Chapter 10 – Sliding Beneath the Surface

March 13, 2013

Sliding - blogThe St. Augustine Trilogy: Book I

Young adult, paranormal/historical


Pine Sap


Someone called my name as if from very far away. It sounded like Carla, but I couldn’t tell for sure. I kept staring at the stained glass window with its surrounding mirrors and the clear glass oval as it hung there in the fog all by itself.

“Jeff?” It was Carla’s voice. Carla and Lobo somehow appeared directly in front of me with the stained glass window behind them set in its door as it should be. How that all happened so quickly I had no idea. The fog was gone and Lobo’s house looked like it did when I first saw it. Once again, I stood on the porch.

“Are you OK?” Carla asked in a worried voice. “What is it? What’s going on?

I didn’t say anything at first. Guess I was just too stunned. The change out of that horrible, dark fog had been so quick I found it hard to believe I had come back to Carla and Lobo. Where I had gone, I didn’t know, but Lobo’s words leaped into my mind. “Worlds-within-worlds-within worlds.”

Instead of saying anything to either of them, I turned around to look behind me. When I saw Lobo’s dock and Matanzas Bay, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. No fog out there either, not even way out on Anastasia Island or Villano Beach.

“Come on,” Carla said, gently taking me by the arm. “Come back inside and sit down.” She told me later how I stared out at across the bay for so long without saying anything that Lobo finally motioned for her to take me into the house.

She walked me all the way, holding my arm like I was a hundred years old or something. I didn’t mind, really, because it was so good to be back with her and actually inside Lobo’s place. I think after what happened on the porch, she could have probably led me anywhere, and it wouldn’t have mattered.

“Lobo,” she said, holding up a moist hand, “his jacket is damp.”

“I can see that.”

After I sat back down in the same recliner as before, Carla got me a fresh can of Coke.

I chugged a couple of cold, sweet swallows and blinked a few times, still not quite believing I had escaped that nasty, wet darkness. While I drank, Carla stood there next to me looking very worried. “I’m OK, really.” I said the words, but I wasn’t too sure they were the truth. In my mind, the only certainty right then, was how glad I felt to be back with her and even old Lobo. What a contrast to the way I left the house, so tough sounding and angry, right?

“He’ll be all right.” Lobo spoke from the opposite recliner, looking at me intently. It felt like his weird old eyes were boring into me somehow, touching places I didn’t know existed. Strange sensation, one I can’t begin to describe fully.

Assured by Lobo that I wouldn’t die at any moment, Carla sat down on the couch. Even so, I could see the worry still in her eyes. She had left a replacement caretaker in her place though. Sitting on the floor next to me, Spock licked my hand. Since he wasn’t growling and barking any more, I hoped maybe that meant he no longer sensed the ghostly presence Lobo kept talking about. I scratched him behind his ears, something he really likes.

For whatever reason, it took me until that point to fully realize I still wore my jacket. When I touched the zipper, I felt the moisture Carla had mentioned. Confirmation of my terrifying little trip outside Lobo’s house covered my fingertips and seeped into my brain.

“What happened to you out there on the porch?” Lobo asked, his voice a distant rumble of thunder. Between us on the coffee table sat the Ball of Realities and my crushed Coke can like silent witnesses waiting to testify. Behind Lobo, his coins still lay in a big pile on the dining room table, and to my embarrassment, I saw a few of them scattered on the floor.

I tried to answer the man about what I experienced, but the words came out all garbled at first. My mind still wasn’t working very well. Questioning by both Carla and Lobo over the next few minutes helped my brain get back on track, allowing me to tell my story about the fog. “I see,” Lobo said when I finished, and Carla looked even more worried than before.

“I’ve never been that scared in my life,” I said, meaning every word of it.

“No doubt,” Lobo replied. “You were in a very dangerous situation. You, or part of you at least, went somewhere other than here, that’s for sure.”

“I know his clothes are a little wet, but he actually went somewhere?” Carla asked. “How could that be? He wasn’t out the door for more than thirty seconds before he called to us?”

“Thirty seconds?” I yelped. “No way. I was … I was out there for at least five or ten minutes trying to get back to the house.”

“Forty seconds tops,” Lobo said, shaking his head. “Right after you left and closed the front door, you called our names as if you were in trouble. We both jumped up and found you staring at the door, but you didn’t seem to be able to see us at first.

