I placed my right foot on the second step of the three-tiered stairs and looked up at the Being standing in front of me. I felt completely discombobulated, as if I had been in a horrible accident—which I had been—and my whole physical body was in fractured disarray. It felt as if all my cells had come apart and were scattered chaotically throughout my force field and out into the heavens.
I looked at the Being again and tried to bring my surroundings into focus. I saw that other Beings stood around the central one, forming a horseshoe shape. All of them shimmered with a filmy opalescent color whose texture looked like a gauzy material that I could poke my finger through. They seemed weightless to me, unlike the way my dense human form felt.
Strangely, the Beings appeared to be in complete Oneness, as if being otherwise was foreign to them. They seemed familiar to me, yet I wasn’t sure who they were or what their role was in this part of my journey. I felt a strong urge to reach out and touch them, or at least be closer to them, but the big one in the middle wouldn’t let me take that one last step. One thing was for sure—there was no mystery as to where I was. I knew that I was home.
I suddenly realized that the Being in the middle was speaking to me in a voice I couldn’t physically hear. She seemed to be downloading voluminous amounts of information into me, so I stood quietly as I absorbed every melodic silent word. After what seemed like a long time, she told me, “You have to go back now ... your daughters still need you.”
I wanted to argue. I didn’t want to go back. I was tired, and I liked this place. It was peaceful here, and the Beings felt kind, unlike the way things felt on Earth. The kindness they emitted was not a thought; it was a sensation that washed through every one of my cells like a warm, white liquid light. At the same time, I felt disappointed because I knew I would have to wait to see them fully again, and because I knew that this time I wouldn’t get to take that last step into their realm of radiant, shimmering cool warmth that felt as if IcyHot had been applied to my insides and was radiating outward.
The thin cord that held this light, floating part of me to my physical body, suddenly snapped like a stretched-out rubber band whose tension has been released. I flew backward through a dark, cool, soundless void of layers upon layers of levels of time, back into my body, as quickly as I had left it.
She’s trying to kill me, I thought. My body shot forward and then back against the seat, with my head bouncing back and forth three times against the headrest. No, no, no, I told myself. Don’t pass out. You might end up in a coma or become a vegetable! I blinked several times to clear my head. Where was I? Where have I been? How did I get back here? I don’t want to be here!
When my body stopped bouncing, I frantically braced myself with my left foot against the floor, my right foot against the wheel well, and my left hand against the console and grabbed onto the above handhold with my right hand to keep from falling down to the left.
The vehicle, which was now lying on the driver’s side after flying up in the air and smashing downward with a horrific thud, continued to hurtle through the snow. I hung there, too stunned to believe what was happening. I saw and heard rocks and beer bottles and cans screech and scrape and crease and rip metal and chrome and plastic from along the side of the car. Dirt and snow flew up in a white-and-black cloud and boiled around us before it settled back down in a dirty whisper.
Suddenly the car slid into a hiccup of a ditch, pivoted in time-lapse motion, and rolled over onto its top. The roof slowly caved in, crushing and splintering the windshield with its weight. I scrunched down lower and lower in my seat and helplessly watched the windshield as it got smaller and smaller, and cowered from the roof as it crept closer and closer.
Suddenly the ripping and crackling and screeching sounds stopped. Now all I could hear were dripping and sizzling sounds that came from the engine compartment. Smoke was pouring out from under the hood, and I could smell the strong odor of the hissing gasoline as it dripped onto the boiling-hot engine.
Momentarily panic-stricken, all I could think was FIRE! I’ve got to get out of here! I’ve got to get out of here! But I couldn’t. I was held taut, hanging upside down by the seat belt. I groped for the clasp and tried to release it. The weight of my body pulling against the strap held the clasp tightly. Frantically I tried the door, but it wouldn’t open. It was welded shut by crookedness—the crookedness of a situation that I wasn’t sure I had agreed on! I looked wide-eyed over at Pam, who hung suspended by her seat belt, her legs bowed around the steering wheel, her hair hanging down and sticking straight out from the roots. Her mouth was puckered like a Cheerio, as if it was about to release a long “Ohhh!” I caught a mostly silent snort and almost laughed out loud at what I was seeing. Even though the left side of my mouth refused to obey, the right side curved slightly upward in a half grin.
