The Chronicle of Belthaeous
by John W. Steele
Rodney Neumann, a brilliant student of mathematics, has earned a scholarship at Columbia University. After years of spiritual struggle he has adopted materialism as his personal philosophy. In graduate school, he studies under, Dr. Adrian Nacroanus, an eccentric scientist who heads the Department of Genetic Engineering. The doctor’s advancements in biotechnology have earned him a reputation as a near-mythological being. In time, he and Rodney form a master-student relationship based on deep theosophical insights that Nacroanus reveals to him.
Dr. Nacroanus has developed a serum called Eternulum that he claims will increase human longevity. But before he can bestow his gift on humanity he must retrieve a mummified angel named Belthaeous, who has lain entombed in the Cave of the Ancients for thousands of years.
Rodney and Nacroanus journey to the Himalayas to find the hidden entity. Deep in the mountains, Rodney witnesses miracles that shatter his understanding of reality and confront him with forces of ultimate malevolence.
Chapter 4: A Tin God’s Dream
The morning broke bitter cold but clear. Even with both alcohol furnaces burning, my digital thermometer read −25° F inside our nylon cave.
There was no such thing as sleep in this place. The best I could achieve was a twilight muse not unlike an opium-induced stupor. The night seemed to drag on forever, and the brief periods of diminished awareness were sporadic and filled with visions.
Each time I nodded off, an angel — or bodhisattva as they’re called here — appeared before me. A feminine diva adorned with a bejeweled crown gazed down upon me. The angel shone like a sun goddess. Words could not describe her beauty. Though her presence was overwhelming, I could not rationally accept that angels existed. Given the state of chaos in the world, I found the idea of perfected benevolent entities preposterous.
The angel gazed at me, her eyes twinkling like light reflected from crystalline water. “My name is Ursula,” she said. “We are of a like vibration. I have chosen to assist you.”
I tried to speak but the words froze in my throat.
“You must remain vigilant; your life is in danger.”
So overpowering was her presence I scarcely heard her message. I focused on the maddening lines of her form and the flawless intricacies of her features. Her beauty was too charming to resist, and I lost the rest of her message when I fell under the allure of her unpretentious sexuality. When my thoughts of her became carnal, she disappeared.
I glanced at my watch. It was 4:00 a.m. Visions of Ursula, Heidi, and Lydia spun in my head like a carousel. How could I betray Lydia, the mother of my sons? Compared to the bodhisattva, Heidi looked like a monkey with its ears cut off. But until I’d seen this celestial bimbo, Heidi was everything I had dreamed of in a lover.
I wondered if sex wasn’t the cruelest deception, its craving filled with snares. Men will abandon anything for sexual fulfillment. The fetter of sensuality at times seemed to be far overrated, an energy gone mad through spurious hormonal programming.
I reasoned the psychotic episode was due to hypoxia. The imagination can be a horrible obsession. As the events of my life unfolded, I realized all the gifts given to a man are prisons that offer a moment of pleasure in exchange for endless bondage.
The mind is a gaping hole of desires that can never be filled. How could a man glimpse a vision such as Ursula and not be tempted by her? According to Thrangu, the greatest wisdom is restraint, but I am only flesh and blood.
I remembered what I had read about desire long ago. The writer quoted the Buddha as saying that if there were one more craving as powerful as sex, he would have never found enlightenment. When I asked Thrangu about this, he laughed and told me it wasn’t so. But he agreed with me that the comment had merit, and if the Buddha did not say that, he should have.
When I roused from the dream, I needed to void. The tent was colder than the core of a block of ice, and I dared not leave the comfort of my bag. I reached for the urinal and wet myself when I failed to secure the cap correctly on the container. Like a melting popsicle, the cold damp spot tormented me until morning.
Dr. Nacroanus appeared to be asleep. His face looked waxy, but a tiny line of fog flowed from his nostrils. He’d made it through the night.
He’d been given a battery-sized fuel cell which heated his sleeping bag. The prototype was a gift from Genibolic. When I asked for one, he refused to allow it. He told me that he didn’t want me too comfortable and that the austerity of our journey was a challenge I sorely needed.
It appeared the little dynamo worked perfectly. He looked deliriously cozy while I froze my ass off. Genibolic money funded this expedition, and every conceivable comfort had been provided for him.
Without Adrian’s connections, this mission would not have been possible. Genibolic resources had bribed the Chinese officials who allowed us access to this heavily guarded area of the far western slope inside the border of China.
This part of the mountain had been inaccessible for centuries. The peak was considered so important that no real knowledge of its existence had filtered to the outside world.
