8 Ball and Ouija Board

If there exists any "fans" of this story... I assure you I am not one of them.





8 Ball and Ouija Board


By Giando Sigurani


Spread upon the motor oil stained driveway was a series of rickety tables loaded with junk. In the sunlight, every minute fault of the worn objects on display was lit up as if under a spotlight. There were childhood toys which may have once inspired nostalgia but now did little for their original owner but take up space and collect dust. Dime store paperback books with pages lovingly worn down until the corners were round were stacked ten volumes high. On a rack, clothing that would have been old-fashioned in the disco age wafted lazily in the breeze. It was the first time any of the clothes had moved at all in decades.

Steve inspected these objects, trying to find something he wanted. He was always there to support his friend Jim. They had been friends since high school, and now lived only two houses down. Jim said he was having a garage sale, and Steve said he'd be there.

Steve picked up a picture frame, which displayed a very pretty woman in a hilariously 1980s hair style and matching out-of-fashion pastel tank top. He chuckled, and held up the frame, which was made with gold-painted brass laid in a pattern that, unlike the woman's hair, had not gone out of style. “Who's this?” he said to Jim, who was surveying his sale with crossed arms.

“That's my mom,” said Jim.

“I can't believe people actually wore their hair like that,” said Steve.

Jim walked over and took the frame from Steve's hands. “Sorry, didn't know the picture was still in there,” he said. He opened the frame and plucked the picture out of it. He gave the empty frame back to Steve. “A dollar for the frame, if you want it.”

“Sure,” said Steve, handing a dollar over. “They don't make them like this anymore.”

Then something caught Steve's eye. It was sitting on a table just behind Jim. It appeared to be a perfectly spherical rock, and Steve was oddly compelled by it. He slowly took a few steps towards it, nudging Jim out of the way, as if in a trance. It wasn't an ordinary rock, as Steve noticed. Someone had painted an 8 on it, and a circle around the numeral. Steve placed his hands on the rock, and felt a spark, as if zapped by static electricity. He picked it up and turned it over, and saw a circular window set in the rock, which appeared to display nothing but blackness.

Then, the window displayed six words:



“Oh, you don't want that,” said Jimmy, smacking Steve on the shoulder so suddenly that Steve dropped his newly acquired picture frame in surprise, spraying broken glass all over the driveway. “No, you don't want that at all,” said Jimmy, not noticing or caring that there was now broken glass all over his garage sale. Customers leaped out of the way of the harmful debris.

“Why not?” said Steve. For some reason, he felt very compelled to hold onto the 8-ball at all costs.

“Why not?” said Jimmy. “Well, let me tell you a story about that 8-ball...”

* * *

Two packages under the Christmas tree examined each other psychically from beneath their collective wrappings and tape. Each box had a tag, and each tag had a name. The smaller box, which was perfectly cubical, went to little Jimmy. The larger, which was wider and flatter, was intended for the older and not-necessarily-wiser Sally.

The contents of the two boxes knew about each other since the moment they found themselves within the same vicinity. Each knew what the other was. Each acknowledged the others' existence with detached respect.

It wasn't such a coincidence that both an 8-ball and an Ouija Board were bought for two children who lived in the same house. The coincidence lay in the fact that they each happened to be ancient mystical artifacts with actual psychic power... bought for two children who lived in the same house.

The 8-Ball was in fact a Wiccan death clock crafted by the ancient Druids in the days when Stonehenge was considered advanced computer technology. It had the ability predict the exact time of one's death, which is subject to change according to one's personal habits.

How it had gotten under the Christmas tree involved a complicated series of misunderstandings. After the Druid empire mysteriously vanished, leaving behind only a few choice artifacts, the death clock found its way into the hands of a wandering trader. Over the course of hundreds of years, it spent time as a drum, a weapon, and even a soup bowl. Eventually, a crafty toy maker noticed that the death clock was the perfect shape for a magic 8-ball, and he painted it, filled it it with oil and an answer block, and sold it in his shop.