I was about to tell her to turn off the engine when she raised her hands as if she were softening the voices of a choir and then said quietly and calmly to herself, “Turn off the engine.” She reached down and turned the key to “off.” She then searched for her cell phone to call for help and became overly agitated when she couldn’t find it. She finally calmed when she remembered that we had no reception anyway. We were on an Indian reservation, a sovereign nation that didn’t seem to be very interested in connecting to the outside world.
I looked back toward town, willing someone to come help us. As if from nowhere, a car came to a gravelly halt along the side of the road. Two young men jumped out of the car and ran to Pam’s side of the smoking car, yelling “Are you okay? Is anyone hurt?” They frantically grasped at the handles on the driver’s side doors in a desperate attempt to get them open. When the side doors wouldn’t open, they tried the back door. One of them ran to my side of the car and tried to open those doors. None of them would open. The men had that “deer in the headlights” look, and one man excitedly said to the other, “We’ve got to get them out before the car catches on fire!
Pam and I looked wide-eyed at each other. Holy crap!
When a few seconds elapsed and the car still hadn’t exploded in a ball of red-hot flames, we asked at almost the same time, “Are you okay?”
Pam said she was okay.
I told her it felt as if my right arm and back were broken but I was okay. At least I thought I wasn’t dead. I wriggled my toes, and I could move them around, so I thought I was all right, even though my toes felt funny, as if they weren’t really there. I hadn’t lost control of my bladder or bowels, and I thought that was also a good thing. So, all in all, it didn’t seem like things were all that bad.
I took a deep breath and braced my feet against the dash, gingerly hoisted myself up, and let the seat belt snap back home. I tried to convince Pam to undo her seat belt and get her feet up in the air so she wouldn’t go into shock. (Silly me—her feet were already up in the air, up above her head!)
I tried again. “Pam, you’ve got to let yourself down,” I told her softly.
That sent her into a state. She started yelling at me and said we wouldn’t be hanging upside down if she hadn’t listened to me and had hit the brakes. I told her that I hadn’t wanted her to lock the wheels up. Then I asked her whether she had put her foot on the brake at all. She said she hadn’t.
What an idiot.
I told her we would probably be dead if she had hit the brakes, because the forward motion of the wheels helped slow the vehicle down as we were flying up the road backward at sixty miles per hour. (I didn’t mention to her that she had been overcorrecting with the steering wheel.)
She wasn’t buying it. She kept yelling at me that it was my fault we were hanging upside down in the ditch. In between yelling at me, she turned back to the window and nicely told the man who was still yanking on the door handle and pulling as hard as he could that we were okay.
I stared at Pam. It was as if I were watching two people operating in one body!
I was feeling the absurdity of the situation by now and was waiting to wake up from the unscheduled dream. The steamy fog floating around the car from the snow and antifreeze and gas and oil sizzling on the still-hot engine did not help my reality at all.
I settled gently down against the ceiling with my feet up on the upside-down dash and lay there as if I were waiting for a movie at a drive-in to start rolling. Little did I know the movie was going to be a reality horror film and that I was going to be the movie’s main focus.
Pam suddenly remembered her dog. There was no sound from the back. “Where’s the dog?” she frantically asked.
Oh my God! I thought. Don’t let her be dead.
We called her several times.
Finally we heard the jingling of tags as the dog got up and shook herself. She stumbled toward the front of the vehicle, hesitated, and probably wondered if it was okay to come past the back seat, and then, as a secondary reaction, thought, Where is the back seat, and why am I walking on the ceiling? She was shaking like a leaf, her curly tail partially uncurled. It was hanging fearfully downward as if someone had knocked a question mark over sideways, with her puckered butthole acting as the dot. She looked troubled, her eyes glazed in shock. She was not bleeding, but it was obvious that she had been unconscious.
“Pam, let yourself out of your seat belt and get your feet up or you’re going to go into shock,” I told her again.
She argued and in a snotty voice told me that she was “just fine.” Of course, that was a ridiculous statement, because I could see that her ample breasts were even more ample than they should have been because of the strap tightly running down the middle of them like a river cutting a valley between two mountains.
After we argued back and forth several times, she finally relented. I helped her let herself down, but she would only put one foot up. I shook my head in amazement at her childish belligerence.
The dog suddenly seemed to realize that someone was trying to break into her car. She started growling, which came out like a funny rattle since she was shaking so hard. I grabbed her collar and held on to her while we talked to her. She finally calmed her growling to a slight vibration that no longer sounded or felt like the rumble of a car with one spark plug that isn’t firing. Finally unable to stand any longer, she sat her vibrating eighty-pound butt down on my stomach, forcing me to gasp.
