Thursday, April 25, 2013

Part III - one

…The dream is not always the same.

Sometimes the man in the black suit enters the room backwards so that I hear him speak before I see the dreadful leer of his face.

There is, in the man in black’s face, something deeply…. unsettling. Beyond the constant expression it wears of mingled derision and sickly, unwholesome smile, there is in the features of the face itself more than the suggestion of deformity. Or maybe distortion, as a scrambled television signal, is a better word.

It is nothing easily identified; a certain asymmetry, perhaps. As if the face had been split in two and reassembled by inexpert hands. Maybe it is simply the dark and deeply set eyes like black holes in the skull, tugging at everything in the room, sucking even light into themselves…

Emma Jason paused, her black ball-point hovering over the page, considering what she recalled from this latest dream of the man in the black suit. He had been appearing in her dreams, and her journals, intermittently for years. Always he spoke to her, in a voice crawling with earthworms and subtle innuendo, and always she failed to comprehend the communication; as if he was speaking not English but some unknown tongue. Or maybe gibberish. The last few weeks had seen an unexpected and unpleasant increase in the dark man’s visits. Last night, for the first time she realized with some alarm, she had actually understood some portion of his sepulchral speech.

Her hand faltered and she rested the ball-point at the end of the ellipsis she had just jotted down... Damn if she could remember what she had finally understood! The words glinted in the shadows at the edge of memory, fading farther back into darkness even as she tried to draw them forth. It was maddening but she decided to let it go, confident it would come to her in time. Not that she was eager to hear whatever it was this sinister figure might be trying to tell her, but she knew it was probably important.

A sudden shrieking of tires somewhere nearby startled Emma to her feet. The sound, for some reason, brought Virginia flashing into her mind. Then she remembered that Ginny was driving to San Pia with her new girlfriend today. What was the blonde’s name? Amanda? Rachel? No… Rebecca! They’d left early that morning, or so Emma believed. She was also fairly certain that the girls would have been driving on the opposite side of Piney Oak to connect with the southbound freeway from their new place on Geometry Street. It was irrational to think that her daughter was in any way connected to the sound she had just heard. Yet, she found herself suddenly worrying about Virginia.

She reached down and closed her dream journal, dropping the pen on top of the black cover. It was quiet now. There had not actually been a collision of any kind, thank God. Only a near miss with squealing tires and, no doubt, copious amounts of adrenaline and expletives. Most likely, airbags had not even been deployed. Suddenly, she cocked her dark head, listening. Somebody was crying. A woman, out in the street.

As upon most weekends, this particular Saturday morning found Emma in the office; or The Stall, as she knew everybody but she called the small, anonymous storefront founded by her father more than half a century before. So it was that she left the desk where she’d been writing (Gordon’s space Monday through Friday) and, exiting the shop, stood out on Oak Street, listening for the sobbing that she still heard, though dimly now.

She looked up and down the street but there was nothing unusual to be seen. Cocking her head again, she determined that the sounds of distress seemed to be coming from her right. It must be fairly close to be as audible as it was. Somewhere on Bonner Avenue, most likely. Making sure the door was closed behind her (no need to lock your door in this town, but keep it closed or risk coming back to find raccoons setting up shop), she started down the block toward Bonner Avenue. As she progressed, the sobbing grew louder in her ears.

Then she paused, realizing quite suddenly that the sound wasn’t in her ears at all! Standing still and alert, she listened anew. The street was actually quiet; the only sound, birdsong drifting from the trees. None the less, she heard somebody crying. Telepathy?  If so, it was the strongest and strangest she had experienced in her nearly sixty years. Sure, she had spoken to Angels and Demons, seen ghosts and UFOs, socialized with psychics of all kinds, but nobody had ever been in her head quite like this.

"Help me, Emma…”

The words rang like a bell in her head, a bell with an English accent! A bell that knew her name! Startled by the sound, or thought, of her name, compelled to move by the plea for help, Emma now broke into a run. Good genes, and the good exercise she got walking around town, kept her fifty something year old corporeal form in good shape. She reached the corner of Oak and Bonner in just a few seconds and still breathing more or less normally.

All sound in her head had stopped now. But there in the middle of Bonner Avenue was the car she had heard, a blue, four door sedan of some kind. In the car, hunched behind the steering wheel, a woman, her shoulders occasionally heaving as she silently sobbed. Hesitating only a moment, she had always been one to take charge in a crisis, Emma moved forward.

As she approached, the woman in the driver’s seat stirred and gazed in her direction. “Oh, thank God…” The voice, English accented, in her head again. “Please tell me what to do, Emma…”

Emma, circling around the front of the vehicle now, nearing the driver’s door, wondered what she was getting herself into here. She suddenly recalled the Tarot spread she’d thrown for herself two nights ago. The lightning struck tower. The Devil. Gripping the door handle, she gazed in at the tear stained woman in the driver’s seat – small, fine featured, coppery hair – and smiled. If this dainty creature was driving with The Devil, then perhaps Emma should take the wheel.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Part II - twelve

Nine to ten hours later, Ginny was back at the house on Euclid Street, her black Malibu packed for their trip down the coast and idling in the pale light of the new day. From the driver seat, she spoke to Rebecca, sitting with her slim hand on the passenger door handle. “Just go around the left side of the house, “she began.

“The left side,” Rebecca interrupted, “if I’m facing the house?”

Ginny smiled. The direction seemed so obvious to her. In anybody else she might have found the question a dumb one. Coming from Rebecca, it was simply endearing. “Yes, my sweet,” she continued, “face the house and go around the left side.” She gestured through the window toward the house, growing more substantial by the moment as Saturday morning brightened around them. “Head back toward the creek until you come to a large hedge.”

“How large a hedge?” asked Rebecca.

“Like a wall,” Ginny replied without pause. “But just a couple of feet or so past where the house ends and the hedge begins there is a gap, an opening big enough for one and a half of your beautiful selves to get through.”

“Ok…” Rebecca smiled. “And what if the books aren’t there?”

Ginny grimaced briefly. “Just come back, I guess, but I think you’ll find them.”

“How can you be so sure?” Rebecca wondered.

Ginny glanced through her side window to the front door of the house, surprisingly white in the early light. “Because my note is gone.”

Rebecca, her hand still on the handle of the door, leaned across the middle console and planted a kiss on Ginny’s mouth. “I’ll be right back,” she said. Opening the door and stepping into the bright new morning, she smiled and added, “I hope!”

The passenger door swung shut with a soft thud and Ginny chuckled, watching the way Rebecca’s hips swayed as she walked away from the idling car. She hated sending Becca for her journals, but not as much as she hated the thought of running into Gordon.  

Rebecca turned and waved as she rounded the left corner of the house and passed out of sight. From the driver seat, Ginny returned the wave. Glancing at the clock in the dash, she saw that it was just about a quarter after six. In a few minutes she would have her journals and her girl back in the car; neither, she hoped, the worse for wear. Looking at the clock again, she calculated the drive down south to San Pia might take two or three hours. Unconsciously drumming her fingers on the steering wheel, hoping she would like Rebecca’s family at least half as much as she liked Rebecca, Ginny gazed at 61 Euclid sitting whitely in the clear light of Saturday morning, and waited for her lover to return.
Editorial note: See Part I, chapter eight, for the results of Rebecca's trip through the hedge.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Editorial Note

Coming soon... Part II, chapter twelve, in which Rebecca prepares to retrieve Ginny's journals.

This will be the final chapter of Part II.

Coming sooner or later, Part III, Chapter I!