Archive for February, 2011


“In this world, there is real evil. Between the world we see and the world we fear, there are doors, and once they are opened—-nightmare becomes reality.”

After watching this Haunting series, I am more certain than before that there is another world beyond this one. When people die, most of them will transfer to the other world, but some of them will unfortunately be caught between the two worlds and have nowhere to go but stay where they died traumatically. Some of the ghosts do not attack human beings; they just exist the way they used to exist, or they want to tell people about their feelings and about their miserable past; some don’t even know that they are dead already; on the other hand, most of the ghosts can do harm to human being’s lives; that is what I want to talk about mainly.

As we all know, the Americans love to move around; they will change their living places when they are ready for a new home, but they may not always be lucky; sometimes they may “intrude” upon others’ home and get in trouble; by “others,” I mean the dead. Some died for a traumatic reason and their souls stay in this world and are not willing to leave. When we people move in, the spirits would feel that they are being intruded upon and their lives are being disturbed; they would try every way to get their house back. At the same time, we human beings have the same thought: we want to protect our family, and we want our house back too. Then the war between the ghosts and humans begins.

All of the haunted house cases share something in common: before the humans move in, they all think the house is the one — perfect for building a happy family there — and they are really excited about their future life in the new house. But not everything is going to turn out just like they expect. Later, strange things will happen to them: the doors or closets will be suddenly shut when there is no wind going through the house; heavy foot steps will be heard during the day or night when there is no one around; people can even fall down the stairs as if someone pushed them. All these are unexplainable, so here comes the paranormal investigation.

The paranormal investigators are a group of people who search for evidence of ghosts in a haunted house; they offer help to the desperate people who are going through the special experience of fighting with the spirits. They are professional and responsible; with the aid of camera and tape recorder and even an Ouija board, they can capture some evidence from the unknown ghosts. With them, there is always a psychic who can sense and see what happened in this house before (the psychic doesn’t see the house as we see it, but sees what it used to look like).

Those paranormal activities take place in the darkest shadows and in the most ordinary places; these are the true stories of the innocent, and they are not imagined. The one that impressed me most is about the ghost who has a crush on the girl who lives in the house; she hears the closet noise and sees the door open without pushing; she can even feel like someone is grabbing her hands and not letting her go. Even on the day they are moving out, when she goes to get more boxes in her room, the door is slammed shut and neither she nor her father can open it. Later, she tries to get out through the air conditioning unit; her father pulls her arms, but she feels like someone is pulling her legs at the same time; finally, her father succeeds in getting her out, and they rush out of the house and never come back.

From this, we learn that ghosts have feelings too; they are not just dead people’s souls; they need their rights back and can be selfish and evil, just like we human beings’ deep deep inside. The difference between ghosts and humans is that we know how to control our dark side, but they don’t; they are down to earth which makes investigations more complicated and dangerous.

This is not a game, not for fun. Everyone is serious about this subject. The investigators set up the equipment, and then the psychic feels every room to find out where the ghosts may be hiding and what happened to them; sometimes, they will bless the house with holy water or sage, or the priests will do that instead. Apparently, the ghosts are not happy when we do that to them; they get angry and the house begins to shake and wind starts to blow inside the house. All of that can make us scared, but if we give in, the ghost will feed on our weakness and become stronger; so, never give in, hang in there, and shout loudly: In the name of God, I commend you to leave!!!

Luckily, no one get severely hurt from the ghosts, but it becomes a special experience of meeting the dead.

FYI, never buy a house with the windows nailed shut! Never give in to the ghost! Never be home alone!

Written by Jessica Zhao, China

Is this shadowy character Dr. Harper Paget, paranormal investigator?

DARK CORRIDORS synopsis

DARK CORRIDORS is a sequel to DARK NEIGHBORHOODS

Harper Paget is sent to China by McAbee University to teach in a Sino-US program. His primary interest is in pursuing the research into the inter-dimensional creatures he encountered in Star Cross Corners, Atlanta, and in continuing his investigation into the death of a Chinese-Indonesian pen pal. When the novel begins, he is attacked by an inter-dimensional entity, and this results in his being bed-ridden for weeks. He meets French instructor, Pierre, who proves to be a valuable ally in his research.

In this Chinese university of Qian Shan, Harper knows that he is being watched from a window in the next building, a dorm for Chinese teachers. He has met the real-life Geraldine, the woman who appeared in his alternate-dimension dreams while in the States. She seems, however, to be a real woman, a young Chinese teacher, and not a supernatural entity. As they grow closer, she tells Harper that she wishes she could visit him as a young man and tell him that he will turn out all right. However, the specter of his deceased wife, Pauline, who continues to visit him here in China as she did in Atlanta, warns him that he should be cautious with Geraldine.

Harper also meets Christabel, a senior bilingual student who often accompanies Pierre, and Violet, a Chinese student studying French and ready to be graduated. To the three of them and two male students who join them for lunch, Pierre explains the Chaos Theory. He tells them that how the earth, to protect itself from harm, will open “the other dimension to protect herself.” The monster, as he calls it, can pass through the dimensional doorway to “eliminate everything on earth. The only purpose is to cleanse the earth.”

Days later, in the French bistro, Harper waits while Pierre visits a nearby library. He speaks with Pauline but, of course, his recorder cannot pick up her voice. He soon learns that Pierre has been attacked in the library. However, his friend survives, so Geraldine accompanies him to the hospital to visit him. The information he gives them regarding his attacker is, unfortunately, vague.

When Pierre recovers, he returns to France during the semester break, keeping in touch through emails.

On tape, Geraldine talks about her childhood and stories her grandfather told her about witches, demons, and women who became immortal. She and Harper watch DVD movies that Lina has sent to him. While Geraldine dozes during one of them, Pauline again re-appears to tell them that Pierre is also not who he seems to be – that he has traveled to Indonesia, where the spirit of a dukun has possessed him. The last email from Pierre was false. During the next DVD movie, Harper sees a greenish sky outside and waves sloshing around the next dormitory building. Geraldine fails to see it and chides him for not being much of a man.

Christabel takes Harper to the hospital on two occasions for check-ups on his former injury. He begins to see Christabel more often on campus. In a letter to Lina, Harper writes about the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem “Christabel,” which is about a vampire named Geraldine who has designs on Christabel.

James and Lily, two of Harper’s students, are watching DVDs in his dorm and decide to go to the dining hall. There they meet Christabel, and Harper acquaints her with the Coleridge poem. Suddenly, the dining hall darkens, a portal opens, and Harper is struck forcefully in the face with a metal tray. Students take him to the clinic while he bleeds profusely, telling him that it was an accident — that a female Chinese teacher slipped on the wet floor, struck a heavy transporter of food barrels, and collided with him. A nurse at the clinic tells the students to take him to the hospital. From one hospital he is taken to another that specializes in problems dealing the face and mouth.
While stitches are being sewn into Harper’s face, Christabel tightly holds his hand. Pauline’s voice in his head tells him that something else is in the room. Harper tells Christabel and his students to get out of the surgery room, but it is too late. Lily and James are thrown brutally against the wall. The surgeon sees the shadowy creature and tries to prevent it from reaching Christabel. The doctor is torn apart. Harper pulls Christabel across his body in the surgery chair and jams his metal cane into the amorphous creature’s eye. Before it fades away, it resembles Geraldine.

