This is part 9 of a serial story. The story began here.
Twenty steps up, turn right, cross the landing, twenty steps up, turn left...
Remember there's a ghost up there, spin around, turn right, run down twenty steps, skitter and trip across the landing, ricochet off the wall, catch breath, tell self that there is no such things as ghosts...
Cross the landing again, creep up twenty steps, turn left....
Come on, Maryanne. You can do this. There's no such thing as ghosts, or if there are then you're not a conduit, or if you are it's okay because how scary can a ghost really be if its so lame that it haunts a law library.
I could have waited for Nick. I should have waited for someone to go into the Pacific room with me, but I had to know if I was a conduit or ghost magnet. I couldn't wait for Naomi to find Nick.
Okay: threshold of the room. Deep breath and go.
I walked over to the bookcase and nothing happened. No icy cold breeze, no spectral hand. So anticlimactic I sighed.
Huh. The book that the hand had grasped, the one that Tanya had found the torn list in, was gone. Doubtful that anyone would have checked it out, so where was it?
No books on the table. I dropped down to my knees and looked under the armchairs. Two dust bunnies, a penny, a paperclip, and whoops...a gum wrapper. Better pick that up before the eagle-eyed Dean sees it. Ah, what the heck. Grab the penny too.
I shoved the penny in my jeans pocket and stood up.
“Maryanne,” a voice whispered.
“Nick? Where are you?”
A hand waved around the doorframe. “I'm not coming in,” Nick whispered from the hallway.
“Naomi told you about the conduit thing?”
“It's not me,” I said with a hint of smugness. “I've been in here without anything strange happening. Unless you count a missing volume of the Pacific Reporters as strange. I don't.”
Nick peered tentatively around the doorway. “No cold air?”
“No. And no ghost hand either.”
I heard Nick take a deep breath. He stepped slowly into the room, chest heaving under his immaculate tweed blazer.
Laughing a little I said, “Seriously? A tweed blazer with leather patches on the elbow? Gosh, Dad, where's your pipe?”
Nick opened his mouth and the room imploded with ice and flying books.
Pacific Reporter to the back hurts. A lot.