I Was Once Like You!
I was once like you, a non-believer. I believed only that which I could feel, touch, taste, hear or smell. I believed in the tangible, not the supernatural. Imagination in the mind of writer’s and movie producers make millions and thrill millions, but that's all that it is. Our fears, insecurities and uncertainty, ahhh yes the "what if's" prowl our sub-conscious, they become our nightmares.
Nightmares that awaken us in the darkness of our bed and when we feel the invisible hands clawing to take us away into their world. Like you, I had a hunger for that which thrilled yet terrified me. But after the last page was read or after the movie ended, I always came back to my world, a world where I was glad to return. So begins my journey that August morning, much not unlike your day, I'm sure. But I was mistaken.
I can't remember how I got there or when I got there, but there I was standing in a field of green grass, staring at the old house. Trees were swaying and the sun warm against my face as I felt chills run up and down my spine. I felt myself arch my neck as the goose bumps sent a warning to stay away. I nervously looked around and I saw no path that led me to this place, I saw no road, no other familiar things that would tell me where I was.
The house was old, weathered and without windows. I felt like my mind was in a panic as I desperately tried to remember the last thing I could recall before I found myself here but I couldn't remember anything. Not a damned thing as I felt tears flowing down my cheek. I wanted to look away from the house, but couldn't. I wanted to run away. From what that too I didn’t know. But I felt something within me was compelling me, commanding me to stay.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when suddenly something unseen nudged me from behind toward the house. The push I felt wasn't forceful, but persuasive and I walked with hesitation toward the doorway. I studied the house closely and saw that there were two parts to this house. The first part was one story, with the second part added on later behind it and it was two stories. Trees surrounded the house and its branches looked like arms holding it up so that it wouldn't collapse.
The porch itself had rotted away years before as I placed my hand on the side of the door frame. How odd I thought that there was no door. Within the room I peered and amidst the shadows was rotted debris. Decayed possessions that once were someone's belongings, their home. This had been a living room, and far in the back had once been the kitchen. To my right was the doorway leading to the second half of the house.
It was at that moment that I heard a voice or did I? My ears strained to hear the sound again but I heard only silence. I wasn't even sure of where the sound had come from. I looked behind me at the yard, the trees and hillside in the distance. I saw nothing and no one. I stood in that doorway, hesitating, wanting to run, run away as fast and as far away as I could. But a part of me also wanted me to stay.
To put the pieces of this strange puzzle together, to find out why I was here. Why couldn’t I remember coming here or how I got here or why? Suddenly a bitter coldness wrapped around me, like a blanket and I put my arms around myself and rubbed my shoulders. As I exhaled I could see my breath as if it was winter. Then as suddenly as it felt ice cold the sensation was gone. As I tried to figure out if I was still asleep and this was a bad dream I saw shadows race across the floor.
Shadows so fast and elusive my eyes couldn't catch up to them. I looked down at my wrist and pinched myself with two fingers and winced in pain. I wasn't dreaming. Then I heard the soft, quiet voice of a small child behind me and I turned around. I was staring down at a golden haired girl in a white dress, next to roses in the flower bed almost as tall as she. Her eyes were deep brown pools of sadness and her gaze mesmerized me.
She wore a hat with a flower on it and I walked toward her. When I approached, she began to walk backwards so I stopped. Her lips didn't move but I heard her voice as clearly as if she had of spoken with her lips. "You’re lost aren't you? So am I!" she said. I nodded and replied, "Yes I am and I'm scared!" She smiled a little smile, the kind of smile that would make any grown up smile before it faded. "This is not a nice place, you should leave.” she whispered nervously as she looked around.
“I wish I could, but I don't know where I would go." I told her. I sat down on the green grass and motioned her to sit down too. With reluctance, I watched her sit down. "How long have you been here, little one? What’s your name?" I asked the child. It wasn't long before the little girl was talking ninety miles an hour, like she hadn't shared a conversation with anyone in a long time. I asked her if she had walked over to the hill in the distance, if she had seen a road, a car or a town.
She gave me the saddest of looks, as she whispered, "He won't let me leave. I know he won't let you leave either!" As she spoke those words, a fear went through my soul. It was an eerie feeling, a feeling I can't describe, but one I'll never forget. "He won't let you leave. Who won't let you leave?" I said in a shocked voice. She pointed to the second story of the old house to the attic blinds. "He won't let any of us leave!" she said in a tearful voice. Suddenly other people appeared near us. People of all ages and races all wearing the same sad expression she did.
A grandmotherly looking woman reached her hand down and touched my shoulder and spoke to me with a warm, kind, southern accent. "None of us know how we got here and we have no memories of our past. For us there is no future. There is only this place. We’re bound to this place and can’t leave. We’ve tried." she said. As she said those words, many of the men and women looked towards me and nodded. As I looked up at the woman, I placed my hand on top of hers, but saw that my hand passed right thru her hand onto my shoulder.
