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In the stillness that followed Bill wet his lips and settled on the question he knew he would ask regardless of what the name was, and now that he was on the verge of asking, he felt his stomach roll and like his legs were made of spaghetti
This week we see the continuation of Campfire Frights from Troop 15 happening all October in Second Saturday Stories.
Those who have been following know Willy's up to tell his scary story around the campfire but the rest of the scouts are a little skeptical he can bring the creep factor. Anyone pulling up a fresh log to this campfire should know this is a series told through the month of October about 4 scouts who find they are locked out of camp when they arrive so they tell each other scary stories around the campfire while their Scouter tries to find a way inside the camp. You can catch up on every previous part with the following links: So far we've met the troop and heard Brayden's story of a hapless woman caught in a cornfield. after that Brian started his story of greed fuelled funder who digs a bit too much into his latest investment. and last week Derek took his turn telling a "true story" of when he visited his uncle in the backwoods. Read on for a teaser of Willy's story which will be concluded at 3 pm today.
Bills Story (Willy's Story)
When Bill was born he had two loving parents. By the time he turned 1 he was down to 1. His father had died after colliding with a cement truck as he was texting and driving. At least that’s what Bill’s mother told him whenever they passed the cell phones in Best Buy. Bill couldn’t remember his dad’s face, but that didn’t stop him from loving the stories his mother told of them as a family, or longing for him when they’d watch one of his old favourite movies. He was a man Bill was eternally curious about. The closest thing he had to a memory of his father was a glossy four by six of him holding Bill in the hospital. Bill would stare at the picture sometimes deep into the night trying to read further into the eyes or discern meaning from the smile. Oftentimes he would think the look in the eyes was pride and the smile one of triumph, but he’d always shut off his bedside lamp with an itch of doubt nagging him.
Over the years of course there were a few guys who tried to fill the father figure role. Some seemed to genuinely have an interest in him while others seemed to think of his happiness as a box to be checked on their conquest toward his mother’s bedroom. For the most part Bill’s mother entertained these suitors for a few dates but never seemed interested in keeping any around long term. He’d asked her about this only once to which she replied she was still ‘in grieving.’ It was during the fall of 2016 that one in the latter category of suitors mentioned gave Bill the Ouija board.
Bill was seven. Not nearly old enough to understand the ramifications of the toy bought used (and well used by the look of the separated box corners and board scuffs) from a thrift shop somewhere along the daily comings and goings of the guy who insisted Bill call him ‘Reg.’ When Reg showed up he dismissed Bill to take the board to a friend’s house. His mother had to awkwardly bridge the subject of his not having any. Reg laughed it off as a great opportunity for Bill to go try and make some while his eyes burned daggers at Bill for the case of blue balls he was sure to get if the kid stuck around. The happy medium was that Bill would play with the toy in his room while his mother and Reg played scrabble at the kitchen table. Reg said he couldn’t wait. Bill saw a lot of triple word scores in his mom’s future.
Alone in his room Bill suddenly realised he didn’t know the first thing about the game. The box essentially came apart in his hands and he was left looking at something that looked like it was supposed to help a preschooler learn it’s letters. They were faded and worn and some of them were barely on the board but he could still make out what they were. Even the planchette had a small chip in the glass, Bill figured it was just the type of thing he would end up with. His mother was right, despite his best efforts of sharing what little toys his mother gave him and trying to talk to the other kids in class about what he found interesting, Bill never seemed to get the knack of making friends. Soon he found himself banished to the bottom tier of the social ladder with the other disreputables who got picked last in floor hockey, and not at all in pokemon cards.
The execution was weak but the theory was sound behind Reg’s gift. If Bill couldn’t talk to other kids, maybe he could talk to something else all together. The instructions boasted the board could ‘lift the veil’ and ‘talk to the spirit world’, Bill was doubtful, but that curious itch that gets many young boys in trouble kept asking ‘what if?’
By now the photo of his dad had moved from the pocket of every pair of pants he wore to Bill's dresser. It had become faded and worn on the fold lines and one corner had been punctured repeatedly after Bill had to wrestle it away from their cat Purrce Brosnan, but he could still see his father’s bearded face smiling out at him with that maybe pride expression dancing in his eyes. Bill decided. He had to know.
The instruction booklet in the box was almost see-through with age and the copyright was 1970, a distance in time Bill could hardly fathom all the way up in 2016. He got the idea that he was supposed to sit quietly with the little plastic piece in the centre of the board underneath the letters and rest his fingers on it until something started happening. He sat down on his Baymax comforter (a gift from his mother) and focused on his photograph before resting his hands on the planchette.
For a long time nothing happened. Bill could hear Reg through the floor spelling out his measly three letter words, and laughing too loud. Bill kept looking at the planchette but it wouldn’t move. He wondered if someone would be standing over him guiding his hand as the planchette moved. He got goose bumps at that thought and when the furnace kicked on he just about jumped out of his skin.
