14 October 2004
Greetings, everyone! I hope life is treating everyone reasonably
well. The last chapter sparked a little bit of interesting
comment and I was glad to trade emails with those of you who
wrote. A good discourse is always stimulating and I'm curious to
hear your reactions to this one, so don't be embarassed about dropping
me a line if the spirit moves you.
Stay safe and enjoy the story.
Grab your popcorn, dim the house lights, bring up the curtain
warmers.........Hey, you in the balcony! Quit throwing those damn
This story is a work of
Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or
dead, is entirely coincidental. This
story also deals with love and consensual sexual activities between men. If you are not of legal age, reside in an
area where viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by such
not read further and leave this site now.
The author retains all
rights to this story. Reproductions or
links to other sites are
not allowed without the permission of the author.
It doesn’t matter how good or how bad they are, every
cheesy-ass horror movie you’ve ever seen has certain rules that apply. Everyone knows that.
Rule number 3: When
you and the boyfriend are out doing the nasty in the back seat and a
report comes on the radio…of course, it’s not really clear to me why
listening to the radio just then…and the announcer tells you that an
maniac with hooks for hands was last seen heading for wherever it is
to be, RUN! Floor it and GO!
Double-clutch it if you have to and don’t
look back! You do not get
out to investigate when you hear that scratching on the car
Rule number 2: When
your friends all seem to have disappeared while poking around in a
house that you didn’t have any business being in to begin with, call
SWAT! Do not, under any circumstances,
go in the fucking basement!
There are tons more rules to these things. Break
any one of them and mayhem is almost
certain to follow. Which brings us to…
Rule number 1: When
the vampire comes knocking on your window in the middle of the night. You do not,
not no how, not no way, invite it into your house.
The end. Despite their dubious
dental hygiene, they’re very observant of formalities and can’t enter
house unless invited. Or so I’m
told. You can let him stay outside and
your car all night if you want for all I care, but you had better not
It never seems to work out that way, though. Some
fool’s always going to get out of the
car with his pants halfway down; some other fool’s definitely going
basement steps to do his part to help deepen the gene pool, and here
fool, my wonderful, blond-haired fool, opening the surrogate window for
proverbial vampire, if you will.
That’s where we stood right then. We just
weren’t fully aware of it. I had strong
suspicions but I really didn’t
know what was going to happen. I just
knew that whatever it was, I probably wasn’t going to like it.
I startled Hunter when I yelled to Jon not to ask the
question. He sat up quickly, ready for
anything, but was unsure of what was wrong.
“Hey, don’t…,” Ron began.
The glass began to vibrate, interrupting his train of thought.
Ron and Jon turned their attention back to the glass.
It began to move in small fits and starts.
“Brad, maybe you should get something to write this down
with, whatever it is,” Jon said.
I ran to get the small message pad next to the telephone in
the kitchen and spilled an assortment of bric-a-brac as I fumbled for a
the catch-all basket next to it. My
hands were almost shaking as I grabbed everything and raced back. I didn’t want to miss a second of this even
though something deep down in me didn’t want to see a
second of it.
“What’d I miss?” I asked as I took my seat again. I
saw the glass slowly going around in circles
on the board with Ron and Jon’s fingers firmly planted on it, their
“It’s hit the ‘C’ and the ‘O’ so far,” Hunter said.
I balance the notepad on my thigh and jotted
down the letters. “You guys’re pushing
it or something, right?”
“I’m not doing a damned thing except going along for the
ride,” Ron said.
“Ditto,” Jon agreed, licking his dry lips as the glass
slowed to stop over the ‘R’.
“R,” Ron said.
You know, I don’t know what it is about people that
sometimes makes them announce the incredibly obvious as though it were
epiphany. My shoulders slumped and I
looked at Ron as if to ask just how ignorant I looked.
I was going to say something but the glass
started to move again and simply said, “Got it, thanks.”
We watched the glass move around the board in circles and
lazy arcs, stopping next on the ‘B’, then the ‘I’, then the…
“N,” Hunter mumbled, leaning over to check the progress of
the word in the dim candlelight.
“Corbin,” he intoned. “Ring any
“Is it through?” I asked.
“No,” Jon said. “It
feels like it wants to do something again.
Jon was right. They
almost lost their touch on the glass as it swooped down to the bottom
board, stopping on ‘Goodbye’. Ron and
Jon let go of the glass, each leaning back from the edge of their
drawing in a deep breath. I felt a
change in the atmosphere of the room. I
don’t know whether I’d describe it as good or bad.
