22. Good Changes
“...It wasn’t until the 1980’s – fifteen years later – that the bodies were found, underneath this very floor.”
Beau tilted his head to peer at Isaac from over the top of his camera, unable to help the smile that crept onto his face.
Isaac caught it immediately and frowned at him. “What?” he asked pointedly.
Beau shook his head and quickly dipped back down to peer through the viewfinder. “Nothing… Just, classic Isaac, looking bored out of your mind.”
Isaac rolled his eyes and threw his head back. “Do I have to do it again?”
Beau shrugged and grinned, thankfully hidden by the camera this time. “It’s fine. Just… Try to go into this one with an open mind, would you? The viewers hate it when you’re negative from the get-go.”
Isaac crossed his arms with another roll of his eyes. “I’m literally always negative,” he huffed. “You just happen to film around it.”
“Oi, are you two done with the intros yet?” Adelaide called from across the room.
Beau opened his mouth to reply, but Isaac beat him to it by spinning around and shouting back at her, “No, I’m being too negative!”
Without missing a beat, she replied, “Roll it again, skipper!”
Beau shot out a laugh and quickly hid himself behind the camera’s massive tripod. He calmed when Isaac spun back around and shot him a look, but it only took a second for it to soften before he looked back down at his phone to check his notes.
Something gripped Beau’s chest when he watched that frown fade again.
“Alright,” Isaac said, defeated. “From the top.”
They began their third take of Isaac introducing the property they were about to investigate. Isaac’s cool descriptions of the bar’s morbid history was already sounding like white noise to Beau’s ears, the repetition of the details fading to the back of his mind while he focused on lighting, sound quality, and the way Isaac’s lips moved around the words.
He rubbed a hand against his face to try and brush away the heat that rose to his cheeks, disguising it by adjusting his headset. Beau had been so determined to put his host to the back of his mind and lean away after learning how important the strength of their friendship was to the show. He even let himself flirt with that artist at the club, really tried to enjoy himself like the single man he was. For a while, it had even worked.
But something about Isaac had changed. He felt quieter, closer. And every time Beau started to convince himself that he was just imagining it, Isaac would go and do something else, like tenderly attach his mic and stare at him like he was the only person in the world. He still felt warm and full whenever his host paid such close attention to him like that, but now the heat in his chest was accompanied by a swirling dread when he remembered he was supposed to be pulling away from it.
Why did Isaac have to make this so much harder? Why lean in, as soon as Beau decided to try and fix this?!
He sighed as Isaac signalled for him to cut, then went to end the shot. He figured he’d just have to try harder, and take two steps back whenever Isaac shuffled forward.
“Grab the handheld, we’ll go bomb Adelaide’s Patreon stream,” Isaac instructed as he pointed to the smaller camera behind Beau. Beau did as he was told and set it up on his shoulder, then followed his host down the length of the bar.
The main room they were in was a spacious saloon, filled with antique decor and a long bar that dominated most of the space. Down the end of the room, far from the entrance, Adelaide sat on the floor amidst their sleeping bags, with a fold-out desk and her laptop, which was much thinner and newer than Isaac’s video editing beast. She had a pocket ring light clipped to the top of the screen and a USB microphone sitting on a small tripod beside the keyboard. When she saw the boys approaching her, she stopped talking to her computer and waved them over.
“The boys are finally done!” She announced, grinning at them for a moment before turning her attention back to the live chat on her screen. Isaac stopped in front of her, looking down at the streaming setup she had sprawled across her little lap desk.
Beau filmed his face drop as he pointed at her equipment. “What’s that?” he growled.
Adelaide looked up at him, then followed his finger down. She beamed and picked up a small circular speaker that fit snugly in her hand.
“It’s a radio that rapidly spans across multiple frequencies, so ghosts can–”
“I know what a spirit box is,” Isaac drawled, glaring at her and her sarcastic answer. “Why have you got it out? We had a deal.”
Adelaide smirked at him and tossed the device gently in the air, giving it a small flip before it landed back in her palm with a satisfying smack. “We had a deal that you wouldn’t be a lil’ bitch. You know this is your own fault.”
Isaac turned to Beau’s camera and gave him an impatient look. “Let’s go. We can show off the set up we have in the basement or something.”
He turned to walk away, and Beau instinctively followed him. Adelaide let out a whine, but when Beau glanced back at her, she was grinning as she watched them leave. At the last moment, she raised the spirit box in the air and flicked it on, filling the bar with a loud, scratchy static that pulsed and drummed into their ears.
Isaac grunted and walked faster, desperate to escape the horrific sound.
The steady echoing of the static rang through the whole bar and only began to muffle once they were down in the basement. Beau focused on filming as he followed Isaac down into the darkness, guided by the soft glow of Isaac’s torchlight. He wasn’t sure what kind of segment they’d be filming, or what Isaac wanted to show off first, so he just did his best to follow his host while capturing occasional sweeping shots of the cluttered, dusty basement.
