Nicolai Vetrov, or ‘Nico’, had been bullied through most of his years in school. Slight of build, fair-haired with blue-eyes, not to mention, of Russian descent, Nico was very shy. He was also a twenty-three year old virgin.
Twenty-one year old Cai ‘Cam’ Huan kept to himself, worked as a web designer, and considered himself an introvert to the extreme.
Both men were fascinated with the paranormal.
Although Nico had been to one group outing in Dayton, he didn’t like it. The members seemed well-established and it made him feel like an outsider.
When a new group appeared on the web- The O-Hell-O Paranormal Team, Nico gave his hobby another shot. He was online, reading the groups’ chatting, when he met Cam. They lived only a few miles apart so they connected immediately during an investigation.
Two men, identical inside, opposite outside, realize they have more in common than their love of hunting ghosts.
When you want answers to the mysteries of life, and death, sometimes you get caught up in what you’re truly looking for; love.
And with the O-Hell-O Paranormal Team, both Nico and Cam find out, there’s something greater than seeking the answers after death; and that’s finding kindred ‘spirits’, who were alive.
His coffee mug in hand, Nico sat at his kitchenette table and scrolled through his apps on his phone. He spotted some chatter on the OPT website and logged on. A couple of the new members were eager for their first outing, having missed last night at the covered bridge. A date had been set for their hunting expedition at the asylum; next Saturday. He was pumped and made sure his name was on the list to carpool, since Sheldon had offered to drive.
He spotted new members adding their photos to the group, some were of ghosts or other silly memes, but one was a young Asian man whom Nico thought was cute. Under the little picture was ‘Cam’. Nico didn’t have any recent photos and the idea of a ‘selfie’ wasn’t appealing. He didn’t think he was good looking and felt shy about being slight of build and not very tall.
As the excitement of the little group began to build with the potential for a cool ghost adventure starting to take shape, more of the members added photos and comments.
Since all the conversation was about the asylum, Nico had a feeling he was on his own this weekend.
He was about to log off when someone asked if anyone was available to walk around a graveyard, today, in the daylight.
Nico immediately responded, ‘yes’.
He copied and pasted the location of the cemetery and read the little information tag. Supposedly, two wolves were buried with some man with the last name Wolfe, and that the howling could be heard coming from the crypt.
That was all Nico needed to read. He typed on the site in excitement, ‘when? I’m in!’
There was a debate about time, since evenings seemed to be the most popular, but that meant a whole day of waiting, because in the summer, the daylight didn’t quit until nearly ten. As he began to feel let down, ‘Cam’ wrote, ‘I’d like to go earlier. Anyone?’
Nico typed, ‘me.’
‘meet at the entrance at noon?’
‘see ya there.’
As a few of the other members debated about time, and preferring darkness, Nico wanted to contact Cam individually, but he had no way to do it. No one added their personal information on the site.
He read a few more comments and then logged off, pouring himself a bowl of cereal and eating it as he stared out of the sliding doors of a little balcony right off his kitchen.
Cam figured at least one member of the group was into daylight investigating. He was bored and didn’t want to sit in front of the computer all day. The guy named Nico, one who didn’t have a photo with his name on the site, had offered.
Cam hated to admit he was glad only one person did, since it would give him a chance to get to know someone first, before he tagged along next week on the ‘big’ adventure at the asylum.
He had a weird feeling they all knew each other well, and he’d be the odd man out. And that wasn’t a place within his comfort zone.
Being shy sucked.
He wished he had a way of texting Nico, since he didn’t know what he looked like, but figured, he’d be the guy hanging out near the crypt in the daylight. Cam shut down the app for the internet and made himself a bite to eat.
By noon, Nico parked his older model hatchback near the cemetery entrance, having no idea where the actual crypt was. Since he didn’t have Cam’s contact information, he waited at the gates of the cemetery, his digital camera in his hand, and tried not to look like a weirdo.
A tan four-door sedan slowed down and the driver appeared to be looking at him. Nico sort of recognized him as Cam, and gave a slight wave, hoping it was him.
