15

I stood there for another moment, having cut around at still a small distance. It was quickly evident that the woman did not, or could not see me at all. I took a few steps straight toward her this time, startled to have suddenly prompted a cloud of small blackbirds to spring from the grass, where I had not seen them.They gathered together and flew off into the shroud of black and grey. Of unknown consequence, I somehow immediately knew there to be 40 of them. 

I resumed forward until I stood a cubit from the woman, who remained nearly motionless- though I could perceive the rising and falling of her breath. She sat cross-legged, with a loosely curled palm resting on her leg; in which precariously lain was a vial. She allowed it to roll from her palm and rest on the muddy earth. With a step closer I could see it to be identical to the vial the man had previously tried to offer me, with only one crimson drop left within. 

 I had to stop and marvel after the thought to realize that everything here seemed so much more real and clear than anything I remember seeing or feeling before. In an inexplicably otherworldly form, it was if I had never really noticed rain so consciously, or the wind had never swept through me with such bristling clarity. The clouds were so immediate and heavy that I was sure if I were closer I could have felt them. I still couldn’t bring a single other thing to mind of what I had known before or if I had ever been here previously. 

I sat down in the same manner across from the woman and studied her face. Her expression appeared downcast and her eyes as to communicate something inconsolably sorrowful; but I could not tell her tears from the rain. I took notice of a gnarled scar tracing from the left side of her neck, down over her collarbone, and out of sight.

An unknown time passed as I sat in that spot, enjoying the surreal silence and mysterious serenity of this grey place. 

A single desert locust jumped out from the dead grasses onto the hem of my pants. I reflexively flicked it away and looked back up.
 I wondered how long this would last, or how long I should stay before perhaps venturing off into the dark trees. The woman, whom I conjectured to be of her early 30’s, remained seated where she had been, moving only so slightly every so often to straighten her back, look around the field, close her eyes, or take a concertedly deep breath. 

It seemed as if another hour had slipped by and all I could bring to mind was to remind myself that this wasn’t real, that I was seeing it from somewhere else, far away- though it did not seem so, and I could remember nothing else.

She cross her hands up over her shoulders and rested her face in her arms, her eyes flashing up at the sky with a quiet sigh. In that flicker I was impressed with the undeniable feeling of deja vu, and tried again to recall any context by which I could allay such. 
There was again a silent voice in my head- and  every tiny detail came simultaneously flooding back into my remembrance, with vivid color. 

Silent Serenity~14

“I think your clock is broken?” I looked up at the steadfast hands, still pointing to the 3 and twelve. “I arrived here an hour or so ago, and the Sun was getting low, so it must have been roughly 6 in the evening then.”

“I don’t need a clock- it’s of no consequence to me. it’s always 3o’clock in my mind, is that not also the case in yours?”

“No…I don’t follow.” All I had heard of any implication was that 3 in the morning was held by some as the easiest hour to shift between the physical, astral, and other planes.  

“Regardless, Time does not pass in the way you likely believe it to. You’ll find in this place- in particular and hereafter- that the Sun rarely rises or sets at the Time you would expect, or hope. Neither does the Moon any longer chase the Sun or follow in its “proper” path. Hell, I’ve seen daylight last for a week straight, and darkness for months. There is no prediction nor observation of Time’s manner of passing; in most places you’ll find it three times as fast, and in a few- just half. So there’s no keeping track of Time; it simply goes as it wills, with or without us- and stops for very few.”

I stared back incredulously. 
“Is this belief why you previously thought that I had been walking for days- because it had only been less than one. I was just exhausted when I started…”

“I’m not here to convince anyone, and if I were- well, I wouldn’t.”
The man was clearly either insane, speaking in riddles, or both. Harmlessly so, but in the same.
But he also knew things that I could not account for.

I picked up another seed from the table, a light green one. I decided that whatever I saw next would determine for me which he was. I reminded myself of all the different ways in which I had already died, in order to quell my anxiety, and popped it in my mouth. 

