Edie raised her eyebrows and looked at Corrie. Was she thinking what Edie was now thinking? If Alice could learn what she did wrong with her spell, maybe she would be able to stop haunting Annie.
“Corrie, do you think Lin would be okay with it if Alice used her body to leave?” Corrie said.
Roe nodded. “If she doesn’t like it, she can just expel her, remember.”
“Is that what happened?” Alice touched her shoulder. “This is a medium… yes, I remember learning about them. That makes sense. I didn’t like being shoved out… but when the space returned, I had to enter. It was half a compulsion, half desperation to make someone actually understand me.”
Edie bit her lip. No wonder Lin didn’t like being around ghosts, if they were even in part compelled to enter her body and use it. That fit with what they had seen, too. If Alice had been given free choice as to whether to possess Lin—well, the ghost they had tried to communicate with a few weeks ago wouldn’t have done it, not when she could just continue scaring people.
“Do you want to try it?” Annie asked. “If you want to stay in the building, that’s perfectly understandable. You’re safe here. But you’re safe out on campus, too. The worst that will happen to you is Lin—the medium—expelling you again.”
Alice took a deep, shuddering breath. “Let’s try it. What do I have to lose?”
She stood and took a step forward. She seemed unsteady on her feet, and Roe held an arm out. Alice took the arm and balanced herself, then moved forward to the door.
Edie quickly got up to follow, as did Annie and Corrie. They made an odd little procession as Alice, moving like a decrepit old woman, walked down the hall on Roe’s arm, with the other three following close behind.
Alice stumbled on the steps, but by the time she’d reached the bottom, she seemed to have regained her balance. By the time they reached the front door, she hardly seemed to need Roe’s arm anymore. She reached out for the handle, but pulled her hand back, hesitating.
“Here,” Annie said. She stepped forward and opened the door.
Alice let go of Roe’s arm and took a step through the door. Her right side, then her left, moved out into the reddish light of the setting sun. She turned to face them, smiling, her hands spread wide. “Here I am.”
Edie couldn’t help grinning. It was a surprisingly beautiful sight. But suddenly Alice gasped, put her hand to her forehead—and then she was Lin again.
“What happened?” asked Annie, running forward. “Did she get pulled back into the building?”
“No,” Lin said, shaking her head and taking a step back. Roe held her hand out, but Lin made a gesture as though to ward her off, and Roe stepped back as well. “I expelled her. I was tired of it. I didn’t want to be moved around.”
“I’m sorry,” Corrie said, walking out of the building as well. Edie followed. “I thought it was worth a try, and that you would expel her if you didn’t like it.”
“And I did,” Lin said, holding her hand out now to stop Corrie. She took a deep breath. “It’s all right. I felt the ghost use my body to stand up, and I chose to let it happen. It just went far enough. I’m going now. I’ll talk to you later, Roe.”
They watched in silence for a moment as Lin walked away, then glanced at each other uncertainly. “Well, it doesn’t sound like she hates you for dragging her into this,” Annie said to Roe.
Roe grinned. “No, I guess not. At least she learned something!”
“I wonder if Alice will talk to us now,” Corrie said thoughtfully. “I mean, using tarot cards or something. We might not have to go through Lin.”
“Let’s try it,” Edie said.
Corrie looked around. “Do you think she’s out here still?”
“If she’s not, then she’s probably back in my room,” Annie said. “And I have tarot cards there. Let’s see… didn’t you say she did some knocking when you were first trying to talk to her?”
“That’s right,” Corrie said. “Alice, if you can hear us, please knock on the door once.”
They were silent for a moment. All Edie could hear was someone shrieking with laughter on the other side of the building.
“Back inside, then,” Annie said, leading the way.
They headed back in to Annie’s room and shut the door. “Alice,” Annie said clearly, “if you can hear us, please knock once.”
They were silent. This time Edie heard a very distinct knock. They all grinned at each other.
“Alice,” Corrie said, “if you know any other way to communicate with us, please knock once.”
This time they were answered with silence. Annie rummaged through her drawer and came out with a box of tarot cards. She shook the cards out into her hand and spread them onto the bed. “Alice, if you can, please pick out a tarot card to communicate with us.”
The cards rustled, as though in a strong breeze. Several of them flipped over, and then they sprayed in every direction—similar to how they had swirled the first time Corrie had tried to communicate with the ghost, but without as much force, so even though a few of them hit Annie, they fell down harmlessly.
Edie took a deep breath. “Alice, are you frustrated? Please knock once for yes, twice for no.”
There was a knock. Edie nodded. “You’re having trouble controlling the cards?”
“That’s what I thought,” Edie said. “This must be very frustrating for you. I’m sorry. We’ll try to come up with another way to communicate with you.”
There was a pause, then another knock, and the girls all laughed.
“Alice, while we’re thinking, do you want to try one other small thing?” Corrie asked. She paused, but there was no response. “I was thinking that you could follow us to our dorm—me and Edie, that is.” She gestured at Edie. “If you are able to leave the building without the medium, you can let us know once we’re there, and then we’ll know you can move around campus on your own.”
Edie held her breath for a moment. Alice knocked. She grinned.
“Great!” Corrie said. “Let’s go!”
She led the way back down the stairs and out of the building; Annie and Roe came with them, too, plainly curious. They didn’t go quickly, in case Alice couldn’t move quickly without a body. Inside Sayer, they went up the stairs and into Corrie and Edie’s room.
Dawn looked up from her desk when they entered. “Hey, there you are,” she said. “Where have you been?”
“Shh,” Edie said.
Corrie closed the door carefully behind them and looked around. “Alice?” she said. “Are you here?”
For a moment Edie thought they had failed. Then there was a knock.
Edie and Annie cheered. Corrie and Roe high-fived. Dawn stared at all of them. “What the heck did I miss?”
Edie looked at Corrie, and all of them started to laugh.