Fiction

Night Wind Rising - Part 3

By Reinaldo E. Grandal

Julio and his wife, Manuela, were well-dressed, he in a white suit and tie, she in a modest white dress and sweater. Both were in their mid-forties, light-haired, blue-eyed, an attractive couple. Manuela carried a cloth sack which I knew would contain the implements needed for the session.

"Bring everything into the dining room," I told them.

Julio reached into his wife's sack and pulled out a white tablecloth which they both spread out on the tabletop. He then withdrew a large bowl from the sack, along with a jug of liquid which I knew was called "Florida water," a kind of holy water. He placed the bowl on the table, pulled a cork from the jug's mouth and filled the bowl.

Manuela carefully lifted a white china vase from the sack. It was filled with white flowers and painstakingly wrapped to prevent spillage. She placed a white candle on the table and lit it.

The mediums now chose their places, Julio at the head of the table, Manuela at the other end.

Julio looked at us and finally spoke in a serious tone. "Take your places, please."

Lombardi and I went to the side of the table closest to the kitchen door, with Martinez and Clayton across from us. Vaughn stood behind Manuela.

The mediums remained standing, as did we. "We have worked with Mister King in the past," Manuela started to explain. "He has come to understand that our spirit guides, whom God has assigned to us, have helped us to develop our individual talents."

"Indeed," quipped Martinez.

"Relax," I told her.

Manuela took Martinez in stride. "My husband will act as presidente de mesa. If a spirit needs to communicate physically he is able to act as a casilla so that the spirit may possess him. If the spirit is evil I have the power to banish it."

Julio retrieved a green paperback from his jacket pocket. The cover illustration was a rendition of Christ and, beside Him, a woman, whom I supposed to be the Virgin Mother, in an apparent state of ecstasy. "I will open the session with a prayer from the Gospel According To Spiritism," he announced. He opened to a page in the back and began, "We pray, Lord, that You dispatch to us benevolent spirits to assist us..."

The excitement and anticipation I had usually experienced when involved in hauntings and seances came back now, evenly mixed, as always, with fear. I remembered exploring sea caves with friends when I had been younger, remembered how all the lanterns we had carried had really meant very little because something inside of us had always wondered what kind of monster, what kind of teeth had hidden in the darkness beyond the next bend. This was like that. As Julio's oration continued, I found myself shaking.

"...we pray especially," Julio intoned, "to the spirit of Constantino, our new spiritual guide..."

My trembling halted in a jolt. Martinez' eyes were wide open.

"...to help us and watch over us."

With the prayer done, the mediums took their seats. I watched Martinez as we followed suit, looking for a reaction to the mentioning of her father's Christian name. I told myself that perhaps it had been, after all, a coincidence. I also doubted it.

Julio began again with prayers for the mediums. "Almighty God, let benevolent spirits assist us in the communication we solicit..." He stopped momentarily and moaned softly. We all looked at him. His eyes rolled slightly, and he gripped the arms of his chair. In Latin American Spiritist seances, prayers and readings normally went on for long periods of time before a medium showed signs of possession. Manuela's surprise confirmed what I knew to be true; this was happening too soon.

She rose, took the book from Julio's hands, quickly turned several pages and recited, "In the name of Almighty God..."

Julio looked at me quite suddenly. Manuela stopped in mid-sentence. I could not take my eyes from Julio's. I shuddered.

"In the name of Almighty God..." Manuela repeated more loudly.

Julio rose. He turned to Martinez. She was frozen in terror and fascination.

"...may the evil spirits..." Manuela continued.

Julio interrupted her. He spoke to Martinez in a voice that was not his own. "I know your heart, hija," he said.

She looked at me, expressionless, and I could say nothing.

Julio looked at us with hunched shoulders and sadness in his eyes. "My friends," he said.

Manuela crossed herself and said, "Beloved Constantino."

Julio closed his eyes and breathed heavily. "Come with me," he said finally. He then slowly sat down, seeming to have gone into a trance.

After breathless moments I said, "Julio, what is it?"

His voice was his own again, but airy and distant. "I seem to be in an endless corridor of white light. Unyielding blankness. I am...lost." His inhabitant's voice took over. "You will find me. Look." Again, Julio's own voice breathed, "Constantino."

"Indeed," I said, looking at Martinez. "Don Constantino Martinez Lopez."

Ana Martinez' countenance was frosty.

Julio tilted his head, eyes still closed. "Do I know you?"

"We are friends of your daughter, Don Constantino," I answered.

Julio nodded and again addressed himself. "Come," the spirit's voice said.

Julio's voice: "Where?"

"Cienfuegos."

Bingo, I thought. There was the connection.

Julio sighed.

"What do you see?" I asked him.

"The white is gradually giving way to outlines of images. They grow more pronounced as I progress. Sounds. A beach, bathed in moonlight and washed by the waves."

"Where are you?" I asked.

"Cienfuegos," the spirit's voice answered for him.

"What do you seek there?"

"Nochnoy Vetier," he said grimly.

I could sense Lombardi stiffen beside me. "Night wind?" I asked. "I don't understand."

"You shall. There is much danger. The evil one is on Nochnoy Vetier, with the poor souls he has corrupted."

"Russian souls?" I blurted.

Julio nodded.

I was quickly realizing why the idea of Russian souls had occurred to me. "The souls of Russian crewmen," I said, "the crew of a nuclear missile submarine."

"The Night Wind," Constantino's voice affirmed.

"Where is she?" I asked.

"On the sea floor. You must know exactly. She must be destroyed."

I still had questions. How had a Soviet submarine come to be sunken off the southern coast of Cuba, I wondered, and what had the spirit meant when he had said that the crew had been corrupted by the "evil one?"

I started to ask when Constantino said to Julio with Julio's own lips, "I shall take you there. You must not be afraid."

Julio started. "Wait," he said with his own voice.

Constantino's voice: "You are experiencing the living world from an astral perspective. You cannot drown."

"Where are you going?" I asked Julio.

"Into the water."

"Describe what you see," I instructed him.

"The waves displace themselves around my shins as easily as if they were air. I follow Constantino down the sandy incline. The lifeless sand gives way to outcrops of kelp. Schools of fish fly by, and crabs skitter along the bottom."

We waited.