“That’s foolish talk”—Jonnie kept a cool yet persistent pace down the leaf-covered college-town sidewalk with her smartphone pressed tightly against her right ear—“just last week I was back in Henderson’s loft with Jim Bradigan and Kori Rounds when Bradley stopped by and he said that the wedding was still on. I don’t understand why you’re having last minute doubts now Angie unless there is something I don’t know.”
“Can we talk about this later?” Angie’s voice questioned with a hint of frustration lingering.
“Look, be upset with me I don’t really care.” Jonnie pulled the smartphone from her face to scope out the time; “I have to go anyways, I am meeting a friend at Caz Lake in a few minutes and I don’t really feel like taking your baggage in with me.”
“Mystery date?” Angie curiously questioned.
What part of friend didn’t she understand? “Talk to you later.” Jonnie swiftly ended the call, and then shoved the device into the front pocket of her jeans. Since she was just 7 years old; Jonnie was easily irritated with other girls her age and found them foolishly immature and an annoying nuisance to be around. She was always happiest when in the company of a good book, or somebody who seemed to be well educated. She was commonly alone, though often sought out the presence of others in such places as the college library even if just to be physically near other humans.
The late-Summer afternoon was winding down to a gentle roar by the time Jonnie had reached the open access to Cazenovia Lake. Though the park was often filled with the laughter of children; it seemed cloaked with a mysterious hint of desolation and murkiness.
Her eyes searched eagerly for any sign of Jay Masters, an old email acquaintance that had studied Freudian psychology of dreams at an exceptional length.
He’d agreed to finally meet her to review any questions she’d had on his achievements in sleep study. Assessing herself had become exhausting enough; she considered the journal which was jammed tightly in the book bag she had in tow. A penny for his thoughts on the reoccurring she sat at the steps of the square gazebo and rested her chin in her palm maybe he’ll follow me home for dinner. A lonely Jonnie was never picky; any company at this point seemed as welcoming as a cool glass of milk was to a handful of Oreos.
As her eyes stretched across the yard of the little park, a noise had distracted her from the concentrated glances—an illegible vocal echo shot across the still waters of the lake—obscure gusts of cooler winds then immediately followed.
A breath of rushed wind hissed by her ear; within it she heard these words: “save him” in a whimpering female tone. Save who?
“Hello there?” questioned a thickly bemused male voice from the other side of the gazebo. Jonnie then noticed a moderately corpulent man whom was rather well dressed looking in her direction. “Are you Jonnie Morrison by chance?”
“That’d be me.” She replied while considering the prior incident as just her overactive imagination.
“Right”—he rested his right arm flatly against the front of himself while sloppily stepping in her direction—“I am professor Masters from the psychology department here on campus, I believe you wanted to talk about sleep or dreams would you have it?”
She eyed his sense of sloppiness in movement and even considered his tone of confusion as he continued to step towards her; “Perhaps another day, I just remembered that I have to be someplace in Syracuse.” She couldn’t believe the calmness of her words as she felt the sense of fear rise from the pit of her gut at the sight of the messy professor. “It’s real important that I get there, I…”
“Must be my clumsiness is a fright.” He could nearly sense her unease.
Or your inability to regain control “Really I must get going, I hope I haven’t troubled you.”
“Ju-ju…juh, jeh, just give me a muh…uh, moment, Jonnie”—a nervous stutter flew from his tongue—“I realize how I must seem buh…but I, uh, I had cleared my schedule and guh, gah… gathered these notes, for you.”
You can sense something is wrong, can’t you? Just look at him struggling to speak! What kind of well-respected professor acts like this? This is the wrong guy, just look at him! “I really thank you for taking the time but I really must get going; perhaps another day?”
He reached inside of his jacket, and pulled out a notebook; “My notes on group-perception and lucid dreaming, yuh, …yuh–you said in your emails that you believe you have a grouped perception with a roommate, a belief about artificially obtaining premonitions as a group.” He stepped back from her and continued to settle his sloppiness. “I want to know more about it, and possibly help you.”
Jonnie observed that he was who he claimed to be as she recalled the bogus email she’d mailed him a month prior based off of an indie-film she caught on Netflix.
“I understand I must seem a fright, but at least we aren’t alone”—he pointed over to the concrete bridge—“and by the looks of her, she had a bit much to drink.”
Why didn’t I notice someone over there before? Jonnie looked over at a woman who was stood at the edge of the concrete staring out into the lake. A long white dress flowed behind her in the wind along with her long flowing raven hair. The design of the dressed seemed quite outdated along with the native ceremonial headdress that looked like it was woven into several strands atop of her head.
