Start from the Beginning
So, now the introduction of one of the bizarre pivotal characters changes the course of Into the Light, an urban fantasy novel. The character is an oddball and guide, but where the path leads is full of whimsy and danger. Here are chapters 13-15 in our continued serialization... for now.
Blake awakes to a clear dawn cleansed of clouds and for the first time in years he doesn’t crave cookies. A head rush washes over him as he stands and a headache throbs his temples. The room is still, no movement, and the lack of low level street noise is disconcerting to Blake as he finds his boxer shorts on the gray granite floor. At the window wall, he watches a falcon circle the top of the building where a nest had been perched. He expects a beautiful naked woman to slip out of the bathroom at any moment but there is nothing but a pressure of silence.
Amesha is no where to be found. She left nothing in the sterile room. Blake searches for evidence that the place has been lived in and there is nothing. No TV. No clothes in the closet. Nothing.
“Fuck this. I’m out,” he says
Blake gets dressed as fast as he can finally get his shoes on as he hops to the door. A knock at the door projects like a drum shot in the barren room.
“Amesha, good,” he says and peeps through the peephole.
Standing there, stretched wide, a muscular bellhop in a dark blue uniform from the thirties. Blake can see the art-deco gold embroidery event through the narrow portal.
“Little Orphan Annie?” Blake says and tugs the door open.
“Can I help you?” Blake asks. The pretense of annoyance is unconvincing.
“The better question is can I help you? It’s nearly check out time for limited occupancy. Seven AM. I can take your bags down to the lobby if you wish, but I can give you some more time,” he says and blinks hard, twice.
“Oh. I get it. Sorry. The desk will be expecting you. Have a great day sir.”
The man leaves with a smile and a wink. Blake shuts the door.
“I’m screwed. Can’t afford this. No, I’m not paying. Bail.”
They do not even know who I am anyway he thinks.
Blake finds a side stairwell. Standing straight, he expands his chest and descends. His toes tap the metal lip guards on the steps and he get off at the second floor. A maid pushing a laundry cart goes by and Blake follows her to the freight elevator. After opening a few doors in the bowels of the unknown hotel, he finds the way to the loading dock. Two aluminum accordion doors are open and two delivery trucks are lined up outside under columns of honey sunshine.
He jumps off the side of the dock and the smells of the nearby dumpster fling at him. Blake runs down the access road to the street where the familiar sounds of Manhattan filter through him. He’s never been so happy to hear the blaring of car horns and the distance roll of an ambulance’s siren. Blake tags a cab with a few frantic waves.
Blake barely has enough to pay for the ride but gets by with a dime. He jumps the stairs, rips open the door and slides through the vestibule. At the landing to his floor, he can hear the scratch and swish of Ms. Braque with her broom. The distance scent of gin lets him know he’s home. Ms. Braque sees Blake and stops her sweeping.
“Hello honey. Late evening?”
“Yes. How are you today?”
“Better than yesterday. Thank you for asking. Back to work. See you later Blake.”
“Bye, see you later.”
The door opens without squealing. He smiles as he knows he has a few personal days remaining and will call in to work with an excuse. The door shuts and he slips off his shoes as he passes by the kitchenette.
“I’ll feed you first Tyger,” he says
The duty done, Blake decides to brush his teeth. The day old breath burns his nostrils like the smell of burning tires drifting over from New Jersey so he slips into the bathroom and flips on the light. After dousing his face with a few splashes of city tap water, Blake goes to grab the chord to his old electric toothbrush charger since the toothbrush has been powering up for days. At the plug he gets a grip not knowing it is loose. His wet hand slides back to a small section of exposed wire.
Frozen in a spasm of heat and sound, Tesla’s favorite instrument strums on his nervous system with a melody that ends in an aria of pain, Phaeton begins his flight. Blake falls and the cord is pulled out of the electrical socket. The shock ends as he convulses on the floor. His hands are clenched.
The temporal lobe of Blake’s now unfettered mind seizes and comes from a dormant state to a highly electrified and stimulated existence of impulses and visions. One moment divides into the infinite and one segment of time can be broken down forever. In his stimulated mind, Blake sees the universe unfold in light. A spectrum of color undulates and shifts from blue to red and back again. An image of the know-it-all from the bar resolves in a ghostly form in front of the light.
“It’s me D. B. Verges and I am dead but I wouldn’t have appeared if you did not have a question.”
“What is this?”
“Everything and nothing, much ado about it. You have been a man of two minds now made one. You have lived in spaces without memory. The illusions are now crumbling away.”
“What indeed. Answer me question first and I shall reciprocate.”
“Isn’t real, why not?”
“Real depends on many things. So, do you still think no one believes in you?”
“Doesn’t matter. I got a question. What’s my purpose?”
“It is being revealed.”
“Just fucking tell me.”
