"When will I see an end to destruction and woe? And how will I see no division, in my life?"

"ANAM"

CLANNAD

To this day, I don't know what possessed me to go to Stonehenge – on any night, but especially that night of all nights. If I had been younger, I would have known better, but I had forgotten everything that I had learned in my youth.

I thought that since I was older, I was smarter. I dismissed all of the legends, lure, mythology and occult knowledge that I had gleaned from the time I was ten until I was seventeen. I was now a very mature twenty-one and I didn't hold any stock in "silly hocus-pocus."

That's what I told Jessie when she voiced some concern about me taking Mac up on his dare and going out to the old ruins.

"Aren't ya' 'fraid?" she demanded as soon as I made my intentions known.

"No," I snorted. "Why should I?"

"Well…it's just not safe, that's all," she stared into the steaming mug of tea in front of her on the breakfast table. "Bein' out there…in the dark…on All Soul's Eve…"

"Mac's going to be there with me," I laughed lightly. "I'm sure some Druid boogey-man isn't going to sacrifice me to Samhain or something."

"Hush, child," Jessie waggled a gnarled finger at me. "Ya' dinna' know of what ya' speak."

"What do we speak of, then?" I smiled winningly, still unconvinced. "What's there to fear? The dark? A mass of ancient stones? Old superstitions and unfounded legends?"

"There's magyck in them stones," Jessie shook her snow-white head slowly, a frown furthering the creases on her wrinkled face. "Ya'd do best to stay 'way from 'em, 'specially on this night."

"There's no such thing as 'magyck'," I waved my hand dismissively, trying to hide a smile as I took a bit of my jellied crumpet. "And tonight's no different from last night, or tomorrow night."

Jessie just shook her head darkly, but she didn't press the subject any further, for which I was inestimably thankful. But a tiny part of me nagged away – what if what Jessie said was true? What if there was something unexplainable about the stones that had boggled the minds of historians for eons and had fascinated laymen fantasies? Certainly tonight – Hallowe'en – was not a night to provoke spirits and arcane magyck that might still reside within that once-hallowed circle.

But I immediately shoved those thoughts aside with a contemptuous mental snort. How could I be so naïve?

It's time for you to grow up, Niki, I told myself sternly a few minutes later as I set my plate in the dishwasher and stuffed my textbooks into my knapsack. All those things that fascinated you as a kid…they're just fairy tales conjured up to scare people that are stupid enough to believe in them. You're older and you know better – there's no such thing as magyck.

I didn't give the issue another thought until later that day, when I had to attend what I thought would be another incredibly boring lecture by the history professor, Dr. Moorehead.

"Ahh…another incoherent ramble by the beloved Dr. Moosehead," Mac grinned as he slid into the chair beside me.

"Hush, Mac," I snapped as I tried – unsuccessfully, might I add – to puzzle through a statistics problem. "Moorehead can't help that he's boring, any more than you can't help that you're juvenile."

"Damn!" Mac recoiled and stared at me with playfully indignant grey eyes. "What crawled up your ass and died?"

I gave him a withering evil eye – the one that I had perfected on my younger brother. In many ways, I thought of Mac as an annoying little brother, even though he was a year older than me and tried gallantly to earn the lofty position of "something more" in my life.

After running through a few verbal insults of my own, I decided that it wasn't worth the effort of coming up with an acceptable, witty retort and I maintained my silence. Choosing to ignore Mac, I turned back to my statistics problem, but its prickly, multi-sided enigma continued to evade the deduction of my reasoning capabilities. With an ill-natured sigh, I cursed under my breath and all but slammed the thick book shut, causing Mac to jump.

"What is your problem, O'Malain?" he sputtered, eying me with genuine concern.

I succinctly summed my troubles into one word.

"Statistics."

"Oh…yeah," Mac screwed up his face in a comical expression of distaste. "I had that last semester."

"I take it you didn't do too well," I raised my eyebrows in mild surprise; Mac was a certified genius.

He was the only person that I personally knew who had gotten a higher ASVAB and SAT score than me. And unlike me, he didn't struggle through courses that involved math or logical reasoning. To him, it came naturally – if statistics had proved a bear for him, then I was truly in "deep shit."

"Naw," he shrugged, the ghost of a grin dancing along the corners of his mouth. "It was easy. I just didn't care much for it, that's all."

If we hadn't been sitting in a roomful of people, I would have slammed my history book over his head. Or so I told myself as I sat there, glaring at him and fuming visibly. Just the thought of knocking the cocky bastard senseless brought immeasurable comfort to my deeply rankled psyche.

Then, I thought, I should have known better. James McReeve never struggled through subjects like lesser mortals. He was high above such commonality – he was, after all, Einstein's heir in the world of mental alacrity.

