Psychomancy, chapter 1: 1-800-OUIJA
Edwardson Elementary had a problem.
They thought it was a game, at first. I mean, they were kids. It was a playground. It just seemed like a riff on hopscotch or four-square or something. Harmless… or so they thought.
Trading cards had lost their value. Digital pets were dying of neglect. Jump ropes were abandoned, and kickballs remained unkicked. Something else had occupied the children's attention, and the principal, for the life of him, couldn't figure out what it was.
The teachers caught on pretty quickly, though. I mean, when all 22 of your students come in from recess with identical nosebleeds and dilated pupils, you might get some inklings of suspicion.
All it took was some sidewalk chalk, a hacky sack, and a token of the recently deceased. A lock of hair, for example.
Students had been coming in, barber clippings and other keepsakes stuffed into their backpacks. Drawing the numbers on the ground, an eerily familiar pattern. It was like texting, but with demons, apparently.
A three-by-three grid, chalked carefully on the blacktop, with the extra square at the bottom representing the zero, used as a space. They’d take the token, tuck it into the hacky sack, and toss the beanbag onto the one, shouting, “Dial the number; hold the line! Make the call; go back in time. Black, blue, yellow, red. Raise Aunt Sally from the dead!”
Then the child would hop from number to number, as if they were spelling something out, texting somehow on a psychomantic mobile phone.
Seven. Seven. Seven.
Four. Four. Four.
Seven. Seven. Seven. Seven.
A rest. Wobbling on one foot. Then, a leap to zero, and suddenly, stillness.
Today, it was Charles MacKinnon. The third-grader slackened, eyes rolled back in his head. Little Charlie held up Uncle Bobby’s old love letter sent from the war and loudly proclaimed in a voice not his own, “Where has she gone?”
Then he slumped entirely to the tarmac. Popping up seconds later with a bloody nose, he skipped merrily off the court to let Maggie take her turn, eyes widened from the adrenaline.
No one knew who taught the ritual to them. No one could figure out how to stop or reverse the summons. It made sense, however, that the necromantic shenanigans had spread to the middle and high school. I mean, it’s not like the campuses were that far apart, and many students had siblings in other schools.
Maybe one day, they'll catch on, but for now, I’ve got something to keep me busy.