“Well, it looks just as creepy on the inside as it did on the outside.”
Dot looked round the dingy shop interior, drawing the front of her grey hooded jacket around her as she tried to stop the shiver running up and down her spine. She was beginning to wonder if it had been a mistake to come into the New Age store.
“Relax,” Gina said as she looked at her friend. Unlike Dot, who was a casual dresser, Gina was what is often referred to as a Goth – today she was wearing a black see through blouse over a leather bustier dress, fishnet stockings and aced leather ankle boots.
“Good morning ladies,” an older woman said as she came in, “How may I serve you today?”
“I want to purchase an Ouija board,” Gina said as she smiled at the owner, her black lipstick managing to highlight her white teeth even in the gloom of the shop interior.
“I see,” the woman said, “and may I ask for what purpose you require this item?”
“I wish to communicate with the spirit world – why, isn’t that what it’s for?”
“It is,” the older woman replied, “but far too many young people see it as a harmless parlour game. You are not one of those, I take it?”
“No I am not,” Gina said quietly. “I understand the responsibility, and I know how to use it.”
The shopkeeper smiled, and said “Very well then – I will fetch the item you wish to purchase.” She disappeared into the back of the shop, returning with a brown wooden box which she placed on the counter. Gina handed over a number of notes, and said “Blessings to you Mother”
“And to you child – may you find what you seek,” she said as Gina took Dot by the arm, and left the store.
“You don’t really believe all that stuff do you?”
“Of course not,” Gina laughed, “but I do know how to use this. We’re going to have so much fun with the boys tonight...”
The sun was already setting as Dot walked up the street to Gina’s house, her arm in that if her boyfriend Dave. She was now wearing a white jersey dress and a pair of tight fitting black leather boots, a matching biker-style jacket over her to keep the chill out. Her long blonde hair was hidden from the moment under a white headscarf, which was tied gypsy style over her hair while a small gold crucifix hung around her neck.
“Very seasonal,” Dave said as he looked at her. He was tall, muscular, with short dark hair – everything Dot liked to see in a man. “I wonder what Gina is going to be wearing?”
“Knowing her, something suitable,” Dot said as they walked past the cemetery, and then up to Gina’s front door.
“No wonder Gina has the interests she does, living next to the place,” Dave said as Dot knocked on the front door. As she watched the door was opened by a thin, pale faced young man, dressed in a black frock coat, white shirt and bow tie.
“Evening Carl,” Dave said as he shook his hand, “where’s the mistress of the night?”
“Right here,” Gina said as she came down the stairs. She was wearing a form fitting black dress, the jagged hem of the skirt reaching to her knees and the sleeves hooked over the middle finger of her hands. Her black hair was piled high upon her head in a beehive, while her feet were in a pair of black shoes with three inch heels.
“Welcome,” she said quietly, “Rosa has prepared some food for us – this way.”
Rosa was the live-in maid at Gina’s house – a small, rather plump woman with short dark hair. Tonight she was wearing a black maid’s dress with a white apron, and stood to one side as the four friends helped themselves to the buffet.
“So where are your parents tonight,” Dave said as he sat down at the table next to Gina.
“At a dinner dance – they will not be back until about three tomorrow morning,” Gina said as she picked up a chicken leg and bit into it. “Plenty of time for us to have fun.”
“What of any kids come knocking?”
“Rosa has her instructions on how to deal with them,” Gina said with a smile. As if by cue, there was a knock on the door, and as Rosa left she poured a glass of red drink for Dot.
“Raspberry cordial,” Gina said with a smile as they could hear children laughing in the hall.
It was nearing nine by the time the four friends made their way into the large room at the front of the house, Gina closing the door as Rosa started to clear the table. “Let us make the preparations,” she said quietly as she arranged a number of candles around the room, and placed the wooden box on the floor.
“So this is the mysterious board,” Dave said as Gina opened the board up. It was a light coloured wood, with the alphabet printed on it in dark letters in an arc, a set of numbers underneath. At the top two corners were printed the words ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, and at the bottom was printed ‘Goodbye’.
“Very Victorian,” Carl said as Gina started to light the candles, the light scattering shadows over the table as Dot sat on the floor on one side, Dave and Carl at each end.
“We are now ready,” Gina said as she turned off the lights, leaving only the candles illuminating the room, “Sit quietly, clear your minds, let nothing...”
A loud knock on the door interrupted her thoughts, as the four listened to the sound of Rosa walking across the hallway. “As I was saying,” Gina repeated as the sound of the front door opening came from the other side of the room door, “Sit quietly, clear your minds, let nothing interrupt or give you concern.”
