Have you ever had someone tell you something that was simply too difficult to believe without proof? The last thing Echo Simmons wants to do is willingly interact with ghosts, but this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. If she wants help, she’ll have to prove the ghosts are real.
Unedited Excerpt From
THE GHOST HOST
“Echo, I’m Dr. Rosemond. I’ll be assisting Agent Morton with your testing. I have some paperwork to go over with you before we begin.”
As Dr. Rosemond explains the risks of each test—which are minimal—and goes over some stuff about confidential information and all that. She seems to honestly enjoy what she does. Clearly, she’s never had to deal with ghosts face to face or she’d have different feelings on the matter. Finally, I sign my name three or four times.
There’s open space around me with about a dozen different devices positioned in a ring around me. One of the interns, or whoever they are, sticks a bunch of monitor wires all over me, and then we seem to be set. “So, what exactly do you want me to do?” I ask Agent Morton.
“Basically, we’ll run you through a few exercises to see how accurate you are in locating spirits.”
I scrunch my face at him because that seems like a stupid thing to ask me to do since I can see them, but I realize they have to “prove” I can see them.
“Are there any spirits present now?” Agent Morton asks. Dr. Rosemond’s eyes are as bright and alert as a dog waiting to have the ball thrown.
I don’t really need to look, but I do a quick scan to see how many are hanging about. I’m only vaguely surprised to see five ghosts present—some of my regulars—are hanging back behind the monitoring equipment. I can’t help wondering if they know what this is all about.
“There are five here right now, but they’re all standing outside the range of the equipment,” I explain.
“Can you encourage them to come closer,” Dr. Rosemond asks.
Grimacing, I want to tell her that’s the last thing I want to do, but this will all be for nothing if I don’t. Lifting one of my hands, I point to one of the ghosts that has been with me the longest. She used to stand over my crib when I was little and make me laugh. I motion for her to come forward. She hesitates, and I wonder if any of this stuff hurts ghosts. I can’t imagine how it would, so I say, “Liza, it’s okay. They just want to run a few tests.”
I trust Liza not to do something crazy, and apparently she trusts me enough not to try and hurt her. She steps into the circle and approaches me slowly. No alarm bells go off to indicate there’s a ghost inside the circle, but from the corner of my eye I see several members of the team getting excited.
“Echo, can you give us the exact location of Liza?” Agent Morton asks.
“She’s standing to my left, by my knee, about a foot away,” I tell him. He writes something down and nods.
That’s pretty much how the rest of the morning goes. Hours later, I’m about to ask if we’re almost done when the one ghost I didn’t want to see today steps into view.
“No, no, no, no, no,” I start whispering frantically. I don’t say it out loud, but in my head I’m begging him to go away, to just disappear for a while. As if he knows exactly what I’m asking for, he cocks his head to the side and ignores me.
Heads pop up as one of the cameras fritzes out with a pop and puff of smoke. Something starts beeping as he crosses into the circle. Thanks to the monitors stuck all over me, I’m sure they can all see my pulse skyrocketing.
“Echo, what’s going on?” Agent Morton asks.
I want to answer him, but I press myself into the back of my chair when Archer keeps coming toward me. “Go away, please,” I beg him, which seems to be the exact wrong thing to say.
A blast of cold hits me. Frost begins to forms beneath his insubstantial feet. One blurry arm reaches forward. I want to scream, but I keep my mouth shut as tightly as I can. He doesn’t touch me, but he touches one of the wires connected to me and I yelp as it shorts out and zaps me.
Almost as though he’s startled, he pulls back and drops the wire. “That hurt,” I snap as I glare at him. He cocks his head to the side again. I’m not sure if he’s confused, or just staring at me. When his hand reaches out again, I really start to panic. “Don’t touch me. Please don’t touch me again.”
I’m begging, but I don’t care. My eyes squeeze shut as his hand moves closer. Don’t scream. Don’t scream. I hold my body rigid, waiting for the assault, but all I feel is ice against my cheek. My eyes snap open when it vanishes, hoping he’s left, but instead, I see him standing in front of me, a frozen tear balanced on his finger. My hand presses to my cheek to find a few more frozen and quickly melting tears.
Archer bows his head, and then he’s gone. I look around, startled and afraid he isn’t really gone, but he’s nowhere to be seen. I start yanking wires off my body as I struggle to breathe normally. Malachi is there in a flash, ripping off sticky tabs and pulling me into his arms. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine. I’m fine,” I say in a rush. I close my eyes, wanting to block out everything but Malachi. Agent Morton’s voice pulls me out of his protective embrace.
“Echo, what just happened? The readings we got were nothing like earlier.” Dr. Rosemond looks flat out excited, but Agent Morton is clearly concerned.