Oubliette: “Seance”

Note: This is part of an experimental creative writing exercise
The next part in the series can be found here.
The series starts here.

Griswold waddled down the stairs creating an unmeasured thumping and creaking as he descended into the pitch black and dusty basement. In the darkness, he knew that a pair of fellow crew members were working on restoring power to the old farm house. Breaking and entering was not a normal policy for the crew but when they heard that the house was suddenly abandoned overnight a year ago, they had to check it out. It was a gold mine of paranormal activity and tonight they were going to see if there was more gold to strike.

Griswold’s arms ached and burned under the weight of the box he was carrying. Beads of perspiration slid down his flushed face saturating the front and back of his tee shirt. It was near the end of January and fog formed from his mouth as he labored to breathe. Griswold knew he needed to get serious with his health but he could never follow through with his resolutions.

A small light in the corner caught Griswold’s eye. Linda sat with a head mounted flashlight rummaging through the contents of her backpack. He sat the box on the dirty concrete floor near a power outlet. He stood in that spot for a few moments as he tried to capture a breath or two. Once he could speak, he asked, “Where’s Grace?”

“I’m in here trying to find a fuse,” responded a voice from beyond the dark. Griswold looked in the direction and saw nothing except flashes from a miniature flashlight. Griswold was disappointed when he arrived at the old farmhouse to discover that there was no power. Being the equipment specialist of Spooksters, he was as useful as a computer without Internet connectivity when there was no power. Grace and Linda told him that it was a fuse but he still regretted carrying all the equipment down before making sure there was a spare.

As if by magic, a single bulb flickered in the middle of the room creating a dim light that pushed the shadows to the far corners of the basement room. A tan and very athletic woman entered the room and twisted her body in a celebratory dance.

Griswold uncomfortably knelt next to the box on the floor and pulled open the cardboard flaps. As he peered into the box, he quickly audited its contents. He reached down into the box and pulled out a large rectangular video recorder along with a small black box. As he frowned at the wireless cameras staring up at him, he asked, “Do you know when Chris or Pete are going to be here? I am going to need some help with these cameras.”

Linda answered him, “Don’t worry about setting up all of the cameras. We only need this room and hot spots one and three.”

Griswold flashed a surprised expression, “So, we’re not doing a full investigation?”

“No, we’re going to try something different tonight.”

“Different in what way?”

Grace interrupted, “We’re doing a séance.”

Griswold’s surprise expression shifted to confusion. “A séance? I thought we decided that we were not going to do those.”

Linda shrugged, “Grace convinced me that we should at least give it a try especially after what we saw the last time we were here.”

Griswold recalled that night. During evidence review, Grace discovered some high-quality EVPs of what sounded like a girl speaking as well as a video of a what appeared to be a child wearing a dress walking through a room on the second floor. When Grace reported her findings to the crew, there were excited high fives and Linda even bought a round of drinks for everyone. For Griswold, that was not the highlight of the evening.  His highlight was witnessing a book float across the living room as if it was a feather in a light breeze.

He shrugged, “Cool… I guess.”

There was creaking from the old wooden floor boards above Griswold. Linda and Grace glanced upwards in unison as soon as they heard it. The creaking navigated through the room above and next to the door to the basement and stopped.

After a few tense heart stopping moments, Grace glared in the direction of the stairs and purposely walked to them. She glowered at the door on the top of the staircase for a few moments.

“Chris, Pete? Is that you?”

The silence continued as if it concealed a secret. Suddenly, the door slowly creaked open revealing the darkened kitchen above. There was nobody waiting at the opening of the door and only silence presented itself. Grace continued to stare angrily up the stairs.

“Chris, if that is you, I am going to castrate you!”

After a continued response of silence, Griswold could hear Grace curse under her breath as she pulled a heavy black flashlight from her backpack. With a soft click, light shown up the stairs into the dark kitchen. She cautiously looked about as she stepped onto the stairs. Griswold could hear the boards creak softly as she climbed. When she reached the top, she slowly peered around the left side of the door.

“BOO!” a loud voice shouted as a dark hand grabbed her from the right side of the door. Grace, filled with the power of lightning, swung her flashlight which slammed against the right door jamb with a hard, solid thump.

“Jesus, bae!” a startled voice exclaimed.

