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Darkness, Tell Us
By Richard Laymon
Copyright © 2003
All right reserved.
"I don't think that's such a good idea," Dr. Dalton said.
"Oh, come on. It'll be kicks." Lana, standing on tiptoes,
continued to pull the flat box of the Ouija off the bookshelf.
The games stacked on top of it teetered. Monopoly and Careers,
high above her, started sliding.
"Watch out!" Keith warned.
"She flung up a hand and blocked the boxes. But a leather dice
cup, out of sight until now, slid down the tilted ramp of the
Monopoly box and fell. It bounced off her forehead. She
flinched, muttered, "Shit!" and plucked out the Ouija. The
rest of the games dropped, jolting the shelf.
Howard grinned. Served Lana right for going against the
professor's wishes. Some of the other students were laughing.
Dr. Dalton neither grinned nor laughed, but Howard saw a
glimmer of amusement in her eyes. "I told you it wasn't a good
"I didn't know you had booby-traps," Lana said.
"Every so often I get lucky and trap a booby."
"Funny," Lana muttered. Bending down with the Ouija box under
one arm, she picked up the dice cup and set it on a shelf. She
turned around and met the professor's eyes. "You don't really
mind if we give this thing a try, do you? I've never seen a
Ouija board in action."
"You're better off that way."
Keith went, "Oooooo, ominous."
Lana gave him aquick look as if she didn't appreciate his
interference. To Dr. Dalton, with a smile and a shrug of her
shoulders, she said, "It's just a game, Corie."
"So is Russian Roulette."
"Woooo," said Keith.
What a scrote, Howard thought. But he kept the opinion to
himself. He was no dummy. Keith, who looked and acted like a
jock in spite of being an English major, could probably
demolish him with a single blow.
From a padded chair in a corner of the den, Doris said, "The
analogy seems somewhat inflated, if you ask me."
"Nobody asked," Keith pointed out.
Lana, on tiptoes, studied the stack of games. "Have you got a
revolver up there, Corie?"
"Of course not."
"Then why a Ouija board, if it's just as dangerous?"
"It's sort of a keepsake. Obviously, I should've gotten rid of
"What's the big deal?" Keith asked.
"One must beware tampering with the unknown," Doris said, her
voice full of menace. She widened her eyes at Keith, though he
wasn't even looking in her direction. Then she swung her thick
legs off the foot rest, bounded up and pranced toward the
Here she comes, Howard thought. Our fat Puck. Our spritely,
She raised a warning finger. "There are forces lurking in the
shadowy corners of the universe that ..."
"Stuff it," Keith suggested.
"That's enough," Dr. Dalton told him. She said to Lana, "Hey,
we're here to have a good time. If your heart's set on fooling
around with that thing, be my guest. But just keep me out of
it. A deal?"
"Sure! Great! OK, who's going to do it with me?"
"I'll do it with you any chance I get," Keith said.
He probably does, Howard thought.
Ignoring the remark, Lana asked Dr. Dalton, "How many can play
at a time?"
"Up to four, I guess. More than that, it would get awfully
crowded around the board."
"OK. We need two more hearty volunteers."
"Include me in," Doris said.
Keith looked as if he would rather "include in" a wad of used
toilet paper, but he made no protest.
"That's three," Lana said. "One more. Any takers?"
Howard looked around. Professor Dalton was shaking her head.
He saw Glen over in a corner, stuffing potato chips into his
mouth. Angela was sitting at the far end of the sofa, hands
folded on her lap, gazing into space.
I probably ought to go over and sit with her, he thought. He
hadn't really spent much time with Angela tonight. She might
think he was trying to ignore her.
But God, she was so weird. As if she were from a different
planet or something, and longed for home.
Keith slapped Howard on the shoulder. Harder than necessary.
"Join the fun, Howitzer. You can play kneesies with Doris."
He looked at Lana. "Is it OK with you?"
"Sure. Why wouldn't it be?"
He shrugged, feeling a little dumb for asking Lana's
"So, Corie, how do we play?"
