The ‘better angels of my nature’ like it when I write stories like this. I generally don’t listen to them, because what the angels are implying makes me uncomfortable.
This story had its genesis in a few others, most notably in a picture and poem by Souldier Girl.
The first story is here: Unlocked. https://p33d33.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/unlocked
From that story and the comments in it, I wrote Psychosphere.
The Soul Keeper is the progression of both of them, and I suppose as far as sending a message can go on a barely-read blog, I wanted to say that not all men are evil, that not all women are innocent, and that somewhere in the Great Somewhere, there is a consciousness that wastes nothing.
Thanks for this sometimes personally painful but nevertheless worth-writing collection go to:
Souldier Girl. http://souldiergirl.com
Here’s The Soul Keeper.
I had the strangest dream, or, more accurately, I had the strangest series of dreams, and they’re all of a type. I was outside of my body and I was ‘witnessing’, that’s the word that came to me most powerfully, witnessing horrors that sane people want to avoid.
It became so bad and so common that over a month or so it really began affecting my waking life and my work. I developed Somniphobia, a fear of sleeping. Sooner or later, though, the body is just going to shut down and force you into sleep, and sleep will force you into dreams.
I was ragged, dizzy all the time, and in real trouble. At work I had gone from the one who could always be relied on, who got in and got it done, to the zombie who was perilously close to holding the record for unforced errors. At first, it was easy enough to fob it off as the result of some sleepless nights. After a few weeks no one was smiling understandingly and offering me their grandmother’s herbal remedies and advice. Instead, they wore thin-lipped expressions and had undisguised disapproval in their eyes. Such is the way of work-based friendships. They are performance based.
You would think that I could find a way to relax. I live alone and I like my life; I have hobbies and interests that keep me active, engaged, and centred. Until the dreams began. I looked online at dream interpretations but they were largely nonsense; none of them rang true to me, and knowing that my totem animal is a bear didn’t offer any comfort.
I have a strange reaction to cheese. I know that’s a random comment, but it’s leading somewhere. If I eat cheese at night I have bad dreams, so it’s rare that I eat it at night because, strangely, I don’t like having bad dreams. Occasionally, though, I give in because I love the stuff and I try to kid myself that this time it won’t affect me so badly. I ate cheese the night the bad dreams started, and they continued when I hadn’t indulged, to the point where I threw the cheese away and committed to never having it in my home again.
The dreams, as I said, are of a type. They are violent, chaotic, and they always end in death. Not my death, but the death of others. In the dream I am an observer; I’m powerless to act. I sense everything and I see everything, and my God, what I see is heartbreaking. Children being abused, rape, slaughter, and suicide. It’s as if I’m witnessing every ugly act one human can commit on another.
I was walking-stumbling through the small mall where I do my shopping when the dizziness overtook me. I didn’t have time to consider the embarrassment of being the object of other people’s entertainment. I just had to drop my shopping bags and sit down, there on the floor, right in the middle of the mall. I felt nauseated, my head spinning as I rested it on my folded up knees. Finally, a human separated herself from the gawking homosapiens, and gently laid her hand on my shoulder. “Are you alright?” she asked, and I heard the concern in her voice. Just hearing that compassion made something inside me feel a little better, but I had to answer her truthfully when I said: “I’m not sure. I don’t think so.”
There was an ambulance ride, I’m told, and a few days – days! – when I slept through everything, but finally my body had sufficiently recovered to wake up through the veil of drugged sleep the doctors had induced. If I had dreamt, the drug cocktails had blessedly robbed me of the memory of them.
Of course, it wasn’t simply a matter of getting up, getting dressed, and discharging myself. I was asked if I’d like to speak to a counsellor and I had the presence of mind to say yes. I could, I thought, try to make sense of what had happened to me by talking about it, and I didn’t have to take any drugs she might offer. I somehow doubted that medication was going to fix what had gone on inside me.
I was right, in the event. The counsellor listened carefully, made notes, asked a few questions, and then laid it all in the lap of a stress reaction. She seemed to be trying to corral me into believing it was all work-related, topped off with a dash of loneliness and social isolation. I knew her textbook, and I knew it didn’t know me, but I thanked her as if she’d said something profound, and then I left, relieved to be out of there.
I left the hospital, and I was a little disoriented. This is my city but I haven’t been near a hospital in decades, so I had no real sense of where I was. I tried to hail a taxi but around hospitals they’re scarce and sought after, but the rumbling of buses told me there might be another way to get home. I needed to get home. I was shaky and I felt frail, and having made the mistake of turning on my phone and letting it go nuts as message after message came through wasn’t helping. Empty inside, I couldn’t face reading and replying right then.
I caught the right bus without too much trouble and waiting, and I sat next to a woman who was busy giggling as she read and tapped replies into her laptop. The swaying of the bus was making me feel unwell again, and I hoped I’d make it home without another round of ‘street theatre’ to entertain the masses.
The woman seated beside me stopped tapping away at her keyboard, and then she tapped me on my leg. I thought it was an accident, so I ignored it. Well, she wasn’t taking ignoring it for an answer, so she tapped me again. I looked at her and she smiled, raising her thumb in some form of positive reinforcement. I smiled weakly, because I felt weakly. She nudged me and pointed to her screen. It said ‘Thumbup’, and she pointed to that and then to herself. What an odd name, I thought.
