Chapter 17 – Sliding Beneath the Surface

March 29, 2013

Sliding - blogThe St. Augustine Trilogy: Book I

Young adult, paranormal/historical


The Chase

Inhaling hot coffee when you’ve just been startled out your mind is definitely not a good idea. Guess I made so much noise, even people on the other side of the restaurant kept looking in my direction, probably wondering if they needed to do something to keep me from choking to death. Embarrassing? Yeah, but all that time I was so frustrated because I couldn’t do anything about the other, well, the other Jeff, until I stopped coughing.

Seeing my double was a helluva shock, but it didn’t scare me down deep like some of the other things I experienced after meeting Lobo. No, totally weird as it was, that situation showed a hard reality connected to everyday life even though I didn’t understand it. What I mean is, people out there on the sidewalk actually walked around that kid who looked like me, so they wouldn’t bump into him. Without a doubt, he physically existed, yet I didn’t feel threatened. Maybe it was also because of my flying experience on the way to the cemetery.

Yeah, now that I think about it, looking down on myself riding my bike definitely set the stage for at least a partial acceptance of seeing that other Jeff in the Athena’s window. In fact, I felt energized and ready for action. Up until encountering that other me while eating, my fried brain had left me with a sense of hopelessness. Not anymore.

When I finally caught my breath, I slapped money on the table, grabbed my jacket and rushed out of the Athena’s front door. By then, I had this wild idea maybe somebody was impersonating me, and I needed to catch the kid to find the truth. As I thought about it, I figured Lobo had something to do with that other Jeff. Don’t ask me why, I just did, even though I had the distinct memory of flying over myself as I rode my bike to the cemetery. Confused thinking? Absolutely, but hopeless? No way. I now had a goal to find that other kid and maybe start making sense out of all the craziness.

In front of the Athena, I looked to the right, the direction my double had gone. At first, I couldn’t see him because there were so many people. When I looked again, there he was, facing me, standing in the middle of the sidewalk—down near the end of the block in front of the Catholic Cathedral. People there walked around him even more than before, because this time he blocked their way quite a bit. Damn, he’s waiting for me. God what a weird sensation to stare at myself again.

The instant I saw the guy, I ran towards him. It wasn’t easy because of all the people, so I trotted, really, and danced around those who were in my way. I had no intention of losing that kid, but when I got about half way there, he turned and slowly walked up the cathedral steps and went inside.

“Gotcha!” I whispered to myself. I figured finding the guy in the cathedral would be a lot easier than chasing him all over town at night, right? He had to be boxed in. When I got to the cathedral, I hesitated for a few seconds before opening the large, brick red door in front of me.

This was Carla’s church, the oldest in St. Augustine. So many times she and her grandma tried to get me to join them there for Sunday services, but I refused. Now I was going to roar into the place of worship on my own, searching for someone who looked like me.

To be honest, my reluctance didn’t last very long. I had to find out what connection that kid had to all of my experiences that day, so I grabbed the door’s cold metal handle and pulled. Tell you what, that thing didn’t open easily—very heavy wood, probably oak. Seconds later, I was inside in the warmth, listening to the door click shut behind me.

I expected a big, open church, but instead, found myself in a much smaller, semi-dark, rectangular room. What little light there was in there came from the main part of the cathedral through glass panels set into curling wrought iron in front of me. Peeking through those panes of glass, I saw how freakin’ huge the place actually was. On either side of a wide central isle, long rows of pews stopped just in front of a brilliantly spotlighted white altar decorated with gold angels and other religious figures.

Surprisingly, there didn’t seem to be any people around, including my double. I thought sure there would be at least a few tourists in there, or maybe people praying. Music echoed softly all around me—men chanting, to be specific. With no one around, it had to be a recording, I figured, set up in case people wandered inside—very eerie sounding, no matter what. The only movement in the place came from lighted candles, lots of them, sitting on tables in a large niche set into the thick walls on either side of the pews halfway to the altar. They explained the slight burning smell I detected as soon as I came in from outside.

Anxious to find that other Jeff, I chose the door on my right, one of four leading from that little room out into the main part of the cathedral. As I opened it, a figure standing there in the shadows made me freeze in mid step. At first, I thought it might really be that other kid, and then I definitely knew it was the bloody solider from the plaza. Man, fear can really play tricks with your mind. It turned out I was looking at a statue of a monk. That’s when I discovered another aisle going down to the altar next to the right hand wall.

Once I walked by the fake monk and entered the cathedral itself, the place looked even bigger than before. Have you ever been in a cathedral? I mean, those ceilings had to be at least fifty feet up there or more. Big ceiling lights hung from high rafters, set into each wall all the way to the front of the place. For whatever reason, only a few of them were turned on, making most of the cathedral, except for the altar, pretty gloomy. Large stained glass windows set high into both walls let a little of St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights brightness shine through, but not much. Nighttime had settled in across the city.

Heading down the right hand aisle as quickly as I could, I looked in all the pews for my double, thinking he might be lying down, trying to hide. As I searched, the gentle chanting continued, making the place seem more and more spooky. I kept wondering if a priest or somebody might come running up and ask what I was doing. “Where are you?” I whispered to that other Jeff ever so slightly, knowing the music would drown out my voice.

When I got about three quarters of the way down the aisle, I noticed two huge dark areas on either side of the altar were actually other big rooms with their own pews and dimly lighted stained glass in those walls as well. In the back of the darkened room to the left, candlelight flickered beyond what looked like a large arch showing there was even another room beyond. The place appeared to go on forever.

“Oh man,” I whispered with a little more volume than I intended, “that guy could be anywhere.” Are you lost, Mr. Golden?” Lobo’s voice boomed and echoed through the cathedral so loudly I thought I had been shot or something. My heart raced as it had done so many times that day and my headache increased its throbbing. I swear, I thought I was going to have a heart attack.


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© 2011 by Doug Dillon. All rights reserved.

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