By Helen Verte
Note: Parts of the following story are fictional.
The planchette jerked around the Ouija board spelling out the word Zazzy. Zazzy. Zazzy. My friend Sherry asked, “Is this some kind of Halloween prank? Are you doing that?”
“No,” I said. “You are.”
“I’m not,” and she lifted her hand up and the planchette abruptly stopped on the third z of who knows how many Zazzy’s.
I took my hand off and took a deep breath. “Besides, Halloween’s a couple weeks away, and I wouldn’t do a trick like that anyway. Especially on myself! That thing said I was gonna die.”
“In 70 years. That’s a long way away.”
“I’ll only be 86! I want to be a Centurion at least.”
Dying wasn’t what I wanted to dwell on. At that stage of my life, I was more interested in knowing who I was going to marry, which the board refused to answer. Argh!
Both my friend Sherry and I stayed quiet and looked at the board. I know what she was thinking because I’d been thinking the same thing. If neither of us was pushing the thing around, who was?
I wondered if I should have just left it at the bookstore. It was an impulse buy. I stopped to browse for a Halloween type mystery book after coming home from school. It was Friday, and I wanted something interesting to read, but ended up getting the Ouija board instead.
“So,” I said to my friend, “wanna spend the night?”
“Uh, no,” she replied. “My mom won’t let me stay if your mom’s not here.” We both lived in single-parent households, and Sherry’s mom was a lot stricter than mine was. For instance, hers wouldn’t leave her alone for a week to visit her sister and mine would and did.
Sherry must have seen the look on my face, cause she said, “You can spend the night at my house.”
I looked at Dudley and Raven, my Aussie and Doberman. “Your mom won’t let me bring my dogs.”
She shook her head. Her mom was a neat freak and didn’t like dogs due to their shedding. Sometimes I questioned my choice of friends, but Sherry was fairly stable outside of her mom’s influence.
“I can’t leave my dogs alone, Sherry. Geesh!”
“I know.” She looked at me with wide eyes. “What are you gonna do?”
I looked around the living room and then at the lumpy couch. “Sleep here, I guess.”
I put the Ouija board back in its box. “After I put this thing in my bedroom closet.” I walked it through the hallway, tossed it into my closet, and when I returned said, “Distance should keep me safe.”
I looked over at Sherry, who had moved to the front door. She was actually going to leave me.
“Don’t you think a closed door and distance from that board will keep me safe?” I worked to prolong the conversation. “Huh?”
“Sounds right,” she answered. “I gotta go. Supper’s gonna be soon, and you know how my mom is if I’m late.”
I sighed. “See you tomorrow?”
She shut the door and I looked at Dudley and Raven. “It’s just us now kiddos.”
Initially, everything went as normal. I fed the dogs and myself. Washed dishes, walked them, then took a shower. That’s when things got a little freaky. As I was rinsing off and turned to rinse off my back, a wash cloth popped into the tub. I saw it fly in there. It had been draped over the towel wrack. I just stared at it and thought, in order for it to move from there to the tub, it would have to un-hang itself, and a wind would need to blow it sideways. There was no wind.
“Dudley! Raven!” I called as I quickly finished rinsing. I heard their nails on the bathroom tile and opened the shower curtain. It was a relief to see them. I said “Hi!”
They were wagging their tails, but that stopped and they immediately proceeded to bark. Guard bark no less, and at me! Or at least in my direction. Their hair stood on end and in between barking, their growls were low and threatening.
“Yikes!” I said. I grabbed a towel, wrapped it around me and jumped out of the tub. I turned around to see what the dogs were barking at, but I saw nothing. I looked back at them. “What do you see?”
Dudley pursed his doggy lips and growled. Raven barked until suddenly, they both settled down. I decided to avoid the bathroom, if possible, for the rest of the night.
I got dressed and we went into the living room where I planned to stay the rest of the night. I put leashes on both the dogs and left them tied to the lumpy sofa next to me, and I guess I was really tired because I started to doze off. But somewhere in between dozing, I heard a deep, eerie voice calling my name. “Joellen. Joellen.”
I answered, “Huh?”
The voice called my name again, and it wasn’t until the voice turned into a wicked laugh that I woke up. Jumped up was more like it.
Both dogs were sitting next to the sofa growling and their hair was standing on edge. When I realized what was going on, I jumped up and looked around.
“Who’s there?” I said.
I was tempted to call mother dear at this point, but I knew she’d give me hell for playing in the occult, so I thought I’d try to ride it out. I’d rather hear a monster drone on than hearing her drone on and on. Besides, Pennsylvania was 3 hours ahead of California. And my hands were probably shaking too much to dial right anyway. This was making me a little nervous.