“Chris, you, asshole!” Grace shouted at the tall dark silhouette at the top of the stairs with her. She pivoted on her feet and stomped noisily down the stairs without saying a word.

“What? No kiss or hello?”

Chris walked down the stairs and waved to Linda and Griswold. He was followed by Pete who was carrying a case of beer. Chris reached into his black leather jacket and pulled a green bottle from a hidden pocket. He declared, “Ladies and gentlemen, the spirits are here.”

Right before Chris approached the bottom of the stairs, his weight suddenly shifted forward causing him to tumble the rest of the way. He body came to a rest at the base of the staircase and the bottle skittered across the concrete floor. As Grace and Linda rushed to help him, he rolled onto his back, sat up, and started inspecting the stairs with his eyes.

With a calmer tone of voice, Grace asked him, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah”

Chris continued staring at the staircase as he stood up. “I swear something grabbed my feet. I guess I tripped.”

As the other members of the crew assisted Chris, Griswold started pulling small cylindrical cameras from the box. He looked at the crew and thought to himself that they were an interesting bunch. Apart from Chris, all of them graduated from high school together but each of them took different paths.

Of the members of Spooksters, Griswold thought Linda was the most meticulous and through. When it came time to electing a leader for the crew, she was the natural choice. She acted as the case manager for the group and took responsibility for its running and assigning roles to members. She was attending West Virginia University for a business degree.

Grace had a basketball scholarship at a private school in the northern part of the state. Griswold dared to admire her from afar. He remembered going to the women’s high school basketball games just to watch her play during the days when he used to have a crush on her. Griswold shook his head; who was he kidding, he still had that crush.

Grace was evidence review. Normally, she did not come out on investigations per Linda’s request. Griswold thought that rule was dumb; biased or not, nobody was going to take anything they found seriously. He thought it was odd that she came out for the investigation tonight but the talk of doing a séance answered that question.

As for Chris, Griswold never understood why he joined the crew other than to be with Grace. The best that he could figure, being over 21 was Chris’s main role. In the back of his mind, Griswold called him the token skeptic because of the way he dismissed everything. He was always making fun of what the crew did and being immature. Linda had been giving him more responsibility in the crew by assigning him the role of interviewing clients and researching.

Griswold could see what Grace saw in him. Chris was a basketball player at the same school she was attending. He was a tall, dark, and handsome man with short black hair and a very muscular body. Griswold knew he had no chance with Grace when compared to him.

Pete was the co-founder of the Spooksters along with Linda. He was the crew’s lead investigator and he was with a few other crews during high school. Griswold knew him in high school. He was one of those angst-filled loners who always seemed to dress in black and had lobe gauges. Griswold did not quite know what Pete did for a living. He assumed that Pete went into his family’s business as he now dresses more conservatively and his gauges have been replaced with skin toned plugs.

Griswold found himself drafted into the equipment specialist role because he was the only person of the crew who had any kind of technology training. He worked at a nearby office complex maintaining the IT infrastructure. The role was a natural fit as he was used to running data cables through buildings even though he needed help from smaller members of the crew with some camera placements.

He went about setting up cameras in the room and locations that Linda marked as hot spots one and three. Since he had some extra cameras, he decided to set up on a spot that he wanted to watch but the rest of the crew decided against. While setting up the last camera, he heard a shuffling noise. Looking around he did not see anyone yet, he could not shake the feeling like someone was watching him. He quickened his pace as he went back down into the basement.

Down in the basement, everyone was drinking and talking. Pete was talking about some of the investigations he was on while in high school and he even admitted to doing some investigations alone. After a half of an hour of this, Linda spoke up, “Okay, let’s get serious.”

She looked at Grace, “Can you explain what we are going to do?”

Grace stood before the group and explained that the crew was going to conduct a séance to contact the child spirit that resided in the house. She was going to draw a pentagram using chalk and place the SpiritMic in the center. Each member of the crew was to take a position at each tip, join hands, and to not let go until she said. She ended her instructions that she will do the speaking for the group.

As Pete walked around the room lighting candles and incense, the crew recited a prayer to the Archangel Michael. Griswold turned the monitor for the cameras off after noting that the cameras still had full charge and flipped the switch to the light, allowing the shadows to reclaim their space in the room.

