The first time I saw Nicki Lynch I was half drunk at Clairvoyant-Con steeped in a self-induced haze to drown out the hundreds of ghostly voices which always seemed to be calling me. I didn’t want to do something as cheesy as a psychic convention but back then I didn’t have much choice – Jess had just left me and he was asking for a hefty sum in the divorce settlement. Rather than stay home and drink myself into oblivion, I took it on the road and did some questionable conferences just for the money.
So there I was at my own forum – feeling that familiar buzz that made the other worldly chatter fade into the background. I saw this fresh faced teen-age girl tentatively raise her hand and ask me a question. “I think I might be a sensitive and I wanted to know what it’s like to be a medium,” she stood there beaming because she finally got the courage to ask me a question. And how did I reward her bravery? I started a tirade about how it sucked to be me – to talk to dead people all the time and never get a break. She sat down defeated. I had taken the wind out of her sails. She looked down unable to make eye contact with anyone. I wanted to apologize on the spot but then a redneck called me a fake at my own fucking forum so I beat the shit out of him in front of my audience and was quickly escorted out of “Clairvoyant Con.” Click here to see the video of what happened.
I later found out that Nicki had never really recovered from our run-in and thought about giving up on being a psychic forever. Bob the Atheist Ghost intervened by hacking into my Amazon account and sending a $1,000 gift card to her family to enjoy for the holidays as a peace offering. He also set up a Skype meeting to break the ice before we finally met in person.
For the record – Bob doesn’t know he’s dead. He doesn’t believe in the afterlife and goes along doing what he used to do which was computers and science. So even as a ghost, he can manipulate computers because that’s what he believes he can do. Some ghosts can do that – especially ones who are strong willed or in such strong denial that they think they are still alive and only certain people like me have the “intelligence” to connect with them.
So here I was on a dark, steamy Georgia summer night meeting Nicki again in person in a haunted forest near a subdivision. We were there to do an investigation so I could gage her skill level. I wanted to still feel like it was safe for a relative neophyte to work with the undead because a medium of my stature was there to mentor her.
I had placed some citron candles near the location sightings to help entice the ghosts but from a practical level – it kept the mosquitoes away. I tried to get a read on the location. I breathed slowly and quietly. I could hear the sound of the brook near-by. I could see a few flashes of things that had happened in these woods – some good and some bad but I tried to keep my mind open and relaxed for whatever and whoever might want to contact me. I felt lazar focused and relaxed which is the way I like to go into these investigations because tension can throw my readings off big time. But my peace started to turn to irritation – my breath started to get short and my blood pressure was rising. I opened my eyes and quickly rolled them up to the heavens.
“Hey Princess – what’s shaking? Is Nicki here yet?” asked Bob like a child waiting for their favorite baby sitter to arrive. Bob’s glasses slid slightly down his nose and he pushed them back quickly. Some ghosts hold onto the familiar – for Bob it was his glasses, plaid button up shirt and khaki slacks with loafers. His gray hair was always a bit unkempt and he had a hard time with boundaries. For instance he would ask me questions anytime – anywhere – even in the shower. He also annoyed the other ghosts because he’d try to explain them away as some sort of Jungian or Freudian personality arch-type of his own psyche. In his mind, Bob was not dead and this ghost-like existence he was in was just a long existential dream – one in which I was supposed to help him “wake-up” from. By far, he has been the hardest ghost for me to help move to the next level.
As analytical as Bob could get – he also wanted to be truly helpful and solve problems. So he felt a sense of ownership since he had fixed my transgression with Nicki and got us together over Christmas. As indirectly sweet as that was – I really wished he had stayed back at my place playing Dungeons and Dragons on-line. Ghosts can be greatly influenced by other spirits. An apparition can literally be “jumped” and manipulated by another entity just like a human can be taken over by a demon. Bob’s disbelief put him in harm’s way and it was impossible to tell what might happen if he met up with the wrong kind of ghost.