Here and there lay GoPros and expensive microphones, all carefully positioned and wired up to their central feed that Mark would be manning for them. After years of exploring supposedly-haunted locations, their equipment had grown both in the size of their collection, and the quality of the pieces.
Beau remembered Isaac’s initial hesitation when they first captured an EVP on a cheap recorder from the local shops. Adelaide had been excited out of her mind as they listened back to the audio recording, trying to place the words and their meaning. Then with his first camcorder, Beau constantly startled at the sight of strange orbs floating across the green monochrome, and Isaac hesitated still.
He saved every dollar he earned, from his regular job, support they received from Patreon, and every speck of ad revenue brought in by their website. Whenever Isaac had enough to buy a new piece of equipment, he splurged it all, until he’d amassed an army of hi-tech gadgets with stunning specs and detailed features.
They still saw orbs of light here and there, and they still captured strange sounds on their microphones. But the quality of their gear made those sounds much easier to decipher, to disprove, and removed any doubt in Isaac’s mind that they were merely stumbling upon flukes from faulty equipment.
Beau would never forget the startled look on Mark’s face when Adelaide assured him Webflix wouldn’t need to supply any filming gear.
“I hope this goes well,” Isaac muttered to the shadows in front of him. Beau focused on him and stood back when he realised Isaac had stopped walking.
“What? The location?” he asked when Isaac didn’t elaborate.
His host turned around to face him, but his eyes continued wandering around the room. He gave Beau a small shrug, then reached a hand out towards Beau’s head.
The roadie tugged off his headphones with his spare hand, then dropped them into Isaac’s palm. Isaac took another step forward to stand within the cable’s reach, and slipped the headphones onto his head. Beau instinctively leant away from him and looked down into his viewfinder to keep the barrier of his camera between them.
“What about our talk? What happened to ‘let it happen’?” Beau asked. Isaac stopped scanning the room and set his eyes on the roadie– but with Beau looking at him through the camera lens, he managed to dodge any direct eye contact.
“I’m trying,” Isaac promised, his hands pressed to the sides of the headset. “It’s just a lot of change. Thank god some of it’s good.”
Beau smiled then immediately fought to get it off his face. ‘Stop fluttering at the simplest of compliments,’ he reprimanded himself. ‘He probably wasn’t even talking about you–’
“Should we introduce you properly?” Isaac suddenly asked, eyes still on Beau. “Since you’re mic’d now, people will finally be able to hear you properly.”
He turned and looked directly into the camera, making Beau’s heart skip when he locked eyes with Isaac through the viewfinder. “Everyone say hi to Beau,” Isaac instructed, like he was talking directly to their audience.
Beau forced out a quick laugh to hide his shyness. There was no one there, just the two of them and a big hunk of plastic, but he suddenly felt like all the eyes in the world were on him. He swallowed dryly and reverted to what he knew would always bring comfort in moments like these: jokes.
He used his spare hand to tug his shirt collar and bring his microphone clip closer to his mouth. “Hey, kitty,” he said in a deep, husky voice, grinning all the while.
Isaac immediately startled, his hands clutching the headphones tighter as he stared at Beau with wide eyes. “What the fuck was that?” he stammered.
Beau huffed out another slightly awkward laugh. “I-it’s a Tiktok,” he explained, dropping his shirt collar back into place. He lifted his head from the camera to look at Isaac in person, but froze when he saw a noticeable flush across Isaac’s cheeks, which was clear as day without the green night vision filter masking his skin.
His smile fell when Isaac tore off the headphones and thrust them back into Beau’s chest. He wanted to make their viewers laugh, and maybe have fun flustering those in the fandom that enjoyed deep voices or understood the meme. He never thought Isaac would fluster along with them.
“Um…” Beau forced another little laugh as he slipped his headphones back on, the audio from the camera and their pocket mics once again amplified in his ears. “How about we–”
He paused and pulled back from the viewfinder, looking down to check the display screen instead. Isaac stilled when he saw Beau’s confused expression and switched into a more serious mode to match. “What is it?”
“The battery’s nearly dead,” Beau muttered as he frowned at the display. “It should be good for another six hours.”
Isaac squinted and looked around the room, then reached for Beau’s tool belt. The roadie tensed in preparation for Isaac to unclip one of his devices, fighting back the butterflies in his stomach where his fingers nudged his hip, until Isaac was finally standing back in his own space.
He held up the small rectangular box, which was only slightly bulkier than their radios. Beau set his camera on him with the last few minutes of battery he had left, and filmed as Isaac held the EMF reader out in front of them.
The needle spiked and the lights began to flash. Isaac and Beau exchanged a look.
“...Let’s go back to base,” Isaac suggested, giving the device a suspicious squint.