By: Gianna Maniego
“Ayoko. I don’t want to play. I’m scared!” Maita protested. Maita wasn’t usually a scardy-cat, but what her best friend was suggesting was just too dangerous, in her opinion.
Camilla wanted Maita to join some girls class who were playing with the Quija board that Steph brought to school that day. It was early December, and the whole school was preparing for the Christmas pageant. Most of the sixth graders were participants in the pageant. Some were in the choir, some were acting as angels and shepherds. Regular classes were suspended and the whole week was devoted to rehearsals. The only ones left in the classrooms were those who weren’t included in the pageant. They were assigned to decorate the classrooms for the classrooms for the Christmas decorating contest.
Maita and her classmates were in Room 36, the honors sections. As usual, their resident artist had everything planned ahead of time, so there was nothing left to do but string up the rainbow-colored lights. Bored, some of the girls began bringing games to school. Someone brought playing cards; another brought a chess set. The braver ones brought GameBoys. Those were not allowed, but since the teachers were also busy with the pageant, Maita’s classmates got away with it. Pretty soon the classroom turned into a recreation center, with groups of students playing in various corners of the room.
The most popular game at the moment was the Quija board. About 10 girls had gathered
around the rectangular-shaped board which was painted with the alphabet, numbers, the moon and several stars. In the middles of the board were two circles. Inside one circle was the word YES, and in the other, the word NO. The girls were interesting in hushed silence to Steph, who was explaining the rules of the game.
“It’s like Spirit of the glass. You ask a spirit to join you and then ask it questions, like “when will I get married?’ or ‘will I finish school?’ stuff like those. Tapos hintayin mo yung sagot ng spirit ( Then wait for the spirit answer). “She said. ” Paano sila sasagot ( How will they answer)? Celine asked skeptically. “Pag yes, papunta papunta yung glass dun sa bilog na may nakasulat na YES. Pag NO. dun sa kabila, Pag hindi masasagot ng YES or NO, ii-spell out nung glass yung sagot ( if the answer is YES, the glass will move to the YES circle. If the answer is no, it will go to the other circle. If the question cannot be answered by yes or no, the glass will go to the alphabet or the numbers and spell out the answer). My ate once called the spirit of Jose Rizal. He was lot of fun, he kept speaking in Spanish, so nobody understood most of what he said,” Steph told her enthralled audience.
“Ibig mong sabihin (Do you mean to say), the spirits actually get inside the heart-shaped thingy and play the game with you? Hindi ako naniniwala ( I don’t believe that)! I don’t believe in ghosts… or spirits!” said Arlene, one of the prettiest girls in class. “It’s just a game,” Steph shrugged.
Isn’t that dangerous? What if tayo ang i-possess nung spirit (what if the spirit decides to posses one of us)? Emily butted in. “Puwede naman nating paalisin yung spirit. Sige na. Ano naman ang mangyayari sa atin ( We can always tell the spirit to leave. Come on, what could happen to us)? we’re in School. There’s a lot of people around us. If anything happens, e di tumakbo tayo ( we can always run away)! besides, It’s the middle of the day. Evil spirits don’t usually attack during the day, “Steph assured.
“Okey, I’m game!” said Lilibeth. She was always interested in ghost stories and loved a good scare.
“Count us in!” said Camille, from the other side of the room, Clamping a hand on Maita’s arm she literally dragged her best friend to where Steph and the others were waiting “Okey. Lilibeth, Camilla, Maita and me. That’s four. I think we have enough players. Let’s begin,” said Steph, taking charge. The four of them sat on the flooraround the Quija board, one on each side of it. Steph, being the only one who’s played the game, was in front of the board. Maita, sitting directly opposite her on the other side, had to read the letters and numbers upside down. On Steph’s right sat Camille and on her left sat Lilibeth. The rest of the girls gathered excitedly around the floor. “Wait! Who are we gonna call?” Maita asked, slowly getting into the spirit of the game. “Hmmm… what about Elvis? You know, to see whether he is really dead or if he is still alive, as what the American tabloids say?” Camille suggested. “Okay, we can try that,” said Steph, and in a hushed voice , she slowly intoned “We call the spirit of Elvis Presley. Please join us.”
