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Ghost in the Wind Machine (6/13/1997)
by Patti (email address unknown)
Sunday, The Discovery
Chad Michaels looked around the musty smelling antique store and wrinkled his nose. He hated it when his wife dragged him along on these "treasure hunts"! Sundays were normally his day for yard work and watching sports. Not to mention that her idea of treasure was definitely his idea of junk. However, he humored her because it made his life simpler to do so.
Clair was happy just digging through a pile of old photos, so he wandered around and scanned the dusty room with a grimace. Then he saw it. Crammed behind some old books and a wizened looking pipe holder, it almost called out to him. A tarnished urn with bas-relief sketches circling the widest part.
"Hey" he thought excitedly, "That's just what we need for that scene in 'The Castle'. I wonder how much it is?"
He reached out and picked it up, and was surprised at how heavy the thing felt. When he turned it over and saw the price, he got even more excited. For weeks he had been trying to figure out a way to create an urn that looked like this, but would appear authentic on camera.
"Twenty bucks!" he whistled. "I'd have spent more than that on materials alone." He thought. He knew he'd have to call and verify that they'd reimburse him before he bought it, so he walked over to where his wife sat cross-legged on the floor and dropped the urn into her lap.
"Here honey, hang on to this for a minute, will ya? I'm going to call Garner and see if they can go $20 for this."
She grinned up at him as if to say, "So…it wasn't a complete waste of time for you was it?"
He came back in a few minutes with a grin on his face. "Well, the man said 'buy it' so that's what I'm going to do. I'm telling you Clair, it was providence that made you haul me out here today, when I'd be better off mowing the lawn. This little gem has just saved me a lot of work."
When they got home, Chad disappeared into the garage for several hours. He reappeared just in time for dinner, and with him he carried the most beautiful piece of statuary Clair had ever seen. It was solid brass and it glowed with an inner fire, like gold.
"That's what you bought for $20?" she asked, incredulous.
Her husband smiled a knowing smile. "You betcha! I knew it was worth a lot more than that when I first laid eyes on it, but I wasn't about to let the shop keep know that!" He was obviously very pleased with himself.
Monday, The Appearance
The next day when Chad went to find the urn, it wasn't where he had left it and he thought that Randy and Katy, their kids, had probably been playing with it. When he finally did track it down, sitting on a table in the den, he was certain of it. However, he was still in a very good mood, so he just picked it up and headed out the door without chastising the children. He was whistling as he got into the car and drove off.
He was stopped at a light when suddenly he felt an unaccountable desire to return home and seduce his wife again. He shook his head and figured his mind must be playing tricks on him. His dreams of the night before had been far from restful. In fact, for the first time in years, he had awakened his wife from a sound sleep during the night to make love. He figured that this feeling of intimacy was simply a continuation of his state of mind during the night.
When he got to the studio and showed his bosses the urn, they were well pleased.
"It's great! Chad you've got quite an eye!" Garner Simmons said to the three other men.
"Yeah, Chad…just what we were looking for. Great work finding it!" Donald Buchannan, the property master, added.
Allan Eastman, the director for the episode currently in production, took the urn and turned it around in his hands several times. Finally he uttered one word, "Perfect!"
Derek deLint gently placed the urn back on the prop table as Samantha, his make-up artist, walked up. He sat on the tall stool patiently allowing her to touch up his eyes before the next scene. It wasn't going to take much, so they had decided to do it on site, instead of returning to his trailer. He was thinking about the time he was in make-up for over two hours while the director and make-up artist decided on exactly how they wanted his "Mark of Cain" to look. Suddenly, the giant wind machine in front of them began to hum.
"Hey David, turn that thing off, will you?" the actor shouted to one of the crew.
However, before the man could even get close, the machine began to spew forth gale force winds, which completely knocked Derek off his stool and sent the make-up artist tumbling across the floor of the soundstage. Several others had been caught in the blast, but they were far enough away from the machine that they were only buffeted a little bit.
As suddenly as it had started, the wind stopped…Dead. The effects man looked down at the electrical cord and felt a shiver go up his spine. The machine wasn't even plugged in! He looked over at Derek who was struggling to regain his feet. The actor's hair was completely disarranged, his clothes were dirty and torn in places, and he looked pissed as Hell!
"Uh, Mr. deLint, sir…I…uh." The poor man had no idea what to say.
"Oh good got! Samanta…are you alright?" Derek asked the young woman as he helped her to her feet. Upon receiving an affirmative reply, he stomped off towards the dressing rooms to have his entire appearance redone. Several of the crew were snickering behind their hands and he glared at them as he passed them. Then he burst out laughing himself at the spectacle he made when he saw his reflection in one of the mirrors on the soundstage. His hair was sticking out all over, like the famous picture of Albert Einstein. He had smudges of dirt on his face and his jacket looked like he'd been in a barroom brawl!
At that moment Robbi and Martin came in from lunch. They both stopped abruptly at the sight of Derek, who looked like he'd been through a cyclone and was, by then, laughing hysterically. Everyone began to chuckle at his hilarity, and soon the sound of raucous laughter could be heard across the entire lot.
While Derek had his hair, clothes and make-up completely redone, David Pargeter had a word with his boss about the machine.
"I'm telling you Tami, it wasn't even plugged in! I don't know how it came on by itself, but that's exactly what it did do!" his voice was shaking slightly. He was still pretty weirded out over the whole thing.
"You're telling me that the wind machine started up without any power supply?" his superior asked incredulously.
"That's exactly what I'm telling you!" the young man said, getting irritated that his boss didn't seem to believe him.
Martin Cummins was standing on the set of what was supposed to be his bedroom, but it had been completely rearranged. No one was able to explain how the furniture had gotten moved, and he actually remembered seeing the bedroom set in place earlier that morning.
