The Ouija Board. Copyright Parker Brothers.
The infamous Ouija Board. Few other objects are so closely associated with evil, mystical, or forbidden things. In my life, I've heard several tales of how when you try to throw one away, it will come back. A friend claimed that he experienced exactly that situation, where he tossed the board out after it made some unsettling predictions. Several days later, he claimed, he was looking under his bed for something. He found the board in the same place that he used to keep it. He took it across the street to a park and burned it. It never came back.
The year was 1988. My family had moved for what seemed the thousandth time, this time to a nice apartment on Westchester Avenue in the Bronx. My brother Andrew had a friend from school that lived on Westchester Square, a hub of commerce and very near to Lehman High School, where he was a sophomore at the time. He had a friend named Susan, and she had a Nintendo Entertainment System and a big-screen TV. Thus, when myself and my little brother Matthew were asked if we wanted to go with him to hang out at her place, we leaped at the opportunity!
Upon arrival, Matt and I descended upon the video game with fervor. Andrew, Susan and Andrew's best friend, Eileen, AKA Buffy, (long before Joss Whedon or Sara Michelle Gellar had even heard of each other) were hanging out in the kitchen. After an hour or so of playing various NES classics, Matt and I grew intrigued by the commotion coming from the kitchen. Upon inspection, we saw that Andrew and friends were hunched over a board on the kitchen table. Their hands were resting upon a plastic device with a small window in it. They were utterly focused on this object to the point where they didn't even notice our entrance.
At first I was confused. Andrew knew the stories very well. Why would he voluntarily place himself in danger by messing with something he knew to be so dangerous. I hung by the doorway into the kitchen, feeling an odd, icy sensation in my stomach. Fear had set in. Matthew advanced to join the group, his curiosity overcoming whatever trepidation he may have felt. After a couple of minutes of risk assessment, I figured that no harm would come to me if I just walked over and observed. I wouldn't touch this thing.
I watched with a ball of ice sitting in my stomach as my brother and his friends asked questions. Some received answers, some didn't. Some of the answers could be interpreted to make sense, some were gibberish. One question received an answer which I will never forget.
"What is your name?" Andrew asked.
Silence. No one moved. A strange, oppressive feeling came over us all. Their smiles of excitement faded.
The planchette started to move. Their joyful, excited faces had transformed to grim visages.
The first letter was "A".
The cursor took on a life of its own, speeding across the board with it's own will. "S", "M", "O" "D" followed in quick succession.
The cursor started to slow down, like its energy was being drained.
It stopped. Our hearts almost did too, when a moment later it continued.
It dragged slowly across the board this time. It took several moments for it to arrive on what would be the final letter.
The silence in the room was tangible. No one looked up from the board, expecting something terrible to happen. Andrew and Susan's faces were red. Buffy had a small trickle of sweat running down the side of her face. I turned to look at Matt's face, and saw that his eyes were wide and his mouth was slightly agape. The ball of ice in my stomach had turned into a boulder. I felt cold.
Just as suddenly as the feeling enveloped us, it disappeared. Like a soap bubble, it popped. The heaviness left the room, and we all started to breathe again. Looking at each other for support, we each tried to make sure that it wasn't just them.
Buffy was the first to laugh. It was only natural, I suppose. Young people believe they're invincible, and what better way to show that than to literally laugh at a situation that you not only don't understand, but that terrified you for no discernible reason at all? The ball of ice in my stomach had partially melted, but I knew that something was still not right.
Shortly after we had all laughed much of our fear away, it was time to go. My father was very strict about what time we got home, and the last thing that we wanted to do was incur his ire.
Before we did leave, though, Andrew had a suspicion that he had heard this name before. Every Ouija board comes with a spirit, according to the instructions. We looked at the name of the one that this particular board was said to come with. Its' name was Edward. Susan's mother was a bit on the religious side, and therefore had a compendium of various angels and demons. When Andrew mentioned to Susan his suspicion that an evil presence had come onto the board, she handed him the book and they looked it up.
It turns out that Asmodeus was a major demon in the ranks of hell. Now, as I've written before, I was raised Roman Catholic, and that was no laughing matter. But laugh we did, as the notion that a being so powerful and malevolent would manifest itself to a small group of teenagers was preposterous! Ludicrous! Ridiculous! Of course it was! ...Right?
And so it was that as I was walking back to my home with Andrew and Matthew, and accompanied by Buffy, that I, being a young and foolish child, melodramatically raised my arms to the iron-gray sky and proclaimed, "Asmodeus! Come and get me!", laughing all the while.
Pain. As soon as the last syllable left my mouth, I felt sudden, excruciating, searing, stabbing, white-hot pain in my stomach.
I doubled over, clutching my abdomen. My brothers and Buffy gathered around me, asking what was wrong. When I told them what I was feeling, Buffy suggested that I should say 14 "Hail Mary"s. I wasn't in any kind of state to question her. Being a good Catholic boy, I began uttering the prayer with fervor. I didn't keep count of how many I said, but after a short while, the pain ebbed and I was able to stand up straight again. I have no idea whether it was the prayer that helped, or the passage of time. At that moment, though, I couldn't have cared less. The pain stopped.
Thoroughly shaken by what just happened, we completed the walk to my apartment building. Buffy took her leave, her eyes still wide, and we proceeded back upstairs. We wouldn't talk about what happened for years to come.
One thing was for sure, though. I never spoke that name aloud again for two and a half decades. This was just the beginning of a series of events which would put my sanity and self-reliance to the test.
Those are stories for another time, though.
Thanks again for reading, and as always, feel free to leave a like and/or a comment below. Let me know if you've ever experienced anything like this, or write whatever other story you'd like to share. Until next time!