The Ouija board was actually, well, an Ouija board, a real one, made in a time when such things were taken seriously. It was made of the wood from a tree that died of infestation, stained with the blood of a tortured animal, and printed with the ink caps found in a massacred village. The planchette was made from the bone of an extinct sea creature. To top everything off, it was also possessed by a malevolent spirit.

The malevolent spirit was actually a shifty, psychopathic adviser to an Eastern European royal family, who advised exclusively upon with what he called 'special, sensitive matters.' He was caught for his shady misdeeds and kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. An exorcist was later summoned to the palace after a series of complaints from the royal family that the walls kept leaking blood. The young priest unfortunately ended up banishing the spirit to the nearest spiritual artifact instead, which happened to be the Ouija board. It sat in the palace for several years, spelling out messages promising untold horrors to his murderers if only it could just get out of this spiritual prison, until it was auctioned off to a private toy collector for the modern-day equivalent of three dollars.

The two enchanted artifacts stared at each other from their respective planes of existence. Each were quite well versed on the subject of death. Each possessed powers of divination more powerful than any mortal. And while each had a certain degree of respect for the other, they also hadn't had anybody to compete with until just then.

“Pweasants!” came the voice of a young boy. “Santa came, oh boy!”

There came a dissatisfied grunt from somewhere behind the boy. “Santa is a myth,” the voice said. “It's Mom and Dad, putting them under the tree after you sleep.”

“Now, Sally,” came a third voice, “Let’s not do anything to harm the Christmas spirit, Hmm?”

“Christmas Spirit?” said Sally. “You mean the commercialized system invented by toy companies so they can stuff their bank accounts every year?”

“Watch your language, young lady,” came yet another, fourth voice. “Jimmy goes first, he’s the youngest.”

By no coincidence whatsoever Jimmy reached for the box containing the magic 8-ball. He felt strangely compelled by it, as if it were reaching into his soul, and his deepest, darkest desires were being yanked to the forefront of his mind.

“It’s a 8 ball!” He shouted enthusiastically. “Whassit do?”

“You ask it questions,” said Sally, “And when you turn it over, a little plastic lump floats to the top with one of twenty pre-packaged and totally inaccurate answers.”

“Sally,” said her mother. “Please, try to let him have some fun.”

“You’re spoiling him,” Sally said. “He has to learn the way the world is some day.”

“Well, you don’t know whether it’s real or not,” replied the fourth voice.

“Come on, Dad-”

“Is there a Santa?” asked Jimmy. The room went quiet, and the rest of the family stared at its youngest member. For some inexplicable reason, they felt oddly curious about what the sphere would say.

“Well,” said Mother, with a little more inquisitiveness than she meant, “What does it say, Jimmy? Is there a Santa Clause?”

Jimmy’s face was wracked with perplexity. “It says, ‘I can give you any answer you desire. I am the master of divination. The truth of the world it at your fingertips.’”

When Jimmy read from the window of the 8-ball, his voice was clear, his tone distinct. He did not sound like the toddler he really was, more like a studious, focused scholar. Mother and Father arched their eyebrows.

Sally bit her lip. “Well, that’s a bit… uncommon,” she said. “Maybe it’s telling you to ask it again.”

Jimmy frowned, shook the 8-ball, and repeated the question. He didn’t get to read the reply, because his father snatched it from him, and read aloud, without thinking: “Santa Clause was once a real man. He was a toy maker owner in Ireland. The villagers broke into his shop one day and tore open his throat, suspecting him of witchcraft. What you know of as Santa Clause is a mere shadow of this brutalized, tortured man.

He looked at his wife. “Dearest,” he said in his nice-nice voice, a little more loudly than he probably should have, “I think... Santa... might have gotten the wrong 8-ball, don't you think?”

“I don't see how,” said Mother testily, also a little too loud. “Seeing how I... he got it from the same... workshop that... the elves told her to go.”

“Is Santa... sure about this?” Father asked.

Sally thought that her parents were behaving oddly, as if their banter wasn't for their benefit, but someone else in the room. “Oh, drop the Santa Clause façade,” she said. “I'm going to open my present now.”

Both Mother and Father stared into each other, and if anybody had been watching them, they would have thought that the two of them knew something that the children did not. Father placed the 8-ball on the coffee table, where the pouting Jimmy, who had been crying for his new mystical artifact, seized it. He stared hungrily into its glass eye.

