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 39: Level Seventeen
I walked quietly down the corridor to my office. There were a few people wandering about in this sector of the compound. When they saw me, they cringed and hurried away. They had no reason to fear me, save that I worked directly with Dr. Nacroanus. If I were in their shoes, I’d have done the same.
When I entered my office, I went into the computer room. The code Adrian had given me opened a panel in the wall, which concealed an emergency private elevator. In the event of a catastrophe, Nacroanus assured me that Level Seventeen contained the quickest and safest escape route from the underground compound. He claimed that the time-cruisers docked there were capable of whisking indispensable personnel out of harm’s way through an immense passage that lead to the surface.
I entered the combination, and the loading door hissed open. The car had enough room for three or four people. Its walls were composed of glistening stainless steel. I did not know how deep the shaft fell into the earth, but the control panel contained buttons to floors: Exit through 17. I’d heard there were levels beneath 17, but I never asked about them.
For a moment, I questioned Mindy’s motives. Her reason for wanting to see me had to be important. She wasn’t one to play games; she could be trusted. I swallowed hard and pressed the red button.
When the car arrived, the floor indicator flashed orange and yellow. I focused my awareness and opened the door.
A yawning chamber unfurled before me. The grotto appeared to be natural, as if formed by an ancient underground river or volcano.
A steel cantilevered truss perhaps a hundred yards in length spanned a gaping abyss that fell deep into the earth.
From somewhere in the void, an iron voice cried, “Come forth.” There would be no turning back. I set foot on the perforated grating and began the trek to the other side.
A wide steel shroud served as a roof; I could not determine what lay overhead. Near the middle of the bridge, I glanced over the guardrails and peered into the abyss. I could not ascertain how deep the cavern descended into the earth but, far below, an intense radiance pulsed like a carbon arc from the bowels of the pit. The blinding light caused my eyes to burn, and I looked away.
A warm damp wind with an unbearable stench flowed up from the chasm. The smell of brimstone and charred flesh flooded my nose, and I struggled not to puke my guts out. I placed my hand over my mouth and pinched my nostrils closed.
On the wall of the bluff ran a series of transparent illuminated tubes that descended deep into the crevasse. The tunnels contained capsules that traveled up and down along the rock face. Inside the containers stood what appeared to be humanoid bipedal creatures.
These hominids were short, perhaps four feet tall. Their heads were large and completely denuded. Their bodies were naked with grey mottled skin that gave them a cold-blooded appearance. If not for their eyes, which were large and almond-shaped, they looked like oversized human toddlers.
I watched them traverse and descend on the rock face, and I realized the tubes were a transport system used to travel to and from the bottom of the void. A chilling epiphany paraded through my mind: Tartarus.
The area below 17 thrived with activity. The walls were layered with distinct impressions in the rock that looked like landings or docking bays. A golden radiance like nothing I had ever seen spilled from the lower levels, creating a hazy sylphlike nova reminiscent of an aurora borealis.
The Eye started to tingle and then burn like a glowing cherry ember. I reached beneath my collar and pulled it away from my skin.
From out of nowhere, a flaring green orb of ball lightning shot up from the cavity and soared past the span like a comet. The ball exploded in a burst of flaming tracers. I clutched the Eye and ran for my life. When I reached the checkpoint, I stopped to catch my breath. The Eye had lost its burning intensity and hung like a lead ball around my neck.
At the end of the span stood a curved steel security checkpoint backed by an array of closed circuit monitors. The cubicle stood like an enormous boulder in the middle of a creek bed. It could not be avoided. The idea that Mindy had set me up weighed heavily in my mind. This is no secret.
A smoked glass enclosed window system occluded the view of the inside of the terminal. From behind, a pneumatic hiss cut through the silence. A heavy gate unfurled and slammed closed, sealing the exit to the bridge.
The corridor at the end of the checkpoint pulsed with what appeared to be a force field of energy. I’m trapped. My head spun, and the bitter feeling of betrayal burned in my chest. I had no choice. I ambled forward.
When I reached the checkpoint, the sapphire hue in the window faded. A figure glared from behind the glass. Its abnormal appearance startled me, and I recoiled. There was no mistaking its design; the creature was an alien.
We stared at each other. Neither of us made any attempt to communicate. This stubby dwarf resembled the others I’d seen in the elevators. Coarse grey-colored skin clung tight to its frame like a layer of spandex. It respirations were quick and shallow, and its movements smooth and mechanical. On closer inspection, I noted that it looked very much like a developed human fetus.
At the sides of its disproportionately large skull sat lifeless oval-shaped eyes. Their eyes were very dark and had no conjunctiva. Its mouth looked no bigger than a prune, and its lips that were thin and pursed. I wondered how its flimsy neck supported a skull of such drastic disproportion.
