Treerock, surrounded by peaceful countryside, is the largest village within the region of sector twelve, on the continent of Usah, on the planet Raeth. Acquiring its name from the unique combination of both cave and treetop dwellings used by the inhabitants. A contrasting, yet symbiotic balance appearing to permeate wherever one looks. Soft curves next to hard edges, high towers beside subterranean abodes, primitive methods combined with the technologically advanced: human with alien.
At the center of town there are two commanding structures. One built among a large stand of evergreens, with the lower section used by the governing body, or tribal council, and the upper tiers allocated for the chieftain alone. The other, just a stone’s throw away, the Spiritual Contact Chambers, fashioned within a vast ornate cave.
As is the norm, there is little activity in and around the council house. Nobody really cares to know how the township is run, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the day-to-day pursuits of its citizens. A common social ailment found in nearly every community in the universe.
In contrast, a crowd can be seen gathering at the decorative entrance to the Spiritual Contact Chambers.
Museum, gallery, archive, and amusement center: separate establishments combined to fulfill a single purpose, the presentation of the peculiar topics of the spirit world.
The large double doors open. An individual dressed in pale yellow robes, with shimmering symbols of academic achievement adorning the breast and sleeves, strides out to address the waiting crowd. He is tall, gangly, with a dome shaped head; normal characteristics of anyone born on Silo, a mere ten light years away from the Dog Star. And even without the rather strange looking spectacles he’s wearing, or the radiant adornment, there is a scholarly air about him.
He motions to the people.
“Calm down gathering,” he begins. “We’re ready to proceed with the walk’n’talk. Let me welcome you to the Spiritual Contact Chambers: Temple Sector Five. I am Tinboon, your relater.” And to be a relater within these walls is far more than simply being a tour guide, for each must complete years of formal education on the supernatural. And even then only those with multiple degrees, specialized certification, and the highest marks are considered. In other words, Tinboon is a walking, talking historian on spiritual phenomenon.
The group is ripe with anticipation as they slowly follow Tinboon through the entrance, into a hallway, heading toward the first of many chambers.
“As you know,” Tinboon continues, “it has been ten-plus-ten full revolutions since any recorded spirit contact has occurred. And although the High Order has harnessed the supernatural through inter-dimension maneuvers, we still have a vast history of pre-unexplained to delight you with.”
As the tour makes its way into the first chamber the vast collection of exhibits atop pedestals, freestanding, hung, or in holographic form spark the usual reaction: oohs and ahhs, finger-pointing, and numerous mumblings. The first sightings always inspire fascination.
Dead center is the representation of the infamous Gondobangle Incident; four massive Andorians were said to have massacred the entire village while possessed. And what they did after killing them is unspeakable. Thus, thankfully, the representation shows the event as it is unfolding, not the aftermath.
At the rear of the group a funny looking couple is comically awestruck beyond the norm, a fact evident to those around them.
“Do not be antsy my friends,” Tinboon announced. “Come. Come. There’s plenty of room.”
“Ooh, Geezbot, look at it all,” exclaims the awestruck wife. “And you wanted to remain indwelling to fix the hydro-brackets.”
“Fine!” Geezbot replies, unable to take his eyes off a particularly sexy image of spirit vixens holographically projected before him. “Jus’ keep a future focus on who forced me to come here when the hover fails and leaves yer’ kapooty stranded on the way to the slopsty.”
“My maternal is not a slop-eater!” his wife snaps back, while slugging him in the arm in an attempt to pull his attention away from the ethereal vixens.
It didn’t work.
“Now, now gatherers,” Tinboon begins, attempting to regain control of the group. “Let us recollect our agreements to remain unspoken until questions are solicited.”
Geezbot and his mate, both originally from the Violet Moon of Loctiown, turn the usual shade of lavender over their embarrassment at being singled out.
“It is the hope of the High Order,” Tinboon continues, “that such exhibits, though often chilling to view, educate the populace to the dangers of self-spiritual experimentation. Only through unity, a collective with the High Order as headship, can such dangers of nega-spiritual contact be avoided.”
If anyone in the crowd would have been spirit-touched, or better yet, spirit-born, they would undoubtedly have felt the sudden presence of negative spiritual energy begin to seep into the chamber in its present plasma-like form. But with the ban on the fore mentioned self-spiritual experimentation there are very few spirit-touched. And it is more than likely that no one here has even heard of an actual spirit-born in many spans of time.
Such a pity, for the plasma continues to ooze forth from the walls, still unnoticed by the gathering.
Tinboon directs the group to gaze at a large wall graph.
“This chart,” he states, “shows the peak and valley totaling of recorded spirit contact; beginning with the estimates taken from the Word of Olahey up to the spirit wars and onward to the complete inactivity of today.”
A few individuals within the group slowly begin to catch a glimpse here and there of things that just might not belong: a vapor, a smell. Did something over there really move? But there wasn’t enough evidence at the moment to truly be sure.
Professional, as always, Tinboon continues without missing a beat.
“During the eight-dash-nine plus ten-oh spans of hundreds,” he stipulates while pointing to the graph, “you can see the maximum accumulation of contacts.”
But while their relater remains unaware, as if on auto-pilot with his monologue, the demeanor of others within the gathering are now beginning to change as rapidly as the surrounding exhibits.
The ooze now pours forth, and individuals begin reacting to odoriferous emanations and both hot and cold wafting of air.
Loud static pops begin to increase in quantity and decibel, followed by groans, moans, and what some might recollect as eerie whispers. And finally, bizarre specters gather after their transformation.
Yet Tinboon continues.
“We will take each span of hundreds from Day Star Zero,” which he directs his pointer to, “up to the present as we traverse the chambers.”
“Excuse me Mister Tinboon, sir,” Geezbot cautiously interrupts.
Tinboon, a precise fellow, is irked by the interruption, now that he’s in his groove, and shows it as he turns to face the group.
“But is that normal?” Geezbot continues, gesturing to a particularly large and gruesome spectral transformation occurring just to the rear of the gathering.
If Geezbot or any of the other tour participants were expecting Tinboon to jump into a scholarly prose in order to explain away the unexplainable situation evolving before their very eyes — even those with more than one set of eyes — their expectations were immediately dashed as a high-pitched, girlish scream sprang forth from the relater upon seeing the apparitions. And, as the saying goes, “all hell breaks loose.”
Wailing, shrieking, howling, and cackling: specters wreak havoc on both animate and inanimate. And, sadly for those on the receiving end, it is not a brief episode.
© JW Thomas