Above artwork by Tommie Kelly
The book is at once a work of fiction and at times, a memoriam of actual events plucked from my life and placed into a fictional world. It is also part of a magical experiment in hypersigilization.
Julian got up from his seat, leaving the lamp on to provide enough light to spill into the kitchen where he then turned on another light hanging above the table. He then walked into the bathroom to get ready for work.
Julian half turned the faucet handles of his sink, a recipe for lukewarm water and without hesitation thereafter, grabbed his razor, dipping the blade into the stream flowing forth from the faucet. He brought the blade to his face and looked into the mirror. At this point, seeing not his reflection, but a beautiful mountain range with a river dividing the valley below.
I am still dreaming, he thought to himself.
Lucidity had become an almost nightly ritual for Julian. Having discovered the art of said practice through books, film and entering the craft himself, he understood the experience to be quite normal in his early youth, mainly between the ages of five and ten years. Julian dropped the razor, or so he thought. In reality he realized the razor was not real, but part of his dream.
Looking into the mirror he watched the scene morphing, the river appearing to move at first glance, a product of the illusion. The scene in the mirror became like the aerial cinematography commonly found in nature documentaries as the cameraman would shoot while flying above the ground in a helicopter. Julian watched as the bathroom, his body and any sense of self faded. The view of the river shifted to face towards the apparent destination of this journey, as if he was watching a film on a screen.
The flight path of his mind lead across the mountain range, someplace that seemed inspired by both his real life experiences in Vermont and New Hampshire as well as a his exposure to lengthy books and films occupying the science fiction and fantasy genres.
Beautiful valleys of colored trees like those of New England in October provided the back drop for the soaring, cold, almost morbid cliffs whose peaks covered in snow and vile razor edges pierced the sky. Seemingly unending, this buffet of sublime subconscious imagery poured forth. Julian, ever more fascinated with this scenery became focused after a period of near intoxication.
The narrative of this particular flight came to a close, the image in his mind’s eye, the unseen camera of his soul, closing in on a single solitary peak. The top of this summit rested far above its inferior brothers and sisters, stretching into the night sky as if to be a blade from which blood could be drawn from the very stars themselves.
At the top of this peak, a doorway shone. A veritable portal cut by the hands of some unseen and powerful master of stone revealed a light in the darkness. An archway, nearly a perfect oval, decorated with symbols and sigils was cut about an inch into the stone. Some old language, Julian thought to himself.
His breath turned to vapor in the frosty air as he realized he was now in the film which he had been watching, looking at his hands, his fingers began to grow as if made of clay stretching five, ten, even twelve inches. He shook his head and let his hands fall by his sides.
Julian knew this was a common illusion of dreaming, after all, the body he now found his consciousness in was in itself an illusion, a creation of his own subconscious mind.
Julian looked up and read the inscription above the archway. Instantly he recognized the font, “symbol” he spoke to himself under his breath, again leaving a trail of vapor in the icy air. The translation of this text read “Liber Novus”.
Julian peered downward for a moment, noticing the cobblestone path which he now stood upon at the mouth of the archway. A long hallway adorned with the same stones stood before him, leading into the mountain. Far back, beyond the curve of the path shifting to the right, he saw the soft red and orange glow of fire light.
He stared at the cobblestones thinking, wondering, waiting…
Julian stood silently pondering the beginning of what may be an endless journey, his mind enraptured with a deep knowing that in a few hours of sleep, he could in fact exist in this world of his own creation for what seemed like days. With this in mind, he closed his eyes. While he had waited for this moment for so long with passionate yearning, now standing at its arrival, a vicious fear entered his heart.
This might be something more than the average dream. This may be happening on the astral plane, he thought to himself. A soft rain began to fall, a single drop cascading upon his brow, dripping down his face, past his nose and hanging for a moment on his upper lip before falling to the stone walkway beneath below.
At first he thought it was perhaps a hallucination but no, he heard a woman singing, something old, something spiritual. Notes of a chorus as sung in the temples of old floated through the air.
