Nemesis, NoBloPoMo, Stories...

Nemesis… Chapter 4 (Day 4)

Another morning, another day… and nothing unusual to report either way.  I guess I am relieved as my morning routine progresses on schedule for a change.  “Maybe I will actually make it to work on time today,” I hope out loud.  And then I cannot help but laugh at myself…  I’m very lucky that I work for a small family business, even if it is retail, because they have always been kind about things like this.  Still, I wouldn’t really want to push it; everyone has limits, after all, and it is actually a job…

And, as I stand on the porch for an early morning smoke, it occurs to me that all of the strange events that have been happening to me have occurred on this porch; well, at least most of them anyway.  “How odd,” I cannot help thinking, “I wonder why that is?”

After all, the wild magick was released inside the house, not out, so I would have expected any residual manifestations to have occurred in there.  But so far the house itself has been fairly quiet.  And if the magick was going to focus on coming back to me, why would it not follow me to work one of these days?  Why would it not follow me anywhere, really, but on to this damn porch?…

I turn my thoughts within, contemplating this latest mystery, and so I am oblivious to what is happening around me.  Not that it much matters, of course, because there wasn’t much happening to begin with today…

I carry on with all the necessary preparations for leaving home, like showering, and eating, and packing my lunch.  But my mind isn’t really paying attention to any of it, so focused is it on the question of why that where…?  In fact, I am so distracted by my internal research that I realize, with a jolt, that I have no idea where Shilo is this morning, as I’m walking out the door to leave for work…

“Did he go outside with me last time I came out?,” I ask myself. “Or was he upstairs just now?”

I take the time to look carefully around the yard for him, not because I am particularly concerned, but because he has a tendency to try and block my path when I’m leaving in my car, and that concerns me!  He has even gone so far some days, as to lay directly in front of my tire, trusting that I will not drive over him.  I can almost hear his thoughts when he starts playing that game with me: “Nope.  Not today, I think.,” he communicates to me. “Today I think you should stay home with me!”

But I can’t, and he knows it as well as I do.  So eventually, I know I will be able to convince him to move.  But knowing how distracted I am today, I worry that it’s not a good day to play that game.  My mind drifts naturally to the possibility of running over my own cat, and I have to slam a mental barricade down hard around that thought before it truly forms.  “No!,” I scold myself.  “Don’t even go there!  You do not want to put an ounce of energy into that disturbing thought!”

Instead, I choose to search around the yard and car more thoroughly, just to be safe.  And that is when I notice the first lady bug on the ground…

She is not moving, to my chagrinned relief, and neither is the one laying near to her.  As my nervous gaze scans the ground before me, I see several more scattered about, but none appear to be alive…  “I thought it was kind of late in the season for lady bugs,” I remind myself.  “I guess the frost last night must have killed them.”

An evil sounding chuckle escapes, as a less than loving thought emerges… “Good!,” I say out loud, “I am very glad to see that!”

I look up from the ground to resume my search for Shilo, and…  As if to reprimand me for that uncharacteristically mean statement, I see a living lady bug casually meandering across the porch railing!  I cannot stop the rush of adrenaline that rises with the momentary panic, as an involuntary image comes to mind. “Shit!  Zombie lady bugs, now?!”

And, sure enough, when I glance back down at all the “dead” ones at my feet, I notice one or two are slowly beginning to move…

“Oh, get a grip, Lisa!,” I sternly scold myself.  “Don’t be ridiculous!  It’s just the sun that’s waking them all up!”  Still, I can’t suppress the shudder at the thought, for there is nothing in this world, or any other in fact, that disturbs me more deeply than “undead.”

“Mrreowww…?” says Shilo as he jumps up on the railing, nearly stopping my heart in the process.  “What’s up?,” my mind automatically translates…

“Jesus, Shilo, you nearly scared me to death!…  Where the hell have you been?  I have to get to work!”  I notice my tone is a little sharper than intended.

He jumps down to twine around my legs…  “Sorry, mom, just out hunting.  Pretty day today.”

Looking around I realize that he is right; it is a lovely day.  Calmer now, I reach down to pet him, asking, “does that mean you’re planning on staying outside today?”