Luckily for Mac, my attention was abruptly redirected when Dr. Moorehead walked into the room. He was a tiny wisp of a man, but he held himself in rigid alignment, oozing confidence from every pore and commanding unwavering attention with his surprisingly stentorian voice.

A tiny smile tweaked the corners of my mouth as I watched "Moosehead" amble up to his podium, set his black case on the floor at his feet and arrange his notes meticulously on the wooden stand before him. Since I already knew most of the things that he taught, I found his class the least challenging of all of my required courses and hence, boring. But nevertheless, I liked the good doctor and I at least made a show of paying attention to his lectures.

"I wonder who came up with 'Moosehead,'" Mac leaned toward me and whispered into my ear.

I shrugged to indicate that I had no earthly clue. Quite frankly, I would have thought that "Mousehead" would have been a better gibe, since Dr. Moorehead was…well…very mousy in his appearance. Short, small-boned, with a graying, balding pate and wire-rimmed glasses, he was the perfect candidate for a humanoid mouse caricature. He even had a mustache and due to some sort of dysfunction to the muscles around his mouth, his cheeks and lips would twitch every so often – just like the whiskers of a nervous mouth.

The best that I could figure out, someone had said "Moose" one day instead of "Moore" and it had stuck. Even though there was no physical resemblance to our frail doctor of history and a majestic bull moose, the name had become the means for countless students to poke a little irreverent fun.

Or, my mind, as always, grasped for a more out-of-the-ordinary explanation. It came about because of his Teddy Roosevelt approach to things.

Dr. Moorehead was a firm believer in speaking softly and carrying a big stick. This second hypothesis of mine wasn't completely off target, either, since the doctor was quite taken by the more flamboyant of the presidential Roosevelts. After all, Teddy had been the leader of the "Bull Moose" part – perhaps some particularly witty individual had fused that with the last half of Dr. Moorehead's last name to come up with the enduring nickname.

My mental musings were quickly shut short, however, when Dr. Moorehead finished stuffing his papers and peered over the edges of his glasses at his not-so-attentive class. As always, he cleared his throat importantly, his little cue to those of us who happened to be paying attention, that he was about to begin.

I tapped my pencil quietly between forefinger and thumb, glancing at the simple, circular clock that hung on the wall above the blackboard. Like I did at 9:00 on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I settled in for a long lecture about subjects that I already knew backwards and forwards.

On some days I really did pay attention, if the subject happened to center around something of personal interest. I always perked up on discussions about the Nazis, World War II, the Inquisition, the Reformation and ancient civilizations. But I didn't anticipate today being one of them. The next subject in our books centered on the Roman conquest of Europe – not a topic that particularly intrigued me. And good old "Moosehead" always went by the book.

That was the first in what would be one of many surprises that day. After clearing his throat, he allowed about sixty seconds for the more rowdy individuals in the class to settle down before he delivered his opening statements.

Already, my mind was drifting far, far away from Roman conquests of barbarian Germans and naked Celts. I was brought crashing back to Earth, however, when Dr. Moorehead announced a topic quite opposite of what I had anticipated.

"As you all know, today is October 31," he began, taking off his glasses and setting them carefully on top of his notes.

That's when I really stopped and took notice. Taking off his glasses was a sure sign that Moosehead wouldn't be teaching from notes this time around. And from experience, I knew that extemporaneous lectures were a hell of a lot more interesting than those insufferable affairs droned off of copiously penned volumes of notes.

"All Hallow's Eve," he continued, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Otherwise known as 'Hallowe'en'. It's my experience that on this day, my students' minds are on thoughts far less academic than the study of Roman civilization."

Dr. Moorehead paused and seemed to stare at each of us in turn. My interest suddenly piqued, my eyes followed his swiveling head, eagerly awaiting his next statement. There was the scent of "different" in the air – I knew that this wasn't going to be an ordinary history class.

His next words confirmed my suspicion.

"With that said, I thought that today, perhaps, would be a good day to discuss the history of the paranormal and the mythology of these British Isles," he smiled wanly. "While on the fringes of acceptable academia, such studies are a part of history.

"Now, who would care to tell me what is one of the most hotly debated landmarks of Great Britain?"

As usual, it was a race between Mac and me to see who could get their hand up the fastest. Mac won.

"That would be Stonehenge," he looked at me out of the corner of his eye and smirked.

How odd, I mused; it was a little unsettling to hear our history professor talk about the place that I would be frequenting that very night.

"I'm sure that you've all heard about the various theories of Stonehenge – that it was built as an ancient astrological observatory. That it was a sacred, sacrificial site for the Druids. That it was used as an enormous calendar to mark the passing of the seasons. But, I wish to propose to you a theory that I have yet to hear bandied about in academic circles. Perhaps, because it would be considered the least academic of said theories."