“Was she there when you came up the stairs?” Jonnie questioned.
“I just noticed her”—the professor observed while leaning against the innermost rail facing the bridge—“I traveled that walkway until I spotted you up here, but I don’t recall seeing anyone on or near the bridge. Maybe she was sat on that bench.”
Jonnie observed the walkway, the bench and even the driveway and then looked towards the disoriented woman again something seems a little off about her “So, about grouped perception… have you even conducted any studies on a group of two or more sleepers?” She heard herself ask the question, but knew she couldn’t care less about the brain fumbling he was about to reply with because she was now intrigued by the woman on the cement bridge. There was something about her somberly mysterious appearance that pulled Jonnie in like a magnet.
“Yes, of course”—he began, but then as he continued, all she actually heard was; “blah, bluh merkch, hebfabunh, leh bluh mehaubfauten de blurr, der, ja mur, and then…”
She occasionally replied; “uh-huh…” followed by a slight nod to give off the impression that she was intently listening as she deeply observed the woman on that cement bridge. Why are you so sad?
“Well?” The professor’s voice startled her from her concentrated glance.
“Sorry, can you repeat that last part?” She brought herself back into the conversation with the professor and hoped she could bank on her previously attained knowledge to float her through without him figuring out that she hadn’t heard a single word he’d been saying.
“Yes… um, of course”—he rubbed his forehead in a fright of exhausted frustration—“on your mentioned experiences with your friend Edward, did you both in your perceptions of the dream ever feel as though you were in fact in the same head if you will? Perhaps … I shall ask in another way; had you both previously discussed the time travel together just before retiring, or do you believe that somehow you were telepathically linked?”
This man deserves a simple reply to heighten his frustration with me “Actually we were fooling around with another while watching Dr. Who, Eddie is a big fan you know.”
“Oh bollocks!” The professor shouted in her direction, “Had you been playing with me, or are you literally spinning a web? I expected quite a bit more from you considering our exchanges in mail; I had a bloody seminar to attend tonight with my family and had cancelled to finally meet you and resolve some of these queries but I assure you of this young lady. I will not be a toy for you to play with, I…”
“Professor!” Jonnie grabbed his arm as to startle him from his rant; “I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing!”
“Right…” He replied hesitantly.
He either wants to kiss me, or kill me with that sort of reaction “Edward and I were messing with the Ouija board like I explained in the email to you. We began to fool around while the show was on and after that, we went to sleep and were in the same bed”—Jonnie then noticed that the mysterious woman had seemed to have disappeared—“and we…” She paused a moment as she glanced around to see where the woman could of possibly went, and then continued. “The next day we compared what we remembered from our dreams and we both perceived that somehow while sleeping we travelled in time.”
“Piss off, then!” The professor barked. “I saw that episode on the BBC you pompous arse!”
“Really professor Masters”—she swung around and looked through the other benches in an attempt to figure out where the woman had gone—“there is no need for crass assumption, which is a truth of what was experienced. I expected professionalism from you, sir. My thoughts were that perhaps the show which was on the television had rendered the direct result of the dream, we can; of course speak about the other group perceptions that don’t directly mirror anything you might had seen on the damn BBC.”
“That is quite enough young lady, I had as well been deceived and have taken enough time from my family for this… this fool’s game of yours. Now if you’ll excuse me, I will leave you to it … alone.”
It’s about time you took a hike professor.
Jonnie watched him struggle with replacing his notes inside of his jacket while attempting to step down the stairs from the gazebo. His wobbly movement could nearly rival that of any Barnum’s circus clown on a good day. Despite her amusement, her mind immediately raced back to the whereabouts of the mysterious woman from the concrete bridge. She came down from the gazebo behind his sloppy movement and then quickly began to look around.
The wind whistled by her ear once again “help him…” Help who?
She continued towards the bridge and asked; “someone here?” The lingering silence crept as loudly as the gentle breezes kissing the surface of the evening waters. The area around her was as desolate as a section of earth could possibly get. Jonnie then stood at the edge of the bridge where she’d seen the woman and a distinct sound of whimpering interrupted her concentration of the area.
“What are you doing there?” yelled a male voice from behind her.
Jonnie turned around to notice a man standing there at the foot of the wooden section of the bridge. “I’m sorry, who are you?” she asked.
The man’s face appeared quite still and emotionless as he stood silently to himself. He appeared to be dressed in native ceremonial clothing that long outdated the modern attire commonly seen in museums across the area. His presence seemed quite unnerving to her; she stepped back from the edge and then began walking in his direction, and she asked “Can I help you with something?” He still remained as still as the trees behind him.
