Ray tried taking notes as quickly as he could, noticing key markings within the drawing, and the positioning of the angles of geometrical figures. Once arriving back at the parlour, Henrik picked up a USB cable from a cabinet at the side of the room, plugged it into the camera Ray was still using and connected it to the computer. As Ray took the photographs, Henrik took his place to observe them in a slide show like sequence.
It was not before long that Henrik noticed a shadow being cast over the drawing. It was case in an angle that did not alter from one picture to the next, even though Ray’s images were being taken from many different perspectives. After several minutes of hand drawing a map of some sort in accordance with the points, Ray looked towards his paper to decipher what he had just written. To his shock, none of the notes he had just made were legible.
“Fuck!” Ray threw his pencil down at the floor in frustration and reached for the drawing as Henrik, noticing this jumped up to stop him from touching it.
“Come and look at this. Look carefully at the shadow, it’s faint, but it hasn’t moved. According to its direction, the figure should be standing there.” Henrik pointed towards the corner of the drawing closest to the doorway. Although they could not see anyone there, Ray moved quickly trying to catch whatever it was making the shadow. Frantically he turned around and around until he looked back at the monitor and tried to see which parts of the drawing the shadow was covering. Ray felt that perhaps he could interpret this as a guide to the path of the map, and maybe the head would indicate where it was.
“Henrik, I have a feeling that it is located under the head of the shadow, which should be approximately towards…” As Ray pointed, the screen went blank. “Shit! It’s playing with us.” Ray felt patronised as he knew whatever it was, was watching.
“It’s alright, it seems to be on the way to the border of the garden, quite close to the cellar opening. We’ll be able to find it” Henrik added optimistically.
“No we won’t!” Ray snapped “Didn’t you hear me, it’s playing with us. There’s no way we’d be given the right directions, and even if we were, if we happen to dig anywhere within one yard of it, that is not directly over the top, it will re-locate once more. Shit! We need Helen!”
Ray jumped up from beside the computer desk and made his way hurriedly down the passage. He opened the door to where Helen should have been but she was no longer in the room. “Henrik! Did you put her in the store room?”
“Yes!” yelled a voice which was following fast behind.
“Well she’s gone. She must be in the basement. You enter here and I’ll go through the kitchen. Make sure you cover all exits, don’t let her escape!” With that both sprang into action.
Once Ray had reached the kitchen he drew his handgun and moved towards a small storage room at the side. In this storage room a bed could barely be seen under piles of boxes, and in the far corner from the entrance stood a closet. Opening up the dusty closet Ray stepped inside and pushed on the back of the inside. The back of the cupboard swung open to reveal a darkened staircase leading down. Ray had no time for pauses, he charged down the stairs as if his life depended on it.
He had reached the lightened passageway and started thinking of the arterial routes Helen could have taken from the room she was placed in. Ensuring that he was covering the exits which were located on the kitchen side of the house, Ray remained deathly silent. Henrik used the same tactic, and not a sound could be heard in the basement. Both men were careful not to reveal themselves too much in hope that Helen would walk into either one of their arms.
At this time Helen was not thinking, she merely walked blindly under the guidance of something she could not see. She was not aware of anyone being downstairs with her and had no idea people were chasing her. Helen quietly made her way through the passageways towards the kitchen, yet upon entering one of the passages she turned right for no apparent reason. She walked through the library which then led to Henrik’s office, then through the office itself. On the other side of the office was a small kitchenette and at the other side of the kitchenette was a doorway leading out to another passage. Once entering this passage Helen veered into a corner behind a supporting column and stood in silence for several moments. Henrik walked passed and a few moments later Helen started moving towards the kitchen side of the house again.
