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.
As the Illuminati conducts their final ritual, special forces secure The Bomb.
Previously On Illuminoimia
Ch 16: The True Kings of the WorldCh 28: A Widening Gyre
Ch 17: The Second American Revolution
Ch 18: Angels In The Architecture
Ch 17: The Second American Revolution
Ch 18: Angels In The Architecture
Safe-Distance from the White House
They are waiting for the truck. It has been tracked from the air, from the ground, and by the Special Operations Group--the SOG--along its route. Twin MQ-9 Reaper drones, painted black and doubled up for redundancy purposes, flank it, unseen, in the night sky. Security is heavy because the truck is laden with the essence of betrayal--a necessary ingredient for the rite--and a betrayal that will be neutralized at the outer-ring safe-distance check-point long before it can reach its target.
When the truck's driver, unaware of his lethal cargo, is flagged and pulled over, he is surprised to see a force of black-clad men with assault rifles natively equipped with suppressors and (although he does not know it) sub-sonic but still fully lethal rounds. He is taken from the vehicle and summarily executed. Tonight the SOG is taking no prisoners and tonight the SOG is taking no chances.
The burst transmission is a single tone--an indication that ‘We have possession. The vehicle is secure.’
When they open the back, their extractor removes the cylinder. A two-man team of specialists move to the container and violate the outer seals. Then they wait for word, literally, from on-high--from Looking Glass. Video capture shows the truck, its W.A.S.T.E. Management logo illuminated under the spot-lights, and its lethal cargo held by the fork-lift.
After a repeat analysis, the message returns: the distance is safe: Extract the container. Secure the bomb. Disable the timer.
When the team goes in, unscrewing the bolts and opening the end, the interior of the CASTOR container reveals a cascade of heavy spherical objects. The CASTOR cylinder is full of bowling balls.
He is a Magician after all.
A small law office with an obscure name sits less than a quarter mile from the White House. It opened its doors for the first time on July 4th 1876--a Tuesday. In its basement is an 1852 era Slias C. Herring & Co safe lined with lead and marked with the alchemical symbol for the planet Saturn. Behind that door is the bomb. It is a good deal more than the 1 Megaton yield CIA operative Charles Brin had estimated it at. It is perfectly timed.
The shock wave erupts with such violence that the building itself is lifted off its foundations even as it is vaporized from the bottom up. The blast roars across and through the ground folding up roads and grass and buildings into a slate-gray shockwave lit from within as if by a sunrise. The expanding sphere first finds the Capitol building which breaks inwards. The members in session are caught by surprise as the lights fail instants before the wall sags inwards and then gives way completely. They are raised, as one, as though by a great hand and dashed at the speed of sound against the far wall even as it too comes apart into individual bricks which are then shattered into dust.
Beneath the Capitol, in the underground chambers, the sound comes as a tremendous roar so sudden that even at the speed the Things in Their Black Robes move, They are unable to do much more than stand as The Pyramid deforms and then collapses completely. However dead their souls may or may not be, they experience in succession alarm, terror, and then briefly pain as tons of debris cascade downwards, filling the spaces with black, deadly kinetic force and inexorable weight.
Only the Magician, looking faintly, mysteriously satisfied, doesn’t waver.
Across the mall the Washington monument is flash-seared in the nuclear light and then shattered. Its upper fifty feet becoming missile-like, projected towards the White House before tumbling over and over in the chaotic super-heated air. For its part, the American flag atop the President’s home boils away before the shock wave can reach it.
Within the White House, under the glow of Klieg lights, flash-bulbs, and the unconsidered love of the press corps, POTUS had spread his arms to his acolytes, waiting for their applause to lower so he can announce his intentions--to step up--to the control of the United Nations--to lead the world.
What he hears, as the clapping trails off, is a dull roar like the sound of a train. In the bare fractions of a second as the windows, facing the explosion snap into sharp relief of black and white shadows stretched long across the nation’s capital by the brilliant light, his broad smile doesn’t fail. He can’t conceive of anything going badly tonight. It is his--and he is entitled to it.
In the penthouse of the nameless building across the avenue, Evergreen’s screaming stops as she sees the her attackers turned into two dimensional silhouettes by the light pouring through the window. She even feels Their surprise--Their shock--an experience as generally alien to Them as love--as They stand and turn as one. For milliseconds They are defiant--infuriated--and then as the shatter-proof window shatters and the hardened cement walls lift and implode, in the rarefied depths of Their minds, They are terrified. Evergreen closes her eyes as the darkness rushes over them all.
The incandescent cloud, filled with ash and debris rises into the air over the Washington, casting its searing light across the burning city.
Aftermath Part 1: New York City
The sound of the shot hurt like a slap in the face. I pulled the trigger and I could see the bloody man’s eyes flicker open as the gun kicked. I think he moved--he was so fast he seemed to almost jump in place--but it was after I had fired and his face was suddenly marked by a new red-black hole.
I lowered the weapon slightly--and continued to fire. BANG! BANG! BANG! The reports were thunderously loud even in the large conference room. I saw his bespoke suit erupt with holes. BANG! The gun kicked satisfyingly in my hand. BANG! I put one into his throat in case he had some kind of armor and saw a second bloody hole open in his flesh.
From the bleeding that came next, it was pretty clear he wasn’t wearing armor. BANG!
My breathing was ragged.
“I think you got him.” It was Rex.
I jumped and turned, re-targeting. My hand--steady for a moment--then suddenly shook. He coughed--it sounded bad--but he pushed himself up. “Don’t shoot me yet,” he said. “We still need--” he coughed again--blood in his lungs. “--to do it.”