Lin, because as I found out that was the name behind the screen name, was really lovely. She made the half hour trip seem like it only took a few minutes, and in that time I learned a lot. That’s kind of an understatement, as you’ll see later.
Lin is deaf. She spoke to me through a very animated mixture of direct speech, sign language, and writing and gifs she seemed to find in the oddest places but were as hugely relevant as they were quickly found. I don’t know sign language, but the funny fucker inside me likes to think that’s not important, so I fluttered my hands around like a mad shithouse rat locked in mortal combat with a deranged ferret, butt plug in paw, and intent on inserting said plug into the rat’s nether regions.
Lin laughed, and said/wrote: “You just said ‘xlggperipherwigtuknop’.” I smiled. “Sorry,” I replied. “Everyone knows ‘xlggperipherwigtuknop’ only has one ‘g’ in it.”
I got off the bus quite close to my home, and Lin got off, too. I was sort of glad she lived nearby, even though I doubted I’d ever see her again. I said goodbye, shook her hand, and slowly ambled off. I didn’t get far before I was stopped by a tap on my shoulder. It was Lin. She amazed me. “You’re tired now,” she said, “Because of the dreams and what they’ve taken out of you, but when you’ve slept more and built yourself back up a bit, email me, okay? There are … things to say.”
Have you ever felt a sense of ‘presence’, as if something really important had just touched your soul? I felt that then, and I nodded. I left, feeling the deep tiredness in me reaching up to pull me down into it, and I barely made it home. I slept, ate, and slept again over another two days. I woke after that, scratching at the uncomfortable beard growth on my face, and I showered to wake myself up. My phone had once again come close to melting down, and once again it could wait.
I’d dreamed again, but this time they were different. Instead of snippets, and being tossed uncontrollably from scene to dreaded scene, there was more flow and progression. It was almost like watching a movie, but one I didn’t enjoy and couldn’t comprehend the meaning of. Lin was in a few scenes, shouting something at me, but the bleak high wind between us tore her words away.
I saw the devastation again; the carnage caused by humans to humans, and I was once again back in a world I hated. Children are not targets. Women are not playthings. I saw the cruelty perpetrated on the very old, the very young, the very poor, and the very weak. It sickened me. I saw the violations, all of them, committed by men and women, and it infuriated me. I saw the avoidable chaos, created by the sick and twisted minds of those who like it. And I saw the death of many, some at the hands of others, and some whose soul fled their body when it simply ran out of the energy to maintain the divine spark.
I looked around. I was at home and most certainly alone, but I heard that word spoken by a voice other than mine. It was, to say the least, somewhat disturbing. I sat down, unsure what to make of this. From an empty space in the centre of my lounge room, the voice came again.
“You are a Soul Keeper.”
I woke up an hour later with a splitting headache and an unanswered question. ‘What had just happened?’
I returned a few necessary calls, letting my boss know I’d been in hospital. I think he was relieved; it explained a lot that had happened recently. That good man gave me two weeks’ off, saying I’d earned it. For all its pain and misery, the world also has its good spots and many people who keep them alive and active.
I had to shop. My home was as empty of food as it was of company. I admit it, I was fearful of leaving in case I fell again. I went to a different mall, unwilling to face the embarrassment I’d feel if someone in ‘Fainting Mall’ recognised me. I felt shaky and weak, until a small hand laid itself on my arm and a sort of light-energy shot through me.
“My daughter died. A long time ago, but the pain never goes away,” the blonde-haired woman said to me. I didn’t recognise her because I didn’t know her. I tingled; it’s hard to explain. Something happened. “Here she is,” I said, in the same voice I’d heard in my lounge room. I touched that woman’s hand, there on my arm, and we both ‘saw’ her child, transformed, and alive. “Oh, there she is!” the woman said, and she walked away quietly. I saw red and yellow tendrils of despair floating away from her, and something inside me knew with absolute certainty that she had healed.
“That’s going to happen a lot,” came Lin’s voice from behind me. “Welcome home. You’ve been asleep for quite some time,” she said.
Lin is a Silent Witness, one of several types of Witness. She doesn’t hear the pain rising up into the Psychosphere, but she sees all of it. The needlessness of it used to make her angry, before her friend Ami, known online as Buddha9, showed her how to transform anger into compassion. We can all be angels for each other. In the early days Lin and I were almost inseparable, because there was a lot I needed to relearn.
I am a Soul Keeper, one of many. I don’t know for sure, but I think we’re lower than the Angels and slightly higher than humans. We have bodies and lives, and there’s nothing physically remarkable about us. What makes us special is what’s inside us, and what we can do with it.
In my case, I’m particularly called to help those who have had their lives cut short before The Plan of it could be lived out by them. My special affinity is for children, because I had lost a child of my own many years ago, but I help anyone I find in my dreams. That’s what I do now. My life’s work is to be found in the dream state, collecting the innocent and guiding them on to safety.
I see them leaving, and I’m there to meet them. I hold them, and let them know there is love everywhere for them. And then the Presence comes. I suppose you could call it God, if you want to, but I perceive it as the Mother And Father Of All Things. It takes that soul I’m holding and transports it to a child about to be born. I’ve seen it often, and I’m always in awe of it.
When the newborn draws its first breath, I see the sparkling soul of a life cut short enter in. Our parents give us genes, but the Presence gives us life. It never wastes the good and the virtuous. The darkness I see in my dreams is the less good and the less virtuous. They are negative dust, swirling around, and cognisant of their situation. It will change when they will change.
Nothing is ever lost.