This time I immediately noticed the shift, and was conscious of the fact that I was quickly overcome with drowsiness. 

I opened my eyes to find myself lying on my back, squinting up into a grey torrent of rainfall. Rising, I beheld that familiar low sky of heavy clouds, feigning a black pitch. I stood in a vast glade against the trees, of which was a field of mostly dead grasses up to my knees. The rain poured down in angled sheets, silencing every other sound or thought. I thought to bring to mind where I was, but I could not remember how I had gotten there or where I had been before.

     I brought my eyes back up from the dirt to notice a very distant break in the abyss of clouds, through which a single ray of sunlight broke through. Looking back out across the field, I then noticed someone sitting down in the grass, their back to me. My inquisitive nature brought me to tread forward through the muted grasses, mixed with all measures of thorns that had been rendered nearly harmless in the rainfall.

Slowly drawing nearer, I made out long, wavy hair of a shade impossibly undecided between red and black. I made my way around to the side, standing silently, but she did not avert her eyes from her fixed forward gaze. I could not tell if she was looking amidst the trees or looking somewhere inside. 

13

He stared back calmly without a word, as if accustomed to being threatened in such manner.

“May I have my neck back?”

I began to return to the present. I first took notice of my startlingly ice cold skin and realized my hands still about his neck.

I allayed my grip and turned from him in order to heed the warning of my retching stomach.

“You were sleeping so peacefully I could have sworn you to be in some happy place,” he grinned, incognizant of the matters he was making light of. “You seem just a bit tense though… So I gather that was the ‘Need to See’ one. I do often get them mixed up….What did you see?”

“You seriously didn’t see anything? I was asleep?” I dumbly questioned, still rather disoriented.

“I’m not the person who took one… Much less chose the red one first.”

“I thought you said you had forgotten which was which?”

“No, what I said precisely was that I couldn’t tell you which was which.”

“Nice,” I replied, visibly irritated.

“But your nearly ruining my favorite rug reminds me of an offer I have for you, before we continue on to the next seed.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“You don’t even know what it is,” he countered.    “Don’t you want to live to see what’s next? You’ll need this in order…” he trailed off with a knowing air. he jumped up and again fetched a crimson-filled vial from the disorderly table’s contents and held it out to me.

“There’s no fucking way.” I sat unmoved.

“Very well, I can out-wait your nagging curiosity,” he conceded. He set the vial down on the edge of the tallest candle and sat down. “And where did you pick up such outdated language?” he laughed to himself. He directed his eyes to the remaining seeds in front of me. “Now reconsider; you’ve already got the potentially rough one out of the way. Of which, may I again Inquire as to what you saw ?”

Reminded that he was of no responsibility for the content of my vision, I attempted to quell my aggravation. “I saw dark spirits. I don’t know what else to call them. Four of them- but one was different, coming from the shadows behind you. I’ve known them many times before throughout the ages, but seldom in such a violent manner.” I decided to eschew the details. Similar had happened before, but then there was no rescue but Time. “I also heard and felt a great Wind that scattered them. There were voices, though I could not interpret what they were saying.”

“Hm.” his expression betrayed no surprise. “I can’t tell you what it means, but it will likely serve you to have seen in its exact context. Keep it in your mind for that Time.”

“You don’t know, or you won’t tell me, again?”

“Both. I’ve ever remained an advocate for learning by experience.”

Recognizing that further inquiry had yet to get me anywhere with the man, I rewound the unpleasant event in my head to commit to memory. In my rumination I found myself looking at the clock again- of which remained frozen at 3o’clock. Surmising it was broken, I queried as to the time-mindful of where I would be attempting to sleep. 

