Hibernal//Entry #1 | Story

Hibernal//Entry #1

//As if it were born from a wish, it appeared before my eyes… that damn cheese danish I’d been avoiding all week. That little shit had been following me, scratching at my attention from its seat in the back of my brain. God! Why did I want it so badly?//

“Fuck it,” I finally said. The lass behind the counter gave me a rightfully confused look.

“Sorry, I’ve been trying to avoid sugar, but that danish on the shelf keeps eyeing me. Let me get one of those, please.”

“Sure thing, Sir”.

//As her hand reached for the danish, seemingly in slow-motion, I heard the crowd of voices swell behind me into a loud commotion.//

“No more than four months after the U.S.’s surprising move to pull out of NATO, President Hague has announced the beginning of the U.S.-Ruso alliance. Unprecedented news here! Historic!”

//One of the other baristas had turned the TV volume up to a level far beyond my personal preference. Aye, this was big news, but I couldn’t have cared less at the time. I was on a work trip to London. I was looking into a particularly interesting case about two men who witnessed an anomalistic event.

One had died and the other was being interrogated by MI6. Now, D J2 didn’t tend to interfere with such ordeals, but my boss had a vested interest in anomalistic studies. He swore by his own account that he had an experience worth writing a novel about. As you can assume by this confidential journal, this was an off-the-record tasking.

He had helped me get back on my feet after footing some rehab bills for my son… that said, I owed him a favor and the bastard finally called it in.//


~

//After leaving the cafe, danish in hand, I scooted over to [REDACTED] park to meet with my source. If you know intel, then you know the trade – no names, no significant places. So, do understand that though I be blowing the whistle, my only aim is to put truth to ink. Anyone who I deem innocent or uninvolved has their privacy protected. Got a problem with that, then you can stop reading right now.//

//I met with my source and what follows is an accurate re-telling of the events that lead to this document being sent to you, whoever you are://

//For both convenience and security, I’ll refer to my source as Leila.//


Leila: Jaime! It’s good to see you again. I never thought I’d see you involved with such an… obscure case as it were. Hell, I was expecting to meet with Donnely well before I’d even so much as hear your name again. How are you?

Jaime: Not so bad. It’s quite nice seeing you again as well, Leila! To be frank, I was brought in as a favor to McCormick. I owed him one and he called it in.

Leila: Well shite that says quite a lot doesn’t it? Let’s get right to it. You’ve got questions? Ask away.

Jaime: Will clearance be an issue?

Leila: As always. Go on.

Jaime: All right, I read what the whistleblower put out. Scary stuff, strange stuff. How much of it was shite? I’m assuming not much if MI6 is actually interrogating the poor lad.

Leila: I tell you it’s all true. The AIB has been corroborating stories from all over the world. This thing seems to be one-of-a-kind, but the phenomenon isn’t. Odd occurrences like this keep popping up. We actually got word of an even more horrifying event, if you can believe it. It happened right in Bangladesh. Some vlogger caught it on a vid…

Jaime: I don’t mean to cut you off, sweetheart, but this task has a hard time and McCormick made it seem like that time direly needs to be met. I’ve a huge favor to ask of you.

Leila: By all means… sweetheart.

//Leila didn’t particularly like that//

Jaime: Aye, I need fifteen minutes alone with him. I know it’s a huge ask, but I need…

Leila: Done.

Jaime: That wasn’t much of a mountain to climb. I’m guessing I’ll owe you a favor as well?

Leila: Yep, you bloody well will. Don’t worry though, I’ll call it in much later. Oh, but I’ll need that danish. No doubt it’s from Maggie’s. She makes a proper good one.

Jaime: Aye, you’d be doing me a second favor by taking that thing from me.

//I didn’t particularly like that//

//Leila guided me to the SIS building. It’d been years since I’d seen it. Though that feeling of being surrounded by its fortress-like walls was unforgettable. Nary a single comforting face was to be found, yet the crumpling of Leila unwrapping that damn danish kept my anxiety at bay.//

//We traveled ever deeper into the recesses of the detention halls, taking an elevator down several floors to where I’d meet the man himself. After stepping off the elevator, I asked://

Jaime: Where the hell are the guards? I thought they were keeping an eye on ‘im?

Leila: We’ve been conducting everything remotely. You read what he put out. No one wants to be anywhere near him. Except for you.

Jaime: Aye, ‘cept for me. Let me get in there. I’ll only be a minute.

Leila: Go ahead.

//She waved an ID card across a panel, causing a glass door to retract.//

//I entered.//

Jaime: Theo? My name is Jaime, I’m here at the behest of D J2. I need to ask you a few questions about what you’ve experienced. I’d appreciate anything you could tell me.

//His eyes rose to meet mine//

Theo: What more could you bloody want? I put out everything I saw, everything I did! Leave me the fuck alone! Can’t a man rot in peace? After everything I’ve been through, am I not at least owed that?

