Goldilock’s Syndrome

And so it continues! Quick now, while Nightmarish Evil Ogre is spell-bound, read the next of the horrible horror stories!

This is from Dave Smith, a friend of Neo and all of us at the blog


I awoke and immediately went to the light switch on the wall and flipped the switch. And once again nothing happened. There was no consequence of my action; it was ineffective. The room remained eerily lit as though it were dawn. And so I proceed to peer into my bedroom mirror and once again am expectantly met with a face which was not my own reflection. What greets me is a grotesque monstrosity staring back at me with a Mona Lisa-like smile and unexpected movements which frighten me every time I witness it. This is the ritual to which I have grown accustomed. First the light switch and then the mirror-gazing. These are the tests I have developed so that I might differentiate reality from non-reality.
I have lost track of time altogether; for I know not when this began or how long this has been going on. I do remember thinking that it was not dissimilar to Franz Kafka’s experience as witnessed in his famous novella, Metamorphosis and that perhaps his work was merely being mimicked in my mind or worse, that it might be a manifestation of what we call reality. How will I know?
Indeed, I do not know anymore if I am dead or in a coma and have but little hope of returning to that reality from which I started. Or if it even still exists. For I have tried thousands of times to escape this nightmare and hopelessness and despair are my constant companions with each attempt. My life has vanished.
Within my mind, I constantly think of my return to the Goldilock’s Zone of reality. It is not unlike the Goldilock’s Zone spoken of when we think of the placement of the Earth from the Sun; a place just right. It is a place where the temperature is perfect for water and life to exist. A place where the Moon is seen as exactly the same size as the Sun. A place where men contemplate the cosmos, their existence and consciousness itself.
I have now come to see another Goldilock’s Zone as well; that zone between the Micro and the Macro universes of existence. For in the subatomic universe we have no ability to have active consciousness and in the stellar universe, it is impossible as well. We are at the optimal, nay, the only spot in the spectrum that exhibits what we call reality. For reality is merely the ability for creation to self-direct thoughts, actions and reactions to an infinite stretch from the infinitely small to the infinitely large. From the heavenly to the deep dark corridors of hell. It is from this perfect zone from which I have fallen.
And to think that this zone might be lost by such a simple and natural process as sleep. I did wonder at times if that third of life spent in dreams was not akin to going from the last sentence of a book’s chapter to the first sentence of a successive chapter without any notice that perhaps a great deal may have transpired from the last to the next. But somehow we take up where we left off without any thought of lapsed time . . . an enormous percentage of our lives having been spent in slumber. But that is merely what passes for amusement for me these days.
And so I dream. I think that I awake and to my amazement, I can no longer find a way back to my previous life and take up where I left off. My friends and family are lost to me as they are in the Goldilock’s Zone and I reside in a dream within a dream within a dream. My only path is to try to sleep and awake once more until I might find myself back where I began.
But time has stood still or moved so far from where I started that I have lost all measure of it. It is like my dreams have been stacked up like a deck of cards and that I go three cards up or two cards back but never go far enough in one direction to pop out at the top of the deck. For I have no ability to self-direct where a dream will take me; further toward my escape into reality or further into the prison of my own subconscious. So I live an eternity of repeating the above sequel of sleeping, dreaming, awaking and then realizing that I am still lost in sleep without any certainty of the outcome. At one end of the spectrum awaits the Goldilock’s Zone and at the other, harmless dreams or night terrors of the most terrifying and frightening experiences.
I can only send out warnings of this malady which awaits us in sleep should anyone or anything I meet within my dreams be able to find their way out of this labyrinth. Do not take it for granted that the reality in which you awake is necessarily the reality from which you left in sleep. Someday soon you too may be lost in an eternal maze of unreality and see that your perception of life was a phantasm; no more real than the dreams you used to enjoy as a release from the troubles of the day. Instead, they may be quite worse than any trouble you have yet witnessed and I conclude that they may even last for an eternity. Sleep at your own peril.

From the Email

A friend sent me this in an email the other day, they said they didn’t expect anyone to believe it or be able to help but they just wanted to tell someone, I wrote something about how Audre hijacks the blog now and again for her Halloween stories, did they want to enter? That was a week ago and I haven’t heard back from them. I don’t know what to think. Any ideas? Neo

There is a growing dis-ease in my mind. I think better when I type as I can watch the words appear and determine if they are the right words. I feel I have to choose my words carefully or whoever reads this won’t understand what’s going on. Not that I understand it, either.

Of late I have noticed some things I can’t reconcile. The need to look behind me. The quickest of glimpses of something besides myself when I walk past a mirror. The need to listen closely to something just under that which can be heard. It’s unsettling. I’ve ignored it for days until I can’t ignore it anymore. There’s something going on – is it inside me or something external – and for my sanity I have to determine what it is.

