Monday, October 31, 2011

Lightbearer

While an undergraduate at BYU, I was involved with a book club. As October rolled around the book club president, Jonathan, solicited us to write some horror fiction for Hallowe'en. I've never been one to get into reading or watching horror, but I decided to see if I could come up with something. That month I wrote not one, but six horror stories. But this one was the first. It was inspired by a book my roommate, Michael, had me read.[1] It was written by an LDS man who was claiming that aliens were actually artificial bodies created by evil men for Satan's angels to inhabit. (Let me say right now that this is not mainstream LDS theology.[2]) Read on if you dare! Happy Hallowe'en!

NOTE: I've annotated this story, but I recommend you read it all the way through before reading the notes.

I can remember, when I was seven years old, sitting alone in the living room while everyone else watched Unsolved Mysteries [3] in the parlor. I was suddenly overcome with an urge to open the door and go outside. My mother always kept the door to the family room locked so that we wouldn’t track mud all over the expensive carpet; we always came in through the main entrance. But the desire to open the door was nearly irresistible. I stood and walked slowly to the door, trembling. I reached out my hand to touch the knob, but something stopped me. With intense effort, I pulled my hand back and walked away from the door. But the desire to open it did not go away. As I walked past the bay window, I yanked open the curtains. Illuminated by the light of the living room was a small grey creature with huge black eyes.[4] Its eyes narrowed and it struck the glass with its head. I fell unconscious. When I awoke, my family was still watching Unsolved Mysteries. I never told anyone what happened.

That incident has haunted me all my life. But instead of creating a shallow terror in my brain, it has left me with a morbid curiosity and a desire to find these creatures. I’ve traveled all over the intermountain west attending UFO conventions. Last week, at a UFO convention in Snowflake, Arizona [5], I met an eerie man, named Abe Morning.[6] One of his eyes was good and the other was just a slit. But every once in a while it would open slightly and gleam. I noticed him staring at me several times during the day. Towards evening, he approached me. Abe presented himself and informed me that he lived in Grant County, Utah. I asked him which city he lived in and he told me that he preferred to live out in the desert—that is, when he was home at all. He also informed me that, out there in the desert, he’d been visited several times by those I sought. At the end of the convention, Abe gave me his number and told me to call him if I was ever interested in meeting them. I called him last week.

The thought of finally being able to meet them slowly reached a fever pitch in my brain. I relived the experience of eighteen years ago over and over in my thoughts and in my dreams. I couldn’t focus at home or at work. I stopped eating almost completely. I’ve always believed that they exist and that someday I’d find them. Finally I could stand it no more. When Abe answered the phone, he was cool and collected. He praised me and told me that very few people were selected to have contact with them and that I should consider myself fortunate.

I’ve spent the last two days driving to Utah. Traveling through Nebraska and Colorado were pretty uneventful—except for the spidery motel I stayed at in Sterling, Colorado. I’m just now entering Utah. In a few minutes I’ll pass Arches National Park. The sun is going down and the tenuous light leaps from the edges of the rock formations, giving them horrific shapes. The shadows on the road seem to twist and writhe in agony. Even though I’m already driving under the speed limit, I slow down even more. Black specks—bats—flick back and forth in the fading light.

When I reach Moab I decide to stay for the night. It’s already dark and I’d have no chance at all of finding Abe out in the desert. I find a fairly decent motel and retire for the night.

The next morning, I get up rather late. After a casual breakfast, I check in my key and start following I-70 out of Moab. About three miles outside of the city limits, per Abe’s instructions, I stop my car on the side of the road. I pull my backpack, filled with granola bars and bottled water, out of my trunk and lock the doors. I walk out into the desert and soon lose track of my car. I note that I’m heading north, in case I get lost and need to find my way back.

Time slowly passes and the heat of the desert swirls in my vision. A little after noon, I stop and sit under a Joshua tree to have some lunch. I pull the granola bars from my backpack. The chocolate chips have melted, creating a sticky layer between the granola bar and the plastic wrapper. Surprised at how thirsty I am, I drink all my water. Sated, I shove the wrappers and empty bottles back into my pack, sling it around my shoulders, and continue wandering out into the desert.

Before I know it, night is falling and I still haven’t found any sign of Abe. As the sun winks out behind the horizon, a thick chill settles over the desert. I didn’t plan on it being cold out here and I don’t have a jacket. I didn’t bring a flashlight, either. Desert foliage, pale white in the moonlight, looms out of the darkness as if to grab me. I check the stars and locate the Big Dipper. From there it is relatively easy to pick out the North Star. Once I find it, I turn my back to Polaris and begin heading south, back towards the road.

