The Chronicle of Belthaeous
by John W. Steele
Chapter 38: The Experiment
When I arrived at my suite, the atomic clock read eleven p.m., but I did not believe it. Everything in Adrian’s world was distorted and backwards, and time was no exception.
Nacroanus claimed that, when he became the supreme commander of the earth, he would abolish time as humanity now understood it. Night would be day, and day would be night. He asserted that the slave class would work twelve-hour shifts through the night, and only the elite would be awake during the daylight hours.
He claimed that by reversing the polarity of time, Mammon would have a greater advantage, because the unnatural cycle would further weaken the will of the theomorphs. And by forcing them to sleep days, only the privileged would be allowed to enjoy the splendors of the earth.
Though I felt bone tired, I was unable to sleep. I tossed and turned, locked in a twilight zone between ordinary and non-ordinary reality. The idea that Mindy wanted to see me under such discreet circumstances filled me with emotions that oscillated between lust and distress. I could not understand why, after years of working with her, she suddenly wanted to meet me in private. Adrian had always controlled her, and it was my impression that she adored him.
I didn’t want to blow it with Heidi, but the thought of being alone with Mindy gave me an erection.
The idea that she chose level seventeen for our rendezvous, further complicated matters. This place was off-limits to nearly everyone. Through the rumor mill, I’d learned this area was used for interrogation and ghastly experiments. From what I’d gathered, seventeen took on a whole new dimension in Mammon’s design, and anyone allowed into the complex returned with a different perspective, if they returned at all.
Sleep was a luxury that had eluded me for years. My head spun with blurred images and faded memories. After trying every pharmaceutical agent available to treat insomnia, I gave up on the idea that I would ever know the luxury of uninterrupted slumber. My shrink claimed I suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder and that I needed to reconnect with the cause of my anxiety. I protested that the cause of my anxiety is what I needed to disconnect from, because it followed me everywhere like some kind of spiritual virus.
Voices in my head berated me for awkward mistakes I had made in the past, even those done unwittingly. Thrangu called these tormenters Archons and claimed they were responsible for all depression and suicidal ideation. He told me these demons had to be faced and conquered on the material plane and that there is no escape from them in the Astral. He went on to say they used programs like guilt and despair to drain a host of its natural confidence and energy and that, if left unchallenged, they lead to madness.
Because I had an exceptional memory, I could recall in detail nearly every moment of my life, especially the years I had spent at Genibolic. I understood the causes I’d sown, and the effects they produced. Everything made sense to a point. In the beginning, my conclusions about the course of my life seemed logical and natural. But I now understood that the design of my karma had lured me into a corner where I had to face the most important decision I’d tried to avoid.
This unalterable choice now lay before me, and there was no escape. Nacroanus was evil and had to be destroyed. And yet, to walk away from such luxury and security required a reckless confidence I could not summon.
I stared at the ceiling and memories, horrible memories, flooded my mind’s eye like an old black and white celluloid movie.
* * *
I’d been employed at Genibolic for a few years. One day just before Christmas, I received a memo stating Adrian wanted to meet me in his office.
I felt in a jovial mood. Lydia and I were still in love, and our second son Jacob would be born shortly. The painful episodes of my childhood lay dormant in the past, and I felt happier than I’d ever been.
When I walked into Adrian’s office, I found him staring at an x-ray film clipped to a light screen. Without turning, he said, “Dr. Neumann, come in and sit down. We have some things we need to discuss.”
I walked to his desk and rested in a heavy black leather chair.
“Yes, sir, what is it?” I asked.
He continued to stare at the negative and did not answer. I could see the film held an image of a spinal column. The vertebrae were severely traumatized as if they’d been crushed by a terrible force. I didn’t like the image. It made me feel uneasy, and I looked away.
Nacroanus made a clicking sound with his tongue, and shook his head. He turned, walked over, and sat down across from me. He picked up a gold pen lying on the plate-glass desktop, clicked it several times, and then laid it back down. His gaze fell on me, and his eyes were empty.
“How long have you been with us now, Dr. Neumann?”
“It will be five years in April, sir.”
He turned his head and looked out of the picture window at Mt. Sylvia. Her snow-capped peak gleamed in the sun like a regal crown.
“Sylvia is lovely today, isn’t she, Rodney? I own the entire tract of forest she sits on. All that untamed beauty for our eyes only. Can you imagine what it would be like to own the entire world?”
I thought the question rather peculiar, but from Adrian, nothing seemed irrational. “No. I’ve never thought about owning the world, sir.”
Nacroanus laughed. “I’m not surprised, Dr. Neumann. Even the greatest of men lack perfected imagination. Only the truly superior man can understand the meaning of absolute power.” He turned his gaze from the window and looked at me.
“You know, Rodney, knowledge is not a whore. She is a prostitute, but not a whore.”
