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 36: A Proposition
Shortly after I arrived in my suite at the Genibolic compound, the door bell chimed. I hadn’t had time to re-code the surveillance system. “Who is it?” I barked.
I felt irritable, tired, and angry that I had to return to this cursed place. I opened the door. “What do you want?” I said sharply.
Malcolm stood firm, his uniform an impeccable statement of his meticulous propriety. He wore a gold cummerbund around his pudgy middle. He smiled and his voice sounded chipper. I was glad to see him.
“Dr. Nacroanus welcomes you back. He wants you to report to the cryogenics lab in one hour.”
“Is there anything you need, Dr. Neumann?”
“Nothing special. I’m going to need some clothing. I didn’t have time to pack before I left.”
“No problem, sir. I know your dimensions. I’ll procure whatever you need. There are fresh scrubs in your chest and lab coats in the closet.”
He looked at his watch. “You’ve got fifty-seven minutes. You know how time flies.”
“Thanks, Malcolm, I appreciate your help.”
“My pleasure, sir.” He smiled and nodded curtly, then walked down the corridor while whistling a tune.
I closed the door and changed. The atomic clock read 10:25. There was enough time to get a cup of coffee. I grabbed my briefcase and headed for the cafeteria.
The commissary dispensed the finest soy almond latte I’d ever tasted. Regardless of the regimented atmosphere in the Genibolic compound, quality was never compromised. The inhabitants of this underground sanctuary had the best of anything this world had to offer.
From the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a form gliding down the corridor. Some people have a presence that gives them away no matter where they go. Mindy Whithers fell into this category. The room lit up when she walked in. All eyes fell on her, and lesser mortals stepped aside as she made her way along the red clay tiles.
She strode towards me, like the princess she was, and plunked down at my table. Though her face rarely expressed emotion, I sensed she wanted me to speak.
“Hey, Mindy, how are they hanging?” I asked playfully.
“Bigger than yours,” she replied in her classic silken monotone.
I laughed aloud. Most people felt intimidated by Mindy but, through the years, I’d seen beyond her cool façade, and she was one of the most amusing personalities I’d ever known. Concealed behind her overpowering beauty lurked the heart of a genuine person whom I’d grown to trust. Mindy was the sunrise carved on a tombstone, the scarlet in blood, and the spirit of night. Despite her connection to Adrian, she had never let me down.
A cafeteria worker arrived holding a framboise. He placed the steaming demitasse on the table and stood still as a stone, his eyes drinking in the nectar of Mindy’s loveliness, his mouth agape. She looked at him squarely. He swallowed hard and walked away.
“What’s been happening in shadow land?” I asked.
“Oh, you know, same thing, different day.” She took a sip of cocoa. “What’s happening up on the surface?”
“You’re not missing anything, Mindy. The world is changing, like something is sucking the light from its heart.”
She lowered her eyes and stared at the tabletop. “Did you enjoy your time away?”
“Parts of it were sticky, but I think it went well.”
She looked at my hands. “Rodney Neumann, where is your wedding ring? I’ve never seen you without it.”
The faded white strip around my finger stood out like a bikini line.
“Let’s see your hand,” she said.
Without thinking, I did as she commanded and raised my arm. She took my hand in hers and stared at my fingers.
“Well, I’ve had some problems. Lydia...”
“Shhh,” she hissed. “I like the looks of this, Doctor Neumann. It’s about time you dumped that sanctimonious bitch.” She pressed something into my palm, winked, and let go of my hand. Her eyes penetrated deeply and my breath froze.
She stood up. “I’ve got to be going, Rodney.” Time froze and I lingered in the intensity of the moment. She turned her head, her eyes sharp as razors. With a slow, deliberate wink, she headed for the door.
I clutched the note in my hand. I had no idea what she wanted or why she’d behaved with such furtive melodrama.
On the way to meet Dr. Nacroanus, I stopped in the restroom. Inside a stall, I removed the paper from my pocket and unfolded it. It read: Meet me tonight — one a.m. — Level Seventeen, C annex, surgical suite 33. Scrotum!
Level Seventeen. I swallowed hard and my mouth felt dry. I loved Heidi more than any woman I’d ever known, but the thought of being alone with Mindy made my head spin.
Copyright © 2014 by John W. Steele