This was the Area 51 of Tibet, and all entry to the summit was heavily patrolled and guarded. The whole range of mountains in this locale thrived with legends, miracles, and tales about a dreaming god that dwelled at the roof of the sky. What treasure lay hidden here that was considered so important that the Chinese had placed missile defense systems on its borders?
Adrian told me the Oriental astrologers were responsible for our pilgrimage to this sacred place. According to them, materialism had reached its zenith on this planet. All life forms were now expendable and subject to exploitation, torture, and extermination in the pursuit of the new order about to descend on mankind. The sages predicted that the time of Mammon’s complete control of humanity was at hand, and somehow Belthaeous figured heavily in this prophecy.
Without the approval of the astrologers, anyone who dared approach this area met a horrible death by the Chinese commandos. We’d seen the results of their handiwork at ten thousand feet. The desiccated carcasses of seventeen men were impaled on poles, their faces and bodies mutilated; a stark reminder of the fate that awaited any would-be treasure hunters.
Thrangu asserted the mountain caves contained ancient passages that lead to the center of the Earth. He claimed the core of the Earth opened to another world of a higher vibration. The Sherpa described this paradise with such detail it was hard to believe that it was only a myth.
Sometimes the Sherpas would gather together under the moon and sing ballads about an emerald sea buried thousands of miles beneath the mountains. They told tales of great palaces, and crystal cites wreathed in clouds and hovering in the sky. The guides claimed that this subterranean paradise held the secrets of the destiny and the origin of man.
Thrangu claimed to have been taken to a temple in this world when he was a boy. The Lama King Humututah who ruled there granted him psychic gifts. It was rumored Thrangu could see through walls and even mountains. Though he would not demonstrate his powers, he had an uncanny ability to know things about the future that no one else could see. He could predict conditions before they occurred, and I believed he could read my mind.
The other Sherpas adored him like a father or a great chief, and trusted him with their lives. He told them we were going to bring the Archon back to the Potala, and I believed they did what he asked of them because they believed he was an enlightened master.
Getting dressed was always the hardest part, and after a long struggle, I slipped into my parka, unzipped my bag, and stood up. My body felt like a cadaver in the early stages of rigor mortis. I waved my arms in an attempt to stimulate my heart, and my joints cracked like the snap of a dried bone.
I dreaded the idea of leaving the tent. The vastness gave me the creeps. There was nothing for the mind to cling to but memories and the yawning indifference of the heartless void.
I peeked out of the tent flap. In the distance, the Sherpas huddled around a tiny stove. It did not appear they’d slept at all. They laughed and joked as if oblivious to the cold. They seemed to thrive in the harsh conditions.
The smell of the swill they called tsampa filled the air. I could not understand how they survived on such meager fare, but this gruel was the mainstay of their diet. To me this porridge had the texture of bark and looked like turkey manure, but they shoveled it down like caviar.
They’re a strange breed, these Huns or Mongols or whatever they are. Their skin is orange, and in milder temperatures they smell like wet alfalfa. When I asked Thrangu about this, he laughed and said Westerners smelled like rotten eggs to them. At first, I felt annoyed at his impudence, until I realized a high meat-protein diet produces hormones that are likely quite purulent, and he might be right. I didn’t think he knew what sarcasm was, and his remark was probably accurate.
I assumed their gene pool contained some DNA from that Yeti creature they seemed to adore, because they were all as healthy and strong as gorillas. Regardless of their so-called spiritual development, they seemed to be balanced at the rim of evolution.
Thrangu claimed the Sherpas were a sterling example of the true creation. He claimed that the majority of humanity does not contain what he called the theomorphic consciousness of Divine Light. He stated that demons and robots created by Mammon controlled this world and that they were composed of impermanent atoms.
According to him, this sector of the universe belonged to Mammon who is evil, and true Light beings were imprisoned here or kidnapped and brought here as slaves. He spoke of these things literally as if it was common knowledge among the more spiritually developed.
According to him, the Theomorphic consciousness had been trapped in bodies composed of matter, and they were exploited mercilessly for the Light they contained. Despite the implied connotation of the premise, I could hardly accept his mystical point of view. Yet his revelation did not surprise me. He went on to say that I was of the Light, but I had not yet realized it.
Though we were different, in some ways I envied the Sherpas. They had nothing, yet they appeared grateful just to be alive. The moment seemed to be their only concern. Neither did they appear to suffer with the torment of internal dialogue or the mind-virus of anxiety so prevalent in the Western mind. They found pleasure in things I hardly noticed, but their simplicity could be mistaken for ignorance or lack of wit. They were keenly alert and awake.
Nacroanus coughed a deep phlegm-filled rattle. His voice rang shallow in the frigid air. “Good morning, Rodney. It is morning, isn’t it?”
