by: J. A. Flores
Chrissie laughed, patting Jessica on the shoulder as they both chugged the last drops of merlot from their glasses, their third each of the night.
Jessica gave her friend a bright smile and refilled the glasses, her hand steady despite the wine and revelry that made both ladies giddy. They
clicked their glasses together and chugged nearly half the glass in simultaneous gulps.
Chrissie, a young Hispanic woman of twenty-eight, had just been dumped by her unfaithful boyfriend of a year. Her roommate Jessica, African-
American and thirty years of age, had taken pity on her and had immediately canceled her own Saturday night plans to be with her best friend in
her hour of need. They had ordered in Chinese food, cracked open a bottle of inexpensive but delicious Argentinean merlot that was Chrissieâ
€™s favorite, and ripped into a bag of dark chocolate M&Mâ€™s. They had spent the afternoon and early evening watching bad movies,
listening to music, and chatting; basically doing all that fun stuff designed to keep Chrissie from dwelling over her failed relationship.
Of course, a broken heart can be momentarily distracted but only time itself can heal such deep cuts and Chrissie began to grow melancholy once
more. She shook her glass carefully to swirl the deep maroon liquid against the sides and breathed out a long, low sigh. She glanced at Jessica and
although she wore a grin on her lips, her dark eyes glittered with sadness. Jessica offered her fallen sister a sympathetic smile that was reassuring
that everything would turn out for the better. She reminded Chrissie that she was lucky to have dumped the moronic loser that had done nothing
but drag her down.
â€œI know I am.â€� Chrissie murmured. She took a sip of wine and chased it with another mouthful. â€œI know he was a dick. I mean, Iâ
€™ve seen it coming for a while now. Should have seen it, anyway. Iâ€™m justâ€¦Iâ€™m afraidâ€¦that I wonâ€™t find anyone else, you know?
Jessica chuckled not from humor but with compassion. She felt Chrissieâ€™s pain almost as if it had been her own. She had gone through a
similar situation in her past love life, certainly most girls have or will at some point. She knew Chrissie just felt so alone, and that bitter feeling
was playing with her head. Of course Chrissie would find another man some day, more than likely sooner than later; to think otherwise was just
plain silly. However, her broken heart was making her question herself as a person, her personality, even her looks. Chrissie would get over it
eventually, but it would just take some time. Some time and a new man.
However, Jessica was not a very patient person and she demanded a quick fix. She was enjoying the fun and laughter they had been sharing and
was not ready to give it up quite so easily for more tears and pity. Her tipsy mind raced for a mental band-aide and for no real reason she could
think of other than necessity, a thought popped into her head. She hadnâ€™t thought about it in ages, not since she had unpacked when first
moving into the apartment with Chrissie nearly two years ago, and she hadnâ€™t used it since she was a teenager. As soon as it came to her she
realized it was the perfect thing to both reassure Chrissie and take her mind of her romantic blight. She excused herself to go rummage through
her closet and returned bearing a board game box, the top layered with a blanket of dust that she was lightly blowing off.
â€œWhat is that?â€� Chrissie asked and in response Jessica flipped the box to show off the top. Chrissie frowned and mumbled â€œA Ouija
board? Whyâ€¦what are youâ€¦â€�
â€œYou said you were afraid of the future. Letâ€™s find out!â€� Jessica giggled with a wink. She shook the box at Chrissieâ€™s face and
announced in boisterous, mock spooky voice â€œLetâ€™s ask the spirit world! Bwah-hah-hah-hah!â€�
â€œJess! Donâ€™t be silly! You canâ€™t possibly believe that that thing can actually see into the future!â€� Although Chrissie was chiding her
friend, she had begun to help clean off the Chinese take-out boxes and wipe away the slipped sauces and wine. Jessicaâ€™s silent answer was
another crafty wink of her eye and both girls broke up into wild giggles.
In only a matter of minutes the girls had cleaned off the glass tabletop and taken the remains of their dinner to the kitchen; they had kept the
bottle of wine and their glasses. The Ouija board was laid out on the table with the heart-shaped plastic planchette. The board was about the size
of any run of the mill board game, decorated to look like a wood finish with a gothic-styled smiling sun in the left corner and a similar half-moon
in the right. The word â€˜yesâ€™ was near the sun while â€˜noâ€™ was next to the moon. Under this was the alphabet, A through M situated
over N through Z with 1 through 0 below. At the bottom of the board was the word â€˜goodbyeâ€™.