“I don’t think I understand what you mean, Dr. Nacroanus.”
“You can call me Adrian in private, Rodney. You’ve done a great job here, and I’ve grown to depend on you.”
“Thank you, sir. I’m quite satisfied at Genibolic.”
“Much of your work has opened my mind in the quest for the perfect elixir,” he said. “The formula that will change the world. I think it’s time you learned about what it takes to seduce knowledge, and the price required before she will allow you to ravage her pleasures.”
“I’m sorry, Adrian, but I still don’t understand.”
He stood up and headed for the door. “Follow me. I need your assistance.”
We walked down a bright white corridor and entered surgical suite number nine. The room was cool and dimly lit. Scattered about the area were standard pieces of medical equipment, a scrub sink, blanket warmer, an anesthesia machine, an autoclave. Adrian flicked on the surgical lights, and in the center of the room a stainless steel operating table came in to view.
A large chimpanze lay strapped to the bed of the table, its wrists secured to the arm boards with leather restraints. Padded electrodes were taped to the animal’s skull and their wires flowed into a mainframe computer.
“I’m seeking an important piece of information, Dr. Neumann. Something that’s vital to our mission. The secret lies somewhere in this specimen, and I need your assistance to discover it.”
My stomach grew queasy and the cold fingers of apprehension constricted my heart. I swallowed hard. “What are you going to do, sir?”
“The secret I’m after lies somewhere deep within this slab of meat. We need to probe its depths and look for it.”
“Well, I’m not sure what we’ll be looking for, but of course we’ll anesthetize the beast before we begin?”
I nodded, as he shook his head side to side.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible, Dr. Neumann. To anesthetize the reflexes of the specimen will destroy the secret.”
He handed me a pair of surgical gloves. “Here put these on.”
The creature lay awake, tugging mildly against the restraints. It appeared to have been given a muscle relaxant. Its arms and legs were flaccid and nearly immobile.
“Scalpel,” he said.
Like a mindless automaton, I slapped the instrument into his gloved palm. He held the blade before him, a silver twinkle of light reflected from the razor edge. He gazed at the blade for a moment, and then transferred the instrument to his other hand.
I handed him the pincers.
With his forefinger, he traced an imaginary line from the symphesis pubis to the femoral nerve plexus on the inside of the monkey’s thigh. His eyes burned and his expression turned to stone. He lowered the scalpel, and made the first cut.
The monkey screamed, and the green waves on the monitor erupted in a burst of erratic oscillations. Blood splattered on my face and I wiped it from my cheek with the sleeve of my jacket. A feeling of great apprehension consumed me as if I were imprisoned in a nightmare from which there was no escape. I packed the incision with a wad of sterile gauze. Dr. Nacroanus studied frequency response on the flat panel and went on with the experiment.
Time stood still as he hacked away at the creature, oblivious to my cries to abort the vivisection. When the monkey’s howls grew unbearable, he cauterized its vocal cords, and then intubated the animal so it would not suffocate.
One by one, he sliced the major nerve plexus of the chimp’s body, severing the sensory components of its Central Nervous System. He stopped frequently to study the monitor and then resumed the inquisition.
He opened the chest, and with tissue forceps, lifted away the pericardium. He stared, his mouth open, as if mesmerized by the creature’s throbbing heart.
Morbid fascination burned in his eyes and his face hung slack with a look devoid of scientific inquiry or medical assessment. After much struggle, the monkey fell unconscious. Its pupils grew fixed and dilated, and its body quivered.
Nacroanus ordered me to revive the specimen with a bolus of atropine/amphetamine injected into a line he’d placed in its brachial artery.
“I will do no such thing, Dr. Nacroanus. In the name of human decency, I won’t allow this to go on any longer.”
He laughed and his forehead wrinkled. A defiant look formed on his face and his features stretched taught like a rubber mask. At last I saw him and the abomination of this procedure confirmed my darkest fears about him.
“Human decency!” he cried. “Is that what civilized this planet? Is decency the ethic that creates monarchs and order in the world? Maybe you think mankind should share the world? You’re a psychotic idealist and a coward, Dr. Neumann. Get out of my way. I’ll finish the experiment myself.”
He pushed me aside and reached for a syringe lying on the instrument table.
I grabbed his arm. “I won’t tolerate anymore of this insanity, Dr. Nacroanus. No amount of knowledge is worth this senseless cruelty.”
My hand trembled in fear of him, but I meant what I said. I lifted a scalpel from the tray, and prepared to drive the blade into the animal’s heart.
Nacroanus relaxed his arm. The tone of his voice grew soothing. “There, there, Rodney, my dear abnormal son, we’re nearly finished. A great deal of knowledge will be gained for a small sacrifice.”
He gazed at me coolly, his eyes black hypnotic pools. The power of his mind held me spellbound and I loosened my grip.
