Seance for a Halloween Party (1920's)

A Mock Seance as the Dramatic Climax to the Halloween Party

Remember when you were a young­ster how your hair rose on end and chills raced up and down your spine as, spellbound, you listened to the tale of the window that slowly opened and the door that wouldn’t stay shut? Well, don’t think, for one minute, that you’ve outgrown that hair-raising game of arctic spinal tag – as long as there is hair to rise, ghost stories will raise it.

As a dramatic climax to the Halloween party, stage a seance with grim visitors from beyond the grave; it’s a thrill you can’t forget. Explain to the guests that you have engaged the services of a professional medium – Madame Sostill, who will answer all questions about the past and future.

The seance, of course, is a fake. It is merely a blind to start the telling of an uncanny ghost story; but it adds a bit of plausible reality to the tale and brings the guests into the spirit of the thing.

The medium has two confederates (colleagues) that supply the necessary weird noises and unearthly lights. One is stationed in the room, the other just outside the window.

Items Needed for the Halloween Seance

A cat crier (to signal the confederate out­ side the window);

several yards of white maline fastened to the end of a long stick  (to supply the “floating mist”);

a wet sponge dangling on a string also attached to a long stick (to provide the “something wet” that flaps across the face);

an electric fan (to serve as the “hum of a distant air­ plane” and to create the “breeze that wafts through the window”);

three flashlights, two of which are covered with red and black paper to resemble “burning eyes,” the third to be used by the ghost himself when he floods his green and chalky face with light;

a piece of thin glass, several books, papers, a chair and a gavel (to create the “pande­ monium”);

and one ghost – as bloodcurdling a shade as ever returned to earth.

Setting Up the Room for the Halloween Seance

The room in which the seance is held is stripped of all unnecessary furniture and the guests sit on the floor facing the medium. There is a window left open one inch from below – just enough space to permit unseen fingers slowly to lift it. As most of the plot of the story centers about this window, it should be in full view of all.

Begin the Halloween Seance

When everyone is seated, lights are turned out,making theroom as black as the wing of a bat. confederate enters cloaked in black. His face is hidden by a black hood. Black gloves are on his hands. No one sees or hears him come and he softly glides to a place of vantage back of the seated guests. The properties that he needs have been placed behind a screen and covered with a black cloth. The medium starts her story:

“Before beginning the seance, it may interest you to hear of some of my experi­ences with those beyond the grave. I, too, was once a scoffer – an unbeliever of things supernatural. And not until I, with my own eyes, had actually seen one of the undead, was I convinced that such things really do exist…’

“It happened eight years ago while I was traveling through Englandwith my aunt. We were visiting one of the hospitals just outside London. My aunt was doing social service work at the time and asked me to go with her. I was very much attracted by one of the patients – a beautiful young girl whose pale face and tragic eyes haunted me long after I had passed her cot. I spoke to the doctor about her, asking who she was and why she was there. He answered saying, ‘Oh, she’s a nut-gone dippyabout ghosts­ says that every night at two o’clock her locked window sl0wly opens, the sound of an airplane is heard, a breeze blows over her face and two burning eyes stare at her. Oh, she is cuckoo all right and tomorrow night we are taking her to an asylum.’ We walked on, but somehow I couldn’t get that tragic face out of my mind. She seemed so young, so frightened, so very much alone. I wanted to help her if I could and the next morning I returned to the hospital and asked permission to speak with her.

“I went up to the girl and said, ‘I have come to help you. Please trust me and together we may be able to unravel this mystery.’

” ‘You think I lie!’ she cried,starting up in bed and gripping the covers with tense fingers. ‘O my God! You are like the rest, you think I am insane. I have had a terrible experience, and you, too, think I imagine it. For a week I have sat in the dark staring
at my closed window and always at two o’clock it slowly opens and’ – I interrupted her here as she seemed to be so excited; a dark fear was in her eyes. ‘Come,’ I said, ‘I will go home with you tonight. Both of us will watch and wait for the hour of two and see if we can’t figure out what causes the window to rise. I am sure that it can easily be explained and we will chase the old bugaboo home.’ My words seemed to give her confidence and she waited with feverish impatience until the doctors granted me permission to take her home for one more night.

“We left about five o’clock in the afternoon for a small town named West­bourne. The house where she lived seemed to be just like hundreds of other small houses, built in a row. It was not an old house and in no way gave the impression of being haunted. I asked her about the historyof the place but she could tell me nothing other than that it had been standing empty for two years when she and her sister moved in. The sister had since married and gone away, leaving her to keep house alone.

“We sat talking and reading until one o’clockwhen we decided to retire. We quick­ly changed and went to bed. The girl was visibly agitated, her hands trembled and her muscles twitched, in fact she was so utterly upset that I thought it might ease her mind
to tell me, in detail, just what happened each night at two o’clock. She answered, ‘I do not know what thing enters this room each night, but just as the clock strikes two I hear a weird, unearthly sound, like the cry of a demon cat. Then the window slowly opens. I hear the sound of a distant airplane. A cold air rushes through the window as a white mist floats through the room. Some­ times I feel a cold wet touch brushing against
my face. Two red burning eyes look down at me. Whatever the thing is it seems to be searching, always searching. I want to shriek, but my lips are mute, I want to rush out of the room, but I cannot move. Something stronger than myself keeps me paralyzed.’

“To tell you the truth I was beginning to get a bit uneasy myself, when I glanced at the clock and saw that it was just three minutes of two. ‘Snap out the big ceiling light,’ I whispered. ‘Do not move unless I tell you to.’ I could hear the girl’s breathing becoming more rapid and nervous· and I could see that she was sitting up in bed, her eyes glued upon the window.

“SuddenlyI became aware of a weird cat­ like call (medium squeezes cat crier to signal confederate outside the window). I glanced at the window and was horrified to see two red burning eyes staring in (confederate holds up the two red and black flashlights). In spite of myself the gooseflesh went up my spine. A quick glance at the girl told me that she had thrown herself flat on her bed with her face buried in her hands. Itwas up to me
alone to ferret this thing out. I fixed my eyes on the window. To my amazement it slowly opened (confederate opens window with a stick wrapped in black crepe paper). I heard the hum of an airplane coming closer and a wave of cold air swept through the room (confederate turns on electric fan and trains it on the window).Justabove myhead I seemed to see a soft white mist floating in the air. Something cold touched my face (confederate indoors waves white maline over the heads of the guests and occasionally touches the face of one with the wet sponge).

“Seconds passed which seemed like hours while this undead thing – this eerie some­thing – kept searching, for what I do not know. I could feel ice like fingers touching my shoulders, my arms, moving cautiously, searchingly, lightly over my body. To tell the truth it got to be too much for me and I let out a yell of revulsion and horror. The moment I let out that scream, pandemonium broke loose in the room-pictures fell from
the walls, papers rattled, books fell to the floor – the table lamp went over with a shattering of glass-there were tappings and rappings all about me (confederate supplies the necessary atmosphere). I leaped from the bed to switch on the light and, as my finger touched the button,the thing – what­ever it was – appeared at the window and for a second I saw it – a horrible face of green and white with red rims around its eyes (ghost stands outside the window and throws the flashlight on his face). Look, I can see it now!”

At this point the medium lets out a blood­ curdling shriek in which most of the guests join in. The lights are flashed on in the room and the hostess announces that the seance will have to be postponed as the ghosts are getting hungry. This is a signal to enter the dining room for a repast of such comfortingly material things as potato salad, doughnuts and coffee.

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