The volley of a thousand screams filled my ears as I fell through the lake. Before my eyes, flashes of light contorted, merged into shapes and would take human form. I would see the faces of people pass before me, each looking indifferent and without expression. But as one visage would arise, another would usurp in its wake. It was hard to center where the screams originated. There was no direction, neither up nor down or dimensions existed in the space.
Nothing was permanent and continually shifted like rays of light facing a wall of mirrors. I was surrounded by a storm of energy, and resided in its eye.
As I continued, the screams turned to whispers and my field of vision narrowed. From nothing a path emerged in three dimensions. Through the chaos everything became concentrated to a point. I could sense the exit was near, as though it was intuitive. I felt a hand as it guided my legs forward. This was complimented by the smell of burning metal and the taste of sulfur, which clung acidic to the roof of my mouth. Of all the sensations I experienced that smell remains with me this day.
A rectangle chasm resembling a door emerged at the end of the path. There was a contrast of the lake of energy and what lied beyond. Through the frame, I saw something more familiar: a gravel road and swaying trees as they shed the first dead leaves of fall. Leaving was as easy as stepping forward and after doing so, my eyes focused once more on the mailbox which bore the numbers 515.
It is an odd feeling being alone in a time which you already lived. I felt the intruder, as though I had violated an unspoken bond. The normal sensations of life – the smell of an autumn brush fire and the bitter evening breeze were felt with a quarter of its usual intensity. I was numb, yet by all accounts I did not exist. Even though I retained my form, my steps felt light and did not cause an indention in neither the grass nor gravel. Cogito ergo sum?
The first thing I checked was the road for loose gravel and the indention of skid of tires from car. Even being removed from time, the wreck was still fresh in my mind. I could still feel the laceration of the seat belt coupled with the tightness of my neck, a hangover from the whiplash. But I found nothing of the sort. This is when I started to believe this experience was not a fever dream or hallucination, but I was in fact in the past. Everything thus far has told me all conventional conclusions lent a false result. I confirmed this when I walked towards the rear of the house. The home felt living, more so than just the people who in habited it. A house is merely a structure, nothing more than concrete, wood and metal, but it is the people, who are shielded within its walls which exudes a vibrance almost ineffable. This was certainly the case at the Spencer house.
For a while I was nervous to enter. Even though, as the Ambassador had assured me, I was merely a shade of a person, I felt if I intruded, it would forsake the sacred bond of privacy which the best of us respect. But can you intrude on the past, or is privacy merely the object of a present and does not apply to the dead? I always believed it did and should remain so, but I was brought here for a purpose. That much I was certain of.
As I stood before the threshold, a rustling sound from the second story captured my attention. I walked away from the house to an old tire swing which was fastened to the limbs of a drooping sycamore. From this vantage I first saw her. In all of my previous encounters she appeared pale, as though life was somehow a passing sallow breeze which would pulsate through her veins; but seeing her sit on the boxed windowsill in the light of moon, a torrent flowed through her. It was a quite a contrast and any cheap or contrite adjective could not accurately convey the vivacity in which she embodied. She was entirely present – from the book which rested on her palm to the sincerity of her eyes as she scanned the lines, mouthing the words which were difficult to pronounce. Occasionally her eyes would retract and stare out towards her back yard as though she was searching for someone or something. I could feel the expectation as her concentration waned from the tire swing to the tree line. The moment was fleeting, but it projected the tenuous expectation of something beyond her reach.
The great folly of youth is the belief you are cast as the lead role and the world is written with you in mind. It becomes a bitter pill to shallow when you discover most of us are extras. From appearances, this was a lesson Laura would still have to face, but the innocence of youth brought with it the optimism that perhaps this wasn’t the case. But as I stood outside, I noticed her eyes began to shift from her book and concentrated to a point.
He came from the tree line, as though materializing from nothing. If it would not have been for her stare I would have not even noticed his approach. There was something formal in the way in which walked –his back perfectly erect and his strides purposeful. No light penetrated his eyes, it was as though it absorbed every photon which drew near him, and what was left was absence of everything.
I returned my glance towards her window and found she was not there. Looking back I saw with him appearing as though she was in trance, unable to willfully move her body. The man completed an about-face and returned towards the woods with Laura in tow.
From the tire swing I sprinted across the field, trying to make up ground. I was never much for running, but I was gaining ground until I saw their forms fade through the trees. As I stepped into the woods, I felt a finger rake across my shoulder, stopping at the base of my neck.