Part 4

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 Fear was prominent in the eyes of Leigh Anne, Mason, and Hailey. This had started out as an innocent attempt to ask a spirit to stop playing games in Hailey’s room, but it had turned into something else in the last few minutes. Something very dangerous. Something that I suspected was no longer within our power to end. The flames atop the three candles seemed to have merged into one flame, bright and dazzling. I remembered what O’Hanley had said about the candles serving as a method of indicating if more spirits were in the room with us, and I winced.

For a moment O’Hanley seemed at a loss for how to respond to the board’s odd greeting of “Hi, friend,” but then authority returned to his voice. “Is this Billy? If this is Billy, you must leave this place now and never return.”

We waited. Too nervous to breathe, too scared to move.

The spinning began slowly, so slowly that none of us noticed it at first. “What’s happening?” Hailey asked when we all observed at the same moment that the either walls of the room and its contents were moving around us in a circle… or we were spinning. As the speed of the spinning increased, from where we sat it looked like we were in the eye of a tornado. The details and objects of the room whipped into a gray, windless motion blur around us.

“We have to take our fingers off the board,” Dr. O’Hanley urged us, his voice loaded with resolve. “We must break this connection!”

Unexpectedly, the spinning stopped. An eerie calm fell over our circle. All typical dormitory sounds ceased to be audible beyond the walls of Room 9C.  Silvery moonlight spilled into the room through the windows, which provided the same amount of light as the old-fashioned glass oil lamp set on a table underneath them. Long, red brocatelle curtains that I’d never seen before hung around the window with a valance across the top. The furniture had been rearranged, but the room’s walls and windows were still where they’d always been. Two narrow beds covered in bedspreads that matched the curtains flanked the room, pressed against opposite walls. Unlike the standard issued beds of Hynes Hall, these beds had finely crafted wooden headboards. Oil paintings of what looked from where I sat like horses and carriages hung on the walls in ornate frames painted with gold leaf.

It was as if we had just been transported back a century in time.

“What… the hell is going on?” Mason asked in wonderment.

The planchette dashed around the board again. “I,” Leigh Anne said, watching the letters on which it fell, “Will… will show you.”

“Are we… did he just freakin’ take us back to the turn of the century?” My own voice sounded foreign.

Trying to regain the upper hand in this situation, Dr. O’Hanley asked the board, “Are we speaking with Billy?”

The planchette shifted upward toward the YES in the top left corner.

“Are you showing us why your soul has lingered in the room for all these many years?” O’Hanley asked.

The planchette remained on YES. A playful trickle of childlike laughter emerged from behind me and Mason. I strained to look over my right shoulder, unable to comfortably turn my head because of my finger on the planchette. In the doorway between the main room and the bathroom, a boy squatted. He was playing with a shiny tin soldier, bobbing it up and down as if pretending to make it march through the air.  The boy wore a white button-down shirt with a wrinkled collar, black pants that were cropped just below the knee, and long black socks that covered his legs. He was pale and slim, but the features of his face were too fuzzy for me to clearly distinguish.

“William,” a man’s voice said. Our heads jerked around to the area near the beds. “Please be mindful of the conversation we had this morning. You mustn’t make so much noise tonight while I’m away.”

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