I just finished a fun-filled romp through the somewhat disturbed imagination of John Hartness. I like John Hartness. I’ve never met the man, but he is an enthusiastic contributor to Facebook and a prolific writer, so I feel like I know him somewhat. He got fed up with the world of independent publishers and decided to do something beyond bitching; he started his own publishing house. You’ve got to love that. And he’s got a good eye as a publisher: I very much enjoyed Of Lips and Tongue, which I wrote about here, and Changeling’s Fall, which inspired another blog. And he writes cool as shit protagonists, including Jimmy Black and Bubba the Monster Hunter.
My favorite of Hartness’ heroes is Quincy Harker, son of Mina and Jonathan Harker of Dracula fame, and his latest adventure is entitled Heaven Can Wait. Quincy is an enhanced human with tendencies toward supernatural manifestations (he’s a sorcerer/mage/wizard type)—meaning he’s fast, strong and can conjure great energy balls of fire on par with Harry Dresden. Quincy hunts and fights demons and if it’s Tuesday, he must be saving the world from becoming the dominion of the devil. Were that my ‘To Do’ list was as exciting. In this story, Q is trying to prevent the dissolution of the barriers that separate Heaven and Hell, and avoid the destruction of the earth as collateral damage. He’s all over that action. In his efforts to save the day, Quincy attempts a little astral projection, leaving his body in the care of his fiancée and using her as an anchor, and their telepathic link as a tether back to his physical existence. He asks her to “tug” on their mental link occasionally, just to make sure they’re still connected and that he can find his way home. It’s an interesting metaphor: using the ones we love as anchors to our existence in reality and our feelings for them as the connection that binds us to ourselves.
As I was reading the passage that described this communication and binding system, I was reminded of the many hours I spent in various playgrounds during my children’s early childhood. I have twin sons and they were active boys. We needed to do something with their unbridled energy, and playgrounds were the perfect arena for them to expend their exuberance and exhaust themselves. So, every day I would very consciously “run them” and encourage my little men to tire themselves out. And every day they would burst upon the scene in the playground like they owned the place and run around Ike maniacs on crack. And I would watch them like the paranoid New Yorker that I am, never taking my eyes off them lest some perverted kidnapping serial killer snatch them. And yes, my behavior was extreme and likely disturbed. But it was the boys’ behavior that was more telling. While they devoted themselves with complete abandon, their eyes would lift from time to time, meeting mine, making sure I was still there, “tugging” on our link so they would know that they could always find their way home. Periodically, they would rush headlong over to me for a quick hug or kiss or just a touch of my leg or my hand—enough to prove that their eyes were not deceiving them, and I was there in the flesh, which meant that they could race off again to play with absolute security, knowing their anchor hadn’t slipped, and that they wouldn’t be abandoned or lost.
And it’s not just children who act this way. Like Quincy and his love, Rebecca, committed couples do this all the time. I often go about my business over the course of the day, content in my activities, when I pause and shoot off a quick text to my husband, tugging on our tether, waiting for his emoji response or a few short words that let me know he is there and that we are still connected. He does the same, especially when he’s away from his home office and we’re more physically distant from each other than usual. I’ve had people comment that we communicate more than seems “normal” (and what the hell does that mean anyway?), or at least more often than couples who are well beyond the honeymoon phase, but I’m delighted that our bond is so strong and so connected. We don’t need to exchange tomes of information. Just a small tug.
I do this with my close friends as well. Back in the Dark Ages before cell phones and texting, my friends used to give me a hard time because I was known for calling and saying something to the effect that I was calling to tell them that I didn’t have time to talk, but I wanted to let them know I was thinking of them. These days I just send a text. It’s my way of pulling on the tethers that bound me to the reality of my life.
So, while I cannot project my astral body to other planes of existence by tethering my essence through a extrasensory mental connection, I can and do emulate the great Quincy Harker in a more mundane way. Once again, we find truth in fantasy within the pages of my beloved books, where mythical creatures lead paranormal existences in alternate universes that look a lot like our realm, only more magical.