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William Knight

"That’s a perfect circle of protection, Sylvia," Audrey said admiring her friends steadiness with the salt pourer.

Amethyst is a semi-precious stone of silicon dioxide. It has a moh scale hardness of 7.0 and grows in tetrahedral, or dog-tooth, crystals. The colour, ranging from lilac to deep purple, is caused by the presence of manganese which when heated can turn the mineral yellow. The name is derived from the Greek words for "Not drunken," and the stone has long been associated with sobriety.
Sylvia Fortune possessed Amethyst because it offered protection from errant spirits and heightened her connection to the after life.
She picked up the faded-purple stone and ran the duster across its surfaces before arranging the bowl of miscellaneous crystals in the centre of the table. Crystals, pure water, and – on the sideboard since it was not part of the proceedings – a fresh pot-pourri with her favourite lavender-scented oil. She was satisfied with the layout of the octagonal table.
She took a tape recorder and a collection of blank tapes from the sideboard and plugged it into the wall. She placed the gadget on the table next to her seat. Without the recorder the memory of the session would leave her before she’d had a chance to think about interpretation; it was a very useful device.
The onyx clock at the centre of the mantelpiece showed fifteen minutes to nine so there was time for a cup of tea before they arrived – time to relax, begin to centre herself and banish her doubts. It was all about positive thinking – if she maintained a clear vision of the questions she wanted answering then she stood a good chance of receiving some help, other wise she might be side-tracked by side issues and inconsequential ideas. Communicating with the spirit was a difficult art, like seeing through multiple layers of muslin, or listening to a badly tuned wireless. Clarity of vision came with experience, conditions, and a large piece of luck. The evening felt good, the table was set, the lighting subdued and she was in a good mood. It was perfect for a séance.
She wandered into the kitchen, her knee-length sock-come-slippers padding on the vinyl floor, and she filled the kettle – nervous, she checked the time again, and added more water for her friends; she may as well have the kettle boiled and a pot brewing. The ritual of tea making settled her; the soft tap of the ceramic lid on the pot; the hiss of the kettle and the swirling boiling water that warmed the pot; water vapour rising to the textured ceiling and spreading out like a fan, were all part of the ceremony she loved.

When the door bell rang, the tray was ready with fresh tea, china cups and saucers, her best silverware, and was sitting on the occasional table in the lounge.
"Do you see it Sylvia?" Tess said as she crossed the threshold. No greeting just a forthright dash into the house and an inspection of the hallway. Sylvia stood with the door open and smiled. "The mist ladies." Tess, cast her gaze about the hall, disappeared into the dining room then immediately re-appeared. "What is this?" she said into the air, "a meeting of the clans?"
Audrey followed in Tess’s wake, smiling at Sylvia as she entered and then inspecting the air where Tess was peering. "I don’t see anything, Tess." She said shrugging and removing her coat. Tess saw things the others didn’t, she was tuned into a world most could not comprehend.
Sylvia said, "Give me your things, Tea’s ready in the lounge," and collected their hats, coats and handbags and took them to the cupboard under the stairs. It was a good start, if Tess was interacting already then they should be able to create a clear channel.
"Oh!" Tess charged through into the dining room again. "They’ve gone ladies – I do believe I frightened them away." They laughed at Tess’s surprise and trooped through into the lounge for tea. Sylvia poured, and her guests – good friends that she’d known for over fifteen years – sat watching her in quiet reverence. Sylvia filled each cup, added a drop of milk and stirred – the spoon tapped against the side of the cup, the sound ringing around the lounge like a bell - then handed the cup and saucer across with a smile. They each sipped and sighed in turn as the liquid warmed them.

Sylvia was first to put down her cup while the other ladies watched and waited for her to speak. She looked to each of them in turn holding their gaze for a moment and letting a smile play on her lips.
"Ladies," she said. "I want us to work in the same way as last time. I will direct the searching and the questioning, and Tess you see what you can find in the light of my searching. Audrey, can you make sure we are both sufficiently protected while we probe the edges of the light – I want to reach out as far as I can tonight." Audrey nodded, and Sylvia tipped her head to one side gauging her friends sincerity. If any one could keep the darkness away it was Audrey; Sylvia had no doubts.
"We seem to be getting closer so I hope you been doing your homework." She laughed. At the age of sixty five she still sounded like a school teacher, even though she’d retired years ago. "I have the photographs, so shall we try and concentrate." Audrey and Tess nodded their agreement, and Sylvia opened a wooden box in the centre of the table. She withdrew a package wrapped in a silk cloth and bound with slight silver chains attached to a crucifix. She unwound the chain and folded back the silk to reveal a photograph and a lock of hair. She looked at the image, a wave of sadness crossed her as she studied – for the thousandth time – the best photograph of her father she possessed. A dark haired man in uniform looking into the camera lens across the top of his shoulder. The edges of the photo were frayed and peeling back and Sylvia placed it in the centre of the table. The three ladies stared at it in silence, the hair arrayed around the side.
"These are the tokens we’ll use tonight," Sylvia said, "I’m sure we’ll be able to reach him using these. Are you ready ladies?" She stood and waited for her friends to sip the last of their tea before leading them into the dining room.
"Careful of the floor, Ladies," she said. She stepped over a line of salt poured onto the floor – two concentric circles surrounding the table and a series of symbols drawn between them.
"That’s a perfect circle of protection, Sylvia," Audrey said admiring her friends steadiness with the salt pourer.
"Thank you, Audrey." Sylvia smiled, "I’ve added the new symbols we’ve discovered too – they are supposed to magnify our powers." She had vacuumed up three attempts before getting the circle correct – the spilled condiment was now in the dust bin. "Anything else before we begin?"
"Could you put the heating up a little, Sylv. I might be just me, but I feel a bit chilly." Tess was right, it was colder now it was fully dark. Sylvia went into the kitchen, clicked the boiler onto constant and turned the thermostat up. When she returned the temperature seemed to have dropped again.
"That will fix it," she smiled, not believing herself then said, "We’ll forget the cold once we get started." She was keen to get proceedings moving. She clapped her hands and rubbed her palms together. "Shall we begin?" Her friends nodded and walked around the outside of the salt circle until they were each standing behind a chair. "Ladies, enter the circle."
They stepped inside the circle and sat down with their hands flat on the highly-polished surface.

Hindsight is now a completed mystery novel

© William Knight 2002

Bristol. UK


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