D’s Table Part 63

As Wynn sat in the closet, he thought about the world he’d left behind and that which he’d traded it for. Wynn had been a part of Dee’s House for nearly a year now, yet the promises that Dee had made hadn’t materialized. Most notably, Wynn did not feel as if he belonged to his new social circle.

The thought that perhaps it was not just here, that there was no place where he’d belong tempted Wynn to despair. However, he was not the type of person to despair, even in these hours of sadness. His life had never been dominated by unendurable pain so much as it had been by loneliness, and he could take the loneliness. In fact, it was really only when he tried to bring someone into that loneliness, to try to introduce someone into the stillness and contentment of his world of one, that he felt the pain the sting of rejection. True, he’d had one friend, but only one—one success, weighed against a long string of failures and disappointments. All those people who, though restrained enough by their goodness and sympathy to avoid cruelty, were nonetheless harsh in the judgment they implicitly voiced in rejecting mutual intimacy with him, they saw what part of him they saw, and judged it not worth the effort to delve deeper. This meant, though, that if he never tried to bring another friend or romantic partner into his life, it would be mostly free of that emotional suffering. So, he concluded, if the world of society rejected him, he would reject it. He didn’t need their acceptance, their rules, or their approval.

With this thought in his head, Wynn stood up and looked towards the metal drum in which the seraph was stowed. The container still vibrated from the seraph’s frantic movements. Wynn believed earnestly that he could control it. He knew he could. He had seen Thorn do it. He could do that. It was simply a matter of confidence and daring.

He practiced the words in his mind. This time he was not overheard by the other members of the house—in this room he had genuine privacy. He imagined in his mind several times how it would play out, envisioned every step of the process.

When he was ready, he walked over to the drum. He opened the first gate, admitting the seraph into the tube. He would have to react immediately; the seraph would bolt out of the exit in a streak. Then he opened the second gate, admitting the seraph into the room.

Just as before, the seraph zipped out of the exit so fast it could barely be seen. The secret was not to track it with his eyes, but to feel where it was, and Wynn felt the movement of the seraph and commanded it to twist around him. He used a flurry of commands, just as Thorn had, to confuse the seraph and keep it under his control, and it worked.

At the beginning, when the seraph first exited he was in a panicked rush to gain control—his heart was beating fast and his body was tensed for instantaneous reflexes—but now that he had control, he was able to relax somewhat, to settle into the pattern that he had established. The seraph blazed around him, shaping a circle of light in its rapid orbit.

Wynn was ready to send it back into the container from which it had come. He had had held onto the door with one hand while he concentrated on the seraph. But something disrupted his concentration, and he lost control. It was the sound of the door to the room creaking as it was pushed open from the outside. His focus turned as his eyes turned to the person standing in the doorway. He lost hold of the seraph, and it shot towards this person like a bullet.

When he turned, he saw that it was Lola standing in the door, apparently having come looking for him. The seraph saw her too and viciously thrust itself against her nous before it passed out through this exit and completely beyond his ability to retrieve it.

Wynn watched with his eyes as consciousness left her, her legs buckled beneath her and she collapsed to the floor, her open eyes staring blankly upwards.

D’s Table Part 62

Over the subsequent days Wynn discovered that the other members of the house became much more wary around him. They were constantly watching him, waiting for him to do something dangerous and unwise and prepared to step in immediately should such a thing occur. He was no longer treated as an equal, but as he was, a young and inexperienced newcomer—potentially foolish, potentially reckless, potentially a danger to himself.

Wynn had begun the next phase of his lessons: he was learning the fabrication and creation of the objects they used to capture, control and exploit the spirits. Under Dee’s instruction, he began learning some of the basics of metallurgy. It was the first time since he’d arrived that he’d had something genuinely like a real class in school. It began with lessons in chemistry and physics and involved lecturing, note-taking and textbooks.

During this week, he visited Lola in her room one afternoon. She sat on her bed reading The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson with avid enthusiasm. She noticed Wynn enter the room and looked up from her book. He asked her if he could sit down on her bed, and she sat up and moved aside to give him room.

Wynn sat down and looked towards her. He was uncomfortable and nervous, looking at her with wayward glances as she waited for him to initiate the conversation. “Lola, I want to tell you something,” he finally spoke, “I have a confession.”

