The Group Of Seven

6 – The Traveller Returns

Over at Jessica's, while she was sound sleep, Jessica had a dream that she was at the old mill house back in the 1800’s. She watched the stranger arrive and was watching everything happen as it was written in the notebook, right from the accident, to the soldiers arriving, and she even saw Mr. Johnson walking to the shed out back with a bag of coins. She did have some scenes play out a little different. Her dream seemed to jump from time period to time period, as the furnishings in the house were getting nicer, and more of them. Then she dreamed that there were some small bags of gold coins sitting on the table as the Sheriff road up. The father went out to meet him and told his wife to hide the coins. A few moments later the Sheriff and father walked into the house. The mother was by the stove boiling water.

“Hello Sheriff, would you like a cup of tea?”

“I’d love a cup” then looking at the father “and a little something stronger on the side wouldn’t be bad”.

The father got up and pulled a bottle of whiskey from the side board. He grabbed two glasses and sat back down at the table. He poured some for the Sheriff and some for himself.

“To your families health” said the Sheriff as he lifted his glass.

“And to your families as well” said the father.

They drank their whiskey and put the glasses down on the table. The mother finished pouring the two cups of tea and placed them on the table. As she did, she was listening to the Sheriff “so like I was saying, the rumours of the stolen gold coins being hidden around these parts seem to be getting more and more popular. Just make sure that you keep an eye out for any suspicious looking strangers that may come snooping around your property, or your neighbour’s places.”

“Don’t worry Sheriff, if I see anyone we’ll let you know as soon as possible,” said the father.

The two talked for a little while longer about the gold, the weather and any other topic that came up. The Sheriff finished his tea and another glass of whiskey before saying goodnight to the Johnson’s.

As the Sheriff was riding off, the father walked up to the wife and asked where she had hidden the coins. She was just beginning to tell him where, when Jessica was awoken by her phone.

She grabbed it and noticed it was a message from William with an attachment. She was so frustrated she didn’t even bother to read it. She put the phone back down and tried to fall back asleep to see if she could get back to her dream and pick it up where it left off. Whether or not she was able to get back to her dream it didn’t matter since the next thing she realized it was morning and she didn’t remember anything else from her dream after the phone woke her.

She rolled over and started to hit her pillows with her fists saying, “I am going to get you for this William.” She then sat up and started to get ready for school.

She went downstairs and was eating her breakfast that her mother had made for her. When she was about half way through, her mother started the same old conversation she has for the last few months with Jessica: “Why don’t you join a group at school like the cheer leading squad or something?”

Jessica, without lifting her head from her plate answered back, “Why can’t you let me be happy with the friends I have? You always try to make me do what you couldn’t when you were in school. Not everyone dreams of being on the cheer leading squad. Everyone is different. I tell you that every time we have this conversation.”

Her mother responded, “But honey, how can chasing after things that don’t exist with a bunch of kids really make you happy?”

Jessica just turned to her, saying “I am very happy with what I do and with who I do it with, period. Just because you’re so closed minded that you cannot accept something as being real doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I have to get going or I’ll be late.”

Jessica stood up from the table and walked off to finish getting ready for school. As she was grabbing her books off the counter she turned to her mother, “I’m sorry I snapped Mom, but I just wish you could let me live my life the way I want. We aren’t doing anything wrong or hurting anyone.”

Her mother responded, “I know honey. I’m sorry too. I just forget sometimes that you’re a young lady and I really shouldn’t try to change who or how you are. You know I love you?”

Jessica: “I love you too Mom. I’ll see you after school.”

The most of the other kids had already arrived at school. They were standing around by a large tree discussing what they’ve discovered so far about the Anderson house on the edge of town. Matthew was talking about how little tangible evidence they had actually found. William and the girls were disputing this, saying that they had far too many personal experiences to right off the investigation as a waste of time.

As Jessica was getting closer to school she saw William talking to Matthew, Sarah and Alexis. She walked up to William, and as he said “Good morning”, she punched him in the arm.

William: “What was that for?”

