High Strangeness: The Bad Stuff

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Bad Stuff

I have a lot of good stuff to write about the mind-blowing Burlington Vortex Conference, but first I think I should get the bad stuff out of the way.

First, about the photos taken during the "Haunted Woods Tour." Mxxx, our host and tour guide, took dozens of photos during the hike in and out of the woods and the whole time we were in the heart of The Vortex. I saw a lot of them as they were taken and, boy, they were something... Now, am I going to claim that every photo of "ectoplasm" was really cigarette smoke caught in the camera's flash? Am I going to say that every photo of a glowing "orb" floating in the woods was just a lens flare? Am I going to insist that every photo of a "Dimensional Shift" was really just a blurry photo? No, I am not, because that would not be fair to Mxxx, or to The Vortex.

What I want to do is post the photos here and let you, the reader, decide. But there's a problem. Before I left the Conference, Mxxx gave me and everyone who went on the tour a CD of the photos. When I got home I discovered that my CD was completely, and somewhat suspiciously, empty. I emailed Mxxx yesterday and asked for another copy, and haven't heard back. I'm going to give her a few days to come through with something, but if there's nothing in the mail from her by the weekend, I may have to re-evaluate that whole Vortex thing.

Second, while the 30 people on the Haunted Woods Tour were shifting in and out of The Vortex, Mxxx announced that we had a special guest on the tour, a writer for a local magazine, who turned out to be me. No sooner had my cover been blown than a woman grabbed my arm and said she had to talk to me in private. I remembered having spoken to her earlier on the tour, when she had told me about how some Fairies in the Haunted Woods had thrown mud at her dog the last time she had been there. As she clutched my arm and led me insistently away from the crowd it was obvious that she didn't have dogs or Fairies or even mud on her mind this time.

First she pointed out a spot where she had, on a previous tour, seen five malevolent beings watching her. Except that wasn't the right spot. It was actually over there! No... there! No, wait, it was way over there! By the time she was done spinning me around I was pretty disoriented, which may have been her goal, because what she told me next defied belief. She informed me that that very night was the beginning of a countdown...

I took a lucky guess: December 21, 2012? The day we're not supposed to make any lunch plans? She nodded gravely and asked me if I knew what was going to happen on that day. I didn't want to make a big deal about it, so I said I thought it referred not to the actual end of the world but perhaps to the end of a historical age. She shook her head sadly, almost condescendingly, as if to say, "You poor, poor, deluded creature." I was obviously misinformed. And there are obviously no metaphors in her universe.

What I learned then has haunted me since Saturday night. The woman took a deep breath and said that on 12/21/2012, the third dimension will cease to exist.


Could be, could be. But, listen, if you think existing in only two dimensions is bad, like I do, wait 'til you hear what will happen next: the earth will split into two planets. One of the new planets, she said, will rise up into goodness, and that's the one we all want to be on. The other planet... you can guess.

There is a battle brewing between the forces of good and the forces of evil, she told me. When will that battle start? Ah, that's where it gets really interesting. Again I got the sad head-shaking, and she said with an air of disgust, "It was supposed to start tonight!

"But," she said, her voice dropping into a conspiratorial hush, her head and eyes flicking around to make sure no one else could hear, "someone didn't make the proper preparations!"

It was clear that that someone was among the crowd of people on the tour that night, but I never did find out who it was. Nor, I should say, did I want to.

It's a damn shame that my adventure had to end with this unsolicited, unwelcome warning of a half-sized, two-dimensional earth, not to mention the revelation that there is dissent and possible treachery among the people on the tour... I was enjoying the experience so much, on so many levels, and I really wanted to go out on a high note. I mean, we had just seen two UFOs, for God's sake, and I had just heard the man saying, "Thank you, Mr. UFO." That is a high note!

I did not approach this woman or bait her into telling me about the end of the world. Why she felt the need to pull me aside and deliver such an apocalyptic buzzkill is a complete mystery, but I wish she had kept her negative energy to herself.

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