“Fine. You really need to work on your patience. Here it is. You are to ghost them, the hidden ones, and send the ashes of their souls adrift on the twelve winds as they shriek until a thin, coarse layer covers creation. They wish to focus the lens of control over all creation. You must defeat them and usher in a new age.”
“Defeat masked ones? When?”
“It began with your birth.”
“What are these masked ones? Did god create them?”
“Game pieces in a stalemate of divine origin.”
“So God is playing a game?”
“God might not play dice but chess is another thing. I leave with this. The myths of the past have a basis in fact. Don’t listen to the lovely siren song, read the lyrics, and remember Vampires don’t have a reflection in a mirror as they are only part real. Watch for the guiding lights. They will show you where to strike. Stress them out and they will show their faces to all.”
The sound of a car alarm enters the vision and Blake is snagged trout being pulled form the waters of the dream.
Blake opens his eyes and the car alarm screeches until the single chirp banishes the noise. He tries to open his mouth but the muscles resist and the muscles under his ears hurt. Clenched fists push off the sweat soaked sheet and Blake stares at them as he works his jaw lose.
“Something is wrong. Something changed,” he says.
In a dash out the front door, protein bar tight between his teeth, Blake makes the decision since he’s so late that he must ride the R train and jogs to Canal Street as the bitter cold makes him sniffle. As he descends the stairs underground from street level though the urine vapor rising through his path, torture images from Bosch paintings pop into his head from a museum experience a couple months back.
“Shouldn’t have gone to that exhibit at the Met,” he says and swipes his metro-card at the turnstile and passes on to the platform. At the subway stop, the subterranean steel snake slithers into the station. Blake slips through the door before it closes and finds a seat next to a lovely young girl German girl of fifteen, but looks twenty-five, and is on her first modeling gig. He smiles and she fake smiles.
The hairs at the back of his Blake’s neck begin roll with static electricity and stand erect. He rubs his neck. The model thinks he must be sick and turns to read her glossy fashion magazine and listen to her Italian language lesson CD. Blake rocks in his seat and blinks like his eyes were burning in a cloud of campfire smoke.
By the way, I can live in your dreams. In fact, it’s where I vacation. Such nonsense most of the time, but every once in a while, you dirty dirty apes surprise me with your mad fabled concoctions that bear some insight into your condition. The dreams of where you ride dolphins in a rainbow diaper or have sex with robots really don’t add thrill me. Been there, done that for eons. But the simple dreams are the most telling for you flesh clumps of desire. Trying to scream and nothing comes out, going to school naked, trying to defend yourself but when you punch an enemy it is but a weak impact are all telling if you listen but you don’t. You’d rather have some New Age sunshine spitter interpret your dreams and put a happy, hopeful spin on it. What is painful and disturbing is the most helpful for your species. Tells you something is wrong, and right now with Blake, it’s about to get worse. You’ll see. Going to let this roll for a bit. See you later. Oh, but so you know, when you seem to not to be able to control yourself in a dream, like you’re just watching from the inside, that’s me taking over and taking your mind for a ride.
Juli, at her desk, crumples up some a few old printed spreadsheets that have been sitting in her on her desk. The new C.O.O., Mr. Lou Garew, a Londoner through and through though he has lived in New York for twenty years, scans his domain with hard and fast eyes from the comfort of his office window. Lou Garew pulls his cell phone out of his tailored suit jacket, black as pitch and recently bought on a trip to LA, wonders where Blake Moxley could be? He checks the time and exits his office fortress.
Mr. Garew looks at Blake’s cubicle and strolls down the aisle to Juli.
“Do you know if Blake is coming in today?” he asks her.
Blake slips in his hard subway seat as the train jostles and realizes how late he is. He thinks what the hell is happening?
The dull yellow lights of the subway car flicker as a halo around a young woman at the end of the car appears and catches Blake eye. The light expands like a balloon of soft fire and Blake cannot make out her face. It is smooth without feature. A little boy with an oversized Yankees cap runs down the car as his ragged mother struggles to get to her feet. The next stop, their stop, comes up.
The mother drops her plastic grocery bag as she tries to weave through the standing commuters but the boy runs farther away and the lights flicker again. The boy runs up to the glowing woman and she touches the child. He stops, turns around, and walks back to his mother calm as a child can be. The halo recedes into the woman’s head. The mother snags her boy’s arm and slip out the door right as it slides open.
Blake thinks maybe the dream was real? Doesn’t matter, I’m late for a very important date. Fucking rabbit. Read Alice in Wonderland too many times. The Rector Street station comes up and Blake departs with the rest of the minions of Wall Street. On his way to the office, Blake passes by the NYSE and the Federal Reserve Bank where protestors hold signs that read In God we trust, not you.
While dodging a fire hydrant as Blake steps up on the curb in front of his office building, a hyena of a man in a dark blue suit and yellow power tie steps into his path. Blake tries to get out of the way but their shoulders graze.
