Young adult, paranormal/historical
Hearing Lobo’s words and seeing his big old finger showing me where to look gave me a very tight feeling in my chest, like a giant hand squeezing my heart. When I breathed, the air came and went in little bumpy chunks. I knew without a doubt somewhere behind me sat the officer from the Dade battle, and I flat did not want to turn around.
“Looking at him won’t be easy for you,” Lobo said quietly, but it is necessary. Your soldier has materialized back there in order to solidify his contact with you. If you don’t acknowledge him, he could get even more agitated than he has been up to this point. That, you do not want, so—and hear me on this one more time—do not fight the problem!”
“Right.” My voice came out as a shaky whisper. “Easy for you to say.”
“It’s all in the mind.” Pointing to his temple, Lobo nodded ever so slightly. “Besides, if you recall, the energy boost I gave you a short time ago, just like the previous one you received, also protects you to a great degree.”
“Yeah, that’s what you said when I went to the cemetery and look what happened.”
“See how you fight the problem? Blaming me isn’t going to help. It’s time for you to breathe deeply and slowly. Focus on five of those breaths. For right now, ignore the past and the future. If you stay with the present moment, you can deal with anything.”
“OK, OK. I’ll try.” And I did. Closing my eyes for about ten seconds, I followed his instructions. After finishing the fifth breath, I felt a little more relaxed, and not quite as afraid to look behind me. That small success gave me just enough courage to open my eyes and turn around. When I did, I found myself staring into the face of the man I had seen Lyle become sitting two rows directly behind me, looking as real as Lobo. No blood, no gore. Thank God!
Even so, I could not get my mind around the idea he no longer actually lived. I wondered if other people could see him if they happened to walk into the cathedral—like how people saw my double out on the sidewalk.
It was so strange, because for whatever reason, I felt more recognition than fear—probably, I figured, because Lobo stood fairly close to me. I mean, it went beyond seeing him in the plaza dressed as he was then with his dark blue coat and gold buttons. Why? I had no idea, but he looked … like an ordinary guy with long sideburns. I tried, but in that dimly lighted place, I couldn’t see the color of his eyes.
As we stared at each other, those shadowed eyes widened, and he tilted his head to the side as if studying me. He stayed that way for probably half a minute, opening and closing his mouth. It looked like he might be trying to say something, but no words came out. In response, I shook my head to help him understand I couldn’t hear his words. When I did that, he got this very frustrated look on his face. The next thing I know, he lifted a hand and extended it in my direction as far as his arm will go. Scared me a little, but he sat two rows back. I knew he couldn’t reach me. Or so I thought. Two seconds later, his arm shot out twice its normal length or more, putting the tips of his fingers only inches from my chest.
Tell you what, I shoved myself out of that seat backwards so hard I fell on the floor beyond where Lobo stood, close to the railing in front of the altar. Hurt my butt something terrible, but I got away from that hand.
Almost at the same time, he … the officer … well, he, uh … popped. That’s the only word I can use to describe what happened. His body sort of … well, divided into a bunch of big circular pieces bunched all together. Within each of those clear circles, I could still see the guy, the ghost or whatever you want to call him—his entire body from head to toe. Those individual circular images looked like bubbles floating there for a few seconds before they popped again into even smaller bubbles—with the officer inside. All the popping happened simultaneously, and when it did, it sounded like a giant ripping noise, so loud it hurt not only my ears, but I somehow felt it deep inside my head.
The popping happened again and again, each time the bubbles got smaller and smaller until there was absolutely nothing left. It reminded me of watching foam disappear after you’ve poured a Coke into a glass. The officer went from looking perfectly solid to nothing in a matter of seconds as if he had never been there.
That’s when I looked at Lobo. He was about to say something, but I interrupted from my seat on the floor. “I know, I know. Don’t fight the problem.” He nodded his agreement and helped me up.
“Was he as real as he looked?”
“If you had reached out and tried touch him,” Lobo replied, “you would have felt solidity, but that would not have been a safe thing for you to do in this circumstance. You were wise to react as you did and get away from his extended reach. I still don’t sense he intends you any harm, but his aroused need for your help is where the danger lies.
“I always thought ghosts were supposed to be filmy things you could see through.”
“They are at times. The solidity you witnessed, and its disintegration, are most unusual. This all speaks to the intensity of what’s developing here. His appearance moments ago, your being lost in the fog, and your experience at the pyramids all show how strong the connection between you both is getting the closer we move towards December 28. If you aren’t exceptionally careful, you could find yourself permanently sucked into this officer’s world.”
“Twice now, once on my porch and once at the cemetery, a part of you stepped into his living memories of the Dade battlefield once the fighting was finished. Evidently, after he died, the man’s spirit also stayed for some time with the bodies and the vultures you saw. I sense he has been clinging to those terrible memories ever since, and for him, they’re like a bad dream from which he can’t fully awaken. For all practical purposes, where his spirit exists is a physical parallel world to the one in which he died, battle and all.”
“What I experienced both those times was definitely real, Lobo, not just some kind of memory.” I surprised myself when I said those words, but I believed them to be absolutely true.
“Worlds-within-worlds-within-worlds. You have heard it from me before, and you will hear it from me again, and again until the concept truly penetrates your mind. Thoughts and memories have realities all their own. To that officer, his dream of the battle and after would no doubt seem as real as me standing here in this cathedral now seems to you. Your own experience in his reality proves my point. It is indeed so real that if you go there a third time, you might not return. That’s what I mean by ‘permanently sucked into his world.’ ”
“Oh man, this all gets worse and worse,” I moaned.
“The good news is what I already told you. I still don’t sense this man actually intends you any harm.”
Thoughts of catching a bus to Orlando tiptoed back into my mind. Lobo’s words about severe danger lurking everywhere impressed me a lot more than his good news.
“You can’t outrun this,” he said, once again picking up on my thoughts in his irritating way. “Taking a bus to Orlando will do you no good. Wherever you go on this earth, that officer will still be with you, and the danger will still stay the same. The thinness of the barriers in St. Augustine between worlds has already allowed him to attach himself to you, at least through tomorrow.”
“What can I do?” I asked slumped in my seat feeling doomed.
“Do you pray?” He replied, looking up at the lighted altar.
“Who me?” I snorted. “No.”
“Too bad. You’re going to need all the help you can get.”
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© 2011 by Doug Dillon. All rights reserved.