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Chapter Twenty-Two

My head was in a swirl after everything that had happened over the past few days, with so many revelations interfering with my sense of self and my ordinary life. I was looking forward to seeing Chris so that I might finally have some questions answered, but until then I had time on my hands and found it impossible to think about anything else.

During the next few days I spoke with Anna by text occasionally, though I never mentioned our kiss and she didn’t talk about anything personal. She did tell me that Adam had rang her and apologised for his sudden turn, which had come over him without warning. I still had my doubts and couldn’t get away from the feeling that there was something Adam didn’t know, though I kept my thoughts to myself. The last thing I wanted to do was isolate myself from the only people I really spoke to at University.

Since Antoine had come back I’d had little chance to concentrate on my studies, so I forced myself to do some research while I had time to myself. Every so often, though, I looked into the book that my lecturer had given me and wrestled with some of its challenging content. I was drawn into it quickly and found it much more engaging than most books on the Zodiac. It was the first of its kind in its attempt to grapple with the big question mark hovering over the Age of Aquarius – which was still very much in its early stages.

There were so many different theories that were swamped with speculative opinions and loose connections to recent inventions but lacking any real foresight that I’d strayed clear from the topic in the past. This book referenced their contributions but took an imaginative approach and explained how there were a great many possibilities that could define the period. He also looked at how future descendants could play an important role in its development.

It soon became clear that the author envisioned the new Age as a chance for humanity to rediscover its purpose and find out more about its true essence. He repeated the words: “Let Light, Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth” – a mantra which had been used to foretell the coming of Aquarius. After nearly a century had passed it looked like the Zodiac were coming back to somehow implement the new Age.

Sometimes I wondered why my lecturer had given me this book, given its dense and complex material, but I persisted with it and read up about its predicted expectations. Some astrologers believed that the Aquarian age would bring about a revolutionary global government, while others emphasised the role of technology. No matter their differences, the theorists all agreed that there would be unity and togetherness at the very heart of the age.

Another term that they used for this was ‘universal humanism’, which I found to be an interesting concept. I had touched on the issue myself during the last seminar and wondered if such a reality was possible. These types of discussions dominated the material for chapters until I read into the different signs and the way in which they would influence the new Age. Much of this, I found, was left up to interpretation and ended with the foretelling of Pisces’ return.

There was no getting away from the responsibility that rested on my shoulders, and though I didn’t believe everything in the book, I was beginning to feel like a catalyst for change. The more I read into it, the more I became aware of my duplicity – something which the book referred to as Yin and Yang. There was no light without darkness, nor was there renewal without sacrifice, and as I came closer to the end I felt more overwhelmed by its sombre foreshadowing. Was I really a positive agent for change, or a dangerous albatross around the neck of the world?

After everything I’d ever read about Pisces, I had never imagined that it could bring about so much destruction. My eyes were peeled to the pages as I read with increasing discomfort about a truth that had been sheltered from me until now. Far from being the saviour of the signs, the book warned that the birth of a Pisces descendant would bring with it a long, uninterrupted silence that would change the way in which we lived.

There were many warnings in the final chapter that said for as long as Pisces walked among men there would always be the Dark Ones who would follow in pursuit. They would follow him relentlessly until the end of the world if they had to, and would kill anyone who might be close to the descendant. I read this with a great heaviness coming over me, and prayed that I might see something more positive. In the end the writer simply added: “It is true that Pisces may hold some secrets to our evolution, but if the consequences lead to suffering and our downfall, do we really want to know what’s at the end of the line? Might it be better if we walk in ignorance and be happy than put our faith in the only sign in the Zodiac which will bring about our own destruction?”

In that moment everything I’d believed about Pisces seemed distant and somehow irrelevant. I had always thought that the descendant was needed to help implement the Aquarian age, but I’d never considered the hard truth that plenty might be sacrificed in the process. Towards the end the writer warned that all the other signs were connected to me and described as ‘sacrifices’ – as if they were nothing but collateral damage.