At first, I thought it was simply a case of jangling nerves. This year of 2020 has been fraught with things we never could have expected. I suspected what I needed was ‘enforced isolation’ – from all news related things. I took a couple of days just watching the occasional ‘puppy’ video or how to build a barn video or trail cameras showing how nature goes about her business. But even then, even relaxed and comfortable, that feeling would creep on me and I’d have to take a quick look behind me. The trail camera videos were especially off-putting; just under the sound of the breeze and rustling leaves and snapping twigs – was there talking? Could I hear talking? These were late night, night sight videos. It’s not hard to imagine, I guess, that there would be some people around even in the ‘o dark thirties’. The thing is, the talking didn’t really seem to be part of the videos. It seemed more like something ‘outside’ the videos. I stopped watching those altogether.

Another thing I’ve noticed is there seems to be more odd sounds about the house. This is an old house. Like all old houses, it creaks and cracks and pops but for the last few days, the sounds seem to be closer to the room I’m in than elsewhere about the house. How can that be possible? The sun in its travels touches all sides of the house throughout the day, as does wind and rain. Why have the sounds seemed to concentrate just outside the door of the room I’m in? I find myself checking the hallway just outside this room. I don’t know what I’m checking for and fear finding something that does require checking. From where I’m sitting, I have only to slide my eyes to the right to see the hallway. I am finding I do it quite a bit now.

To distract myself, I force ‘normal behavior’. Get up, go in the kitchen and cook, or clean up the kitchen, or empty the dishwasher but that ‘look behind you’ sensation comes over me and I feel I am only safe in my room. The bathroom is a door off the hallway. I find that I determine just how badly I have to ‘go’ before actually going there.

This room has three windows; bright sunshine or cloudy skies and rain are fun to watch. There’s a cat that has taken up a sleeping spot on the deck. He shows up after a night of tom catting and then sleeps blissfully in the sun-shaded shadow of the overhanging eaves. In the afternoon, the occasional chubby raccoon will waddle across the deck and the squirrels use the top of the fence to avail themselves of a scrub pine in the yard behind mine. It’s really quite delightful. Until night time.

At night, the windows become something like big black eyes, looking in at me. It got so uncomfortable that I now close the curtains on the windows at night. Oddly enough, that’s even worse. What’s behind the curtains that I can’t see? I both want to know and dread to know.

Now I wonder what I’ll do when the sounds and the shapes enter this room. What will I do when I can distinctly tell it’s no longer just the hallway but actually part of this room? I have a sort of amorphous thought that were I to spend as much time in any other room of the house, it would become like what I’m experiencing here. That would break my mind. I can’t do it and find out if I’m right. This room is manageable. It has no dark corners as long as the very strong light bulb I installed is lit. It does have a closet with a door that will not close tightly. The normal flow of air and air conditioning will make the door move slightly, close and open, close, and open. But I don’t think the thing I fear and can’t define is in the closet. It’s just part of what I fear. A small part.

I thought putting this down in words on paper would help distill my dis-ease and make me laugh at myself. That’s what I thought. That’s what I hoped. That’s what I prayed for. But it hasn’t helped in that way at all. What it’s done is focused on something I’ve tried very hard not to focus on.

What if the thing I fear – is me? What if something is happening to me, giving me signs of something changing within myself? What if – did you hear that? I know you can’t have but did you hear it? It was a very loud crack sound just in the doorway to the hall. It was so loud I jumped. This is bad. This is very bad. Now, what do I do? Did typing these words bring it inside the room? Oh, my God – what if it’s in here with me? I want my head to spin 360 degrees so I can see the whole room at once. My heart is pounding. My pulse is visible in my wrist. I’m suddenly sick to my stomach and my bowels have gone loose.

Oh my God. It is! It’s in the room with me now. It’s  

 

A vulture in the wilderness

And so it begins! Quick now, while Nightmarish Evil Ogre is spell-bound, read the first of the horrible horror stories!

It was a dark and stormy night and the lights were flickering – well they were, somewhere, but not here and not this night. The sun was sinking slowly through a cloud formation that resembled an orange meringue imploding messily, and the ruined towers of Notre Dame glowed as with a reflection of the flames that had engulfed them just over a year ago. The cobblestones were still blackened and messy, there was an air of desolation. Yes, a dark and stormy night would have suited both the place and my mood.

Pierre was a typical Frenchman, I concluded to myself! He knew he was handsome, and the world knew he was rich and successful; I knew he was a bastard – lucky me! When your papa owned one of the biggest banks in Paris, and when you had finished top of your class at the Sorbonne and at Harvard Business School, Moab was your washpot; and girls, even pretty ones, were to be used like tissues – and discarded in the same manner; a plain Jane like me was fortunate to have such a man. I suddenly felt the chill; the sun had gone below the horizon; the Isle de France suddenly felt cold; there was an absence of company. Where the hell was Pierre?

“Meet me at Notre Dame”, he had said, “that little café on the right of the square, opposite the bridge. Be there for seven. Oh, and wear that green wrap-around dress I like.” It was the sort of thing he did, and the lasciviousness with which he said it reminded me that the tie allowed him to disrobe me speedily.. He thought it was “charmante”, and so, for the first month or so of our tempestuous affair, had I. Like many women, I quite liked “masterful”, even if my feminist principles told me that I ought not to. But with Pierre there were many of those things I ought not to have done that I had done; the devices and desires of my own heart led me by the nose; until I began to realise that was his thing.

