Four Corners is a game I played as a girl, before I had any concept of what a trance was supposed to be, and until a couple of days ago I had totally forgotten about it. I was exchanging ghost stories with my younger sisters, but the things we passed between us were always in abstract terms, told in a way that made the mysterious seem nothing more than fiction. Until I asked if either of them had ever played Four Corners.

Some girls might know the game as a popular one for sleepovers, and indeed this is the way I learned it. It might have stayed in the realm of girlhood too, if my childhood friends and I hadn’t succeeded in putting one of us in a trance one time. I was about fifteen, and we had been playing the game for a couple of hours when Sami decided she wanted to be the trancee. She lay down on her back in the bunk bed and Victoria held her head, rubbing gently at her temples to soothe her and “put her in the trance.” We settled down, got quiet and watched intently, or at least as intently as we could, being a gaggle of teenagers. The times before we had done this, the girl lying down had suppressed laughter as she led us along through a myriad maze of nonsense, but Sami, probably the goofiest of the bunch, acted differently as soon as she settled in.

“Four doors, four doors—you’re in a room with four doors. Door one, door two, door three, door four. Pick one.” Without even cracking a smile, she chose a door, and Victoria commanded, “Enter it.”

We waited for Sami’s “I’m in.”

“What do you see?” Victoria asked.

I don’t remember all the details of it, but we quickly realized she wasn’t playing with us. One of the girls shook her playfully a few minutes in and she didn’t react. We started talking out loud, unsure and then borderline worried, but also intrigued when she remained motionless. She reacted only to Victoria’s voice, and only when it was pitched like a hypnotist’s. Testing to see how far Sami would take things, still not really believing she was truly in a trance, we walked her into potential danger with a male character in her vision who displayed some aggression towards her. We panicked when the boy started throwing things at her bedroom window and trying to climb in, and the whole time she was telling us what was happening, she was without any kind of reaction. Victoria attempted to lead her back to the door she originally went through but Sami wasn’t moving fast enough to outrun the danger. Only after several minutes of shaking her did she wake, confused and disoriented.

She didn’t remember anything; she didn’t even think we had started yet. But she had the bruises on her arms and sides to prove we had been really worried for her.

Thinking about the experience now, I’m not surprised about the trance, just that teenage girls were able to induce it. I’ve never been able to duplicate the results, but I haven’t tried since then. We swore we’d never play that game again, and after a while it became nothing more than a faded memory.

So I’m curious—have any of you ever played Four Corners or a similar game? Any similar experiences you’d like to share?

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