I laid the book down and placed my face in my hands. It was all too much to take in and painful to believe. Pisces had always been such a positive sign, but now it was being described not only as the end of a cycle, but even as the end of all things. I felt like a ticking bomb that needed disabling before I could destroy any lives. The writer even suggested that I was a challenge to the old gods, and that their equilibrium would also be affected by my coming.

Somehow I managed to keep reading and reached the final page, which had a poem at the end. My lecturer had mentioned this and told me that the book was still unfinished, with the last few words acting almost like a fulfilling prophecy. I read the words out loud and could feel my eyes welling up with tears.

Dreamy, wide-eyed wanderer of worlds

You have held us in your gaze for so long,

With all the secrets and wisdom you carry,

That we have been blind to your truth.

For so long you have walked between realms,

Neither truly a friend, nor really an enemy,

Like a shadow who has strayed into the darkness,

And while once we praised you for your presence,

We now await your arrival with a heavy heart,

In the knowledge that you are the last of the cycle.

Will the world end in water, with your coming?

Or will the darkness hang at our heels instead?

Once you may have swam upstream in our favour,

But now the turn of the tide is upon all of us,

With the birth of the legendary descendant, Pisces.

The Age of Aquarius is the final spin of the wheel,

Leaving nothing but silence in its dreadful wake.

It took some time before I could reason with what I’d read and I became more and more depressed throughout the next few days. This was the first time I’d felt this way since my friends had died, and I could feel the physical changes creeping up on me quite quickly. All of a sudden I didn’t want to talk to anyone or leave the house, believing that I was in some way a threat to the people I loved.

I drove to the university on the morning of the presentation with the poem never far away from my thoughts. There were a few moments when I thought I might turn back, but the thought of letting Anna down was too much to bear. After reading the book I’d become evasive with her and didn’t reply to her texts, which made me feel even worse. At times, I felt as if a great weight was on my shoulders – with every day suddenly becoming a chore to get through.

The moment I walked into the room I wanted nothing more than to hide away. Their eyes fell on me and I worried if they’d be able to see the difference, though their interest didn’t last for long. I saw Anna sitting next to the lecturer and couldn’t quite bring myself to meet her gaze. Once sat down, I looked across and saw Adam looking composed. I was relieved that he, at least, had recovered.

We watched the first two groups deliver their presentations though I wasn’t really present in the room at all. I simply sat there with my head low and my mind far away from the topic at hand. Every so often, I lifted my head up slowly and might’ve sworn that I saw the lecturer looking at me with curious eyes, even though he was watching the presentation whenever I looked. By accident I did meet Anna’s eyes once or twice, with her looking at me with a mixture of concern and hurt, but I gave no reassuring smile in return.

I was being selfish, I knew, but I didn’t think anyone could pretend that everything was okay after what I’d just read. Sometimes I told myself that it was only a theory and that the writer didn’t know everything, but that didn’t help much. My instincts told me that some of what he had written was the truth – and I wasn’t so sure that I could ever make peace with that.

Finally the second presentation finished and my group was called up next. We hadn’t met up since last time but we had rehearsed enough to know what we needed to do. I stood up and moved towards Anna and Adam who were standing in the centre of the room. I mumbled something to them and they welcomed me warmly enough, though I didn’t think they were enthusiastic about my part in the presentation. It was clear to them that I had undergone some sort of change, so Adam gave the introduction and carried us for the first five minutes. Anna then followed and occasionally looked at me from the corner of her eye for a cue, but I didn’t really give her anything to go on.

Most of the time I didn’t feel self-conscious about being stood up and I didn’t make the effort to look alert like the other two. Once Anna had wrapped up her part, though, I did manage to find the courage from somewhere and began to talk about the freedom of the will. I kept my head down mostly, showing very little stage presence or charisma in the role, but I handled the speaking better than I expected to in the circumstances. Then, as I was about to finish, I began to talk about my own feelings on the subject.

“In the end I think we can never run away from our origins,” I said, my eyes dull and distant. I turned to look at Anna and saw her looking anxious, knowing that I was moving away from the script. “We move through our lives blind to our purpose and powerless to change the inevitability. Free will, I think, might be an illusion after all.”

