Miranda was stirred from sleep by the sweet bells her phone tolled to indicate an incoming text. She reached for the phone, realizing she’d made a dire mistake in not washing the blood off before climbing into bed.

Last night was a blur -- her memory failed as she tried to recall the night’s events. She could remember the early evening, getting off work and hustling home to change, worrying her Halloween costume was a cop out. Friends often compared her to Sissy Spacek so she decided to play off that and go as Carrie. The costume was easy to assemble -- a Goodwill dress, a corsage, and a whole lot of fake blood. She already had the perfect complexion and strawberry blonde hair, so it didn’t take her long to get ready and connect with Jack.

Jack showed up at her apartment dressed as a priest. He had put off deciding on a costume until last minute and ended up dropping too much dough on a lame prefab at Halloween Spirit, the shop that pops up every September, seemingly overnight, the hollowed corpse of a failed business transformed briefly to meet all your holiday needs.

Jack kissed her and the two piled into his Jetta. Just like the year before, they were headed to Lana’s house for her annual seance, as Lana fancied herself a modern witch. In truth this really just amounted to her spending a lot of time talking about moon cycles, and reading the occasional Tarot, making up the meaning as she went.

Miranda remembered being greeted at the door with a whiskey cider, which was surprisingly good and easy to drink, and which no doubt now explained the dull ache in her gut, the grinding pain in the front of her head and behind her eyes, and the fog that clouded her memories of the evening.

The house was full of candles, creepily arranged, the walls lined with artificial spiderwebs trembling with jagged plastic spiders. Jack expressed some concern about fire hazards, which Lana promptly dismissed. “Oh Jackie, don’t be such a pussy!” She poured another drink for Miranda and busted Jacks’ balls for being a sober bore.

The whiskey went down easy and soon Jack asked Miranda to slow down. She remembers being rudely dismissive, and Jack taking it in stride (he was no pushover, nor a bore, but he picked his battles, and as much as it pained her to admit it, when he did get into it with her he was usually right). “I’m fine baby, just having fun.” Miranda replied and squeezed his ass, prompting him to scoot away playfully embarrassed.  

“What do you think of my costume guys?” Lana asked, her costume consisted of some pitifully small bits of latex and polyester barely providing any cover. “I’m a sexy witchhunter, isn’t that funny… because I’m wiccan?”

“That’s cool Lana, you look hot. I could never pull that off, I am all knees and ribs…”

“Oh shut it Miranda, I would give my left tit to have that thigh gap!”

The girls laughed and poured more drinks, Jack and Miranda made their rounds exchanging pleasantries with the other guests. There were some costume comparisons and a bit of small talk, nothing remarkable at all really.

This is where the memories start to get strained. Just like last year Miranda pulled out the Ouija Board and called the guests to her “power circle”. She improv’d some incantations (mostly lifted from 90’s low rent horror flicks) mentioned some bits about the spirit realm, and had everyone join her on the Ouija to contact the dead.

From there it becomes less and less clear. Recollection limited to non-visual senses, the planchette under her fingers gliding along the board, some laughter and accusations, then black black black.

As Miranda pulled her phone into view (cursing herself for staining her sheets) her stomach twisted and snarled and she pictured her brain tight in the base of her skull like a dry sponge. In a failed attempt to multitask, she tried to rise and get water while reading, but this proved too much for her compromised equilibrium. She tossed her phone down on her soiled blankets and started to the bathroom in hopes of vomiting up whatever poison remained within her.

The bell tolled again, so she cancelled her plans and sat down on the edge of the bed and checked the messages. It must be Jack, he had class this morning, and it had become customary for him to text on his walk from the parking garage to let her know he had made it to the city. But it wasn’t him.

LANA: How do u feel?

LANA: I hope u dont feel bad about last nite…

Oh Christ Miranda, what have you done?


LANA: At least Jack wont say a word lol everyone else is cool

Miranda checked the time, it was 1:30pm, Jack should have called hours ago. Her head started throbbing even worse than before as she agonized to recall the events of the night. Had she been a bitch? Did she let something slip about the Vegas trip? Panicked, she called Jack, but there was no response, right to voicemail.

Jack normally would silence his phone for class, but he was not the type of guy who lets his phone die, way too neurotic for that. She tried again just to be sure, but it went straight to voicemail.

She dialed Lana, who picked up after the first ring.

“How’s it going? Quite the night!” (Giggles).

“Lana, I got fucked up last night, I can’t remember a thing….”

“....oh, well, it’s ok Miranda…” Lana was sounding scared now.

“Please tell me Vegas didn’t come up, I swear if someone said something to Jack I am gonna flip out!” Miranda was getting angry now, she was mostly angry at herself but now found herself imagining one of those catty bitches getting drunk and spilling the beans.

“No, no, no one said anything Miranda, jeez, no one is that stupid.” (Giggles). “You really can’t remember though?” Lana sounded downright giddy.

“Lana, I am sooooo hungover right now, I slept in my stupid costume and ruined my sheets. My hair is in dreads, and I feel like I am dying, the last thing I need is a guessing game.” She was over it. She wanted a shower, to puke, and go back to bed for a day or two.

“Miranda, it’s fine, it is not a big deal… you know, I took pictures with your phone… why don’t you take a look and call me back.” (Giggles).

“Oh great, fine, but if you put anything stupid online-”

“No, no, I wouldn’t do that...call me in a few.” Lana hung up, still giggling. What did she think this was a movie or something, she doesn’t end her calls with a “goodbye” or anything?

Miranda couldn’t take it anymore, before she looked at whatever embarrassing pictures were on her phone she needed some water. With shaky knees she rose to her feet and wobbled over to the kitchen sink. Tilting her head sideways she bent over and slurped water greedily as it flowed from the faucet. Within a few swigs the addition of water to the concoction of booze and bile in her stomach was enough to cause her to wretch violently. Her stomach was fighting its way up her esophagus in an effort to exorcise the poison. Not much came out, but a dark reddish blob of bile and blood. Great, I have an ulcer or something, or I spent the night eating the fake blood out of my hair, she thought as she shambled her way back to the phone.

She clicked on the camera app; as she did another text came through.

LANA: Pretty wild huh lol

Miranda didn’t bother to respond, she had enough guilt and fear in her to fill the sink to the brim. The photo album opened and revealed a shot of Miranda giving the “thumbs up”, something strange about her eyes… did she have a lazy eye? Great, I drank myself blind last night she thought, and slid her thumb to the side to view the next picture, and the next, and the next…

Absolute horror. What were they eating? As she went further back she saw photos of the nights events in reverse order. The pieces started to fit together as she saw what she had done, and Jack… poor Jack… why had they done this? Why was everyone laughing?

She wept, and screamed, each picture more ghastly than the next as the truth was revealed, and as she was able to identify what that was on the floor, in her hands, on the walls, what she had done. The others in the background smiling wide like beasts, the candles pulling long shadows from them like taffy. Jack’s eyes wide, cartoonish fear, and Miranda herself committing the most perverted, blasphemous deeds. Red everywhere, she could now remember the cackling of the other guests, the sloshing of liquid, the snapping and cracking, the tormented screams and the blood oaths to Astaroth, Eurynomus, and Ibwa.

Another text came through.

LANA: Dont worry, we are with you. We are ready to do it again.

Miranda didn’t know what to do, she ran screaming into the bathroom without a plan, what she found in the bathtub was beyond her ability to comprehend… Oh God, Jackie… What have I done? Her mind screamed as her world became an inky black and she collapsed unconscious on the floor.

In the other room the bell tolled.

LANA: the seance was a success.