Ouija Bored

Three Cheers and a Tiger ~ Bronze
Trena N. Taylor


Berra sat down heavily on the old red trunk, dropping her backpack to the floor and taking a moment to catch her breath before pulling the ancient trunk those last few inches, so that it was fully bathed within the moon’s glow from the skylight above. She coughed out the unsettled dust that coated her throat and now filled her lungs. All around her was chaos, boxes toppled onto their side, contents strewn throughout the room, dusty old cobwebs and fresh spider webs clogging the rafters that slanted upwards above her. The domestic wildlife that had long made the room their home had been unsettled by her fractious rummaging and could, in the near silence, be heard shifting and scurrying about, just outside the reach of the pools of light cast by Berra’s loose circle of candles.

Wiping more sweat from her brow with the hem of her T-shirt, Berra was mumbling, “…don’t care anyway…” when something in the darkness clattered to the floor, startling her into silence.

She looked around timidly, then laughed to herself, then out loud, and then loudly out loud, the exaggerated “Ha! Ha! Ha!” bouncing sharply against the close walls.

“Wicked acoustics,” she said, and again, with as much force as her voice could carry, “Wicked acoustics!” The sound immediately punched back against her eardrums, causing her to flinch and she pressed against her ear, thinking Damned tinnitus.

“I can say what I want,” Berra said, to the left side of the room, before turning to the right and shouting, “As loud as I want!”

She sat down hard on the cold floor, and leaned back against the chest.

“It’s not like anyone’s going to hear me,” she said. “Or see me.” As proof, she twisted a finger up her nose and stuck out her tongue to the surrounding darkness, then reached for her backpack. Pulling it close, Berra delved inside and retrieved a large bottle of whiskey.

“‘You can come with us next year, Berra; next time Berra; no, not this year, maybe next year.'” She wagged her finger in the air, admonishingly, and swung her hips around, imitating her mother. “‘Oh, no Berra, not this time, but maybe next time; yes, Berra, you’ll come with us next time, but not this time, the doctor doesn’t think it’s a good idea, Berra; eat some more celery, Berra; no seconds for you, Berra!'”

Out of breath once more from this outburst, Berra put the bottle to her lips and took a tentative sip.

“Daaaaaaamn,” the word rasped from her throat. “This is filthy! Mom, how do you drink this stuff? Ha, if anyone knew the great and grand Tanya Ferrell hit the hard stuff, what would the Ladies’ Journal say?”

She tipped another miniscule amount into her mouth and twitched her shoulders in an over-exaggerated response to the sting of the alcohol.

“So,” Berra said, setting aside her bag but keeping the bottle close at hand, “What’s the big deal about the trunk, anyway? ‘Never go up there, Berra; never touch your father’s trunk, Berra; don’t do this, Berra; never do that.’ Well,” said Berra, lifting the latch on the trunk, “If you didn’t want me messing with the trunk, you shouldn’t have told me about it. Simple as that. I mean, really, what did you expect? Every day for the past month you’ve been telling me not to come up here, like I don’t know where you hide the key. Telling me I’m grounded if I disobey you. Ground me? If I disobey you? Ha! You may as well have dared me to do it. May as well have handed me the key with a signed consent form!” With a great deal of force, she managed to open the lid, which was so firmly shut that a vacuum-like hiss was released when its tight seal was broken.

Ahhhh…

Berra glanced over her shoulder into the darkness, before leaning over, peering inside the trunk, apparently mistaking the escaping sound for more of the unsettled noise she had stirred up when she had begun her exploration of the attic.

“Um, hellooo? It’s empty?” She sighed her disappointment, loudly. “All that cloak and dagger for an empty trunk? You people are freaks.”

Lightning flashed overhead, casting its harsh white light throughout the room.

“Of course. There would be a storm, wouldn’t there?”

The flickering light continued and abated, with a soft rumble of thunder behind it.

“Oh, hang on.” Berra’s attention had been drawn to something lying flat at the bottom of the trunk.

She reached her arm down and swept her hand across the bottom.

“What’s this?” Her fingers closed on a smooth object and she withdrew it from the trunk.

“What is this, an antique Valentine?” She held the wooden shape to her eye. “Or a magnifying glass?” she speculated, sweeping her body around in an arc to peer around the room through the glass near the point of the heart-shaped object.

“What the hell?” Her hair lifted lightly across her face as a draught quietly swept the room. It seemed to murmur Planchette…

“This can’t be all…” Berra reached down into the darkened trunk, once more, scraping her fingertips against the bottom until something lifted up.

“Ah-haaa,” she said, lifting the board out of the trunk. “So, this is what all the drama was about? What, Jacob was into the occult? Hmmm… I’m not impressed.”

Berra reached once more for the whiskey, this time taking a healthier swig.

She leaned back against the trunk, stretching her legs out wide, and placed the wooden board on the floor before her.

“Well,” she shrugged, “I guess it’s something to do on a stormy Saturday night when your so-called family has left you all alone to go skiing in Europe without you… ” The bottle tipped up to her lips, once more, and she continued, teeth bared and clenched, as the liquor stung her mouth and gripped her stomach, “…on a so-called family vacation, without you, oh but how’s it supposed to be a family vacation if they even take the damn dog but leave you behind, or are you not a part of this family anymore?”