Behind his closed lids Bill thought he could feel the afternoon melting away, almost as if he was conscious of the sun moving across the sky and changing the shadows thrown from his window. Mother’s date ended. Bill heard Reg’s pleading tone and his mother’s resigned one ushering him out the door where after a few moments his rusted out Caravan grumbled to life and rattled down the block. Bill was distantly aware of the comforting hum of television underneath the tomb-like silence of his room.
When the planchette started to move it made a light scratching sound on the board that sent a chill up Bill’s back. At first he convinced himself that it was another house sound, trying to ignore the fact that his arms were clearly stretched to his left. When he finally worked up the nerve to open one eye, the planchette hovered over a word, it’s stillness oddly reminding Bill of a cursor flashing on their old desktop downstairs. It held that same anticipatory energy. When Bill read it he felt the foreign warmth of camaraderie wash over him.
Hello the planchette read through the distorted glass.
“Um. hi.” Bill spoke out loud feeling absolutely stupid, was he really doing this? Surely he must have fallen asleep and jolted awake, thus moving his hand. But he couldn’t deny that underneath his fingertips the planchette seemed to hum with an energy of anticipation. “How...how are you?” He asked, which was dumb, if it was a ghost it probably didn’t have feelings. The planchette moved to spell out a word, Bill followed it trying to keep the letters straight. N-A-M-E it spelled. “My name?” Bill hesitated. He was reminded of the chat rooms he sometimes logged into on the Dell when he was supposed to be doing homework. You weren’t supposed to give your name out on those, was this the same? What if it was dad? Shouldn’t he know his name, or did ghosts forget everything about their past life? Bill swallowed and decided it was all made up anyway, that he was somehow moving it and tricking himself, so he went with it.
“I’m Bill. What's your name?” The planchette didn’t move, Bill rested his elbows on his knees. Five minutes crawled by. Figures, Bill thought, I introduce myself and the thing stops talking to me, story of my life. “Fun while it lasted. Guess they were a little more easily entertained in 1970.” Bill wished he didn’t feel the flush of rejection crawling up his neck. He left the board on his bed and went down the hall to use the bathroom.
When he came back the planchette had moved. Bill thought he’d left the fisheye glass over the E but when he came back in he saw a hazy M magnified. Bill dismissed it. He must have left it over the M. When he tried to pick up the planchette to put it away it was as if someone had glued it down. The thing wouldn’t budge. Bill tried a few times before really looking at the board. Somewhere deep in his mind a door opened to the possibility that maybe the whole thing wasn’t bullspit after all. Bill sat down again, his bed springs letting out creaks that sounded to Bill like cautionary moans. When he placed his fingers on the planchette they were shaking. As soon as both of them were on, the planchette started moving. Bill watched as it spelled out M-R-B-I-L-B-O.
“Mrbilbo. That’s not even a -wait, Mr. Bilbo? Like in Lord of the Rings?” The planchette didn’t move to answer the questions but instead spelled the words out again. In the stillness that followed Bill wet his lips and settled on the question he knew he would ask regardless of what the name was, and now that he was on the verge of asking, he felt his stomach roll and like his legs were made of spaghetti. He drew in air to ask twice and both times chickened out all the while feeling like there was a growing air of impatience beneath his fingertips. Finally he mustered all the courage he could find and asked.
“Are you my dad?” and watched with growing disappointment as the planchette moved toward, and then settled on, the NO on the board. It listed there momentarily before sliding to more letters K-N-O-W H-I-M.
“You know him?!” Bill felt relief and a strange lightless crawl up his arms. Am I really doing this? he asked himself for the hundredth time. The planchette moved to YES.
“Does he remember me? Does he know who I am? Can he see me?” Bill couldn’t stop his excitement so he didn’t know which of his questions the planchette answered YES again to. He imagined all three.
Bill thought for a few more moments, he had a direct line to something beyond himself and suddenly he was tongue tied. He furrowed his brow at the question that bubbled up from the void between his ears but thought it as good a question as any to ask.
“Are you an angel?” he asked. By now Bill was starting to get familiar with the feeling that charged through his fingers right before the planchette started to move. He felt it after a few seconds and the planchette moved an inch on the board.
He jumped in surprise as his mother suddenly rapped on his bedroom door.
“Billy?” her voice was muffled through the wood “who are you talking to in there?”
“No one Mom!” Bill tried to sound less frantic than he felt, his heartbeat that of a hummingbird underneath his Toronto Maple Leafs T-shirt. He revised his answer a few seconds later when he realised how feeble it must have sounded. “Er, my imaginary friend.” On the other side of the door he pictured his mother puzzling over this, her son had never once before mentioned anything about an imaginary friend, but when she spoke he could hear a trace of a smile in her voice. “You’re getting some use out of that toy Reggie gave you after all eh?”
“Yeah.” Bill offered “some toy.” he said looking down at it, the planchette’s fisheye staring back at him as if sharing in a conspiracy.
Willy continues his story this afternoon at 3 pm. Don't miss it.
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