Samuel Bayfield was eager to go on his cycling trip to the little village his friend and roommate, Thomas, had told him about. Thomas had wanted to come along on the trip, but his boss had asked him to work the whole weekend, and since he worked the nightshift, it was out of the question. Samuel began to pack the two bicycle panniers with just enough clothes and things he would need to overnight in the village inn where he had made a room reservation a week ago. According to Thomas, the village was located some 15 km off the highway along a scenic, unpaved country road with a lot of ruts in it, but that was OK he thought, his bike would handle that easy.
Samuel headed for the kitchen, made a couple of sandwiches for the trip, filled his two water bottles, and put them in the fridge. It was past eleven, Thomas had left for his night shift, and it was time to get some sleep, for he wanted to leave early.
The morning was slightly foggy with low-hanging clouds, but the coolness made cycling down the paved road easy. The traffic was light and he relaxed and enjoyed the freshness of the air and smell of the countryside, with fields of wheat, alfalfa and some just a sea of yellow flowers. Small farms lay tucked away amongst the fields, shaded by old leafy trees and conifers. He began looking for the stone symbol that marked the entry to the side road. Thomas had told him to look for a tall stone on the left side of the road, so it should be easy to find. The wheels of his bicycle and the steady pedalling made a monotone sound, interrupted only when a vehicle passed him, which was rare.
He found the gravel road a couple of hours later; spotting the stones that marked the entry, and stopped to examine them closer. It wasn’t just one stone, but four, placed in a circle by someone, but for what purpose he couldn’t figure out. There was no road sign indicating that a village lay at the end of it, nor a road name. The stones were higher than he was, but did not have any markings, not even some cheap, painted graffiti. He wondered if this was the correct road.
It was 12:00 o’clock, when Samuel mounted his bike and began cycling down the narrow gravel road. There were farmer’s fields on both sides, but no sign of any cows or animals or any cultivation, and no houses to be seen anywhere. That’s weird, he thought. Doesn’t anyone live out here? He kept cycling for a half hour or so and then stopped for a break, to eat a sandwich. The sun had broken through the clouds and he could see some wooded areas out ahead. The village must be on the other side of the woods, he thought. He looked back toward the highway and spotted something gleaming in the road. It seemed to be closing in on him, but he ignored whatever it was and began peddling down the road again.
The road made a turn to the right and he cast a fleeting look behind him. What he saw startled him to a point where he nearly lost his balance on the bike. The road behind him had filled with water. It was a river as wide as the road itself and it was coming toward him. He watched it with anxiety, having no idea of what was going on, then jumped on his bike again and pedalled in a sprint down the road for a couple of hundred metres, stopped and looked back again. The river was about 25 metres behind him and seemingly stopped there. He kept going, stopping now and then to check, but it still followed some distance behind him. On the left side, he saw a trail leading away from the road, and turned in on it, to see if the river would follow him. It did, but it was now just a small stream, only filling the trail and still some distance behind him.
Samuel headed for the wooded hills just ahead of him. Together, they formed a horseshoe-like shape with a large depression in front of them. The stream that had followed him along the trail was now catching up with him and began filling a large depression below the hills, slowly making a lake. He dragged his bike up one of the hills, leaned it up against at a large maple tree, and watched the stream creating a lake.
Confused, he wandered around the woods for a spell, not really knowing what he wanted to do, when he came across a path, perhaps made by some animals. He followed the path, but it didn’t seem to lead anywhere, running helter-skelter here and there, but suddenly a small, cemetery with just a few burial sites appeared before him. Curious, he entered the place and tried to read the writing on the headstones, but they were badly weathered and illegible. He saw one at the far end that looked newer and walked over to check it out. Astonishingly, he saw the inscription “Samuel Bayfield.” on it, but no dates. How curious to find someone with his name, buried here he thought. He turned and began walking back to the path.
“Hello Samuel, and welcome to Bayfield farm.” a voice said.
Perplexed, he looked around but couldn’t see anyone. “Where are you?” he asked?
“You have come, and you brought the water that will commence the change,” the voice said.
“Who are you?” asked Samuel, “show yourself, and what is this change you are talking about?”
There was silence, a creepy kind of stillness and he thought the whole thing was someone funning him, some kind of a hoax or perhaps it was all in his mind, his imagination gone wild.
“Samuel Bayfield, the voice called out, you have come in the 80th year, which is the time of the change to the next generation on the farm. I thank you and now I bid you farewell. You must now go to the farm. A new Samuel Bayfield will come here in your place, in another 80 years, for this is the way of the Bayfield farm and it shall be so until the time of the great upheaval. You must never return here. If you do, you will be propelled into a void until the great upheaval, the time of which is written in the sun.”
“What is the great upheaval,” Samuel asked. “When will it come? Tell me who you are.”
Again, there was only silence, a deep quiet that disturbed his mind.
Suddenly a strong breeze blew through the trees, rustling the leaves and blowing debris all around him. He held his hand against his face to protect his eyes and turned his back into the wind. Slowly, it died down and Samuel looked around him. There were only trees and bushes to be seen. The cemetery was gone and the path he had followed had vanished. He began walking but didn’t know which direction he should take. Where was the farm the voice had told him to go to? The sun was not visible through the dense forest so he couldn’t get any bearings, but he kept on walking without knowing where he would end up.