He took as sip from the glass of water he held in his hand and looked around. He started to laugh. His mood was still slightly hilarious after the contretemps with Derek a short while earlier. He couldn't believe his eyes!
The couch from the "living room" was against the far wall, resting on its side. The precept's "desk" was in the corner, the drawers in upside down. A lamp, which actually belonged to the permanent set of the "control room", was in the middle of the room. There was a hideous looking end table from one of the smaller sets next to the couch and an urn resting on top of it. He had examined the urn earlier that morning. It was a beautiful piece, but it belonged in this room no more than the other stuff did.
One of the crew came in and told Martin that they would have to re-do the set for his scene and that Allan said it would probably have to wait until the morning.
"Sure. Fine." he said, still chuckling as the man walked off towards the "control room". Suddenly he distinctly felt lips pressed to his.
"What the Hell? " he cried and fell backwards into the chair, which luckily was behind him. He was just sitting there looking dazed when Robbi came in a minute later.
"Are you okay?" she asked, concerned by his outcry.
He looked up at her with a strange light in his eyes and said, "Uh…yah. I think so. Man, that was really weird!" and stood up shaking his head as if to clear the cobwebs.
"What was really weird?" the young woman asked, curious.
Martin looked over at her and decided that he wasn't ready to expose himself to her wicked sense of humor, so he just said, "Well, look around you. Do you see anything strange about this room?"
Robbi's mobile right eyebrow rose in disbelief. She knew that he wasn't telling her something, and she also suspected why. She grinned at him. "That bad, huh?" was all she said.
Martin smiled ruefully and nodded, thinking that it was a good thing his co-star didn't know just 'how bad' it really was. As if of its own volition his hand suddenly threw the contents of his water glass directly at the woman standing in front of him. She screamed as the water hit her full in the face and chest.
"Oh MY GOD! Robbi, I…I…uh…I don't know what happened!" he yelled as he tried ineffectually to sop up the water with a cloth which was sitting conveniently on the end table next to the urn. He caught the faint scent of jasmine. Then he looked closely at the tall, sopping wet, dark skinned woman before him and actually blushed. Robbi felt like throttling him, but couldn't maintain her anger in the face of his obvious embarrassment as he noticed she wasn't wearing a bra under her white T-shirt.
"Well Martin?" she asked acerbically.
"Uh…Robbi, I mean it. I didn't do it!" he said defensively, barely able to drag his eyes from her chest.
"Oh, and I suppose you're going to tell me that a ghost did it for you? Martin, I SAW your hand throw that glass of water at me!" she said, getting angry again. "Well, at least lend me your shirt so I don't have to parade through the set looking like this."
He immediately stripped his shirt off and put it around her shoulders. She slipped her arms inside and closed the shirt around her wet, skintight T-shirt.
"God, she's gorgeous." He thought as she walked away, her back straight as if nothing had happened.
Patrick Fitzgerald sat quietly in his trailer studying the lines he would say later that afternoon. In his hand he held the urn. He'd been having a bit of trouble getting over one small part, so he had brought the urn with him to use as he would be required to do in the scene. He looked at the antique in his hands and marveled at how beautiful it was. It glowed with a golden fire.
Then he heard it. The sound of a woman's laugh, soft in his ear and immediately after that he felt arms enveloping him and a light nip on his ear lobe!
He jumped up, dropped the urn, knocking over his glass of water in the process, and spun around. There was absolutely no one there.
"What the bloody Hell?" he said to himself softly.
He looked all through his trailer, suspecting it might be one of those hormonally challenged females who were always posting such suggestive notes about him on the Internet. However, his search yielded no result. He was completely alone in the dressing room. He felt nervous, but also slightly exhilarated at the memory of how the woman's laugh had sounded…so soft and intimate in his ear.
"I musta imagined it." he said aloud, rubbing his ear. The Irishman sounded as unconvinced as he felt inside. He had actually thought he had felt her breath on his face, and he knew he had felt that nip. He shook his head in wonder and nervously began to wipe up the mess he had made when he knocked over his water glass. Once finished, he tried to re-focus on his work.
However, he was having trouble concentrating on the script in his hands. He felt like someone was watching him, like someone was inside the trailer with him. Finally, after another five minutes of playing the 'I'm ignoring you game', he gave up and left the dressing room in search of human companionship.
As he left the trailer, he heard a whispered giggle behind him and then felt a sharp pinch on his posterior!
"Hey!!!" he yelled and spun around, but there was nothing there. He leapt to the ground slamming the door to his dressing room behind him and ran for the set, as if the devil himself were on his heels.
When Derek returned to the set to finish his shoot that afternoon, he eyed the wind machine warily. The crew had set up the soundstage to appear as the deck of the ferry. A black Lincoln Town Car had been driven right up into the set. He leaned comfortably against the car waiting for everyone to finish their touch-ups. Lighting was set, camera angles had to be re-adjusted, and the like.
Soon the scene was ready for shooting. He heard a hum and all Derek could think was "My Got! Not again!" as he ran for cover behind the car. Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at the wind machine, then started to laugh when Martin walked in using his portable electric shaver.
He had heard from a friend at the studio that there was much discussion among the fans of the series concerning whether he looked better with or without his 'five o'clock' shadow. She had told him just that morning that the 'yes's' seemed to be gaining the upper hand. Being of a humorous disposition, he decided to play with their minds a little and so was shaving the 'scruff' as the fans had dubbed it off.
Derek stood and looked around sheepishly, as he joined in on the laughter. His co-star looked surprised at the reaction he received until he spotted the wind machine poised and ready for duty on the set of the San Francisco bay. He started to grin, and soon it had spread from ear to ear.
