In the Loop
“ohgodohgodohgod… machin pye pye… nowisthenow… fanm nan… kóman ou fé pale… godohgodoh… mother… li te manje… ohgodgodgod… nou te pale lontan… god oh god… li ta bliye w si ou pa t la… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… maryhelpmemary… ohgodohgodohgodohmarymotherofgod… ”As the room pulsed around her, Mary found her mind filled with chants, some of them in languages that she couldn't understand. Her previous experiences were nothing compared to this. At first, she resisted their seductive call, but after awhile she felt her resistance beginning to fade away as she tried to understand the chanting. Some of it sounded French but was more primitive: “li ta bliye w si ou pa t la… ” At least the words “ohgodohgodohgod… ohmarymotherofgod… ” were understandable. Who was calling for her help? Who was it that needed saving? Was she the Mary who would become the mother of god? And the most chilling of all was the phrase in what sounded as if it was being spoken in an ancient tongue:
“guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… ”
“Mary around?” said Sean as he walked into Tina’s kitchen, “Is she still in bed?”
“No, she got up right after you left,” said Tina, “She said she was going to visit one of those ‘power sites,’ the one at the old Duddle place. I told her it was probably a ruin, but she was keen on going. She left about an hour ago, I would think that she’d be back by now.”
“Where is this place?” asked Sean, as he unloaded the groceries.
“Go out back behind the barn—there’s an old cow path that leads to it. It’s a mile or so. You’ll have to ford the creek.”
“The cow path, huh? I’m going to go and check on her.”
Sean found the path with little difficulty; it was easy to see where Mary had walked through the grass. When he got to the creek he noticed that there was a wet spot on a boulder on the far side, with the trail continuing past it. Holding his shoes and socks over his head, Sean waded through the creek with only the bottom of his shorts getting wet. He followed Mary’s trail until he reached the old Duddle homestead. He stepped into the run-down house. As he waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, he called out:
“Mary? Mary are you in here?”
There was no response.
“guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… godohgod… li ta bliye w si ou pa t la… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… mary… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… marywhereareyou?”Mary had spent what seemed like hours hearing the ancient phrase stuck on repeat in an infinite loop. When the references to Mary’s name began to reappear she was annoyed yet curious. In her trance state she felt peaceful, guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk had become her personal mantra, the presence of her name felt as if something was trying to break the spell. She thought: “This is what eternity is like.”
“guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… godohgod… li ta bliye w si ou pa t la…guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… mary… mary… mary… mary… mary…”
Sean entered the wrecked living room and saw Mary standing very still, with her head down. Her mumbling of strange phrases was barely audible.
“Mary… Mary… Mary, can you hear me?” he said. Mary made no response. Sean was afraid to touch her in her trance state, uncertain of her reaction to being interrupted. If she were to jump or try to flee she could be seriously injured by falling through the room’s missing floorboards. “Mary… Mary… Mary… ” he repeated. She continued her chant, oblivious to Sean’s presence. Sean remembered the ring in the key pocket of his pants. After carefully positioning himself between Mary and the most dangerous part of the floor, he slipped the ring on his finger. He nearly collapsed from the sensory overload as he was enveloped by Mary’s trance-state. He continued to try to make contact with Mary as the chants became deafening and the room throbbed around them.
Mary remained enchanted:
“guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… god oh god… li ta bliye w si ou pa t la… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… mary… mary… come backmary… mary… mary… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… god oh god… li ta bliye w si ou pa t la… guð minn hjálpa mér og gefa mér styrk… mary… mary comeback… mary… can you hear me?”
Finally, as he felt he was about to be overcome, Sean reached for Mary’s body. It was cold but put up no resistance to his holding her. Sean moved closer and, as the pulsing shapes and colors of the room whirled about them, he kissed Mary gently on the lips. The kaleidoscope of sensations collapsed around Sean as the room regained its former appearance. Mary opened her eyes. “Kiss me again,” she thought.
“Welcome back,” Sean thought, and he obeyed her command.