Ellie was in the living room with Matt when Ryan led Sonam and Dan into the house. Matt was doing some nerdy maths shit with a thing that looked like a gramophone needle with a pencil attached to it and a really long piece of paper. Something to do with ghosts. But then again, pretty much all of the stuff they’d brought was to do with ghosts.
They’d scouted out the best room for their investigations almost as soon as they’d got in. It was fairly simple; the living room was huge and had loads of armchairs so they could muck about while they waited for the spirits to get their act together, plus a huge dinner table where Matt had enough space to do his geek stuff, or whatever.
Herself, Ellie had gone to the coffee table in the middle of a circle of two armchairs and one sofa, and had started to dust it off. Well, she said dust it off. Really, she’d just got the sleeve of her jumper and swiped the grime off. It was about an inch thick and made her clothes really gross, but it was all in the name of Intrepid Paranormal Discovery, and she had a coupon for the dry-cleaners, so it was fine.
Anyhow, when Sonam and Dan finally got in, she was just setting up the Ouija board, her arm scrabbling around in the huge box for the planchette.
“Hey.” She said as they entered the room and dumped their bags on the sofa with everybody else’s kit.
The two of them returned the greeting, and started pulling crap out of their bags. Dan had a whole bunch of test tubes and beakers and flasks and little bottles of liquid that presumably did something. Ellie had no idea what they did, but it had to be something. Honestly, she didn’t really care about Dan’s lotions and potions, she was more interested in getting this damn planchette out of the box!
“You could just turn the box upside down, you know.” Dan suggested, poking the glasses back up his nose in that irritating way he’d developed recently. He probably thought it was cute. Ugh.
Ellie withdrew her arm and spun the box the other way up. The planchette fell into her lap with a self-satisfied plop. She felt like she should be grateful to Dan, but she ended up only giving him a Look, and it wasn’t a very nice Look at all.
Thinking about it, Ellie had no idea why she hated Dan. No, actually, hated was too strong a word for it. Just, everything he did grated at her, like he was the personification of fingernails dragged down a blackboard. Maybe it was the way he talked, like a proper Harrow brat, or the way he wrote like he was from the 16th century, or the way he always dressed like he was going out to dinner with someone he wanted to have an impact on. Ellie understood the phrase ‘dress to impress’, but Dan always took it too far. Also he was always right, and Ellie couldn’t
“‘Sup?” Sonam said, coming to sit beside her.
“‘Sup.” Ellie replied.
See, Sonam, she was about ten times better than Dan, in Ellie’s opinion. She didn’t dress or act like a twat, for starters, and she didn’t come from some stick-up-the-arse boarding school like Dan did. Ten times better.
Ellie couldn’t actually remember what Sonam was studying, quite honestly. She felt like it could have been Physics or something, because she once said she had a tutorial with a professor who sounded physics-y, and also she had that really nerdy EMF metre. The very same EMF metre that was the reason Ryan had asked her out here tonight.
Speaking of that nerdy crap, that’s what Sonam was pulling out of her bag. It wasn’t a tiny handset like you saw on TV, it was a proper big thing, almost the size of Sonam’s entire rucksack. There were little LEDs and knobs all over it, and it looked like something pulled right out of ‘Back To The Future’, all 80s-like.
“Where the hell did you get that thing?” Ellie asked, reaching over to poke it.
Sonam slapped her hand away. “It’s kind of a family… uh, what’s the word? Heirloom. Family heirloom. My nan gave to my dad when she died, and when he died, he gave it to me. I’m going to give it to my kids one day, and they’re going to have mad ghost adventures too.”
“Nice.” Ellie said, eloquently.
“Yeah.” Sonam said. “Can you give me a hand getting it over to Matt? It’s heavy as.”
Ellie nodded, and grabbed one of the sides of the thing while Sonam held the other. They lifted it together, and Ellie’s knees almost buckled.
“Jesus, what’s this thing got in it, bricks? How did you even get it over here?” Ellie gasped, desperately clinging onto the EMF metre, praying she wouldn’t drop it.
“I bribed a mugger.” Sonam said simply, and wow, Ellie didn’t even want to know the story behind that.
“That’s… cool.” Ellie said hesitantly, through gritted teeth as they hauled the huge thing onto Matt’s table.
“Thank you.” Matt said. Or at least, that might have been what he said. He was so tangled in wires and reels of paper that it could have been anything.
“Want me to give you a hand hooking it up?” Sonam asked, bobbing around, trying to see him through the mess.
“Yes.” Matt said, emerging from his cocoon. “Get the blue wire and put in the ATG hole.”
“Yup.” Sonam nodded, and started pulling wires around. This was a girl, Ellie thought, who knew exactly what she was doing. Sonam may not have been the most sophisticated person around - not that Ellie was herself - but she was smart as hell. Ellie had learnt that pretty soon after she’d met her.
Just then, Ryan came in, frowning at his phone. “Cindy’s not coming.” He said, flopping down in an armchair and dropping his phone on the coffee table. It spun on the smooth surface and knocked loudly against the Ouija board.
“What? How come?” Ellie asked, moving the phone away from the board. She didn’t want anything to mess with her chances of communing with the dead, not even Ryan’s dumb brick phone.
Ryan shrugged. “She said she got food poisoning.”
Ellie sucked in sharply. “Ooh, that’s rough.”
“Especially because she was going to bring the microphone and cameras.” Matt called over, not even looking up from his work. “Now how are we going to prove the ghosts?”
“Prove the ghosts?” Ellie giggled, doing air-quotes around the words.
Matt threw something at her, a bundle of loose wires. She ducked and it hit the sofa behind her. “No.” He said.
“We have our phone cameras,” Ryan said, running a hand through his hair. “I guess.”
“They’ll hardly work as undeniable evidence, though. At least, mine won’t. My phone camera’s terrible.” Dan put in. “Anyway, Ryan, you don’t have a camera-phone. And Matt, didn’t yours break earlier this year?” He turned to Ellie. “What’s your camera like?”
“Pretty shit.” Ellie said, truthfully. “Sonam?”
Sonam grinned, looking as though the planets had aligned perfectly, just for her. “Well, I have some good news and some great news. The good news is, my phone’s camera is amazing. The great news is,” She paused dramatically and waited.
“Come on, Son, tell.” Ellie said impatiently, internally tapping her foot.
Sonam’s Cheshire grin grew wider. “I brought extra cameras.”