“Before you begin,” she cut him off, “There’s something I should tell you—warn you of, perhaps. You should know that you’re too young for me. I should’ve made that clearer from the beginning. I fear that I may have been leading you on, leading to think there was some chance of you and I as boyfriend and girlfriend, when there isn’t. Maybe if I was forty and you were thirty-six it wouldn’t matter, but the truth is that you’re only fourteen. You’re four years, at least, from being where I am now, and those four years represent a mountain of experience. It makes me uncomfortable when I think about dating a boy so young, like I’m abrogating some taboo. And I do think that I am. Now, you can blame me all you want. It’s my fault. It is. I made you think that I was interested in you in a way that I wasn’t. I like you—I truly do. You’re a good friend, and no matter what happens, you always will be. But that’s it. So, if you were planning on making some confessions of love to me or anything like that, then I’ll save you the trouble.”

Wynn listened and waited through the entire monologue with restraint and decorum, despite the suffering and pain that he was experiencing. He tried to cover up how devastated he was with some plausible lie, but his mind was unable to think clearly. He sputtered out, “I was going to tell you what a good friend you are too.” However, his tone and faltering voice betrayed his emotion.

He didn’t wait any longer after these words, he hustled out of the room, muttering to her as he walked away, “Gotta go.”

He was going to return to his room and hide inside, but he realized that it had never really been that private in this household. He turned to the storage closet where golem and seraph were kept. He pulled open the door, with tears already running down his cheeks. A great pressure weighed on his chest—the pressure of the bawling and sobbing that he wanted to let out but was holding back. When he was finally inside the room and had closed the door, he let out his sobs. The storage closet was so quiet—no mental voice but his could be heard or seen and no one would be able to hear him either.

The crying, as usual, made him feel better—it helped bring the pain to the surface and let it out. After it was finished, he was able to sit back and relax, and feel a calm that, though not tranquil or pleasant, was at numb and free of pain. In an attempt to quiet his soul, he took many deep breaths, which was effective, and he thought about his life within his new home.

D’s Table Part 61

The golem stood at attention in front of Wynn and Thorn, waiting to receive its orders.

“Here is where knowledge of the language of the seraphim is particularly useful,” Thorn said, “You can control these things with it. Watch this.”

Thorn thought a command. Once the seraphim saw it, the golem started to walk towards them. Its steps were lumbering and slow, with the feet kicking up high and the feet landing hard upon the ground. Thorn thought another command, and the golem stopped. “Now you try,” Thorn told Wynn.

Wynn gave it another command, and the golem bent over and picked up a box that was at its feet. He submitted another command, and the golem set down the box.

“It’s precisely why we wished we knew more of their language,” Thorn said, “There’s so much we wish we could do if we only how to communicate with it.”

“Then what do you do with it?” Wynn asked.

“In the old days, one would use such a thing as a soldier or defender of one’s village or castle,” Thorn said, “Nowadays, we don’t have much use for it. I suppose we could use it for security if needs be, but for now it’s sort of like a hammer in search of a nail.”

Thorn attached a large box to the head of the golem. He opened a door to admit the seraphim into the box and then closed it inside. “This is of course how you’re supposed to transfer a seraphim from its storage container,” Thorn said. He took the box and attached it to the large storage drum, which was no longer vibrating and had cooled down. When the seraphim was released into the drum, it resumed its vibration and started to heat up again.

“I want to be able to do what you just did,” Wynn said, “I want to be able to tame and control the seraphim. You have to give me the opportunity to learn and practice.”

“I don’t have to do anything of the kind,” Thorn objected, “As I’ve told you repeatedly, it’s dangerous and you’re young. You’re not an old man like me who won’t be missing out on much if life is abruptly ended in some mishap. You have a lot to lose. So, enough of that.”

Thorn led Wynn out of the room and returned to his office. Wynn had nothing more to teach him; so he used the time to test Wynn on all the knowledge that Wynn had accumulated over the course of the lessons. Wynn was, as he had perceived, a solid student, and the lessons were terminated with Thorn’s hearty congratulations.