“Yes, sir. How did you sleep?”
“I had a wonderful dream, Rodney. I sat on a golden throne high above a vast congregation. The men knelt before me, their heads bowed. The women wept and reached out, calling my name. Their admiration felt glorious, and I sensed great oneness with creation. Have you ever wanted to be a god, Rodney?”
I’d grown accustomed to Adrian’s delusions of grandeur. For a long time I thought he was being facetious, so bizarre were his fantasies. It took me a while to understand his mind. But from his delusions, I learned: if a man tells you he is evil, it’s wise to heed the message.
“I’d like to believe in God, Adrian, but I have no desire to be one.”
He sat up and faced me. “What kind of drivel is that, Rodney? Everyone in the material world wants to be an immortal being, a god who resides in endless splendor for eternity. If that were not so, there would be no need for religion. Can you honestly say you’d sooner serve in an astral realm than rule here on Earth?”
“From what I’ve seen, Dr. Nacroanus, the gods of this Earth are tormented, jealous, greedy, warlike, xenophobic creatures. For me, perfection means wanting nothing, not jealously guarding what’s mine and worrying over who’s going to steal it. Greed is insatiable. A god could own the entire universe and still crave that which is not his. It’s the nature of the mind to be dissatisfied, I suppose.”
He clicked his tongue. “Rodney, my dear abnormal son, man was created to conquer and rule. That is the reason his mind can never be satisfied. There are always ideals to kill for, treasures to plunder.
“Why do you resist the obvious? This god you seek is right before you, shining resplendent in the riches of the earth and the exploitation of those born to serve. Who but a psychotic idealist would seek fulfillment elsewhere when it’s so simple just to satisfy the desires of your heart? There is no secret; the glory of the earth belongs to those brave enough to take it. That’s valor, boy. That is reality.”
“I’m sorry, Adrian, but control over others does not interest me. I see it as a form of hell, not heaven. If man was created to conquer, why were the conquered created?”
Nacroanus laughed. “To serve as slaves, just as the elite were created to rule as kings. Why is this so difficult for you to accept? You’ve transcended the conditioning of your class. You’re one of us now. Why do you continue to think like a peasant?”
I measured his words, and as usual I had no logical argument. “I agree, Dr. Nacroanus, your reasoning is impeccable. Reality forces me to agree. Tangible evidence always rules in favor of the material world. Mankind is a caste system maintained by kings and sustained by slavery.”
“As it should be,” he replied. Adrian’s face came to life. A smile curled in the corners of his mouth, followed by a shadowed expression in the intricacies of his features.
His face hardened like stone, and he frowned. “Where is Jigme? I want to get dressed. I’m feeling quite fatigued, Dr. Neumann. I don’t want to walk any further.”
Adrian strapped a mask to his face, and the hiss of oxygen cut through the silence. “Bring Jigme here now,” he cried in a muffled voice.
“Yes, sir.” I did as he commanded. Everyone did.
When I stepped out of the tent, bitter cold slammed into my face like the left-hook of a heavyweight. My throat went into spasm, rendered spastic by the touch of the electric morning air.
The Sherpas stood banded together like a herd of musk oxen. I tottered toward them, my gait stiff and my body shivering.
Thrangu smiled as I approached.
“Dr. Nacroanus wants to get ready for the ascent. Send Jigme to him now,” I said.
The Shaman’s smile evaporated, and he bowed. He gestured to the group, and Jigme sprinted towards the tent.
“What time is it?” I asked.
“Five-thirty, Dr. Neuma. We leave in half hour,” Thrangu replied.
The Sherpas disbanded and scuttled about as if their lives depended on it.
One of the guides brought me a steaming bowl of barley dripping with thick ivory-colored yak butter and puddles of amber malt syrup. Large chunks of ham peered out from the surface of the porridge, and after the first taste, I was hooked. I wolfed down the gruel in the mess tent and found the concoction thoroughly enjoyable.
Outside, Nacroanus barked at the guides. I could tell by the tone of his voice something wasn’t perfect.
His personal attendants stood by a sled made of aircraft aluminum. The contraption was a prototype that looked like the canopy of a fighter jet. Adrian said the cockpit would protect him from a fall of a hundred yards. Jigme and another Sherpa struggled under the barrage of his insults and did their best to strap him in.
“No, you pathetic morons,” Nacroanus bellowed, “I want my arms free during the ascent.”
The ordeal lasted about fifteen minutes. After much adjustment and manipulation, they harnessed him in the tubular frame. Canisters of oxygen were strapped to the rails, and the Sherpas did their best to make his journey up the rock face as comfortable as possible.
Copyright © 2014 by John W. Steele