Zoinks! by Dale Culp
A WebFiction Published Thrice Weekly
The enthralling, true tale of a trans girl just trying to get by and make the most of her life.
Also, she hunts ghosts and occasionally solves mysteries.
New to Zoinks!? Start at the beginning.
Chapter 2 - Act 5 - "Mama's Got a Brand New Bag"
It's 9 o'clock on a Saturday. The irregular crowd shuffles in. There's an old man standing next to me, and he says that his name is Harlan.
We're somewhere outside Wilkes-Barre. It's freezing and starting to flurry. I pull up the hood on my coat and pull it a little tighter around my head.
"You're almost here on time," Philip says as he approaches me.
"You said 9 pm."
"I said 'around 9 pm.' It's customary to be 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled shift so that you're ready to work precisely at your scheduled time."
"Wow. Holy shit, Philip. Chill out!"
Philip stares me straight in the eye. "Take this camera, and start shooting."
"I'd love to start shooting... only not with a camera."
"Just start recording. That means push the red the button; the one under the index finger on your right hand."
"Oh, gosh... me dumb girl. Me not ever operate camera before... DUHHHHH," I mock, as I flip Philip the bird.
Philip glares at me, then takes a few steps back to get into frame. "Am I centered? Are we ready to go? Do you think you can take this just a little seriously?"
"Yeah, whatever. Go ahead," I say.
Philip combs his fingers through his hair and then looks over at his brother, Howard, who's chomping at the bit to be on camera. "Fine, you can be on camera this time. Come here," he says as he pulls Howard into frame with him. Howard squeals with joy.
"I, Philip Shepherd Bumpus, accompanied by my brother and fellow investigator, Howard Jean Bumpus, are on the site of a structure built in the 1800s that is widely rumored to be rife with paranormal activity. We've brought along our new-hire -- camerawoman Lucy Ferr -- and also noted historian and author, Harlan Blake. We are here to embark upon a bold new search for the truth... The truth of life ...after DEATH!"
I'm ready to puke after this hammed-up display of overacting, but I manage to keep it down. Philip then addresses the rest of the team, "Are we ready to begin?"
Howard signals his readiness with a thumbs-up. Harlan drops his cigarette, crushes it out with his boot and nods at Philip. I just shrug, and grunt out a, "Meh..."
Philip then comes in close to say something to me. For a moment, I assume he's grown a backbone and is about to chew me out, but he doesn't.
"I almost forgot to tell you... If you have any cell phones or other electronic devices, I suggest leaving them in your car," he says.
"Uh, no thanks. I'm not going anywhere near the creepy house without my cell phone; especially not with you in there," I tell him.
"I must warn you, if you choose this course of action, I can't be held responsible for what might happen," he counters.
Howard suddenly breaks in. "It's because we might have to use... THIS." He produces a small black box with a red button on it.
"And what, pray tell, is that?" I ask.
"An electro-magnetic pulse generator," Philip says. "Go ahead, get it on camera. Make sure to focus on it. It's our latest tool in the investigation of the paranormal."
"An EMP generator? You mean, like a... like a nuclear bomb?" I ask.
"Kind of," he says. "It operates on the same principle."
I nearly drop the camera in shock. "Wait a sec! Are you telling me... that this sucker... is NUCLEAR?"
"Hey, hey, hey! Keep rolling. Keep rolling there," Philip demands. "No, no, no, no, no, this sucker's electrical! It simply generates a 1.21 gigawatt pulse that is specifically tuned to repel spectral apparitions."
"Uh... come again?" I ask.
"It scares ghosts away!" Howard shouts, gleefully.
"You know what, I think I will leave my phone in the car. In fact, I think I'll leave myself in the car, as well."
"Wait! We have these!" Howard says, as he shows me what looks suspiciously like an electrostatic bag we use to pack PC components in for shipping at work. "FCBs!"
I look over at Philip incredulously. "...Philip, did you steal these from work?"
"It's a... uh... a Faraday Cage Bag!" Howard explains. "Just put your phone in there and it should protect your phone from the EMP."
"Well, it should... in theory," Philip says.
"In theory...? So, you don't even know?" I ask.
"We've never actually tested any of this stuff," Philip says with a shrug.
"It's all... 'in theory'" Howard says, sadly, as he puts the bag away and kicks at the dirt on the ground.
I sigh deeply. "Fine... whatever. Gimme the bag..."
- This act runs WAY too long, but there's no way I was cutting out that sweet BttF reference. In fact, the whole act was written just to put it in there.