Unveiled~12


The world dissolved away to appear in such a way that nothing of the physical plane was any longer real or accessible; all appeared as a ghost-like projection tinged in an eerie blue energy. I could no longer feel my hand on the table, but felt an increasingly violent tremor passing from my hands through my body. Three more beings emerged from the walls, bearing a similar resemblance to the ethereal blue plane. They each wore crowns upon their heads, shredded white garb, and long,spiked spinal protrusions from their back. 

The three immediately lunged at me with outstretched claws- I tried to use my arms but they remained motionless on the table. grabbing my neck and sinking claws in; I realized they were pulling me out and away from my ensuingly disanimated body. My body too became light and translucent as theirs were; grabbing for the table leg, in my new form my hands still passed right through. I found I could however grab hold of my attackers; but they were still far too powerful- being knowingly uninhibited by the laws of earthly matter. I struggled helplessly against the number, but was easily dragged to the center of the room and onto a large, rectangular stone table.
The skulled being stood unmovingly aside watching, evidently pleased by the spectacle. 

A stream of blood coursed from my abandoned body onto the now bare earth. Despite this, I felt an innate urgency that I needed to stay as close to my body as I could manage against their pulling me further- or risk being trapped here with them indefinitely. But I perceived that they knew they could not allow me to get back. I could manage to fight and crawl a foot here and there, but each time I was effortlessly dragged back to center. I felt their claws sink into my flesh with superficial repetition. Hands encircled my neck as iron, depriving me oxygen in between another forcefully reaching down my throat, each followed by subsequently hyenic laughter with every turn.     

Terror is of no description; nor is there any vague justice or likeness to attempt to describe it at all.

 I suddenly heard the clear indication in my head that if I could just manage to speak, I could be saved- to scream; but for who to hear? I knew there were no other souls in this realm- I felt the threatening weight of the possibility of eternal isolation and torment. I could not raise my voice against their strength, and I could hear their thoughts that they knew they could neither allow such.  

There were words in my head-words that were screaming at me to be said, to be wielded. But as this all continued, I could not utter more than stifled cries of agony. There they were again- words of a language I did not speak or know of. The words rang in my head, building in precedence and authority until I heard them echoing through the vacuum around me, but not from me. I could have thought I heard the low mutterings of the name the man had given me, just barely perceptible above the frigid blood pounding in my ears. A stream of words foreign to discernment resonated all around from no distinguishable origin.The table shook as the three beings instantaneously jerked away from me, rigid; all eyes searching for the source of the sound.
 Continuing to build to a thundering quake that shook the room’s Foundation, the beings froze as though they were cockroaches in the unanticipated light of something much larger. I gave a powerful shudder at its sound. Oxygen returned to my tortured lungs with a pang of shock as I was violently wrenched downwards in the deafening roar of a rushing Wind. I felt another hand grab my shoulder and blinded, I lunged forward to tear at my attacker. I opened my eyes again to a blurred face; my hands now tightly gripping it’s neck. My vision slowly returned and I made out the lines of the old man’s face. 

Through My Eyes~11

I had more than enough sense of him to know that he was a man of no intentional deviance, so I picked up the red seed first and gulped it down. I looked around the room, anticipating the moment it would take effect. Moments passed and I glanced back at the man, with a minor twinge of nerve. I looked over at the clock. It was 3o’clock sharp. I was shocked; for according to the shrouded sun, I had arrived around 6pm, and our conversation had not spanned 9 hours. 
It was then that it occurred to me that perhaps everything they had said about me was right- 

was all of this just in my head? 

Was I dreaming? 

I had heard that in dreams clocks would most always be either absent or indiscernible. But I was clearly and consciously reading 3o’clock on that wall.

Was my body physically still back in the Asylum; my mind gone off into the oblivion of delusion that had been forewarned me- but I then so vehement that I was not? I remembered that crazy people don’t know that they’re crazy- they can’t see it. So there really was no knowing either way on my behalf. I had always Feared deep down that my grip on reality was far more precarious than I could ever bear to accept. I’d been called many things, but perchance there was a reason I so intimately loathed being called ‘crazy’. Was reality ever subjective-such as those who are colorblind- or was it fixed, with only one right way to perceive and react to it?

