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 18: The Way of the Scorpion
Nacroanus climbed back up the slope. Like a shadowy wraith, Jigme appeared out of the night. I heard them laugh, and their voices rang firm in the outer dark.
I headed back to my tent. Nacroanus must have planned the murder in advance, because the massacre had unfolded like a well-organized conspiracy. Like clockwork, the Burmese lackeys appeared from their encampment on the other side of the glacier. I watched them lug the lifeless bodies away from the mess.
One of them hummed a tune I remembered: “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog.” He offered up the melody with the same indifference to his task as a sanitation worker hurls a bag of trash into the maw of garbage truck. I thought the song quite apropos. I wondered why life, with all its internal significance, amounted in the end to little more than blunted perception incarcerated in a shell of waste matter.
The porters carried the bodies to the crevasse where they cast them into a deep grotto to lie frozen until this hell world ceased to exist. When the last of the Sherpas were removed from the tent, the laborers soaked the enclosure with kerosene and burned it to ashes.
As usual, I felt shocked and helpless by the ways of a conqueror that I could not understand. Why could I not accept that man is a predatory animal who cries out in the darkness at the moon of his ideal, and worships it as God?
The shock of the massacre left me numb, and my ears screamed like sirens. My body ached with exhaustion, and I knew only nightmares awaited. Despite the depth of my despair, I fell into a deep slumber as soon as I crawled into my bag.
* * *
A lustrous sugar sand beach appeared beneath a coral blue sky. In the distance stood the glimmering Bodhisattva who had warned me that my life was in danger. I approached her and stopped when her radiance began to repel me.
Ursula looked ravishing, and I struggled to control the carnal urges I felt for her. Cautiously, I studied her form. She appeared to be a crystalline hyperdimensional entity. Kaleidoscopic wheels of radiance formed geometric patterns throughout her body. Her golden hair flamed with a rainbow aura, and a magnificent diadem of rubies and diamonds sat on her head. To look at her was to know the essence of feminine loveliness.
She wore a shimmering white gown that hung to her feet. Gold brocade adorned the vestment, and even in the loose fitting garment she radiated burning sensuality.
Though I could not see him, I felt Thrangu’s presence over my shoulder near the top of my head. His energy reassured me, and I remembered what he told me about the feminine creation. He claimed all men were made of mud, clay, and stone but that woman was formed of spiritual matter removed from the male, and that was the reason men found them so enchanting to behold.
Ursula remained silent. I continued to gaze at her, and I hungered for her energy. But I knew she had a message for me, and I didn’t want to blow it with her again. I lowered my eyes yet, no matter where I looked, I could see her, like the moon reflected on water.
“You’re doing a little better,” she said.
“Why do you come to me now?” I asked.
“You’ve been chosen to perform a great task, Rodney. You’re going to need all the help you can get. I exist in the fifth density, the realm of wisdom-compassion. I need to learn from you, and I’ve volunteered to assist you. You are a man of lustful appetites, but your heart cries out in a vibration I cannot resist. To aid in the evolution of awareness is the love of our True Light Creator.
“What do you want me to do?” I asked.
“I cannot tell you that. It must come from within you. For me to interfere would distort the primary law of free will. You remain in great danger. Remember this: death can be hiding anywhere, even behind a snowflake.
“You’ve been entrusted with a power you cannot begin to imagine. And there are forces that will kill you to steal it. But Evil cannot harm you as long as you retain the Eye. Stay awake. The one you know as Jigme has marked you for death.”
She waved her hand, and I awakened with a start.
* * *
My bladder felt ready to explode. I glanced at my watch, it was 3:00 a.m. Outside, it was a balmy 10 below zero, and I decided to trudge to the outhouse.
I stumbled along the ice-rutted trail. The moon reflected from the roof of the glacier with a dull silver haze. Ursula’s warning whispered in my head, but I felt certain that Jigme wouldn’t dare attack me with Dr. Nacroanus around.
A pop exploded on the side of my skull, and a stinging pain throbbed in my ear. The punch knocked me to the ground and, for a moment, my senses shorted out. When I looked up Jigme stared down at me, a nasty smirk plastered over his crooked teeth.
“Stand up, Neumann,” he snarled. “I won’t kill you just yet.”
He crouched and grabbed my wrist with an iron grip. He tugged on my arm and pulled me to my feet as if I were a balloon. My ear stung, and I rubbed it hard.
Jigme stood naked from the waist up. His body rippled with animal masculinity like the bronze of a Roman gladiator. Tense bands of muscle drawn tight like steel cables strained in his chest. His knuckles were as large as walnuts and covered with pads of gnarled calluses.
