Seventh Circle (Chapter 5 - Talisman, page 2 of 6)

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It wasn't what Tom had expected. Perhaps it was Alison's small size. He'd not got used to her being grown up. He reminded himself that she was almost eighteen. At that age she could join the army. Eventually he spoke.

'All right. We'll go this evening. Make sure you have everything we need. I want to try out some ideas on the pathways.'

'What are the pathways?'

'They're the lines I mapped with divining rods.'

'Do you think they have something to do with the old religions?'

'I do,' Tom nodded. 'That's why I want to be there at sunset. It is a time of transition between day and night ... a time when one state passes into another. According to ancient tradition, it is the time when one can make the passage between realms.'

Alison gazed into his eyes. 'Oh, Tom, it's so exciting.'

At a neighbouring table, a middle-aged man opened his newspaper and glanced at the photographs on the centre page. He returned his attention to Alison with an expression of growing concern.


They arrived at the pond towards nightfall. Alison helped Tom unload the equipment from the van and watched as he laid the coaxial cable over the grass.

She handed him the helmet.

'It measures brain waves ... is that right?'

Tom nodded.

'Do you think it will work?

'Dunno,' Tom shrugged. 'But I'm not going to let anyone insert electrodes into my brain like we did to the cat.'

He put on the helmet, attached the cable to it and sat cross-legged on the ground. Alison returned to the van and adjusted her binoculars. Tom was vulnerable. Photographs of him with divining rods had appeared in the national newspapers. What would people think if they saw him, sitting in a Buddha pose, wearing a helmet with wires sticking out of it?

There were photographers who hid in bushes. People called them paparazzi. Alison looked around and didn't see any. The only sign of life was a hot air balloon. She tried to relax. The sun sank. The shadows lengthened and the balloon disappeared. There was something peaceful about the place. The pond, the stream and the undulating ground were comforting. It was like being small again, lying at your mother's breast, feeling her warmth and protection.

Tom said that in bygone days people venerated the pond as sacred to the mother goddess. Young virgins came to places like this on summer evenings and prayed to the goddess. They came when the sun was low and magic hung in the air. They said prayers then wandered off and found somewhere to lie down.

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