Horoscopes, Sleepwalking and My Loss of Innocence

Childhood's End


On a Friday night in March of 1971, I visited my best friend Brad at his parents’ home on the other side of town for an overnight stay. From a very early age, our get-togethers were largely conversational, as opposed to playing games and sports or watching television (long before anyone knew what a “video game” was). We were at an age where we still sometimes indulged in children’s activities, but the realities of our soon-to-be teenaged years were encroaching on our lives, and we discussed our interests and fears at length. At the time we were battling with some tough characters at school that were bullying and intimidating other kids, and we focused that evening on how best to safely deal with them. We also discussed girls we liked and how I wished for a bit more social grace, so I could get girls to like me in return. It was, at least for a few hours, a normal evening shared between two young friends. It turned into something else: the dividing point between what my life was and what it would turn into.

Nothing would be the same

Symbols cut into a tree in the yard
Symbols cut into a tree in the yard
A changed horoscope
A changed horoscope
The knife beside the sleeping bag
The knife beside the sleeping bag
Scorched, charred trees
Scorched, charred trees
Cloud banks symbolized an approaching battle
Cloud banks symbolized an approaching battle
Thorns at the gates of the garden
Thorns at the gates of the garden
A silver ring to offer protection
A silver ring to offer protection

Horoscopes, sleepwalking and hedge clippers

 

After awhile I told Brad I recently began reading my horoscope in the newspaper each day, and that it intrigued me to see how frequently horoscopes could be applied to the events of the day in one form or another.  We fetched the paper and read our forecast.  His mentioned the discovery of new outlets for creativity.  Mine was less inspiring, but interesting nonetheless. 

 

I began to feel claustrophobic in his small bedroom, so I recommended a brief walk outside.  We strolled about his yard in the setting sun, and approached a tree where we noticed strange cuts in the bark.  I jokingly asked him if cutting trees was his new hobby, and he shook his head but didn’t laugh.  The deep cuts didn’t seem random but formed an odd pattern, and we were reminded of the horoscopes we read earlier.  I suggested this was the creative outlet mentioned in Brad’s horoscope.  He recommended we re-read what the paper said, and we went back inside and retrieved it.  When we looked at the horoscopes again, we saw nothing remotely connected with what we recalled.  It was as though the words on the printed page changed, because we both remembered reading about creative outlets but saw nothing about creativity mentioned.  The horoscope was instead a generic warning to exercise caution over the next several days.

 

The changed horoscopes were bizarre but we didn’t know what to say about them, and soon we went to bed.  I slept on Brad’s bed while he graciously rested on the floor in a sleeping bag.   The moon shone through the window and cast an eerie light into the otherwise darkened room.  I heard Brad’s steady breathing as he drifted into sleep and contrasted it to the cars that drove by periodically.  Brad seemingly noticed the cars too, for whenever one drove by he softly muttered the word, “kill”.  I suffered this for awhile, but started to feel anxious as his mumblings grew louder and sounded increasingly like a chant.  I called out to Brad and attempted to wake him.  In his sleep he said, “Brad is gone”.  He said other words also, words that sounded like a language, but not one I ever heard before.  This continued without interruption for perhaps an hour.  After that, Brad slowly climbed from his sleeping bag and left the room.  I soon heard noises outside in the yard, and when I summoned the courage to look outside I glimpsed Brad’s shadowy figure in the moonlight beneath the window.  I heard noises also, as if he were using hedge clippers or some similar garden tool.  In panic, I returned to bed and pulled the covers over my head, despite the warm temperatures outside.  Eventually I heard Brad re-enter the room and return to his sleeping bag.  I asked if he was okay, but he never answered. 

