The First Visitation
(Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom)
The back of his neck began to sweat as the morning sun struck at his back and a soft tickling sensation began to spread over the surface of his hand. Brushing it off he sighed and tried to get into a more comfortable position. The sensation in his hand returned and he opened one sleepy eye. On first glance he thought it was a flower petal but on closer inspection it was in fact the smallest butterfly he had ever seen. It’s minuscule wings were fuchsia with gleaming teal markings. The intricate design woven together to create the illusion of an eye whose gaze glossed over Sam’s face. The insect exercised its wings slowly and turned to bask in the sunlight. It was then that Sam began to become aware of his surroundings.
The desks and chairs of the library had gone and he was sitting and leaning on a fallen tree. The sunlight on his back was not coming in through the windows overlooking the football pitches but through the canopy of green and blue leaves above him. The shelves of books had been replaced by towering red oaks which appeared to emit their own kind of light. The air was sweet and the grass beneath him soft, still slightly damp from the dew of the previous night. Everything seemed so real. Even the tree he was leaning on had a very palpable texture. Sam’s senses were buzzing. Obviously he was dreaming but never before had a dream entertained his senses more.
He blinked hard to help his eyes adjust. The butterfly took off and Sam watched as it floated away. A bird was singing in the tree above. He turned and searched for the source of the music. It was a familiar tune but he couldn’t quite place where he’d heard it before. It was like a distant memory or a long forgotten dream. After a slight edge of movement Sam was able to make out the bird. It’s feathers seemed to melt into the leaves surrounding it, they sparkled as a slight breeze brushed against the branches causing the steady shafts of sunlight to shift slightly. It’s dark brown purplish beak moved seamlessly as the tune continued. The melody resonated like being reacquainted with an old friend, but still he could not place it.
He slipped off the branch he was perched on and stood up straight. The clarity of the air was astonishing. Slightly cool, it’s lightness made breathing enjoyable. Sam took a deep breath and felt cleansed in doing so.
Looking to his left Sam noticed the trees were less dense and specks of glittering light were hinting between the long blades of grass. He walked slowly over, noticing the element of spring that the grass gave to his legs after every step.
On the other side of the tall grass was a vast expanse of turquoise water. The lake shone, beaming up at the trees and rocks surrounding it. Completely unpolluted, the surface mimicked that of a mirror. Bright shards of light sprung up and down, doubled in quantity by the reflection beneath them. Sam stood and stared at the vista in front of him. His mind felt clear, completely open and not restricted by walls or anything alike.
He was about to take a step forward closer to the waters edge when he heard a soft bang in the distance. He then realized that the bird must have stopped singing a while ago as there was now no noise at all. No wind to rip through the leaves, no stream to cackle against the rocks, just silence. Apart from that bang.
Above the trees ahead, Sam could see a faint pillar of whitish grey smoke against the bright cerulean sky. The smoke disrupted the clarity of the overall scene, looking ugly against the surrounding incandescent environment.
He watched as the pillar of smoke gradually spread in width, both to the east and the west. The smoke grew darker and more intense as it began to move forward. The bird that had been singing frantically flew overhead leaving a gust of wind in its wake. The wind began to build, shaking the canopy above which no longer held blue and green leaves, but a grey, almost black expanse of foliage.
Sam watched incredulously at the changing scene surrounding him. The sky was no longer bright, but dark and foreboding. The ominous clouds seemed to have swallowed the sun, leaving a threatening stratosphere and a strong pulsing wind.
Sam’s t shirt flattened against his chest and his hair felt tight as it was forced back against his scalp as the wind continued to pick up. The air began to bite at his skin, eradicating all heat from his body and still the storm erupted around him.
Suddenly, Sam saw a figure come out from the trees over the other side of the now raging waters. It sprung high into to the air and at the same time the lake instantly, and literally, froze. The ice moved swiftly across the surface until it reached just where Sam was standing, blasting an even more insanely cold gale into his body. The figure began to rapidly skate across the surface. Sam started to take a few steps back and was about to burst into a run when a branch broke off a tree above and smacked him right across the stomach expelling him backwards into the thick undergrowth. Winded, he clutched his stomach and struggled to crawl to a rock which he slammed himself behind in an attempt to gain some shelter.
“ What are you doing?!”
Sam jumped at the voice. The figure he’d seen had been a person. She was staring at him eyes blazing and brow furrowed. She had to shout to be heard over the howling wind and frequent crashes of falling branches and debris.
“ Who even are you?!”
“I’m Sam,” he screamed back. “Who are you?”
Her expression instantly changed. She stared in absolute shock, her face completely frozen which contrasted with the raging turmoil surrounding them.
“Who are you?”, Sam repeated, but she just continued to stare.
“What is your prob-”
Sam was broken off as another branch ricochetted off the trees and smacked Sam on the back of the head. His head went forward and he could see nothing. But he noticed he was still conscious. He could still hear, still feel his surroundings but had no control over his body. In an instant he felt like only his mind existed because he couldn’t physically grasp the concept of his body.
Still he couldn’t move.
All at once he felt power and strength return to his body and he jerked his head up.
“Sam! This is a library, a place for studying, not for snoozing.”
Sam’s breathing was heavy and his heart was pounding as his looked around at the shelves of books and his strewn biology work all over the table.
“Are you alright dear? You seem a bit… flustered.”
“Er…”, said Sam as he attempted to regain the use of his tongue.
“No, sorry Mrs Leftwich. I’m, I’m fine.”
“Well, no more sleeping. The bell’s about to go for second period.”