Tricks, Not Treats


griffin_icon.gif tess_icon.gif child-owain_icon.gif

Scene Title Tricks, Not Treats
Synopsis A ghost summoning at a famous park becomes a little too real thanks to some Evolved powers.
Date October 31, 2010

Greenwich Village

Washington Square Park is one of New York City's landmarks, a storied place in local lore and history. The hallmark arch and fountain make it a popular site for public protests; the elm tree on one end is legendary, if incorrectly, for being the site of many hangings, earning it the name Hangman's Elm. And the thousands of feet that cross it each day may not belong to people who know that once was a public cemetery, a potter's field for the poor and indigent people of New York before it was actually New York, as well as the final resting place of those who had once died of a Yellow Fever outbreak, in order to try to keep the contagion away from the inhabited areas in the 19th century.

It's also a popular place for ghost hunters, and tonight, it is the final spot of a "haunted walking tour," with the ghost hunters promising to try to rouse the spirits and communicate with the dead. It's a little early, thanks to the curfew of 9 p.m. The witching hour of midnight is still several hours away; the sun has just set and it's only six p.m. as the tour makes its way to the park.

The head ghost hunter climbs up onto the fountain of the cemetery to address the group of two dozen tourists and his fellow six "ghost hunters," those carrying video cameras and various pieces of equipment meant to register sounds and electro magnetic activity.

The various lore told on the walk to the park from their last stop, a haunted bar that yielded nothing, the man calls out. "I'm going to try to call to the ghosts. Be very quiet and keep an open mind. If you feel or see anything strange, let me know," says Josh, the portly redheaded leader. He looks more like a cabbie than a paranormal expert. "Spirits of Washington Square! We are listening!"

A snicker comes from one of the tour members, and another rolls her eyes. It's something to do on Halloween, but not everyone here is a believer.

You can't live in New Orleans for twenty years and not wonder about ghosts, vampires and other supernatural creepy crawlies. Especially once the evolved came out. So it's no surprise to see Tess in the group of people hoping that these ghost hunters can actually summon up a spook. But she's grinning with her own touch of skepticism, despite the fact that this walking tour means she's been walking on an injured ankle. Still, Halloween only comes once a year, and she's stubborn enough to force herself to walk on that ankle.

Normally, Griffin doesn't buy into this kind of thing, especially not with the revelation that Evolved exist. However, his son, who thinks that he's just some random family member, doesn't feel the same way. The boy wanted to go do something scary, and Marjorie never was much of one for spooky places. So Griffin stepped forward, offering to bring the boy on this lovely ghost tour.

Owain is dressed up as the boy from Where the Wild Things are, carrying a large bag with its fair share of candy. Griff himself is dressed quite like a gangster, his pinstripe suit accompanied by a black bowler hat and wingtips, and his usual black cane. The boy stays close to his father, a cheerful look on his features as he looks around.

Josh holds a hand out, as if to keep everyone quiet. Suddenly, he glances to his left, where nothing is visible, then down at a piece of electronic equipment in his hand. "Got a spike!" he says, and several people look wide-eyed with anticipation.

"Who are you? Were you buried here? Show us a sign!"

Nothing visible or audible happens, but then one of the hunters shivers. "I just felt a puff of cold air on my neck and felt like something was standing really close to me," the woman says, blond hair in a ponytail and glasses perched on her nose. "Anyone get anything?"

Those not part of the hunting group move nervously — some apparently excited, others clearly thinking about leaving.

"Man, this is lame," a young man with a NYU shirt mutters to Tess.

Tess glances to the man who spoke, grinning at him. "Maybe, but it's Halloween. We gotta have some sorta cheesy spooky thing. And could be worse. 'Sides, they might have some cool special effects set up. So…we wait'n see," she tells him with a shrug before looking back towards the hunters.

Griffin smirks quietly, watching the hunters with an amused expression. Owain peeks up at his father, frowning. "Mr. Griffin, this is boring. They're just pretending…" The boy frowns, while Griffin pats his shoulder. "Shhh, don't be rude." He winks down at his son, turning to peer quietly at the group of hunters. He could help the tour be a bit better for these people, but it's much more amusing to watch the people try to make something seem scary.

"Special effects? Special effects?" says the woman with the blond ponytail starying at Tess. "This is not about special effects. We are bonafide paranormal experts. This is about science!" Her voice escalates with each word; her fellow hunters nod vigorously while others step away from the vehement woman.

"You're upsetting the ghosts!" says Josh, glancing at the readout. "We can't be accountable for anything that might happen if —"

Suddenly an icy breeze rustles through clothing and hair, and the NYU student gasps, pointing a finger at Owain: behind the ten year old stands a gaunt, yellowish-skinned man in shabby clothing not usually seen in the 21st century. "Pardon, little boy," says the vision, tapping Owain with a yellow finger on the shoulder, "could you spare a cent or two?" A bony hand turns upward.

