sacred geometry, part 6

 

Last time on Sacred Geometry: Part 4 | Part 5

"So what's the plan?" asked Ben as he joined Scarlett in at the window.

 "Plan?" Scarlett stared at him.

"You don't have a plan?"

"Stay the fuck away from any cows. Scare the kids off. That's about all I got."

Ben frowned. "Do you think they're dangerous? I could grab the shotgun."

Scarlett winced. If there was one thing she liked less than cows, it was guns. "It would scare me away, that's for sure." She shook her head. "I don't think they're violent, no."

Ben shrugged. "I feel like I should have something to defend us, though."

"He said, 'us'" Scarlett's brain pointed out.

"I know," she said to herself as she smiled.

Ben looked at her quizzically. "What's up?"

"Oh," she shook her head and waved. "Nothing."

"Ohhhhhh-kay," said Ben. "This is your area of expertise, not mine."

"Right, well," she turned to him. "We could try to scare them. Make it seem like an actual UFO is showing up."

Ben chuckled. "I bet they'd shit themselves." He frowned. "That seems like a lot of work, though. Unless you have an alien costume in the trunk of your car."

"Do not admit that we have an alien costume in the trunk of our car," Scarlett's brain instructed. Scarlett stayed silent.

"You don't actually have an alien costume in the trunk of your car, do you?"

"No," she said somewhat unconvincingly.

"You know, you're pretty hot and all, but you're a little weird."

Scarlett shrugged. "Completely normal people don't tend to become paranormal bloggers."

Ben thought through the truth inherent in that statement, then shrugged his shoulders. "Well, I guess I should get used to it."

She smiled, then took his hand and squeezed it. "I'd like that." After a moment, she asked, "Do you have a tractor?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I think I have a plan."

#

Meg was high. Her friends were high. Meg and her friends were very, very high. Being outside, sitting next to a campfire under the stars, getting stoned with her friends, and worshipping the sky gods was what high school was all about, she thought.

Actually, she thought that the sky gods thing was a load of crap, but her boyfriend, Jared, believed that he'd been abducted by aliens on multiple occasions, and she loved him, so she rolled with it.

He also had the absolute best weed around, so all of her other friends were more than happy to hang out in a field and sing and dance and praise the sky gods along with the two of them. Hell, some of them might have really believed in it, too.

"Friends," Jared began, "we are here tonight to pay homage to the lords of the nighttime sky."

"And get high!" screamed their friend Jay.

"The sacred herb is the gateway to communication with the sky gods," Jared replied in a more than mellow fashion. "So yes, we are here..."

"To get high!" Jay screamed again. Everyone else cheered. Meg thought that Jay was kind of an ass.

"Friends," said Jared, "let us sing our song of praise!"

"To getting high!"

"Dude," said Jared.

"Sorry, man," said Jay. "I just like to get high."

"It's cool, man," replied Jared, "let's just say the chant first, and then you can get baked."

"Right on."

Meg had already used a stake and twine to draw out the same intersecting circle pattern that Jared had tattooed on his bicep a year ago onto the grass of the field. Jared had then traced the pattern with lighter fluid, and now stood ready, lighter in hand, to set the grass ablaze.

"Oh, awesome and benevolent sky gods," Jared intoned, "please hear our shout out to you, in all of your infinite awesomeness."

"Fuck yeah, Sky Gods," the group responded in unison.

"We are here to pay homage to you, in all of your infinite awesomeness."

"Fuck yeah! Sky Gods!" the group responded, louder this time.

"We are here, to partake of the sacred herb, and listen to your song, in all of its infinite awesomeness."

"Fuck yeah! Sky Gods!"

Jared bent down and lit the interlocking circles on fire. Flame raced along the ground, tracing the path of the vesica piscis through the field. It burned out within a few seconds, at which point everyone clapped and cheered.

Suddenly, a rumbling sound, low and rhythmic, filled the air. Jared motioned the group to be quiet as he stared out past the light of the campfire, into the darkness.

Then, from the direction of the rumbling, a powerful cold light, more than ten times as bright as the light produced by the campfire, snapped on, blinding the group. Meg grabbed onto Jared with one hand even as she shielded her eyes with the other. Everyone was silent, waiting to see what would come next.

A tall, slender figure finally appeared, silhouetted against the source of the light. The light was so strong that it seemed to bend around the edges of the figure, blurring it, making it impossible to focus on, and accentuating its otherworldly proportions.

Its legs and arms were far too long, and its body far too slender for it to be human. Finally, it slowly stretched out a single hand and pointed directly at them with one of its inhumanly long fingers.

"Holy shit!" shouted Jay, "It's an alien!"

Meg screamed, and then Jared shouted, "Run!"

#

"Ha ha! Fuckers!" Scarlett muttered as she watched the group of teenagers take off into the darkness, screaming as they sprinted across the field.

Once the sounds of their screams had faded, Ben turned off the tractor and hopped down from the seat. "Man, that thing is bright," he said as he shielded his eyes from the LED floodlight that they'd attached to the front.

"I think I recognized one of those kids," said Scarlett as she pulled the alien mask off. She turned toward Ben and wobbled forward, the stilts built into the legs of her costume sinking into the soft earth of the field.