Before she could answer, Doris said, "I've done it before."
"Where'd you find a blind guy?" Keith asked.
"Oh, that's rich, Mr. Harris. It's wonderful that you've
achieved the capability of amusing yourself with quips of such
"Oink," he said.
Lana swung her arm out. The back of her fist whapped Keith's
chest. It struck his left pectoral, a solid mound under his
clinging shirt, with a sound like a mallet smacking raw beef.
"Knock it off," she said.
Dr. Dalton raised her eyebrows. Her lips, pressed together
tightly, were turned down at the corners. Howard had seen that
expression before. She was delighted that Lana had given Keith
a thump. Delighted, but determined to keep her grin in check.
"I have a card table in the kitchen," she said. "Why don't we
bring it out here so the rest of us can keep an eye on you."
They went into the small, tidy kitchen. Dr. Dalton scooted
chairs away from the table. She folded one of them. As she
handed it to Howard, she gave him the special look. A look she
never gave anyone but him. He returned his version of it. Not
a wink, but it seemed to hold the meaning of a wink: They were
secretly sharing wry amusement at the antics of the others.
What are a couple of folks like us doing in the midst of all
He felt himself blush. He supposed he always blushed when she
looked at him that way.
She handed chairs to Doris and Lana, then squatted down and
tugged at a metal cuff to release one of the table's folding
Howard saw the way her white shorts were drawn taut against
the smooth curves of her rump. Her blouse was stretched across
her back. Through its fabric, he could see the pink hue of her
skin and the bands of her bra.
His throat tightened. His heart pounded faster and he felt a
tight pressure in his groin.
Turning away, he carried his chair toward the den.
He'd taken this special summer session class for only one
reason: to be in Dr. Dalton's presence. He'd taken so many of
her classes during his three years at Belmore University. But
they were never enough. Ever since she'd stepped to the
lectern on his first morning of freshman English, he'd been
captivated by her. She was just so beautiful, so smart and
funny, so caring.
She liked him a lot, too. He knew that.
But he also knew that she didn't think of him as a possible
lover. Never would. A, he'd been born nine years too late. B,
he was only a rung or two up the ladder from being a nerd. C,
Dr. Dalton was a loner who didn't seem interested in any men,
much less wimpy twenty-one-year-olds.
Just be glad she's your friend, he told himself.
But an awful feeling of loss swept through him as he set the
chair down in the den. Dr. Dalton's party tonight marked the
end of the summer session. Howard would be packing tomorrow,
flying home the day after. He wouldn't be seeing her again
until the fall semester, nearly two months away.
As the others came in with chairs and the table, he found
himself regretting that he'd agreed to join in. Dr. Dalton had
no intention of messing with the Ouija. If he'd refused, he
could be spending the time with her.
Keith held the table steady on its edge while Dr. Dalton
snapped its legs into place. He flipped it upright, and she
directed him to position it near the center of the living
Keith sat across from Lana, Howard across from Doris.
Lana was shaking open the box when Glen came over, a heap of
potato chips cupped in his hand. The floor stopped shaking
when he halted behind Doris. He gazed down at the Ouija and
poked a chip into his mouth.
"Would you like to take my place?" Howard asked.
"When they're skating in hell, pal."
"Very sensible," Dr. Dalton said.
Does she think I'm not sensible? Howard wondered. No, she
understands. She realizes I was pushed into this.
Maybe he could get Angela to take his place.
He looked toward the sofa. Angela was staring at him with
those big, gloomy eyes.
"Angela?" he called. "Wouldn't you like to play?"
"Thank you, no."
"Quit trying to squirm out, Howitzer."
"I think you guys are nuts," Glen said. A wet fleck of chip
flew from his mouth, sailed over Doris's head and landed on
the Ouija. On the Y of the YES in its upper left-hand corner.
Only Howard seemed to notice. "Didn't any of you read The
"Get real," Keith said.
"That's how that little twerp got possessed, duh ... messing
around with her Ouija board."
