MADISON: Okay, so I don’t get the point of documenting this at all. I only brought the tape recorder because Sophie forced me to. She said it belongs to her mom, which, yeah, I can tell. It’s ancient, and there’s all these band stickers peeling off the front. I feel like a hipster trying to make a mixtape.

But I needed the Ouija Board, and Sophie would only lend it to me if I agreed to record myself using it. It’s stupid. I mean, the board looks like Barbie barfed all over it. I know it’s not magic. But, to be totally honest, stupid things happen all the time. And the way I see it, there are two options here. Either the board has powers… or I do. And I’d way rather believe in Hasbro’s magical manufacturing than think I had anything to do with this.

So I’m just gonna start.

Right now. Right fucking now.


Aya Velasquez. Are you present?


So calling out into the void is like, so not working. I can’t hear anything except some dumbass birds chirping. I hope you’re not ignoring me, Aya. Because that would be a dick move, just fyi. When I don’t want you around, you’re everywhere. Now, the one time I actually ask for you, you’re not here.

I don’t even want to be here. Harding is a freaky nightmare zone, and girls should literally never be allowed on the grounds. Thank God they’re closing the day camp. I guess finding out that your head counselor is a literal serial killer will do that.

Ugh. I don’t even like thinking about it. My mom says he’s never getting out of jail, not ever, and my dad said he’d shoot him if he came for me again. My parents have been super weird ever since the whole attempted-murder thing. My mom is even, like, paying attention to me, but I’m sure she’ll be back to her usual self in a week. Until then, I’m trapped in the house. I had to climb out my window and call an Uber just to get here.

Then I had to follow the caution tape up to this shed because obviously I didn’t remember how I got here the last time. Consequences of being knocked out by a homicidal fuckboy. We were walking along the path, heading back to camp, and then he hit me. Honestly, it was kind of a relief. Blacking out was a vacation after the complete mind-fuck that was my camp experience. But then I opened my eyes, and the nausea was back again, AND I was tied-up. My wrists hurt so bad, like 10 times worse than any itchy sweater my mom ever bought me.

Counselor Chad stood in the corner, lighting candles in a weird shape. I didn’t want him to know I was awake, so I held my breath. I tried to wiggle out of the ropes, but they wouldn’t budge. There was so much mist in the room. For a second, I thought he must’ve brought a fog machine or something. Then he walked up to me.

He smelled like a mix of incense and axe body spray, like my brother’s room after his friends come over. He touched my face, and it was super gross. I wanted to bite his palm or something, but I was worried the freak would get off on it. I didn’t know there was anything supernatural going on. I was just afraid.

He started chanting in some gibberish language. It was kind of like English, but only parts of the words. Later, the cops said it was Latin, and that the concrete I was kneeling on was some sort of weird, makeshift altar. The hand that wasn’t covering my mouth rose into the air. Chad was holding a knife. A big, old, bloodstained knife.

It was your blood, according to the labs. Yours, and another girl’s too, and a couple others who they couldn’t find in the system.

And it was almost me. I almost became a bloodstain. Staring at that knife, waiting for him to get all stabby… I was sure I was gonna die. Sure of it. And I didn’t have one of those cheesy near-death experiences, where you see a bright light and become a better person or whatever. I didn’t feel at peace. I just felt mad. A little sad, too, but mostly mad.  

And I started to do something, but I have literally no idea what. My body was working like forty steps ahead of my brain. But I guess I was screaming, from behind Chad’s hand, and my knees were vibrating against the concrete. Then the whole shed started shaking, like actually, physically shaking. The mist started sloshing around the room. And I thought, fuck it. Fuck everything. I’m gonna die, but at least this asshole will go down with me.

And then I saw you.

The same chick I’ve been seeing since that first freaky day with this Ouija Board. Aya Velasquez: a teenager in low-rise jeans and a tube top that must’ve been fashionable back in 2007. Everything went still. I was so fucking tired. Chad took his hand off my mouth, but I didn’t scream again. I just stared at you. I don’t know why. I guess I just didn’t want to die alone.

But then you flickered, or glitched, or something, and suddenly you weren’t transparent anymore. You looked like a freaking person, almost. You took a step, and I could hear your ugly-ass Ugg boots hitting the ground.

Chad heard it too. He stopped blowing his disgusting vape breath in my face and turned around. I thought he was gonna pee his pants when he saw you. You looked seriously scary, even with the god-awful lipgloss. Honestly, I was impressed. But then he switched chants and held his hand up like a fucking exorcist, and I started to worry. I couldn’t really tell what was happening. It looked like he was making an air tunnel, or something, using the fog to suck you out of the shed. But you kept walking, and the mist just kind of moved out of your way.

Then you started to GLOW. Like, literally glow, not the kind of glow they talk about in skincare ads. Did you do that on purpose, the whole glowing thing? Chad kept chanting, but you just leaned down and picked up a rock. He was practically screaming, and my head hurt SO MUCH, and then I puked all over the back of his polo shirt. He didn’t even react, he just kept chanting. You were flickering again, but this time you were getting lighter, transparent. He finished his chant and you lifted your arms. The rock came down, hard, and he fell.