"Wait, really, where from?"

"He's a UFO blogger. I've met him at conventions." She reached out toward him. "Help me back to the tractor."

"Oh shit," said Ben as he took Scarlett's hand to support her while she walked. "He's not going to write about this and turn my field into UFO-spotters central is he?"

"I don't know," said Scarlett, "'I Pooped Myself and Ran Away' doesn't make for a great blog title. I think he'd lose any credibility he had in the community if he wrote about it."

"Good God, I hope so," he replied as he helped her back into the tractor.

Suddenly, a rumbling sound, low and rhythmic, filled the air.

"Oh, you've got to be shitting me," Scarlett whispered as a bright, cold light suddenly appeared in the sky above their heads. It was powerful, about ten times as bright as the campfire, and Scarlett grabbed Ben with one hand while she shielded her eyes with the other.

The two stared skyward as the light hovered, motionless, above them.

"Fuck yeah, Sky Gods?" Scarlett's brain whimpered.

"Scarlett?" asked Ben.

"Yes?"

"Is this bad?"

Before she could respond, the light suddenly accelerated, moving faster than any aircraft Scarlett knew of, and flew north - disappearing over the tops of the trees in the distance in a matter of seconds.

"What the fuck?" shouted Ben. He stared at Scarlett. "Was that what I think it was?"

She nodded slowly, "Yeah. I'm pretty sure that's what it was."

"Whatever we do, we can't tell my dad about this," said Ben. "He'll be so pissed off that he missed it."

Scarlett's heart sank - she knew he was right. If she wrote about the encounter on her blog, his father would read it, and he'd be devastated. "Damn it," she whispered.

"Sorry."

She sighed. "At least I got a cute guy out of the deal."

Ben smiled at her. "It is always like this with you?"

She thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Pretty much."

He laughed, then shrugged in return. "Sounds cool."

#

"So tell me about this guy," said Jeff, Scarlett's best friend, as he sat in her kitchen, drinking a cup of coffee. Scarlett sat across from him, sipping from a cup of green tea.

Scarlett smiled, "He's really hot."

Jeff shook his head.

"And...he's used to weird people."

"Well, that's significant, actually."

"I know!"

Jeff chuckled. "I'm happy for you."

"Thanks, man."

"Hey, I'll tell Mary about him - maybe we can go out on a double date!"

"Maybe. I kind of want him to myself for a while, first."

"Well, sure. You've got to get all the sex out of the way."

Scarlett laughed. "Yes. Yes, indeed."

"So anyway, you coming to church on Sunday?"

"Yeah, I'll be there. I haven't missed a week yet."

"Good. There's a couple that wants to meet you. Friends of Mary's. They think their house is haunted."

"Oh nice," said Scarlett as she leaned back in her chair and relaxed. "I could go for a good haunting right about now."

###

Part 1 | Previous | Next

sacred geometry, part 5

 

>> New to the series? Start with Part 1.


"Why wouldn't you want to be probed?" asked Jim. "How many other people can say they've been abducted by extraterrestrials and had their DNA extracted? That would be so amazing!"

 

Scarlett thought for a moment, and struggled to find a response. Finally, she just shrugged. "I'm not sure how to answer that."

Scarlett had ventured out of the city to investigate a report of UFO crop circles at a local farm. What she'd found was the handiwork of what she suspected was school kids. The news came as a huge disappointment to Jim Brown, the owner of the farm.

"Well, what can you do?" the elder farmer frowned. "Guess I won't be able to add the crop circles to the collection."

The Brown family farmhouse was a wunderkammer of the esoteric, occult, new age, and downright weird. Bookshelves lined the wall, filled with tattered and obviously well-read treatises on the occult. Every inch of wall space that wasn't covered by bookcases was lined with pictures of pyramids, crop circles, mandalas, sacred symbols, and quotes from nearly every religious text ever known to man. Tables filled the corners, and were covered with candles, crystals, skulls, skull candles, skull candle-holders, crystal skulls, and crystal skull candle-holders.

Scarlett was impressed.

As she looked around, she noticed a hand-painted sign hanging on the wall. It read, "But take courage, the race of man is divine." Something about it made her uneasy, but she couldn't place why.

"That sign," she said, pointing to it, "where is it from?"

"Oh, I lifted that from a hotel down near Columbus." said Jim, "It's part of the Pythagorean creed."

Scarlett clutched her head as a wave of dizziness hit her. Numbers tumbled through her head: 780, 1351, 153, 265. Her knees buckled, and she felt herself heading for the floor, when a strong pair of hands grabbed her and steadied her.

"Woah, there," said Ben, "You ok?"

"Sorry," Scarlett replied, unsteadily. "I just...need to sit down." Ben helped her to a chair, and then she continued, "It's been a rough few weeks."

"Yikes," said Ben. "You're welcome to hang out for a while."

"Hell, why don't you stay for dinner?" asked Jim.

"No, thanks. I couldn't. I should probably go."

"I guarantee that you'll never have a steak this good anywhere else," said Jim.

"My dad is one hell of a cook," said Ben.