“Look at his knees,” Lobo said, switching the conversation back to Carla. “He has sand and dirt on them as well as stains he didn’t have before he went out the door.”

As I looked down at my pants, I saw he was right.

“Show us your hands.” To clarify what he meant, Lobo flashed the palms of his hands in my direction.

I put my Coke on the coffee table and held out my hands like he said. Up until then, I hadn’t noticed there was some sort of discoloration and stickiness on both palms and most of my fingers.

Like a bullet fired from a gun, Lobo jumped up, rushed over to me and smelled one of my palms. “Pine sap,” he said and returned to his seat.

“That’s impossible.” Carla sounded very certain. “You don’t have pine trees on your property. And even if you did, Jeff didn’t have time to run off somewhere and get it all over his hands.”

“Nevertheless, your friend has pine sap on his hands. I don’t have any palmettos around here either and he says he encountered those as well.”

That’s all it took for both Carla and me to start bombarding Lobo with questions. Instead of trying to answer, he put a hand up in my direction and one facing Carla, like a traffic cop trying to stop two lanes of traffic. Finally, we shut up.

“That’s better,” he grumbled. “Now listen, there are times, when a person becomes two people in a way. You, Carla already know this. It’s what happens when you reach out and crush Coke cans without physically touching them. You also have seen this phenomenon in other ways, if you recall.”

“Oh,” she replied, making me wonder exactly what she knew.

“I’m sure you’ve read, Mr. Golden, or seen on TV, accounts of people who nearly died and came back to tell stories similar to what you told us about your bike accident and floating above your body.”

“Yeah, sure, but I wasn’t close to dying,” I argued. “You’re talking about what some people believe is the soul leaving the body at the point of death, right?”

“That final spirit separation from the body is similar,” Lobo replied. “In your case, however, what you were dealing with after your accident is very much like when people have a near death event. In such a situation, one person becomes two people in a way. You have a duplication process where there is an original and a copy. Some people call it an out-of-body experience, but those words don’t tell the full story.

“A double?” That really confused me, but not Carla. I saw her nodding ever so slightly as if she understood.

“Yes, in a way,” Lobo said. “This happens naturally at times to everyone during dreaming, especially here in St. Augustine. Your physical being is asleep, but the consciousness wanders in a spirit body somewhere in the physical universe, into other realities, or even into the past or future.”

“That’s just too much for me to absorb,” I said. “I mean, I can’t even get my mind around people splitting into two parts.”

“Two parts or more,” Lobo elaborated.

I didn’t say anything to that. The idea of human division, duplication or whatever, traveling to such crazy destinations, boggled my mind. All I could think of was a copy machine cranking out paper duplicates of people that somehow magically disappeared.

“In our world, the copy is usually invisible,” Lobo instructed. “However, under very unusual circumstances, a physical duplicate develops that you can definitely see and at times, even touch. If such a thing occurs and the individual doesn’t understand what’s going on, it can cause severe mental trauma.

“This splitting or duplication is what you went through out on my porch. Your consciousness did indeed go somewhere else. I don’t know where you went exactly, but since there was such a great time difference between what you remember and the actual time that passed, the probability is you traveled into a different reality instead of another place on earth.”

“Uh, OK,” I said, holding my sticky hands out in front of me. “But if I was traveling in this spirit body, duplicate or whatever, how could my clothes and hands bring back physical things like pine sap?”

“Excellent question,” Lobo replied. “I have never seen such a thing happen. I suspect, your emotional outburst while working with the coins somehow helped to connect you with the spirit who hovers near you. The reality you visited must have a very strong link to that individual for you to bring physical evidence back from your journey. Beyond such speculation, I have no other answers for you.

Hearing Lobo say he didn’t know something really startled me. The guy always seemed so self-assured. Thinking about that made me remember why I ran out of the old guy’s house in the first place, and a twinge of anger shot through me. “Why did you grab my arm,” I asked, “after I picked out a coin from that big stack on your table?”

Lobo’s usual frown deepened and he said, “I grabbed you in an attempt to get the coin out of your hand as quickly as possible. The hot coin, even more than the heat in the bayonet, showed a direct spirit contact that could have overwhelmed you. You were in danger and there wasn’t time to explain. Whenever you are in close contact with this being, you are at risk. His spiritual essence is extremely intense and you haven’t had any training in dealing with such things. I apologize for scaring you. Instead of helping, I brought about what I intended to prevent.”

