The Square

By: Cristian Ocaña
Date: 16/April/2023
Translation support: Tomás Ocaña

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the strange events in Arauco’s Plaza de Armas, in southern Chile. With a population of around 35,000, located near sea level, with a pleasant climate in summer and a long, cold winter, the center of the square is located at coordinates 37° 14′ 46.6″ South and 73° 19′ 02.9″ West.

Well, at least I, Elliot Elizondo, have heard all sorts of stories about it, from the mysterious appearance of ghostly lights to people wandering around near midnight and never being seen again. That’s why I decided to go and see what was really going on. I went in early winter and was well-prepared, which caught a lot of attention at the airport due to the amount of equipment and meters I was carrying. I told them I was an investigator to reassure them.

I included several GPS readers, such as a portable Garmin tracker on which I could preload several maps of the area. Another model was a Garmin Foretrex 701 watch, ideal for my eyesight as its screen was larger and I could see it without my reading glasses. The watch could be paired with my smartphone, where I could receive alerts and notifications.

I also included a Vislone dosimeter to determine the ionizing radiation I could be exposed to; 2 Trifield electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors that would help me detect magnetic, electric, and radio (including microwave) radiations. These EMF detectors would simultaneously display all three fields on the same screen, unlike other models with dial changers that were less optimal when quick checks were needed. Additionally, I added a high-resolution infrared thermal camera Hti-Xintai. I also brought along the beloved analog compass that my grandfather gave me, and another waterproof button-type NDUR compass. That should be enough. I only missed bringing the backpack with the positron collider from the “Ghostbusters,” the famous ECTO-1 with the plasma gun :).

I was excited about the epic adventure I was about to embark on. There were no direct flights, so I took one to Concepción, and from there Arauco was about 60 kilometers away. So, I rented a silver Sedan that looked like it was from the year and programmed its GPS for a smooth journey. I didn’t realize how fast the trip was. The roads were clear. Perhaps the winter season in Chile was in my favor.

As I had booked the hotel closest to Plaza de Armas, I went straight to the Hotel El Arriero, only 2 minutes away from my destination. It was already 12:30 PM on Thursday, June 23, 2021. I rested for a while before went down to the dining room for lunch. When I returned, I laid down on the bed, as I was fully intent on immediately embarking on my first foray to analyze Plaza de Armas in search of something I didn’t yet know.

I fell asleep for a while. Dark images from a nightmare jolted me awake – it was already 6:45 PM! I quickly sat up. I was already eager to conduct my initial investigations in the plaza, so I prepared as if I were going on a trek. I made sure I had everything I needed for any eventuality that might arise. I entered the address in the GPS of the vehicle and set off. Within a minute, I was facing Plaza de Armas of Arauco.

The GPS indicated that I was on Condell Street. Everything seemed calm, so I decided to take a complete reconnaissance round and choose an appropriate spot to park. The place looked spacious, surrounded by leafy trees and well-kept grass. At each corner, there was a small obelisk, about 3 meters tall on a circular stone base, where a few street vendors were offering their wares. From there, a wide path led to the center of the plaza. The four paths converged at a fountain about 10 meters in diameter. I parked on Esmeralda Street, as it appeared less crowded and with fewer people passing by. This way, I would avoid drawing attention. The plaza looked tidy and welcoming. I took a deep breath of fresh, sea-scented air, and listened to the chirping of several sparrows welcoming me from the treetops.

It must have been around 7:30 PM when I got out of the car and started wandering around the area like an ordinary tourist. I checked each of the obelisks with my devices. The EMF detector didn’t show any abnormal fields. The dosimeter indicated a normal radiation level of 0.17 microsieverts (µSv). The compass pointed calmly to magnetic north. The thermal camera didn’t show any anomalies.

“Well, everything seems to be in its place,” I murmured.

I walked calmly along each of the four paths, checking my EMF detector, dosimeter, compass, and thermal camera at every moment. Along each route, I arrived at the pool itself. In the last stretch, I sat at the edge of the pool, waiting for something to happen. Something that would give me some clue. I must have been sitting there for about 20 minutes when a woman, whom I didn’t see where she came from, sat down next to me. Thinking she was just another visitor to the place; I didn’t pay much attention to her until she spoke to me.

“You’re the first one who comes with so much equipment,” she said.