Wynn finished his lessons, and he went up to his room. He sat down on his bed and stared out the window, at his beautiful view of the Hudson. He thought about the seraphim, about its immense potential: it and it alone represented the type of power and possibility that Dee had promised him at the beginning. It couldn’t be so dangerous just to try and summon one.

He sat up in his bed folding his legs beneath him, bowing his head and closing his eyes. He would call for one, and if one should appear, he would relax and conceal himself, just as he had earlier with the seraphim in the storage room.

He articulated the summons, loud and clear, and repeated it a few times.

What he hadn’t anticipated was that his summons was equally as loud and clear to the other members of the house. Within moments, he had several people at his door, shouting at him. Dee was at the head of the group, and he pushed Wynn’s door open without knocking. He shook Wynn until his eyes opened and shouted at him, “What are you doing? Are you crazy? That was the summons for a seraphim.”

Wynn looked up and saw, standing in the doorway of his room, nearly the whole house. Lola was there at the front of the crowd, and Thorn was in the midst of them. There was something of disappointment in their looks, like they were looking at him as some small child who’d picked up a knife and had to have it taken away from him.

“You don’t do that” Dee said, “Didn’t Thorn tell you? We don’t want to ever hear that from you again. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Wynn said meekly.

D’s Table Part 60

Over the course of the next several weeks, Wynn lessons with Thorn continued. They were arduous, and the pace was exhausting, such that between sleep and practice his days were mostly filled. But the effort paid off, and progress was rapid.

One morning, Thorn told him as he sat down in his office that they would be starting with the seraphim, the last and most advanced lesson. Thorn enclosed the two of them within the metal screen and began to teach Wynn the seraphim language. What Thorn had told him earlier about their language was true—it wasn’t as bizarre as the others. When Wynn began to think the words, he found them surprisingly familiar.

“This word is almost human,” Wynn said to Thorn, “It feels like an epiphany, like that pleasant feeling of a thought springing into my head.”

“Somewhat like that,” Thorn conceded.

They continued the lessons, and after Wynn had mastered the first word, Thorn had more. In fact, the language of the seraphim was considerably more complex than that of any of the other spirits. There was more to the seraphim than just summoning, a number of subtly different orders that could be attempted to summon them, not all of them always effective. However, the words were easier to learn and within several days he’d learned nearly a score of them.

Thorn told him after he was satisfied with Wynn’s progress,”I’ve taught you every word we’ve managed to learn of their language. Now, since you’ll probably never get another chance to see one with your own eyes, I’ll show you a seraph.”

Thorn led him up to the second floor. At the far end of the hall was a heavy door that Thorn pulled open with a loud creak. The room was like a large closet, with unadorned walls and innumerable trinkets and knick-knacks piled within it: statues, odd mechanical devices, boxes, globes and orbs. The room was warm and was almost silent, except for a faint hum that permeated it from every direction. In one corner was a stack of metal storage containers of various sizes, like the one that they’d trapped the imps within.

Thorn reached for the largest of these container, a cylindrical drum, ornate with decorations and bronze in color. Wynn reached out to touch it and felt heat and a subtle vibration on its surface.

“In there is a single seraph,” Thorn said, pointing to the drum, “As you may have noticed, the spirits grow more energetic when confined. Now, I’m going to release that seraph and send it into the head of that thing.” Thorn pointed to the largest object in the room, a full-sized, mechanical human seated on a set of boxes. It was like a robot out of a science fiction movie, but more skeletal in its design, more of its parts and gears showing. “We call it a golem,” Thorn said, “Only seraphim can bring something so large and complicated to life. Now, once the seraph is released, I want you to hold back and quiet your mind. The seraph will try to escape this room, but won’t be able to because the walls are lined, and if it sees you, it will attack. Just watch. And this will go very fast so be ready.”

Wynn took a deep breath, and nodded once he was ready. Thorn opened one of the sliding doors out of the central chamber of the drum, then he opened another door admitting the seraph into the room. Wynn watched the opening of the container. Faster than he could blink, the seraph sprang out in a streak of light. Several sets of wings that fluttered like hummingbirds propelled its massive, elongated body. It spun around the room, banging into walls, while Thorn spoke a rapid set of words that redirected the seraph right at him. Wynn heard the seraph speaking back at Thorn in an equally rapid congeries of words. Thorn dodged and twisted, and with a quick deftness, he sent the seraph into he head of the golem. He closed the door as soon as the seraph entered, and smiled. “Nasty little things,” Thorn said.