It was just different. The only
word that comes to mind is ‘heavy’,
but not oppressively so.
“Whoa,” Ron said.
“That was different.”
“Yeah, no kidding,” Jon said.
“What?” Hunter asked.
“I don’t know,” Jon began, “It was kind of a weird tingly
feeling all over.”
“Yeah, that’s it,” Ron agreed. “Like we
were glued to the thing.”
“You guys were pushing it,” I said. “Admit
“Not even,” Jon said.
“We weren’t. It was
doing it itself,” Ron defended.
Hunter’s interest was definitely sparked. “Oh,
man!” he grinned. “We have got to check
this out! C’mon, Brad; we’re up,” he said,
on the back.
“No, I don’t think…” I began. This was
starting to feel a little too
strange for words.
I was going to protest again when Ron started making chicken
clucking sounds, throwing down his little sophomoric gauntlet. Of course, I, like a fool, took the bait, but
I wasn’t going to take his bullshit without exacting my own small price.
Jon got up and took the pad and pen from me. “C’mon,
chicken-boy; your turn.”
“Oh, spare me, big
man!” I said. “I’ll do your raggedy
little game, but you owe us all massages afterwards, deal?”
“Massages?” Hunter asked.
Sanders here gives the most excellent backrub, wouldn’t you agree,
Shepard?” I said, punching up my southern accent harder.
“Not a doubt in the world, there, Mr. Williams!” he grinned,
echoing my voice, rubbing Ron’s shoulder as we exchanged chairs.
“Hey, I…,” Ron began his protest before Jon cut him off with
his own clucking. Ron knew we were
backing him into a corner and there was no way he’d get out of it
looking like a scared, selfish little prick.
Well, maybe not as bad as that, but he definitely knew he’d lose
face if he didn’t agree to it if I did the Ouija thing.
Not that I really wanted to do the Ouija
thing but there was no way I was going to stand there and be called a
by a chicken. “Yeah, okay,” he mumbled
“Cool,” I continued, “And you start with Hunter.” I
could almost see him gulp. This was going
to be so much fun. I could feel that he
wanted to run his hands
over Hunter so bad he could almost taste it, but, at the same time, was
of it leading to put-up-or-shut-up time.
Backrubs were safe with me and Jon.
We were safe because we had each other.
Hunter was a different matter and he knew it.
“Excellent!” Hunter beamed.
“I haven’t had a good backrub in a long time.”
“Feeling a little tight, are we?” I winked.
“Very,” he grinned back.
“C’mon. Let’s get this show on
“So how’s this deal work again?” I asked as I made myself
Ron told us again what to do, press firmly but lightly, ask
the question and just go along for the ride.
Ron sat back and got quiet. Jon
perched the pad on his leg and got ready to transcribe anything that
through. The sound of the steady rain
was interrupted when Hunter cleared his throat.
“So what do we ask?”
“Your call, man. I’m
just here for the ride.”
Hunter thought for a moment.
“Okay, I’ve got something,” he said, clearing his throat again. Why do people do that? Isn’t
once enough? He must’ve had a knot in his
throat. I know I was starting to get one.
We set our curled fingertips together on the glass and got
“Corbin,” he began.
“Why are you here?”
“Oh, man, did you really have…,” I started to say, to ask
why he had to ask it that question instead of something stupid and
how old I was or something like that;
but no, the temptation to talk with God-only-knew-who, or what, was too
The candles next to us flared to three times their normal
height, making us jump.
“Whoa,” Jon muttered.
Hunter’s head snapped to the candles. His
eyes grew larger, almost completely
dilated. He hadn’t expected this.
“You wanted a show,” I said.
And then I felt it.
I’ve read that victims of lightning strikes describe an odd,
feeling, like static electricity building up, right before they got
struck. That’s what it felt like to me
and it was definitely tying my guts into a knot. I
wanted to bolt but I couldn’t move my
hands. My legs weren’t working,
either. I tried turning my head to look
at Jon, to ask for help, but couldn’t. I
could only stare at that glass as Hunter’s and my fingers followed it
around. I felt like I was being lifted
out of the chair like when I’d been meditating that morning, but this
the same euphoric feeling. This was very
I heard Jon intone the letters as the glass picked out a
‘P’, then an ‘H’. It was odd, but I
couldn’t feel it move. It was as though
I was there but wasn’t there. My vision
began to narrow as if I was receding back into a tunnel.