"Well," she said after a moment's hesitation, "I am kind of hungry."

#

Jim Brown was, indeed, one hell of a cook, and Scarlett eagerly cut into the perfectly rare rib-eye. "This is fucking amazing," she said between bites.

"I told you," said Ben with a smile as he filled up her wine glass.

"And the wine goes perfectly," she continued, alternating bites of steak with sips of wine.

"I like this one," said Jim with a chuckle as he pointed to Scarlett. "Say, are you single?"

"Dad!" exclaimed Ben. Scarlett blushed.

"Well, not for me!" Jim retorted, "I'm old. For you. You're single, she's smart, you should get together and give me some grandchildren finally."

"Oh my God," Ben said as he covered his face with his hands.

Scarlett narrowly avoided snorting wine out of her nose as she struggled to suppress a laugh. She set the glass down and took a deep breath. "Well, I'm not seeing anyone right now, no."

"See?" said Jim.

Ben peeked through his fingers as Scarlett who blushed more fiercely and covered her own face as a result. "So..."

"So...?"

"Well, you want to go out sometime?" asked Ben as he put his hands back down.

Scarlett dropped her hands and smiled at him, "Yeah, I'd like that."

"See!" Jim said, smiling. "I'm glad that's settled. Now who wants more mashed potatoes?"

#

Scarlett, Ben, and Jim ate and talked for hours, until Jim finally excused himself to go to bed. "Lots of farming to do in the morning," he explained before he left the table.

Ben watched his father disappear upstairs, and then turned to Scarlett, "More wine?"

"That depends," Scarlett smiled, "are you trying to get me drunk?"

"Heh," Ben chuckled, "Yeah, I guess so."

"So that you can take advantage of me?" she said, hopefully.

Ben paused for a moment before smiling and nodding, "Yeah, I suppose I am."

"YES!" her brain said.

"Shut up, he will hear you," she said back to her brain. She smiled. He smiled back.

"Well," she said as she leaned forward, "I don't think you're going to need to get me any more intoxicated than I already am to accomplish that."

"Is that so?"

"That," she said hungrily, "is so."

Scarlett was not prone to one-night stands. On occasion, though, with just the right man, on just the right night, she was willing to make an exception. And, she was hoping that this might turn into a two or three or ten-night stand.

It also provided her with an excuse not to sleep in her own bed.

She helped him clear the table, and clean up, giving Jim enough time to fall asleep, and then Ben led her upstairs. She took hold of his rough hand in hers, and followed right behind.

His hands and arms were strong, and he guided her body in just the right way. While she normally preferred to lead, this night she was content just to feel his skin next to hers. She was happy not to be alone. She was happy to feel alive.

#

The noise of chanting awoke her. It was distant and unintelligible, like a television turned up too loudly in a house down the street, but it was definitively chanting.

Ben was sound asleep. Scarlett pulled the covers back, glanced admiringly at the nude body of the man who had been sleeping next to her, and then padded quietly to the window.

The nice thing about being this far away from downtown was that that it was dark at night. It wasn't middle-of-the-desert dark, but it was still better than in the suburbs. The relative darkness allowed her to spot a spot of light halfway across the field - near the spot she'd examined earlier in the day.

"No shit," her brain said to her. "They're back."

"Oh, this is going to be good," she replied.

She walked back to the bed, and gently roused Ben. "Hey handsome," she said as he looked at her, sleepily, "Want to go tell some damned kids to get the hell off your lawn?"

###

Part 1 | Previous | Next

sacred geometry, part 4: vesica piscis

 

>> New to the series? Start with Part 1.


"This is why I don't do UFO stuff," Scarlett thought angrily as she gingerly removed her foot from the middle of a cow patty. "Too many fields, too many cows, too much bullshit."

 

The past month had been a blur. She'd survived an attack – the details of which she still didn't remember – that had left her in the hospital for a week. Then she'd spent another week at home, trying to get her strength back while simultaneously having the worst sleep of her life. She was terrified of being attacked again – every time she closed her eyes, she felt a rush of fear.

In the meantime, she struggled to get work done for the clients of her day job, a private graphic design firm. Deadlines loomed and blog articles had to be written. She put out an ad for a roommate, hoping that having someone else in the house would make her feel safe. It was all very overwhelming, and now she was standing in the middle of a field with cow poop on her shoe.

"Where there's cow shit, there are cows," her brain reminded her.

"Fuck. Don't tell me that." She clenched her fists and resisted the urge to start screaming.

"Lots of them."

"Ugh." She shivered and looked around nervously, then took a deep breath. "It could be worse," she told herself, "At least the farmer is cute."

#

"I really don't investigate crop circles," Scarlett said, "They've been pretty thoroughly debunked."

Jim Brown, of Brown Family Farm, had left a message on her blog, Things That Go Bump in the Night, asking her to investigate the appearance of crop circles in his field. She'd called back in order to politely decline, but got his son, Ben, on the phone instead.

"It's probably just college kids," she explained.

"That was what I figured, but my dad's a really big fan of your blog. He thinks you'd find it worth investigating."

