Please Be Kind 10

While they couldn’t make out faces, there was enough detail to recognize most everyone.  There wasn’t any sound either, but Teri’s brain filled in the gaps.  She saw Mr. Oliver coming around to each of the cast in turn, silently telling them to stand up straight or turn more towards the audience.  Then he came to Teri.  As he turned away, Teri knew exactly what was coming and when, since she’d already seen it twice.

Aiden, Morgan, and Max winced as the light broke free and started falling.  Suddenly white snow broke out on the screen, so they could only see a shadow.  The static covered the area around Teri, leaving the edges of the monitor perfectly visible.  Aiden groaned.

“Of course the part we actually wanted to see is messed up.  What kind of crappy equipment does the school have?”

“It’s actually not too bad,” Max said.  “It could be a software problem.  Wait a sec.”

Max started adjusting settings and running filtering programs.  Teri’s head was spinning from all the complicated computer lingo.  Morgan and Aiden looked just as lost.  After concentrating for two solid minutes, Max turned back to them.

“There, simple.”

The other three gave him blank looks.

“If that’s your idea of easy,” Teri said, “I’d hate to see hard.”

“I move around a lot,” Max said, like that explained it.

“You know computers because you moved?”

“You can take computers with you,” he said.

“That’s cool man,” Aiden said.  “It’s a useful skill.”

Max broke into a tentative smile and Teri started to get it.  Moving around meant leaving friends behind.  Computers were a poor substitute.  She wondered if he used them to stay in contact.

“Alright,” Morgan said, “Let’s see it.

Max hit a few last keys and started the video again.  The playback was still grainy, but at least you could see part of what was going on.  As the light fell down right at the little Teri on the screen, a circle of static moved outward.  Inside the bubble, Teri could see her head jerk up and a split second later she leapt back.  But she could see her ghostly outline still standing there, looking up more slowly and cringing as the spotlight was about to hit her.

It was exactly what she’d remembered from the first time, hidden in among the second.  She wasn’t the only one who’d noticed.  Max spoke up first.

“Hmm, I guess it’s still messed up.  It’s showing some kind of afterimage.  Recording must be corrupted.”

“Corrupted?” Aiden said.  “I’m guessing that means ruined?”

“Yeah,” Teri said.

She might not know too much about computers, but she knew that at least.  Max was frowning at the screen.  For whatever reason, just like with the girl in the mirror, Teri didn’t want to tell anyone what she’d really seen.  She was pretty sure that even Morgan would think she was crazy.  But they could all see the strange image in front of them, so maybe she wasn’t nuts.  Maybe what she was seeing was real.  That scared her even more.

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