I didn't think anything would really happen when Joey suggested we have a seance. I mean, who hasn't seen that kind of thing in the movies? It's all old ladies rapping on tables and weird lights in crystal balls.
So when Joey suggested we go to the local cemetery on Halloween and try to talk to the dead, I played along. I figured it was just an opportunity for the two of us to spook the others with our special abilities.
"I think it sounds fun," I said. "We can wear our costumes and bring candy and stuff. And if anyone else comes lurking in the cemetery, we'll scare the pants off of them."
What the rest of the group didn't know is that Joey and I didn't just study at R. Bradbury Middle School. We had classes after school and on the weekends. We were honest to goodness wizard's apprentices. My mom was a healer and a seer, so I was learning plenty about how to keep people in good working order and find things that are hidden. Joey also lived with his master, but it wasn't one of his parents. All the other adults just called him Joey's "guardian." Joey's master was a necromancer.
Before you get too wound up and start thinking I was palling around with a zombie master, necromancy isn't really like that. Well, I guess you can go that route, but mostly necromancers are sort of like caretakers of the dead. They make sure spirits rest easy, put down anything less scrupulous wizards raise from the grave, that sort of thing. And sometimes, they communicate with spirits.
Bill fancied himself the manly man of the group, so he couldn't back out of anything Joey and I would do. So it really only left the girls.
"My dad has a Ouija board," said Katie. She seemed to like the idea. The problem was her best friend, Sarah. She'd decided she was too cynical to go around believing in things. We all turned and stared at her.
"Fine. Fine!" Sarah said at last. "We'll go in the stupid graveyard and have a 'seance' if it makes you happy. And Joey can push the Ouija pointer and claim it's not him. I'll bring my sketch pad and make some rubbings, so at least my evening won't be a total waste."
We didn't have that much time before things started up for the evening, so we all headed home to get ready. I walked with Joey for a bit, trying to find out what he was up to.
"I'm not planning on a funny-voices and table-knocking seance," he said. "Jim taught me how to speak with the recent dead. As long as someone's been buried in the area in the past week, I should be able to get in touch."
We set off in our separate directions after a little more small talk. I was already starting to think about what I had that would make a good costume. After a bit of deliberation I decided to go with "mummy." I was pretty sure we had enough ACE bandages.
* * *
The cemetery where we were meeting was just a few blocks from my house next to the oldest Catholic church in the city. According to Jim, there were graves in that cemetery from as far back as 1745. Its newer section opened decades ago, and while it wasn't abandoned, it hadn't been modernized, either. The lack of internal light posts or wide drives made for a deliciously spooky atmosphere.
We all met at the front gate of the cemetery. It looked like I was the only one who hadn't been planning to dress up until today. Sarah had her art folder with her, which meshed surprisingly well with her Raven costume. She was the superheroine, not the bird, complete with gray leggings and a deeply hooded cape. Bill had on a plastic breast plate and helmet for the gladiator look. It showed off the fact that he was in the best shape of all the guys, but he looked cold. Katie was the first of our friends to embrace the trampy side of girls' Halloween costumes. She was some sort of vampire, complete with cape, but instead of the traditional formal wear, her dress had a miniskirt and a really deep neckline. I was uncomfortably aware that she'd really started filling out since the last time I looked. She had her family's Ouija board in its box under one arm. Joey was in full wizard regalia - blue robes and pointed hat, complete with silver moons and stars. He had a backpack slung over one shoulder. I guessed it was full of seance gadgets. My wrappings were under a cheesy pair of my dad's old Bermuda shorts and a flowered shirt, so I wasn't even missing my jacket. I hadn't brought along anything except what I could fit in my pockets - my pen knife, house keys, wallet, and some change.