“Now is the time for silence, as we join hands and complete the circle.”
Thirteen of us sat close-packed at the table properly sized for ten. The room was large enough, but the usual furniture had all been pushed aside to make room for the table. At the north point sat the medium for the evening. The remaining twelve of us were guests, and our host who sat defiantly at the southern point glaring at the medium.
The medium’s helpers sat around the perimeter of the room. At least, those that admitted to being involved. Earlier they had been busy, shifting furniture, moving in the heavy round table, and other similar arcane tasks.
He arrived to find the room prepared and ready, which was expected since one doesn’t expect an elderly gentleman to move furniture on his own.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is that the room remain silent. No spirit would deign to appear over a disruption.”
There was some murmuring, but by and large we all wanted some answers and had agreed to this measure to get them. So most everyone cooperated willingly. Our host had, naturally, been outvoted and was the only one I expected to cause trouble. But then, we suspected he was behind it all, and had the most to lose.
Regardless, silence fell like a blanket over the room. Some of the helpers took this as their cue to dim the gas lights, leaving only a single candle burning on the table. In its flickering light, the world no longer seemed quite as orderly a place.
It became so quiet that we could hear each other breathing, and the occasional faint pop from the somewhat irregular wax of the candle.
The medium began to whisper an incantation. We all heard the words, but they seemed to slip in our ears and vanish from our ken before they could be understood. We all kept a death grip on the hands to either side. I may come to regret that choice of words, but will let it stand as it reflected how everyone at the table felt.
The murder had surprised all of high society. It was so outré, with the victim clearly the subject of some sort of dark ritual. I had not seen the body or scene aside from the tame pictures that made the papers, but the descriptions from those who had left little to the imagination. They also left a very strong urge to turn back time and not hear those descriptions at all. I don’t think I was considered a suspect, but one never quite knows how the minds of the detective class works.
Our host, on the other hand most certainly was a suspect. I had not been the least surprised to find that the other three suspects named by the papers were also at the table, as were a number of people of similar standing and proximity to the case who had not been named publicly at all, as well as a few I did not recognize at all. I naturally assumed that those were like me, clearly here as a check on the outcome.
The candle flame began to gutter, and then rather unexpectedly given the still air, leaned over and burned like a blow torch aimed across the table.
Directly at me.
I had done nothing.
And yet, here I was, suddenly the object of scrutiny of all of those involved in this case, witnesses, suspects, and detective.
And present in a translucent shade hovering over the table, the victim as well.
All staring at me.
The shade and the candle flame pointing at me.
There was nothing I could do.
They ripped me limb from limb that night, left my still barely living body spread out on that table. My final thought was to wonder who would investigate this murder?