“Oh,” said Sally unenthusiastically when she was done unwrapping her present. “An Ouija board. As if we don't have enough mass-produced occultist crap laying around the house.”

Language!” hissed her mother. “And didn't you ask for an Ouija board? In your letter to Santa?”

“You're referring to the email I sent you,” said Sally. “Five years ago.”

“Well, I think someone should be showing a little more gratitude to... Santa,” said her father. “After all, Santa had to go to three different toy stores... workshops to find one.”

Sally recognized that she was going a bit far. She was not a bad person, merely cynical, entitled, and, most importantly, a teenager. She put on her best fake smile. “Thanks, Mom and Dad,” she said. “It's great. It's made of wood and everything, it looks really nice.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?” asked her father, who had noticed that something was odd about the 8-ball incident, “Ask it something, and see what it says.”

Sally laid the board down on her lap, and the whalebone planchette on top of it. She gently rested her hands on top of it. “All right,” she said, “What-” she didn't have time to finish, because the planchette suddenly started moving on its own accord, zipping this way and that across the letters like a bouncing pinball. Sally did her best to follow what it said, mouthing the letters as the planchette's single possessed eye moved over them.

“Ah, it must be one of those motorized,” said her father. “Looks like the technology has come a long way.”

“What is it saying, darling?” asked Mother.

The planchette stopped. Sally knew that the planchette moved too fast for her to read every letter, yet still she could see the message in her head, clear as day. When she looked up, she was surprised, perplexed, and offended. “It said, 'Pay no heed to that toy of a billiard ball. You are in the presence of a wizard!”

“Ha ha,” said Father. “I wonder why it said that... 'billiard ball,' It can't actually know.”

“It's magic!” shouted Jimmy.

“It's not magic,” said Sally cynically.

“My 8-ball! It sezzits magic!”

“Of course it says that,” said Sally, “It's printed right there on the box.”

“It says in the window” said Jimmy. “It says, 'The forces of the Dark are at my every whim. Let us see that useless plank do that!'”

“Ah, okay,” said Father, “I think it's time to open another present, eh?”

“Yes, let's,” said Mother. She grabbed a package with her name on it, and tore it open. It was an attractive golden watch. “Oh, it's lovely, dear!” she said. “And it's probably not magic.”

Her husband approached her, and kissed her on the cheek. “Of that, I can guarantee you,” he whispered to her. “Glad you like it, babe.” He turned to his children “Hey kids, look at this watch that I... Santa brought your mother.”

The children would not respond. They were sitting on the floor cross-legged, staring into their spiritual artifacts, utterly transfixed. Jimmy, in a controlled and careful motion very uncharacteristic of a six-year-old, held up his 8-ball, speaking deeply and clearly. “I will pay no attention to your worldly trinkets,” he said in a voice very much unlike his own. “I seek only the superior enlightenment of the Death Clock of the Lost Druids.

“Ah,” said Mother. “Well, perhaps you would like to work on that enlightenment with one of your other gifts from Santa?”

How dare you insult my abilities?” interrupted Sally, watching her Ouija board and speaking in a distant tone. “You speak of trinkets? Look no further than yourself, you insolent rock.

“Kids, you don't have to fight,” said Father. “If you want to blow off some steam I'm sure Santa has brought some nice video games...”

Ah,” said Jimmy, still reading off his 8-ball, still droning in a foreign voice, “The father. Head of the household. Master of the family. You will suffer a tragic loss soon.”

“That's not a nice thing to say to your father, Jimmy,” said Mother. “You take it back.”

Father swallowed. “Tragic loss, huh? Very funny, son.”

Mother,” said Sally, reading from the Ouija board, “Beware of a tainted offer from someone you know. It will lead only to loss and pain.

“Kids,” said Father. “That's enough. Now put down those toys and open your presents.”

For a moment, nothing happened. And then, in a seemingly uncomfortable action, Sally and Jimmy tore their gaze away from their toys. “What happened?” asked Sally.

“Oh,” said Mother, feeling relieved but not completely recovered, “You were just having some fun with your new presents. Now, open some more!”

