Peeking into the Veil
“Emersyn,” a voice whispered. I spun this way and that, looking for the person who called out my name.
It was then that I realized I was in an unfamiliar place, my eyes scanning the area as fear gripped my chest. How did I get from my bedroom to this place? And now I know I’m crazy. That, or I’m dreaming. Yeah, I’m definitely dreaming.
“Emersyn!” The voice boomed this time, making me jump nearly out of my skin. “Emersyn, this way.”
Without hesitation, I followed the voice, leading myself through what looked like an old basement. The walls were old stone and mortar and the floors were dirt. The smell was something I’d never smelled before and would probably never forget. It was sweet, yet rotten.
I turned the corner, heading down another long hallway and towards what sounded like several people whispering the same thing over and over.
I looked behind me, seeing if there was a way out, only to find that the hallway had changed and I was stuck. With a shrug, I headed towards the voices.
There’s only one way to find out who they are and what they’re saying. Besides, this is a dream; what’s the worst that could happen?
As I pushed closer to the voices, a cold chill swam up my arms, causing the hairs on my neck to stand at attention. I had a bad feeling about this but I was too curious to walk away now. Besides, where the hell was I supposed to go? There was no way out and I didn’t know how to wake up.
Once I reached the stone doorway, I saw a large room much like the hallway. It still had stone walls and a dirt floor, but in the middle of the room sat what looked like an old well. The walls of the well were made of the same stone as the walls; except these stones were in need of repair, making the well look as if it were about to collapse in on itself.
My eyes scanned the area as I stayed standing in the doorway, not wanting my presence to be known. Several candles sat on the rim of the well, casting shadows on the stone walls around the room and sending a panicked feeling to engulf me. I don’t know why it scared me so badly, but it did.
Three robed figures stood around the well, staring at the candles and still chanting the strange words I had heard from the hallway. What in the world are they saying? And, what language is that?
I really wanted to see the robed figures’ faces, but as I approached them, they seemed to know I was there. They kept their heads low, the hood of their robes were hung low, casting a dark shadow over their features.
“Please, don’t do this.”
I spun at the sound of voices behind me, only to find two people strapped to old medieval-looking torture beds. The darkness of the room and the lack of candlelight in their direction made it impossible to see who they were. I could make out two people, but not who they were.
The robed figures continued chanting, completely ignoring the two people behind them. One of them grabbed something from the well’s ledge and held it up towards the ceiling, chanting louder than the others.
I felt myself step away from them, not sure what they were doing or if I was safe. Did they even know I was here? If they did know, why weren’t they saying anything? Perhaps they can’t see me after all.
This revelation spiked courage in me as I stepped forward again, wanting to see who the robed figures were.
But when I caught sight of what the robed figure held in their hands, I nearly blacked out. My heart started hammering in my chest and confusion overtook my senses, causing an instant headache.
My necklace dangled from the person’s hands, shining and shimmering in the candlelight. Why do these people have my necklace? And, what the hell are they doing with it?!
That dreadful feeling I felt when I first stepped into the room had come back and now I was sweating from fear.
Before I could think of what to do next, a blood-curdling scream echoed through the room. I instinctively held my hands over my ears, the pain in my eardrums making them ring. The strange thing about that scream was the familiarity of it. Who was that?
The room began to spin and morph into a fog, my vision distorting as the scene in front of me seemed to melt away.
I rapidly blinked, trying to get my bearings about me. My equilibrium felt all jumbled and my stomach began to churn. I didn’t do well with spinning and felt like I was seconds away from throwing up all over the place. But then it all stopped and I was standing outside, the scene in front of me no longer spinning.
With my feet firmly planted to the ground, I stared down at them, realizing I was standing in moss. Were we outside now?
My head lifted as my eyelids squeezed together a few times, gathering my vision. And what I saw in front of me took my breath away.
I was definitely outside now. The scene in front of me was extraordinary. Green pastures stretched for miles, building higher in some areas while dipping low in others. Beyond the green pastures, the ground went higher and higher, covered in the same vegetation before turning rocky and jagged. The place reminded me of the Scottish Highlands and I wondered if that’s where I was. But, why in the world would I be in Scotland? I don’t know anyone here.
Who am I kidding? I clearly have no control over this dream, so I might as well see what happens this time too.
I began walking, but I stopped just a few steps from my original spot when I heard soft voices below me.
Frozen to my spot, I slouched down and peeked over the moss-covered rock to find five people walking in a single file line towards no real destination. There was clearly a worn path beneath their steps, but it was also clear that it was scarcely used. Weeds tried their best to overtake the path with which they traveled, only to be stopped dead in their tracks when they met the sand.
I watched as they continued to walk along the small path, winding this way and that, until they disappeared into the valley. My feet carried me away from the mossy rock, down the grass-covered hill and down into the valley.
They were now stopped about thirty feet in front of me as I tried to stay out of sight. I wasn’t in a dark basement room anymore. No, I had somehow morphed into the Scottish Highlands and the sky had quickly turned dark, the moon shining bright above me. I couldn’t help but feel as if this was all familiar to me somehow.
I noticed three of them were wearing black robes, the hoods pulled up to cover their faces, much like the people in the basement. The other two stood without their hoods up and one of them looked familiar to me but I couldn’t place her. The shadows cast by a single lantern made it difficult to fully see her.