The girls sat in silence for several moments just staring at the board as if expecting it spring to life. At last Chrissie broke the heavy stillness by
asking how it worked. Jessica opened her mouth to offer an explanation but just as quickly plopped her lips shut once again. She shrugged
â€œWhat do you mean you donâ€™t know?â€� Chrissie asked.
â€œGirl, I havenâ€™t used this thing since I was in high school!â€�
â€œWell, does it have any instructions or anything?â€�
Jessica looked into the box and saw that it was empty. When Chrissie raised her eyebrow, Jessica gave a weak shake of her head and muttered â
€œLook, I remember we have to put our hands on this pointer thing. Well, just our index and middle finger. Then we ask it a question and the
thingâ€™s supposed to move to the letters and spell out the answer. Donâ€™t press down on it! Just put your fingertips on the edge here.
Lightly. Like that.â€�
â€œNothingâ€™s happening.â€� Chrissie observed with a hint of a wry smile on her lips.
â€œYou didnâ€™t ask a question.â€�
â€œWell, what should I ask?â€�
Jessica huffed an annoyed breath past her lips. â€œWill Chris ever find another man?â€�
Several seconds ticked off the clock after which Chrissie giggled uneasily and replied â€œIs that a no or is it just broken?â€�
â€œOh!â€� Jessica gasped. â€œI just remembered! We have to invite a spirit into the board!â€� In response to Chrissieâ€™s question about
just how in the hell they did that, Jessica closed her eyes, tilted her head back and called out in an above normal tone of voice â€œIf there is
anyone or anything out there, we ask that you hear us! Please come into ourâ€¦ah, Ouija board and tell us the answers to our questions!â€�
â€œJess, youâ€™ve got to be kidding me!â€�
â€œWe invite you! We invite you into our-AH!â€� Jessica squealed and jumped away from the table as if something had bit her. â€œDid you
feel that! The thing moved!â€�
â€œKnock it off! That was just you!â€� Chrissie accused, also pulling her hands back quickly.
â€œNo way, girl! That thing moved by itself!â€�
The girls looked at each other, both sharing a quizzical look in their eyes conveying equal amounts of disbelief and tense apprehension. They
glanced down at the planchette, looked back up at each other, and then returned their gaze onto the board. Without a word, together they placed
the index and middle finger of their right hands onto either corner of the planchette. Almost immediately it began to move around in a circle on its
own accord. They watched in amazement and more than a little bit of unease, both desperately trying to convince their trembling minds that it
was only a trick, that they were the one actually moving the game piece.
â€œWuh-wuh-wuh-what now?â€� Chrissie stammered, smacking her suddenly dry lips.
â€œWe ask it a question, I guess.â€� Jessica replied softly, her tone nearly inaudible under the harsh scraping of the planchette as it suddenly
altered its course and began forming a figure eight pattern. She thought for a moment before suddenly hearing herself blurt out â€œAre you a
The planchette moved to the word YES and paused for a moment before beginning its figure eight trek once again.
â€œWho are you?â€� Chrissie asked, wishing she could take a drink of wine to flush out her sour cottonmouth. However, she was mystified by
the board and afraid to remove her fingers.
Chrissie blinked as Jessica recited the letters the pointer stopped over. She shook her head and muttered â€œGreat! We got a retarded ghost.â€�
The planchette immediately stopped as if insulted by the snide comment.
â€œDammit, Chris! You scared it off!â€� Jessica retorted, trying to act angry but unable to keep from laughing. She snorted out more loudly
when Chrissie stuck her tongue out. After a moment to let out the rest of her giggles, Jessica apologized to the spirit and then prompted Chrissie
to do the same. Only when Chrissie said she was sorry did the planchette begin moving in a figure eight once more. Jessica repeated â€œWho are
â€œAngel, maybe?â€� Jessica tentatively offered.
â€œAre you an angel?â€� Chrissie asked, her voice suddenly stronger as if the presence of an angelic being was not quite so frightful as a ghost.
