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Weird Tales March 1954

Call Not Their Names

by Everil Worrell

... real and terrible was the ancient goddess of death.

SHALIMAR walked between the two tall men into the room. She had committed herself at last. She was to marry Merlin Caliver in the fall.

Ice hardens and separates itself from the flowing ocean streams and forms its hard, crystalline pinnacles. Ice floats—the top of the berg rides sky-lit; and this makes the earth possible to mankind.

The thing that lurked hidden and crystallized somewhere in the girl Shalimar was a weightier matter. It was submerged; over it flowed the fluidity of life— but it was there; it was real, it was danger. Of the stuff of dreams, perhaps; how much more solid are one's waking thoughts?

She was marrying into a family of distinction. Merlin's name in the field of behaviorism would equal Byron's among anthropologists. Already, at twenty-seven, Merlin had authored articles which won him the name of trail-blazer. He dared to interest himself in that new stuff known familiarly as "para-psych."

Merlin would look like his uncle at the same age; now his hair was a darkish brown, and his sun-tan blended into it. His eyes were bluer, more intense, and the angle of his black brows gave his face a whimsical difference.

He leaned down now, and whispered:

"We aren't rushing you, are we, Shalee? You did say you'd marry me, you know. You said it at last! Still, this show is a build-up for the electrified home —and it was a little like forcing household matters on you a bit prematurely—"

Shalimar could see the three of them in a hall mirror. She forced the corners of her mouth into a smile. Her face had worn for a moment the look she did not like.

It was—well, be frank!—a look of tragedy. And in Shalimar's life there had never been a tragedy, beyond the loss of her father and mother in a storm that capsized their little sail boat. And that had happened long ago, when she was ten. Since then, under Byron's guardianship—leave out her nightmares, and her life had been pure sunshine.

She was wearing a dark blue dress and a blue-sequined shell hat, and her dark, smooth bangs accentuated the size of her deep, dark eyes. Around her neck natural curls clustered, and the clear pink of her skin set off her sapphire ear clips. Now that she smiled, her image reassured her.

"I don't feel rushed, I just think maybe all my life I'll be a little bit mixed!" she breathed impulsively. "Uncle Byron used, you know, to have to wake me at night. And even yet, sometimes—but you know all that, you know me as well as if we were brother and sister. I still have that nightmare, you know, only I don't wake screaming!

"I wake—crying. When I was little it scared me—and as I've grown older, the dream has seemed to break my heart. Aren't I the kind of girl that might grow into a neurotic woman? And isn't that, maybe, why I had such a hard time making up my mind?"

"If you have made it up," Merlin said, on a sigh. "Once the knot is tied, though, I think I can relax. Suppose you are a bit of a dual personality? Who hasn't some kink?"

"You, Merlin, you haven't."

SHALIMAR was speaking out loud, now, although very low.

"If there were any sense to my crying-dream!" she went on impatiently. "Thick masses of vegetation all around—that I can understand. It's India, of course."

"The dream," Merlin prompted, "is uneventful. In front of the jungle, then, a cleared space. Smoke, as though a big fire had burned itself out. A shelter built of branches, like a child's playhouse. And that's all! It shouldn't be impossible to live with a dream like that—"

He was not impatient. He was practical. And the side of her he was trying to reach, didn't respond to practicality.

She was whispering now, close in his ear:

"Merlin, telT me one thing. You offer me love. I know that. But how do you love me? Suppose—suppose, for instance, something parted us. Would you go looking for me, looking through countries and years and centuries, and no one else would do, you must find me? I think I need to know, Merlin—is that the way you feel about me?"

Merlin tried to smile, and frowned instead.

"I think that's the kind of thing you want to forget, Shalimar," he said gently. "That sort of thing is esoteric, introverted fantasy. I think men and women fall in love when they are right for each other. And if they lose each other—they needn't, unless one dies—then, I think the one left just goes on as well as he or she can, making the best of things."

Shalimar sat down lower in her seat.

Better to think about the electrical equipment show. Soon she'd be picking her own electrical equipment. Oh, wonderful not to have to smell house dust and get sneezy when you cleaned rooms!

The murmur of voices died. A suave young man began his speech.

The row of seats ahead had been vacant, but now three seats were filled by a large woman ablaze with purple, and her two unpleasant offspring. These were a girl in her teens, and a boy of about ten. The girl had a heavy face overlit by somber hazel eyes. The boy's face was thin, with sharp features. Meanness and cunning must have stamped it from the cradle—a thing which fortunately happens seldom, Shalimar thought. Think of the boy, she must; he immediately turned and fixed her with the kind of stare nice people discourage very young in children so inclined.

When the lights were lowered, his pale eyes were still on Shalimar's face.

The demonstration was pretty. Shalimar tried to see herself flipping down tumbler switches, making the dishes wash themselves, making dinner cook. After awhile she grew tired; it seemed more natural to let servants do it Why grudge a few rupees?... She caught herself, sharply. Well, after all, that was the way her mother had kept house.

Perhaps she made some uneasy gesture, because Byron murmured, "The interesting part is what follows, Shalimar. The dark light demonstration will be beautiful. Gadgets are wonderful, but new discoveries in radiant energy are soul-shaking."

Merlin spoke across Shalimar to his uncle.

