I was raised in a family where talk of the supernatural and paranormal were discussed frequently. Ghosts and demons were spoken of as if they were as real as the neighbors across the street. Within all of the late-night storytelling, however, there was one consistent theme: absolutely never play with a Ouija board. “They’re doorways to things you don’t want to mess with,” my mother always said. I didn’t listen…
When I was 16 years old, my girlfriend and I went to visit her father who lived in a small town in West Virginia. He was a plastic surgeon and owned an old plantation house that dated back to the mid-1800’s. It had been perfectly remodeled, but new paint and other cosmetics could not disguise its aged look and feel.
We arrived at the house late in the evening, delayed due to the heavy rainstorm that was affecting the area. Broken trees had fallen from strong gusts of wind onto the town’s main roads making hasty travel difficult. At the home, we found her father’s associates in attendance for his annual Halloween party, dressed in costumes, laughing, and drinking heavily.
With the party in full swing, Mary, her younger brother Nathan, and I decided to go to the top level of the two-story home. It was eerily quiet there and the dampness from the storm made it chillier than usual.
“What do you want to do?’ Nathan asked. “Something scary I hope. After all, it is Halloween.”
Mary looked at her younger brother and then shot me a glance, “Alright, how about a Ouija board? I brought one specifically to use here in this old home.” My eyes widened. Anything but the dreaded talking board would have been fine with me.
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” I said. They both looked at me inquisitively, but in order to show them that I wasn’t scared I quickly announced, “A lot of people have had bad experiences with them; that’s all I meant. I’m sure it’s fun anyhow. Let’s do it!”
The three us of sat down in a circle and placed the Ouija board between us. “Wait!” I said a little loudly, frightening Nathan and causing Mary to jump. “I think we should turn the lights off and get some candles or something. You know, all for effect.” Mary agreeably got up from her cross-legged position on the floor and went to search the house. She returned moments later with an assortment of jar and pillar candles.
“Before we start,” Mary chimed “it’s important that none of us touch the planchette. That way, no one can say anyone else was moving it. Just hold your fingers slightly above it; it’ll still move.” Nathan and I nodded our heads, and then we all placed our fingers over the gliding piece that was supposed to move around the board, spelling out words, and telling us would-be futuristic events.
“Is there a spirit present?” Mary asked the invisible entities. The planchette didn’t move. She waited a minute before repeating firmly “Is there a spirit present?” Suddenly, I could feel an energy in my arms and hands. It was slight, but noticeable. The planchette moved to the word YES. “What is your name spirit?” she requested. Slowly the word T-A-R-G-O-N was spelled. Nathan and I sat there, not knowing what to say or do. Mary whispered to us that we should ask it a question.
Since Nathan appeared paralyzed by what was happening, I asked, “Where are you from Targon?” The entity incorrectly spelled S-K-O-T-L-A-N-D. I looked around at the two other participants. Mary appeared calm and in control, but Nathan, the youngest of us, was obviously scared, but would not (or could not) remove himself from playing with this magical board.
“When were you born?” Nathan chirped, surprising me that he would participate in a role other than as an innocent bystander. With what appeared to be great effort, the entity spelled 1-6-9-7.
“Wow,” I said in a low voice. “An ancient ghost in an ancient house. How appropriate.”
The rain continued to beat heavily on the windows outside while the wind picked up force. Flames from the candles Mary lit earlier flickered in the drafty house. As we sat there with our fingers over the planchette, I noticed that it was moving on its own in a figure eight pattern – the symbol for eternity. Without asking the spirit any questions, it spelled out: G-O/N-O-W/H-E/I-S/H-E-R-E. And then, the planchette ceased moving. We were never able to tell Targon goodbye; he just disappeared, vanishing as quickly as he’d come.
The energy in my arms, strangely, was more powerful now that Targon had left. It felt very similar to the time I was accidentally shocked by an electrical outlet; energy raced from shoulder to finger-tip. As I looked down at the board, the planchette began moving rapidly in a looping circle. Nathan was wide-eyed in desperation. I assumed he was feeling the same energy that I was and that he didn’t like it.
“Is there a spirit present?” Mary shot out of the blue. She was in control and apparently unimpressed by the new uninvited entity. The planchette moved quickly and forcefully to the word YES. “What is your name spirit?” Mary asked, exactly as before. Without hesitation, the entity spelled S-A-T-A-N. The moment the last letter was spelled the candles in the room went out, but there was no gust of air. Nathan fell over onto his side and began sobbing, overwhelmed with fright, while Mary remained speechless.
For me, I sat there quietly, remembering the words of my mother.
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