 

Morning finally arrived, not soon enough for me in my terrified, sleep-deprived state.  Brad rose, checked to see if I was awake, and asked if it was okay to turn on the light.  I said sure and noticed in the light that there was a large knife next to Brad’s sleeping bag.  There were also cuts and scratches on Brad’s hands and arms, as if he had been in a struggle of some type.  This was more than Brad simply acting weird for the sake of a prank.  There was an aura of menace.  Brad had a history of sleepwalking, but I was never aware of threatening behaviors.  I was scared and it felt dangerous to be in the house.  I briefly pondered whether Brad was a threat, if he was in peril as well, or if it was all an elaborate joke.  I told him what happened the night before, and he was alarmed but strangely calm.  I wondered why he wasn’t afraid, but our years of friendship made me confident he wasn’t playing a game with me.  He cleaned the cuts on his hands and arms and we went outside to investigate what happened overnight.  We saw clippings around the hedges beneath his bedroom window.   At some point he also clipped the rope of his tether ball, we noticed with dismay.  We then went to the garage, looked for the clippers and saw small twigs and branches caught between the blades. 

 

We returned to the house and ate breakfast in relative silence.  The food was good but offered nutrition instead of the normalcy I craved, and the knot in my stomach made eating a chore.  After breakfast, Brad suggested a walk through the wooded area behind his home.  It was a beautiful sunny morning, and I hoped a stroll would take the edge off my odd mood.  Brad was familiar with the area, but after a few twists and turns along barely discernable paths, I was lost.  We walked slowly but without hesitation, as if he was leading me on a guided tour.  As we meandered along the path, Brad pointed left and told me we saw the remnants of the Garden of Eden.  He noted the thorn trees at its entrance and offered that as a symbol of man’s fall from God’s grace.  He explained we weren’t at the Garden per se—remnants could be found throughout the world.  A short distance away, he pointed to a clearing where a battle between good and evil was supposedly fought.  He told me the Bible said Satan must be freed for a time after a thousand years, and he appeared on this spot.  He gestured toward the charred, scorched trees and suggested fires from the Inferno were the cause.  He directed me to an area that looked like a shelter and explained that a strange creature lived there, and identified another spot “connected with limbo”.  I didn’t know how to respond to his bizarre tour, and asked how he knew these things.  Brad told me he wasn’t sure how he acquired this knowledge; he simply woke up knowing.  Once again I wondered if he were playing an elaborate joke, but stopped short of accusing him of perpetrating a gag.  If it were all a joke, what was the point?  Did he map this out ahead of time, or was it all ad-libbed?  If he did, why bother? 

 

Brad finally pointed out two cloud banks in the sky, racing to obscure the sun.  There was a line of dark clouds in the west moving eastward, and a line of lighter clouds approaching from the east.  He told me the battle had begun, and the clouds presaged conflicts to come.  He asked if I had been wearing a silver ring I found, and I told him I always wore it.  He cautioned me never to remove the ring; it was my best protection against the forces that would soon rise against us.  He warned me to be prepared—we were about to stand against evil entities of great power and hunger.  Brad asserted we had the might to stand against what we would encounter, but we were barely teenagers and I hadn’t the slightest idea how to defend myself from paranormal adversaries.  He was so calm and strangely convincing, and I felt forced to accept that we were on a level with other-worldly powers that would soon reveal themselves to us.  He told me they feared us as much as I feared them—a statement I seriously doubted. 

 

 

A loss of innocence

 

One evening we were discussing bullies, horoscopes and girls; ten hours later Brad was advising me to prepare for battle against ancient, unseen enemies.  Was he tricking me that evening?  He never admitted to orchestrating the night’s events or pretending to sleepwalk.  Why maintain the deception your entire life?  How would Brad’s behavior address my own experiences?  I was first to mention reading horoscopes and noticed the forecast changes.  Was there an explanation for that, or was it simply my imagination?

