The Bracelet: Part One
This is a dreadful age in which we live, friends. I do not speak of dread as our ancestors first coined it; a mounting sense that something terrible is about to happen. No, I speak of that terrible realization that nothing will happen, as is so wont to do in these boring days. It is my chief concern that we as a species have stepped back from the bright, though sometimes dangerous, horizon of reality. We have left that definitively ill-defined edge for the safer fields of our existence and suffer in ways unknowable to us.
It is from out of this philosophical quagmire that I believe my penchant for the strange and unexplainable arose. We all have our ghost stories and fairy tales, but some of us yearn for more. Some quench their thirst for the unknown by examining the particulars of the natural world. Perhaps it is that same curiosity, the cold science in which many of us now place our faith, that drove the wilder phantasms from human thought and into the trash bin known as mythology, that drives us to still wilder stories. I myself employ many of the skeptic’s methods in my search for some form of authentic, paranormal experience. Many of the accounts relayed to me of bewildering encounters with the supernatural are often easily explained as simple adaptations of older tales. One example is my old neighbor’s strikingly vivid depiction of an experience only all too fitting with what I know to be ball lightning. Though a fascinating phenomenon, one that is all too normal to everyday reality. I have personally seen it simulated during a “Wonders of Science” show at the local State Fair.
As I was saying, we all have had our encounters with the bizarre. What I’ve discovered is that most of these experiences do have a perfectly rational explanation and are only want for one to the person telling the tale. Call it a personal hubris in my understanding of the natural sciences and a broad knowledge of common folklore, but my own brushes with the supernatural, though few, maintain themselves in my mind for their lack of precedent, be it scientific or legendary. Granted, creatures of light and darkness, the two types I have observed defying natural explanation, are hardly original. Angels and demons have long inspired men to hint at other worlds beyond our own. It is the simple fact that, when encountered, these entities were doing nothing in particular and were found in the unlikeliest places.
My first sighting was of what I define as the angelic sort, though the modern chic is to call them aliens. I make this definition only to provide a name for the entity and refuse to speculate on its origins. Therefore, what follows is merely what I saw with my own eyes. Not trusting my eyes and their flights of fancy, I also rely on the corroboration of my childhood friend who was present with me at the time. It occurred at a softball tournament in which my sister competed. The hour was late, as it always is in such stories, and my friend and I had deserted the game to explore the wider regions of the park. My apologies to the great American pastime, but the sport never held much interest to me, least of all when others are playing it. Regardless, we had reached the summit of a large hill that connected the baseball diamonds to the soccer fields which, being unlit and empty, filled our young minds with a primordial sense of uneasiness. Not wishing to brave the dark expanse of the fields, we turned back down the hill at an unhurried pace, neither of us wishing to expose our misgivings to the other, while a dense patch of trees watched our flank. It was from these very trees, which, while providing us some comfort in their closeness, now stood as the source of our fear and wonder, our angelic interloper appeared. The creature had roughly the height and proportion of a man, though no distinguishable limbs. Of course, the lack of discernible arms or legs could very well be the result of its most peculiar property: it seemed to be composed entirely of soft, white light. Further features I cannot report as our immediate reaction was to run screaming down the hill towards the safety of the softball tournament whose lights were reassuringly of an incandescent source, but in the instant before we fled it appeared to step behind a tree.
Now, I am as familiar as anyone with the legendary Will O’ the Whisp, which modern theory suggests is simply iridescent swamp gas, but there was no bog nearby to produce such an illusion. Furthermore, the apparition moved in some mechanical fashion out of character with the buoyant hovering of gaseous phosphorescence. Nevertheless, there may yet be a rational explanation beyond my present understanding for what we saw that night and I challenge any skeptics out there to formulate one. As to my second experience, the encounter lacks the clear visual manifestation of the first, but it affected me so deeply on a spiritual level that I include it for your appraisal.
This story not only includes the clichéd element of the late hour, but the night was further complimented by a distant thunderstorm of the most pleasant kind, being one that does not produce rain in the immediate vicinity. A band was performing music in the modern style, which, as I understand it, involves making a great deal of noise at steadily increasing volume. The performance was to be the entertainment for the night’s festivities. I must confess, however, that the electrically amplified assault on my ears proved victorious and forced me to aimlessly wander away. Having freed myself from the deluge of noise, I found myself watching the skies make better use of electric potential in dazzling displays of light and thunder. I had not walked far when I discovered another childhood friend staring fixedly at what in better days served as a farm field. Knowing he was, like myself, something of an eccentric, I dared not disturb his contemplation and waited for him to break his own reverie, at which point I intended to question him on the nature of his meditations. I knew my friend had an appreciation of storms to rival my own and simply assumed that the distant thunderhead was the object of his apprehension. He was not long in noticing me and returned fully to a conscious state. It was as he turned to approach me that I noticed the queerest expression on his face.
Serenity is a rare thing in this busy world of ours. Contentment is not something we are encouraged to seek out as it is vitally necessary to the economy that we always want more. The strength of capitalism lies in desire and we can make no progress if we do not will to do so. This is why I say his countenance was strange in that it was calm suggesting fulfillment - qualities largely forgotten in our time. Nevertheless, I was merely curious and unconcerned. He’s an old friend whom I trust completely so when he directed me to look out over the field, I complied. At first I saw nothing and became slightly perturbed when he wandered away without explanation, but soon enough I noticed what had so thoroughly focused his attention.
I will mention again that what I saw was not clear by any standard and very well could have been a trick of the light, or its present absence. The swaying of tall grasses in peculiar patterns is another rational and likelier explanation as there was a great deal of wind that night. The reason I believe that the dark shapes I saw dancing in the distance were not mere illusions stems from the profound awe they evoked in me. Stunned by the beauty of these creatures who were more or less deeper shades of darkness set against an almost lightless plain, I could not be moved to utter a single sound until dawn. My peers, disturbed by my sudden change of demeanor, went to great lengths to get me to talk or even laugh, going so far as to pin me to the ground in order to tickle and pinch me. Determined, they maintained their efforts for over a hour before giving up. I should also mention that I was so afflicted that I made no attempt to defend myself and rather ignored the small pains they inflicted, my mind paralyzed with wonder.
The purpose of this somewhat lengthy introduction is to instill you, gentle reader, with confidence in my ability to accurately and dispassionately report on seemingly inexplicable events so that you may come to your own conclusions regarding the veracity and, if there be any, rationality behind the following tale. I submit that the following story is true and, despite the incredible nature of its contents, is not a mere flight of fancy. I must confess a great reluctance to share the particulars of these strange happenings, but also an obligation to let it be known what happened that terrible night; if not out of duty to my late friend, then at least to bring these harrowing memories to light.