The board, the glass, Hunter’s fingertips
were all I saw, and then they too began to fade around the edges.
I began to feel dizzy and somewhat nauseous. The
board and everything on it began to waver
like the horizon on a hot desert.
“Brad? Brad?” I heard
Jon call from what seemed like miles and ages away as the tunnel closed.
I must have passed out.
My lover’s voice faded almost to nothing before being taken over
another sound. It was rhythmic, with a
familiar cadence. The first thing that
came to my foggy mind was that the guys were watching an old movie on
something I’d probably seen but forgotten about.
I opened my eyes. It
was dark and they hadn’t adjusted. They
were bleary as if I’d been asleep for a long time and I pawed at them
butt of my hand, trying to make out my surroundings.
I felt wind and rain against my face and I
pushed myself up and rested on one arm.
I heard the crackling of thunder and the vague flash of the
preceded it from time to time.
I saw that I was outside of the house, at least I thought I
was, lying in a flat grassy area. I
figured I was in back of the house when I saw an outcropping of rocks a
distance away. I thought I was looking
at the sculpted environment of the pool, but I didn’t recall it being
large. If this was a joke, I didn’t
think it was too damned funny. A guy
could get killed being out in a thunderstorm.
I was about to yell for the guys and give them shit for
dragging me outside when I pawed at my eyes again and saw the hem of a
sleeve. The fog still drifting around my
brain vanished instantly and I snapped upright, holding my arms out,
the coarse brown fabric I recognized as my monk’s robe, my favored
when, as Alicia’d put it, I traveled astrally.
‘Awwwww, shit,’ I thought.
‘Here we go.’
I jumped up and quickly tried to get my bearings but there
was nothing. No house, no garage, no
pool. Nothing. Nothing
but that quiet chanting and the sound
of the steadily increasing rain. It was
odd, though. I watched the rain hit my
cloak but it was not absorbed. I draped
the hood back around my neck and let the rain pelt my head but I didn’t
like I was getting wet. It was very
strange and I don’t know how else to explain it except that it was like
rain knew I was there, because it fell on me and moved around me, but
like it couldn’t get me wet. Like it was
there and not there, all at the same time.
My eyes finally adjusted.
I could see better now and saw that I was standing in the middle
grassy plain, broken occasionally by outcroppings of rock.
A range of huge mountains were arrayed along
the horizon and I had the oddest sensation that all of it, every blade
grass, every speck of soil, every rock, even the mountains, were
me. I’ve never been so heavily clothed
yet felt so naked.
I looked around again, looking for the source of that quiet
chanting I was hearing. I found it but
couldn’t see it. It was on the other
side of that rocky outcropping I’d mistaken for the pool area. I trotted the short distance to it, the
braided belt I wore whipping at the back of my legs as I ran. I noticed a glow from over the top as I got
closer, too, like the flickering of a fire.
The gnawing in my stomach returned.
A part of me wanted to climb the rocks and satisfy my curiosity,
deeper part wanted to cut and run. The
problem was, run to where? Then I felt
that odd tingling and every hair on my head, and the few on the rest of
stood on end.
I didn’t just hit the ground, I became the ground!
And a shrieking bolt of lightning hit the ground, scant feet
I was trying to do my absolutely best impersonation of Kentucky
Bluegrass. The energy of the strike was
and don’t ask me why, all I felt was the heat from the strike, not the
concussion or the killer jolt of electricity I was expecting. Believe me, the heat was enough.
After a moment, I rolled over and up on my
elbows, scanning the dark, billowing sky for any hint of where the next
might come from. I looked back to where
I’d been, to where the lightning had struck, expecting to see a
hole. There was nothing.
Not one blade of grass had been scorched.
I felt that increasingly familiar tugging at my brain and I
had the strong feeling that my way was with who or whatever was on the
side of the rocks. I pushed myself up
and started climbing.
It was steep and made for slow going. I
was barefoot and had to tread
gingerly. With all the rain, I was
cautious about slipping, trying to get a firm foothold before moving
limb, but the rocks were dry as a bone.
