He paused, considered, then rephrased. "One detail stands out like a signal flare: The fire had started in the early afternoon on a school-day, but no bodies were ever recovered. No faculty. No students. Nobody."
"That's creepy shit, dude."
Gerald chuckled. "Creepy shit is my job. My column covers the strangest and most obscure urban legends from across the country."
"I'll stick to sports journalism, thanks. I'm just doing this for the credit. Ghost stories aren't my thing."
"Well, it's not like I went to school to hunt legends. I started out as an investigative reporter, but after a series of bizarre occult related exposes my reputation had been set. Expose a few haunted houses and cults and... well. People typecast you."
"That sucks." A small movement caught Marla's attention, and she swiveled to capture the mouse with her tablet.
"It's not so bad. I make a lot more money tracking down the myths of America's heartland than I ever did rooting out corruption. Guess the only thing people like more than a good scandal is a freaky ghost story. They never gave me an intern when I was on the politics beat." His latest project was timely enough that his editor had granted him Marla's services as an assistant.
Little of the sunlight streaming in through the gaps in the schools missing windows penetrated to the main hallway, creating small islands of visibility near doorways and skylights. Gerald flicked on his flashlight to navigate the junk that was in his way. Much of what had been in the classrooms had been moved into the corridor. Fire twisted metal desks, piles of ash and partially consumed books, smashed cabinets and broken projection units. It made for difficult navigation, and he was glad he'd had the foresight to wear gloves; tetanus was a real possibility.