Ready for It


    Preparing the spirit circle was difficult with one hand, but I’d done it enough times before the accident that it didn’t slow me down much.  I held the jar against my side with my stump, and sprinkled anti-poltergeist potpourri with my right hand.  A few mystical symbols lovingly etched into the floorboards, a drop of blood at the focal points, and I was ready.  
    All my supplies went back in the toolbox, which I attached to a bannister with a bicycle lock.  No use giving the bastard ghost something else to throw at my head.
    I stepped into the circle, checking my pockets and pendants -- everything was ready.  The sun was just going down, so my timing was perfect.  I remembered from the last time just how much this particular ghost liked to haunt from the shadows.  
    Well, this time he’d be playing by my rules.  
    When the last shaft of light had left the room, leaving it dim, I pulled out my Summoning Cowbell.  
    “Heeeeere ghosty-ghosty-ghost!” I yodeled, banging away.  “Rise and shine and go to hell!”  The symbols engraved on the cowbell glowed, and I felt a rumble of displeasure from deep in the house.  I kept up the racket until I got results.  
    “Hello again, little magicker,” hissed the voice from the darkness.  “I see you didn’t learn your lesson.”  It circled me, smug and malevolent.  I adjusted the settings on my new goggles.  He obviously thought I couldn’t see him.  
    “And what lesson would that be?” I asked, stepping to the very edge of the circle’s protection.  “The lesson that you’re a cowardly bitch?  That you were ugly in life, and don’t know how to share now?”
    Growls filled the room, and the shadows darkened more.  “The lesson about train tracks, little magicker,” he said, sliding close in front of me.  “It looks like you lost something in learning that one.  Or do you need to learn it again?”  A breeze drafted in from the broken window behind me.  
    Locking eyes with the ghost, I flung my stump forward and grabbed him by the throat with an invisible hand.  
    “Phantom limb, bitch!”  
    He choked and flailed, scrabbling at the hand that even I could barely see.  With a word of invocation, I leapt back to slam the ghost against the floor, pinning him amid the salt and incense and other ingredients.  He writhed.  I smiled.  
    “I learned a few things,” I told him.  Then I started the exorcism spell, and his impotent fury was beautiful to behold. 

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