When Interdimensional Radio Waves Meet Grad Students
For every year Alistair was forced to spend with these hyperactive children, the more he realized how much he absolutely hated the supernatural and anything related to it. Sure, some aspects were okay, such as that Civil War ghost that helps him with American History sometimes or that witch who makes those really good lattes that he would be regretting drinking later on when he came down from an intense sugar high and couldn’t get to sleep for the life of him. But mostly, the supernatural felt pretty shitty to him, with all the zombies rising from the dead and attacking every three weeks or vampires draining blood from, like, fifty million squirrels. Perhaps he would come to enjoy it later on, but, for now, Alistair was a grad student that shied away from any and every responsibility, so dealing with the supernatural was pretty much a huge “NOPE” for him.
Of course, just because he thought that, didn’t mean everyone else in his small group of friends thought the same way as him. (Spoiler alert: They didn’t). As a matter of fact, the younger kids absolutely adored all aspects of the supernatural, even though they were, what, twenty-two? twenty-three? For most kids, the novelty of the supernatural species wore off when they were in elementary school and were forced to watch the “Supernatural Safety” presentation given by the same werewolf for the third year in a row. The novelty never wore off for them. It was all quite ridiculous to Alistair, but, though he always denied it, Alistair had a soft spot for those kids, and was playfully bullied into going with them when they wanted to go faerie hunting or troll searching or do something else that was equally as stupid.
This year, he felt, was the worst idea they had had yet. James, fearless youngest that he was, suggested that they play a game. What kind of game, he didn’t know, but something scary. Then Euphie suggested that they talk to some spirits, with plenty of arguing from Duke and Seraphina, the easily scared shitless ones. With James’s playful exclamations, they finally decided on the classic, supernatural legend, Bloody Mary.
So there they were, sat in a circle around a large mirror taken from the bathroom wall, candles providing the only light as the windows were closed and the lights, very nice electrical ones, Alistair might add, were turned off completely. He sighed, and peered into the mirror, bored, seeing nothing but all five of their reflections painted in flame.
“I don’t like this . . . ” Duke said carefully, looking at the set-up in front of them. Alistair could agree. It did look like they were holding a satanic ritual or something on their living room floor, but he found he only had the energy to snort.
“When do you ever like anything that has to do with ghosts?” asked James, prodding him in the side. “I don’t think it’s that bad.”
Once again, Alistair found that he could only snort. Euphie, seeming to have the same thoughts as he did, elbowed James sharply, who squeaked and clung to the object on his left, which happened to be Seraphina, who looked equally as scared as James.
“Not scared my ass,” Euphie said, putting down her phone. “It says on the internet that one person has to say ‘Bloody Mary’ – ” the hand quotes were a nice touch “ – into the mirror and a woman with blood running down her face should appear.” She looked around their circle, glancing first at James, eagerly peering into the mirror, to Seraphina and Duke lumped together, Duke hugging Seraphina, and Seraphina hugging Duke, then finally to Alistair looking bored out of his mind. “Any volunteers?”
“Euphie, you should do it,” said James. “You suggested it.”
She snorted, showing James something on her phone, the latter paling considerable after reading.
“Yes, I will voluntarily allow Bloody Mary to judge and punish me.”
Alistair looked up, nose scrunched. “What do you mean, judging?”
“Oh, it’s not that big a deal.” Euphie’s voice was oddly light, making Alistair look at her with a petulant glare. “Just that the spirit of Mary would look into the summoner’s soul and accordingly punish them for their sins.”
“Punishments?” asked Seraphina, hugging Duke tighter, eyes flicking first over to the mirror, then the candles before settling back on Euphie. “What kind of punishments?”
The girl being questioned shrugged, then consulted the wondrous Wikipedia once more.
“Eh . . . just things like strangling you, screaming at you, gouging out your eyes, minor things.” She put down the phone and smiled a smile with an oddly wicked glint. “So,” she clapped her hands, “Who’s going to do it?”
James shivered and clung to Seraphina, who looked kind of like she was drowning in both James and Duke at this point.
“James should do it. H-he wanted to play a game with ghosts!”
James sat back on his heels, shaking his head wildly. “No thanks. I don’t want to die tonight. I have so much to live for.”
Once again, Alistair found that he could only snort. Loudly.
Four pairs of eyes turned to him, one with a considerably (read: scarily) wicked glint in its depths. Alistair gulped.
“How about,” Euphie said slowly, dragging the candied words out to the point where Alistair could feel his own teeth rotting in his mouth. “Alistair does it.”
“Y-yeah . . . ” Duke shuddered, grabbing onto Euphie. “Alistair you seem bored.”
“Why should I do it?” he barked, shaking his head vigorously. “I would like to stay alive today, please.”
Seraphina turned her big doe eyes onto him and, yeah, he was fucked. There was no way he could deny those eyes anything.
“Please,” she cooed, pulling in Duke and James for more support, and Alistair definitely wasn’t going be able to say no to them. Hell, he can barely say no to one of them at a time, much less all three together.
He sighed and blew a chunk of hair out of his face. “If I die tonight you guys are not invited to my funeral.”
He almost regretted it, but the bright smiles he got from the scared Musketeers plus Euphie made it bearable.
“What do I have to do, Euphie?” he asked gruffly, fluffing up his hair some more. “Say it into the mirror three times?”