“My turn!” shouted Jimmy excitedly, as if nothing had happened. “Me next!”

“That's my little scamp,” said Father.

* * *

Father went to work the next day. He thought idly about the strange incident with the 8-ball and Ouija board, but the incident involving his son and daughter didn't seem as odd, looking at it from the perspective of the next day. Perhaps he just needed a bit of time to clear his head.

When he got to his office, though, he could tell that something was wrong. There seemed to be far more miserable faces than usual. People were shouldering past him loaded down with boxes. Moods and temperaments were sharp and irritable.

One of his fellow co-workers approached him. “Sorry Murray,” he said. “We just found out about this today.”

“Found out about what?” said Father as two more co-workers filed past him with boxes.

“The company's out of business,” said co-worker. “Turns out this place was funded entirely by broken promises and credit default swaps. Classic Goldman Sachs situation. Our CEO just happened to be in the Cayman Islands at the time of bankruptcy, what are the odds?”

What?” said Father. “Are you kidding?”

“Nope,” said co-worker. “It's a tragic loss, I know, but there's nothing we can do about it. Now, you better get to your office before somebody sacks it.”

“Tragic loss...” Father repeated.

“What?” said co-worker.

“Nothing,” said Father. “Just something my son said to me.”

Mother, meanwhile, was having a much less stressful time of things, at least for now. The patients she had seen that day were friendly and cooperative, very much unlike the foul-mouthed alcoholics she was used to dealing with at the hospital. She only had about two semesters left in the nursing program before she could move on to the next phase in her education, which meant she still had a fair share of drunks in her future.

She was about to take a small break, when one of the doctors pulled her aside. “Can I talk to you for a bit, Mary?” he said.

“Sure, Tom,” said Mother. She finished washing up her hands and joined the doctor. He lead her down the hallway and into a small office. They both sat down, Tom at his desk, Mother in a large leather chair opposite the desk. “Did you hear about how I'm going to be starting my own private practice, soon?” said Tom.

Mother was visibly moved by this news. “No!” she said. “Congratulations.”

“Thank you,” said Tom. “It's been a long hard road, but hopefully all my work will pull off.”

“That's great,” said Mother. “What did you need to see me for?”

Tom got up out of his seat. “I'll need some nurses for my practice, of course,” he said as he slowly walked toward Mother's chair. “I was thinking of putting an ad in the paper, but I'd rather go with people I know.”

Mother didn't know what to do. “Well,” she said. “I don't think the nursing program will allow me to work a private practice just yet. I think I need to be at a hospital.”

Tom smiled. He sat down on the arm of Mother's chair, crossing his legs and staring down into her eyes. His smile was a little to warm for Mother's comfort. “Nonsense,” he said. “I'm sure we can work something out with the University.” He reached out a hand and gently brushed Mother's cheek. “There are benefits to working with me, you know.”

Mother's demeanor changed from intrigue to alarm. She sprang up out of her chair. “Um, thank you Tom, but I'm married.”

Tom did not flinch. He did not even leave the arm rest. “So?” he asked. “That's never stopped me before.”

Without another word, Mother sprinted out the door. Visions of that Ouija board flashed across her mind as she pulled out her phone, dialing her husband. He answered on the second ring. “Murray?” she said. “Can we talk?”

Father didn't answer for a few seconds. “Did something happen?” he said.

“Are you all right?” Mother asked.

“Yes. I'm fine.”

“No tragic loss?”

“Now,” said Father nervously, “What makes you use those exact words?”

“Because I just had to be wary of a tainted offer from someone I know,” said Mother.

“Shit,” said Father. “Well. My company just went out of business. I lost my job.”

Mother didn't say anything for a few minutes. “I think we should go check on the kids.”

“Well,” said Father, “I'm not doing anything right now. I'll meet you at home.”

* * *

By the time the two cars pulled into the driveway, an unspoken consensus had already been reached between Mother and Father. They left their cars and ran to the door.

They flung it open, looking for the kids. The baby sitter immediately sprang from the couch in alarm. “Is there something wrong?” she asked.

“Where are the kids?” asked Mother.

