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 48: The Scapegoat
We climbed the stairs leading to the platform. A customized podium with state of the art electronics stood to the left of center stage. This would be the command station from which Colonel Falkenhorst would deliver the opening inaugural oratory to the delegates, both alien and terrestrial.
A massive burgundy velvet curtain suspended beneath the U.N. emblem would conceal Belthaeous from view until Adrian drew the valence and allowed the television cameras to record the resurrection.
Red-leather wing chairs lined the bowed wall of the backstage. Adrian informed me that venerated priests and clergymen from the world’s seven major religions would be in attendance to consecrate the miracle.
A special chair placed to the right of the Archon had been prepared for the Surgeon General. Nacroanus stated the doctor had been briefed by the Enukai agents and that the honored delegate would validate that Belthaeous had indeed returned from the dead.
Dr. Nacroanus tuned on the telemetry and studied the LCD of the interface. “Everything is functioning precisely. Belthaeous will remain hidden until we are prepared to infuse the final bolus of the plasma Eternulum.
“At my command, conscious awareness will manifest within this lifeless slab of pseudo-divinity. At that time, I will increase the flux density of the electromagnetic energy and stimulate the xenon ions in the electrolyte. And then the greatest miracle the world has ever witnessed will seal forever the fate of mankind.
“You should feel honored, Dr. Neumann,” Nacroanus added sardonically. “You play a crucial role in this impossible feat of science.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
His forehead knitted in furrows. “You are the one who will awaken Belthaeous to the physical dimension.”
My heart recoiled. “Why me? I’m not a physician.”
Adrian’s face grew firm. “You want to prove your loyalty to the Vulpeculans, don’t you? An act of allegiance is required.”
Adrian’s eyes met mine. “You will go down in history as the medium through which the power of Eternulum brought forth the messiah.
“Your picture will be displayed in every tabloid, and the depth of your genius will be heralded as something akin to Satori enlightenment. The entire world will adore the mathematical wizard who unlocked the doors to eternity. Who could refuse the opportunity to evolve as the sex symbol of the new world of flawless regimented reality?”
I thought about the metaphor and my stomach churned. “Why don’t you awaken him, Adrian? The glory belongs to you.”
Nacroanus turned his head, his gaze a statement of unbending intent. “The power belongs to me. In Mammon’s world, glory is the reward given to those who obey. The awakening is yours.”
From behind the curtain it emerged, the squat, bald demi-god flanked by two Draco bodyguards. In the scaled hands of their bulging forearms, they held the infamous flash guns.
A fetid stench of rotting meat filled the air. Xenotula strode towards us, his gait unsteady and awkward, like a man whose feet had been hobbled. “Greetings, Dr. Nacroanus,” the alien sybarite croaked. Adrian lowered his head in a formalized gesture of respect.
The putrid slug shot me an icy glance, his eyes dead as black agates shifting in his skull. “I understand the heretic will be granted the privilege of arousing the Avatar.”
He spat a gob of greenish slime on the floor. “You are not worthy of an honor of such magnitude, infidel. Such a pity the Vulpeculans remain in denial of your innocent impropriety. They are fools to believe that you can devolve to a level compatible with our design. Yet they seem to adore you, as if you were some kind of virgin they savor to defile.
“But let me tell you what I see, cherub. I see plans within plans, secrets within shadows. As long as I am responsible for the success of this mission, your Light will not escape my scrutiny. Eyes are the greatest informant; their intimate canvass exposes mysteries only the irreverent can discern.”
The Baron made the sign of the fist. In a voice that cut like a grinder through bones, he cried, “I will reveal the Light within you, warrior. Your charade will fade like the promise of a golden morning sun. You shall never know the power of darkness. Do you hear me, hypocrite? You are nothing but an emasculated tribute to the Light that has abandoned you. The illusion of life shall be forever your inheritance, and you shall dwell as a play-pretty in our prison of hopeless bondage forever and ever.”
