Sanctuary

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic


Your emerald eyes are my sanctuary.

Submitted: February 10, 2018

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Submitted: February 10, 2018

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I had provided transportation for a sibling of mine to the insane asylum for her nursing school clinicals. While sitting quietly reading a magazine in a designated waiting area, I was approached by a young woman who, because of the unusual fashion in which she was attired, I presumed to be a patient in the care of the mental ward.

 

This bizarre young lady was glancing quickly all around as if she were petrified of something unseen. Her feet were bare which I thought might have been part of what was distressing her because the ascetic polished floor was rock hard and icy cold. The young woman’s hair was in a ragged disheveled state, to say the very least. She was breathing heavily, panting for breath as if she had been running from someone or some thing.

Being alone in the waiting area with her, I was becoming a bit nervous because it was obvious this pale-skinned girl was severely agitated. An unsettling emotion of darkest fear haunted her pitiful watery gray eyes. When I say her skin was pale, I mean you could see the blue of her veins through her flesh. Her complexion was like that of a corpse - sallow in the extreme with a deathly pallor.

You can imagine how shocked I was when she suddenly on a totally unexpected impulse sat down beside me. I gripped the magazine in my hands so hard that it trembled slightly. She reeked with a strong odor of astringent that was reminiscent of the herbal ointment known as Witch Hazel.

Her wide eyes were darting all around, then she looked directly into my face, grabbing for me with her plaintive expression of dread. With bony shaking hands, she dexterously clasped my upper left arm. Her needy grip was determined, yet somehow compassionate. I jumped. Every muscle in my body was rigid as an icicle.

I would here like to mention that something uncanny about her in my memory that fills me with a sense of awe and wonder to this very moment is that in spite of the astringent odor of her flesh and clothing, the much troubled young woman’s breath was pleasingly aromatic. Her heaving respiration smelled flowery like jasmine or honeysuckle. If I hadn’t been so unnerved (bordering on terrified) I would have liked her to breathe on me without end. From the corner of my eye, I kept thinking I was seeing white feathers and red rose petals falling from the ceiling. The walls seemed to undulate like viscous liquid.

She whispered grievously into my ear. She said her name was Veretta Darla, then she began desperately imploring me to help her, “You’ve got to get me out of here! I’m not crazy! They’re forcing me to take drugs! If I don’t swallow the pills, they hold me down and inject me! The needles hurt so bad! The drugs are damaging my intelligence, making me mentally vulnerable! Please, help me! You look like a good person, please, I’m begging you to help me! Please let your sympathy for another human being in need encourage you to get me out of this evil place! There are things in the walls! They watch me from the walls!”

Now, in addition to being afraid of her, I was puzzled that an inmate of an insane asylum could speak so coherently and with such a well-developed vocabulary. She pleaded her case with a cultured eloquence which actually moved me to empathize with her emotionally agonized plight.

Then the bedraggled girl said, “I can prove to you I’m not crazy! I had excelled at shorthand in high school. I was hired by the military as a secretary. Sworn to nondisclosure, I was assistant to a colonel who was involved in the Philadelphia Experiment! I wasn’t supposed to be there that day! I will tell you a secret of the future so that you will know I’m as sane as you! Oh yes! It’s true! I see plainly visions of the future during horrid flashbacks that punish me during the midnight hour! I’m like a Sybil! An oracle! Prophecies come to me from the future in the form of omens and signs, but I don’t just see them in visions, I actually witness them in person! I don’t know how to explain it! It’s like some sort of door that opens! It’s not only mental transference, my whole body goes through! I will share with you a warning about the dangers of space exploration!”

Having spoken thus, the miserable young lady began relating the most disturbing narrative to which I have ever listened. Her tale, which she claimed was a dire warning to all human kind, went like this:

Exactly one year after a media liaison for the Oculus of the Horizon foundation publicly announced at a globally televised press conference that the technology to achieve 99% of the speed of light had been perfected, Voyager 8 was launched. Four and a half years later, the colossal interstellar spacecraft entered orbit around a small terrestrial planet in the Alpha Centauri star system.

Preliminary reconnaissance probes indicated that though the Mars-like world had once supported life, there had, at some distant epoch, occurred a cataclysmic event which irrevocably altered the little planet’s lush environment upsetting the delicate balance of the organic ecology resulting in total decimation of all living species, leaving in its destructive wake a harsh unforgiving arid terrain of limitless rolling wind-swept sand dunes disrupted here and there with bleak rocky outcroppings. Sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires were reminiscent of the Badlands of South Dakota.