In the police van, Christabel rests her head on Harper’s shoulder. Pauline’s spirit tells Harper that kuntilanak version of Geraldine has taken the real Geraldine into the vortex. Both she and Pierre are now lost. Pauline tells him that he will have to search for Geraldine in his past. Harper remembers that Geraldine once told him that she wished that she could visit him as a very young man. Now he sees the unfortunate result of her wish. Pauline also tells him that she will not be able to help him further.

In the small river town of Warrick, Illinois, where Harper grew up, teenagers wait for two of their number to show up at the church for a rehearsal. Gordon and Patty are missing, and their friend Rose is worried about them. They talk about Patty’s flirting with older men and playing with an Ouija board.

At that moment, Gordon is trying to get physical with Patty against the side of the closed movie theater on Main Street. As Gordon goes to a convenience store across the intersection, Patty sees “the nearly amorphous outline of the Asian women standing in the center of what appeared to be a corridor of light.”

Pierre is back in Qian Shan after recovering in an asylum in Indonesia, but Harper, because of the notoriety created by his research, is prematurely retired from McAbee University and must relocate to a different university in northeast China. On the campus of Xin Huang College of Science and Technology, he is housed on the top floor of an old hotel with dark corridors and locked doors.

On tape, Harper describes the tuning-fork-shaped hotel structure. While watching hotel restaurant ladies cutting up vegetables, he sees that one of them, when she looks up at his fourth floor window, has a gaping hole instead of one of her eyes. This may or may not be an illusion.

In an IM conversation, Pierre tells him that no one has seen any trace of Geraldine. He adds that he is considering asking out Christabel. Harper gives him his blessings. Pierre reminds him that he is on his own in Xin Huang. Since Harper has been deserted by his spiritual support, he is well aware of this.

Days later, Pierre calls to tell him that he has now met a young American lady on campus named Patty. She claims to be from a small town in the States named Warrick. Even more startling, she has told Pierre that she met an Asian woman named Geraldine – but in Warrick – not in China. Somehow they traded places while passing through a vortex.

The Warrick Theater where this transference supposedly took place was owned by the family of Corey Braedon, a younger colleague who taught at McAbee University. They became friends because they hailed from the same small town but had not known each other while growing up. Harper emails Lina about Patty’s appearance and asks her to contact Corey Braedon at McAbee, where she still works, to inquire whether or not he knows anything about the unusual happening in their former hometown.

Pierre tells Harper that Patty is staying with him in his dorm. She is not yet ready to talk to Harper on the phone and does not know Corey Braedon from Warrick – but she does know a Lawrence Reuter from a community college near Warrick, a friend of Corey’s. Harper knows that they have to figure out a way to get Patty back to Warrick, which will be difficult since she lacks a passport, and how to get Geraldine back to China. Harper raises the question about whether Patty is a real human or a lamia/kuntilanak impersonating a human. Perhaps they merely want to drag Harper and Pierre through the dimensional doorway.

Harper has a flashback memory of when he was in the Warrick High School marching band with his friend Elbert and their girl friends Tina and Charlene. After the football game, still wearing their band uniforms, they drive out to an old abandoned mansion not far from the river. While the girls wait in the car, the boys explore an old family plot and discuss a girl named Jacky Smithton – a girl still interested in Harper at that time. They also refer to the River Witch, a name kids had for the lady who was the last to live in the old country mansion.

Thinking about this now as an older adult, Harper remembers how Jacky died in a car accident after high school. Until now, he has not made a connection between Jacky and his ancestor, Jacquema Paget, or even a girl he met on a California beach after his discharge from the Navy – a surfer girl named Jackie.

On the phone, Patty tells Harper about her experience in Warrick when she was drawn through the back door of the theater by an Asian lady into a “long tunnel – swirling all around, like it was alive – a huge tunnel.” She mentions that the Asian woman, Geraldine, told her about him. They discuss how to inform her parents that she is alive and in China. Her being without a passport is going to make their problem a little more difficult. “We’re working on it.” He tries to explain a wormhole in space, a “short cut through folded space created by electromagnetic energy.”

Pierre dines with Christabel at the French Bistro in Qian Shan where Harper had dined with each of them separately in the past. Christabel clearly does not like the fact that Patty is staying with him. Pierre does not tell her how Patty arrived there – only that she is tutoring Chinese students in English. When Pierre reminds Christabel that Harper paid for her dental bill and bought her textbooks before leaving town, Christabel criticizes Harper for falling in love with women too easily.
Pierre tells Harper that he needs to go to Warrick. Corey Braedon at McAbee is planning on doing so during the coming winter break. Geraldine, they note, is, like Patty, trapped in a foreign country without a passport or money. She needs to be rescued from Warrick and Patty needs to be sent back, even if it means she is smuggled out of China.

In bed with Pierre, Patty reads to him from her journal, including a passage based on a dream she had about Pierre dying in the snow. She also tells about a dream about three women tied to stakes as sacrifices, just like in a DVD film belonging to Harper. Christabel knocks on the apartment door. When he admits her and, finally, Patty emerges from the bedroom wearing only his robe, Pierre becomes defensive. The two girls quarrel and Patty bashes Christabel with Pierre’s large ashtray.
Pierre tells Harper that Christabel had to go to the clinic but is not seriously injured. Patty has disappeared from the campus.

Later, Harper steps into the hotel corridor outside of his room. At first, he believes that he is back in his sister’s home in Carlyle, Illinois; then he sees himself as a high school student in the Warrick High School band room. Charlene, Elbert, and Jacky join him; they are there to play in the pep band before and during the half time break of a basketball game. An Asian woman enters the band room; Harper introduces her to the others as Geraldine, a new housekeeper who is working for, and living with, his family. She has entered the band room to tell him that his parents will be waiting for him after the game. “Anyway,” Harper tells his friends after she leaves, “this woman saw Geraldine out in front of the church and tried to talk to her. Told Mom she looked lost. She said she wasn’t sure where she was. She’d been in an accident and could not remember anything clearly. The pastor in our church talked to her and, I guess, they felt sorry for her. She didn’t have any identification.” She already knew the Paget name and gave advice to the young Harper as if she knew him, telling him about his future.

Back in the present, Pierre tells Harper about a murder that had taken place off-campus – a body was found in pieces as if it had been blown apart. When Patty returns to Pierre’s dorm, she cannot say clearly whether or not she was involved in the murder. Pierre believes that she was possessed by a kuntilanak spirit – or kunti, as he calls it – and admits that he has had sex with Patty. Christabel is safe in her dorm with her friend Violet. Harper tells Pierre that he knows what happened to the real Geraldine – that she is back in Warrick at the time when he was a high school student. “We all saw Geraldine – even though, as a kid, I didn’t know who she really was.”

Harper tells Pierre that he and the girls must come to his campus. The hotel is nearly empty now. He will slip a few RMB to the manager. Pierre balks at the idea, but he asks Christabel and Violet. They are frightened enough to agree to the visit. On the train from Qian Shan to Xin Huang, Pierre sees the same one-eyed doppelganger of Geraldine standing outside the moving train window where no human could stand.

When the three of them arrive in Xin Huang, Harper, looking mysterious with his long black trench coat, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and metal cane, greets them. No sign of Patty, they tell him. He takes them to the top floor of the hotel and issues them to a room across from his. Harper actually has two rooms as his hotel suite. However, he has no kitchen and must wash dishes in the WC sink. He has a large bed whereas the room where the two girls will be staying with Pierre has only twin beds. He says he will share his bed but not with Pierre. “I don’t sleep with men,” he tells Violet.