Every moment that went by Helen felt warmer, as if she was in increasingly familiar surroundings. She did not possess a drop of fear, only a subconscious curiosity that fit nicely behind the guided tour that had apparently taken over her body. Helen had come to the end of one of the passageways and as she looked up, she recognised a staircase that vaguely resembled the one she had been drawing. It was not quite as long or dark as the one she had imagined, but as she began to climb she was startled from her trance by the feeling of cold metal against her back.
With a pounding heart and unable to scream, Helen put her hands in the air and slowly turned around. Her eyes met with those of piercing steel. Ray was the one who was holding the gun and through his stillness Helen knew he was serious.
“Helen… we’ve just had you here for your own good. We’re trying to protect you. Otherwise, we would not have kept you here at all. If we had not kept you, we would have killed you… We should have killed you… Now what we need is your cooperation, or we have no other choice.”
“What do you want? What do you want me to do?” Ironically Helen was still feeling calm, as if she had taken an intoxicant, yet her mind was still active, “I’ll do anything. I don’t mean any harm. I just want to go home and get on with my life… I’ve completed the diary, isn’t that what you wanted?”
“I saw the diary. I was following it from my own computer. It didn’t let you finish. It was a paranoid little piece of dirty literature that doesn’t believe in fair play. So what I’m going to have to make you do now is show us.”
“Show you what?”
“The box. Helen you need to show us the box.” Ray’s stance had calmed, and he seemed to be behaving more rationally than earlier. However, his gun was still pointing at Helen and he was still dead serious.
“Is that the reason why I am getting pulled when the window is open? What is it? Sure I’ll help, as long as that freaky thing stays away from me.”
With this Ray smiled and put down his gun, “Good.” Was his relaxed response, and placing his gun in his left hand, slowly reached his right arm around Helen.
“I really mean it. I don’t want any trouble. I just want to go home.”
“We don’t want any trouble either sweetness. But we need to know where the box is so that we can deal with it.”
Starting to calculate what was happening Helen suddenly needed to ask “But Ray, what if I can’t help you, and I don’t really know where it is, what then?”
“Helen, I don’t want you to stress about it, because you can help. But if you couldn’t, we would certainly have to kill you. There’s no other way.”
Worried about how much this didn’t make any sense, Helen followed Ray towards his office, whilst constantly feeling something tugging on the back of her shirt. The pair entered the converted cellar, the same one Helen had seen in her vision, and Ray motioned her to sit. Finding a comfortable leather office chair located at the visitors’ side of the desk, Helen obediently followed Ray’s instructions.
From the moment she sat down though, she kept feeling her head turn to the right. Thinking this might be nerves Helen tried exceptionally hard to keep her head straight and look at Ray as he was talking. Yet, this involuntary movement became exceptionally difficult to maintain when she started feeling her entire body wanting to turn around on the stool.
“What is it?” Ray panicked.
“Nothing! I’m sure it’s nothing. I don’t quite know…” with the effort of trying to keep still Helen began to yell “I think I’ve been under so much stress lately that my body’s gone into shock, that’s all.”
“Helen, you must tell me exactly where the box is!” Looking at Helen in her state for a split second Ray resumed “Now! You must tell me now!”
“It’s in the back garden next to the door which is in a mound. A cellar, or shelter or something… Or not quite right next to it, but five met…” Helen’s mouth started to distort as if someone had put a fist in it. Helen couldn’t talk or close her mouth. It was as though her whole head was being pushed back in an attempt to silence her.
Ray urgently took out his mobile and speed dialled Henrik “I have her here. Go to the garden next to the cellar door, or maybe some meters away. Remember the points of the drawing in relation to the trees and dig.”
“But Ray, are you sure?” Henrik now too was panicked.
“Just do it. We have no choice!” Ray withdrew his handgun once more and through her struggles Helen could just see Ray aiming and cocking to fire at her. The second Ray’s finger moved over the trigger he was pushed violently back towards the wall, by the same force that was moving Helen. Seeing this, Helen’s mouth was released and she was spun around to face another set of stairs. This time the stairs were the ones. This was the very stairwell Helen had thought she’d conjured from her own imagination.