"Uh, gee. Sorry D-d-d-derek. D-d-didn't mean to s-s-scare y-ya!" he was consumed with laughter now. The look his friend gave him only made his hilarity worse and he doubled over at the image of the older man crouched down behind the car trying to avoid a repeat occurrence of what had happened that morning.
Derek looked at him wryly understanding his laughter, but unnerved by it all the same. "Yeah, right Martin. Just get that thing out of here, will you?"
Robbi Chong walked toward her car in the staff parking lot. Normally she'd be giving Pat a ride back to his hotel, but today he said he had some things he wanted to do, so he had left quite a bit earlier, right after their scene was wrapped.
The tall young woman thought about that scene as she walked. They'd had to re-shoot it far too many times, but her co-star had been distracted and was obviously bothered by something. It would have been funny if the scene hadn't required her to remain in a fixed and extremely uncomfortable position while Patrick supposedly pulled her to safety from a sheer drop off the edge of a 'cliff'. He kept screwing up the shot.
She realized that she'd actually felt herself getting irritated with him. It was normally hard to get mad at Pat, he was just so nice, but today she felt an unaccountable anger at his inability to get the scene right. She'd actually yelled at him at one point.
Without warning Robbi felt a hand in between her shoulder blades, and then felt the shove. Her one thought as she went hurtling toward the pavement was that she was imagining it. However, the tarmac felt all too real when she hit it, scraping her hands and knees as she slid about five feet.
She looked around and there was no one within yelling, let alone pushing, distance. She felt a strange tingling go up her spine, and the hair on the back of her neck was bristling. Then the creepiness of the situation took on a whole new level as she distinctly heard the sound of a young woman's giggle near her.
"Who are you and where are you? Why did you push me like that?" she asked the air around her. When she received no answer, she laughed uncomfortably to herself and said, "I must be nuts. Been working on this show too damn long, I'm starting to believe what I act out."
However, she didn't linger and hurried over to her car. When the engine roared to life, she tore out of the lot, screeching rubber for a minute. Robbi wanted to put as much distance as she could between herself and the deserted parking lot as fast as her car would carry her.
Tuesday, Chaos Reigns
The next morning the cast and crew were assembled on the set. The first scene they were scheduled to shoot was Martin's bedroom scene. This time the furniture was exactly as it should be. The scene was short, so before long it was wrapped and the participants disbursed.
Nine year old Alexandra Purvis had been reading in a quiet corner of the soundstage. She had finished her homework soon after arriving on the set, and her tutor wasn't due to arrive for over an hour. Her mother, Penny, had just bought her a new Goosebumps book, and she was totally engrossed.
When Martin's scene was wrapped, Alex set her book down on the chair where she had been sitting, and went to talk to him. The little girl liked all of her co-stars, but Martin and Patrick were the best. They both knew just how to make her laugh. The two quickly became involved in a tickle fight, which the girl won hands down. She knew his weaknesses, and was laughing triumphantly at his shouts of "I give up!" Soon the young man was called to rehearse another scene and Alex went back to her corner.
She looked at the chair where she had left her book and it was gone. Her eyes got large and round when she saw it hanging from a light fixture far above the chair. There was no ladder and the fixture was too high for even an adult to have placed it there. Before she could summon anyone to get it down, she heard her mother's voice raised in displeasure.
"Alexandra Purvis, front and center!" Penny shouted to her daughter.
"Yes, mama?" the little girl answered when she had come to a stop in front of her mother.
"Young lady, I thought we talked about this. You were supposed to do your homework before opening that new book! What is the meaning of this?" and the woman held out the page that Alex had completed that morning. However, it was no longer complete. All of the answers that the little girl had written down earlier were now erased.
"But mama! I…uh…I finished it! I promise!" she cried, horrified.
"Alexandra! Don't you dare lie to me!" the woman said, shocked. "Now, I want you to take this paper, and go to your trailer. You finish it and bring it back to me, pronto young lady!"
The poor little girl hung her head and took the paper from her mother's outstretched hand. "Yes, ma'am."
She didn't know what was happening, but something weird was going on, of that she was sure.
In another part of the soundstage, Robbi and Derek were in the midst of final preparations for the scene they were about to do. The director yelled for everyone to take their places and the shoot began. The scene required the two actors to walk into Derek's "office" while discussing the urn "Alex" carried with her. After a brief discussion, "Alex" was supposed to agree to run a data search on the computer and leave the room.
"DEREK!!!!" the young woman screamed suddenly, sounding very shocked.
"Cut! What's wrong Robbi?" Allan asked, irritated.
"Uh…" she started, gazing at the man standing next to her as if he had bitten her.
"What is it?" Derek asked, looking at her in perplexity.
Robbi's eyes narrowed suspiciously and she asked in an undertone that only he could hear, "Did you or did you not grab my butt just then?"
Her co-star's shock was unmistakeable. "WHAT??? Of course not! Why would you think that?"
"Because someone DID! If it wasn't you, then who the Hell was it?" she asked, beginning to feel like she had the day before in the parking lot. The situation had an unreal quality to it.
The man standing beside her just shrugged his shoulders and said, "I have no idea, but it WASN'T me. Promise, okay?" She nodded and decided to let it drop.
"Well people, can we please get through this scene? Hmmmm?"
Shortly after lunch, Kitty walked into wardrobe to grab the costume Helen would require for that afternoon's shoot. She noticed that the racks were more messy than usual, but took no particular notice of anything specific. The place always had a look of having been hit by a tornado and she had been late getting back due to a flat tire, so was in a terrible hurry. She grabbed the suit and blouse which she had pressed earlier that morning and left the room on the run.
When she arrived at Helen's trailer, she overheard a dispute coming from within. Patrick was complaining that one of his two female co-stars had gotten lipstick on all three of his costume clerical collars.