A clearing appeared in the woods and as he came closer, he saw some buildings that looked like a farmstead and noticed a very old man and woman and a middle-aged couple in the farmyard, all of them standing close to each other and holding hands. Samuel hesitated to approach them, fearing they were performing some kind of a ritual, but one of them saw him and gestured with a waving hand to come over. He walked toward them slowly and on reaching, them, apologized for his intrusion. “I am very confused and uncertain of where I am and I have seen and experienced some strange things today, which I do not understand,” said Samuel.” Can you help me find my way back to the road, for I fear I’m lost?”
The old man took him aside and said, “There are things that I must tell you and then you will know what it is you have seen, but you will not understand it. You are not a prognosticator or a predictor; you are an event instigator who will cause an occurrence that happens once every 80 years on this farm. It’s called the change-over.”
“We are the Bayfield family and this farm has only ever been owned by four generations of our family, who are reborn again and again. We are like a wheel with four spokes, each representing a generation. I was 26 years old when I came and my wife was 23 and our children were one and three years old. Now I’m 80 years old and the time have come to return to the rest period, together with my family. My father will take over after me and he will also be 26 years old when he comes, his wife and children the same ages as mine were, when I came. After him, my grandfather and after him my great grandfather will take over, their wives and children the same age as mine. After my great grandfather returns to the rest, I return here again. For each of us, the cycle is 320 years and it has been so for 6400 years.”
“At the moment of changeover, said the old man, “the farm will disappear and the land return to what it looked like before the farm was created and then reappear again as it was, when first it was built, with the same buildings and animals. My father will come across the lake that the stream, which you caused to appear, is now creating, and this is the only way he can come. When the farm reappears, he and his family will occupy it until he is 80 years old, and a new changeover will again take place. That event will be precipitated by another person named Samuel Bayfield, who will have the same experience as you are having today.”
“You are quite right, I don’t understand”, said Samuel. “Do you have any neighbours? What about your children, do they go to school? Do they have other children to play with?”
“No”, said the old man, “we have no neighbours and the children need only to learn how to be helpers on the farm. Our lives are simple and always the same.”
“But how did this all come about”, asked Samuel, “What happened 6400 years ago that resulted in this perpetual reincarnation?”
“A story has been passed down through the millennia,” said the old man. “My family was cursed for disobeying a God and as punishment, we were forced to live in an unending cycle of rebirth into the same continuum, and it will be so until the great upheaval.”
“What is the great upheaval?” asked Samuel.
“We do not know what it is, or when it will happen, but we know that it is written in the sun,” said the old man.
“I do not understand how all this can be. I have never read about anything like this, nor heard tell of such, said Samuel.
“You must go now, said the old man, “For you have fulfilled the reason for your coming, although you did not know. The Gods will be thankful to you and henceforth, you shall enjoy a rewarding life, filled with happiness and good fortune. Go to the stone that you see over there and when you reach it, you will see another stone. Walk to that and follow all the stones that you see, one by one. When you reach, the last one you will be back to your own time again. I now bid you farewell, for the moment has come.”
Samuel began walking and sure enough, when he reached the first stone, he could see another further ahead. He looked back, but saw nothing but trees. The clearing with the farm was no longer there. The whole experience was unexplainable, bewildering, and surrealistic to him. How could he ever explain to Thomas what had happened to him, without being accused tripping on something. When he reached the second stone, he looked back again, but the first stone was nowhere to be seen. He kept going, and the stone behind him disappeared as soon as he reached a new one. There was nothing to guide him back to the farm.
Suddenly, he came upon the big maple tree where he had left his bicycle. The lake was gone and the trail leading to the gravel road was dry. Everything seemed normal. He mounted the bike, wanting to escape this nightmarish event as fast as he could and soon reached the gravel road, which was also dry and normal. Half an hour later, he made it to the highway and the first thing he noticed was a sign saying: “Brewton Village, 20 km.” That was not there when he first arrived and the four tall stones that marked the entry to the road when he came, were gone. In their place was a single, large stone with some graffiti painted on it. He looked at his watch and bewildered saw that it was precisely 12:00 noon, the same time as it was when he first arrived at the four stones. There was no way he felt like going down the road again, to the village, where he had a reservation at the inn. He just wanted to go home.
Thomas, returning home from his night shift, unlocked the door to the apartment, and headed for the kitchen to make some coffee. He heard Samuel shouting in his bedroom, run to the door, thinking he was in some kind of trouble. He couldn’t understand what he was shouting; it all sounded like a bunch of gibberish. Thomas knocked on the door and opened it. Samuel was sleeping, but tossed and turned as if he was fighting some kind of demonic spirit. He walked over to the bed and shook his shoulders to wake him up. “Samuel!” he shouted, “wake up, you are having a nightmare.”
Slowly Samuel woke up and looking completely bewildered at Thomas, shouted “Hey, what’s going on? Where am I?”
“Jeepers man, you must have had a real bad dream,” said Thomas; are you OK? Why don’t you get up and have some coffee with me? You are going on your biking trip to Brewton village today, remember?”
Samuel, getting his state of mind back to normal. “Thomas, he said, there is no way I’ll ever go there. I was there in a dream last night, a dream so weird and creepy I can’t even begin to explain it to you.”
Copyright 26 February 2011. All rights reserved.
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This work by K. Larsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.