Julian stepped into the archway walking slowly down the hall, realizing this was not the voices of many, but rather the single voice of a goddess. He began to walk faster as he realized this was his anima, his female soul.
For a moment he stopped, listening to the heavy rain now pouring from the ethereal sky’s outside of the tunnel which he was now well within. Julian glanced back over his shoulder looking at the archway. The woman’s voice, now singing a complex and trance inducing melody, filled the chamber in which he stood. The air pulsated with electricity and magic. Julian faced forward and began to walk.
The scent of dragon’s blood filled the air. He turned, arching to the right, another hallway revealed itself. This one, much longer, narrowing as it stretched into the heart of the mountain.
With his pace now slightly quickening, Julian took note of the walls of the cave. The cobble stones which adorned the walls started to take on more complex designs.
The stones which had been stacked in rows one on top of the other morphed into patterns of masonry which took on wave forms, the mark of a great craftsman. The stones design then became a sea of interlocking spirals, giving the impression of a daft craftsman. Julian refocused on the tunnel ahead. The intoxicating aroma of the incense in conjunction with the seemingly endless hall gave rise to emotions of excitement and wonder as well as fear and trepidation.
Julian glanced at the walls on the left side of the cave. The spirals now had condensed into complex fractal patterns, the stones of each tiny piece of marble became encased inside silver and gold. At the intersecting nodes of the octagonal metallic casings, gemstones of emerald, amethyst and citrine created the effect of three dimensional, jewel encrusted nautilus shells growing forth from the walls.
Julian’s heart began to race as he quickened his pace, the end of the tunnel now approaching; he came upon a large open room, which appeared to be an indoor garden of sorts.
He stood in an archway decorated with the stunning and now fully animated, twisting, moving and condensing jewel encrusted walls composed of living nautilus shells. He entered what appeared to be, at one time, a temple.
Tall ceilings shifting into multifaceted points as one would expect to find in the halls of the Vatican rose to heights of hundreds of feet above where Julian stood. He inspected the room in amazement, noticing the upper architecture lowered into a rectangular shape in the center of the garden.
Like the archway in which Julian had recently entered, another stood across the room and also at the walls to the left and right of him. Each archway perfectly centered on each of the four walls.
Julian walked into the room, lit by fires burning in cauldrons hanging from black metal fixtures at each corner of the room as well as with candles placed on three levels of a shrine in the center of the rectangular object. The shrine was a stone cylinder about five feet tall, cut from a single piece of marble. The portion of the cylinder facing Julian had steps carved from the base where the monolith meet the stone tiled floor and rose up to the center of the shrine which was covered with an ornate hand carved gazebo also made of marble and decorated with complex sigils cut into the surface of the stone.
A small moat surrounded the shrine, filled with crystal clear water flowing from small holes cut into the base of the stone. In the center, a fountain stood, on which sat a statue of a hooded figure.
The rest of the room was divided evenly into one foot tall, four feet by four feet boxes of marble, each containing beautiful plants such as roses and orchids which surrounded the base of various kinds of fruit trees. Each box containing one variety of tree in the center of each square. Vines spilled over the boxes edges and sprawled along the floor at varying lengths.
Above the shrine in the center of the room a ball of soft white light hung far above, under the apex of the highest point of the ceiling. The soft grey light fell gently upon the objects below, mixing with the fire light from the cauldrons and candles.
Julian turned to face the statue of the hooded figure inside the shrine as the final note of the goddess’s sweet song faded into silence. With the last tone of the angelic voice leaving the room, the ball of light above faded into darkness, the room now lit only by the fires and candles surrounding the shine.
Julian tilted his head back and peered up at the stairs and through the archway of the shrine, eyeing the hooded figure of the statue which sat upon the fountain within. Intense fear arose inside of Julian as he took the first step ascending the small stair case.
The room having fallen into silence after the voice of the goddess had completed its song now seemed heavy, as if the air itself, pregnant with spirits, stood still. Julian reached the last step of the stair case and stood in the archway of the shrine.