A man with a noose around his neck, face blue and bruised looking, appears next to Tess, gripping her sleeve. "Ma'am, ma'am, I think I need a doctor," he croaks out, his free hand going to his neck and pulling at the rotten looking rope.

Tess shrugs helplessly at the woman screeching at her, then she jumps a little when the hung man grabs at her sleeve. For a moment she just stares before she lets out a squeal of…delight? "Oh my gawd! Awesome!" She clearly believes it's just one of those special effects, and she reaches out to try to tug gently on the rope as well. "Dude, you need a mortician, not a doctor," she 'helpfully' informs the man.

Griff rolls his eyes up toward the sky for a moment at Blondie McPonytail's outburst, shaking his head. He turns his eyes back down toward his son just in time for the boy to scream and leap away from the yellow-skinned man. Griffin almost gets angry, but quickly recalls that this is what they payed for. With a shrug, the man puts his hand on Owain's shoulder, peering thoughtfully at the gaunt figure.

At the very sudden, very corporeal appearances of the two men, Josh reels back, tumbling with a splash and a yell into the fountain. The hunters squeal and reel back, bringing video cameras up to capture the images on film, glancing at electrical equipment and shaking their heads as they see no spikes in activity that would correlate to the entities' presence.

The walking corpse that accosted Tess suddenly staggers past her, groping at people in the crowd who scream and shake him off.

Suddenly, wisps of silvery gray seem to curl up from the ground beneath their feet, and hundreds of translucent figures in 19th century garb begin pull on ankles with chilly fingers as they rise out of the ground.

"Do you want to play a game?" a little girl asks Owain, as her translucent form begins to solidify, a red rash all over the girls pale white cheeks hinting that she may have died of something like smallpox.

A silvery cat weaves through Griffin's legs before springing at his face — but instead of claws and fur, Griffin simply feels cold — and then the cat disappears.

"We're not doing this! We're not doing this!" the blond woman says, clinging to Tess now as if the petite Cajun will be able to protect the "paranormal expert."

"Aww, he wandered off. But Tess seems thrilled regardless. "These are some fuckin' awesome effects!" she says brightly, before realizing that it's the hunter who's clinging to her. "You're not? You mean those are real?" she asks, sounding skeptical, but not trying to brush the woman off. If anything, the grip helps her keep her weight off her bad foot. "No way. This is just part of the act," she decides, eyeing the nearest figure, then reaching a hand out, to wave it back forth through the figure.

Owain screams as the translucent figures appear and pull at ankles, clinging tightly to Griffin. Griff himself is glancing around, his eyes narrowed, as if searching to see if he can see anyone who isn't reacting as strangely as everyone else, while he lifts his frightened son up and holds him close. "Shhh, shhh." He mumbles this in a calming voice. "We won't be hurt. I'm here to protect you." He glowards at what must be an illusion. An Evolved, it must be.

Of the 24 or so walking tourists, most seem split down the middle into two camps — scared like Owain or excited like Tess. Griffin seems to be in his own category as does NYU man who looks amused but not pumping with the adrenaline of excitement or terror. A little smirk curves his lips as he turns here and there, as if to watch the goings on.

It's hard to see in the dim light, but there is a slightly odd tint to his eyes — a gleam of silver that flickers and fades, as new things come to life — or undead life, as it were — where he glances.

The little girl begins to cry when Owain screams, running off and fading into nothingness. Here and there, the figures that were translucent solidify enough to touch or tug, pulling on people's hair or grabbing their clothes.

One figure smacks Tess's hand with cold, almost skeletal fingers. "That, Madame, is rude," the figure says with a British accent.

Tess blinks in surprise as she gets her hand slapped and told off. "Well, I had to see how real you were," she explains with a shrug. "I don't think you're really real though." She steps closer, peering at the figure, nearly getting nose to nose with it. "Are you really real? You feel cold, so I'm guessin' you're either real or someone's got one hell of a good ability for Halloween. I'm kinda hopin' you're real though."

Poor little Owain is crying into his father's shoulder, while the man soothingly rubs the boy's back. Thankful for the chaos of it all, with Owain hiding in his shoulder, Griffin's eyes turn from green to a milky bluish-white color, focussed on the NYU man. Two of those telekinetic arms reach out, and oh-so-gently grab NYU man's shoulders, giving them a squeeze, before releasing them. Just to test.

After all, his ability is great for Halloween too.

The spirit Tess goes tete-a-tete with grabs her hands and gives her a twirl, just as an eerie violin begins to play a haunting and familiar tune — Danse Macabre, for those classical music fans — but everything pauses for a couple of seconds when the college student gets shaken by invisible hands.