"I can take a joke as well as th'next man, but this is serious. Wha' am I s'posed t'wear for ma shoot?" he said. "Sean says they all have lipstick on 'em! You two are somethin' else…just you wait! I'll think o'somethin'!"
"Pat, I'm telling you, neither Robbi or I have been anywhere near your stuff!" the woman responded.
There was silence for a minute, while he obviously dug the offending item from his pocket. "Oh? And I s'pose this isn't your color, then?" he said, sarcastically.
"Uh, yes it looks like mine, but…Patrick, I didn't do it!" she yelled to his retreating back.
The irate Irishman came crashing out of the dressing room, and Kitty was glad that she'd had the sense to stand back away from the door. She entered the trailer and told Helen that she was ready to dress her.
The two women were horrified when the actor actually stepped into her suit.
"PATRICK FITZGERALD!!! Get your Irish ass in here, and I mean now!!!" Helen yelled out of her trailer window to the man who was standing several yards away talking with one of the crew.
He looked surprised at her vehemence, but calmly walked over to the door of her trailer. When she opened the door, everyone within visual range reacted, including Patrick who burst out laughing at the sight of her. His laughter was contagious and soon everyone around them was snickering.
She stood framed in the door dressed in the suit she was supposed to wear for her scene with Martin later that afternoon. The jacket looked fine, but the skirt…it was ruined. Someone had let the hem down and even tacked on some material to lower the hemline to just above the knee. The really funny thing was that the additional material was a completely different pattern, not to mention color! The beautiful blonde looked utterly ridiculous.
"Okay, mister! Enough is enough! I can't believe you did this!" she was red-faced with anger.
"Uh, Helen…I didna do it. I don' know who did, but it wasn't m-m-me!" he replied, trying to control his hilarity in the face of her righteous ire.
"You said you'd get even with us! I'm supposed to believe that you didn't???" she asked sharply.
"Well, since your dresser was standin' outside with this suit when I came out o'your trailer, to be frank…yes, I do expect ya t'believe it!" he said, his eyes still sparkling with mirth.
Helen seemed nonplussed at his rational answer. Obviously the boy had a point, and his temper was typically Irish, quick to flare and quick to fade. He would never have been able to maintain his anger long enough to perform this hatchet job.
"But if you didn't do it, then who did? I mean, who would want to screw up the shoot like this?" she asked, truly perplexed.
"Well, I don' know, but obviously th'same culprit's responsible for messin' wi'both your clothes an' mine."
Martin walked over to the table where he had set down his coffee cup. He picked it up absentmindedly and took a large mouthful of the tepid liquid. As soon as the bitterness hit his taste buds, he spewed out the contents of his mouth with disgust! He began to cough and splutter as some of the liquid went down his throat.
"PAT!!!" he yelled, caught between laughter and anger at the other young man.
He recalled another incident where he had asked Patrick to hand him his coffee cup, and his co-star had mistakenly picked up Robbi's cup, which was full of her disgusting herbal tea, handing it to him so innocently. Not noticing the switch, Martin had taken a large swallow and reacted exactly as he had this time. The stuff was nasty, in his humble opinion, and he would bet that the Irishman was responsible for this incident as well as the last. In fact, he had never been quite sure that it had really been a mistake before!
"Whatcha want?" came the sounds of a soft Irish lilt raised in question.
Martin gazed at him with an 'oh yeah, play dumb' look. "Oh…as if you don't know, huh?" he said sarcastically.
The other young man just looked at him in confusion. "What? Know what? I'm no in the mood for games. I have t'get t'make-up, and it's gonna take long enough as it is. So jus tell me what you're talkin' about!"
"Are you telling me you didn't switch my coffee with Robbi's tea again?" he asked his co-star, point blank.
Patrick looked startled. "Me? Uh. No. I haven't even seen yer cup. Too, I thought once was quite enough." he said starting to smile at the memory of Martin's face when he had tasted the tea.
"Well someone sure as Hell did! This is my cup, right?" he continued as the other actor nodded his agreement, "Well, taste it!"
"Oh, no thanks. I think I'll take yer word fer it!" the Irishman said, starting to chuckle.
"Oh no you don't! I want witnesses! You at least smell it and tell me if it's coffee!" Martin was getting serious now.
Pat took the cup from his co-star's outstretched hand, and sniffed the contents. His nose wrinkled in distaste. The stuff even smelled nasty.
"Tha's Robbi's tea all right, but really Martin, I've no idea how it got there!" he emphasized the last part of his statement.
Martin was lying on the couch in the "living room" pretending to be asleep. His mouth still tasted gross after the tea incident, and he'd been chewing on gum, mints and chocolate…anything to take the bitter taste away. However, nothing had worked.
Helen was standing off to the side speaking with the director. She was wearing a wine colored pantsuit. After a thorough examination of the actor's wardrobe, Kitty had returned with the pantsuit in hand and a report that ALL of her skirts had been "let out" at the hem. Helen's wardrobe was in ruins and the dresser was at a complete and utter loss to explain how it had occurred. She was just thankful that the star was reasonable, and that she wouldn't be losing her job over it. Helen was secretly relieved. Maybe now she would be able to make some changes in the 'Rachel' wardrobe department, which she'd been trying to achieve for many months.
"Now Helen, I want "Rachel" to lean down ever so slightly and kiss "Nick" on the lips. Just a soft kiss. Got it?"
"Oh sure! I think its Martin you should be having this little chat with, not me!" she said, grinning impishly.
"Don't think I haven't tried!" he replied acerbically.
