Over the Hedge
1 november 2004
Everyone was at work except John and me, and I decided to take the opportunity for a nice relaxing bath to recover from the party while he did some reading out in the living room. I was in there until the water cooled down too much to be comfortable, and was in the process of drying off when I felt a chill down my spine. I was alone in the mirror, but I could feel breath on my neck before Alethea's voice whispered in my ear.
"You said you would help me," she said. I tried to turn in hopes I'd be able to see her, but found that I couldn't move. I began to panic.
"I did. What do you want from me?"
"Time for wh--" I hunched forward and grabbed the edges of the sink as I gasped for air. It felt like I was drowning, my lungs stung and my eyes were going out of focus. There was a growing pressure, cold and heavy, pressing on my entire body as if from under my skin.
"I've waited so long for this moment," I could hear her, but it didn't sound like the voice was coming from behind me anymore. It almost felt like it was my own thoughts, but in her voice. "Ever since I saw Matteson at my death, I've known he was the key to fixing this." I tried to catch my breath, but it felt like it was being squeezed out of me. Instead of blacking out, as I expected to, I began to feel distant. Like I was moving away from my body, falling deeper into myself. I was still seeing through my own eyes, but from a distance, like watching a security camera from an office. I could do nothing but watch as I fell into a sense of peace and my body regained composure, stood, and smiled into the mirror.
31 October 2004
We were a couple hours into the party, running a series of horror movies on the tv, when Jacob decided to point a house out to John. He seemed to believe that John's interest in the paranormal would make him interested in living in a place like that. John gave him a half-hearted "yeah, nice" and moved on. While we were out having a smoke later, I decided to poke at it a bit.
"So, you didn't like that house, huh?" He snorted.
"That's some white nonsense," he said, laughing.
"You won't catch my black ass around anything demonic if I can help it."
"No? That too paranormal for you?" I asked, smiling and nudging him with my elbow.
"Yeah, that's it," he joked, nudging me back. "Nah, but, It's just, I deal with ghosts because I have to, you know? I can't not interact with them. And I've grown to find all that stuff interesting, so I'm cool with a bunch of spirits. But demons? True fae? Absolutely not. They're too dangerous. My dad made sure I knew the difference."
"Your dad deals with the paranormal?"
"To some degree. He has books, some of which were handed down, some he got. I don't know what he does with all of it, but I know he does enough that my mom left when she couldn't deal with it anymore." He took a drag from his cigarette and looked out at the alley for a moment. "He's always made sure I knew how dangerous some of this stuff was, and that I knew how to handle it. I could probably hold off a demon, if I needed to, but it's rarely worth it."
"What about gods?"
"There's something beyond the spiritual realm, where souls go and never return. I like to think there's a decent god over there."
"I meant more like, here. The gods."
"What, you mean like Greek and Egyptian and shit?" he asked. I nodded. He shrugged. "Yeah, I mean, they're probably around. Can't say I'd trust them, those stories were not flattering." I laughed. "Why, you know some gods?" he joked.
"Well, something like that, yeah." He shook his head. "I promise I'll be careful, okay?" I offered him my hand and he looked at it for a moment before shaking it.
"Deal. Can't lose all the good nymphs in this world."
31 october 2004
John and I talked less than I think he expected while out yesterday. It seems he's grown comfortable openly discussing these things in public, but I'm still a little wary. That, and talking about it made me recall what Alethea had shown me, and I'm still trying to emotionally process it all. It's hard to tell if John was unaffected, or if he was just pushing it aside to deal with the task at hand. I'm not sure which I'd prefer. The end result, however, was that he agreed to let me know if he finds anything else, and I'll try to come up with a means to help her move on before he leaves. His alleged knack for exorcism may be helpful, but I don't see how we'd both be able to do anything at the same time unless we're fairly far apart.
The black dog came for me last night. At the Crossroads, Hecate asked what I had learned about John. I tried to use his meeting Alethea to steer the conversation toward ways to help her, but She seemed largely unconcerned. This is the second night in a row She's wanted to talk about him. Given her previous statement that Anchors are her property, I'm growing concerned about this sudden interest in him. I should tell him, but I seem to have trouble remembering it when I'm talking to him. So here I am making a note of it, for next time.
For now, though, I need to get ready for the party tonight. We have a lot of work to do around the apartment before people arrive.
30 october 2004
Last night was the final night of the new moon, so Matt and I had gone out to the lake to meditate. A couple other people went for company, including John, who kept his distance to avoid interfering. He seemed tense afterward, though, and when I asked about it he expressed concern about the spirits kicking around.
The guy bringing our paychecks got there after I left yesterday, so I had to go back today to get mine. I decided to invite John, partly because he was nice to hang out with and partly so we could talk about last night, and he agreed. While he was getting his shoes on and heading to the fire escape, I went downstairs to talk to Matt. We hadn't had a chance to really touch base about our meditations afterward, and I hated to wait too long.
I've been trying to figure out how the spiritual realm works, and my conversations with Matt tended to help. As a druid, his experience was generally a little different than mine, and the perspective gave my own experiences focus.
