73. Hunting Ghosts
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Fortunately Melanie didn't get in any trouble after all. Either that Steve guy was too embarrassed to tell the teachers he got beaten by a girl, or he tried and none of them believed him.

Friday went about the same as Thursday, and Cerys didn't seem much better when we saw her at lunch. I actually spent most of my day Saturday doing homework and catching up on a few more assignments and stuff I skipped in September, since I really didn't want to flunk any of my classes. I wasn't sure I'd actually get decent grades in anything, but as long as there weren't any F's I'd be happy.

I got enough done on Saturday that I was able to take it easy Sunday. I slept in, then had a lazy day hanging out and playing video games with Nina. Then in the afternoon we exchanged some more group texts and made our final plans for the night.

Kaylee, Paige, and Brooke all texted their apologies but none of them could make it because of school the next morning. So me and Nina and Melody all agreed to meet Cerys and Melanie at the wolfgirl's place, at about quarter after eleven. Melody could leave her car there without paying for parking or worrying about getting a ticket, and it wasn't far to walk from there to the restaurant.

The five of us met up in front of Melanie's house, and we got to Potter's Tavern just before eleven thirty. The place seemed pretty quiet, exactly like we'd hoped. There were a half dozen or so customers on the bar side, and about as many on the dining-room side.

A waitress named Amy led the five of us to a corner booth near the back, then as we all got seated she told us "The kitchen closes up at midnight, and last call for drinks is in about an hour. I don't want to rush you girls, but just letting you know."

We'd all had dinner earlier so nobody was actually looking for a meal, but we decided to order something to snack on. We ended up getting the appetizer sampler platter and a large plate of onion rings, plus the others all got sodas while me and Nina just had glasses of water.

Amy got us our drinks first, then while we were waiting for the food Melody asked quietly, "So what's the plan? Just wait around till closing and see what happens? Or should we do a little snooping?"

Cerys suggested, "It doesn't look like the waitress is busy, so let's talk with her first? See if she can tell us about any more activity."

Everyone agreed with that, then while we waited the conversation went in a different direction.

"So how was it?" Melody asked Cerys. "Your first full moon, first time shifting? I noticed you look different now, compared to last week. You look good mind you, not that you didn't before."

The newly-minted wolf cringed slightly, and Melanie winced a bit. The two werewolfs exchanged a glance, and Cerys asked her girlfriend "Is it ok if I tell them?"

"Yeah," the more experienced wolf nodded after a few seconds. "You can tell them."

Cerys looked back at the rest of us and sighed. She had a gulp of her cola then shook her head. Her voice was just above a whisper as she told us, "It was awful. When the change happened I was terrified. It hurt, like both physically and mentally. I almost felt like I was losing myself, and I spent the entire night scared I'd never come back. I did come back in the morning, but changing back hurt even more. Then I felt even worse..."

Her voice trailed off and she had another gulp of her drink before admitting, "After that I thought I made a terrible mistake. I wished I'd never done it, I wished I'd listened to all Melanie's warnings and everthing she said when she tried to talk me out of it."

She added quickly, "That passed though ok? So don't freak out, don't worry about me. By yesterday I realized I hadn't had any more headaches or dizzy spells? And no more memory lapses either. I'm completely healed from the concussion stuff. I'm stronger now too, and faster. And my senses are better, or at least hearing and smell are. And Melanie says all that'll continue to develop over the next few months."

"As for the other changes," she grimaced slightly, "I'm slowly getting used to that too. I mean how I look, my body being a little different and everything. It's weird looking in a mirror and my eyes are different, even my face is a little different. It doesn't freak me out, I'm not upset about it or anything, and I definitely don't regret it. It's just stuff that's taking time to get used to."

With a shrug she finished, "I know the full moons are going to suck for a while, but Melanie's looking after me and helping me get through it. And the payoff is more than worth it."

We were all quiet for a couple seconds as that sank in, then I gave her a supportive smile and said "I'm glad you're doing better now Cerys. You look and sound a lot better now than you did on Friday. And I'm really glad you're happy, and that you don't regret it."

"Me too," Nina added.

Melody agreed, "Yeah that sounds like a heck of a trip. I'm glad you're doing better now, but wow. I'm sorry it wasn't any fun when it happened. And you're going to have to go through that every full moon? How long till it gets better?"