Everything flickers. All of the translucent figures, all of the corporeal corpses. It's like a glitch in a film reel for a moment, before the man gets his attention back, though his eyes dart around, looking here and there for whatever just shook him.

The other "spirits" grab one another, starting to spin and twirl to the eerie waltz, allowing their dancing steps to take them further away from the group and then they begin to disappear, back into the ground as if returning to their resting places.

Josh has finally climbed out of the water, shaking the equipment in his hands that is now water logged and swearing. "Holy shit! Fuck! That was amazing! Tell me you got it on film!" he demands of the blond woman and her cohorts.

Tess lets out a laugh as she gets twirled, though the smile turns quickly to a confused pout when the scene flickers. "Heeeey. I don't care if it's just a special effect, stop makin' it go all wonky!" she complains, loudly. But then the spirits are wandering off and she goes into full on pout mode….for seven point two seconds…before beaming. "Awesome! Who did that? You takin' tips? 'Cause that was cool for Halloween!" she says, glancing around and grinning.

Griffin smiles faintly, his eyes hooded to hide the change to the best of his ability. NYU fellow certainly didn't hurt anyone, so he can't quite get angry. But his son is crying, and a little bit of payback might be in order. "It's okay. It's over, see?" He squeezes the boy, who lifts his head and rubs his eyes, peering around.

"I didn't like that, Mr. Griffin. I didn't think they would actually call spirits!" Poor boy. Griffin sets him down, squeezing the boy's shoulder. "It's okay, they're gone now." That doesn't mean he can't mess with NYU fellow. Suddenly, NYU fellow will feel another tap on his shoulder…followed quickly by some invisible force pulling up his pant leg.

"You paying? I did it," the NYU student brags — after all, Tess is cute and she seems impressed — he might get more than some money out of it, if he's lucky. He turns to grin at Tess when he feels that tap and turns, expecting more praise, perhaps, but sees no one. Then he reaches down to grab his pant leg. "Hey! Stop it!"

The ghost hunters don't look very happy either — they were trying to do a serious inquiry into the supernatural and paranormal. Evolved abilities were not what they were here to investigate. They grumble among themselves, stalking off with anger. They'll have to return another day, without an audience of strangers.

Unfortunately for the illusionist, one of the tourists is an off-duty DHS agent. "You got your registration on you, kid?" the man says, striding forward and pulling out his badge to flash at the kid, who grows pale. The answer is evident on this face: No.

"You did? Awesome!" Tess says, moving over to the student, limping the whole way. "Awww. C'mon man, just leave him alone, will ya? He was just puttin' on a show for Halloween. He didn't hurt no one. It was awesome," she tells the DHS agent, giving him her best charming smile. And being a Zarek, she does charming well.

Oho. DHS. Griffin has never been more thankful that someone else caught the bad rap this time. Owain is still crying; Griffin uses this as an excuse to get the hell out of here, his eyes fading back to their normal green. His son is picked up, the man patting the boy's back. "Let's go get you some ice cream, okay? Any kind you want, because I didn't mean for this to scare you so badly." This is said gently as Griffin promptly exits stage left.

The agent raises a brow at Tess, apparently not affected by the Zarek charm. Maybe Zarek immunity is his evolved power. "Yeah? Do you have your registration on you, ma'am?" he asks, holding his hand out still for the illusionist who is rifling through his wallet and finally pulls out something.

In reality, it's a library card, but he's concentrating on making it look like the proper thing — of course, he hasn't yet seen a proper registration card to know what it's supposed to look like. That, and there's that telltale silver gleam in his eyes — the one thing he can't ever seem to cover up with his power.

"Nice try," the agent says, shaking his head and reaching for his handcuffs, clipping them onto the student, then holds his hand out once more for Tess's registration.

The crowd again is a mix of reactions — some stay to look, some scurry off, and others yell protests to the agent, feeling betrayed by having a cop in their midsts the whole time.

Tess rolls her eyes but digs out her registration card and flashes it at the agent. "Seriously, man. Can't you overlook it once? He only let loose to entertain. It's like…settin' out jack-o-lanterns or puttin' scarecrows in your front yard. Just Halloween trappin's. Didn't you ever kick back'n just enjoy Halloween?"

"That'd be like a kid without a driver's license driving around 'just for fun.' It doesn't make it right and it doesn't make it legal. The use of the power isn't the problem, ma'am, it's the fact he doesn't have his registration with him," the agent says politely, and begins to tug the student with him. "We'll register him, he'll spend the night in the slammer, pay a fine, and be back out to freak little kids out tomorrow, all right?"

The student gives a woeful look over his shoulder as he is led away. "My name's Shaun Wright! Phone is 555-4392, gimme a call! I'll scare you all you want!" he calls over to Tess even as he is being read his rights. Apparently the Zarek charm works on him.

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