When alone, Harper hears voices of two girls – Jackie and Geri—talking in the corridor. He sees that Pierre and the two girls are inside their room. Again, he has a vision of his sister’s house, but this time the portal takes him to the beach in California. A young Harper meets a beach girl named Jackie. He tells her that he heard her talking to a young friend named Geri about a shadow monster in a coal bin. Jackie is shocked that he knows about their conversation and believes that he has read her mind. Watching them from a nearby boardwalk is an Asian woman.

He spends the day and evening with Jackie, telling her about his medical discharge from the Navy. She spends the night and next day with him in his apartment. However, when she eventually tells him that her mother is looking for her and that she is under-age, Harper freaks out. Under duress, Jackie returns to her home.

Jackie, Harper later realizes, is the same person as Jacky Smithton, the high school friend who died in an auto accident. She is also a version of Jacquema Paget, which explains why he often envisioned his ancestor as being on a beach.

The next day, Harper discovers that the two girls staying with Pierre also heard voices of girls speaking in English in the corridor. Harper tells Pauline that these voices are out of his past. When he mentions the probable connection between Jackie, the beach girl, and Jacquema Paget, Pierre chides him for sleeping with his own ancestor.

At lunch across the street from the campus, Pierre tells them two real-life paranormal stories that frighten the girls. They discuss the possibility of Patty being a sorceress. Harper says that something is not adding up. “You say she was a murderess. Now you say they want the power of a sorceress. Who is the sorceress? Patty? Geraldine? Or . . .” Without raising his head, he raised his eyes to meet Christabel’s. “Someone else?”

Christabel is insulted by this and, back in the hotel room, berates Harper in his absence. Violet and Pierre go to the manager’s office on the first floor to obtain a five-gallon jug of water and do not return. She waits and then goes into the corridor to search for them. Suddenly she sees herself in a portal that resembles her family home. When she emerges from it, she is back in the Warrick High School band room with Elbert, Jacky, and Harper as teenagers. She has taken the place of Charlotte, Elbert’s girl friend, and is referred to as Christa. The scene is replayed with her in this role, including the moment when Geraldine comes into the band room. She is surprised that she knows the words to speak as Charlotte. She is also surprised that she recognizes Geraldine from her campus back in China.

When this vision fades, Christabel sees herself in the hotel corridor with the sound of a tapping cane growing louder. She sees a shadowy image of Harper in his long coat and wide hat. He strikes her with his cane and attempts to gouge out her eyes.

She sits up in her bed and realizes that she is alone, awakening from a dream. She is still waiting for Pierre and Violet to return with the water jug. When she goes down to the first floor to find them, she smells the strong odor of flowers. She finds the mangled body of the hotel manager whose eyes have been removed. Violet appears in the doorway of the manager’s office. Christabel tells her that Harper has murdered the manager.

Violet takes her down to the end of the first floor corridor toward the exit door. She removes her glasses to reveal that she only has one eye. She pushes Christabel through the door into another empty hotel room. As Violet assaults her, Christabel sees herself on the beach in California, witnessing the exchange between Harper and Jackie, the beach girl. As he life ebbs out of her, she is suddenly aware of something else in the room – a shadowy image of a beach girl who struggles with the kuntilanak that had once been Violet. After a moment, Pierre is in the room, helping Jackie struggle with the creature. Before Christabel swoons, she sees the three of them fade into a bluish-white gateway before it closes up.

Christabel awakens in Harper’s bedroom as Harper and a Chinese teacher named Sharon ask her if she needs an ambulance. The assistant manager and a policeman are waiting for her statement regarding what she has witnessed and the disappearance of her friend Violet.

Christabel tries to describe the struggle of the creature that had been her friend with a young woman who had been on the beach. Harper understands, saying that her description accounts for the grains of sand found on the floor of the downstairs hotel room floor. “This hotel is haunted, but not in the usual sense of ghosts. It’s haunted by thin places – places where the past and present come together, intersecting dimensions where we all can see what we think are dreams and memories.” Harper tells Christabel that Violet was one of them who “took her over sometime in Qian Shan.” Christabel explains that she saw Geraldine in a dream state, along with a young-looking Harper. She also explains that she saw someone on the beach with Harper’s name.

The policeman wants them all to come with him, but Harper is concerned about finding out what happened to Pierre.

As they are taken away in the back of the police vehicle, Harper tells Christabel that the hotel used her, just as it had used him. The hotel was a doorway, but now it should be clean. The kuntilanak presence is gone. Christabel asks about Pierre. Harper tells her that they will find him. As the police vehicle takes them through the front gate of the campus, “Christabel again rested her head on Harper’s shoulder, nudging, with her chin, the large collar lapel of his black coat.”
END

Harper and Pierre will return in the third novel in the series: DARK JOURNEYS.

 

DARK NEIGHBORHOODS                                                                synopsis

Harper Paget, whose ancestor was burned long ago as a witch, is a mythologist and paranormal researcher living in Atlanta, GA, while still attached to a university in McAbee, IL. Both his wife and, later, a long distance lady friend in Indonesia, have been murdered by creatures called the Lamiae that have existed since ancient Greece but who are able to re-appear in different times throughout history by traveling between dimensions. These creatures, manifesting themselves today in the form of the Kuntilanak in Indonesia, have found their way to certain areas of the US.

 

Harper dreams that Star-Cross Corners, a bohemian area of Atlanta, has become a small village in ancient Greece. In this dream, he meets Geraldine – an Asian woman. His dream also includes a view of the farmhouse where the horror actually started.

At the farmhouse of Floyd and Emma Hardin, Harper and his then-living wife Pauline join the Hardin’s and Floyd’s Indonesian student, Lina, in an experiment with an Ouija board. The board spells out several names that will mean something later, including the name of Harper’s paternal grandmother. She warns Harper of coming danger. From Lina, they learn about a dukun, a male witch who uses the head of a suicide victim to control spirits, and a malaikat, a good spirit and guide. Harper’s grandmother will be his maliakat. Harper sees a manifested apparition of Jacquema Paget who was falsely accused of being a witch and burned.

 

In San Diego, CA, Harper and Pauline visit the Wheaton House, a historic landmark in Olde Town. Pauline, after becoming separated from Harper, sees a horrible image of a woman in a mirror and learns that Harper’s future book will be considered a threat to the Lamiae/Kuntilanak because it will expose their existence.  Pauline’s body is found in the house, but her non-physical self has been drawn into the early 1800s where she interacts with Anna, a woman she knew in a former life.

Years later, Harper’s colleague Jonathan Ware at McAbee University, holds a party in his town house apartment high above the St. Louis waterfront. Lina, Floyd, Emma, and Irma Wright, the office manager of the Humanities Department, attend this party to celebrate the publication of Harper’s book. On the roof of this tall complex, Harper sees, captured in a photoflash, a threatening specter.

From Lina, now a graduate assistant at McAbee University, we learn from a letter she is writing to Harper in Atlanta that her father may have been killed by a kuntilanak many years before in Indonesia.

In Atlanta, Harper’s deceased wife visits him at night; she both chides him and counsels him as a malaikat. He is also visited by the specter that he saw in St. Louis, but why she does not attack him is not clear to him at this time. Harper recalls his long-distance relationship with Mira, the Indonesian lady, who became jealous with his friendship with Lina. Pauline’s visiting apparition tells him that he is attracted to sick women. After a phone discussion with Mira, he learns that she has been murdered in Qian Shan, China, and that her head was missing.  Harper is overwhelmed by shock and grief.

Pauline visits him not only in his apartment at night but in a large Atlanta shopping mall in broad daylight, warning him that these creatures are a threat to all mortals. She tells him that he is now interested in Asian women because they are unlike her.