"I appreciate that," Scarlett replied, "But the odds of it being supernatural in origin are incredibly low."

"Well, would it help if I told you that we're also missing a cow?"

Scarlett paused and grimaced. "A cow?"

"Yes, my dad and I raise cows in a sustainable fashion. We supply meat to local restaurants and butchers."

Scarlett sighed. She had a number of friends who worked in the Cleveland restaurant scene, so she had a great deal of sympathy for the locavore movement. "You think the cow might have been…abducted?"

Ben laughed. "Hey, it's a possibility. Or maybe whoever did this ran her off."

Scarlett took a sip of the bourbon that had become her nightly companion. "I'm still not sure there's anything there for me to see."

"It would mean a lot to my old man. He's a big fan of your blog."

Scarlett sighed again. She felt like she was sighing at everything lately. "Well, hold on a second," she said as she googled the Brown Family Farm and pulled up their website. On the front page was a picture of an older man with gray hair and a potbelly; and a chiseled, brown-eyed, and very attractive younger man. The labels identified them as Jim and Ben, father and son.

"Well, hello, farmer Brown," she thought to herself.

"It would do you good to get out of the house," her brain reminded her.

She checked the address – 15351 Kinsman Rd. It was about a half hour drive into one of the more rural areas of Greater Cleveland. She stared at the picture of the younger farmer. "He has a nice smile," she thought.

"Are you still there?" said the voice on the phone.

"Oh! Yes," sorry, Scarlett felt her cheeks get warm. "You know what? Maybe I will check it out, if you don't mind me spinning it into an article about how to debunk crop circles."

#

"There it is," said Ben, pointing to an overlapping set of blackened circles that had been burned into the green grass of the pasture. Each circle looked to be twenty feet in diameter, and they overlapped so that the center of each fell on the circumference of the other.

"Huh," Scarlett said, "It's a vesica piscis."

"Sorry?" replied Ben.

"It literally means 'bladder of a fish.' Beyond just being a cool kind of shape, it's important in several mystic traditions." She frowned. This was not what she had expected at all.

"Ok. Like mystic UFOs?"

"Not exactly," Scarlett pointed to the almond-shaped section where the circles overlapped. "That part there is called a mandorla. It's a shape that you'll find a lot in illuminated manuscripts, plus it factors into Freemasonry and other organizations."

She could feel a headache coming on – they'd been frequent ever since the assault – but she tried to block out the pain. She bent down to look at the circles, and found that the grass was carbonized. She sniffed the air and caught the faint smell of gasoline. "Figures," she thought.

She stood back up, carefully stepped over the charred grass, and walked toward the center of the left circle, peering intently at the ground as she went. "There it is," she thought, and then bent to look at where the outline of the right circle crossed the center of the left. Sure enough, there was a hole about an inch in diameter. She stuck her fingers in it and felt the sides – smooth and tapered to a point about four inches deep.

Scarlett stood up again and then headed to the very center of the set of circles. When she stepped into the mandorla, though, she immediately felt dizzy and disoriented.  She grabbed her head, closed her eyes, and waited a minute for the vertigo to pass.

After the sensation subsided, she opened her eyes, looked around and saw a cow standing immediately to her left. It looked as surprised to see her as she was to see it.

"Moo," it mooed. It blinked a few times and then began to walk toward her.

"Uh, oh," she thought. "Nice cow," she said as she held her hands to ward it away.

"Moo!" the cow exclaimed as it quickly closed the distance.

Scarlett screamed, turned, and ran – straight into the Ben. She caught herself with her hands as she collided with him, and ended up with her face buried in his chest.

"Huh," he said quietly.

"I found your cow," she said, her voice momentarily muffled.

"That's not the missing one, actually. Say, are you," he paused and smiled warily, "afraid of cows?"

Scarlett lifted her head, sighed and nodded slowly. "I had a bad experience when I was a kid. I don't like to talk about it."

"I see."

"Yeah," she stepped back, though she let her hands linger on his chest for a moment longer than was absolutely necessary. "So, um…"

The cow nudged her from behind. She froze.

Ben chuckled and stepped around her, and then led the cow away. "Be right back," he said. Scarlett breathed a sigh of relief and then rolled her eyes.

"He's totally into us," said her brain.

"He thinks I'm an idiot," she replied.

"Trust me, I'm better at noticing these things than you are."

"Oh, whatever."

Ben reappeared, and Scarlett smiled uncomfortably. "Sorry about that," he said quietly.

"Oh," she shook her head, "No, it's not your fault. People aren't usually afraid of cows."

"Anyway," he gestured to the circles. "What's your expert opinion?"

"Well," she began, "first thing – this is grass, not crops, so it's not technically a crop circle."

He nodded, "Makes sense."

"Second thing – the circles were burned into the ground – it looks like gasoline, probably, was poured and lit. Traditionally, crop circles are constructed by flattening the plants."

"Huh."

"Third thing – I can see the stake holes where someone anchored twine or string or rope in order to trace out the circles. I'm fairly certain that aliens would have slightly more advanced technology than stakes and string."

"I see."

"So, I'm going to conclude that this was constructed by the hand of man. Or men. Or women for that matter. But definitely human."