“In their room,” said the baby sitter.

Without another word, Mother and Father rushed over to the room that belonged to their children. Just as they suspected, Sally and Jimmy were sitting cross-legged on the floor, staring at the 8-ball and Ouija board.

There you are,” said Father.

“Kids, step away from the 8-ball and Ouija board,” said Mother.

Jimmy held up the 8-ball. “I see you have met your fates,” he said as he read from it. “We have decided that rather than competing with our powers, we will combine them!

Sally read from the Ouija board. “We will dominate your family with our mystical abilities. Now, do you fear our power?

Mother and Father exchanged looks. For several seconds, there was silence between them.

And then, they burst out laughing.

“You call that divination?” said Father through tears.

“I had a stuffed elephant that was scarier than you two,” said Mother between guffaws.

The babysitter finally caught up and poked her head frantically through the room. “What's happening?” she said, startled.

“Oh, nothing,” said Father. “We just got a couple magic artifacts for our kids for this Christmas, and they've turned out to be hardly more terrifying than my first pet will-o'-the-wisp.”

Jimmy, who was still holding the 8-ball, said, “Wait... you knew we were magic?

“Of course we knew you were magic,” said Mother. “Why do you think we bought you?”

“For a little while we were worried that we'd left you alone with the kids,” said Father. “But I knew my worries were misplaced.”

Sally, reading from her Ouija board, said, “You are not terrified of our powers?

Powers?” said Mother. “You need to learn a thing or two about scare tactics, friend. When you say, 'beware of a tainted offer from someone close to you,' it better be a little more serious one of your co-workers hitting on you. Although, two hundred years ago, I'd have melted Tom's flesh off his face. But these days I don't draw so much attention to myself.”

“And Tragic loss?” said Father. “You think losing your job is a tragic loss? What time period are you from? I was there during the great depression, and, I was having fun.

“Erm,” said Jimmy as he held 8-ball.

Well, look here,” said Sally through the Ouija board.

“All right,” said Father. “You've had your fun. Let go of our kids, or we'll show you some real magic.”

“Yeah,” said Mother. “You know, we used to use Ouija boards as firewood back in my day. Those castles were cold, and electricity hadn't been invented yet.”

Sally and Jimmy looked up, and for the first time seemed to realize where they were. “What's going on?” asked Jimmy.

“Oh nothing,” said Mother. “We thought we bought you some important learning tools. Instead they turned out to be hardly more than toys.”

“So now what happens?” asked Sally as she stood up. “Do we burn them, or what?”

“Hardly,” said Father. “Come on, let's get in the car so we can show you what wizards really do.”

“What're we doin'?” asked Jimmy.

“Same thing your father and I did when we were kids,” said Mother. “We're going dragon hunting.”

“Yeah!” said the kids together.

* * *

“And that, Steve,” said Jim years later from his driveway, “is why I can't sell my 8-ball to you.”

“Because it reminds you of the day you found out that your parents were wizards?” asked Steve.

“That,” replied Jim, “And the fact that it's my responsibility now. Nobody gets away with hijacking my consciousness and trying to take over my family.”

“What about the Ouija board?” asked Steve.

“Sally had it framed. Apparently, the spirit trapped inside dealt with what he called 'special, sensitive matters' back in the old days when Russian royal families were still in power.”

“What kind of 'special, sensitive matters?'” asked Steve.

“Marriage counseling,” said Jim. “Sally keeps it around for relationship advice.”

“Rough,” said Steve. “Well, if you didn't want to sell your 8-ball, how did it end up in your garage sale?”

“It does that,” said Jim. “It's been trying to get away for years. It even tried to hitch a lift in my ex's car when she tried to run off in the middle of the night. Boy, that was an awkward negotiation. In the end, I had to give her my dog.”

“Do you think it will ever get away?” asked Steve. “Will it ever be loose on the world again?”

“I don't know,” said Jim. “Why not ask it? What do you think 8-ball, will you ever get away from my custody? Or will you forever serve your imprisonment, constantly under my watch, until you've wasted away into a pile of dust?”

Steve shook the 8-ball. A single message popped up on its window:




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