What follows is an excerpt from the ninth story from my new anthology, Banquet of Souls.
The Glass in the Window
Sleep, as usual, escaped me. It was long after midnight, and the latest biography of C. N. Hastings did nothing to cure my insomnia. Impatiently, I rifled through the pages searching for some small fact or incident from the notorious man’s life that I did not already know, finding nothing but standard phrasing and trite commentary.
I stopped to rub my eyes. The light was far too bright, so I switched the three-way bulb off, then back on to a lower wattage.
Hastings, an early 20th century man of science, lured into the occult and ultimately plunging into madness, was dead long before I was born. Discovering his history at the young age of fourteen, I became fascinated and absorbed every tidbit of information I could find about his life and his journey into darkness.
Charles Nash Hastings was born and raised in Albany, New York, a sullen, inquisitive child who found refuge in the sciences. As a theoretical physicist, he worked hard researching quantum physics, the building blocks of the universe and, eventually, the possibilities of inter-dimensional travel. He toiled obsessively on calculations for years then, for reasons still unclear, he became disillusioned with his work. He took a one-year leave from his Assistant Professor position at the University to travel.
In 1918, he met Aleister Crowley. Crowley was widely considered the most unholy man in the world because of his writings and practice of magick; spells and incantations and magical studies. That’s magick, the wicked dark arts, not pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat magic. Crowley was on a retreat of sorts along the Hudson River in the Catskills. It was known that Hastings spent several days speaking with Crowley, but there was no record—none that I could find at least—of what they spoke about. However, after the visit, Hastings immediately changed the focus of his work. What he saw, or thought he saw, had shaken his scientific mind to its core.
Hastings began exploring the possible existence of multiple dimensions, just beyond our own dimension, of length, width, depth, and time. He sought to open our dimensional reality to others, creating a doorway of sorts. He left the University to study the perception of personal reality, and whether personal reality was common within all humanity. His Theory of Personal Reality speculates that the only way for personal realities to become common was through the interplay of multiple dimensions.
I have no real idea what any of that means. Unfortunately, I do not have the brilliant mind of a theoretical physicist, nor any substantial knowledge in quantum mechanics. I am simply an undergraduate studying English Literature. While I have had some success in academia, I remain vastly ignorant of the majority of the science that is the foundation of our universe.
All I knew was that I was alone in my studio apartment, sitting at my desk, reading with increasing impatience; alone with my thoughts and blocking out anything except the occasional blast of frigid January wind rattling the windows.
12 courses of fear and horror! Banquet of Souls is available now at Amazon Books https://goo.gl/Cs427c
Kindle edition $2.99