In his farmhouse in rural Illinois, Floyd awakens from a dream about Pauline and the others at their Ouija board party and sees a female creature engulfing him just before his wife enters the bedroom. Emma has heard him call out Lina’s name in his half-awake state, and is, of course, quite jealous. She discovers that he has been scratched on the forehead. On the slanted bedroom ceiling above them are names of Emma’s family members written in coal dust.  After a moment, Floyd sees other names written in the coal dust –- his and Pauline’s. What at first appears to be FLOYD. DANGER. PAULINE finally becomes FLOYD DANGER, PAULINE. Emma doesn’t see the names that he does but reminds him that he needs to contact Harper, who is alone in Atlanta.

In the university library, Floyd consults a number of tomes referred to in Harper’s earlier book Paranormal Pursuit. Harper reveals his belief that a truth exists behind the legends of the Lamiae and that the original Lamia was not native to this world. Harper’s book has created disfavor with faculty members in the religion department –- as well as certain board members -– at the university.

Floyd visits Lina at the university, now serving as a graduate assistant of a biology professor.  She tells him more about the creatures from her country that she first mentioned at the Ouija board party years before. She tells him how the kuntilanak creature might give off a fragrant odor before she seduces, tortures, and kills a male victim.

In the parking lot, Floyd gives Lina a DVD that belongs to Harper: Vampires of Argos. They drive to a campus lake cemetery where they feed bread to fish. Lina tells him how, after a riot in her country directed against Chinese-Indonesians, ghost cries were heard from a burned-out shopping center. She also says that part of Harper is a tired, lost soul, but part of him glows – a gift passed down from his ancestors. As she talks about Harper, Floyd sees that she has feelings for him.

In Atlanta, on the top floor of Harper’s apartment building, he is a guest of Eric and Miranda who are throwing a party. Alone for a moment on the balcony, Harper talks to the ghost of Pauline. Guests at the party include Adonio Franco, a rune reader; and Matt Gregory MD, a psychiatrist; and several counter-culture types who live or work in Star Cross Corners. They are all discussing the death of a woman whose body had been stuffed into a dumpster in Star Cross Corners, her body fluids drained. Adonio, while giving a rune reading, picks up the name of Mira, Harper’s murdered girl friend.

 

Miranda smells something fragrant from the balcony and goes out to look. She lets out a scream and returns to the party in hysterics. Harper goes out to the balcony to look but sees only a near-deserted neighborhood. Fear has gripped even the homeless in the area. After throwing up in the toilet, Miranda tells them that she saw a different place out there – an ancient town filled with shadowy people, one of whom turned into a black-haired woman who was able to float off the ground. The rune reader believes that a gateway has opened up.

Harper is alone when he receives a call from Mira, his murdered girl friend. She spouts lines that she had spoken to him in the past. When he ends the call, she calls back. The caller ID indicates that she is calling him from his own cell phone, but his cell phone is turned off. She tells him that she loves him still and that he will stay alive as long as he doesn’t tell the dukun what he wants to know.  She won’t identify the dukun and merely says: “Remember who you are, Harper.” When Eric knocks on his door, startling him, he discovers that several hours have slipped away mysteriously.  It is now eight am.  Eric tells him that a neighbor girl has moved out without telling anyone and has left her door open. That morning, a body of a young man who had attended Eric’s party upstairs has been found in a dumpster.

Driving alone at night in rural Illinois, Floyd talks to Lina on his cell phone. We learn that he and Emma are planning on going into the used book business online, and he is returning home with a cache of books that he has bought from a bookstore that is going out of business.  Floyd is planning on flying to Atlanta to be with Harper, and Lina is considering whether or not she can accompany him. She tells Floyd about an experience she had in Missouri when she saw, walking along the side of the road at 3 am, two young girls. Their faces were hidden and their feet did not touch the ground. Floyd tells her about the many ghost sightings along the Mississippi River.

Harper greets Floyd and Lina at the Atlanta airport. He shows them a newspaper story about still another murder in Star-Cross Corners – a girl friend of a boy whose body had been found earlier – another victim who had attended Eric’s party on the top floor of Harper’s building. Harper notices a wound on Floyd’s forehead, just below the hairline.

In his apartment, the three of them watch Harper’s DVD of Vampyres of Argos. The film is one of those Italian sword-and-sword epics, except that this one begins to look like something from what Harper calls the super-spectrum, more real than even HD 3-D movies. Three maidens in the film are tied to stakes to be sacrificed to some unknown shadowy creature. Standing out from the Italian cast is an Asian woman portraying a princess.  Lina insists a shadow puppet from her country, part of the Wayang Kulit, is creating the shadow.  Harper even has a large flat puppet made of buffalo hides.

Harper closes his eyes while they watch the DVD and finds himself inside the super-spectrum movie. The Asian actress tells him that her name is Geraldine and that he will meet her someday. She says that this vision is the surface of what he will call the primary world in a future book titled The Secondary World. He sees an image of his Grandma Barteau as he saw her in her house as a small boy. She tells him that he has an energy force that can be channeled, something that Lina had already discovered. His family has been fighting these creatures for centuries. Suddenly his grandmother’s image disappears and an emaciated corpse-like creature attacks him.

Lina knows how to fight such creatures and succeeds in destroying it. He now realizes that he is not in a dream but in the empty apartment complex next to his own apartment. He faints.

Harper awakens in a hospital bed where he is besieged by a barrage of questions while his head is being bandaged. When alone, he meets a young girl patient named Dorie. They discuss the world of the Lamiae, and she reveals that she knows of his grandmother. He learns that Dorie had an atrial septum defect and died exactly one year before.

While in the hospital Floyd and Lina visit the convenience store across the main avenue. After they leave the store, Floyd sees Lina as no longer wearing jeans but the red dress she wore to Jonathan Ware’s party in St. Louis. She vanishes and in her place is a vile creature that attacks him. As he dies, he dreams that he is freezing to death in a snow-bound world.

Harper again talks to Dorie, the specter who not only reveals that she spoke to his grandmother but that his friend Floyd has been killed.  She also tells him to keep his car door locked after he leaves the hospital. When Lina comes for him, she confirms the fact of Floyd’s death but will not discuss his body condition. When Eric drives them home, they confront a swirling pale image. Fortunately, Harper has locked his car door.

Harper insists on visiting the convenience store, but when he approaches it, the entire neighborhood seems to be frozen into a three-dimensional photograph. In a mirror just inside the closed store, he sees Pauline who tells him about his amygdala which causes extreme anxiety – but also which stimulates him to generate energy. Lina, who joins him in front of the store, does not see Pauline’s ghost or the ghost hand of a horrible creature reach out from the mirror. Drifting shadows with iridescent faces float near the apartment complex.

In a dream, Harper sees his witch ancestor as ocean waves lap against the side of the apartment complex. After his has been awake for half an hour, both of his phones ring. Lina answers one, Harper the other. It is Mira, again repeating a conversation from an old phone call. He tells Lina that the creatures are all around them – playing mind games – using Mira’s disembodied voice to torture him. Outside his window, he sees one of the creatures staring at him.

On the phone, Mira’s voice tells him to watch out just as the Wayang Kulet shadow puppet stands on its own and strikes his head like an ax.

The next day, Harper and Lina frantically face the fact that they are running out of survival options. They must leave the neighborhood but don’t know who to tell about the phenomenon. Even Eric does not believe their story. Adonio Franco arrives at the apartment and tells Harper that he must go through the gateway to the other world. He and Lina will be his control, protecting him in this world. Eric remains skeptical.

