The two walked into the next room, fairly bored by now. The tour didn't cover half the rooms in the castle and ended before the bulk of the reported hauntings were said to have taken place. Considering how jumpy Jess had been, he wondered why she agreed to sneak away from the herd and stay the night. For his part, Layne was just curious if there was anything to the stories. Experience taught him virtually all of the tours of allegedly haunted places were petty cash grabs, regardless of the truthfulness of their claims. So far, this place didn't seem to hold up to the rumors about it. The night was already half over, security guards long since out of their hair, and not a thing yet. Well, aside from Jess scaring herself half to death with every creak of the floorboard or rat scurrying about, but even she was starting to calm down after hours of zilch.
They decided to take a break at the room in which they currently were. Out of a backpack, Layne pulled a couple of granola bars for himself, a small bag of Doritos for Jess and water bottles for the both of them. As they settled in for their snacks, they began to mock the other people who had been on the tour with them.
"Hah! Can you believe that kid," Jessica chuckled, "Too scared to walk into one of those rooms early on, and his parents had to take him and leave? It wasn't even 7:30 yet! I would never have been such a baby!"
Layne had some doubts about that, but dropped the thought in favor of the more amusing topic. "Hahaha, and did you hear that woman, 'Oh yes, I'm getting lots of orbs in this room.' Oh. My. God. You don't know how many times I've heard some middle-aged fart say that on these tours."
He held his head and laughed some more, remembering them. "She wasn't even the most obnoxious about it. Oh my God, I remember this one dude bragging about how he's going to show his pictures to his society and add them to their extensive catalogue. He's photographed all sorts of phenomena, you know, and even some very compelling EVPs, uh, that's Electronic Voice Phenomena, in case you didn't know, and just Oh my freakin god, I could go on and on, these people are hilarious."
They continued chatting amicably, the topics gradually moving along as they munched away. When they were done, they stuffed their trash into the backpack and stood up, refreshed and ready to continue their own illicit tour of the place, now less apprehensive than ever.
Facing Jessica, Layne began, "Alright then, are you read-" but stopped as a chill came over him. He froze at the sensation. Almost as if on cue, the floor boards outside the room began to creak loudly to the rhythm of a slow but sturdy gait. Jess clung to Layne as the sound got closer and peeked around him at the doorway.
"I don't see anything.." she whispered hopefully.
"Let's just stay a bit longer and see if it starts up again," he whispered back. That sensation still tugged at him. He wasn't always sure if it was just his paranoia, or if something was actually there. Sussing out the difference had always been a tricky thing, and he wondered if that was even possible. Impatient, Jess interrupted his thoughts.
"Oh, come on now, look, nothing is there. The creaking stopped too," she paused to gasp, a smirk tugging at the corners of her mouth, "Wait a minute....I geeet it. You're scared, aren't you?" she poked his chest mockingly and continued "Trying to act like a tough guy, but I see through that now! You're just as scared as anyone else!"
An enraptured cackle escaped her, much to Layne's chagrin, who flustered with a scowl. He didn't want to admit she had a point; nothing else was happening, no chairs flying, no paranormal wind. If there was really nothing there, then he'd feel like a gigantic fool.
He sighed in acknowledgment and sagged his shoulders, pushing Jess lightly and turned around to the sight of a disfigured body, twisted and contorted unnaturally, somehow standing in the middle of the room. It was pale in some areas, but he could just make out dark lines, possibly lacerations, across its torso. It moved its head slightly, causing Layne to jump and realize it was staring right at them.
For the second time, he froze, but for the first time began to tremble. The animosity he felt pulsating from the being was staggering as the stink of decay found its way to his nose. He glanced to the doorway, wondering if they could make a break for it safely. Returning his sight to the ghost, he found they were nearly nose to nose. He screamed and jumped back, knocking into Jessica behind him.
"Ow! What the hell, Layne?! C'mon! This isn't funny! I'm getting really freaked out, okay?!"
"Oh ya don't say?! Believe me Jess, of the things you should be right now, freaked out is definitely one of them!," Layne practically yelled.
He coughed and held his sleeve over his mouth and nose. "You seriously don't even smell that?" he asked, eyes glued to the ghostly creature. It raised a broken arm, spectral flesh hanging from exposed bone. Layne nearly gagged and backed farther away from it.
"No, I don't, Layne, come on, this isn't funny," Jess replied, "Can you PLEASE stop and let's go!"
She tried to push him towards the door, but he barely budged, opting instead to reach his arm back protectively and move slowly around the ghost.
"UGH! I'm not playing this game, Layne, god! You're such an ass!" Jess shouted at him and pushed him out of the way, storming towards the door.
"No! Jess, wait!" Layne grabbed her arm and pulled her back just as a wooden beam from the ceiling fell, swooping towards the direction she was headed. It smashed against the wall loudly.
A moment of shocked calm fell over the place as the crash echoed down the castle's halls. Layne hugged Jess tightly, who began to sob in panic.
"What the fuck was that, Layne?!" she nearly screeched, "I want to get out of here, NOW!"
"You and me both Jess," Layne replied, fatigued.
They stood for a moment, too frightened to do anything else, when Layne discovered the creature was missing - had been missing for some minutes now. His stomach tightened at the realization as his eyes frantically darted about for any sign of movement. Moments later, an ominous growl emanated from the blackest corner of the room, pouring ice down both of their backs.
"Oh shit... Ru-!" Layne began to say, but was interrupted by a dark ooze that spilled from his mouth. He turned Jess around and pushed her towards the door, following right on her heels.
They flew down the corridors until they reached the other end of the castle, not looking back once until they reached the familiarity of the tour guide route. Whey they stopped, Layne doubled over, vomiting still more of the unnatural ooze.
"OH MY GOD, IS IT FOLLOWING US?!" Jess yelled frantically.
Layne, held up his arm and shook his head. A few minutes later, he stood up, wiped his mouth on his sleeve and breathed deeply.
"Holy SHIT that was brutal. Fucking mother of god." he panted, putting his hands on his hips.
"Uuuuhhh, whatthefuckisthatshityouthrewupLayne?" Jess asked bluntly.
"THAT," Layne answered as he pointed at the semi-gelatinous pile on the ground, still getting his breath back, "Is ectoplasm... I think... It's ... That happens sometimes around ghosts. The really nasty ones it usually ends up being." He nodded and breathed heavily, "Oooh god, that was some scary shit. I'm.. are you ready to go home? Cause I am." He laughed, but it didn't hide his adrenaline induced shivers.