"Dark light—and the new optical effects in photography. Recently I read a story in which two charming children, annoyed by their parents, misuse their wonderful nursery, which captures electrical impulses from the human brain and converts them into visible forms. These children create lions which come alive and eat their parents up. And I found myself wandering how far science may go—into what possibilities of thought materialization it may lead us—"

Shalimar thought, "Suppose that happened to my thoughts!"

Now it was Byron:

"If the old folklore came back to haunt the race in terms of its new science, it would be more disastrous than an atom bomb. In America would live again the medicine men, the shamans; in the west—out around our Colorado lodge, for instance, where the Aztec sun symbols are carved far from their known origins— the cults of human sacrifice; in the East, the sad white dream of witchcraft—"

"Stop it!" Merlin said suddenly.

But Shalimar thought the talk should have gone on. Not only she had secret fantasies; you must pick your way among them. Dreams haunted the human race, but the race progressed by selecting the good dreams and blocking out the evil.

That boy's eyes plunged into hers. They were chatoyant—lustrous, like a cat's.

PEOPLE gasped as the utter blackness hit them like a physical blow. And again, as pictures painted themselves on the walls in light. And yet again— because the "dark light" pictures seemed to float close, rather than to be visible only on the walls. But the pictures were lovely. Roses, lilies; a flowering shrub —then a projection of weaves on a wrhite beach, and a pretty roadway stretching under arching trees.

More flowers, and then a pause. Someone said something had broken down. The blackness grew more oppressive.

Shalimar's eyes rested on the place where the panel mirror was set in the wall. A faint opalescence marked the oblong.

Mistily blue, it became a window opening on deep space that filled all known dimensions, and others known only by vertigo. In the black room a. woman stifled a scream.

The light hurt Shalimar's eyes, but she could not look away. And now a figure formed there, to draw into itself the blueness, to shine in darkly blinding blue. It was a woman's figure, nearly nude; but the outlines blurred and shifted and shimmered. The face was lovely—the face was cruel. It was cruelty personified —yet something in it drew you—

The figure flung out arms, and the light shimmered madder and bluer.

The being projected itself third-dimensionally forward. The face came close, the horrible arms outreaching—

Shalimar screamed.

HER head was on Merlin's breast, Byron was rubbing her wrists, the woman in front was staring, the horrible girl and boy were staring, people were saying things like—" She's all right!" and "She fainted—no wonder! I nearly did—"

She could walk, feeling only a little weak.

But the woman in purple and her boy and girl blocked their way, and the woman put a small white card into Shalimar's limp hand.

"I must speak to you," she said, like one under a compulsion. " Please—people will tell you I'm not a publicity-seeking mountebank. I have a strange gift, and—my boy Denny has it also. That frightening image can't have been part of the show. The wall mirror, I'm sure, acted as sometimes a crystal ball, or even a pool or a mirror does act —and showed a tiling that wanted to manifest itself to someone here.

"She was, you know, the Hindu goddess Kali. The goddess of destruction. Did you see the necklace—the human skulls?"

They couldn't get by without physical pressure. The woman spoke faster.

"My boy Denny felt that something was seeking to contact the young lady. He had whispered to me.

"Please believe me, it isn't for the fee. It's—that I know I can get a message that concerns you!"

Her eyes were on Shalimar. "My card. Call me. Any time, at your convenience."

Shalimar's fingers closed on the white cardboard square.

"Madame Margoli—Medium" it said, with a telephone number.

SHE had feared the intrusion into her dreams of the goddess Kali. Under normal consciousness she felt the swelling tide of the subconscious, its upward thrust, its sucking withdrawal. The girl Shalimar felt the arms of Mother India drawing her back to lost memories.

The dream came upon her painfully, obsessively; for four nights she woke shaken by sobs, face wet with tears. The terror grew. The low streamers of black smoke, the pungent, oily smell; the utter dreary desolation of the clearing before the crowding jungle, the rag-tag miserableness of the rude, low shelter, roofed by broken branches on which leaves drooped dying. Tatters of coarse cloth hung like ruined pennants; they bound the crude structure together; they had been torn from her garments; for she wore rags in the dream—and the realization of this was a new thing. Once her own face stared up at her from the waters of a river. Her eyes, wide and dark and tragic. Her face, darker, but heart-shaped still—the darkness had the look of unwashed neglect and sun tan, and perhaps of different pigmentation as well.

Her hair drifted forward from the downbent head, and it was long and black, dishevelled, with the torn look of the cloth tatters that swung from the jointures of the shelter. As though she had "rent her tresses" in the ancient symbolic violence of grief and mourning!

It was on the fourth night that Shalimar saw herself like that. On the fifth, at last, came something new into the dream.

This new thing was simply the appearance of a face that was not her own, nor the face of anyone whom she had ever seen. It was the face of a man.

Its coming ended sorrow. Simply there was this man, this face—strong and brown, with sparkling dark eyes and white teeth shining a joyful greeting. In the dream the apparition had all the impact of a miracle, even a resurrection.

This face, this beloved head (wearing a turban!) was love. It was fruition. It was an end to sorrow and weeping, it was the sun in its glory, it was the conferring on a lonely, abandoned, deserted body of a soul. It was healing, it was life; and dirt and tears, rags and loneliness, shame and despair were nowhere in the universe. The moving finger had written lines too terrible to bear —but they had been erased.

"You live, beloved!"

Tender and poignant, the words hung on the ai...

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