Everybody joined hands and stood in a circle on the red chalk outline of the pentagram as Grace spoke with an authoritative voice. “We wish to communicate with the spirit of the child inhabiting this home. Come to us and speak. Are you here with us?”

Only the sound of the wind outside of the house was the response. The white electronic box that sat in the middle of the circle continued to blink green lights as it scanned the afterworld for an answer.

“We saw and heard a young girl the last time we were here. We would like to communicate with you. Can you come here and speak with us?”

Again, there was no answer coming from the box. A whistling noise came from the other room as the wind found a crack through which it entered the house.  As Grace attempted to speak again, an electronic voice filled the room. “Here

The response startled the group and everyone about jumped out of their skin. Grace and Pete grinned at each other from across the circle. Chris stared at the box with a dumbfounded look of shock on his face.

“Spirit are you the little girl that we saw? Did you try talking to us?”

Yes

“Who are you? What is your name?”

Flower

“Does that mean you were named after a flower?”

No answer came from the box but red lights were flashing that indicated the presence of a spirit. “Flower, are you alone? Are you the only spirit here?”

No

“Can you tell us who else inhabits this house?”

Man… Bad

“Are you saying there is a bad man in the house? Does he wish to hurt others?”

Yes

“Does the bad man hurt you?”

Safe

“Can you show yourself? Can you do something to let us know you are here?”

No

“Are you unable to show yourself? Do you not want to show yourself?”

Hide

“Are you hiding from the bad man?”

Danger

“Do you need to leave…”

Quiet

“Do you want me to be quiet?”

The lights on the box went back to green as it continued scanning for responses. After a couple of minutes, Grace shrugged.

“All spirits that came to our call, we wish you a safe journey and you may go now. Thank you for your attention… Okay, you can break the circle.”

Everybody released their hands and excitedly started talking to each other. Chris exclaimed, “It just got real!”

He continued, “In 1927, a kid named Rose died here. That’s your flower.”

Griswold looked at Chris with surprise and reached his hand over to him which resulted in an unexpected and awkward fist bump. “Hell, yes.”

As Linda turned on the dim bulb, Griswold walked over to the monitor for the cameras and touched the power button. Although the screen came on, it remained black. Only green lettering appeared indicating the places where the video feed was supposed to be. “Aww… crap! The batteries in the all of the cameras went dead?”

Griswold suddenly found himself in the target of surprised and frustrated expressions. Grace castigated, “Again Griz? You were supposed to charge them before each investigation.”

“Hey. I charged them and they were fully charged when we started.”

Pete interrupted in a calming voice. “Grace, it could have been the spirit that drained them. It does happen.”

In an exasperated sigh, “I know. You’re right but if we did not capture that…”

Seeing that situation defused, Linda walked across the pentagram and stood above the white electronic box. Just as she reached down, the electronic voice broke the pandemonium of the room. “Danger

Startled, Linda jumped back as if she stepped on electricity and everybody in the room turned their attention to the box. A popping noise came from adjoining room and all the lights extinguished except for the green and red flashing lights from the box. Everyone smelled a hint of Sulphur in the air.

Danger

Grace spoke up, “Are we in danger?”

Leave

“Bae, I think we better do as it says,” urged Chris.

Just at that moment, Griswold gasped in surprise which sent everyone in a frenzy scanning the room in search of what startled him. In the direction of the door to the other room, the crew spotted what he saw; a pair of red eyes that looked like a pair of burning coals was watching them.

In the panic to reach the stairs, the crew stampeded liked a spooked herd of horses. In the shuffle, Griswold bumped into two others simultaneously and his feet slipped out from under him. As he tried to stand as fast as his corpulent body could, he heard the others rushing up the stairs in a series of rushed bumps.

He reached out to find the handrail. When he found the smooth metal rod, he heard a scraping behind him. A kind of scraping that he had not heard before, his imagination filled in the blanks, it sounded like claws rasping on concrete. As fast as he could physically climb the stairs, he reached the top of the staircase. However, right before he reached the top, the door slammed shut and he could not open it.

The hair on the back of his neck stood on ends as he heard something creeping up the stairs. He turned around and saw that there was nothing behind him. There was only the creaking of the wooden stairs to tell him that something was indeed there. There was a pressure against his body as if a cloud had engulfed him followed by a sensation that could only be described as claws reaching into his mind.

From the bottom of the stairs, a voice said, “Pray.”

 

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