After twenty minutes of walking, I sit down on a rock to rest. As I sit there panting, I notice a figure standing about ten feet away from me. I lurch backwards and fall off the rock. The dark shape slowly moves towards me. A scream catches in my throat. The figure leans forward and I am finally able to make out the features of Abe Morning.

“Hello,” he says, stiffly. “I’ve been watching you.”

“Is there somewhere we can go where it’s warm?” I stutter.

Abe nods, almost imperceptible in the darkness. He turns and walks out into the darkness. Apparently he carries no flashlight, either. The journey to Abe’s camp passes in silence. When we get there, he leads me to a makeshift table. There, waiting for me, is a bowl of cold oatmeal and some stale biscuits. Too hungry to complain, I plop down at the table and devour my scanty meal. When I’m done I rise and Abe returns.

“You’ll sleep in there,” he says, pointing to an old dome tent that seemed little more than a black lump out among the sagebrush. Inside is a blanket. I climb in hastily and settle in under the blanket, relishing the warmth to come.

“Goodnight,” I murmur.

Abe just turns and walks away. Something about the way he walks makes me uncomfortable, but I’m too cold to worry about that just now. The blanket is insufficient and I toss and turn all night trying to stay warm. My toes slowly lose their feeling and I curl up into the fetal position. I use my shoes as a substitute for a pillow. Overall, I pass the night miserably and as soon as light peaks over the tops of the rock formations, I rise and begin moving around to try and restore my body heat. On the table is a bowl of cold oatmeal and a Coke. Disgusted, but not ungrateful, I eat the breakfast provided for me.

I don’t see any signs of Abe all morning. At noon I begin wandering around, but keeping the camp site in sight. The heat soon becomes unbearable and I return to the dome tent. Plopped down on the blanket is a soggy ham sandwich and two bottles of water. Along side the food is a hastily scrawled note that says, There will be no dinner tonight.

The terseness of the note and its mysterious appearance seem to indicate that I won’t be seeing Abe any time soon. I feel a bit angry at this and decide to leave. I locate the sun in the sky and with relative ease, determine which direction is south. I begin traveling south, trying to keep the sand out of my shoes. After an hour I reach I-70. I walk down the road for several miles and find where I parked my car. It is no longer there. I don’t know who would’ve taken it, but I’m unnerved by the fact that it’s gone. I slowly make my way back to Abe’s campsite. About an hour before sunset Abe shows up again.

“Where have you been all day?” I ask angrily.

Abe shrugs. “Nowhere in particular,” he says.

“Well, I’ve wasted two days now wandering around this desert. I’d really just like to get on to the main show,” I say.

“It won’t be much longer,” Abe says. “As soon as my wife gets here, we’ll try and contact them.”

I nod and go to sulk in the dome tent. Half an hour later I hear feminine tones in hushed conversation outside the tent. I emerge and find Abe talking quietly with a small, waspish looking woman. She turns to me and smiles wanly. I shudder involuntarily.

“Come, let us go,” says Abe and begins walking out into the desert. Reluctantly I follow. As I walk past Abe’s wife I could swear that I hear a growl in the back of her throat. I hurry to catch up with Abe. We walk over several sand dunes before Abe chooses to stop at the top of a small mesa. He chats with me casually, but his wife maintains a haughty, haunting silence behind me. My back crawls.

Abe sits down with his legs crossed and begins scratching images into the thin layer of sand on the rock. He draws a large five-pointed star and a circle around the star, touching it at the points. Around this he draws a second circle. Inside each of the star’s points, he draws arcane symbols that almost seem to be alive. My eyes burn at the sight of them. With mounting horror I realize that Abe is about to conduct a séance. I want nothing to do with this—I came to contact extra-terrestrials, not to contact demons or the dead. I don’t care to become involved with Satanism. I try to get up and leave, but find that I cannot move. I struggle against it, but to no avail.

Abe begins to chant, “Accipit et comedit, hocus pocus meum. Bibit, hocus sanguis meus,” [7] over and over.

As the sun goes down I managed to draw a ragged breath. Abe turns slowly to me. His good eye is completely hidden in shadow, but the slit eye cracks open and gleams bright yellow in the dying sunlight.

