Friday, November 15, 2013

Illuminoimia Ch 16: The True Kings of the World

In 1975 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson published The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It remains a seminal work of conspiracy fiction. Today, The Omnivore continues a serial-fiction experiment: Illuminoimia. 

Everything You're Afraid Of Is True.

Intrepid blogger Theodore Odell and conspiracy-minded professor Timothy Tracer are introduced to a member of the Global Conspiracy.
Previously On Illuminoimia
Ch 12: The Heart Vault  
Ch 13: Last Flight Out 
Ch 14: The World Trade Organization 
Ch 15: Postmortem Interrogation 

Chapter 16: The True Kings of the World
Somewhere, June 7th, 2013
I’d slept on the plane. It was that comfortable and it seemed like I hadn’t slept for weeks even though I’d done okay on the drive up from Gainesville the night before. I felt a shift in altitude and sat up. The woman--Black Business Suit--was standing over me.

“Please go to the conference table. I need to prepare both of you for what is about to happen.” She was matter of fact--and plain-spoken without being cold exactly. I did as she asked. Tracer had a little Dole Pineapple juice can that was probably meant for mixed drinks but he was sipping directly from it.

I slid in beside him. She sat. Primly.

“You are both going to be ushered into the presence of one of the Masters of the World,” she said. “You are there at his command and you--whether you know it or not--and whether you acknowledge it or not--are his Subjects.” We could hear the capital letters in her voice.

Tim started to say something--but she held up a hand in a sudden, abrupt motion: STOP. He stopped.

“If you misbehave, you may be killed,” she said. “Or otherwise terribly punished. It would be done in a way to make an example--either to others who have met them--or to the world in general who does not consciously acknowledge that they exist--but know it to be true all the same. If you do not pay close attention to what I am telling you and take it to heart you may be subject to terrible, terrible, tragic things.”

Tim … sat back.

“They are to always be respected. You may leave their presence thinking you are on good terms--but if they have decided--or decide later--that you were insufficiently respectful they will punish you. If you are disrespectful in their presence you will vanish there. I do not know what will become of you--and it will not be personal--but neither will it be quick or simple.”

The sincerity with which she said this was heart-stopping.

“You will address Him as ‘Sir’--always. You will not shake hands nor sit without being invited to. You will not stand without being told to. You will wait until you are dismissed. You will not make requests: you will be grateful for every moment of grace within His presence. He is magnificent and generous,” she told us. She said it with absolute sincerity. “I have never met Them myself. I will consider it a blessing if I should--even for minutes--before I die.”

She looked back and forth to make sure we got it. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I got it--but I nodded.

“Do you know why this guy--the--King of the World--wants to see us?” I asked.

“No.” she said--it had an extreme level of finality. “The meeting will probably be very short--ten or fifteen minutes at most. You will listen. If something is not clear you may ask questions--but you are not to demand answers. You are there to learn--to absorb. That is all. Understood.”

“Yes ma’am,” I said

Tracer nodded.

I cleared my throat: “Do you know if there are orders to … ah … take us anywhere afterwards?” Like take us back? Or is this one-way?

“I do not know the passenger list or the flight plans until just before take-off,” she said. No help there.

“Do you--” I gestured at the headset, “have you heard any news about Atlanta?”

“I have been told that the Atlanta International Airport is closed to all civilian traffic until further notice,” she told me.

I nodded. I wanted to ask if she liked working for these guys--but I knew the answer.

The windows stayed opaque after landing. We disembarked in a hanger--and were moved to stand before a sedan. It too had perfect mirrors for windows: We couldn’t see out. We were checked over by security again--a wand, a pat down. Some kind of ultrasound device over our chests and abdomens. Was it looking for implanted bombs?

We rode in the vehicle--an incredibly smooth ride for about an hour and a half. I wasn’t clear on the time and they’d taken Tim’s watch. We didn’t talk. I supposed it might be after ten PM. It might be two or three in the morning, though, for all I knew.

The vehicle stopped.

“Don’t be a smart ass,” I said as the door opened. He shook his head.

