The Trepanned Reality
Apocalypse for a Dissociated Creator
by Bertil Falk
1. The First Latch
For the connection between the ear and the inner organs of perception is like that between the door on the side and the window at the top; or, which is the same, as between listening or hearing, which has to do with the ear, and the sense, which is a capacity of the inner organs of perception. — Emanuel Swedenborg
With that word, Pope John XXXIV had once, a time long ago, finished a sentence in the context of stating the Church’s position on a sin-free mankind that never had stumbled out of Eden over the roots of an apple tree.
Times had changed since then!
John XXXIV was dead. His artificial reptile body lay in state, and a new Mope was elected. From her raised throne the new Mope looked out across Piazza San Pietro with her triangular eyes. Using the hard carapace on the flat side of her left paw, she stroked her thick toothless mouth. Then she made the sign of the cross with her fish-scaled hand that ended in a pair of big prehensile claws.
Tu es Petra, sang the thousand-headed choir of reptiles from Galtrism.
The new Mope, carried in a sedan chair, heard the applause that clattered and rattled and even pattered like a sudden spring rain this April day in Rome. Father Pax smiled and the Celibateur monk Urbanus Collectus stroked his tonsure, he too, smiling.
They were both happy that Mother Saulcerite had been raised to the status of Mope on this April day, which was anything but cruel. She had assumed the name Johanna Paula XI and chosen Father Paxinterra as her personal adviser and Brother Urbanus Collectus as her private secretary, as the archaic title read.
Brought back to the main altar, she was absorbed in prayers, prostrate cruciform, lying on her face with arms outstretched, and in profound concentration. In front of her lay a parchment scroll furnished with a bolt, a clasp, a lock, a catch, a trap, a fuse and a seal.
* * *
Her first trip as Johanna was to Rigel. The Mopemobile, as her vehicle was called with an ancient phrase, teleplayed her and her whole crew through indiscrete quantum jumps in an interval transcending the limits of space-time.
A giant sector of a circle had been cut loose from the peripheral emptiness of the Rigel system to make room for billions of supporters of the Universal Faith. Sitting in state within the framework of a thousandfoldly enlarged globeuse, she could be seen at distances of many light years, clearly and distinctly. It was all a big party in a grandiose spirit, and nothing indicated that the ultimate of epochs was at hand.
All this took place when the Federation was at war with an extrafederal galaxy on the fringes of the Union. The Federal Space Patrol, the privately owned Space Command, and the patchwork-quilt Galaxy Army had long been busy resisting attacks. The Field Marshals Bodil Robinson and Lars Hernia commanded one galaxy flank each. Lucia Method, the commander in chief of the Commando Forces, and Evita Pavement, chief of the Space Patrol, had narrowly succeeded in holding their positions. Teresia Nightmare was dismissed; the enemy had outwitted her.
Mope Johanna renewed her contact with Carolus Brainflower and kept Xavier Pascal at arm’s length after the debacle with the removed nunnery-cum-monastery. Carolus felt a nostalgic shimmer from the days when he and Mother Saulcerite had worked together in the shade of the mausoleum of the Futuremen on Earth’s moon and taken out Cardinal Personiter, who had been preserved in a space-timely twisted barrel between two teleportation stations.
Xavier Pascal, for his part, could not rid himself of a mental experience that had trickled into his primary life in the form of a secondary dream object that had materialized in a tertiary way in its quaternary sickly yellow form. He despaired of any chance of generating equipment with their quantum heads.
The yellow parchment was like a piece of sticky tape that got stuck on his big toe — the left one, mind you — when he tried to remove it from his forehead only to get stuck on his forearm when he tried to get rid of it from his big toe, etc. The damned yolk kept oscillating between existing and not existing. It was annoying. Existential and quantum-mechanical slapstick.
Sigourney Nagy just laughed at him. It was degrading to be encumbered with a minor official who lacked respect for superior rank, but what could a poor Police Patrol captain do? The question was left unanswered, and he had more important things to deal with. Security was top priority during the Mope’s appearance at Rigel. Any attempt on her life would be the last nail in his coffin-like authority as a captain.
Rigel, that blue super-giant, which burns up its hydrogen at a pace that might cause any normal sun to feel ashamed, was hanging in space, outshining just about everything. It was at this time that a host of heavenly phenomena passed before the throne of the Holy See. Everything alive in this part of the Milky Way wished to come and pay its respects.