I looked at her somewhat surprised and grateful at the same time, because it seemed that finally that “something” I was waiting for had manifested itself. The woman, who must have been around 70 years old, with brown eyes and an expressionless face, had an air of mystery about her. She wore a loose, long violet dress with some decorations, ordinary sneakers, and a wide black straw hat.

“Yes, I’m just following my intuition,” I said, playing along with her.

“Try not to deviate and stay on the straight path,” she whispered. “Otherwise, you might end up in limbo.”

“What? I’m sorry, I didn’t understand.”

“Go along the path of the obelisk with a thrush on its top. Halfway along the halfway point, stop. Head towards the tallest tree and at exactly 9:00 p.m., look around you. Do you have a watch?”

“Yes, I do. Why?”

“You’ll need it to come back. At midnight, it will open for 5 minutes. Be careful on the return.”

“What could happen on the return?”

“You could arrive earlier or later, or even in another place,” she said decisively. “So don’t get lost or tempted to go elsewhere. Follow the path.”

“Which path?” I asked anxiously.

“You’ll see it clearly when you get there. Don’t be curious and don’t be tempted to go in another direction, or you might regret it.”

As a reflex, I lowered my gaze for a few seconds and looked at the compass. Surprise! The needle was spinning wildly from side to side. Its movements made no sense. I checked the other compass, the button compass in my jacket pocket, and it was also behaving abnormally. I turned back to my interlocutor, but she was gone. She disappeared as quickly as she came. The hairs on my arms stood on end.

I immediately checked the time; it was 20:40, so I got up and headed to the place the woman with the black hat had indicated to me. It was the best lead I had so far. For a few seconds, the idea crossed my mind that she had the archetype of a fortune-teller.

“An obelisk with a thrush?” I said to myself. “What are the chances of finding one perched there, at this time, with so many trees around?”

I started my journey determined to check the four obelisks. To my surprise, I found a bird perched on the top of the third one. It was the corner of Caupolicán and Esmeralda streets.

“What are you doing there?” I said, waiting for its response.

As soon as I finished the question, the thrush took flight and disappeared into the plaza. I continued on the path that led back to the fountain.

“Halfway through the halfway,” I muttered. “Hmm… I imagine it’s the first segment, as the road is interrupted by a narrow side path that leads directly to the street perpendicular to it.”

My anxiety almost made me run to the side path, and there I positioned myself in the middle between the street and the circular path that surrounded the fountain. I looked to both sides and saw a huge tree on each side, almost the same size. On the right stood a straight and slender monkey puzzle tree, about 13 meters tall. On my left, a white fir of similar height to the monkey puzzle tree. I had no way of knowing which one the woman was referring to, so I waited until 21:00 hours and would monitor both of them with the thermal camera, EMF meter, and dosimeter, hoping for any anomalous event.

Only two minutes were left. I activated the camera and started observing both trees, positioned in the middle of the narrow path. The two minutes passed, and nothing happened. It was already 21:00 hours, and a slight breeze picked up. I continued observing both trees, and a few seconds later, with the camera, I noticed a drastic change in temperature in the thermal image of the fir tree. It emitted a marked blue light. I moved so quickly that I stumbled. I positioned the camera on the exact point of the blue area. It had a circular shape, like the entrance to a cave, right next to the trunk. I checked my other meters. The compass went haywire again. The electromagnetic fields on the EMF meter had spiked, and the dosimeter indicated an increase in ionizing radiation, reaching 4.23 µSv, equivalent to receiving 30 chest X-rays simultaneously.

Instinctively, I placed my hand on the circular shape. I had to act quickly if I didn’t want to be affected by the radiation emitted at that point or risk it closing. I felt a chilling blow and saw it disappear. I immediately pulled back my hand.

“There you are!” I said relieved.

Taking a deep breath, I made up my mind.

“Now or never. Let’s go.”

It was like entering a hall of mirrors in an amusement park. However, a long corridor stretched out before me that I just had to follow. It was a main path. Everything felt neutral; gravity, temperature, air. After walking for a few minutes, other routes started to appear, and I remembered the woman’s words: “Don’t be curious or tempted to go another way, or you might regret it.”

So, I followed her advice. The warning had been clear. I continued along the path filled with mirrors (as I saw it) that reflected my image in various sizes, all neatly arranged in rectangular form, without a single one missing along the entire route. I had to keep going until the end.

“If it was so clear, then the way out must be obvious,” I told myself to stay calm as I walked with more confidence.

