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Helen decided to visit the excavation site on the outskirts of town, network with some of the paleontologists, and maybe pick up some valuable work experience that she could later use to fortify her argument the next time she confronted that terrible admissions officer, Mrs. Bellingham, at her home. I’ll show you a restraining order, Helen thought as she trekked across the barren landscape.
After an hour or so of wandering, she found the dig site: a twenty foot by thirty foot square of earth marked off with wooden stakes and string. Just outside the perimeter, a young man in his middle twenties paced the area, occasionally taking his hat off and then putting it back on again a few seconds later. He appeared to be muttering to himself.
“It doesn’t make sense,” he muttered.
Helen, having decided to ‘fake it’ until she ‘made it,’ hailed him as she would an old friend. “Hey, old friend,” she hailed.
The man continued to pace and mutter. “This is bad. This is very bad. Dr. Watson is going to kill me.”
“Hi, I’m Helen,” Helen said, extending her hand. “I’m a freelance paleontologist who happened to be walking by.”
“How could this have happened?” The man asked.
“How could what have happened?”
“The dinosaur bones, they’re missing. We had three quarters of an stegosaurus's rib cage exposed, and now it’s just gone. Like it never existed!” He resumed stalking and scanning the ground. “Nothing!”
Helen took off her backpack and unzipped the main compartment. “Good thing I brought my equipment,” she said. She removed several items.
“What is all that stuff?
Helen ticked off names as she pointed to each item. “Endoplasmic Reticulator, Soul Detector, Anti-Matter Scatter Capacitor, Carbon Dater Meter Reader, you name it.”
“You’re kidding.” The young man looked at her as if for the first time. “What did you say your name was?”
“I told you, it’s Helen.”
“This isn’t paleo gear,” he said, gesturing to the stack of hardware.
“In addition to freelancing, I’m also a paranormal psychologist.” She held one of the devices out in front of her like a divining rod.
“That isn’t a thing.”
“Look, dinosaur bones don’t just disappear," Helen said. "This may be the site of a major spectral disturbance.” She focused her attention on an area littered with boulders a short distance from the dig site.
“I know what’s going on here," the man said. "You stole them. You stole my bones!”
Helen’s gadget started beeping like a son of a bitch.
“You think that’s going to make me believe you?” the man asked. “You must think I’m a real sucker.”
Helen stopped at the edge of a giant boulder and stood, mouth agape, looking at something on the other side. “I think you better come over here,” she said.
The young man shook his head, but did as he was told. What he saw when he arrived caused him to drop his Indiana Jones-inspired fedora in the dirt. It was a humongous pile of shimmering dinosaur feces--stegosaurus by the look of it.
“I don’t believe it,” he said.
“Do you believe me now?” Helen asked. “Oh wait, you just said you didn't. Never mind.”
“I do believe you,” the man said. “I’m sorry I ever doubted you. My name is Eric by the way." He extended his hand. "My friends call me Homo.”
“Oh, are you...?”
“No, that’s just what they call me.”
“You know, you don’t have to tell people that when you introduce yourself.”
“Oh, I guess you're right. It just felt natural.”
“You may even want to consider finding new friends. Yours don’t sound very nice.”
“Aw, they’re not so bad, although, come to think of it, one was just put in jail for committing a hate crime.”
“Is that what I think it is?” Helen asked, pointing to the poop.
“I still can’t believe it,” Eric said walking toward the massive pile. The poop was roughly the same height as he was--about five feet seven inches tall--but at least five times as wide. He reached out to touch it. “It looks fresh.”
“Ew,” Helen said.
Eric's hand passed through the pile as it would through the atmosphere. “Nothing,” he said. He held up a relatively clean hand. He put it to his nose. “It doesn't even smell.”
“Freaky,” Helen said. She approached the enormous collection of fecal matter with another one of her machines. “Just as I thought,” she said after waving it in front of the pile a few times. “Phantasmic excreta caca.”
“You want to say that in English?”
Helen leveled her gaze at Eric. “This shit came from a ghost.”
go to chapter 4
go to chapter 4