Young adult, paranormal/historical
“No freakin’ way!” I said, shaking my head. “If Lobo’s cat died, then its twin was here, walked all over the couch, and even laid down next to you.
“Jeff, I told you, I didn’t see a thing.”
“So, I saw what? A ghost cat? Is that what you and Lobo are both trying to tell me by talking about different realities and all?”
Before she could answer, Lobo came back into the room carrying a bulging cloth sack about a foot long and six inches wide. After laying it on the dining room table, he looked right at Carla. “Answer his question.”
“No,” she replied. I guess she had had enough of Lobo telling her what to do. She folded her arms and arched an eyebrow as she looked at him very coolly. “Lobo, this is your show, not mine. I can’t tell him for sure what he saw, only you can.”
“You underestimate yourself,” he fired back at her and turned his attention to me.
“What Carla means to say is that, yes, indeed you saw the ghost, spirit, apparition, however you want to label it, of my long lost cat, Seloy.”
“You can’t be serious. There’s no such thing as ghosts.”
“Worlds-within worlds-within-worlds,” he replied, pointing to his Chinese Puzzle Ball and the skinny letter opener sticking out of it. “Get this straight and get it straight now. When people and animals die on this planet, it’s only their bodies that are gone, not the deep essence of who or what they are. You saw Seloy because she still exists in a way only a few people like you can see. Like it or not, understand it or not, you are one of those people.
“Carla knows what I just told you is true because she was able to look into that world beyond death on one occasion. Now, Carla,” he said, rapidly shifting his focus to her. “If you would be so kind, I would like for you to tell this hard to convince young man about your experience relating to the topic at hand.”
“Me? Why me?” Carla asked with a sharp edge to her voice.
“Because he’s your friend,” Lobo barked, “remember? He needs your help. You’re the one who brought him here and now you don’t want to do everything you can to assist him?”
As soon as he finished talking, Carla’s face softened. The old guy had pushed her emotional buttons just right.
“That’s not fair,” she replied, but there was no punch to her words. Lobo had her boxed in and she knew it. “It’s just hard to talk about.” When she looked at me, her eyes held a deep sadness.
“Don’t say anything that gives you a problem,” I said to her. I felt bad about being the cause of her discomfort.
Carla sighed and said, “No, it’s OK, really. Maybe Lobo’s right. If what happened to me will smooth the way for your understanding of what might be going on here, then it’s well worth the effort.”
“First of all, from your description, it had to be Seloy, Lobo’s cat. I believe that’s possible because … well … I saw my mother at the moment she died with my dad in the Yucatan, even though I was here in St. Augustine. I actually spoke to her and felt her touch my hair. She also appeared to Lobo at the same moment. I’ll tell you the full story sometime, but what you need to know now is that such a thing is definitely possible.”
As her words faded away, a heavy silence filled the room.
“Wow!” I said softly. “That’s … amazing. Thanks for telling me.” In my mind, Lobo’s cat once again jumped down from the back of the couch and went to sleep next to Carla. Slowly, my mind began to accept that I had possibly seen something even more extraordinary than what Carla did to my Coke can. I wondered though, how Carla’s mother’s spirit could be in two places at exactly the same time.
“OK you two, join me at the dining room table and take a seat.” Lobo could change gears quicker than anyone I had ever met. It made my aching head spin. Even before we settled into our chairs, the man started talking again, to me this time. “Before we look at what’s in my little bag here, I need to explain a few more things to you.”
Before speaking again, Lobo once more looked all around me, like he had been doing off and on since I met him. When he finished, he grimaced slightly and said, “My best guess is the knock on the head you got during your bike accident at the library made you sensitive to realities other than our own. It was an awakening of sorts. We’ll talk about that dream some more after we get done here.
“Now, you’ve never had any experiences like the ones we’ve been discussing today before the accident, have you?”
“No,” I replied, sure of my memory. I don’t forget much, especially things that are strange and unusual.
“Uh huh, that fits.” Lobo took a seat opposite me. “You and Carla both developed your abilities because of life events. You had your accident and Carla had her parents’ deaths. They were triggers that set things off. Other people like me have their abilities starting at the beginning of their existences. In my case, I’ve had a lifetime to learn how to control those unusual gifts and Carla has had several years with me to learn to do the same. With you, however, things are very different, and that brings me back to the danger issue.
“You’ve recently been having a lot of headaches haven’t you?” The man’s dark, deep-set eyes seemed even more penetrating than before.
“Yes,” I replied, not sure where this line of questioning was going.
“You also sense someone is either following you, or you think you see someone out of the side of your eye. When you look in that direction though, there is never anyone there. Am I right?”
“Uh, yeah, once in a while.” How could he know that? So?”
