The four of us sat on the floor in a rough circle, facing inward. The room was quiet, save for Stephanie’s mumbling. The only light source was a single candle we had placed on the floor in the middle of our little huddle. Its flickering flame cast long shadows over the walls and the furniture. Outside, the wind beat against the shut windows.
I did not want to be here.
We were in the living room of my best friend Stephanie’s house: I; my boyfriend, Andrew; Jeremy, the school’s star athlete; and Stephanie. The stale scent of beer hung in the air; discarded cans and half-smoked joints littered the floor tiles. A part of me worried what we’d do if somebody walked in at that moment. But that scenario was greatly improbable; Steph’s parents were out of town for a week; any trace of us would be long gone before they got back.
But I didn’t want to be here. All I wanted was to be at home curled up in the couch, waiting for my period cramps to pass. I was only here because of Steph, with whom I had been best friends since Junior High. She was a wild thing, always looking for the next thrill, the next adventure; I was quiet, more level-headed. We went well together.
It was Stephanie who suggested the séance.
Sitting there now, I glanced over at the girl sitting across from me, legs folded underneath her yoga-style, brows furrowed in concentration as she recited the so called ‘ritual’ from the thick leather bound book in her hands. Sitting to her left (my right) Andrew wore a bored, skeptic look on his face. I resisted the urge to laugh. Truth was Andrew only agreed to take part in the séance only because I had. And I was only doing it because…well, I wasn’t really sure why I agreed to it. Maybe it’s because the whole thing was Steph’s idea.
I looked over at Jeremy. It didn’t take a genius to figure out why he had agreed to this. Even in the near darkness I could see him stealing glances at Stephanie. It was kind of an open secret that he liked her. Everybody knew. I think by agreeing to her idea – even though I could tell that he wasn’t the kind of guy to believe in spirits and séances – Jeremy hoped to score some points with her. Good luck. He needed it.
Stephanie’s low voice flowed through the room, reciting, “…Great spirits of the Fade, we come to you now…”
The book from which she read looked old, positively ancient. She told me she found it in an abandoned corner of the Library, coated in dust. The book had no title in the cover. It’s thick, yellowed pages were filled with all kinds of information; from how to cure the simplest of ailments using things like frog spit to the correct instructions on mending a broken bone. And how to communicate with spirits on the other side. This was what we were trying to do now.
Stephanie had always believed she was descended from a long line of gypsies, all the way down from when caravans of travelling gypsies passed through our small town many decades ago. I supposed she felt that if the summons worked it would bring her closer to her roots. Or something. You never really could tell with Stephanie.
“…hear our humble summons, hearken to our call…”
Andrew looked over at me and smirked. I smiled back. He rolled his eyes comically at me. I tried my best not to laugh.
Stephanie’s voice took on a note of urgency, rising. “…hear me now; I summon you forth to this plane…”
A cold shiver ran through my body. But the windows were still closed, I thought. My best friend’s voice rose yet again, she was almost quivering with excitement. I sensed that the recital was coming to an end.
And then what? a little voice in my head said. What happens then?
I did not know.
Stephanie’s voice rang out, speaking the final words: “…Come! Come to me! I summon you now! COME!”
And everything happened.
With a crash the windows blew open; the howling wind surged into the room like a flood. The temperature of the room dropped suddenly. The flame of the candle seemed to rise, in spite of the surging winds; and then suddenly went out, plunging the room into near total darkness.
Jeremy gave a startled cry; Andrew turned to face the windows, and then turned to me, concern written in his brown eyes. Stephanie looked excited, expectant. I was scared.
The wind blew through the room, raging, whirling. The sound of it filled my ears even as the cold it brought pierced into my bones. And then…
The wind died away as suddenly as it had begun. The icy cold melted away into the night. The four of us were left as we were before. I looked over at the center of our circle, at the crude pentagram we drew earlier. Nothing had changed. No spirit had appeared, as far as we could tell.
A minute passed in silence.
Then Andrew said, “Well. That was…anti-climactic.”
Jeremy laughed, more out of relief than anything.
Stephanie shook her head. “But…I don’t understand. It was supposed to work…”
“I told you, there’s no such thing as ‘Great Spirits of the Fade’,” Andrew said. “Your book’s a fake.”
Stephanie said, “But…the window…and the wind…” She looked terribly disappointed.
“The latch must have come undone,” Jeremy replied, rising to his feet. “As for the wind, it looks like there’s a storm coming.” He flipped a switch on, bathing the room in light, then crossed over to the window and closed it.
Andrew rose as well. “Shit. Gotta get home before I get soaked in the rain.”
Stephanie said nothing. She sat on the floor, staring dejectedly at the book. A thought crossed my mind: Why are you so disappointed, Steph? Were you so eager for the summons to work? What were you expecting?
Jeremy offered his hand to her, “C’mon, Steph. Let’s get you off that floor.”
Stephanie said, without looking at him, “I think you guys should go.”
Jeremy drew his hand back, hurt. “Uh, fine,” he muttered. “Suit yourself.” Good luck. He was going to need a LOT of it.
Andrew turned to me. “Come on, Liz. Let’s get you home.” He held out his hand. I made to reach out and take it.
My body didn’t move.
I tried to take Andrew’s hand again. My body didn’t move. A cold dread gripped me. I tried to speak, to scream, but no words came out.
What the Hell is going on? I thought.
And then I felt it.
It was as though a dam had broken. It – whatever it was – flooded my mind, my thoughts, my consciousness in an instant. It was a mass of hate, and envy and bloodlust such as I had never imagined. An unstoppable wave of power.
And then it spoke.
WHERE AM I, CHILD?
The voice appeared everywhere and nowhere in my head. It spoke with a chilling voice that seemed to echo in my very soul. SPEAK, CHILD. WHO ARE YOU?
Who are you? I thought weakly. I felt the presence tear through my mind, looking through all my thoughts, my deepest secrets.
It said, I AM SAMAEL.
And in that moment I knew Stephanie’s summons had worked.
For as the demon looked through me, so was I given a glimpse into it. And I saw pain, and death. I saw entire cities slaughtered. Dead men, women and babies lying in the streets. Corpse piled upon corpse. I saw destruction as far as the horizon. I saw the demon’s handiwork.
I felt its lust for blood.
And I felt the demon’s joy.
“Liz?” said Andrew. “You coming, or not?”
My head turned slowly to look my boyfriend in the face. My body rose from the floor.
“You okay, Liz? You look kinda weird,” said Andrew.
No! I wanted to shout. It’s here! It’s in here with me!! I wanted Andrew to stop me from leaving that house. I wanted him to bind me with chains of iron. I wanted him to kill me. Anything, anything.
From the corner of my eye I could see Stephanie, still sulking, believing that she had failed. I wanted to scream at her that it hadn’t failed. But I couldn’t.
Jeremy walked to the front door and opened it. “You guys coming?” Andrew looked at me once more, concern etched in his big brown eyes, those eyes that I had fallen desperately in love with. I wanted to cry.
Please, I begged inside my head. Please…
But my lips parted into a smile, and my own voice spoke.
“I’m just tired,” said Samael. “Come on. Let’s go home.”
And then the demon took my boyfriend’s hand, and together they walked out the door and into the world.