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.
The Secretary of State goes for a meeting with Them on Christmas eve. Do They know she has betrayed them?
Previously On Illuminoimia
Ch 16: The True Kings of the WorldChapter 26: The Christmas Ball
Ch 17: The Second American Revolution
Ch 18: Angels In The Architecture
Ch 17: The Second American Revolution
Ch 18: Angels In The Architecture
Washington D.C. Christmas Eve
Renegade is giving a short speech: his audience demands it. The press loves it. And for him, his greatest gift is the sound of his own voice. The words scroll on the teleprompter flowing down as he speaks, his cadences are drawn from the church in whose crucibles of Marxist belief he had refined his own hate.
Now, though, he delivers a message of hope--of joy. The contrast--the message within the message--is along the bottom of the news video. The scrolling bars under the news footage speak of coastal and urban disease outbreaks from Middle Eastern born terrorist pathogens allowed into the country by the Centers for Disease Control letting infected Americans return for treatment. Containment has failed and now a massive vaccination program is underway.
The cut-away shows the sidewalks lined with freezing families, waiting in lines for the new vaccines. The colors are dark grays and blues. Mushy snow. Obscuring sleet. Brick walls (the film is from the north east). There are cuts to frame traffic control: police officers and cars positioned to block crosswalks. The police figures are in lighter blues (but still dark) and covered in the cold weather: They show as little skin as possible.
They look like armed malevolent statues--or a terrorist military dressed in balaclava.
Draw back--a city shot. A sky-line. Then cut to a map of the united states. Outbreaks are done in an eerie, luminous green: a color for sickness and decay. The infected zones will be animated slightly to pulse … they are curved and connected. They will appear like boils.
The scale will make America look small--and the map will be coded to indicate Georgia Restricted zone--where no there are no plague controls and there is no vaccine. The infection there? It could spread unchecked and break open, like a cancerous pocket, to destroy its host … the United States.
On TV, and in the sub-conscious, America looks weak.
America looks sick.
Cut back to POTUS and FLOTUS.
The First Lady of the United States has the First Dog (Bo, its name taken from its owner’s initials, of course) with her--greeting some of the younger guests. It’s not actually the First Dog. The First Dog--the real First Dog, anyway--is dead. It growled at POTUS and he had it starved to death in a barrel outside the room where he took breakfast. There have since been replacements. If this one is not perfect it will be disposed of as well. There are always more and it sends a good message to everyone in the inner circle.
Look at the smiling First Children: So well behaved!
Congress would normally be closed--but with the mounting sense of emergency the majority--the President’s men--have held it open. Beleaguered legislatures hope for a last minute deal but the only solutions offered are terrible ones. Insulting ones. They’re reeling and they can’t believe it--but that’s all that comes from the Upper Chamber.
A small coterie of House members have left--have gone home for the holidays in disgust--but their poll numbers have crashed. They will almost certainly not weather this decision. Next November their ranks will be purged. The vote will purge most of them--the Justice Department will do the rest. For the members of Congress who have especially annoyed POTUS, she knows, there will be actual executions. The Tree of Tyranny, it can be said, also needs the blood of patriots from time to time.
The Secretary of State watches this--the coverage of the Christmas pageant with the President of the United States aglow with his internal fire of charisma and gravitas. She sees the news-scrolls and the underlying message: the pause before plunge. She knows that her daughter has been sent away to one of the bunkers to try to survive what is to come and she hopes this is possible--that They do not have specific designs for her. She can never be sure and tonight she is even less sure of anything.
She waits in the antechamber of the nondescript building where she will meet Them, on Christmas eve, to learn her place in the New World Order. When the elevator door opens, the interior red as a cavernous mouth, she rises and goes--summoned. She has left everything behind now--her purse. Her phone. Her office is locked. Her computer shut down. She has made no unusual preparations--but she knows that one way or the other she is not coming back to any of these things.
The elevator ride up is smooth and this time she does it alone. POTUS is back in his element, surrounded by sycophants. She knows he is unveiling his plan to step down from his position and take command of the United Nations. He will retire from the Oval Office undefeated and leave behind something that is not quite America but not quite not America. He will leave her, as he promised, fundamentally transformed.
He will leave her, Evergreen knows, to the vultures.
Before her there are three of Them, all dressed in black suits. All … sparkling. There is a sense of cheer like a saw-wave in the room. The gleam of wine glasses and the smell of loaves of freshly baked bread. They sit in a loose arc around a triangular table and at the base of it, she will stand. On the table is a legal envelope.
There isn’t a chair.
It doesn’t feel like a good sign, she thinks, as she comes forward--striding because she hopes to give nothing away. Is it possible to really hide things from Them? She’s going to find out. She feels flutters of fear in her gut and she knows, deep underneath, she will not like the answer.
