The Spiritualist’s home was an abandoned truck on a quiet street on the outskirts of the city. It was situated a kilometre away from the street, resting behind a backdrop of trees that led into the woods.
A gas station, an ATM stand, a call booth, and an average standard motel, were the neighboring structures around the area.
Zee sighted a worn-out-looking vehicle parked outside the truck turned home. It told her that the Spiritualist was around. A rustic handmade wooden marquee before the house proclaimed the words- Know Thy Future.
Zee often wondered how the woman could live like that. Well, it was not her business. After all, people like that were often kind of spooky.
It was ironic how they often claim to see the future but still live like paupers. She regretted getting herself involved with this kind of darkness.
Lucky Inara, she thought. She wished she were in Inara’s shoes right now. At least, she would not be thinking about The Last Dare anymore. But she also knew that she had brought this on herself.
Zee stepped out of her car, headed to the front door of the mini house, and gave it an impatient knock. There was no response. Standing there, she could feel the light breeze kissing her skin. It gave her an eerie feeling. She needed to get this over with because she was tired of being haunted.
Zee knocked again but almost jumped out of her skin at the feel of a hand on her shoulder. Whipping around in panic, she came face to face with a woman in her sixties who was bearing a tray of freshly plucked herbs in one hand.
She was wearing red gypsy clothing and had a red bandana wrapped around her long white hair. Even her jewelry was red. Zee found herself squinting from the brightness of her clothing as though her sight was being affected by direct sunlight.
“You’re a terrible dresser.” She said, frowning at the woman. “Your outfit is just so red and blinding.”
“And you, young one I remember because you’ve always got a mouth on you.”
She looked and sounded unfazed by Zee’s blunt attack on her outfit.
“Well, you almost gave me a heart attack,” Zee said, panting. “I didn’t hear you coming.”
“Sorry.” The woman responded but she looked anything but sorry. “What brings you to my humble place? I don’t get visitors too often these days.”
“Well, isn’t that obvious?” Zee said unsympathetically. “Maybe people are tired of listening to your sloppy predictions and evil spiritual bullshit.”
If the woman was offended by her words, it did not show, and this irked Zee but she remained silent and watched the woman’s eyes peruse her from head to toe. Dear God, Zee prayed silently, thinking next, she is going to say she has seen something about my future. Stupid con artist.
The woman’s eyes narrowed disturbingly at her and Zee rolled her eyes disinterestedly. “What is it?”
“Come inside,” Violet responded quietly and Zee followed her inside the makeshift house. It was very minimalist. Curtains were used as dividers and she had electricity and a small space she used as her office. It consisted of chairs and a table covered with a red fabric.
The décor was full of pagan items- from bones and cards to old books and dark mirrors. No matter how gullible Inara was, she would never step into a place like this. Zee could not stop regretting her recklessness, especially with getting her friend in trouble.
“Do you live here?”
“More often than not.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“This is my office. I have a normal home in town.”
“Sit down,” Violet told her after placing the herbs on a small sofa lying by the side of the room.
Zee sat down before Violet who took her hands in hers from across the table and immediately started shaking her head quite vehemently. Zee’s eyes widened in panic and before she could utter a word, Violet let go of her hands as though, shocked by them.
Zee shot up to her feet and took a couple of fearful steps away from the table, though her eyes were still resting on the woman.
“I see death surrounding you and time is running out.” Violet proclaimed. “I guess you can feel it. I believe that is what brings you here.’’
Zee swallowed hard but fought to control her fear.
“I did my dare.” She declared and her chin rose in defiance. “Why won’t the game be over? Why won’t it just leave me alone?”
“You can answer that question,” Violet responded plainly. “You know you cheated the game. Perhaps you forgot to renew the charm that stalls it?”
Zee nodded tiredly.
“You have brought this on yourself. I warned you about that.”
Zee’s shoulders dropped wearily. “So what do I do now?”
“Well, the person who gave you the dare must give you another one.”
Zee laughed mirthlessly at the thought of Inara giving her another dare. “That won’t be possible. She won’t.”
“She has to.”
“I am telling you that she won’t”
“Who do you think is in charge? Human or the game?”
Zee thought about it for a moment and found the bright side of things.
“Great and good. She is going to give me something simple then, now that we both know better.”
Zee had already turned to go, dismissing the woman by her abrupt action.
“Do not be so sure,” Violet told her which had her pausing and turning back around to face her.
“What do you mean?”
“The game will let her know.”
“Why doesn’t it just tell me? It bloody speaks to me through random people.”
“Well, that’s not how it works.”
“Listen to me, you old bat. You never told me all this shit before.”
Violet laughed like an evil person. “You were the one who came here looking for a dark experience. You have one. Now go.”
Zee stood there, speechless and her heart was pounding with fear.
“I warned you about this game. You did not listen, you stupid young bat.”
Zee ignored the payback she was taking by calling her a young bat. After all, she had called the woman an old bat. Instead, she sighed with frustration.
“I just want to get this over with so I can move on with my life.”
Violet smirked at her. “Well, so does the game.”
With every passing second, Zee found herself being humbled by the frightening reality of her current situation.
“Do I have to call my friend?”
Violet laughed. “She might call you.”
The woman’s voice turned malicious and mannish as she spoke again. “Trust me, the last dare will no longer wait.”
Zee panicked and let out a fearful gasp. The woman threw her head back and emitted a series of dark, evil laughs as Zee hurried out of the small house and hastened off the premises like a bat out of hell, even as she heard the woman’s shrill scream- “The last dare will no longer wait!” followed by a distorted and echoing malevolent male laughter.
At about the same time that morning, Lemuel walked out of the dressing room and into the bedroom, dressed for work in a tailored H & M white shirt and fitted gray pants.
He found Inara staring into the dressing mirror. Her eyes were wide and she had a look of shock on her face.
She didn’t even turn.
“Nara, what is it?”
Inara was seeing bold and bloody writing in the mirror, the message utterly disturbing. Slowly, her finger pointed at the mirror as Lemuel came to stand beside her. Lemuel could not see anything. “What is it, Nara?”
“It’s the game.”
“There’s a writing on the mirror.”
Lemuel hated the subject but well, he was a part of her life now and he would ensure he did all he could to support and protect her. She was the love of his life for better or worse.
“What does it say?”
“Crash the wedding.”
Lemuel groaned irritably. “That’s it. We are calling your father. We are seeing him over this issue. I’m going to call him right away.”
“No, no please.” Inara pleaded as the words This is Zee’s Dare appeared in the same blood dripping writing beside the first words on the mirror.
“Why not?” Lemuel demanded.
“The message is for Zee.”
“I thought she did her dare?”
“I cannot believe I’m discussing supernatural things. Damn it.”
“I’m really sorry.”
Lemuel let out an impatient growl. Inara’s phone rang and they both saw that it was Zee. Lemuel watched as Inara hastily received the call.
“Zee.” She said.
“What is my dare?”
“What? How did you…?”
“Don’t bother about how I knew. The game is still haunting me because I cheated. I was just over at the Spiritualist. I must do the game’s dare and it would be shown to the one whose dare, I failed to do and that happens to be you.”
It was a mouthful, but Zee knew she did not want to waste time dilly-dallying.
Everything was clearer to Inara now. “I have the message already.” She responded.
“What is it?” Zee asked curiously, her voice, wavering a little.
Inara could hear the fear in her voice. Zee, who never feared anything, was now afraid. It was true, she thought. The only constant thing in life was change. “Crash the wedding,” she informed Zee.