Jay waved to Sophie as she went past in her mum’s car. Once she’d disappeared from sight, he hopped on his bike and set off in the direction of the tow path. He never would have admitted it to his friend, but the Ouija app incident at the café had spooked him every bit as much as it had spooked her. He’d only downloaded the app for a laugh and, even now, he couldn’t quite believe that things had all turned so freaky the moment they’d started using it.
He thought of the last question he’d asked: When will I die?
And the answer he’d received from the Ouija board: T-‐O-‐N-‐I-‐G-‐H-‐T
As he turned his bike onto the tow path, he couldn’t help but shudder. It was just a silly game, that was all. He shouldn’t take it so seriously. He shouldn’t pay it any heed at all.
It was just a silly game, that was all.
The canal was a quiet, deserted spot at night and the only noise was the sound of the bike’s wheels whirring smoothly as the bike flew along the tarmac. Lights from the street lamps illuminated the path and reflected off the dark water in wavering golden ripples.
Suddenly, Jay’s phone beeped, making him jump. He thought it was probably Sophie sending him a text so he stopped his bike and took the phone from his pocket. It was only then that he remembered it had broken back at the café. The screen was still damaged but had flickered back to life and was displaying a new notification from the Ouija App. The message read: Reload Saved Séance?
Jay quickly pressed no, but the app opened anyway and the same Ouija board from before filled the screen. The planchette hovered for a moment but then it glided over towards the letters and Jay stared in horrified fascination as it spelled out six words:
‘What the—?’ He frowned down at the screen and then shook his head. The app was seriously glitchy. He would definitely have to ask for a refund.
He went back to his home screen and tried to delete it, but the app stubbornly refused to be removed. The same text kept appearing on his screen over and over again, and he even started to feel he could hear the words whispered in the air around him:
The dolls are in the walls…
The dolls are in the walls…
The dolls are in the walls… …
Jay stuffed the phone back in his pocket. The app must have downloaded some sort of virus. He’d have to take it into town to be repaired tomorrow. After he picked up his new bike, that was. He’d had this one for so long that it was starting to get a bit knackered and he was worried that the brakes weren’t going to hold out for much longer…
Even as Jay had the thought about brakes, a cat came out of nowhere, flying right across his path. He clamped down on the brake levers, but there was the sound of a cable snapping and Jay’s fingers were crushed against the handlebars, the brakes useless as the bike swerved out of control towards the canal.
The next moment he sailed straight over the edge of the bank and hit his head a blinding crack on the concrete. The icy water seemed to suck all the air from his body, blood dripped into his eyes and, in the confusion, he thought he saw a girl on the path, gazing down at him. She had long, dark hair and a white nightdress, a pale face and wide, wide eyes… Then the water was a great sucking dark monster that closed over his head, dragging him beneath the surface.
Cold fear and bubbling panic roiled up inside Jay as water filled his mouth and his throat and his lungs and all his thoughts. He knew he had to get back to the surface but his head throbbed and his limbs had gone heavy and sluggish and useless.
There was a girl in the water beside him, her long dark hair floating in a cloud around her – and he realised it was the same girl from the towpath. She stared right at him with sad eyes and he knew, somehow, that he was looking into the eyes of a dead person.
He tried to breathe but there was nothing but water to fill his lungs, and his legs had no power to kick him back up to the surface. A creeping darkness filled the corners of his vision as the girl held up a white object and he saw that it was a delicate porcelain doll with cruel eyes and a hideous broken face.
The girl mouthed silent words at him and, somehow, Jay heard her voice all around him in the last moments before he drowned.
‘The dolls are in the walls,’ she said. ‘And they want to play.’