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The phone was ringing.

Teddy awoke in the same position on the couch, with Poole slouched unconscious beside her. She took a deep, shaky breath. When she opened her eyes, she found her arm was clean no black veins, no gushing goo, no spider. The memory of fear lingered in her bones, faint but present. The lamp beside the sofa cast a hazy orb of golden light, leaving the rest of the room in near-pitch blackness.

She had the strange and distinct feeling that came with waking at this hour, closer to morning than to evening, but categorized as neither. It was a distinctly unnatural occurrence, one that made the body wonder: Where am I? And how did I get here? It was a level of darkness, a level of stillness, not meant for the human consciousness. It was a time reserved for dreams and nightmares.

But the phone was ringing. It, too, was an unusual occurrence. It shocked the sleep out of her like a jolt of electricity. She stumbled off the couch. Poole stirred, but didn't rise.

She followed the sound and made her way to the rotary phone that sat on a little table in the hallway near the kitchen. She must've ran to reach it, because the walls seemed to fly by her. Feeling sure she was dreaming, she picked up the phone and brought it to her ear.

"Hello?"

She heard muffled music on the other end, pop music she didn't recognize. It sounded far away, in another world.

"Hey . . . uh . . ." came a man's voice on the other end.

The voice trailed off, but Teddy could hear another voice in the background saying "Hang up, hang up!"

Prank callers, she thought, and she couldn't believe her luck.

She took a deep breath, hoping to back up her voice.

"Hello! You've reached Theodora White, of Theodora White's Spirits and Séance Parlor. Would you like to book a séance?"

She could hardly recognize the smooth voice that came out of her mouth. She smiled, feeling suddenly very awake.

It was quiet on the other end for a moment, aside from the distant music.

Just as she was ready to hang up, the voice returned.

"Um, yes please," he said. "There's two of us."

She sucked in a breath.

"It's quite a busy week, but I could pencil you in for Friday, if you can make the trip," she said in that same smooth tone.

"What are you doing?"

She jumped, then covered the bottom of the receiver with the palm of her hand. Poole was standing behind her, a darker silhouette against the near-total darkness.

"Hush," she whispered. She lifted a finger to her lips, then returned the phone to her ear.

"... any information, or anything you could... uh... email us?"

She only caught the tail end of the question. She bit her lip.

"Please arrive at 9 p.m. Friday and bring $50," she said. "Each. And bring cash. We're . . . old-fashioned."

She heard muffled whispers, followed by adamant shushing. She stifled a laugh. She couldn't believe this was working.

"Uh, okay. Thank you . . . ma'am."

That was too much to handle. She hung up the phone with a metallic clack! and hissed with laughter.

"You can't really be serious?" Poole said, stepping closer. "We can't bring people here—!"

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