Then I stopped and felt shocked by the finality of my words. I was even more surprised by the loud round of applause which followed.

“A thorough, if slightly ruthless look into the meaning of life,” the lecturer said, his eyes studying me from across the room. “I enjoyed that very much and think you’ve covered a lot of ground in the past week. Now then, I think we have time for one last group…”

The rest of the seminar was a blur that passed by without any awareness on my part. I had drifted off into someplace else and didn’t come back until Anna tapped me on the shoulder. Everyone else was making their way out of the room while I was still sat there looking lost.

“Jack, you don’t seem yourself at all,” she said with concern. I looked up at her and said nothing. “It’s not like you to be so serious. What’s wrong? Why haven’t you returned my messages?”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I lied. She didn’t look convinced so I tried to fake a smile, though I noticed even the act was physically hard. “I’m just a little tired that’s all.”

“You do look like you’ve been ill or something. You did great in the presentation, anyway. I have some time off now if you fancy a coffee?”

I stood up from my chair and surprised myself by saying that I was busy. Her face dropped which made me immediately regret what I’d said, but I didn’t change my mind. She looked into my eyes a little longer and I could tell that she knew something had changed, though I was worried she might think it was something to do with her. I wanted to put her right but I didn’t have the words at hand and instead let the moment go.

After a long silence she said: “Well, I’ll see you at the party on Saturday, alright? You are coming to that, aren’t you…Jack?”

“Of course,” I said, not knowing whether I’d be going or not. I wasn’t thinking ahead at all and certainly didn’t feel like meeting up with a load of strangers. It seemed almost impossible to turn Anna down twice, though. “I’ll be there. Just let me know the details.”

“Everyone would love to meet you properly,” she said, smiling warmly and letting her hand wander slowly down my arm. I felt another stab of guilt and at that moment wanted more than anything to tell her the truth. “Take care of yourself, okay.”

“Will do,” I mumbled, watching her go with an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. When I turned to go I saw my lecturer walking towards me after having just spoken with two other students.

“How’s it going?” the lecturer asked, fixing me with an inquisitive gaze. He seemed to have a knowing look in his eyes and I was confident that he knew I’d finished the book.

“Not bad, thanks,” I said. “I’ve read the book you gave me. You were right about it being ahead of its time…”

“You look how I felt after finishing the final chapter,” the lecturer said with a raucous laugh. He studied me closely as his expression became more serious. “I am interested in your thoughts when you’re next available for a chat. It’s not very often that I feel compelled to recommend a book to my students.”

“It would be good to talk about it.” I said with mixed feelings. A part of me wished he’d never introduced me to the book, though I knew I couldn’t blame him. I figured he might also be able to offer another perspective on it.

“Excellent. We’ll go to my office after the next seminar,” he said. I grabbed my bag and walked out the room with him before saying my goodbyes. Then I returned to my car and remembered that I’d been booked in for a meeting with Chris. I felt a strong urge to cancel it and go back home, but I forced myself to go along after imagining what Antoine might say if I missed it.

I arrived ten minutes ahead of time and Jean greeted me while I waited at the entrance. She wore a white cardigan and seemed somewhat reluctant to get too close to me, perhaps sensing that I was low in spirits. I hadn’t thought about it before, but I guessed she was more sensitive than most to other people’s energies.

“Chris won’t be long,” she said. I nodded and said I was happy to wait, but she still remained stood where she was. She looked as if she was trying to find the right words and couldn’t quite manage it, and then simply added: “He’s the most psychic person we have here, you know. He’s very good.”

“I can believe that,” I said. “I was at the healing the other night with him.”

“Oh yes, I remember.” Jean said, smiling. Her eyes were darting all over the place and I wondered what she was thinking. I was going to say something else when a younger woman emerged from the side room with Chris following closely behind. She looked visibly moved and thanked him several times before finally leaving.

“Right on schedule,” Chris said. He looked taller than last time and despite his casual dress seemed to carry a presence. I think I must’ve looked nervous because he then said: “There’s no one else booked in today, so I can tell you more about how all of this works. Would you like a minute before we begin?”

