Cricket just keeps coming up with better and better prompts. One of the Slice of Life prompts this week is an unusual day.
Here is my story.
[Image – Ghost Story by Raetselleben from Deviant Art.]
When I was at High School in the late ’70s, early ’80s, an interest in the occult was big. Witches, black magic, curses, ghosts. We were all listening to Gothic music and dressing in velvet and lace. We talked about dancing under the moon at midnight and spells in the dusk but none of us really believed in it. It was a fad like troll dolls and bluebird necklaces, well, except for one of us.
I come from a very superstitious family. Some might say the Irish side of the family are superstitious for a reason. There have been hundreds of incidents of ghostly, supernatural sightings and goings on. I have always been susceptible to that kind of thing. I have experienced a lot of otherworldly moments, most of which have completely unnerved me. So I was not all that happy with the trend to be interested in the occult.
Susie Steinmark embraced the trend wholeheartedly, changing the spelling of her name to S-I-O-U-X-S-I-E so she could be more like her idol: Siouxsie Sioux from Souxsie and the Banshees. She had black nailpolish, fishnet stockings and Doc Martens which she wore to our strict Catholic school defiantly, almost giving Sister Benedicta, the Grooming and Deportment teacher an apoplexy.
It was Susie Steinmark who organised the seance in the old, abandoned warehouse by the beach. I didn’t want to go. I really didn’t want to go, but Susie talked me into it.
None of the windows in the warehouse contained any glass. The floor was spotted with pigeon droppings. Dry, petulant weeds had thrust themselves through the cracks. I could see the sea but it looked cold and forbidding. There were storm clouds clumped at the horizon. A fishing boat teetered on the edge of the enormous waves beginning to form.
I saw her straight away. The girl. She looked at me and smiled that crooked, knowing smile I have seen many times since when encountering people no longer of this world, spirits. ‘Shit,’ I thought. ‘Shit. Shit. Shit.’ I wanted to go home straight away.
Susie had found one of those old wooden cable reels, a huge thing, which she made us sit around. There was graffiti all over the walls. Different from today. Not the hip hop tagging style, simpler stuff like Joey 4 Jennie and Bill woz here. And typical Aussie stuff – Darren is a poof and Steve is a dick. I tried to distract myself by reading the graffiti but it was no good. I was spooked.
Susie lit candles. The four other girls we were with started to giggle. ‘We should have brought some Passion Pop,’ one of them said. Passion Pop was a popular passionfruit flavoured alcoholic drink of the day, which I later discovered was very good for removing oil from driveways.
‘I cannot contact the spirits when I’m drunk,’ Susie said. ‘My mind needs to be clear.’
We joined hands. The candles flickered. Susie closed her eyes and moaned, throwing back her head. The fishing boat sounded its horn. Everybody screamed.
‘Cut it out,’ Susie was annoyed. ‘I have to concentrate. Close your eyes.’
Dutifully, we closed our eyes. There was a shuffling on the floor, so slight a movement that it could have been mistaken for the clearing of a throat. I could hear the sea unwinding in one breath, slamming against the shore. I opened my eyes.
There was a stain on the floor, the kind soot leaves when it has been left to harden. Susie was moaning and shaking her head from side to side. The girl stood right beside her.
There is a misconception about ghosts. That they appear like mist. Actually, they appear corporeal, like humans, that’s why we can see them, but there is a light which emanates from them, an aspect to them, that is not human.
The girl was looking straight at me. She was angry we had disturbed her, I could tell. She thought we were foolish to mess with things we didn’t understand. I was inclined to agree with her.
The girl put her hand in the middle of the cable reel. It jolted slightly. Everyone opened their eyes. I couldn’t be sure but I thought Susie saw the girl because her face turned a sickly shade of white. ‘The seance is over,’ she said. ‘It’s time to go.’ The girl stood beside her, pointing to the door. The light from the candles surrounded her like a halo. She was there but not there. I felt sick.
‘We have to get out of here now,’ I cried. ‘Now.’
The other girls caught the string of my panic and they ran, screaming, knocking over candles and sliding on roughened, chipped floors. Susie grabbed my arm, looked me straight in the eye with a pleading, terrified face, and I knew she had seen the girl.
We ran, our hearts battering our chests, praying the girl wouldn’t follow. I paused as we reached the pathway that led to the street and safety, and looked back. There she was. The girl. Looking out the very window I had looked. Straight out to sea.
The wind whipped my hair around my head. Salt spray and sand stung my eyes. I wiped my eyes on my T-shirt, blinking in the twilight. When I turned back to look once more, the girl was gone.