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Lemurian Medium, Sample Chapter
by G G Collins
There was something malevolent about the painting. It was fleeting, but what? Rachel scrutinized it searching for the incongruity. While it looked much like the other works on display at the gallery opening, this one was off-putting.
The remainder of the exhibit was composed of the typical New Mexico landscapes—artfully done nonetheless—and adobe structures crafted with poetic lighting. They were not the same-o’, same-o’ paintings found in abundance in every gallery in Santa Fe.
The artist had a special gift like none she’d seen in years. This acrylic, however, was…well, weird. On the surface was a lovely scene of piñon trees and blooming yellow chamisa. The mountain crest, dusted in white, hinted at winter to come. An autumnal scene, it was lit with golden aspen cascading across the Sangre de Cristos in a way that was breathtaking.
It was the only vertical painting, tall, almost floor to ceiling while the remainder of the exhibit was horizontal landscapes.
God, there it was again! She saw it only momentarily. It was like a picture within a picture. For a second her body went cold with trepidation conjured by the spirit of another panorama, one quite foreign. It left an almost palpably bad feeling. In place of the southwestern landscape, she saw a tangle of green foliage. It looked tropical, but with a grotesque fundamental nature that threatened to suffocate the life from anyone entering. Yet, it was enticing and compelling. Rachel wanted to step into the painting. In this moment, she could see another dimension opening before her. The urge to enter was nearly overwhelming.
The painting changed again. Rachel blinked to be sure. A large mushroom, no, mushroom cloud, the type a volcanic eruption would make. In the foreground was the jumbled mass of plant life. It was sinister to be sure.
Rachel was repulsed and yet it beckoned. She lifted one foot, but before she could move further, she heard a wolf howling. She turned in the direction of the sound. It took her straight back to her living room a few months ago when she inadvertently summoned a spirit from the dark side. That night a wolf howled too; a wolf who didn’t belong there.
With no further lobo cries she returned to the painting. The otherworldly scene was no longer perceptible. The sensation she felt was not a great deal different from that of rubbernecking at a fatal car accident. One is drawn to it out of morbid curiosity but repulsed by the images.
“Hi Stella,” she said as her co-worker walked up.
Stella Dallas was the receptionist and administrative assistant to the publisher of High Desert Country where Rachel Blackstone worked as a reporter. Stella’s mother had been a great fan of Barbara Stanwyck and had named her daughter after her favorite movie starring the actress.
This contemporary Stella Dallas was an elegant woman. The Chanel suit never went out of style for Stella. Her classy mode of dress contrasted strongly with the rest of the staff who preferred denim and T-shirts. All, except for the publisher’s nephew, John J. Connor, III, who dressed for success, though no one was clear on what he considered successful. And yes, there really were three of them.
Rachel had been assigned to cover the opening at Spirit Vision Gallery. Since two invitations arrived at the magazine office, Rachel invited Stella to go along.
“What’s up?” Stella asked.
“Look at this painting and tell me what you see.”
“Is this a trick question?”
“No. I’m serious,” Rachel said. “What do you see?”
The older woman gave her a doubtful glance and proceeded to study the picture, her thumb resting on her chin with forefinger held lightly against her upper lip. “I see another fabulous vista. What do you see, Rachel?”
Rachel ignored the question. “Try changing your viewpoint a bit. Does that make a difference?”
“Dear, have you been hitting the sangria again? You know, that stuff can knock you on your backside in a hurry.”
“Amusing,” Rachel countered. “Humor me.”
Stella walked to the wooden bench in the middle of the viewing area. She sat, erect as a princess, contemplating the canvas. Rachel crept up so as to not disturb her concentration.
“It’s a multi-media painting,” Stella said. “It looks like there are crystals embedded along with some leaf impressions, and lots of paint ladled on with a palette knife. Other than that, I don’t see anything. What am I looking for?”
“Oh,” Rachel said, disappointed and relieved. “I guess it was nothing.” She wanted to tell her friend what she had seen, but with no corroboration it seemed absurd. Rachel felt foolish. “Maybe I will have some of that sangria.”
Stella flashed a beautiful smile and Rachel made a fast retreat to the refreshments. The mix of citrus and red wine was pleasant at first taste, but the orange peel had been in the brew too long and it was now very strong. She picked up a cheese puff with green chiles. Virtually everything in New Mexico contained chiles or was smothered in the succulent sauce. The pungent flavor made Rachel long for a green chile cheese burrito, but that would have to wait.