Gina sat in the lotus position, allowing her mind to clear itself as Gina placed a finger on the stone that lay on the board. “Spirits of the other world,” Gina intoned quietly, “If you are here, we ask you to listen to the questions of our heart, and give us answers truthful and honest.”
“Is that really what they say,” Dave whispered from the side of his mouth, making Dot almost laugh. “Clear your minds and open your eyes,” Gina said as she ignored the aside, “and let us ask the spirits.”
Dot opened her eyes, looking in the flickering light at the others as Gina placed her finger lightly on the stone, and said “All of you, place your finger lightly on the stone, but do not press down.”
The other three placed their fingers on the stone, Carl smiling as Gina said “Spirits, are you there?”
As the stone started to move, Dot gasped and asked “Who moved it” as it moved and stopped at ‘Yes’. “Not me,” Dave said quietly, and Carl and Gina said nothing.
“Spirits, answer my question for me – are we alone with you in this room?”
The stone moved slightly, then returned to ‘yes’. As it did so, the lights went out under the sill of the door, but nobody paid any attention.
“How many are in this room?”
This time the stone moved, seemingly without anyone pressing down, and rested under the number 4.
“Spirits,” Carl said, “tell me who the woman of my heart is.”
This time the stone moved over the alphabet, stopping at G... I... N... A, then resting there. Gina smiled and said “ask a question, Dot.”
“All right,” Dot said, and then she looked round, before saying “Spirits, tell the others something they do not know about me.”
It seemed an innocuous question, but suddenly Dot felt the stone moving. Y... O... U... M... I... S... S... Y... O... U... R... A... U... N... T.
“Your aunt,” Dave said as she looked at Dot, “but she died three months ago.”
“Did you move it,” Dot said as she looked at her boyfriend, but he shook his head, and then looked shocked as the stone moved again. I... M... I... S... S... Y... O... U... T... O... O... D.
“No,” Dot said quietly as the stone moved again. D... I... A... M... H... A... P... P... Y.
“Spirits, thank you for this,” Gina said quietly. “Dave, ask a question.”
“All right,” Dave said quietly. “Spirits, how many people are in this house?”
The counter moved again, and stopped over the number 8.
“That’s not right,” Carl said. “Spirits, be truthful, how many are in the house?”
Dot could feel the stone move and spell out W... E... D... O... N... O... T... L...I... E... A... N... D... Y... O... U... S... H... O... W... D... I... S... R... E... S... P... E... C... T.
“Forgive us, spirits,” Gina said as she looked daggers at Dave, “we mean no disrespect, accept my apologies.”
“But why did it say eight,” Carl said quietly as Gina looked at all of them. “Spirits, answer me – why do you say eight?”
This time they could all feel the stone start to shake under their fingers, as it moved quickly over the board. Y... O... U... R... I... N... S... U... L... T... R... E... Q... U... I... R... E... S... P... E... N... A... N... C... E.
The four friends felt a cold chill rising in the air, and as Dot breathed out she was surprised to see her breath, as if it was a cold winter’s day. “Gina, this isn’t funny anymore,” Dot said as she looked at her friend – but she could see the look in her eyes that told her she did not know what was happening either.
“Spirits, forgive us,” she said in a frightened voice, “we meant no insult or harm. What is your desire?”
The counter started to move again P.. R... E... P... A... R... E... F. Before it finished spelling out a message, the door to the room suddenly opened inside, and a cold wind rushed in, piercing Dot to the marrow of her bones as it blew all the candles out.
“Damn,” Carl said as he stood up, looking in the darkness and taking his finger off the stone. “The fuse must have gone again. I’ll go and see if I can find the fuse box.” As he walked out of the room, Gina took matches and relit the candles.
“That was – intense,” Dave said as he and Dot stood up, “what happened?”
“I don’t know,” Gina said as they left the board and stone on the table, “Let’s hope Carl can fix the fuse.” They moved away from the coffee table, not noticing the stone start to move of its own accord.
D... O... T... B... E... W... A...R... E.
Carl made his way into the kitchen, trying the light switches and cursing as he found there was no power. “Damn – where’s that torch,” he said to himself as he felt his way along the counter, eventually finding a torch and switching it on.
“That’s better,” he said as he looked round the kitchen, noticing some flashing lights coming in from outside. He made his way to the kitchen door and looked out, seeing the lights dancing round the cemetery on the other side of the wall.
“Kids – trying to scare each other,” he said as he closed the door. As he did so, he heard a slight whimpering, and shone the torch round the room, noticing eventually a pair of black shoes that were somehow appearing from a gap between the sink and the fridge.
“Rosa, is that you,” he said quietly, walking round and shining the torch into the gap. “What the...” he said as he looked down, before he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned round, dropping the torch on the floor as he did so.
