(Written for the Ghost Stories Around the Campfire Contest)
FIRST PLACE in the Ghost Stories around the Campfire contest by Witchjy , November 8, 2013
FEATURED in the WDC Newsletter - Drama: Pet Peeves in Fiction by Joy , Editor's Picks, October 15, 2014
FEATURED in the WDC Newsletter - Horror/Scary: The Season for Scares by blue jellybaby , Editor's Picks, October 22, 2014
I had just arrived at ColĂ©gio Bennett Girlâs Camp on a Friday afternoon, in 1969. My friends and I had come in a big, white and noisy bus all the way from Rio de Janeiro, and up towards the Alto da Tijuca woods. The bus had parked under an enormous Jake tree. I was enveloped by its long, thick branches and inviting coolness the moment I got off. Strangely enough, I also felt a chill run through my body but I thought it was the excitement in the air, and the idea of being away from my motherâs overbearing presence.
Panela, Katia, Sichel, Baby, Luisa and I met in our cottage room. We had made a special request weeks ago: to be placed together in the same room, or we wouldnât sign up for girlâs camp. We were best friends. Our school wanted to make ends meet that year, so that wasnât a problem. We were inseparable, like magnets, stuck to one another, and we had no secrets ... until that weekend.
After dinner, and right after the Grand Meeting in mess hall, we returned to our room. We wanted to undress and gossip some more in our pajamas. The orange yellowish moon grew in size over the dark lake, across from our cottage. My bed was a top one, so I could follow the moonâs lazy walk along the dark sky and see it make its way through the shiny stars.
âChristina! Stop daydreaming. Look what I brought!â Panela said while removing something from her red duffel bag.
âStop calling me Panela. My name is P-a-m-e-l-a.â
âNo can do. Panela it is. Just as Consuelo is Baby and Christine is Sichel. I am the only Christina in this group, Katia agreed. Luisa agreed; all of you agreed. I am the Captain, remember!â
Pillows landed on my head, and we giggled and laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks. They sat on the red carpet around Panela and curiously looked at the package. Panela unwrapped it slowly. Heads touched while I tried to see what was lying in front of them, mysterious and dark--staring at us with hungry eyes. My heart missed a beat.
âAn Ouija board! Panela, you brought an Ouija board to girlâs camp?â
âWhy not? I thought it would be fun.â
âYou know how I feel about these things. You know that I 'feel' strange things besides, this is not a toy ; there are dangers involved with the playing of the spirits.â
âOh, come on, Christina. Letâs give it a try!â Baby said, her eyes glued to the letters and numbers imprinted on the strange board. She stretched out her hand but she was scared to touch it; it looked awake.
âPlease,â Luisa asked, touching the board. âLetâs play.â
âCome onâ, Sichel and Katia pleaded, pushing me towards the floor and forcing me to sit on a pillow. They gathered around me, caressing my hair and massaging my shoulders. âPlease.â
âOkay but this is a downright bad mojo.â
âWhy?â Sichel asked.
âBecause a spirit board is a point of connection with the 'other side', the dark side, thatâs why. Itâs dangerous to communicate with the dead.â
âBut thatâs why I brought it. You are a Medium. You know âthingsâ. You see âthingsâ. It will be fun, besides, we are protected--youâre here. You are the strongest. You once said, and I remember it so well, that the Gods only tested the strongest, remember? So, that's that,â Panela insisted.
âWell, alright, but we stop when I say so, hear me?â
We sat on the carpet forming a circle; the Ouija board in the center. We heard the branches scratch the roof, and we laughed nervously. The room was cold, probably because of the high ceiling, stone and timber floors, and the open spaces. Luisa had a coughing attack, and Sichel started to giggle. I looked at them, angrily. No one dared talk, not anymore, not until I started.