Allan then smiled and shouted for everyone to take their places. The man on the couch looked up at his co-star and winked. She nearly burst out laughing again. They had yet to get through the scene without the two of them cracking up. It had started three days before when Helen had leaned down to kiss the young man, and he had grabbed her, pulling her on top of him.
"Not this time laddie!" she said in an undertone to the young man grinning up at her. "I want to get home on time tonight. Andrea's daughter has a recital and I can't be late, so a little decorum, if you please."
He laughed and nodded. She walked out the "door" of the set, and prepared to do the scene. When the director yelled for action, Helen walked in the door and stopped.
"Nick?" she queried softly.
Deep breathing came from the direction of the couch. She walked over and stood looking down at the young man, supposedly sleeping soundly before her. She smiled to herself, and squatted down beside him. She reached over and brushed her fingers down his face. He sighed in his sleep, and she leaned forward to kiss him.
Suddenly she felt as if someone had grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked hard. The woman screamed in pain, and went flying backward about five feet to land on her behind at Eastman's feet. She just sat there with tears in her eyes, rubbing the back of her head.
"What the Hell?" Martin had come up off the couch with a yell.
Just when Helen had been thrown backwards, he had felt the touch of a woman's hand on his face and then lips pressed to his!
Derek, Robbi and Patrick had heard the scream and came running in from various parts of the soundstage. When they arrived, all hell broke loose. Unseen hands threw Robbi to join Helen on the floor.
Patrick suddenly felt, but didn't see, hands caressing him. They moved up his chest, wrapped themselves around his neck, and buried themselves in his hair. The touch was extremely sensual. Then he was kissed, passionately, by…nothing! He shook his head in shock at the feelings he was experiencing when the kiss dissipated.
Then Martin found himself sitting on the couch again, with what felt like a woman in his lap. The entity was kissing his face and neck, and rubbing her hands against his chest.
Almost the entire crew had gathered on the "living room" set and they watched in fascination as Derek was pushed back against the wall. The pajama top that he was wearing for his next scene was unbuttoned then pushed aside and he was practically seduced right there in public by invisible hands and lips. He felt like he was under assault, but it wasn't done in a violent manner. The touch was gentle and coaxing, as it had been for the other two men, but far more intimate.
As quickly as the activity started it stopped, and they all heard the amused giggle of a young woman. The three men looked decidedly sheepish. They had all enjoyed the sensations they had experienced, and were embarrassed by the fact that their pleasure was written on their faces for all to see.
Robbi, once she had gotten over her initial shock at being tossed across the room, was laughing aloud at the looks on the faces of her three co-stars. Helen was still rubbing the back of her head, but she looked slightly amused as well.
"Uh, what th'hell just happened here?" the handsome young Irishman asked the room at large, when he could finally speak.
"Well, normally I don't believe in such tings. However, after that little episode, I'd say that we have a ghost...and an amorous one at that. Fitting isn't it?" Derek replied in his dulcet Dutch tones, the last said with irony.
After a long discussion it was determined that several other men had had experiences similar to those of the three male stars. Among them were Garner Simmons, Donald Buchannan, Allan Eastman, two of the other property handlers, and three lighting technicians.
Of the women, it appeared only Robbi and Helen had experienced any sort of interaction with the entity. At least that seemed to be the case, until David Pargeter spoke up. He said that Samantha had been on the receiving end of the ghostly humor with the wind machine. It appeared to be indirect, but he asked if they could really tell for sure that she hadn't been the target and Derek the innocent bystander.
"What are you talking about Dave?" the co-executive producer asked sharply. "What happened with the wind machine? You mean yesterday?"
"Uh…yes sir. You see, when Mr. deLint asked me to shut it down, I tried…." he stopped and looked around, then continued, "When it stopped, everyone just assumed that I had turned it off…but it wasn't even plugged in" he finished lamely.
"Jesus! Why didn't you say something before now?" someone asked harshly.
"I did. I told Tami, but she didn't believe me, so I just shut up" the effects specialist said, looking directly at his boss. Then he added, "Although, I must say that I don't think any of you would have believed me either if you hadn't seen this with your own eyes."
Before anyone could respond, little Alex Purvis spoke up and said, "I think I saw it...or at least it took my book. Hey, it messed with my homework, too!" she said the last gleefully as the thought occurred to her.
They all began to speak at once when they realized that the "pranks" which had been taking place that day could all probably be chalked up to the ghost as well.
"Well, that's what poltergeist's do, right? They move things, mess with people and things, they're…well in a word, they're pranksters." said Garner Simmons when the noise level had diminished.
"So what do we do about it?" Robbi asked the question that was on all their minds.
Garner looked around and said, "Well, it would probably help if we could determine what had prompted these 'visits'. About when did they start?"
They discussed the events again and figured out that they had started the day before, right after Chad had brought in the urn.
"The urn!" the property handler said, slapping his palm to his forehead.
They all turned to look at him as he started chuckling. He looked around and shook his head. He couldn't believe that he had caused all this uproar by bringing the thing into the studio.
"What about the urn, Chad?" the co-executive producer asked, his patience wearing very thin.
"I noticed a decided…um…well…it was after I had cleaned the thing. That night I was particularly…uh…restless…" he trailed off not knowing just how to finish his thought in front of so many people. He didn't really want to admit that he thought that the urn had made him extra horny.
"Ah…I see." Robbi said, grinning. She obviously did see much more than the young man had anticipated. A few of the men snickered appreciatively and the property handler blushed a deep pink.
"So, you think it's the urn which has caused all this?" the co-executive producer asked, and Chad just nodded emphatically. "Well, I don't see much we can do about it short of calling in a para-psychological team, which I do not want to do. You understand me, people? We do NOT need that sort of publicity, especially given our show's subject matter. Let's just hope that this aberration decides to leave us alone soon. Oh and get that thing out of here, now!"
