Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Tornado People

I first saw the Tornado People when I was a youngster. They were the reason I had to have a nightlight on in order to sleep peacefully for ten years. They never seemed to appear in the light, or at least I couldn't perceive them anymore. My mother and grandparents thought me foolish for needing that light. But that fear of the darkness is palpable even as a memory today.

They appeared in the blackness that only children can see, in the darkness that looks like a living thing, with pulsating particles that seem to move and vibrate like they are flowing in and out of our reality. The Tornado People seemed to use this particulate black to move, walking around with an air of incomprehensible menace. They used it to form the upright vortexes of their limbs, torsos and head. There were times that I swear I could almost hear the buzzing caused by their featureless maelstroms. That's why I named them "Tornado People", but I never told anyone about them.

They had no discernible eyes, yet I knew they saw everything. I could feel it. I had no idea what they wanted, and I could never understand their aims. I felt like I was some sort of experiment they were observing. To them, I was the ant I stepped on or the fly I swatted. I was only safe if they didn't notice me. Or if I took away the darkness.

Gradually, I stopped seeing the Tornado People. They went away, or at least they stopped showing themselves to me.  The darkness became simple black. Now, I find it hard to sleep with any light on at all. I wear a blindfold at night, and earplugs. There's a constant activity in my mind that I can only damped that way. Dark and silent.

I've come to wonder if there really are such things hidden in the darkness. Does a person's increasing rationality as they grow up turn off switches in their head that let them see those things? Preferring ignorance to understanding? Or perhaps as a necessity to maintain their sanity? After all, how can one explain the things that go bump in the night? Or at least do so without being acquiring a derisive label?

Our minds aren't meant to process that sort of information. Our brains can't handle it any more than if we could see into four dimensions rather than three. Too much information, too much clutter, too many things to fear. Imagine if you could see all the microorganisms in the air around you? Would you be too afraid to move, or too scared to stand still?

I have to wonder now. There have been nights lately in which the darkness began to move again. Instead of simple black, a miasma of movement just on the edge of my conscious perception. I still have control of my rationality. I think I do. I haven't seen the Tornado People again. Yet. It has been nearly a lifetime since they showed themselves to me, watching me. Now I wonder, did they go away or did I? And after a lifetime of moving from place to place, have they finally found me again?

I have to wonder: Will they just watch this time?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Temporal Confusion - 1

I think back and try to remember the specifics of a moment of abject pleasure or triumph, and I find I can’t. I remember doing a lot of things that were enjoyable; but they don’t seem very real or important, as most of the details just aren’t there. But when I think back upon the bad times, what I do remember is crystal clear, with a sharpness that can still hurt. I find myself viewing those events as if I was watching myself as they happened, compartmentalizing the situation for the greater good of holding myself together. 

My own life has, for the lack of a better term, been fuzzy. I have no real sense of time anymore, and I find myself losing years, even decades; time periods that have no particular emotion landmark to latch on and pull me back to a specific moment. To make things worse, I have no reliable information on my own origins. Sure, I had a family, and a mother, but my personal and family history is a tabula rasa beyond a certain point. I have made myself, for good or bad, the person I am. But I have no confirmed lineage and will leave no ancestry for anyone to follow. I am a small point in time. Inconsequential in the grand calendar of life.

I believe my first memory is of something similarly inconsequential. I remember seeing someone pull folding chairs out of the trunk of a light blue car, probably a Dodge. It had tail fins as I recall. Why would someone remember something like that? And why would I know that is my earliest memory? For some reason, I know that is the dawn of my personality. After that, my memories become jumbled. I know not which one predates or which one succeeds any other one.

I know I was sick quite often as a child. I have memories of being in the hospital many times, and for long periods of time. I know I had pneumonia several times. I had earaches and I remember being close to death at one time because of a high fever. I remember the nurses covering me with cold, damp towels on a bed in a pinkish-grey hospital room. I think it was some sort of isolation room. I remember being told that I had some sort of reaction to a vaccination, but I have no idea if this vignette was the end result or another single event. For all I know, it was a dream.

The dreams. I remember many, many dreams. Or at least I remember situations that I hope were dreams, because I also remember terror, along with what I perceived as evil. I lived in a mobile home on a small, two-acre plot of land. It was fenced in by a rudimentary fence, which had a huge piece of plywood for the gate. I could not open it. I distinctly remember one morning when I went outside. Everything seemed fine, but as I wandered around the backyard, I discovered what looked like a pair of large spiders fighting. But I don’t think they were spiders. One was hairy, like a tarantula. The other was flesh-colored, like a small human hand. I remember the terror I felt, that blinding, unreasoning terror that only a small child can experience. I went to the gate and tried to open it, but couldn’t. It was too heavy to move. I called out crying to my grandmother to let me out or let me back in the trailer. She came out and said I was supposed to stay out there. No reason why.

That’s where that memory ends. Why? I can see waking if it was a dream, but I can’t recall doing so. I have no idea what happened after my grandmother went back inside and left me to my own devices.

It may have been after or before that incident that I remember spending an evening with my family: My grandmother, grandfather and mother. I was playing on the kitchen floor and could see all the way to the front and back of the mobile home. In the back, there was a bedroom, with a window in the outer curving wall. As I played there, I heard some sort of noise, like a guttural voice from the bedroom. I looked that way and the back window had been replaced with a face, or rather the approximation of the face. There were black eyes and a black mouth that twisted as it spoke. It was commanding me to do something, what it was I don’t remember, but I think I was supposed to move closer to it. I looked around toward my family in the living room and they were looking back at me. They seemed frozen, almost two-dimensional, and I knew I was alone. I turned back to look at the face in the window, which was continuing to speak words I couldn’t quite hear or quite understand. Another endpoint in time for me.

Scene change to daytime. I’m mucking about a bunch of old railroad ties that my grandfather had put in the back yard, watching this strange little insects. I think they must’ve been some sort of termite pupae or some other intermediary stage of an insect. They were light purple and sort of oval, with a layered covering that appeared reminiscent of the folds on an accordion. I was lying on my belly stretched over the ties and then flipped over. The second I moved, a large jet passed over me. It was as if you were watching a landing of a plane on a TV show through a fish-eye lens, but it was so close I could’ve reached out and touched it as it passed. There was an ungodly noise and I reflexively turned back face down, and it was gone. With the trees and the very mobile home nearby, an airplane, much less a jet in that space was physically impossible. And I am very certain I was awake.