Gavin was getting frustrated. For nearly two weeks, he had spent his evenings trying to make contact with the spirit world. Each attempt, though, appeared to end in failure. He had always held an interest in the paranormal, especially when it came to ghosts and spirits. Growing up near Centralia, the Pennsylvania town infamous for a coal mining disaster, there was never a shortage of related urban legends circulating around in his youth. Bullying during his childhood for being chubby only fueled his escape into books, television shows, and Websites about the paranormal. This interest persisted, even after he dropped his excess weight towards the end of high school. After enrolling in the local college of his town of Hopewell, Gavin took an Anomalous Events course as a first-year elective. Learning about explorations into psychic phenomena by scientific researchers led him to declare parapsychology as his major. Now, as a twenty-two year old finishing up his masters degree, he was trying to complete his capstone project. For Gavin, this meant making clear contact with the spirit world and documenting his experiences. Unfortunately, these experiences had yet to add up to anything supernatural. For the first five days of his experiment, he attempted sensory deprivation through the Ganzfield Experiment. This simply consisted of covering his eyes with ping-pong ball halves, wearing noise-cancelling headsets, and sitting beneath a red light lamp. Depending on where you look online, many have claimed this as a method to hear spirits, channel entities, or to simply hallucinate without drugs. However, Gavin experienced nothing beyond silence and red light shining through his eyelids. Following this, he attempted EVP sessions in supposedly haunted places. This included a storage area on the third floor that was rumored to have been where a student committed suicide fifteen years prior. According to the urban legend, the room became so haunted that no incoming students would stay there and it was converted from a residence. Despite these claims, Gavin’s recorder only picked up his own voice asking questions and nothing else, aside from easily dismissable background noises. He also tried to walk around the school buildings on chilly March nights with an EMF detector to find psychic energy. However, this only predictably went off when he ventured to close to a power outlet. Gavin finally attempted to use more occult methods, such as spirit boards, pendulums, and oracle cards. However, all this seemed to result in nothing more than wax from candles becoming stuck in his dorm room carpet. No mysterious knocking, no disembodied voices, and no lights flickering. Nothing.
Following these two weeks of failed attempts and limited sleep, Gavin began venting his frustrations on every paranormal forum and social media group that he could register for. This spamming went on for an additional three days. The fourth day, Gavin woke up to find a new email message in his inbox. It was an automatic notice from one of the sites he registered for. Apparently, someone had sent him a private message. Gavin ran his fingers through his dark hair and yawned, still half asleep as he clicked on the link to view his message. The link brought him to one of the paranormal forums he had recently registered on and opened his message inbox. The message was from an account with a nonsensical screen name composed of random letters and numbers. Gavin initially thought that this was a scammer’s message, until he read it. The message was coherent and grammatically correct, which made it being a foreign scam operation unlikely. The message itself claimed that the writer, who signed as “Robert,” had ahold of many texts on contacting spiritual entities. Apparently, the Internet was rife with bad advice when it came to the occult, and many of the methods found by Gavin were notoriously ineffective among psychic groups. Robert also claimed that such rituals have required a certain amount of energy; magic, some people might call it. Many people have either lacked access to such energy, or their connections to it have remained dormant. However, he claimed that he could lend some energy to Gavin’s search. Specifically, Robert wrote that he could charge a hematite crystal with his energy to make a magical battery. He offered to mail both this crystal, and a ritual, to Gavin free of charge. Robert claimed that he was just intrigued by the idea of contributing to the parapsychology field. He provided his email address and told Gavin in his message to send him his physical address if he was interested. Clicking on “view profile” in the message to Gavin to a surprisingly filled out forum profile for Robert. His profile also contained a personal website link that took Gavin to Robert’s page on some network for freelance psychics. Gavin tried to not chuckle at the “Mystical Robert” heading of the page while he read about the years of experience as a medium that he claimed to hold. Gavin felt like he was running out of time to get something worthwhile for his capstone project, and Robert (whoever he was) was surprisingly not charging him for his services. Plus, Gavin’s physical address was a mailbox in the ground floor lobby of his dorm building...which couldn’t even be accessed without a school ID. Feeling relatively safe with his decision, he emailed Robert his mailing address.