As she grazed her way down the table, Rachel observed the opening from a reporter’s view. She liked to thread the feeling of being there into every article she wrote. The traditional pure white walls of interior adobe buildings were made even more striking here because of the brilliant canvases which hung from them. Candles glowed softly on antique hand-carved tables. The flames cast moving shadows under the bright track lighting. Many of Santa Fe’s wealthy and prestigious were in attendance. The men wore everything from tuxedos to bolo ties and boots. Many of the women were attired in broom-stick skirts and heavily bejeweled in turquoise and silver for that—just right—southwestern look. Of course, the little black dress, forever fashionable, was represented as well—those women fancied diamonds and pearls.
When her eyes returned to Stella, Rachel noticed her in conversation with a man she recognized from the program as the artist, Angelo. To say the man was handsome would have been the understatement of the previous millennium. Angelo, the brochure gave no last name, was darkly attractive and quite tall—basketball player tall. His black hair hung to his shoulders. He was Spanish, if one could believe publicity materials. Dressed entirely in black, it made his presence felt in a room full of colorful hangings. But he wore the oddest thing: a headdress of sorts. It wasn’t the typical bandana a dancer might wear, nor as formal as a Sikh turban. It was less Bruce Springsteen and more Jack Sparrow. In the center, a jewel covered his forehead. The fabric was charcoal in color and the crystal ruby, at least in shade. Dangling from the left side was bead work and a feather.
Their chat seemed animated when Rachel first noticed, but something had changed, she could see it on Stella’s face. Stella frowned as she beheld the painting. The two were looking at the image which had reared its ugly schizophrenic head to Rachel earlier. While Angelo stood smiling slightly in a polite manner, his eyes betrayed something altogether different. Rachel could not tell whether it was anger or malice, but the growing uneasiness in her stomach suggested the latter.
The gallery atmosphere altered suddenly from one of polite murmured conversation and airs to that of the tense quietness of a funeral prelude. All of the sashay seemed to drain from the moneyed crowd. Rachel thought the gallery felt vacant, as if everyone had gone home, yet the guests remained.
She knew at that precise second something was wrong. Rachel glanced about the large room with the partial wall separating one side from the other. Time had stopped! No one spoke and upright bodies stood transfixed. Rachel sent the message to her brain to walk, but nothing happened. Panic welled within her. She wondered if everyone else felt it. Every person in the gallery had their back to her, except Stella and the artist. The others seemed spellbound by the wall art. All Rachel could do was watch in wonder and dread.
Stella’s body disclosed the shock as she saw what Rachel had seen in the painting. Her face registered the repulsion. She turned to the artist in question. Angelo continued to smile politely. There was no exchange of words.
Rachel felt urgency and despair. Her need to move, to protect, overwhelmed her, but she was completely helpless. Every muscle in her body was taut with readiness, but none would propel her into action. Internally, she quivered. Rachel noted, with uncharacteristic dispassionate scientific observation that movement and paralysis could not exist within the same body. Every alarm in her brain went off in a cacophony of premonition. Her mouth was dry. She had no ability to cry out to Stella, to warn her. Warn her, why?
With a swiftness that made Rachel want to strike out, had she been able, the lights went off, leaving only the candles to scatter scary shadows. Phantoms waved in pseudo twilight, displaying the likenesses of ordinary people caught in abnormal circumstances. The moving, uneven silhouettes grew ever longer as they appeared to reach upward, straining to escape.
It wasn’t all that unusual for the City Different to experience blackouts, even in the absence of a thunderstorm. The outages were an eccentricity one learned to live with in this whimsical mountain city. Rachel tried to rationalize what was happening. But this was no ordinary power interruption.
Across the buffet, past the candles flickering on the table and the hot-house geraniums sitting on the sill, over the faded chamisa blossoms, outside in the courtyard where the fountain bubbled innocently, and onto the folk art store next door where electric lights glowed warmly inside, Rachel began to understand. Streetlights burned away the night and it became obvious only this structure was affected.
Rachel’s eyes moved slowly back across the salon, her senses registering the stock-still bodies, the moment held hostage. The air was so powerful and hot, it crackled. Yet, no one but her seemed to hear it. She could feel tiny beads of perspiration covering her skin in eerie clamminess.