Euphie nodded – Alistair swore he was going to throw a pillow at her stupid smirk after this – and pointed to the mirror with the hand not holding onto Duke. “Look right into it.”
Alistair turned his gaze to the mirror, eyes falling on the four kids huddled around the other side of the mirror and his bored expression. If he was going to die tonight, he might as well die keeping these four losers from killing themselves over trying to summon the elusive Bloody Mary.
“Bloody Mary,” he drawled, rolling his eyes at Seraphina and Duke’s shivering. “Bloody Mary . . .”
A weird-ass wind blew through the room, extinguishing all seventeen-and-a-half candles in one fell swoop. Really, was that the best that the ghost of Bloody Mary could do? Blow out some candles like a loser? This was much less impressive than the Civil War ghost.
Nevertheless the effect was good enough to freak even Euphie out. That was some achievement, Alistair supposed.
It was as if time stopped itself. With the utterance of that last phrase, the five of them found themselves plunged into a universe devoid of all sound and movement. Alistair thought that it kind of felt like what meat felt like when it was vacuumed sealed and thrown in the freezer for a month (or twelve). But it was just his imagination, right? This was all just some side effect of being kinda freaked out by the other kids, right? Alistair wasn’t quite sure anymore.
The mirror on the floor began to glow softly, and that was all it took to break the silence. James shrieked in a rather undignified manner as he scrambled to back away, only to trip on Seraphina’s leg and collapse backward onto Duke, who was still clinging onto an impressively pale Euphie as if his life depended on it. As for Alistair, he stared at the glowing mirror in disbelief, which was slowly becoming more opaque the more he looked at it. Were mirrors supposed to do that?
“We’re going to die, we’re going to die, we’re going to die,” Duke chanted, squeezing his eyes as tight as he could manage. Privately, Alistair agreed, even though he scoffed in a surprisingly steady voice:
“MIRRORS DON’T TURN WHITE ON THEIR OWN, ALISTAIR!”
“Yeah, but this is probably all just one big hallucination. Wasn’t someone messing around with ‘shrooms and faerie blood in the vents this morning?” At this point, it was more to convince himself than anything. “We’re probably all going to wake up in the morning and find that none of this – ”
A loud crack coming from the now very white mirror shut him up promptly, and, yeah, okay, this was starting to get kinda scary. Alistair hurriedly scooted his butt along to where the other four were huddling and made room for himself between a crying Seraphina and fervent, half delirious, James who was praying to all those who were holy. If a situation was bad enough to make James ‘I’m too bored to pay attention in church’ Finch pray, you know it was bad.
And, suddenly, it was back to being in that odd, half-vacuumed-sealed state again. It was so quiet that Alistair could only hear the ringing in his ears. Euphie leaned over to take a peek into the all white mirror and her eyes widened.
A bored looking teenage faerie was staring back at them from the mirror, which was odd because Alistair knew that there was no teenage faerie on their ceiling. There wasn’t, right? She had dark hair and eyes with no whites in them and the gaunt look of someone who has been dead for an absurdly long time, despite the fact that she was very much alive and staring directly at them.
“Hello and welcome to the spirit communication hotline,” she droned, rolling her soulless eyes. “How may I haunt you today?”
The five of them traded bewildered glances at each other. This was not supposed to happen when Bloody Mary was summoned, right?
Euphie cleared her throat and ventured to talk to the spirit. “Um . . . what?”
“The spirit communication hotline? The place where all unfamiliar calls to the spirit dimension are directed to?” The girl squinted at them, leaning closer to the mirror. “Haven’t you ever heard of it?”
“I wouldn’t say so,” Duke muttered, looking at the girl with a mixture of fear and disdain. “So are you just some interdimensional call-center worker then?”
She shrugged. “I don’t call myself that but – wait.” She leaned even closer to the screen, giving them an up-close and personal view of her hollowed cheeks. From behind her, Alistair thought he could make out a pair of softly glowing wings. “Are you humans?”
“Is that a good or bad thing? If it’s good, then yes. If not, then humans? What humans? What even are humans, huh?” James shrunk behind Alistair’s shoulders. “I think I saw some humans over there if you need them.”
The girl rolled her eyes again and – thankfully – moved farther away from the screen, er, mirror? She directed her focus to something beyond them, and Alistair thought he could hear the sound of typing. “If you’re humans, then that explains why you don’t know how the spirit communication hotline works. In that case, please provide your names, resident address, mirror number, and a valid form of ID to proceed. Also, I need the entity you are trying to contact, so I can pass the message onto them later. As the human dimension has been merged with the general supernatural dimension for a couple years now – and the other supernatural creatures have had healthy contact with the spirits of the spirit dimension for a while” the faerie added “- you may be added onto a lengthy waiting list and your spirit of choice will not be available for a long period of time. Depending on their schedule, would a haunting at the very latest of next week be good for you?”
If you had asked Alistair previously what he would be doing on some random Saturday in March, he never would have even thought of providing an answer as weird as real life was. He thought about all the events that led to the five of them huddling together on the floor (James still tangled in Duke, who was still attached to Seraphina, who in turn was crying into Euphie’s back with a death grip on Alistair’s arm) in front of a giant mirror as some kind of ghost call-center girl was scheduling a haunting for them. It was Euphie, he decided at last. Damn her.