THE SNATCHING OF STELLAN BONNET
A darkness fell upon him. He’s blind and deaf in a terrifying nightmare as this pitch-black gloom stripped him of all his senses. There is nothing around him, no recognizable sights or sounds of his or any other realities he knew, only this dark, cold, lonely hell.
Did he die?
No, the pungent odor of decomposing cadavers that’s started to suffocate him tells him he’s alive. That and his own funny smell. Strange. He usually never stinks or even sweats. So, there is a sliver of a silver lining: his own awareness.
He knows that they took him away, but he does not know where to. Are they maybe inside his mind, trying to conjure up demoniacal horrors? Nastassia, his big sis, taught him how to face mental dangers by not panicking and being self-aware of his consciousness. To start, he has to focus on the forceful skull-shining pranayama breathing. A long, slow inhale following a forceful exhale shakes off fear energy. A person is a mere reflection of their thoughts. Never let fear eat your soul, Nastassia cautioned him. Then, as protection—rather, as a counterattack against invisible enemy forces—he has to construct a hall of crystal mirrors in his mind-eye; it would frame and multiply him while reflecting, deflecting, and confusing psychic attackers by putting them in a maze of distorted images. No matter who they are and why they concocted this lonely, infernal sphere, they did hurl him into this fissure of doom he now fights against by his own reflection(s). Despite the darkness in which he can’t see, in his mental eye, the mirrors have given him his depth, his dimensions back. At least a sense of it, the first sense he managed to regain.
A small victory!
He stops his skull-shining breathing and kneels, moving on to another breathing technique. It’s called Lion’s breath, a technique that focuses on the third eye in the middle of his forehead. He had always found the exercise silly, so even now he can’t suppress a gentle giggle as he sticks his tongue out and exhales. Somehow, this time the Lion’s breath feels like an act of fearless defiance. He’s resisting them and it feels good! It’s working.
He can focus now.
He knew perdition. He saw it in many naked human souls suffering as they knelt in front of the gates of hell. The smell of their regrets was always bitterly cold; a pain of loss, unlike any other, the pain of what might have been but was lost for whatever reason, haunted them at their last hour and, all too often, crushed their souls on its way out into the unknown. He saw damnation in the future(s) that used to beset him. But it always felt separate; his visions were never a part of his own life. Even the grim visions were only parts of his many realities; the circles of hell were disjointed from his real life as its realness, always filled with joy and love, was the dominant force over all other realities. This time is different. There’s no other reality. Just this dark, deaf, cold, solitary hell.
At least he has these soothing crystal mirrors he created in his mind-eye to help him cope. He’s not going to acquiesce to any of this. If necessary, he’s going to recreate the whole universe in the hall of mirrors. He will dig himself out from whatever grimoire this demonic reality came to be and return to the people he loves the most in the whole world: Mom, Dad, and Nastassia.
As he’s mulling over his options, he hears a strange whisper, like the hushed breathing of the mighty redwood he once heard in California. It is a relief at first, that sweet, familiar sound. Alas, within seconds the whisper morphs into a long, longing howl that increases in intensity with each passing moment until it reaches a piercing, roaring thunder. Ear-splitting noise attacks him from all sides. It is clear to him, they are assaulting his mirrors, so he tries to protect them by letting them float and dance evasively in his mind. It is to no avail. A diabolical, full-blast shrill, sounding like thousands blowing the trumpets of Jericho, shatters his crystals at once. The victory is snatched from him in one heavy blow, crushing his defense, crushing him along with it.
While he is still disoriented after the noise attack, he feels an ice-cold tingling sensation all over his body. It is like a thousand tiny needles start to poke and probe him, penetrating his skin as would snakes spewing venom into his blood. It feels green, the devilish substance entering his blood and his mind alike, gulping it rapidly and greedily as it takes over every molecule in his body, over every nerve and neuron, over every bit of what he is, snatching his living essence out of him in a terrifying haste that nothing can stop.
He starts to lose consciousness with one remaining sound-thought resonating in him—Debussy’s “Clair de Lune,” which his mother used to play on the big black Steinway grand piano. It used to scare him when he was a toddler, the Steinway. It looked like a mythical beast ready to swallow him whole. It doesn’t scare him anymore. He is six. He’s a big boy now. He clings to that sweet music, he’s recreating in his mind. This is the Mom-tune, as sweet as memories of the smell of her apron, which he loved to sniff alongside his puppy while she prepared sautéed rosemary. This is the music he loved so much when the silver moonlight awoke him at night and Mom came into his room and played, or hummed, Debussy to put him right back to sleep. He keeps holding onto that tune for dear life but then, puff! it is gone in a flash as he’s plunged into the cold, green gully that leads to the netherworld, to the point of no return.
What do they want from him?
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