When I look back, I wish I could have had the option of just throwing the book away, so that nothing would have changed. But how could I not be curious? Also, throwing the book away would not have stopped the change. What was going to happen would have happened nevertheless, and I would have been in much greater danger, unprepared.
I really thought at first that it was a book about dream interpretation.
I had no idea how the book had ended up in my duffel bag. It could have dropped into the open bag from the shelf when I fell against it, I supposed. The only flaw in this scenario was that the bookstore only sold new books. There was no second hand stock at all. Anything this old wasn’t available there.
But somewhere, someone had placed it in my bag. I had a bad habit of not closing my bag securely, because where I lived felt safe. Our little town was so old fashioned that anyone caught pick-pocketing would have been dragged off to the local church, where he (or she) would have been put on the gallows, or made to write a thousand times “Thou shalt not steal” on a blackboard in front of the whole congregation. Or possibly both. Something along those lines, anyway. It was hard to tell, because it was the kind of thing that never, ever happened. If you dropped a penny in the street, someone would be sure to point it out to you and hand it back.
I suspected the young man at the bookstore had a hand in it. Of course he might have dropped the book in my bag by accident. Or even deliberately. If I ever saw him again, I would ask straight out, I decided, not admitting I was hoping I might actually see him again. Whatever it was in this case, I had no way of knowing to whom the book belonged, and as it was, I could not return it to its rightful owner.
So, when the evening came and everyone went to bed, I propped my pillows comfortably against the headboard, put on the reading light, took my notebook and pencil, and started interpreting the dream written inside the cover, all snug under my lightweight summer blanket. I thought I’d probably fall asleep pretty soon,
I didn’t. I had no idea that this dream book would change my whole life, and nothing in my world was going to be normal ever again.
I took a chocolate (yes, I confess that I’d actually placed a box of strawberry chocolates on the bed to truly enjoy the book, which I still thought was about dreams).
“Now let’s see what the book says about angels…” I took the first word from the hand-written dream and started leafing through the pages. “Amputation… anchor…andirons… anecdote… angels!”
I expected to read something about divine intervention or some such thing, considering when the book had been printed. But what I read was all gibberish, at least the first part.
“To You dream of hold in angels is prophetic your hands a of book disturbing influences about the in the soul gates between our It human brings a world and changed condition of the Unseen Worlds the person’s lot. If the dream is unusually pleasing, you will hear of the health of friends, and receive a legacy from unknown relatives.
“If the dream comes as a token of warning, the dreamer may expect threats of scandal about love or money matters. To wicked people, it is a demand to repent; to good people it should be a consolation.”
“What on earth are they trying to say?” I said out loud, making Nugget lift his sleepy head and glance at me.
I decided to try a random word. Nugget. Cats. I would see what the book said about cats.
“To dream of a cat, denotes ill luck, if you do not succeed in killing it or driving it from your sight. If the cat attacks you, you will have enemies who will go to any extreme to blacken your reputation and to cause you loss of property. But if you succeed in banishing it, you will overcome great obstacles and rise in fortune and fame…” I read to Nugget. “Hmm, someone did not like cats, it seems… but at least that is coherent. Something must have gone wrong at the printing company when it came to angels… Oh well, maybe I should just go to sleep and see if I have a dream I could try and interpret with this book.”
I placed the book on my bedside table and switched the light off. Instead of sleeping, my mind started nagging about something. One two three, one two three… I was repeating the numbers in my mind over and over again. And then I realized, why. 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 1-1… The numbers written in the cover of the book. They had to be meaningful. What if…
I reached for the bedside lamp and put the light back on. Then I took the book, opened its worn pages and searched for the “angel” again.
“Ok, now what is this 1-1… Probably it means words. So the first word is ‘To’,” I reached for my notebook and wrote the word on top of a page, “but why the second number one…”
I stared at the interpretation of angel but did not get it.
“Could it mean the word is a pair with some other word…?” I asked Nugget who instead of looking at me tucked his nose under his paw in a silent protest at being disturbed by the light again.
“OK, let’s give that a try then. If it is a pair of words, then logically the next word is the other half of the pair,” I announced and wrote the word “You” on the right side of the word “”To”. I noticed both words were written with a capital letter. Another mistake by the printing press, it seemed.
Or was it…?
I wrote the next two words on the left side of the notebook page, and the two words after that on their right side. Now I had three words on the left “To dream of” and three on the right: “You hold in”. Both beginning with capital letters, both… the beginnings of a sentence!
