GREETING EVIL

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A storm spit lightning bolts out of the sky and pitched hail with a mighty fist. Wind howled mournfully, pleading for an escape from the pounding rain. With a clap of thunder, the power winked out, leaving three young roommates in total darkness. Frightened cries mixed with the thunderous booms.

"We're going to die," one of them announced, her voice shaking.

"Miranda, we are not going to die," Quinn reassured her. "It's just a thunderstorm."

"People die all the time in storms. Haven't you ever heard of a tornado?"

Quinn located her flashlight and flicked it on. She shone the light toward Miranda's frightened voice. Miranda huddled on the couch with her arms wrapped around her legs. Her short black cropped hair stuck up in every direction as though lightning had hit her. Her eyes were wide with fear.

"Oh thank God," Miranda said, her voice soaked in sarcasm. "Quinn has a flashlight. We're saved!"

Quinn rolled her eyes and swept the light over the living room. "Where's Stella?"

"Right here."

The answer came out of the darkness. Startled, Quinn whipped the flashlight around. When it landed on Stella, chills scratched Quinn's arms and snaked up her back to the base of her skull. Her scalp rippled, and the roots of her hair jerk to a stand. Across the room, Miranda released a scared gasp.

Stella stood a few feet from Quinn, holding a Ouija Board. In the flashlights glow, her long blonde hair sparkled like Rumpelstiltskin's straw spun gold. Her eyes were black marbles, and her skin glowed like a ghost's transparent body. She didn't look like the golden goddess with green eyes that she had been before the power went out.

Quinn swallowed. "Are you okay, Stella?"

"Of course, I am," she answered calmly. "I found this." Stella held out the Ouija board. "I thought it would be fun to play with it."

"I'm having a heart attack over here and you want me to play with a Ouija board?" Miranda demanded. She popped off the couch. "Okay!" She knelt in front of the coffee table and started to clear away the coasters and magazines.

While Miranda was deathly afraid of storms, she loved anything that had to do with the supernatural. She once walked through a cemetery with a stick hoping to find a vampire. 

Knowing that she wouldn't be able to get out of participating, Quinn went on a hunt for candles. She found a bunch in Stella's room—in every color, shape, and scent—as well as a lighter. Cradling the bouquet of wax in her arms, she hauled them to the living room where she spread them out and lit them. Finished, she joined Miranda and Stella on the carpet and crossed her legs under the wooden coffee table. "What do we do first?"

"We should say something," Miranda advised and held out her hands.

Stella clasped Miranda's hand then waited for Quinn to complete the circle.

Quinn took their hands.

A streak of lightning brightened the room, and a pop of thunder vibrated the windows. Miranda jumped.

Reassuringly, Quinn squeezed her hand. That was when she noticed how warm Miranda's hand was, but in her other hand, Stella's hand was icy cold.

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