It was like the rocks were just not even acknowledging the fact
steady rain even existed. This proved
one thing to me, though. I was going to
have to start working out again. I tried
to keep up with my swimming every day but this climb was getting me
winded. I couldn’t stop, either. There was no place to rest and I didn’t have
any of the nifty hooks and ropes that climbers carried as a matter of
Slowly, I neared the crest, grunting every inch along the
way. The chanting was becoming more
distinct and had a familiar ring to it even though I didn’t understand
of what was being said. Then, the faint
but familiar smell of wood smoke hit my nose.
I don’t know why, but it said ‘home’ to me.
I don’t know why; I can’t explain it. I’m
a child of a tempered environment, a
product of a tightly sealed, air-conditioned house.
We didn’t even have a fireplace at home. Mom
and Dad didn’t want one because they
didn’t want to pay for heat going up the chimney or worry about
the squirrel’s nests. I remember when I
was a kid; asking Mom how Santa was supposed to get the presents in if
was no chimney for him to climb down.
She hemmed and hawed for a second before finally telling me that
leave the back door unlocked so he could get in. Well,
thank God he didn’t have to squeeze in
through the heat pump. I mean, we laugh
about it now, but all that’s just to say that there’s no particular
could think of for wood smoke to signal ‘home’ to me.
But there was another smell mixed in, as well, like someone
was cooking a turkey. That smell was more
than familiar, but I had no idea what a roasting turkey would be doing
here. No, not turkey exactly.
I sniffed at the air a couple of times. It
was more like turkey dressing. That’s what I was recognizing, it was
that sage smell but without the onions or oysters that I remembered
it. This climbing was making me very
hungry and I was glad that there might be something to eat nearby.
I got to the top, fully expecting to see it drop off to the
plain of grass below, but it didn’t. The
rocks flattened out to a plateau, the highest thing around except for
mountains in the distance. I was about
to pull myself over the top and stand up when I saw the fire, a small
surrounded by small rocks, and I ducked back down when I saw the two
either side of it, tending to it and setting small bundles of grass in
it. That must’ve been what I was smelling.
On the far side of the fire, facing out towards the plain,
was Grandfather. He was not as
innocuously dressed as when I’d seen him at the quarry.
He was dressed in what I can only describe as
full dress but without the heavily feathered war bonnet that one might
imagine. He looked regal.
His hair was pulled back and tied. Two
feathers, I had the strong sense that
they were from an eagle, dangled from the braid. In
his right hand, he held a long but sturdy
wooden staff with a polished knob on the end, as one might use when
walking. My eyes followed the staff for
a moment or two. It wasn’t just any tree
limb that he’d picked up. Frankly, I
hadn’t noticed any trees around to get a limb from, so this one must
of some importance if only for that reason.
It was difficult to see in the dim light, but as Grandfather
gesture or turn, the glint from the fire would catch the staff just
allowing me to see that it was, in fact, heavily, almost completely
carved. I knew somehow that they were
not decorations. It represented, and
they were, the labor of a lifetime, perhaps several, for all I knew. They told stories, like the obelisks of Egypt
ancient cave paintings. But these were
Grandfather stood with arms outstretched, chanting as I’d
heard since I’d awoken here, wherever here was.
Every so often, he turned clockwise, 90 degrees.
With each turning there was a streaking of
lightning across the sky from cloud to cloud, a clapping of thunder. With each turning, Grandfather’s two
companions added more of the bundled grass to the fire, sending the
skyward between the raindrops.
Both companions knew I was there. In
unison they rose from their kneeling
positions on opposite sides of the fire and came to where I thought I
I’m sorry, I know this is going to sound judgmental, but I’d
seen enough movies to generally get the feeling that a white bread and
mayonnaise type like me was probably not going to be welcomed to what
like some sort of sacred, Native American ritual. I
was more than a little worried as they
approached and the hunger I was feeling was joined by a sizable lump in
My preconceptions couldn’t have been more wrong.
I looked up into their faces expecting to see anger and saw
serenity. Where I expected to see
scowls, I saw smiles. They looked to be
about my age.
The young lady had pleasant, clear features, finely but
softly formed. My eyes were drawn to a
simple strand of small, mixed stones around her neck. There looked to
different kinds. I immediately recognized
the turquoise and what looked to be black obsidian.
The third was a sort of polished, translucent
cream color. Opals came to mind but I
wasn’t sure. The young man was similarly
drawn but a bit more sharply and heavily featured.
He wore similar stones but in the form of
wristbands on leather, with strands of leather hanging from them. Both had jet black hair, tied back. Both wore simply designed native tunics. Both extended their hands down to help me
from a hiding place that I found I didn’t need.