The macabre landscape was vast, stretching ominously as far as the eye could see in all directions - a dreary scene of desolate waste that induced a creeping sense of stark isolation and morbid loneliness. The disciplined crew of the avant-garde spaceship were conscious of being very far from home.

The location targeted for investigation was what appeared to be the only artificially created structure detected on the inhospitable lifeless planet. A small contingent consisting of scientific specialists and a security detachment formed a landing party which would descend via fixed-wing shuttle-craft to the surface of the mysterious alien world.

Touching down in a playa, or flat dry lake bed, the team proceeded on foot to the chosen coordinates which were centered on a nearby ridge. The site was staggering to behold. Severely weathered stones of what must have once been a thriving shrine thronging with flocks of devoted faithful now lay toppled in ruins. A towering archway formed an entrance to an inner sanctum which was cast in cold shadow, the only light entering through an oculus at the apex of the domed ceiling. The skeletal remains of a humanoid life form lay on the floor before a high granite wall.

The bones resembled a human skeleton lying face down, yet could not possibly be, because no human ever known could have grown to such extreme proportions. Based on analysis of the left femur, the physician of the exploratory team determined that the unidentified being would have measured a height of no less than thirteen feet when standing.

To Dr. Burke, the historian, the hallowed emblem adorning the tattered garment draped loosely over the grim bones was hauntingly familiar. Major Dawson, the commander of the security squad, immediately noticed the color drain from the face of the vexed scholar, who stood staring in mute wonder.

“You recognize that chevron, Dr. Burke. Tell us what you see.”

Gulping hard at the stubborn lump in his constricting throat, the gray-haired historian muttered in trembling tones, “Enigma of the Ecumenical Order.”

“What?”

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the Earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and coming down from Heaven, they took them wives of all which they chose.”

“I’m not following you, Burke! Speak English!”

“There’s danger here!” the terrified historian whispered, his voice raspy and dry as the desert wind that howled outside…. a banshee, an omen of death.

In frustration, Commander Dawson turned to Annette Grimsby, the anthropologist, “Can you tell me what he’s rambling about? What’s the red symbol on this dirty rag?” he belted, raising the faded scrap of cloth with the muzzle of his military assault rifle.

“It’s the official insignia of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ,” Annette replied, gazing somberly at the ancient garment.

“Who?”

“The Knights Templar.”

Commander Dawson dropped the aged linen to the dusty floor and took two steps back. An image of the arched entrance emblazoned with a nearly effaced bas relief of a compass and square interlocked around a capital letter “G” flashed through his recall.

All members of the exploration team were now dead silent, their combined attention riveted on the foreboding skeletal remains.

A huge diamond-tipped chisel was gruesomely clasped in the petrified bones of the left hand. An enormous hammer lay in the other. Runes inscribed into the highly polished surface of the hard rock were strikingly similar to an early Germanic script known as Teutonic font.

The linguist, Professor Borgnine, stepped forward for a closer examination of the spellbinding enigmatic writing. He felt an unexpected rush of icy stale air that filled his nasal passages and seemed to pierce his flesh deeply down into his very bone marrow. An eruption of nausea swept through his roiling stomach followed by puzzling dizziness. After which, to his utter dismay, the otherworldly hieroglyphs on the stone wall before him were astonishingly deciphered, appearing, as by some hidden sorcery, entirely legible to his mind’s eye. He began reading aloud……

The green fire in your emerald eyes keeps me alive, you give me sanctuary from the haunting fears of the spinning world, the night is alive with you, the stars sparkle with the fire in you, your sanctuary burns like the sun, yours is the voice of the constellations, glowing heart of infinity, ancient cult of mystery, eyes that flame like blazing jewels in the dark cosmos, cold echoes grow ages old, the eternal abyss is your secret chamber, you see in me, you see what you bring from me, your sanctuary makes me, your sanctuary makes the most of me. Eyes that flame in forgotten whispers of children hiding in flowery meadows, emerald potion swirling in the galactic cauldron, lady of grace, angel of mercy, your sanctuary gives birth to me, opening me anew to the sensations of the wandering soul that yearns in poetic ritual for the mystical embrace of the expanding unknown, elusive sanctuary, it burns inside the hurt can no longer reside, oculus of the horizon, abscissa of the veil, gateway to the limitless light, daughter of the dawn, mother of the sunset, all hidden knowledge lies within thee, the elemental forces of the immortals obey the prophecy of your sweet command, seduction of night, tabernacle of virtuous compassion, in the scintillating sparkle of your elegant sanctuary my heart is forged, in the promise of your everlasting tomorrow I am fashioned, in the protection of your luminous sanctuary my hope is justified, anon and ecstasy, the silken draperies of your astral temple caress velvety fairy essence writing your name forever in rainbow dust of fluttering butterfly wings taking flight on ocean-born thermals, skyward to dizzying heights, charms and blessings, spells and incantations, comet song of the primal nocturne, the mood light in your emerald flame eyes is my eternal sanctuary.