“Sooo- what are you going to say when you see Nicki in person– “ nudged Bob. “I’ll know what to say when I see her,” I responded trying not to let my annoyance show. Just then a young voice said “Hi Miss Sophia.” I turned and saw a beam of light in the dark woods. It was Nicki and she was literally beaming because we were meeting in person – no Skype, no Clairvoyant Con – just the two of us – well the two of us and Bob. “Nicki – it’s so good to see you!” I said giving her a genuine but uncharacteristic hug. She hugged back and then Bob piled on and hugged the both of us. “Okay, this is the good stuff,” he said proudly “brought to you by me.” Nicki smiled back – she could see and hear Bob. Her wavy blond hair caught the moonlight and she seemed just as sweet as the first time I had seen her. Even with all the crap that came down on her as a result of the video that someone shot of us at Clairvoyant-Con and posted on YouTube – you could tell she was still an optimist – still trusting in the good in everyone - even me and Bob. I really hoped that we would not misplace that trust.
“Okay sweetie,” I started – “ I wanted you to help me with this case because apparently it’s a teenage ghost according to the people who have seen her and maybe she might be open to someone her own age rather than –“ “Rather than someone who is old enough to be her mother – I mean really – what teen would want advice from someone that old?” said Bob matter-of-factly. He then realized how that sounded. “Oh, wait – you’re not old to me but to a teen – you’re ancient. To me – you’re smoking hot in all the right places –“ Nicki started to laugh. “Okay, Bob, enough- you’ve made your point,” I replied realizing I really needed to get another lock for my bathroom door – one that would keep out ghosts.
The air started to get a little cooler and I saw Nicki shiver slightly. “Are you okay?” I asked feeling a little unsure myself since I usually did investigations alone and I didn’t want to put her in harm’s way. “I’m okay, Miss Sophia but I think there’s something that does not want us here.” I had to agree – the sense of tranquility I had before had now been replaced by a sense of oppressive dread. We heard the plants around us start to shake even though the air was still and there was no wind to stir things up. Nicki’s head started to bend back and she let out a gasp. “Something just pulled my hair really hard,” she said trying to keep her voice even. “It’s okay, I’m here – “ I replied trying to calm things down. “You girls are just imagining things – there’s no such things as ghos-“ Bob started but then stopped half way through.
His eyes started to get big and he stepped back. I looked in the same direction and saw what looked like a demonic head in the trees. It’s face was dripping black blood and the eyes were gone- just black sockets. There were horns raising from its head and and it’s mouth was moving like it was making some sort of incantation. “Okay this is bad –this is really bad” - I said getting ready to grab Nicki and make a run for it.
I then saw a young female ghost who literally seemed to be trapped behind the demon faced tree. She looked like someone out of a 1980’s MTV music video. Her hair was a vintage bad perm and her red jacket looked like it had large shoulder pads. She seemed to be about 14 or 15 and looked scared. I was trying to determine if she was indeed a child ghost or if this was some type of trick this demon was playing (many times demons pose as children to gain your trust). Nicki started running towards the girl out of instinct rather than waiting for my cue. “Nicki – no you don’t know if she’s – “ I saw the girl start to run toward the both of us – I reached out to Nicki to try to stop her. “Seriously? C’mon ladies it’s just a teenage girl – how dangerous could she be?” spoken by a person who had never really experienced a hormonal adolescent female either living or dead. “Bob,” I replied, “just keep your mouth shut – I mean really stop talking.” “Hey you can’t silence me and that devil face in the trees – that indicates that my personal demons want to come out but are held back by my ‘Tree of Life’ – they are in a constant battle for balance. You have to read between the lines or you’ll never get me to ‘wake-up’,” Bob said with his fingers in air quotes when he said the words “wake-up.”
I caught up to Nicki who was face to face with the teenage ghost. The poor thing looked legitimate. I could tell that she had died from a drug overdose in these woods. “Miss Sophia, she took some bad pills and wanted to change her mind, but someone wouldn’t let her make it out alive,” said Nicki with tears in her eyes. It’s tough learning the back story on these ghosts and not getting affected but our job as mediums was not to get too involved and help them move onto the next level. “I know Nicki – it can be tough to feel their emotions but we need to protect our feelings –“ I started and once again was interrupted by Bob. “Oh, sweet suffering Jesus, (who I don’t believe in by the way) this is why you woman have a hard time being taken seriously in business – too many emotions,” said Bob in such a condescending tone that I nearly smacked him. “Woman can be leaders of entire countries– Margaret Thatcher has the brass balls to prove it!” said the young ghost who I was instantly impressed with. “Hey you need to respect your elders young lady- “ Bob fired back figuring that would be the end of that. “You have to earn my respect asshole!” she retorted. I had to admit I was beginning to have some genuine admiration for this ghost.