I had the odd feeling that I knew them both and looked at
“What puzzles you, brother,” the young man said.
“Do,” I began, pausing, “I know you?”
“Always,” answered the young woman.
“I am your brother,” the young man said. I
was more than a little stunned. “This is
“You remember its sound but you do not remember the old
tongue, so my name will not be familiar,” my ‘sister’ said, “But I am
chosen tongue now, ‘Dawn over Water’.
This is your brother, ‘Fishing Bear’.”
My brain was on overload.
I had no idea what to make of this, no idea what to say. I could only think to fall back on my basic
manners and extended my hand in friendship.
“I’m Brad Williams.”
They each took my hand in turn. Fishing
Bear smiled and told me that they
knew who I was. Introductions were a
pleasantry but not totally necessary.
“You are Brad Williams to you now,” Fishing Bear said.
“To us,” Dawn over Water began, “You are Three Eagles.”
“Three Eagles,” I repeated.
“Not Soaring?” I asked, smiling.
“No,” said Fishing Bear, “Soon.”
“When your mind and body and spirit talk as one,” Dawn over
Water said. “They talk as separate
I was still confused by all I was hearing. “This
is a past life thing, right? You were my
brother and sister?” I asked.
“No,” said Dawn over Water.
“There is no past,” Fishing Bear added. “There
is only what is.”
“But,” I began. They
saw the darkening clouds of confusion on my face.
“Come,” Dawn over Water smiled as she took my hand.
“Grandfather may answer your questions. He
may also raise many that you need.”
“It was he who called to you,” said Fishing Bear.
My confusion wasn’t going away. Together,
my newfound brother and sister
guided me to the fire and motioned for me to take a seat opposite from
Grandfather stood. They seated
themselves to my right and left. Dawn
over Water handed me a small bundle of what looked like dried weeds. I smelled them. It
was sage, the scent I’d caught
earlier. I didn’t know exactly what I
was supposed to do with it and she motioned for me to place it in the
fire. At this point, I didn’t
do anything that would appear stupid or offensive.
I looked at their bundles lying at the rim of
the fire. They weren’t burning fully in
the fire itself. They lay smoldering on
the edge, burning just enough to send clouds of the fragrant smoke up
disappear in the night sky, like incense, unaffected by the wind. Fishing Bear saw my hesitation and gently
took my hand to hold the sage bundle in the fire enough to get it
started. He blew out the growing fire,
glowing ends to smoke and he smiled as I set my bundle down, the smoke
to join with theirs. They bathed
themselves in the rising smoke, pulling it towards them with slow draws
hands. I did as they had done, coughing
a little from the cloud of smoke around me.
They laughed quietly.
“It is for cleansing,” Fishing Bear whispered, knowing that
I was mimicking their ritual without any real appreciation of what I
“And protection,” said Dawn over Water.
“From what?” I asked.
She responded with a finger to her lips.
We were to be quiet and respectful as Grandfather finished.
His chanting was becoming quieter, as were the rain and the
thunder. On his last circling, the rain
was gone. I looked up and saw only the
dark clouds, streaked silver from behind by moonlight that broke
occasional spots. The wind was dying
down, becoming a gentle breeze. As much
rain as had fallen, I should’ve been soaked to the bone and shivering
leaf, but I wasn’t. I was completely
dry, but I was shivering a little. From
awe, I think, more than anything else.
Grandfather’s ritual was finished and he stood quietly
before us, staring at me. My brother and
sister watched him closely, as if waiting for their next cue. He was shorter than I was but was definitely
not short of stature. There was an
electricity to the man, stronger than what I’d felt from my new
they paid him silent respect.
“Greetings, my son,” Grandfather said as he seated himself
opposite me at the fire. It was a
strong, clear voice, weathered by age but not eroded by it. “I see you still favor the hooded blanket for
your travels,” he said, pointing to my robe.
“Your black half-skin was finer than that.”
“I, uh; well, it’s,” I stammered. I was
completely flummoxed by the man, by the
whole ordeal, really. ‘Smooth,
Williams. Truly smooth,’ I thought. ‘Here you’re finally sitting with your guides
and you start out by sounding like a gibbering idiot.
“The crow has taken his voice again, Grandfather,” Dawn over
Water noted, smiling.
“And it is for you to help him find it when he needs it,” he
I almost shrank when Grandfather laughed before I realized
he was laughing from joy, not derision.
