We walked. We talked.
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"Where are we going," she said.
"The power plant."
I lifted an eyebrow. "I thought you said you'd been here for two years."
"And you've never..." I shut my mouth. "In that case, this is doubly important for you."
Out beyond the Gymnasium and Science Building lies a wasteland of concrete and piping. This, undoubtably, serves some use or another. There are several stone structures there as well, these being unlabelled and probably not classrooms. Beyond that lies a run-down parking lot, and finally, a power plant. At least, I think it is a power plant, as it has a pair of very tall smokestacks.
The entire building LOOMS as though, at any second, it might fall over, crushing cars (and innocent bystanders) beneath its' not-inconsiderable bulk. Except...there are no bystanders. There are cars, yes, but never have I seen a single living soul in the area- which strikes me as odd, being that a power plant should have a number of people working there. On one side of this power plant is a dense, wet patch of woodland called Christy Woods. It is bounded by a gate with very pointy spikes, and claims to have hours. In between this woodland and the power plant is a narrow, bedarkened stretch of grassless terrain.
I stopped when we were still a good hundred feet from the spot. "All right," I said. "I want you to clear your mind for a moment. Don't think of anything in particular." She closed her eyes. "When you think you're ready, open your eyes." After a moment, she opened them. "Good. Now, walk toward the power plant, with measured, purposeful steps, until you are roughly ten feet from the fence. Stop, turn, and look down the strip of unused land between the plant and the woods. Don't focus your eyes, but don't try to unfocus them, either. Do you understand."
"Yes," she said. "I know what you mean. I've done this before." With that, she made off in the direction of the power plant. I saw her stop, turn, and stand motionless in front of the path. It was quite late, almost midnight, and most of the lights were off- she was little more than a dark figure, casting a pale shadow under the greenish light of a nearby arc-sodium.
I saw her take a sudden step backward. Then another. Then she hesitated, as if she wanted to see something more. Apparently, she was not pleased by what she saw, and turned, walking back to where I stood (again, with measured steps. I had to admire that). Her eyes were wide.
"There's something in there."
"It was looking at me."
"I didn't even KNOW we had a power plant."
"What did it look like to you?"
"What I saw, you mean?"
"Sort of...transluscent. It was more like a flash in my mind than something I actually saw."
"Yes. Defining features?"
"Sort of...shifting...clothed in something..."
"Actually, I imagine it looked like an old woman, clothed in rags."
"Yes! That's exactly it!"
"Is it? Why, then, could you not identify it until I said so?"
She looked confused. "I...I mean..."
"Perhaps because it didn't look like anything at all until I suggested that?"
"Perhaps your theories about how things work need a bit of polishing?"
She shook her head. "Let's talk about this, but not here. I feel like I'm being watched."
After a brief discussion, we settled on the clock tower, being that this was the closest structure to both our homes. Sarah was thinking madly, I could see that, and when she finally spoke, I got the impression that she was choosing her words carefully.
"You claim that your own impression of what I saw back there actually changed how it looked?"
"In a sense. I mean that people see what they want to see. I think a lot of things, like that, are influenced by how people look at and interpret them. It's all interesting, to say the least."
"Yes." She paused. "You know, Blake, that most places aren't like this. You can't just go somewhere and see a ghost! It doesn't work like that."
"Normally," I said, "I would agree with you. But Serwood is different." The arc sodium above us went out. "You see? This place has a great sense of timing."
"Mm. Yes it does." We stopped before the clock tower (a massive eighty-foot monument to frivolous spending) and regarded each other. "I'd like to come back here tomorrow, about the same time," she said. "Take some pictures, that sort of thing."
"Bring a lot of film," I said cryptically.
"All right. Meet you here tomorrow, same time?"
I nodded. It was time to get to work.
We met at the tower, as planned, and went strolling down the narrow concrete path behind Vargas and Mitsch halls. She had her camera- a high-focus manual job any photographer would be proud of- slung over one shoulder. A large black carrying case that could not rightly be called a purse hung from the other.
"That looks quite impressive," I said, gesturing toward the camera.
"You have no idea. Remind me some time to show you one of the pictures I got using this."
"Some time," I said. "Show me the pictures you got using that."
She rolled her eyes. "How utterly helpful."
"That's me," I said.
We walked in comparative silence for some time.
"So," said Sarah. "What other places are we visiting tonight?"
I gave her an appraising glance. "What makes you think I had other places in mind?"
"Don't give me that," she said. "I knew the second you said 'bring lots of film' that you had plans. Of course, YOU just confirmed them..."
I had to give it to her: She was right. AND she did a good impression of me.
"Fair enough. I have a few spots in mind."
I gave up. "There is an odd stone statue near the northern boundaries of the campus I want you to see, as well as a curious patch of earth, Stebbins Hall, and Beneficence."
The light above us went out.
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.