“I’m okay to start now,” I said, bracing myself for what might come next. Antoine had told me that Chris was also the descendant of Capricorn, which meant that I was finally talking with someone else from the Zodiac. He might know more than I did about the truth behind Pisces.

Chris and Jean shared a brief look at one another, suggesting they knew something I didn’t, before I followed Chris into the room. There was a bookcase at the back and room for a table and chairs while the sun shone brightly through the window next to them. He gestured for me to take a seat while he moved back outside and came back with a tray holding a jug of water and glasses.

My mind went blank as he sat opposite me and I wondered what we were going to talk about. In most cases people came to see mediums because they wanted to communicate with the dead, but I hadn’t come here for that purpose. Antoine had booked me in without my knowledge so I hoped Chris had something up his sleeve.

“It’s been quite some time since I met someone quite like you,” Chris said, his voice filled with praise. His expression remained neutral, however. “You went into a very deep trance for a newcomer. I haven’t seen anything like that before. How did you feel afterwards?”

“My dreams are more vivid than usual, though I don’t remember them when I wake up. I still have some memories of the healing session, but it’s hard to know what was said and the exact details.”

“Oh yes, I’d be worried if you did. The conscious mind has great difficulty in recalling everything that goes on – I expect we’d burn out if we used that amount of brainpower. You might want to develop that ability of yours, though. Have you considered tai chi? It’s an excellent way to develop your links with other realms.”

“I haven’t given it much thought.” I said. In truth, I’d always been drawn to eastern philosophies but I hadn’t considered tai chi as a form of spiritual communication.

“Well, Jack, where do I begin?” Chris said, his eyes no longer looking at me but deep in thought. “I thought I’d have to start from the beginning, but it looks like Antoine beat me to it. I’m far away from knowing all the answers, though I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have. I expect you’ll get bored with just talking, so I’ll show you a more visual tour of the Zodiac soon.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You will see what I mean shortly. Has there been anything happen to you lately that you’ve found a little unusual?”

I immediately referred back to my meal with Anna and the energy field around her, so I said: “I’ve seen colours around a few people I know, I don’t know what that might mean?” I thought back to the seminar I’d just had and in my mind’s eye I remembered seeing pastel colours surrounding Adam. I hadn’t paid it much attention at the time, but when I thought about it, the colours had looked different to Anna’s.

“Interesting,” Chris said. He reflected on my words for a moment while pouring water from the jug into his glass. “What did you see? Colours, and what else?”

“There were hues of green and blue around a girl I know, with…what I might call balls of energy floating inside of her. There were seven I think, and they were all bright and beautiful. I hadn’t seen anything quite like it before. The other one…well, it was a lot different…there were still colours, but they were black, almost. There were no balls of light like with Anna.”

“I see,” Chris said, his eyes lighting up with interest. “You’re talking about auras, Jack, or what you might want to call energy fields. We all have them, but they are not static like our physical features. It’s impossible to tell you everything that they might mean, but those energy balls you refer to are actually chakras. Without them, you wouldn’t be alive.”

“So why can I see them where others can’t?”

“Auras are a good way to judge the mind state of a person,” Chris said. He stopped talking for a moment and rummaged through some of the files on his desk. Then he pulled out a sheet of paper from under the pile and pushed it across. “That’s a list of what each colour represents. It’s not uncommon to find blue and green in people, as it often shows a spiritually developed character, even if they aren’t aware of it. Yours, for instance, moves between both indigo and purple, which is extremely rare in an individual.”

“And what does that mean?” I asked, reading the descriptions with avid interest.

“It shows your senses are more highly tuned than most. Of course, that would make sense as a descendant. You mentioned black before, which is a very unusual colour. There are many possibilities behind it, with none of them being good.”

“He did have a funny turn last week, so it might be because he’s not been well.”

“There will be a blockage of some sort, but I wouldn’t call it not being well,” Chris said. “I have only met a handful of people with that type of energy, and they have never returned to their normal selves. I would be very mindful of that.”