Suddenly she felt bad about calling it slow and just as quickly flushed warmly with embarrassment at her herself for being so silly to think that
there was really some sort of spirit talking to them.
The planchette continued to trace a figure eight pattern over the board but did not stop at any letters. Upon a repeat of the question, it paused
over the number 9 and then went back to moving aimlessly over the board.
â€œOkay, this is dumb!â€� Chrissie chirped, pulling away. A hand slapped over her wrist tightly enough to keep her fingers on the planchette
but not enough to impede its movements.
â€œDonâ€™t!â€� Jessica hissed through her pursed lips. â€œYouâ€™ll break contact! Ask something else!â€�
â€œI donâ€™t know! Uhm, can you tell us the future?â€�
â€œWill Chrissie find her true love?â€�
â€œNo? No! What do you mean no!â€� Chrissie barked out. â€œWill I find another boyfriend or not?â€�
â€œAsshole board! What the hell!â€�
Both girls gasped in revulsion and recoiled, but their fingers remained on the planchette as if glued to it.
â€œI-I-I-Iâ€™m going toâ€¦die?â€� Chrissie whimpered, her entire body suddenly trembling as bumps flashed up and down her arms. Jessica
sat silently, her own heart pounding in her chest as she began to shake. She tried to pull her hands away but they would not move, they were
stuck to the planchette as if glued.
â€œHalloween night? 11:00pm?â€�
â€œSHUT UP!â€� Jessica wailed out, grabbing the board and flinging it and the planchette across the room. It smacked into the wall and fell to
the floor, the planchette landing on it just over the letter Z. â€œPiece of shit! Just shut up!â€�
Chrissie sat at the table, her eyes wide and glazed with shocked horror, her loose jaw quivering as if barely able to contain a piercing wail of
terror. Jessicaâ€™s eyes burned a piercing glare into the board, her stomach churning anger and fear over the horrible thing it had told her sister.
She also felt anger with herself as well as guilt that it had been her idea in the first place. She wanted, desperately needed to say something to
Chrissie, something reassuring and humorous to dispel the dense fog of dread that coated the room. Unfortunately, she was at a complete loss of
words and could only manage to fill both wine glasses to their brims. She passed one to Chrissie and ordered her to drink in a hoarse cough.
Several minutes passed as the girls chugged their wine. Her head swimming with a vicious cocktail of alcohol and adrenaline, Jessica finally
managed to find her voice. It was little more than a guttural croak as she said â€œDonâ€™tâ€¦donâ€™t listen to thatâ€¦that thing. Chris, itâ€™s
not real. Itâ€™sâ€¦itâ€™sâ€¦itâ€™sâ€¦not real.â€�
â€œYeah.â€� Chrissie mumbled in a flat, toneless whisper. She craned her head far back to drain the last few drops of wine out of her glass.
When Jessica handed her the bottle for yet another refill, she drank straight from the bottle. â€œItâ€™s just a stupid asshole game.â€�
* * *
The next morning Chrissie and Jessica were able to more or less convince themselves that the previous night had been a mixture of too much
wine and their own overactive imaginations. Although still freaked out, the girls managed to put the strange, frightful event behind them and aside
from a quick discussion that morning, they didnâ€™t bring it up the rest of the day. For the first few days after they managed to go about their
daily routines without thinking about it; Chrissie even seemed to be more or less over her breakup. However, as the days passed and Halloween
drew closer and closer on the calendar, it crept back into Chrissieâ€™s mind. With only a week left until Halloween night Chrissie began to grow
nervous and moody. She hid it well at first, but she couldnâ€™t hold in for long and began to freak out. Jessica was still convinced that it all had
just been their imaginations, but seeing Chrissie so freaked out scared the hell out of her. Jessica did everything she could to try and convince her
friend that nothing was going to happen, that she would be perfectly fine but Chrissieâ€™s fear overcame her and she sunk into a terrible
depression. She was so sure that something terrible was going to happen to her at eleven p.m. on Halloween night that she refused to get out from
under the covers in her bed as she cried into her pillow.
