I reached for my iPhone and compared my drawing to the picture wikiHow had on its page. Yes. No. Alphabet. Numbers 1-0. Hello. Goodbye. Everything seemed right, so all I needed now was a planchette, which of course I didn’t have.
My fingers drummed over the coffee table until I was able to think of a reasonable alternative. Mm. I think that would do. And off I went to grab a shot glass from the drying rack in the kitchen before padding back to the living room.
After tucking my legs under me, I placed the shot glass on the space between Hello and Goodbye and took a deep breath. Let’s give this a shot. I closed my eyes and recited all the prayers I had memorized from childhood.
Here we go…
I placed my fingers on the shot glass. “I would like to speak to Caleb—-” My words ended with a gasp as the shot glass flew out of my hand and landed smack on top of Hello.
What in the—-
But confusion instantly gave way to shock when I heard a familiar voice come out of the shot glass.
I sat up, unable to believe that the whole thing actually worked. “Caleb? It’s you, isn’t it?”
“Saoirse? How is this possible?”
“Ouija board,” I answered in a rush, “but I don’t know how long this will work. It’s my first time to do this. Where are you? Are you okay—-”
“I’m being hunted.”
A curse word escaped me before I could stop myself. “Um, okay, just stay calm, and let’s figure things out. But you need to tell me everything you can remember…”
CALEB WAS A WRITER in his former life. He had met Edith through a dating app, they had hit it off, and they had only been dating for three months when Edith had invited him to stay the night. He had been surprised at first, since they had initially agreed to take things slowly. But he had said yes in the end, and it had cost him his life. Edith had stabbed him in his sleep, and when he had woken up, he was already a ghost, and Edith had just completed a ritual that allowed her to conjure a ring of fire out of thin air.
A fascinating story with a horrible ending, but also a little TMI, which I didn’t expect at all. For one thing, wasn’t Caleb supposed to be the private type? And secondly, while I did ask him to tell me everything he could remember, I didn’t mean that he should share his entire love story with Edith. A subject from Tartarus was hunting him down, for heaven’s sake! It made me wish I could shake some sense into him, and I had to firmly remind myself that people had different ways of reacting to fear.
And for Caleb, maybe babbling about unnecessary stuff was his coping mechanism, and who was I – a ghost who was afraid of other ghosts – to question that?
“That was very, um, informative, Caleb. Thanks.” I cleared my throat. “But now we need to focus on keeping you safe. When you were in Edith’s room, did you happen to notice a pink leatherbound book? This is terribly important, so I need you to try to remember—-”
“I think I know what you’re talking about. There was a pink leatherbound book in the room. A first edition of Alice in Wonderland.”
I sucked my breath. “That’s…that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Do you know where it is? Hadrian told me it’s the key to everything—-”
“Edith made it disappear.”
“I don’t know. I’m scared, Saoirse.”
“Don’t be, we’re talking now, and I’ll do everything I can to help you.” Think, Saoirse. There had to be something else I could ask. “Can you come back here? We can keep you safe—-”
“I can’t. There’s a spell on that place. I saw what happened to the poltergeist following you—-”
“Is that the only thing that’s keeping you from coming here?”
“It’s a very strong spell.”
“I can ask someone to get rid of it—-”
“There’s no time! I can feel it coming after me, and it’s getting close. I need your help, Saoirse. I’m at the park near your place—-”
The shot glass suddenly shattered on its own, effectively cutting the connection between us. Shit. I jumped to my feet, knowing there was no time to lose. I had to do this on my own. This was our best shot at solving the case so far, and I had to take it.
I grabbed my phone and typed as quickly as I could. Going to Hudson Park to meet Caleb. Dunno how it’s possible but he’s the missing subject. I hit Send and then I was off, my heart pounding against my chest as I floated out of Hadrian’s living room window.
I might as well scream ‘I’m a ghost’ right now, and even though only seconds had passed, it already felt like there were thousands of ants crawling all over my body, with seemingly countless pairs of eyes watching me from everywhere. I turned mid-air towards the direction of Hudson Park…and found myself face-to-face with a violently twitching Caleb.