With Adonio playing a tape of pounding drums, Harper dives into a dream state and passes through the gateway where he again finds himself part of the Vampyres of Argos movie set. He meets Geraldine who tells him that he is creating this world. He sees a soldier dragging a scraggly, badly injured man next to his chariot -– a prisoner who calls out to him in desperation. It is Eric – the dukun, according to Geraldine.

After what seems like an eternity, Harper sees himself on the seashore with his ancestor, Jacquema Paget, just off shore. Also visible in the gurgling foam is Eric’s emaciated corpse.  A seagull metamorphoses into a kuntilanak and attacks him. He struggles desperately for his life. However, with the combined energy of his ancestors – including his grandmother – and his deceased wife, he manages to wrench free a lock of the creature’s hair – the way, as he learned from Lina, to destroy a kuntilanak.

Back in his own world, surrounded by news reporters and police officers taking statements, Harper watches as Eric’s body is taken away. He has fallen from his apartment on the top floor because he had been drinking heavily. Harper tells Lina that it either had to be Eric or her who was the dukun. Eric, as they knew, had studied beliefs in Malaysia, Indonesia, and China in order, at least at first, to study the fear factor involved in these beliefs.

Adonio tells Harper that he has had the shaman energy all along. It was his inner self, influenced by the positive energy of his ancestors, creating the scenario that allowed him to identify the dukun and destroy the kuntilanak creature sent after him.  Harper looks at Lina, and we know that he knows who else is responsible for his survival.

In the final scene, Harper and Lina are on a plane headed for Indonesia. He wishes to trace the path that Eric traveled in order to learn more about how the kuntilanak and how Eric had been transformed into a dukun. Across the aisle, Harper, in his half-awake states, sees the specter of Pauline. He tells her that he now has the help of Lina as his malaikat, but Pauline assures him that she will need her own help as well. After all, he has not yet met the real Geraldine.

Harper observes that this is the first time that Pauline has smiled at him since she died.

 

END

MIND JOURNEY – basic premise

Tyler Grettir discovers that his dreams about himself at a younger age are not dreams but glimpses through a time corridor of himself in another dimension – a world that is a direct copy but a delayed repetition of this world. With the help of a rogue experimental psychologist / dream researcher recommended by a colleague Estra Gudrin (and former love interest) who teaches at the small Atlanta college where he teaches, Tyler’s mind makes two journeys to the parallel world and relives moments of his past by inhabiting his own younger body. He re-experiences the beginning and break-up of his relationship with Estra.

His third mind journey is not a controlled experiment but an accidental separation when someone tries to kill him in an auto collision. His mind is trapped in his past in graduate school where he again pursues a beautiful Malaysian co-ed whose mind has been caught up in his timeline and drawn to this dimension with him. His body is confined to an ICU ward back in his own time and city. Frightened for his safety, Estra contrives a way to join him in this other-dimension version of his past by inhabiting his own body at that age.

Unfortunately, a fourth time traveler travels to Tyler’s past – a mind that turns out to be psychotic. When he kidnaps Tyler’s Malaysian girl friend Lalitha, Tyler believes that he is Nolan, an artist and former partner in a multi-media program.

Chapter outlines:

Ch. 1: Tyler’s first trip back to McNair College in Illinois where he met Estra Gudrin (later to become his colleague at a college in Atlanta) lands him in 1970 when their relationship began.  He is an older student and she is his instructor. Both are married, and Estra has a young child.

Ch. 2: Continuing his first mind journey, Tyler experiences the end of his relationship  and the painful loss. He awakens in the office of Craig Marchand MD, the dream researcher monitoring his experiences.

Ch. 3: Tyler’s second mind journey takes him to McNair College many years later when he is an instructor himself and disgruntled about the state of education in a technological age. He learns from his former male instructor and now his colleague that Estra is divorced.

Ch. 4:  Tyler’s third time trip is a deadly one because he is floating on his own this time, separated from his physical body because someone tried to kill him in an auto collision. He is not being controlled by Craig. His mind travels to Shawnee University where he is a graduate student working on his doctorate and sees his fellow GTAs in the English Department: Albert, Jake, and Jerry. He knows what they will say before they speak and knows what their future will be. He also realizes that he has yet to meet Lalitha.

Ch. 5:  Back in 1996, we meet Estra at her age in the present as well as Tyler’s therapist Mary Thurid. We learn about Tyler’s third ex-wife Beth. Estra dreams about two Tylers, a dream that will turn out to be a precognitive dream.

Ch. 6:  Trapped inside his 1982 body, Tyler feels the conflict with his 1996 mind.           Outside in the snow, he encounters the beautiful woman from Malaysia, Lalitha, before he met her in his own dimension. In the present, Estra describes the condition of Tyler’s body in the ICU.

Ch. 7:  Estra and Mary Thurid visit Craig’s office upstairs of the Thurisaz Playhouse in a bohemian area of Atlanta called Seven Point Junction. Crag shares the old theater with Nolan Sursson and Willy Steincamp, artists who are putting on a multi-media show called Dream Corridor. We learn the technical aspects of the transferal process of Tyler’s mind and how he is drawn to an emotional event at a particular time in his past.

Ch. 8:  Estra supplies more background information on Tyler and listens to a hypnosis session on tape where Tyler, interviewed by Craig, believes that he is actually back in 1982. He discusses his feelings of being disconnected, his failed marriages, and his belief that reliving events is connected to the dreaming back belief held by William Butler Years.

Ch. 9:  Tyler meets the second time traveler, Lalitha, who has been drawn back to 1982, along his time-line, because of Tyler’s emotional attachment to her. She has been brought here because her husband in the present, in Malaysia, has been kicking her to death. He tells her that he is in a coma in his own time because of the auto collision and may die.

Ch.10: The next day, alone, Tyler explains to a tape recorder his options to change events in this world because “recycling in a parallel dimension is no-risk time travel.” It is also a type of “immortality at the cost of free will” if his life continues to recycle through various multiverses.

Ch. 11: On New Year’s Day, Tyler drives to the university and remembers suicidal thoughts that he had at this point back in his own time. He sees Lalitha again. She still thinks that she is dreaming, but her existence here changes the reality in this dimension. He finds himself slipping when he talks to her, revealing information he would not have known in 1983.

Ch. 12: Estra and Mary attend a special preview of the multi-media show Mind Corridor and are stunned by the visual effects. Estra wonders which of the cast members tried to kill Tyler.

Ch. 13: Estra talks with Nolan at a cast party at the house of Nolan and Tracy (Nolan’s wife who owns a New Age shop in Seven Point Junction) and learns about sordid interrelationships among the cast – and Tyler’s part in them. Nolan and Estra agree that one of them should go through the time corridor to find Tyler in the other dimension.

Ch. 14: Estra journeys to the past in the other dimension and meets Tyler’s colleagues in the GTA office in 1983 in his absence. When Tyler meets her inside her younger body, he is, of course, stunned.

Ch. 15: Tyler feels that he may be permanently trapped in his world and time and that he will die back in the present. Estra warns him that Nolan has been also sent to this time. Tyler tells her about Lalitha. Now there are four time travelers.

Ch. 16: Estra describes her feelings (even erotic ones) in Tyler’s apartment. As she falls asleep, she drifts back to the present with Craig and his private duty nurse assistant (Rhonda) for an instant. When she returns to the past, she believes that she has been dreaming.