I ruminated over the possibilities and recalled feeling a funny sense of foreshadowing when Adam had his convulsions, so I feared what Chris said might be the truth. After seeing him earlier today, though, I wouldn’t have thought anything was wrong, so I put it to the back of my mind and hoped that nothing else would come of it.

Instead I chose to confide in him about the Zodiac and what I’d recently discovered. Chris listened intently and didn’t interrupt me once, though he did seem surprised by some of my readings.

“You have been busy, haven’t you,” Chris said, smiling. “There are two sides to the story of Pisces, as the legend has always described. You are wrong to think that you will bring more problems than your worth, however. Without you, the cycle wouldn’t be complete. You must do away with any foolish thinking.”

“That might be true but…what about everything else? The Dark Ones, for starters? Am I really going to be tracked down by them for as long as I live?”

He looked at me sympathetically and I could tell he was thinking how to answer that question. Eventually he said: “Evil will always exist, it is necessary…and yes, it will seek out not only the ones most vulnerable to its influence, but also those with the power to stop it. They will keep coming until your work here is done. I am sorry, Jack.”

I didn’t know what I could say in response and wished that everything could be different, somehow. It made me realise just how much my life had changed in a matter of days. I would never be able to get close to someone without putting them in harm’s way.

Chris must have noticed my eyes were looking downcast because his next words were more reassuring. “Plenty will benefit from your actions here in the material. You mustn’t feel too dispirited. Come, I think it’s time that I show you the nature of what it means to be a descendant. I will walk you through the elements, and lead you to the final, unseen ideal. The Quinta Essentia.”

I looked at him expectantly and waited for something else to happen. Fire, Air, Earth and Water were elements that formed the Zodiac, but I had never heard of a fifth element. He stood up from his chair and told me to close my eyes.

There was a fleeting moment of darkness before a bright, radiating light enveloped all of my senses and then I found myself surrounded by a rich meadow.

A long tract of grassland sprawled out in front of me with clocksprings of clouds hanging overhead in the distance. There was still a strong light but it had been replaced by the towering sun in the sky, which shone brilliantly somewhere in the beyond. It was a sight that would never again leave my mind, now that I had laid my eyes upon it, but what I remembered the most was the roses.

I stood in awe for the longest time and walked slowly along the grass, being careful not to touch the light crimson roses that were everywhere in sight. When I breathed in I felt healed by their deep, enriching smell which engulfed all of my senses. It was impossible to see too far ahead and as I moved I saw an all-encompassing stretch of land that was unadulterated by any manmade tools. I had never seen anything so natural and pure.

I don’t know how long I walked for until I happened upon the realisation that this place was timeless and never changing. There were swaths of grass that were always ahead and constant, like a river that never stopped flowing. Suddenly I became aware of myself as a blade of grass in the vast earth of eternal life.

Some may have found this depressing, but I felt nothing but ecstasy as I lived among the roses. I called it living because it seemed as if I’d stayed there forever, and that I had been here before. It was the size of the place that teased my imagination, with its vast and expansive length, but I don’t mean to say that I thought I was meaningless by comparison. This land emitted a vibration that cared for all living beings with a great warmth and compassion, a place which recognised the value of everything, and so when I looked on at the magnitude of the land I mean to say that I was part of a much larger whole.

Eventually I became aware of music in the form of a violin, which brought with it a powerful feeling of inspiration. I didn’t know where it was coming from, but it seemed to blend in perfectly with my surroundings. As I listened I felt suddenly at ease about everything that had worried me beforehand, with even the idea of the Dark Ones no longer praying on my mind. It was almost like I was a hand being fitted into a perfectly sized glove and that all was happening as it should.

During this time the melody and harmonious tunes provoked creative thoughts in me that I’d never had before, to the point that I was being tuned to the beat of a different drum. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that there was much more than my own plane of existence, though I still didn’t understand its complexity. All I knew with absolute certainty was that I had to protect this place with every fibre of my being, and that I wanted nothing more than to be part of it forever.

While another surge of inspiration surged through me I also understood that I had become one with the meadow. I couldn’t describe the feeling to another person because it was something which needed to be experienced, but it was almost as if I was being used as a channel feeding into the main energy source. Then I became aware of the possibilities of the universe and its infinite potential, which was something I couldn’t grasp with my own finite mind.

