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 battle between Rex and his father ... concludes.
Previously On Illuminoimia
Ch 16: The True Kings of the World
Ch 17: The Second American Revolution
Ch 18: Angels In The Architecture
Ch 17: The Second American Revolution
Ch 18: Angels In The Architecture
Chapter 27: Death-Match
New York City. Christmas Eve.
I saw the son turn to face the father and I’d never felt so far out of my depth. Between them it was like there were these invisible lines of force that linked each of their joints to each others--each movement--casual or quick--was matched by another and another in a sudden flow of immense complexity as the blond man stepped into the room looking at Rex.
They didn’t quite circle: It just seemed like it. The man--’Dad’ walked about halfway into the room with a kind of crystalline murderous intensity directed at his son and ‘Rex’ rolled out slightly, turning to face him with a sort of easy grin on his face.
Rex: “I hoped it’d be you.”
Dad: “You are damaged and disappointing and I am going to undo all you have striven for and despoil everything you have ever loved.”
Dad’s hand passed over the desk as he came by it--Hal was flattened against the wall like a man trying to avoid an onrushing subway car--and it came up with an ivory handled letter opener with a golden blade.
Rex scoffed: “Someone in here must have ceremonial weapons,” he said. “You want to do this right?” He glanced around the office structure. To Hal: “Who has something cool on their walls--like a set of samurai swords.”
Hal might have croaked something and nodded his head--I didn’t exactly see because I didn’t take my eyes off ‘Dad.’ I also faded back to the small island of leather sofas and chairs away from the main desk. I could feel my pulse. If he threw the knife at me, I would die bleeding on the floor--I was sure of it. But for some reason, taking cover seemed, in the moment, more likely to get me killed than just standing there trying to pretend I didn’t exist.
I stood there, trying to pretend I didn’t exist.
There was something else too. There was the Hierophant. Rex had guessed I didn’t remember our meeting because of whatever hypnosis mojo these guys had. He was wrong: I did remember. I remembered everything--and I knew that whatever Rex thought, ‘Dad’ was going to butcher him in a fight.
Dad thought the same thing.
“Do you really intend violence?” He asked his son. He was cruel and amused--sardonic. “You think making a game of it can save you? No. No--you really think you can win. I’m reading you now. Effortlessly.”
Rex turned his back, walking through an adjacent doorway. “Over here, yes? Something we can use?” Whatever he’d gotten from Hal he thought it should be there. I watched the older man’s fingers on the knife. Rex slid out of view. “Cavalry sabers. Perfect,” he called back.
Dad walked past us like a lethal thundercloud. I was struck with his immense presence. I looked at Hal whose eyes were huge and glassy. There were family pictures on his desk.
Hall blinked. “You should run,” he said in a hoarse, intense whisper. “And throw yourself off a balcony. There’s one past the executive kitchen. If you’re fast--” he coughed--”you could make it.”
The adjacent space was a massive conference room. There was a large oaken table in the far depths of it--but there was a big enough empty space and I could see Rex standing there, two sabers--his father, closing--and then rolling to his left as though coming to the edge of an invisible barrier--if it was Rex’s potential striking distance it was wildly huge.
Rex grinned. “Afraid, father? Don’t worry--I won’t kill you unarmed.”
He tossed one of the sabers through the air. It caught the dim light in the room and his father snatched it from its arc without looking at it.
“You are a fool,” his father said. The letter-opener knife had vanished somewhere but I had no doubt it would reappear when his father wanted it.
Rex took a theatrical practice cut with his saber, turned it and looked down the blade, frowning.
“Replica,” He said, disappointed. “Still sharp--but you should execute whoever’s doing the furnishings. They’re second rate.”
Hal stepped over next to me. He was older … and looked older than that, still--as though whatever he’d see had weathered him.
“He’s trying to provoke him,” Hal said, quietly, perhaps numb--but maybe awe-struck. “He’s trying to provoke his father.”
