“I ALMOST WISH I COULD STOP DREAMING ABOUT HIM.”
If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awoke -Aye! And what then? [Samuel Taylor Coleridge [1772-1834] 
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 1979
I awake with a lingering sense of anticipation and frustration. For the last seven days, I’ve been returning to my dream of Golden Gate Park, and watch hopelessly as that guy disappears through that flash of purple, and then I find myself back at that temple. When I get there, each and every time, I can’t go beyond that damn wooden door. Somebody, or something, told me that my destiny was waiting for me on the other side, if I’m willing to start believing my own dreams. It all doesn’t matter, since I can’t get through.
Anyway, the good news: Miriam is finally back from her vacation. Maybe she’ll have some advice. The scene at the Park felt so real. Did it actually take place? Could it be only a dream? If it was real, what can I do about it? I’m a nobody, a nothing. All this crazy talk about my destiny and me, of all people, helping that girl, ha! That’s a joke.
Lamont, old buddy, your dreams are getting out of control. I’m starting to imagine myself as some super-duper hero, back like when I was just a little kid. And why is that? It should be obvious.
It’s because my little kid mind is probably over-compensating for my nervousness. Ahh, face it, Lamont; it’s more like stark terror, at having to confront my all too real, and all too bleak, future. Hell! You can’t
escape it Lamont, today is the day you’ve been dreading.
Today is my first day at Ambrose Bierce High School. Today, I’m a high school sophomore.
I hate first days at a new place, a whole new set of strangers. Probably everyone there will also think I’m a bookworm and a weirdo. A whole new batch of people to make fun of me. A whole new batch of people to reject me.
I shower, get dressed, and, carefully, so as not to be overheard, I reach under my bed to pry up one of the floorboards. From there I take out my “precious.” At least its current incarnation. I cling to it tenaciously, drawing strength and solace from it, like Gollum did from the One Ring when it came into his clutches. To my surprise, I find two books hidden in my secret compartment. This is really weird. I had finished the novel The Silver Skull two weeks ago. How did it get back here? I was sure I had returned it. Had it been here all this time and I didn’t notice it? Not likely, but…? The hairs on the back of my neck tingle as I re-read the blurb on the back cover.
“AN INVOCATION OF EVIL: Into the fabulous realm of sixteenth-century Mexico comes Alfonso Martinez, a Spanish alchemist searching for the legendary Aztec gold. With him is the silver skull of Don Sebastian de Villanueva-wizard, vampire, explorer of earth’s dark mysteries. Then the skull falls into the hands of a virgin priestess, the sensuous leader of an Aztec cult. And in awesome scenes of occult ritual and bloody human sacrifice, Don Sebastian is brought back to life. So begins an unholy alliance as vampire and priestess join forces summoning all the dread powers of evil at their command…”
Why? Why is that freaking me out? Hmmm? Aztec, wizard, vampire, dark mysteries, occult ritual and bloody sacrifice, the words ring out with an eerie, echoing tone of a solitary tolling bell on a bleak and
mournful midnight hour. It sets the hairs on my neck to twitch. Yet, try as I might, I can’t come up with any logical reason for me to be so spooked. Oh well, I must really be getting senile in my old age of fifteen years, I’m starting to just forget stuff and to let my imagination run away with me. I secrete the book with my current ‘precious’ Blood Games, into the hidden compartment that I had made in my backpack. I pack all the rest of the stuff one would need to help in fending off the terrors of High School: a three ring binder filled with blank ruled paper, a new box of pencils, a new eraser, some new green medium ballpoint pens, and a calculator.
As I eat a bowl of cereal, I read the box as if it were the first time I ever saw it. After finishing off two bowls, I head out taking the lunch, which my mom made for me. Riding my bike, I join the flow of other kids gathering like lemmings going off to our collective fate.
The school’s interior is labyrinthine in its complexity and through what must be divine intervention I manage to find my homeroom. Not having any friends I survey the room hoping to find merely a familiar face. Seeing someone familiar is better than nothing. Damn. I don’t see anyone I know. What a great omen. First day, first class, and I’m surrounded by strangers. I sigh deeply, sinking into my gray funk. I trudge into the room and take the first empty desk I come across. I listen to the teacher; he goes over the routine, explaining homeroom, class times, lunch period assignments, etc.
Oh great. The lockers have combination locks. I really dread this. I always have trouble with memorizing a string of numbers. I usually forget my own telephone number, even my address, whenever I am asked to recite either of them. The numbers get blocked from my conscious mind. The same thing happens with birth dates. The only way I can remember such stuff is by writing it all down on a card, which I keep in my wallet.