Helen Shaver had decided that she wanted a better look at the urn that seemed to be at the root of all their problems, and so had volunteered to dispose of it. She had some little experience with the Latin and Greek languages due to her classical education. She thought that perhaps she could decipher enough of the inscription on the vase to help their situation. The writing was very worn and hard to read, and she began to whisper the words aloud in her concentration. She wasn't sure what they all meant, but she did recognize enough of them to know that the inscription was dedicated to two lovers.
Suddenly, what appeared to be a young woman, wearing long flowing garments and a chaplet of bright gold on her dark auburn hair, began to materialize before her very eyes. She was beautiful and very ethereal looking. However, she was semi-transparent.
"Who are you?" Helen asked in shock. "Are you real? Is it you who have been doing these things?" she continued, gingerly touching the back of her head, which was still sore from earlier in the day.
The ghost looked over at her and smiled a beautifully sweet smile. "I am sorry for hurting you Helen…with hair as glorious as that of the most famous of all Helens. I didn't intend to pull so hard. I am unused to my pseudo-corporeal form and I was unaware of my own strength."
The blond looked closely at the young woman before her and decided that she was the most beautiful creature she could remember. Perhaps it was the garments, but she appeared almost "queenly".
Aloud she said, "Oh that's alright, but who are you and why are you here?"
The petite brunette looked sad. "I am Cressida of Troy and I am searching for my lover, Trolius."
"Cressida? Trolius? Wait a minute, you are just literary figures, aren't you? I mean, I've read the play, but I didn't think you were real!" the actor said, wonderingly.
A quizzical look came over the face of the girl before her. "Play? What is this?"
Helen thought furiously for a moment trying to think of a way to explain theater to this creature that had existed long before such a thing existed. Suddenly, she had an inspiration.
"Well. Think of it as a drama. A story of two people separated by war."
The woman smiled, "Ah. A story. I see. About my love and I? May I see this 'play'?"
Helen looked surprised, but recovered herself quickly. It was only natural for the woman to wish to see what had been written about her. "Of course, I have it in the house somewhere. Wait here for a moment, and I'll be right back."
The girl nodded and 'sat' down on the couch to wait. Soon the actor walked in with a script in her hands. She recalled clearly her experience with playing the part of Cressida in college…most certainly she never expected to come face to face with her! She handed the script to the young woman, who turned the pages with awe. Helen noticed that the ghost's hands didn't really touch the script. It seemed to be resting just above her hands, and the fingers that turned the pages didn't actually come in contact with the document.
"Of what is this made?" she asked in wonder.
Helen had no idea what she meant at first, then enlightenment dawned. "Oh, it's paper. Uh…similar to papyrus I believe, but made from wood pulp, rather than leaves."
The brunette nodded absently, stroking at the pages with long, loving fingers. She began to read in earnest. When she was through, she looked at Helen and smiled enigmatically.
"And this is what the world believes to have happened?" she asked.
The older woman nodded. "Well, yes. I supposed it is. Is it…uh…incorrect?" she asked.
"Let us say that it is not entirely accurate, or at least, it does not go far enough I suppose. It is true that I promised my love to Trolius, and then forgot my pledge when I was returned to my father. However, by the time his horse was brought to me, I was consumed with guilt and was devastated by what I thought had been Trolius' death. The servant miscommunicated Diomedes' message. I saw only one escape from my pain, and so I ended my own life."
Helen was enraptured with the images that the young woman was conjuring up for her. Young lovers parted by war, and misunderstandings. She could see well how the woman before her could contemplate taking her own life after being the cause of the death of the man she loved.
"What happened then? How did you wind up inside this urn?" she asked, indicating the vessel sitting on her desk.
The brunette sighed deeply. "Trolius came to reassure me, and found my lifeless body. He then turned his knife on himself, realizing that I had truly loved him. When Aphrodite discovered that we had killed ourselves out of love, she asked us if we truly wanted to be together for eternity. When we said yes, she placed us both in the urn, thus allowing us to be together."
Helen said, "How romantic! So all came right in the end?"
Cressida laughed harshly, "Oh yes, very romantic…at first. However, after eons spent in nothing but each other's company, we began to realize that the spell was in fact, a curse. Now the spell has been loosed and Trolius has gone out into the world. After all this time, he was evidently enamoured of the chance to take human form again."
There were tears in her eyes when she looked at Helen. "I miss him terribly. You cannot imagine how it feels to be deprived of his company after so long a time. I feel bereft. I understand his desire to be free of the urn, but I only wish he had seen fit to take me with him." The last was said with a catch in her voice, and the actor was at a loss of what to say to make the young woman feel better.
Not being able to come up with anything that might make the situation seem more hopeful she settled for, "Well, perhaps things will look better in the morning. You can come to the studio with me tomorrow and we'll explain everything. I'm certain that they'll all want to help."
The two women, human and spirit, were just finishing their explanation to the cast and crew about the reasons for the disturbances of the past week. Cressida ended her confession with an abject apology for all the mayhem she had caused.
"We have been trapped inside that vessel for far too long. I must apologize for my behavior, but I was so happy to be free I'm afraid that I lost control. It was…oh how do you say it now? Ah yes, fun!" She said, grinning mischievously as she finished.
Robbi grinned at her and said, "I'll just bet it was…for you at least!"
The ghost winked at her, looked around and said, "I hope you can all forgive me. I truly meant no harm to anyone. However, I wished to ascertain whether Trolius inhabited any of the male bodies here. I sense that he is here, but where, I cannot tell." She seemed saddened by the fact that her beloved Trolius was hiding from her.
