A Ghostly Encounter
At 4:00 am in the cave at Skull Pass, Hannibal tossed and turned in his sleep; his dreams haunted once again by the ghostly Leila and the demoniac Black Prince. The mutation dream merged with the dream about Leila’s rescue from the Dark Rider, shaking his mind and resolve once again. As the rescue dream faded away, Hannibal suddenly snapped awake, bolting to a sitting position with a gasp, panting as sweat beaded on his brow while chills raced down his spine. The few coals left in the fire burned in the darkness of the cave, barely lighting the cave. “Ugh,” he moaned, covering his eyes with his hand. “What’s wrong with me? Why do I keep having that crazy dream? And why does that cat haunt me every time I close my eyes?” Tears dripped down his cheeks as he got out of the sleeping bag, donning his shoes. Grabbing a flashlight, Hannibal walked out of the cave in search of some fresh air.
Scrambling down the slope to the open area at the base of the skull formation, he sat down sullenly on the rocks with a troubled sigh. The dense fog shrouding the peak prevented him from seeing more than five feet. The cold wet air chilled his frame as he flashed his light around in the ominous dark fog. “What’s going on here, Lord?” he prayed without expecting any answer. “Why am I haunted by these messed-up dreams? Why? I don’t want to be mutated into a girl. Why would a baseless fear like that so shake me?”
A low ghostly moan echoed off the rocks in response to his questions, sending violent chills down his spine. “Who’s there?” Hannibal called out to the fog-shrouded darkness, sensing an approaching presence.
The air temperature abruptly dropped, turning the fog icy. “What’s this?” Hannibal whispered, feeling the chill reach his very core. “The very warmth of my blood has been stolen away.” He scanned the mists intensely, fear rising in his soul. Two small lights suddenly appeared in the fog, dancing like fireflies at a distance. Hannibal stared in fearful fascination at the phenomenon. The lights pulsed regularly as they danced in the fog, slowly approaching him.
“Hannibal,” Selina called out from behind him. “Where are you?”
“Down here, Selina,” Hannibal answered softly. She scrambled down the slope, finding him sitting at the bottom staring into the fog.
“Bad dreams again?” Selina asked, sitting down next to him.
“Yeah,” Hannibal replied sullenly. “I had to come out and get some fresh air.”
“But why come out now?” she asked. “It’s cold as a meat locker out here.” Selina abruptly gasped, sensing something moving in the fog. Seconds later, she saw the lights dancing in the mists. “Upon my word…what in heaven’s name is that?” she asked.
“I wish I knew,” Hannibal answered distantly. “Those lights have been dancing around out here for the last couple of minutes.”
Another low moan echoed through the fog, chilling Selina’s soul to the core. “What’s that moan?” she asked fearfully, latching on to Hannibal’s arm. “It’s unearthly.”
“Don’t know,” Hannibal replied. “That’s the second time I’ve heard it, and it’s positively eerie.”
They sat watching the lights slowly dance towards them. “Those lights are beautiful,” Selina commented, “but really strange. What are they?”
Without warning, the lights flashed brightly, briefly blinding Hannibal and Selina. When their eyesight returned, Selina gasped in fearful astonishment, clinging tightly to Hannibal’s arm as he breathed, “Oh, my God in Heaven.” Standing just seven feet away, two full-torso vaporous apparitions nine feet tall floated two feet off the ground. One appeared to be a nine-foot version of Hannibal with snow-white hair wearing oriental armor. The second resembled Leila Karac from Hannibal’s dream. The ghosts gazed soberly at Hannibal and Selina as they froze in fright.
“Who are they?” Selina finally whispered in terror, her mind reeling from seeing real ghosts.
Hannibal blinked, rubbed his eyes, and blinked again. “Selina…it’s them. They’re from the dream. The cat is Leila, and I think the one that looks like me is Beowulf Caverias, Thoth Caverias’ son,” he replied in a shaky tone. Addressing the specters, he asked, “Am I correct in knowing who you are? Are you Beowulf Caverias and Leila Karac?”
The ghosts smiled, nodding yes without speaking.
“What do you want?” Selina blurted out fearfully.
Beowulf and Leila floated closer, pointing to Hannibal.
“Why me?” Hannibal asked, suddenly losing his fear of the apparitions.
“Beware, brother,” the ghostly Beowulf warned sternly. “The Reaper is close at hand, hiding in the darkness.”
Leila smiled broadly. “Remember, brother,” her ghostly voice echoed across the mountain, chilling Hannibal and Selina’s soul to the core. The wind stirred and the apparitions of Beowulf and Leila Karac vanished in the thinning fog.