Quickly I wrote the words 3-3, to the left came “angels is prophetic” and to the right “your hands a”.
“To dream of angels is prophetic’ and ‘You hold in your hands a’,” I mumbled out loud, excited I had cracked the code, “and now it seems it is back to 1-1 again… ‘of’ goes to the left and ‘book‘ to the right… Then 2-2…”
When I had finished, on the left it said, “To dream of angels is prophetic of disturbing influences in the soul. It brings a changed condition of the person’s lot.” And on the right I had written “You hold in your hands a book about the gates between our human world and the Unseen Worlds”.
Before Kitty’s death I would have stopped reading right there, following Mom’s advice that such subjects were not safe to study. But did I? Have a guess. Instead of closing the book, I searched for the next word in the dream on the cover.
“Ghosts,” I whispered to Nugget whose whiskers twitched in his sleep and whispered the words of explanation to ghosts the dream book: “To The dream of legends have the ghost of always told of either another one of level of your parents, denotes existence, or parallel that worlds. you are exposed to danger, and you should be careful in forming partnerships with strangers.”
I wrote fast now, and to the left of my notebook page appreared a sentence telling me that “The dream of the ghost of either one of your parents, denotes that you are exposed to danger, and you should be careful in forming partnerships with strangers.” And to its right I had written “The legends have always told of another level of existence, or parallel worlds”.
“Sky is the next word…”
This time I did not bother writing the dream interpretation anymore, but just wrote down the other words. “Sky” revealed the sentence “These are not merely stories – these worlds really exist”.
I felt goose bumps rising on my arms. There was a hidden message in the book, and the handwritten dream was the key to it. You had to read the words in the right order to get the message.
I could not stop now. Mechanically I reached for a chocolate and wrote down what the word “fighting” would add to the story. “There are many who have found their way to the other realities and many who would want to find the way.”
I did not notice the time passing, Sentence by sentence the odd story appeared in my notebook.
“So keep this book hidden, and do not speak of it to others else you put yourself in danger. These Unseen Worlds are all around us. We can live there in our physical bodies, and we travel through them when it is our time to leave our earthly existence. Sometimes it is possible to make contact with those who have already died, though this is not easy for our lack of the finer senses needed for such contact.
“There have always been people who can contact the other side, usually through years of study. Some are naturals. And frequently these people are labelled mad, swindlers, or servants of the devil. And there have certainly been plenty of swindlers taking advantage of the grief of others, pretending to be mediums. But there are also those who can see and hear the souls of those who have passed.”
My eyes were glued to the dream book and my notes.
“The afterlife exists, and there is a buffer zone between our physical world, and the afterlife. People can reach this buffer zone in their sleep. Some people learn to wake themselves up when they are in this buffer zone. This is called lucid dreaming. It is a skill that can be learned, but usually it only lasts a few seconds.
“And this is also the level to which those that have gone before can return with relative ease. Here they try to communicate with their sleeping loved ones, and this results in vivid dreams where we meet with our departed ones. Our finer senses are awake when our earthly senses are asleep, and can make it possible for us to remember those dreams, usually a few moments after we wake up, and before our analytical mind explains the dreams away as wishful thinking.”
I threw the blanket aside, got up and took Kitty’s letter from between the pages of the dictionary where I had hidden it, and read what she had written about Darryl. And the other thing she had written about… where was it… there: “Maybe I’ll drop a book for you to read – that would get your attention, bookworm that you are. Yes, I just might contact you through a book. I cannot tell you what it is, because I have to keep its secret, and someone other than you might find this letter. Still, it has to do with dreams. You will understand what I mean when the time comes.”
When I read these words, my skin turned to goose bumps. Had Kitty got this very book too? If so, from whom? Would that explain her great interest in what happened after death? Suddenly I remembered my dream from the night Kitty died, the one where she was fetched by an angel… and how she had given him what looked like a book… Now it was not only my skin that was all over goose pimples – I felt my hair standing up on end, too.
“What is not known is that there are openings into this buffer zone from the physical world. If someone manages to train their mind to keep awake, they can come and go to and from this zone freely, using these gates. They can only reach their own level, which is dictated by their energies. This means there are very dark and heavy places there, created by dark minds, as well as lighter ones. The deeper a person goes into the buffer zone, the less time has an effect on them. Whoever stays there doesn’t grow any older, even when time is passing in the physical world. “
I was beginning to wonder about the modern terms used in this book. Exactly how old were the expressions “buffer zone”, “analytical mind” or “lucid dreaming”? Much more modern than this little book’s appearance. The next sentence answered this question.