As if in answer (which it no doubt is), he jumps back onto the railing, finds a sunny spot, circles around a few times, (counter-clockwise, I notice, smiling like a proud parent), then settles down, closing those stunning eyes of green….

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes,’ then, dearest…  Please stay put until after I move my car.”  But he shows no signs of having even heard me, much less moving.  Nonetheless, I keep one eye on him while I pull out of the driveway, waiting until I’m safely in the street before glancing at the clock.

“Damn!  I’m late again?!!!”

***     *****     ***

Work has passed with nothing eerie to report, and I come home to an easy and comfortable evening with my companions at home.  I make myself some coffee and retire to the back deck, where I can watch the dogs play, reset my nicotine levels to after work status, and review my day…

“It’s odd,” I cannot help thinking to myself, “that nothing even remotely strange seemed to happen today…”  Odd in a good way, I need not say, because the last two days have taken their toll.  While I enjoy a good mystery, and a puzzle now and then,  I see no need to drive myself crazy with them.  And that’s when it occurs to me that I haven’t even thought about the mystery of the porch today, although that seems to be a puzzle worth solving…

So, I start to think… to muse over details and facts… to draw pictures in my mind, looking for patterns I can hack…

“Ok, so there were the ‘zombie’ lady bugs this morning,” I admit.  “That was more than a little weird.”  But easily enough explained without supernatural causes…

“And I did see a couple of crows at work today, maybe even three, but they didn’t land together, or even seem to notice me.”

“Actually, there were a couple lady bugs there as well, when I took my break,” I voice out loud.  “But they weren’t particularly threatening today.”  My mind skips ahead, completely ignoring the memory of how I ended my break prematurely when they started to multiply around me…

“Pure coincidence,” I tell myself.  “Nothing to worry about…”

And so what if that third crow this evening did sweep low enough to nearly touch my windshield when I put my car in drive?  It doesn’t seem worth mentioning to myself.

Suddenly, I hear my phone ringing inside, but I am loathe to get up.  Whoever it is will have to wait, as I am determined to figure this out… But when my coffee cup is empty, and my nicotine cravings sated, I still haven’t solved the mystery of the porch.

“Time to go in,” I tell myself, as the darkness around me has grown deep.  It doesn’t even occur to me that it is the promise of light drawing me in, as I wander from room to room turning on lamps; after all, I have always loved the dark…

***     *****     ***

Another cup of coffee at my side, some warm electric light, and I settle into my favorite chair downstairs.  I don’t even realize how my eyes avoid the door in the northwest corner that leads to my ritual room.  Shilo is playing his in and out game, which he can only do when I’m downstairs; I think he likes to exercise his power over me by making me get up and down.  Hagen, the younger of my roommate’s German Shepherds, is hanging out with me, while his mother (I call her Momma Bear) is upstairs with her owner.  While I’m not really a dog person myself, I have come to love these two, and Hagen has apparently adopted me.  For whatever reason, he seems to think I need protection, so he tends to stay close to me when I am downstairs at night.  And to be honest, I am grateful for his presence, because he is large and loving toward us (his pack), but extremely threatening to outsiders…

I finally manage to find a comfortable way to sit, and reach for my phone; a useful device in bringing all my information sources together, but one I purposely avoid tethering to myself.  “And this is why,” I laugh aloud, as I take in the long list of notifications: Facebook posts I’m supposed to look at, text messages, emails (geesh, there’s a lot of those tonight!), game notifications (yes, yes, I know, peeps, I’m behind), and one missed call with a voice mail.  I decide to start there, as most people don’t bother to actually call me these days…

Turns out it is a message from a longtime friend I haven’t seen in quite a while.  She and I were best friends back in high school, and through our first year of college, back when I was totally “crazy.”  She has seen me at my worst.  And yet, somehow and for some reason I have never truly understood, she has maintained contact with me over the years, in spite of all that.  She is one of those friends I can go long periods without seeing, and then pick up with again as though no time has actually passed at all.  And for some reason she is contacting me now…

A brief text exchange, and we make plans to have lunch tomorrow, for I actually have a day off…

And then I move on to my Facebook queue, catching up on important shares and messages there, one of which is an article on synchronicity, of all things!  I cannot help but pass it on, since it’s such a recurrent theme for me these days, being the third such “incident” in as many days, from three different sources no less!  And all of that having nothing directly to do with my own recent experiences with the concept…  Which leads me to ask myself, “Can all of this really be coincidence after all?”

