Once upon a time, when I was in my late teens, my party trick was seances. I know that sounds kind of weird, but it’s true. We used to improvise an ouija board, use a (clean) scotch glass as the focus, and then have at it. And for some reason, whenever I was touching the glass, it would glide around the board like an ice skater on a rink — even if I wasn’t really paying much attention.
I’m pretty sure my friends thought I was pushing the glass around, although they never accused me of it. And although I wasn’t doing anything deliberately, I sometimes wondered if there was something subconscious going on, because I often “heard” the word reply in my mind as the glass started spelling it out.
During one particularly freaky incident, one of the guys taking part had brought along what he claimed was a Satanic bible. He didn’t tell any of us he had it until afterwards (when he burned it), or we wouldn’t have taken part. It’s not like blood began dripping from the walls or anything — but one of the girls who wasn’t participating and was in the next room claims all the neighbourhood dogs went nuts just before we got scared by some of the creepy answers we were getting and decided to stop. We never heard a thing.
And I never did a seance again.
This cheery little anecdote is by way of telling you what inspired the opening chapter in my new release, Isla’s Inheritance. And here’s the seance exerpt, if you’re curious. (Emma has glasses. So do I. That’s a total coincidence, I swear.)
Have you got a scary story? Blog about it and post the link as part of our Haunting Halloween Hop!
Isla’s Inheritance excerpt
“Okay.” Emma rolled up her sleeves so they wouldn’t trail on the table. She slid the upturned scotch glass so the pentagram was centred within it. “Everyone put a finger on top of the glass.” We did. “Ready?” Without waiting for a response, Emma tilted her face towards the ceiling. “Is anyone there?”
“Is anyone there?” Emma asked again. She didn’t seem worried. I glanced at Dominic, whose face had fallen.
“Is anyone there?”
The glass began to inch along the surface of the paper, picking up speed as it slid towards the YES. Tamara gasped, going white under the makeup; that pale, she looked like a porcelain doll. Emma smiled, enjoying her moment. The guys watched with wide eyes.
“Welcome.” Emma smiled. “What’s your name?”
I studied the glass in its nest of fingers as it spelled out D-A-N-I-E-L. My eyes narrowed, searching for the whitening around the fingertips that would indicate someone was pushing the glass. Was that why Emma had turned off the light—to hide the tells?
“Hello, Daniel.” Emma smiled again. “Daniel’s my spirit guide,” she added in an aside to the rest of us as the glass slid across to HELLO.
I watched with a frown as the others asked questions of Daniel: where he was born, how he’d died, that sort of thing. I didn’t pay much attention; I was busy trying to see how the trick was being performed. It was a normal scotch glass and, if anyone was pushing it, they were being discrete. Emma was good.
Finally, she looked around the table at us. “Daniel can act as our intermediary to the afterlife, protecting us from evil spirits. Do any of you have relatives who have passed over that you’d like to contact? A grandparent or anything?”
“My grandpop’s dead, but he was an old bastard.” Kurt laughed. “I don’t want to talk to him. Besides, your Daniel wouldn’t let him through if he doesn’t like evil spirits.”
Tamara shook her head; Dominic turned to me. “Isn’t your mother dead?” he asked softly.
“Yes.” I looked away. I’d never known my mother. She’d died giving birth to me. But I didn’t like the idea of turning her into a parlour trick.
Dominic saw my hesitation and looked sheepish. Emma brightened, though. “What was her name?” she asked.
“Melanie,” I said reluctantly. “Melanie Blackman.”
“Hey, we don’t have to do this if you don’t want to,” Dominic said.
“It’s all right,” I said. It wasn’t real. It didn’t matter.
“Melanie Blackman, are you there?” Three times Emma repeated the call, and, as before, the glass didn’t move until the third time.
“No?” Emma looked surprised—which was itself surprising, given she was the one moving the glass. “Melanie Blackman, are you there?”
The glass circled away from the word and back again, rattling across the paper.
Obviously that wasn’t meant to happen. “Daniel, are you there?”
There was a long delay while I imagined a sheet-covered ghost handing over the receiver of a telephone. YES.
“Why isn’t Melanie Blackman there?”
It wasn’t real. It didn’t matter. But I still held my breath as I watched the glass spell out the reply.
S-H-E [SPACE] I-S [SPACE] N-O-T [SPACE] D-E-A-D.
Cassandra Page is a young adult urban fantasy writer who loves a scary story. Details of her latest release, including obligatory buy links and so forth, are here. You know, if you’re curious. *shuffles feet*