The dry leaves seemed to whisper as they rustled in the faint wind that night. The crescent moon loomed over the old willow tree in the middle of the abandoned graveyard. Stirred by a sudden gust of wind, a loose branch fell to the ground, into a heap of autumn leaves, startling the four figures searching for traces of the unknown on this cold October night. Nonetheless, they carried on their way deeper into the darkness, light from a flashlight their only guide.
Eli was against the idea from the start, but he didn’t say anything. He was sure Dwight and Jonah would make his life hell if he didn’t go. Though his teeth jittered every step of the way, he pressed on, aware of the glances the other two boys were sending his way. He knew they were waiting for the right opportunity to scare him. But this time things would be different. Eli was not going to let a silly jump scare get him this time. Further motivating him to stay strong was the presence of Hannah. The girl he liked for a long time, the one with flowing black hair, was as excited as Jonah and Dwight to be visiting a graveyard in the dead of night. A chill went down Eli’s spine, his throat making a loud gulping sound as he swallowed down his anxiety. Lucky for him, the others didn’t seem to notice.
After walking for what felt like hours, they reached the far edge of the graveyard. Beyond the balding willow tree and a crooked little fence was a dense forest, where everything was pitch black. The howl of the cold wind and the rustling leaves were the only thing coming out of that onyx abyss. The land beyond felt dead. The chill felt so strong that Eli’s senses became dulled, to the point that he felt like his body was not his own, and the paralyzing fear was being experienced by someone standing next to him who happened to look exactly like him. This feeling of detachment came to an abrupt end when Dwight cleared a pile of leaves near the willow tree and cast the light of his flashlight at it, revealing an ornate circle, adorned in strange markings, etched in the remnants of the pavement. Eli’s heart sank violently, nearly destroying his larynx as it fell.
“Oh hell no,” he whispered. Dwight chuckled, seeing the distress on Eli’s face and motioned something at Jonah. To Eli’s horror, he pulled out a Ouija board out of his backpack. “Are you fucking serious?”
“What, you didn’t know this was here?” Hannah snickered. The sound pierced Eli’s heart, the betrayal stinging like a thousand cuts. “You’ve lived here all your life and you’ve never heard of the witch’s circle?”
“Of course I have, but I never would have expected you guys would be stupid enough to come here. This thing is dangerous!”
“Right,” Jonah said as he rubbed the nape of his neck. “That was just our plan, Eli – bring you here and play with a Ouija board so a witch comes and eats your ass up so that we can finally have peace.” He laughed his hyena laugh, the piercings on his lips gleaming like fangs in the flashlight. “Relax, bro. It’s just a game.”
“And no chickening out like last time,” Dwight said as he set up the board on the ground. He shook a bit and zipped up his hoodie. “It’s just a game, man. Don’t be a party pooper.”
“You could have warned me,” Eli said.
“Like you’d come then,” Hannah giggled and crouched near the board. “C’mon, it’s getting cold.”
It’s all bogus, he told himself. There’s no witch, and you can’t communicate with the dead. So just chill out and roll with it. And with that, he crouched by the board and put his right hand on the pointer. The other hands soon joined his, their skin cold from the October winds, the eyes of the teen fixed on the glass magnifying the letter “A”. For a few tense minutes, nothing happened. Eli felt cold sweat on his forehead, his breathing was becoming faster. “Why isn’t it moving?” he whispered.
“We need to ask a question first,” Hannah said. “Let’s begin with something simple.” She glanced at the boys and then back at the board. “Hi! What is your name?”
The pointer jittered and Eli’s heart made a summersault. Someone was moving it, but he was sure it wasn’t him. The others looked just as surprised, but Eli still tried to convince himself it was one of them anyway.
H-E-L-L-O C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N O-F M-A-N, the pointer indicated the letters one by one, with Jonah reading every letter out loud and later saying the words he could make out. “Wow,” he said under his breath. M-Y N-A-M-E I-S P-A-I-M-O-N.
“Is that the name of the witch?” Dwight asked, his eyes darting from Jonah to Hannah.
“I don’t think so…” Hannah’s voice trembled slightly. “I, uh… It doesn’t sound like a name I’ve heard.”
“I have,” Jonah said, his face pale. “There’s this book I’ve been reading through some time ago, and uh… and it had names of demons in it.”
“Shut up!” Eli heaved, his breath shallow and erratic. He let go of the pointer. “I’m out. This is too much for me.” The others only stared at him with their mouths agape. “What are you looking at?”
“Eli, your...” Hannah whispered and pointed to her forehead. Eli touched placed his hand where she pointed on his own head – it felt sticky. His knees shook as he extended his hand and gaze upon his palm – covered in thick black blood. With a click, the pointer moved again, even though hands were touching it. Everyone was too busy trying to catch Eli. He didn’t even notice when he began to faint, but it happened in an instant. His vision went dark and he heard a loud thud. It wasn’t until he woke up the next morning that he realized it was him falling that made that noise.