Far away, something was seen that could be interpreted as the dragons of the Ragnarök, a heavenly phenomenon that could not be seen with the naked eye but could be discerned with the assistance of astronomers’ equipment. It was an extensive gas cloud in the distant environs of the universe, and it was taking the form of an apocalyptic horse race.
The Holy Mother felt the heavy responsibility incumbent upon her in her status as deputy in macrocosmos. When she looked out on the mankinds from her throne, a shudder of tenderness passed over her. It was a feeling out of this world, a splendid sense of affectionate charity.
How easy it is for a newly elected Mope to perceive hubris. In spite of having spent a great deal of her life praying and engaging in substantial exercises to mortify her flesh and become humble, she had also, more often than not, been proud of herself as a successful young priestess.
During the period of her life when she had worn the cardinal’s hat properly pressed down on her shapeless brow, she had guided with a firm paw the The Bureau for Assuring the Salvation of Newly Discovered Mankinds and developed a dominating, domineering and domesticating exercise of power. Some sensitive collaborators had experienced it as a reign of terror.
The young priestess from Bavaria had gone a long way, but she had from the very beginning of her career been an enterprising gestalt, who took up gauntlets the way others caught fish.
The Celibateur monk Urbanus Collectus might blush to recall her brusque firmness, but over the years he had become accustomed to her whims and had learned not exactly to love her but in any case to entertain feelings of understanding towards her, yes, even a kind of affection.
In a way he had become her right paw, though not fish-scaled or claw-equipped. And when needed, he never hesitated to act as if he were her dish-scalding, claw-equipped left paw as well.
After all these years he was also inured to the temptations of this world. He did not blush as often when he chanced to touch a woman, and he hardly reacted to the mere sight of one. He had triumphed over all temptations and brought a certain dignity to the monastic order of the Celibateurs.
The ascetics were delighted to have one of their members so close to Cardinal Saulcerite, and now that she was Mope, well... wow! Urbanus Collectus was now preparing himself for the last step in his spiritual development. He had already chosen the asteroid where he would spend the rest of his life.
The question remained whether he should build himself a pillar or sit inside a cave while contemplating and wrestling with tempting symbols of the kind that have a tendency to disturb every solitary hermit.
But he was not there yet. He was still under an obligation to the Holy See and his benefactress. He had promised to be by her side during the early times of her montificate, and he celebrated Mass with her on a daily basis as usual.
He stood there by her side in this enormous galactic stadium, which had been blasted and blown up in size for the lasting benefit of the faithful and now swam like a full-blown rose of brilliant stardust in the heart of Rigel. Oh yes, as he stood there, he sensed his terrible smallness in the cosmos; in time warps: now, then, afterwards; in space warps: everyhere, everythere, everywhere. It was an existence where huge heavenly bodies rolled with heavy-footed movements according to variable laws but were in reality just nano-things pasted onto the bell-cord of eternity.
Teresia Nightmare and Carolus Brainflower regarded the sight on the almost circular island Tristan da Cunha. Carolus Brainflower had returned to the island as a retired forest officer. Teresia Nightmare had followed suit and transported all of her expensive collection of time segments to this island on a distant southerly latitude. While fresh winds carried tangy odors around the island, they looked at the magnificent spectacle that was taking place in the constellation that included Rigel.
With wonder they saw how the Church, the development of which they had affected by their unwarranted intervention into the past secrets of the Order of Personites, prospered in the midst of the universe. All kinds of mankinds, sinful but full of implicit faith, were gathered around the throne of the Vicar.
The faith of Carolus Brainflower faltered more often than not in a way similar to the way in which the faith of Mervil Tojas was sometimes shaken.
“Fear that the tempter sets a trap where you least expect a snare,” Tojas used to mumble to himself. But not even Mervil Tojas was at Rigel. He had stayed at home in Rome.
But Father Pax was there, the artificial man, who was so real that he aged and could have become a father of a child had he not embarked upon a profession demanding continence and no sexual undertakings. As the years went by, he had become an integral part of the closely knit network surrounding Mother Saulcerite, a network that with next to perfect justice was regarded as a slightly corrupt force with too much say in the clerical world.