I guessed that was true--maybe for these guys it would work. I figured if I tried to provoke someone into hitting me I’d just likely get hit first.
“You know why you’re going to lose father?” Rex said. He raised the blade in a sort of salute. His father’s blade … came up as well. They were going to do it.
His father didn’t reply.
Rex looked at me. “You know why we play the Goldberg Variations in our temples?”
I didn’t like him drawing attention to me during this … event. I shook my head as little as possible. No.
“They say,” he said, “it’s because symbolically they were written to help with insomnia--to pass the long dark hours of wakefulness in the night--to symbolize that we are awake while humanity--the rest of you--are asleep in your ignorant little cocoons.
“But that’s not why. The reason is the same reason we don’t have Springsteen play at every major event we hold--or why we didn’t attend the concerts by Mozart or whoever when they were alive. It’s because we hate talent. It’s the one thing we can’t fake--not really. We can acquire skill.”
He lowered the blade and started to circle for real.
Dad did too--silent, mouth set in a sneer. I’d read the diary--this was going to go fast and I had a terrible feeling it was going to go the wrong way.
“But they can’t get heart,” he said. “We can’t make art because we’re dead inside--most of us, anyway. So we hate it. We steal it--we use it--we mock it--but we hate it because it’s the one thing we know we’re never going to have. We’re hugely skilled. Awesomely trained.”
His blade gleamed as tip wavered.
“Djau ǂwa ǃʰã--AMANDA LOVED YOU!” I shouted. I shouted it explosively from the bottom of my lungs. I used the ‘command’ voice I’d read about in theater class. The Hierophant--or whatever he was called--had told me about that. The first part was a code--something early--guttural phonemes from man’s first language in southern Africa. It was like a header or something. The Hierophant had spoken it once with me watching his gleaming ring. I’d memorized it.
The second--the second part was from Rex when he lay foaming at the mouth on the floor of the Cathedral. “It’s viral,” he’d said. The crack in their dead dead hearts--the fissure in their ordered minds: The broken part from their harrowing that let their souls pour out. It was the blind-spot they didn’t dare look it. It was a last remaining sliver of guilt which they’d buried within them so they would never feel it again. Unless you brought it up.
Then they would. Killing your soul-mate makes you a monster--and it leaves you broken and dead on the inside. I’d just applied an electric shock--like from a defibrillator. He was too far gone to save--but he felt it.
Dad reeled for a moment--just as he was impaling Rex with his blade. That was enough for Rex’s strike to land.
Rex’s strike caught his father across the side of his head, opened his face up and collapsed him to the floor.
“OH FUCK, THAT HURTS,” Rex coughed. He slumped, a wet gasp. Blood spreading wildly across his shirt. He looked at me, a hand over the gushing red hole--and then he fell too.
Dad lay there--on his back, eyes closed. I saw him breathe.
I stared. Hal looked at me.
“What did you say!?”
“I met a guy who said he owed me one--for something I did kinda accidentally in Atlanta,” I told him. “He said that I already knew where to hurt these guys for a millisecond--which’d be all I’d need.”
“You knew this was going to happen?” He looked incredulous.
“He thought I was going to need it when Rex tried to kill me … or something.” I paused. “He wasn’t real clear.”
Dad … coughed. Rex lay still.
I looked at the man on the floor. Fuck.
“Hal do you have … a gun?” I didn’t want to get anywhere near the blades or the bodies. I’d seen enough horror movies.
It turned out that company executives were required as part of their insurance policy to have access to a firearm. He fumbled with the safe behind his desk.
When Hal handed me the gun he looked like the life had gone out of him--brittle--like he didn’t have the strength to lift the weapon and was only standing out of habit alone.
It was a huge classic-looking forty-five. It had a magazine in it. I lifted it, aimed down at the figure of the man with the lacerated face. When I pulled the trigger, on the wide-screen TVs in the front room, the Christmas party story abruptly changed: Someone blew up Washington D.C.
Continue to Chapter 28: A Widening Gyre