At the end of the cryptic passage the word WARNING was chiseled into the stone.

Tamara Bates, the geologist, spoke quizzically, “Professor Borgnine, I don’t mean to question your interpretive skill, yet are you sure you’ve translated correctly? I don’t understand why ‘warning’ would be appended to that lovely inscription.”

A soft sound, as of shuffling feet, was suddenly audible from a silent alcove of the eerie chapel. The alert security team aimed its deadly weapons. The lingual expert stepped quickly forward with a hand outreached to halt aggression, “No!”

From the shadows of the surrounding gloom there emerged a petite woman who appeared to be of young age. Her complexion was ethereally pale, her hair white as the driven snow. She wore a flowing robe of exquisite fabric that seemed to swirl like a mist around her supple figure.

The landing party was awe-stricken and not a little frightened. Her eyes gleamed with a ghostly aura like two sea-green orbs that opened into viridescent alternate dimensions. The confused members of the exploration team felt themselves adrift in light airy weightlessness as though their feet were leaving the ground. ~

The sickly young lady who was telling me this portentously alarming story was about to say something else. I had the distinct feeling that she hadn’t told all there was to tell, but two musclebound orderlies darted around the corner from out of nowhere. The female patient was horrified. She screamed and held on hard to my arm, her sharp nails digging into my skin.

As they were dragging the poor wretch away, scratching and clawing, into the macabre bowels of the dastardly insane asylum, she was shrieking for me to please help her.

I was totally stunned. At that moment, I didn’t even notice the stinging pain under my left arm where her pointy nails had raked scars into my flesh. My mind was whirling. I couldn’t make any sense out of the disturbing episode which had just taken place.

I didn’t have time to process the psychotic unexpected event, because around the same corner from which the brutal orderlies had emerged stepped an attractive middle-aged woman who had upper management written all over her. She was definitely commanding an executive salary, wearing an R&M Richards mock cami pantsuit and sporting red hair cut stylishly short.

She sat down beside me, smiled politely, and told me her name, which matched the name on the photographic ID badge she wore. Her fragrance was a ghostly hint of Beautiful by Estée Lauder. She had a clipboard in her hand. I recognized a species of standard release form on the clipboard.

The professional lady handed me a pen and told me that if I didn’t sign the paper absolving the institution of any and all liability, that I would be detained for consultation with an attorney who represented the parent corporation that owns the insane asylum.

I didn’t want anything to do with lawyers or litigation. All I wanted to do was get out of that horrid place before I ended up as one of the inmates. I glanced quickly over the form. The language didn’t seem to compromise me in any way, so I signed it. My sister appeared from the eerie corridors of the nightmare facility. The power-suit lady tore a copy from underneath the top sheet of the release form, handed it to me, said “Have a nice day, Mr. Best.”, smiled at my sister and marched off, the two-inch heels of her witchy boots clacking away on the cold hard floor into silence.

For the entire hour-long drive home, I was uncharacteristically silent. Normally, I’m an active talker, yet I could not think of a single word to say. Of course, my sister questioned me, but seeing how out-of-sorts I was, she didn’t press her interrogation. It was nearly a whole week before my nerve had recovered sufficiently to permit me to discuss what had happened.

At the moment of typing this account I wonder with sadness in my heart, and perhaps a touch of remorse, if that tortured panic-stricken young woman was really mentally unbalanced or if - horror of guilt assails me at the thought - she was telling the truth. What if she wasn’t insane? What if she really was being held against her will and being force-fed pharmaceutical-grade narcotics?

 

The mysterious tomes penned by paranormal researcher Sean Terrence Best may be added to your personal library via Books-A-Million, Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble, and many other booksellers.


© Copyright 2018 Sean Terrence Best. All rights reserved.

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