The Catalyst, Chapter 1: 2
Despite the uninviting gray, the coolness, and the dampness of the fog-rain clouds, the lure of the park is still strongly heard. I’m not alone on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, there are others. Below me are two teen-agers walking together, a white guy and a Filipino girl. They’re the focal point. They’re in danger from whatever it is that’s watching me, watching them. The air around us is a solid mass of gray fog below and grayer rain clouds above, there’s no separation between the two. What is above, is so below. Empty unoccupied space fills the scene. Everything is flat and gray. It’s like a blank movie screen. Waiting.
Hey, everything’s going out of focus. I feel dizzy. I can’t see. Something weird is happening to my body. My chest is expanding outward. My whole body is reshaping. Now it’s all stopped. But, I don’t feel right. My usually too-big-for-my-body hands are now small and my nails are polished. I glance down. Oh my God. I’ve got breasts! I’m a girl? Oh my God. I’m her! I’m that girl. Her name is Lana Ramona and her boyfriend is Jon. I can see with her eyes and I can hear her thoughts. I have slipped into her body and her mind.
LANA RAMONA (& LAMONT)
The sound of a raven catches my attention on this fog soaked day.
It flies through the air, lands on a branch and watches me intently. Very creepy, I stop and stare at him.
“Passing on your right,” a jogger huffs out as he goes around us. Some things never cease to amaze me. The sight of joggers wearing running shorts and a tee shirt is one. They simply refuse to live in the real world. They dress as if all of California weather-wise is a clone of L.A.’s beaches. It’s so bizarre. And, you see those same people wearing shorts all year round. As if just by just ignoring the real weather, they can live inside their own personal bubble of Southern California heat. Not everyone adheres to such delusions. Most of the pilgrims to the Park, the few who ventured out into these uninviting elements, dress sensibly for our cold Fall weather, like Jon and I, in multiple layers. We wear denim jackets and hooded sweatshirts, with the hoods up, to keep out the damp chill.
“Lana, what’re we doing here?” Jon asks. “Why’d you get us out here? What could possibly be more important than watching a game?”
“There’s always some kind of sports thing on. Do you really have to see every one? You said yourself that they were a bunch of losers anyway,” I reply.
“Yeah, so?” Jon drenches the word so with indignation, so utterly upset that his own opinions may be behind the reasoning that has gotten him out here. “Sitting watching the tube in a warm apartment is better than being out here.
Look, I can see my own breath. Why can’t we just hang out back there? What is it that you must see right now?” Jon pleads.
“It’s a secret place,” I respond.
“A secret?” Jon remarks incredulously, “In this Park? How can anything in the Park be a secret? Thousands of people must trample through every inch of this place each week.”
“It’s a secret,” I chide, “if they don’t know what they’re looking at.”
“And how did you come to have this secret knowledge?”
“I just finished reading about it. That’s how.”
“You read about it in one of your weird books, is that it? You still haven’t learned have you? You can’t believe everything you read.”
“That’s what we’re out here for. To see for ourselves, Mr. Skeptic.”
I drag him on. We walk past the Japanese Tea Garden, turn up Stow Lake Drive, over the bridge across Stow Lake to Strawberry Hill and up its woodland trail. We go up into the hidden heart, the secret sacred space that nestles on the hill’s top. As we near the top, the sounds of the city becomes muffled by the masking, soothing sound of rushing water from nearby Huntington falls. The refreshing clear green scent of Redwood trees fills the moist air that floats soothingly into our throats and noses.
We come to the top and there lies the flat open area, just like the book said, this cleared oval space marked out by a ring of stones. Stones lying as if they were once part of a building’s wall and at one end, rising out of the ring, is a mass of stones piled together, about four or five feet high and wide.
“Come on. Let’s check it out,” I say.
We explore the pile of stones at the back end. It’s been used as both an altar and a fireplace. Remains of offerings and of a campfire are there. Beyond the fireplace, more stones are laid out like walls of small rooms. I spot a ginger female feline sunning itself at the base of the fireplace.
“This is it. Just like the book said,” I declare.
“What are you talking about?” Jon asks.
“Don’t you see? Can’t you feel it? It’s in the very air we breathe.”
“All I feel is damp and cold. And all I see is a bunch of rocks.”
“This isn’t just a ‘bunch of rocks’. This is what’s left of an ancient temple.”
“A what?” Jon sputters.
“A temple. Look around,“ I say wistfully. “Look at this stone circle. It’s like someone had built a temple of stones and then some force ripped the whole building away, or smashed it in some gigantic magic spell gone wrong. All that remains are stones, which mark the shape of the temple and this big pile of stones, this altar and fireplace thing. Here in this stone ring can’t you feel the power of the ancients? Don’t you feel like you’ve left this world and entered another?”
“No. I don’t feel anything. Other than damp. Are you on something and didn’t share it with me?” Jon squints at me and sniffs inquisitively.