Suddenly, there was light… and indeed, it was exactly like emerging from a cave, similar to entering a fir tree. I cautiously stuck my head out and realized that I had appeared in a different place. I checked my watch; it was 21:01 hours. I couldn’t believe it. Since I didn’t know where I was, I instinctively checked my GPS devices.

“Let’s see what these devils have to say… Hm. Yes. 42° 33′ 27.8″ North and 70° 57′ 10.5″ West.”

I couldn’t believe the result.

“But this is nearly 8,900 kilometers from Arauco’s Main Square and corresponds to… let’s see… Salem! My God!”

He continued to explore for more information.

“What else do I know about this place where I appeared? Hmmm… Yes… It says here that I am in the backyard of Rebecca Nurse’s farmhouse. Why does that name stand out on the map? I’ll have to find out.”

Elliot Elizondo had a rough idea of the history of Salem. He knew that it was in the area where the first accusations of witchcraft occurred in March 1692. He read as much information as he could before he left. According to historians, the Putnam family took advantage of the initial accusations made by some girls to get rid of other neighbors they had conflicts with. At that time, Salem was a poor rural community with scattered farms and houses, located at the northern end of the City of Salem, which became famous as the site of the first commercial port for the English colonies in North America.

Armed with this information, Elliot left his “wormhole” and began to walk with his GPS in hand. The situation outside was curious, as Elliot expected it to be clearer due to the time difference.

“But what’s wrong with this thing?” said Elliot, looking at his GPS device. “Good thing I have another one… What! That one doesn’t work either.”

Anxious but not panicking, he checked his compass, dosimeter, and EMF meter.

“Everything looks normal… How strange! It seems like the satellites emitting for GPS are no longer transmitting.”

He took out his cell phone and activated his GPS. Still, there was no signal. In fact, he had no data reception, no Wi-Fi, and couldn’t visualize any type of network.

“Maybe this is a dead zone,” he told himself to calm down.

He did a 360-degree scan and spotted a faint light about 100 meters away. It must be Rebecca Nurse’s house, he thought. He headed towards it, going around to the front entrance so as not to frighten the residents. He knocked three times on the door. It was already late, but the lit light indicated that the inconvenience wouldn’t be too severe at that hour. He heard steady footsteps, and an elderly man came out. He appeared to be around 70 years old, with a pleasant demeanor and a serious face, likely due to the late hour. He was dressed in an old-fashioned nightgown, a woolen cap, and was carrying the same candelabrum that illuminated the room.

 “Good evening, sir,” said Elliot. “I apologize for bothering you. I am Elliot Elizondo and I am lost. Where am I?”

“Mr. Elizondo, good evening. Yes, it’s quite late already. How did you end up here?” replied the old man.

“Yes, I apologize for the hour,” said Elliot. “I arrived on foot, got caught by the night, and got disoriented.”

“It happens. Don’t worry. Your clothes are quite strange. Are you some kind of explorer?” asked the old man.

“Yes, precisely. I am an academic documenting the surroundings,” Elliot improvised. “It got late and I got lost.”

“There’s not much to investigate around here. We are a somewhat poor town with a lot of land disputes with our neighbors, especially with the Putman family. Ah, they drive us crazy, always moving their fence and taking away more land from us every week that was rightfully assigned to us,” the old man said, stroking his beard and sighing lightly.

“By the way, I am Francis Nurse,” he added.

At that moment, someone appeared behind Francis. When Elliot focused on her, he stepped back in surprise. It was the same woman from Plaza de Armas de Arauco who had shown him how to pass through the portal in the fir tree.

“What’s going on, Francis? Who is this gentleman?” she asked.

“Don’t worry, Rebecca,” Francis said. “He’s an academic researcher who is lost.”

Francis and Rebecca noticed Elliot’s reaction and waited in silence for an explanation.

“You are Mrs. Rebecca Nurse, and Francis is your husband, right?” Elliot asked.

“Yes, but why are you so astonished?” Rebecca replied.

“Mrs. Nurse, you and your husband are in serious danger at the hands of the Putnam family and Minister Parris. They will accuse you of witchcraft to take over your farm,” Elliot said.

The Nurses looked at each other with fear. Rebecca had recently experienced an accusation but was acquitted due to lack of evidence.

“Francis, let him in… I feel like I know this young man. I believe he’s telling the truth,” Rebecca said.

They all sat down at the dining table in their house, and Francis placed the candelabrum in the center.