However, I could see that she was a beautiful black woman with kind eyes and a set scowl on her face. As she knelt on the ground, I watched her pull several objects from her pockets, setting them on the flattest part of the ground in front of her. The man standing just behind her pulled a few candles from his pocket, handing each one to her as she seemed to set them out in a particular pattern.
It was hard to see what the objects were from this far away and in the dark, but I could see three necklaces laid out on the ground, herbs surrounding each one. Her hands began making strange signs, moving fluently over the necklaces.
As she stood, the three hooded figures got on their knees, their hands resting on their thighs.
What are they doing? I couldn’t help but notice how the three hooded figures reminded me of the three robed figures I just saw in that dark basement. Was this tied together somehow? Were they the same people?
I couldn’t describe it, but I felt like I was in a time that wasn’t my own. History was one of my favorite subjects so it didn’t surprise me that I was dreaming of the past.
The strangers’ clothes indicated that I was seeing them sometime in the 14th century. But, why this time period? What is the purpose of this particular scene?
The three kneeling had their dark cloaks and hoods covering almost all of themselves, so I couldn’t see who they were: men or women. But the two standing were completely visible, becoming more so as one candle after another was lit. The beautiful black woman was wearing a white, now tan from being dirty, and dark green dress. It reminded me of what a peasant would wear back in the medieval days. Her hair was twisted back in a bun at the base of her head, a piece of cloth that matched her apron tied back the loose strands.
The man, however, was dressed in normal 14th century Scotland attire: a dark green and brown cloak with ratted material for a shirt underneath it. That’s how I knew it was around the 14th century. It wasn’t until the late 1500s when men began wearing their cloaks around their waists, starting the infamous kilt; don’t ask how I know this strange fact. Apparently, I picked up more in history class than I thought I did. He also had a kind face and warm eyes, set on a dirty face.
Once they began moving again, I stopped focusing on their attire and watched their movements. The black woman stepped up to the three still on their knees as they held out their hands to her. The first cloaked figure reached into their mouth, making a moaning sound before they handed her something bloodied.
Did they just rip out a tooth? Oh my God! That’s disgusting! And for what purpose?!
I swallowed back the bile in my throat and continued watching the scene in front of me. The black woman took the tooth and set it on top of one of the necklaces laid out on the grass.
She then returned to the second knelt figure and I watched as they cut the inside of their hand. A small bottle was placed beneath the dripping blood, collecting what it could, before she turned and placed that object on top of the next necklace.
Finally, she stood in front of the third figure as I watched that one slice the end of their hair, handing her a wad of it. I obviously couldn’t assume it was a woman because most men in those days wore long hair. But the hand that cut the hair was very feminine.
The black woman turned and laid the wad of hair on top of the third necklace before she cut her own hand and dripped her blood on the top of each one. They lit the remaining candles and began chanting something in a different language.
It was then that I recognized the words. I still obviously had no idea what they were saying, but they were the same words I had just heard in the dark basement only moments ago. They must be connected then!
A wicked wind swept through the valley, causing goose-flesh to cover my arms and legs. I shivered, pulling my shirt up my neck but it was doing nothing to keep me warm.
The clouds overhead became much more dark and menacing as the winds blew them about, covering the little moonlight that was being cast. The chanting seemed to carry on the wind, being swept up into the universe for all to hear. One necklace at a time, she placed them around each of their necks, causing them to buck and groan out in agonizing pain.
Screaming erupted next, enveloping me with the wind as I plugged my ears once again. It was the kind of scream where you knew that person was in so much pain they thought they might die. But when I looked back at the scene in front of me, they began to spin and distort like before. I tried blinking several times, hoping I could hold on for just a moment longer. I wanted to see the end of this.
A car horn echoed around me, causing me to jump. That’s crazy, though. There were no vehicles back in the 14th century. How in the…
The car honked again, pulling me through the darkness as my eyes adjusted.
I was standing in the middle of the street and as I looked around, I saw that I stood just in front of my house. I was back in New Orleans, back in my time.
The honking continued, annoying the hell out of me, as I gave the bird to the driver before moving onto the sidewalk. It was pitch black out, still night, but I had no idea what time it was.
I looked around and saw that I seemed to be the only soul about until I turned and saw the strange and creepy neighbor sitting on his porch. He was rocking in his chair, staring at me with dead eyes.
A cold shiver ran down my spine, regardless of the southern heat suffocating me, as I crossed my arms over my chest and headed up the concrete stairs and sidewalk that led me back to my front porch.
I looked over at the creepy neighbor once more and had to ask.
“Did you hear that explosion earlier?” I knew I couldn’t be the only person to hear and feel such a violent explosion.
He puffed on his cigar, smoke billowing upwards, as he continued to silently stare at me.
“Hello? Nothing? Nobody home?” This guy was totally freaking me out. He never said a word and just stared. Was he deaf, maybe? If he is actually deaf, then I feel like a jerk for assuming he’s some creepy old man. I mean…
“Nothing here,” he finally replied. I noticed that his voice was scratchy and deep, probably from all the years of smoking cigars. “Try to keep both feet in this world or you’ll be lost forever.” He stood from his rocking chair then and disappeared inside.
The slamming of his screen door made me jump as I replayed his words over and over in my head. Keep both feet in this world or you’ll be lost forever? What the hell does that mean? Did he know that I was just dreaming and clearly sleepwalked myself right out into the street?
No. There’s no way he knew that.
This place just keeps getting stranger by the minute.