I want to remain committed, but I can no longer hear messages. My mind is empty, incapable of hearing what the grandfather might say. Waves of exhaustion roll over me. So, I allow my head to loll until my chin falls to my chest. I nearly find my way to the coveted escape sleep could offer, but a noise to the south interrupts me.
A low rumble in the distance disturbs my restful mind. I am immediately awake again. The hair stands on the back of my neck, and fear spreads across my being. I know what it is. It is the sound of an engine. My deepest fears rise to the surface as I imagine a man on an ATV, riding across the mountain. I am sure to be found alone and vulnerable by someone who has no respect for the prayers surrounding me. Again, I fear my faith is not strong enough to protect me against such a predator.
The sound increases as it draws near, and the need to see overwhelms me. I raise my head, peering into the night, hoping to see what comes. Though the night sky is bright, I can see only a hundred feet ahead of me at best. A fog has risen between me and the noise. It blocks my view. There is a pinpoint of light in the middle of the mist, like headlights. I pray now for the fog to help me and maybe limit their view as well.
I turn to examine the other three directions, but there is no fog. The night sky is clear. I can see to the top of every tree and the stars beyond. As I return to the south, I realize the fog is concentrating there. Maybe this is protection. The grandfathers could be blocking the view of anyone coming in my direction. Perhaps they will turn away.
In response to my thought, the light grows brighter, but the fog begins to retreat into itself, like a movie in reverse. It compresses, thickening as it draws back toward the light. I watch it, fascinated. I know I believed for a moment. I started to think I was safe, and now, the protection withdraws. I am exposed again. Why? Why would they endanger me like this?
My shoulders tighten around my racing heart as I will my eyes to penetrate the fog. I wait for the bike I imagine on the other side to reveal itself. I am a child again, in the dark, unable to peel my eyes from the closet. If I can see what is there, I’ll know how to confront it. I’ll be able to make a plan, but the unknown threat, the blindside, is what I cannot endure.
The fog coalesces into a tightening mass and begins to take shape. I am spellbound as it transforms into a man and a woman. They are luminous, now backlit by the headlights like a couple going to a party sometime in the late 1800s, I think. I don’t know much about period clothing, but she wears a bustle and he a top hat. They stand with their arms linked, so I assume they are married.
The hum has not stopped, but the apparition of a ‘ghostly couple’ so disagrees with the bike I expected to see that my mind immediately drops it. Like the deer on my second quest, ‘what is’ erased from my perception ‘what might be.’ I have been to this location in the past, seeking entities, but I never came back with convincing evidence of paranormal activity. I’ve sensed things but never received significant proof to ‘back up’ my experiences. Though it is a hotspot for local ghost hunters, I never thought of this place as haunted. It didn’t feel unsettled to me. It felt special. There is an energy about the area that is palpable. I have not yet defined it, but this is not what I imagined it to be.
My contemplations are interrupted as the couple begins to move toward me. Everything seems wrong, and terror takes over. I don’t know why the couple is threatening. All I know is my fear. I cannot do this. I would rather be anywhere else in the world right now. I want to run, but I know my only hope of protection is the circle.
My head begins to swim as I sit transfixed, unable to process what I should do as I watch them approach me.
“Breathe, Linda. Breathe.”
I don’t know how long I held my breath, but I finally realize my error and take a deep inhalation.
The moment I do, the Grandfather speaks again, “You must let go of the fear, Linda. Nothing can be accomplished where there is fear.”
My mind screams in response. I can’t just let go. I’m watching as the couple glides closer and closer to me. As they drift, I see details. I notice the pain on their faces. I wonder if they died in the fire that once ripped through the city. Perhaps they want me to make something right for them. What would they take from me to correct their hell?
“Let go, Linda.”
I try. I try to let go, but their eyes penetrate me, telling me there is something I must give for their suffering. There is something they will take from me something they must have. I feel their rage, their injustice. It is not my fault they are in this place, but they do not care. I see them, and they know it. Maybe I am the first to see. Perhaps this is an opportunity they have anticipated. This could be their dream coming true.
They continue to close the gap between us, and I hear the Grandfather speak again, “If you allow them the fear, they will take from you what they want. You must not fear them.”
I understand his message now. The fear is what draws them to me. I try to force the fear from my mind, and for a moment, they dim, and they stop. They stop. As I reach for strength, I notice the light behind them flickering, sparking new hope in me, but it doesn’t hold for long. The woman strains to reach me, crying out with a sound I cannot even describe, and the fear rises once again. They are instantly bright and moving again.
I try to find the place I found only a moment before, but they are so close. Terror has taken hold, and I don’t know how to overcome the strength of it.
“Close your eyes.”
What? Close my eyes? Of all of the things he could ask of me at this moment, I can not imagine doing this. I have survived my life by seeing what comes, and now, in an already shaken moment of faith, I am supposed to be blind as they approach?
A million thoughts race through my mind in a single moment.What if this is Heyokha? What if they descend upon me? What if it is their voice and not the grandfather’s? What if the grandfathers are not real? What if this voice in my head is simply a voice in my head? What if there is no Divine Intervention? What if the couple I see moving before me are the truth? What if my circle can’t protect me?
On and on the questions go, until the only thing left is me facing the moment before me, literally. The couple is only a few feet away. I can almost smell burned flesh and desperation. Eyes opened or closed; they will soon be upon me. With no other option I can see, I close my eyes, and I wait to see what will happen next.
The fear does not leave immediately, but the voice of the Grandfather becomes clear over the fear.
“Turn to the next Grandfather.”