A whistling in the wind had then caught her attention. Jonnie turned in the direction of the whistling ditty, and then back towards the man who seemed to have disappeared within a span of a second. Where are they going? Just then, the air had felt increasingly cooler, much cooler than when she’d first entered the park, in fact. Cold enough to see her own breath, she thought.
A scream in the distance had then caused her to look back towards the gazebo she’d earlier been standing upon—to her surprise she noticed the mysterious somber woman—she stood at the furthermost end of the square shaped structure looking out towards the western section of the lake where the land turned into Onondoga territory.
Without hesitation; Jonnie slowly made her way towards the ominous presence of the mystery woman as quickly and stealthily as possible.
“Excuse me.” The grueling nasal sound of professor Masters ripped her out of her concentrated walk; “Jonnie, I think we should revisit this manner.”
She turned to notice the professor walking calmly in her direction. She considered his second pair of eyes, and asked; “Excuse me, Jay… is it? Can you help me?”
“You can call me Jay”—he mumbled breathily trying to sip the air that had raced away from his lungs due to excessive movement for a guy of his size—“whatever do you need dear?”
She cringed at the scent of his garlic-tainted breath reaching her nose, yet swiftly replied; “Will you talk to that woman with me? I think there’s something a matter with her. And, did you see a man when you returned?”
“A man?” the professor questioned.
“Yes”—she flattened her shirt against her stomach and looked towards the concrete bridge—“I was coming off that bridge and he was behind me.”
“What did he look like?” He asked flatly and unenthusiastically.
“I think he was Native American maybe, certainly dressed the part.” She rubbed her chin in concentration and then turned back towards the professor; “does it seem cold to you?”
The professor looked at her with a bit of concern behind his stare; “Yes, it does seem a bit cooler, say … are you all right? Would you like to go get a coffee?”
I am not going anywhere with you! “No.” Jonnie turned to walk away from the professor and as she looked back to the gazebo, she noticed that the woman was gone again without a trace. “Where did she go?”
“The woman”—Jonnie ran up into the gazebo to investigate the area—“she was just right here, and she is gone again!”
“Are you sure you don’t want to go grab a cup o’ Joe dear?” The professor was now sincerely worried for her.
“No!” she barked, “where is she!”
“There is nobody here but you and I, I am afraid … perhaps she’d gone home for the evening or something like that.” The professor hardly believed he’d really seen anyone himself and much less believed that she’d seen a man like the one she’d described to him. “It’s getting late out dear, perhaps you …”
“Help him…” the wind whispered in her ear again.
“Shh”—she interrupted him mid-sentence—“did you hear that?”
“Hear … what?”
She observed the professor’s overall demeanor and began to walk away from him quickly while searching the immediate area for the woman some more. “Look”—she yelled with her back towards him—“I am busy so let’s talk some other day.”
The professor once again had enough of her actions and threw his hands in the air; “Have fun crazy girl” he spat out sarcastically while eagerly exiting the park quicker than he had before. He figured her for a lunatic at this point and wanted nothing further to do with her.
Once again, Jonnie returned to the edge of the dock and this time she dug out her smartphone. She noticed that the battery had dramatically emptied since she had last used it. The device had somehow gone from 91% down to a depleted 7%. She swiped her thumb across the screen and pulled up the camera feature. Her eyes shot across the still waters of the lake as she brought up the phone to her eye level to catch a shot of the fog that seemed to be forming in the center.
In the display of the device, she could see what appeared to be an anonymous canoe floating nearby the fog formations. She lowered the device and looked out towards the same spot, but didn’t see the canoe.
She looked into the display again, and again the canoe was there – this time, the woman was also in the canoe and appeared to be holding something in her arms. Again, the weeping sounds were present along with a muffled whimpering that pleaded for help.
Just then, the battery of the smartphone had exhausted to the point of powering down the device. She angrily shoved it back into her front pocket and looked back out in the direction where she’d seen the canoe and again, it was nowhere to be seen.
“Yakukwé!”—yelled a distant voice—“La:kvhe’”
Jonnie stepped away from the edge, and this time walked towards the direction of the exit of the park. This time, a series of splashes followed by a bone-chilling scream ripped through the silent air of the growing night. “H-e-e-e-l-l-l-p … him!” quickly followed.
Just then, as she looked back into the lake – the environs looked warm again, and this time she could see a gathering of people on the shoreline of the lake standing in a messy circle and they seemed to be holding up handcrafted axes while yelling towards the waters. Beyond the angry clan gathering she could also see two canoes; one had a man and a woman aboard, and the other two men who seemed to be chasing the couple.
Though she could see them, she couldn’t hear anything but the gentle wind passing by.