Jessica: “Last night I had a dream about the old house back in the 1800’s, and what I dreamt was that the wife hid the gold somewhere in the house. Just before she could tell the husband where it was, I was woken up by my cell phone beeping that I had a text.”

The other kids started to laugh. Matthew couldn’t help himself: “It was just a dream Jessica, there’s no gold in that house. Next thing you’re going to tell us is there’s a vault full of cash in the pantry in a hidden room?”

William shook his head at Matthew then turned back to Jessica: “Did you even look at the email?”

Jessica: “No, I was too angry that it woke me up.”

William: “Well then perhaps you should. It’s a cleaned up image of what we saw in the house.”

Jessica took out her cell phone and looked at the message with the title “Check this out”. As soon as she opened the attachment, her faced turned white and she yelled out, “Oh my god, it’s the traveller!”

The other kids became silent. William asked her “What do you mean, it’s the traveller?”

Jessica: “It’s the traveller from my dream. He’s the man who stole the money from the train and then was injured at the mill before he was taken away and killed by the soldiers. I’d recognize his moustache anywhere.”

Sarah: “But how could you know what he looked like, there were no photos taken of him?”

Matthew: “It’s just a dumb coincidence. There is no way you could know what he really looks like. And I am not convinced that’s a picture of anyone.”

Alexis: “You don’t think there’s really still gold in that house do you?”

William: “That would explain why the ghost is still hanging around there, trying to get what he believes is rightfully his.”

Matthew: “Are you guys listening to yourselves? You’re treating this dream she had like it was from a news reel she saw on TV last night.”

The school bell rang just as Jacob was coming up to them, so they had to rush off to class. Matthew shouted to Jacob, “You look like you haven’t slept all night little buddy. You better hurry or you’ll be late.” Jacob just looked up at Matthew and started running a little to make it to class.

William and Jessica were in the same classes, and as they entered the room they noticed the teacher was not at his desk. They sat down and Jessica turned to William to discuss where the gold might be hidden. As she looked at William, he got a strange look on his face and was sitting there with his mouth partially open. She noticed his eyes were following something across the room and turned to see what it was. As she turned to the front of the class, she saw a very attractive lady walking across the room and put her purse down on the teacher’s desk and walk up to the white board and start writing her name.

“Good morning class, I’m going to be your substitute for today, Miss Waters, but you can just call me Brenda.”

Jessica turned to William and said, “Close your mouth, what are you trying to catch flies?”

William just shot Jessica a strange grin.

As Brenda was taking the row call, she was trying to put the faces to the names. When she called Jessica’s name and she looked up and said “here”, Brenda had a curious look come over her face for a couple seconds before she continued on with the other names.

Being her first day at the school, and given that most students don’t pay much attention to substitutes anyway, Brenda decided to give the students a study period as long as they weren’t too loud.

Brenda would constantly look over at Jessica and William, and on a couple occasions Jessica noticed her turn away real fast when she looked up, like Brenda didn’t want to see her staring at her. She mentioned this to William, but he just said, “You’re imagining it. Why would she be looking at us?”

When the first class was over, Brenda suggested they take a ten minute break, then when they return they can have a discussion to start the next class. The students were happy to take an early break.

As the students were leaving the class, some of the girls seemed annoyed with how the boys were staring at the substitute. “She’s almost old enough to be your mother”, one girl said. Then a boy responded, “We know that, but most teachers do not typically look like that.” The girls did agree on that, as she was more like a model then a typical substitute teacher they were used to having, and some of the girls had admitted to staring at her for the same reason.

As the students walked back into class, they noticed that there were some lines drawn on the white board with words at the top of each column: Normal, Special, Strange and Fear. Brenda waited until all the students had returned to their seats then she began to speak; “Okay class, you can see I have some rows on the board with different descriptions on them. I want you to tell me what comes to your mind when I say ‘Normal’.”

One student yelled out, “Not finishing homework.”

The class busted into laughter, including Brenda. “Very funny” said Brenda, “but I want you to give me some serious answers to what you consider ‘Normal’.”

The students started shouting out answers: “surfing the web”, “boring”, “safe”, “hanging with friends”, “average”, “sane”, “routine”, “common”, “average”, “natural”.