“Out of my way peasant,” the man says.
As Blake steps by the man, he thinks not today. He spins to confront the offense. The man has already turned to face Blake and he sees red sparks emanating from the man’s bulbous forehead. Snarling eyes change color from green to violet.
“What? What are you going to do? The man asks.
Blake blinks and the sight melts like a snapshot set ablaze burning into a sticky charred residue.
“Nothing,” Blake says.
“Thought so,” the man says and walks away to the curb.
Blake shakes his head and then sneaks a glance. The man’s face is normal. Blake feels sick in his guts. A black town car pulls up and a driver hops out. The guards ask for Blake’s ID and the elevator is not crowded. His hands are drenched in sweat and he hits the button to his floor. At his cubicle, Blake finds Mr. Garew sitting in his chair.
“My office, ten minutes,” Mr. Garew says.
To Blake ten minutes feels like ten seconds and he takes a deep breath as he knocks on the frosted glass door. Mr. Garew’s office is fifteen degrees colder than the rest of the floor and Blake’s chest tightens up as he is told to sit on a spindle back chair. A black leather couch worn by catnaps and office quickies lies low on the perpendicular wall. An ultra-thin laptop sits alone on a Victorian desk beside Mr. Garew. The beige walls of the office seem low to Blake.
“So Blake, why are we late today?” he asks.
“I had a small medical problem,” Blake says and hears a ringing in his ears.
“Yes sir,” Blake says then sneezes to bring authenticity to his excuse.
“Please cover your nose.”
“Certainly, it’s just allergies,” Blake says.
“We got an insurance bill from the hospital. I hate hospitals, are you sure you’re not sick?” Lou Garew asks.
“That was allergies. To be honest, I had an embarrassing accident sir.”
“Call me Lou. Sir is for the knighted. So had an accident, a little explosive problem perhaps or maybe an issue with the little blue pill?”
“No Lou, I was electrocuted and passed out. I came to work as soon as I could,” Blake says and realizes he made a mistake.
“Oh bugger! Why in the blazes did you come in boy? You should have gone to hospital. Here I am thinking you shite yourself. Go to hospital immediately and get checked out.”
“No I feel fine. I should really be getting back to work though.”
“Like the attitude but bloody hell boy. If I don’t send you to be checked out and you have some sort of attack or even get spots or something, insurance will dodger me into the ground. A tiny check up won’t cost much.”
As Lou Garew smiles, Blake’s vision blurs and goes out of focus. His sight returns to see Lou Garew’s nose grow and hook upward as his hair turns to twigs. Blake sits back, trying not to scream and sucks in a shallow breath.
“What the matter boy? You all right? Bloody Hell, where’s the phone?”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry I’ll go back to work now.”
“No you won’t. You’re going to hospital.”
Blake stands up.
“No that’s okay. Back to work,” Blake says.
Mr. Garew stands and leans on his desk. Blake steps back as Mr. Garew’s eyes bubble and boil in their sockets. Blake slowly backs away and hands extend from the wall and wrap around Mr. Garew. The fingers drip sand. Blake holds back his scream but his chest begins to convulse. He gets to the door and behind Mr. Garew a wobbling mass of red energy forms and enters through his ears. Blake’s face is frozen stiff and his knees buckle.
“Okay, I’ll go to the doctor,” Blake says to hasten his escape.
“Good boy. Wait and my driver will take you.”
“No thanks that will cost too much. I’ll get a cab.”
“None sense, you are a valuable member of this team and we need you well. Don’t worry my boy.”
Blake closes the frosted glass door etched with grape vines along the edge of the bevel. He slips back to his desk and gathers his things unsure what he’s going to do but makes his way out to the elevator. The elevator is crowded for this time of the day and in the lobby Blake is greeted by a small man in a navy blue upper-level security uniform with a receding hairline who looks like Woody Allen had a child with an elf.
“Are you Blake?”
“Yes and you are?” he asks.
“Not of consequence. Mr. Garew wants me to take you to the hospital. So please follow me to the car.”
“If he insists,” Blake says and follows the man out to silver Lincoln Town Car.
“Very good sir, let me tell the driver where we are going,” the man says and goes to the window. Then Blake sees the elfish man levitate off the ground. Spikes of fear drive through Blake and feel like his legs are made of ice.
“Tell Mr. Garew I appreciate it but I’m taking a cab,” Blake says and dashes away into the congested sidewalk.
Blake moves like a cat running on hot coals. His heart palpitates. His peripheral vision shrinks. The sounds of the city converge into a swirling scream like a swarm of yellow jacket wasps. Depth perception fails. Three blocks away, he stops. He can’t go on. His legs become pylons stuck in the mud. The world collapses around him.
Blake reaches the dark security of the alley and huddles against the wall. On the ground by his feet, a half torn newspaper reads Local barfly D.B. Verges found dead.