With blinding speed, he flung a bloody fist and slammed it hard across my face. “How dare you question my authority, you spineless hypocrite? Who else has the courage to do what needs to be done? Knowledge is power, boy. Power for power’s sake is the new paradigm about to descend over the earth. If not for men of principle and ideals like me, the world would not know the humanity of war or the freedom of slavery.
“You’re the fool, Dr. Neumann, a coward chained to a conscience that can never succeed in the world of men. And because you are lukewarm, you will never realize the God you have chosen to embrace. You cannot serve Mammon and your fantasy Creator, too. You must choose.
“I am the embodiment of the god you seek but will never have the courage to accept. Life is expendable. It’s created with the greatest of ease. Half of the world’s populations do not know who the father is. How much lower is the animal kingdom?”
My body tingled with fear and revulsion, and I wanted to run. I looked down at the creature, its life dripping in puddles on the floor.
“What gives you the right to decide who should live and who should die, Dr. Nacroanus? Who ordained you and your kind as the rulers of this earth? No matter how long you try, you’ll never be able to create life, only destroy it.”
A perverse smile formed in his lips. “Oh, but that’s where your mistaken, Dr. Neumann. The secret of power and glory lies in prolonging the biochemical forces that create conscious awareness and pump time through flesh and bone. I’m standing at the door of eternal life, the key clenched in my hand.
“Because of my work, a new order will emerge, a world created in our image, a world of perfection, where those born as the Übermench will look after the needs of all men. Every living thing will know its place in the scheme of things. From my genius will evolve the Zeitgeist, a class of beings destined to serve without question and worship the will of their masters. I will hold the power of life, and we will choose to whom it shall be granted.”
“And is this how you’ll achieve your objective?” I screamed. “By acting in a manner not even the most contemptible invertebrate would behave? This is not knowledge, it’s torture, and you’re not a man, you’re lower than a beast.”
His jaw dropped, the blood drained from his face, and his breathing grew labored. He raised his hand to strike me again, but I blocked the blow.
“Silence, you impotent hypocrite, you have two choices: inject the stimulant, or leave Genibolic and return to the world of conscience, pity, and defeat. What is more important, Rodney: your family or this pitiful scrap of meat?”
I gazed upon the quivering mass of flesh, its face contorted in anguish. I thought about the mission, and the money, and the alternatives. I knew this was the turning point, the fork in the road where I must determine the destiny of my life. I alone am forced to decide the reality on which I will base my actions. I closed my eyes and made the inevitable compromise.
The animal’s body shuddered in an epileptic convulsion. I inserted the needle in the port, and pushed the plunger.
When it was over, Nacroanus removed his bloody gloves and threw them on the table.
“This has been a great moment in the pursuit of knowledge, Dr. Neumann. I’ve discovered what I was looking for, and you may serve us well. Stop pretending you’re a saint. Man is forced to be a hypocrite and a demon on the physical dimension or he will not survive. Your denial does not alter the truth.
“In the end it’s all about survival isn’t it? Those of lesser knowledge cannot understand the motives of those who are born to rule. We understand the purpose of life on a level you cannot imagine. You are not better than I am, Dr. Neumann, only less awakened. Mull this over well and you’ll work here for a long time.”
* * *
When I aroused from the reverie, my body lay in a state of paralysis. The pillow was damp with cold sweat and I felt disoriented.
I sat on the edge of the bed, my hands trembling. Something had changed inside me that day that I did not understand until now. What we allow into the mind is there until we die, or forever. I gave Nacroanus my will when I prolonged the animal’s suffering, and I’d been seeking the absolution from this guilt ever since.
I could not understand why we must suffer unjustly because of the deeds of others. And I knew as well a sense of feeling powerless against forces far greater than man can control provided vast amounts of guilt energy for the Vampire entities.
I’d quit smoking nearly ten years earlier, but I always kept cigarettes somewhere nearby. From the top drawer of the nightstand, I removed a pack along with butane lighter. What difference does it make anyway, if there is a True Light Creator it has abandoned us and we’re lost in this hell forever.
I gazed into the darkness and screamed, “Where are you?!” But only silence and my endless sea of anxiety responded.
I flicked the lighter and held the flame to the tip of the butt. From somewhere in my skull, a hollow voice whispered, If you want to know the future, look at the present.
The Eye tingled. I noted the time and the duration.
A fork in destiny of mankind dangled from a chain around my neck. I had no real a clue of its meaning, and even less of its purpose. If one must die anyway, to die fighting an indomitable foe was probably better than to rule in Hell. After all these years I’d grown to believe that if there was a Hell, this was it.
I took a deep breath and gazed into the hollow void behind my eyelids. Mindy, Mindy, Mindy. O woman, how your fire brings warmth to this cold, forsaken heart.
I threw the cigarettes in the trash can, got dressed, and headed for seventeen.
Copyright © 2014 by John W. Steele