Gingerly, she placed her right index in middle fingers on the heart-shaped “glass” and gestured for the other three to do the same. When there were four sets of index and middle fingers touching the glass, she asked, “spirit, are you there?” Nothing happened.
“Elvis are you with us? Steph asked again, this time louder. Still, the glass remained unmoved “See? Sabi ko sa inyo fake yan eh( I told you that’s a fake)!” cried Arlene as the rest of the audience groaned in frustation.
“No it isn’t!” Steph said indignantly. “maybe Elvis just isn’t available. Let’s call on some else!” ” “You know what, a cousin of mine told me she did something like this before in her neighbor’s house. Pero hindi sila gumamit ng board na ganyan. Gumamit lang sila ng isang malaking sheet ng Manila paper, tapos may mga drawing lang ng mga letters, sun moon, stars ganoon tapos may YES saka NO sa gitna ( They didn’t use a board like this though, They just used a big sheet of Manila paper and wrote on it, then they drew the sun moon, stars and the words YES and NO in the middle). And they used a real drinking glass that they turned upside down, “Lilibeth related. “They called on any spirit to come in, and then this spirit came in. Sabi nung spirit siya daw si Albert, isa siyang minor na devil na narinig yung tawag nung mga pinsan ko kaya sumali siya sa kanila ( The spirit his name was Albert, and that he was just a minor devil who happened to be near my cousin and her friends when they called for any spirit and decided to join in ).
“Nung una matino siyang kausap ( At first he was very cooperative). He answered their questions and all, but later on. he kept pushing the glass towards Monina, my cousin’s neighbor. When they ask why, he said he like Monina. Then all of a sudden, the glass would go the letters ‘H’ and ‘A’ Ganun lang, paulit-ulit. Yun pala, tumatawa siya( Just like that, it kept going on. Then we found out, he was laughing)!” Lilibeth said. “Baka naman someone was pushing the glass. You know, playing a trick on them, Emily said.
“That’s what my cousin thought . So she told everyone to let go of the glass. It still moved towards the letter ‘H’! They all shrieked and ran out of the room. About 10 minutes later, they all came back and asked ‘Spirit, are you still there? They put their fingers on the glass and it moved to the YES part, then moved once more to the letter ‘H’ They all shouted again and ran out of the room. One of them turned the glass right back up to ‘release’ the spirit of Albert. But every time they asked ‘Spirit, are you there?’ the glass would answer yes. It took them three hours to get rid of the spirit,” Lilibeth told her now-creeped -out classmates.
“I don’t believe you!” Celine sneered.
“I swear, I’m telling the truth!” Lilibeth shouted. “Sige nga, what if we call on Albert?” Steph challenged . “NO!”
“Sige, sige (Yes, yes)!”
The “Yes” prevailed, so Steph and the three girls gathered up their courage, closed their eyes, and called on Albert the devil.
We call on the spirit of Albert the devil, “Steph said in a voice that trembled slightly. She was scared but she didn’t want anybody to think she was. After all, she was the one who brought the Quija board to school.
Maita, Camille and Lilibeth slowly opened their eyes, and one by one placed their index and middle fingers on the glass.
“Spirit, are you there? Steph asked. The glass immediately moved to the YES circle. “Tell us your name, spirit,” Steph commanded. The glass inched its way to the letter A. The girls looked questionably at each other. Were they actually able to call on the spirit of Albert? Someone must be pushing the glass Someone’s playing a joke, Maita thought. She peered closely at the glass. The fingers were barely touching it. She herself was only resting her fingers lightly on top of it. The glass began moving to the other letters: L-B-E-R-T The glass spelled out the name of Albert. They began asking it questions: Who are you? How old are you? How did you die? Where are you now?