“Those are all very good” said Brenda, “but I’m going to put hanging with friends under ‘Special’. Ok what comes to mind when I say ‘Special’?”

Once again the students started shouting out answers: “love”, “family”, “pizza” (a little laughter is heard), “sunshine”, “day at the beach”, “movie night”, “different”, “rare”, “secret”, “distinguished”.

“And what about ‘Strange’?” asked Brenda.

Students shouted back: “unfamiliar”, “bizarre”, “odd”, “different”, “eccentric”, “uncommon”.

“And what about ‘Fear’?” asked Brenda.

Students shouted back: “horror”, “concern”, “anxiety”, “apprehension”, “panic”, “terror”, “suspicious”, “scared”, “worry”.

Brenda looked at the board and started to talk, “some of the words are technical, and some are emotional, some were even comical. The real purpose of this exercise is to show you how diverse and unique you are as people. Some of you are technically minded, while others are more emotional. Even though you view the world in a similar way, you do not necessarily hang out together. All cliques or groups that are close will usually have dominant people of each type in the group. Of course there are multiple people of each type, but the dominant group members will be of different types.”

The class broke out in whispers then one student shouted, “That’s just weird”; and another shouted out, “Yeah, that’s just strange”.

Brenda just smiled and told the class, “I’ve studied Psychology, Physiology, Sociology, and Parapsychology”, and then a student interrupted “Isn’t that the study of ghosts?”

“Yes”, said Brenda, “but that is just a small part of it. I only studied it to satisfy my own curiosity. Basically though my point is that I have studied a lot on different human behaviour and that is why I knew this little test would work. I find it’s a great way to break the ice.”

Just then the lunch bell rang and all the students left the class, except for Jessica and William who were talking quietly amongst themselves until the last student left the room, then they went up to Brenda’s desk.

Jessica: “So you studied parapsychology. Do you believe ghosts are real?”

Brenda: “I know they are. I’ve seen far too much over the years not to believe in them. I not only learned about them in college, but I have had many personal experiences myself.”

William: “We saw one the other day at” (Jessica suddenly bumps his arm and shakes her head).

Brenda: “Why don’t you want William to tell me what you saw?”

Jessica: “It’s just that every time we talk about anything we’ve seen or heard, people act like we’re crazy or just imagined it.”

Brenda: “I doubt that I would think you’re crazy. But you do need to try to find rational solutions before you accept anything as paranormal.”¬

Jessica: “That’s what we do. We have a little club of seven of us and we try to look for supernatural or unexplained events. Once we find them, we all put our heads together trying to find rational explanations for it.”

Brenda: “Well that does sound interesting. I’ve been told that I will be needed as a substitute for at least the rest of the week. Maybe one day after school I could meet your group and perhaps give you some pointers?”

Jessica: “I think that’d be great, don’t you William?”

William just smiled and nodded his approval.

The two leave the room and catch up outside with the rest of the group by the large tree.

William: “Guys, you won’t believe the substitute we had this morning.”

Jessica: “Yeah. She’s an actual Parapsychologist. She studied it in college.”

Jacob: “You mean she studied like ghosts and stuff?”

William: “Yeah. And what’s even better is she wants to meet with us to discuss the case we are working on.”

Matthew: “Are you nuts? All we have is some stuff that people think they saw and no proof of anything. Why would you tell an adult what we’re doing? You know she probably thinks you guys are nuts and she’s sitting around telling the other teachers about these two kooks in her class.”

William: “Dude, why do you have to be such a jerk all the time? Just because you didn’t see what we saw doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

Matthew: “Then where’s the proof? Show me the picture.”

Jessica: “We showed you it this morning before class.”

Matthew: “What I saw was a picture that could have been the reflection of a flash or the sun bouncing off a mirror or window. Then it was manipulated until it showed an outline of a face.”

William: “Do you really think I would do that? Do you really think I would take an image and edit it to suite something I wanted?”

Matthew: “Not intentionally. But you guys are so sure what you saw was a ghost, that I think you are forgetting to be objective. You stopped looking for rational explanations.”