“Whoa,” Hannibal murmured, holding Selina close as she clung to him. “That was really strange. What’s with the warning?”
“I don’t know,” Selina replied. “But it’s unsettling.”
“It certainly is,” Hannibal agreed. “But for some strange reason I don’t understand, I’ve become very calm and focused about everything. Even those screwy dreams aren’t bothering me now.”
“I noticed that,” Selina agreed, sensing Hannibal’s emotional turn from chaotic fear to peace. “You did see them, didn’t you?”
“Yes, Selina,” Hannibal answered. “You weren’t seeing things. We just saw two full-torso vaporous apparitions of Beowulf Caverias and Leila Karac. I haven’t seen real ghosts like this in over twenty years. I’d forgotten how just being around them can draw the life out of you.”
“No kidding,” Selina agreed. “As beautiful as they were, it still felt like they were draining my body and soul of its energy.”
“I think it may have to do with the phase differential between the material and spiritual planes,” Hannibal reasoned. “Deceased souls operate on a different frequency than living souls so when the living and dead meet like this, their energy frequencies often interfere with that of the living.”
“Interesting theory,” Selina stated, noticing the fog rapidly thinning and dropping down the mountain. “It’s a shame we can’t test it.” The twilight glow from the east grew quickly, causing the stars above Skull Pass to begin to fade.
“To do that would require finding concrete scientific proof that our universe is multi-dimensional above that of the three dimensions of space and the one of time,” Hannibal explained. “As much as I know it’s real, finding proof of that hidden dimension of existence is like trying to tell an atheist that God truly exists with no physical proof. It’s not apt to happen in our lifetime.”
“It looks like the sun is about to come up,” Selina observed, changing the subject. “I bet it’s beautiful from here.”
“Let’s find out,” Hannibal suggested. “Maybe it’ll help counteract the bizarreness of what we just encountered.”
“I hope so. I could use something inspirational about now,” Selina said, snuggling close to Hannibal in the cold as the fog descended the mountain, leaving them with a clear view of the sunrise. The sky turned blood red as the sun chased away the darkness. “Oh, that’s an eerie-looking sky,” she commented.
“A red dawn,” Hannibal murmured, “not a good omen; there’s going to be blood shed this day.”
“How do you know?” Selina asked as the light steadily increased.
“A lifetime of experience,” Hannibal stated, “and knowledge of the old ways allows me to make that assertion. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.”
“Me too,” Selina agreed as the sun peeked over the horizon, shining its warm rays on them. “Oh, that’s such a beautiful sunrise. It gives me hope that life will continue forever.”
“That it does,” Hannibal murmured, kissing her on her temple. “It sure does disperse the ominous feeling left by those ghosts. I’m tempted to think everything will be okay.”
“It will be,” Selina purred, “if we just believe. Now let’s go back into the cave and warm up. It’s cold out here and I’d rather warm up before we get moving.”
“Sounds good to me,” Hannibal replied, helping her up. They crawled back up the slide to the cave entrance, going in as the sun continued on its way.
As Hannibal and Selina re-entered the cave, the archangels Michael and Gabriel stood atop the skull formation looking down. A particularly large, formidable angel twelve feet in height with his face covered by hood and cloak stood with them…his ice-blue eyes burning brightly as he watched Hannibal and Selina go into the cave.
“All is going according to plan,” Michael declared. “The souls of Beowulf Caverias and Leila Karac have finally made full contact with Hannibal, providing the prod and warning he needed.”
“Indeed,” Gabriel agreed. “Hannibal begins to contemplate his destiny now that he has seen the Circle of Hammunaptra and possesses the sword of his enemy. It shall reawaken his long dormant instincts, forcing him to confront his past and discover his true destiny.” Gabriel turned to the hooded angel with a sober expression. “Go, my friend,” he ordered the hooded angel. “You’re now being activated. Help and guide Hannibal on his path into the underworld of Amacia, but do not fully reveal yourself to him until the appointed time.”
“As the Lord commands,” the hooded angel replied stoically. “I shall not fail. Hannibal shall remember who and what he is at the proper time.”
“Good,” Michael declared. “Go and hide yourself with Hannibal before you are seen by the enemy.” The hooded angel saluted and dove into the rocky skull formation between him and Hannibal, merging with Hannibal without Hannibal even knowing it.
“The players are set and the curtain is about to rise,” Michael stated. “Let’s move into position so we’ll be ready when the final act is set into motion.”
“Aye, Michael,” Gabriel agreed as the two angelic bastions of light rocketed into the heavens.