All of a sudden, all the mist left the room. Chad was on the floor. I was tied to the altar. And you were completely, totally gone.

I waited there for what felt like forever. I had— have no idea what happened. I don’t even know if you’re still around, or if whatever Chad did actually worked and you’ve moved on or whatever. I don’t even know if any of this is real.

Eventually, somebody came banging on the door, and it collapsed. It was the homeless man, the one I’d seen on the path. His name’s Richard. He untied me, and then he used the ropes to tie Chad to the ground. Then he walked me back to camp.

When the cops came, they were all suspicious of him, which, big surprise, the police missed the point. I told them it was all Chad’s fault, that he was the one who’d kidnapped me and tried to fucking murder me. They went and found him in the shed, and then they took him away.

I saw him at his first court date. He looked old. Like, really old, way older than he seemed before.

Mom cried, like, the whole time. She still can’t believe what happened, and she doesn’t even know what actually went down. I told everyone that Richard knocked Chad out and saved me. My dad gives 20s to homeless people on the street now, so I guess something good came out of all this. But even though Richard was super nice, I know he wasn’t the one who saved me.

You did. A fucking ghost saved my life. And I just want to know if you’re still alive, or after-alive, or whatever. I feel responsible, I guess. And more than anything, I wanna say thank you. Because manners, or whatever, and also because I really, really like being alive. No offense, I’m sure death is great, too, but. You know what, never mind. This is so stupid. There’s no one here.

I’m gonna get up. I’m gonna get up, and move on, and forget any of this ever happened. I’m gonna leave, Aya!

AYA! AYA VELASQUEZ! Can you hear me? I’m CALLING FOR YOU, or SUMMONING YOU, or whatever the fuck it is I’m supposed to do here! Come here!



AYA: Oh my god.

MADISON: Oh my god.

AYA: I’m here! I’m— well, I’m not alive, but I’m home! Hello, home! Hello, disgusting dirt floors! You know, I threw a party in here once — it was fun, I guess. Well, no, actually, it wasn’t. I blame the ugly wallpaper. It looks like someone’s grandma vomited up potpourri, and it just ruins the vibe—

MADISON: Excuse me. Are you done with your fucking monologue?

AYA: Oh, yeah, of course! I’m sorry, I’m all over the place. Hi! How are you?


AYA: Really?

MADISON: No, not really. Did you even listen to anything I just said?

AYA: I think so? I mean, give me a break, I basically just woke up. Or maybe “woke up” isn’t the right word — I just came into consciousness. I was in this weird, in-between place where everything is just light and color. I’ve been there before; it looks kind of like a bath bomb dissolving in water. I was there, and then I was here. Floating in the forest, my toes phasing through the grass. I heard you shout something, and it felt like someone tied a bungee cord to my belly-button. I got yanked forward, up the path, through trees and bushes and doors. I was pulled here. To you.

MADISON: Do you always talk like that?

AYA: Like what?

MADISON: Like you’re in some long-winded novel.

AYA: Oh. Yeah, I guess I do.

MADISON: Well, you should stop.

AYA: I can’t promise anything. Dead people, we’re not exactly known for changing. I try, but still.


AYA: So— can I ask you something?


AYA: Why’d you call for me? Not that I’m not grateful. You just don’t seem to like me. You’re actually surprisingly cold, for a kid.

MADISON: I’m not a kid.

AYA: Yeah, you are. That’s not a judgement. I’m a kid, too, or at least I feel like one. You feel older. You even hold yourself like a grown-up — the way your chin’s always jutting out, and you frown like — like that, like that frown right there. But you’re a kid.

MADISON: Is that why you saved me?

AYA: No. And yes. But mostly no.

MADISON: That is so helpful. Thanks, really.

AYA: Okay. I’m sorry. I should be clearer. I would’ve saved you, no matter what, because people deserve to live, even if they are old or mean or wear tacky pink nail polish.

MADISON: Wow, thanks.

AYA: But— There’s another reason for all of this, too. The reason that Chad went looking for you, and the reason I could save you, and the reason you almost saved yourself. And—now’s the time that I should tell you.

MADISON: Do you have to?

AYA: What? Yes! I mean, Madison, this is huge. Really huge. You can't hide from something like this.

MADISON: Says who?

AYA: Says me! It’s a bone too big to bury.

MADISON: Yeah, well, let’s bury it.

AYA: I just said that I couldn't!

MADISON: Well I can. I mean, Aya, I’m good. I’m alive. Chad’s in prison, and I’m alive. After today, I am never coming back here. Do I really have to know about the rest of it?

AYA: I don't know.

MADISON: Then don't tell me.

AYA: But what if you need to know more? What if something happens, or someone else comes, and you need to know?

MADISON: Then I’ll come find you. Okay? If anything goes wrong, I will come and find you.

AYA: Okay. If that's what you need, it’s okay. You can go. And I’ll be — well, I’ll be here.


(Sounds of walking out)

MADISON: Oh, and Aya?

AYA: Yeah?

MADISON: Thank you, or whatever. For saving me from that asshole.

AYA: You're welcome.


AYA: Thank you too.

[Door shuts.]

AYA: Hey! You left your tape recorder!