The dank and musty air tickles Sally’s nostrils as she is marched like a prisoner down the basement stairs. The bright light reveals an unremarkable room with dusty boxes, a card table and some chairs scattered around. If Sally had known Hannah was coming, she’d never have accepted Karlee’s invitation. Karlee’s loyalty to Hannah is a blemish on her typically kind personality.
Sally tries to supress the impending sneeze, but tickling the roof of her mouth doesn’t work this time. Her triple ‘Ah-choo!’ has the other girls sniggering and Sally’s cheeks flush.
Hannah sets down a board with the inscribed letters A to Z. Next to it, she adds a packet of Tim Tams.
“Fire for warmth, food for sustenance and water for life,” She directs and clicks her fingers at Sally, while Karlee lights three candles. Fumbling, Sally produces the bottled water she’d been instructed to carry. The three girls take their seats.
The little flames dance and Hannah hits the lights. Shadows flicker around the empty walls. Sally doesn’t want to be there but doesn’t want to leave.
“I’ll just watch.” Her voice is a squeak.
“You can’t. We need three.” Hannah aims her familiar smirk at Sally.
Karlee shrugs sympathetically and takes a biscuit. Hannah slaps her hand.
“They’re for the spirits, stupid.”
She orders the girls to place a hand on the glass. Karlee goes first and Sally reluctantly follows. Hannah’s hand clamps down on the top.
“Our beloved spirits beyond this earth, we summon you here today.”
Sally doesn’t want them to feel her racing pulse but she can’t stop the tremble in her hand. The glass begins to move, gently scraping as it slides over the board. Sally thinks her heart might stop altogether.
“Are you moving that?” Hannah hisses, looking pointedly at Sally.
“No, of course not!”
The glass continues, spelling out a word and the three girls whisper the letters.
“H. E. L. L. O. Hello.”
“Who are you?” Hannah asks.
Again, their hands are pulled from letter to letter.
Sally tries to withdraw, but Hannah’s claws dig in, preventing Sally from leaving the circle.
Karlee looks intensely at the glass, chiming in with Hannah as they ask their gruesome questions. Sally has some questions of her own but doesn’t trust her voice.
“Who is your next victim?” Hannah asks.
The next three letters reveal S. A. L.
From nowhere, a flurry of wind blows out one of the candles. Sally gasps and in that instant a cockroach springs onto Hannah’s face, landing above her eyebrow. The girls scream, all three hands come off the glass; Karlee is close to sobbing now. Hannah continues to squeal, not moving to action. Surprised, Sally grabs the glass, brushes the insect from Hannah’s forehead and traps it in the vessel.
“Just a roach,” she says.
Flicking on the lights, she reveals the unremarkable room.
Photo by Malik Shibly on Unsplash