The doors at the top of the stairs were old and made of wood with iron brackets. As Helen could hear Ray rustling in the background, and as she prepared to feel a spray of bullets enter her back, the double doors burst open and she was lifted out of her chair, up the stairs and towards the outdoor air. The sunlight hit Helen’s face as if it was the first time she’d seen it. She could smell the fresh air and feel the warm but coolish breeze caressing her face. She felt as if she was drifting through the air, and in amongst these senses Helen gradually realised that the sight of the garden did not match what she was feeling.
Instead, the garden was grey and leafless, as it was in her vision. The sky was dark although it was daytime, and the ground soggy. It was only five meters before Helen was put down and pushed towards the soil. As the force lowered her face first into the ground Helen looked back and saw that the door she had just come through was the one from her visions.
The earth was cool and cushioning, and oddly, although Helen knew that she possessed fear, it seemed to be delayed. All Helen could think of was how surprised she was to feel the comfort of the earth, and as her mind panicked when she gazed back again, this time up towards the surface of the ground seeing Henrik standing over her, shooting his firearm downwards, Helen had the feeling that from now on there would be no end.
Helen felt the cold box pressed against her, only this time it was already open. She felt a cold half breeze, half liquid sensation move through her pores, under her fingernails and into every entrance imaginable. Helen felt a double thickness of body and soul. In the realisation that she was still breathing she began to feel stronger than before and eager to return to the surface to face those who would defy her.
As she thought about rolling over to face the sun she realised that she was turning. However, instead of looking back up through the hole in the soil, Helen found herself staring up at the ceiling of Ray’s office. From a double vantage point Helen could see both from her own perspective as well as from the perspective of someone watching her. Simultaneously as she felt herself rise up stiffly from the floor upon which she lay, without any physical manoeuvre, she also saw herself from outside, rise whilst she was still in laying position. As if someone had picked her up by the shoulders.
Helen saw flashes of the door open and then closed. Then just as her first person gaze moved down to the bottom stairs, the gaze from the other perspective looked down at the floor behind her. The pattern of the brick paving did not match. There was a patch that had been removed and then repositioned. Once realising this, the floor seemed to disappear. Helen saw a skeleton huddled in a foetus position in the hole. A millisecond later, the skeleton had flesh. It then opened its eyes and looked up towards her. It was Helen.
At that moment, Helen felt that she was in the grave herself, looking up towards the light. One flash later Helen felt herself once more standing on the paved floor, looking up towards the now open doors staring wonderously at the sunlight she hadn’t seen in days. She smelt the air and felt the warm wind. Her very human longing to be enjoying the beautiful weather overcame her. She began walking towards the stairs, to move up towards the light. Her body felt light, yet solid. Whilst she felt that she had more energy than ever, her body seemed rigid, stone-like, as if nothing could make her lose her balance again.
Reaching the first step, Helen remembered that Ray must have still been in the room, she subtly turned her head to look at him, saw his cowering composure, smiled and turned back towards the light outside. She barely noticed the stairs she climbed and once she had made it to the top, walking through the door, she just saw Henrik scampering in through the kitchen door at the other side of the yard. She looked around and to her surprise the garden was as green as she had imagined it to be the first time. The sun shone, the sky was blue and life was all around her. There was no trace on the ground in front of her that there had ever been a hole with the box in it. Her box.
For no particular reason, Helen changed direction once more to return to the cellar where Ray’s office was. There was one more thing she needed. Not knowing what it was, she continued walking. However, once in the cellar she automatically lay down on the floor on top of where she had seen the body. Ray charged at her to prevent this from happening. It was no surprise to Helen to see her own strength cast Ray to the other side of the room as she sought to arrange herself in the exact position of the body.