At that moment, the golem began to stir to life, body shaking, gears whirring. It gradually sat up from its stooped position and stood.

D’s Table Part 59

After his classes, Wynn went down to the ballroom to relax. In the room there was, for music, a piano with bundles of sheet music and a record player. He gravitated to the record player, beneath which was a stack of records. He thumbed through them. They were mostly older, the type of easy, big-band jazz and crooning that his parents would listen to. He pulled out an LP that looked interesting, titled “The Voice of Frank Sinatra.” He opened the record player, which was an old, portable gramophone, complete with wind-up crank. He set the record on the turntable, wound it up and listened to the first song, “You Go to My Head.” He liked it and played it again, trying to memorize the music and lyrics while he sang along. He repeated this practice several times over many days.

At night, due to the intensity of the lessons that he was enduring, he dreamed about spirits and imps and Enochian. He dreamed about them floating around him, invading his mind, chasing him through hallways, sounding his name. In his dreams, imps buffeted his nous, and he felt them knocking against it as if his head were being pelted with snowballs.

This prompted a question, which he directed towards his instructor one day. “Have you ever been hurt by any of the spirits?” he asked Thorn, “And what’s it like?”

“I’ve been bumped by them,” Thorn said, “They can bump into your nous. It’s disorienting. If it’s bad enough you can black out. Saw it happen to Dee once. There’s risks, even with the imps, as I’ve said.”

“What about the more dangerous ones, the seraphim and succubi?” Wynn asked.

“They won’t just bump into you,” Thorn said, “They’ll rip you up. Most of us here won’t even attempt to summon and control the seraphim. They’re very dangerous.”

“Will you teach me?” Wynn asked.

“Well, yes, of course I’ll teach you how to do it,” Thorn said, “But we will not practice with ‘live’ (so to speak) subjects. If you’re like just about everyone else in this house, you’ll learn how to do it, and never try it. I’m the only one who really dares, and I’ve only caught a few in my lifetime. They’re rare, very rare. And quite glorious: they’re large and glowing with something like three sets of tiny wings on their sides. Presumably that’s why they were named after an order of angels by our predecessors.”

As Wynn listened to Thorn’s words, he found it more exciting than terrifying, like the thrill of taming a large beast. He wanted to try it.

“How do you find them?” Wynn asked.

“You don’t really,” Thorn said, “They’re just like all the other spirits: they wander around aimlessly. But they’re rare. You could send out a hundred summons and receive no response. With seraphim (and succubi as well) a great deal of patience is mandatory.”

Since it was impossible to persuade Thorn to teach Wynn anything but in the prescribed order, Wynn devoted himself with renewed vigor to his studies. He wanted to master as much as he could of the lower spirits so that he could get to seraphim as soon as possible. Thorn didn’t suspect that this was the reason for his student’s energetic devotion, and he allowed for the longer lessons and was willing to provide more of his time to Wynn’s mastery of summoning than he would normally have, extending the lessons through the morning and well into the afternoon.

One evening, after his lessons, Wynn visited Lola’s room. He knocked on the door, and she told him he could enter. She was seated on her bed, wearing a long dress with her feet in socks, reading a book, The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier.

“Yes?” she asked, looking up from her book.

“I just wanted to tell you something,” Wynn said. She nodded for him to go on. Wynn took a deep breath and then started to sing, “You go to my head and linger like a haunting refrain…” in his best Sinatra impression. He sang through the whole song, and she listened attentively, even though Wynn could hardly be described as having a pleasant singing voice.

After he was finished, she said politely, “Thank you, that was very nice.” She added, standing up, “Are you busking now? I’m sorry, I don’t have any change.”

Wynn felt a small sting from this comment, interpreting it as an insult. “No, it’s just for you,” he said, blushing.

“Still, I’ll tip you,” she said, approaching him. She then kissed him on the cheek. Wynn tried to reach forward and kiss her on the lips, but she backed away and gestured a “no” with her finger.

