When The Pendulum Swings Too Far by Jenny Butler

The group were weary. They had reached the deserted settlement, black-clad pilgrims comprised of masters, priests, prophets, messengers, and six big German Shepherds. The meaning of the place, Xtul, was “the end” in Yucatec Maya, which they had taken as a sign that they should settle there. At first it seemed desolate and without hope but they held out until they received a communication. Some among them believed beings had accompanied them along the journey but more important were the felt presences in this new land. The beings here were altogether unique, apparitions of translucent shapes, amorphous blobs that moved slowly and deliberately, others appearing jewelled and shining or human-sized billowing forms.

One of the group would meditate, ask questions, get answers from the shadowed ones who appeared by the crumbling walls of the enclosure, never being certain if the beings were manifesting or if it was a trick of the dappled light. A Brother would walk on the beach and hear voices from the seas, high pitched shouted responses to his queries. Yet another man, always before dawn, would commune with three entities—Jehovah, Lucifer and Satan—with one foot in the ocean, the other in a hole in the sand, excitedly describing these entities as the Three Great Gods of the Universe. The youngest member would lie alone by the rocks at midnight and cut herself deeply, finding a deep vein to tap, reminiscent of the bloodletting of Mayan queens. One time she pulled a thorn studded piece of rope that had washed up from a shipwreck through a piercing in her tongue and she offered the shed blood to the gods. Then feeling compelled, she carved an “X” into her forehead, X to mark the place of Xtul. Only after the blood had seeped into the sand-hole she made did she receive the answers.

The strange part was that each of the thirty Brothers and Sisters of this holy order, were asking questions in their own inimitable way but received answers and guidance that all fitted together. They stripped away all compulsions until only spirit remained at their core. As this new hive-mind they rid themselves of past confusions, reconciled all opposites and became one. Reflecting their newfound knowledge back at each other, they became reborn within their new Family. Direction and purpose became clear and knowing caressed them like a soft wave of meaning. Spiritual currents within each one of them united into an oversoul that existed only with all of them in this particular time and place. Each current had a different flavour and feel, either Luciferian, Satanic or Jehovian, but the three spiritual strands could mesh in different ways on different days. Some went mad for a time in the little beach cove and in foetal position stared trance-like into the turquoise sea. Without eating or sleeping, they got rake thin, ribs protruding. They say you have to lose your mind to come to your senses. It was a sight to behold, scrawny-starved humans amid glossy coated rotund Alsatians. After this trial, they felt true belonging, true transformation, and actually touched truth itself.

They identified their own sparkling stars in the night sky, and wished upon each other’s stars. They felt a freedom felt nowhere else in this vast expanse on the southern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. Late September, the group were again weary from hauling rocks and two had fainted and fallen into the hole they’d just dug. With their unblinking eyes they spied the stirrings of a storm. The shapes in the water portended doom. The group felt called to witness, each in a different way, what was emerging from the sea. Hurricane Inez, frightening and aggressive, threatened to tear down the remaining walls of their home, threatened in many voices to kill them all so they would lie flattened with skulls crushed beneath heavy rocks. As she was encroaching on them huddled in each other’s arms, she suddenly veered, rose upward screaming, and took a different course. Some heard the beings giggling beneath the wind. The pilgrims had been saved.

Time went on and they existed in a slow motion world of dreams and visualisations, seeing gods’ faces in the rocks and identifying myths in the thin-clouded sky. They remembered the place from which they came without nostalgia and without sentimentality. Truth be told, England had got sick of them and they had got sick to their stomachs of England and its tight cocoon they had eventually burst out of in their great becoming, in the wonderful centring of themselves as themselves. They recalled the cold grey benighted Victorian buildings and the blank stares of the common-sensical Grey Forces. Stares full of judgement from those hurrying home to country gardens, fibre-filled diets and missionary guilt-filled sex. Grey wives in beige kitchens would tell husbands of the purple-cloaked and black-clad men handing out leaflets in Hyde Park. Husbands would tell wives not to go there alone again. In the minds of some emotionless Londoners, the Holy Order were a cult of death and blood and bloody murder, the Mind-Benders and Witches of Mayfair. On sandy beaches of Xtul, they laughed as they recollected the side-eye sneers from passers-by and the day the newspaper headline was printed about one of their own, the “Christ of Carnaby Street”. They considered the line they hadn’t known existed until they’d all crossed it, once you’ve crossed the abyss you can’t go back. Contrasting their homeland of small-minded restrictiveness with the mind-travelling they were doing now, minds entwined with minds of beings, the pilgrims of eternity would traverse in time and space!

In time, the beings stopped manifesting, ended communications, like the end of a love affair. The group disbanded, the family-bonded became estranged. In the end the pendulum stops swinging, all things cease, all processes come to completion. The pilgrims were ready to cease to exist and had been prepared for the End. As it is, so be it.

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Jenny Butler

Jenny Butler writes about conspiracies, magic and mysteries. She has had short stories published most recently in Cleaning Up Glitter, and previously in Laurels & Bells Literary Journal, Dime Show Review, Other Terrain Literary Journal, October Hill Magazine, Adelaide Literary Journal, Spillwords, The Same Literary Journal, The Raven’s Perch Literary Magazine, Fictive Dream Magazine, Literary Orphans Literary Magazine, Corvus Review, The Flexible Persona Literary Journal, Tales from the Forest Magazine, The Roaring Muse, Mulberry Fork Review, Killjoy Literary Magazine, Firefly, The Ginger Collect, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and Flash Fiction Magazine. You can read more about her on her website www.drjennybutler.com. You can also find her on Twitter @jenny_butler_ and on Instagram @spiral_eyed_grrl