Thursday, 21 May 2020

Games to (Seriously) Raise Your Blood Pressure

In The Garden of Bewitchment – my latest novel – a seemingly innocent and exquisite toy hides a deadly presence. It seeks out those it wishes to possess and they have no choice on the matter. You do. Run like hell away from these games or suffer the consequences.

Not convinced? Oh, all right then, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Let’s start with this one:

Dry Bones

In this game you will summon a demon and you’ll need matches, a candle and a room with a mirror (yes, the bathroom is frequently the room of choice).

Turn off all the lights in your house or apartment, or wherever you are doing this. Light your candle and enter the room with the mirror and make sure it is exactly 12:01a.m..

Stare hard into the mirror and you will begin to see changes. The mirror may ripple, appear cloudy, or it might shimmer a little. Whatever happens, you will see an image, other than yourself, take form. Don’t expect horns and a tail – this isn’t a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, this is real life.

Okay, your demon is looking back at you. Tell him, ‘I acknowledge your presence and welcome you into my home for a game of Hide and Seek until 3a.m. Come in now.’

Time is now of the essence. As soon as you utter the last word, get out of there and, as quietly as you can, find your hiding place (a bit of research beforehand is advisable. Now is not the time to discover you can’t actually fit under the bed). Make sure you find the best possible hiding place because your life and soul depend upon it. If he finds you, you’ve had it – and not in a nice way either. It won’t be pretty.

If somehow you manage to survive until 3.00a.m. without being caught, get yourself to the largest room in the building and announce that the game is over and the demon is no longer welcome in your home. You’ll probably hear him go and the sound he makes could well be right behind you. Be prepared.

Right before he leaves, he will have to grant any one (realistic) wish – material or otherwise – that you want.

The next game sounds quite similar but, for this one, you’re going to need a soft fabric doll.

Solo Hide and (Go) Seek

This time around you’re going to summon a spirit – which will enter the doll. Yes, Annabelle immediately springs to most horror fans’ minds, I’m sure. Your game of Hide and (Go) Seek will be played with this demon-possessed toy. Warning to doll lovers – this contains details of graphic violence performed against a defenceless doll.

If The Conjuring franchise hasn’t served to convince you that playing around with this stuff is a seriously Bad Thing, then here goes:

Your tools of the trade, in addition to Annab…um…I mean a soft fabric doll, include:

Pair of scissors

Clippings from your own nails and/or hair

Red thread and a needle


Salt water in a cup

The best hiding place you can find, with a television

The action begins late at night in your bathroom, so go there, armed with all your tools – and don’t forget to name your doll (don’t use your own name).

In your bathroom, you are now going to use your scissors to disembowel your doll. Remove all the stuffing from it and refill it with the rice and clippings

Sew the doll back up (that’s what the red thread and needle are for). Don’t worry about cross stitch, embroidery or whatever, just sew it back up. Use any remaining thread to tie up the doll.

Run a deep bath of water, put your doll on the edge of the sink and take your scissors and cup of salt water with you to your amazingly-difficult-to-find hiding place. Put the cup of water and the scissors on the floor and wait.

At 3a.m., call out to the doll, ‘*insert doll’s name here* is it’ three times.

Return to the bathroom and immerse the doll in the water-filled bath and turn off all the lights in your home.

Go back to your hiding place. Turn on the TV, close your eyes and count to ten. Pick up the scissors and return to the bathroom. The doll should still be there. Say to it, ‘I found you, *insert doll’s name here*’ and stab the doll with the scissors, put it back on the sink ledge and run back to your hiding place, leaving the scissors behind in the bathroom.

Remain silent. Your TV may flicker, or turn off and on. If so, the spirit is near and in the doll. After a few minutes, take half the salt water in your mouth but DO NOT SWALLOW. Taking your cup with you, return to the bathroom where you should hopefully see the doll. If not, you will have to search for it.

When you find the doll, pour the rest of the salt water over it and spit the water in your mouth onto it.

Tell it, ‘I win’ three times and the game is over. Dry the doll, burn it. If anything remains, pour salt onto it and throw it away, far from your home.

When playing this game, always ensure your doors are unlocked so you can escape quickly if you need to. Also it is worth alerting neighbours to look out for anything suspicious. Lining the doorway of the room you are hiding in with natural salt, as well as keeping some of it with you, is a good idea.

Finally, if you are crazy enough to play this game, it is probably a good idea to seek serious psychiatric help – if you survive.

Sara Sarita

Two of you can play this game.

Sit on the floor opposite a friend and say, ‘Sara Sarita, may we join your game?’

Each of you then tosses a coin in the air. If you both get heads, the answer is ‘yes’. If both get tails, the answer is ‘no’. If you get a head and a tail, the answer is ‘maybe’. Only a ‘yes’ is an invitation to proceed.

Once this is achieved, you can ask Sara Sarita any question you like, tossing the coins to get an answer of ‘no’, ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’. Needless to say, you cannot ask a question that cannot be answered by any of these three responses.

The game finishes when you and your friend get bored (probably five minutes later) BUT you must ask Sara Sarita if you can end the game and you may have to carry on if she says ‘no’ or ‘maybe’. Failure to wait until she says ‘yes’ could have serious consequences for your sanity.

Have fun out there!

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.

 Flame Tree Press


Barnes and Noble


  1. Gosh, just reading about the games much less playing them freaks me out. I haven't read The Garden of Bewitchment yet, but soon! I'm looking forward to it.

    1. Thank you, Priscilla - these games do indeed sound a tad fearsome. Hope you enjoy Garden of Bewitchment!

  2. People actually played those games? Too creepy!