Before I could ask anything about this strange time inconsistency, to affirm or deny my paranoia- I saw it. 

It was a familiar sight- but nevertheless one that seldom failed to raise every hair on end, steal the air from my lungs, crawl on my skin, and through my bones. Standing back behind the old man, in the shadows of the room was a gaunt, towering figure 9ft in stature. Not surprisingly, it was cloaked in black robes, a near perfectly unification with the shadows of which it inhabited. Yet the unmistakable stark white of its long, hollow, fleshless skull was clear as it always had been- set with petrifying eyes bearing no Iris, no pupil- only the white of its penetrating sclera. Yet I knew it to be looking straight at me, because I could feel it piercing though me- as it always had long before I would turn to look or open my eyes. This being wore a skull resembling that of a cross between goat and wild canine- though it was much longer, with extended eye sockets. 

I had borne many past experiences with these usually nameless, But It was still always the kind of chilling presence that dropped the room to the sudden iciness of an energetic black hole; There is no peace, no joy, no hope, humanity, nor rescue in the air of these beings. Practicing neither mercy nor cooperation with even those of their own kind- they hide themselves behind any unnerving skulls they can find- favoring goats, horses, and humans. I had been pursued by those with and without cloak and skull- both equally terrifying, and a formidable test of my Fear; it was as if they were always lurking, following, watching, waiting, torturing, pushing- pushing with everything they had to push me over a ledge of unknown origins. 
It simply stood there first watching, to intimidate before moving in closer. I wasn’t sure if this instance was real, the red berry, or both. I attempted to shake off the instinctive freeze reflex so as to defend myself. I knew I could never be physically as strong as these inhumanly sadistic beings, but sometimes if I reacted fast enough I could drive them away for a time. 

Before I could figure out what to do, the figure appeared to begin moving into the light towards me – but the further it advanced ,the more expansive grew that choking darkness with it; until the room was without light, air, or the old man.

Illuminate-7

She spun about sprightly and headed back toward the hut, practically skipping as she went. I remained for a few seconds, still taking in the bizarre array of antics all those around were thusly absorbed in. Not a single other person as much as raised their eyes from their business as I emerged from the trees into the starkly unnatural clearing. Of the diversity of people around, the girl was clearly the youngest amongst them. I was puzzled momentarily as to why she was the only one who seemed awake. She was standing with one hand on her hip, motioned for me to follow, and gave another exasperated sigh. I obliged, quickening my pace across what was now sand beneath my feet, until we came to the purple curtain.

“I can tell you haven’t been here very long- have you. But have they?” I pointed as discreetly as I could muster at the others, still engrossed in whatever each took fancy to.

“Nope,” she chimed, “my parents just finally brought me out here for the first time, after my 12th birthday this last April. Just like they-”

“And you’re not the least bit weirded out?” I interjected.

I can tell you ask too many questions.”

I couldn’t help but allow a glimpse of amusement to cross my countenance at her tone- like a chiding parent, in her squeeky little voice.

“Go on, go in and talk to him!”she gestured again toward the entrance.

I hesitated still. Equivalent to my inclination to simply barge in, was my desire to even be there- much less to get at all involved. I already had more than enough confusion in my life. Despite finding her feisty spirit refreshing- I was still reasonably uncomfortable about the whole scene. I looked back over at her, and back at the doorway, which at a closer vantage was interwoven with shining gold thread. I instinctively recognized a small, metallic sound resonating from up above us, and glanced up to see a tiny red-throated hummingbird glaring back down, red chest glinting in the dying lights. Chirping in such a manner that I guessed he may have been reciting avian profanity; I had always wondered why it was generally accepted that hummers were of docile nature, I knew firsthand that they could also be little devils if in a mood.