Doris said in a menacing voice, "No good can come of it." Then
Lana looked up from the back of the box. "It says here we put
our fingers lightly on the message indicator and just start
asking questions." She set the box on the floor, then placed
the heart-shaped plastic pointer in the middle of the board
and rested two fingers of her right hand on it.
"Atmosphere!" Keith said. "We oughta be doing this in the
dark, don't you think?"
"How would we read the messages?" Lana asked.
"A flashlight. Have you got a flashlight, Prof?"
"I'll get one," she told him. "You'll probably want a pen and
some paper, too."
Lana looked up at her. "Is this thing really going to say
"I wouldn't be at all surprised," Dr. Dalton said, and walked
"I'll get the lights," Glen said.
As he started away, Angela reached up and turned off the lamp
at her end of the sofa. She sat in the gloom for a few
moments, gazing toward Howard and the others. Then she got up
and came over. In her soft, hesitant voice, she said, "If it's
all right with everyone, I'll record the messages."
"Thata girl," Keith said.
Howard suspected that she just didn't want to be left sitting
alone in the dark.
"I like all this confidence," Lana said. "God, it'd be cool if
the thing actually does come through."
"The spirits of the dead are always eager for human contact,"
Doris said, this time using her normal voice.
Could she be serious? "Spirits of the dead?" Howard asked.
"Us? I mean, I've studied a little about this kind of thing.
From what I've read, the consensus seems to be that the
pointer's movements are probably controlled by the
sub-conscious mind of one of the participants."
"Which, in itself, could be interesting," Lana said.
"A nice theory," Doris said. "Nice in its Elizabethan
sense-meaning simple, naïve, and ignorant."
Keith nodded, grinning. "Right. All the smart people know it's
dead folks talking."
"You may mock me now, but ..." Her head turned as Dr. Dalton
came into the room. "Hey, Professor, do Ouija messages come
from the subconscious of someone guiding the pointer? Or from
"I'm no expert," she said.
"But you've used this board, am I right?"
"I've used it. That's why I want nothing to do with all this.
Who wants the light?"
"Me," Angela said. "I'll be taking the notes."
Dr. Dalton gave her the flashlight, a ballpoint and a pad of
"OK?" Lana asked. "Let's give it a try."
As those at the table reached out and rested their fingers on
the pointer, Dr. Dalton said, "Remember what I told you. Don't
mention my name while you're fooling around with that thing."
"Mine either," Glen said, taking up his position behind Doris.
"Can't be too careful when it comes to fooling around with
spooks. Not that I believe in any of this."
"We won't mention anyone, OK? Let's get started."
"Just one of us should ask it questions," Doris whispered.
"I'll do it," Lana said. "OK. Here goes." Then she spoke in a
clear, steady voice. "Oh, great spirit of the Ouija board, we
your humble servants ask that you address us. Hello? Hello?
Anyone out there? Yoo-hoo. Calling all ghosts, calling all
"Don't be frivolous," Doris muttered.
"Spirits of the netherworld, we beseech you to communicate
with us. Denizens of the other side. Ghoulies, ghosties,
long-leggity beasties ..."
"Damn it, Lana."
"Speak to us. Oh great subconscious, oh great id, get this
mysterious message indicator moving. Come on, we're losing
The platform under their fingers suddenly began to slide.
"All right!" Keith whispered.
It made loops, jerked from side to side.
"Is somebody doing this?" Lana asked.
It stopped near Howard at the end of the top row of the
alphabet. Angela's hip brushed against his upper arm. She
leaned over and turned on the flashlight. "M," she whispered,
and kept the light on the pointer as it slid away and stopped.
It remained motionless.
"Me," she said.
"Ooo, boy," Keith muttered.
"It made sense," Lana said. "Jesus, I asked who was ..."
The plastic heart darted for the corner of the board. It
stopped on NO.
"Not Jesus," Doris said.
"Thing's got a sense of humor," Keith said. He sounded
"You pushed it over there," Lana said.