"It took me nearly a year to get through that stage," Melanie said with a quiet sigh. "But I was alone, I didn't have any help or instruction. And actually it got better in a hurry once I did get some help? Another wolf started tutoring me, plus Cerys was there supporting me. Now I'm teaching and supporting her, so hopefully it won't take her that long. Maybe six months if we're lucky?"

At that point Amy returned with our food, so that topic was dropped. As she set out the plates Melody asked her, "Say if you have a minute we were wondering if you could tell us about the ghosts? I was here last week and Ollie mentioned something about this place being haunted?"

The waitress grimaced, "Yeah, it seems that way. There's been a lot of strange stuff happening over the last few weeks."

"Have you witnessed anything yourself?" Cerys asked.

Amy shrugged, "Not really. I don't believe in that stuff myself. Why, are you girls into that kind of thing?"

"Actually yeah," Melody replied with a smile. "My friends and I are all fans of those ghost-hunter shows and stuff like that? That's why we're here, to be honest. We figured we'd come out for midnight, you know? The witching hour and all that?"

The waitress looked pretty sceptical, but she said "Tell you what, if anything happens while you're here I'll let you know."

"Thanks!" the shape-shifter grinned brightly. "We appreciate it!"

Amy smiled back, "You're welcome. Now like I said, I don't mean to rush you girls but this is pretty much last call for the kitchen. Is there anything else I can get you?"

We all shook our heads, so she went to go take care of a few other customers who looked like they were ready to leave. In fact it looked like she was the only waitress on duty at this point.

"Sorry for jumping in like that," Melody said quietly as she grabbed an onion ring. "I figured it was a good cover story, incase they start wondering what we're doing. Especially if we want to snoop around a bit?"

Cerys shook her head, "It's fine."

"Melody do you know how to do magic sight yet?" the young blonde added as she helped herself to a chicken wing.

The college girl shook her head, "Brooke's taught me how, but I haven't mastered it yet. I need more practise."

"This is a good opportunity to get practising then," Melanie suggested. "Me and Cerys are using ours."

Cerys nodded, "Cass I'm sure you're watching out for stuff too. And Nina, I guess whatever magic senses you have? Let's all keep our eyes and ears open. Midnight's only about fifteen minutes away, so if something happens let's not miss it."

After that the five of us were mostly quiet. We nibbled on the food and sipped our drinks, as we looked around and tried to listen for anything. Unfortunately the background music covered up a lot, even though the volume had been turned down pretty low.

We'd finished all the food by about quarter after midnight, and by that point we were the only guests on the dining-room side. Amy was sort of hovering at the back wall near the divider, so she could keep an eye on both sides of the tavern. I figured she still had customers on the bar side as well, and from where she was standing she'd see if either group wanted anything.

Melanie confirmed that a moment later, she commented quietly "There's two people on the bar side. It sounds like they're almost ready to go though."

"How do you know that?" Melody asked in surprise.

"I can hear them," the werewolf grinned. "Even in human form my hearing's pretty good. If I switched to my wolfgirl form I'd be able to tell you what they were saying."

Sure enough, about five or six minutes later the waitress disappeared into the bar side. Presumably to take care of the last two customers there as they were ready to go.

Cerys commented, "I haven't seen a thing. No orbs, no trace of any spirit activity. How about you Cass?"

"Sorry," I shook my head. "I haven't seen any magic or spirits either."

Our newest member asked, "You don't suppose we've scared them off? The ghost or spirit or entity, whatever it is? Like having five supernaturals show up right around the time they'd normally start getting active?"

That put a frown on the young blonde's face. She shook her head, "They shouldn't be aware of us. If they are, if they've changed their behaviour because we're here, that would be a whole new level of bad. Like not just malevolent entity bad, but something smart and magically aware. I don't even know what to call that, but honestly? That's something way beyond what I'd want to deal with. At that point I'd be looking to Cass's moms for help. Or just making a run for it."

"Crud," Melanie frowned. "So let's hope it's nothing like that."

Things were mostly quiet though, as we finished our drinks and waited for something to happen. Then around half past twelve Amy approached our table. I figured she was going to ask if we wanted more drinks or something, but then I noticed the uncomfortable look on her face.

"Uh girls?" she asked quietly. "There's something going on, over on the other side of the restaurant. It's uh, maybe you should come see it?"

We all scrambled out of the booth, and I couldn't help noticing the excited grin on Cerys's face. It made me smile too, I was happy to see a bit of her old enthusiasm return.

Amy led us to the back then around the corner, where we saw the bartender standing with his back against the beer fridge and a nervous look on his face as he stared at an empty table off to the side. There was another man next to the bartender, who I figured must be the manager. He was an older guy, maybe in his late forties or early fifties. He had an uneasy frown on his face.