I lunged for his midsection to try and take him down. He jumped high in the air and slammed his heel on the back of my neck. The blow surged like a thunderbolt down my spine and for a moment my body went numb all over. I tumbled to the ground and rolled over on my back. “What do you want, you crazy bastard?”
He grinned like some kind of demented professional wrestler. “I could have broken your neck if I wanted to, but I’ve savored this moment for a long time and I want to make it last.
“You are not one of us, Neumann. Everyone coddles you. Even the Vulpeculans overlook your weakness, and I cannot understand why. Nacroanus treats you like his pet. But I know what you are. You’re a malignancy, a son of the Light. I know how the family thinks. They want you to emerge as their born-again poster boy for the perfected reality I’ve struggled my whole life to help create.
“Nacroanus thinks he can reform you, but you will cause Mammon nothing but confusion. I’ll put an end to your perfect little scam and replace you as the apple of his eye. I’m jealous, Neumann. I’ve served Mammon my entire life, and he’s never acknowledged one thing I’ve done. Why should you be so honored?
“But these are merely the superficial emotional scars that burn in my wounded psyche. You’ve got something I want, cherub, now give it to me.”
It might be a bluff. No one told him I held the Eye, so how could he know? I decided to dumb down. “What are you talking about?”
Whoosh. Like a bolt of lightning, his fist hissed past the side of my skull. The wind in its wake slapped my cheek. I knew the punch was lethal; he could have killed me if he had wanted to.
“You’re just a nine-holed bag of shit, Rodney. You’re not worthy of such power. You know what I think? Thrangu entrusted you with the Eye because he knew you weren’t man enough to use it for its intended purpose.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, you psychotic moron. Why don’t you go rape a—”
Wham! His fist slammed into my chest, and my heart skipped a beat. The air exploded from my lungs, and a dull ache paralyzed my diaphragm. I grew dizzy and dropped to my knees. I clenched my belly and struggled not to puke my guts out.
“You have the Eye. Give it to me, and I’ll let you live.”
I coughed out, “What makes you think I have it?”
“Don’t play games with me, Neumann. There were only three on this planet in this time frame that knew about the Eye: the Karmapa, Thrangu, and Jerus. When Thrangu migrated to our side, he knew that Mammon would kill him. He sacrificed his life so he would not be forced to return the Eye to the Avatar. He must have given the Eye to someone, and you’re the only one he trusted. He spoke highly of you and claimed you were the chosen one.
The game is over, he knows.
“If the Eye is so evil why didn’t Thrangu just cast it into a gorge?”
“It’s not that simple, Neumann. That’s what the celestial lickspittle Jerus tried to do. He understood the power of the Eye, but he had no vision of its purpose. Jerus was a sage, not a prophet. Because of his bewilderment, he hid the Eye at the bottom of a fathomless wellspring in a cave only he knew about.
“The Eye cannot be destroyed; it is a Stargate that opens the portal that leads beyond the Matrix. Because of its perfected electromagnetic frequency, the Vulpeculans had no trouble finding it. They simply ordered an expedition, and the monks journeyed to the specific coordinates. They retrieved the Eye and returned it to the Karmapa.
“The great lama understood the scrolls, and he knew of the impending changes about to take place. He bequeathed the Eye to Thrangu and commanded him to carry out the mission. But Thrangu trusted no one. He gave up his vows and left the Potala.”
“How did Thrangu learn the truth about the scrolls?”
“Your beloved Dr. Nacroanus took him into his confidence. The doctor is a woman inside, you know. Perhaps Nacroanus fancied him. Everyone has an emotional flaw, Neumann, something sweet and forbidden they can’t resist, an Achilles heel that can destroy them.”
The pain in my diaphragm jabbed like a knife. I clenched my ribs and struggled to my feet.
“You need to understand something, Dr. Neumann. Whoever holds the Eye will die if they do not return it to the Avatar. But they can give the Eye to another of a higher awareness, be it good or evil.
“You can give me the Eye, but I cannot take it from you. Look at it like this: if you give me the Eye, you will live. I am of the dark side, and I am evolved enough to understand its significance. I am the only one that can balance the electromagnetic field within it and remove the curse. But if you refuse to give it to me, I will kill you and take it.” He shook with laughter. “If you are already dead, the curse cannot harm you.
“Not even the Vulpeculans understand the true nature of the Eye. They think it’s merely a wormhole that leads to the Pleroma. They do not realize that it is the center of Mammon’s will. If the Council of Five were to gain control of the Eye, they would use it to overthrow their god and seat themselves on his throne.
“That is why the true purpose of its power has been hidden and distorted in the Chronicle of Belthaeous. Give me the Eye and I’ll spare your life.”
