Flickering flames. Dancing shadows upon the high walls. A great room, like a cave. Our circle joins. Everyone’s here, hand in hand around a massive round table. My heart’s beating out of my chest.
Mom. The lies. Hope this works for both our sakes.
Cameras roll from their hidden perches.
“When you’re ready,” Doug says. The ghost hunter’s brown glare seems disquieted. His black hair concealed beneath a matching knit beanie. Summit Paranormal Investigations.
My palms are cold and wet. Donna turns a perturbed eye down on me. Probably grossed out by my sweat.
“If you please.” Dr. Benson’s low voice reeks of impatience on my other side.
A psychologist. Figures.
All eyes turn to me. My stomach spins into nauseated knots.
I can’t help it. I’m only sixteen! I didn’t ask for this. No one asked me if wanted this gift.
The stale coldness of this once elegant estate closes in all around my skinny body. Should’ve worn a heavier jacket for this.
I clear my throat and close my eyes. My senses assure me the others have followed suit. Deep breaths – in through the nose and out the mouth. My muscles release.
The doctor’s mellow voice finds my ears. “Subject has begun. Entering trance.” His words bounce around in my slipping conscious. “Breathing appears normal. No signs of distress.”
All of this is his idea. Some experiment, doc.
Dark forces. Too many to count. One shoves its way forward into my body.
“Trespassers!” The distorted male voice spews out of my mouth. “All of you. Common criminals!”
All I can do is watch. I stand frigid beside my body while these entities have their way.
“Leave my house!”
I sound demonic. Unnatural.
Donna jumps at my body’s side in her chair. My limp arm falls. Her squeal betrays her disbelief. College girls.
The dark man passes. My torso convulses at the arrival of another.
“No, daddy. Don’t!” It’s a little girl. Seven at most.
The scent of daisies and –
“Do you smell that?” The college girl, Donna. Her button nose searches the area. “Cinnamon rolls?”
I sense it too, hot stuff. Sorrow and misery overwhelm everything. An older presence jars me.
“Henry, please.” Now, the girl’s mother. “You don’t know what you’re doing.”
My terrestrial arms fling out over the tabletop. “Give me our child, Henry!”
I’m out of my body. Floating over the table.
“Sweet Christ,” Doug mutters.
This will put you on the map, Dougie boy. Benson’s bald black head drifts closer. His little red light blinks.
“Subject now speaking in various voices. Male, female, and young female child. Note: research split personality disorder later tonight.”
Dumbass. You don’t have a clue.
“Oh, my God!” Mrs. Benson’s thin hands clamp down over her open mouth. Interracial couple. A big deal for this little town.
My voice. So strange.
The good doctor again: “Subject is now wailing like a newborn baby. While humanly possible, the likelihood is low.”
My head lulls from side to side. Eyes clamped shut.
Dougie boy: “Jake. Please tell me you’re still rolling on this.”
The camera jockey grumbles.
A wild sensation of flying. Weightlessness. My whipping arms slap Donna on one side and Benson on the other. Cold water everywhere. Daylight twinkles on the rippling water. Sinking down.
“He’s turning blue!” the doctor screams.
Doug: “Sean! Sean, snap out of it.”
Dr. Benson’s slender hand connects with my cheek.
My body is my own again. A watery bulge plugs up my throat. Soon, a small fountain erupts from my maw. My torso reels forward onto the polished oaken table. More fluid spews out into a large puddle.
Donna shrieks and backpedals, knocking over her chair. “This – this is fucked up.”
Stinging musty air gets to my lungs. My vision returns. Watery, but there.
Doug’s hand slaps me between the shoulders. “Hey. You all right, pal?”
I heave my dead weight up on both elbows. I try to speak, but my throat is dry as a bone. I nod.
Benson: “Medium has recovered from trance. Spewed water all over himself and the Dining Hall table. Uncertain of its origins. McAllister Manor, 9:15 p.m. End session one.”