“This book was written in the beginning of the twentieth century, so that it could travel through time to pass on the word of the gates to those people throughout history who might help. So we have continued to look for them from the future, studying history to find them, and giving them this book to read. We have other methods to reach those who lived before this book was printed. We need people of different times to work with us. “
To work with whom? To help in what? Help whom? And what did the writer mean by “visiting them in the past?” Time travel? It had to be time travel… but time travel was not possible. My eyes were now glued to the old, brown pages. Their condition at least revealed this book had travelled a long way in time.
“Unfortunately the knowledge of the gates has spread. Now these gates are being sought by those who should not be allowed to find them. And unfortunately there are ways to enter the buffer zone without the gates, though humans cannot do it on their own. Still, with some help, many have found their way there. They use the buffer zone for evil purposes – and they stay practically immortal within it, building their own kingdom there, deep inside the zone. They call this place the City of Immortals. The inhabitants of this place cause havoc in the human world when they visit it in their shadow form. We have learned they have other aspirations as well, much worse than simply finding riches and power in the past. To find them and to stop them, we need a group of helpers. These people are carefully chosen.”
I was beginning not to like what I read. What was it that the “humans cannot do…. on their own” and what did “when they visit it in their shadow form” mean? What the heck was this book trying to say? It felt more and more like the ramblings of a madman.
“Also you should know that not all who die go into the lighter levels of the afterlife. They are the ones who have done horrible deeds to others, and as a result their energies are so low they would have difficulties in moving any higher even if they wanted to.
“Some of these dark souls like to stay near the physical world, and feed on people’s fears. These would be the ghosts. Being in contact with human fears helps them stay in their own, lower energy worlds, because human thoughts are energy. Negative and positive thoughts are real things in the buffer zone; physical, mouldable material. And those who live in the buffer zone, on the lowest levels of the Unseen Worlds, have built their worlds from these energies. If their world begins to thin out, they go to the human world, and cause fear, and take that energy and rebuild their domain.”
OK, this was officially beyond strange. Whoever wrote this need not fear I would ever quote any of this to an outsider. I’d end up in a padded cell in no time. But I realized I could no longer stop reading, either. Mechanically, I took another chocolate, but I couldn’t really taste it any more.
“These souls, together with the living people of the City of Immortals and their shadows, are the source of the ghost-, vampire-, werewolf and evil spirit-stories. The shadows can go anywhere they want to, with no need to use the gates; they can come into the human world, and then vanish back before they are caught. Humans cannot do this unaided. No one is safe from these shadows, not as long as they can freely walk through the borderline between the human world and the buffer zone.”
Oh great – I had been a very scared young girl, believing in ghosts and vampires, and it had been a huge job for Mom to make me unbelieve in them. It wasn’t that long ago that I’d stopped using a night-light. And now this… odd book told me I had been right all along? That those horrible creatures actually existed?? And to make it even worse – there was no way I could be safe from them?
“And now to the reason you are holding this book: It contains information on how you can find a gate to the Unseen Worlds. You need to find it on your own, following a trail of clues, to gain permanent right and skills to walk through the gates. And you have been considered able to do this by someone who has travelled that path. Someone, who trusts you have the qualities to do the work.
“You are invited to join us, if you know how to follow the clues, and find your way to us. It is essential that you don’t reveal this knowledge to anyone, as that could lead the ”Immortals” directly to us. So far, because of the differences in our energies, we have managed to stay hidden from them in the buffer zone. But they do know we exist. Our fight against their shadow world has made us their enemy. Nothing would be more important to them than to find the gates we use in the physical world we all share, so they could walk freely between our world and the buffer zone.
“The name of the person who told us about you is written on the back pages of this book. Check that before deciding if you want to continue.”
I sighed. I knew. And when I saw Kitty’s signature as the last one in a long list of names on the empty pages at the end of the book, I was not surprised.
“If you accept the invitation, follow the next advice to see what happens.”
It was night already, and just as when I was a child and had read a book that was too exciting, I just wanted to feel secure, and sleep without nightmares. So I decided I’d return to the book again when it was daylight.
For a brief moment I considered finding my old night light from the cupboard, but then decided against it. I folded back the bedside lamp, drew the blanket up to my ears, and closed my eyes, hoping I could fall asleep.
Previous Chapter 7: Amongst the Books