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And here is my second of two sacrifices this week, laid upon the altar of the mighty Idol gods. As always, may they be kind and generous...




I should have remembered. Time and life have a way of dulling the edges of memory, of making things that were once vitally important fade into the obscure, seldom-visited corners of your mind. But I never should have forgotten.

When I didn’t get Jacob’s call last week, I should have known. And maybe on some level, I did and just didn’t want to face the truth. Once a week for the last sixteen years, we called to check in with each other. Regardless of where we were, of what we were doing, we never failed to make that call. It was more than the bonds of friendship or tradition that made sure we kept in touch with each other; though those things did play a part. It was survival. It was reassurance that the other was still alive. It was a warning.

But somehow, over the intervening decade and a half of life, I’d forgotten. I was so busy with my own little world that the fact that Jacob had missed our weekly check-in never registered on my radar. But knowing what I know and having experienced what I had, it should have. It should have sent up big red warning flags with sirens and flashing lights.
Shock doesn’t quite convey what I felt when Jacob’s wife called to tell me that he was dead. I was beyond shock, beyond grief but there was some part of me that knew. Jacob had been my friend for more than twenty years. We’d lived through the thick and the thin of life together. We’d been the best man at one another’s weddings. We’d been there for each other when our first child had been born. It’s cliché to say but it was true, we were closer than brothers.

And now Jacob is dead and I know that my time is coming soon. Very soon.

*******


When school let out for the day, Jacob and I had hauled ass to an occult shop in town that we knew of. We’d bragged about holding séances to a couple of girls we liked, who we knew were into the whole ghost hunting thing and they’d agreed to come over for an evening of communing with the dead. It was going to be a blast. A bell over the door sounded as we walked in. A woman about my mom’s age was behind the counter polishing some silver cups. Jacob wandered over to look at the books while I made a beeline for the counter.

“So we’re having like a séance tonight and we need some stuff,” I said. “Besides candles, what other kind of stuff do we need?”

The woman behind the counter looked at me like a pile of dog crap she’d just stepped in.

“You don’t want to do that,” she replied coolly. “You don’t want to mess with forces you don’t understand. The consequences can be severe.”

I looked over at Jacob and laughed before turning back to her.

“Oh come on,” I said. “We’re just having some fun. How do we do this?”

The woman looked at me anger in her eyes.

“This is not a joke,” she said. “Contacting the dead is not something you do for fun.”

“It’s not like it’s real anyway,” Jacob said from across the store. “So what’s the big deal?”

“Please, get out of my store,” the woman said.

“But I need to buy some candles and stuff,” I protested.

“I will not do business with you,” she said. “Just go. Now.”

“But—” Jacon started.

“I said now. Get out of my store.”

“You can’t do that,” I said. “I want to buy some shit.”

Jacob grabbed me by the sleeve and pulled me outside. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s not waste our time with this phony. She probably doesn’t even know how to do a séance anyway.”

The woman watched us until we were outside of her store. Jacob led me up the street, a smile that usually meant trouble on his face.

“What?” I asked.

He laughed as he held open his backpack to show me all of the candles and the book he’d snitched from the store while I’d been talking to the old lady.

“You are a fucking master criminal,” I said and laughed.

“Yes I am,” he replied. “Tonight is going to rock.”



Night had fallen and the air was cool. My parents had built a new, larger house on our property but the old house still stood. It was gutted and torn apart but it still had four walls and a roof. My folks were out of town for the weekend so Jacob and I set up in the old house. Jacob’s older brother had scored us some beer so it was shaping up to be a good night.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Denise and Michelle giggled to one another.

“Of course I do,” Jacob said. “Pete and I’ve done this a million times. Right, Pete?”

“Totally,” I confirmed.

Jacob and I had spent the better part of the afternoon poring over the book he’d lifted trying to get an idea of just what in the hell we were doing. Nothing was going to happen but we at least needed to put on a good show for the girls. I’d used white chalk and had drawn a large pentagram on the wooden floor and Jacob had put a black candle at each of the points of the star. We’d put some random things like coins, stones and a big silver cup in the center to make it look more authentic. The girls looked intrigued but somewhat scared as well which was all part of our plan.

“Is everybody ready?” Jacob asked.

I turned out all of the lights and lit all of the candles around the circle.

“Okay, now we need to sit just outside the circle, boy-girl, boy-girl, close your eyes and join hands,” I said.

I felt Denise’s hand trembling so I gave her a reassuring squeeze and my best smile. She blushed and giggled but squeezed my hand in return. I thought things were going very well.

“Powers of light and powers of darkness,” Jacob intoned solemnly. “We stand at the veil between life and death.”

“I don’t think I like the sound of that,” Michelle said with a nervous laugh.

During our afternoon cram session, it occurred to Jacob and I that we had no idea what to say to “invoke” the spirits. We’d laughed our asses off as we put together this cheesier than hell script that we thought sounded good. And since the girls weren’t experts in the occult, we knew they’d never know any different. I opened my eyes a bit to take a look. The girls had their eyes closed and seemed to be into it. Jacob looked at me, barely suppressing his laughter. He winked and nodded at me.

“We part the mystic veil,” I picked up my cue. “And invite the dead into our world. We invoke the spirits that reside here. We welcome you to our circle and bid you join us.”

“We invoke the spirits,” Jacob said.

“And bid you to join us,” I replied.

“Come into our circle.”

“We open the veil between our worlds for you.”

The room around us began to grow colder and I could suddenly see my breath. Slowly but steadily, a pressure built up in the air around us. We all opened their eyes and looked at each other as the sound of murmuring voices echoed all around us.

