Playing with a Ouija board is commonplace among middle school birthday parties, so no one was surprised when I brought one out from under my bed during a sleepover. My best friends, Amie and Destiny grinned. Amie’s grandma was a medium, but Amie never got to talk to ghosts with her. Destiny’s grandma was the opposite, blessing the house with holy water every week. I put the board in the middle of my bedroom floor on top of their sleeping bags. Amie jumped up. “Wait, we need candles for it to work properly. My grandma always uses candles.”
“I don’t have any candles.”
“What if you ask your mom?”
“She won’t let me borrow her candles.”
“You didn’t even ask.”
Destiny pulled a rosary out of her bag. “We can just take turns wearing the rosary to protect us.”
Amie rolled her eyes. “You don’t wear a rosary; you pray with it. We can hang it on the fan so it’s watching over us.” She climbed onto my desk, leaned over, and hung the rosary on one of the arms of the fan.
As we gathered around the board and put our fingers on the planchette, we hesitated. The back of my neck was already prickling. “What question are we going to ask it?”
“Let me do it.” Amie cleared her throat. “Spirits, awaken. We are calling to you.”
Destiny squirmed but kept her fingers on the planchette. Amie spoke again, “Is anyone here?”
The planchette didn’t move. Silence pressed down on us as we waited. Then I relaxed my hands. “Guys, I don’t think it’s working.”
“It has to work. Just be patient.” Amie screwed up her face. “Ghosts, I command you to answer me.”
The air thickened. I glanced at Amie, but she took no notice. In slow, jerking motions, the planchette inched towards “Yes”.
Destiny paled. “I don’t want to play anymore.”
“We just started playing, you baby.” Amie addressed the board again. “What is your name?”
S-N-A-K-E P-R-E-A-C-H-E-R. “Snake preacher? That’s an odd name.” I watched Amie’s hands carefully. “Are you moving it?”
She frowned. “No. Is Snake Preacher your name or your job?”
N-A-M-E. Destiny’s hands shook, shaking part of the planchette.
“When were you born?” Amie’s eyes darted around the room as she spoke, trying to figure out where the Snake Preacher was.
I resisted the urge to look over my shoulder. “Can we stop now?”
Amie smirked. “Not yet. Prove that you’re really with us.”
Suddenly, playing Ouija in my own bedroom seemed like a mistake. What if he stays in my room forever? What if he possess my stuff? “Cut it out, Amie. I know you’re moving the planchette.”
“Yeah,” Destiny said, but she didn’t look too sure.
Amie crossed her arms. “I’m not moving it. If you babies are too scared to play, then go do something else.”
I started to stand up, but something flew across the room and hit the wall. Destiny grabbed onto my leg. “Guys, it’s the rosary! The Snake Preacher threw it.”
My heart crawled up my throat. “Send it back, Amie. Get it out.”
Amie stared up at me, mouth wide open. The planchette zoomed across the board spelling out letters faster than we could read them. Then it started spinning in circles (the number one thing to beware of, according to the internet). Destiny buried her face against me. “Make it stop!”
“Amie, tell it to leave!”
The planchette stopped. Then Amie’s eyes rolled back into her head and she collapsed. Destiny ran for the door, but the handle wouldn’t turn. My hands fumbled to unlock the window. Throwing it open, a breeze rushed in. The atmosphere lightened. In the mirror above my bed, my face stared back at me, and behind my reflection, stood a bald man with a snake tattoo across his neck.