She walked closer to the shore; one of the men in the pursuing canoe had leapt out of his vessel and managed to capsize the couple’s canoe and both the man and woman became submerged in the murky water of the lake. The pursuing man grabbed a hold of the other male and appeared to be stabbing him repeatedly in the chest along the area of his heart and then he’d released his lifeless body into the water and stood before the frightened woman.
He picked her up by her hair and grabbed her chin in an attempt to force her to see the dead man floating in the water upside down. Jonnie then recognized the aggressive man was the same man she’d seen at the foot of the bridge earlier.
“Help him” whispered the wind …
Jonnie shook her head just as it appeared like the woman was about to meet her demise and recognized that she was back in the cool, desolate surroundings of Cazenovia Lake park.
Her eyes stretched back out in the direction of the altercation only to be met with a growing cloud of fog rising from the water.
“Tell me how to help you!” Her choked up voice ripped through the stagnant air. “I don’t know what to do unless you tell me what to do!” She could feel the presence of heavy mourning enter her. She thought about the death of her father some ten years ago and how she could barely move forward. She thought about the loneliness within her that she’d walked around with day after day in search of something more than just the quiet life she was stuck inside of.
Something within her began to grow like the persistence of a thought that wouldn’t go away no matter what was done to shake it. Her eyes remained painted on the exact location where she’d seen the residual event play out before her eyes.
If nothing I ever did before mattered to anyone ever, maybe this has become that moment where something I did finally meant something, somehow. Without second thought, she ran gung-ho into the cold dark water and began in the general direction where she’d last seen the weeping woman and her canoe.
The fog nearly seemed to grow thicker, and even thicker still. Jonnie didn’t care … she wanted to set the woman free from her prison of an obvious grief stricken bereavement.
Each step towards the location felt nearly impossible as the ice cold water cut through her legs right to the bone. Behind her, she could hear the screaming of the professor whom she’d assumed had left the park; “Stupid girl!” he yelled, “where the hell are you going!”
“Where are you?” Jonnie asked; “I am here to help.”
As she suddenly felt the life force being sucked away from her, she thought about her father’s last day with her:
Joe had a ridiculous level of sadness wrestling with his thoughts as he watched his little girl Jonnie play in the backyard with his niece Kaylie Jean. “Jonnie!” he walked over to her and sat on a swing beside her and brushed her hair back from her little innocent face.
“I have to go on a trip with grandpa down to Pennsylvania, so I need you to be a brave little girl and keep your mommy company. Think you can do that?” You could nearly see the lie behind the sentence he’d spoken to his innocent daughter float into the air but she sweetly answered “yes daddy.”
He continued to watch his little girl for about a half an hour before finally leaving the yard when she wasn’t paying too much attention to him. He made his way down to the creek and with a bold yet tormented mindset; he put a revolver into his mouth and pulled the trigger. The gunshot could be heard for a mile—Jonnie herself had heard the echo but never realized that she just heard her father end his own life.
“Help him.” The voice jolted her to a conscious awareness and there before her in the water stood the apparition of her deceased father.
“Daddy?” She tearfully asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Go back…” he said sternly. “Turn back now, and go back.”
As she reached to touch him, his presence seemed to disappear into thin air. Again, she could hear the yells and pleas of the professor from the shore who had now been joined by a police officer. In shock of the vision of her father; Jonnie fell down into the knee deep water and lost herself to the heaviness of pain from the confusion.
“Help me!” She now screamed like the woman of the canoe. “H-e-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-p m-e-e-e-e!”
Again, the woman appeared before her – Jonnie regained momentary control of and stared contently into the face of this beautiful, and yet tormented mystery she’d been chasing all afternoon.
“I wanted to help you”—Jonnie said through tears—“but now I can’t even save myself.”
“Do not cry, brave one”—the woman placed her hand on Jonnie’s shoulder—“go back now to land and write about me, and tell my story. That is how you can help me.”
“I don’t understand?” said she.
“Go now brave soul, go and write of me.”
“What is your name?” Jonnie asked.
The woman put her finger up to Jonnie’s lips to silence her, and then vanished into the fog just as quickly as she had appeared. What was your name?
After the shock had worn off, Jonnie returned to shore and after dealing with the officer, she had went home to the comfort of her bed and a cup of warm relaxing tea. The visions of her day in Cazenovia Lake Park were so overwhelming that she couldn’t gather her thoughts around anything else but …
Like the mysterious woman had asked; she began to scribe the events that had taken place that afternoon at the lake.
She looked into the mirror at herself, and thought …
I shall call you the wraith of Ohnéganos.