Some mystical zephyr blew out the votive nearest Rachel. And one by one each candle, like ducks in a row, breathed its last, leaving only a small grey plume of spent smoke. With every extinguished flame of hope she feared what was coming, because it could not be good. This was an evil squelch. The wail of the wolf confirmed it.
By the light of the last twinkling beacon Rachel watched, because she could do nothing else, as Stella, her expression reflecting horror and disbelief looked to Angelo for clarification. If he responded, Rachel could not hear him and an instant later did not care.
The howl of the lone wolf floated through the night air, momentarily getting her attention. When she looked back at the painting, there was no one.
Stella had vanished.
The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley MacLaine, Chapters 15 & 16, Pocket Books, 2000.
The Sacred Symbols of Mu by Colonel James Churchward, Ives Washburn, 1933.
The Lost Civilization of Lemuria: The Rise and Fall of the World’s Oldest Culture by Frank Joseph, Bear & Company, 2006.
Flying Without a Broom by D J Conway, Llewellyn Publications, 1997.
Astral Projection by Michael Beloved, 2012.
Crystal Ball Gazing by Uma Silbey, Fireside, 1998.
Sacred Sage: How It Heals by Wendy Whiteman, Silver Wolf Walks Alone, 1992.
“’Lost Continent’ Discovered” by Dr David Whitehouse, Science Editor, BBC News, May 27, 1999.
“James Churchward and His Lost Pacific Continent” by Joan T Griffith (Churchward’s god-daughter) from GoldenPlanerForum Website, originally from World Explorer magazine.
“Legend of Lemuria” by Jean Sheehan, Millennium Education & Absolute Empowerment, Queensland, Australia.
“Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza” from UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
“Mystic Places: Chichen Itza” from www.World-Mysteries.com
“Quetzalcoatl” from Wikipedia.
The New Mexico History Museum, www.nmhistorymuseum.org
Reluctant Medium, Sample Chapter
by G G Collins
Bringing back the dead is a serious task. That’s why the mask and its construction had been Rachel’s sole focus all day. It was important to center one’s attention on the process. She attached a photo of herself and her father to the shroud made of cardboard. They had been happy–a rare ski trip together. With string, she threaded one of his cuff links through a small hole on the side. To the upper edge she carefully clipped a note from him.
Rachel learned the ancient ceremony while researching an article about the Hopi Nation. Some Native Americans and followers of eastern philosophies believe one can call back the dead. In her interviews, Joseph, a Hopi holy man, had recounted instances. It was unusual for tribe members to discuss such things with outsiders, but she had written a sensitive portrayal of life within the reservation and Joseph warmed to her. He liked Rachel’s sincerity and the deep respect she had for their ways.
Using notes taken during conversations with Joseph, she would attempt to speak to her father. There were things she needed to know, things left unsaid, and many questions.
Her father’s death several months ago was devastating. His car had plunged over the Santa Fe Ski Basin road. After rolling several times it crashed into a tree.
By the time Rachel placed the last few items on the mask, the sun had slid behind Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain–hardly a mountain, actually a hill west of the city. Dusk settled snugly around the house. Rachel tugged the worn, soiled shades down to block unwanted light from the street lamp. She nervously pulled at an eyebrow, and then reminded herself she’d be penciling to cover the missing hairs.
She lit a sage smudge stick, waving it about to purify the space, and then placed it in a large terra cotta bowl positioned on the rickety coffee table. The fragrance from the sage permeated the evening air, making heavier. Lighted charcoal had gone grey in the small pot she used as an incense burner. She took one nugget of Dragon’s Blood, an incense used in ceremonies to bring back the dead, and placed it on the charcoal. The incense began to melt into a blood-like stain. The aroma was musky, almost choking. Indian ceremonial rhythms emanated from the CD player. It was time.
Rachel sat on the braided rug in front of the fireplace. Lean denim-clad legs crossed over the frayed fragments from another generation. With her back to the fireplace, she gazed at the tattered sofa, so over-the-hill she covered it with a white chenille bedspread. A blue lava light–a remnant from the 1960s–softly illuminated the room. It stood alone on one very distressed end table. The paraffin bubbled and surged to the top of the glass enclosure, then fell silently. The pole lamp, a robotic looking thing with three cylinder bulb-holders, provided light for an ugly gold brocade chair.