I climbed to my feet afraid as she spoke to me again. “We’re no longer alive. We’re spirits, but you, you are still alive. We can see and sense your light. We don’t know how or why you’re here, but you don't belong here, you must go. You must try to leave!" she said desperately. "Noooo, I cried, this can't be happening!” Then, I watched as the little girl walked up to me and asked me to touch her cheek. As I did so, my hand passed right through her.
Reality began to sink in as if I had been struck by a freight train. I was in a ghostly place of spirits, a place I didn't want to be in and a place I didn't know how to escape from. Then my thoughts returned to what she had told me just moments before. "He won't let anyone leave." I brushed away my tears in anger and shouted angrily, "Where is the coward who keeps you here, where is he?"
Everyone was looking at me like I was crazy to speak such words. No one said a word, but all of their eyes looked upwards to the attic. I turned and made my way to the doorway, the doorway that I once hesitated at. But this time there was no hesitation. This time I walked right in and made my way around debris to the second room and saw the stairway was torn away scattered in pieces. There was no other way to reach the second floor or the attic.
But I wouldn’t be cheated from confronting that which I clearly felt was evil. "You don’t scare me. You don’t make me afraid of you. It is you who is afraid. Why else would you remove the stairs so you can’t face me?" I shouted up at the second floor. Suddenly the room swirled around like a tornado and boards and debris were flying all around me. I could feel a horrible roaring wind and the stench of death but I wasn’t being harmed.
Before my eyes invisible hands rebuilt the stairs and banisters until they looked brand new. From the velvet carpet my shoes walked upon to the walls freshly painted. When I reached the second floor, I saw blood stained walls, claw marks dug into the walls and sensed death was strong everywhere. Each room I looked into showed signs of anger and violence, agony and torment.
Shadowed faces pressed inward from the walls towards me crying out before they returned to the walls. When I stood before the last remaining door I knew it was the door to the attic. I tried to turn the knob but the door didn’t open. I had never felt such anger in me before as I shouted "Coward!" My words echoed with a thunderous roar so loud my hands cupped my ears in pain. Then slowly the door opened and in the dimness of the light from the attic above I saw blood stained steps before me.
In a low, muffled sort of snide voice I heard him mock me shouting, "I fear no one, come to me!" He had issued the challenge and I was happy to oblige him. I wore no crucifix, I carried no Bible and I had no supernatural weapon to protect me or defeat him. But that didn't stop me from wanting to fight for my soul and for the souls he kept prisoner in this place. The light retreated with each slippery step I took on those blood stained steps.
Only the hand rail kept me from slipping and falling to the bottom of the 13 steps. Upon reaching the 13th step the only light seen was from the slats at the window I had seen outside. I stood there defiantly waiting and waiting even more. Still I saw and heard nothing. Finally I began to tap my foot impatiently on the floor. But before I could utter a word, before me appeared blackness, a cloud of blackness like nothing I could have imagined.
"Why are you here?" he bellowed. "You’re not like the others!” I kept silent because I didn't have an answer. Finally I said the only thing I could think of. "I’m here to take the souls of these people back with me!" I shouted loudly. The room thundered and shook so violently it was all I could do to keep my balance and not fall to the floor. On and on the room shook as dust fell upon me from the rafters above. When the shaking and thunder stopped so did the cloud of darkness.
In its place a figure appeared. But in the dimness of the attic, I couldn’t see its face nor describe it. Perhaps it was better that I couldn’t see that which I was truly afraid of. We stood there an arm’s length apart, good vs. evil, neither wavering in our defiance. It wasn’t me who struck the first blow though it was he. In the blink of an eye I was struck by something with such a force that I felt the room spinning. But at that same moment the attic burst into a million particles of fiery light.
I closed my eyes because of the intense brightness. When I opened my eyes I found myself no longer in the attic of the old house but instead, a large cemetery. As I looked around from left to right I saw dozens of people's souls that many of whom I recognized had stood outside the old two story house. But this time I saw no sadness in their eyes or tears of anguish. I saw kind smiles. The little girl with long blonde hair walked up to me and took my hand in hers.
Her hand was soft and warm as she looked up at me with bright blue eyes. "We can never thank you with more than words for setting us free and for that we’re sorry. Perhaps it will be enough for you to know we will never forget your unselfishness to help set us free!" she said with a bright smile. I saw tears flow down her cheeks and felt my tears upon my cheeks.
Before I could speak the souls I had helped set free began to rise toward the heavens and they waved goodbye to me. As the little girl also began to rise she pointed her hand behind me and I turned and saw a stone archway that had a bright light in its center. I heard her voice softly echo, "Your way home begins there. It's not your time yet, Goodbye." and she was gone. Anxiously I wiped my eyes. It was so hard to see anything at that moment.
I didn't know what was waiting for me on the other side of the arch. I didn't know if I would be in my own world or my own bed, I just didn't know. All I did know was that it wasn't my time." I walked over to the stone arch with the doorway size opening of glowing light. I let my fingers barely touch the light and felt its warmth. I wasn’t afraid. I wiped the last tear away and stepped into the light.
©2006 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)
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