The two guys were still yanking on the doors, and I stupidly said, “Don’t let them open the doors until help gets here or we’ll freeze to death.”
Pam told them what I had said, even though the steam around the car was like the morning fog of the Oregon coast and the car could still explode in flames at any second.
I was staying somewhat coherent and remembering what was happening. I was staying calm, but I was having trouble staying awake. From about the lumbar region of my spine down, everything still felt funny, especially on the left side. My midback, left arm, and right leg were throbbing, and I was absolutely sure that my arm and back were broken. My right shoulder felt like it had been torn out of its socket and mangled beyond repair.
Within minutes, a fire truck arrived, a hose was strung, and the firemen watered down the still-smoking engine. Wow! Talk about adding insult to injury! Watery, oily mud ran through the openings around the pedals and console into the vehicle and dripped down on us. Now not only were we in a helpless position, but our clothing was wet and covered with oily mud.
Someone yelled through Pam’s window, “Is the engine shut off?” She told them that it was.
The dog stayed perched on my stomach and was still shaking, but as this new chain of events unfolded before her, she started growling again. Her ears lay back even further, and her legs clenched so tightly that her rear paws lifted off of the ceiling, throwing all her weight onto my gut. She really wanted to attack, but her rattling legs prevented her from even standing up. I just hoped that she wasn’t the type of dog that would piddle when excited.
I heard pry bars rip into the metal around the doors. Someone told another person to get the Jaws of Life, and then someone shouted, “Got it!”
The back door scraped open, and then my side door did the same.
An EMT stuck his head in and asked if I was okay. The dog trembled deeper into my gut, and I felt a parting of the waves and thought that my reprieve from previous incontinence might give way.
We kept talking to the dog as if she were a baby, and I wondered to myself why people did that. She finally let someone take her, only now her question-mark tail was at a 75-degree slant.
I told the EMT about my back and arm and shoulder. He asked whether I could feel my toes and asked me to move them. I told him I could feel them but couldn’t sense them. He looked at me strangely and then did a quick physical exam and asked me if I could walk. I asked him if that was a good idea if my back was broken. He said, “They’ve found there is less damage if a person moves themselves.” I thought back to my EMT training twenty years before and was surprised. That was a long time ago, and we handled people like eggs. What are these people thinking? I wondered.
Jeez, my arm and back hurt. Why are there two of everything? Why hasn’t anyone taken my blood pressure? What if I go into shock? People tend to do that after an accident, especially if they are up walking around.
The EMT was still speaking to me. I drifted back into the moment. He asked me again whether I could get out of the car on my own. I slowly rolled over and crawled out of the upside-down car. He finished his exam while I was standing up, running his hands up and down my spine and ribs. Fortunately I didn’t giggle. I walked to the ambulance, turned, and looked back at the crushed and mangled car lying in the ditch. It looked like an upside-down turtle, only this turtle’s shell wasn’t sitting squarely on its body, and it was flat, not curved; plus its feet (tires) had exploded during the impact. There was no doubt in my mind that the car was totaled.
I told the EMT that I needed to lie down. He helped me up the steps into the ambulance, and I lay down on the gurney.
I wanted to go to sleep, but I fought it because I didn’t want to lapse into a coma. What if I never woke up, or even worse, what if I became a vegetable?
How quickly it seemed I had forgotten about the gauzy Beings on “the other side.”
Pam got into the ambulance through the side door and sat down on the bench seat. Even though she was facing me, she looked everywhere but at me. Someone climbed in through the side door with the still-shaking dog on the end of a strap from some ambulance equipment, and she sat down on the jump seat.
The EMT placed a sensor on my finger and sandbags on both sides of my head, covered me with blankets, and strapped me down.
I closed my eyes and tried to stay calm, but visions of helplessness mired me in panicky disillusion. Jeez, I thought, don’t leave that lunatic woman alone with me. I drifted back into the moment as we made a U-turn and rolled slowly down the icy highway and back through town. I could hear chatter on the radio about another accident where an ambulance was needed. The EMT told me that there had already been several accidents on that stretch of road that morning owing to the icy conditions. He said that was common because of the type of rock they had used when they built the road. I asked him why they hadn’t used a different rock. He shrugged as if to say, “That would be too logical.”
A few minutes later, the driver turned right onto the road that led to the hospital and pulled up to the emergency room doors. As soon as we stopped, the doors opened and two people rolled me into the ER. A female doctor and a male nurse started poking and prodding me. They checked my eyes and asked me the three questions.