“What is that?” Denise asked, her voice trembling.

“I have no—”

I started to reply but was cut off when the flames on all five candles shot into the air, illuminating the entire room before plunging us all into total darkness. In that brief flash of light, I could have sworn that I saw twisted and evil faces staring at us from the dark. My heart thumped in my chest and goosebumps ran down my skin.

“I think we should get out of here,” Michelle whispered.

“It’s the wind,” Jacob tried to sound reassuring.

From the darkness, Denise let out an agonized shriek which was quickly followed by Michelle’s. Both girls burst into sobs. The shuffle of feet told me that everybody was standing and moving swiftly toward the door. I jumped to my feet and froze as I felt a hand, colder than ice, touch my back.

“We are here,” a voice whispered in my ear. “You will join us.”

I screamed and bolted for the open door. I stumbled out into the backyard, the echoing sound of many voices laughing pouring out of the empty house behind me.

“What in the fuck was that?” Jacob screamed?

“Oh my God,” Michelle’s voice sounded on the verge of panic.

I turned to find her holding Denise’s shirt up revealing three long, ragged scratches down the middle of her back. Jacob was holding up Michelle’s shirt and showed me that she had the same wound on hers.

“What’s happening?” Denise choked out between sobs.

“We need to get out of here,” Michelle wailed.

Jacob and I watched the girls run off toward the front of the new house. Moments later, we heard a car start and a squealing of tires that announced their departure.

“Dude,” Jacob said as he looked at the house. “What in the fuck is that? What did we do?”

The voices coming from inside of the house were lower but still audible. And they sounded angry.


“I warned you not to play with forces you don’t understand,” she said. “And what did you do? You not only stole from me, you went and did it anyway.”

I stood with Jacob before Tatiana, the owner of the occult shop we’d harassed the day before.

“We’re sorry,” I said. “But something happened last night—”

“And this is why you do not mess with those things which you do not understand,” she said. “You don’t know who or what you will be inviting into your lives.”

Jacob and I looked at each other, not knowing what to say or how to explain ourselves. Or really, what help she could provide.

“It was just a joke,” Jacob said. “We were screwing around. We didn’t know what we were doing. How in the hell did we know we were inviting something into our life?”

“Because I told you that’s what you would be doing!” She screamed. “But you don’t listen. You’re too busy trying to impress some girl that you don’t know what in the hell you’ve even done!"

“Look,” I tried. “The girls got scratched by… something. They’re scared. They won’t talk to us and we don’t know what to do.”

“Your romantic life is your problem,” she snapped. “As for the scratches, let us hope that’s the worst thing that happens.”

“So what can we do?” Jacob asked. “It sounded like there were a ton of people all talking in that house.”

“Do?” Her voice was terse. “There is nothing you can do. If you’ve called forth these spirits into your house, you will have to learn to live with them."

But,” I said. “If we called them here, surely there is a way to send them back. Right?”

She busied herself with dusting her shelves and refused to look at us.

“I’m sorry we didn’t listen to you,” I said. “And I’m sorry that we did what you told us not to do. Please, can you help us?”

She stopped dusting and looked me in the eye. I shuddered beneath her gaze.

“Sometimes, we have to learn hard lessons in this life,” she said. “This is one of them. I will not help you.”

“So what the fuck are we supposed to do?” Jacob snapped.

She laughed. “Hope that nothing worse happens? Hope that you didn’t unleash something truly evil? Pray that they go away and leave you alone maybe? Perhaps next time you will think twice before messing with the spirits.”

We walked out of the shop, terrified and not knowing what to do. Whatever we had done the night before had let loose something powerful enough to leave those deep scratches on the girls’ backs. As we walked back to my house in silence, I hoped that whatever was out there, in the old house was satisfied and took itself back to where it belonged.


********



Of course it didn’t. Take itself back to where it belonged, that is. Two weeks after our little séance, Denise and Michelle died. They’d drowned in Michelle’s pool. Their deaths rocked our town but were sadly written off as tragic accidents. Two girls, both strong swimmers and stars on the school swim team had somehow accidentally drowned. Jacob and I both knew better but remained silent about it. We justified it to ourselves by saying that nobody would have believed us anyway.

I think we both knew that it was just a matter of time before whatever we set loose in that house came for us. Our weekly check-in calls were simply a way for us to reaffirm ourselves, to reaffirm the fact that we were still alive, that it hadn’t caught up to us yet. We both knew that when it chose to come for us, there would be nothing we could do about it and that our phone calls to one another couldn’t stop it. But we made that pact and had kept it for sixteen years.

But now Jacob was dead. Heart attack, his wife had told me. But I knew better. Jacob hadn’t suffered a heart attack any more than Denise and Michelle had drowned.

I stood in my office at home, looking at a picture of my wife and daughter. Tears fell from my eyes and splashed on the glass frame. I hated the fact that it was my own stupidity so many years before that would prevent me from watching my child grow up, graduate college, fall in love and get married. So many milestones in her life that I was going to miss.

I felt the room growing colder and felt a heavy pressure in the air around me. My breath came out in plumes of steam and a film of frost grew over the glass frame. Though I expected it, my heart raced and I felt myself flinch when the door to my office opened with a loud groan and creak behind me.

“We are here. You will join us,” the voice whispered in my ear.





This has been my entry for [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol Season 8, Topic 33(B): The Call that Never Came. Once again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support all of these weeks. It means the world to me, so thank you!!! As always, if we have a poll, please stop on by, read some fantastic stuff and spread some voting-love around!!!

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October 2012

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