The girl was making play fists and rolling her eyes again, so concluding that there would be no knocking, I pushed the curtain aside and stepped inside.

The space was surprisingly large and well furnished for the poor state of everything outside; filled with a warm energy, I saw that the walls were in fact made of rich, sturdy oak logs underneath the brittle sticks and straw. There were bookcases both short and lofty, stacked and filled in disorderly array with hundreds of shabby leather- bound, paperback, wooden, and hardcover books. Many were exceedingly thick, with the initial appearance of research and reference documents and journals. I still didn’t see or sense anyone at all, and continued to observe the spread of tubes, vials, darkened bottles, syringes,papers, and seemingly plant matter strewn about on two rectangular wooden tables. There was a third table, bright red and only the size of a square end table, with three broad candles exuding a fragrance that brought me to feel of a frustratingly indescribable nature.

Time seemed to be crawling at half the speed, as I loitered around waiting for someone potentially as disconcerting as the public outside that violet tapestry. I decided to further tarry only long enough to study a staff leaning in the corner. It appeared to be made of a finely smoothed Yew wood, with two snakes- one of gold and the other iron- encircling its length, heads nearly meeting at the top. Captivated by such a prepossessive work, I flinched to suddenly sense a hand on my shoulder.

Most Often I’m Numb to Consequences~4

I scoured the corners of my mind for what else she had said. Much to my surprise, concertedly thinking about it brought back much more than I had expected to remember. One thing that never changed despite all I remember seeing- I’ve always been a skeptic until proven otherwise, and rightfully so.

Yet somehow throughout the ages I had often ended up in the company of various kinds of mages- whether they were called witches, mediums, psychics, or what the twenty-first century’s New Age “awakening” eventually deemed an Intuitive- they had always told me the same thing, of which I never paid much mind to for all that it mattered to me at the time. More than a few of said Intuitives had told me that I had another past life of which I did not consciously remember.
The past life part was obviously of no surprise to me, and neither was the not remembering some blurred details or periods of time.

Some things got lost in the transference altogether, while other events had always remained crystal clear in recollection throughout all of it. The missing parts I recognize by the vague, inexplicably knowing feeling I would often get about people or things. Not recalling an entire life however, was of some surprise.

These people had each only briefly glossed over the details of its relevance, recounting something about being a “Warrior” who had spent most of my life alone, wielding nothing but a spear for battle and defense. Wandering for nothing, looking for and fighting for something I could never be sure of- much less remember. I had never thought about it again since. It sounded like some fantastical bullshit. I had to stop and laugh at myself, because then again I suppose they must have thought the same thing of my much larger claims- resulting in my being thrown in the Looney bin, again.

Yet if it were so- It must have been too long a time ago to remember, considering that time had always progressed in its normal order, before now. This time around sure didn’t look like anything along the lines of being any warrior- quite far from it in my ripped cargos, equivocally ragged black tee, and somber disposition. Was it supposed to be some kind of patronizing, symbolic jab?
It then crossed my mind that perhaps I had actually gone forward- but pondering that quickly brought me to question that any amount of time or magic could refill the train tunnel that had been bored through the mountain.

I realized that I was sure wasting my time musing about something of little relevance to the fact that I now had no idea how far from food or shelter I found myself. The violent winds had blown a chill right through my thoughts-and my bones.

I had been accustomed to being cold and hungry- nearly numb to it- but not to its eventual effects. It had already been nearly a day since I’d had anything to eat when I decided to just head to my favorite place, where I knew I could clear my head for a while. Nothing quite like jumping in front of a train to clear your head. I briefly felt a twinge of guilt, hoping that it had only been a cargo train.  I’d always been on the lean side, so it never took long for me to start to feel the ache of my body eating itself- and it had already begun to scream and threaten with tension and pain in every muscle. I guess all the time I’d already spent starving up in the mountains would finally pay off as being customary. The fog in my head however was much thicker than that shrouding my vision- and much harder to work with.