“Not everyone can see the truth, but he can be it.”
Mr. Garew in his tower gets the news of Blake’s flight and shakes his head and scratches his English nose. He reviews the day’s notes and numbers and puts in a call for an appointment with Juli. She is busy with derivatives reports but Juli is not of great import to this senior executive, she but only a means to Blake and understanding his plans. He gets back to his computer and enters the password to access the Recallable Operation Master Exchanger. It boots in a nano-second. The special system where internal tabs can be kept on the workers flashes a magnifying glass icon. The word is given and Blake’s files are reviewed.
The urban asphalt alleyway, a gully gilded with steel, hides Blake as a headache overcomes him. Blake’s temporal lobe seizes with massive electrical activity. A storm of twitches and tremors brews. His eyes blink to see a being made of halo light step out of the shadows but can’t remain open.
“Poor boy, must have had something terrible happen. Doesn’t belong here. I’ll sit and won’t let anyone get his shoes. I need a rest too. How about some help?” asks Bill from Teaneck who lost his house in the Sub-Prime mortgage fiasco. Bill waves his hands in the air, looks up to the sky and says, “but since when have you listened to me anyway?”
Bill adjusting his army jacket, looks at Blake, scratches his bushy beard and sighs, “Not another one.”
Inside his mind, Blake flies through silvery barriers of reality to a temple of shifting violet and red light. A bench rises from the temple’s floor and Blake lands. On the altar, a faceless body sits with its legs over the side and above a massive scimitar hangs in midair. Blake lifts his hand the body spasms and the face of Julius Cesar appears. The scimitar swings and lops the head off. Another head buds off of the shoulders and the face of Friedrich Nietzsche forms. It is lopped off. Blake lifts his other hand and in a flash looks down at himself sitting on the bench. The blade cuts and the temple tumbles and spins in Blake sight.
Heavy eyes open to reveal an alley in the city of windows, and Blake lifts Bill’s head off his shoulder and gently lowers the man to the ground. His only thought is to call Juli on her cell but he has no phone.
“There must still be payphones in the city,” he says.
A payphone is found near City Hall and Blake wipes the receiver down with a leftover alcohol wipe in his pocket. There is problem. He can’t remember her number. It was store din his contacts on his phone. He hits his forehead with the palm of his hand.
“Think, think, think! You put it in your phone. Just remember,” he says and he calms down and straightens up as a beat cop strolls by. The number comes to him after imagining the day when she first gave him her number. He dials.
“Hello, Blake?” Juli answers.
“How’d you know? I’m all fucked up. Got nowhere to go and need to talk to your brother, the religion guy. Can I have his address?”
“What? Okay. I’ll meet you there. Stay there and don’t say anything until I get there. Okay?”
“Okay. Where is it?”
“Two blocks south from Pandemonium across from Falafel Hut. Has a bright purple S. O. S. sign.”
“Okay. Be there in twenty, bye,” Blake says and hangs up before Juli can finish.
SOS is open for business and Blake brushes a set of brass chimes hanging on a display case as he walks in. The smells of candles and leather bound books wafts in layers of dry air. Blake wanders the aisles of dark free standing wooden bookshelves with corkscrew legs and checks out the eclectic assortment of religious items from dream catchers to rosary beads. The cramped shelves warehouse the occult of Crawley and the teachings of Vimalakirti. Pictures of the Pope sit next to Santeria candles and enameled icons of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Mary and Kali, Vishnu and Ahura Mazda stand in line as Ganesha waits for the daily offerings next to clay sculptures of Hanuman carrying a mountain as the texts of the Avesta, barley touched, sit below a dense stack of texts on the Ramayana.
Where you go folks. My favorite little monkey now makes his entrance. He plays such an important role. He is what he is but he is what he isn’t as well. He’s got some good stories to tell about priest. But that’s for later. All right, now I’ll leave you be… for a while.
A man in canary yellow pants and a green poplin shirt sits behind a small scratched Queen Anne table. He reminds Blake of an aardvark with his long tapered nose and thin egg shaped face. The pants he is wearing are too tight and the leg length is too short so his black socks show. His gangly legs poke out the bottom and his salmon colored loafers that mock sensibility. Blake approaches and waits for the man to look up.
The man’s hair seems to change from copper to black as the light shifts around him. Blake thinks what an odd guy. The store fills and filters out curious hippies, Santeros, Punks and inquisitive others seeking ancient esoteric knowledge. Blake wanders away and flies through a rack with CD jewel boxes and hopes Juli will be there soon.
The man with the colorful clothes is suddenly upon him and asks, “Can I help you with anything?”
“Sure, do you have any metal here?” Blake asks and the scent of rosewater emanates off the strange man.
“This is a shop with all items relating to religion, and record store, unless it has to do with Mary, but usually not. If you want that, a place that sells vinyl records is five blocks over by the, never mind, you can’t miss that place. Has a big red dildo in the window that says Fuck iTunes on it.”