“Those two things,” Lobo replied, “like the bayonet in your bed and the number twenty-eight you see everywhere, are attempts by someone long gone from this world to contact you.”
“Wait, wait, you’re talking about somebody who died, and it’s this person’s spirit doing all this?”
“Of course! That’s one of the reasons I sometimes look in the air all around your body. Within your aura, I’ve been seeing a spiritual essence of a deceased person, a blur, actually, because he is moving so quickly. This rapid movement indicates he’s extremely agitated. Why I don’t know. I keep saying ‘he’ because I sense this person was an adult male during his lifetime.”
Auras? Seeing a blurry image of an agitated man? My mind stumbled over itself trying to make sense of it all. In the middle of my mental confusion, Spock let out a low growl and started barking at me.
“What did I do to him?” I asked Carla, but she looked as surprised as I felt.
“Your dog can see this person,” Lobo said to Carla before she could answer me, “and he doesn’t like it. Put him on the porch so he won’t disrupt things.”
She did as Lobo asked, but Spock continued his barking on the porch, making me really nervous. I could see the poor dog’s head from where I sat, moving on the other side of all that glass in the front door. When Carla came back, Lobo started talking again.
“I also get the sense that this spirit around you is desperate and blinded by fear. The bayonet heating up as it did was an indication of how intensely this man wants to reach you. However, such intensity also shows the potential for severe danger—danger to you, not us. From his viewpoint, it’s as if Carla and I aren’t even around. He is highly focused on you only. For whatever reason, he thinks you can solve his problem. Your headaches are the result of pressure from him trying to make contact.”
“Contact? With me?” I squawked, looking all around the room but seeing nothing unusual. “Solve his problem? How can I do that? I don’t know what the problem is.”
“Lobo, are you sure?” Carla asked.
“To answer both your questions, we need to do some research. We have to sort this thing out and soon. Otherwise, this person, this spirit,” Lobo said, staring directly at me, “may push you over the edge. The result for you could be destroyed health, insanity, death, or even worse. That’s the danger, the blackness you saw at the bottom of my Ball of Realities.”
“Come on, you’ve gotta be kidding.” I tried saying those words calmly, but they came out all nervous like. The guy was really starting to freak me out. “You’re telling me my life is in danger because of this, this ghost? Besides, what could be worse than death?”
“I hope you never discover that answer firsthand. Right now, however, you need to be aware that the paranormal sensitivities you have developed since your accident are very strong. To people and animals who have left this world, those abilities shine like a beacon. Seloy appeared to you for this reason, and it’s at least partly why this man is hounding you so much. The problem is you haven’t had time to develop defenses against unwanted contact. Once we gather more information, we can try to create a way to safely connect with this spiritual entity and convince him to leave you alone.”
“Wait a minute Lobo,” Carla said. What about Grandma’s rule about no conjuring of spirits? She’ll never let me come down here anymore if she finds out.”
“There won’t be any conjuring. This spirit is already here. Nobody is calling him. Besides, do you have another idea about how to help your friend here?”
Carla took a deep breath, then blew it out quickly, shook her head and said, “No, I guess not.” Outside, Spock still barked and whined.
I had no idea what they were talking about.
“Just so you understand,” Lobo said, sliding his eyes over to me, “conjuring, or the calling of spirits, can cause tremendous problems sometimes. Carla’s grandmother is correct. People can get in trouble doing it if they aren’t extremely knowledgeable and careful.”
“But what about your cat? What does this Seloy have to do with the person you say is trying to contact me?”
“Nothing directly. For a number of possible reasons, your natural sensitivities popped out this afternoon and Seloy just happened to respond. You meeting my cat simply shows how rapidly your connection with other worlds is increasing.”
“Where did you ever get a name like Seloy for a cat?” Why that question came out of my mouth at that particular moment, I couldn’t tell you.
Lobo got this disgusted look on his face, but to my surprise, he answered the question. “I named her after the original Indian village that existed here in St. Augustine when the Spanish first arrived. The important topic at this minute, however, is not my cat’s background. What you must know is that St. Augustine directly links to all the various realities in existence. Here in this old city, we live right on the edge of many worlds exactly like you see in my multiple balls of carved ivory sitting there on the coffee table. The barriers here between our existence and all the other unseen existences are very thin.
“The thinning between realities in our town heightens the abilities of some people, especially people like the three of us, to touch those other worlds. This is especially so in the dream state. At the same time, beings from other realities, like Seloy, find it easier to make themselves known to us. The ghost tours of St. Augustine you laugh at may be money making machines that stretch the truth of spirit presences in this city, but they also indicate how much paranormal activity really occurs here.”