And a longer, healthier drag on the bottle. Berra inadvertently set the bottle down on the edge of the planchette and it tipped over, spilling a good amount of its contents onto the board, which seemed almost to glow beneath the liquid.

“Oops,” Berra said, before gaining a hint of bravado. “Well, so what, that’s what you get. I don’t care if it was Jacob’s. Hell, I never even met the man; what’s he to me? That’s what you get for leaving me here, no television, no radio, what did you expect me to do all week long, twiddle my fingers and toes like a good little girl? So what, it got wet! I hope it’s ruined!”

Berra spit on the board and a blinding light erupted in the room, strobing, mesmerizing Berra as she sat transfixed.

“Daaaaaaaaamn,” She held the bottle at arms length, eyebrow raised. “What’s that all about?”

We are with you.

The lights dwindled and faded, but Berra continued to blink rapidly, acclimating her eyes to the dim room, once more.

“You what?” The whiskey found her lips once more.

We are. We are with you once more.

“Wicked.” Berra leaned over and prodded the wooden planchette around the board.

“Go on,” she said. “Spell something.”

You are returned…

“OK, but spell something.” Berra pushed the pointer around on the board. “Come on! A, B, C, D… Something!”

A great wind howled, speaking to her as if from a distance, and Berra touched her hand to her brow.

“Whoa— What… What’s going on…”

She tried to steady herself on her feet, but her knee buckled and she crashed back down onto it, breath labored and chest heaving.

We are amongst you. Purge and be pure.

“I need to lie down. I really need to… Need… Ohhh—” she plunged her head down into the trunk and retched, stomach emptying its contents.

Berra sat back, not daring to look at the board, clutching at her head, but unable to stop the assault of voices that swelled within her mind.

Born of flame and returned…

“Stop it!” Berra fell back, drawing her knees to her chest, her head shaking violently.

Born of fire and returned…

“STOP it!” her elbows crashed against the floor and she beat against the bare boards with her hands.

Born not to this world, yet returned…

“GET OUT OF MY HEAD!” she shrieked against the clamorous baying. Drawing up to her knees, Berra lunged towards the door, but again fell back and, narrowly missing a flaming candle, landed solidly on her bottom.

Sacrificed lamb, you are returned to us and we accept you unto us…

Tears began to fall from Berra’s eyes as the pain behind them mounted. She pulled and tore at her hair in a desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable, but still the wailing grew and she covered her mouth and nose against the stench that had arisen from the board.

Berra closed her eyes against the light, her body shaking, and she screamed out in pain as her head struck the floor, but she continued hitting her head, driving out the sound and the light and the smell and voices. Eyes wide with horror, now, Berra gaped at the board, as if peering through it to some pit of Hell, and she clutched at her stomach, forcing back the bile that threatened to erupt at any moment.

“Noooo!” she screamed. “What do you want with me? What do you want?!”

Her arms flew out and flailed around her, fending off some demon, fighting back the apparition that had arisen to claim her.

Suddenly the room was filled with a deathly silence and Berra’s very breath was gone, sucked from her body along with the sound and light, and she clutched and clawed at her throat, eyes bulging in fear of the darkness that now surely awaited her.

At once, life seemed to flood back into the room and Berra screamed again, her voice returned. She cried out now in pain with blood streaking down her throat from where her own nails had gouged trenches. And again she screamed as the light assaulted her eyes and she dropped down one last time, finally giving up the battle for her very soul.

As Berra stared bleakly at the board, accepting of her fate, the multitude of voices seemed to beat even further her head, suffusing her mind with its will.

Blood of our blood, the appointed hour drew you to us… Our blood courses through your veins, descendant of Ph’rel… You will feed us, return our life’s blood to us and we will once more be one…”

The tirade echoed in the room and in her head, as all around Berra the walls shook and the sudden wind howled and a great light filled the air.

Finding her strength once more within those words, Berra rose up to her knees, belligerent expression belying the agony she felt inside.

“Screw you,” said Berra, shoving a candle from its perch onto the still damp board. “I was adopted.”

From the board a blinding white flame burst forth and was no more, even as the cacophonous whirlwind suddenly ceased.

Berra had fallen away from the fire and leaned back, coughing and spluttering. She stood up beneath the now smoke-filled shaft of light, caught her breath, and turned her head, speaking into the darkness. “A bit too much flash paper, don’t you think, Murray?”

“Who is director, Berra, and who is actor? House lights, please! Props, we want to bring the house down, not burn it down—easy on the nitrate. Now, if we could back this thing up and take it again from the spilled drink, strobe slights, you expectorate… and a little less of the Grand Guignol this time, please.” Murray approached the stage with his notes.

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Somehow find the time to compose her works of fiction between changing diapers and doing laundry, Trena Taylor enjoys fully enjoys the last-minute, seat-of-your-pants style of writing that can only be found when submitting a 2000-word story at the last possible minute. E-mail: tntaylor101[at]hotmail.com.

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