"No way. I swear."
"I didn't. Honest."
The pointer moved. But not the way it had moved before. This
time, it didn't glide lightly over the surface of the board.
It felt weighted down, sluggish, pushed. "That," Doris said,
"is how it feels if one of us steers it."
Lana pulled her hand back. She brought it up to her chest.
Fingering a button at the top of her blouse, she stared at the
"Problem?" Doris asked. Her voice reeked of sarcasm.
"Shut up," Lana said.
"We aren't feeling quite so frivolous now, are we?"
"Let's ask it something," Keith said.
Lana tapped the button with her fingernail. "I don't know
"This is what a Ouija board is supposed to do," Doris informed
"Come on, Lana."
"OK, OK." She lowered her hand to the pointer. "Who are you?"
It moved slowly across the alphabet, stopping long enough at
each letter for Angela to check with the flashlight, speak the
letter, and copy it on her pad. "F-R-I-E-N-D."
"Friend," Lana said. "Glad to hear it. Where are you?"
"Ask if it's a ghost," Keith whispered.
"Are you a ghost?"
The pointer sped toward the crescent moon in a corner of the
board near Howard.
"No," Angela said.
"Not a ghost. That's a relief. What are you?"
Lana let out a quick laugh. "Well, terrific. What're you going
to do for me, servant?"
"You're going to give me something? What?"
"Me? I'm supposed to give something?"
"Hey," Keith blurted, "that's me. It wants you to kiss me."
"I'm the only K.H. around here. Keith Harris."
"Am I supposed to kiss Keith?"
The pointer slid toward the sun in the upper corner and
stopped on the YES.
"I'm starting to like this," Keith said.
"Who does this guy think he is, Cupid?"
"Just go ahead and do it," Doris said.
Keith took his hand off the pointer, stood up and leaned over
the table. He pursed his lips.
Lana frowned at him.
Howard wondered why she was hesitating. He knew for a fact
that she was going with Keith. They'd probably done a lot more
"This is insane," she muttered.
"You don't have to do it," Dr. Dalton said. "If I were you, I
wouldn't do anything it asked."
"Come on, honey."
Lana sighed, stood up, bent forward, and kissed Keith on the
mouth. She dropped back onto her chair. Sounding a little
miffed, she said, "OK, Ouija, I did it. Now what?"
When she and Keith returned their fingers to the pointer, it
began moving rapidly.
Excerpted from Darkness, Tell Us
by Richard Laymon
Copyright © 2003 by Richard Laymon.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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I have read a few of Laymon's books and have enjoyed them all greatly. But this one I just didn't care for. The reason the kids were called out to the woods, I just couldn't get into. I love Laymon's books, but just not this one.
I hooked on his books by reading The Cellar, and the rest of that series. I just finished Darkness, Tell Us and it is really good, the characters are well developed and the story is true Laymon.
This Is the ninth book by Laymon I have read and along with 'One Rainy Night' one of his worst. How can someone be thinking about sex when they are about ready to get murdered?? Just unbelievable and not necessary at all!! Terrible, trashy waste of time!
Excellant. One of the best i've read of his. Great twists!!!
straight from the beginning i was hooked. i think any horror fan should read laymons books. i think this is his best book ever written.
This is the 6th Laymon book that I've read, and I very much enjoyed it. At the end of the chapters, Laymon leaves you with a hook that makes it difficult to put the book down. This is a must read out of the Laymon Collection.
The second Layman I've read, and I wasn't disapointed at all. A great creepy tale with a powerful ending. Layman sure knows how to hold on to the suspence through out the story. I read it in two days.5 stars*****
This book is a MUST read book. I thought that everyone was going to live happily ever after but everything changed. I would have never guessed wha happen. Anyone who reads books must read this book!!!
Im not usually interested in reading but this kept interested and gave the suspense to continue reading
I loved this book. I totally felt like I was part of the story. It was so suspensful and intriguing! I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a long time! All I can say is WOW, AWSOME!