Nicki let out a nervous giggle and asked the girl her name. “I’m Lara Pembrook. I’m sorry that the demon showed himself. That generally doesn’t bode well for the people who see him,” she said sadly. “How did you end up here? Why did you take your life?” I asked while also keeping an eye out for the demon.
Lara took a deep breath and started to shake. Having to tell or even relive the time of death is very traumatic for ghosts but it’s the only way I could help her. “I was there the night that Samantha was killed just a few miles from here – in a creek. Allison made us confront her when we thought she was cheating with Allison’s boyfriend. Things got heated and Allison threw a big rock at Samantha’s head. There was blood everywhere – but she might have lived. Allison freaked out and made us put Samantha’s body into the deepest part of the creek and weigh it down with rocks. We then tried to pretend like nothing happened even when all the missing person stuff hit the news and the police questioned us – “ “That’s so horrible - I’m so sorry – “ said Nicki who was quivering. “I would see Samantha’s parents at church – devastated and praying to for a miracle. I wanted to tell them the truth but Allison told me if I went to the police – she and the other kids would say it was my idea and that I threw the rock. I just couldn’t live with myself anymore so I came here to – to – “ her voice trailed off and she looked exhausted. “Nicki – you said someone would not let her leave – was that demon?” I asked knowing the answer- I wanted to see if Nicki did too. “No, the demon made her want to commit suicide but it was Allison that found her and could have saved her but Allison was so afraid of what could happen if she told the truth that she just Lara overdose rather than trying to get help,” Nicki said quietly with tears coming down her face. “This is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard Miss Sophia.” “The police found me a day later. I wanted to find Samantha’s ghost and tell her I was sorry – but the demon would not let me leave these woods – he marked me and I was his now,” Lara finished quietly.
“Wow, this Allison sounds like a real bitch!” pronounced Bob hoping to join in and be part of the group. I looked over at Lara who started to laugh – “You’re right asshole – she is a bitch!” The four of us started to chuckle but it was cut short by the sound of an evil bellow through the woods.
“Good God, (I don’t believe in that either) what was that?” Bob asked as he ducked behind me and Nicki. “That’s the demon – he doesn’t like me talking to people and now that you know my story – you might not make it out either,” Lara said realizing that she might have just sealed our doom.
The woods started to get stone cold – like the kind of cold in winter when there is no wind but just ice everywhere. Nicki started to get scared – “I don’t want something bad to happen here Miss Sophia, I promised my mother I’d be okay,” she said shivering. I held her tight and looked into her eyes. “I know and I should have given you more of a primer before our investigation but I honestly didn’t think it would get this serious.” “Yup, dream wise – this is pretty fucking bad –“ Bob stated. “Okay, Nicki – at the point that the demon comes close to us – you need to pull out this vile of salt and throw it in his face. I’ll use the holy water and to sanctify the ground. I have the 23rd Psalm – which can also nullify the demon long enough to free Lara and get all of us to safety,” I said feeling pretty confident with my plan.
The bellowing continued and sounded like it was getting closer. The grass started to move on its own and the pace of the steps got louder. There was a loud groan and then it got silent. I looked around – Nicki was close to me and looked scared as did Lara but they seemed unharmed.
Suddenly Bob’s icy hand grabbed at the front of my shirt and he pushed me down hard. “So, you thought you could get rid of me – didn’t you Princess?” Bob’s eyes had a weird look in them - it was obvious that the demon had jumped him. My heart started to race as I struggled to get up. “Miss Sophia!” Nicki screamed trying to find the vile of salt that I had given her. “You two thought you could banish me from these woods – an old drunk medium and a neophyte – rather ambitious wouldn’t you say? I’ve been here for hundreds of years – through the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, lynchings. I’ve made good people do very bad things but nothing they didn’t really want to do it’s just that the fear of God kept them from doing it. But I freed them from that – it was only the fear of me they had to worry about. It’s not lost on me the irony that a medium who talks to the dead might be the next one to haunt these woods.” I finally got back on my feet but Bob grabbed me by the throat and started to push me against a tree.
