(Animation by Dualvoidanima)
There is and always has been an ordinance of belief in effect upon this world. Anywhere and everywhere that mankind goes, his beliefs too, go with him, along with the repercussions associated with said belief. Some beliefs are more palatable than others, some can be proven with various practices, but a great many beliefs are enforced/controlled by popular opinion (or the manipulation/distortion of such). Some things, even if someone sees it with their own eyes, hears it with their own ears, they will doubt the event ever occurred at all. Believing rather, that they were deceived, that their memory is somehow erroneous, a spell of madness temporarily took hold of them, nullifying their senses. The ordinance, must not be questioned, this universe is governed by a set of rules and those rules cannot be broken. Until of course, “the universe,” chooses to behave quite altogether different, changing the rules of engagement entirely.
Our experiences with this world, this reality, go on to shape and mould us in a multitude of ways that we can barely imagine. Our imaginations, too, anchored to this very same existential experience. Somehow, somewhere, somewhen a singular event unfolds, that defies all logic and reason. A singular event that by all rights, by the laws of physics, the laws of nature as they are understood, should not be possible to have ever occurred at all. An event where the rules of logic and physics are effectively broken. What are the repercussions upon the individual(s) to witness one such event? Let alone, a lifetime of such events?
One thing is clear: strangeness, it seems, begets strangeness.
I noticed the screen of my phone illuminate before the sound of the call began, upon answering, an old familiar voice said, “surely we’re not the only ones who still remember what happened?” Flickers of memory cascaded through my mind’s eye, the dust rising over the road as the frill-neck lizard chased after me, hissing, all the way home from school. The mute little girl riding on the back of her German-shepherd, an uncannily gentle creature that would later be murdered by one of the many insidious characters of that time and place. The bizarre inkblot-like formation the spilled blood made as it pooled over the cement as they relentlessly tortured the albino boy. It all seemed like strange details in some obscure work of fiction now. “It was an unusual time, looking back, it’s sort of like trying to remember a dream,” I replied. “Or a nightmare, probably better off forgotten,” the voice said.
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
I shuffled the deck, without looking at the cards. Splitting the deck, I turned over one of the cards. “Four of hearts,” she said, I looked down and smiled. “I wonder what’s the record for guessing cards right, this many times in a row,” I wondered aloud. My grandmother’s voice spoke from across the room, “but she isn’t guessing.”
Three people were seated at a restaurant awaiting their meal. Of the three beverages delivered to the table, one was a can of coke cola, tiny beads of liquid perspiring down the chilled aluminum can. Throughout the exchange of general chit-chat one individual’s attention was drawn to the can as it began to slowly spin 360 degrees. Immediately all three individuals looked at the can and inspected underneath the table, laughing and dumbstruck by the seemingly odd behavior of physics unfolding before them. As they slid their chairs back from the table, their eyes fixated on the can, the can then slowly slid/moved (itself?) approximately 30 cm along the table, before coming to a halt. A young waitress approached the table and asked, “am I crazy or was that coke just moving?” Another patron added, “the table must be uneven, it looked like that from over here too.” There was shock, there was laughter, there was speculation, but then the nattering, the general chit-chat returned. Years later, a doubtful anecdote, at best, a mere question mark remains. There has to be a logical explanation, even if one cannot fathom what that explanation actually is.
A maintenance electrician arrives on site, parking where he always does, every morning. He exits his vehicle and prepares himself a coffee, as he does every day. He returns to his vehicle to sit in the driver seat to consume it. While drinking his beverage, sat in his vehicle he notices a familiar face in the distance, an old work mate he had not seen in years. Making his way toward this individual, he drops his coffee and falls to his knees with the concussive blast of a high pressure explosion. As the ringing in his ears subsides and he shakes the scolding hot coffee off of his hands, he looks back to his vehicle, specifically the front driver’s seat. The windscreen shattered, piping protruding through the metal frame of the vehicle, having burst through the driver’s head rest. The electrician observed visibly shaken upon the inspection of his vehicle, quickly coming to the conclusion that this old acquaintance he intended to catch up with, had inadvertently saved his life. So the tradesman began asking, where is this person, where is he. But he is reminded that he’s in shock, and not to worry about it. Later discovering that not only was the person he thought he had seen not on site that day, he had not been on any site for years, he had died in a workplace accident several years earlier. The question mark haunts this individual still.
Tragedy, she told me, echoes through time, sending shock-waves through memory, through generations, through worlds that cascade into oblivion. It would be another two decades before she would explain just how tragic certain events truly were, but the truth, it seems, found its way into my understanding long before it needed to be spoken. Wandering the abandoned asylum as a child, what I assumed were merely conjurations of my mind, the kind of stories that unfold in thought, were events that actually transpired in that abysmal place, to relatives that I never knew. Now, a memory of a memory, there is no meaning, there is no clarity or closure, merely a question mark, contributing to an ever estranged relationship with reality itself.
I was awoken in the middle of the night by a phone call, I didn’t recognize the number or even the area code. I could hear the familiar sounds heard within the carriage of a train, moving along the tracks. I could hear unintelligible voices in the background, it didn’t sound English. Then what sounded like a female voice saying, “Kappa… Kappa… Kappa.” I replied, “Hello, who is this?” I could hear the sounds of a train a moment longer, then they hung up. This went on for months, happening one night every few weeks, usually after midnight. It became apparent to me, that the word Kappa, 河童 in Japanese meant ‘river-child’, an amphibious yōkai, a creature of folklore. That didn’t give any sense to the purpose or nature of the continual prank call. Some years later, while traveling Japan during one of the many train trips taken, I had an eerily familiar feeling, as I listened to the sounds of the train clunking over the tracks, and just as I anticipated it, I heard a woman somewhere in the carriage say what I knew would be said, “Kappa… Kappa… Kappa.” I struggled to get out of my seat, by the luggage and other passengers, looking around for anyone holding a phone. But no one was, and the passengers looked concerned and uneasy as I investigated them with a glare. So I returned to my seat and the weight of the question mark grew heavier.
The ancients knew it best, there was good, there was evil, but most of all there was the in-between, the tricksters, the deceivers. These elusive beings that left all those who crossed-paths with them scratching their heads. Forgotten by the modern world. Their will was intangible, there was no rhyme or reason, it dumbfounded mortal men that gods, fay, beings of great power would toy with the lives of so many, to achieve, seemingly nothing. Yet in their mischief, in their tricks and games, theirs was the greatest gift of all. It was always a display of triviality, a literal example of nonsense, leading us both metaphorically and literally down the garden path. Exposing us to unbelievable spectacles that many might call paranormal or supernatural, in an effort to unveil what lay before us, that consumes our existence from the moment we are born to the second that we die. The ordinance of belief, alike our reality as we understand it is not rigid, indestructible or impervious to challenge.