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 12: Jigme
A sea of oblivion seeped deep into my core, and my blood chilled to ice. My body seemed to dissolve, leaving only an isolated awareness. I lay curled in the fetal position like a zombie without will. The weight of the fathomless void sat on my chest like an ocean of quicksilver. My respirations grew labored and each breath leaked like air through a straw.
Only the promise of eternal anguish existed here. This was the pit of the Matrix where the spirit of mercy dared not enter. I know not how long I suffered in this abominable mind state. Seconds seemed like centuries, and time had no meaning. I remembered a course I took on Quantum Physics at university and I realized I’d been confined to the first density of mineral awareness, and for how long I did not know.
Each time I felt I could endure no more of this horrific despair, the pressure increased, and I sank deeper into oblivion. I knew there would come a point from which I could no longer survive the agony, and my mind would pulverize to a state of irreversible insanity. A grave sense of horror erupted within, and I stood poised on the brink of hysteria.
I called out to the Light and begged it to rescue me from this impossible hell. An image of the amulet flashed in my mind. I grasped the eye of Mammon and clung to it with all my might. A blast of psychic energy tore through my spine and exploded in my nerves, and the terror eased.
After what seemed like eternity, I rose from the abyss and the crushing force began to fade. Filaments of light formed like spider webs in the peripheries of my vision. And the power of darkness receded into the void.
When I returned to third density, the Cave of the Ancients no longer looked the same. Though its shape and immensity remained as I remembered it, the surreal charm of its features had wilted away.
Where once stretched the endless desert, there lay a vast plane of igneous rock dotted with gnarled ridges and gaping fissures. Gone were the majestic jade mountains, now transformed to stark granite walls.
A ceiling composed of dripping stalactites sealed the astral portal that once opened to infinity. This unparalleled expanse, once thriving with energy so vibrant it seemed like a living thing, had become little more than a lifeless and empty catacomb from which all organic forces had drained away.
Through the grayscale haze I peered at the Tree of Knowledge. Its magnetic flux no longer pulsed. In its place, a towering column of forged iron stood stark and barren against the horizon. Rusted arches spread from the monolith supporting the roof of the tomb like pillars of doctrine supporting a foundation of reality.
I marveled at the tree, and I knew anyone who dared question the root of its integrity would suffer the curse of blasphemy that only the heretic must endure.
With the extinction of the Guardian, the world had grown dimmer; and the spirit of Darkness, stronger and more impenetrable. So terrible was the shock of the lower dimensions that I’d forgotten about the others. I heard a groan somewhere in the distance. I waved away the haze before my eyes and searched for the source.
Evidently my comrades had journeyed to the underworld as well. I watched them rise to their feet like corpses climbing from the grave. They wandered speechless and disoriented, like victims in the aftermath of a cataclysmic disaster.
Before I could gather my wits, a rumble of hoofbeats sounded in the east, and I gazed out at the furrowed mesa.
Like a leviathan rising from the depths, a pale horse strode across the desert. Clouds of dust swirled at its feet, and sparks erupted from the frozen magma beneath its hooves. The stallion towered high in the air, its legs stout columns of bone and muscle. Its hulking frame was as large as a Zeppelin, and it sped across the plateau with the speed of an arrow.
The spectacle attracted the others and we stood on the high wall of the basin in awe of this equine monstrosity. The juggernaut galloped to a halt about a thousand meters before us, then whinnied and reared high in the air, waving its ponderous hooves.
Nacroanus eyed the stallion warily and said, “Jigme, I see you survived the chastening. Go to the canopy and bring me my field glasses.”
The Sherpa signaled to one of the guides, and the young man returned with Adrian’s binoculars.
I walked along the perimeter in an attempt to garner a different perspective of the beast. I could see that a long narrow carriage lay tethered behind it. The enclosure had no wheels, and it hovered over the floor of the plateau. I could not determine what the coach was supposed to be, but it appeared to have pillars and a stairwell like some kind of architectural delineation.
Dr. Nacroanus raised his field glasses and surveyed the hovering structure. “It’s just as was predicted in the scrolls, Dr. Neumann. The stallion has delivered to us the sepulchre of the Avatar.” A smile spread on his face, and his eyes burned.
He walked over to the canopy and barked orders at our guides. They sprang to action and began to unload our portable laboratory from the sled. Adrian held great veneration for his scientific instruments and had designed many of them himself. He was meticulous in their care, and I knew the unpacking ritual would take some time.
Jigme appeared at my side, his twisted smile brazen on his face. I felt defeated as though I’d never won a battle in my life and never would. I looked at him indifferently and said, “Nice trick with the aboriginal Indian skit, Jigme. How’d you pull that off?”