 

Brad was changed from the night before.  The previous evening he shared my anxiety.  That morning, however, he exuded a confidence I had not observed previously.  When my parents came for me to return home, I also felt different, but it was not for the better.  I was changed as well from these experiences.  Whether an odd joke or a paranormal experience, the evening’s circumstances signaled the end of my normal childhood.  The events of that night assaulted my reason and opened floodgates of the bizarre.  From that moment on, the unexplained would forever be a part of my life, and I could not go back—my innocence was lost.  I was no longer a child; I was part of a cosmic drama.  I never again entertained the notion that Brad was trying to fool me because it did not matter.  I was terrified but accepted my fate and embraced the fantastic without possibly knowing what I accepted.

 

This was my first experience with the unknown; there would be others.

 

 

A Final Thought


I wrote this article several years ago, and it was intended then to describe events that fascinated and frankly terrified me as a boy. As I read these words once again, I was struck by the realization that single events can both transform and define our lives. We can be changed forever by things that happen to us. A single instant can change our life's path.

There has been no shortage of unusual events that have occurred in my life. I have lived through some remarkable experiences--enough to provide fodder for an entire season of shows like "The Twilight Zone". I have not allowed these moments to define my reality--the fantastic has never eclipsed the ordinary--but these extraordinary incidents shaped me. I responded to what I experienced and was affected by them. They served in many ways as an unwelcome distraction. While others started careers and families, I was too often sidetracked by these things that lived in the shadows. I fought to maintain balance in my life, but sometimes failed in the attempt.

It all started on the night described in this article. I changed that night. I lost my innocence. My ordinary life ended that night, to be replaced with something else--the life I have lived since. There are no regrets because there never seemed a choice. The odd moments and strange occurrences found me, not the other way around. What was I to do?

The moment that altered my life and defined my destiny was, in retrospect, easy to identify. Those special moments that shape us for good are more often very subtle and perhaps missed. This is the moment that changed my life.

What was yours?



Comments 35 comments

It's just me profile image

It's just me 6 years ago from Alaska

You're lucky to have had a "normal childhood" before that.


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

Strangely you and I are quite similar in many experiences though I don't pull the covers up over my head. But I do understand the feelings of wanting to long ago-especially when I was a child. I am sitting here thinking of this story and am relating something about 'seeing' your horoscope and then it not being there when you returned--something different but the same.

I was in Las Vegas-and be assured that Twistyy can tell you the story I told him and cried--when I said--how? How could someone look at what was printed on that sheet and read something exactly opposite...but I found out how...just as deep down..you know how also. Okay..I will shut up so you don't pull the covers up again tonight--it is bad enough that I wrote another hub to scare you some more. :) he he he!


Truth From Truth profile image

Truth From Truth 6 years ago from Michigan

Nicely done Mike this was really interesting.Thanks. Sorry about Kansas, I really thought they were the team to beat, I had them in the championship in my bracket.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

It's just me, thanks for reading. I guess you're right, I can count my blessings for a normal childhood, even if I do feel my innocence was taken from me. I have read some of your paranormal hubs, you have told of a few interesting experiences yourself.

Thanks for your comments.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi Ghosty! Thanks for reading. As we read about experiences from each others' lives, I'm also struck by how similar many of the things we've gone through have been. With the exception of the ghost outside the window when I was very small, this was the seminal moments for me--the night that opened the doors to what was to come. Like most of the other events I've described elsewhere, it can in fact be distilled down to fairly mundane occurances--but not entirely so. There is more to things than usually meets the eye.

And, yes, there is a desire sometimes to crawl under the covers in bed and hide there--sometimes a real desire, sometimes a joking one. I climb out from under the covers, face my world and challenges and demons, and hope I have enough inside me to survive.

Well, Ghosty, it has been a long day, and soon I will head to bed. Thanks for reading.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Truth! Thanks for reading, my friend. Yeah, can you believe what happened with KU? I mean, really. Northern Iowa???? It was a tough week for Jayhawks everywhere.

Thanks again.

