The round hills of Vermont roll across the landscape. Their raiment changes with the season: summer green, autumn red, winter white and springtime drab, but the hills themselves are as constant as anything seems to one possessed of a human lifespan. They are as close-mouthed and inscrutable as their inhabitants, not prone to sharing their secrets with just anyone who happens by.
But dotted here and there in the hills are oddities, stone chambers built into hillsides and hidden from casual view by foliage. Typically rectangular, they are lined with flat blocks of limestone or shale, the chambers give no indication of their function. Tradition holds these chambers were here when the first Europeans arrived, but they hardly fit with what is known about native Abenaki practices. In fact, surviving Abenaki oral traditions are conspicuously silent on the topic of the stone chambers.
Modern scholars maintain the chambers are surviving traces of long gone, unrecorded dwellings, probably storage rooms meant for keeping goods cool. Any instances of a chamber doorway aligning with sunrise or sunset on an astronomically significant date like a solstice or equinox is pure coincidence or wishful thinking on the part of the observer.
Shows what they know.
The Door to Otheryear
A realityquake is a quantum event. The raw stuff of space and time rips asunder. One section of reality drops below another as one tectonic plate subducts below another in an earthquake. And, as may happen, elements of that submerged strata may find their way to the top of the covering layer, incongruously out of place.
The few stone chambers scattered across southern Vermont – the number varies, as surveyors mistake root cellars for the genuine thing and one or two may go missing at any given moment – are the surviving compartments of the Great Work, a memory palace given form. Intuitives have long credited limestone with the quality of receiving and retaining psychic impressions. In some other time, the people of the round hills utilized local limestone to construct a networked repository of knowledge. Those trained in the mysteries of the third eye could not only access memories stored within the walls of the chambers, but communicate across them.
What triggered the realityquake, no one can say. Psions who inspect the stone chambers can only imperfectly access the stored information. Some scholars interpret those impressions as suggesting the lost people of the hills wove their network too well and too strongly, wearing away at the physical space through the techniques of eliminating distance and time, pulling the central regions of the network down into a substrate of reality, leaving only a few outposts on the edges of the puckered scar of reality. Such investigations never last for long or delve very deep into the mystery, as the team’s intuitive members are relentlessly battered by negative psychic emissions of cold, darkness and hunger.
Lords and Ladies of the Hills
Ireland’s faerie barrows aren’t the only ones of their sort in the world. The stone chambers are doorways to otherworldly realms hidden within the hills of Vermont. Surviving native lore obliquely refers to “our shy neighbors,” but doesn’t get into specifics, which is unfortunate.
The best way to deal with the shy neighbors is stay the hell off their front doorstep. Failing that, at least have the sense to know the proper, polite manner in which to approach it. Failing to observe the established customs leaves the transgressor open to all sorts of retributive actions on the shy neighbors’ behalf. And as human technology has become more complex and ubiquitous, so has the neighbors’ ingenuity at putting it to devilish use.
Bigger on the Inside
Despite the endless chatter on the forums, there is only one true stone chamber. Accept no substitutes. The others are mistaken root cellars or dressed-up zinc mines. Occasionally a poster will claim to have stumbled across it while out rambling through the hills. But no matter how well they may mark the spot, note the landmarks and record the latitude and longitude in their GPS unit, the stone chamber is never there when they return with witnesses. All that remains are whatever pictures they snapped and the haunting memory of the gentle, pervasive vibration that makes the impossible interior of the chamber disturbingly yet comfortably warm.
The stone chamber is a crashed TARDIS, one of the great living timeships of Gallifrey. Flung across the galaxy and eight millennia by the Daleks’ stellar ram, the TARDIS instigated an emergency landing, ejecting the crew to safety in stasis pods while it suffered the full brunt of impact. Now the TARDIS, still unhinged by the shock of landing and loss of its crew, drifts back and forth across the years and miles, hoping to find some trace of them. It’s sure they’re somewhere in the geographical region corresponding to southern Vermont, so it remains as disguised as possible while searching for traces.
It’s only a matter of time before the TARDIS enacts a more aggressive search protocol, forcibly recruiting natives of local space-time to act as its agents in locating the escape capsules.
There are actual stone chambers in Vermont, allegedly of unknown provenance. I’ve found brief references to them in Joseph Citro’s Green Mountain Ghosts, Ghouls & Unsolved Mysteries and another “weird New England” sort of book, whose title I neglected to note. In particular, this post was inspired by the description of Calendar II, a stone chamber located in the vicinity of Woodstock, Vermont; also featured here. Check Daniel Boudillon’s field journal for a stone chamber associated with Greers Bog in Maine.