The mask fit awkwardly, but stayed in place once tied with soft shoelaces at the back of her head. In her right hand she held the pahos, or prayer stick. It had been yesterday’s project: a message to the Above Beings taped to a twig found in the backyard. Four colors of yarn–red, yellow, black, white–represented the four winds or four colors of mankind, depending on the source–held it all together. The colorful strands were tied neatly around the finished pahos.
When her pulse slowed from the preparations and she could brush away the persistent daily concerns, she closed her eyes and concentrated on her father’s image, already beginning to recede with time. It swam in the darkness of her thoughts. Three months wasn’t all that long ago, but she found it hard to picture his face. There was still too much pain.
She wasn’t sure what to do next. Making the mask and prayer stick was easy enough, except for the deep sadness that came with remembering, but now she would have to ad lib. Should she call out her father’s name or merely fix on the letters which formed it? Maybe the ritual wouldn’t work. Rachel’s genetic makeup contained only a small percentage of Native American. The entire effort could be moot.
Indecision tends to allow events to happen instead of taking control to direct the end result. In a heartbeat, the air in the room became stifling. The odor of a spent lightening bolt charged the dust particles and mixed unpleasantly with the sage and incense. Rachel’s lungs labored to draw a full breath. Apprehension prompted her to open her eyes. The smudge stick abruptly stopped burning, its warmth extinguished in a small puff of carbon.
Her body trembled as she watched the vapor seep first from the seam where hardwood floor met plaster and then from the intricate crown molding. It poured from beneath the couch like mist on a lake and slid along the wallpapered ceiling, coming ever closer while she watched, fascinated, but with growing anxiety. The hissing began softly, rising to the clamor of a den of disturbed rattlesnakes. Midpoint in the room, the two streams rose and dipped to join in a common countenance. The darkest colors of the miasma collected in an eerie spiral holding pattern, while the particles which reflected light crept away like fog throughout the room, closing off escape.
Rachel watched with macabre captivation although her body readied for fight or flight. Her senses were finely tuned and every muscle taut. The damn dog was barking next door. It was more irritating than she remembered, breaking her concentration. She hoped it would not interfere with what was in motion.
Joseph had not disclosed what would happen, probably because she hadn’t asked. At the time, her father was alive and it never occurred to her she might want to attempt such an experiment. A shape began to form in front of her. Subtle colors carried on smoke eddies sluggishly wrapped around a central pole. Fear kicked in. She expected joy at the opportunity to see her father again, but how would he appear?
Rachel hadn’t considered that possibility. She willed the confusing ethereal episode away. But the coming proceeded. She could not stop it. What was that movie? The Monkey’s Paw? A grieving mother wished for the return of her dead son, only to discover him at the door, not as he lived, but as he died in all its horror.
Rachel continued to watch and wait. New sounds began. Like shot hitting a window in a staccato report, small fragments of matter were being yanked from the gaseous haze only to become magnetized to the core of whatever was developing. The room had become so hot she felt clammy.
“Dad?” she asked cautiously. Instead of her father’s gentle voice another reverberated inside her head.
“Fool!” It streamed through her mind like a banner trailing a plane. “You dare to intrude in things you do not understand. Once you have opened the gates of heaven or hell, there is no return.” Rachel shook her head to clear the disturbing statement. The mask fell, hitting her arm, tumbling to the floor. The cuff link came loose and bounced, stopping near a heating vent. She tried a reality check, reminding herself she was in the living room of her house. Safe. There was nothing to fear, but an occasional mugger or drive-by shooter.
She wanted to stand, but fatigue held her down. Her hand rose to her mouth as a figure materialized. This couldn’t be right, she thought logically. Her father looked nothing like this. The man was too tall, too dark. She studied the figure searching her memory for a matching image.
“Where’s my father?” Her words were barely audible her mouth was so dry.
“Daddy’s busy.” The voice was contemptuous. “How did you know I wanted to come back?”
She willed her legs to work and pushed herself upright. The twig snapped in her hand, causing her to drop the pahos. “No!” The scream of rage caught in her throat, thwarted by the mix of odors.
“You’re sputtering, Rachel.” He knew her! “How is brother dearest? Still looking over his shoulder?” The comment carried a threat.
Before she could think of anything to say, the arrogant spirit hastened to the front door and vanished, through it, beyond it, into the night.
Rachel stared at the door, willing it to reveal the truth of what just happened. She’d made a terrible mistake. “Oh, my god,” she whispered. “What have I done?”