He frowned, "Why would someone burn a symbol like this into the middle of a cow pasture?"

Scarlett shrugged. "It might have been some high school kids attempting a pagan celebration of some sort."

"Like Satanists?"

"No, no," Scarlett shook her head. "Modern pagans and Satanists are two different things." She sighed. How to explain this? She took a deep breath, and then began, "You see, modern paganism was founded…"

He waved her off. "It's ok. I'll google it later."

"Oh," she felt her face flush, "ok."

"But why the middle of a field? Hell, why my field? There are lots of fields around."

"Where else are a bunch of kids going to dance around under the moonlight without getting noticed?" She shrugged again. "This seems like as good a place as any."

"Fair enough," Ben nodded in agreement. "Would you mind explaining it to my dad, though? He's going to be pretty disappointed."

"He is?"

"Yeah, he was really hoping we had a UFO."

###

Part 1 | Previous Part | Next Part

sacred geometry, part 3: sine wave

"What do we have here?" Scarlett wondered as she opened the package she'd found waiting on her front porch when she got home. She often received packages from the fans of her blog, Things That Go Bump in the Night, but she never knew quite what to expect. Sometimes they were interesting, sometimes creepy, occasionally disgusting – but they were never dull.

She cut the packing tape, folded back the top, and brushed away a handful of packing peanuts. Beneath lay a small clear, crystal sphere, about three inches in diameter.

"Huh." She pulled the sphere out of the box and held it up to the light. Inside the sphere was a series of dots that formed a pyramid shape – each side a triangle made from ten dots arranged in a row each of one, two, three, and four. She recognized it as a three dimensional version of the tetractys, a mystical symbol that she'd seen before – the symbol of a modern Pythagorean mystery cult that had tried to kill her.

"Oh, shit," she thought. "That's not good."

She quickly dropped the sphere back into the box, stepped back, and took a deep breath. "It'll be ok," she said to herself, "It'll be ok."

Suddenly, though, the crystal sphere levitated out of the cardboard box and floated up to head height. Scarlett stared as it rotated slowly in midair. It began to vibrate. "Oh, shit, that's definitely not good."

"I think you should run," suggested her brain.

"I…uh," Scarlett stammered back.

"Like, now," her brain said more insistently.

Before she could move, the sphere began to emit a sound – a pure, distortion-free, fifth-octave G. As the sound filled her ears, it became impossible to tell that it was coming from the sphere at all – it seemed like it was coming from everywhere at once.

It wasn't an unpleasant sound, but, as she stood watching the sphere, the volume slowly increased. After a half-minute, Scarlett put her hands over ears. "What the fuck is that thing?" she wondered, at once both frightened and curious.

Then, without warning, it began to emit a second pure tone, midway between a sixth-octave E and F. The combination of the two produced a dissonance that immediately sent chills up her spine. She shuddered. The awful, grating noise continued for another few seconds, and then abruptly doubled, tripled, quadrupled, quintupled in volume.

Scarlett dropped to her knees as the sound blasted through her hands and drilled straight into her brain. She felt like someone was stabbing white-hot needles directly into her eardrums. Tears welled up in her eyes and she clenched her jaw involuntarily, trying to brace herself against the pain.

The sound assaulted every nerve in her body – it felt like ten thousand jolts of electricity tore through her muscles and crawled over her skin. It became so overwhelming that she could see the dissonance in her head, the competing sine waves oscillating in front of her eyes. A series of numbers swam through her vision: 780, 1351, 153, 265. The sphere seemed to pull apart into two as her eyes trembled from the intensity of the sound.

She looked down to see blood gushing from her nose and cascading down the front of her shirt. She tried to stand up, to run as far as she could from the sphere and the noise, but her legs refused to work, and she collapsed.

"Help!" she tried to scream, but her jaw was clenched so tightly that she could feel her teeth threatening to crack. Every muscle in her face seized up, each trying to pull away from each other, away from the sound. Even her fingers and toes twisted and clenched as her feet and her hands cramped and contorted.

"PHONE!" her brain screamed at her, and Scarlett jabbed a half-functioning hand into the pocket of her jeans. She managed to fish out her trusty iPhone, and then, with trembling hands, unlock it. She hit the messages button, and was elated to see that a half-composed message to her best friend, Jeff was still on screen.

"Please help me," she whimpered though clenched teeth as she added a 9 onto the end of the existing message. Darkness crept into the edge of her vision as she typed a 1. Her hand clamped tight and she struggled to reach out a finger to hit the 1 button again.

"Send," her brain told her.

"What?" She fought to hold onto consciousness.

"Send."

"What?"

"Hit send."

Scarlett reached out toward the blue "send" button, and then the blackness overcame her.

#

"Scarlett!"

She could hear her voice being called in the darkness, feel hands on her neck, on her wrist. She willed her eyes to open, and saw Jeff standing over her, holding her hand in his.

"Jeff?"

"Scarlett! What happened? Can you hear me?"

His voice was muted, muffled. She could still hear ringing in her ears. "I…the thing...oh, God…my ears."

"The thing? What thing?"

"The sphere. In the air."