He snickered like a spoiled child. “Oh, come now, Dr. Neumann,” he replied in perfect English. “Surely by now you know nothing is as it seems. The power of intense concentration can be used to produce a profound hypnotic state. The Western mind is easily influenced and can be made to accept anything, no matter how ridiculous. I allowed you to see what you wanted to see.
“We learn the art of suggestion here at an early age. All negative control systems are based on the art of deception, Neumann. I learned the technique from the great lamas, but the Enukai taught me the finer secrets of mind control.”
I looked hard in Jigme’s eyes; they held nothing at all. “I trusted you because I thought you were like Thrangu. But I see it was all a lie. Why did you pretend to be something you’re not? Why did you betray us?”
A dirty frown curled on his lips. “Betray us? Dr. Nacroanus is right about you. For a man with your gifts, you’re incredibly gullible. How have you survived with us this long? Don’t you understand the cornerstone of our doctrine: the greed of the few outweigh the needs of the many?
“Do you think you get something for nothing in Mammon’s world? Belthaeous wrote that human sacrifice would be required to resurrect the Avatar. Thrangu believed that good was greater than evil, so gullible is the heart of those blinded by faith.
“But in the end, Mammon beguiled our old holy man and took his treasure. Thrangu chose death as a reward for his betrayal. The great lama will make a flaming star in Mammon’s astral realm; an example for all would-be seekers of Light. Who on this earth can resist the Beast?”
“You’re a liar,” I bellowed. “Thrangu would never have sold his will. There had to be a reason he did what he did.”
“Liar,” Jigme said. “Don’t get sanctimonious with me, you son of a bitch. You Western robots are such hypocrites. You make us laugh with your designer ideals, and your blatant hypocrisies. You believe it’s all right to kill anyone who disagrees with you and to steal what is not yours, as if the earth were created as your own little candy shop.
“Everything about your civilization is upside down and backwards compared to the rest of the planet. You think because you’re forgiven for anything you do, there is nothing you can’t do, no matter how perverted or reprehensible.”
“I’m not talking about forgiveness, traitor. I’m talking about ethics,” I said.
“Why do you call me traitor? We’re on the same side. Ethics only apply to the ethical, and you’re not one of them. The ethical are the easiest to deceive. I’ve been working with Dr. Nacroanus since the chancel granted him the scrolls.
“Four of us traitors have died so far, which means my reward from Geni has doubled. In the long run, it’s all about the money, isn’t it? Tell me why you close your eyes to what you know to be true and serve this tyrant through some distorted ideal you know is a lie?
“We don’t bother with such pretentious conceit. Evil holds no hypocrisy, Neumann; we do what we do because it’s the easiest way to satisfy our desires. You’re the hypocrite.”
I lowered my head. “I have no choice. I can’t change the world.”
“Oh how naïve you are, Neumann. Of course you can change the world... for the worse. This is the power of Mammon’s will and the secret of his favor.
“You make a big mistake in judgment, Dr. Neumann. You assume everyone reasons as you do. This is why men like you are so easy to exploit. We just play along until it’s time to sink the blade in your back. Trust is just another form of weakness, Neumann. Don’t blame the fox because it steals the chickens.”
I knew he was right, and I hated him for it. For so long, I’d pretended to view reality through the gloss of my artificial integrity, but in essence I knew I had none. I did what I felt I had to do to survive in this prison of appetites. So did Jigme. What was the difference between us?
I now believed he was evil, and he thought I was a phony idealist. In the end, we were both right. My ideals always seemed to correlate perfectly with my desires. But I was beginning to awaken... and I didn’t like it.
Nacroanus stood in the distance, measuring the dimensions of the shrine with a laser scope. The Sherpa busied themselves calibrating the instruments. The horse stood still, as though locked in a state of suspended animation. Its breath flowed in white puffs of mist from its nostrils, and its muzzle hung just over the surface of the ground.
Jigme looked over at Adrian and smiled at me. “Do you know why the Vulpeculans honor Dr. Nacroanus? Because he’s not a hypocrite. He knows Mammon is evil and does not try to twist what he does for evil into good. Nacroanus doesn’t pretend what he does is for virtue or honor. Mammon rewards those who serve him unconditionally.”
I stared at the temple and said nothing.
“There is the great mystery in the Chronicle of Belthaeous, Dr. Neumann. I’m going to tell you something no one would believe anyway. This I learned from an old priest of the Kagyu-pa. He claimed the knowledge had been passed down from the Milarepa.”
Copyright © 2014 by John W. Steele