Julian inspected the statue of the hooded figure which sat in a chair of stone, hands resting on the handles of the chair. The figure, hooded and head tilted downwards, sat motionless. The face of this figure, a skull with hollow, crystalline eyes, reflected the glow of the flames from the candles wrapping around the outside of the shrine.
At the base of the chair which rested upon a smaller stone cylinder in the center of the fountain, an inscription read “Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte”. The inscription, written in Spanish, translated to “Our Lady of the Holy Death”.
Indeed, this shine housed the spirit of death itself. Julian froze, as he watched his breath begin to materialize, the temperature quickly dropping, his heart began to beat faster, the flames of the hanging caldrons went out. Julian began to panic and the candles began to pulsate.
Around the neck of the statue, a gold necklace with a ruby octagonal pendant hung low, reflecting the light of the room. Instinctively, Julian raised his hand and inched closer to the statue. The flames of the candles grew larger as the hair on Julian’s neck began to stand straight up. This is it he thought to himself…
Reaching now with the index figure of his left hand, his arm fully outstretched, cold sweat pouring from his brow, Julian closed his eyes and spoke the words “unto the creator I commend my spirit” as his index finger touched the ruby pendant.
Julian heard a sound like that of a great wind followed by a stark and deafening silence. He went ridged and turned to stone. Collapsing to the floor, his body shattered into thousands of pieces scattering across the inside of the shrine, some cascading down the stairs leading to the floor of the temple below.
For a moment there was only darkness and then…The taste of sea salt.
Julian moved his tongue in his mouth which lay half open, his right hand resting in the wet sand near his face. Julian moved his legs as warmth returned to his limbs. Another wave broke behind him, sending cold sea water past his limp body.
For a moment Julian laid still, his body sunken into the sand where the waves continued to break on the shore. He listened to the sound of a faint ringing in his ears as he lay there, soaking wet, another wave washing over him.
After a few moments Julian opened his eyes a crack. His vision was blurry but he could make out large rocks about twenty feet away, the waves breaking over their base. Julian lifted his head slightly, coughing out some sea water he had inhaled accidentally. He could see he was on a beach, heavily shrouded in fog. He lay near the edge of the surf about five hundred feet from the base of a large sand dune.
Julian let his head fall back to the sand. Exhausted, he closed his eyes for another moment while more sea water lapped at his legs and torso. Julian’s body ached and although freezing and soaked to the bone, his body felt comfortable in the wet sand.
The ringing in his head began to fade as he lay motionless, listening to the sound of the waves breaking behind him, clenching his fist lightly around a handful of the wet sand.
Julian began to feel his mind clearing a bit as the ringing stopped. His eyes wider now, looking across the beach, he notices a figure farther down the coast, a slow moving human figure, barely a shadow in the heavy fog.
Again Julian closed his eyes, but only for a moment as he braced himself with each hand pushing against the wet sand, he raised his chest about six inches off the ground, his knees planted in the wet earth beneath him.
Julian, coughing again, turned his head to the right observing the figure approaching from the fog, still far enough away, he could only make out that it was a man, walking towards him at a leisurely pace.
Julian turned his body and sat himself awkwardly in the wet sand bracing himself with one hand planted firmly on the sand. His long dark brown hair, dripping wet and matted somewhat from lying beneath him, dangled in front of his chest.
Julian stared at the waves breaking before him now, farther away as low tide slowly pulled the surf away from his body, the salt water now only touching his feet, washing across the length of the beach before him.
Julian took a deep breath. The flavor and sent of salt water filling his senses, he began to gain his composure, wondering where he was, and how he got there.
Julian turned his body to face the sea, pulling his knees up and holding them to his chest, seated now in the wet sand his head moving to rest on his knees, Julian took several deep breaths. Shortly afterwards, he lifted his head, used his hands to prop himself off the ground and stood up, wobbling for a moment before gaining composure of his stance.
Julian stared at the sea for another moment and turned his head back towards the figure approaching, he blinked, closed his eyes and began to weep.
Wiping his tears and his long soaked hair aside he turned to face his guest, still distorted a bit by the salty fog hanging in the air.
It was Jon Perry.