As if the connection had been made, the car parked next to Nico’s. Nico waited for him, swatted at a gnat that landed on his arm, and, yes, it was going to be a hot, humid day.
Cam also held something in his hand, and approached Nico.
“Hi.” Cam appeared very shy.
“Hi.” Nico smiled at him.
“So? Just us?” Cam looked around.
“I think they like nighttime hunting. I do too, but I really had nothing to do all day and…” Nico felt as if he were rambling so he shut up.
“Same here.” Cam gestured to the cemetery. “May as well see what’s what.”
Nico nodded and they entered the cemetery grounds. “It’s less spooky in the daylight.”
“That’s for sure.”
Nico took a peek at Cam, who was taller than he was, and probably close to his age. He was cuter in person than in his little photo. They walked around the perimeter, and Cam, who had both a camera and a digital recorder, paused to scan the area.
“Did you see something?” Nico asked.
“No. I’m trying to find where that crypt is, or at least where the older burials are.”
“It’s kind of morbid.”
“No kidding. I hope we don’t piss off anyone.” Cam kept walking.
“Just don’t step on the graves. That gives me the creeps.” Nico walked beside Cam.
“How long have you been with this group?” Cam asked.
“Not long. I think they only started it up a month ago. The other ones, the more established ones, I don’t like.”
“Why?” Cam paused and held up his camera, taking random shots.
Nico watched him for a moment, then replied, “One I went to, ya know, a nighttime thing, the woman who ran it kept yelling at me.”
Cam lowered his camera. “Yelling at you?”
“Yeah. She said I was moving too fast in front of the group, and that she would tell me when I could take pictures.”
Cam made a face of annoyance.
“Right?” Nico was happy Cam understood. “So, do you do this a lot?”
“Not really.” Cam kept walking, pointing to an above ground crypt. “That may be it.”
The two of them hustled over to the large structure, and sure enough, ‘Wolfe’ was carved in the stone.
“Should I try an EVP session?” Cam held his recorder up.
“Absolutely.” Nico kept quiet.
Cam spoke into the recorder, “EVP session at the Wolfe crypt…” He lowered his head, and held out the recorder. “Are you here?”
Nico felt the hair stand on his arms, and it was far from cold.
“What is your name?” Cam asked, pausing in case they got an answer.
Nico looked at Cam’s slender build and jet black hair and dark eyes, a contrast to his blond hair and light eyes.
“Is it true there are wolves buried with you?” Cam waited. He then turned to Nico. “Let’s listen.”
Nico stood beside Cam and Cam put the recorder close to their ears. He replayed the recording session.
As they stood so near, Nico caught a scent of aftershave, or cologne on Cam and liked it. He closed his eyes and tried to listen to the session.
“Wait.” Cam stopped the recording and then held it up higher. “I think I caught something.”
“Shut up!” Nico got excited. They stood, the recorder between them, pressed head to head.
A noise that was not Cam speaking, was picked up. Both men grew animated by the discovery and Cam replayed it. “I can’t tell if it’s a voice.”
Nico asked, “Is it a howl?”
A look of surprise came to Cam. “A howl!” They put their ears to the recorder again and listened.
“It sounds like a howl!” Nico blinked in awe.
“I have a program at home that can analyze sound waves. I can enhance it.”
“I’d love to hear it. It’s tough on that thing.” Nico took photos of the crypt. “Did you see the orb I caught last night? I posted it.”
“I did. Loved it.” Cam walked to the mausoleum and rested his hand over it.
“Are you a sensitive or clairvoyant?” Nico asked.
“I’m not sure. But I do get something from touching old buildings. Like a vibration.”
Nico pressed his palm against the old structure and closed his eyes.
“Feel that?” Cam asked.
Nico paused and waited. “What am I feeling?”
“A tingle in your body.”
Nico tried to focus. “No.” He opened his eyes and dropped his hand. “You can?”
“Man, that’s awesome.”
“Want to keep walking?”
“Yes.” He and Cam checked out the dates on the headstones. “Ohio has quite a few haunted places. I haven’t been to any of them except than the covered bridge last night and that one other investigation with the bitchy girl.”