I looked at him and my heart thumped with anger. “Spare my life the same way you slaughtered your own brothers, you bloodletting son of a bitch.”
An iron fist slammed into my collar bone, and my arm went limp. I wobbled on the ice field and crashed in the snow.
“I’ve told you enough, Neumann. It’s quite simple. Give me the Eye or I’ll take it the hard way.”
I stared in his eyes and smiled, I knew my insolence would send him over the top. “I wouldn’t give you the Eye at any price, you murdering piece of shit. If you want it, you’ll have to kill me.”
Jigme reared back his head and howled like a wolf. He frowned and his face contorted like a jack-o’lantern.
“As you wish, Light warrior. It will be my pleasure to accommodate you. But I want this sacrifice to have meaning. I’m going to offer your Light as a gift to Mammon.”
He placed his hands behind his back and paced around me in a slow, measured cadence. “You know, Rodney, we begin our study of martial arts in Nepal when we’re old enough to walk. Full contact Kung Fu the day the master accepts you. There are many fighting styles in our land. I studied the way of the Monkey, the Crane, the Tiger, and the Mantis, but my master alone understood the way of the Scorpion, the most powerful Kung Fu of all.”
He kicked and punched me as he pleased, each blow like the thud of a sledge hammer. I tried to defend myself, but his speed and power were superhuman.
“In the Scorpion discipline, every seven years we fight a worthy opponent to the death.” He laughed aloud, his voice a graveled monotone.
“I’ve killed seven warriors so far, all of them demons. It will bring me extraordinary glee to slay one of the Light. Stand up and face me, Rodney. Or do you want to die on the ice like a spineless worm?”
I braced my hand on my knee and struggled to my feet.
He came closer until his eyes were inches from my face. “Do you truly understand who you’re dealing with? I am a double Master of the Dob-dob, one of three on this earth that have developed the power of the ‘god hand’. I hold the concentration to drive my fist completely through your skull until it bursts out of the back of your head. A delightful metaphor, wouldn’t you agree?”
I said nothing and continued to glare into his eyes.
He grabbed my parka and cocked back his rippled arm. “No more games, Neumann. Give me the Eye now!”
Time seemed to slow to a halt and a profound sense of indifference came over me. As I faced my final moments, I realized that it made little difference to me if the God of Light existed or not. Nor did it trouble me that an afterlife might be nothing more than a childish fantasy. All these years and I still could not accept that any good ever existed in this world, but I knew for certain that evil did. And it gave me great satisfaction to know that I would die as one of the few men that ever had the courage to spit in Satan’s eye.
“Wait a second,” I said. “I do have one final tribute I’d like to bestow upon you before I bid farewell to this freak show.”
Jigme tightened his fist, his eyes like burned like cherry embers.
From the back of my throat, I raised a thick ball of mucous slime and hurled it into the demon’s face. I closed my eyes and awaited the greatest blessing this world has to offer.
Jigme resounded with a blood-curdling war cry: “You filthy son of a bitch!”
A shot rang out. A warm sensation spattered on my face. I ran my hand over my forehead, and scraped away bloody strands of tissue.
Jigme lay sprawled in the snow, half his skull blown away, his body quivering in a spastic convulsion. Dr. Nacroanus stood over him, a wisp of smoke trailed from the barrel of his pistol.
I heaved a heavy sigh. “Thank God you’re here.”
“Thank Mammon,” he replied. “Had I arrived one second later it would have been disastrous.”
“How did you know Jigme was going to kill me?”
“Jigme and I are a lot alike,” Adrian said. “I knew he wanted you dead, but I did not think he would act so quickly. This is what happens when a man does not learn to conquer his haste.”
He shook his head and made a clicking sound with his tongue. “It’s such a pity the folly that dwells in those who have more confidence than intellect. He believed — because I asked him to murder his own — that I would accept him as an equal. But he is an ice monkey. He was little more than a robot in the lower echelon of the family, certainly not one of the elite.
“Despite his magic tricks, Jigme was a simple man and easy to manipulate. He did not understand your true significance. Jigme and his allies are the last weak link in the chain.”
Adrian raised the sleeve of his parka, and calibrated his watch. “The others will meet their fate in the form of a neurotoxin that will paralyze their diaphragms right about now.”
Somewhere in the distance I heard a crash.
Adrian grinned like some kind of invincible demigod. “Jigme knew the rules. In Mammon’s universe, trust is a form of weakness. For one moment, he lost perspective and assumed he knew me. That error in judgment cost him his life.”
I cradled my ribs and coughed out, “He was a Scorpion.”
Adrian knitted his brow. “A scorpion is just a glorified arachnid. I squashed him.”
Copyright © 2014 by John W. Steele