“Since when you were a child you had difficulty speaking to
me,” he continued. “But you are beyond
those days and now we are here to help you.”
“To do what?”
“To find the way that you drew for yourself. To
protect you during your journey, if we
can,” he said.
My head shook involuntarily.
There were too many questions starting to form and my head was
aching. They saw my confusion and stayed
silent, waiting until I was ready.
“Protect me if you can,”
I asked, I couldn’t think of a better place to begin.
“Isn’t that your whole purpose?”
“It is part of it,” Grandfather said. “Part
of it is to teach, as well. But it all
requires that you listen. After that it is
your way to make. It is you who is riding
the horse, not us; we
just try to see that it is you who does the riding, not the horse.”
This was going to take more than a little time to sink
in. I nodded and sat quietly for a
moment trying to grasp what he’d said.
Again, they waited for me patiently.
“So,” I drawled, “What am I doing here?”
“On this rock or on this world?” Grandfather asked.
“Well, both, now that you mention it.”
“I can not tell you why you are on this world,” he said.
“You don’t know?” I asked.
Grandfather looked at me with wizened patience but a touch
of sternness around the corner of the mouth.
“I can not tell you because you said we were not to before your
return. The path you created for
yourself is, oh, what is your word,” he paused, thinking, “ambitious. I can only say that you are here to learn
some things you wanted to try, but that you are here mostly to help
others. You were needed, you were asked
and you came, although you did not have to.”
“By whom?” I asked.
“By he who can ask.”
Wonderful. I thought
that Alicia and Grandfather had to have gone to the same school of
responses. I mean, would it be too much
to ask for just one straight answer? I
wasn’t going to get it, though.
Grandfather, Fishing Bear and Dawn over Water watched my blank
seeing if what he said was sinking in before continuing.
I think I was a little disappointing.
“You set many things in your way,” he continued. “It
confuses us, but you always liked to test
yourself against yourself.”
I drew my legs under me a bit more tightly. “So
why did you call me here to this place,”
“I did not call you here,” he said. “I
you, Dawn over Water called to you. We
did not call for you. You
came of yourself. Your friend has told you
that you are strong;
the you of you knows this even if Three Eagles as Brad does not
remember. You knew you could and you came.
“But what is this all about then,” I asked.
“The you of you came here because you were not listening; it was
important.” Grandfather spread his hand
out, waving it toward where he had stood.
“We called to you about the board with many figures. You felt us but did nothing and when you did
nothing, I spoke to the skies for your protection and then you came. You knew what you needed even though you did not.”
Totally confused? No,
that’s putting it too mildly; I was on overload, but somehow, on a
level, it was making some sense. I can’t
explain it, but it was.
“You mean the Ouija Board?”
They all nodded. “To
you it is a game. It is a focusing tool
for talking to us on this plane. But it
is also a back door that children should not open.”
“Back door to what?”
“To that which is between.
It is a place we don’t go but to which you have given way. You have to walk very lightly now, grandson,”
Grandfather said as he picked up a small, lightly carved bowl. He took a swallow from it and handed it to
Dawn over Water.
“There is one from between worlds who has taken this open
way on its search,” he continued.
“Search for what?”
“Your past can be a clear road or a muddy one to be stuck on,”
Dawn over Water handed me the bowl after she’d
finished. “What’s this?” I asked.
“It is what you need it to be,” she said.
“Its search for what, Grandfather,” I pressed, taking a sip
of the clear liquid as I waited.
“For you,” he said.
I stopped and stared at Grandfather. He
never blinked. I should’ve been expecting
that answer but it
still shocked me to hear him say it.
Giving something voice like that gives it a punch it wouldn’t
have and it hit me hard in the gut. I
had the strongest feeling that I had to leave.
“I think I’d better get back,” I said, handing the bowl to
Fishing Bear, “but I don’t know how.” I
don’t know what was in the bowl. It
hadn’t tasted like anything other than plain water, but I was starting
Grandfather laughed again.
“You never left, grandson.”
His words garbled together and echoed in my brain.
It was getting difficult for me to sit
upright. I felt very weak, very fatigued
and lay down on my side. I could not
keep my eyes open and they fell shut.
After a few moments, I smelled it. Strong.
Pungent. Like ammonia.
No, not like ammonia; it was ammonia. I
had no idea what would be causing such a
smell high up on the rock where I was lying but it was getting stronger
second. Repugnant is what it was. I felt like I was being enveloped by a thick
cloud of it and recoiled, gasping for breath as I shot upright.
