For two days, the gang-minus-one had been turning the old house upside down. The police were of no help as the nearest station was twenty miles away and they rarely drove into the territory. Another factor was that Velma had asked to be left behind leading the police to the wrong conclusion that she may not have wanted to associate herself with them and that she may not be missing by the standards they use. Fred knew different. Daphne knew different. Scooby and Shaggy knew different.
Fred could not stop beating himself up over the fact that he left her behind. They had checked the phone records. The call had been placed from a pay phone about 20 miles from the house. A visit to the town had not revealed any new information. No other calls had come in. He had determined that the second floor collapse had been accidental. There were no signs of any tampering with supports. The whole thing could be legitimate, but they had been stood up. AND ... Velma was missing.
Scooby and Shaggy were actually quite helpful searching the house. Their concern about Velma had actually outweighed their normal skittishness.
The storm had been a big one, washing away any clues, smells, or footprints that may have been left behind that night.
The search for the girl that made the call seemed to be their best lead, and with great sadness, they assembled into the van and again headed for the town where the pay phone had been located.
Same scene. Two blobs. Everything hurt. She lifted her arm. Her eyes burned like there was sand and salt in them............. "What is your name my dear?" ......
What was her name? It wasn't coming to her. Again she opened here eyes........ Pretty clouds.
"I don't know", she finally replied.
"Well, we can't call you -I Don't Know-, so I am going to call you Jane."
Jane.. That was a pretty name. Might be mine she thought, but I don't know. "Jane sounds good, but I don't know if it's right."
"Well Jane, my name is Mindy and this is my daughter Nicole."
"It's nice to meet you both", Jane replied.
"Here mommy", Nicole said. Mindy bent over and put something on her face.
"You were wearing these when we found you, they look rather strong."
"Glasses... Oh....", Jane said. She looked about, but her neck hurt. The clouds were no longer clouds but the cloth cover on a canopy bed. Somehow, Jane was disappointed. The clouds were prettier! Slowly, she turned her head. Nicole and Mindy were no longer blobs but a young mother and her daughter. "Why do I feel so much pain?"
"You were hit by lightning my dear!"
Jane frowned....... That can't be a good thing, she thought.
The second trip to town was far more useful. The owner of a diner near the pay phone remembered the girl who made the call.
"Yea, she was in here last week. Been in town for the last two months. She lives on a farm near here and just inherited the old McMangie estate. Tried to get people to help her out, but everyone knows that it's haunted!"
Fred looked at Daphne. "It was a real call!" Daphne continued the conversation. "Do you know where she is staying now?"
In the small lobby of the Bridgetown Hotel, Fred and Daphne continued their search. It didn't take long. Her name was Shelly, and she was about 28.
"My car died and I lost your number. I am sorry for the confusion, but do you think you can help me out?"
Fred answered, "We seem to have a problem of our own. One of our members has gone missing at the old place."
Shelly looked horrified! "Oh No! It really is haunted!"
Daphne stepped into the conversation. "Historically, we have found that hauntings usually are nothing more than someone scamming someone. Still, we have a real problem with Velma missing. You may be able to help us."
On weak legs, Jane looked out the window. There was a window box under the window, and she found herself admiring all the wonderful colors of the flowers. Somehow, she felt different, but she didn't know why. She felt ---Tranquil. ----
Fried eggs, Bacon and Coffee... What wonderful tastes and smells! Nicole watched as Jane ate. "Where do you think you are from?" she asked. Jane shrugged. "Mindy said I was in that field over there, so I guess I'm from the field!"
Nicole laughed. "You don't remember anything?"
Jane thought for a moment... "Nope! Guess my head is as empty as a coconut!"
Nicole laughed again.
Mindy returned and the three spent some time getting to know what they could of each other.
"So, my life is a bit of a blank, but what about you two? Does anyone else live here?"
"My husband died about four years ago. He was hitching a horse up to a wagon and the horse got spooked and he ended up run over by the wagon."
Jane pointed to the window. "All that land? Who takes care of it? Just the two of you?"
"No.. Neighbors and other people in the community farm it and pay us for it's usage. Nicole and I live here and keep the bees."
Jane smiled. "Your beekeepers? That's cool! What about electricity? Are you Amish?"
"Some people would call us that, but our community broke with those ways a long time before I was born. We keep a simple life. There was no electricity here for as long as I can remember. Probably a leftover from the more formal days. Every few years our town council writes a letter to the utility company, and they write back saying it is in their plans, but nothing ever happens. I think it would cost them too much money for too few farms."
"No car or truck?"
"No to that too. First you would need gas stations, and then customers. I guess it's the old chicken and the egg story. Besides, I think there is still a mindset against some of the modern things."
"Bee keeping! I like honeybees, at least I think I do."
"Well, well. When you are feeling better, we will dress you up and take you to the hives!"
Jane felt excited! There was now a reason to work on getting better and out of the bed!
