A while back my daughter and i were holidaying in Central Otago, near Alexandra. It wasn't the easiest of times. My father was terminally ill and he was raised in Alex. i picked wild thyme and flowers from the house he had lived in, to give to him. The landscape there is startling, red dust, schist and mica, lizards. It was hot at 30 degrees. Under this red rock ... I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
We went looking for Dead Man's Gully. We drove down narrower and narrower roads and across one bridge where there was room only for the car, the wheels were on the struts that held the bridge up. One brief swerve and we would have been in the waterless ditch. Occasional cyclists would stare at us. There was no vehicular traffic. The air was still and mirage-hot. The sky was a blue silence.
There we were, at the Crossroads. Whoahh, we went. We both knew where we were without a shadow of a doubt, in the same way true psychic phenomena is as real as read, and nothing like being spooked by scary thoughts. We took a photo of it.
You will know the story of the great bluesman Robert Johnson. He wrote everything. Every rock song ever made is the ghostly whisper of his Come on in My Kitchen, or his Love in Vain. Story has it that he was the worst guitarist ever; he was booed off stages all over the South. Then he went to the Crossroads at midnight and the Devil tuned his guitar. He came back from the Crossroads and was suddenly able to play this layered, doubled up sound that no one had ever got from a guitar before. He wrote Crossroads Blues of course, and the legend was born. Actually, i think that the Devil just told him to stop being such a wally and go home and practise, but i am a middle aged white woman and can only dabble in the blues. And his is the better story.
Thing is, every cross roads is connected to every other cross roads in the multiverse by a special twist in the space-time continuinuinum called X Space. Terry Pratchett and others discovered L Space - library space. You know how really big libraries have obscure aisles of books where no one ever goes and you can get lost and you need a ball of string to get out. i used to work in a university library. i spent time up ladders shelving nineteenth cerntury German literature in gold bound Gothic script, fabulous stuff nobody even knew was there - even back then i knew i was on the edge of an alternative reality. Walk around the corner of the shelves and you end up...in the Bodleian, or in the Beyond section of Bed Bath and Beyond, or in a worm hole.
X Space is like that. We knew we were there, and we were anywhere, we were in Robert Johnson's world, we were solid gone. What could we do? The only thing we could. We drove on.
i tumbled to the fact that we were drving our car along the Otago Rail Trail. This is a famous cycle way that is closed to cars and not at all suitable even for off roading most of the way. i am amazed we got as far as we did. We had surely strayed. We stopped on a trail so narrow we could not go on and we could not back up, because we had gone way too far. We had to turn. Bear in mind the trail was almost the width of the car. There wre dry ditches either side. i drove and my daughter directed me. She has superb visual spatial ability and i totally trusted her, as i embarked on a six million point turn, edging the car round inch by inch.
We emerged relieved, retrospecitely scared, and slightly trippy with triumph. The only causalty was the car window, which was jammed open by red dust.
And we thanked the cosmic guardians of X Space for keeping us safe. Thank you Robert, and all those of preside over Weird Shit, and all you Rocknrollers.