It took an hour, but Sarah eventually conned her misled comrade into letting go of a whopping great basketful of electronics, the purpose of which I could only guess at. It looked very complicated.
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"Sarah," I said, during a break in the conversation, "Could I talk to you outside, please?"
"Hmm? Oh, sure, Blake. Just a second, Alex." We stepped out into the hallway, and she pulled the door shut. "Okay, Blake. What?"
"What exactly the fuck do you think you're doing?"
"I'm getting equipment to film our ghost. Have you forgotten that already?"
"Did I not ask you on the way here to PLEASE not give away our purpose to anyone else?"
"You did. I ignored you."
For a moment, everything swam away black. When the world returned, I noticed that Sarah had backed away several steps, and was looking at me with what I could only call ill-concealed fear.
I tilted my head. "What's wrong?"
"You, you looked odd for a second."
"I don't know. Like you were very very angry, and about to do something horrible." She shrugged. "Could have been my imagination."
I sneered. "Mind you, I AM angry. And though I will not do something horrible, there may be others who do not share my sensibilites."
"Nothing. I'll talk to you about it later."
"Er. OK. Can we go back in now?"
By the time everything was ready, I had a plan. Strike that, I had a good idea. Plans have a notorious habit of falling apart when you most need them. Better to have a really good idea and just run with it. See what happens.
"Alex," I said. "Do you think you could put off work long enough to accompany us, help us set everything up?"
"Er, I don't think-"
"He's right," Sarah said. "We ought to have you along, to help us with everything. Besides, don't you want to see it all firsthand?"
"Well, yes..." Alex was wavering, pulled in different directions by- alternately- the magnetism of seeing a real live ghost, and his own commitment to the newspaper. I'd like to think that, in the end, it was Sarah who gave him the extra push. I think he secretly covets her.
"So will you come with us? Please?" Sarah gave him what I can only think of as big googly puppydog eyes.
"Yes, yes, okay. I'll come with you." The decision made, Alex's small, pale features relaxed. The guy really looked like a high-school kid, despite being older than Sarah. I don't imagine knowing this would help his confidence much. "Can we get going now-ish, please? I want to get everything ready before dark."
Technology is not my field of expertise. I watched from afar, as Sarah and Alex pieced together a contraption that literally bristled with wires and plugs and switches, and- supposedly- even had a camera buried somewhere in it. This process took the better part of four hours, and took place in the Pruiss Hall private bathrooms, as the library was still being used during the day (damn college students). Once set up- on a cute little trolley no less- they wheeled it out into the hallway, looked both ways, and made off for the library.
Once a thing looks complicated enough NO ONE, not even a professor or janitor, will touch it- for fear of offending the Gods of Technology. Lord knows they're pissed off enough at me. So it was that Alex's important machines remained safe and happily unmolested near the card catalogue, while we killed some time by catching a Romero Movie Marathon a couple of classrooms down.
Around elevenish, we again poked our heads into the library, found some girl studying biology, and cursed the luck. We went back, watched half of Creepshow, and poked our heads in again around twelvish. Nobody.
I busied myself with gathering a few of the books I wanted, while the other two set up the machinery and said crytic things like 'I think you've got the outlets crossed' and 'You can't span the global power cufflink without a D/C spammer or ampule of pheradine'. Mind you, I am paraphrasing here.
Eventually, all was in readiness, and Sarah clipped a smallish, mechanical box to her belt. "All right, let's get gone."
We walked. We talked.
"So, Mr. Blake," said Alex, "What do you do?"
I was already getting tired of this question. "I work with the disturbed," I said again.
"Don't believe it, Alex," said Sarah, the cause of all the day's woes. "He'll twist and turn like a...twisty-turny thing, and you'll end up knowing less than you did when you asked him the question. No, Mr. Blake is very secret about who he is and what he does. He takes it really seriously, too, like he was James Bond. It's almost funny."
I closed my eyes and counted backwards from ten.
"What do you mean, Sarah?" Alex was looking worriedly back and forth between the both of us (I'd opened my eyes by now), and was shying slowly toward Sarah, intent either on recieving protection from her or driving her into the bushes, it was hard to say which.
"Sarah," I said. "Why are you doing this?"
"Because you won't tell me the truth," she said. "And I don't LIKE that. So I will make your life miserable until you decide to tell me what's really going on here. Do you understand?"
Sadly, I did. "Sarah, I agreed to have this conversation with you. Why do you have to do this? Are you THAT much of a spoiled brat that you can't wait even a few days to know something?"
"Shut up! I don't know who you are! I don't know where you live! For all I know, you could leave tomorrow, change your phone number, and I'd never get to know! I WANT to know what this is all about, Blake! I KNOW it's important, I can feel that, and I'm so afraid of missing out on the whole thing, so stop lying to me and TELL ME WHAT IS GOING ON!"
For a long moment, there was silence.
"Very well," I said. "I will tell you. But not here."
"Beneficence. No one will be listening there."
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.