Tuesday, February 28, 2017
By Daniel Skye
Tim Dawber had a sudden craving for guacamole, or “guatramole” as his gramma used to call it. She was a remarkable cook. Her homemade guacamole was to die for. Being back in that house after so many years was triggering a lot of old memories. And that’s what he attributed his craving for “guatramole” to.
He’d have to bite his lower lip to stifle his laughter when it came to her mispronunciations. He got so used to it, he was instantly able to identify the word she was referring to. “Scenerials” meant “scenarios”, and “inclemation” meant “inclination.” She also thought irregardless was a word.
But Tim never judged his gramma for her flaws. He judged her based on her strengths and the strength she gave him to carry on and succeed in life. And Tim hadn’t let her down. He started out in marketing, pitching ideas for billboards and late-night infomercials. Now he was an executive vice president for one of the biggest ad agencies in the country. Tim knew his gramma would be proud of him.
He ran his hand over the warped plaster to find the light switch. There was damage and destruction everywhere he looked. Tim’s family had always been considered part of the lower class. His parents were always having money issues. And his grandparents weren’t much better off.
In a house with money problems, there’s rarely any room in the budget to repair the damage. Every little screw-up, every little accident gets recorded on those walls forever, like a modern cave painting. Scars in the paint and plaster, stains on the carpet. Serving as a daily reminder that accidents do happen. That nobody’s perfect. And no home is perfect, either.
During his parent’s initial separation, Tim came to live with his grandparents for a while. And he had certainly been responsible for more than a few of those dents and marks on the walls. But his gramma didn’t brain him for it like his father would have. She chalked it up to accidents happening and boys being boys.
Tim had been trying to communicate with his gramma for weeks. The Ouija board was not his preferred choice, but it was the only viable option.
He sat down and glared skeptically at the board. Although Tim was a firm believer in the afterlife, he found it hard to believe he was going to contact his gramma’s spirit with something he bought for fifteen bucks at Wal-Mart.
Tim laughed when he first read the instructions and the side of the box. The recommended age for children was eight and older. You have to be twenty-one or older to purchase alcohol, but only eight years old to summon the devil, Tim thought.
But anything was worth a shot. Tim’s gramma was the one who left him the house in her will. Tim’s gramma was the only one who believed in him. She pushed him to work hard and succeed, and he had exceeded her and even his own expectations. He’d try anything for just one last conversation with her.
The anniversary–or “Anna-versity” as she preferred–of her death was near. And if there was ever a chance of making contact with her spirit, now was the time.
The board had no symbols. Only numbers and letters. The word “YES” was printed in the top left hand corner of the board. The word “NO” was printed on the right. And there was a clear message at the bottom of the board that simply said “GOOD BYE.”
He placed his hands atop the triangular planchette and asked, “Are you here, gramma?”
No reply. The planchette didn’t budge.
He kept his hands steady on the planchette and asked another question. “Are there any spirits present?”
Tim waited impatiently. He was about to give up when the planchette slid to the top left hand corner of the board.
Tim took a deep, anxious breath.
“Is that you, gramma?”
“It’s me, Tim. I’ve missed you so much.”
The planchette remained stationary.
“Have you reunited with grandpa?”
I can’t believe it, he thought. My gramma’s ghost is giving me the silent treatment.
“Are you happy where you are?” he asked, refusing to give up so easily.
The planchette finally scraped across the board again, reaching the top right hand corner of the board.
“Why? Is it lonely where you are?”
“So talk to me. I’m here.”
The planchette slid to the right.
Tim was disheartened. “What have I done to offend you? Is it the house? You left it to me. I thought you wanted me to move in. Should I stay or should I go?”
The planchette nearly ripped from his fingers as it scratched furiously all over the board.
YOU CAN’T LEAVE. NOT YET.
Tim wasn’t entirely sure who he was speaking to anymore. He was tempted to ask the spirit to spell guacamole just to make sure it was indeed his gramma. But instead, he asked another question.
“What is your name? Tell me who I’m speaking with.” Then he added, “Please,” so as not to anger the spirit.
I HAVE NO NAME.
“No name?” Tim repeated, not necessarily asking the spirit, but merely pondering its response.
Tim knew his gramma better than he knew his own parents. And this wasn’t his gramma. Whoever he had summoned, whatever he had summoned, it wasn’t Sarah Dawber.
“Can you tell me how old you are?” Tim asked. But nothing could have prepared him from the answer.
I HAVE EXISTED SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME.
Tim wanted nothing more than to lie to himself. To tell himself that this wasn’t real. But he wasn’t seeing things. This was no fantasy. The planchette was moving on its own, no batteries, no assistance.
Tim was so wrapped up in the conversation, he initially failed to notice the precipitous change in room temperature. The room was slowly turning into an igloo.
Tim felt the cold air circulating around him, stinging at the nape of his neck. His teeth were chattering. But he refused to relinquish his grip on the planchette.
“Why have you contacted me?”
I DID NOT ASK TO BE DISTURBED. YOU SUMMONED ME.
Tim was feeling brazen and asked–no, he practically demanded it tell him his name.
The heart shaped piece of wood jumped across the board, grazing so many letters that Tim could barely keep up. This was not a simple “yes” or “no”. The spirit gave Tim a riddle to ponder.
THE QUESTION IS NOT WHO AM I. BUT WHAT AM I.
Tim had heard enough. He flipped the board over, the planchette sliding over the edge of the table. He made a run for the stairs. His plan was to pack an overnight bag and rent a motel until he could speak with a realtor and figure out what to do with the house. But he came to an abrupt stop on the landing of the stairs.
Something had grabbed hold of his ankle. He couldn’t see it. But he could feel its cold, scaly skin grinding against his flesh. He tugged at this unseen force, trying to free his ankle from its invisible snare.
With inhuman strength, this invisible entity lifted Tim from his feet, dragging him down the stairs on his belly. It dragged his body across the floor, toward the fallen planchette.
The spirit was right. It hadn’t asked to be disturbed. Tim was the one who had unintentionally provoked it. He had roused the demon from its slumber. And now he had to finish what he started.
Tim set the board back up and asked one final question.
“What are you?” he whispered.
Its response was both straightforward and downright terrifying.
The room fell cold again, and the looming darkness flowed in, leaving Tim with the malevolent spirit he had evoked.
The planchette moved one last time, traveling to the bottom of the board, leaving Tim with its final words. The last words he’d ever read or hear.