After doing all she could to comfort the poor miserable girl, the day before Halloween Jessica managed to convince Chrissie to go with her to her
brotherâ€™s Halloween party. Jessicaâ€™s older brother John had invited them the month before in preparation for a big event and the two girls
had accepted. Jessica knew that it would do Chrissie good to get out of the house after nearly a week of being shut in her room. It would only
make her depression spiral further out of control if she spent the night alone and even though Jessica was quite certain that nothing would happen
to her, she did worry that Chrissie might hurt herself in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy sort of way. It took a lot of coaxing, but finally Jessica
was able to get Chrissie out of bed, dressed, and into the car. Fortunately, it wasnâ€™t a costume party.
Chrissie was obsessed with the time, her eyes never pausing as they shifted constantly from her watch, to her cell phone, to the carâ€™s clock.
The way she glared at the time made Jessica uneasy, it was as if she were trying to will the clock to stop or maybe even reverse. Jessica wanted
to say something to comfort her, but there was really nothing she could think to say, certainly nothing new.
The two girls knew just about everyone at the party and everyone immediately noticed that Chrissie was not her usual friendly, bubbly self. She
was very moody and constantly seemed to be near the verge of tears all the while being as jumpy as if she were about to bump into the devil
himself at any moment. Of course everyone knew about her recent breakup and although Chrissie was a strong-willed woman, they just all
assumed that she was taking her heartache extremely hard. Many tried to offer consoling words, but were harshly snapped or completely ignored
for their troubles and so it wasnâ€™t very long before people started to avoid her. In fact, the only person that Chrissie would talk to was
Jessica, clinging to her friend like a sick puppy. Normally Jessica would have been more than slightly annoyed that she was being kept from
enjoying the party herself, but everyone noticed that she quite strangely seemed to be pretty shaken up over Chrissieâ€™s breakup as well. True
be told even though Jessica kept insisting that the Ouija board spirit wasnâ€™t real and that it had all been their imaginations, she was scared out
of her mind as well.
As the night wore on, both girls became more and more agitated, acting as if they were afraid of their own shadows. As the clock chimed out ten
oâ€™clock, they both seemed about to completely lose their minds from fright, or heartbreak as everyone else saw it. Jessicaâ€™s brother John
insisted that they go upstairs to his bedroom to get them away from the uncomfortable partygoers. The girls opened the bedroom door and
immediately saw the digital clock on the nightstand on Johnâ€™s side of the bed.
â€œCome on, Chris. Sit on the bed.â€� Jessica murmured softly, doing her best to remain strong despite the tight vice squeezing her heart. As
she led Chrissie across the room, their interlocked arms quivered violently but it was impossible to tell who was causing it. They sat on the edge
of the bed together. Chrissie glanced at the clock again and burst into tears. Jessica clutched her tightly and pulled her close, forcing her friendâ
€™s head into her shoulder to soak up her wild sobs. It was all too much and Jessica joined Chrissie in crying out all of their terror.
They both had calmed down somewhat and even though there was a few muffled whimpers and sniffles, they had stopped crying as they held
each other tightly.
â€œHow do you think it will happen?â€� Chrissie asked, her head still pressing onto Jessicaâ€™s shoulder. â€œHow do you think Iâ€™ll-â€�
â€œShhhhhh! Donâ€™t! Donâ€™t do that!â€� Jessica snapped without any force. â€œDonâ€™t think about it. Donâ€™t thinkâ€¦youâ€™ll
be fine! It was all just some stupid joke, just some joke. Youâ€™re not going to die! Youâ€™re not! Not tonight! Not ever!â€�
It was the same words Jessica had been spitting into her ear and they no longer registered in Chrissieâ€™s mind. It was doubtful that anything
Jessica could have said would have registered past Chrissieâ€™s blinding fear.
â€œOH GOD! I DONâ€™T WANT TO DIE!â€� Chrissie wailed out, her screams muffled by Jessicaâ€™s damp blouse. Jessica cried out, not
words just sobs choking in her throat. The girls said nothing else, they just cried and cried together.
â€œHere it comesâ€¦â€�
â€œSuh-suh-shhhhhhh! Duh-donâ€™t look! Honey, donâ€™t look, donâ€™t look donâ€™t look donâ€™tâ€¦â€�
â€œJessica?â€� Chrissie whimpered, the word buried beneath her trembling breath as she quivered violently in her friendâ€™s arms.
