Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2012
Adult Winners

Third Place

Our third place Adult winner is Leonard Varasano of Sea Bright, New Jersey. Mr. Varasano is a published author who also won this contest last year.

A Scry In The Night

Leonard Varasano


For most people, the word Halloween conjures images of grinning jack-o’-lanterns, unsightly broom-straddling witches, hissing black cats and gleeful, costumed children going from house to house after dark, seeking treats of candy and assorted goodies from neighbor and stranger alike.

There was a time when Halloween meant that to me, too. But then came that three year period of my life during a trio of successive All Hallows’ Eves, when the veil separating the world of the living and the dead vanished from my view and I grew to know there was much to our world most people could not see. Yet I, after suffering a deep, traumatic concussion on that initial October 31st encounter was able to do so.  


scry vi (1. skri; 2. skrai) Shortened form of descry. To practice crystal-gazing; to gaze fixedly into esoteric crystal or stone and see, or claim to see, significant events or portals to realms beyond the scope of the known universe.


When the girls told me the Ouija had spelled “NECROMANCY” during their most recent session at the beach house, I knew the story had substance. Mimi and Tracy had never heard the word before, so they asked me, a relative expert in the midst of necromantic neophytes, what the word meant.

Now, asking me a question like that is to invite incessant and immediate probing. Heck, until a few years ago I didn’t know the meaning of the word either, until the day I saw a man’s soul floating out of his corpse, smiling down on me.

Some would say I saw an angel.

Obviously I need to offer more of an explanation, an accounting of the events preceding that vision.

On that Halloween day, minutes before my interlude with the unexplained, I had witnessed a cement mixer truck rear-ending a vintage Corvette convertible. The driver of the ‘Vette was pinned inside the collapsed passenger compartment, enveloped in bucket seat and steering column.

Normally, with a Halligan tool and enough time and muscle someone could be extricated from that predicament in short order. But dozens of onlookers, witnesses and the morbidly curious stood back, watching the growing pool of gasoline flowing from the ruptured gas tank. The wail of the fire engine sirens could be heard in the distance three miles off.

I ran up to the ‘Vette and began pulling on the steering column until my back and arms ached. My eyes locked with the driver’s, who was about my age. The fear in his eyes told me he smelled the gas.

“What’s your name?” I asked. The man could hardly speak. Aside from the devastating initial impact which had shattered several ribs, he was caught in a crushing vise, constricting his already labored breathing efforts.

“Name’s Dale--could you get me out?” He gulped for air.

“We’ll get you out. You push and I’ll pull. Okay?” I said. The man nodded back and began to turn purple with his effort. “Somebody help us!” I bellowed, but no one came, and the sirens were still way off.

Just as we started to budge the wheel, there was a staccato succession: flash-- pop--BOOM as the gas tank exploded, throwing me thirty feet backwards, landing on the road shoulder and smashing my head against the curb.


Dale wasn’t as lucky. He was trapped, screaming in agony, shrieking for someone to shoot him, to end the heinous torture of incineration.

As I ran back towards the car a group of men tried to grab me but I thrashed them off, my adrenaline giving me disproportionate strength. Though my head was throbbing and face bloodied, I was lucid as could be--and those agonizing screams were just cleaving through me.

By now the car was engulfed in hellish flames. Large, fiery fingers curled up from beneath the wreck. I could see the driver thrashing through the wall of orange though I couldn’t get too close to the ‘Vette as the heat from the flames, licking up like scorching red claws beat me back, blistering my face and hands.

There was nothing else I could do. Lord knows, I tried.

Finally a couple of first aider guys grab me, and by this time my strength had ebbed so they pushed me onto a stretcher. A young, blonde, pretty first aid cadet was suddenly standing over me, gently stroking my forehead, telling me that I was one brave guy. The temperature was warm for the end of October and she must have been sun bathing when the call had come in. She smelled of sun block and was wearing a skimpy halter. Leaning over me the way she was provided a pleasant sight and sensation. The fire department had arrived and doused the flames. Soon, even the smoke had dissipated from the deluge of water.