“No. I’m not. You must have way too much Earth in your astrological nativity chart. You must lack Air. Try to compensate by putting an effort into lightening up. Try to open yourself up to your imagination and...”
“...let yourself feel. Yeah, yeah,” Jon mutters, “You’ve told me this a hundred times. Okay, I’ll pretend for just one moment. Okay, so tell me, who built this grand temple? Spanish Conquistadors?”
“Nope. People from Atlantis.”
“You got to be joking! Atlantis is a totally bogus place.”
“That’s not true. This Greek guy, Plato, wrote about how this history buff from Athens named Solon, had been told all about Atlantis by an Egyptian priest.”
“It’s true. The Egyptian priest tells how beyond the Pillars of
Hercules there was this huge island called Atlantis. In case you didn’t know, the Pillars of Hercules is now called Gibraltar, which would put Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean, “Lana explains.
“No really. This book I just finished reading also said that many ancient European cultures have tales about an island in the Atlantic. It also says that the early Mexicans, they were called the Aztecs back then,” I explain, “the book tells how their ancestors came from an island called Azlan. Azz-lan and At-lan-tis, they sound sort of alike, so they’re probably the same place.”
“Yeah, right, “Jon snorts, “This is California. Not some island in the Atlantic.”
“Atlantis was this huge island, “I explain, “This book said that the whole North American continent is the ‘island’ of Atlantis. He said that around 8498 BC an asteroid hit this continent and caused cataclysmic damage that destroyed all these ancient cities of Atlantis. Back then, San Francisco was the sight of the Atlantian city called Tlamco. This place, right here was one of seven Temples of Tlamco. This was the Temple dedicated to the Gods and Goddess of the Water Elements.”
“So, what happened to this place?” Jon asks despite his disbelief.
“I told you. When the asteroid hit, there were these cataclysms. You know, earthquakes, tidal waves, and stuff like that. This place was ripped apart along with the rest of the cities of Atlantis. Almost all traces of that great civilization were destroyed and lost forever.”
“Hey, I thought that this island of Atlantis sank.”
“Well, parts of Atlantis-North America did. Probably, back then, Marin and Berkeley weren’t separated by water. All that land must’ve sank in the cataclysm.”
“You really believe all that junk?” Jon asks.
“It’s not junk. It’s history. And, why not? This guy’s book is filled with notes from all kinds of Ph.D. types to prove that he ain’t making any of this up.”
“Those notes don’t prove a thing. The whole lot of them could be faking it. Or, the books in those notes are all really old, you know, like back in the 1950’s, when they didn’t really know much science and history stuff,” Jon says emphatically. “Besides, there is no way this place is some ancient anything. If you weren’t so naïve and blinded by all that stuff you read, you’d see that all these rocks are stuck together with concrete.”
“Well I bet they must’ve had concrete back then,” I smugly reply.
“This isn’t an ancient building. It’s probably just some place that was going to be built back when the Park was first set up; it’s just that they never finished it, or, whatever. This sure ain’t Atlantis. If the stones in this place were from back then, those science guys would have made a big deal of this place years ago. The idea that this stuff is all secretly super old is just too crazy. Now, you can stand out here and delude yourself if you want. Me,” Jon exclaimed with verbal flourish, “I’m cold. I’m wet. I’m leaving.”
His words harsh and cold stabbed me deeply. All I wanted was to open him up to the possibility of a little magic lurking in the world. All it takes is a willingness to believe, even if just a little bit. Is that so terrible? I tried to share a part of me and all I get was rejection.
This is it. The epicenter of…. I’m not sure. But, there’s something wrong here. I feel a growing sense of foreboding. A not-rightness. Wait. What? I hear laughter. It’s a bone chilling sound that makes me shudder. It’s starting. Suddenly I have this peculiar and sinister feeling. Something happened. Is happening. Suddenly, I feel empty. I feel like the world has ended, or slid off its foundation. That there’s nothing but this place. I need to tell them. They need to know. But, I can’t.
 Note: Here Lana is the narrator, but additionally Lamont is somehow experiencing the same events through her eyes.
 The following recital of the history of Atlantis and ancient San Francisco is an adaptation of what is mentioned in Dr. Weirde’s Weirde Tours: A Guide to Mysterious San Francisco, 1994, Barrett-James Books. Dr. Weirde’s reference for this history is Sacred Sites: A Guidebook to Sacred Centers & Mysterious Places in the United States, edited by Frank Joseph, 1992, Llewellyn Publications. Therein is a chapter devoted to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. That chapter is written by LaVedi R. Lafferty.
 I believe that these remnants of ruins are all that remains of the Sweeney Observatory (to observe/view the City and not the stars) Site that was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.
KEYWORDS: H P LOVECRAFT, LOVECRAFT, DREAMLAND, DARK FANTASY, FANTASY NOVEL
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