. I decided to put my bookbag in the chair of the study carrel where the gun lay so nobody would try to sit there, and then i'd risk going upstairs.
I was about halfway up when someone called out “Naomi! What are you doing?!” It was Sandy. “I was going upstairs to check on Maryanne.”
“Where's the gun?!”
“Over here.” And I led her to where my bookbag was blocking it from view.
“That's yours?” She asked, pointing to my bookbag. “Why's it over here? … never mind, you can tell me later. Did you call the police?”
“Yes, three times, but I can't get through.”
“All right, stay here and don't touch anything. Put your backpack on the floor or behind the front desk. I'm calling the police again.”
I don't know if she called a different number or spoke some secret password, but the police arrived very shortly after that. They took one look at the gun, picked it up gingerly, and declared it was not real. Then they questioned me, and Sandy went to find Maryanne and Nick. I supposed they'd be questioned as well.
I told them what I knew, that i'd found the gun and I don't like guns and I don't know how it got there and I tried to call them but I couldn't get through. That was probably one of those times I should have taken a breath in between words. Or sentences, even. But I couldn't. Cops make me nervous. Guns make me nervous, and it took me a while to recover. I needed a drink.
It didn't help matters that Maryanne looked rather ill as she walked into the room to talk to the cops. I shot a concerned, questioning look at Nick, but he shook his head, so I shut up and walked back out to the front desk and sat down. Sandy appeared with some tea. It tasted funny, but it was warm and calmed me down. Almost as good as a vodka.
When Maryanne came out of the office, she was less green and her face was set in a grimace I would see many times later. She was trying to work something out in her head and give suitable answers to the authority figures at the same time. I admired her for that. I just stammered and resented them.
“Why'd you scream?” I asked her quietly when Nick was in the office. But apparently not quietly enough, because Sandy echoed my question.
“Why DID you scream? When was this?”
“Oh... before you got here. I was just nervous about the gun, and something startled me upstairs.”
Sandy had turned around to make another cup of tea for Maryanne, and when her back was turned, Mar made a face that let me know I should not have asked that particular question at that particular time.
Nick came out of the office looking rather proud of himself. But then, he looked like that a lot of the time, so I didn't know what to think. And I didn't want to risk another dirty look from him or Maryanne, so I just waved.
The police left, and Maryanne and I assured Sandy we were ok to finish our shifts. Sandy stayed with us, however, and helped close up the library for the night. Nick stuck around too. Afterward, we three students walked out to the parking lot talking. I was still wound up and didn't want to go home alone and go to sleep. I suggested International Waffle Hut, but they weren't in the mood... so we ended up back at Nick's place.
“What exactly happened up there?” I asked, referring to the screams I'd heard.
“a Brr like worry” Nick said.
“What!” snapped Maryanne. “You ran! I wanted to go back in!”
“Stop,” I said. “Both of you. Don't make me resort to a talking stick.”
And so I learned that the Pacific Reporters were haunted. I didn't say it, but I blamed myself, a little bit. I'd always wanted to meet ghosts and aliens, and maybe I'd wished too hard. Now my friends would get to, too, whether they wanted to or not.
“Where did it... he... the ghost, come from?”
“We don't know. We don't even know for sure what it was. All I saw was a pair of eyes and felt a cold feeling.” said Maryanne.
“And you saw it too?” I asked Nick.
“I think so... I mean, I definitely saw something...”
It continued like this for a while, but since nobody had any definite answers and we had finals coming up, we had to get some sleep. And since nobody wanted to sleep alone in their own apartment, Nick let Maryanne and me have the bed, and he crashed on his couch.
The next morning when I reported for my shift at the library, I was Sent For by the Dean.