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15. Echo

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“Robin! Robin! Come here!  See what Mike’s found.” 

Robin ambled over to Pat and Kitty, carefully skirting Mike who was pulling great handfuls of weeds away from the outside wall of the house.

“What happening?”

“Mike’s uncovered this cool little room, look.”  Pat phased through the half-covered, half rotten door into a disused space at the back of the house.  It was built of brick, about 5 feet square and had no windows.  Robin followed him but Kitty just put her head through the door.

“I remember this!  Used it as cave, long time ago.” He looked around at the disintegrating walls, a little daylight and ivy coming through where a tile had fallen from the roof.

“I played hide and seek in it once and my sister didn’t find me for nearly a day!”  Kitty grinned.  “I was so hungry,” she added a little less brightly.

“I wonder what it was for…” Pat let his eyes wander all over the tiny space, taking in the dirt floor that had been untouched for a couple of centuries.

“Don’t know.  Good cave though, y’know, on bad nights.”  Robin started to look a little sheepish halfway through the sentence as he remembered that he only hid in there when he was scared.

“Ah Katherine.”  The Captain approached, unperturbed by only being able to see half of Kitty.  Kitty straightened up.

“Hello Captain, look in here.”

The Captain pushed his head through the door to find a grinning Pat and Robin.

“Hellllloooooo!”  Pat said enthusiastically, it echoed round the bricks.  Robin jumped.

“Who say that?”  He looked round behind him in both directions.

“It’s an echo, Robin,” the Captain said wearily. 

“It is the soundwaves bouncing from the brickwork,” Pat elaborated.  “Go on, make a loud noise.”

Robin threw his head back and howled like a wolf, the sound rebounded around the small space.  He giggled.

“Go on, Cap, you have a go.”

“I think not, Patrick, rather unbecoming.”

“Oh go on, you know you want to.” Pat grinned at him.  The Captain huffed resignedly but stepped fully through the door.

“Ahem.  Um.   HELLO!”

A nervous voice from outside said

“Hello?”

The ghosts looked at each other in shock.

“Say it again, quick!”

“Hello?”

Kitty rushed through the door, pointing frantically at the outside.

“Mike heard you!  He heard you!”

“He what?”

“Say something else, quickly”

“Good Lord, um, gosh, er, MICHAEL”

Kitty pushed her head back out in time to see Mike stumble backwards in fear.  He tripped over a discarded spade and fell on to his back.

“It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s just Alison’s friends, it’s ok,” she heard him say to himself.  He stood up and crept towards the door.  With a strong pull and some wriggling, he yanked it back.  The room inside was, of course, empty.

“I heard you!  I heard you!”

“Well, yes, Michael, it appears that you did.”

Mike looked round the room blankly.

“Why he not hear that?”

“Maybe it’s only when you shout, Cap, try again”

The Captain rolled his eyes.

“AGAINST ALL THE ODDS, IT APPEARS THAT YOU CAN HEAR ME, MICHAEL”

Mike’s head jerked up towards the ceiling.

“You said my name, you said my name!”

“I said plenty more than that, young man.”  Again there was no reaction.  Pat nudged the Captain.

“Oh for goodness sake.  I SAID I SAID PLENTY MORE THAN THAT, YOUNG MAN”

“Young man?”

“You know Cap, maybe he can only hear the echo, you have to stick to one or two words.”

The Captain took a deep breath.

“FETCH ALISON”

Mike looked up.  Of course, Alison! 

“Yes, Alison, yes, I’ll go, I’ll go.”  He ran off and returned a few minutes later dragging his wife by her hand.  She looked through the door.

“Hello Pat, Robin.  What’s going on?”

“Turns out the Captain has a special talent too.  Mike can hear his voice.  Show her, Cap.”

“Ah, ah, yes.”  The Captain drew himself to attention and took a deep breath as if about to address the troops.

“MICHAEL”

MICHAEL, Michael, michael the echo rebounded.  Mike swung round again.

“Did you hear that?!  Did you?  Did you?”

“Yes, Mike, I’m right here, the weird thing is that you heard that.  Say something else, Captain.”

“For Heaven’s sake, am I just a plaything?”

Alison looked at him disapprovingly.  He bristled but stood up straight and cleared his throat.

“HELLO MICHAEL.”

Michael looked both amazed and excited.

“I can talk to them!”

“Well, you’ve always been able to talk to them, it’s just they can’t say anything back.”

“Which one is it?”

“The Captain.”

“The army guy?  Cool, nice to meet you, Captain.”  Mike looked around the ceiling of the room.

The Captain tutted.

“I’m down here, Michael.”

“Why didn’t he hear that?”

“Well, Alison, it appears that Michael can only hear the echo and therefore one is required to raise one’s voice when one wishes to be understood.”

“And he can only hear you?”

Robin let out another howl.  Mike continued to look above the ghosts’ heads obliviously.

“I guess so.  Well that’s handy to know anyway.”

“I fail to see how.  If we wish to communicate information to Michael how will he know to come to this room to receive it?”

“I’m not sure right now but we’ll think of something.  Well done, Cap, you are now chief liaison officer.” 

Pat clapped the Captain on the shoulder as the Captain straightened his tie and tried to hide his feeling of pride.

“Always ready to serve, Alison.”