An apology from Lobo? Man, what a surprise. “Oh, OK. Now I understand.” The increasing pain in my left temple caused me to pause for a few seconds and massage it with the few fingertips that had no sap on them. “Thanks, for uh, well, for trying to … protect me.”

“You’re welcome. I see your headache is still there. If you don’t mind me touching you after our problem with the coin, I think I can help.”


“He can make it better, really,” Carla assured me.

“Um, I guess,” I said, looking at Lobo. I wasn’t too sure about my decision, but the intensity of the pain spoke louder than my uncertainty.

“Just stay seated where you are.” Lobo came over to where I sat, scooted Spock away from the side of my chair and got down on his knees. After having me close my eyes, he told me he was going to touch my head and my upper chest. That’s when I felt one big hand cover almost the entire upper half of my skull and the other one pressed gently against the area under my throat. That’s when it started, a little tingling in my head and chest. Slowly, the tingling built into soothing warmth.

Gradually, those two areas of warmth moved towards each other until they met right in the middle of my throat. In no time, the warmth spread over my entire body making me feel very relaxed. Even when Lobo took his hands away and went back to his chair, the feeling continued for a minute or so.

“The headache’s gone, it’s really … gone,” I said, grinning like a fool. “I feel great, like I had a good night’s sleep. Thanks, Lobo. Thanks a lot but how did you do that?”

“Too complex to explain,” he replied with his usual sour expression. I wondered if the guy ever smiled or laughed. “What I accomplished, in addition to relieving your pain, was to share with you enough of my energy that it should shield you against unwanted spirit contact for a short while. It won’t last long. For that very reason, we have to uncover as much information as quickly as we can about the deceased person who is putting you in danger. Make no mistake about it, he caused what happened to you out on my porch and interrupted your sleep with bad dreams. Understand?”

“I do.” I startled myself with that instant response. I guess for the first time, I fully recognized how badly I needed the man’s help.

“Good, but there’s a large missing piece to your puzzle. It’s something that you haven’t told us yet, maybe something you’ve forgotten.” Again, he did his little eye dance all around me and I wondered what he might be seeing. Instead of asking I waited for him to continue. “Your bike accident. Think about this carefully. When you felt yourself rise into the air and you looked out over Matanzas Bay and the city, did you see anything special or unusual?”

“Special or unusual? Oh … yeah, I did see something else but that part really had to have been my imagination or a dream.”

“Everything’s important in the limited time we have available. Now tell us.”

“Well, as I was floating over the city and facing the bay, I glanced down to see if I could find my house and noticed a flashing of some sort, way off to my right. As I looked in that direction, I saw tall, dark clouds going way up into the sky with lightning popping inside every once in a while. When I looked at them closer, I realized they actually covered the city south of downtown and even part of the river. It looked like a small thunderstorm with its base at street level. As I stared at it, the thing began to change and soon three glowing pyramids rose up out of the clouds. Weird, huh? Pyramids in St. Augustine? What a laugh.”

At the mention of pyramids, Lobo pointed a big finger at me and said, “Now we’re really getting somewhere.” To Carla he said, “You do know where your friend’s three pyramids are located?”

“Pyramids?” Carla asked with her faced scrunched up. “Oh, oh, of course,” she replied, seconds later. “I know what he’s talking about.”

That really surprised me. “Aw come on, y’all!” I laughed nervously. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. There really are pyramids around here?”

“Uh huh,” Carla replied. “You’ve really never seen them?”

“Nope. I haven’t even been in the part of town where I saw the storm.”

“Those pyramids appeared to you for a reason,” Lobo said, looking all around me again. “The spirit hovering around you is very agitated, and as we speak of the pyramids he becomes even more so. I get the impression he put that storm and pyramid image into your mind as he did the bayonet. It fits. The pyramids, the bayonet and the coin are all from the same general historical period. A definite pattern is emerging and you need to take immediate action as soon as you get yourself cleaned up.

“Carla,” he barked, turning to her. “Take him to the pyramids. See if either of you can get any useful impressions and then return quickly. We’ll need to take some time to process whatever you come up with there. It’ll be dark soon. I want you both back before that happens.

“Now?” she asked, looking at her watch.

“Now! I have a definite feeling tomorrow will be too late.”


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© 2011 by Doug Dillon. All rights reserved.

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