“Son, tell us. You say you’re an explorer and you just arrived. How do you know what you’re claiming?” Francis asked.

“What I’m about to tell you might sound strange,” said Elliot, slightly hyperventilating, “but I need you to tell me exactly what day it is today.”

Rebecca and Francis exchanged furtive glances.

“Today is July 18, 1692,” Rebecca said.

Elliot took out his phone and checked the Salem data he had downloaded before leaving the “time cave.” When they saw the device, both elderly people jumped up from their chairs in fright.

“What is that, dear God?” Francis exclaimed.

“Don’t worry. This will tell me exactly what you need to know. It’s not magic, it’s an invention that everyone uses where I come from. Please, trust me,” Elliot said, looking at them with honesty and not taking his gaze away until they sat back down.

“Thank you, my friends,” Elliot said. “I am reviewing vital information for your situation. Just give me a few seconds.”

Still frightened, Rebecca had taken her husband’s hand. Francis anxiously waited for Elliot to say something.

“Yes, here it is,” said Elliot, looking pale.

“What’s happening, son?” said Francis.

“Friends, we must leave immediately. They will come for you tonight. They may already be close. There’s no time,” said Elliot anxiously.

Rebecca immediately looked out the window but didn’t see anyone.

“Please, read this information,” said Elliot. “Don’t be afraid of this device, it won’t harm you, and now it’s our best ally.”

The couple approached and read: Rebecca Nurse was executed on July 19, 1692. They continued reading and reviewing the whole history of the conflict with their hateful neighbor Putnam and the corrupt minister Parris.

“Here it says that the jury reconsidered the previous trial and found me guilty,” said Rebecca sadly. “That will be tomorrow.”

Francis hugged her and looked despairingly at Elliot.

“Son, what can we do?”

“I have an escape route,” said Elliot, remembering that his portal would reopen at midnight. “You have to be aware that you’ll have to leave everything behind. Absolutely everything and everyone.”

The couple exchanged glances and both nodded in agreement with Elliot’s proposal.

“Prepare a bag each,” said Elliot. “You’ll need to travel as light as possible to move quickly. Only take the essentials.”

The farmers quickly moved to pack their things and start their journey. Meanwhile, Elliot kept a vigilant eye on the window, waiting for the horde led by the Putnams and Parris to come for Rebecca. She had been the main opponent and accuser of the Putnams’ illegitimate land appropriations and had publicly disapproved of Samuel Parris’ controversial appointment as minister, who was also a close friend of the Putnams.

Around 10:55 PM, Elliot spotted a large flashing light in the distance. He didn’t take his eyes off the window until he realized after a few minutes that it was a group of people carrying torches coming towards Nurse’s farm. He ran to the elderly couple.

“It’s time,” said Elliot with his heart in his throat. “We have to go now. They’re coming for you.”

Francis quickly checked the window. It was true.

“Old woman, hurry!” he shouted. “They’re coming. There’s no more time.”

They grabbed their belongings and fled through the back door, guided by Elliot. They had to hide somewhere until midnight when they could enter the “time tunnel” again.

“Do you know any place nearby where we can wait safely until midnight?” Elliot asked.

“Yes,” Rebecca said. “Behind the bushes at the end of this meadow is perfect, as it leads to a dense forest that everyone avoids at night.”

“Great,” said Elliot, feeling a bit calmer. “That will be perfect.”

“In fact,” said Francis, “we built an underground bunker there to protect ourselves from storms and store some supplies. Even if they pass by, they won’t find the hidden door on the floor, as it’s well camouflaged with the surroundings.”

“Yes,” added Rebecca. “It was my son Benjamin’s idea, and he and Francis finished it a few months ago. He keeps some things there as well.”

They reached the Nurse’s bunker and entered. Elliot turned on the flashlight on his cell phone to enter carefully. The Nurses were surprised by Elliot’s new magic, but they didn’t say anything until they were safely inside with the hatch closed.

“Son,” said Francis, “the world you come from seems to have many strange artifacts. I’m not sure if these two old folks could get used to and absorb such a radical change.”

Elliot understood and remained silent. He turned off his light, and they maintained absolute silence. They could hear the “vigilantes” running and shouting outside. Mrs. Nurse became nervous and clung to Francis, who held her tenderly in his arms. They both remained stoic. The commotion lasted about 20 minutes, and gradually they felt it fading away until the silence became a welcome blessing.