Jeff looked around. "Scarlett, I don't know what you're talking about. What happened to you? Did someone attack you?"

"No. Yes. No," she stammered, "I don't know."

"Ok. Right now we need to get you to the hospital."

"Ok," she said as she squeezed his hand, "ok."

Scarlett closed her eyes and tried to breathe as Jeff called for an ambulance. She coughed, felt pain in nearly every part of her body, and then blacked out again.

#

"Can you remember what happened?" Jeff asked Scarlett as she lay in the intensive care ward of the Cleveland Clinic.

"No," she shook her head.

"Nothing? You were lying on the floor in a pool of your own blood. You look like you got beaten."

Scarlett struggled to remember. Everything seemed hazy. She vaguely remembered getting home, but that was about it. "I don't…I don't know."

Jeff frowned. "The doctor said you may have experienced some sort of head trauma. We won't push it for now. You rest."

"Ok," she closed her eyes again. "Thank you for saving me."

"That's what friends are for," he said softly. "I'm going to go check in with Mary. I'll be back."

Scarlett coughed and then grimaced again, "Ok." Images danced through her head – sine waves, a series of numbers, spheres, and pyramids – but she couldn't place them. She felt like her memories had been scrambled.

"Sleep," her brain told her. "We'll figure it out later."

"Ok, brain," she agreed with herself for once. "We'll figure it out later. At least we're alive. That's good enough for now."

###

Part 1 | Previous Part | Next Part

sacred geometry, part 2: golden spiral

"The one thing that I never thought I'd find in church…" Scarlett paused, frowned, and deleted the text. She'd been trying to figure out how to start the newest post for her blog, Things That Go Bump in the Night, for the better part of an hour. Each time she thought she had the first sentence, she ended up deleting it.

"So sleepy," her brain muttered to her. "Let's go to bed."

"No, I need to get this out of my head," she argued with herself.

"There's plenty of time for that later. I'm no good to you now, anyway."

"I really want to write this now, while the experience is still fresh," she thought as she sat back in her chair, took a sip of green tea, and sighed.

"Well, good luck with that," her brain said in a huff, "I'm out of here."

"Fine, I'll do this without your help," she declared to her now absent mind.

#

Earlier that day, her best friend, Jeff, had picked her up so that the two of them could go investigate the Church in the Woods, just south of Cleveland. Scarlett had gotten wind of the possible existence of a holy relic less than fifteen minutes from downtown, and she instantly knew it would make a great story for her blog. After the trouble she'd ran into on her last investigation, she appreciated the company.

"I thought you hated churches," said Jeff as they turned off I-480 and sat on the exit ramp, waiting for the light.

"I don't hate churches. I've been in plenty of them."

"Really?"

"Well, it's not like I burst into flames when I step inside one," she said as she reached down to change the radio station, "I mean – I've been to weddings and stuff. I just don't…" She stopped, and looked out the window of the car. "I can't…believe…in church," she sighed, "Not since Sam disappeared."

Scarlett's younger sister, Samantha, had disappeared while walking home during her freshman year of high school. No trace of her had ever been found – her missing person case had never officially been closed. Trying to find her, and then later, when her family had finally given up hope, trying to find out what had happened to her, was one of the reasons that Scarlett had been drawn to the paranormal in the first place. She'd visited quite a few psychics and mediums over the past twelve years.

"Oh, ok," Jeff was quiet for a moment. "I understand."

"Yeah?"

"Sure. Sometimes things like that make you stop believing. Sometimes they make you start."

"I guess."

"Well, when Maggie was stillborn, I didn't go to church for a whole year."

"I didn't know that." Scarlett turned to look at her best friend. "Why didn't I know that?"

"I didn't really make a big deal about it. I just didn't go."

"Huh."

"Mary was the opposite. She couldn't wait to go."

"I remember she was always talking about how she couldn't wait to get to church on Sunday – that's why I thought you went, too."

"Nah. I stayed home and played video games."

Scarlett squinted at him. "Oh, so that's how you got so good at Halo. No wonder you keep kicking my ass now."

"I could kick your ass before then, too," he said with a smile. "Anyway, if you ever do decide to start believing again, and I'm not saying you should, of course. But if you did, you're always welcome to come with Mary and me and the kids."

Scarlett smiled in return, "Thanks man, but even if I did go back to church, I'm not Catholic."

"Oh, I know. It's just an open offer, that's all."

#

The Woods Church was nestled in a deep wooded lot in the middle of a sea of tidy, post-war, baby-boomer, planned-community houses. Constructed as a large A-frame building, the roof touched the ground on both sides. It was a striking building, and with snow covering the lot, the whole scene had an mystical air. Scarlett briefly contemplated taking time to sketch it, but decided not to keep Jeff waiting around in the cold winter air.

Scarlett knocked on the front doors and, after a moment, a man in his fifties poked his head out. "You must be Scarlett, I presume?"

"Hi, Pastor Tim? Thanks for agreeing to meet us," she said as she extended her hand.

"Oh, it's no trouble. I'm a big fan of your blog," he said excitedly as he shook her hand. "Please, come in," he continued as he ushered them into the vestibule.

