Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pareidolia

Pareidolia - 


When I first stumbled across photos on the internet of Savannah’s deserted gunpowder magazine, I knew I had to find a way to work the structure into the Witching Savannah series. I set out one drizzly February morning to visit the crenelated red brick building, but finding it proved no small feat.  My imagination began to convince me that it was under some enchantment, as even though I had seen pictures and found old news articles that mention the building, the magazine itself seemed to have faded from the memory of nearly every local. I knew it was located off Ogeechee Road—actually an article I found said that it was plainly visible from that stretch, nestled in among a grove of trees. What I had failed to consider was the age of the article. Those nestling trees had grown up and filled out since publication,  and now screened the magazine from view.

 I spent what seemed like hours traveling up and down Ogeechee Road, peering out through fogged windows, stopping once at the side of the road when I thought for sure I had finally found it, only to realize I was sorely mistaken. The sad thing was I even had the exact longitude and latitude for the structure, but alas, my GPS system wanted nothing to do with degrees, minutes and seconds. It wanted good, solid street addresses or nothing. Nearly frustrated to the point of giving up, I pulled into the parking lot of an auto parts store that I knew had to be in the magazine’s general location.

 I went in and spoke to a clerk, describing the building, its history—as best I knew it—and its appearance. He was sorry, but he had never heard of the place. He did offer to ask someone who was working in the back if she knew of it. The young woman came out, and I launched anew into my spiel, when she smiled and pointed over my shoulder. “I think you are talking about the building next door.” And, yes, as it turned out, the gunpowder magazine was sitting a few yards away on the far side of their parking lot. Needless to say, learning it was next door to an auto parts store did strip away some of the building’s romantic glamour. But still, I had gone to all this trouble to find the place, so I crossed the lot and managed a four point landing in the ravine that separates the wooded area that houses the magazine and the auto parts establishment.

I felt convinced I had wasted my time, until I caught sight of the single story red brick castle. Like much of the rest of Savannah, it was so accessible and surrounded by the everyday, but somehow still magical and haunting. I hadn’t even finished brushing the dirt from my knees before I began imagining Jilo and Mercy hiding out here, working magic together. Even with the sounds of a steady flow of traffic coming off Ogeechee, this place seemed secluded, somewhat out of sync with both its mundane surroundings and the year in which I had come to visit it. A misty Savannah morning paired itself with this writer’s overly active imagination to convince me that even though there was no one else around, I was not alone. In that moment, Savannah wore down what remained of my healthy skepticism, and I found myself taking photos, convinced that one of them would show more than had met my naked eye.

         Let me make one thing clear: I am not a believer that orbs are in any way supernatural.  I chalk them up to dust or insects or pixilation, but just as there are few atheists at 30,000 feet, Savannah had a way making me question this. I will leave you to be the judge.  The building was locked, but there was a gap large enoughfor me to put my camera through and snap a couple of photos. The following is a blown-up version of an orb caught in one of these photos.



In it I see the face of a man with a shaved head and mustache. He appears to be wearing sunglasses. Pareidolia, you say? I’m certain you are right. At least I am right now, sitting thousands of miles away from Savannah. Still, haunted or no, you will encounter this setting in the very first pages of THE SOURCE (Witching Savannah #2) coming out on June 3rd.