I am in an empty house - three up-three down. All the rooms are bare of furniture and are covered in a thick layer of dust. Heavy curtains at every window block the light. The air is thick and hard to breathe.

I am there to banish some malevolent spirits who forced the previous occupants of the house to leave. There aren't many people willing to face unknown spirits of a malicious bent, hence the stagnant state of the property when I arrive.

I feel quite confident of my abilities to banish the lurking spirits by the strength of my will. I can feel them, unseen, like sylphs of the air. Their malignancy makes the air taste tinny, reminding me of thunderstorms in summer. The house is cool, but not uncomfortably so.

I set out the few things I need, a few colored candles and a compass (to ensure I put the candles at the proper points on the calendar) and prepare myself to drive the spirits away. No ceremony is required, just sheer concentration, but I feel the need to do something more tangible. The house-spirits unsettle me, and I feel as if I should be impressing them - so to speak.

I begin to chant. The words are comprehensible, nor are they really words, but silly bastardizations of Latin, English and French. Nor is my chanting voice the best that has ever been - far from it. I feel foolish, but I continue, thinking that I this will somehow help drive the spirits away.

Far from it. I can sense what the spirits are feeling - they're not capable of precise thought - and they are feeling distinctly smug. They have caught me in an insecure gesture, and they can take advantage of that. They are still unseen, but I can sense them 'digging in' within the house, clearly stating their intent to stay. This rattles my composure even more, aggravating the situation. My effort becomes undisciplined - although stronger by reason of desperation.

Finally, I am able to put the spirits 'at bay' - containing them at the houses' perimeter - but I know this is not a permanent banishment. I leave the house and seek out the owners, to tell them that they will need to bring in a more skilled person to perform an exorcism. The word exorcism unnerves the property owner, as it's a procedure they had wanted to avoid. Apparently there are different degrees to spiritual posession.

I feel a little foolish for having been bested by what I thought would be a routine task, but I'm consoled by the fact that I learned a useful lesson, and I know that there are others who can finish what I began.




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