D’s Table Part 58

When the next day Wynn visited Thorn’s office, he saw that Thorn had a small metal box on his desk that hadn’t been there before. One side of the box was open, with a opening no larger than a hand’s breadth. The opening slid shut, with a door on the top, and there was also a long pin extending out of the top. The box was a bronze color, polished smooth, with round joints holding the six sheets of metal together.

“This is our imp net,” Thorn said, pointing to the box, which he could see Wynn was studying closely, “It’s made of materials that the imp cannot pass through. Learning how to make such a box will be for a later lesson and a different teacher. For now, we will simply learn how to capture the imp.”

Thorn showed Wynn how to close the door. When he pressed a button, the sliding door fell into place and closed the box. “The goal is for you to coax an imp into this box and close it inside. I find that the best way to do that is to spin it once around you and then raise the box so that it will intersect with the imp in the middle of that revolution.” Thorn illustrated by holding the box up to the side of his head. “Now you try,” Thorn said.

Wynn took the box in his hand, with the door opened, and he summoned an imp. The imp rushed towards him and he was able to send it spinning around. He raised he box so that the imp would fall directly into his net, but in the process of raising the box, he lost focus and the imp hurtled away into the distance.

“It’s hard to do two things at once,” Thorn said with a smile, “You really have to be able to raise the box up without thinking about it so that you can give your full attention to controlling the imp.”

Wynn tried it several more times with the same result. It took about five times before he was able to coordinate the two actions so that the imp actually landed in the box. But that time he had been so focused on controlling the imp that he forgot to close the box. The imp hit the walls of the box and turned around, floating right back out of the box.

Wynn wanted to throw his hands up in frustration, but Thorn comforted him. “You are learning quickly, better than most of my other students. Do no be frustrated. Diligent practice will turn this into an effortless task.”

The practice paid off and Wynn was finally able to do it, capturing the imp and snapping the door shut. “Now we will show you what to do with this box,” Thorn said, taking the box in hand. The pin on top of the box bounced up and down each time the imp bumped against it. Thorn took the box to a much larger box. This box had a rectangular tube extending out one side. The small box was slid into place so that it was attached to this tube. The door of the box were opened so that and exit was permitted to the imp into the tube. Soon the pin on the box stopped bouncing, and a pin in the tube did. Thorn closed the door so that the imp was now trapped in the tube. Then he opened a door permitting entrance to the main chamber of the large box. When the pin in the tube stopped moving, he closed the imp inside the larger box. He removed the imp net and gave it to Wynn.

“Now we have one,” Thorn said, “Let’s catch some more. There’s no way to get good at this except through lots and lots of practice.”

Wynn took the net in his hand, and he summoned once again. Though he failed several times before he succeeded, he did manage to catch another. Thorn had him attach the net to the larger box this time. Wynn let the imp into that larger box, using the pins as a guide to the imps location.

Wynn smiled when he was finished. Thorn patted him on the back and said, “Good job. Now, again.”

D’s Table Part 57

Wynn continued practicing with Thorn. He practiced controlling and directing the imp until he was able to effortlessly guide the imp around his head numerous times and then send it drifting away. He still looked anxiously at the small, round shape as it spun around him in its urgent movement. Vague notions of what it could do to him had been repeated several times to him, and he treated it carefully.

After a few hours of these exhausting lessons, Wynn sat down to rest. Thorn conceded that they’d done enough practice for the day. “Tomorrow we’ll practice capturing the imps,” Thorn said in an excited tone that showed that he was looking forward to this.

Wynn took many deep breaths. His mind was exhausted. It needed to luxuriate in something relaxing.

Before he left, he asked Thorn, “You’ve told me how dangerous these spirits are, but I have a hard time imagining it. These spirits are so airy. How could they do anything to me?”

