Beyond the Island
by John W. Steele
Young Brian Mudd is proud of his ability to travel in the astral realms — until he encounters Lord Nagual, who prefers to be called “Max.” Brian becomes Max’s apprentice and finds him a harsh, even cruel master but nonetheless an effective instructor. Meanwhile, Brian is taken with Karen Frost, with whom he feels he has a karmic link. And Brian’s karma is trouble.
Waiting is the hardest thing in the world to do, and I had a few days to kill before I could call Karen. Lord Nagual had instructed me to keep a low profile, so I avoided going into town. He told me our business in the springs would soon be completed, and it would be time to move on to the next victim.
The paperwork scam I used at the bank was a ruse Lord Nagual had developed. It was a way for me to establish myself quickly with a client and saved a lot of time. It gave my victim a bird’s eye view of my history, and created a window that otherwise might take a while to establish. The women I stalked thought they knew me; this helped them feel secure when I tried to get to know them better. Of course, my financial assets certainly weren’t a deterrent to my success with them.
When Karen realized that I was what I claimed to be, it would be time to move to part two of the plan. As smart as she was, nobody is immune to the seduction of a seasoned liar, especially one that appears to be genuine and sincere, like a television evangelist. I remembered the innocent look on Karen’s face when I met her, and I knew she was a trusting soul.
Lord Nagual told me that I had been chosen because of a long personal history, in which I had entered very specific windows in the cosmic veil, and that the victims we selected required our assistance. He claimed there were dissonant energies that blocked our evolution. Powerful forces had to be nullified before those confined within the circle of knowledge could evolve. He informed me that when a woman disappears without a trace, a Nagual was always involved, and that something he called the Pendacle had cycled.
Since our first encounter in the astral realm, I’d grown irritable and anxious. I lost weight and suffered with prolonged bouts of depression. The first year of my apprenticeship, Lord Nagual came to me only in dreams. He’d appear as a rainbow, or a sylph, or a whirlwind, always disguised as a force of nature. He’d lure me into the illusion, and then spout insanities about our mission and how the Pendacle was the fulcrum of evolution.
We spent untold periods of time discussing the Pendacle. He claimed it was established when the Unborn chose to emerge from chaos, and without a Pendacle, the universe would revert once again to chaos. He said that all mind-created patterns, even the tiniest particles like molecules and atoms, could not exist without a Pendacle, and that without its stabilizing influence, energy becomes so chaotic it destroys itself.
Energy once nullified devolves into black matter, a substance void of essence or meaning. He claimed black matter is mind-created and can only exist in an artificial universe. He said that the dimension of Id was built with dark matter, and that the only reason it escaped the horrors of oblivion was that the Pendacle was at its center. He sometimes referred to the Pendacle as heart, and because of heart, all beings in innumerable realms were absolved from cause acquired while shackled in the chains of ignorance.
I tried to shrug off these nocturnal episodes as night terrors. When I could not, I started drinking to ease the trauma this cataclysmic disruption had created in my life. Like all tortured souls, I felt that I could change, and in time, the hallucinations scrawled on the canvas of my memories would go away.
Sometimes, after a bad astral trip, I’d wake up in the middle of the night, my heart pounding, my body drenched in a pool of cold sweat. I had a recurring dream that I was burning alive in a great fire, and that I held something precious in my arms. I felt I was implicated in a circle of treachery. I was treading a tightrope that spanned the dark abyss of death.
It got so bad one day, I stood in the shower with a gun to my head, my finger stroking the trigger. I thought about splattering my brains on the bathroom wall to escape the voices that now raged inside me. But Lord Nagual warned me if I tried to end it all, he’d be waiting for me beyond the island, and he claimed I had not yet seen his dark side. I was a prisoner... a prisoner of my own mind.
It now seemed everyone in my world was a spy. I felt I was under surveillance. Ideas of reference clouded my judgment. I believed that strangers having a normal conversation were talking about me. I grew tormented and perplexed, and created a mind state of suspicion and paranoia. I placed aluminum foil over the windows to prohibit the use of spy cameras, and sealed the keyholes of the doors with duct tape.
The light of day had become intolerable. I left the apartment only under cover of darkness, in the quiet hours after midnight. Voices raged in my head, berating me unmercifully for crimes of which I had no memory. The faces of my alleged victims skittered like phantoms on the borders of my awareness. When I could no longer tolerate the delusions of persecution, I asked Lord Nagual about my part in this evil web of sorcery.
It was three a.m. I was sitting in the dormer of my attic apartment. The tail end of a nasty northeaster was coming to a close, and three feet of new fallen snow covered the landscape. The pewter sky had given way to the face of a full golden moon, and beams of light sparkled like tiny diamonds on the smooth blanket of fresh powder. I’d become absorbed in the writings of Swedenborg, and I was lost in the cosmology expressed in the Arcana Coelestia.
From the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something creating a pattern in the snow. At first, I thought it might be a small animal treading on the drifts, but when I looked closer, I could see footprints forming on the surface. There was no body or any kind of form above the wave of undulations ploughing through the snow, and the footprints were heading for the steps that ran up the side of the house to my flat.
The air in my apartment suddenly grew fragrant with the scent of sandalwood. An icy chill flooded the room. I sensed a presence behind me, and the hair on my neck stood on end. My world grew deathly silent. I sat petrified in the chair, breath still in my lungs, my skin puckered to gooseflesh. I was not insane. Lord Nagual was real. The dream I feared more than death now stood behind me. I shuddered at the implications of his presence and the vow I had made.
“What do you want?” I asked timidly.
“I’ve decided you’re as ready as you ever will be. We have work to do, and I need your assistance.”
“What kind of work?”
“Her name is Andrea. She is a lamenter.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means she longs to escape the torment of the energies she’s created. The Pendacle has gone full circle, and the forces can no longer be contained.”
The dreams flashed in my mind’s eye like a psychotic déjà vu. I’d promised myself that if this monstrosity ever appeared on my island, I would ignore it as a hallucination and call the crisis hotline. Being insane could not be more horrible than the reality of this abomination.
“Pendacle, my ass. It’s obvious why you want her. I think you’re nothing but a celestial pervert.”
The Nagual exploded with a belly laugh. Sheets of snow slid from the roof and tumbled past the window like an avalanche. “It’s too bad you didn’t choose to be a comedian, pork chop. You’re entertaining at times.”
Without missing a beat, I felt his icy fingers tug on a nerve deep in my eye. The sensation was excruciating. My jaw fell open. I was unable to speak, and my mind grew clear and sharp.
“It’s not like that. Maybe this will help. Pretend that you’re a mercenary or a bounty hunter, and you’ve been paid to seek out and detain enemy combatants. I assure you what you’re doing is for a noble cause, and if we stay the course, our purpose will be revealed to you. This is the last time you’re allowed to ask about our mission; it is the law. If you do so again, the consequences will be painful.”
I knew what he meant by pain and I etched his warning in my memory. The idea of being a mercenary was consistent with the conditioning of my island, and this eased my conscience to some extent. Because my actions were for a noble cause, I reasoned that it was acceptable to destroy someone else’s life no matter what the purpose.
But the further we progressed in our mission and the deeper I became involved in Lord Nagual’s distorted and abstract view of the world, the harder it became to rationalize my behavior. And this realization was about to become painfully apparent.
Copyright © 2009 by John W. Steele