“No way!” Marie screamed. “There’s no freaking way! That board was inside my bag, zippered up, and behind the closed door of my closet.”
Across the room, her closet door remained closed. Panic seized her heart as she padded across the room in her bare feet. Gasping for air, she reached out for the door handle, almost expecting something to reach back. The inside of her closet looked much like it had when she’d thrown her bag in there— except the bag was open. The board and planchette were gone.
“Okay, there has to be a reasonable explanation for this,” Marie rationalized. “I must have been sleep-walking. That’s gotta be it!”
Her words held more confidence in the sentiment than her heart. She cleaned her wound and applied a bandage with antibacterial cream, baffled by the depth of the laceration by a blunted object. Unnerved, she shuffled to her kitchen in search of coffee. Gone were the ‘Narnia Cabinets’, this time she could reach in, touch, and feel the wood at the back of the wall. She grabbed the box of K-Cups and popped one into her coffee maker. Ninety seconds later she was inhaling the steamy, slightly-bitter aroma and feeling a sense of normalcy despite of being fully awake at 3am. After her second cup of coffee, she dressed quickly and headed over to the station to get an early start.
Kim, Angela, and Gillian had stayed up only for a short while after Bill’s call. They sipped warm mugs of ‘sleepy-time tea’ laced with honey and talked. Unsettled by what Bill had said after she’d turned off speaker-phone, Kim steered the conversation far away from what had happened at the morgue. Instead, they talked about old times, the crappy apartment they’d shared in college, and their insanely hot English Lit professor. When they finally trudged off to their rooms, each hoped—rather than believed—that they’d have better luck finding clues to Seth’s killer in the morning.
Gillian flopped onto the bed in Kim’s second guest room and sighed. I should have listened and stayed far away from that stupid Ouija board. Me and my bright ideas are always getting us into trouble. Drowsy, she flicked off the light and curled up under the covers. Hovering on the delicious plane between sleep and consciousness, Gillian’s troubles melted. Her body relaxed until she floated in weightless slumber, warm and safe. In a distant memory, she heard the singing of a lullaby and she drifted deeper. Just then, an icy cold claw wrapped its talons around her foot and pulled. Bolting upright, Gillian reached for the light switch but it was too far away.
“Shit! Who’s in here?” she barked into the darkness. “Angela, if that’s you, it isn’t funny!” A shadowy form skulked across the room making Gillian fume. “You’re such a jerk! I can see you; now get out and go to bed before I kick your bony butt all the way down the hall.”
Gillian’s eyes laser-beamed at the silhouette and she wished she has something to throw at Angela. Preferably something hard … like an anvil. I’ll go all Bugs Bunny on you and see how funny that is, Gillian scoffed silently. Some friend! She could hear footfalls coming down the hall. You’re busted now. Kim’s gonna see what you’ve been up to and she’ll be pissed too. The door opened and light from the hallway filled the room.
“Did you call me?” Angela asked from the hallway.
Kim’s head poked over Angela’s shoulder making Gillian’s jaw dropped. Across the room, there was nothing, no one stood in the spot where the shadowy figure had been. Angela flipped on the lights chasing away every hint of shadow.
“Sorry, I-I, um …” Gillian paused to think up a reasonable explanation. “I sometimes talk in my sleep. I’m sorry I woke you. Man, that was one weird dream though.”
Laughing, Gillian tried to smooth over her lie. Her friends chuckled along to show they weren’t angry—also to hide their concern.
“You’re sure you’re okay?” Kim asked. “Do you need anything? Wanna talk about it?”
“No,” Gillian insisted. “No, I’m fine, really. I’m going right back to bed; you should too.”
Worry creased lines between Kim’s eyebrows and around her mouth. She shrugged and offered up a weak smile to her friend.
“Okay, if you’re sure. Good night then,” Kim murmured as she reached out for the light switch.
“NO!” Gillian cried out, sending a burning red flush across her cheeks. “Um, I mean, you don’t have to turn off the light right now. I think I’m going to read a little and try to make myself sleepy again.”
Kim nodded and pulled the door closed behind her. As much as she wanted to comfort her friend, she needed to sleep. In a few hours she would have to go to the morgue and sort out whatever mess remained.