As I Descended
Except—Maria had her eyes closed. It didn’t look like she’d heard Lily at all.
How was Maria moving the planchette with her eyes closed?
“What’s going on?” Brandon whispered to Lily.
Lily shook her head. Her eyes never left the board. Her long blond hair was falling out of its neat French braid. Brandon would’ve thought she’d whip out her bobby pins and fix it back up—Lily hated for anything to be out of place—but this was a different Lily from the one Brandon knew. This Lily was bending forward over the board, sweat clinging to her temples. Her eyes were fixed on the planchette, waiting for it to move again.
The pointer swung to the C.
“C,” Brandon read, scribbling it down and looking back toward the board to make sure he didn’t miss any more letters. But it was moving slower this time, looping around the board, until it finally spelled out:
“Whoa,” Brandon muttered. “This thing must think it’s talking to Delilah.”
As soon as he’d said it, Brandon wished he could take it back. Maria’s mouth was set in a straight, tight line. He’d hurt her feelings.
Then her arms jerked to the left so fast Brandon was worried she’d get hurt for real.
Lily moved too. It looked like the board was dragging her.
The planchette was pointing to the word “NO” in the far corner of the board. Then it moved back toward the center, only to jerk back again to the “NO.” It moved there two more times. Then three.
NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.
“All right, we get it,” Brandon said. “You said ‘no,’ right?”
The planchette was still moving. Back to the alphabet this time. More Spanish.
LO QUE ES SUYO ES TUYO
Brandon rubbed his forehead, trying to figure out what that could mean. He’d taken a year of Spanish in middle school before he transferred to Acheron and started French. The first sentence, the one with “usted” in it, had meant something like You will have what you most desire. And “lo que es suyo es tuyo” meant something like That which is his is yours. Well, it could be either “his” or “hers.”
The planchette was still moving.
LO QUE ES SEGUNDO SERA PRIMERO
That was a little easier to translate—That which is second will be first—but it still didn’t mean anything to Brandon.
“All righty, then,” he muttered. “Thanks, spirits, for your ever-so-clear words of wisdom.”
He waited for one of the girls to shush him, but neither seemed to have heard. Lily’s eyes were fixed on the planchette, but they looked empty, vacant. Across from her, Maria’s entire body trembled except for her hand. Her hand, resting on the planchette, was perfectly still.
This was all getting a little too intense for Brandon.
“Hey,” he said, leaning over the board. The planchette started to move again, slowly this time, in plodding figure eights. “Hey, ghostie, hey, Casper, buddy, what about me? Why does Maria get all the love? I’m doing all this work writing down your fancy foreign poetry. Don’t I get a fortune cookie of my own?”
The girls didn’t bother to chastise Brandon this time either. He wondered if they could speak at all.
That idea scared him. He was about to suggest they stop playing when he heard a strange sound from above.
Brandon looked up.
He was the only one. The girls were both bent over the planchette. It had come to a sudden stop in the center of the board.
The cats were still staring at something in the corner of the ceiling that Brandon couldn’t see.
What he did see was the chandelier. Swinging on its cord, hard, as though someone invisible were pushing it. Or riding on it, pumping their legs, like a swing.
The planchette swerved so fast it almost skidded off the table. Brandon leaned over the board again. He didn’t bother trying to write anything down this time. He couldn’t possibly keep up. The board went to H, then A.
Lily and Maria both had their eyes closed now. The chandelier was rocking harder.
HABRA TRES PRESAGIOS
There will be three . . . something. Brandon had never seen that last word, “presagios,” before.
There wasn’t time to dwell on it. The planchette was still flying over the letters. He didn’t realize it had switched to English until it had already spelled out the same set of words twice.
THIS IS HOW IT ENDS
THIS IS HOW IT ENDS
“How what ends?” Brandon whispered.
The planchette jerked in the girls’ hands and shifted back to the middle of the alphabet. Moving just as fast as before, it spelled out:
Brandon rubbed his forehead again. That wasn’t Spanish, but he knew that phrase. He’d seen it before. It was Latin. He tried to remember what it meant. Something about—
A jagged piece of glass flew past Brandon’s face, missing his eye by an inch. A split second later the chandelier crashed down onto the table, smashing the Ouija board into shards.
Brandon screamed. Pieces of glass whizzed around him and tinkled onto the floor by the hundreds, the thousands, smashing against the wood and shattering into jagged slivers.
Brandon waited to feel the first one slice into his skin. He burrowed his head into his arms to protect his face.
Then it was over.
The room was pitch-dark and silent. Brandon shook so hard he could barely breathe.
It took him half a minute to realize he wasn’t hurt. The glass crunched thick under the soles of his sneakers when he dropped his feet to the floor.
Then he remembered the girls.
“Maria?” Brandon peered into the dark. A blurry shape was huddled in the chair where Maria had been. “Ree? Lily? Are you all right?”
One of the girls made a sound like a whimper.