Now, at this very intense point of my life I knew for a fact I was definitely not unconscious.

As the firemen began the unenviable task of prying Dale’s charred corpse from the melted wreck, peals of resonance filled the air, heavenly, angelic sounds incapable of being produced by mere mortals. Something told me to look at the wreck and I strained for a glimpse.

A shimmering, radiantly magnificent entity was emerging from the Vette. In billowing waves it flowed from the car, hovering, seemingly scanning the crowd until it saw me. Then, it began to drift my way, sending chilly fingers of fright up my spine. I pointed, shouting, “Look at that!”

But no one else paid heed. Blondie pushed me down, obscuring my view. “You mustn’t get up,” she whispered to me, her voice a caress in my ear. I complied, always the gentleman.

I stayed with my eyes closed for a few moments. But the vision that I’d seen wouldn’t allow me to rest. Cracking my lids, I beheld the entity not five feet above my stretcher, floating horizontally, invertedly mirroring my position while studying me, a look of concern apparent on the radiant countenance of light.

 The visage was Dale’s! When I opened my eyes he smiled and his radiance grew, shining with a brilliance I had never before seen, never imagined existed. Transcendent wings unfurled and began the slow, inexorable ascent to heaven. At that moment, for me, there was nothing else. How could there be? As the entity spiraled into the sun’s aura, the resonance faded until it was gone.

 I reached out, yelling, “Look at the angel!” But nobody else saw it. They just whispered to one another about my concussion and whisked me off to the hospital for a CAT scan.

While convalescing, I studiously ingested everything relating to mysticism, religion and the occult. Anything pertaining to the netherworlds and the presence of spirits. That’s when I first heard the word necromancy.

On October 28th of the year following my angelic Halloween encounter, my quest for preternatural contact lured me to a city of the ancients, in the realm of Macchu Picchu, to the forbiddingly, spectacular towers of Sillustanti.

To reach our quest, we had hiked over steep mountain trails, traversing narrow, winding corridors and shaky rope bridges that spanned sheer, seemingly bottomless chasms. We trekked through jungle forests so lush the sunlight didn’t touch the loamed floor, past the foreboding, haunting beauty of Lake Titicaca. With its tranquil, blue waters so shrouded in legend and mystery, the god Viracocha, the Creator, is said to dwell there.

We were a party of five, as diverse a group of Americans as you’d find, but all adventurers at heart. Our guide’s name was Hector, an inscrutable man who spoke little but said much with his dark and intense eyes that noted everything. We at first thought Hector had no sense of humor, but before the trip was over we discovered that he did, he just didn’t laugh much or smile. That wasn’t his way.

After three days we had made it to Sillustani, an ancient village carved into one of the cavernous stone maws of the Andes. We had first sighted the village from across a wide expanse of green valley. The venerable beauty of the walled fortress, with towering parapets nestled amongst the blue ramparts of the surrounding mountains was indelibly burned into my consciousness, a sight that remains with me, always.

After a few more hours we had arrived at our destination. Hector pointed to a huge structure which was not a single building, but a group of interconnected edifices surrounding a central courtyard. Several faded drawings depicting Incan rituals abounded on the colossal facade, clustered around an immense golden disk with a human face forming the core.

Hector informed us we were looking at the Temple of the Sun and the face depicted the human embodiment of Inti, the sun god. I felt strong emanations from the temple, a sensation not unlike what I had felt when I’d first seen Dale emerge from the car. I turned and found Hector regarding me. He nodded in an approving manner. I looked at the others.

Jared the New Yorker, and Bill, this lanky, big dude from Maine, were lying down, gulping for breath in the rarefied air. Tony from L.A. and Jerry from Peoria were immersed in the smoking of an oversized joint, their third or fourth of the day from a stash they bought in a low-land village. One of the wonders of the world stood before these men and look what they were doing. Cretins!

