I plaster charms around the room as the boys are welcomed in by Rachel. I hear her sigh as I finish sticking the last charm, ‘It sucks to be doing an exorcism instead of getting ready for the ball. There’s not much time until it starts.’ I think of Michael and secretly hope that we will finish on time. David draws a wide circle on the carpet with chalk, ‘It can’t be helped. It’s our job to protect people from the supernatural and to protect the supernatural from themselves.’
We sit inside the circle as Andrew lights candles around the border, shielding us from any possible harm. In the centre of our circle is a small mirror. It will be the portal. Now that we are prepared, it’s time to begin. We press our palms together as we mutter the prayer:
Deus, in nómine tuo salvum me fac,
et virtúte tua age causam meam.
Deus, audi oratiónem meam;
áuribus pércipe verba oris mei.
Nam supérbi insurréxunt contra me, et violénti quasiérunt vitam meam;
non proposuérunt Deum ante óculos suos.
Ecce, Deus ádjuvat me,
óminus susténtat vitam meam.
Retórque malum in adversários meos,
et pro fidelitáte tua déstrue ilos.
Voluntárie sacrificábo tibi,
celebrábo nomen tuum, Dómine, quia bonum est.
Nam ex omni tribulatióne eripuit me,
et inimícos meos confúsos vidit óculos meus.
The air has become cold as demons materialise into the room. The walls shake as they fly around the room, encircling us as they enter the mirror. We chant the prayer firmly not to let any demon escape the grasps of our ritual. Some try to tempt us, lure us out of concentration. I will give you unimaginable wealth. I will give you power. Anything you want. We have learned to not listen, to block out their voices. I refuse to leave! You can't force me! Candles are blown out. The chalk circle wiped clean. Shit. I quickly stand as the others begin a different mantra.
Rin: seal of the thunderbolt.
Pyo: Seal of the great thunderbolt.
To: seal of the outer lion
Sha: seal of the inner lion
Kai: seal of the outer bonds.
Jin: seal of the inner bonds.
Retsu: seal of the wisdom fist.
Zai: seal of the ring of the sun
Zen: Seal of the hidden form
Rin (臨), Pyō (兵), Tō (闘), Sha (者), Kai (皆), Jin (陣), Retsu (列), Zai (在), Zen (前).
I jump onto the mirror and seal it with a charm as the demon finally got pulled in like a vortex. It is our victory. For a while, we’re just lying collapsed on the floor, gasping for air, physically and spiritually drained. I glance over at the others. Andrew is tending to David who got knocked over. Rachel is doubled over, breathing hard. I flick my watch a look. Nine-fifteen. We’re late.
‘Guys, can you still go to the dance?’
Rachel shakes her head, ‘I’m just going to clean up and sleep.’ David groans as Andrew disinfects his elbow, ‘Not a chance. Teachers would ask about the wound.’ Andrew nods in agreement as I cover the mirror with more charms, ‘Yeah, I’m with them. Just going to relax here. Have fun for us instead.’
I run into the bathroom with my dress and mask and come out after five minutes with my hair dripping. Rachel applies the make-up expertly as I half dash out the door. I’m so late. I burst into the dancing hall. It’s a whole new world. Extravagant dresses. Exotic masks. Chandelier lights. I search for Michael in the mass of masked people. Pirates. Prince Charmings. Cinderellas. Snow Queens.
‘I thought you got sick or something.’
I whip my head around. There he is. Gold embroidered mask and baroque suit. Classy. I walk into his open arms, ‘I’m sorry I’m late.’ He smiles as he holds me close, ‘No, it’s okay. I wanted to visit your room but I wasn’t allowed. What were you doing?’ I lean my head onto his shoulder, ‘I just got caught up in cleaning.’