Supernatural Fiction posted October 14, 2015


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The Shaman's lure

The Conjurer, Part Three

by Writingfundimension

Story of the Month Contest Winner 

PREVIOUSLY:

Doctor Stefano Morales has come to Mexico in search of an elusive Shaman reputed to have unprecedented knowledge of altered states as well as healing power. The purpose of the meeting has been presented to Senor Pasquale as an opportunity to share his vast knowledge of medicinal herbs with the neuropsychologist for the purpose of helping sufferers of advanced psychotic states. What the psychologist is not sharing is that he is desperate to become a published expert in order to further his professional career.

In their first meeting, the Shaman scoffs at the idea that Doctor Morales is truly willing to learn from him. He suspects the man wishes to use him for personal gain. Still, he issues an invitation for Doctor Morales to visit him at his desert home where they can talk further.

**********
 

Saltillo, Mexico

Wormholes hold a particular fascination for me. I find the premise of a shortcut connecting two separate points in space/time—distances of a billion light years, or the space of a few feet—ripe with possibility. I imagine them as incubators, and visualize a baby universe within the larger, parent universe held together by mass cosmic strings.

Had my meeting with Senor Pasquale been a psychological wormhole designed by a superior intelligence striving to unite our seemingly incompatible worldviews? And, if so, who was the child and who the parent?

Watching the Shaman’s vintage Cadillac vanish within a cloud of ash-colored dust, my emotions swirled like bees in a hive. My brain struggled to understand Senor Pasquale’s bizarre antics even as it argued against the improbable sense of well-being I felt in his presence. I recalled how the whites of his eyes seemed lit by an internal fire and the way my body responded to what felt otherworldly. And I could not understand how he was able to light a wick of passion in me during the short span of our conversation. Whatever kind of power that was, I knew I'd not rest until I found its source.

The sounds of hollering came from behind me, and I turned to where a group of boys kicked around a soccer ball in an alley adjacent to the square. I hooked my thumbs in my pockets and watched them for a bit, though they seemed to take no more notice of me than they did the dozens of pigeons scouring the grass for food. The scene reminded me of home, and I felt my shoulders drop and my neck muscles relax. To the west of the square sat my car. Within minutes, I could be moving in the direction of my orderly life in Texas and away from the dangerous notion of collaborating with a notorious sorcerer.

I did not have proof that my safety was in jeopardy at this point. The unease I was experiencing could be the result of not feeling in complete control of the situation. As I reconsidered my encounter with Senor Pasquale, I considered the notion that he’d managed to hypnotize me. After all, it was a common enough accusation in response to the fantastic claims about non-traditional healing methods. Though our conversation was short, I supposed he could have tricked me. But how?

Playing the scene through in my mind, I could find nothing out of the ordinary in his physical movements. Yes, he had seemed to come and go like a wisp of smoke, and I had no answer to how he was able to do that. But I resisted the notion I was in an induced state, especially since I was a recognized expert in the use of hypnotherapeutic healing modalities.

I squared my shoulders and directed my steps toward where the red rose lay after being tossed from the Cadillac, as if within its fold I would find a clue. I reached for the bloom, half afraid it would disappear when touched. Grasping its stem, I felt a sharp prick as a thorn sliced into the thin webbing of the skin between my fingers. Normally, the sight of blood makes me ill, but now I simply watched it pool with abstract fascination. Then I held the flower to my nose and breathed in its rich, somewhat-cloying scent.

Closing my eyes, I imagined the long, delicate fingers of the woman who undoubtedly was the source of the bloom. I didn’t know her name and hadn’t seen the totality of her features due to her sunglasses, but I did recall her full-lipped mouth and the way her smile teased my senses.

A cough—almost a bark—startled me. A black-haired boy, dressed only in shorts and sneakers, stood alongside a rusted bike he held upright on his hip. Though his body was still, his eyes rolled in a rapid scan of the surroundings. Raising a dirty fist as if to shake my hand, he thrust an envelope at me saying in rapid Spanish, “Sir, the old man told me to give you this."

Grasping its edge, I thanked him and searched my pockets for tip money. Acting as if he thought I was about to pull out a gun and shoot him, the boy mounted his bike in one agile motion and streaked across the square. Watching another pawn stumble through a play directed by an old man with a dubious reputation, I knew the Shaman would use even a young boy in order to lure me into his world. 

Despite having a reservation at the nearby Hotel Huizache, the urge to haul ass back to Texas persisted. I returned to my car in order to consider my options. Although the interior had become a sauna after sitting in the sun for hours, I kept the windows up, locked all the doors and huddled in my seat. For some time, I cradled the flower in my palm, letting my thoughts fall away in an attempt to clear my mind.  

Retrieving the envelope from my pocket, I handled it as gingerly as a poison dart. Its surface was crisp and clean. Don't open it, I thought. Go back to Texas and find another way to get the information you need. But solving puzzles drove every aspect of my life. Besides, going home was tantamount to admitting that Senor Pasquale's calculated moves had stymied me. I had to try to figure him out. 

Lifting the flap, I pulled out a sheet of paper and spread it across my steering wheel to read the exquisitely penned words:

Dear Doctor Morales,

Should you decide to accept my offer to visit my home in the desert, I will be happy to provide my driver, Puente, for your convenience. The concierge at Hotel Huizache has been given instructions accordingly.

I hope to see you soon.

Senor Pasquale

How the hell had the man known where I was staying? For security reasons, I’d used a false name when making the reservation and used Travelers checks for payment. No one but Elise had known of my plans. 

Despite the red alert assaulting my brain at this point, I started the engine and headed for the hotel. I was famished and very much in need of a hot shower. After dinner, I planned to lay out the pieces of the puzzle to date and hatch a new scheme while savoring the $125.00 bottle of Mezcal Del Maguey I had buried in the bottom of my suitcase.

Science and logic were the main elements of my holy trinity. I’d learned to place all my trust in them. Though the events in the square had temporarily rattled me, the shaman had an Achilles heel that I would find and exploit. We would soon be following a new script--one written solely by me.

~~ to be continued ~~


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Terms:

Mezcal: A type of tequila
Wormholes: Physicists have no observational evidence for wormholes, but the equations of the theory of general relativity (Einstein) have valid solutions that contain wormholes.

Thanks so much avmurray for the fantastic artwork!
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by avmurray at FanArtReview.com

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