“No, it’s just that you have Christian rock, and other music and Metal has some religious themes.”
“Man, that’s just publicity. The cover art and references are all façade and no fact. We sell serious, well not all serious items, and they tend to have real content.”
“Sorry. I’m actually here to meet someone. Juli. C…”
“That’s the one. Is there somewhere I could wait and not be in anyone’s way?”
“Sure, in the back. Archie’s there, do you know him?”
“No, just heard he was a scholar.”
“He is, but not constrained by academia, all the stuffed shirts and tweed jackets cramped his intellect. Those people just want to publish, gain prestige not the truth.”
The man in the strange mismatched clothes leads him to the back through a gaggle of nuns searching for an antique copy of St. Gerome’s Vulgate for their bishop’s birthday. They ask the man and he points out the antiquarian section of tomes. A black door covered in white scrolling phrases in Sanskrit beckons Blake and the man taps on it twice and pushes it open with one carrot like finger.
“This guy is looking for you, or I mean your sister. I’m sorry what’s your name?”
“Blake Moxley. I work with your sister,” he says to Archie hovering over an angled drafting desk, lit by a kerosene lamp hung from a hook above. Archie dons a Benedictine monk’s robe with the hood over his head.
“I have heard of you come in. My name is Archibald. Have a seat,” he says as the other man leaves. Archie does not turn to greet him and keeps staring at an old illustrated manuscript on his desk written in the Tuscan dialect of Dante.
Blake sits on a small wicker chair and waits twitching his thumbs. The gray walls are the color of burnished aluminum and two medieval tapestries hang on opposite walls flanking the desk. Scents of strong Cuban coffee and cigars linger from earlier in the day. Archibald, after five minutes of staring, turns to Blake. His eyes are sunken shattered marbles and bloodshot. Archibald pulls back the hood off his shaved head.
“I am sorry to leave you silence for so long.”
“That’s fine. No problem.”
“Truly, I am sorry. I am not totally adjusted from the times recently I spent with some Trappists but I am acclimating to the real world again so forgive me. My sister speaks highly of you and…” The door knocks and Juli barges in a relieved expression falls across her face.
“What is wrong? Are you okay Blake?”
“I’m fine now. I just need some answers. By the way, what’s the guy’s name out there?”
“We call him Stiggy but his name is Michael,” Archie says and the round tone of his voice echoes.
“He had the Stigmata tattooed on him after accidentally eating mushrooms in the Amazon. He was going to be a Catholic priest but things sent him on another path,” Archie says.
“He’s the guy I mentioned before,” Juli says.
“So what brings you here to my shop of the syncretistic and odd?”
“Questions about, how should I put this? Demons and angels,” Blake says.
“Really, what questions?” Archie asks and turns back to his desk.
“I have seen some weird stuff, visions, and wanted to know if you think they exist?” Blake asks.
“Tell me about this stuff, these visions,” Archie asks.
“Well some things happened that were let’s say unpleasant and I had some dreams where a dead guy talked to me in riddles. I’ve begun to see things too.”
“Like colors and lights?”
“Yes, but not always. I saw a few people’s faces get all demon like, angelic too but they turn back to normal,” Blake says.
“Holy shit Blake,” Juli says.
“Seeing demons is nothing new, the Bible is filled with them and other apocryphal text like the book of Enoch and the Zoroastrians secondary figure, on par with their good deity, is Ahriman a vicious chaos demon. Hallucinations however have been happening since time began as well. I suggest you seek a psychiatrist. I’m in the middle of research so Michael could you show Blake and my sister out? Good bye sister,” Archie says.
Outside the door, Stiggy waves them out. Blake gets up, shrugs at Juli and steps into the hall. He is escorted out to the front of the shop.
“Hey, uh, Stiggy. Could I ask you a question?”
“Certainly, if it is about my real name? It is Michael.”
“No but he told me you were going to be a priest. You studied things like demons and angels right?” Blake asks.
“Yes, why did master Archie not have the suitable answer for you?”
“No. You know anything about demons and possessions?”
“Many things you probably would not want to hear.”
“Do they exist in your experience?”
As Stiggy is about to answer Juli walks out from the back room and right up face to face with Blake.
“Well, thanks for that. He thinks my friends are weird enough without this. I’m going back to work. I suggest you see a doctor and you better call work and talk to Mr. Garew. Maybe take a few days off. I’ll see you later. Bye Stiggy,” she says and is out the door leaving a trail of anger and jasmine perfume behind.
“Blake, demons exist and not are not what people think. They’re not fallen angels and they’re not here to damn us. They’re here to stop humanity from becoming more,” Stiggy says.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Come to the front desk and I’ll explain,” Stiggy says.
The nuns are waiting to buy the book and Stiggy rings them up with a smile. He sits down behind the register.