Maybe that’s why Hector nodded to me, for I was the only gringo entranced with the spectacular beauty of the moment, the only one showing respect to the ancients, to the reverence of his ancestors on this Halloween day known to the locals as la dia de muerte.

A short while went by. None of us had heard a sound, but standing not five paces from us was a wizened, wrinkled man, wearing an alpaca tunic covered by a stunning, rainbow-stained vicuna cloak. The getup was tied at the waist by an ornate, gold-weaved rope. A black bowl derby-like hat covered with ruby and white feathers crowned his dark head. He was resplendent in an exotic, Incan sort of way.

With cryptic regard he looked each of us up and down through ominous eyes of black. As he looked at me the power of his gaze swept my consciousness and I sensed he was no ordinary man.

Hector introduced us to Manco, the Q’ero, a shaman of the mountains, who agreed to ritualistically conjure the spirit of Supai, the Incan god of death, after nightfall.

The two skeptics in our group, Tony and Jerry made some wisecracks and were met with stony silence from Manco and Hector. Manco did not understand English but insolence transcended language and he gave the pair a look that could kill.

As darkness approached we met at the crest of a nearby hill that Hector told us was called King’s Altar. Crowning the hill’s summit was an ancient stone shaped like an altar, adjacent to a most unusual vertical projection, a platformed, three- meter tall monolith. The stone comprising the two artifacts was a dark, silvery, mirror-like substance. However, close examination revealed there was no reflection cast from the pseudo-imaged depths.

I touched the smooth, cool surface, wondering what it was.

“Looks like obsidian,” I thought aloud. Jared was nearby; he, too, examined the monolith and came to the same conclusion.

“Sure does look like that. I’d have to test it to be positive. But it’s hard as hell...would rank high on Moh’s scratch test. If it’s not obsidian, I’m not sure what it is,” he added, studying the rock in the waning light. The sun had disappeared behind banded, rainbow-smeared clouds of pastel, giving us a fleeting, color show of dazzling pink, orange, and yellow-hued streaks, rimming the western cliffs, fanning the horizon to meld with the purple pall of the overhead sky.

One need only view the Peruvian sunset to understand the omnipotence of God’s wondrous touch.

We built a large fire and ate a stew loaded with black beans for our Halloween supper. We were ravenous after the demands of the hike and the zesty food hit the spot. With hunger finally satiated we kicked back for a while, sipping fruity but potent lowland wine from a goatskin bota. I felt buzzed after the first couple of sips.

Finally, I began to relax. Lying back, I gazed at the stars through smog free air, a billion points of light, the clarity of Jupiter and the myriad constellations the most brilliant I have ever seen.

The lowland wine, along with the equatorial view of the night sky resulted in my cosmic bearings being momentarily confounded. But the Jovian presence made the transition simple.

Being so high up in the mountains brought you much closer to the heavens, I thought. The peaceful bliss I felt at that moment, communing with the pantheon of Incan spirits made me wish the feeling was everlasting.

Suddenly, Tony and Jerry swore and jumped up, spoiling the atmosphere.  Manco had materialized in our presence again, startling us with his gift of moving without sound.

The tranquility of the previous moments vanished as Manco began to mutter an incantation in a tongue old as the surrounding hills. His eyes rolled back, exposing whites as he cast a handful of dust onto the roaring fire. The hissing of the flames continued unabated. The air grew tense, waiting.

At first I felt the deep, heavy vibration through the altar stone.  Then, the pounding grew audible, a throbbing omnipotent bass--


--sounding like a human heart amplified a million times, pulsating cacophonously off the temple facade and the gaping maw of the mountain.

We all exchanged glances, nervous ones at that. We were miles and miles from electrical amplification. Yet, what pounded our ears was beyond the capability of a hundred ultra-amplifiers. The very ground shook, a rhythmical earthquake of controlled fury.