Mike


shazwellyn profile image

shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

Hi Mike.. is this fact or fiction? You can tell a story so well, I cant tell the difference x


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Very interesting hub - I can only imagine when you first saw the sleep walking and the events from then on.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

Lucky you the door to the biazzar has always been open in my world. I went through it alone. Now my son is showing signs so I feel good knowing I will believe him when he tells me he sees something.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Shaz! Thanks for reading. This really happened to me when I was 12 years old (I think I was 12), and from that point on, it just seemed bizarre occurances periodically took place. My friend Brad was sometimes involved in them, and he is mentioned in other hubs.

So, yeah--it's all real. And thanks again for reading.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Billy (can I call you Billy? Billyaustindillon is a mouthful...), I appreciate your reading. I was terrified when all this started happening, and I think it would be difficult to ever really get used to this kind of event because nothing is predictable.

Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Janny, thanks for your comments. It sounds as if you have some unusual stories to tell as well, and I hope we will get a chance to read them all. And yes, if your son says something weird happened the other day--believe him.

Thanks again.

Mike


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

Mmmmh... Brad was certainly a "deep" young Lad. Very interesting story. What I love most about your stories is your vivid memory. It was 1971 and you remember it like yesterday. I hope you guys are still in touch though. That was something special, well "mysterious special" that you both shared. Regards.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Elena, thanks for reading. I do remember this particular event like it was yesterday, I must admit. It was such a strange occurance, it was hard to forget. I will confess that when I was older I kept journal notes about some of the things I experienced, and I use them to help me remember things that happened.

Brad was indeed a very deep fellow. I kept in touch with him until he passed away a few years ago. I wrote about him in a tribute a few days ago, finding various things he wrote in letters and journals that I acquired after he died. He was a good man, and I miss having him around.

Thanks again for reading, I appreciate your comments.

Mike


pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

Children come into this world an empty innocent vessle I doubt if your friend was faking, children don't have the wherewithal to do this for an extended time. Their too honest. I've often felt that some adults become possessed as children, say serial killers Bundy and Gacy. Both had ultra normal childhoods, could it be possession?


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

pmccray, thanks for your comments. I agree that a deception on this level for a sustained period is beyond the capabilities of a twelve-year old, and never seriously questioned his role in events. It is curious that you would mention possession, as I wrote another hub in which Brad played a role in the events that took place. This occured approximately ten years later. Brad was currently living with a woman who felt a presence in her house, and she feared the entity either was Brad or wanted to possess Brad. Your question has no definitive answer, of course, but in light of other things that happened, it was indeed an excellent question.

Thanks again for your insights, they are much appreciated.

Mike


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Very spooky. And I really don't think Brad would be able to change the horoscope. Did you check the date on the paper? If it was the same date, he couldn't.

I don't think your friend would do this to you, play this kind of hoax. It doesn't sound like he's naturally unkind.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Paradise, thanks for your comments. You hit the point exactly--even if Brad made up ALL the other stuff, there was still the changed horoscope. To be honest, I don't remember if we checked the date on the paper or not, but I do remember the paper was exactly where we left it when we went outside. Since I was with him the whole time, that would suggest an accomplice--not likely for a twelve-year old.

He was not inclined toward pranks either, which brings me back to the perception that the evening was more than it seemed. Given events that took place in the years to come, it's very easy to accept that something unexplainable happened.

Thanks again for reading and offering your opinions. I appreciate them.

Mike


hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 6 years ago from Italy

I've read this hub just like as if I was there with you. Mike, you're an amazing writer. And you should definitely publish a book with your stories, I'd definitely buy it. Great story. Rated and stumbled.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

hypnodude, thanks for reading, and I appreciate your kind words about my writing ability. At times I've thought about taking all the odd experiences and combining them into a book to be published--I think it would be an interesting read in its entirety. A few years ago I even made some notes on how it might all tie together in a published format, so who knows? Perhaps it could still happen.

I appreciate the rating and stumble, my friend. Thanks again.

Mike


starme77 profile image

starme77 6 years ago

Wow, very interesting story and quite well written


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

starme, thanks for reading. It was a truly bizarre evening and the first of many. Thanks again.