Ch. 17: Tyler makes more slips with his 1996 mind. He sees the woman who will become his third wife – Beth. He chats with the other GTAs until Estra calls from her temporary job in town to tell him that Lalitha has been stalked by a strange man and has vanished.

Ch. 18: Tyler searches on campus and downtown Cedar Lake for Lalitha. Memories impinge. When he finds his car and discovers that he has a flat, he finds a note that reads: “Where is Lalitha?”

Ch. 19: Tyler and Estra drive around the city in his old car, looking for Lalitha and discussing his painful memories. They separate in a mall while searching for Lalitha.

Ch. 20: They drive to a service station/quick mart for gas, and this turns out to be a replay of Estra’s early dream. While Tyler is inside paying for the gas, Nolan appears in his younger body and tells Estra that he has Lalitha. Both realize that Tyler has to stay alive for them to return to their own world. Nolan does something that reminds Estra of Craig (this is a plant that will mean something later). When Tyler returns, Estra tells him that Lalitha is with Nolan and that he wants to meet him in the Big Muddy. Estra also learns that Tyler had an affair with Nolan’s wife Tracy and is disappointed.

Ch. 21: Estra has a dream about Nolan and sees Lalitha tied up and nude. In her dream state, she travels back to the present and talks to Rhonda; she learns that Craig has tried the time corridor.

Ch. 22: Tyler learns that Nolan has visited the GTA office and confused one of the GTAs with anachronisms. He learns that Nolan will meet him in the Big Muddy Room on campus, not near the Big Muddy River. When he meets Nolan face-to-face, he learns that Nolan did not try to kill him in Atlanta. However, he is clearly here to get revenge by harming the woman who will be Tyler’s third wife, Beth, by creating games with her life. This is not their world, so it doesn’t matter. Tyler shows that he has been taping their conversation. In a nearby booth, Tyler’s friends Albert and Jerry have been recording a back-up tape. Nolan bashes Tyler with a napkin holder. Albert fights with Nolan. Tyler bleeds profusely. A student calls a security guard. Nolan escapes.

Ch. 23: In Tyler’s apartment, Tyler, Estra, and Albert plan strategies. Albert doesn’t realize that Estra and Tyler are from the future, even though Tyler slips by mentioning his future wife and Estra slips by mentioning borderline personality disorders. They separate. Tyler and Estra talk to a friend of Lalitha’s who gives them an address.

Ch. 24: Tyler and Estra drive to a trailer park and find an empty trailer with two notes     Nolan has left behind as clues. It is clear that Nolan thinks he is creating a meta-theater drama.

Ch. 25: Tyler and Estra interpret the note as a reference to a state park near the university town known as Titan City. They want to find help but must travel to the park alone. They learn nothing when they ask directions. In the park lodge, Estra falls asleep and her mind returns temporarily to Atlanta. She learns from Rhonda that it is not Nolan’s mind that is occupying his own younger body but Craig’s (Craig’s consciousness has been linked with Nolan’s younger body).

Ch. 26: Deep in the narrow Titan City canyon, Tyler finds underwear that clearly belongs to Lalitha. He finds her body tied nude to a snake-shaped tree. Nolan blames Tyler for all that has happened and challenges him to think for himself instead of waiting for fate to decide. With great effort, Tyler crawls up the steep cliff-side. He tries to cut Lalitha free but engages Nolan (not knowing that Craig’s consciousness is occupying his body) who has a hunting knife. He struggles violently with Nolan and they both fall against the side of the cliff. Tyler is knocked unconscious.

Ch. 27: Back in Atlanta in the present time, we learn that some time has passed. Tyler has  gone through a long physical therapy process. He has brought Lalitha to the US and lives with her. Craig’s body is now in a coma in the ICU. Tracy has divorced Nolan and fled Seven Point Junction.

Ch. 28: Tyler and Lalitha drive to the campus where Tyler teaches with Estra. He finds a survey taken back in graduate school and thinks about his former friends. Left alone by Lalitha, he makes one final time trip back to his graduate school office. He talks to his buddies and again slips with anachronisms. Beth enters the office. Tyler says a tearful good-bye to his bewildered friends, even though his 1983 self will be with them again after he is gone. Back in the present, Tyler and Lalitha talk to Estra before they leave the campus. Estra clearly still has feelings for Tyler. She asks him if he would ever consider time traveling again. Tyler says: “You never know.”

__________________________

Below is an excerpt from the introduction and Chapter One of the novel.

THE TREE THAT WAS LIKE A WOMAN

The first time Tyler saw what he thought was the girl, it was in his own time, his own world.

But it wasn’t her that first time. It was only a skinny, naked, white birch tree half-hidden in the mist on New Year’s Eve. The second time he spotted the image, it wasn’t in his own world. Nor was it a ghostly birch tree. It was the girl – lost, bewildered, wondering what she was doing here in a replication of the country and city where, and when, she had been a student all those years before.

Now she, like he, was a time traveler, but she didn’t know why. She certainly didn’t know how.

Neither did he, actually – even though he was, in a technical sense, the one who discovered the mind corridor. He was the guinea pig.

Soon, however, he was not alone.

The girl, Lalitha, was here, trapped because of his time line – not her own.

Then there were the others – all mind tripping to this time and place because of him.

As confused as she was, she could, at least, be grateful for being mentally transplanted. After all, she had, because of Tyler’s own journey back to the place and time where they had met, been rescued from death at the hands of her violent husband in Malaysia.

As Tyler stood in the cold night air of southern Illinois, staring at the naked birch tree, he thought about his first journey – the beginning stages of the experimentations – the practice trips. After all, that was how it had all started.

#

Chapter One

“The First Trip”

Tyler locked the telescope in on Polaris just above the northern horizon; then he swung the six-inch reflector overhead to find the line of the ecliptic. He leaned down to squint through the finder-scope, turning the dial and moving the scope until Jupiter slid close to the intersection of the crosshairs.

Harold Duncan nodded his approval. “That’s good, Tyler.” He turned to the other students and resumed his lecture. “Remember, when using the clock drive, you first have to sight on Polaris, then lock it in.” He paused. “Why is that?”

“Because all the stars revolve around Polaris,” said a male voice.

It was a humid night. Tyler wiped the back of his wrist across his forehead and huffed away the moisture on his lip. The heavens, at least, were clear. One of the few advantages of summer school was that the weather allowed Harold to hold more night sessions, giving students more time to work with the telescope and to use the cardboard star guides. Since the science building lacked air-conditioning units, night sessions were preferable.

“Right.” Harold looked at the boy who had spoken. “The stars, though, only seem to revolve around Polaris. It’s the earth that’s moving — rotating fifteen degrees per hour.”

Thirteen students, counting Tyler, huddled together: a large class for the six-week summer version of Astronomy 201. They were positioned in the middle of the broad expanse of campus between the gymnasium and the science building, the extension cords for the motor clock drive reaching all the way to the window of the biology lab.

They all look so young. Do I look as young as they do?

Tyler studied the extension cord to be certain that none of the links had been pulled loose to break the connection. He mentally followed the cord all the way to the building, through the open window, and into the classroom where they had plugged it in. Estra Gudrun’s slender form stood in the pale glow of the fluorescent lights, crouched over the lab table ordinarily used for science classes, teaching Experimental Psychology to a handful of night students.

This summer session is the last course she’ll teach for McNair College, and tonight is her final class.

When was it? Fall of 1970, right after the start of the first class I took from her, when she told me that she was pregnant. Her husband was completing his tour-of-duty at the nearby Air Force base; then they would move to Atlanta so he could study at Emory University.

