Talk to the Dead
"This...is your work space?" The woman looked around the small apartment which was heavily lit with flickering candles, and clutched her purse. "It's a fourth floor walk-up. You didn't tell me that on the telephone." Her name was 'just Laura', as she didn't want Jamie to know her last name. "I'm quite well-known in certain social circles," she had explained, "And while I'm sure you wouldn't be familiar with these circles, one can never be too sure." Just Laura patted down her hair that was damp from the autumn drizzle outside and crossed her arms.
"This is it," Jamie confirmed, gesturing to a small, round wooden table at the center of the main living area. The surface was blank except for a long, skinny black candle at the center. Usually, she wouldn't put up with some wannabe upper-class twit talking down to her, but Laura was paying double the usual rate. "Sit across from me...please."
The older woman did as she was asked, crossing her legs nervously and staring at Jamie expectantly. "I need to know his secrets. He was very tight-lipped in life, my husband, and he left no clues behind. Just pages and pages of financial documents, and those hardly paint the picture that I need. I just...need to know."
Leaning forward, Jamie lit the black candle. "Well, Laura, I have to warn you: your husband will only share what he's willing to. He could still be clinging to vestiges of his life. Usually, it takes more than one session to get men in particular to open up; that's why I generously offer a second session, free of charge. However, any sessions after that, and I charge full price again." She looked at the woman across from her. "Are you ready? It isn't too late to back out."
Laura nodded weakly, but her eyes were determined. "I'm ready."
"Put your hands flat, palm down on the table," Jamie instructed her, doing the same. She cleared her throat. "Ari," she said, projecting her voice so that it seemed to fill the small space. "Ari, if you're there, can you feel our presence? Your wife, Laura, is here, and she wants to talk to you. Can you make a noise, something to let us know you're there?" She fell silent, and waited. Laura leaned forward slightly on her chair, biting her lower lip. After a few moments, nothing had happened.
Jamie nodded. "Don't worry. They rarely answer on the first try. Most spirits aren't used to communicating in this way, so you have to coax them along and, well, cater to them." She closed her eyes, concentrating intently while also attempting to keep her inner thoughts at a minimum. "Ari," she continued, "please, if you're there...blow out this candle."
Again, they waited, and again, nothing happened. Jamie, however, wasn't deterred, even if Laura was beginning to look extremely dubious. "Do you have anything that belonged to him? Something that was important to him."
Laura hesitated, looking uncertain. "I have pictures of our kids in my wallet." She fished a red leather wallet out of her purse, careful to open it so Jamie wouldn't be able to see its contents. Jamie, in turn, fought the urge to roll her eyes. She took three photos out and handed them to her. Setting them face-up on the table in front of the candle, Jamie returned to her original posture, and Laura did the same.
"Maybe you should do some sort of invocation," Laura said. "I mean, how is Ari supposed to find us with just candles and some pictures? Shouldn't you have a Ouija board, or a spell, or...something?"
"I told you," Jamie explained with limited patience, "I don't, nor have I ever, needed those things. The dead just kind of...zone in on me. Have ever since I was little. I've not been unsuccessful yet, it just takes some time, okay?" Ari, get your dead ass in here. As the thought floated through Jamie's mind, a sudden draft swept through the room, and the center candle went out. One of the photos on the table moved toward Laura.
"My -- our son. The oldest, " Laura answered quickly. "He didn't really get on with Ari very well...especially during the last year of his life."
Jamie held up a hand to quiet the woman, closing her eyes again. This time, new images popped up, unbidden, but they didn't belong to her. A bad smell seemed to fill the room, accompanying the breeze that had a definite edge to it. She saw Laura, a year or two younger but looking essentially the same, and a tall, dark haired boy. There was no sound, like a muted television program, but the two were obviously arguing. Ari, what are you trying to show me?
The scene shifted abruptly, this time showing the dark haired boy and an older man. The older man had his hands up in defeat, and he looked afraid. The boy was crying and holding a gun. Laura was cowering in a corner, her face puffy and bruised. Jamie opened her eyes.
"Did...did your son kill your husband?"
Laura shifted in her chair, her eyes widening in feigned innocence. "I don't know what you're talking about. I told you it was an accident, he took the wrong medication..."
Shaking her head, Jamie pinned an intense gaze on the woman. "Is that why you didn't tell me your last name? So I couldn't look up the obituary? Or did you know that I avoid dealing with violent deaths? Christ. I now have an angry spirit in my apartment.
"Ari, I need you to leave this place. You're no longer in this world. You are no longer welcome here." She took the photographs and turned them face-down. "Leave."
Without warning, something that felt very solid hit Jamie in the face, and she was knocked backward in her chair. All of the candles were blown out, and they were plunged in darkness. There was a sound like wind coming through a keyhole. She touched her lip gingerly and felt something sticky and wet. "Oh my god," Laura screeched. "Is he going to kill us?"
Jamie stood slowly, her hand grabbing the leg of the table for support. She navigated her way by memory to the light switch and flipped it on. The room was in disarray. The photos were on the floor, candles tipped over and spilling wax onto the carpet. A leg on the chair Jamie had been sitting in was broken off. "Leave, both of you."
Laura gathered her belongings and walked shakily to the door. "Since...since I didn't really learn anything new, would it be possible if I could get, well, a refund?"
Wiping the blood off of her lip, Jamie stared daggers at the woman, completely silent for nearly a full minute before she used both hands to push Laura past the threshold, slamming and locking the door behind her.