The car was in a room lit by indirect amber lights. It was parked on a tiled floor. There was a single square archway to what looked like a vast cathedral. I couldn’t see how the car got in at first--but then I was aware of a very fine crease in the wall--a cement slab that acted as a door that could retract or maybe swing.

We moved through the arch--there was, literally, nowhere else to go. The main hall held pews of some wood I couldn’t identify. It was like a Catholic church with a fold-down bar for kneeling. I could see leather books in the pockets--but they didn’t look like bibles to me. The walls were done with high--three or four story--narrow stained glass windows jutting upwards like swords. It was huge. The row of pews seemed almost lost in the vast tiled space. From our exit to the main ‘altar’ was, itself, over a hundred yards. The columns were cyclopean. We were dwarfed.

There was soft music playing--a surprisingly jaunty tune that seemed to hover, crystalline, in the otherwise still air. At the time I didn’t place it--but I had a sudden bout of nausea when I heard it again under entirely different circumstances. The fuckers were playing The Goldberg Variations.

There were alcoves as well--with statues in them. One was a grimacing skeleton with bits of shining gold glinting off its bones. The windows held symbols I couldn’t read and stories I couldn’t follow.

Everything was off. The windows weren’t entirely straight. The columns--engraved and  baroque stood at angles that seemed dangerous rising up into the distant ceiling.

The pews were not even straight--although it was hard to make out exactly how far off they were. At the front--where the building split into three more vast corridors was a circular wedding-cake stack of steps and an altar. To one side was a vast statue of a thing with a huge, misshapen nose and head. In one hand, stretched out, it held a club. Cowering below it, a more normally posed woman was cradling an infant. Above each of these figures, hung from the ceiling by chains was a cross of wood--a plus sign--not a Christian cross. Dropping down from each of the four edges was a thin metal chain itself, leading to the statue’s legs and arms. Up at the altar were two marionettes. I felt a wave of sickness in my stomach.

“Punch … Judy,” whispered Tracer--and it carried. “Wife abuse--and murder--as comedy.”

I looked at him.

“Don’t look at it too long,” came the voice--clear as a bell--carrying and rebounding off the walls and floors. Jovial--confident--friendly. “It’s aesthetically designed to be disturbing. Come with me: we’ll meet in the Western antechamber. I’ve got tea.”

He was maybe my age. Blond haired. He wore a sports coat over a t-shirt and slacks. Comfortable looking shoes. A big class ring of some sort. He was movie-star handsome. He beckoned to us--and started walking--back turned.

Should I rush him? I decided not to. This was clearly The Guy--but I doubted he was alone or that trusting. We went down another line of pews. I could see the stories in the tilted glass now. A girl torn from her mother. A great dark thing. Winter and starvation: Thin bodies with swollen bellies. Constellations of stars looking down at them. Tracer, however, did a double take--he knew exactly what this was.

He pointed. The daughter, kneeling in a dark place, holding an apple. No. A Pomegranate. He clearly recognized it and thought I might. I remembered something from vague Greek myth. The Western Antechamber was the same kind of place our car had come--but it had a sofa and chairs and a coffee table. There was tea set out. I put a hand on Tim’s arm--don’t sit.

“Go ahead and sit. I know what she said,” he told us. “Despite the warning I didn’t bring you all the way over here to kill you for breaching etiquette. As long as you don’t do anything really, really stupid--and even then unless you do it it really, really well, you aren’t in any physical danger.”

He sat and let his arms drape over the side.

“I’d rather stand,” said Tim Tracer. “If it’s all the same to you.” His voice was icy.

Oh, fuck, I thought. Don’t piss this guy off--no matter what he says--I elbowed him hard.

“Suit yourself. You can call me Rex. It means--”

“I know what it means,” hissed Tim.

I sat. “Could we, uh, do this separately?” I asked. Despite the guy’s solid attempt at a likable demeanor I decided I trusted the advice Black Business Suit girl had given us over his assurances he wasn’t going to do something horrible. That place out there? It had made me certain these people were who they said they were--and were fully prepared to do something horrible to us.

