When something tells you you’re going to die very soon, you listen.
But most important, is to know who you’re speaking to.
He’d given up looking for the misplaced shotgun yet another night, and instead resorted to spending his leisure time on a new hobby. Bradley pressed his palms into each side of the board—leaning in to let the stale air fill his lungs. He’d heard stories—listened to all the talk radio he could fathom—but never had the story gone like this. The candles had blown out in a draft which gave life to the planchette; it moved on it’s own over the scuffed letters wood-burned into the board.
“SHES DRIVEN,” it said. Slow, deliberate movements. “YOU MUST LEARN THIS TIME.”
He couldn’t parse the meaning, “Who’s driven? To what?” The house shuddered in the overhead storm.
“THE LONELY ONE,” the planchette swiveled and slid, and after a pause, “I CANNOT SAY.”
“Why? Who are you?”
“I AM NOT ALLOWED TO DISRUPT,” at this, the planchette lay still on the board. Defeated. No, the story never had gone like this, and for a moment he thought maybe there was a chance of this making him a much more successful man—should the board’s prophecy not be true. But as if the board had remembered something, it shot back to life.
“THAT IS WHY YOU ARE AFRAID,” it said. “YOU WILL MAKE A FATAL MISTAKE.”
“And what would you know about that?”
“ASK ME ANOTHER QUESTION THERE IS STILL TIME.”
Bradley turned to a kitchen chair for a seat. He wondered if it were possible this was all a booze-induced nightmare. That he would wake up to Stacey knocking on his door, and they could talk about this crazy night. His heart ached after so long alone, even though it was better to have let her go. Stacey. It couldn’t have been possible. Even thinking of the ways she used to obsess, there was no sense to be made of it. She didn’t even know where he lived after he’d moved off to get away from it all. It was crazy to even think that was the case. But it was the only way what the board was saying could be possible. “How am I going to die?” he said, and the planchette took its course again.
“YOU WILL BE SHOT—YOU MUST LEAVE.”
Now the stupid thing had to be joking. He knew no one with a gun. Stacey in particular had frowned at the sight of his gun cabinet. “I wouldn’t trust myself with a thing like that,” she’d said. Imagining her with one in her hand or dangling from a holster was just about laughable. Almost as laughable as picking up spirit seeking as a hobby. But he’d do just about anything to get his mind off women and instruments of defense. “You’re just too rough” his college friends had joked. They didn’t even know the half of it.
“Yeah, right,” Bradley said. “I’m going to get shot, huh? Well. I don’t see how you aren’t just trying to scare me.”
“YOU WILL NOT UNDERSTAND UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE—I CANNOT CHANGE THE COURSE.”
“The course? Come to think of it, you never answered my question. Who are you supposed to be anyway?”
“OTHER SIDE—ECHO—TOO LATE.”
It stopped for good after that. No further questions, no pleas, no fists pounded on the board could bring it to life. But rather than laughing about it, something in him was deeply frightened. And why is that? he thought. It was all disprovable beyond a doubt. Absurd. But part of him wondered if maybe he could spend the rest of the night in his car. They’d always said on those talk-radio shows, that those things that give the board life—they lie. Daemonic tricksters. But the conversation played again and again in his head, and something itched. Itched like a neglected truth. Right now it sounded better to lay down on the couch and think.
But the idea was shattered by two distinct knocks on the front door.
It crossed his mind to stay silent. He was for a little while. Maybe whoever it was would go away.
“Brad?” said a voice. All-too-familiar. Female.
And it stung so much he couldn’t stay silent, “Hello?”
“Brad? Is that you?”
“Is that who I think it is out there?”
“Maybe,” she said, “are you seeing someone else yet?” Her sense of humor gave it all away, but this time it wasn’t funny at all.
“Stacy, what on earth? How did you know I was here?”
“I… I know it’s weird. I know. But I just missed you. I’ve been missing you a lot, and I think everything just went all wrong. I think it can be better Brad, I wanted to talk again, and I was lucky to find you in the directories. You’re not going to leave a young lady out in the rain, are you?”
He almost would have. But it was so sweet hearing her after so long, and so serene to imagine not being alone on the couch. Listening to the rain on the window. Almost romantic. Romantic if there wasn’t a knot still irritating his stomach. But maybe it was better to be with someone a little too affectionate than to be alone. “I can let you in,” he said, but it didn’t make him feel any better.
“No need Brad, I always know you keep the front unlocked.”
Something about that smile in her voice reaffirmed the echo of a mistake hanging in the air—a voice that told him he’d left the wrong lady to her own devices. The doorknob clicked, and after that, another click. Just as familiar.
“It’s been so long Brad, I don’t want to ever lose you again.”
A click that always comes before a pulled trigger.
He thought maybe she wasn’t like all the other bodies down in his cellar. Bodies that couldn’t have been further from understanding him. She knew his game just as well as he did.
She could play just as dirty.
It was as true to reality as the empty spot in his gun cabinet.
Thank you for reading my new flash fiction story. What did you think? I like putting together these shorter pieces in between longer projects and novels, but you’ll be seeing more of those in the near future.
For today’s fun question, let me know in the comments if you have any personal ghost stories or paranormal experiences! Perhaps I’ll talk about one of mine in the near future.
Oh, and if you like the planchette drawing above, I have it up for sale on all kinds of merch for you to check out. Fun stuff.