Gavin was impressed when he unlocked his mailbox four days later and found a notice to pick up a package from the campus post office. A quick walk across campus on a pleasant Spring-like afternoon yielded a bubbled, letter-sized courier envelope that was postmarked from Pittsburgh. It seemed like a strange coincidence that Robert also lived in Pennsylvania, but that never came up in their emails. Inside, Gavin found pages of typed material, a printed image, and a small gray crystal. The pages included directions for a contact ritual, and a letter of good luck from Robert. The printed image appeared to be many triangles, that were interconnected into a circle. They looked to Gavin to be forming some sort of mix between a mandala and a multi-pointed star. Robert’s letter revealed that this was the symbol that he would need to use during the contact ritual. The materials he needed to buy for the ritual were surprisingly simple; a brand new white candle, and a brand new black candle. This meant a bus ride to the local home goods store, but being active with his project felt good to Gavin. After acquiring his candles, he decided to read over the ritual for a day before performing it. The next day was Friday, and it would be easier to stay up until the recommended time of 3am in Robert’s directions during the weekend. After attending his Friday classes, Gavin’s evening went by in an uneventful haze of eating frozen pizza and mindlessly surfing the Web on his laptop. As 3am neared, though, he snapped back to alertness and began to set up the materials on the metal table he used as his desk. He laid down the printed image Robert sent him, as the letter said this could be done in place of drawing the complicated design by hand. He then placed the small hematite crystal in the center of the star-like design. Gavin then set up the candles in their holders; the white candle to the left of the image, and the black candle to the right of the image. After setting up a digital camera he borrowed from the college library on its tripod, he saw that it was 3:02 on his digital alarm clock. After taking a deep breath, he decided that he might as well begin.
“Interitum bona Domini invocabo vobis hodie.” read Gavin from the directions as he lit the white candle to his left. He believed that this was Latin, and that he was not pronouncing the words even remotely right. However, Robert assured him in his letter that pronunciation was not as important as concentrating on the words themselves. Whatever that meant. He then turned and moved his lighter to the black candle. While lighting it he read again from the paper: “
Audite quaeso dominus meus de chao casum vocationem, et aperire ostium inter mundos.” After putting the lighter aside, Gavin held the paper with both hands and began reading the third line of incantations. “Et ego me ad id opus vas videbitur. mortalis corporis lucidi tibi et narrabunt.” The paper then directed him to blow out the white candle, followed by reading “Wisi enim ad minim operam opera dissipantis” aloud. Gavin then blew out the black candle, followed by the incantation “Sit hic manere in aeternum aperta ianua.” He then sat back, unsure of what was supposed to follow. After a few seconds, he could have sworn that the air around him got suddenly frigid. He suddenly felt queasy and was gripped with an irrational sense of terror, like he was about to be attacked by some unseen predator. Gavin stood up abruptly, and the temperature room instantly felt normal. His sense of dread and nausea was also unexplainably gone. He shook the strange experience off as the power of suggestion combined with his sleep-deprived mind. Considering the ritual another failure, Gavin turned off the digital camera and headed to bed with the intent to figure out how to salvage his capstone project the next day.
Gavin woke up the next day at noon. The first thing that he noticed was that his throat was burning and his head was pounding. Sitting up caused a moment of dizziness that he had to steady himself from before shuffling his way to his sink to get some water. As he filled up a glass, he could feel every muscle in his body scream with fatigue and every one of his joints ached. If he had drank the night before, he would have sworn he was hungover. But he hadn’t drank the night before, Gavin rarely drank alcohol. After quickly gulping down a glass of water, he placed his glass on the sink counter and wondered if he was coming down with the flu. He couldn’t afford to get sick at this point in the semester, but he probably should force his body to walk to the campus health clinic. First, his still-burning throat needed some more water. As Gavin reached once again for his glass, it seemed to tremble on the counter before jumping into his hand on its own accord….
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