In my new novel, The Garden of Bewitchment, an unusual and seemingly rather beautiful toy garden turns out to have an alarmingly sinister personality. It chooses the people it possesses and they cannot escape its demonic clutches. You, my readers, have a choice to make. It is yours to decide. You can turn back now or you can proceed to play some of the most dangerous games ever invented. These games play with you, they can twist your mind and suck you in.
Knowing that, do you still want to play? All right, here we go then:
The Midnight Game
You may well have heard of this. There is a video game of the same name, for example. But this game actually has its roots in ancient Pagan tradition where a form of it was used to punish those who disobeyed the gods. There are a number of stages, forming a ritual which should be followed in its entirety.
Before you begin, you need to equip yourself with the following:
A candle and candle holder
Box of matches (a lighter will not suffice)
Pen and paper
A sterilised sharp needle or similar to draw blood with
A wooden front door (seriously)
Your objective is to summon the infamous, demonic Midnight Man.
You will begin your summons on the first strike of midnight, so allow yourself enough time to do the following:
Write your name on the paper
Prick your finger with the sterilised needle and let a drop of it drip onto that piece of paper
Carry the rest of your equipment (don’t forget the salt, and keep it on you at all times - you may need it later), go to your wooden front door and lay your piece of paper, containing your name and blood, in front of it
Light your candle and turn off all lights, phone and anything electronic
At 11:59p.m., place your lit candle next to the paper and start knocking on your door.
Make sure your 22nd knock ends precisely with the first strike of midnight
Open your door, extinguish your candle, close your door and IMMEDIATELY relight the candle
Start walking all around your home and continue to do this until precisely 3:33a.m., ensuring you never remain in one place longer than a few seconds or the Midnight Man will catch you – and, believe me, you don’t want that. If your candle blows out and you cannot light it again within 15 seconds, stop. Draw a circle of salt around you and don’t move out of it until 3:33a.m.
Don’t leave your house until after the game ends, don’t taunt the Midnight Man, don’t fall asleep and don’t turn anything on. Your candle must provide the only source of illumination
How will you know when he has arrived? Oh you’ll now all right. Voices, whispers, something spied out of the corner of your eye, knocks, a general feeling of dread or panic. Some people report that he makes you hallucinate your greatest fear, others say that once summoned in this way, he will remain with you for the rest of your life – however long or short that may be. Don’t let him catch you. He may wish to rip you apart, limb by limb, organ by organ.
Still want to play?
Try this one then:
The Hooded Man
Want to enter a different world? A parallel universe perhaps? Then this ritual is probably the one for you – if you dare.
Before attempting this summoning, you will need to cleanse your home using a lit sage smudge stick and moving from room to room. Once you have lit the sage and it has taken, blow it out – as you would an incense stick. You’ll need to open every door and window and turn on any fans you may have. This helps the cleansing fumes of the sage brush penetrate every nook and cranny. As you move through your home, ensure you waft it high, low and let the smoke circulate, rise and drift into corners, up walls, around the ceilings and windows.
Say a cleansing prayer, such as ‘I cleanse this room of all impurities, negative energies and anything that does not suit or support the people who live here.’ As you see the smoke drift around the room and out of the window, imagine it taking all the impurities and bad vibes with it, and allowing positive energy to flow in through the open windows to fill up the entire space of your home.
You might also want to spread an unbroken line of salt along your threshold as added protection, to prevent evil entering.
That night, you will need to equip yourself with the following:
A room with a telephone (preferably of the corded variety – the old rotary phone is ideal but more modern electronic ones are acceptable. Mobile/Cell phones present a host of problems and should be avoided)
Two black cords or ropes, measuring around eighteen inches each
Matches or a lighter
At night, armed with your equipment, make sure all windows, doors and curtains throughout your home are closed
Light your candle and switch off all lights and electronic devices and remove anything from pockets but keep your watch on
Go to the room with the telephone and sit down by it. Say the number 13 and then, keeping the phone on the hook, dial 20496888
Tie one piece of black cord to the handset and lift it off using only the cord. Now dial 25515823
Count to 13 and then speak into the receiver. Say ‘Hello. I need a cab’.
Set the handset down next to the phone. Untie the black cord and set it aside. Tie the second black cord securely to the handset. As soon as you can, burn the first cord.
Open your curtains and look out of your window. If it has worked, there will be a black taxi cab waiting for you. Go outside, lock your door, go to the cab, climb into the back seat, lock the cab door and go to sleep
When you want to end your ride, lean forward and whisper into the Hooded Man’s ear, ‘I have reached my destination’. The next thing you’ll know is you’re waking up in your house. You must now go to the telephone you used earlier and dial 200082. Lift the phone by the black cord and set it down, speak into the receiver and say, ‘Thank you for the ride.’
Untie the black cord from the receiver and burn it. The ashes from both cords should then be buried. Cover the burial site with salt and perform a cleansing ritual on your house to rid it of any lingering negative energy.
Eager to get started? Have fun then. But remember, I did warn you…
Don’t play the game.
In 1893, Evelyn and Claire leave their home in a Yorkshire town for life in a rural retreat on their beloved moors. But when a strange toy garden mysteriously appears, a chain of increasingly terrifying events is unleashed. Neighbour Matthew Dixon befriends Evelyn, but seems to have more than one secret to hide. Then the horror really begins. The Garden of Bewitchment is all too real and something is threatening the lives and sanity of the women. Evelyn no longer knows who - or what - to believe. And time is running out.