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Spirit Board

D.J. Kozlowski writes speculative fiction drawing inspiration from Gaiman, Poe, and Lovecraft. His most recent short story, "The Beach at the Sea Foam Apartments," is available on Amazon. When he's not writing, D.J. lives in Connecticut with his wife, three little kids, and a fish, the latter of which is constantly being replaced for the sake of the children. He tries not to take life too seriously. You can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/DJWrites.

"It's not real!"
The Ouija board rested between them; six hands still resting on the planchette.
"It can't be real--there's no such thing as ghosts or spirits."
The other two girls sat silently, staring at Kelly as she spoke.
"We're the ones controlling it. Like, we must be. I mean, it's our fingers on the thingy, and I admit, I've been pushing it a bit. Like when we asked the spirit who it likes, I sort of guided the thingy to B-L-A-I-N-E, because I like Blaine. But you guys were pushing it, too."
Kelly couldn't believe how naive these girls were. She lifted the board, forcing the girls' hands to fall to their laps.
"See, it's just wood. There's nothing special about it. Just wood, with a sticker on the top. And the sticker has the letters and numbers and 'yes' and 'no,' but we are in control. I think usually nobody admits to controlling it, so it's all spooky. But, look at this thing!" She held up the planchette, "It's plastic! Even the glass part is plastic!"
Light from the candles reflected on the planchette's faux-glass dome through which the letters on the board were typically viewed. The air smelled heavily of apple: one of the candles was fat, red, and included apple oil. In the dimly lit, apple-scented room, neither of the other girls spoke.
They just sat there, frozen. The redhead had her mouth open slightly. Her freckles danced around her pale skin, as the candles fluttered with Kelly's every movement. The other girl's short, dark hair framed her face, casting her features in shadow. Only the echo of light glinted from her eyes behind a few stray strands.
"Hey, listen, uh..." She couldn't recall the dark-haired girl's name. Why couldn't she remember her name? How odd. Maybe she was suffering memory loss; some kind of temporary amnesia from the stupid "light as a feather, stiff as a board" game, where her friends dropped her from waist high onto the wooden floor. She remembered banging her head, hard.
The girls still stared at her. It was getting annoying. Did they really believe in this stupid game? She was getting agitated now. Kelly looked at the two, who were now holding hands.
"What the hell, you guys! You need to stop. You're creeping me out."
Her mind wandered. Kelly had never believed in ghosts. She knew she was the one controlling the game. She made it go to the letters and numbers, yes and no, as appropriate. The other girls had to know she was doing it. They must have known all along. Why--why--were they being so weird?
"Seriously, you know it was me, right? You guys had the thing moving slowly, then I added my hands and it started moving with, like, a purpose. Like it wasn't just going around, it was moving toward letters. When you asked the spirit's name, I'm the one who moved it to K-E-L..."
She stopped.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Author Comments

Flash fiction lends itself to quick buildup and hook ending. With that in mind, I set the stage with girls playing the games all girls play at sleepovers. My aim was to begin somewhat mundanely, and for the tension to build through the growing confusion of the protagonist. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that something is amiss. Working with only 500 or so words, I hoped to provide enough build-up that the ending was goose bump-inducing. The plot is an idea that's been explored countless times, but I hope my take provides a few minutes of escape from the humdrum world, a brief shiver, and just maybe, the recurring thought of, "Wait, so the girl was a..." I had fun with this story and I hope others have fun reading it!

- D.J. Kozlowski
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