The Gang-minus-one returned to the McMangie estate with Shelly in tow. "What relative of yours owned this place?", Daphne asked.
"Well it is a long story. My great, great, great, grand-uncle Frank Mansilver bought 100 square miles of land from the government sometime around 1890. Unlike me, he had money! I guess he built this mansion as part of some ego trip. He tried to run it like a southern plantation, only in the north. He lost all his money in the depression, and about that time, he died. The family tried to hold on to the place, selling off the land to raise cash. I am sorry to say one of my relatives was an evil man who enslaved people to work his land. It is the ghosts of these people that townsfolk say haunt the place. Eventually, the place was abandon and the last owner died. Recently, a clerk at a county office was trying to sort out old property tax records and came across the deed and connected it to an old unread will. The will gave the property to my parents, but they had died in an accident about 10 years ago, so they contacted me."
"Wow...", Daphne gasped.
Fred was trying to set up Velma's laptop and satellite link. "Velma usually does this stuff, but if I can get it working, maybe we can download an aerial picture and locate what farms are near. ... Tell us more Shelly, how did you find us?"
"After seeing the place and hearing 100 tales of woo, I ran into a man in town who thought he remembered a story about a gang of kids from Coolsville who were ghost-busters. It took me another week to find your number. After the call, I was heading over here when my car died. Only after I was back in town did I remember the note with your number was still in the car."
Daphne smiled. "Well, your information may have been a little dated. We are no longer kids, and our business is more about investigating mysteries then ghost-busting. We have unmasked quite a few ghosts in the process though!"
"Hey, I think I've got something!", Fred interrupted. Everyone huddled around the laptop as he pulled up a picture of the area. "You can barely make it out, but I think this is where we are." Fred checked the GPS data on the map and compared it to the info on the transponder Velma had adapted to his cell phone. It matched."
Shaggy leaned over for a look. "Like, she put those things on all our phones, can't we find her with that?" Freddy shook his head. "Velma set up a way we could ping the GPS to find each other, it's one of the first things I tried. Hers wouldn't respond."
Fred continued to study the photo. "There's only three farms within a ten mile radius. We should be able to get to them on these roads." Daphne leaned over. "Those roads look like dotted lines! How much real road is there?"
Fred smiled. "Only one way to find out!"
Still rather sore, Jane was excited as she put the beekeepers hat and vial over her head. The total white jumpsuit was a new look for her. She didn't know how she knew that, but it was! The three headed out for the hive field. Up ahead were hundreds or white boxes. "They're called supers", Nicole explained, "The big ones on the bottom are where the bees live and the queen lays her eggs. The smaller ones on top are where they store the honey!"
Jane laughed, "How do they know to do that ! ?"
Mindy chuckled, "No one is sure, but the bees almost always store their honey over where the raise their young. In the winter, the bees huddle together and eat the honey, slowly working their way towards the top of the hive. The trick is to try to determine how much honey they will need in the winter and to leave that behind for them, taking only what may be extra!"
Jane stopped for a second. "Don't they get mad when you take their honey? How do you tell if there is enough?"
"As for how much, we weigh the hives. They usually need about 100 pounds for themselves. If you take too much, you have to feed it back to them in the spring!"
Jane smiled a bit. "I just had this image flash through my mind. Seems I know some people who like to overeat like those bees! I can't place who they are, and now the image is gone.... Oh well.."
Mindy started to work on the smoker. she put some old corn cobs and wood into it and lit it. When she closed the top, smoke puffed out of it. She worked a small bellows on the back of the thing to aid the smoke along. "We're ready!"
The van pulled up to a white farmhouse. "Well, this is the last one.", Fred said, with some sadness in his voice. "If Velma was around, she would be leaving clues left and right! Shaggy, you and Scooby go look in the barn. Shelly, Daphne and I will check out the house.
As the twosome entered the barn, the threesome entered the house. The door was open, and it led into the kitchen. There was the smell of food, but no sign of people. "Good call on the split-up Fred, those two would have cleaned this place out!"
"I feel kind of odd walking through someone's house", Daphne commented. "Me too.", Fred added. "Lets check out the grounds."
Scooby and Shaggy had given the barn a careful combing and had come up empty. The five met up on what would be considered the back lawn of the farmhouse. "Nothing.", Fred muttered. Daphne was looking off into the distance. She could see three beekeepers working amongst what looked like 100 beehives. "Want to ask them?", Fred said jokingly.
"Bees!", she growled, "I hate bees! If Velma were here, she would have left us a clue or a note! Besides, I think the perfume I'm wearing is made out of some kind of queen bee jelly! Lets get out of here before all those bees figure that out!"
Fred sighed. "You're right." He took one last look up to the bee field. "I don't think Velma is too crazy for bees either. There is no sign of anything here that would interest her. I guess we're off."
None of the beekeepers noticed as the van drove off.