“What day is it?”
“Sunday”, I answered.
“What year is it?”
I had to really think about it.
“Who’s the president?”
I answered, “No one knows who the president is.” They looked at me strangely.
“Unless the votes have been recounted. Has a decision come in yet?” It was the year 2001, and George W. Bush was about to steal the presidency from Al Gore because of some hanging chads and a woman who had been promised an elite job.
Next came the x-rays—neck and midback only.
I was okay—or so they said. Just bumps and bruises.
They left me alone in the curtained-off room, and in came the teeth-shattering, bone-jarring shock. After several misguided jittery jabs, my finger zeroed in on the call button. The nurse came to see what I needed, and through my chattering teeth, I told him I was cold. He said I was in shock. He left the room and returned with some warmed blankets to cover me with.
Time warped. Not only could I not sense what time it was, but I also couldn’t sense how long I had been there. Evidently I was still on paradise time or heaven time instead of Earth time. I sure wasn’t going to tell anyone about the loss I was feeling—the feeling that something wasn’t quite right—that I felt as though I were an eighth of a turn off and hadn’t reentered my body correctly. I didn’t want to be a burden, but most importantly, I didn’t want them to think I was nuts, so I kept my mouth shut and thought about what the Beings had told me on the other side.
My thoughts were interrupted when Pam pulled back the edge of the curtain and peeked into the room. “It’s okay. You can come in,” I told her.
She stepped around the edge of the curtain, folded her hands in front of her, stood staring at the floor and muttered, “I’m sorry I ruined our vacation.”
I thought that was a strange comment and decided it was her awkward way of apologizing for wrecking us. (Of course, later on, she would forget that she had ever said that).
“Don’t worry about it,” I told her. “I’ll be okay.” However, in the back of my mind I knew I’d never be the same.
She came closer to me and pulled around the chair that sat next to the bed. She lowered the rail on the bed and sat down on the chair. She took my hand and laid her forehead on my stomach.
Jeesh! What’s with the stomach? I thought this was not only quite strange but also inappropriate, since I hardly knew this woman. We had been neighbors for only a short time before we embarked on this crazy journey.
I asked her if she was all right. She told me they had x-rayed her neck and found she was fine. Quite proudly she told me that she had not gotten a ticket. She also said she didn’t remember a thing after she said, “We’re gonna flip!”
How convenient. A highway patrolman came in and told her that she was free to go and that no charges were going to be filed.
I couldn’t believe it. She had obviously been going too fast for the road conditions. The question of whether she should have hit the brakes or not was a moot point, because the speed at which we were traveling on the icy road was what caused the accident, not the fact that she didn’t hit the brakes. Besides, she had already lost control before my comment.
After the patrolman left, we talked about the accident. I told her that when I looked at the speedometer, she was going somewhere between fifty-five and sixty miles per hour and that I heard something hit the bottom of the car just before we started to slide. She said she didn’t hear anything and asked me to not tell anyone how fast we were going. (Little did she know that her car’s computer would tell us exactly how fast she was driving and that she couldn’t blame the accident on the wind, because those brightly-lit satellites out in the sky keep an absolute record of the winds).
I shut up. She had already tried to kill me once. I didn’t know what she was capable of. The adage “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” went through my mind, and since I knew that most drivers involved in accidents disappeared after an accident, I vowed to keep this one around.
The electricity that had been knocked out because of the storm suddenly came back on, and the missing hum of the now-silent generators accentuated the awkward silence that consumed the room.
The doctor came in and informed us that we could leave. She said she wanted to write us scripts for muscle relaxants because, as she said, we’d really be hurting in a few days. We both declined. I told the doctor that I no longer put chemicals in my body on purpose. Little did I know that within a few days those prescriptions would seem like a good idea, because I was about to experience some of the worst physical pain of my life. I also didn’t know that my life was about to take the strangest turn, and the drugs would have been a good excuse for the information I was about to receive and the visions I was about to see
About C. S. Warner
C. S. Warner has traveled extensively and learned and practiced numerous religions, customs and metaphysical modalities. She has degrees in sociology and psychology and is certified in drug and alcohol counseling, criminology and corrections as well as in arbitration, mediation and negotiation. Warner is also a massage practitioner and a reiki master and is currently furthering her education with doctoral religious studies classes. When she is not writing or studying, she works with homeless people and refugees.
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