It was October 31st -- All Hallow's Eve -- and as fourteen-year-old Miriald Peacecraft walked home along the leaf-strewn streets he wondered what his best friend, seventeen-year-old Treize Khushrenada had in store for the evening.
Halloween had always been a high holiday to Treize, and every year they known each other he had found something more spooky, more in keeping with the true origins of the holiday.
The younger boy had just turned the corner onto his street when Treize pulled up alongside him in his sapphire-blue Corvette, a present from his wealthy uncle. "Miri! Are you ready for tonight, little boy?" he cackled, slowing to a stop.
Miri walked to the car and leaned on the edge of the open passenger-side window. "Got something special planned?" he said drily. "Let's hope it's better than last year's picnic."
"How was *I* to know that security guard was working at the cemetery," Treize offered in mock protest. Then he grinned. "Oh, yes, my child... this one will be *much* better. Be ready to go at nine." With a last smirk, he drove off, laughing.
"Where *are* we, Treize?" Miri asked somewhat impatiently. "Did you get us lost?"
The road they were driving on was narrow and completely deserted, but Treize just shook his head. "Not lost, Miri... not *yet.* Aha! There it is!" He pointed to an large, Victorian-style house that seemed to rear up in the middle of nowhere. "The Musgrave house. Everyone says it's haunted. And *we're* going to find out if they're right. Come on!"
He'd parked near the front door of the dilapidated house, and dug around in the back seat of the car before straightening up and carrying a wide, flat box up the front steps. Miri followed behind, feeling apprehensive but not wanting Treize to know.
The older boy gave the front door a hard push and it swung open unwillingly on broken and rusted hinges. "Treize," Miri whispered, "this isn't funny. I'm sure this is private property. We shouldn't go in there."
"Nonsense!" the older boy called back over his shoulder. He was already disappearing down the front hallway towards the back of the house. "Let's find a good place to set up."
He poked his head into several rooms, Miri following him, always a few steps behind, his anxiety rising a bit. One room had obviously been a dining room. It's heavy plum-colored draperies were gray with dust and cobwebs and on the long, dark wood table sat a tall candelabrum. There was a disturbing stillness in the air of the room and Miri was glad when Treize decided it was too stuffy and moved on.
Next they looked in to what must have been a music room, for it was cluttered with small wooden music stands, aged and yellowing sheet music on the floor. As they took a step into the room, they felt a sudden drop in temperature, as if they had just opened a refrigerator door. Treize chuckled. "A little chilly in here. Let's try that door at the end of the hall."
It turned out to be a parlor, complete with old musty velvet furniture and a strange little table with two chairs. "Perfect!" Treize cried when he saw them. "This is where we stay."
"Stay?" Miri asked, glancing around nervously. "Treize, come on -- what are we here for?"
"This," Treize breathed, his smile widening to a smirk. He set the box he'd been carrying down on the table and opened it.
"A ouija board?" Miri rolled his eyes. "Treize! These things are so stupid -"
"Sit!" ordered the older boy with a cackle. He pulled his friend down to the chair opposite his and set the ivory-colored planchette on the board between them.
"This house," he told Miri in a low voice, "is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of the Musgrave family, killed in their beds by 16-year-old Charlotte Musgrave who then turned the gun she'd used on herself."
"Yeah, okay -- so what?" Miri challenged, his sense of unease growing stronger.
"Well, Miri -- tonight is All Hallows'... when the spirits walk abroad. The perfect night to pay a call upon the Musgraves, don't you think." He winked at the younger boy. "Put your hands on the planchette."
Giving Treize a rather exasperated look, Miri did what he was told. "Now," Treize said, "*concentrate on the question I ask." He raised his voice a bit and said, "We want to know if any of the Musgrave family are in this house tonight.
The planchette slid smoothly to the word, "YES."
"You did that, Treize," Miri whispered fiercely. "You were pulling on it."
"I was barely touching it. Now keep quiet!" Treize answered back. "Who is here tonight?"
Again the planchette moved, spelling out, "C-H-A-R-L-O-T-T-E."
Miri glared but was silenced with a look from his friend. "Where is Charlotte?" he asked.