The spirit answered obediently. Albert, a drug addict. Seventeen. Shot in the head. in H…E… As the pointer moved towards the letter L. several girls shrieked. “SHHHH…. do you want the teacher to catch us?” Lilibeth shushed them all angrily.
“Sorry,” Arlene said sheepishly Then the girls started asking questions like’ Will I ever get a boyfriend? and ‘will I make it to the honor roll this year? At first , Albert answered obediently and promptly and promptly. But later he became slow in answering, like he was distracted by something. answering, like he was distracted by something. During a lull in the questioning, the pointer moved toward Maita, then stopped midway and headed toward Arlene, who was on the right side of Maita. Curious, Lilibeth asked, “Anything wrong spirit?” By now the whole class was crowding around the Quija group and there was dead silence, except for the voices of the four who were asking questions. The pointer immediately moved toward the letters H and A it repeated this three times, more, like it was laughing.
Lilibeth Asked again, “Spirit, why are you laughing? N-O-T-H-I-N-G, the pointer spelled out. Then it pointed at Arlene again. “Arlene, I think it likes you!” someone blurted out. “Oh my God,” Arlene shouted, scrambling away from the circle. She fled to the other side of the room, trembling and almost in tears. “Spirit, do you like anyone in the room? Steph prodded. The pointer answered YES. “Whom do you like?” Camille couldn’t stop herself from asking, even as she felt goosebumps rising along her forearms. At first, the pointer kept moving around the board, undecided. Then it moved around again, seemingly in search of someone. The crowd around the group shifted and the pointer stopped in front of a gap in the crowd. When the girls looked to see who the spirit was pointing at, her their hairs stood on end: the pointer was directlu aimed at Arlene, who was cowering in the corner. Some of the girls rushed protectively towards Arlene, who by then burst into tears.
“Send it away!” shouted Emily as she hugged her sobbing classmate. “Tell Albert to leave! now!”
So, Steph, Camille and Lilibeth turned back towards the board. Suddenly, they noticed that Maita was sitting so still, her eyes staring sightlessly ahead. She looked like she was catatonic. Camille nudged her gently, but Maita remained in a trance. “Maita! Are you okey? What’s wrong?” all three girls asked. Maita looked as if she didn’t hear a thing.
All of a sudden, the pointer moved towards the letter H and A repeatedly. By this time, the whole class was totally creeped out, most of them pleaded with steph and the other to spend the malevolent spirit away. Steph finally gathered up her courage and said, “Thank you very much, spirit. You may leave now.”
After about five minutes, she asked, “spirit, are you there?”
The pointer moved! It went to the letters H and A again. It was still there and it was still laughing! Suddenly. somebody screamed!
“Arlene! Arlene! Wake up!” Emily cried, shaking Arlene’s shoulder. Arlene had fainted! “Oh no! Maita!” shouted Camille.
Maita was slumped over the board. She too had fainted. Panic erupted in class. Camille and Lilibeth grabbed Maita around the shoulders and tried to shift her away from the board. Steph also rushed to the side of her friend, fanning her with a piece of paper. The Quija board lay abandoned. After a minute or so, Arlene and Maita woke up. “What happened?” said Maita.
“Hinimatay ka, hindi mo ba alam (You fainted, didn’t you know)?” Camille said, her voice still panicked.
“I did? I don’t remember. The last thing I remember is the pointed going around and around on the board and then I felt cold, like someone poured water down my back. What happened to Albert?” Maita asked. Meanwhile, Arlene had shaken off her stupor and was talking animatedly. “I felt something go through me. Like a cold wind. It felt like ice. Then I heard a male voice laughing. That’s the last thing I remember,” Arlene said. Steph looked over at the Quija board. The pointer stood curiously in the middle of it, as if poised to answer a question. Reluctantly , she went back and, putting her fingers on the pointer asked, “Spirit, are you still there?”
The pointer remained blessedly still. Albert had finally left them alone. Nobody tried to play with the Quija board after that.