“Here’s the thing Blake, I found some things out about reality that are a bit disturbing so I’ll explain the universe then all other things will make sense. First there was the word, and we say that because the most important aspect of humanity is symbolic language. This lead to evolution and thus allowed humans to store and share knowledge. That is why Biblical creation begins with the word. It is power itself, it is thought made symbol made into stone.”
“Well I don’t care too much about the creation of the universe.”
“You should Blake and this universe is not a universe at all. It is a Polyverse, or Multiverse, or whatever they call it. The point is that are more than ten dimensions or even more as mathematics has proven and through that more than one reality. Sometimes they intersect and sometimes they don’t. Maybe a being that was from another dimension came to empty space and was bored so it decided to create an experiment. Make up a game where elements were given form and allowed to evolve so later they could play the game of life and death. A celestial chess match. This being, the Gnostics call the Demiurge, needed game pieces so humans were created and put in motion, but it took too long so other pieces were fashioned, control pieces, to speed up development by making humans overcome difficult problems. You know cast out of Eden. We call them demons but they are just sacrifices and pawns for the Demiurge. Thing is, from what I could find in my studies is that the Demiurge got bored and moved on to another game and left us all alone.”
“You are saying that God just created and left, never really intended to do anything but play a game of chess.”
“Yes, a divine experiment that evolved. Humans evolved and took hold of their own evolutionary path but the others, the one’s called demons and angels did not. This gives mankind the power to possibly one day become more than our creator. This bothers the demons because they had a purpose once but no longer. Now they stand on the verge of being vestiges of an absentee father so they plan to slow down human evolution. They divide and conquer. They create lies and spread them. They put people at each other’s throats.
Humans have been manipulated by demons hiding in plain sight but some say there are humans that will come along and cast the obstructions out.”
“You think people can be that easily manipulated,” Blake asks.
Stiggy lifts his bangs to reveal the tattoo of the Crown of Thorns.
“Hold on. So, God is a prick and humans could surpass God? Demons are just obstructions to evolution?”
“You got it. They are leftovers without the ability to grow or adapt.”
“So why haven’t these people who can see them stop them?”
“They have tried but organized religion and the governments are their mechanisms for control. You see the problem?”
“Sure. What about exposing these creatures to the media? Anyone try that?”
“Many have gone out to slay dragons, ghouls and demons. At one time, more people could see them but now they cannot. Humans are imprisoned by the clutter of this information age.”
“What happens to the people who can see them?”
“Very few people survive childhood with the gift to see the masked ones.”
“Masked ones? Better sounding than demons. What if the ability came later in life?”
“It would be our first real chance to helping humanity rise above this miasma.”
“I think you are looking at him. That’s why I came here. I can see grotesque faces for a minute like they have taken off human masks. Had a few accidents recently and started seeing things. Now I know why.”
“Have you seen others? The ones of light?”
“Yes I saw one, maybe two. What are they?”
“They are the fewest. Some call them angels but they are not guardians. They are more like observers or referees. They were created to make sure the rules weren’t broken too bad but then the creator left so who’s to know what they want now. They are more like men than the masked ones but they are also deathless and death is the engine of evolution. They sometimes helped out in the past and think some day we will free them as well from this bondage.”
“Can we talk about this somewhere else? Doesn’t feel right here,” Blake says.
“Certainly and it is good for you to trust your instincts if you can truly see the masked ones. I’ll give you my number and we can delve into this further in private,” Stiggy says.
“I know I sound crazy but this is all starting to make sense. I’m so glad I found you. Thanks Michael. You have a pen and paper?” Blake asks.
Stiggy nods reverently and they share home phone numbers.
At home, Blake washes his face, and then calls work to tell Mr. Garew everything is fine. He feeds Tyger and turns on the TV. A news report scrolls across the bottom of the Bloomberg TV channel: Sen. William Worthy killed in Plane crash to Djibouti from a trip to delegate peace talks in the small African country of Eritrea………………All perish including his three daughters and Movie Star Todd Rhodes. More on the life and work of Todd Rhodes upcoming...
The laptop is slipped out and Blake goes to check his emails. There is one from the bookie without a subject line. It reads Medical insurance is expensive. The night draws its rapier to slice the day’s side and bleeds out the rest of the black until Helios can ritualistically cleanse the sky again.
“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
Siddhartha Gautama: the Buddha
A personal day passes and the city of windows gets by without Blake. A deposit is made to the bookie and not seeing any masked ones on the walk to get groceries, no cookies, prompts him to call Stiggy. They decide to meet at Blake’s apartment. In his cramped chamber covered in papers, Stiggy and he hunker down on the couch and discuss the nature of reality. A lucky silver plated pen, twirls between Stiggy’s twiggy fingers.
“So what’s your last name?” Blake asks and gets up.
“Michael Mara is my given name but I never use it unless it has to deal with official business or the DMV,” he says.
