By Leticia Blacklock
Horace was seated in the cellar, staring at a curtain draped across the far corner of this dark and dismal room. Madam Stella was sitting next to him.
The curtain was semi-transparent and made of gauze not unlike that which a mortician might use to fashion a shroud. A glow, as green as the mould on the walls of a long forgotten and rotting mausoleum, illuminated the shrouded and secret corner. From beneath the curtain crept a cold vapour that clung to the floor like a cemetery mist.
Madam Stella sat back in her chair.
The séance began.
Horace heard Madam Stella give a long tormented groan like a disturbed spirit wrenched from the corrupt earth.
Horace looked at her mouth, slowly falling open, like the gape of a corpse after rigour mortis had passed. Her rising arm swirled the cloying mist, a long finger, looking as if it belonged to an ancient corpse, pointed towards the secret corner.
She said, “ O, Great Spirit of the darkness, we, who are unworthy of your presence, beg you, please speak to us”.
A voice speaking from the gates of Hades boomed, chasing every spider from the flaking lime washed walls back into their flytraps, said, “ I am the keeper of the place of the dead. There is one recently come who wishes to speak to Horace”.
Horace almost leapt from his chair at hearing a familiar voice from behind the curtain call his name.
It sounded like Myrtle, his recently deceased wife, but he could not be certain, “Horace, can you hear me?”
With an uncertain voice, Horace replied, “Yes dear, I can hear you.”
Myrtle wailed, “Oh, Horace it so terrible here, please help me.”
Madam Stella, still in a trance and sounding sympathetic, said, “Horace, all is not well with your Myrtle. My spirit guide has led me to a churchyard. I see Myrtle standing amongst the gravestones. I see the mist, rolling and tumbling between the tombs like a sea of phantoms disturbed from their beds of black mahogany coffin wood. I can see the agents of the beast: they are trying to pull Myrtle down into the darkness. I can hear the wind sighing through the willows: weeping for your dear Myrtle.
Madam Stella, almost pleading, said, "That is where Myrtle is, Horace. It is an awful place. We must help her Horace; before it’s too late”.
Pointing at the shrouded corner, Madam Stella said, “I have called Myrtle to you Horace: look.”
Horace saw a silhouette appear behind the curtain.
He said, “Myrtle dear, are you really there?”
Myrtle, sounding tearful, replied, “Yes, Horace, It’s me. I cannot cross over to my rest; an evil force is holding me back. This is a hideous place, a charnel house. Oh, Horace, there are demons all about me. I can hear people wailing in torment. A dread hand grips my heart. Must I suffer this for an eternity? Help me, Horace.”
“Myrtle, my dearest,” pleaded Horace, “how can I help? Tell me and I will do it”.
“Do you still love me, Horace?”
“Yes dear, of course I do.”
“If you still love me, Horace, you must do as Madam Stella tells you. Only she has the power to quell the evil forces and release me.”
“ Yes dear, I will do as Madam Stella wishes. I would gladly give anything, my dear, if only she can give you peace.”
“ Do you promise, Horace?”
Horace whimpered, “ Yes dear, I promise.”
“ I am so afraid Horace, only Madam Stella can free me from this place. Give her all she asks, you still have the life insurance money don’t you?”
“ Yes dear, of course.”
“ Then give it all to Madam Stella”, exclaimed Myrtle, “ Oh Horace, I can hear them coming, help me, help me!”
Horace began pounding the arms of his chair with both fists, his anguish overwhelmed him, “No more,” he begged, “no more.”
He lowered his head. His whole body shook as he began to sob, holding out his hand to his dearest Myrtle as her shadow slowly faded.
The green glow dimmed; the green vapour turned a pale grey.
Emerging from her trance, Madam Stella slumped in her chair as though communicating with Myrtle had exhausted her.
Then warned, “ Your Myrtle was quite right, Horace, only I have the power to save her and give her peace. Now: about my fees.”
Not hearing Horace reply, Madam Stella turned to look at him.
The Myrtle impersonator standing behind the curtain, still holding the light dimmer switch in one hand and the voice distortion microphone in the other, heard a bloodcurdling scream.
Rushing in, she saw Madam Stella looking at Horace.
Horace sat quite composed ; his eyes gazed at the curtain: he was dead.
Madam Stella and the Myrtle imposter heard the curtain rustling. They turned and stared in horror as the green glow slowly reappeared. The emerging mist rushed towards them, swirling in great agitation.
They saw two silhouettes behind the curtain.
They heard Myrtle’s reproachful voice as one silhouette turned to face the other, “Horace, I left you only four weeks ago and already you have started acting silly in believing all that nonsense. If I had not brought you over into the spirit world immediately, you would have given all our money to that wretched woman. You know, very well, that we agreed to leave all our money to our grandchildren, didn’t we?”
As the other silhouette turned to speak, the two conspirators heard Horace reply, “Yes, dear, we did, but I…. I….”
Myrtle was in no mood for excuses, “Come with me this instance, do you hear me, Horace?”
The glow faded.
Madam Stella and her co conspirator heard the last words Horace would ever utter as he left this world: to dwell, forever, with his dear Myrtle,
He said, “Yes dear.”
Author Notes: I would welcome your critique