I stopped when I saw Jon, Ron and Hunter crouching on the
floor next to me, staring at me with the most worried, concerned looks
I’d ever seen. Hunter held the remnants
of a crushed ammonia capsule between his fingers.
“Brad,” Jon asked timidly, “you okay?”
I took a deep breath again and ran my hands through my
hair. I looked quickly around making
sure I was home. From their expressions,
I must’ve looked like shit. I felt my
heart begin to slow and pushed myself up to sit on the floor, folding
under me. My face sank into my hands
when I felt the throbbing headache again.
“Oh, fuck,” I drawled.
“Man, you went out like a light and keeled over,” Hunter
Jon nodded. “Yeah, it
was like you were going along on the board and then you just went
dude,” he said. “You just froze up. Your hands were dangling in mid air and you
just stared into space.”
“Yeah, it was like you…,” Ron added, pausing, “just weren’t
“I was about to call 911,” Hunter began, “when I remembered
I had these things in the first aid kit in my…”
“Where is it?” I said.
“Where’s what?” Jon asked.
“Where is it?!” I repeated, jumping to my feet.
Ron fell back on his butt as I jumped. Hunter
and Jon quickly moved to get out of my
way and stood up with me. Their mouths
hung open; they were surprised by my sudden movement after having been
of it, at least from their perspective.
Then I saw what I was looking for.
The Ouija board was still taped down to the dining room table.
The glass flew off the table as I snatched up the board,
cracking as it hit where the rug meets the wooden floor.
The tape gave way easily; its slight
resistance, the sound of its tacky protest, did not stop me in the
from ripping it into as many shreds as I could.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Jon start to move towards me. Hunter’s arm shot across Jon’s chest, barring
his way, as he shook his head for Jon to stay still.
I doubled each scrap, doubling and shredding them again
until it was too thick to continue. I
could feel the sweat cooling my scalp as I strained with the last bit
it. It was too much.
I stopped for a second, catching my breath, and saw the
little notepad that Jon still had in his hand.
I snatched it from him. He yelped
as the paper sliced into him and stuck the side of his hand in his
mouth. He was about to come after me but
stopped him again.
“Let him get it out, whatever it is,” I heard him mutter to
“Excuse me,” I said, brushing past their stunned
stares. Ignoring the rain, I trotted out
to the trash cans and threw in the notepad and the shards of the Ouija
board. I grabbed a bag of trash from the
adjacent can and threw that on top, stomping it down for good measure,
falling on the wet ground in the process.
I slammed the lid down on the can and leaned on it for a moment. I didn’t care that I was getting drenched; it
felt good, a subtle reminder that I was back.
My mind was blank; there were no thoughts in it at all
except to rest now that I’d accomplished my mission.
I just hoped it was enough. I was
I stood there, listening to the hollow sound of the rain
against the tops of the plastic cans when I felt Jon’s hands gently
waist and encircle me as he pulled himself close. The
rain and the cool night air, to say
nothing of the whole experience, sent shivers through me.
So did Jon, but he was wonderfully warm.
“Hey,” he whispered in my ear, and then kissed the back of
“Hey,” I whispered back.
My head drooped and I laid my hands over his; I was half ashamed
and look at him.
“I dunno,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
“Look,” he said quietly as he rubbed the wet shirt covering
my abs, “Why don’t we go get dried off, have some drinks and watch a
It was like I couldn’t move.
I didn’t know what to say. I felt
like a complete ass.
“Ron says he’s got a backrub waiting for you,” Jon
continued. “I think you scared the shit
out of him, though, so be gentle,” he chuckled, letting me know we were
good. He was contagious and I chuckled
with him at the thought of Ron cowering from my outburst.
“Yeah, okay,” I said, smiling as I turned to meet Jon’s
concerned look. “But there’s something I
need first,” I said as I embraced him, and lowered my mouth to meet his. His moist warmth was the tonic I needed right
>From the corner of my eye, I saw Ron and Hunter watching
from the dry warmth of the kitchen as Jon and I kissed.
Hunter crossed one leg over the other and
leaned on Ron’s shoulder as I closed my eyes to concentrate on my lover. Let them look. I
didn’t care. We let our hands roam freely
as our drenched
hair fell over our eyes, as our breathing blended with the sound of the
and the rain.