Again Helen was observing the situation from two views. One was from her own position and the other was from the side. She placed her hands on the floor underneath her, and her side view could see the body underneath performing the same movement. Within an instant Helen no longer just possessed her own memories, but countless sets of memories from a variety of different people. All the memories seemed to merge into one collection yet separately. Helen could distinguish one group of memories from the other, due to place, name, and time period. She knew that the woman lying underneath was Ophelia a countess whose mother had rejected her for her values and as a person. Ophelia’s mother had deliberately turned to a life of servitude to avoid the attention that was being paid towards her family and in particular towards Ophelia. There had been rumours that Ophelia was cursed, was a witch, and was pure evil. This had not bothered Ophelia in the slightest, but her mother was deeply troubled by this and demanded that Ophelia do as she and cast away her material and societal riches, to live the rest of her days in the shadows.
Not willing to follow her mother’s orders, Ophelia, who had been raised under the influence of her father’s extrovert and flirtatious ways, soon fell in love with another prominent socialite at the age of nineteen. The two married shortly after and it was only a matter of weeks before Ophelia had discovered that she was pregnant. Scared and protective about the coming baby, Ophelia began to withdraw into her own seclusion within one of the parlours of the massive house. As doctors wanted to help her by providing medical examinations, and even as maids attempted to bring her cups of hot tea, Ophelia began to become more and more agitated.
Her husband, the father of the child, seemed to be absent constantly. He claimed to have been visiting family and friends, and deliberately left her at home alone with the help. The baby seemed to Ophelia to be the only living being that was, and would remain close to her in her own living years. Staff gradually became more alarmed and cautious upon hearing stories of how when some of them had approached Ophelia’s parlour, the door would suddenly slam in front of them. They shared stories of how the door would resist being opened taking much of their effort, and once inside they would notice that no one had been holding it. Saying this, they would refer to the ease of leaving the room, if in any case, the door had not opened in front of them by itself.
One of the upstairs maids was particularly flustered after the experience of being slapped in the face by an invisible hand when trying to dress the countess. The countess’s mother, who had retreated to servitude found none of this astounding. Nor did she make any attempt to offer her knowledge in regards to what was going on. All the while, upstairs in the parlour, Ophelia knew what was being said. She saw every movement, by every person in the house. The only person she wanted near her was her husband, but he seemed the only person on earth that she could never quite see.
The day came when Ophelia went into labour. Falling onto the floor in pain and screaming for her husband, servants were in the room in seconds, yet none were game enough to move too close. A bed had been made in the parlour and the butler motioned for the Countess to move towards it, and assured that it was perfectly safe. Ophelia understood this, in addition to knowing that there was no other choice. She reached the bed and relaxed as much as she could. Several minutes later a doctor had arrived and was preparing himself and those around for the arrival. Although she was in tremendous pain and seemed to be experiencing contractions constantly, it was not before her husband had finally arrived at the house an hour or two later, that Ophelia finally gave in and began to push.
Ophelia knew he had arrived even though he had not yet reached the room. Relieved that he would be beside her bed soon to protect her, Ophelia relaxed and concentrated on delivering the baby. As her husband finally entered the parlour Ophelia gave her last push, the baby was born and the doctor passed it on to one of the servants. Ophelia’s mother, in fact. Confused by too many thoughts, she paid little attention to the fact that her mother had hold of the baby and more to watching her husband’s eyes as he entered. Catching his eyes as he looked into hers, she saw that he had been with another woman. A beautiful, luscious blond-haired woman, any man of class would have envied. Incensed by this vision, Ophelia tried strangling her husband with her thoughts. However, tired and unable to concentrate, her mind strangled the wrong person, the person who was closest, the doctor. Gasping for air as the others looked on in horror, the doctor was slowly dying. This made Ophelia’s husband lunge forward to stop her.
As Ophelia felt her husband strangling and shaking her she suddenly felt complete numbness upon hearing a large crack at the back of her skull. She knew she was dead. With one sudden blow she was forced to relax and let go. Someone had hit her in the head with a rock of some sort. Ophelia did not see who it was, she was motionless and had left the site.