Tyler had discovered that he and Estra were near the same age, so he didn’t think much about the fact that they often talked casually in her gray-walled basement office after class.  Even though he was majoring in journalism and had only taken her for Psychology 101 because he needed a social science requirement, she seemed interested in the stuff he was writing.

The second class he took from her was during the following spring semester. Another psychology class. Just as an elective. And, because I misread the schedule, he remembered, I missed the first day of class.

But when he had arrived the second day, a few minutes late, she blushed as she pointed out an empty seat. She had ballooned out over the Christmas vacation, her pregnancy forcing upon her the traditional maternity garments.

“I won’t be able to look at your legs anymore when you stand in front of the classroom,” Tyler later told her in her basement office, causing her to blush again.

She named him Olin, her baby who was born in May. Her husband objected to her teaching a summer class that began so soon after her son’s birth, but she insisted that she could handle it. So while Tyler took the astronomy class from Harold Duncan, she taught the psychology class in the biology lab.

Tyler had seen her only twice during the month of June, both times visiting her apartment on the base. Both times he sat quietly while she tended to her infant son.

“I’m probably turning you off,” she had said.

She was. I had never felt comfortable with infants or children.

One day, impulsively, Tyler had bought her a purple card from the McNair bookstore, which, on the cover, read: SOMEDAY. On the inside, it read: SOMEHOW.

“Why didn’t you sign it?”

Tyler shrugged. “I wish your husband didn’t exist,” he said in a weak voice.

“But he does, Tyler.”

Sitting cross-legged on the hardwood floor of her apartment, Tyler had looked up at her, feeling like a child.

(continued)

Below is an excerpt from Chapter Nine of the novel:

Chapter Nine

The Second Traveler”

Behind the building stretched an open field with snow-crusted naked trees that glowed a bluish-white in the moonlight.

“What is. . .” Tyler sputtered into the microphone. “Unnnnh. I thought I saw a girl standing over there, a slender woman with long black hair. I guess it’s just–  wait a minute! Those trees covered with snow. I thought they looked like—-”

There is someone there! A woman! She sees me.

He lowered the hand that held the microphone and watched her.

She wore a trench coat; her long dark hair flowed over her collar. That’s all I can see from here.

Her face.

He felt like he should know her.

She called to him: “Hallo-oo.”

Her voice. She wasn’t American. She might be from India or Pakistan.

“Hello,” he answered. He wanted to say more, but he waited.

“I heard you talking,” she said.

That voice. He knew that voice.

And then it dawned on him.

This didn’t happen before. It couldn’t have happened before. Something like this I would have remembered.

“Yes,” he told her. “I was talking into a tape recorder.” He showed her the tape unit and the external microphone connected to it by a cord.

She started toward him, crossing the gravel side road. “Do you live around here?”

“Yes.” He gestured toward the barracks. “In here.”

“Oh.” She studied the building. “What street is this?”

An odd question. He told her that this short street was Garfield Street. He turned off the recorder before she saw that he was taping her. He was usually self-conscious about taping people, even though he often did it.

This, he knew, hadn’t happened before. When he stood out here on New Years Eve in his world, he continued dictating. So he had changed events in this dimension; he had changed his past -– at least, this dimension’s version of his past.

“Where do you live?” he asked her.

“On Logan Street,” she said.

Logan Street was an east-west street that flanked the university. Many apartment complexes and houses that had been converted into student residences were located on that street.

“Are you waiting for someone out here?”

“No,” she said.

She continued toward him, and the closer she came, the more familiar she looked.

“Then. . . do you mind my asking what you’re doing out here alone? I mean, it’s not a big city, but. . . I don’t know if you’re safe. . . by yourself. For a town of this size, because of the university, there are a lot of rapes.”

She stopped and looked around again. When she stared into the bluish-white streetlight, his heart nearly stopped.

I do know her.

But it can’t be.

He wouldn’t meet her until the summer of the coming year -– not until Matthew Baines’ British literature survey course.

“I don’t know. I woke up, and suddenly I’m in the bedroom of the duplex where I stayed when I was a student. This is Cedar Lake, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Then I’m confused. I guess I’m dreaming. Something just told me to get up, get dressed, and come this way.”

“You walked all this way?”

“Yes. But it doesn’t seem real.”

“I know.”

“I felt I had to come find someone. And I guess that’s you, isn’t it?”

“You don’t know?”

“No.”

He tried a long shot. “Do you know who I am?”

She came closer. Her eyes widened as she stared into his face. “I know you, I think. I remember your beard. But I can’t remember your name. It’s like. . . you’re someone from a long time ago.”

“Yes. Well, I don’t have this beard back in my own world.”

“Your world,” she echoed. She spoke as if she were in a daze. She was very sleepy.

“Yes,” he said. “I’m not supposed to be here. And I don’t think you are either.”

“Is this a dream then?”

“Not exactly. Do you know what year this is?”

“Of course.” She frowned. She moved closer, trying to see his eyes. “I do know you. And yet. . . .”

“We haven’t met yet. In this world. But we will. What you remember is me from my own world.”

“Your world?” she echoed again.

“I’ve done this three times. Traveled like this, I mean. Did you experience the sensation of falling through space?”

“I don’t think I -– maybe –-  I felt like I was in a movie. Or a TV show, like Star Trek or something.”

He asked her again if she knew the year.

“Where?”

“Now.”

“1996.”

“No. It isn’t here. This is Cedar Lake all right. But it’s 1983. New Year’s Day.”

“No. It isn’t. Not really, I mean.”

“Yes,” he told her.

“I can’t be back in America.”

“You are. Really. The USA.”

She shook her head. She was trying to rule out the absurd -– the insane — possibility.

“Are you wondering why it’s cold?”

“Yes. I’m freezing.” Her voice quaked. Her throat sounded raw. “But—-”

“What was it like where you came from?”

She hugged herself, trying to keep warm.

He gestured toward the heavy doors of the apartment building. “Why don’t you come inside?”

“I don’t know if I. . . .”

“You’re safer in there than you are out here.”

She nodded, reluctantly.

He opened the heavy doors for her and followed her down the corridor. “Number six,” he told her. He took out his key. “Do you remember where you were before you woke up in the duplex on Logan Street?”

“I—-”

“Try to remember.” He unlocked the metal door which had the numeral 6 fastened to it above the peep-hole.

“It was. . . I was. . . .” She stepped into the apartment. She stood still on the shiny linoleum floor for a moment; then she looked back at him. Her eyes widened again.

Tears came to her eyes.

Suddenly, she flinched and raised her arm as if someone were about to strike her. Then she snapped back; her eyes again focused on their surroundings. “I was home.” She gasped. “Shouting. My husband was shouting.”

“Husband. . . .”

“He hit me. I fell. Then he kicked me. I tried to get up. Then he kicked me again. I think I. . . I don’t know. I remember pain. Dizziness. . . .”

“You blacked out. Fainted.”

“Maybe. Yes. I guess that was—-”

“Where’s your home?”

“Kuala Lumpur.”

“Malaysia?”

“Yes.” She looked at his small kitchen area, at the old card table where the typewriter sat, at the large cardboard boxes under the table. “Do you know who I am?”

“Yes. You’re Lalitha. Don’t ask me to pronounce your last name. But I remember you shortened it to Kumar.”

“You do know me.”

“I remember you. You look exactly as you did in 1983. But this is before I met you.”

“Before. . . .”

“We won’t meet until Dr. Baines’ class this coming summer.”

“If we haven’t met yet. . . .”