The pen twirls as Stiggy flattens the cushion behind his back with his other hand and then watches Tyger climb up on top his tiny plastic house. Blake heads to the refrigerator and then grabs two beers in brown bottles because he read online that brown bottles keep beer from spoiling.
“Interesting pet, most people are afraid of venomous animals,” Stiggy says as Blake hands him a chilled bottle and then plops down.
“So God is gone and the religions are shit?” Blake asks.
“God left long ago and religions aren’t shit. The do a great job of keeping people tribalized and that is what the masked ones want.”
“What about angels and the afterlife?”
“The Afterlife would imply just one condition. I don’t think there is just one. Angels, or the ones of light, don’t really do much except maybe come to a person in a vision while they’re having a drug overdose and tell them to change their ways. Bunch of impotent messengers. Angelos is messenger in Greek. You can find them telling humans things and not doing much in all the religious texts from the Book of Enoch, Tobit, Elijah, to the Hindu Bagavadgita.”
He pauses as the pen slips from his fingers down to his lap. The pen safely back between his fingers, his digits begin to roll along.
“Sorry. What was I saying? Oh yes. All refer to beings like that. Listen to this. Saw a TV show where some loon professor where he theorized that angels, demi-gods, giants, Nephilim, where all extra-terrestrial aliens. He took the sky battles in Hindu texts and said they were space ship battles. I have a feeling that professor is a masked one throwing out disinformation.”
“So we can’t find angels and ask for help?” Blake asks.
“No. They won’t help do anything that changes the game,” Stiggy says and take a slug of beer. His teeth chill and his eyes burn from the carbon dioxide bubbles rising through his nose.
Blake shakes his head as he relaxes into the seams of the couch when he feels the room sink and a low-pitched boom cracks his ears with a slap.
“What the fuck was that?”
“What are you talking about?”
“The noise what else?”
“The fucken crazy loud explosion.”
“I didn’t hear it.”
“I didn’t hear anything.”
A knock at the door breaks the confusion and Blake gets up to answer. He peeps the peephole and sees Ms. Braque with casserole dishes covered by crumpled foil. Blake closes his eyes for a second, sighs and opens the door. She flows in like a storm surge.
“Hello boys, I figured you wouldn’t have eaten by now some I threw some things together. I hope you didn’t eat early.”
“No, we were going to go out later,” Blake says.
“We were?” Stiggy asks and the pens drops to the floor.
“Yes. There was no reason to do this but thanks,” Blake says to Ms. Braque.
“Where were we going to go?” Stiggy asks as he bends down to scoop up his lucky pen.
“So you know, I’m a vegetarian,” Stiggy says.
“I have a broccoli and cheese casserole and a nice mixed salad,” Ms. Braque says.
“Wonderful Ms. Braque. And this is Michael,” Blake says.
“Hello Michael,” Ms. Braque says and places the dishes down on the card table.
“Nice to meet you,” Stiggy says. Blake smiles at Ms. Braque.
“Ms. Braque, we were in the middle of a discussion and we will finish up in a moment so if you could please…,” and with the last syllable a black and purple cloud slithers out from behind Ms. Braque’s back. Her eyes flash neon green and a blue gas escapes from around her irises.
Blake steps back and shakes his head.
“Sorry Ms. Braque, allergy medicine. Holy crap. I totally forgot about the girls,” Blake says and hopes his lie isn’t transparent.
Ms. Braque’s face becomes thinner for a second but then all returns to normal. Blake looks over his shoulder to Stiggy who sits piqued like a dog that heard their food being poured in the food dish.
“Yeah Michael,” Blake says, winks, and continues, “supposed to meet the girls in a half hour in the West Village.”
“Yeah, I almost forgot. Can’t keep them waiting,” Stiggy says.
Blake gathers the dishes, hands them to Ms. Braque and escorts her to the door but does not touch her.
“Sorry. So sorry” Blake says.
She walks into her apartment and thinks that Michael is trouble. Blake closes the door and latches it.
“What’s wrong Blake?” Stiggy asks and his pen twirls faster than before.
“She’s one of them. Saw a black aura, green eyes and her face shrunk and then went back to normal.”
“I’ve heard of the green eyed monster but that is ridiculous.”
“Not funny. She has lived next to since I got here.”
“You said you heard something?”
“Yeah, just a second before she came.”
“You have a precognitive perimeter alarm system, an early warning system. They come around and boom.”
“Us coming together is right. I had doubts but I think we can help each other.”
“The sound didn’t happen before.”
“It will probably take time to develop and who know maybe even more powers will manifest. Damn. I just realized something. You have a Spidey Sense and you have an arachnid as a pet. It’s all connected.”
“What do I do about her?”
“Nothing. She’s probably just a Grigori, a watcher and there’s no need to let other masked one’s know you’re on to them.”
