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Theres the kid in the corner, finishing up the worst made-up ghost story of all time. There's the circle of 12 year olds around him, listening wide eyed to his sorry excuse for a yarn. And then there's me, also twelve years old, also part of the circle of kids, but disgusted at this little cretin for thinking that he can pull a ghost story out of his a** and have us believe it. I have actually experienced ghosts, and know that what he just said is not true at all. First of all, a ghost of a small child haunting its school would not be vengeful, it would be scared and confused. Second of all, the chances of a "new" (10 years old) ghost appearing fully corporeal are like slim and none.
This is when I get the brilliant idea to freak them all out, and establish my place in the hierarchy at the same time. Only later do I realize that this was the moment that led to my “awakening” and to my adventures later on.
I go to my bag in the other room and dig through to find my pack of playing cards. Thank god I'd recently gotten into card tricks, and so always had a pack on me.
Creeping back over to the gang, I try not to wake every person on this stupid campout. "Hey guys!" I say, silently disgusted with what I am about to do, "I have a way to prove whether or not Cody's story is true!" I laugh at the kid's expression, it was that good. The look of horror, like he'd just stepped on a beehive, was priceless. "My aunt was a psychic," I say calmly. Ihis is what I was born for, playing people who want to be played. "Her claim to fame was that she could talk to ghosts and spirits with an ordinary deck of cards." As I say this I shuffle through the deck and take out all the royal cards, and the aces. Now I'm the one pulling s*** out of his a**, but I'm friggen good at it. "The trick is to ask them a simple yes or no question, and try not to tick them off. Even cards are yes, and odd cards are no. Because the spirit plane exists outside of time, the spirit knows what questions we will ask, and can influence the order of the cards preemptively as I shuffle them."
"Wow, really?" asks the youngest member of our group (at ten years old, he wasn't too much younger than us, but young enough that we all felt it). The cards were plenty shuffled in my hands, and I was growing impatient. I said to the crowd gathered around me "Now listen while I call her, and you may just hear her enter. Or you may not, and then we'll know that Smarty over there is lying. 'Sarah Michaels, I Summon Thee! Please Answer Our Questions Truthfully!' " I thought it was pretty good for an on-the-spot fake spell.
Now that the "spirit" is with us I shuffle the cards in the most theatrical, and thorough, way that I can. "Sarah," I say as I flip the first card over, "are you with us?" The first card is a seven of diamonds, a “No” according to my made-up technique. "That," I say to the other kids, "means that she definitely is not here. She would have made it say yes if she was. Does anybody want to try again? Or should I try another spirit/dearly departed that we knows exists?"
Kids immediately start yelling out relations, completely forgetting about Cody’s fake ghost. "My Grandma!" "My Papa!" "My uncle!" apparently I can pull off this act a little better than I had hoped. Then one off the unofficial leaders of the group says "No, you have to do Charlie." "Who the hell is charlie ?” I ask, “I ain’t doin’ no one unless I know who they are,” At this point a hush has fallen over the group. They have respect for me, and for the kid who I’m speaking to. It’s completely silent while we talk, and this is the highest praise that they could give.
“Charlie is the guy who used to work here,” says the kid. He’s tall, a couple inches taller than me, but maybe a year or two younger. He speaks in a hushed, serious voice, hunching over his wiry frame as if this is a very secret and important story. “He was a maintenance worker for the Mountain. He maintained the lifts during the summer. At night he would sleep on the top chairlift, because he thought that the stars from the top of a mountain were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Legend has it that one day he was trying to clear a birds nest out of one of the turn-ey things at the top, when some-one turned on the lift from the bottom of the mountain. His arm got ripped off by the wheels, and he died within minutes,”
This sounds good, and I relish the thought of proving this kid to be a liar as well, so I take the job. “Ok, sounds good. Do you know his last name? It’ll be a little harder to make sure we have the right guy if I don’t have his last name,” The kid says he doesn’t, so I go ahead with the “ceremony”. “Charlie, I Summon Thee. Please Answer Our Questions Truthfully!” I intone.
“Charlie, are you with us?” I ask, flipping the top card. It’s a four of hearts. A “yes”. I play along, “Charlie, did you work for SweetBrick Mountain in your life?” The next card is an eight of clubs. Another yes. “Whatever, the chances of this happening are pretty good. And if it ends up revealing that your a fake, whatever. At least you had them going for a little while.” I tell myself this as I prepare the next question. “Charllie, did you die an untimely death?” The next card is even. Yes again. So far all of the answers have been right. Somethings up. I decide that I should give myself a safe way out incase things go awry. “Hey guys, just remember, that it was never proven that I was gifted like my aunt. My family always assumed I was, because I could do some minor psychic acts, just like this, but I was never tested. So remember that this right now could be complete bulls***, I have no more idea than you do.” I think now that it’s time to ask a “no” question, because the chances of getting another even card are very, very small. “Charlie,” I ask, “Did you work in this restaurant?” This is followed by a 5 of clubs. A no. Thank god. Although its starting to get a little creepy for me. The other kids are enthralled, completely taken in by my little play.
“Did you work on the lifts?”
“Did you sleep on the lifts?”
“Do you mean us any harm?
At this point I am really freaked out. As in majorly tripping. How the hell are all of these answers right?
And then I launch into the story questions, a classic psychic trick. Ask questions that could have any answers, and your always right. Until they start contradicting themselves. But I can deal with that when I come to it.
“Did you die in an accident?”
3 of spades.
“You were murdered”
Eight of diamonds.
Wow. This is intense. At this point we all have no choice but to believe. Even I know that something is going on that I cannot explain. And so it goes. We learn a great deal about Charlie, and it seems no matter how many times I give the cards an opportunity to contradict themselves, they never do. When I finally realize that I only have six cards left, something tells me that I’m done. I’m not sure what it is, but it definitely is saying that I am done.
“This is where my aunt always stopped,” I say. I take the remaining six cards, and raise them to my lips. I kiss them, and say “With these six cards I release thee. Thank you spirit, you have done as we have asked, and have graced us with your presence. We can ask no higher praise.” With that, I fan the cards and place them on the floor in front of me.
I later went on to have many discussions with Charlie, the ghost of Moosewinks restaurant on SweetBrick Mountain. Never once did he contradict himself. On that same trip, I met a girl, her name was Evelyn. She claimed to be able to see Charlie, and other spirits as well. I believed her, and I still do. We remained friends for years, and then grew apart. And that is the story of how I first was awakened to the supernatural world.
I’m sixteen now, and I still live in Maine. And I still am a part of that world.