“Why hasn’t he managed to get the power on,” Gina said as she tapped her shoe impatiently on the floor, “I need to go and...”
“Too much information,” Dave said as he held his hands up. “I guess you’ll need to go by candle light.” Gina nodded and picked up a candle stick, leaving Dot and Dave in the room.
As she ascended the staircase, Gina noticed the chill in the air, her breath forming a light grey cloud in front of her, but she didn’t think much of it as she walked down the hallway, and opened the toilet door.
It was as she came out that she heard a noise in her bedroom. “Carl, is that you in my room – because if so, the fuse box is downstairs,” she said quietly. There was no reply, as she opened the door and walked in, looking round in the flickering light. She noticed that the door to her wardrobe was open, and she smiled as she walked over to it.
“Hiding, Carl,” she said quietly as she opened the door to the wardrobe, but there was no sign of her boyfriend – only the drawers inside opened out and looking as if they had been searched through.
“What the...” Gina said as she looked inside, and then the candle was blown out. She stood up and turned in the gloom, opening her mouth to scream at the apparition before her, but no sounds came out of her mouth as it advanced towards her...
“She’s taking her time, isn’t she,” Dave said as he looked at Dot. She was standing, holding her arms around her body as she felt the cold again.
“Yeah – I need a drink,” she finally said, “think they have anything stronger than raspberry cordial in the dining room?”
“Worth a look,” Dave said they walked out of the room, their eyes adjusting to the darkness as they walked into the dining room and placed a candle on the large table.
“Let’s have a look,” Dave said as he walked over to a cabinet and opened it up. “I can do you a vodka and coke if you want?”
“Sounds good,” Dot said as she looked towards the kitchen. “Did you hear that?”
“That noise in the kitchen.”
Dave shook his head, and handed Dot her drink. “Spooky, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Dot said as she took a sip from her glass. “I wish Carl would get the lights on though.”
“Yeah I know the – oh shit,” Dave said as the candle went out. “Have you got any matches with you?”
“No – Dave look!!!!!”
Dave turned to look to the doorway, and froze as he saw the white face, hovering in the air as it looked at the two young people. “Who... What...” Dot started to say, but she felt a force encircling her arms, pulling them behind her back and forcing them together, holding them as if they were bound in some sort of rope.
“Dave, help me,” she called out, but Dave was staring at her, transfixed as he whispered “There.... there’s two of them.” Dot turned her head to see a second white face hovering in the air, as she felt her arms being forced tighter and tighter to her sides, her breathing becoming harder as a pressure seemed to press down on her upper body.
Looking back at Dave, she could see the other white face moving towards him, and then him dropping to his knees, the face moving down behind him and staring directly at Dot.
As for his girlfriend, she felt a pressure on her shoulders, like a hand forcing her to kneel down, and then her ankles were pulled together, forced to stick to each other by the same pressure on her upper body. She could see in the dim light Dave experiencing something similar, his wide eyed stare back speaking more than any words could possibly say.
“Dave, what’s happpennnggggg,” Dot tried to say, but then something filled her mouth, making it impossible for her to speak clearly as she felt a soft pressure on her cheeks. Looking over at Dave, she saw a dark mass forcing his lips apart as he called out quietly “Hlpmmm.”
Dot shook her head, trying desperately to shake whatever was forcing her to be a mumbling mess away, when a light appeared in the doorway, and she saw the face behind Dave in their full form. It was a grey humanoid – literally grey, the shape indistinct except for the white face. The light shone directly into Dot’s eyes, and then she saw that and a second humanoid walking to the doorway, plunging the room back into darkness.
In her bedroom, Gina was struggling on her bed, unable to move or speak clearly. The apparition had secured her body somehow, and at the time she was unsure how, but now she had felt the rough rope with her finger tips, and she could see her reflection in the candle light, the large knot in the middle of the silk scarf sitting between her teeth forcing her tongue down to the floor of her mouth. She now knew the ropes encircling her upper body were not a supernatural phenomenon, but had been tied by a very experienced, very scary home intruder – one she now realised she knew from the papers.
She could see the empty jewellery boxes scattered across her bedroom floor, and she wanted to scream for help – except she suspected the others were in the same position as her. With her ankles pulled back and tied to her chest, she could not move more than a little shuffle.
This was the moment the candle chose to go out, and again she felt the chill in the air. This time, however, she could hear a low, guttural chuckle coming from somewhere in the room – no, from under her bed.