“Despite what they seem, they can,” Thorn said, “They can cut and pierce your body. You see, just as we can reach into their space, they can also reach into ours.They’re almost sort of in our space in a way that doesn’t make sense to me, which is why we can see them. The point is, they can slice through your body. Tiny creatures like the imps don’t really have the strength to pierce deep, but the others do. They can kill. It’s happened in this house a few times before. A young student who was under my instruction about twenty-five years ago was careless with the wrangling of an urchin. The urchin got a good look at the location of him and sliced right through his head. There wasn’t any blood, since it all occurred inside the skull, but he went down like he’d been shot through the head. Dead in a moment. It wouldn’t have happened if I was there, but I can’t monitor my students at all times. If you’re not careless, all of the spirits can be safely handled, controlled, and manipulated. But you can’t treat it like some game. Even as you get better as this, you can really every get comfortable with it.”

Wynn left Thorn’s office and walked out the front of the building, as he usually did after a lesson. Lola was seated on the veranda relaxing with a glass of lemonade. Was she waiting for him? Wynn became anxious when he saw her. He approached her nervously, again wiping his clammy hands on his clothes and exerting all his effort to calm his mind.

“Hello, Lola. Lovely weather,” he said.

“Yes,” she said, taking a sip of lemonade. Wynn stood near her, hovering over a chair but too shy to sit. “Why don’t you sit down,” she told him

Wynn did as he was told. “May I?” he asked. She waved a hand, and he grabbed her lemonade and took a sip. “You look lovely today,” Wynn added.

“You should stop giving me those gifts,” she said in immediate response to Wynn’s statement. She didn’t look in his direction as she spoke, simply continued staring out across the lawn. “I get it,” she continued, “I understand why you do it. Maybe I wasn’t sure who it was the first few times, but I understood soon enough. You don’t need to do it anymore. I get that you like me. It’s sweet. Even flattering. But you should stop it. You’re too young. It’s not going to work. If you’re the stubborn type and want to keep chasing after me, you can. But at least try something different. I’m getting tired of it.”

She stood up and walked away, leaving the lemonade behind. Clearly, she had said all she wanted to say.

Wynn watched her walk away, and it pained him so much he couldn’t hide it. His pain cried out inside his mind.

When she was gone, he slumped deeper into his seat, his body almost sliding out of the chair. He wanted to cry, and the tears nearly came to his eyes. But he was able to stop himself. There was some encouragement in her words. He wasn’t quite the stubborn type, but he could try to be.

D’s Table Part 56

The next day, when Wynn returned to Thorn’s office for another lesson, he asked him before they began, “Is it possible to separate your (what was that word again) your nous from the rest of your body. Some of the others said it wasn’t.”

“No one has done it,” Thorn said, “That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just that we don’t know how. No one has ever really tried it, and to be honest, I don’t know where one would even begin to try.”

“Is that what happens when you die?” Wynn asked.

“I don’t know,” Thorn replied.

“I was thinking, perhaps it’s possible that the spirits we see in the psychic space are the souls of dead humans,” Wynn suggested.

“You aren’t the first person to think that,” Thorn said, “But we don’t believe that, mostly because, as you’ve discovered, the language of the imps is profoundly different than that of the human mind. It’s similar with succubi, naiads, urchins and fairies. Though the language of the seraphim isn’t too dissimilar. But we don’t think seraphim are us either, since they, and all the other spirits, seem too well adapted to the psychic space. They seem like they were made for that space: they have the means of locomotion, a natural means of communication there and, presumably, access to whatever means of sustenance they need. I don’t know if our nous could survive there without it’s body. Our nous is somewhat of an intruder into that space, and the other spirits there are quite aggressive towards us, as you’ll find. It’s almost like we stumbled into the space by accident. That being said, I am curious to see what happens to our nous when we die. I’ve never had to chance to witness someone die (I’m fortunate, I guess, for that). However, I am curious and would like to see it.”

This ended the conversation and Thorn commenced the lesson proper. Wynn practiced several more times the strange foreign word that Thorn had been teaching him. He found it easier to produce, though still odd and uncomfortable.

When Thorn judged that Wynn was ready, he folded up and put away the screen. He told Wynn, “Now you’re going to try to summon an imp. Remember what I just told you about the aggressiveness of the imps. Theses are dangerous creatures. The imps not so much, but there is still the risk of attack. This time you will simply speak the word and stop. If we have a taker, then maybe we’ll try something a bit more advanced.”

Wynn nodded his head. He was nervous. He looked straight ahead of him. He thought he saw an imp at the far side of the room; it passed through the wall, drifting in and out of the room. Wynn sounded his call, and the imp visibly responded. It inched towards him excitedly for a second then stopped and continued drifting.