Was that an owl I heard? Surely there were no owls in Paris? And where was Pierre? “Oui, maître”, I had said to him, hoping the sarcasm dripping from my lips would convey my growing irritation with his grand seigneurial manner.

“Are you Emily?” The waitress was a pretty girl in her late teens I would have said, probably of Algerian ancestry to judge by her skin tone. I admitted to the offence of being Emily. “M. Pierre said to meet him in the cathedral, he gave me this for you.” “This” was a police pass which said that I was permitted to enter the precincts of the ruins. Smiling, I gave her a generous tip and set off across the square. “Damn it!” I thought to myself, there I was again, just doing what he told me. No wonder he didn’t get the sarcasm. I suddenly realised that, in more than one sense, I was very far from home.

The guards at the gate smiled when they saw the pass. Their leer made me feel uneasy. Why did he want me to meet him here? Yes, there was no doubt about it, a dark and stormy night would have been a better backstop, but heck, I thought, he was worth it, and no doubt whatever he had in mind would, as he liked to put it “stretch my boundaries.”

The shiver that had gone through me when the sun dropped below the Seine intensified and doubled in intensity as I walked into the charred ruins. There was that owl, clear for the first time. Where the devil was the man? Then I wished I had not thought of the devil. The shadows cast by the lights of the building work took on the shape of demons; stop it, Emily, I thought.

I picked my way carefully. The lights gave just enough illumination to find my way, but my heels echoed in the darkling gloom. My irritation with Pierre still, just, outdistanced my growing unease, but it was a closer run thing than I was comfortable with. If I’d had the sense I was born with, I thought, I’d have turned on those heels and walked right on out. But if he was setting me a “dare” I was not going to back out and leave him with the last laugh.

I realised I was getting hungry. Life with Pierre was a roller-coaster. He never stopped, and that meant I never stopped. When was the last time I had talked with my friends, or my mother and sister? Time seemed to have been eaten up in frenetic activity. Suddenly I felt weary. The air had changed. How could it suddenly feel stuffy when most of the roof had gone?

It was then that I noticed it. There was a dripping sound. It was steady, like a leaking faucet, but softer. Then there was the smell. I could not quite identify it, though it seemed to me that it was familiar – but not as it usually was. I pulled my wrap closer around me. I could see the Cross and the high altar ahead. I crossed myself. “Lord, have mercy”, I thought. Those things I had done, and those I had left undone suddenly felt heavy on me; the weight of them was intolerable. It was sulphur, that smell. The owl hooted. I crossed myself again.

“Ma chérie”, came a familiar voice. It was him. He laughed. “It is so sweet the way you cross yourself, even at this moment.” I looked at him. Tall, handsome, and confident; that smile was a smirk. “I thought it would be the acme of wickedness to take you here, chérie, and that dress makes it easier for me! Untie it and come to me.”

For the third time, the owl hooted. I looked, and behind him, laid on a pyre of wood was a goat, dead, its blood dripping slowly on the floor. I saw the pentangles on the floor. He threw a light onto the pyre and pulled the cloak back. Paralysed, all I could think of was to say “Hail Mary, full of grace”, and he laughed, and in the flames, I saw him – a leper, white as snow – his bones seemed to show through his skin which was translucent. “Now, here and give yourself to me!” Out of the shadows, I saw three ghostly figures step forward. Automatically, doing what he said, as usual, I reached for the belt to loosen it, but found my hand in my pocket instead. I shivered, and not just with the cold. I felt myself pulled toward Pierre and the three figures.

Had I always had that Rosary in the pocket of my dress? I clutched it like a lifebelt. As I felt him drawing me into the circle formed by the pentangles, I pulled my Rosary out and clutched the Cross” “I believe in God, the Father Almighty,” the words came unbidden, though I had not said them for the last forty nights. The air crackled; the three ghostly figures seemed to flicker.

His eyes seemed to burn into me and suddenly, as on a screen, I saw laid out before me how life could be – luxurious and sumptuous: the mansions; the dresses; the exotic locations; the pleasures of the flesh; I knew, somehow, that if I would but do this one thing for him, all these things, and more, would be my portion in life.

“Ma chérie, give yourself to us now, you know you want to !” I felt utterly alone in the wilds of this place and of my heart. I could feel the unmistakable signs that my body was willing – except that my hand clutched the Rosary tight. “Mother of God, Our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us!” The familiar words sprang forth as my mind and lips struggled with the flesh – and there she was.

There was a light which pierced the darkest recesses of the night, and suddenly I felt warm and no longer alone; my hands ceased to fumble with the tie. Pierre’s face, illuminated in the white light was set in a scowl which turned to fear; his ghostly companions faded. In the ruins and the hour of my terror, I saw her.

That was long ago now, but on this All Hallows’ Eve I set it down in writing as a warning. Pierre? I never saw him again. I remember following Our Lady out of her Cathedral and then hailing a taxi back to my apartment, and then nothing until, on the next Sunday I went to Mass at the Anglican Church of St Michael and when we reached the general confession I know only one thing, I had never meant it more. But it is late now, and the Mass of All Souls’ day is imminent, and my curate waits.

 

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