The Department of Spirit Research

The Department of Spirit Research

by James Patrick Cobb

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The Department of Spirit Research by James Patrick Cobb

Imagine that we have the technology that allows us to use computers to communicate with the dead; retrieving historical facts from past? Talking with the dead? We ask, and they answer? How would this break through effect our society? What trouble would it bring?

Product Details

BN ID: 2940000127704
Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing
Publication date: 12/13/2007
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 488 KB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

A few weeks earlier, Riley spent a long time listening as Addison Daniels explained her new job to her.

"This is the part I don't like. It weirds me out, chickey." Addison's hands hesitated above the computer keyboard. He ran his hand through his thick, curly red hair then down to his jeans. He wore glasses with thick black frames and a white t-shirt with paint dabbed in a way that depicted a confused stickman's face. He dressed in the fashion guys elsewhere in the college dressed - house paint splashed on clothes in patterns was a popular look this year - but with that clown-like hair it was hard not to look different from everyone else - never mind current fashion.

Addison flipped the microphone off and turned toward Riley the buxom blonde co-ed he was training. He made a conscious effort to stop his eyes from wandering south, looking at her breasts only when her eyes were averted. "Yeah, not yet. I know it doesn't do for a guy to look anxious but let's talk."

"What's the matter?" Riley said, surprised. She leaned back in the black metal folding chair, looking at Addison critically. He seemed like a nice guy but she didn't understand why he was afraid. "You're supposed to talk to the spirits."

"True, but it's not so simple."

They were both employees of the Department of Spirit Research at the University of Arizona. Riley was a new hire. Addison was her trainer. The AZDSR was located in a 125-year-old building tucked in-between the departments of psychology and sociology. The working environment had an odd feel to it. An odor of carpet cleaner hung in the air even though there was no money in the university budget for carpetcleaning. Since the building's conversion for use in afterlife research the air was full of a variety of random scents and warm, light areas next to cold areas that would make a person's hair stand up at the follicle. Some research assistants jokingly called the building 'Whipstaff' after the mansion Casper the Friendly Ghost haunted in the 1995 Casper movie popular when a lot of the senior researchers were children.

"It's your - our job - but it doesn't end when you leave here. Sometimes they don't leave you alone," Addison said, pointing at the monitor. "Before you get involved with this place, you need to know that. Maybe you want to do something else. Some people say the harassment isn't worth it. A lot of people start here thinking how working with spirits would be cool and then find out how bad it gets, get scared and quit."

"Why do you stay?"

"It fits my class schedule. Seriously."


"I'm not trying to scare you. I'm just trying to tell you what's what. Understand?"


"Good. The spirits follow you out of the lab and bother you at home. The communication isn't as clear as it is with the machine, but it's clear enough. They won't shut up and they can go anywhere."

Addison looked closely at his fingertips as he went on. "They've even bothered me in the shower at home, turned the hot water off on me when I tried to ignore them. After that happened to me a couple of times I started taking quick showers. Now I'd like nothing better than to find a place with a bathtub. They can't burn or freeze you so easily in a bathtub - all you have to do is watch your water while the tub is filling."

Riley laughed.

"You think it's funny? Maybe you won't think it's funny when you're trying to study for a test!" He smiled and arched his eyebrows quizzically.

"Are you a psychic?"

"Didn't used to be but now I'm psychic enough. I know when they're there."

Riley looked skeptical. "Most sprits are neither bad nor good I've heard."

"And some are definitely bad and the bad ones suck. I used to say it beat making hamburgers for your $506.00-- an hour. Now I'm not sure."

Or entertaining perverts at Babe Blvd. , Riley thought. Over six months she'd saved enough to be able to afford the reduction to her income coming with a job that used her mind - her New Year's resolution. The breast implants had more than paid off. Attending any college was expensive. Nevertheless, it was time to move on, time to start having experiences she could put on a resume, time to start making professional contacts - time to get a real job. Stripping only had a future unless she wanted to work in the porn industry and she'd seen enough of the lifestyle to know it wasn't right for her.

She realized a long time ago if she wasn't beautiful enough, she'd sell few table dances. If she didn't sell enough dances, she wouldn't get to go to school. If she didn't go to school, she wouldn't get a job that mattered and her brain would go unused. If she didn't get a job that mattered, she wouldn't get experience that counted. Her education would be irrelevant. One had to worry about building a resume if they were going to do important work. If she didn't get more education, she wouldn't learn why things were the way they were in the world. Getting answers to these important questions was why she decided she wanted to be a professor. Professors were the most knowledgeable people in the world to Riley. They had all the answers or at least pretended to.

Riley's father had been in prison during most of her childhood. She didn't know if he was alive or dead. She barely knew of her half brothers.

Her mother wanted the best for her and told her how important it was that she not get pregnant until she could take care of a baby, how important it was to do well in school.

Copyright © 2007 James Patrick Cobb.

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