“I think I know what I must do now. We must find a way to reveal them to the world.”
“That’s what I’ve been waiting to hear for a long time. Explain to me what you saw? In detail please.”
“If you tell me the reasons why you left seminary?”
“It’s like a soul silhouette that is allowed to expand for a second and grows like a gaseous balloon. You know those terrifying Japanese warrior masks and armor, that’s what I saw in the others. Ms. Braque’s face just got thinner. You’re turn.”
“It started with a visit to my gym. I was there one day and like in all gyms there’s a guy who likes to be totally naked while brushing his teeth or shaving. Makes no sense since they are usually the hairy fat guys, and at my gym he happened to be a dean at the school. One day we were taking a piss at the urinal and he grabbed my package. Well, I declined the offer considering and I pushed him off. This caused me to slip on the piss slick floor and I hit my head. Totally knocked out and that night I started a drinking binge and took some bad drugs. Ended up in the hospital. I quit seminary and went to Brazil where I once again took some bad drugs and got the tattoos,” Stiggy says and then pulls back the cuffs of his shirt and reveals the wounds of ink on his wrist.
“Wow, maybe the masked ones were trying to manipulate you?”
“So what’s in the masked one’s arsenal besides deception?”
“Fear is their greatest weapon.”
“So we must face fear.”
“Let’ take off so Ms. Braque doesn’t suspect anything.”
“Where do you want to go?”
“We’ll just walk around. The best cover is the crowd,” Blake says. Stiggy slips his pen into the jacket pocket.
They walk west on Third Street to Laguardia Place and head north through the NYU buildings. They pass by Elmer Holmes Bobst Library and cross Forth Street into Washinton Square Park. Organic streams of consciousness and cement combine in this place clustered with NYU students. The air breaks as Blake pushes through and Stiggy drafts him as the sun unties ribbons of light across the skyline where clouds strobe across the horizon. They find a bench and face the fountain. Stiggy crosses his legs and eases back. Blake has the urge to buy a notebook just to writing down his encounters.
“That food did smell good,” Stiggy says.
“Didn’t notice. My sense of smell goes in an out sometimes. What’s your favorite food since we’re trying to get know each other?”
“Can’t say I have a favorite but I like honeydew melon, poached eggs, bacon. Sort of a breakfast guy I guess.”
“I used to just eat yogurt for breakfast as a kid. Can’t stand the stuff now. I know a good place for breakfast on Eighth Avenue, we should go sometime.”
“So, tell me more about how they do what they do,” Blake says.
“The corporations were created by the masked one. The oil companies are the worst. They keep mankind a way from the freedom of the S. U. N and the wind. We are oil addicts and fume throwers. We like to burn things.
Then there’s the prison of flesh the masked ones manufacture. Grab a burger in the half-hour you have for lunch. Get obese because you can, and the money you make to survive wastes away. Pressure, pressure, pressure, explode and the heart can’t take it any more. Adios. Humans get fatter because of carbohydrate addiction. Humans are stressed and have no time to exercise. Competition drives industry and wealth but destroys health and the cooperation mankind needs to transcend this condition.
The only sin in America is to be poor and fat. And it’s a nation of sinners in perpetual servitude.”
“If they only knew,” Blake says.
“Awareness might be the only path to freedom but humanity needs to wake up soon before a new disease wipes out everyone. Back to the minions of the masked ones, corporations, they promote antibacterial products in everything. Soaps, shots, cleaners and they run off into the water supply. The problem is kids are growing up in sterile environments and their immune systems do not develop correctly so kids nowadays are allergic to everything and have asthma. When I was a kid, I met only one kid with asthma.”
“You just made my decision easier. My boss, Mr. Garew, is one of them,” Blake says.
“Did you study myths of the werewolves of New Orleans?”
“Never mind, I’ll tell you later.”
“I must do something about him,” Blake says.
“Don’t go off fighting the world on your own, you need help and we must organize first.”
“He who hesitates is lost and I don’t want to chicken out.”
“And fools rush in. It isn’t your job. Your job is to locate them. You’re too valuable to take stupid risks. We will take their masks off, don’t worry but first we need others.”
“No. I know what I must do now. I’ll get into the Recallable Operations Master Exchanger, R.O.M.E., and burn it down from the inside so nothing than can be accessed. It’ll look like industrial espionage. I’m no hacker but I have access and just one worm can turn it to mud. Crash his company and his smug face will be revealed to others. You see I was told in a dream to stress them out and their faces will show.”
“I don’t know that that will work. They could find you and it will be over!”
“Not if I put on a mask.”
“DNA deception. I’ll shave my body. Pour on liquid latex and get hairs from a laundry mat and plant them. Put on shoes with lifts and wear ankle weights. I’ll put fake fingerprints down with a little cellophane and oil. Plus, I know where the cameras are. I already have some of the stuff and I’ll gather the rest later on.”