“We got one,” Thorn said, “Let’s try it again. This time, sustain it a little longer until it’s close to you.”

Wynn did as he was told. The imp hustled towards him at this summons, and when it was several feet away, Thorn gestured for him to stop. When Wynn stopped, the imp lots its eagerness, returning to a placid state of indifference and drifting.

“Controlling these spirits is a bit like bullfighting,” Thorn said, “It’s a matter of drawing it in and dodging. This skill is essential when we start trying to capture them. So, what I want you to is to try and project the summons in a direction off to the side, then to another side. And continue doing this until you have it spinning around you. Remember to be careful.”

Wynn looked nervously at the imp so close to him, but he did as he was told. He projected to the side, then to the back and to the other side. The imp blindly followed this voice and spun around Wynn. Thorn interrupted this with his own summons, drawing the imp away and stopped the exercise, allowing the imp to drift away.

“Now let’s try it again. We want to keep on doing this until it’s as easy as breathing,” Thorn said.

Wynn took a deep breath. He wiped his hands, which he realized were quite clammy, onto his clothes. Then he did as he was told and summoned the imp again.

D’s Table Part 55

Wynn made a ritual out of leaving gifts for Lola, always finding something special that he could leave on the pillow of her bed. First it was flowers from among the many varieties that he was able to find on the compound, then it was crude bits of folded origami, small sketches he’d made, bits of molded clay that he dug up from the garden, poems copied from books—whatever he could think of. Lola made no mention of these things to Wynn or to anyone, yet she didn’t throw the gifts away. She had a drawer full of them, out of sight. She didn’t lock her door either; she kept it open and unoccupied, always providing ample opportunity to her secret admirer. Others couldn’t help noticing, couldn’t help seeing the trinkets that sat on her bed during the day waiting for her. Wynn had a practiced ability to slip into her room and out without being seen or caught, but despite that no one had seen him, he suspected that they all knew, Lola included. Secrets were hard to keep in a place like this.

On the weekends, the whole house gathered for recreation. Some of the younger members of the house would go beyond the walls of the house to partake of festivities in New Windsor, but on most weekends, most of the house could be found congregating around the large table in the dining room to play. There was no radio or television to be found anywhere in the house, but they had plenty of decks of cards, chess sets and board game. It was the one time when the house seemed to come alive, in loud, boisterous conversation and laughter. All eighteen of the members of the house, along with a few of the servants, would gather together and cluster into various groups, trying their hand at poker and hearts, chess, checkers, Chinese checkers, scrabble, and more.

Wynn sat with Jay, Beth and Dee playing a hand of hearts. After he managed come in last for the second game in a row, he asked, “How can I be doing so horrible? You three don’t have some sort of mind-reading trick that I haven’t been taught yet, do you? I’m getting crushed.”

“There’s no trick,” Beth said, “You’re just not very good at hiding your emotions. I can almost read on your face how many point cards you have.”

“We are perhaps a bit more experienced at this game than you are,” Dee added.

“So, there’s no special tricks to mind reading?” Wynn asked, “What about mind control? That’s it isn’t it? You’re coercing me into making bad moves.”

“Mind control?” Beth asked incredulously with a little laugh. Then with devilish smile she said, “Okay, I’ll show you mind control.”

“Really?” Wynn said.

“Watch this,” she said, “I’ll get you to do exactly what I want. First of all, could you hand me that card right there.” She pointed to one of the cards sitting beside Wynn. He picked it up and handed it to her. “Tada,” she announced, holding up the card, “I wanted you to hand me that card, and you did.” Jay and Dee both laughed at this, but Wynn groaned, feeling that he was the butt of this joke. “We can no more control people than a normal person,” she said, “Though you would be surprised what you can get a person to do using traditional techniques.” She turned to Jay, and asked, “Would you mind bringing me some more wine, please?” She batted her eyes in an excessively flirtatious manner. It was now Jay’s turn to groan as he stood up, carrying her empty wine glass. “See,” she said, and Dee and Wynn laughed.

