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‘If you speak to us after,’ says Uncle Randy, ‘we can arrange a time to come out to your place for a thorough investigation. Once we bring our equipment and test the area, we’ll know exactly what’s happening.’

And that’s when I heard Stella for the first time.

‘Ha!’ erupted a cackle from the rear auditorium darkness. I could tell it made everyone immediately uncomfortable by the sudden reactions. People in the crowd looked at each other first like they didn’t know what to do. Dad squinted his eyes the way he does when he’s reading the newspaper and too lazy to get up and get his glasses. Uncle Randy’s face looked scared and annoyed at the same time.

Ted always loves drama and he immediately shined a spotlight on the area where the laugh came from. There she was. A teenage girl with purple hair and a lip ring. She was the sort of girl that Dad would say has problems and tell me to stay away from. She looks like one of those kids that listens to Marilyn Manson and writes poems about pain.

No one seems to know what to do and I’m sort of enjoying it. I’ve never seen anything like this happen before. The people that come to see Dad and Uncle Randy speak never challenge them, they’re sheep really. They’re just looking for someone to lead them, someone to tell them what happens when you die because they’re afraid. But the girl in the back that’s laughing at them all, she doesn’t seem like she’d be scared of anything.

Uncle Randy’s face is turning the colour of the beet juice that Dad makes me drink for extra iron, I’m anaemic. Maybe his face is a little more red than purple though. Regardless of the exact shade his skin is turning, it’s easy to tell that he’s super pissed off.

‘I’m sorry, does someone back there have a question?’ he asks running his fingers through his greasy hair and curling his eyebrows.

‘Nope,’ says the girl and the audience is starting to whisper.

‘Oh ok,’ says Uncle Randy trying to come off cool and in control. ‘I just thought I heard something from back there.’

‘Maybe it was a ghost,’ says the girl who’s resting a pair of black laced knee high boots on the row of seats in front of her. The collar of her shirt is ripped and you can see one of her shoulders.

Dad can tell that Uncle Randy is fuming and doesn’t want him to lose it. There’s only been one time that Uncle Randy lost it during one of their talks. It was when some guy in his thirties took the microphone during question time and said that Dad and Uncle Randy are fakes. The guy was wearing a suit and started threatening to sue. He said that they have no right trying to play God and prove there’s life after death. Dad tried calming the guy down and saying that’s not what ghost hunting is about. When the guy wouldn’t let up, Uncle Randy screamed at him. Afterwards we found out the guy’s wife had died of cancer a few weeks earlier he had tried to contact us to go to his place and see if anything was picked up. Everyone ended up feeling bad about the whole thing.

‘If there’s something you’d like to ask,’ says Dad to the girl, ‘we’re happy to try and help. But if there isn’t, we might just let someone else have a turn.’

‘What do you believe?’ asks the girl. She’s sitting so far away and for some reason I can still tell that she has green eyes. It’s like they’re glowing in the dark.

Someone sneezes and since it’s so quiet, you’d think a train just came rushing through. The whispers haven’t stopped.

‘I’m sorry,’ says Dad. ‘I’m not sure what you mean.’

‘Why are you doing this?’ asks the girl. ‘Don’t you know that some of them don’t want to be found? They’re not supposed to be found.’

Uncle Randy puts his mic down and he’s saying something to Dad that no one can hear. I’m sitting close enough to pick up a work here and there and none of them are ones that I’m allowed to say.

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