Madge’s clientele were convinced of her psychic powers. Any persistent sceptics had been subtly shrugged off, leaving a small and devoted congregation who met at Madge’s every Thursday evening, for tea, chocolate fingers and intermittent access to the Afterlife.
Madge herself was gracious as her fragile health and considerable status amongst habitués of the Spirit World would permit. She carried herself with the natural reserve of the adept.
So it was with some surprise when the séance members assembled in Madge’s tiny parlour, hung with arcane artefacts and dominated by a giant aspidistra, found themselves confronted by a loud red-faced man in an even louder suit.
“Reggie Babcock,” he pronounced to whoever failed to evade his sweaty handshake.
“He’s my landlord,” Madge reported listlessly to a concerned acolyte. “And in matters of the material world, one’s hands are tied.
“Come on, Madge,” Reggie twinkled, producing a hip flask and drawing deeply from it, “Let’s have those spooks out on parade!”
The members sat around the parlour table, their hands outstretched, fingers touching. Madge dimmed the lights and took her place at the table’s head. For a while there was silence, punctuated by amused sniggers from Reggie Babcock.
“Is there anybody there?” Madge intoned in the darkness.
There came a sharp rap on the table.
“Good grief,” Reggie snorted derisively, “Can’t you do better than that?”
There was a sudden gust of wind, a crackle of energy, and a convulsive tremor at Reggie’s end of the table. Members squealed or gasped at the upheaval. One raced to turn on the lights.
While Madge sat serenely entranced at the head of the table, Reggie was slumped back in his chair, his head thrown back, sightless eyes bulging. An enormous Bratwurst filled his gaping mouth and protruded some two feet into the room.