Jaime: Hear me out. Maybe you don’t have to rot at all. I’ve got a single question for you:

//At that point, I pulled out a crumpled sheet of paper with a phrase McCormick said I must say aloud when meeting Theo//

“WHAT DID YOU HEAR WHEN THE ANCIENT RHYME WAS PLAYED BACKWARDS?”

//In an instant, Theo’s face turned from sorrowful to solemn. His pupils enlarged and I began to hear him speak… but his mouth weren’t moving//

!srae namuh rof tnaem t’nerew semhyr ehT
!hself namuh rof tnaem t’nsi niks sihT

//I right near shat myself after hearing that… that… whatever that was. Yet the voice was still in my head making those sinful noises//

//Seconds later, I heard pounding on the glass door. Leila was foaming at the mouth something fierce. I’d seen enough to know what poisoning looked like, but she was screaming something absurd to get the guards to come down//

Leila: Poison! It was bloody poison! He poisoned me!

//As she collapsed to the ground, the danish flung out of her hand and slid down the hallway towards the entrance//

Jaime: Leila! What the fuck are you talking about?! How the hell were you poisoned?

//My mind raced to sew up my fears with logic. Was the barista a spy? Did someone frame me? Did McCormick set me up? What did I miss? I’m trained for this!//

//I heard the paces and shouting of guards grow ever closer. In my fear, I reached for Theo and pulled him up by the collar//

Jaime: What the hell is this? What did you do?

.dnatsrednusim uoY

Jaime: Get the fucking fuck out of my head!

//With extreme prejudice, I dropped him back in his chair//

//Just then, two guards bursted through the glass and tried to grab me//

Jaime: Don’t fookin’ touch me! I din’t do a damn thing!

Guard: Don’t move and, if you’re wise, I suggest you don’t speak either. Clearly this situation has already gone awry.

//I charged the two guards head-on. A quick tussle ensued, yet I came out victorious. No, I didn’t kill any of them. Nor, did I poison Leila. To those of you who’d see me dead and hung, this ain’t a murder confession. The only thing I’ll confess to is being a fool by trusting Leila. I was right wrong to do that, but I won’t be wrong in that way ever again//

//I stepped over the guards’ bodies and dashed to the elevator — to my freedom. In my wake, Leila lie motionless on the shoe-print-covered tiles of the SIS dungeon, now spattered with flecks of her white, wicked foam//

//That’s the last time I’ll eat a cheese danish//

~

//Through nothing but my own sheer skill as an on-the-spot actor, I made my way out of the SIS building. As luck would have it, a safehouse was only a few kilometers away. I made my way there slowly, over the course of a day and a half. Sleeping was difficult at that time. If it wasn’t the anxiety keeping me awake, it was the nightmares of Theo screaming at me in that awful, awful voice. His words bounced around my skull like a bullet in a bank vault. At night, it was unbearable. During the day, I ignored it best I could by focusing on an escape plan. I had to get back to Ireland – green she be and waiting for me, as the song goes. In between the planning, I wrote down my nightly experiences. This was done in case someone, such as yourself, would be able to understand them as I did and maybe put this craziness together. Hopefully, I’ll be around to sort this out my-damn-self. Though, my heart is telling me to get my affairs in order.//

Note*: The dreams felt as if I were being told of my experience while experiencing it at the same time. Hard to explain, might even sound silly, I know, but that was the feeling. I’ll try my best to portray the dreams as they came to me.

//Night 1//

You’re awoken to a view of the verdant green pastures of your home isle. You feel the refulgent sun washing over you, bathing you, drowning you. In an indeterminable direction you hear the muffled scream of someone familiar to you, yet you hear their anxious breathing in your ears, their breath warming your neck. Your eyes close. You try to push back the disorder with mental effort alone. You fail as the sun melts the lips of your eyelids and seals them shut. You scream, but the voice that is discharged is not your own. It says:


“.dnatsrednusim uoY
.srae namuh rof tnaem t’nerew semyhr ehT
.hself namuh rof tnaem t’nsi niks sihT”


He’s baaaaaaack.


“.dnatsrednusim uoY
.esrevinu eht laever doG dehctaw I
.stluser sti fo evorppa ton did I .tnetni sti fo devorppa I”


You smell something foul, you feel something hot. Your eyes, still sealed shut, they melt away enough skin for your pupils to fulfill their nature. Where once was the sun, surrounded by the blue skies of Ireland, now sits the sun, isolated in the thick dark of a sky with no stars. A burnt bundle of sage is suspended before your eyes. Its condition retreats through time. The ashen scars of fire slip back into their initial form. The pale, green leaves are restored as a small flame travels a path of restoration along the shape of the bundle. No sage can be burned here. You feel the weight of another’s eyes following your movements. You feel the burden of being perceived. You are suddenly plagued by an excess of empathy. Those same sewn-up eyes release a swell of tears as you acknowledge a primal desire to remain unseen. You have been revealed.