Mike


rml 6 years ago

This is yet another very strange story you have told here, and I don't think your friend was playing a prank on you. There is a tragic quality about someone so young dealing with such frightening things. I hope things are better now.


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

Mike...do you still wear this ring? I need to know this? Do you have it in your posession or wear it?


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

He asked if I had been wearing a silver ring I found, and I told him I always wore it. He cautioned me never to remove the ring; it was my best protection against the forces that would soon rise against us.

My sweet Mike--these were whispers not from God. They are lies--Your protection is GOD not a ring. Binding inside the ring--not good--say a prayer over it-ask God to cleanse it with the power of the Holy Spirit and go and bury it! Get rid of it and don't think nothing more of it but a release from not so good things.

Brad was good-very good in his heart-though whispers of the wrong side tormented him and confused him-he'd been tormented since he was young-Donna felt it-knew it..he was pulled to the wrong side by tarot-ouiji and the powers often lied to him..confusing him of who he was hearing...Get rid of that ring!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

rml, thanks for your comments. It is indeed a tragic circumstance for someone so young to be burdened with such deep concerns. One immediately loses the innocence of childhood and becomes part of something else. It is not a fair trade.

Thanks for your observations and comments, they are much appreciated.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ghosty,

I wore the ring for a long time but haven't had it in my possession for decades. I threw the ring into the Pacific Ocean long ago. I regretted doing that and bought another ring like it. That ring slipped off my finger and rolled down the side of a hill in the Colorado mountains and landed under a huge rock. I never tried to replace the ring after that point.

I understand the folly of placing credence in the comments of a twelve year old, immersed in forces he did not understand. Brad was indeed a fine man and was a warrior and philosopher with me along my journey, but I understand he was not the truth with a capital "T". And the ring is long gone, never fear.

Mike


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

Is there anything else that may have been left with you that was told 'to hold powers'?? Think on this.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ghosty, I'm not sure. I will think about it.

Mike


Just A Voice 6 years ago

Very strange indeed. Isn't it amazing what a child can accept that an adult would dismiss instantly. And that your friend was so intense on a subject that is really not a subject children are knowledgable on, is also very strange.

You have led an interesting life my friend. Good hub.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Voice, thanks for stopping by. It is amazing what a child will accept as a matter of course when the world is not so thoroughly defined. These events were frightening, but there also seemed to be no reason why they couldn't happen, so we accepted them. And, yes, Brad was an astonishing fellow. He is gone, but my own unusual journey continues.

Have a good Monday, Voice. Thanks again.

Mike


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Interesting share and beautiful memories of childhood! I have these bouts as well! You are a great writer Mike, Maita


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Maita, thanks for reading. You have bouts of sleepwalking? That can be pretty disorienting and scary. Hope nothing serious happens, like walking outside....

Thanks again for your comments, and I really appreciate your gracious compliments about my writing skills.

Mike


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

From your narration, is it possible that your friend could have had psychological problems? Hearing voices and talking back to them...following some kind of "orders" like the trimming of hedges, cutting the bark of the tree, etc. Naturally it is impossible to second guess, but this popped into my mind as I was reading this. As to finding charred trees in a forest...lighting could have sparked a fire which was then self extinguished. Who knows?

Whatever the causes, this made for an excellant story and it certainly left its impression on you. Thanks for sharing. I probably would have pulled the covers over my head also if a teenaged friend was acting as you described!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Peggy, thanks for reading. From things that happened with this friend later on in life, I do think there could have been some psychological issues. Of course, we were basically kids then, and I had no reason yet to suspect anything of the kind.

It was indeed an eerie evening that forever left an impression on me, and pulling the covers over my head was a tool in the coping mechanisms tool box. I'm not opposed to pulling up the covers even now if the situation warrants!

Thanks for your comments, they are greatly appreciated.

Mike

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