Manco began this neat little dance, sort of an Incan two-step, chanting, while green smoke began to billow in undulating waves from the fire, merging with the immensity’s of the universe; in those moments what was smoke became real as what was real became smoke. An overpowering stench wafted pervasively and we all began to cough and gag. Except for Manco, that is.

Suddenly, right above our heads arose a new pulsing sound; a thick, leathery, heavy, buffeting beat. The sound of great wings beating the air for lift! Through the haze I could feel the wind of the wings above and beyond the throb that shook the earth.

Pointing skyward with both hands, Manco screamed, “SU-PAI! SU-PAI!”

The smoke burst into countless sparks of light as the air was split by a horrendous, hair-raising screech. A monstrous creature, humanoid but with a hideous head and a keeled-shaped chest had alighted upon the monolith. Huge, thunderous wings protruded from its back, cracking the air like giant, hellish whips. Slavering, canine-like, fanged jaws snapped at our heads, as foul, taloned claws swiped at us.

A sardonic, rictus sneer froze the bestial face, a ghastly anomaly of a man, as luminescent red orbs the size of saucers glared malevolently from the perch.

The hate emanating from Supai was a tangible thing.

Twin, foot long, razor sharp protuberances stuck from its forehead. The freakin’ thing had horns! Huge, ropy muscles coiled and uncoiled through its chiseled body, covered by skin lumpy and dark. Truly, an apocalyptic demon spawned from beyond the Styx.

Calibos… Winged… Incarnate.

“What the hell is it?” Jerry screamed as Tony ran shrieking into the night, forever dubbing himself a wuss if ever there was one.

I was transfixed by the monstrosity, petrified, cringing, hugging the ground. Grabbing the crucifix hanging from my neck, I rationalized the thing could have made short work out of us if that was the plan.

Thankfully, it wasn’t.

I knew it couldn’t have been an hallucination. Nothing that reeked so badly could have been an illusion, for the hissing breath smelled like the sewers of hell had broken open.

After what seemed an eternity but was actually 20 seconds of heart-stopping thrill, Supai bellowed at us, drowning out the din of the earthly throb. Scratching its talons on the top of the monolith it flapped its wings thrice, disappearing into the hazy, smoke-filled night.

Manco, too, was gone.

We turned to Hector, who remained nonchalant to what he had just witnessed.  He shrugged.

“What a disgusting smell!” Jared bitched through hands covering nose and mouth.

Now, that got a reaction from Hector. “You wanted spirit for la dia de Muerte and you got spirit. You didn’t say about it smelling good. If you had, we could’ve met Q’ero who communes with Chasca the flower goddess.”

He didn’t smile one bit but I could see the laughter in his eyes and I let out a chortle myself. The other three looked at me like I was the one with horns.

My heart still pounding, with flashlight in hand I shimmied to the top of the monolith. Countless, deep gouges marred the stone surface. Obviously, Supai had visited here often.

We searched for Tony but didn’t find him until after sunup. Still gibbering in fright, his pants soiled, he had spent the night in a stone alcove, buck knife in hand, waiting for Supai. But the worst part for him was yet to come.

For the next three days during the hike home, he had to endure a new nickname. “Stinky,” we called him. On the second day even Hector called him that. “Steen-key,” he pronounced it. It was a howl. Hector finally laughed, revealing a gold front tooth amongst pearly whites. Tony scowled but otherwise was a good sport, yet I bet that was one highlight of the trip he didn’t share with his co-workers when he returned home.

Well, anyway, now you know how I’m familiar with necromancy.

I want to get back to the subject of my friends, Mimi and Tracy. They had spent weeks of painstaking, nocturnal communication with an entity through the Ouija board, determining that a teen surfer, drowned off Long Beach Island eight years before, was the one supposedly spelling out the answers to their queries.

 Seems the spirit’s name was Todd Foster and he had provided them with several leads to verify his earthly existence. Some were verifiable, like the microfiche of his obituary in the Press. Some were not verifiable, such as the inscription etched onto the bottom of his long-lost surfboard, the one that had accompanied him on his final ride.