Rex waved a hand dismissing the idea. “No big,” he said.

He took the cup of tea--and placed a metal ball that presumably contained tea-leaves in it. Also on the table was an old, large … cup. It was made of plaster, I thought--or something. It held a dark liquid.

“This is the rarest tea you’ll ever taste,” said Rex to me. “If you are a tea guy at all you owe it to yourself to give it a try.”

I considered saying I was fine. I didn’t really want this guy’s tea--but fuck it. I wasn’t going to give him an excuse to kill me--and he did seem to be making an effort to be affable. I got the ball with silver tongs and dropped it in. I poured the water in. The teapot--the tongs--the china--it was all ornate and heavy. Solid stuff. I imagined it was very old.

Rex nodded. “Okay--you probably don’t want small-talk--but indulge me for a moment here--we’re going to do some groundbreaking stuff in a minute.” he sat forwards, looking back and forth, meeting our eyes.

I think Tim felt silly standing then--because he sat down, his arms still folded.

“Okay--good,” Rex said. “First things first: I’m not part of the Atlanta Operation. I didn’t plan that. I’m not even a hundred percent sure what’s going on there exactly--and I’m young-guard here so you may not believe me--but I wouldn’t have done it this way. If you’re going to be mad about that, you have the wrong guy.”

“Do what exactly?” I asked.

“I think they’re terminating the American Experiment,” he said. “I know.” He took a sip. “It sucks. To be fair, though, it wasn’t ever going to last that long anyway. It’s amazing it lasted as long as it did.”

I stared. He continued.

“Martial law--the old-world order. Picking up the pieces--but something pretty much different in its place once it’s gone.”

“You fuckers,” Tim said. I didn’t blame him--it was horrifying.

“Yeah,” said Rex. “I know. Look--like I said. Good run. All good things. For the time being, just try to be accepting. You can be really mad and sad about it later. For now--don’t … squander this opportunity. I’m about to lay out some good stuff here. You will want to hear it.”

We looked at each other.

I realized I hadn’t been calling him sir. I wondered if I was completely fucked.

“I--uh--Sir? You go ahead sir. Tell us--”

“Ai-yi-yi.” He rubbed his temple. “No killing. Okay? No burning your children or whatever shit they told you before you came in here. You aren’t heads of state. You aren’t part of an operation. I--We--don’t have any use for you at all after this. Yes--yes, I’m supposed to do terrible things to you if you disrespect me. I’m cool. Believe me. I don’t like wasting time in ways that aren’t at least enjoyable and killing you for a protocol breach would not be enjoyable. Relax. Your tea is ready.”

I looked in there. It was.

“Add a lot of cream and sugar,” Rex said. “It’s good that way.”

I added cream and sugar.

“Okay--now:” he fixed me with a look. “Big personal question: Why Did I Fuck With You?” he looked over. “That kinda goes for you too, Tim. I didn’t actually fuck with you--but I could’ve left you back in Atlanta or dropped you off wherever. I brought both of you here for roughly--approximately--the same reason.”

Neither of us said anything. I took a sip of the tea. It tasted like sugary-cream. He was right: it wasn’t bad.

“Here’s why,” he said. “Let me let you in on something: Who do you think is more of a threat? Your blog--which nobody reads,” he said to me,” but is making a joke out of us? Or his blog--with like a ba-zillion readers--which is chock full of evidence we totally exist and run the world?”

“Clearly my blog,” I said. “Not that I can see why.”

“They’re both identical, actually--zero threat--but your blog has something his doesn’t. It’s funny. Or, at least it was until you lost your job and became kind of a mope. Your periodic ‘Illuminati Guy’ skits are actually the kind of thing that we really don’t want--that gets to us. Denying us factually? Great. ‘Proving us real’? Better--” He looked at Tim who was radiating dubious.

“But laughing at us? We don’t really like that. Not as an organization. Oh, and we also don’t really like ‘The Illuminati’ either--the original Bavarian guys were kind of a bunch of dopes--but they did re-invent the idea of hiding one secret society inside another secret society and then seeking secret enlightened knowledge--so it was like they built a little toy model of us and thought they built the Taj Mahal. Apparently it was considered super-annoying back then--but ehh. Everyone calls us The Illuminati now and re-branding is a bitch.”