Their eyes followed the moving board as it went from letter to letter. "U-P-S T-A-I"
Miri took his hands off. "Treize! You're doing this just to scare me, aren't you? Well it won't work! I'm not scared and this is just stupid."
Leaning over the table, Treize said softly, "If you're not scared, then why are your hands trembling...?"
The younger boy sighed and put his hands back on. The planchette moved to, "R S" and then, "I-N-T-H-E-H-A-L-L-W-A-Y."
Treize smiled. "How is dear Charlotte this evening?" he murmured. The planchette moved to the same letters, over and over again. "C-R-A-Z-Y-S-I-C-K M-E-A-N-C-R-A-Z-Y-S-I-C-K-M-E-A-N-C-R-A-Z-Y-S-I-C-K-M-E-A-N" Miri moved to take his hands off the board again, but Treize grabbed his wrists. "Let's talk to her!" he said excitedly. "Let's ask her why she did it!"
Reluctantly, Miri put his hands back and the board began to move. "Treize?" Miri said in a nervous voice. "Did you ask a question?"
"No," his friend replied and his voice sounded faraway as he concentrated on what the planchette was spelling. 'S-H-E-I-S-O-N-T-H-E-S-T-A-I-R-S"
"Excellent!" Treize laughed as he stared down at the board.
"Treize, let's go," Miri urged, feeling a sudden wave of panic. "If we leave now we can still make that party that your friend's having. What do you say?"
"I say," Treize murmured, still staring at the board, "that a party where everyone has too much to drink and ends up either fighting or screwing is *boring.* Now let's see if we can get her to talk to us herself."
The planchette moved as soon as they touched it. "S-H-E-I-S-I-N-T-H-E-D-I-N-I N-G-R-O-O-M"
"Who are *you*?" Treize asked, and it spelled out, "S-I-S-T-E-R"
Before he could ask another question the board was moving again, less smoothly than before in quick, jerky darts around the letters. "S-H-E-H-A-S-R-E-A-C-H E-D-T-H-E-D-O-O-R-T-O-T-H-I-S-R-O-O-M" Suddenly the planchette stopped moving and they could hear a strange sound at the door to the hallway, which neither of them could remember closing. It sounded as if someone was outside the room, leaning heavily against the door and making it creak.
"Treize...?" Miri said in a small voice.
Neither of them had taken their hands off the planchette and now it began moving again, with a smooth slowness that made it squeak as it slid over the board below. The letters were, "Y-O-U-A-R-E-M-I-N-E"
For the first time, Treize looked nervous. "Was that you sending me a Valentine, Miri?" he said, trying to laugh. Miri shook his head, too afraid to say a thing. The older boy looked back down at the planchette. "Well," he said, trying to sound casual, "Where are you *now*, Charlotte?" The board moved under their fingers.
Icy fear gripped Miri's chest as he closed his eyes and tried to remember a prayer, any prayer, he'd been taught as a child. Then he looked up at Treize.
The older boy's face was ghastly pale and his eyes were wide with horror. Miri forced himself to follow his friend's gaze, in back of where he sat, and came face-to-face with the most hideous thing he'd ever seen. It was a creature that might have, at some point, been human, but it was difficult to tell for sure. It was wearing a school uniform and had long brown hair, but the face... the face was nothing but a huge, gaping mouth - no eyes, or nose, or ears -- just a mouth, that seemed to open up into infinite darkness inside the creature.
It advanced towards them and the world began to swirl violently around the younger boy. The last thing Miri remembered hearing was his best friend's scream.
The next day, when the boys failed to return home, the police were called in. Traced them to the Musgrave house and walked in to find the two of them there -- huddled in an upstairs room, Miri's arms tight around Treize. The older boy's hair was shot through with gray and Miri's had gone completely white. While Treize's gaze seemed vacant and staring, Miri appeared alert and watchful to the point of being paranoid. Neither of them spoke -- not one word -- just clung to each other, Treize with an dazed expression and Miri's blue eyes wide.
Everything that could be done was done to help them, but they never recovered -- only able to hold on to each other and look out for another visit from Charlotte, awakened by the ouija board.