As if in answer to my self-talk, I receive an immediate response from my daughter on Facebook, telling me that this morning her son and her had an interesting experience while they were walking to school; apparently they were followed by a big black bird who seemed to have a lot to say to them.  Not so odd that she would mention such a thing to me, but in response to a share about synchronicity?!  (And no, I hadn’t mentioned my recent encounter with the crows to her at all.)

Even odder (“is that even a word?,” I laugh to myself), is another dear friend chiming in with her own crow story, and asking me, by the way, if I have any idea why she has been seeing lady bugs all day?…

I choose not to reveal my own experiences, making some off-hand comment, with an “lol” and happy face emoji instead.  But my thoughts are racing now, trying to convince myself that coincidence takes many forms, and doesn’t have to mean anything at all…

And it is only then that my attention is drawn toward my cat, who is presently sniffing around the closed door to my ritual room…

“No, don’t go there, Lisa,” I warn myself.  “Let it go.  Before you get yourself all screwed up!”

So, keeping one eye on the cat (but only one), I reach for the remote and the comfort of some mindless entertainment to distract myself with.  And it isn’t long before I’m caught up in some show, forgetting all about the weird coincidences plaguing me…

***     *****     ***

It is late when I suddenly awake, having dozed off sometime during the show.  I sigh, annoyed.  I hate falling asleep like that, not only because it’s uncomfortable to sleep sitting up, but because then I have no idea what happened during the show I was watching.  I could rewind, of course, but then I’d have to stay awake that much longer to see it through, though if I don’t I will never remember for certain whether or not I watched this episode.  The worst part, I admit, is when I wake, like tonight, just in time to see the ending; knowing how it ends ensures I don’t want to watch it all again, but I cannot help but wonder if I missed something important that will be relevant in later shows…

“Grr…,” I growl, irritated with myself.  “Always catching the beginning and the end, but missing all that happened in between!”

Suddenly, my mind stops, caught on something I just said…

“Between…,” I repeat softly, sensing the significance, if not yet grasping the totality of what my mind has captured.  “Between…,” I say once more, hoping to shake loose the impending revelation…

And then it comes to me…

“Of course!  That’s it!,” I cry aloud.  “The between spaces!”  The porch is a “between” space, a transition between in and out.  Just as the ritual space is a “between” space, between this dimension and every other.  Doorways, windows, thresholds of any kind are rife with magickal activity because they create a space “between” realms and worlds; they are gateways in both metaphor and fact!  That is why mirrors are so magickally potent, as they are excellent “between-ers,” creating powerful portals for both viewing and travelling between worlds…

And, not only was my ritual cast in a “between” space disrupted violently, but that disruption involved the breaking of a powerful magick mirror, one consecrated, and used frequently, for its ability to bridge the worlds!

Suddenly one thought leads to another as the “truth” of what I’ve discovered begins sinking into my conscious mind; each thought tumbling recklessly into the one before.  I cannot slow the flow as all the pieces of the last three days rearrange themselves, falling into place to form a pattern, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle coming together to create a solid picture.  An epiphany is stalking me, soon to be revealed, as my mind shifts into overload mode, a full thought cascade consuming me.  I grab hold of the chair I’m in, knowing it will not serve me well to try and interfere; better to let the thoughts have their way, and look at them anew when all have settled in their chosen places.

But while they tumble over each other in their eagerness to be seen and heard, a couple are thrown clear enough of the chaos in my mind to actually be recognized by me…

“Between places, like the dreamtime, where the conscious and subconscious minds collide…”

“Between places…

… like in a good story…

…where fact and fiction blend seamlessly…”

***     *****     ***

(to be continued)

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