Tim spoke: “What do you call yourself?”

Rex answered immediately: “The Controlling Interest--after our Central Banking Heritage.”

Tim blinked.

I wasn’t sure I got it. “So you--didn’t like my Illuminati skits so you sent me to that guy? So--”

Rex--whatever his name really was--shook his head. “No--I did like them. I liked them because I saw them as actually the kind of thing that gets to us. Good writing--pretty good: you need more editing. But beyond that--I get to look out across a great vast swath of the Western World and I get attention drawn to things we feel we should track. You, believe it or not, were one of them--”

“--and I decided I liked the blog--even though it was--because it was--kind of insulting. And I decided to teach you a bit of a lesson. Sorry, I know how that sounds. But I thought: What will this guy do when he’s Confronted. Confronted with The Truth.”

“So you sent me to Marty?”

“Yes. He has regular audiences--generally with guys like Tim--people who find their way to him looking for Truth. He’s there to give it to them. To keep the story alive. To be our Herald. But with you--not a believer--you didn’t write anything. I was curious to see what you’d write.”

I swallowed. “So you sent me to the drill.” I had to place the teacup down. I didn’t want it to shake.

“Yes. I didn’t plan the operation--but I could see the intel for it. It was close enough to you that you’d actually show up--”

“They could’ve KILLED ME!” I was shocked. I didn’t stop to think about what I’d been warned might happen if I shouted at him.

“Possible,” Rex agreed, unperturbed. “The risk was really very low. That group of people generally do not kill. Certainly not during a dry run. Remember: offing people to keep them quiet is the last thing we want to do. It’s mostly part of the plan that everyone will run out and blab.”

“No,” Rex continued, “You were reasonably safe--and you did get paid twenty thousand dollars for your trouble. Not that--not that that makes it okay. It’s imaginary money.”

Crap. “You mean it’s not really in my account?” If I lived through this I was kind of counting on that money

“No--it’s in your account. It’s just imaginary currency. It doesn’t make up for the ordeal--but … I was really curious as to what you’d say,” he told me. “Would you decide you were wrong about everything? Would you make excuses--wish it away …”

I thought about that. I’d never considered that it was The Illuminati--or The Controlling Interest--or the Kings of the World that were fucking with me. I’d assumed it was some kind of US Government plot--maybe a rogue agency? I hadn’t slowed down to really consider it.

“I went to see Tim.”

He nodded, looking at Tim for the first time.

“You did,” Rex said. “And when the two of you showed up in Atlanta--when my sieve detected your ID check there--I went ‘I really ought to get him out of there, oughtn’t I?’” He nodded. “I admit I didn’t expect you to dive straight into a war-zone. We’re good but we can’t generally really see the future.”

Tim--judiciously--”Can you sometimes see the future?”

Me: “Atlanta’s a war-zone!?”

Rex looked at Tim: “I’ll give you the history lesson in a moment--I promise. There are prophets. They can, sort of, see the future. But usually not on demand or for individuals.” Tim seemed to consider this.

To me: “Yes, unfortunately--but not for long. Some key portions of the potential opposition have been neutralized. There will be limited militia resistance. It will be put down. We have a media messaging campaign that will suppress action--and a State of Fear offensive that will paralyze most of the country until things can be stabilized. I’m afraid I cannot share operational details--but there will be fighting for another forty eight hours--then sporadic cleanup for weeks--well, decades if you want to count it that way.”

“That’s insane,” I said. I said it softly. He nodded.

He turned to Tim, clasped his hands together in his lap and leaned forward. “Let’s do you? You’re here. We might as well.”

“You’ll never win,” Tim glared.

“We pretty much already have,” Rex said. “But Tim--I want to talk about you.”

Tim recoiled slightly. There was something indulgent in the way that Rex said that which made me afraid.