“You don’t have to do this Bob – I know you’re in there,” I said trying to coax him out so he could take control. “Are you really trying to reach that Atheist twit? The non-believers – the ones that trust logic over everything else are the easiest to manipulate,” he tightened his grip on my throat and it was getting harder to talk. “Look, you need to leave this place once and for all – you don’t need to do this,” I said barely able to get the words out.
“Leave Miss Sophia alone,” Nicki said as she threw salt in Bob’s face. “Table salt, really?! Now that is a bit insulting – it stings a bit but nothing I can’t handle,” Nicki started to say the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want –“ but the demon just laughed. “That is so text book. You women are so simple minded and weak – you go on a few websites and think you can vanquish me? You are nothing more than slaves to your emotions and hormones –weepy and bitchy when that time of the month rolls around. But in just a few minutes after I kill the both of you- you will be slaves to me and not your hormones or menstrual cycles!” the demon started to laugh at his own quip.
“Oh no you didn’t. You pathetic asshole! I’m not going to let you kill them – even if it means I’ll never get out of here!” “How dare you defy me,” the demon shot back, “if you were smart instead of an emotional little harpee, you would join with me and kill them – then I might go easy on you.” “I want to be free from you - from all of this and I don’t care what I have to do to get it,” she then brandished a tree branch like a sword and hit him over the head. Stunned, he stumbled back.
“Nicki – close it now,” I shouted hoarsely. Nicki grabbed the copper wire that was nearby as I started to run out of the semi-circle that we had created around the tree with iron nails and wire. Her hands shook as she tried to close it and she kept on dropping the spool of wire. It began to dawn on the demon that we were ensnaring him. He started to crawl towards the opening. Lara tried to push him back towards the tree with the branch. He grabbed my leg and started to pull hard. “Get back here you bitch,” he howled. I pushed forward trying to help Nicki close that gap before he could escape. My hands reached the iron nail and closed the circle just as he was about to pounce. “No!” he howled loud enough to make the trees shake.
Once the circle of cooper wire and iron was closed – the demon couldn’t walk outside of it. Nicki grabbed Lara and they ran to another safe spot – a circle of rock salt which would keep any other bad spirits away from them. I kicked the demon back and jumped outside of the copper circle. I ran over to the girls. “Are you both okay?” “Yes, Miss Sophia,” said Nicki, “I did just what you told me.” “But what about Bob?” asked Lara afraid that he would be part of the woods forever.
“Yes, what about Bob?” said the demon who was still in Bob’s ghostly body. “You destroy me, you destroy him. And since he’s an atheist, there will be no redemption. Let me go and he has a chance.” “I knew this might happen and I was willing to make that sacrifice – “ I said sadly. “Miss Sophia, no not Bob, we can’t leave him here!” Nicki begged. “No, Miss Sophia, I can’t let you do this,” Lara cried. The demon smiled. “You see Sophia, you can be the good guy and let Bob exist as a ghost or kill his soul and leave him in all consuming darkness for eternity – it’s up to you.”
“I’m – I’m so sorry – goodbye Bob –“ I said with a tear running down my face. For a second – the demon’s eyes changed and I could see Bob standing there – “Hey don’t Sophia – please – “ I hesitated for a moment then threw black salt in his face. He let out a yell and fell to his knees. Nicki wimpered. “Girls please look away,” I shouted.
I then pulled a sage stick, matches and some herbs that I had hidden under a bush. I lit the sage stick which was mixed with copal, rue and angelica and made the sign of the cross over him. His body started to shake and an unearthly moaning filled the forest. “For the record – I knew that regular salt and 23rd Psalm would not work – they were a diversion but this stuff is the real deal. It seems like a bunch of emotional females are finally the ones to take you down.” The demon started to back away from the smoke but could not escape it. I started to recite the 91st Psalm. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress - my God, in whom I trust’…” With each line, the demon got weaker and weaker. By the time I uttered the last lines, “Because he loves me says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation,” the demon let out one last groan and exited Bob’s ghostly visage.