“Me neither. I’m really pumped to go to the asylum. So many teams have been there with great results.”
“Are you into the TV shows?” Nico loved being able to share this with someone who could relate. He never talked about it to anyone.
“All of them.” Cam laughed. “But, that’s TV. I know they may do things to get the ratings up.”
“Right!” Nico laughed. “But, still, I’m addicted to it.”
They paused at an old grave marker. Cam took a photo of it, then the area behind it, which had grown over from the humid summer. “Me too. I guess I have the same fascination all of us who join teams like this do. I mean, is there something after life?”
Nico took a few photos, since he got lucky with the orb last night. “I think there is something.”
“I do as well.” Cam held up his recorder. “Another EVP session?”
“Absolutely. I mean, why should we assume ghost only walk around at night?”
“It is odd that all the shows do everything with night vision. Maybe the dark is just scarier in general.”
“Well, that’s true. But I’m more afraid of real people, than ghosts.”
Cam met his gaze and he wasn’t smiling. “Me too.”
Nico felt his insides tingle and it wasn’t from a ghost.
“Okay. EVP session by this grave marker dated…” He paused and tried to read the weatherworn date.
“1819?” Nico crouched down.
“Dude.” Cam exaggerated a shiver.
Nico touched the worn stone. “Cam, there’s no name. It actually reads ‘unknown’.”
“You just gave me the chills.”
“You?” Nico brushed away dead leaves and stood back. “Ask who’s in here.”
Cam took a moment, appearing a little freaked out.
Nico was as well. “And they want to do this shit at night.”
Cam actually laughed, but Nico had a feeling it was from nerves. “Okay.” Cam held out the recorder. “Begin EVP session at unknown 1819 grave.” He held out the recorder over the plot. “Can you tell me your name?”
Nico looked around the area. The cicadas were out and making a racket, not to mention, the traffic around the side streets also created interference. But, he kept still and let Cam do his thing.
Cam asked a few questions and then, he too, looked up at a tree with a loud chirping insect. “One good thing about nighttime investigating, less noise.”
“Well, you have crickets and frogs at night.”
“True.” Cam held the recorder to his ear. “I can’t tell if I got anything. When I get home I can load it on a program to eliminate background noise.”
“Where do you live?”
“Centerville.” Nico pointed. “Not far from here.”
They kept walking but the cemetery wasn’t very big.
Cam thought Nico was cute. If he was going to join this team for outings, he was glad Nico was one of the first people he got to know a little more. As they made their way back to their cars, Cam asked, “So, what’s the group like? How many of you went out last night?”
“Just four. Sheldon is the guy who established the group. He’s very cool, laid back. Not the type to yell.” Nico smiled.
Cam thought he was adorable and tried not to blush. They stood by their cars and paused to talk. “Do you live alone?”
Nico nodded. “Yeah. My parents live close by. I work as a plumber with my dad.”
“That’s cool. I do web design. I was actually going to offer to make a new site for the group. Do you think Sheldon would think that was cool, or bossy?”
“I don’t know. I think it’s cool. But what do I know?” Nico leaned back on his car and scanned through the photos he’d taken.
Cam stood beside him and tried to see the little LCD screen. “Anything?”
“I’m not sure.” Nico held the camera out to Cam.
Cam leaned on the car, and Nico’s shoulder, liking him and attracted to him, very much. Cam pointed to the screen. “Wait. What’s that?”
Nico held up the camera. “I can’t tell. I like to do what you do, take the photos home to analyze.”
“Do you want to come back to my place? That way we can listen to the audio as well.”
“Sure. Should we get food?”
“We can order takeout, or stop at a sub shop.”
Nico shrugged. “I’m cool with either.”
“Do you have plans later?”
Cam could see shyness in Nico, so they shared that as well.
“Follow me. There’s a sub shop right near my place. We can stop off, buy some food, and then see if we caught anything.”
“Awesome.” Nico smiled.
Cam returned the sweet smile, and they both got into their cars. As Cam led the way, he looked into his rearview mirror at Nico. If nothing else, he’d made a friend. And for a man as shy as Cam, that meant a lot.