Through one of the windows she can see the lit dome of the Capitol.
“Masters.” She lowers her head, bowing. She hasn’t called them that since her initiation. The word tastes ashen in her mouth.
“Yes.” They come to order, shifting to acknowledge her standing there, like a schoolgirl called to the office or a lamb called to her slaughter. “It is a momentous night,” says the one in the center, at the tip of the triangle. He raises a glass--not as a toast--but to look at it.
“Tonight we are performing a very, very old kind of ritual--the beginning of it anyway. Renegade told you?”
“He did,” she says. “He will become--what? The anti-christ? And then--hand the world over to you? I admit I’m fuzzy on the symbolism--the significance.”
She’s less fuzzy than she lets on--but not that much less. Renegade will be hailed as a savior--a patently false savior. He will, in some sense--a symbolic one (but a meaningful one)--inherit the world’s … soul? The world’s … salvation? She isn’t sure. This is deeper--far deeper than her training has ever gone.
“He will become the heir to the world’s future,” It says, “and he will deliver it to us. The time of man as a being of agency in a spiritual sense is over. They will become a collective under a single helm--organs of the great world-government.”
It spoke with a great sense of satisfaction. “This will be messy for a time. There will be culling. There will be punishment.” He waved his hand. “It is all pro forma. There is no doubt as to the outcome.”
“Which brings us to you,” he says. She straightens. Head up. Chest out. She must look proud to have this bestowed upon her … if that’s where it’s going. If They do not know.
“Please open the envelope.”
She bends and takes it, opening the flap and removing a black and white photograph on glossy paper. It is the magician, sitting in repose, looking into the camera. He wears his dark glasses but she can see his eyes piercing through them. He is on some kind of terace with intricate stonework railings punctuated with planters boasting carefully groomed plants. He holds, like the three before her, a wine glass.
“You recognize him.” It isn’t a question. The term “one’s blood runs cold” refers to the vasoconstriction of the arterioles during the fight-or-flight reaction. She feels the horrible chill.
She knew there was a chance--a high chance, actually--that what she had tried would not work. She had known she would not be ready for it when it failed. Now that she sees the magician--holds his picture in her hand--she knows it has failed and that she will bear their wrath until her soul breaks. Her blood is frozen.
Oh! Her daughter! She must not look into the future more than bare minutes--it will be unthinkable. She has read of those summoned to them drinking poison before they go but she knows there are techniques to revive her from death. A sufficiently messy suicide--that might deny them her--but she knows their wrath would be all the more horrible to anything she loved were she to do that. It is their most sincere promise … perhaps their only one.
“You gave him information,” says the thing, darkly, from the tip of its table. “You knew that it was forbidden--that it was a betrayal,” it says. This has never been a ‘rule’--It simply knows that she knows that the meeting was not sanctioned. “You have tried to betray us and you will be made an example of. It is an example,” it goes on, “That will be meaningless when America dies. We will have no need of secrecy and no need to exercise terror,” it says. “We will do so regardless and you will writhe impaled at the tip of our spear in the New World Order.”
She feels hollow terror in her stomach.
“What did the Hierophant want?” It asks her. “What did the Psychopomp ask for?”
And at that moment everything changes--because if they do not know …
She finds her voice hoarse and ragged and soft in the bottom of her throat.
“Wh-when I was a little girl,” she says, in answer, “I wrote a letter to NASA saying I wanted to be an astronaut. T-they wrote me back,” she tells the Thing, “saying girls could not become astronauts.” She feels her body shake. Fragments of hope colliding with tidal waves of fear inside her, she forces herself to meet its eyes. “I could,” she says, “have been president of the United States of America. You motherfucker.”
She looks past it out at the night that envelopes the window. She can see the amber glow of the Capitol there and she knows more of Them are inside--more of Them are there to oversee the eradication of the last idea that ever stood against them.
As they rise as one to fall upon her, fluid, powerful, and feral, tearing her flesh with their bare hands, exposing her inner organs in a horrific mess of fluid and pain. One holds her head in a grip so powerful she feels as if her skull will explode. It has broken her jaw to get at her tongue so she can not try to use it to suffocate herself. She will die, It told her, when They are ready--and not for a long, long, long time.
She feels a steel like hand with an unforgiving grasp on her arm as it shoves fingers into its mouth and bites through them. Another hand penetrates her stomach to tear intestines from it, passing the ropes of flesh greedily into its owner’s mouth. The pain is overwhelming--instantly traumatic and unbearable but she--some part of her--will survive it. That only compounds the horror.
Through the agony and the wet rending she catches, again, the sight of the Capitol. She hopes there are a lot of Them in there.
Continue to Chapter 27: Death-Match