“In the cup--” he gestured to the big ornate one, “is Lethe. It’s a very old recipe--updated with new pharama techniques--that causes serious retrograde amnesia. You will drink it when we are finished and you will lose about 48 hours semi-permanently. You will not have the satisfaction of knowing you were here or that we talked.”

Tim looked at the cup with sudden loathing.

“I wanted to have Theo here to give him some instruction. To … enlighten him. Let’s do the same with you.”

“I look forward to it,” Tracer said, arms stiffly folded.

“Okay: let me explain why we want people to tell our story. It isn’t vanity. It’s part of the plan. We release badly forged documents so people like yourself will see through them. We script major public events full of symbolism and meaning so people like you will decode them. You are our mouths to the world--it is through you that we talk to people--but there is another reason that we need you. Do you know what that is?”

Tim didn’t answer.

“Because you make things easy for us. The most demotivating emotion in the human-experience is shame,” he told Tim. “Shame is what you do when you don’t want to change who you are. You feel ashamed so then it’s okay that you ate that last donut--or you diddled six-graders--or whatever it was that you felt ashamed about.”

“The most paralyzing place to be in the social environment is as a victim. Kids get killed in an elementary school and who’s the real victim?” he looked at Tim. “You are, right?”

Tim started to shake his head--to open his mouth.

SILENCE--” Rex’s voice was a knife like explosive hiss and Tim shrank into the sofa. “If you’re going to tell me ‘no one really died’ in Connecticut you’re wrong. They all did. The drills embed the the symbolism and the iconography. The drills create the media narrative. The act is what has the power. You don’t know anything about these events because all you ever did was sit at your computer and absorb one set of lies over another. All you ever did was tell the second story we published instead of the first. You uncovered nothing. You didn’t hinder us--or wake anyone up--”

“--if it weren’t for people like you it’s possible more people would wake up,” he said. “You are not part of a solution--you are part of our plan. You battle with your college administration,” he said, his voice dripping with icy contempt “and you feel your rights have been trampled. You ignore the dead and the wounded children because you think their numbers were exaggerated. You’re more angry at the media than at the perpetrators. You are everything the Illuminati--” and from the way he used that word, I could tell it really wasn’t how they thought of themselves: it was filled with razor-blades of mockery--”thinks you are.”

Tracer blinked--unmoving. Like a bunny caught in a snake’s gaze.

“What you were feeling just now? When we met? When I revealed myself?” Rex asked, still venomous, “it wasn’t anger. It wasn’t outrage. What you were feeling was righteous. What you were feeling was vindicated. You were feeling justified. That’s what you’ve been chasing.”

Rex paused--sort of primly took a sip of tea. Tracer, I thought, was either wisely silent or terrified into submission. It could be both.

You know why we focused on the assault rifles?” Rex asked. “So we could take them away because, as you know, the only thing standing between us and you is some nitwits with AR-15s. That’s the--” he paused. “Fuck, I can’t even do it. HOW IGNORANT ARE YOU?” his voice thundered in the high-ceiling’d antechamber.

“We give you a miniscule little sliver of something and your blogs chatter and your tongues wag: what gun did he use? What gun? It was they--and they used AR-15’s and handguns. You know why? It isn’t to take the precious little security-blanket guns away from a few survivalist nuts. It isn’t even to take guns away from a vanishingly small number of actual patriots. We can handle them. Easily. It’s to undermine the 2nd Amendment, you idiot.”

“When Caesar crossed the Rubicon river with his army--” for some reason, Rex looked at me. I guess he figured professor Tracer already knew this stuff. I’ll admit it: I froze. “He was bringing the military power back to civilian command--to become Emperor of Rome. That’s the pattern--that’s the symbolism--we are using here. The tyranny of the military power in the shape of a gun that kinda looks like what your army uses. This is the symmetry of oppositional forces we always use--the difference between esoteric and exoteric knowledge: the hidden truth and the public story that is the engine by which we control the world. It is the text and the subtext for the global hallucination you think of reality, civilization, and even Truth itself. Ask Pythagoras. ”

“While the Constitution has symbolic power? While Americans have faith in it? It’ll stand. Just like our money can stand for a while. Once we take that faith away? Once Americans become convinced their own Constitution is an outdated, outmoded, failure? A document by paranoid extremists facing a simpler--” he laughed, and it was bitter, “--more innocent world? Once that message takes hold? That your imaginary Caesars have crossed their imaginary Rubicons? The Second Amendment crumbles. The Fifth Amendment crumbles. They all crumble and fall.”

