anyone here?" Leonora called softly. Nicky knew she wasn't talking
to any living person. "Tara! Tara, are you there?"
"Lauren? Becky?" Leonora's voice dropped into the husky, rasping
timbre that told Nicky that she was once again in a dimension of
her own. She was frowning, concentrating, as she called out to the
"Yes, I can see you," Leonora said, sounding as if she were talking
to someone only a few feet away. Her voice sharpened. "Who are
She was looking at a point near where she had said the bed had once
Nicky found herself looking there, too, although so far as she
could tell there was nothing but empty room to see. But.... the
draft moving around her ankles had turned icy.
A quick glance at the temperature told her that it had fallen to 65
degrees. And the magnetometer was showing unmistakable signs of
activity as well. Soundlessly - she didn't want to disturb her
mother when she was obviously on a roll - she indicated to the
cameraman that he should pan the sensors. The camera's digital
clock indicated that they were running out of time: only six
minutes left. The way her night was going, the three dead girls
would materialize right in front of them - exactly thirty seconds
after they were off the air.
Ah, well. There was no speeding this up. No regulating it. Leonora,
once set in motion, was like a runaway train. Nicky was on board
now, which meant that all she could do was hang on for the ride and
try to shape the experience so that it was as exciting for the
viewers as possible.
"You don't like us being here?" Leonora's voice was barely audible
now. "I understand. We're trying to help you. Can you tell me your
name?" Leonora frowned, then glanced at Nicky. "Tara. It's Tara.
She says she's looking for the other girls - Lauren and Becky. Are
they here in the house with you?"
That last question was clearly addressed to the unseen Tara.
Leonora nodded, as if she were listening to someone's reply.
Watching, Nicky discovered that she was holding her breath. She had
witnessed her mother's interactions with the spirit world for so
many years that they had long since ceased to be anything out of
the ordinary. Leonora talked to the dead as regularly as some
mothers baked brownies. But tonight something, some combination of
the echoing emptiness of the room and her mother's deepening voice
and the knowledge of the atrocity that had been committed in this
house, combined to give her the willies.
Thank God. It had to be good TV if her mother was succeeding in
"You can't find them? You think they might be in the kitchen?"
Leonora paused, seeming to listen intently. "Yes, I know it's
Lauren's birthday - you think they're having birthday cake without
you?" Leonora frowned, then shook her head. "Tara, wait. Don't go.
Please, we want to talk to you. The other girls aren't in the
kitchen now, Tara, they're...."
Leonora's voice trailed off. She turned as if watching someone go
out of the room. Standing between her mother and the door, Nicky
felt a rush of icy air go past her face. Eyes widening, she took a
reflexive step back. Her hand flew to her cheek.
Her skin felt normal. Warm, dry.
Her heart, on the other hand, was suddenly racing.
"She's gone," Leonora said, sounding disappointed as she turned to
look at Nicky. "Tara. She was here and now she's gone. I think - I
think what's happening here is that she's re-enacting the events
that occurred before she was attacked in the kitchen. I think on
that night she got separated from the other two girls, for whatever
reason, then came up to this bedroom - Lauren's bedroom - looking
for them. When they weren't here, she went down to the kitchen
She never finished speaking. Instead, the air was split by a
woman's blood-curdling scream.
Excerpted from SUPERSTITION © Copyright 2005 by Karen
Robards. Reprinted with permission by Signet Group (USA). All