The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown all our lives out of balance. 30 million Americans have applied for unemployment while essential workers find themselves working twice as hard.
Madame Monisha is a spectral officer for Lakeside Village, a planned community in White Bear Lake Minnesota. While the community is young Madame Monisha says there are hauntings abound.
“Most houses have infestations that tenants just operate around. Some Americans live hard lives. They leave nasty stains when they’re gone. The more time families shelter in place the more those ghosts are going to get in their face.”
Meet the Johnsons
Connie Johnson claims she had just such an encounter. “We were in the dining room assembling a jigsaw of the statue of liberty. Joe did his best to keep the children interested, telling them how the statue was built. Oliver’s attention shifted between the pieces and his phone. Grace was engaged, but her arms were dotted with goosebumps. She went to the hall closet and came back with a down jacket.
This was late April and her brother was already wearing shorts. I asked Grace what was the matter, but she kept her gaze fixed at something over my shoulder. I went to feel her forehead, but before I could reach I felt a cold spot. That’s when Grace’s eyes widened at something on the lawn. I turned to see and that’s when I saw it in the reflection.
Four grey fingers were threaded through Grace’s hair. They were nails as long as talons hooked around her chin. The hand came from a black lace sleeve. The blouse was tattered, covered in dirt. Its owner was leaning over Grace’s shoulder whispering into her ear. I could just make out her face in the glass. Her eyes were sunken, her cheeks were gaunt and her nasal cavity was exposed. When she saw me looking the face smiled wide enough to show her gums.
Grace’s eyes rolled back. She reached out with her fingers spread and slammed her palm down on the table. The jigsaw pieces exploded, shooting to the ceiling, and when they came back down. The puzzle was fully assembled.”
It all happened so fast. I don’t know if Joe would’ve believed it if Oliver hadn’t caught a picture of that terrible face. That’s when we reached out to our spectral officer.”
Madame Monisha took her time examining the photo. Connie admitted to feeling antsy.
“Should we join hands to tell her she isn’t welcome?”
Madame Monisha grabbed Connie by the shoulders. “You get down to the Blue Rose and you buy as many amulets as you can fit into your station wagon. Bring luggage bags if you have to.”
National Amulet Shortage
It turns out Madame Monisha was not the only one advising families to stock up. Ever since Americans were urged to shelter in place people have been panic buying charms. The nation’s New Age bookstores are reporting a shortage and social media is cluttered with images of empty endcaps.
Metaphysical supply chains are struggling to meet the demand. According to one warehouse manager the stock is there, but the enchanters who bless the stones are self-isolating. “Good luck getting them out of their commune any time soon.”
The Benefits of Stockpiling Talismans
After the initial scare Connie Johnson heeded her spectral officer’s advice.
“I hung amulets around the entryway, from the ceiling to the carpet. If a ghost wants in they’ll have to pass through a laser grid first.”
Connie toured her security measures. “As for any apparitions in the attic? I dusted the children’s mobiles, pried off the animals, and put amulets in their place. Joe hung them from the rafters and positioned a halogen lamp. Now they’re like gun turrets of healing energy.”
Connie and her husband went all in. They replaced their smoke detectors with sacred relics. Then they set artifacts in light fixtures, in the freezer, and behind all the mirrors.
“The hardest amulet to install was in the toilet bowl. You have to screw it into the ceramic without springing a leak. Do it right, and well, that’s one less place to worry about spirit.”
How Many Amulets Should Families Get?
Madame Monisha doesn’t think Connie has gone far enough. “My insulation is dotted with so many stones they’re like ice cream toppings.”
She recommends having one amulet for every square foot.
“Don’t forget about bookshelves. They are hotbeds of paranormal activity. Every bookshelf has some tome of forbidden knowledge gathering dust. You might not remember where you got it: a cobweb stricken castle, an abandoned institute, or a little free library. It doesn’t matter. The book is your problem now. Burn it out on the grill or shove it down the garbage disposal, it’ll show up right back on the shelf. That’s why I recommend an amulet between every other spine.”
Are there Amulet Alternatives?
Madame Monisha likes gemstones. “If you can find them grab the darkest gems you can. Black tourmaline, obsidian, onyx. The darker the stone the greater the pull. They’re like bug zappers for spirits.”
Madame Monisha’s neighbor Dale Spencer couldn’t help chiming in on our conversation.
He’s skeptical about the value of such rare minerals. “I don’t go in for all them fancy crystals. I make my talismans out of charcoal. It’s dark enough and it works like a dehumidifier for negative energy.”
How Ghosts get into Your Home
It’s not just supernatural stains that has Madame Monisha worried about her community.
“Essential workers are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19, be without insurance, and die from complications. With meat packing plants ordered to stay open, there’s a high probability ghosts are getting in through your groceries. Then there’s Amazon. You always hear about their dangerous conditions. We like retail therapy, but don’t be surprised when your new Insta Pot starts bleeding.”
Madame Monisha showcased the measures she takes to keep her home pure. She ran a carbide tipped drill through her peephole and set a starfire diamond in its place. “It’s like a doorbell cam for the ghost dimension. It lets spectral solicitors know they’re not welcome.”
Responsible collectors bring antiques to licensed curse lifters. Social distancing makes that impossible. While Zoom allows freelancers to conduct business online curse lifters need to feel items for cold spots. With the quarantine in place people buying online do so at their own peril.
Madame Monisha urges people to pause their orders. “The Internet is a swirling vortex of damned souls. Read the terms and conditions. They know. Most impulse items are contaminated with sin. For our anniversary my husband ordered a grandfather clock. I had to burn weapons grade sage before letting that thing in.”
But Why are there so Many Ghosts?
Madame Monisha suspects St. Peter and his staff are struggling to keep up with the influx of the recently deceased. “The pearly gates are like the unemployment phone trees here on earth. They weren’t built to handle the bandwidth. Some souls get tired of waiting and just say, ‘Fuck it, I’m going back.’
They say spirits who linger have unfinished business, but everyone has unfinished business. Whether it’s tracking down your murderer or finding out what happens on Lost. Nobody likes loose ends.”
At the time of this writing amulets have surpassed oil for the first time in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial.
Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.
Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.
Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.
Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?