He shook his head.

“That’s when we can take it away.” He took another sip of his tea.

“So I brought you here to say ‘Thank You.’ Your continued service will be most welcome. As we roll up your American Experiment your name will go down in our archives as one of the weak-points that caused the greatest monument to the freedom and self-direction of man the world had ever seen to fall.”

“The only reason you took any action at all is because you collided with Theo. That’s the only reason you wound up in Atlanta in the first place. Because of him--the guy who didn’t buy it … and not coincidentally, the guy who didn’t have cushy, tenure protected job at a state-funded university.”

He took a sip of his tea. “Are you,” he asked, “Enlightened?”

I was motionless.

Tim was motionless.

Rex seemed to relax. “I don’t want to hear anything from you until I say otherwise, Tim. When you are ready, drink from the cup. It isn’t instant and it isn’t poison. I assure you it will do you no damage whatsoever.”

I saw Tracer look at it--with loathing--and then he reached for it.

“Tim--” I started--but he gulped at it--and black fluid ran down his chin. I wanted to draw away--to huddle against the far side of the sofa--but I didn’t. I wanted to slug Rex. But I didn’t do that either.

He watched me, ignoring the professor.

“So here’s where we basically part ways,” he said to me. “But: there are a few things I can do for you before I go.”

I didn’t want anything from this guy--whatever ‘gifts’ he had in mind--but I didn’t say that. He bent down and took a regular folder from under the table.

“Here, Theodore Odell. Here is your Soul Mate.”

I stared at the folder.

“Better than Match-dot-com or E-harmony--or even Christian Singles,” he said. “She’s in here. You can find her easily: thankfully she’s in Seattle and not Atlanta. About 100% less shooting. Go get her. Your chemistry will be instant. Your union will be happy and fruitful. It’s one of the major things we know how to do. And trust me,” he said, “when I tell you I’m actually kind of envious.”

I looked at the folder. Fuck: there was no way I wasn’t going to at least have a look.

“Secondly,” said Rex, “although some people would pay a lot for enlightenment you were most definitely not in the market. So I owe you an apology. That’s rare, by the way, for us. I did screw with you--and while I think you may decide you did need a bit of excitement in your life, it was still uncool of me.”

I blinked a that. Will you think less of me if I tell you was on the brink of telling him ‘No, it’s okay--really.’? I guess I’m wired to accept apologies.

“I’ll transfer two-point-three million dollars to your account--a nice round figure--and ensure that the tax burden is taken care of. As well as regulatory--and whatever. All clean.”

I have to admit: it got my attention. I wanted to ask “Why not a billion in imaginary e-cash--” but I felt that might be pushing it. I just nodded.

“That’s--uh--that’s generous,” I said. When I said it, I realized that was the word the lady on the plane had used--and I felt an unsettling sense of embarrassment. I’d been sure I’d never say or even think that of them for a minute. Then I had a thought.

“Isn’t the country about to collapse, though?” I asked.

“Not so you’d notice,” he said.

He got up. Tracer wasn’t moving much--he was staring at the walls.

“We’re going back to the car for him,” said Rex. “I’ll drop him back off in Florida. Safe and sound.”

“What about me?” I asked.

“Anywhere you want,” he said. “Seattle?”

I looked at the folder. I was kind of afraid to open it. If she was beautiful … would I resist him? Would I do exactly what he wanted? Would that even be a bad idea?

“What is all this?” I asked, delaying. We were walking back now--back into the main cathedral--which was laid out like a giant plus-sign--like the crossed sticks for a marionette’s control strings..

