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“Mr. Ryan,” Sir Nolan said. He waved his hands in a flourish and bowed. He rolled the R’s in Archer’s name, his English accent slipped off his tongue as smooth as silk. “How grand to finally meet you in person. I’d like to thank you for inviting my team into your home for the weekend. I am so excited to participate in this weekend’s paranormal investigation in this legendary house. We can’t wait to get started.” The silver-haired man walked through the door, his cape fluttered behind him in the face of a woman and two men.
“Nolan Knight,” Dr. Fran said. His face contorted with a scowl of distaste.
“That would be Sir Nolan Knight, Dr. Rogers. It seems the Queen holds me in higher regard than you.”
“So it would seem,” Dr. Fran said. He turned to Archer. “Mr. Ryan, I’m confused. What are Knight and his people doing here?”
“Well, as Terry said, your team concentrates on one aspect of a haunting, and I am interested in your results. But, I am also very interested in what Sir Nolan and his team has to offer on this, as they concentrate on a different aspect altogether,” Archer said. “Given the amount of history and notoriety associated with this house, I couldn’t leave the investigation to just one team to investigate in a skewed way. His team will investigate alongside you this weekend.”
“But, Mr. Ryan, I must protest,” Dr. Fran said. “I have a hard enough time stomaching that a team such as Knight’s even exist in the same industry, let alone the ridiculous amount of press and credibility they get. But, to force me to put up with their infernal tactics and trite theories for an entire weekend are out of the question.”
“I’m sorry, Dr. Fran, but they’re in. If you are not happy with it, the only solution I can offer you is to leave,” Archer said.
Sir Nolan walked towards Dr. Fran. “Really, Fran. This is not a civilized way to behave. We have worked in the same area before. We last worked together in Minnesota in that haunted farmhouse, right?”
“That farmhouse was not haunted,” Dr. Fran said.
“So you say, but we found tremendous evidence to the contrary,” Sir Nolan said. “Even your psychics told you something was going on. Of course, you do not listen to them. That’s not your modus operandi, is it?”
“You leave our techniques out of this, they work just fine,” Dr. Fran said.
“For someone like you, I suppose they are adequate,” Sir Nolan said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Dr. Fran bellowed.
“Well, you have to admit we are more successful and respected in this field than you,” Sir Nolan said.
“By what standards? Because you agree with every nut that sees a ghost in their basement?”
“Every nut, eh?” Nolan said. “Your former President Reagan made a statement once about the ghost of Abraham Lincoln in the White House. Is he a nut?”
Dr. Fran cleared his throat.
“Quite right,” Nolan said. He turned his back to Dr. Fran. “Mr. Ryan, may I introduce my team. As you know, I call my organization PRETA, the Paranormal Research Evaluation and Termination Association.”
Sir Nolan pointed to a tall woman with dark red hair and a light complexion. “This is Larissa Schoenborn,” Sir Nolan said. He looked at Dr. Fran with a smirk. “Dr. Larissa Schoenborn, full professor of Sociology at Hofstra University in New York. A published author on the subject of the paranormal, she specializes in haunted locations.”
Larissa smiled a side smile and shook Archer’s hand. “A pleasure to be here this weekend.”
“I remember you,” Dr. Lyman said. “You wrote a book on theories on how the dead live and organize themselves. I believe it had something to do with an alternate plane of existence in another universe, or something like that.”
“No, no,” Larissa said. “They live on this earth, but in another dimension invisible to anyone without sixth sense perception.”
“And where does Elvis live?” Dr. Baer said. A few stifled laughs around the room broke the silence.
Larissa forced a smile. “The scientific community greeted Einstein with the same sarcasm at first as well.”
“Next, I’d like to introduce Clifton Stefani,” Nolan said as he pointed to a rugged man with light brown hair and a long smooth face stepped up. He wore a green flannel lumberjack shirt, dirty blue jeans, and hiking boots with dried mud on the sides.
“Nice to meet you,” he said with a strong Tennessee accent.
“Clifton is our adventurer, and spends a great deal of his own time in the Pacific Northwest where he studies Bigfoot,” Nolan said.
John Silver covered his mouth as he giggled. “Bigfoot?” He asked. “Does anyone still believe in that?”
Clifton stepped over to John and leaned down nose to nose. “Yes, someone does, Pencil-Neck. And I’d ask you to mind your Yankee manners before I mind them for you.”
John sunk in his chair. “Okay, sure,” he said.
“And lastly, we have Vivek Rushdan,” Nolan said. “He is our electronics expert. He has designed and built all our equipment.”
“Awesome, good to meet you,” Vivek said. He looked around the table, his smile wide. “Don’t worry, I get that all the time. I surprise people when I talk like a surfer. My parents are from India but I’m from Silicon Valley.”
“I remember some of your gadgets,” Dr. Fran said. “You were working with one up in Minnesota that flashed and beeped every time you approached water. What exactly did it do?”
“Let’s just say I’ve perfected it since then,” Vivek said. “And as to what it does, well, if I have to explain it to you, then you just wouldn’t understand.”
The people in the room remained silent. The palpable silence filled the room.
Dr. Fran cleared his throat. “Nolan, I don’t know whether we have room for you. We’ve taken up the Ballroom.”
“We prefer the basemen, Dr. Fran,” Nolan said. “And we’re already setup.”
Dr. Fran sighed. “Then it looks like we’re ready to go,” he said.
“The game’s afoot,” Nolan said.
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