I lowered the gun.
“Don’t let him leave.” Rex wasn’t looking at Hal--but I turned and could see him ashen-faced, fading backwards. I raised the weapon. It hadn’t locked open--there was at least one round left. “Don’t go anywhere,” I said.
Hal looked furious and lost--and then … we saw it. The screens in the main room were filled with images of a nightmare burning mushroom cloud. The shell-shocked news reporters, even with the sound turned down, looked pale with horror. The unthinkable was happening--was continuing to happen. The world was ending.
Rex stood, raggedly, his breathing and pain controlled, apparently. He looked, red-eyed and shocked at the images we were seeing.
“Were any of Them in there?” I asked.
“To oversee the … uh … transformation?” He gaped. “A whole bunch of Them. Us.” He looked at me. “Not all though.” He looked back at Hal. “We’re going to the sub-basement. And I already know about the death-safe down there so don’t try anything.” He winked at me. His breath caught--but then returned.
With Hal leading us--looking like a dead man walking--we went to the elevator and then down.
What felt like hours ago I had sat in the back of the cavernous SUV with deep red leather seats talking to one of Them--the Hierophant, Rex had said. Or as he had referred to himself: The Psychopomp.
“There are times,” he had told me in his deep, rumbling voice, “where small variations in the environment can have a magnified effect. There are cases where a single individual becomes a persistent, recurrent agent of change.”
I’d looked at him--unsure as to how to continue--but he had, quickly, laid out the shape of his hypothesis--of his vision.
“You collided with him--” he gestured at Rex, who was waiting patiently outside the vehicle, “by virtue of standing out just slightly so as to raise your profile--by virtue of his specific but unidentified weaknesses--by chance. You and he forged a bond--for him, in his damaged heart, a kindness--or what passes for it in someone harrowed. That bond is why he needs you.”
Rex had explained that: When he tried to divulge further secrets after our meeting he’d almost died. He couldn’t do it anymore--the Heart Vault, his Harrowing, had seen to that. But he’d discovered he could tell me. Maybe because he’d tried it the first time in private, writing his diary to others--but in his head writing it to me. He could do his work but to truly Unwind the Pyramid he needed an interpreter.
To tell people forbidden things, he needed help. That’s why he’d gone across the country to collect me. That’s why I was here in the middle of all of this.
The Hierophant paused.
“You are here by chance--by the culmination of many, many random events--but also,” he said, “I think, by design.”
I looked out at Rex too, looking relaxed and cool as ever. “Whose design?”
“Whoever set the universe in motion,” shrugged the Psychopomp. “To a degree we are all just billiards balls reflecting off each other and the unseen walls of the table. I--” he cleared his throat, “Am a billiard ball who can look slightly up, see the barest tip of the cue, and provide a minute, almost unnoticeable spin of my own.”
I swallowed. “Is that what you’re doing now?”
He smiled and his teeth gleamed in the darkness. “Perhaps. Perhaps it is just an illusion I am succombing to. Yes: As we come close, we intersect. I cannot exactly impart much to you--really only that you already have--but I can nudge. If you are so inclined, you can accept that nudge--and perhaps we will both profit.”
I wasn’t sure I wanted to be ‘nudged’ by this man--but I nodded. “I’ll listen to anything,” I told him.
“Listening can be more dangerous than you think,” he said. “But here it is--you have already seen one of Them nearly fall. You know where a subliminal--” he said it Sub-Liminal--”weakness in their defenses lies. You know what the last thing is that truly hurt any of them. It won’t stop a whole one--but it may delay him a moment. Cause a very temporary lapse in judgment. It may create a window for advantage.”
I admit I was pretty lost. It was months since I had seen Rex collapse on the steps of the Puppet Theater--and then it came back to me.
“The girl. They are all trained classically in Latin from a young age and while they sometimes bear girl children there is a name they never use. Do you remember what he called her?”
I remembered it. I opened my mouth and he shook his head. “Do not speak it here--save it for when you’ll want it. When you are in danger. Speak from the gut--” he poked his own largish stomach. “Project it--you may do it once and you won’t get another chance. Get their attention.” He spoke words with syllables I wouldn’t know how to write.
“That is a preparatory phrase. It is in mankind’s first tongue generated on the Western coast of Africa when humans began to speak beyond the word ‘huh.’” He smiled. “It will capture his fascination. When you speak her name, he will falter.”
“When … will I know?” I remembered the name She-Who-Must-Be-Loved: Amanda.
“I don’t know exactly.” He looked hard at Rex. So did I. “Eventually--well, soon--one of Them will be close and murderous. You’ll have to use your judgment.”
I sat back into the seat and exhaled slowly.
“Can you see the future?” I asked him.
“No,” he said. “Not in the way you think you mean it. Yes, though, in the way it really works.”
“Do I survive this?”
He smiled broader: “Nothing I could say would reassure you. But nothing I could say would leave you hopeless. Be as strong and true as you can Theodore. We will likely never meet again.”
Without any obvious signal, the woman opened the SUV door.
“He will assume you have been hypnotized and interrogated,” said the man. “For all you know you have been--but reveal nothing of this to him. Let him guess you do not remember the specifics of our meeting. He knows we watch. He will not imagine we would insert ourselves into events.”
I nodded. I caught a glint of light from his ring and I felt slightly dizzy then. Slightly dazed--like waking up. Blinking rapidly, I had returned to our vehicle.