There were many other thoughts that crossed my mind and I had completely forgotten my material life until Chris appeared next to me, looking thoughtful. I stopped and gave an awed expression while he nodded to say that no words were needed. I had a feeling that he could speak with me telepathically, but he chose to voice his thoughts.

“Can you feel the energy of this place?” Chris asked inquiringly. We walked slowly along the meadow while notes still played from the violin.

“It’s truly alive,” I said. “I’ve never felt so peaceful.”

“This is the fifth element. What you might call the quintessence. There is nothing more beautiful, more sacred, than the vibrations coming from these surroundings. There is much more than this meadow, Jack, but we can only grasp what we are able to comprehend. We can only visualise the finite.”

“What does it all mean, Chris? Is there really such a world like this?”

“When you were talking about the Dark Ones you looked like you wished your life was different, and almost regretted the responsibility of being a descendant. I felt you needed to understand the truth behind not only the Zodiac, but the meaning behind existence. Do you feel a strong protective need to watch over this place and keep it safe?”

“With all my heart,” I said, with no sense of exaggeration.

“It is our efforts in the material realm that helps to keep this place pure and alive. There are worlds like these which exist and we are capable of evolving into beings that can walk among these roses. Remember that the only limitations we have live in our very minds. This fifth element is born out of the other four, Jack, and that means that we are all connected in some way, and that we cannot progress along our own paths without helping others. That is what we might call universal intelligence.”

“Will I be able to come here again?” I said, knowing that my time here was almost up. Chris looked at me for a moment with a tired expression and sighed. I could tell that he wanted more than anything to stay here as well.

“If you were to keep coming back here it would be a trick of the mind, which would go against the meaning behind this place. We have all entered the material with girded armour, Jack, and must pass through many mind states before we are high enough to reach this level of vibration. One day, though…we must always teach ourselves to dream of the beyond.”

“I am ready, Chris. I think I understand my purpose a little more now. I don’t feel the same hopelessness that I did before.”

“I’m glad. You will need strength and purpose for the future, there is a lot of work to do.”

We were still talking when the world around us changed and reverted back into the private room. My eyes opened and I realised that we hadn’t travelled there physically, though that didn’t make it any less real. Chris was sitting calmly with a meditative look on his face and I couldn’t think of anything to say about what we had just experienced. It was all too much to take in at once.

After some time had passed his expression changed and we began talking again. His face looked haggard and drawn after having used up most of his resources, and I had a feeling that our conversation was coming to an end. He was humouring me more out of politeness than a desire to tell me anything important, which I knew was out of character for someone so usually reserved.

Then I asked the age-old question: “Will I succeed?”

There was a bemused look on his face that gave little away and as the seconds passed I feared the question had made him feel uncomfortable. He seemed to be struggling to find the right words and I wondered if he was simply trying to soften the blow, or if he genuinely didn’t know the answer. Eventually he said: “There are many conditions in life that force us to accept that few victories come without us having also experienced some loss. I know nothing about winning or losing, Jack. All I’ve ever understood is that we go on, regardless.”

“But do you think the Zodiac is going to return?”

“Yes, and sooner than you think,” Chris said. He didn’t look as if he was going to elaborate until he added: “All doors are opening up for us but we must have the courage to step into the unknown. You will do well, I think.”

That was enough to put my mind at rest for the time being so I stood up from my seat and moved to shake his hand. He accepted it gracefully and then rose from his chair to lead me towards the door. I looked back at him once more as I went to leave and thought about asking him more questions about the fifth element, before choosing to leave them in their proper place. This time I’d have to put my faith in the unseen.

“Will I see you again?” I asked.

“We are part of the Twelve,” Chris said, his expression dutiful and serious. “For as long as I am needed, I will endeavour to help you as much as I can. You have my word.”

I thanked him once again and heard the door gently closed behind me. I stepped outside with a renewed sense of purpose safe in the knowledge that whatever I was about to face I wouldn't have to do it alone. That was all the comfort I needed.

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