Once upon a time, Paxinterra had experienced a soul- and mind-exchange. On the morrow of being created, Cardinal Mobades had procured him. For his part, Mobades had taken over the body of Paxinterra and the consciousness of Paxinterra had been transferred to the body of Cardinal Mobades.
As Paxinterra, Cardinal Mobades had played a crucial role with Mother Saulcerite, who had suspected neither foul play nor even play on his part. In that way he had been able to initiate the ecclesiastical renovation that took hold after the momentous agreement in front of the Pope at the time.
Now Cardinal Mobades had been dead for many years. Paxinterra was the personal advisor of the new Mope and perhaps the one who, together with the inner circle of old friends, was nearest to her.
Paradoxically, the most prominent gestalt was he who was otherwise in the background: the gray eminence, Advocatus Diaboli. As an immortal he had survived some thirty mopes and popes and, for the past six hundred and thirty-two years, had acted as the one whose task was to hinder every canonization of importance.
The Advocatus was a horned thing from the star-studded area of Cassiopeia, a cheerless gestalt with seven sad eyes, constantly stigmatized with open and bleeding wounds like someone butchered. That same entity had been in the background when the measures of young Mother Saulcerite had caused the pope to cease mincing matters and accept that androids could be blessed with salvation. The Advocatus had seen an insignificant woman of a negligible humanoid species rise through the clerical hierarchy to the highest of ecclesiastic heights.
It recalled the eyes of Mervil Tojas on the verge of leaving their sockets when the permanent secretary of the Vatican, the asymmetrical Trappist, had been gliding through the wall and disappeared into the inner sanctum sanctorum of the Vatican in order to tell yarns to the then pontificated Holy Father.
The grey eminence had always been in the background and only emerged when its knowledge was in demand. All beatifications and canonizations were impossible without its assistance. It would ransack the reality behind all pious smiles. It was its task to examine thoroughly the true reason for beatification. It had to scrutinize good deeds to make sure there was no underlying evil, no hidden intention that actually could be bad.
Now Mother Saulcerite was the Mope. Now the Advocatus’ great moment in existence approached. Now it was standing behind the throne while Tu es Petra rose towards the new papal Mother.
It fingered the constellation that hung locked in a chain around its “neck” but could open up like an Advent calendar. The Advocatus it was who would do the unlocking.
Its seven eyes sat like a Big Dipper in its face. It, All-Wise, a dreamer from Cassiopeia, Christianized thousands of years ago, the confidant of the mopes and popes for thirty incarnations of the Vicar on Earth. For as Emanuel once had remarked, the seven eyes represent omniscience, a prerequisite to divine wisdom.
Xavier Pascal had noticed the obscure gestalt, standing behind the Mope. A species that had a Big Dipper instead of two eyes was not stranger per se than many other mankinds that peopled the worlds, but this one made Xavier Pascal suspicious.
On the one hand, it stood a little too close; and on the other hand it looked sly in its monk’s frock. The cowl would have disguised its face, had it not fallen down his back or whatever was the being’s reverse side.
Xavier Pascal dared not intervene directly lest it be a mistake. Instead he made a sign and two of his people placed themselves obliquely behind the suspected figure.
At that same moment, the Mope turned around and leaned towards the thing, which immediately came forward. She said a few words and it nodded. Xavier Pascal congratulated himself on the restraint that had caused him to take it easy. It was obvious that the being belonged to the Holy See.
The being stretched out its right hand, which grew until it covered a fourth of the canopy of heaven and broke the seal of Rigel hanging around its neck like a key around the neck of a latch-key child.
Like the Magellanic clouds, the blurred haze welled forth at many times the speed of light out of the extensive gas cloud. It settled into the speed of a Draconic horse race and straightaway rubbed out a backdrop of luminous crowds of galaxies.
It changed form, and lo! Soon one could see that it had assumed the form of a White Dragon and on it sat an armed rider with a crossbow. He galloped along across the star fields with the naturalness of an Apocalyptic jockey. The hand of the eminence resumed its natural size.
“This,” Johanna Paula XI said and crossed herself, “is the rider of cleanness about truth and goodness,” and in that moment everyone knew that the kingdom of heaven was near.
And the winner stepped forward to the throne of the Vicar of Christ and was crowned with a laurel of wreath by Mother Saulcerite.
And the evening and morning were the first day of her pontificate.
Copyright © 2002, 2009 by Bertil Falk