The following is a piece of fiction that I wrote about the dangers of the occult. If you are easily frightened by supernatural stories, then you may want to think twice before reading any further.
It’s been a while since things have stopped. I still take sleeping pills every night and leave the lights and TV on. Five years is a long time, but it’s nowhere near enough to erase what happened from my memory; it will haunt me until the day I die.
I can trace it all back to the Ouija board. It had all the features of the old thick wooden ones you see in horror movies: a flat board with the alphabet and numbers inscribed across it; the ominous words goodbye, yes and no at the bottom; and the small triangular planchette, or pointer, as we called it, that the spirits use to communicate with the living.
But mine wasn’t all that mystic-looking; it was made by Milton Bradley, for crying out loud, and the planchette was made of cheap plastic with China stamped on the underside. I bought it at the mall toy store with money from my minimum-wage job at the time. I was actually disappointed because I did want an old one from a dusty antique store, but the picture on the flat rectangular box sort of made up for that. It showed a gray-haired Gypsy fortune-teller hunched over a talking board in a candle-lit room.
I couldn’t wait to show my girlfriend. I brought it home one day – without the box of course; I didn’t want her to see that it was made by the same company that produced Candy Land.
We went into the bedroom, turned off the lights, and closed the blinds. It was afternoon, so the room was still as bright as ever. So much for the ambience.
“If we place our fingertips on this triangle piece and ask a question,” I told Jenny, “the board will give us an answer. A male and female are ideal because of their energy balance.”
“Oh,” Jenny responded, her eyes growing larger. I didn’t tell her that I had read all that on the instruction sheet inside the box.
“Ask it something,” Jenny said, urging me in a hushed tone.
“What do you want me to ask it?” I replied, not taking my eyes off the black letters and numbers on the beige background.
“Um… Are we gonna get married?”
I stared at the planchette.
“Ask it!” Jenny said impatiently.
“You just did,” I replied.
“Okay, okay.” In a solemn voice, I asked the board the question.
We both gazed at the planchette, making sure not to apply too much pressure so that the spirits could move it.
“Why don’t we ask something personal about the spirit? You know, an icebreaker question. Maybe we have to get to know it first. Each board is inhabited by a different ghost,” I said, dropping some more knowledge; this time it was from a movie.
“All right. How about its name?” Jenny suggested.
I nodded, took a few seconds to compose myself, and then asked the question. Oh great, I thought when the planchette still didn’t move. What a bunch of garbage.
Just then, the plastic triangle moved slowly but steadily beneath our fingertips. We both gasped at the same time, my pulse throbbing.
“Stop moving it!” I whispered to Jenny, my voice filled with panic.
“I’m not!” she whispered back, equally freaked-out.
I could not comprehend the sight before me. The planchette moved methodically to three different letters and then stopped, pausing only a second at each one. It had spelled out the name Sam.
“How did you die?” Jenny asked next, her voice quivering. The planchette slowly spelled out car.
“Do you mean a car accident?” I asked. The pointer moved down and stopped at yes.
I continued, mesmerized, drawn into this bizarre conversation. “How old were you?” Our fingers moved, along with the planchette, to the number 2. We gotta get out of here! My mind screamed out.
Jenny asked the next question excitedly. We were on a roll. “How can you spell if you’re only two years old?”
No! I thought. Now she’s angered the spirit.
The planchette crept along the board, this time straight downward. It stopped at the bottom, on the word goodbye.
“Why—“ Jenny started. I quickly put my hand on her arm.
“Goodbye, Sam,” I interrupted, my heart racing inside my chest like an engine.
As I closed the board and set it aside, Jenny looked at me, eyebrows raised. “What happened? Why did we suddenly stop?”
“The Ouija board – I mean, the spirit – gets tired or whatever and decides when it’s time to stop. If we keep asking questions when it doesn’t want to answer…” I trailed off. “We wouldn’t want that.”
Jenny sat looking at the floor, her arms folded. I shivered; the air seemed colder.
The sounds started a few nights later after we first contacted Sam. I awoke from a light, restless sleep. The moonlight shone on the bed from between the slits in the blinds, illuminating Jenny’s face. Apparently she didn’t hear anything. Lucky her. The fear was too much for my mind. I felt like I was on a roller coaster going down the first big dip.
The noise was just outside the bedroom in the hall – it sounded like a child’s tricycle: the squeak of the wheels against the metal frame, the slight rumble as it rolled along the wood floor. Jenny lay peacefully, a faint smile on her lips. Man, how I envied her at that moment. “Jenny,” I whispered urgently, shaking her. She groaned and turned over.
“Who’s there?” I called out into the darkness. No answer. I suppressed an urge to scream as the sound of the tricycle stopped and started. I could hear the muted grunts of a child straining to turn the pedals.
I frantically recited Hail Marys and Our Fathers, dusty prayers from my youth that came back to me so easily now.
Sometime later, I drifted off to sleep.