I’d learned enough about these things to know that this Grey was a biological-droid, but it was of such an exotic design that I shuddered at the power of Mammon’s genius.
Though the creature appeared to be biologically alive, its presence gave me an eerie sensation. The alien was animated but it appeared to contain no life energy. It performed its functions like an insect or some mindless automaton, able to mimic life on a purely electro-mechanical scale.
We continued to eyeball each other, and then it started to walk. Its gait was smooth and measured like a toy. It seemed to have lost interest in me; it appeared to busy itself sequencing a keyboard. I took the opportunity to peer through the window and study the room.
The walls of the cubicle were adorned with pictures of scantily clad girls. Some of the pictures were pornographic and perverse. Mindy, pictured in various stages of undress, were displayed prominently inside the station like a favored calendar girl.
In the far back of the station, several large cubes were built into the wall. Inside were creatures much larger than the drone. These aliens were not as human in form as the Enukai. Their skin was very dark and smooth. They were distinctly Reptoid, and their bodies were cut with bands of lean, powerful muscles. Their upper torsos were mighty, and they looked very threatening. Long, muscular arms hung to their knees. Their fingers ended in sharp thick claws.
Despite their awesome physical appearance, it was their eyes that held the nature of their malevolence: large luminous orbs that had no eyelids. Behind the enormous pupils, their retinas burned with scarlet radiance. From their shoulders hung what appeared to be a cape, which gave them a regal appearance. Even from a distance, these creatures looked horrifying. I knew they had acknowledged me, but they did not seem concerned about my presence.
To the left, at the end of the corridor, two figures stood behind the shimmering curtain of energy. A harsh voice cut through the silence. “You’re right on time, Dr. Neumann. The candy man has arrived.” The voice exploded with a rasping laugh.
The curtain of energy faded, and one of the alien figures motioned me to come forth. I walked towards the towering extraterrestrial. My hands trembled, and I cursed myself for my gullible stupidity.
Unlike the alien at the window, these creatures had a presence vibrant with a cold aura of life. They wore snug-fitting, electric-blue jump suits, shiny and sleek like a thin neoprene shell.
There was no mistaking these creatures for anything but higher-ranking aliens. Their heads were proportionate to the size of their bodies, but they had no ears and only an ill-defined ridge of cartilage for a nose.
They stood perhaps ten feet tall. Smooth, tiny scales covered their hands, abdomen, arms, and faces. A green pigment in their skin emitted an iridescent luster. Large yellow-green eyes sat beneath a prominent ridge on their brow, and their starburst-shaped pupils cast a terrifying glare. This species of alien looked to be a genetic mix of human and Reptoid DNA.
This class of alien was imposing and powerful, but they could not compare to the two Reptoids beyond the window in size or in the impact of their presence. These creatures wore no capes, and their characteristics were a bit more anthropomorphic.
I studied them closer and realized these were the creatures I’d seen carved on the wall in the cave of the ancients. The rods of power depicted in the murals hung from their shoulders.
Before he died, Jigme told me about the rods. He called the weapons Psychotronic Flashguns, and he claimed that they were not only highly lethal but had other powers as well.
According to him, a paralyzing burst of energy could render a person unconscious and erase any memory of what they’d seen. He said that, if necessary, the rods could vaporize matter, and if the reptilian entity wanted to annihilate someone from the face of the earth, it was a simple procedure to do so with a single pulse of the weapon.
The larger of the two Reptoids was first to speak, his voice shrill and sharp like the blare of a trumpet. “So you’re the specimen of the month.” He rested his hand on the hilt of his flash and laughed.
“The nymph must be getting ditzy. What could she possibly find erotic about you?” He glared at me for a moment, and croaked, “What is the frequency, Rodney?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about?” I said.
The alien stepped closer and placed its heavy hand on my shoulder. “What is the frequency, Dr. Neumann?”
The giant drove his thumb into my trapezoid, causing a pain so excruciating, my breath froze. So powerful was his grip, I feared he’d rip my head from my shoulders.
“Don’t make me cripple you, simian. Just answer the question.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, you psychotic bastard. What frequency?”
The Reptoids face contorted. Pain surged into my throat, my arm went limp, and I fell to my knees.
“This is the last time I will query you, human. What is the frequency?”
Drool spilled from my mouth, and my vision blurred. The world spun and colored lights exploded in the back of my skull. I knew if the giant compressed the nerve any tighter, I’d have a stroke.
From somewhere in the dark of my sub-conscious, a word surfaced. “Scrotum!” I bellowed. The monster released his hand, and I crashed to the floor.
The alien lifted me to my feet and patted my face. Sirens rang in my ears, and my arm felt like it had turned to stone.
“Good answer, primate,” it growled. “Follow me.”
Copyright © 2014 by John W. Steele