“Maybe you can, you’ve just never tried,” Wynn said, with youthful overconfidence, “There’s so much you haven’t tried. For example, the place where these spirits are and where our thoughts go, it’s another space. Has anyone tried to explore it?”

“Your mind or soul (or “nous” as we prefer to call it),” Dee explained in a didactic tone, “that part of you that has contact with that other space (again, we prefer to call the “psychic space”), it’s fixed to your mind. Your nous is not free to explore. It simply is not possible.”

“Couldn’t you unhook it somehow?” Wynn asked, “Let your nous free?”

“No one has ever done it,” Dee said, “And if you did, I do not see how you would you control it? It is a unique suggestion, but I do not think it is possible.”

“There’s so much you people don’t know about,” Wynn commented disappointedly.

“That’s the way it is with all things,” Beth interjected, “Us puny humans.”

D’s Table Part 54

Thorn displayed the phrase, and Wynn saw it. Wynn tried to repeat it, tried his best to approximate it, tried to stretch his mind beyond its bounds, tried to think thoughts that could only be described as perverse and ridiculous, but he couldn’t. This was to be expected, and Thorn simply repeated it, and urged Wynn to make another attempt.

“This is like nothing you’ve ever thought before,” Thorn explained, “You cannot will your mind into this thoought. Not yet. You will have to experiment. Just keep on trying until you get it.”

Wynn attempted again and again. It was like groping through the dark, like stepping further into a deep cavern, while the light of the familiar gradual receded. It was hard to understand how it could be so, but even just to attempt to contort his mind in these ways was terrifying. He felt like he was prancing dangerously close to insanity.

Then he hit it.

“That’s it!” Thorn said with excitement.

Wynn’s mind felt strange, uncomfortable, deformed. It was not an experience he was interested in repeating, but Thorn urged him, “Now, do it again.”

Wynn now realized that he’d lost it, since try as he might, he couldn’t do it again. He had to grope around in the darkness once again, and find his way back to that strange place. And find it he did, once again.

“That’s good. You’re getting it,” Thorn said with an encouraging smile, “Let’s try it a few more times. We want you to be able to form this thought at will whenever you want.”

Over a succession of many tries, Wynn both failed and succeeded, spiraling closer towards it. He still failed more than he succeeded, but the ratio of success to failure dwindled, and he approached near to grasping it.

When he finally grabbed hold of it, he repeated the word again and again. Despite the uncomfortableness of the thought, the disagreeable way it made him feel when he thought it, there was a certain pleasure in this repetition. It was like he had discovered a new muscle and was now indulging in the flexing of it, indulging in his newfound power.

“You have it,” Thorn told him, “Good work. You are a quick study. Now you should take a break, and we’ll practice it again later.”

Thorn opened their small chamber and Wynn was again exposed to the light. As soon as he stood up, he realized that he was in need of rest. Much time had passed, and he felt weak and tired.

He sat on a couch in the living room. It faced a window that looked out through the front of the house to the green lawn and trees.

He was joined by his aunt who had sensed his fatigue and vulnerableness. She asked in Enochian for permission to join him. He responded in English, “Sit.”

“You’re tired,” she said, “First day with Thorn. I remember what that was like. He may be a sweet old man, but he’s a taskmaster.”

“Do you ever miss home?” Wynn asked as he lay deep in the cushions of the couch and stared out on the scenery with glossy, drooping eyes, “Do ever miss my father? You were probably closer to him than I was.”

“We don’t talk about our lives before here,” she said, “It’s one of the most important rules we place upon ourselves.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Wynn, don’t forget that everyone here had a life before,” she said, “Everyone left behind family and friends. Everyone here has some world out there that they were once part of. It’s not just you. All of us. We all of us have things that we could miss, but we don’t because we strike them from our mind. The first lessons you learn here are all about mental control. You have to be strong in mind if you are ever to succeed here, strong enough that you can push your mind to do things you never thought possible. And that means also pushing out of your mind all those things that came before. Your life started the day you arrived. If you don’t learn that, then it will be very hard here. Remember, you’ll be here for the rest of your life. We cannot ever let you leave. You know too much. Our secrets are too important.”

“If I can’t forget?” he asked, his fatigue making him dispirited.

“Don’t say that,” she said, “You can.”