Suddenly I feel Abe’s wife by my side. She leans in, breathing heavily on my neck, and bites my earlobe, hard. As she licks her lips, Abe roughly grabs my neck and forces me down so that my head is hanging over the demonic symbol he’s drawn in the sand. Droplets of blood drip into each of the frightening symbols he’s drawn at the points of the star. The sun is now down and darkness quickly engulfs us. I shiver as Abe lights five candles and positions them at the points of the star. Molten wax drips down and mingles with my congealing blood in the sand. Everything is converted into shades of indigo by the waning moon.

Abe begins to chant again, with increased intensity and fury. “Accipit et comedit, hocus pocus meum. Bibit, hocus sanguis meus. Accipit et comedit, hocus pocus meum. Bibit, hocus sanguis meus.” Something blacker than the night begins to coalesce in the center of the pentagram. As it grows it slowly snuffs out the candles and we are all left in darkness. Abe’s wife begins to pant. A tendril of blackness reaches out and touches me—my heart seems to freeze within my ribcage. I gasp. Abe’s chanting reaches a feverish pitch.

Accipit et comedit, hocus pocus meum! Bibit, hocus sanguis meus! Accipit et comedit, hocus pocus meum! Bibit, hocus sanguis meus!” Moments later a red glow begins to cover the ground around us. The blackness in the pentagram remains, but the indigo light of the moon has been replaced by a hellish, unearthly glow. Abe stops chanting and both he and his wife gaze towards the sky. With great effort, I, too raise my gaze.

Hovering in the air, a few meters above us, is a solid gray disc emitting the red light. It slowly descends and lands near us on the mesa. A small ramp extends out of the bottom of the craft.

“Masters!” cries Abe. “Come to us! We have brought another initiate!”

At that moment, my strength is suddenly restored. I leap to my feet and begin running as fast as I can down the side of the rock formation. Thorny plants rip at my face and sagebrush tangles my feet. But I continue on, unheeding. I race through the desert, tripping over rocks and crashing into scrub oak. My lungs burn as though on fire, my breath punctuates the cold night air with clouds. Even though there is no sign of pursuit, I run until I can run no more. When my strength finally leaves me, I am at the top of a sand dune. I collapse into the soft sand and slide to the bottom of the dune. Then I raise myself up and begin to crawl. After about two hundred yards I find myself back in Abe’s camp. I wish I were anywhere but here. But I don’t have enough strength to go anywhere else. Overwhelmingly tired, I make my way to the dome tent, drag myself inside, pull the blanket over myself, and zip up the door. Exhaustion claims me and I slide into unconsciousness.

Some time after midnight I wake up to the sound of a zipper. I peak out from under the blanket to see Abe slowly opening the door of the dome tent. His wife is beside him, gnashing her teeth. Even though the sun must be shining on the opposite side of the world right now, Abe’s slit eye is gleaming bright yellow again.


Notes:

[1] I can't remember for sure what the book was. But it might've been Aliens & UFOs: Messengers or Deceivers? by James L. Thompson. He also makes the claim that aliens preferentially abduct people who are harrier than the general population. This is because they are conducting an interbreeding program and wish to acquire hair themselves. (I don't believe he explains why the aliens would like to be hairy.) I'm reminded that in Spanish the word bello means "body hair", when used as a noun, and "handsome", when used as an adjective. I guess that means the aliens just want to be good-looking.

[2] To learn what Latter-day Saints (sometimes called Mormons) actually believe, see here and here.

[3] Let's face it, sometimes Unsolved Mysteries was a pretty terrifying show.

[4] I have a memory of once seeing a malevolent-seeming little grey alien outside a window of my parents' house. But I'm pretty sure it was a dream.

[5] If you've ever seen the movie Fire in the Sky, then you know why. (My roommate Michael also had me watch this movie.)

[6] This alludes to one of the titles given to Satan, "Son of the Morning" (Isa. 14:12).

[7] This is a corruption of the prayer for the Catholic Eucharist, which reads "Accipite et comedite, hoc est corpus meum." And later "Bibite, hie est sanguis meus."

Image attributions:

Milky Way over Balanced Rock is by Jason Corneveaux, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/corneveaux/4671851297/.

Milky Way Behind Delicate Arch is by jonmartin (), available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/memeflux/5247292346/.

Double Arch by Night is by Jeffrey Stylos, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jsstylos/5152325979/.

The Real False Kiva at Night is by Jason Corneveaux, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/corneveaux/4694430187/in/photostream/.

Camping at Arches National Park is by kavjin, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kajvin/2505385429/. 

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