“This is one of our Puppet Theaters,” he said. “It’s a place where we conduct certain rites. Rituals. But it’s also a place where we bring you guys--to induct you. When a world leader comes under our influence it happens, officially speaking, here.” He shrugged. “It’s not pretty. Atrocities have been committed here--all for very specific purposes. As I said--looking at this too long--it’ll hurt you. Give you nightmares.”

I could see that. I looked at the floor.

“Those windows,” he said, “the images are from the  Eleusinian Mysteries--a secret society that existed in Greece for two thousand years. It was marked by the taking of a holy and quite psychedelic drink that revealed to the initiate inner truths. The initiates thought they would receive special rewards in the afterlife.Your scholars know nothing about the experience today,” he said. “Secrecy was absolute.”

“And you?”

“We ran it--as an experiment. A successful one.”

“Were they right?” I asked.

“About what?”

“Receiving special rewards in the afterlife?” Why not ask, I thought.

He didn’t laugh it off.

“ … sort of.” He said, and I thought I saw a tremor in his right hand--an involuntary shake. “There are … states after death. Mostly just after death. That’s a Secret, by the way. Never talk about that. We know enough--to have concerns about it. I’m going to come down on the side that they got something in the afterlife--but like most things you get in secret, it probably wasn’t what they were expecting.”

“How old are you?” I asked. “I mean you guys?”

“As old as man.” I saw … another shake. Was he sick? Drugged? Something in the tea? “When mankind was turned on there were a very small number of us who were charged by those who gave us our self-awareness with maintaining the rites. With acting as a go-between from those who we existed at the sufferance of--and the rest of the teeming masses.”

“Those were the Hierophants. They are with us today,” he said. “Studying the arcane and etheric mysteries--” he made flighty motions with his hands. “It’s all very mystical--and largely irrelevant. The other half of us--or really like ninety percent--is is interested in maintaining order. We have recorded documents of humanity's last direct encounter with an Elohim but it doesn’t change our day-to-day lives.”

“An Elohim?”

“It’s the genus of things Jehova,” he gestured at the sky, ”is a member of,” he told me.


“Yes. Don’t say that in here though. Thanks.” We reached the central altar.

I looked at the folder. Tracer followed--ambling along--behind us.

“Soul-mates? Is that really a thing?” I asked.

“Totally,” he said. “Let me tell you something--let me tell you another Secret--since I can--and it won’t matter.”

I stood there. He frowned.

“Okay--if you kill your--I was made to think I--” He paused. He looked like he might … burp? Throw up. He looked confused.

“Your Soulmate is like a mirror,” he said. “If you break it you change.” He sort of looked around--then he continued. “So if Amanda, he intoned the name--”that’s all of them--if you kill her or think you did then you can use that to create a--”

I shook my head. I wasn’t following.

He sat down.

“This,” he said, “is very, very bad.” He looked confused.

“What is?” Was he having some kind of attack. He loosened his collar.

“I was able to write it,” he said--he gestured towards the north corridor. “I was able to write it all down. No problem--and that was sharing. But now that I’m trying to say it? Now--” his eyes went glassy. “Fuck--I really want to have a conversation with Dad about this …”

I took a step back.


He looked up at me. “You need to get out of here--both of you,” he said. “Before something really, really bad happens.” he wasn’t focusing on me. “Take Tim to the car. It’ll take him back. You need to go to the other exit. It’s open. There’s a … there’s a rail.” He pointed.

He was taking his pulse with his fingers. I wasn’t sure he could see me anymore. I waved a hand in front of his face--no reaction.

“I wrote it down,” he said. “So why do I want to kill myself now? Was I Harrowed a little? And ooh... it’s viral. Oh shit. Wow.” I backed away.

“Tim,” I said. “Can you make it to the car?” We could see it--down the massive cathedral hall--it must have been over a hundred yards long--to what he’d described as the South antechamber. The limo was there.

“Sure thing,” he slurred. “That’s ‘The Car’?”

“Yes--go,” I said. I gave him a push--and he started walking.

Rex’s eyes had rolled up. East: that was where he’d pointed. That was where I was supposed to go to get out of this nightmare.

I went North. That was where he’d said he’d written it all down.

Continue to Chapter 17: The Second American Revolution

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