William: “You think I am not being objective, and I think you are being too closed minded.”

William pulls printouts of the image he cleaned up and hands one to each of the group members. The kids are amazed at what shows up in the photo. Even Matthew was staring at his copy with disbelief.

Jacob: “You sure you didn’t doctor this?”

Samantha: “Yeah, you used software to touch up this picture, right?”

William: “No, I swear all I did was tried to sharpen the image. When that didn’t work I tried playing with different viewing selections like sepia tone, pencil, water colour; but when I selected negative the image just jumped out of the area that was mostly a haze of light.”

Matthew: “If this is real, I apologize. When I saw the image on the phone that was so tiny, I couldn’t see any of this detail. I guess you guys really did see something, didn’t you? So who do we think this is again?”

Jessica: “Based on the vivid dream I had, I’d say it’s the traveller.”

Alexis: “And you can make a statement like that based on a dream?”

Jessica: “Yes, it’s more like a memory of a real event then a dream.”

Sarah: “That has got to be one of the most unsettling feelings? To know something is a dream because there is no way it could have happened to you, but to be able to recall it like it’s an actual memory? That would sure make things confusing.”

Jessica: “It does feel a little strange. But what I find even stranger is how it happened. It was like I was standing there watching what was going on, but no one saw me, like I was watching a movie or something.”

William: “I should give a copy of this to Miss Waters. I bet she’d find it interesting. She may even have some insight into how come it is so clear in a negative.”

Jessica: “Someone who actually studied ghost and stuff in a scientific environment, I think that could be a great learning experience for us. But maybe we should show her the picture when we meet with her after school?”

Jacob: “Yeah, an adult that doesn’t act like you’re nuts when you mention ghosts will sure be different. So what day will work for you guys?”

They group look at the different days of the week and what each has going on. They finally decide that Thursday will be the best day for everyone. They also agree that they will need to do more reviewing of their evidence and the strange image that William found before then.

William and Jessica headed back to class a bit earlier to discuss with Brenda if the day they decided on will work for her.

As they walked into the class, they saw Brenda looking at a notebook. Without even looking up she asked, “What time on Thursday will work good for you guys?”

William and Jessica looked at each other, stunned by what they just heard. Puzzled, Jessica looked back at Brenda and said, “Excuse me?”

Brenda looked up from the book and repeated, “What time after school on Thursday would you and your friends like to meet?”

Jessica: “How did you know that Thursday was the day we chose to meet with you? We just discussed it out in the field and I know there is no way you could have overheard us.”

Brenda: “I’ve always tried to use my own psychic abilities to answer my questions. I just use a special meditation I learned years ago then I ask the question. The real trick is to learn to listen to the answer and accept it, whether your mind agrees with it or not,”

William: “Could you teach us how to do that?”

Brenda: “We can go over the basics of it on Thursday.”

Jessica and William turned to return to their desks as the other students were returning from lunch break. Brenda waited until all students were back in their seats then started to speak, “Okay class, we had a bit of fun this morning but now it’s time to continue with your lessons. I’ve been informed that I will be here at least until the end of the week and I’d hate for you to fall behind.”

“Awwwwwwe” was heard from the students.

“I will see what I can do to come up with entertaining things we can do to lighten up the day in class for the rest of the week”, said Brenda. “For now, please continue on with your science lesson that you were given last week.”

After school the group of seven met outside by the large tree.

Matthew: “So did you talk to the sub?

William: “She said Thursday will work fine for her.”

Jessica: “Yeah, but she said it before we could tell her what day we decided on!”

“What?” was heard simultaneously from most of the group?

Jessica: “When we walked into the class room and up to her desk, she was looking through a notebook and didn’t even look up at us when she asked what time Thursday would work for us.”

Alexis: “Is she a witch or something?”

Jessica: “She said she uses her own psychic abilities to help her get answers for her questions.”

William: “Yeah and she’s going to teach us the meditation technique she uses before she asks the question.”

Matthew: “That sounds like it’d be real cool, if it would really work.”

The kids leave the school yard and head for home. They all agreed they’d meet back at Williams to go over there current case.

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