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 5: A Premonition
From a distance, Dr. Nacroanus looked like an emperor riding atop an ancient litter. A dozen powerful Sherpas were tethered to the contraption like sled dogs. If any of them lost their footing, they’d tumble to their deaths along with him. They moved with astounding agility. I sensed Thrangu had assured them their journey to the ice cave would be successful.
I marveled at the power of our guides. They hauled Nacroanus up the vertical like a bag of feathers. I’d never seen such stamina. They worked together like a hive of bees. Each one seemed to be aware of what the others were doing. A shared intuitive coordination flowed in their movements; their minds were in synch, and they functioned as a single body.
Jigme led the climb, inserting ice pitons in the rock face every few feet. This created a ladder from which he attached twist-lock carabineers.
Dr. Nacroanus looked down from above. He swayed from side to side, dangling like a pendulum from the taut steel cable.
I thought it would be a relatively simple task to climb the stirrups suspended in the wall, but soon it became a labor-intensive process. The closer I grew to the ledge of the cliff, the more difficult it became. The last few yards were agonizing. My lungs pumped like a bellows, and my throat burned as if I’d swallowed acid.
I made the mistake of looking into the abyss and stared at the ice-crusted boulders below. I panicked, and my hands tightened like a vise on the rope. A feeling of vertigo whirled in my head, and my stomach grew queasy. I closed my eyes and dangled in space, unable to move up or down.
Thrangu’s voice echoed in my skull, and I remembered what he had said about the trip to the Cave of the Ancients. Journey to temple of Belthaeous only ten mile, but consider first nine as half.
This entire excursion was foolhardy and fraught with danger, and I wished I’d never considered it. I felt lightheaded and faint. Suddenly, the tension in my haul loop increased, and I began to rise like a helium-filled balloon. The Sherpas grabbed my shoulder straps and pulled my body over the lip of the cliff.
I lay on the ice floor. My chest heaved, and sirens screamed in my ears. I stared into the milky blue sky. A pressure formed at the top of my skull. My ears popped, and Me escaped from the body.
It felt glorious to be freed from the bonds of the fleshy envelope. I’d never experienced anything with such intensity. I felt no fear, only the rapture of release. A sensation of expanding exponentially in every direction overwhelmed my awareness. I wanted to exist forever in this state of limitless perception. So perfect was the feeling of ecstasy that I would not have returned to my painful body if given a choice.
The glimpse of this higher awareness lasted but a moment, and I flowed back into flesh, once again encased in the confines of physical body like a zombie trapped in a three-dimensional coffin.
Jigme stared down at me, his face illuminated with the wry smile that was its hallmark. He spoke little English, but I believed he was made of the same stuff as Thrangu, and I trusted him. He helped me to my feet, and I gazed out at the endless sky.
At last I understood why these mountains were sacred. This focal point held the crack between the worlds, the seam where the past, the present, and eternity converged. Life and death, good and evil, fantasy and reality, all intersected in this vacuum between the astral and the earth.
This isolated pinnacle of space, hostile, inaccessible, and hidden in the middle of nowhere, formed the gateway to a higher dimension. A feeling of grandeur surged through me, and I began to weep.
Thoughts of Lydia penetrated my reverie. A vision unfolded, and I remembered when our boys were young and how we struggled to provide for them the security of a family that neither one of us ever had. I looked into the merciless mind mirror at the thought forms etched in my memories. I hated myself for my weakness, and for the realization that there was no longer any bond between us.
Life with Lydia had become intolerable. To give, to love, to care, requires specific vibratory feedback. It’s not something I could pretend, and it no longer flowed unconditionally. The feedback Lydia gave me only pushed me further away. Her sanctimonious attitude kept me in a state of suspended agitation.
There comes a point from which there is no rescuing a relationship. Heidi gave me the feedback I needed and more. It was easy to love her. But there were other corpses in my mind that had marinated for a long time.
The urge to hurl my body from the cliff grew overwhelming. The burden of thought and the damnation of mortality burned in my heart like molten lava. I’d been granted the curse of perception, and I knew right from wrong. I could not hide in the womb of ignorance or close my eyes to the hard realities that make the world go around.
Though I tried, I could not swallow the bait to end up a dried fish hanging in the sun. Reality was purely flawed, and I could not see beyond the gloomy revelation. The God I longed to adore could not be found or had abandoned me.
To be born is to suffer, to desire, to question. The older I got, the more I hated myself for procreating. My sons would probably never want for a thing. Their designer lives were filled with comfort and security. But Lydia had spoiled them, and I wondered if they would ever amount to anything. I wondered if they would ever be able even to sense the plight of those less fortunate or oppressed. So powerful are the senses, it’s easy to mistake them as the only reality.
I’d grown tired of the whole mess. I wanted to return to the bliss of the sky, to exist as a beam of pure consciousness for eternity. I longed to be freed from the limits of this painful body, freed from the curse of my nagging conscience and the loneliness of separation.
Time was running out. In my guts, I knew this expedition held great significance. Soon I would have to make a choice of what I believed or it would be made for me. I gazed out at the hypnotic blue horizon and stepped towards the edge of the cliff.
A robust tug on my elbow dispelled the trance. Jigme spun me around. I placed my hand on his shoulder to steady myself.
“Forward,” he said. He smiled.
I sighed. “Yes, forward.”
I wanted to signal Thrangu to let him know that we were alive and that we’d surmounted the impossible barrier. I turned to wave to him. Far below on the glacial floor, the Sherpas stood like ants: stark, black, and insignificant in the vast ocean of snow.
Though the skies were clear, a booming thunder resounded overhead. The mountain trembled, and I tumbled to the ground. I rose to my knees and stared in awe at the spectacle unfolding on the white sea.
A thousand yards to the west, a raging avalanche tumbled down the ridge. Like a tsunami, it crashed on Thrangu and the others. An ice wave at least a mile wide and several hundred yards deep buried them for eternity. Time stood still. Thrangu’s premonition had come to pass.
Copyright © 2014 by John W. Steele