"Wait, really?" asked Jeff.

"Hey," Scarlett pouted. "People read my blog."

"Yes, really," the pastor chuckled, "I'm kind of a paranormal buff, myself."

"Cool. Well," Scarlett closed the door behind them and then pulled a sketchbook and pen out of her bag, "I've got a few questions to start with."

"Sure! Go right ahead."

"Well, I read that the church was built in the early sixties."

"That's right. Nineteen sixty one. She just turned fifty this year." He sighed, "It's a crying shame."

"A shame?" asked Scarlett.

"They're closing her down. We're holding our last service at the end of March."

"I'm sorry to hear that," said Jeff, "A lot of the Catholic churches are closing too. Mine was shut down last year."

"Yes, there's quite a lot of that going around right now." Tim nodded. "There aren't as many church-goers in Cleveland these days."

"Do you think they're losing their faith?" Jeff asked. Scarlett squinted at him.

"Faith? Maybe," he paused to think, "More likely that the same thing's happening to us that's happening to all of Cleveland. The economy stinks, and everyone young is moving away. So, our congregations are growing older and shrinking."

Jeff nodded. "Yeah, that makes sense."

"I'm sorry to hear that, too," said Scarlett as she made note of the conversation, "I'm glad I was able to get in and see you before it closed."

"Well, you're giving it a new life, in perhaps a different form, by writing about it. So, what's next?"

"So, I also read that it was built by the owner of a lumber yard who had just returned from a trip to the Holy Land."

"That's also true," he smiled, "Pete Wysocki was inspired by his trip to finance the construction. He did the design himself, too – he was an amateur architect of sorts. He passed away a few years after it was built." He stopped to allow Scarlett to write notes, "Well, keep going, though I'm pretty I know what you're going to ask next."

Scarlett took a deep breath, "I read that he built the church to house a holy relic that he brought back from the Holy Land."

Pastor Tim chuckled again, "Well, that's the story as I understand it. From what I've learned talking to the previous pastor, and from some of the folks who knew him, he did claim to have brought 'something important' back with him that he hid here. The trouble is he never told anyone what it was."

"Nobody?"

"Nope. He kept mentioning it in his journal, which I've got in my office, if you want to take a look at it, but he never really described it and he never recorded where he put it. That's assuming he actually put anything anywhere at all, of course, and he wasn't just pulling everyone's leg."

Scarlett frowned. "I imagine that people have looked for it?"

"Oh, absolutely! Heck, I spent the better part of my first year here turning over every pew to see if I could find something. Other than dust bunnies and about five bucks in loose change, I didn't find a thing."

"Hmm. Ok," she jotted in her notebook, and then continued, "Well, the other thing I heard was that the church was built according to the golden ratio?"

"Ah, now that is definitely true, yes – it's an unconventional design for a church to begin with, what with the A-frame construction, but the interior is especially different. Wysocki wasn't a typical architect, so he didn't feel compelled to design it like a typical church. You'll see once you look inside."

A phone chirped, and Scarlett went to pull hers out of her bag. Tim, however, pulled his iPhone out of his pocket, frowned, and then said, "Sorry, I've got to take this, so feel free to look around. Just don't put holes in anything without asking first, ok?"

"Sure thing," Scarlett agreed.

After Tim wandered off, Jeff turned to Scarlett. "Golden ratio? What's with you and all the weird math, lately?"

Scarlett shrugged, "Dunno. It does feel like there's some overarching theme, though, doesn't there?" She poked her head into the nave, "Oh, weird – come look at this."

Jeff walked in beside her, "Huh. That is weird. Everything's off center."

Instead of the traditional layout of a center aisle running the length of the nave, the pews were configured in a semi-circular arrangement that faced the back, right hand corner. "It looks more like a theater than a church," said Scarlett.

The raised chancel had a set of stairs on the far left. At the far end of the building, a sanctuary framed by a set of soaring picture windows housed a large wooden cross, which was suspended from the ceiling. Midway between the sanctuary and the front of the chancel stood a wooden altar, and in front of that, at the very front of the chancel, the pulpit.

"Why did they put the sanctuary two-thirds of the way to the right, though?" asked Jeff

"It's not quite two thirds," Scarlett said as she began to sketch the layout of the interior. The vestibule and nave formed a perfect square, she realized, and the chancel and sanctuary together made a rectangle just deep enough to form the golden ratio.

"Look," she pointed to her sketchbook, "The ratio of the length of the whole church to the length of the front part is the same as the ratio of the length of the front part to the length of the back part. The whole thing forms a golden rectangle."

"You can do this all in your head?" Jeff asked.

"Well, and on paper."

"Still."

"I'm an artist, it's what I do." Scarlett shrugged, then marked down the position of the cross, altar, and pulpit. "Hmmm."

"What's that?"

"I think the reason that everything's off center is that it's all on the border of smaller golden rectangles. See, if I split this back rectangle into the correct parts, then the cross is right at that border of the two smaller pieces."

Jeff nodded, "Looks right."

"And if we continue to subdivide," she said as she scribbled furiously. "And then we draw a spiral that connects the corners of each square, then the spiral reaches its limit," Scarlett looked up and pointed to the altar, "right there."