The three of us stood in the forest looking at the tree where the demon had been and saw only Bob laying under the tree – not moving –not doing anything. “Is Bob, is he gone?” Nicki asked choking back sobs. “I think so, Nicki – I didn’t want this to happen but I couldn’t let another person get hurt by that demon,” I said feeling more sad about Bob leaving then happy that the demon was banished. Lara looked sad as well. “I’m sorry he had to go – that asshole was beginning to grow on me.” We all started to laugh and cry at the same time.
“Hey stop with the asshole stuff, okay? I know I can be a little hard to take,” said Bob who was getting up slowly from under the tree. “Oh my God, Bob!” I said happily which surprised me more than anyone. “Bob, you’re okay!” said Nicki. “Sure why wouldn’t I be – hey what’s with the copper circle thingy?” he said not remembering what had just happened which was probably for the best. “Not much Bob, we got rid of that personal demon and now we need to send Lara on her way.” I bent down and undid the copper wire so Bob could walk out. “You mean I can actually leave the forest?” Lara asked wondering what to do with herself. “You can – you can ascend up to heaven if that’s what you want to do.” “I do, but I have to apologize to someone first,” Lara said, “then I’ll be able to walk into the light.” We gave her a hug and she slowly faded out of the forest with a big smile on her face.
“Do you think she’ll find Samantha and tell her how sorry she is?” asked Nicki. “I think that’s the first thing on her to-do list,” I replied feeling relived that the night was over. “Nicki, did you know about all this stuff?” asked Bob pointing to the smudge stick, the wires and iron nails. “Well Bob, Nicki and I had conversations that you were not privy to on Skype. She needed to be prepared for anything that happened,” I replied. “Sooo- how did she do?” Bob asked feeling like the metaphysical match maker. “She passed with flying colors – I think she will make an excellent medium,” I said giving Nicki another hug.
“Okay, but I thought tonight was more about my feelings of inadequacy as far as relationships go which was one of my personal demons. I managed to get you two to work together – so wouldn’t that mean that feelings of emotional demonization should subside and I should wake up?” Bob asked hopefully thinking this was the tail end of his dream and still not grasping that he was dead. “Maybe you still have a few more lessons to learn,” I explained quickly. “Can we hurry this lesson stuff up, I’m pretty sure the Dragon Con Convention is in the next couple of days and I’m supposed to go as Mr. Spock,” Bob said hopefully.
“You’re funny and kinda weird, Bob,” Nicki chuckled. “You have no idea kid!” Bob replied also laughing. “Bob, why don’t you go back to my place – I got this new game called Savage Kingdoms – it sounds pretty challenging and way better then Dungeons and Dragons –“ I suggested hoping he’d finally leave the forest. “Sure thing – you’re coming back after you drop Nicki off, right?” “Yes, Bob – I’ll see you later,” I assured him and he faded out.
“He’s never going to get it is he?” Nicki asked feeling sorry for him. “I tried to get him to be there when they discovered his body, but I think he was afraid of the truth. But for right now, I’m stuck with him and frankly he does keep me on my toes,” “He’s a handful alright,” Nicki quipped. “That he is Nicki, that he is,” I laughed.
“Now, the first rule of being a medium after a night like tonight – we ground with lots of junk food – Dairy Queen – my treat!” I said suddenly feeling famished and in dire need of a hamburger, fries and a Blizzard. “You can call your Mom and ask her to meet us there. And when you talk about this – let’s just leave out the demon part and just say we got Lara to go onto the next level,” I suggested knowing that her Mom would freak is she knew her sweet daughter had a run-in with a demonic presence.
“Yes, Miss Sophia, I’d like that,” said Nicki. We got into the car and started to drive out of the forest. There was a bright light and for a nano-second we saw Lara laughing as she sped up to the sky. We both looked at each other and smiled. “Bob was right Miss Sophia, this is the good stuff.”
Sophia Gardeen is a nationally recognized medium and is currently working on the show Ghost Wanderers for the Supernatural Channel. She also makes on hell of a good butterscotch blondie. For more info - go to ghostwanderers.com .
Sophia Gardeen is a nationally recognized medium and is currently working on the show Ghost Wanderers for the Supernatural Channel. She also makes on hell of a good butterscotch blondie. For more info - go to ghostwanderers.com .