"That hightop there," Amy said as she pointed. "There's um.... Voices?"

It was clear all three of the restaurant staff were nervous, if not scared. Meanwhile the five of us marched right up towards the source of the haunting. As we got within a few meters I could hear it. Faint half-perceptible whispers, it was hard to tell if it was one voice or two or more.

We all stopped a couple paces back, then Melanie asked "Can someone turn off the background music?"

The bartender, a younger guy in his twenties, nodded and reached for something under the bar. A moment later the music stopped and everything was quiet apart from those voices.

"I'm going to record this," Melody decided as she pulled out her phone.

She opened up the camera app and started recording video and audio, while we all slowly approached the table in question. We only got a couple steps nearer when a TV over the bar suddenly turned itself off, which caused the bartender to startle.

A few seconds later the TV turned back on again.

"This isn't good," the manager sighed. "Amy said you girls were ghost hunters? Do you know anything about this sort of thing?"

Cerys nodded, "A bit. Just give us a few minutes, ok sir? We'll see what we can do."

She lowered her voice as she looked to me and added, "Cass? You see anything?"

"Nothing," I shook my head. "Still no spirits, no magic."

The young blonde frowned, "Me neither. If there's voices, they should be right here. If we can hear them, we should be able to see them."

Then her lips moved and I saw a flicker of magic pass over her, then spread out to cover the table we were looking at. Cerys sighed, "Still nothing. That should have revealed them for sure."

"Hang on," Melanie said as she walked right up to the table. "This is..."

The wolfgirl had her head cocked to one side like she was listening even closer. She crouched down then got on her knees under the table, and a moment later she stood up and stated flatly, "There's something stuck under the table, with batteries and a speaker. This isn't a haunting, it's a hoax."

"What?!" the restaurant manager demanded.

He hurried over, and with Melody recording the whole thing on her phone the manager tipped the table over so we could all see it. Sure enough there was a little circuit board stuck to the underside of the table. It had a couple of those coin-cell batteries, and a speaker. And it looked like it was attached with two-sided tape.

Then the TV over the bar turned off and on again, which caught our attention.

"If it's a hoax, what about the TVs?" the bartender asked.

Nina frowned at the TV, then turned her head as she slowly scanned around the bar area. When the TV switched off and on again she pointed at the opposite wall, "There!"

My little sister moved over then climbed up on a chair, and pointed at an old trophy stuck on the wall as she said "There's another circuit board thing in here. It's pointing at the TV, it's probably like a remote controller?"

The manager went to have a look, then swore "I'll be damned!"

I was pretty sure he wasn't acting, and neither were Amy or the bartender. So I doubted any of them were behind the hoax.

"Maybe I should call the police?" the manager frowned. "Better not touch any of these things. This is costing us money, with the broken dishes and the fires. This isn't just a prank, this is serious."

Cerys suggested, "How about we pay our tab and get out of your way, while you folks take care of it? I'm glad we were able to help, but um, we're looking for ghosts and this isn't a ghost thing after all."

"Right," the manager nodded. "Thanks for your help girls. Amy, look after them. Give them the manager's discount ok?"

Just like that our ghost hunt came to an abrupt end. We got a twenty-percent discount, but considering we only had appetizers and drinks it wasn't much. And we basically just gave it back to the waitress as a tip, before we all grabbed our jackets and headed out.

"I don't know whether to be disappointed or happy," Melody commented as we started walking back to our wolfgirl's place. "Like yay we solved the mystery, or boo it wasn't even real ghosts."

Melanie grimaced, "Same. Though I'm happy we didn't have to deal with some dark entity or something like that."

"Me too," Cerys nodded. "I'll take hoax over malevolent entity any day of the week."

The young blonde glanced at my little sister and asked, "Hey Nina how'd you find the remote control thing? I get how Melanie found the first gadget with her wolf hearing, but what kind of trick did you use for the other thing?"

"I can see in the dark," the small demon replied quietly. "I guess I can see infrared light? And I saw the flicker of invisible light when the TV switched off."

A few of us smiled as Melody stated, "Cool!"

Cerys volunteered to do the write-up on the club's group chat, so the other three club members would know what happened. And Melody promised to upload the video she took so we could all review it later.

When we got to the wolfgirl's place we bid her and Cerys a good night, then Melody gave me and Nina a lift back to our house before continuing on home herself.

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