Mason returned to the very plot, only as fresh as the cold body beneath. A little short of a year had passed by. Already, it was beginning to feel like a lifetime.
Never look back, he had said that night.
If only he could trust himself once more. The rock he marked the spot with shimmered red in his memories. In his fogged vision, all that remained was a dark maroon. He knelt, fixing his eyes on the planchette on the dust-ridden board. Here was hope that it might hold the answers he was looking for.
That perhaps he had not been home that night. Maybe it might finally confess that it was the one. He wanted the planchette to tell him that it was real, such that his heavy guilt may be absolved. But how could he even begin to deny that he had been the one with blood on his hands?
His heart weighed heavy with remorse that he alone carried, ever since that night his empty shell had stepped through the door. He wished he never did. Clearing these chaotic thoughts as best as he could, he took in the scent of fresh wood and placed his fingertips on the planchette.
“Marie,” he called out.
He wanted her to know he was sorry he had lost control. But no answer came to the name of his wife, the one he remembered so dearly. Perhaps it was myth after all.
He lifted his clammy fingers and tried to stand up. But his knees refused to listen. Tears welled in his bloodshot eyes. There was nothing to lose and nothing to go back to, the voice in his head echoed. He had to believe. Placing his fingers back on the planchette, he hoped little but no less than before.
“Marie. Please. Come back to me.”
He held his breath and listened. Despite the chill, sweat cascaded down his temple. A passing breeze lightly whispered beneath his heavy breathing. The planchette remained still beneath his fingers. Then, silence.
Softly, he muttered prayers to no one in particular. He could not believe in a God that allowed Hell to run free on his creation. His only faith was in the demon who had killed his soul that night, yet left his shell alive.
But that wasn’t the only name he will never forget. He hadn’t had the courage to repeat the other name since that very night. Fear gripped him. In place of the closure he had wanted, all blame would fall on him.
What if it was him all along? What he had been the demon he had feared all along? Was it truly what he believed it was, or had he been laying the blame on fiction? But he had to try. He shut off his doubt and memories, leaving only that when he had been forced to say its name.
This time, he did not have to wait.
The planchette darted, scratching across the board.
An invisible monster came right at him. He felt a blanket of cold and above all, euphoria in knowing that he had been sane. It forced his hands off the Ouija board as he was thrown back by a force of the unknown. His vacant self fought to find vengeance and anger, but he could only find numbness.
It called out to him, confessing and taunting him.
Yes it was me, of course it was me.
And I am coming to finish what I had begun.
The name was shouting at him. The very name that had reaped his control and named himself before the corpse of his love. The name whose departure left him crying his innocence, if only she had lived to hear that it wasn’t him who had been this cruel.
He had watched his hands grab the knife had so desperately fought against. Those very hands stained with the blood of his wife, and left him with nothing but the red that had imprisoned him since that very Halloween. At the corner of his vision, he saw the planchette move to the demon’s will. It spelt out its threat – his wish.
That Halloween, he no longer remembered that night, or any night that he ever spent. From a debilitating mind, the only words left in his aching head escaped his bloody lips, “Marie, we can be together again.”