Was it just me, or did Dr. Moorehead's eyes glitter strangely as he turned his head and gazed in my direction? I shoved thought hastily away. It was just the reflection of the florescent lights in his pale brown irises.

His proposition was met with silence. All of the students in the room, regardless of their individual interests (or lack thereof) in history, were watching Moosehead with uncharacteristic attention. Mac and I were no exception.

"The ancient Celts believed in reincarnation," it seemed, at first, that the good professor had changed the subject, but we all quickly learned that this had everything to do with his unorthodox "theory."

"Right up your alley," Mac whispered so quietly that even I – his intended audience – had trouble hearing him.

I replied with a withering glance. I kept my beliefs to myself, but quite by accident, Mac had somehow managed to uncover my past allegiance to the philosophies of Wicca. From that time forth, he never missed an opportunity to poke fun at my "Pagan faith."

Of course, he completely missed the fact that I no longer held to such teachings. Truth be told, I didn't believe in much of anything anymore, except my own cynical worldview that was gradually becoming blatantly humanistic and agnostic. Pagan, Christian or otherwise, I no longer had faith in the supernatural. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing in the world that couldn't be explained by scientific analysis and research.

All of that aside, though, I was still strangely intrigued by the unusual course Dr. Moorehead had chosen for our day's lecture. So I paid Mac – or anyone else for that matter – very little heed and attentively waited for our professor to continue.

"While the Celts were not the first to believe in reincarnation, I do believe that they were the first to believe in parallel dimensions. According to them, when an individual died in this world, they were reborn in another world, parallel to our own. They called this place the 'Otherworld' – a soul's journey of reincarnation constantly criss-crossed the dimensions between our world and the 'other.'"

"But what does this have to do with Stonehenge?" demanded a particularly impatient student from the back of the room.

"I'm getting to that," Moosehead gazed sternly at the young upstart. "Death wasn't the only way into the Otherworld. The Celts believed that at certain places, at certain times of the year, the 'fabric' – if you will – between our two worlds 'thinned' and that an individual could cross the metaphysical boundaries into that other time and place."

"Surely you're not suggesting that Stonehenge is one of these…dimension-crossing sites," I spoke up, trying to keep the laughter in my voice to a minimum.

I conveniently ignored the tiny voice in the back of my mind that urgently reminded me that, at one time, I believed such a thing myself. I dismissed that thought with a wave of reason – I was a kid back then. I didn't know any better. I was willing to believe anything and everything that fell into the tight little paradigm that I wished to believe.

"Indeed I am," Moosehead turned his sharp eyes toward me. "Why not?"

For some reason, I had no answer for his simple question. So I sat silently, scowling vaguely at the ridiculous nature of our "history" lecture. My mood wasn't made any better by the knowledge that Mac was taking immense delight in the way that my blustering skepticism had been stopped short by so straightforward a retort.

"I repeat again – why not?" Dr. Moorehead turned his attention toward the rest of the student body and I breathed easier, knowing that he wasn't singling me out for the kill.

"The tradition of Hallowe'en came from the Celts' 'Feast of Samhain.' Their belief that this night was the one time in the year when the spiritual and physical realms – the Otherworld and this world – lapsed into each other has persisted to this very day and age.

"Historians have yet to satisfactorily explain the existence of Stonehenge. Perhaps the explanation resides, not in what can be 'acceptably' explained, but in what cannot be reasonably elucidated. Since it's safe to assume that the early Celts were the ones to build Stonehenge, then why is it such a stretch to believe that it was erected as a marker of sorts? Not a marker of celestial bodies or of passing seasons, but of a known place where the fabric of two worlds thinned – where people were known to unexplainably disappear.

"That is the theory that I present to you all. Might Stonehenge be an enduring warning of a place that the ancient Celts knew held unknown dangers? Might they have simply been trying to save others from a mysterious fate on nights like tonight?"

My skin began to crawl. Not so much because of what Dr. Moorehead said, but because he looked straight at me when he voiced his concluding statements. An unexplainable chill of fear washed over me.

What if he knew? What if he knew that I was being dared to venture into that strange circle of stones tonight? Was he warning me with those brown eyes that suddenly seemed so strange and frightening in their intensity? What if Stonehenge was a doorway between two parallel worlds? My planned excursion would certainly be tempting Fate, to say the least.

Then I reminded myself. There was no such thing as "Fate." Stonehenge was as mundane and explainable as the Great Wall of China. It was made by human hands for a human purpose – to mark the changing seasons. It had no remote connection to some fantastic, occult belief in another world or parallel dimension.

As I had countless times before, I convinced myself of the peerless wisdom of my faithless beliefs. Moosehead opened up the floor to questions for the remaining half hour, but I quickly lost myself in the midst of my problematic statistics and successfully shut out all thoughts of a mystic Stonehenge.