It was a standard Hallowe'en after hours in the heart of the teen years. It is the time when one can see who wants to belong and who is wise enough to go on celebrating, for as we know, some teens continue tricks and treats, and some are just "too old" for all of that.
This particular group had already watched the seasonal TV movies and cartoons for the last two weeks so they left the TV off. They played creepy tunes on the stereo between some various spooky tinkering on the piano. There was the hope that ghost stories would be told… but, as is very usual, no one could remember one good enough to tell… yet.
The idea to open a book and read a story was mentioned, but through experience they had to remind themselves that someone always left, or fell asleep after a single page into it. It was better to read the story a week before and practice the telling of it, especially if it's from a collection of urban legends, rather than lengthy tales that couldn't be condensed very well.
However, one girl remembered and told a spooky story and then another. The ghost of a mother fetching milk for her baby that was still alive but buried in her grave with her, then was rescued by her efforts. The twisted bend in the road wherein a tipsy man found a talking skull and gambled his life to prove it was so to his neighbours, only to lose his bet.
After these tales were told? The mood enlivened the others minds to recall stories they knew. It was finally working, and it was a great deal of fun remembering and reliving the first time they'd heard the stories, things they had added when they were little, and times these six kids had played together on previous Hallowe'en days and nights.
Then they recalled how they used to enact that Bloody Mary tradition in the windowless bathroom. What was it all about? Did anyone ever really see anything?
Alice admitted she didn't know but she got so scared she felt she had to make something up to appease her own spirits. Andre said he had seen something but it turned out to be the glow-in-the-dark stickers he'd stuck near the sink years before. Katri and Dionne mentioned staying up really late together and singing Bloody Mary's name while spinning around. Other than getting dizzy, they didn't really see anything they could verify as connected to the ghost.
It was Jonte that admitted he'd never tried it before, and what was the difference between a Virgin Mary and a Bloody Mary?
His friends knew he was kidding. The difference between a Virgin Mary and a Bloody Mary was vodka.
Alice was the one who remembered the most about Bloody Mary, who was also known by the name Mary Worth. In some stories her baby was murdered, in some stories she killed her own children. Some kids chanted her name a hundred times, some thirteen but mostly it was three times, with a candle before a mirror in the dark. You were supposed to see her or some sign that she was there.
"But what's the point?" Jonte asked, "I mean… what happens after that? Do you have tea with her? Or are you possessed by her for a year or something?"
The point? Apparently the entire point was simply to conjure and see her, get scared and trip out. Then you could talk about your shaky experience afterward whenever she came up in conversation.
Jonte, because of his skepticism, was urged to try it.
Jonte was a good choice because he was just plain skeptical of the practice instead of a haughtily defiant unbeliever. Perhaps this is why his fate was so much easier to live with compared to the rumoured deaths, scarred faces and loss of blood so many others who conjured her had been said to endure. He wasn't defiant. He was simply curious.
It was almost midnight, so Alice quickly found a candle, meant to replenish one of the jack-o-lanterns outside, and gave it to Jonte who shifted his specs nervously before receiving it. Alice suggested the best method was repeating the name "Bloody Mary" thirteen times in tandem with the twelve grandfather clock chimes and adding one beyond that.
"Of course at the end, there is room for one more," she quoted from a previous ghost story she told.
Candle lit, Jonte stood in front of the glass, in the dark, windowless bathroom and waited for the tap Alice would give the door when she heard the clock winding up to make its midnight chimes. They felt they had to get it as synchronous as they could. Katri, Dionne and Andre just stood in the hall with her because, believe it or not, they were scared and didn't know how to get the front room curtains closed all the way.
The whirring clicks started and Alice tapped the door.
Jonte looked in the mirror.
"Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary."
Each chant at the stroke of the clock, one by one.
"Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary."
The rhythm made the others want to chant with him, but they didn't.
"Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary."
They could no longer help themselves and they joined at the end,
"Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody. Mary."
Without the chime the last one was a bit longer.
Jonte saw the reflection of his face in the glass as he'd raised the candle close to him.
Nothing more than the reflection of his face. Just as he'd expected… or was it as he hoped?
He jerked slightly as Andre screamed in the hall, then Alice smacked Andre softly in the arm as Dionne and Katri giggled with relief.
"Oh, I'm so terrified," Jonte sighed, sarcastically, grabbing the bathroom doorknob and throwing open the door… then… looking into the shocked expressions of his friends. He noticed a cold chill sweeping all over his body.
"Oh… my… god…" Andre breathed, as the girls began covering their eyes and pulling away in alarm.
For somehow, Jonte's clothes had been removed and he was standing nude!