~

//Need I say I’ve never had a dream such as that one before? I think not. When I awoke from that dream, I sat in silence for about six, maybe seven hours. I still felt as though I was being perceived by something. At that point, I assumed it was whatever made Theo speak to me in that strange voice, but I still don’t know.//

//As I was transcribing those backwards phrases, I felt as if the-thing-that-perceives was standing right behind me and watching me. It had to make sure I didn’t fuck up its message, eh? Or so I assumed. I looked over my shoulder countless times. There was nothing there, of course. But that feeling refused to leave me. “The burden of being perceived.” – such particular words…//

//This reminded me of my physics courses back at university. My professor taught us about relational quantum physics. What she really freaked out about was the results of some old experiment being observer-dependent, or so it seemed. The implications were that the mere act of observation could change the state of something. Now in the case of that experiment, the observer was an actual measurement tool. To apply to humans would be quite far-reaching if you ask me. However, at this point, with what I’ve seen, I’m willing to reach as far as I can.//

//Night 2//

//I still fear this dream may revisit me. I haven’t slept a full night since it happened. I pray that by the time this is being read that I’ll be sound as a pound. In fact, since then, I’ve used every second of every day to pray quietly to myself. Under each breath, I ask for protection. With every blink, I hope my eyes will open again.//

//In this dream, I heard a voice whispering into my ears. My eyes were stapled open, but there was nothing to see. I felt as if something was standing directly in front me. It was aggressively neutral — if I had to interpret its feelings towards me. Though it was upset with something or someone. It said://


There’s a spot in reality where you can dig a hole, deeper than any hole you could imagine. I want to find that spot.
And when I find it, you’ll never ever see me again! I usually don’t communicate like this, but I’m learning to use what I have. New tools. New flesh.


Observer, Observer. Inhabit me.



I didn’t think you’d understand.
~


//It felt good to recreate those sounds, like good good. At the time, I felt almost guilty for enjoying it so much. It was like I was speaking something truer than the truth – if that makes any sense. It was like some version of Plato’s cave; the language I was speaking before was fake, but it seemed real because it was the only one I had known. Now, it’s like someone showed me the right way to speak, the right way to make sound. I can’t understand why Theo felt like he was suffering. Maybe he doesn’t realize what he’s been given.//

//Night 3//

//On the third night, I didn’t have any dreams. I had some sort of communicative event. With what? I’m not entirely certain. I’m not even sure if I can call it communication. It was mere listening on my part. Something shouted at me repeatedly. I couldn’t transcribe its sounds… they weren’t really sounds. It shouted senses at me. “What the hell does that mean, Jamie?” I know that’s what you’re asking yourself, but that’s what it felt like. It made me feel and see and smell and taste and perceive. I reflected on memories I’d never experienced before. Yet, all of these senses were too intense to be comfortable. Imagine being at a concert, standing just before a giant speaker, and having the music blast you at full volume. Your body would tremble, your ears might bleed, your teeth would rattle. Instinct would force you to block out what you could. Now, replace that sound with any other sense. That’s an approximation of what I experienced. I’m not asking you to believe me.//

//Oddly enough, though that experience was deeply uncomfortable, it felt good. It felt almost as good as making those sounds the other day.//

//I know.//

//I must get back to McCormick. I mustn’t delay.//

//Yet, the urge to get back to Theo is great and alluring. It feels like it would be the most correct thing to do.//

//There was no sleeping after that. I spent the rest of the day prepping for my escape back to D J2.//

//Night 4//

//Though I had planned to leave on the morning of my fifth day in the safehouse, what happened on the fourth night prompted me to leave immediately.//

//I had received a letter from my son Cillian. He was a bit older now, but enjoyed the nostalgia of hand-written letters. I waited ‘till night to open it as a goodnight-treat to myself. I always loved hearing from him. When I had opened the letter, I was taken aback! The words were written in reverse! It repeated two lines over and over filling up two loose-leaf worths of paper.//



The Letter:



nailliC ,evoL



.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY



.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY
.dlohserht eht woleb niamer em teL
.dnatsrednusim uoY


,daD raeD



//A knife-tip like shiver flung up my spine. I knew Cillian was in danger. Though, I knew in my head and heart that there was no rewriting whatever fate had planned for my boy.//

//I packed up my bags and left that night.//

//I took the agency car and drove all night until I could catch a ferry to Northern Ireland. From there, I drove until I reached the border.//

//Interpol was there maintaining a checkpoint. Somehow I had a feeling they were playing looksie with me and all the other Irish men going to and fro. I had no choice but to continue on foot.//

//I ditched the car in a nearby lot and carried all I could in a single pack. From a distance, I tossed a white phosphorus grenade to destroy any hint at my presence. If you had happened to see a car burnt to shit near the border, that one was mine.//

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