My dad bought me a combination lock for my bike. I asked him to get me a key lock. Did he listen? Nope. I’m always afraid I won’t remember the combination when I go to open the lock. If I try to think of the combination, I lose it. So I think about something else, anything else, while I let my fingers do the work. It’s always a pleasant surprise when it
does open. Now, I have two combinations to remember. Just great. Damn. How am I going to keep them straight?
Anyway, I’m stuffing my locker when everything changes. I watch dumfounded as this gorgeous girl, no, woman, she’s got to be a Senior, comes walking down the hall in my direction. The word ‘walking’ is completely inadequate. She doesn’t walk; she strides. She’s like this jungle cat moving lightly amidst the underbrush. I can hardly breathe. When I do, I smell sweet cinnamon swirling around me. I never imagined that the scent of cinnamon could convey such a sense of sexuality. Oh, my God! I’m going to die. She has the locker next to mine. I can’t deal with this. Please God, no. How can I deal with this?
“What is wrong, Kid? Cat got your tongue?”
Why does she have to call me ‘Kid’? But, I shouldn’t really complain, I should feel honored that she took notice of my presence at all. Hey, you want my tongue? You can have it. At this moment, it’s useless.
“Well, Kid, if we are going to be neighbors, let us not be strangers. My name is Edelman, Basha Edelman. And yours is?”
Damn! There’s that ‘Kid’ stuff again! Wow, she’s overwhelming. She’s a vision of fire. Flame red wavy long hair hanging down past her shoulder blades. Cherry red lips. Fire red blouse with the top buttons undone to show off a little bit of her sun-tanned cleavage. Bronze sun earrings catch the light and shoot sparkles everywhere. Tight, very tight, red jeans and a golden belt with a sun buckle. She stands tall in her red cowboy boots. I must look like a drooling fool. I watch as she shrugs her shoulders, which causes her hair to flicker like flames. Someone tells her my name. It sounds like my voice. She smiles. She actually smiled at me! My life’s complete. She walks away from me looking provocative, sensual, and yet powerful, all at the same time. Wow.
Do not give up your quest
What the hell was that? I try to find the source of the voice. Who said that? No one is anywhere near me. It sounded so close, almost like a loud whisper.
Keep trying to go through the door. Then seek us out.
There it is again. What’s going on here? Holy auditory hallucinations, Batman. Did I really hear something or am I just imagining it? Maybe I’m still dreaming? Am I dreaming that I woke up? I don’t think so. I hear bells. I hear bells? A ringing sound? Oh God. That’s real. I’ve got to get to my next class.
Where is it? Where’s my schedule? Where did I put it? Did I lose it already? Ahh, no it’s taped to the inside of my notebook. I’ve got to run I’m late!
The ordeal is over. I survived. The first day is done. Maybe high school won’t be so terrible. The textbooks seem interesting. The library is bigger. I was hoping that Physical Education would not be just a fancy name for gym class. Bloody hell, I dread that stuff. I’m just a scrawny, small, self-conscious, clumsy fool in those classes! I’m probably the only kid in the history of the Universe whose grades in gym class consistently teeters between a barely presentable c minus-minus and totally socially humiliating failure. I can’t throw, kick, run, or whatever. I’m such a loser. I never get picked for any of those teams. Nobody wants me. I’m always an afterthought.
Damn, it’s so bloody humiliating.
Come on Lamont; try not to think about it. It’s done. For now. It’s time to get on your bike and to get going. First stop on my daily pilgrimage is Irving and Eighth, the store Comics & Commix, whose shop owner is Mr. Bob Kay. It is next door to Sheer Illusions, lingerie store, the shop manager is Mrs. Isabel Wells. My two favorite shops, both selling fantasy.
I check out what’s new, starting with The Batman. I collect all the titles with him in them. I wander through the rest of the comic universe. The stuff of modern mythology. I buy the latest and place it reverently in the back room in my storage trunk that Mr. Kay lets me keep there, as I can’t take them home. My mom is so scared of my dad she just never intervenes to protect me from him. If he caught me reading any comic
books, need I mention Sci-Fi or Fantasy novels, my Born Again Christian father would flip out and there would be a repeat of what happened to my prior collection.
It’s obvious to me that one of the reasons he married mom is that she wasn’t Catholic. He, for whatever reason, feels ashamed of our Hispanic heritage and hits me if I ever mention our obvious actual ancestry, and poor mom is just scared of him, even though she loves him. It’s kind of amazing that he didn’t go whole hog and just legally change our name to something more Anglo. But, I think he has authority issues and the idea of going to a court would freak him out.
 Anima Poetae: Unpublished Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1895, edited by Ernest Hartely Coleridge, p.238.
 Les Daniels; The Silver Skull, 1979 by Charles Scribner’s Sons publishing house, back cover.
KEYWORDS: H P LOVECRAFT, LOVECRAFT, DREAMLAND, DARK FANTASY, FANTASY NOVEL