My World Shatters, 1967
Then I won a scholarship to attend the summer session of the University of Kansas. I was only 16 and I would be allowed to take high level college courses. This made me deleriously happy.
My father and mother went with me because they were going on to Washington, DC on the usual "mysterious business". They decided to walk across the campus with me.
We laughed and walked about. Then I saw It. The Building. Hoch Auditorium. Hoch is German for high and mighty. It stood at the top of the hill. As we neared the building, my skin crawled more and more. The three doors in the middle gaped like the black maw of a beast. Cold crawled out of the building and made me shiver in the hot summer sun.
"I will never go into that building", I said outloud. My parents laughed, nervously.
Later, I kissed them goodbye.
In my dorm was the new roomate from Seattle. She was a ballerina. "Let's go to orientation together," she said.
"Where is it?" I asked as I unpacked. When she told me, I freaked out. "No way! I will never go into that building, never".
Other girls in our dorm heard me and came by to eavesdrop. "It is haunted," I said. "Death lives there". Everyone laughed. Word spread rapidly that a girl was refusing to go because the auditorium was the home of Death. The dorm mother got wind of this rumor and tracked me down.
"If you don't kill this rumor and go to the event, you will be thrown out", she said grimly. I was startled. So I agreed.
This story is very hard to tell, even today. I sighed and went, like a prisoner to execution, to Hoch. I could smell the thunderstorm coming. I decided, this was time to warn my new friend. "Ah, I hate to tell you this, but I get struck by lightning periodically. If a storm comes, feel free to stay away from me".
She laughed. Other girls thought this was hilarious, too. My head hurt. Thunderstorms cause the old wound in the forehead to throb painfully. I slouched down in my chair, clutching my forehead and moaning periodically. The speeches were interminable. I couldn't understand a word they said. The sound of thunder grumbled nearer and nearer. I began to worry, I could feel it looking for me, sending out probes, like tentacles, seeking me. I pulled my feet off the floor and gripped the chair. It was very hot, very strong ozone smell, my teeth began to chatter. I gripped my roomate's arm so hard, she cried out in pain. I couldn't hear her. Everyone now could hear the blasts of the storm and ripples of nervous talk filled the cavernous place.
I was looking at a crack in the ceiling. It obsessed me. It seemed to get closer and closer. I knew we were going to be hit. The feeling of being One was there,
The bolt struck with tremendous force, popping our ears. Simultaneously, I saw a girl hurtle through the crack and smash into the floor and dying. I screamed. It was a lightning vision but it looked utterly real. I ran for my sanity. Ran out into a thunderstorm, something I never do. I ran, screaming down the hill. Along with everyone else.
The next day, the school debated sending me home. They decided to spare me. Guess I was persuasive.
My friends in the dorm delighted telling everyone about my Vision. We even held meetings about this. "Can you stop this?" they asked.
"Yes, we just stay away from there," I said. I put the matter out of my mind and determined to have innocent fun in school. I explored the old buildings, we climbed rotting iron staircases in the former library, we haunted the museum of Natural History. We caught fireflies and held our very own Hippie Be In at the pond. We were pleased many police showed up.
It was a great summer, full of fun.
Then, one day, while standing in line for dinner, I saw a girl ahead of me. I leaned over and said, "Excuse me, hello," and then went into shock. She was the girl in my Vision.
I burted out, "Don't go into Hoch Auditorium. Please. You can't go there". I felt really stupid but I knew she was the one. The girls standing with me all assured the startled girl that I was the one who caused all the uproar on campus. I was so sick, I couldn't eat dinner. I took her hand, "Promise me you won't go there" I begged. I felt very old suddenly.
She laughed, turned to her boyfriend who said, "She is crazy, man". The girl promised me, she wouldn't go there.
Satisfied, I turned aside and left.
The last day of classes. It was oppressive and very hot. July is very hot in Kansas. I had learned, Hoch Auditorium attracts lightning I could see the building out of the window of the class where I studied German philosophy.
The final class ended. I rose and headed out the door. As I walked away from the building and from the shadow of Hoch, I heard a crash. Then screams. I stopped. Rooted to the earth. Unable to move. Time sped by inside my body as I aged tremendously. "Pegasus, please, no", I whispered. I could feel all my attempts at being a religious person leave like the sun setting forever.
A scream behind me. My roomate, clutching at me. "She fell! She fell! She is dead! You did this! You didn't stop her!"
I fell to the sidewalk and put my head down. The roomate shook me. "Why? Why? Why???" she screamed. Other students were screaming at me.
Suddenly I shot up. "She is alive...I have to save her..." and I ran to the auditorium. Just ahead, I could see a stretcher leave the building. Police were everywhere. I ran up to them. "Is she alive?" I cried. A shocked officer said, "Yes". I looked past him, inside. The hole in the ceiling, the blood on the floor. There IT sat. IT was unsated and angry. "Let me inside", I yelled. The police pushed me back. "Where are they taking her, let me touch her, please," I wailed.
Without waiting, I ran to the hospital. In the lobby, I was told, she was in surgery. Everyone was praying. I just wanted to touch her so I could protect her. From IT. My roomate asked me, "Well, what are you going to do?".
I said, "Somehow, I have to do an exorcism". So I went to my room and searched it for things to use.
I cannot describe what I did. This would be wrong. One thing, I have a statue from Sikkim, the Himalayan mysterious kingdom which the king gave my father when he heard about the lightning. The royal emblem of the king is Pegasus.
On each wing is a fish, Pisces. The large, heavy statue goes with me everywhere I live. I set him up in the circle and held onto his perky upright ears. "Help me. I must go to the Gates of Death and touch her". Sitting on the floor, in the afternoon sun, I withdrew into myself until I was gone. As the sun set, a blaze of starlight arked across the darkening sky, a huge thunderstorm rising. I reached out and the star became a figure, dazed, a young girl transiting the boundry between life and death. I called to her gently, 'Let me touch you, you will be safe, may the stars shine on your journey, may you find your home". She sighed and passed by, touching lighter than the lightest breeze. I laid my head down next to Pegasus and sighed.
Barely had I composed myself when the door burst open. My roomate came into the room, crying hard. "She just died."
I sat there silently. My roomate became angry, 'You are the meanest person on earth. You have a heart of stone". She rose in fury. I grabbed her. "Stay away from this room. There is going to be a terrible storm. Horrible things will happen. Light a candle in another room and think good things. Don't disturb me, please. This is life and death".
She recoiled and left in a hurry.