Startled, Helen rose up from the floor realising that the man, Ophelia’s husband was Ray. Helen had been Ophelia. The diary Helen had read for Ray’s transcription wasn’t a previous incarnation of herself after all, it was her daughter. Her baby daughter, who had grown up and grown old in servitude. Her little baby had lived under the shadow for the rest of her days, without the light and without her inheritable dignity.
Helen looked once more at Ray, this time to find him silently watching her every move. “You’re really not so tough any more are you Ray?” Helen emphasised in a curiously quiet voice. “What are you thinking of doing next, killing me? Do you really think that is going to be so effective now?” With that Helen quickly looked behind to ensure that no one was waiting with a rock in hand. “Do you know what I saw Ray?” Ray remained silently still. “I saw you and me fucking. I saw that there was a time, when you appeared younger, that you and I were completely in love. I saw that you couldn’t get enough of me. That was, until I saw you messing with another girl.” There was hatred in Helen’s voice.
“With all defence, we had taken a break!”
“What?” Helen was not prepared for Ray to actually remember, so she listened on.
“You and I. It was you who I’d caught with another man at your place. You were the one who perhaps felt that one wasn’t enough. I wanted to marry you. I had come to ask you to be with me forever. When you saw me with that woman I had wanted revenge. I wanted you to see!” Ray had broken down in tears.
Suddenly Helen began remembering different scenes to the ones she had remembered before. This time, it really was this Ray, yet younger. Helen had been sitting on the end of her bed. She stared at the mirror in front of her to watch herself cry. She noticed small details around the mirror such as ornaments and accessories on the dressing table which included a brass-laced tissue box holder and a small metal souvenir of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In this memory Sydney was a special place to her, but she couldn’t quite remember whether she had been there or just imagined it.
The floor coverings were poison green carpets and outside the window was a non-view of a back alley, fences and roof tops, which revealed a light grey sky and asphalt grounds that had been recently rained upon. By the clothing and the décor Helen knew that it was the 1970s. Outside she heard shouting. Helen looked through the window to see a young Ray pushing a taller looking young blond man into a fence beside their two cars. Helen couldn’t quite hear what they were saying but after a few moments of pause, Ray let go of the man, straightened his own hair, and suddenly threw a ring he had been holding up at the blond and its separate box onto the ground. Ray got into a small pale yellow car and reversed, squealing the tyres, back down the alley until he had reached the main road.
Helen then saw a pub scene where she and her blond friend had entered a regular hang out only to be met by a bitter Ray, who in the moment of anger at seeing Helen and her reaction, grabbed a poor golden haired woman by the curls. Helen and her friend decided to leave straight away, unaware that Ray would follow. It was not until on a darkened English country road that Helen’s friend became aware of Ray’s pursuit by the blinding high beams in his rear vision mirror. The friend attempted to drive faster to get rid of Ray, but his efforts were futile. To the surprise of both Helen and her friend, sitting directly ahead was a stationary truck, which could only be seen by its reflectors. Both saw the truck moments too late as the car careered at high speed into its back. The next moment Helen saw was of staring up at a bloodied windscreen in front of a bright blue sky. She looked beside her to see her dead friend slumped over the steering wheel, and realised that she herself was dead. There was no clue as to what had happened to Ray.
Coming back once again to reality Helen looked directly at Ray. Not fully understanding what she was doing she lifted up her top to reveal her left side. She showed him her white birthmark, the one that she had seen him search for in her earlier dream. He saw the birthmark, but instead of kissing it he fell down on his knees in apparent agony. Helen remembered that in these more recent memories Ray used to kiss this birthmark and hypothesise about Helen having past lives as a Jew in the Roman times, being fed to the lions. Then simply and concisely Helen stated directly to Ray “You killed me.” She moved out of the room.