To Be a Fool – Prologue

Nate Luca paced as Jin Shi and Tamara Watson set up the video gear. He was nervous. As a friend, Nate knew that at times you signed yourself up for some hard duty. As a best friend, even more so. And even though Nate’s best friend, JJ Lynch, was dead, was a ghost, Nate was still obliged to him. Obliged to do what was right, to do what he needed to do.

He paused, rubbing his sweating palms on his jeans and tucking his white T-shirt in again for the fourth time. “Is there a problem?” he asked.

Jin mumbled something that Nate couldn’t hear, and Tamara stepped away and walked over to Nate. “It’s just not turning on. The battery is fine, but it won’t come on.” Nate studied her expression as she spoke. It lacked any trace of surprise.

Nate looked around the mostly empty building that housed Afterlife Communications. It had tall ceilings and a concrete floor. The kind of place you might find used as an auto shop or a small printer. In one corner sat the SECI chamber, the device JJ had used to communicate with them and to write his memoir. Next to it were the skeletons of two more SECI chambers in the process of being built. SECI: The Search for Extra-Corporeal Intelligence. It is a project that Tamara and Jin had started at the University of Arizona (UA) and now were taking private. The three SECI chambers and the adjoining offices were the start of Afterlife Communications, Inc.

“Do you think it’s a ghost?” Nate asked, a shiver going down his spine. He knew enough to justify his concern.

Tamara shrugged and smiled, as if having a ghost interfere with her electronics was the most normal thing in the world. “Could be. Just be patient, Nate, we’ll get it going. We’ve got another camera we can dig out if this one doesn’t respond soon.”

“It’s just—” Nate began.

“I know, Nate, I know,” she said, her hand lightly touching his muscular arm. “It’s a hell of thing to have to tell him.”

Nate nodded, “Rhiannon… I just can’t believe it. She’s so young. I’m afraid of how he’ll react. He’ll probably lose it.” Nate paused as he stared at the SECI chamber. “Do you think he’ll be back? Do you think he’ll get the message in time?”

Tamara ran her hands through her shoulder-length black hair, pulling it back into a ponytail. “I hope so. We’ve got the 2.0 SECI chamber up and running for him. I hope he finds it and uses it. And if he does, this video will be in the chamber with instructions for him on how to trigger it and he’ll hear what you need to tell him.”

Nate nodded again, retucking his shirt in for the fifth time. It fit tightly across his broad chest. “Thanks for letting me do the greeting.”

“Of course, Nate. You have some important news, it’s only right. Do you remember what to say?”

Nate pulled the piece of paper out of his back pocket, his eyes scanning the notes. “Yeah, I’ve got it. I’ll tell him this stuff first, before—”

“Got it!” Jin shouted from behind the camera. “Let’s do this before it decides to turn itself off again.”

Keep reading