Patrick was gazing at the petite beauty in something akin to awe. Martin's expression was not far removed from that of his co-star. Both men were obviously smitten by the unique young woman, spirit or no. As she looked around the room, Helen noticed similar looks on quite a few of the men's faces. "And Helen was the one for whom the war was fought? How much more beautiful she must have been" she thought in wonder.
"Why not just tell him how much you miss him. Maybe then he will make himself known to us." She asked Cressida, feeling the spirit's loss.
The young woman considered the wisdom of her newfound friend's counsel, and decided that she had a point. "Perhaps you are right, Helen. If Trolius cared for me at all, he would not want me to be sad."
In a much louder voice she said, "Trolius! Please my love, come back to me. I miss you dreadfully. I know how you long for physical form once again, but think of me…beloved, I beg you."
To everyone's surprise, Chad stepped forward and spoke in a voice not his own, "Cressida, I am here my love. I should never have left you. Please forgive my lapse."
"Trolius!" the young spirit cried and ran to him. She stopped just short of his embrace and looked up into the eyes of the man whose body contained the spirit of her lover.
She sighed deeply. "You must come back to me my love."
The room was hushed as the two lovers -- one corporeal in form inhabiting Chad's body, one spirit -- clashed in their wills.
"No, I'm not ready to give up the pleasures of the flesh yet. You know that the physical form allows for many sensations, which we are unable to enjoy in your state. Do not ask it of me Cressida." He said.
She looked hurt. "You do not even wish to be with me any more, do you Trolius? Eternity has ended all too soon, hasn't it?"
He looked down at her wistfully. "Of course I want to be with you. My love for you has never wavered." His voice dropped to a whisper as he continued, "Join me beloved. We could be together as we should have been. I assure you, it will be exquisite. Come, take a host and join me. Let me love you as you were intended to be loved."
She glanced at the blond standing behind her. Her new friend. The woman who had helped her to find her love…Helen. Could she do it? Should she? He was right, they should never have been deprived of their physical love. The temptation of knowing what it was like to be really loved by a man was just too great to withstand. She nodded briefly at Chad/Trolius, and turned.
She walked directly to Helen and only said, "Forgive me my friend" before walking forward again to merge with her. Patrick, sensing what was going to happen, lunged to grab the ghost as she stepped into the body of the blond actor. He missed and went skidding across the floor. After he came to a stop, he realized that even had he not missed completely, he wouldn't have been able to touch the spirit.
Everyone panicked when they realized what had happened.
"Helen! Answer me!" Garner cried, grabbing and shaking her.
The woman in his arms smiled sweetly. "She's here. She says not to worry, she understands why we are doing this."
"And why is that?" he asked angrily.
Trolius stepped forward, disengaging the producer's fingers from Cressida's arms. "Chad and Helen know, and that is enough. We will not harm them, but you cannot stop us either."
And with that he took his beloved's hand and walked away. The people parted before them like the Red Sea before Moses, and they marched sedately out of the room.
"God Dammit!!!" Garner yelled and slammed his fist down on the table at his side. "I KNEW I should never have let her take that bloody urn home in the first place! Now what do we do?"
"Well, I don't know that we can 'do' anything at the moment." Derek's soft Dutch voice spoke the words that they all knew to be the truth. "It would seem that they have the upper hand at the moment. We must just pray that they were speaking the truth when they said they wouldn't hurt Helen or Chad."
A young female voice was heard over the murmured voices in the room. "Uh, Mr. Simmons? Clair Michaels is on the telephone. She wants to speak to her husband."
He looked disgusted. "Of course she does! Why not? It's not like we have a CRISIS here or anything! JUST TELL HER HE'S UNAVAILABLE! Hell! I don't even know where he is at the moment!"
He then sent everybody about his or her business. Most of the crew disbursed to go home. Some returned to setting up sets, and six people elected to stay and wait for the lover's return. Patrick, Robbi, Derek, Martin, Allan and Garner. They didn't speak a word; each consumed with their own thoughts about the matter.
Just when the waiting was becoming unbearable, Trolius and Cressida walked in. They were holding hands and there was a gleam in their eyes that spoke of extreme satisfaction. Robbi couldn't look at them without grinning from ear to ear. It was obvious to her that the two lovers had finally consummated their relationship, at the expense of the two living beings whom they occupied. The two lovers stood looking at the six individuals waiting for their reappearance.
"Were you concerned that we wouldn't return?" Trolius asked, smiling. He turned and kissed Cressida affectionately.
The men in the room turned their heads. Robbi, however, laughed heartily. Cressida smiled and winked at her. They were teasing them, and she seemed to be the only one capable of appreciating it. "Leave it to a woman to understand the subtleties of the situation", she thought.
"So, what now?" she asked them.
Cressida looked up at her love and he spoke for both of them. "We have decided that as much as we enjoy this form, your friends deserve to live their own lives. Cressida told me much of your Helen and her beautiful family. I assume that Chad has a family of his own. We cannot deprive them of their loved ones as we were deprived of each other. So we will go."
The relief evident on the faces of the men was amusing to Robbi, who had never had any doubts as to the outcome. These two were in love after millennia. They would understand love in a way that few people ever could, and therefore, would be much more sensitive to the emotions of the people they had chosen as their corporeal vessels.
"However, before we go, we would like to be able to let these two wonderful people know how much we appreciate their sacrifice. Can any of you think of a way in which this could be accomplished? A message of some sort? Cressida mentioned…uh what was it my love?"
"Paper." She replied softly.
"Ah yes. Paper. A substance which holds the written word. Could someone show us how to record our message on this 'paper'?" Trolius asked.
Patrick leaned over to Derek and Allan, who were sitting next to him. The three men held a low voiced conversation, amid much head nodding and smiling. Finally the Irishman spoke.
"I think we can do ya better than tha'." He said. "We can record a video message for them."