â€œNo no no no no no no no no no no no noâ€¦â€� Jessica stuttered, unable to get anything else past her lips as she cradled Chrissieâ€™s head
and rocked rhythmically.
â€œChrissie.â€� she mumbled, her eyes having been transfixed on the clockâ€™s display for the past five minutes. â€œItâ€™sâ€¦itâ€™s after
â€œWuhâ€¦what? Whatâ€™sâ€¦whatâ€™s happening?â€�
â€œNothing!â€� Jessica gasped out. â€œNothingâ€™s happening! Itâ€™s after eleven and nothingâ€™s happening! Youâ€™re alive!â€�
â€œWhat timeâ€¦oh my god!â€�
â€œIâ€™m alive? Iâ€™m alive!â€�
â€œYouâ€™re alive!â€� Jessica exclaimed boisterously. â€œItâ€™s after eleven and youâ€™re alive!â€�
â€œIâ€™m alive! Iâ€™M ALIVE!â€�
The two girls burst out in a squeal of giddy giggles, laughing loudly as they held each other tightly. Tears streamed down their cheeks and their
laughter sounded as sobs. The bedsprings creaked and squeaked as they bounced up and down in glee.
After a minute they calmed down and caught their breath. After another minute they sighed out long and low with relief.
â€œI told you that stupid Ouija board was full of shit!â€� Jessica said.
â€œYeah. Yeah. Yeah it is. Stupid asshole board!â€� Chrissie responded, her mind still a little out of sorts as she tried to piece everything
together. She smiled broadly and let out a laugh that washed away her fear and left only relief and more than a little embarrassment. â€œYeah.
You were right, Jess. Iâ€™m sorry! Iâ€™m so-â€�
â€œNo, no, no! Girl, please! I was just as freaked out as you were!â€� Jessica assured her. After a brisk rub of her back, she squeezed her
â€œYeah. Iâ€™m cool now.â€�
â€œWant to go back and join whatâ€™s left of the party?â€�
Chrissie shook her head. â€œNo, not yet. You go. Go have some fun, I want to catch my breath a little more.â€�
â€œYes, go on. Iâ€™ll be down in a few minutes.â€� Chrissie showed her a smile that was sincere. â€œThank you, Jessica.â€�
Jessica simply bopped her head in response and squeezed her hand tightly. â€œOkay, Donâ€™t be too long.â€�
â€œI wonâ€™t. Five minutes.â€� She paused to think a moment before adding with a wink â€œYou can get a drink ready for me.â€�
â€œYou bet! A real stiff one!â€� Jessica laughed and looked at the clock one more time, seeing it read 11:08. She nearly passed out from the
wave of immense relief flooding her head.
With one more strong hug between the sisters, Jessica went downstairs, walking carefully as her legs still were weak. She fixed herself a beer
from the keg and downed half of it in a single gulp before refilling it. He brother walked up beside her, being cautious in his approach until he saw
that his sister was smiling and giggling a little to herself.
â€œEverything okay?â€� John asked.
Jessica nodded softly, suddenly feeling a little sleepy as all of her anxiety began to wash out of her body. She swirled her beer in the cup and
downed the remainder in a single gulp. As her brother took the cup from her and refilled it, he replied â€œSheâ€™ll find someone. Sheâ€™s
cute and fun, cool. Hell, if I wasnâ€™t taken Iâ€™d go after her myself.â€�
â€œYeah, right!â€� Jessica laughed to loudly as she took her full cup back. â€œLike I would ever let you-â€�
She was suddenly cut off by the chiming of the antique clock that had belonged to their grandfather. Jessica glanced at it idly and looked away. It
was on the ninth ring that she snapped her attention back onto the clock as her jaw went limp and all of the color drained from her face.
â€œYou okay?â€� John inquired reaching out to study her in his concern that she was about to collapse. â€œHey! You okay?â€�
â€œItâ€™s eleven!â€� she squealed in terrified disbelief.
John followed her empty gaze and looked at the clock. â€œYes. Yes, I guess it is eleven. Why? What happens at-â€�
â€œBuh-buh-buh-but the clock in her your bedroom!â€�
â€œThe hell you talking about? Oh! Oh, yeah, yeah, I always keep it fast. So I wonâ€™t be late for work. Itâ€™s set ten minutes fast.â€�
He continued to talk to explain his odd clock behavior but Jessica was already gone, racing up the stairs in a mad, panicked dash. As soon as John
realized his sister was gone and his shoes were wet from the cup of beer she had dropped, he followed with his own mind racing with a mix of
shock and confusion.
