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Tried my first séance last night. The séance was held at a local psychic’s house. When I arrived at her door, I noticed a sloppy, hand-drawn sign reading ‘Please knock – doorbell broken.’ Shouldn’t she know I’m coming? Last year, the local psychic fair was cancelled due to poor weather. None of this was inspiring my confidence in the psychic industry. Setting aside my reservations, I could only hope that her ability to summon spirits was in better shape than her doorbell. Anyway, I found myself ascending a staircase into perfumed darkness, after about 25 minutes spent outside knocking on the door – I might add! On the way up, she told me money figured prominently in my future and I was going to meet someone tall. It struck me that psychics probably base their readings on precise details they tease from their clients. For example, a telephone conversation might go something like this:

“Hi, you’ve reached the telephone psychic. What’s your name?”

“John”

“Hi John. I’m Kim. Where are you calling from?”

“Death row.”

“Well John, I see a dark cloud on your horizon.”

At the top of the stairs, a few strategically placed candles cast a warm glow without making anything too obvious. The séance appeared to me as it should, being quite a fan of horror films, with all effects and personalities in place. The psychic got into the mood very quickly with some warm up conversation. She contacted the spirit of a former florist who wanted to know what type of flowers were above him. It immediately struck me that if you’re going to take the time and energy to contact the living from another dimension then perhaps you shouldn’t be too concerned with appearances; but to each his own. She contacted Buddy Holly. Initially, we were all thrilled, but he went on forever extolling the virtues of travel by train and car.

Following Buddy’s rather dull transportation tirade, the psychic announced she would now contact the dead on behalf of each of us. I was to be the first vict …. volunteer. Within minutes, she was in touch with my grade seven science teacher. I didn’t even know he was dead. He told me my presentation on states of matter was long overdue, before changing state himself and drifting off into the ether – probably off to berate some other student, as was his habit. It struck me that the afterlife wasn’t much different from the world of the living  – full of people you want to avoid. However, I was visibly excited when the psychic contacted my grandfather. I asked him what it was like in the afterlife. He told me to ask my grandmother. Typical.

Having decided that the spirit world was not going to reveal its secrets to this doubting Thomas (more doubting than Thomas), I let the psychic move onto the next victim (yes, we were victims by then). The psychic began contacting a widow’s recently deceased husband. The widow waited impatiently, desperate to speak to her lost love. The psychic claimed to have reached him. She became possessed by his spirit. The widow wanted to know if he still loved her. The psychic flailed her arms and hands around like a mime, trapped inside an invisible box that had been set ablaze. The widow looked terrified, but was determined to know what message her beloved had for her. The psychic started screaming “I’m trapped! No air! No light! BUGS – I’M COVERED IN BUGS!!! THEY’RE EATING ME!!!! AHHHHRRRRGGHH!!!” The widow fell to the floor and witnesses rushed to her aid. The psychic collapsed unconscious on the table. The widow, her face slick with tears, was in hysterics. I tried to calm her down; it is my habit to be helpful. I told her that decomposition via insects and bacteria was a normal biological process, but she would have none of it. I suffered several blows. They suddenly rose up against me. Chairs, cups and saucers went flying. Sensing that the séance was over, I took my leave.

Arriving safely at my flat, I decided that the secrets of the dead best rest with the dead. However, the evening was not a total loss; I came up with my epitaph – ‘He never made compromises. Please, no plastic flowers’.

Published by Kadath Press

Chatham, UK

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Copyright © 2015 Cameron A. Straughan

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, please contact the publisher.

First Printing – January, 2015

ISBN: 9781311039804

A copy of this story is available in the Legal Deposit,
Library and Archives Canada

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