I stared at the Ouija board in that old cottage in the middle of the woods, and wondered why I was doing this. I didnât know why but I went ahead. While listening to the sound of rain, to my friendâs deep breathing, and to the creaking floorboards, I finally said:
âI am here, asking permission to the mysterious planes, to the higher levels, to the good spirits and to all the elements around and above to allow us to enter the spiritual world. Ouija board ... we ask you: is anybody out there, listening to me--to us? Is anybody out there who wishes to communicate with us, tell us something or send a message? Do come in peace.â
âIs anybody out there who wants to ask something?â
âIs anyone there? Answer me.â
âIs there a spirit out there that needs help?â
Suddenly ... the pointer moved a tiny bit, shaking the board--causing an electric shock on our fingers--making us scream and jump from the pillows. Rain started to fall over the roof and pour down the cottage. We came closer to one another; not daring to move away from the Ouija board.
âIs anyone out there?â
The pointer moved again, slowly, from the letter y to e, then to the letter s and spelled out the word Y-E-S.
âPanela, donât cheat!â Katia said, blushing with anger.
âI am not cheating, I swear,â Panela said nervously.
âThen w--who is doing this?â Luisa asked.
âIâm scared,â Baby whispered.
"Me too," Sichel moaned.
âWhoâs there?â I demanded. I needed answers to this dilemma, but I should have stopped then.
I-A-M, the pointer slowly spelled.
âWho--who are you?â I asked.
âWhere--are you from, L. B.?â I asked, curious.
F-R-O-M-T-H-E-L-A-K-E, the spirit spoke through the pointer on the board.
âPanela... I swear, if this is you...â Sichel whispered.
âI am NOT doing this! Is it YOU, Christina?â
âOf course not! This IS happening. I know; I feel it. Itâs a sad presence, hovering over us. I mean it. Itâs maybe evil but Iâm not sure; not this time. I wonder why, but itâs wet, heavy, and I want to stop this right now!â
N-O, the pointer spelled out, almost flying, from letter to letter; this time, faster. N-O, again.
The branches scratched the roof again. The winf shook the door. A dog barked in the distance, or was it a wolf? I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
âGive me a proof, but donât use the Ouija board.â
Silence. I could hear my heart drumming in my chest. I could hear the raindrops falling over the lake. I could feel...
Knock. Knock. Knock.
We immediately looked at the window. We knew that the knocks had come from the window, but from outside--not inside! We knew this, but outside was wet, cold, and muddy. Nobody was outside but the feeling of being stared at from behind us and from the sides was so intense that I had to keep looking around to make sure that nobody was actually there.
Knock. Knock. Knock. Again. Three times.
We screamed and held each otherâs heads, forming a compressed Circle of Sisters--a Sisterhood of very scared friends that wouldnât move one inch, or it would destroy our forces, our innermost strength. We sat there forever--holding each otherâs arms, holding our hands until our arms became numb, and our fingers became white. Finally, I took a deep breath once more. I was in charge. I had to know my answers to this puzzle.
âWas that you, L. B.?â
Knock. Knock. Knock.
âDo it again, if itâs really you, L. B.â I insisted.
Knock. Knock. Knock. Three times, again; unbelievable.
At this point, we had been staring at the window--six pairs of wide-opened eyes looking at a window full of raindrops rolling down the glass. We knew it was L.B., not anybody or anything else. We knew it was a personâs spirit, but not sure it was a good or an evil one. Yet, we were aware that we were in real trouble. We sensed that we had gone too far. A tingle ran up my spine.
Knock. Knock. Knock. Again. Lightning crossed the dark sky, and not too far from the girlâs camp. Panela, Katia, Luisa, Sichel and Baby looked at me with frightened, begging eyes. âDo something, Christina, please.â
âSpirit, depart. I demand that you leave this place. Depart, L. B. I demand. We want no more to do with you. Depart, NOW and do NOT come back! I command you L. B., in the name of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, GO NOW!â
The pointer jumped in the air, fell heavily on the Ouija board and spelled out the letters N-O. Stillness in the air. I heard Sichel moan. Baby gasped and Luisa cursed. Panela covered her mouth with trembling hands. The pointer moved very slowly, and spelled out the letters H-E-L-P-M-E. Tears rolled down my eyes, and I felt as if I was drowning; gasping for air. I started to tremble violently then I stopped. I was pushed forward, but by whom? Panela jumped up and hit my back with her hands, and shook me. I was shivering. Katia was crying. I was crying. âChristina, you look blueish---as if---dead. Breathe! Please, breathe!â Panela said, shaking me violently. âBreathe!â I did, deeply, greedily. My chest ached, and I coughed loudly, my body felt cold and numb.