â€œCHRISSIE!â€� Jessica howled out as she threw herself against the bedroom door and flung it open with such force that the doorknob
punched a hole in the sheetrock wall. But Chrissie didnâ€™t answer, she couldnâ€™t answer. She lay sprawled out on the floor. Blood trickled
out of her ears and dribbled from her nose as crimson tears blazed trails down her ruddy cheeks. The look on her ghastly red face was one of
sheer terror as if the last thing she had seen was some great horror reaching out for her. Her body was contorted, her legs under her and her arms
sprawled out at her sides while her fingers were locked in a tight claw.
Jessicaâ€™s scream was immediately cut off as she collapsed into her brotherâ€™s arms.
* * *
The autopsy had ruled Chrissieâ€™s death natural as a result of a massive brain hemorrhage. Jessica sneered darkly as she took a match from
the box and struck it along the sandpaper on the side. Her eyes glimmered in the brilliant flare of the match head exploding into flame.
â€œNatural my ass!â€� she bit out bitterly, her furious eyes misting as her glare burned into the dancing flame of the match. As if flicking a bit
of dirt from her fingertips, she flung the match into the metal trashcan filled with crumpled newspaper and lighter fluid.
Indeed it was hard to believe that there was anything natural about how her best friend, her sister, had died. Chrissie had been young and took
good care of her body. Even though heart disease ran in her family, she had always exercised regularly and ate healthy. Outside of her recent
break-up she wasnâ€™t under any major stress. She had never done drugs, didnâ€™t smoke. There was nothing, nothing natural at all, that
would have resulted in every blood vessel in her head exploding at once.
Then there was the mirror.
Jessica shuddered at the icy chill electrifying her spine as her face warmed from the heat of the crackling flames rising from the trashcan.
Although it was never brought up in the short news article featured in the paper, or the police report, or autopsy report, Jessica knew that the
mirror had something to with Chrissieâ€™s death. Something she had seen in the mirror had frightened her literally to death.
Jessicaâ€™s eyes narrowed.
Or maybe Chrissie had been scared to death by something coming out of it.
When Chrissie had died she had been facing the large oval mirror on Johnâ€™s dresser. The glass of the mirror had been distorted slightly by
some unexplained means. In several places the glass had deformed as if the glass had been heated enough to melt and then instantly cooled so
that there were odd ripples and bulges frozen in the glass. It had been damaged enough that John had thrown it out, but not before he had shown
it to Jessica.
Although her brother had called her crazy, Jessica had seen in his eyes that he wasnâ€™t so sure it wasnâ€™t possible. The mirror hadnâ€™t
been so damaged he couldnâ€™t use it, but still he, a very tight spendthrift, had thrown it away and bought a new one. Maybe he wouldnâ€™t
admit it even to himself, but Jessica knew that she wasnâ€™t crazy. Something had come out of that mirror, something they had released from
the Ouija board that night. They had inadvertently called upon some evil spirit using the damned board and had released it. And it had murdered
Jessica looked at the board and planchette she gripped tightly in her trembling hands. Her eyes could no longer contain the flood and a several
tears dribbled down her cheek. There were so many things she wanted to say, so many things she wanted to shout to let out all of her rage and
hatred of the board and the thing she had released. Her mind was burning as hot as the flames blazing in the trashcan, but she could not force
those feelings to escape past her quivering lips.
Finally, she could only bring herself to unceremoniously dump the Ouija board into the fire as she hissed out a savage â€œFuck you!â€�
The fire burst into life as it began to consume the new fuel. Buried just beneath the crackling and whoosh of the flames Jessica thought she heard
something. She cocked her head and listened as closely as the heat would allow her. She couldnâ€™t be sure but it almost sounded like laughter,
like a woman laughing with cruel and malicious joy. She shook her head and blamed her imagination but couldnâ€™t stop the sweeping chill
suddenly terrorizing her body. She looked back at the fire and saw the unmistakable outline of a face traced in the flames.
Suddenly Jessica realized that she was next.