Around dawn, I awoke from a nightmare. Without thinking, I jumped out of bed, grabbed the Ouija board box from the hall closet, and ran outside to the dumpster. I tossed away the box and walked back to our apartment.
Jenny’s voice was muffled and faraway. My eyes popped open, remnants of ice still in my bloodstream from late last night.
“Hey, have you seen my white blouse?”
“No,” I muttered, bleary-eyed and groggy. Everything was all right; maybe it was all just a dream. “Did you hear anything last night?” I called to her, slowly sitting up on the bed.
“Yeah,” she said, walking into the bedroom. “Just your snoring as usual. It’s a wonder you didn’t wake yourself up.”
“What? You were sound asleep all night!”
Jenny smiled, her perfect white teeth and sea-green eyes melting me. “Like always,” she said, embracing my neck. Wrapping my arms around her slender waist, I pulled her closer. She giggled as her long auburn hair tumbled over her forehead, obscuring her radiant face.
I don’t remember hearing the tricycle again.
A few nights later, I was awaken by Jenny’s sudden movement. Suppressing an urge to scream, I turned to her. “What’s wrong?” I called out. She didn’t move. I sat up and followed her gaze, and that’s when I saw it.
A figure of a woman, her hourglass figure etched by the faint moonlight, stood a few yards away from Jenny. The woman wore a long black dress and a wide-brimmed black hat with a thin veil covering her face. Jenny remained motionless, transfixed by the sight before us.
“Go away!” I screamed hysterically, and the woman instantly vanished. Jenny, her daze broken, turned on the bedside lamp while I scrambled to flip on the overhead light switch, horrified beyond words. “We’re not staying here!” I bellowed. “Things are getting stranger—“
–and closer,” Jenny added, shivering.
“What’s wrong with you? How can you be so calm?” I yelled.
“I don’t know…” she replied, struggling for words. “I guess I didn’t feel threatened. Peace. I felt at peace.”
I shook my head. The Ouija board was long gone. So why was all of this still happening? I shuddered at the thoughts zooming through my head.
We ended up moving into a smaller apartment closer to downtown, thinking that the constant bustle of the city would make us feel better than in the quiet suburbs.
The first night was normal; so normal that we ended up turning off the lights and TV. “I think we left it behind,” Jenny said the following day while unpacking.
I grunted, helping her unload the rest of our junk. As I got to the bottom of one of the boxes, panic grabbed my heart with ice-cold hands. I screamed as my eyes locked onto the rectangular box with the Milton Bradley fortune-teller on it.
Jenny came over and put a hand on my shoulder. “What is it?” she asked, alarmed.
I didn’t have to tell her. She looked down at the ominous words on the board game and let loose with a terrifying shriek.
“I—I threw it away. I remember!”
Ripping open the lid, I took out the fold-up board and tore it in half along the crease and took everything outside. I ran down the steps two at a time, headed for the huge dumpster on the far side of the property. The late afternoon sunlight looked hazy and surreal around me, like I was running through a nightmare.
But that night, nothing. Only quiet.
Watching TV with my feet propped up on the coffee table, I barely heard Jenny’s soft voice in the other room. “I’m going to bed.”
“All right,” I said without looking away from the screen.
After the movie was over, I began clicking through the channels to see what else was on. The sudden shrieking from the bedroom startled me so badly that I dropped the remote and froze. It was Jenny, but I had no idea her voice was capable of such madness.
My mind spun with horror. No matter how hard I tried, I could not move my body. Am I dreaming? Finally I pried myself off the sofa and struggled with each step toward the bedroom, my legs feeling like cement.
At the doorway, I stood transfixed as Jenny thrashed on the bed, her arms and legs pinned down by invisible straps. “Help! Please, no!” she screamed, her voice growing more and more hoarse with each word.
As I drew closer, I saw that her bare arms and legs were covered with long, red scratches. Her eyes, bulging with insanity, darted from side to side.
My bladder unloaded as I witnessed fresh scratches forming on her cheeks. No, this isn’t happening! I thought. Gasping for air, I mustered every ounce of strength and grabbed Jenny by the shoulders and shook her violently. “Jenny! Jenny!” I shouted. She didn’t acknowledge me at all.
Cursing and crying now, I tried pulling her off the bed, but she wouldn’t budge. Whatever was holding her there was too strong. Then, before I realized it, she became still and her cries tapered off. Jenny lay on her back, panting, staring at the ceiling. “Sam,” she gasped between deep breaths.
I hugged her sweat-drenched body. After a moment, her breathing stopped and she went limp in my arms.
I can’t believe it’s been five years already.
I still see her in my dreams every now and then. She never talks, though; only smiles. That wonderful, gorgeous smile. I try to reach out to touch her, but each time she fades away like a mist.
Perhaps she will come tonight. I lie back on my pillow, squinting at the glare of the overhead light. The sleeping pills start to take effect, and I become oblivious to the blaring TV.
“Jenny,” I whisper to the empty room as I drift off to sleep.