I lifted my head upwards and spoke to the air, to the room, to the ghosts and spirits around us. âI demand, L.B. that you leave us, leave me and this place NOW! Go in peace. Let us be. We--I cannot help you, L. B., and I demand, go now! Be in peace.â I closed the âmeetingâ with 7 prayers, asking the spirits to bless the room and protect us from evil the unearthly.
A chilling gush of wind rushed its way around the room, moving through our hair and through our hearts, but we just stood there, strong and fierce in our determination; one thought, one mind, one presence. Silence. No more noises, no more knocks.
I blew the candle off. I turned the light on. I stood up and urged Panela to immediately collect the spirit board and the pointer, wrap and throw them in the duffel bag. We watched her do this in silence. Baby opened the door. Katia grabbed the bag and threw it outside. It landed on a puddle of water and mud, splashing dirt on the steps of the cottage. Sichel slammed the door. Luisa, pale and trembling, gasped; eyes wide open. Quietly, as if they had read my mind, we rearranged the pillows on the carpet, put some covers on the floor, lied down, covered one another with the blankets and fell asleep, without uttering a single word.
Suddenly I woke up; blood froze in my veins. The duffel bag, wet and muddy, sat inside the room--challenging me with its unwanted presence. I screamed, waking my friends up--horrified by my wild cry. We just stood there; staring. Sichel, who was always the last one to make up her mind, put her jeans, jacket and tennis shoes on and looked at us. We did the same. After we were ready, we grabbed the duffel bag, making sure that each one held part of its material and straps. Panela opened the door. We walked down the stairs together, stepping on the wet grass and walking towards the big garbage can, near the mess hall. We threw it into the can, and it fell inside it with a loud thud. We turned away, never looking back. Another dog barked in the distance, and birds scattered over the trees, unsettled by the noise. It was very early in the morning. No one saw us. We never said a word. Panela never claimed the duffel bag. We never checked to see if it was still there. We never talked about it; never again.
The duffel bag was never seen after that nor were we disturbed by noises, chills or shadows in the darkness of the room. Each day went by without disturbances, and by the end of the next week we had forgotten all about the event. Still, sometimes, we would read each otherâs troubled expressions. I put the event in the darkest corner of my mind.
My father and my uncle picked me up at girlâs camp. I wasnât surprised to see that my mother hadnât come. I confess that I envied Panela, Katia, Sichel, Luisa and Baby while I saw them leave with their parents, after we hugged. Some families were so complicated. Why was mine, too? Why me? Life could be so boring. My life needed to change.
While I sat in the back seat of the car, I wondered about the steps I needed to take in my life in order to follow my path. I needed somehow, someway, to change my life soon, or Iâd be doomed to be like my mother. I needed a force to start and overcome the fears of my future. I needed to seek to be better than I was, or simply accept my destiny; understand the world. I was still young---I had a life ahead of me; great expectations. I had once read that the world has a soul and that anyone capable of understanding that soul could understand the language of all things. Endless horizons. What would be of me in this universe?
I saw the dark woods in the distance from inside the car. I noticed a deeper, distant part of the lake somehow untouched by daylight. I wondered how deep it was. Endless possibilities ahead for me but first I needed to see ahead of myself. All energy and all knowledge came from the same unknown source but we didnât always notice them. Why not? Which crossroads should I follow? I was so--cold. I coughed. My throat felt tight. I had to think about my future. I needed to train my eyes as they were made to see more than one thought. It was so cold inside the car. I was trembling. Was I courageous enough to find my life's answers? The really important meetings were planned by our souls long before our bodies met and ...
My thoughts stopped when I noticed the window fogging up, as if hot breath had been blown on the glass, next to where I was sitting; while the car sped on the endless highway. I wanted to close my eyes, and escape, but I already knew what was coming. I had felt the presence. I just sat there waiting for the inevitable. As I watched with fear, an invisible finger slowly, and carefully drew two large letters in the dripping moisture that had formed; right from outside the cold window âŠ L. B. ... and then ...
Knock. Knock. Knock.