Ihpkmn's Talebox 2

«Attention all Members of Site-87 Staff: Due to extreme weather conditions, all personnel are required to remain indoors for their own safety. Anyone attempting to exit the site does so at their own risk.»

"Can't be that cold." Johnathan West's eyebrow raised a the announcement, and he brought his coffee to his lips— his eyes widened as he realized his freshly-poured drink was now frozen solid. "Had to open my mouth…"

"Well, it's not anomalously cold." His brother Harold was scrolling through the weather on his phone. "It's minus twenty Fahrenheit outside, though. Wind chill is worse. Frostbite expected in five minutes. Calling it the coldest in a generation."

"I dunno, Babbit got down to minus forty in 2014, and that's only seventy miles away." John stuck his coffee in the microwave and set it on high, holding himself tight. Site-87 was a balmy sixty degrees, but he still felt chilled. "God have mercy on anyone who has to be out there today."

Meanwhile, within the halls of Jackson Sloth Memorial High, Researcher Sevens sneezed and immediately regretted it. Her nose burned with cold, freezing pain, and she made a noise approximating "SnfaBCH!"

Researcher Kimba Laslow sighed, bundling up tighter. Even with the heat lamps, the halls of the school were cold, and would remain that way for a while, they had passed a bathroom where the pipes had burst from being frozen solid. "Of course, the one day of the year we can actually do this experiment, the fucking heat in the school dies…"

"That's probably my fault." Alison Carol offered wryly, holding up a hand covered in heavy-duty winterized gear. "I'm still having a bit of trouble with the whole 'living pataphysical anomaly' thing."

Katherine Sinclair put her gloved hands together with a soft, muffled clap. "Well, regardless, thank you all for coming out here today. As Kimba said, this is the one day of the year we're capable of observing this particular bit of pataphysical oddness."

"You think you can speak up?" Alison tilted her head. "Hard to hear you behind the ten inches of foam."

Sinclair's foam-and-fur mask rolled in an exaggerated manner. "I told you, it was the only thing warm enough to wear!"

"Did… did you just try to roll your eyes at her?" Sevens's eyebrows were adjacent to her hairline.

"Maybe." Sinclair rubbed the back of her head, lifting up the mask to look at the reading she had taken. She spoke into a recorder on the furred body's lapel. "Second floor science wing, readings negative after half an hour. Moving to the mathematics and computer sciences wing, first floor."

Sighing, Alison unplugged the heat lamps and began hefting them. "The hell kind of a name is Calamitus for a ghost, anyway?"

"Thoughtform," Kimba corrected her. "And it'd derived from 'calamity day'— it's the broader term for 'snow day'."

Sevens bundled herself tighter. "Still don't see what the big deal is. Just some kind of ice ghost."

Beat unmissed, Kimba rattled off the exact description of the entity from the Sloth's Pit Tourist Guide, 2019 Edition. "Calamitus is the manifestation of dozens of years of frustration from students who have been forced to attend classes in increasingly inclement weather, specifically manifesting from the walk-out during the great 1978 Blizzard, and the deaths this walk-out caused. Following this, unlimited calamity days were given to the Sloth's Pit school district'."

"So, an ice ghost made up of dead kids, angry kids, and angry dead kids." Sevens continued sounding unimpressed.

"The thing is, there was no record of a walk-out during the blizzard of '78, or any deaths of students among the population here." Sinclair walked backwards so that the others could hear her better. "So something created this thing, and it only manifests properly when there are three or more consecutive snow days."

"Like right now." Sevens nodded as they turned into the computer sciences wing. "Y'know, I could probably overload the heat sinks on a few computers to warm ourselves up."

"It'd interfere with the readings." Sinclair shook her head and spoke into her lapel recorder again. "The time is 12:35 PM, and we are currently setting up in the second-floor math and computer sciences wing. Sevens and I will set up at the north end, while Carol and Laslow will take the south end."

"So," Kimba coughed as they finished setting up the final thermal camera. "Is it true that every building in this town is haunted?"

"Most of them, at least." Alison nodded. "I know this place has something in the boiler room, but no clue what— all I know is that people wear safety harnesses tied to winches when someone needs to do maintenance in there."

"Spooky." Kimba attempted to bring up a file on her tablet, frowning as the screen failed to respond. "Dammit. iPad's frozen."

"Literally or figuratively?"

"Hard to say." Kimba looked down the hall, towards Sevens and Sinclair. "Can I be honest with you?"

"Hmm?" Alison looked up at her as she set up a thermometer in the middle of the hall way.

"If we encounter… Calamitus (that is as stupid name) it'll be my first time seeing a thoughtform from this town."

"What about the whole deal with the Pit Sloth?"

"I was… kind of out of town for that." She coughed.

"Lucky you." Alison rolled her shoulders as she turned on the EMF reader and set it on the wall.