Now, here’s where the story takes a really weird twist. He also told the women of his unearthly desire to re-enter the world through Mimi, telling them that the conjuring page of the Necronomicon was needed for that. I’m sure hoping that the long gone, superb writer of horror H.P. Lovecraft, wherever he may be is proud that his grimoire extraordinaire creation would be requested in such fashion for such a spooky event.

Dubious knowledge for sure, even for a spirit from beyond.

And that’s where I came in.

Mimi told me she wanted to use her friend’s scrying mirror to enhance the dialogue with Todd. I had done a little research on the scry and had concluded that in most instances the mirror would simply reflect the embodiment of one’s thoughts to project consciousness. The mirror’s powers supposedly were greatest  after a long bask in the light of the full moon.

Also alluded to was the scry’s ability to serve as a portal to the netherworlds, as a channel between dimensions. Pretty heady stuff, but after Dale and Supai I was game.

A year to the day after my excursion to the Andes, on that Halloween night of the full moon, I headed to the beach house looking forward to the events of the evening, brimming with lofty expectation. Upon entering the darkened Cape Cod, gloomily silhouetted against the moon-dappled ocean, I found Mimi, Tracy, and Tamara relaxing in the living room, sipping wine to the strum of soft violin. A dozen or so strategically placed candles cast a caressing, wavering warm glow through the spacious room.

“Happy Halloween everyone. Ah yes…spirits for the spirits,” I joked, pouring myself some vino from the wine cart. Mimi and Tracy laughed but Tamara looked at me like I had two heads. I smiled in her direction and even though we had met one time before introduced myself. She kind of half smiled and the vibes emanating from her disclosed she didn’t like me much.

I caught Mimi’s eye. Gesturing towards the speakers, I asked, “Is this ‘Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the 18th Variation’?”

I glanced at Tamara for her reaction. She wasn’t impressed by my knowledge of classical music. Her expression conveyed she found me pompous.

Well, she was wrong. A grandstander maybe, but not pompous.

Mimi scanned the CD box label by the light of a table oil lamp, a pewter wizard with outstretched hands cupping fire where the wick met the flame. Her eyes widened.

“Lennie, how’d you know that?”

Mimi was impressed, showing Tracy the label. Tracy nodded and smiled at me. Tamara exuded tedium. That was okay. I had the whole night to make her not hate me. Besides, she kind of spooked me, anyway. With her red, ass- length hair, piercing blue eyes and severe manner, she was an ethereal, scary babe. Mimi had told me Tamara was a practicing witch. Looking around the room, I half expected to see a broomstick with her name on it.

Downing the wine quickly I felt relaxing waves of warmth through my chest. Mimi soon poured me another glass.

My eyes caught sight of an ebony disk propped up on an end table next to the French doors, basking in the lunar glow and I got up to inspect it more closely.  The disk consisted of an outer rim bordered by the small, golden boxed signs of the Zodiac. The inner face was undoubtedly obsidian, the tell-tale murky glass appearance which casts no true reflection a dead giveaway.

Gazing into the mirror’s depths my consciousness felt a jab, an intrusive probe into my mind’s eye comprised of rapidly moving imagery I couldn’t quite identify. Quickly, I turned away, the sensation akin to a mental assault, a mugging of my brain.

At least I confirmed the scry was no joke.

Tamara must have sensed my encounter and sauntered over. Her spike heels clicked on the oak floor as she moved like a great cat, swishing inside skintight, black jeans. Yeah, Baby.

“The scry reflects the mind’s manifestations. One practiced need only look for a moment into the depths of the stone to understand the powers of the consciousness.

“One practiced may use the scry as a portal to commune with the spirits from beyond.” She regarded me in a manner to suggest she was cognizant that I had interfaced with the scry.

Mimi and Tracy joined us near the door, wide-eyed.