“I know. Believe me, I know how that sounds. But it’s true. Do you know me?”

“Yes. But I’m not sure of your name. Tyrone. Right?”

“Close.” He laughed. “Tyler.”

“That’s it. But that was. . . .”

“A long time ago. In our world. When you blacked out, your consciousness came here. You’re in your own body, but the body you had in 1983.”

She shook her head again. She walked over to the new sofa, stared at it for a moment, then took off her coat and sat down. She was dressed in a casual shirt and brown slacks; she looked as if she had dressed herself in a hurry or in a half-awake state.

“Somehow. . . I drew you here,” Tyler continued. “I don’t know why. But I did. You were pulled into my  corridor.”

“Why?”

“My thoughts, maybe. My obsession. My desire to relive the past -– to redo it -– to do what I didn’t do before, in my own world. I don’t know. I’m only guessing.”

She sat silently for a long moment.

I feel her confusion. I understand.

Tyler put the recorder and the microphone down onto the counter; then he removed his jacket and hung it on the coat hook next to the clothing closet.

Her consciousness was here because he somehow pulled her here. His obsession, as he told her, drew her to him like a beacon. My lonely, foundering soul connected with hers and sucked it back to 1983.

“I wish I could tell you more,” he said. “I don’t even know if you can go back. I don’t know if I can go back. If I do, I may die.”

“Back where. Who’s going to die?”

“Back to Atlanta in 1996. I’m in the hospital there. In a coma. Maybe dying.”

“You?”

“I was in a car wreck. Someone tried to kill me.”

(continued)

Note:

I am working on a follow-up novel about the same character who joins an underground expedition to explore an abandoned city that may have been a fragment of the original Atlantis. By being exposed to an information-gathering probe sent from an alien civilization in the distant past, he time travels back to Atlantis to occupy the body of a distant ancestor right before the island city is destroyed by this probe that has, for centuries, been thought to be a meteor.

Now that I have escaped, at least temporarily, from the mundane world of the grading of countless essay outlines and final exams,  it is time to return to my first love: the writing and revising of novels. I have waited — perhaps, too long — to get back to these creative endeavors, at least according to my well-meaning friends who have urged me to put aside my attempts to help students with their efforts and to return to my own.

I have worked in different genres over the years — even in a different venue such as writing screenplays, which my learned professor in graduate student told me were too literary — but have returned to my first love: science-fiction and the paranormal. I only list science-fiction before the paranormal because it has a better ring to it as a sentence. In the realm of science-fiction, I am not so much interested in the aliens and space travel aspect, which have engulfed the movie theater screens since I was a lad watching such classics as IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE from the front seat of my father’s small-town movie theater auditoriums. I have never lost my love of science-fiction, but I have found more compelling possibilities to exist in the concept of time-travel. I have two time-travel novels that I would like to discuss somewhere in the pages of this blog — MIND JOURNEY and its sequel THE LAST TIME I SAW ATLANTIS. These novels deal with the worlds beyond time that I mention in the title.

Nor have I lost my love of motion pictures. I still write reviews of films for Amazon.com and other online publications. My grandfather, father, and brother were all theater owners, and one of the areas for my PhD is film studies — thus my attempts to write screenplays under the watchful eye of one particularly stern professor. That I have now become a stern professor myself is, evidently, at least here in China, a matter of record. The word “serious” has been attached to my name by administrators, Chinese teachers, and Chinese students alike — a term that sometimes causes me to chuckle because, after all, what I do in the classroom and when grading papers is what we are supposed to do. This does not mean, however, that I have become too serious to enjoy films and literature that deal with themes that we used to call horror but now often label the “paranormal.”  This new label perhaps lends respectability to the horror genre; perhaps it suggests something which I believe to be true: that we are getting closer to proving that worlds beyond the mortal one around us exist. Many programs on cable TV show case studies of actual events where people have encountered entities and occurrences that come from the other side of the river.

As for me, I am more interested in ghosts than anything. However, I am yet to write about them. In my trilogy of supernatural or paranormal novels, I deal with fabricated creatures from ancient Greece (my love of Greek mythology comes into play here) who supposedly can travel through the fourth dimension and re-appear anywhere along the time-line of the history of this world. They are able to manifest themselves in creatures that many people in Southeast Asia believe exist even today in such countries at Malaysia and Indonesia. It was from friends from these two countries that I got the idea for the novel DARK NEIGHBORHOODS, a long novel that I didn’t actually complete until I first came to China years ago to teach literature and writing. I had no idea at the time that I would write a sequel to DARK NEIGHBORHOODS which takes place, solely, in China. It is called DARK CORRIDORS. The same major character of Harper Paget, descended from an ancestor who was burned at the stake for falsely being accused of being a witch, continues as a protagonist. He encounters his old enemies — the dimension-traveling vampire-like creatures– here in China.

Two books on these creatures would seem to be enough, but, for some reason, as other writers know, characters sometimes take on a life of their own and, as it turned out, demanded more time. So the third novel DARK JOURNEYS was born. This novel takes place in both countries — in China and in Illinois along the banks of the Mississippi River, in the small river town where I grew up as a boy with the fictional name of Warrick. At one time, I was going to write a mainstream novel about my boyhood there, which included my experiences in my father’s Quonset hut theater on Main Street, but I could never remain satisfied with its being more than a turgid melodrama that I titled WATERFIELD. Whether the original small-town is any better served as the setting for the third novel in my horror/supernatural/paranormal series remains for others to decide.

At any rate, these novels are my deviation from the world of mainstream fiction. That world that I stick my toe into with a series of novels begins with VIRGO-STONE, the title of this blog. The protagonist, Alexander Barteau, meets with his brother and other family members on his sister’s farm outside of the small Illinois town of Creekville. The family owns the local movie theater (theaters again!) which is now closed but is being used, they discover, for some unscrupulous purpose. Old wounds re-open when family members get together; issues are once again raised that are barely, if at all, resolved.

When I decided to come to China after the HBC where I had taught for seventeen years in Atlanta lost its accreditation, I had a hard time trying to make up my mind about whether I should write about my experiences in a journalist non-fiction manner or as another work of fiction. After discussing this with many people and realizing the problems I could get into with real names, I opted for the fictional venue. Thus I came up with INTERNATIONAL HOUSE, a name that I actually did coin, when asked to come up with one, for the building where the Foreign Affairs Office and all of the foreigners, as they called the international teachers, resided. Alex Barteau continues as the protagonist and, for a while, keeps in touch with his family back in the US. He meets and falls in love with a Chinese teacher – a relationship that turns into a friendship that lasts for several years, even after Alex returns to the States.

FOREIGNERS is the novel that picks up when Alex returns to China after spending a year in Atlanta. He works first in a Sino-US program with a university in Indiana, goes to teach for a private language institute in northern China, and then relocates to still another university in a rural area miles away from a metropolitan area.   The relationships and tribulations he encounters in these three places are too complex to mention here at this time. Let me merely add that what Alex encounters regarding the level of maturity among college-age students and the structuring of educational priorities surprises him on several levels.

If I don’t only devote this blog to the paranormal and science-fiction novels — as well as to paranormal incidents and experiences that anyone wishes to share with us — I may get into the background of those mainstream works within these pages.

Right now, this is what we have, and we will see where it goes.

Send me your real-life ghost stories, if you wish. I already have received some stories from colleagues in Anshan, China, regarding evidence of different types of paranormal encounters in the above-mentioned residence of foreign teachers.

See you on the other side of the river.

Chukk  (Charles Justus Garard, Jr. PhD.)