It was nearly 11:35 PM, and for safety, Elliot recommended staying for another 10 minutes. He would go out to investigate and check that everything was okay. After all, Elliot wasn’t being searched for, and he could pretend to be a lost academic researcher. He used his thermal camera to search for any human presence that would appear as a reddish or orangish image on the visor. He checked all the surroundings to make sure. He even expanded the analysis radius to 70 meters, covering the surrounding groves to rule out anyone hiding behind a tree.

It was 11:50 PM. It was time to go for the Nurses. Elliot’s mind was conflicted with the dilemma of changing history and altering the course of events.

“It doesn’t matter! I will take them to another place and time. Thomas Putnam and his wretched family will still take over this farm. The Nurses haven’t harmed anyone. History won’t change. The world won’t change,” Elliot scratched his head nervously as he made his decision.

“Besides,” he continued, “the lady from the fountain in the square came to find me for something. I know she is Rebecca, though it’s hard to believe. I’ll interpret all of this later.”

So, determined and convinced, he went to the Nurses and helped them leave gently. 11:55 PM. Elliot positioned the group where he first emerged. He took out his thermal camera and patiently waited for the temperature to change. He looked at his compass, which was already starting to move back and forth. The EMF and dosimeter showed signs of electromagnetic and radioactive changes. The access door to return was manifesting itself.

It was midnight. A warm breeze enveloped the travelers.

“It’s time to leave,” said Elliot.

Elliot entered first and disappeared before the astonished eyes of the Nurses. His hand and face reappeared.

“Come on, hurry, before this closes up,” said Elliot.

The couple looked at each other tenderly and took one last look at their coveted farm. Rebecca extended her hand, and Elliot pulled her gently. She came with Francis in her other hand. The trio disappeared, and they began the walk back in that sea of mirrors.

“What is this?” said Rebecca.

“This is a time tunnel, Mrs. Nurse. It will take us far from your enemies. To another place and time. No one will harm you anymore,” said Elliot.

Francis was in awe, looking around without letting go of his wife’s hand. They walked for several minutes until they reached a crossroads. Elliot knew which way he had to go. However, Rebecca suddenly stopped and pulled Elliot.

“What’s wrong, Mrs. Nurse?”

“Nothing, my son,” said Rebecca. “We will stop here. You must continue your path. You have fulfilled your mission. Now we will continue our life from this point onward.”

“But I have no idea where this path leads,” said Elliot with anguish.

“Don’t worry, son,” said Francis. “Anywhere will be better than where we came from. Your time seems too advanced for us, and we believe something in between would be better for us to spend our last years.”

Elliot was touched and hugged them. He took off his gold necklace and gave it to them.

“Take this, with this you can survive for a few weeks if you sell it,” said Elliot, moved and with tears in his eyes.

“Thank you, son,” said Rebecca. “Thank you for helping us and saving me. Don’t forget us. Now go, as your door could close.”

Elliot nodded silently and said his goodbyes. He resumed his route, unable to stop watching as the Nurses disappeared at the fork in the road.

Within a few minutes, he arrived back at his point of origin. He carefully exited to avoid curious eyes. His watch indicated that it was 00:01 hours. He checked his GPS outside, which confirmed that he had returned to Arauco’s Plaza de Armas. He also checked the date and time on his cellphone using the website

“Phew,” he breathed a sigh of relief. “Yes, I am in the right place, on the correct day and time.”

As Elliot was recovering, a hand suddenly landed on his right shoulder. He turned around startled, thinking someone had discovered him. And indeed, someone had, but not exactly in the way he thought.

“Hello, Elliot!” said Rebecca with a smile, wearing her black straw hat. “Thank you, my son! Thank you for the wonderful life you made possible for Francis and me.”

…In memory and respect for those who suffered the relentless horrors inflicted by heartless, selfish, and inhuman abusers in Salem…

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4 Responses

    1. Hi WY! Thank you for your nice comment.
      Please, read the rest of the stories and give me feedback. All of them have interesting information too 🙂
      Best wishes.

    1. Hi. Your email address was incorrect. I wrote you an answer, but it was rejected.
      Well, this end is open. You can imagine whatever you want. I imagined Rebecca traveling to another time and place to start quietly her last part of life with her husband.
      About Elliot, he follows with other investigations and writes this adventure.
      Did you read the rest of the stories?
      Please let me know your email (it is private not appear here!).
      Best wishes,

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