“Whssthrer,” she mumbled as a bright red light began to push underneath her bed, and she felt something moving underneath, pushing up into her body. “WHSTHRRRR” she called out, and then she saw the red tentacles, reaching up from under the covers. Gina started to shuffle back on the bed, her face turning white and the scream catching in her throat as she saw the creature emerging...
“GNNNNNN” Carl shouted out as he heard the cries from upstairs. He tried to twist free of the ropes holding him tightly as he lay on the kitchen floor, and reach the ropes around his ankles with his fingers, but the knots were too tight, the binding too firm. His arms were secured behind his back in a box tie, the rope encircling them from his shoulders down the limbs and then around his chest, while his ankles and legs below his knees were tightly bound. His ankles were secured to his chest ropes, while a knotted bandana was forced into his mouth.
Rosa was still huddled in the corner, the black cloth filling her mouth as it was tied round her head, while her knees were drawn up to her chest and held to it with ropes that went under her legs, her bound ankles clearly visible. The three masked women had forced her in and bound her, the gag been tied before the lights had gone out.
But now – now there were other lights dancing in front of her, which seemed to have materialised through the walls and windows that looked out over the cemetery. They seemed to hang in the air, as Rosa looked over at Carl.
“Cmvrhrrr,” she called out as the lights moved over to the cupboard and drawers, watching as the doors started to shake and open. “CRRLLLMVVVV!”
Carl started to wriggle over the smooth linoleum, keeping his head down as the cupboard doors opened and a bag of flour flew over his head. It hit the window, the flour scattering in the air as Carl joined Rosa and lay in front of her, his head turned as more of the contents of the cupboards flew across the room.
Rose saw the shapes outlined in the flour and dust that filled the air, then closed her eyes and started to say “Santa María, Madre de Dios, nos protege tanto en esta nuestra hora de necesidad” as Carl closed his own eyes and started to whimper…
Dave scooted across the floor on his knees and knelt next to Dot, watching the dancing lights as they seemed to stop and hover in the air in front of them both.
“Whtsggnnnn” Dot mumbled as she put her head on Carl’s shoulder, seeing clearly the ropes around his body and feeling those around her own wrists as she stared at the lights.
Dot heard the voice in her head rather than in her ears, as a light appeared in the doorway – a light that then took the form of an older grey haired woman who walked into the room.
“Ntreee,” Dot said as the lights dispersed and faded into the air, leaving only the form of her dead aunt as she knelt and looked at Dot and Dave.
“I’m sorry this had happened to you tonight,” the spirit said in Dot’s mind, and Dave nodded as if he had heard it as well. She felt a light touch on her back, and then the ropes seemed to fall like confetti away from her body, the scarf falling away from her mouth and head.
“Aunty, what’s happening,” she said as Dave found he had been released as well.
“You have done something very stupid,” the apparition said, “and raised something you cannot understand. I need to see to your friends in the kitchen, but you must rescue your friend upstairs.”
“Rescue her,” Dot said as she stood up, “how?”
“Make a sacrifice,” was all she heard as the form of her aunt moved to the door that led to the kitchen. “Come on,” Dot cried as she ran to the staircase, Dave following as they went to Gina’s room, the red glow visible under the door.
As Dave opened the door in, Dot could see Gina cowering on the bed, and something that looked like a squid appearing from under the bed. Grabbing her crucifix and pulling it from her neck, Dot screamed “GET AWAY FROM HER” and threw it at the creature.
There was a blinding red light, and then the room was plunged into darkness. Dave ran over and picked Gina up in his arms, saying “Move” to Dot as he ran down the stairs. Dot followed, as they were joined by Carl and Rosa in the hallway.
“Outside,” Rosa called out as she opened the door, and the five of them ran out, stopping in the garden outside as Dave laid the unconscious Gina on the grass. Looking to the side, Dot caught her breath as she saw the dancing lights in the cemetery, and then buried her head into Dave’s shoulder as he held her...
The older woman looked up as Dot came in, carrying the wooden box in her arm.
“Good morning,” she said quietly as Dot closed the door, “Can I help you with something?”
“Yes,” Dot said quietly as she laid the box on the counter, “I am returning this for my friend.”
“I see – did something happen?”
Dot said nothing, simply nodding as the woman took some money from the till and handed it to her. “I did warn you – were you visited?”
“Yes,” Dot said quietly, “by – several things.”
“I see – you showed great courage bringing it back.” The woman took it into the rear of the shop, but as Dot was about to leave she heard her say “Your aunt was very proud of you.”
“What did you...” Dot turned round, but instead of the older woman a young lady, about her age and dressed in a Romany outfit, came out.
“I’m sorry – what happened to the older woman?”
The Romany looked at her, and said “What older woman? This is my store.” Dot stared at her, then turned and walked quickly away...