“Mimi, this ghost, what else did it tell you?” I asked, not liking the idea of screwing around with the mirror unprepared. “Did it say why it wants to return through you?”

“We couldn’t pin him down on that. He was evasive and would often go off on riddle-strewn tangents that told us nothing.” Mimi waved through the air to emphasize tangents.

Tracy interjected. “There were some nights when all he’d do is answer our questions with a question. I’d say he was probably a contrary, overbearing person.”

I didn’t want to ruin Halloween for everyone but didn’t care for the feel of this venture. My momentary interaction with the scry left a negative, foreboding impression that I couldn’t shake.

“Mimi, I’m not getting good vibes. Are you sure you want to do this?” I looked into her eyes when I asked. Nice, soft, hazel eyes. I wanted her to know I was sincere.

Mimi shrugged, then flashed a smile. “Yeah, let’s do it. What could happen?”  She looked to Tamara for support.

“She’ll be fine,” Tamara responded with a decided lack of emotion. Her dour attitude was starting to piss me off.

“Have you done this before, Tamara?” I inquired.   “Of course! Have you?” she shot back like I had insulted her or something.

“No. But I’ve seen things that would surprise you…I take nothing for granted. There are no absolutes except there is much we don’t know.” I hadn’t raised my voice but my face probably betrayed me.

Mimi stepped in front of me and touched my arm. “Lennie, it’ll be fine, really. Tracy, would you dim the candles, please?”

Tracy extinguished all the lights except for the wizard lamp. The sole flame flickered, sending black shadows billowing along the walls as the curtains and draperies wavered in the stillness. I felt a strange chill as Tracy took me by the arm and guided us to the couch.

Mimi sat before the scry, her back to us, with Tamara at her side. Tamara picked up a small black book with a luminescent cover of an inverted, white pentagram. The NECRONOMICON!

Tamara whispered in Mimi’s ear, then opened the book to a marked page and began an incantation, voice pregnant with necromantic passion:












As Tamara droned on in invocation, a lost wind began to moan outside as rapidly advancing dark clouds enshrouded the moonlight, blackening the night completely in a morass of gloom. The ocean side of the house creaked and strained as if something outside pushed mightily upon it. I looked at Tracy. She was wide-eyed as a doe, tight lipped, frightened without a doubt. She huddled against me and I huddled back.

Tamara completed the incantation. A gust of cold air blew through the room and extinguished the wizard’s flame. I shuddered and not from the cold either, for I had heard a stealthy step from within yet my eyes saw nothing in the dimness.

It was then I realized that the scry was glowing. A swirl of blue flame now encircled the ebony disk. Tamara’s eyes grew wide as she took a step back. The flames had bridged the gap between the scry and Mimi. Two wispy beams were surging arc-like directly into her eyes.

I jumped up. “What the hell’s going on, Tamara?”

Tamara shook her head in short little wags, her eyes exuding fear. Obviously, things weren’t going according to her plan.

I wasn’t sure if I should touch Mimi. Risking a glance over her shoulder I saw that the scry had opened to a cavernous, billowing, black void from where the flames originated. A virulently piercing whine shrouded all other sound. The closer I moved to the scry the colder it was.

Now, the blue flame spun around Mimi’s head, a weaving, crackling nimbus, and her eyes had rolled back, revealing gaping whites. Her hair stood on end, forming into an aura of blue fire, her thick hair circling and coiling in an undulating, preternatural lion’s mane.

Coiffure a la Medusa.

A demonic cackle emanated from the bowels of the scry. There was a blinding flash that concussively rocked the room.

Then Mimi spun and faced us. Her face was harshly curled into a writhing leer that was not her own. Teeth gleamed viciously, abhorrently.

Bloodshot orbs of malevolence had replaced her soft eyes. She scanned the room with disdain. Glancing down, she cupped her ample breasts in her hands and gave them a little shaking motion.