The two lovers looked very confused. "Video?" they asked in unison.
Pat smiled, stood and said, "C'mon, I'll show ya."
They all headed for the set, and went into the "living-room" where they had been taping the day before when all the confusion had set in. Soon, with Patrick working the camera and Allan giving directions to the two people from the past, they put together a video recording of Trolius and Cressida explaining their situation and expressing their deepest gratitude to Chad and Helen.
When they were finished, Martin produced the urn. He had retrieved it from the room where they had all met earlier that morning.
"So how do you undo this thing?" he asked, curious.
Cressida spoke. "It is quite simple. Do you see these words?" she asked, pointing to a portion of the inscription.
"Yes." He replied.
"Just recite those words after we have vacated Helen and Chad's bodies. That will restore us to our rightful place within the urn." Her eyes had tears in them at the thought of spending eternity inside the vessel, which had become their prison.
Derek spoke up. "Wait. Isn't there another way? Could you not just remain unbound and free to go on to Heaven…uh, I mean Elysium?" he asked, desperate in his desire to save them from a future he also saw as prisonlike.
The woman looked up into the eyes of her lover questioningly. He looked at her with newfound hope.
"Possibly. Do you think that it might work?" he asked the Dutchman excitedly.
Derek turned to look questioningly at Patrick, who by nature of his birth knew much more about spirits and mythology than any one present. The young Irishman nodded his assent.
"It might just work, a'that." He said encouragingly. "I think tha' they have spent long enough inside tha' thing myself." And he pointed at the offending object in Martin's hand.
Cressida spoke up. "Well, if we vacate these bodies, perhaps Helen can help. She knew enough Ancient Greek to summon me into a more visible form. She also knows much of Greek history. We can but try."
Garner spoke for the first time since the couple's return. "Well, I say we try. Even if Helen doesn't know, I'm sure we can find someone who does. And if you have to return to the urn for a time, I promise you, it will not be for long. I personally will do all in my power, as will everyone here, to see you released. Agreed?"
The two lovers faced each other and embraced one final time before being parted again. Their expressions were bittersweet. Trolius bent and kissed Cressida deeply, and stepped back out of Chad's body. Cressida followed suit, and soon the two were both standing behind the embracing couple. When Chad and Helen realized that they were kissing each other, and with a passion that was all encompassing, they jumped back as if scalded, each turning bright pink.
Martin actually laughed out loud and received a scathing look from Helen. She wiped at her mouth surreptitiously, as did Chad. Everyone started talking at once, and the moment of panic Helen felt at her situation was glossed over.
"Helen, you have to help us." Robbi said to their co-star.
"In what way? Haven't I 'helped' quite enough for one day?" she asked sarcastically.
It was obvious that both participants remembered everything that they had done, if not the emotions that went along with their actions. While Chad was mildly amused and not a little excited by the fact that he had made love to a famous star, Helen was horrified at her role in the little drama that was unfolding.
"Uh, how much do you remember?" the tall woman asked her friend in an undertone.
Helen looked at her and grimaced. "Everything. Well, I don't remember 'feeling' anything, but I certainly remember 'doing' EVERYTHING!" she whispered back.
Robbi's eyebrow went up and she smiled as she put her arm around the shorter woman.
"Don't worry. It was all in a good cause. However, I actually meant, how much about the whole situation do you remember. Do you remember Cressida and Trolius?" she asked, amused at Helen's embarrassment at her misunderstanding the question.
"Oh that. Yes." The older woman answered, even more embarrassed by the minute.
Robbi nodded her head. "Good. Well the long and short of it is this. We need to find a way to release them from the urn for good." She started laughing at the horror on Helen's face. "No Helen! Not so that they can continue to 'use' you, or any one else for that matter. So that they can go to Elysium where they rightfully belong."
The blond actor looked very relieved at the thought that they would be leaving. She wasn't sure how or why she had been dragged into all of this in the first place. She looked behind her and saw the young spirit who had been the cause of her embarrassment and was touched by the tears apparent in the ghost's eyes.
"Why so sad?" she asked diffidently.
"Oh Helen, I never meant to harm you. I'm so sorry! The temptation to be with Trolius was just too strong for me. Please forgive me my friend! Of course, you don't wish to be my friend now, do you?" she asked sorrowfully.
Helen was surprised at the real pain in the girl's face. "Oh don't be silly! Of course you are my friend, and I will find a way to help you both, you'll see." She said, finally understanding the truth of what had happened to her.
The blonde turned to Martin and said, "Give me the urn, will you? There's an inscription on here that I think might be what we are looking for. Aha, here it is!"
She turned to the two spirit lovers standing side by side. "Trolius, is this what I think it is?" she asked him.
He looked at the spot where her finger rested and his eyes went wide. "Of course! I knew she would never keep her word! That…that…wonderful goddess!!!" he cried and would have picked Cressida up and spun her around if he'd been able.
At his beloved's look of confusion, he explained. "Aphrodite wrote a clause into the spell. If, for any reason, we take human form the binding spell is nullified. Cressida, my love, we are free!" he said joyfully.
Even as he spoke, the two figures started to fade gradually. Their voices were heard thanking them even after they had disappeared from view, but soon they were no more.
After they were gone, the entire group felt a little depressed. To have been in the company of such famous figures, and not to have asked a single question. Only Helen had had any real conversation with either of the two lovers. They all wanted to know what Cressida was really like, and she did her best to try to explain. However, she knew that she couldn't do the beautiful creature justice.
In the end all she could say was, "She was a woman in love."
Martin added in an undertone that only Patrick, Robbi and Derek could hear, "You betcha! A very frisky woman in love, if you ask me! I mean those Ancient Greeks really knew how to play!!!!" and they all grinned and nodded.