"No kidding."

"No kidding," Scarlett smiled.

"It's like he designed a path that leads straight toward it."

#

Scarlett and Jeff spent the better part of an hour looking at the altar, around the altar, under the altar, and on top of the altar. Pastor Tim rejoined them, listened patiently to Scarlett's explanation of the golden spiral, helped them move the altar, helped them move it back, and then left to take another phone call.

Scarlett was getting frustrated. "Well, this sucks. I was really hoping we were on to something."

"Maybe it isn't where the spiral terminates," said Jeff, "Maybe…"

"Maybe?"

"You're familiar with labyrinths, right?"

"The minotaur kind or the cathedral kind?"

"The cathedral kind."

"Yeah, I've read about them."

"Well, Mary walks with one of her friends at Trinity Cathedral, downtown, every other Tuesday night after work. She says it's meditative and reflective."

"So?"

"So, what if that's what's going on here? What if the process of getting to the center of the spiral is the important part?"

"You mean walking the spiral like walking a labyrinth?"

"Right."

Scarlett looked at her sketchbook. "Well, that means that you'd have to start," she turned around and walked back into the vestibule, to the front-right corner of the building, "here." She looked down. At her feet was a small golden cross inlaid into the tiled floor.

She envisioned the spiral in her mind – a glowing twisting line that wound from the corner of the church through the doors and into the nave. "That's pretty convenient," she thought as she began to follow the path.

The spiral followed the curve of the rear pew, and she walked its length slowly. As she exited the pew, she saw another golden cross inlaid into the first step leading up to the chancel and sanctuary. "No shit." She couldn't help but smile to herself. As she walked slowly across the hardwood floor of the chancel, she kept the golden filament in her mind, feeling a little like Theseus, following his ball of twine.

The large, wooden cross loomed above her, and she saw another small, golden cross set into the floor directly below it. As she took her next step, she heard the echo of another set of feet behind her. She looked around, but saw that Jeff was still standing in the entrance to the nave, watching her. Tim, the pastor, had joined him.

She took another step, and clearly heard the sound of two feet echoing. With each step along the spiral, her sense that a presence was behind her increased. Out of nowhere, she caught the scent of honeysuckle floating through the air, and she breathed deeply.

"That's weird," she thought. From her past experiences, she knew that out-of-place odors often accompanied spectral activity.

The next golden cross was exactly where she expected it to be, below a stained glass skylight where the spiral touched the right wall of the church. Suddenly, she felt a hand grasp hers. It was a feminine hand, soft, with manicured nails. It was a touch she recognized.

Her eyes began to water, though she kept the golden spiral in her mind. At the front of the chancel was the pulpit, and at its base was another golden cross. She forced herself to keep walking toward it, though it was only a few paces away.

The hand squeezed hers tightly, and she realized that it was her sister that was walking next to her. Her sister who had disappeared a dozen years ago on her way home from school, who had never had the opportunity to graduate, who had never learned how to drive, who had never held a job. Her sister who used honeysuckle-scented shampoo. "Sam," she gasped.

Scarlett made another turn on the spiral, and then saw the altar, with a golden, glowing cross sitting atop it. She felt the hand tug on hers, urging her to kneel before it, like they had done together growing up, together every day, together every Sunday.

She fought the urge to cry, fought the urge to give in to the years of grief, the years of frustration, the years of wondering if her sister would ever be found. She squeezed the hand in hers as tightly as she could, and then heard a whisper in her ear. She listened, smiled, and nodded.

#

"Scarlett?" asked Jeff.

"Huh?" she shook her head as her vision cleared.

"Are you ok?"

"Yeah," she said quietly as she stood up. She wiped her eyes on the back of her sleeve. "I'm ok. I think I'm ready to go."

"Ok."

"Did you find anything?" asked Tim, who had walked up behind Jeff.

Scarlett smiled. "I guess you'll just have to read the blog to find out."

"Hey, now. Shouldn't I get an advanced peek, at least?"

"I'll email you the article before it gets posted."

"Ok, then. Well, I don't want to rush you out, but I do have to close up for the time being. I've got to go visit one of my congregants in the hospital."

Scarlett nodded and walked with Jeff to the car.

"Are you sure you're ok?" he asked, once they were buckled in.

"I saw Sam," she whispered, "she was there."

"Wait, your sister?"

"Yeah. She was walking along behind me."

"Holy crap."

Scarlett stared out the window of the car as they pulled out of the lot. "I'm not exactly sure what to think about it yet."

"Did she say anything?"

She nodded, "Yes." Scarlett was quiet for a long moment, and then she sighed. "She said, 'I'm at peace.'"

Jeff reached over and put a hand on her shoulder. "Is there anything I can do?"

Scarlett sniffed and wiped her eyes. "Yeah, what time do you guys leave for church in the morning?"

#

Scarlett set down her tea, put her hands on the keyboard, and started to write again. "I went to the Woods Church to look for a holy relic," she typed, "but what I found was arguably more important. It was, in fact, the last thing I expected to find – my faith."

###

Part 1 | Next Part