Jerry, the beatnik “ghostologist”, was manic as he scurried across the room and around his equipment, the thinning threads of his hairline and clothing masked by pure movement. Patty almost forget that there was an even larger presence in her home. She looked up at her husband’s mantel portrait and it seemed to look right back. She shivered, then smiled, and brushed aside the feeling of static cling running over her skin.
“Pretty much the same idea as the cloud seeding the military did back in Iraq,” Jerry said, continuing a one-sided conversation. He dumped a vat of white powder into what could’ve been a shop-vac and interfaced everything with his laptop. “Crushed salt and glass. Highly conductive. We hit those ragheads with a new thunderstorm every hour back in the day.”
Patty gave his insane theories a bemused grin and glanced at her watch. “I’m sure you understand the importance of time…”
“Yeah, yeah, I gotcha, Mrs. Wilson. It’s almost 10:00. We’ll be ready for showtime.”
Hupert Wilson had been dead for six months. An accomplished psychologist, he had believed in utter transparency. Crystal Walls. At 10:00 every night, the Wilsons let each other know every secret thought and critique. It wasn’t always an enjoyable experience for Patty, but it had made her a stronger woman.
And every 10 pm since Hupert’s death, he looked at her from his portrait and she felt a crippling weakness. It was all in her head, she knew, but she needed closure, real or imagined.
“Alright..” Jerry said at 9:59. “This room’s about to go white. Be ready for anything!”
He flipped the switch to the vac. But instead of a steady, even stream upwards, the hose jerked violently, spraying Patty instead. The powder stuck to her nervous flesh, covering her eyes, settling between her teeth.
She felt him. Hupert. Just as Jerry had promised, the powder was a perfect medium. The universe crackled. Hubert was on her. In her. At that moment she realized how much she had lied, he had lied. Crystals Walls. But now they were one, inside and out, and the overwhelming truths were horrible.
She screamed, her voice the pitch of breaking glass.
Image by Bernat Casero