Without saying another word, Lobo picked up the cloth bag lying on the table and turned it upside down. Out tumbled the most beautiful bunch of copper, silver, nickel and gold coins I had ever laid eyes on—a huge pile of them. From what I could see, the silver and copper coins that should have been tarnished sitting together in a bag like that weren’t at all. And I’m not talking about any twenty-first century coins here. Those things were old, but looked new, almost freshly minted. Amazing.
I used to have a good collection myself, but that was in the days when my parents and I had a nice home and no money problems. During the seventh grade, my dad pawned my coins to pay for gambling debts like he did with lots of other things in our house.
Lobo spread his collection out across the tabletop until they were maybe three or four deep. Out on the porch, Spock gave a huge whine, but finally stopped barking. “We are going to use these coins,” Lobo said, “to more precisely determine when the person who is trying to contact you lived. The bayonet you selected from all the other sharp edged weapons in my display case, came from a particular time in American history. The person trying to communicate with you created a copy of that weapon in your dream to get your attention, because he lived sometime during the era of its use. Now we need to determine the date a little more exactly.
“With your newly opened connections to other worlds, you should be able to sense enough from this person lurking nearby so that you can pick a coin out of that pile that will give us a more specific date of his existence. This collection is from the United States, and none of it was minted later than 1950.
“What you are going to do in a minute is to put one hand out over the coins about six inches high, palm down. Then without looking at them directly, or touching them, slowly move your fingers in the air over the collection until you sense something, anything unusual. That’s when you reach down and grab the first coin you touch. Is that clear?”
“Very clear.” I tried concentrating through my headache.
“When you pick up that one coin, look at it and tell us the date. Are you ready?”
“I guess so.”
“Good. Do it.”
Keeping my eyes locked with Lobo’s, I reached out my right hand and waved it over the coins. I did that for at least thirty seconds without feeling anything. I guess Lobo could see my frustration because he said, “It may take a little time so keep going.” About ten seconds later, I got this tingly feeling in my index finger. Man that was so weird it made me not want to handle any of the coins, but Lobo nodded as if he knew I had found something.
Taking a big breath, I pointed my finger down until I touched one particular coin that felt different somehow and picked it up. “It’s a U.S. dime, dated 1828,” I said looking at the thing, shaking my head in disbelief. “Another number twenty-eight. See what I mean about that number?”
Carla raised her eyebrows in surprise but said nothing.
“Now we’re getting close,” Lobo said. “Maybe not exact but close.”
“That’s great, but this coin is starting to get hot, real hot.” As soon as I said those words, Lobo reached over and grabbed the hand holding his dime. That sudden movement and the man’s strong grip scared me even more than I was already. I tried to pull loose, but he held tight, making me panic. The coin kept getting hotter, and at the same time, my head felt like it would explode any second
I just couldn’t take it any more. I yelled as loud as I could and wrenched my hand away from Lobo’s iron grip. Coins scattered everywhere as I did that. I tell you what, it wasn’t easy to break free from the old guy, but I did and quickly stood up. Carla screamed my name as my chair crashed to the floor, and Lobo shouted for me to sit back down.
The stupid dime was so hot, I threw it at the other coins on the table. It skipped off the surface of the coin collection, hit the picture window with a crack, and fell to the floor. “You go to hell you son-of-a-bitch,” I shouted at Lobo. “I’ve had enough of your crap. Nobody grabs me like that, nobody.”
OK, I realize I was out of control, but I couldn’t continue doing things Lobo’s way anymore. I was so bent out of shape, I didn’t even think about what how Carla might react to the words I used. I just wasn’t able to continue dealing with Lobo, his rules and all that ghost talk, you know? I mean you try handling all that when the top of your head feels like it is going to blow off.
Well, I tell you what. I backed away from the table as both Lobo and Carla tried to get me to calm down. “No way!” I shouted at both of them. I ran back to the recliner I had been sitting in and grabbed my jacket. All I knew was that I had to get out of there.
On the porch, Spock barked even more wildly than before. Lobo looked like he wanted to shoot me and Carla’s face had this pained expression on it I can’t even begin to describe. “Sorry, Carla,” I said heading out of the room. “I can’t take this anymore.”
In seconds, I got to the front door where I could see Spock looking at me through the clear part of all those glass ovals, still barking. Light from the outside made the stained glass wolf on his cliff, the moon and the stars stood out against the dark background. I could see my angry face in the mirror-like sections of the door as I turned the handle.
When I opened the door, Spock pushed his way into the house as I escaped to the front porch.
For a brief description of The St. Augustine Trilogy, click here.
For Sliding Beneath the Surface on Amazon.com, click here
For reviews of this book, author interviews and blog tours, click here.
For the Official St. Augustine Trilogy Facebook Page, click here.
© 2011 by Doug Dillon. All rights reserved.