Bell, Book and Candle: Part 22

The continuing adventures of Lizzie Bell, hex-eye and poltergeist-banisher. (Part 21)  (From the Beginning)

For a long moment, there was silence. Dad jutted his chin out, indicating that I should say something.

The ghost was nearby – I could sense her in the room, but as a house poltergeist she so permeated the building that it was hard to tell exactly where. I stayed facing the door, but kept my senses alert for movement on any side. I trusted Dad to cover my blind spot.

I cleared my throat. “I know you’re here,” I said. “I just want to talk to you.”

When I was twelve, my mom made me read a book on hostage negotiation. A lot of the principles of talking to ghosts are the same — establish common ground, create a relationship, and so on. Use first names to create rapport.

“Sophie,” I ventured. “That’s your name, right?” I’d gleaned that much from my aura read, and that she’d lived in this house while alive. I didn’t have a good sense of her age, when she died, or what her problem was, except that it had something to do with a baby and was causing her a lot of pain.

“I know you’re angry, Sophie. I know you’re hurt. Did something happen to you? Did something happen to your baby?”

At the world “baby”, the stuffed rabbit was ripped out of my hands. Dad was ready, tossing down salt to complete the circle as I jumped out of it.

He picked up his bell from where he’d set it on the floor and began to sing, ringing the bell in time with the beat:

The bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling,
For you and not for me.
For me the angles sing-a-ling-a-ling,
Death has no threats for me!

Dad’s a history buff; little wonder, then, that his exorcism text of choice is an obscure soldier’s song from World War I. I joined in on the second half:

Oh, death where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling,
Oh, grave thy victory?
The bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling,
For you and not for me.

It was growing colder by the second, as the barrier between the human and spirit worlds grew thin. I lit dad’s candles as he started the song for a second time.

“The bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling…” I started with him, but faltered halfway through he first line. Inside the salt circle, I could see…someone.

It’s very unusual for a poltergeist to visually manifest — usually they use up all their energy on throwing things. But where before the inside of the salt circle had been empty air and a levitating bunny rabbit, now I could see the dimmest outline of a young woman — probably my age, maybe even younger — kneeling on the floor and clutching the bunny to her chest. I gasped; she looked up, and I could just make out tear streaks on her face.
Dad started the song for a third time, still ringing his bell. With each line, I blew out one of the candles, but my gaze was fixed on Sophie. She watched me too, her expression hostile, teeth bared in a snarl. When I leaned in to blow out a candle, she’d throw herself at me, only to be repelled by the salt barrier. I can’t say I didn’t flinch.

“Oh, death where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling, oh, grave thy victory?” Dad sang. “The bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling, for you and not — for– me!” Dad slammed the book closed, and Sophie winked out of existence. The stuffed rabbit dropped to the floor.

“Dad, did you see that?”

“See what, honey?” he replied, panting hard.

“Her manifestation.”

He frowned. “Poltergeists don’t manifest.”

“I know, but I definitely saw —” I stopped, as he shook his head. “You didn’t see it.”

“I didn’t see anything, honey. Just the rabbit falling when we banished the ghost.”

I helped Dad with the cleanup, straitening up the nursery and vacuuming up the salt. He went downstairs to talk to Mr. Murphy; I stayed upstairs scrubbing away the chalk. Absentmindedly, I picked up the stuffed rabbit off the floor and considered it.

“Take it.”

I looked back over my shoulder. Mr. Murphy was standing in the doorway.

“The — it really liked that thing,” he said, voice gruff. “And Tammy would scream every time we gave it to her. That’s why Celia left it here when she went to her parents’.”

I held the rabbit out, halfway offering it to him. “Are you sure?”

“I don’t want it,” he said firmly. “Don’t want any reminder of all this spook-stuff.”

“Fair enough.”

He didn’t say anything more as I squeezed past him in the doorway and walked down to the car. Sometimes they can’t bring themselves to thank us, as it would mean admitting that the things they’d seen were real. Not that I do it for the thanks, but sometimes it’s nice to have hard work recognized.

Dad was waiting by the car. “Good job, Lizzie-bear. I think that deserves a celebration — shall we hit Massey’s for some frozen custard? Just like old times?”

“Hmmm? Oh. Yeah, just like old times.”

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One thought on “Bell, Book and Candle: Part 22

  1. Pingback: Bell, Book and Candle: Part 23 | The Great Novel Adventure

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