“Now, these are what I’d call Mambo Kings!” a man’s voice croaked from Mimi’s mouth, echoing a split second later from the scry. She threw her head back and laughed without mirth, shaking the walls with the resonance.

Tracy and Tamara were aghast as Mimi stood there cryptically regarding us.

“Who summoned me from beyond?” she demanded. “Who was the one, the one with the knowledge to beckon me forth on this earthly Samhain festival of the dead?” she hissed in a manner so frightening I felt chills running up my spine.

The body in front of us was Mimi’s, the consciousness certainly was not.

Tamara wasn’t so smug anymore. She didn’t volunteer that she was the one with the knowledge. In her frightened state she was vulnerably attractive. Hold that thought.

“Where’s Mimi?” I asked, tempting the fates.

The Meemster scowled at me, hissing.

“She’s here, for now. When I decide she’ll take my place in the black gulf, beyond the voids where the demons of the dark reign supreme!”

I thought of asking the entity if it knew Supai but decided not to push my luck.

“Tamara? Any ideas?” I called through the din. The fear and disbelief etched upon her face answered my question before she shook her head.

Then I thought of something. I whispered to Tracy for her to distract Mimi by asking another question.

“I’m scared,” she whispered back.

“Me, too. I’m going to try a hunch.”

Tracy nodded.

“Is Mimi close by…can I get a message to her?” she asked, not terribly original, voice quivering with dread.

At that moment I lunged for the scry. Seizing the disk and noting the bone- numbing cold it cast I threw open the French doors and jumped off the deck, over the stairs and landed right on to the sand. As soon as my feet hit I was tearing in the direction of the ocean, scry in hand. The moon was nowhere to be seen. I was guided towards the water by instinct, and the strangely, muted pound of the breakers reaching my ears through air tenebrous and thick.

Risking a backwards glance I saw yard after yard of python-thick blue flame snaking after me and gaining ground fast! I knew it would be on me before I got to the water.

Though it had been years since I’d thrown the discus I gave it my best whirl, heaving the disk towards the jetty. The scry was lighter than a standard discus and I made a helluva throw. Then I spun, bracing, awaiting the impact of the flame.

As I had hoped, the flame shot past me and swooped towards the airborne scry, catching it just before the impact with the jetty.

But instead of the sound of breaking glass greeting my ears a plaintive yelp shattered the air as the scry must have struck an animate object instead of the rocks.

The blue flame coalesced into a ball, wavering white for an instant before extinguishing with a resounding ‘pop’. Taking a couple of steps towards the water I saw nothing but surf.

Running back to the house, I found Tracy and Tamara tending to a bewildered Mimi, who despite a severe case of bad hair was apparently no worse for wear though she had no recollection of what happened after Tamara began the incantation.

Tracy hugged me. With trembling hands I poured some more wine while telling them what had transpired on the beach. Tamara’s attitude towards me softened considerably.

“That was one gutsy move you made,” she said while moving close and softly kissing my cheek.


Lately, not far from Mimi’s house, there’s been this crazy sea lion that body surfs near the surfer’s beach. Sometimes, when the waves are hot the pinniped will scoot inside the curls, dodging between the surfboards with incredible precision and agility. Occasionally, it’ll leap across the boards of surfers hanging five, causing them to curse and fall.

Everyone local knows of the surfing sea lion of Long Beach Island. But, where did it come from?

It had suddenly appeared after our Halloween scry in the night. I would go public with the story, but, besides Mimi, Tracy, and Tamara who would believe me?

Once, when I was walking near the water’s edge the sea lion popped its head from the water, following me with its dark, intelligent eyes.

Jokingly, I said aloud, “What’s up, Todd?” to which the creature began barking wildly, shooting out of the water towards me in an enraged manner. I ran away fast as my feet would carry me, easily outdistancing the awkward flippers, not wishing to tempt fate again.

Hell, I might have a hero’s heart but that doesn’t mean I’m brave.


* * * * *

Continue to the 2nd place story

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