|YOU CAN’T COME IN by Michael Eckstein
“Would your dad totally freak if he saw us doing this right now?”
“My dad would freak if he had any idea there even was a Ouija board in the house.”
Hunter looked at his friend. He knew he was lucky compared to Jimmy. Jimmy’s parents monitored every last thing he did. They even had the passwords to all of his social media. It made sense: his dad was a pastor and his mom was the president of the local PTA. They had an image to uphold, and their son was a major part of that.
Hunter, not so much. His dad was a mechanic and his mom was a waitress. When they were home they were usually too busy scouring Netflix for new shows to pay much attention to him. When they did it was usually because he had gotten into trouble, and they needed to beat his ass and remind him that he was garbage. On the other hand, Hunter could do as he pleased and there was no one around to stop him; not that anyone much cared anyway.
Jimmy and Hunter had a classic forbidden friendship. Hunter showed Jimmy his first R rated movie, his first porn, and gave him his first hit. Hunter got a kick out of it at first, corrupting the pastor’s kid. It got tiresome after a while though: Jimmy was always looking for ways for them to outdo themselves, and Hunter was already beginning to learn that there was a lot more to life than just trying to get away with something new, but since Jimmy couldn’t use his own computer or phone, it fell on Hunter to be the good friend and supplier.
When Jimmy called to tell him to come over, he had to show him something and his parents would be gone for the next three hours, there had been an intensity in his voice that had made Hunter fairly uncomfortable. Something told him that this was going to be more than just get high and watching whatever weird video Jimmy had heard about from the weird part of the internet.
Hunter had almost laughed when he saw what Jimmy had to show him. It was a Mattel Ouija board. No wood, no glass, no pieces made out of human bone, not bound with human skin. It was nothing more than a cardboard game that was factory painted. It even had a red Mattel logo in the corner. Not exactly something that would summon Cthulhu from the great beyond. Hunter had always been one eager to try the horror games at sleep overs: Bloody Mary, Charlie Charlie, The Three Kings, etc., and he’d always be the first to have a good ghost story or urban legend to share. After having done enough of them, he knew well and good that nothing would happen during these games, but he still got a thrill playing them. This would be his first time using a Ouija board.
Jimmy led him up to the attic, which was tall enough to stand upright in at the centre. Among all the old boxes and dusty furniture Jimmy had set up a table with two chairs and candles. Candles lit, Jimmy turned off the solitary lightbulb hanging overhead.
Hunter suddenly felt cold, and there was a dread that swept over him like a chill, giving him goosebumps. After having walked through a house filled with Jesus staring at you from a cross and angels leading dying people off to heaven, the attic felt…wrong. It suddenly felt that serene Jesus had looked more angry than usual; the angels had seemed almost maleficent. He tried to shake it off, he was thinking about those picture in retrospect, and his mind was working hard to freak him out.
Jimmy set up the board and they sat down. Hunter took a breath, and they both grabbed hold of the planchette. Jimmy smiled and closed his eyes.
“There is a land where we all go,
Whence never the frost nor cold wind blow,
And friends remembered reunite,
And those who hate, forget their spite,
In glow surround these gentle beings,
We call you now to-
“Where did you learn this?” Hunter suddenly interrupted. He was gripped with a mad impulse to end this and end it quickly, but his pride kept him from doing anything more than briefly interrupting.
Jimmy rolled his eyes. “An old newspaper called ‘The Spirit Speaks!’ Now please shut up!”
He continued, starting over from “We call…”
The moment he finished a rush of air flew through the attic, blowing out the candles. Both the boys shrieked in the pitch darkness. Jimmy leaped up and hit the overhead light. They both looked around nervously, then shared a shaky laugh.
“That’s all I can take,” Hunter said, using the opportunity to head down the ladder. Jimmy had no remark, just a grin as he hid away the board and followed Hunter.
In Jimmy’s room the boys sat on his bed, trying to laugh off their nerves. His parents wouldn’t be home for another hour and a half, which was plenty of time to get it out of their system, even if it meant a bit of a sleepless night for both of them.
Jimmy turned on some gross-out YouTube videos, but they both felt more uncomfortable than amused. They tried to find a comedy on Netflix, but nothing caught their attention. Hunter decided to go for a joke.
“So a man goes into a dentist’s office and says, ‘Help me, I think I’m a moth!’ The dentist says, ‘If you think you’re a moth, why did you come into a dentist’s office?’ The man replied, ‘The light was on!’”
They both laughed a little too hard, too forcibly.
Jimmy went for one, “Knock knock.”
“A broken pencil.”
“A broken pencil who?”
“Never mind, it’s pointless.”
More over-the-top laughter. Hunter’s turn
“Knock knock…cows go…no, cows go moo!” The jokes got more desperate, as did the laughter.
“Knock knock,” said Jimmy.
Hunter paused. He hesitated slightly, then asked, “A…demon…who?”
“Jimmy?” Hunter asked.