On the other hand, my neck was stiff, my rump was sore and I was beginning to get angry from having to sleep on a lumpy sofa while some unseen force was pushing my buttons. Where was my backbone? I’d faced old lady Blair, hell’s English teacher, and came out the other end with an A. I tried out for the our school’s musical on a dare and even after humiliating myself, got a part in the chorus. I even took swimming in gym class and faced my fear of water. So why was I letting a flimsy wash cloth and a deep gritty voice push me around?
“That’s it!” I said. I un-looped the dogs’ leashes from the sofa and grabbed my pillow and blanket.
“Let’s go to bed,” Even with my new found bravery, I snapped on every light that was on the way to my bedroom. Before tucking myself in with the dogs right next to me, still on leash, I said a bless this house and its members prayer.
I shut the light off in my bedroom, but the rest of the house was lit enough that I had plenty of light in case I needed to see something. It was after 3 a.m. by then and I was exhausted. As I was dozing off, the dogs were growling again, and they were staring at the closet. That’s where I’d put the Ouija board.
I closed my eyes tight. Maybe the dogs would stop growling if I just ignored them for a few minutes. “Shhhh.”
I rolled over and put my head under the blanket. Still, the dogs were growling and getting more riled up.
I threw the blankets off me. “OK! I’ve had it!”
I put my slippers on, switched on the light, and marched over to the closet. I grabbed hold of the doorknob, took a deep breath, and pulled.
I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I opened the door. “Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Ahhhh!” I screamed as I stared into a pair of red eyes. One of them had the nerve to wink at me! Those red eyes were on a devilish face with handsome features for a demon thing and it had some bitchin’ long wavy hair.
All that didn’t matter. “Ahhh!” I screamed. The demon then had even more nerve to smile at me! Its teeth were rather white and appealing for a creature of its type. Actually, without those red eyes, he was rather attractive. That’s what I was thinking, that is, until the smile turned into evil sounding laughter. That laugh was the deal breaker. “Ahhhhh!” I may have been repeating myself, but didn’t care. I screamed again as the demon faded away into the back of the closet as, and get this, he threw me a kiss! A puff of grayish smoke appeared and the name Zazzy echoed like surround sound until there was silence!
Well, except for my screams. “Ahhhhhh!” I turned around dancing in a circle. “It’s not real! It’s not real! It’s not real!” I screamed while Dudley and Raven danced along side of me, barking at what wasn’t real.
“Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!” Three quick final releases I screamed before looking back in the closet. I got a grip when I saw nothing. The demon left my closet. Or maybe melded with it. I hoped the former.
I took the Ouija board out of the closet, and grabbed Dudley and Raven’s leashes and together we walked to the trash bins and I dumped the board in and slammed the lid.
When we came back into the house, I was tempted to down one of mother’s Valiums, but I called her instead. I don’t know why I did it. Most of the time, I felt like she and I were different species speaking a different language, but she was my mother, and I was in deep doo-doo, so I called.
“Ha!,” she said. “He did it.” She laughed. “He told me he’d get in touch with you sometime in your 16th year. I didn’t believe it, though. You know men.”
Not really, I thought.
“He said it would be up to you to make the first move. He’d give you a nudge he told me, and you’d do it. He had confidence you’d do it. And there you go!”
“Who? Who!” Mother would often go off on these conversations alone. “Who are you talking about?”
“Red eyes and wild hair you said?”
“Yes, mother. That was what I saw in the closet. I thought he winked at me for God’s sake!”
“He probably did. That Ouija board opened the communication up between you and your father, Zazzy.”
“Your father. I know I haven’t spoken much about him. It was during my wild times when we met.” I heard her sigh. Then she said, “Joellen, your father. He’s from the other side.”
“Not the other side of the border. The other side of life. He’s a bit of a demon. Actually, he’s 100% demon. Sorry dear. You’re a hybrid. But thankfully, you take after me.”
That’s a good thing? I wouldn’t mind having a head full of that bitchin’ wavy hair, I thought. Instead, I had a sparse head of straight thin strands of frizz. Yeah, but I was totally glad my eyes were blue and not red.
“Are you all right now? Because I really have to finish off my beauty sleep or I’ll get those puffy black circles under my eyes.”
“Yeah, mother, I’m peachy,” I said.
“Great. Call me later, dear, at a decent hour if you want to talk more.” A decent hour to mother was sometime after twelve noon.
Peachy again. I hung up the phone and looked at Dudley and Raven, my protectors.
“You guys rock,” I said and
they wagged their tails.
And then they grew horns
and that’s when I fainted.
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