I was planning to just go through a few thoughts with him, but he was pretty shaken when I brought it up. He explained that he had concerns about John, that having him there was enough to cause difficulty for the whole thing, and he wasn’t sure why. I realized we’d never talked about the idea that John was an Anchor, or asked him to avoid Matt during the event, so I had to sit Matt down and explain what I knew. That did not go over well, Matt wanted him out of the house immediately out of concern for what he’d do by staying, and I had to remind him that he’d only be a few more days. It took a good bit longer than I expected, and I finally came upstairs fully prepared to apologize to John for the delay.
When I got up there, I didn’t see him anywhere, and I asked Jacob if he’d seen John. He explained that he just got in from the store, and didn’t know, so I went and looked outside. When I didn’t see John there, either, I came back in and checked the open bathroom, the kitchen, and the living room. There was no sign of him. I told Jacob to send him outside when he shows up, and went outside to wait. I lit my cigarette and stared off into the alley, trying to figure out how I was going to tell him that he’d caused a disruption last night. I was about halfway through my smoke when I heard a noise from inside, and then the door opened. I turned to see John walking out, rubbing his head and slightly limping. His eyes were huge, like he’d seen something.
“John, hey, where have you been?” I asked. He charged over and grabbed my shoulders, staring wild-eyed at me.
“I know what happened to Alethea!” I slipped backward, sliding out of his grasp, and took a deep drag.
“Where’d you get that name?” I asked after letting the smoke out.
“I saw her. I saw everything! I know what happened!”
“...what do you know?”
“It was abuse, Jackie.”
“I...yeah,” he said, looking confused. “Wait, I thought you said you didn’t know.”
“I did. Look, John, she was cautious, and she seemed to be hiding from you, and she asked me to keep things quiet, and everything pointed to keeping you in the dark. I don’t know what you did to see that, but I can’t have known that she would show you.” John turned away with a sigh, pulling out his cigarettes and lighting one. He took in and let out his first drag with his back to me before turning around.
“Okay. Fine, I get it. But we’re both in this now. What do we do with this information?”
“I don’t know. We’ll talk about it on the bus, okay? It’ll be here soon.” He nodded and we headed down the stairs and made our way to the street in silence.
29 october 2004
Went downtown with John and Jacob yesterday. It was fun, John and I got to explore a bunch of alleys and corners of the city that I never get to check out with anyone else. After everyone else went to sleep and it was just us on our couches, we talked for a while about magic. He showed me a book in his bag, he said it had various exorcism notes and a couple circles. I asked how that works, if he breaks magic and can't use it, and he explained that he seems to be able to push things out of the physical realm (or at least away from physical things), and he's not sure if that counts as magic so much as enforcing a world without magic. Which makes sense, I guess, if in a terribly frightening way.
How many people are there like him out there? Are they why magic is so hard to do? Did they create the divide between the worlds? There's stories that it wasn't always this way, that spirits used to walk among us so much easier, and that there are still places around the world where they still can. I was still sorting that out when I went to sleep, and my thoughts on the matter must have caught my Mentor's attention because I found myself standing beside my body and the black dog waiting for me. It was time to go to the Crossroads.
Over the years, as I've come more in touch with the element of water, this place has changed. It probably hasn't, not really, but I'm seeing it in a new way. The crossroads itself still looks about the same, but above us, rather than void or sky, is a great sea. It's like standing beneath the ocean, like really beneath it and not just in its depths, or maybe upside down above it. The shimmer of the water reflecting on the ground comforts me, makes everything we do so much easier.
"What troubles you, child?" She asked when we arrived. The dog went and laid down next to Her, as it usually did.
"I've--I've encountered someone who claims to break magic. Is that possible?"
"An Anchor." She remained silent for a moment, looking off at the distance, before her faces turned back to me. "You must be very careful. If this one is what they say, they 'ground' your world to physical laws. When Anchors fail to understand their purpose, they take and kill and destroy and never look back. Unchecked, they are a blight upon the world."
"What's their purpose?"
"The realm of spirits, the true world you've been learning to explore, has chaos, vibrant life, unlimited power flowing endlessly. But it also has structure, rules, a certain kind of order. The Two embody these traits for the realm. Anchors and Warlocks are liminal beings, and as such they are Mine to do with as I choose; but their basic function is to serve that balance. Warlocks bring the chaos of the spiritual world to the physical, Anchors bring the order of the physical back to the spiritual." She stepped forward and lightly touched my chin, raising my eyes to look into hers. I took a deep breath of her scent and focused on her central face. "But enough about that now," She said. "Be wary of this one, find out their intentions, but for now I have much to teach you."
"Yes, mistress." She smiled and drew back her hand, and we began.
When I returned, I found I couldn't get back into my body. She does this sometimes, to remind me that I do not rely on myself for the things I do. Normally, I would go into Jacob's dream, and ask him to wake my body, which tends to do the trick. But John was so much closer, so I decided to try him this time.
The blog of Jackie Veracruz.