How to Train Your Poltergeist

Over the past week Wendy had been waking up with strange bruises on her right hand. She had gone to the doctor and had blood work and various tests done all of which came back negative – that is to say there appeared to be no medical reason for her bruised and sore hand.

Lately she had been waking in the middle of the night to the strange sensation of pressure in the vicinity of the offending hand. It was a strange, enveloping kind of pressure that felt almost as if her hand were being held…desperately so.

Having exhausted nearly every legitimate avenue Wendy decided to do what every sensible person did when every legitimate avenue had been exhausted – she took the mystery to her friends on Facebook. 

It wasn’t more than 10 minutes before someone humorously suggested the possibility of a poltergeist. Of course the idea was ridiculous and obviously meant in jest but somehow it kept lingering in the back of Wendy’s mind. It wasn’t the initial suggestion that prompted any level of curiosity however but rather the various and generally odd things that had been occurring in the apartment over the past year since Wendy and her room-mate had moved in. Mostly things would simply move around. 

Wendy would get up in the morning and prepare for work only to find her keys were not where she had left them. It became almost ridiculous the lengths to which she would interrogate her roommate – the obvious suspect – about why she would relocate her keys to the strangest of places like inside a vase, or under a mug on the counter etc. 

Once she woke to find all of the toilet paper un-spooled in the bathroom and on the floor, which would have made sense if it hadn’t happened before Chairman Meow joined the family. Still as strange as these incidents were each were tackled on their own and in isolation and the thought of a supernatural prankster never occurred to Wendy.

Of course now she couldn’t get the thought out of her mind no matter how hard she tried. She thought of mentioning it to Lenore but abandoned the idea almost as soon as it materialized. She would be thought an idiot. No this was something she had to investigate on her own.

One night when Lenore was working the evening shift Wendy went to work laying out a test she had devised. It was not a complicated test and frankly it consisted of asking a series of yes or no questions and awaiting responses of some sort that only a poltergeist could be responsible for – the jiggling of such and such an item or the tipping of another depending upon the mood of her haunt.

Standing in the middle of her kitchen feeling like an enormous fool Wendy announced to the air that she was wise to the hidden house guest.

“I know you are here,” she said. “I don’t know why and I don’t know what you are up to but you’ve got to stop crushing my hand when I am asleep because it makes it hard to work and quite frankly it is very rude. Also stop messing with my keys – it makes me late for work and gets me in trouble.”

The apartment was painfully quiet with only her own words echoing back to Wendy’s ears. She knew if their were a mirror in front of her that her complexion would be as red as her hair. 

“Listen I’m not going to stand here any longer feeling like a loser speaking to nothingness so I have two basic questions that are going to determine whether I go online and learn how to perform an exorcism on your ass or not,” she said. “First – is there anyone here? Second – do you mean harm? These are simple yes and no questions so for yes simply knock something over and for no knock two things over.”

In the obvious moments after her questions when nothing happened Wendy began to feel like she might simply be losing her mind. Of course there would be no response because the entire effort was stupid. She also realized she had asked a yes and a no question one right after the other which was a bad start in general. 

That night she chose to say nothing to Lenore and simply proceeded with normal evening routine and go to bed.

It was 2:17 am when Wendy awoke to the sound of glass breaking in the kitchen. She leapt to her feet without thinking and stumbled to the kitchen inching slowly down the hall soundlessly aware in the back of her mind that Lenore was still snoring away oblivious to the clatter. No help there. As she approached the kitchen she thought about all of those horror movies where people in similar circumstances would shout out – “is anyone there?” and chuckled inwardly at the idiocy of announcing your presence to an intruder. Better to soundlessly sneak up on them with a broom handle and maybe catch them unawares.

It didn’t take long to realize the small apartment was empty. With the lights on Wendy went suddenly very cold at the realization that three glasses had been knocked from the open shelf in the kitchen where they were stored well out of cat reach. Three tipped items. A yes and a no. But which response was to which question?

Wendy whispered into the air – “Ok look I appreciate the response. It seems a tad late but better late then never,” she said. “Listen I’m on a bit of a budget and this system of destroying my dishes is not really a long term communication solution but I have an idea we’ll try tomorrow…until then thanks for the effort and please don’t destroy anything else.”

A ghost of its word Wendy awoke the next morning with a slightly less sore hand and her keys exactly where she left them (albeit three glasses short). She chose not to say anything to Lenore until she could implement her no plan to communicate.

Supplies were required. Two shelves, string, green balloons and red balloons. Being a Saturday Wendy was able to run out gather what was necessary. Than she waited impatiently for Lenore to go out before engaging with Plan B.

Wendy installed the two shelves high on the living room wall. On one shelf she placed six red balloons behind a string run just high enough to keep a breeze from blowing them off. On the other shelf she placed green balloons.

Standing in the middle of the room she began to speak.

“Ok, I have a gut feeling that there is someone here with Lenore and I,” she started. “It’s pretty simple. I am going to ask one question a night for now to keep things simple. I’ve decided that before we go any further I need to name you and since we’re operating on a pretty binary system I will make a suggestion and you knock down a green balloon for yes and a red balloon for no.”

Having dove in with both feet Wendy was past feeling dumb and just decided to go with the experiment to see where it took her.

“I’ve always been partial to Indian culture and since for some reason I feel like you are a male presence I would like to know if I can call you Bhoot, it means spirit?”

With that question out of the way Wendy went about the rest of her day, thankful that the never observant Lenore didn’t even notice the renovations, and went eagerly to bed hoping to hasten the next day and the next question.

When she awoke (well ahead of Lenore) she snuck out of bed and into the living room where before her was a wonderful, frightening and frustrating sight – every red balloon was on the floor.

“Ok so Bhoot is out I guess,” Wendy exclaimed while thinking that this was going to be a lot harder than she had first thought and somehow she still had to explain all of this to Lenore. The future was definitely looking interesting.

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