Adrian’s jaw fell open and his eyes grew large. The color drained from his face and his breathing quickened. “Idiots!” he screamed. He clenched his fists and darted forward in a fit of wrathful delirium. The tail of his lab coat trailed behind him like the cape of a supernatural avenger.
He stopped before the group of Genibolic scientists who were cowering slack-jawed and quaking at the altar. Mute and submissive, they stood as if they were the victims of some terrible disaster.
“Who is responsible for this abomination?” Nacroanus bellowed.
Dr. Hylic, the team leader, lowered his head. A dragon tattooed on his neck peered out from beneath his collar and glared with menacing eyes. He bowed in a formal gesture and then raised his head slightly; his eyes squeezed from the sockets and his face grew pale. “I’m not aware of what you’re referring to, master. Please be more specific,” he said in a near whisper.
“The robe!” Nacroanus barked. “Who aligned the crease in the elbow?”
No one spoke.
Nacroanus pointed at the holographic image exposed on the construction to the left of the Archon.
“The refraction of the xenon pulse depends on the shadow created by the folds of gold fiber in the vestment. The depth of the crease is not satisfactory and will cause an aberration in the wavelength of the nimbus. I have made it perfectly clear that the illusion must be implemented precisely as detailed in the ghost light.”
Adrian’s eyes narrowed. He raised his hand and tapped a trembling finger on his forehead. “Who is responsible for the abnormal crimp in the elbow of my image?” he hissed.
The technocrats eyed each other warily, like a gang of baboons about to commit a homicide. In a unanimous unspoken gesture, their eyes fell on Hillary Arpage.
“It was the woman,” Jayden cried. “I have documented discrepancies detailing flaws in her behavior. It is probable that she is not one of us. Her attempt to sabotage this mission is a testament to her lack of dedication to our cause, my Lord.
“She must be dealt with swiftly and unmercifully. With your permission, I will place her in restraints and extract a confession from her by which no intellection can be misconstrued.” The others nodded fervently in agreement.
“There’s no time for that,” Nacroanus said.
The fair-haired vixen raised her hands to her heart and let out a muffled cry. “It was an error in human visual perspective, Lord Nacroanus. I had not yet finished the procedure. I have served Mammon with all my will since I was old enough to understand his power. Surely the Lord of Darkness will hear my plea and forgive me for this shortsighted error in judgment.”
The blue-eyed beauty fell to her knees and touched the floor with her forehead. Her tears formed a pool on the rug. Whimpering noises came from her throat, like a child who’d been scourged.
“Shortsighted!” Adrian cried. “Can a word like ‘shortsighted’ justify this negligent abnormality in our grand design? There is no room for human error in our new translation of reality. Only those identical in thought, deed and will can remain in our world of impeccable order and perfection.”
Like a shark drawn to blood, Xenotula appeared from behind. “I sense we have an infidel in our midst,” he snarled.
Together they shared a bloodthirsty stare, the depth of their malevolence growing exponentially in the profligate chambers of their demonic awareness.
The Baron raised his arm to the Reptoid, and like a Roman emperor, tipped his thumb towards the floor. The lids of his eyes converged, and in a devout monotone, he croaked, “Vaporize her.”
The brawny reptilian raised the rod of power. Blood dripped from his eyes and jagged teeth peered from behind the border of his narrow lips.
A hand of lightning erupted from the mirror in the rod. The alien took his time, inch by agonizing inch, the Reptoid volatized the female, oblivious to her screams and her cries for mercy.
When her body had been vaporized to the neck, the monster reached forth and grabbed her golden mane. He tilted his head and raised her skull to his mouth. His eyes rolled back in his head, and with a snap of his terrible jaws, the monster swallowed her skull. His throat jerked in a spastic convulsion until the bolus of bone, brain and hair disappeared into the depths of his enormous thorax.
When it was over, Nacroanus wiped a tear from his eye. “There can be no greater honor than to eradicate the enemies of darkness from the world.”
Xenotula approached Nacroanus, and stood at his side. The Baron patted Adrian’s shoulder in a gesture of brotherly devotion. “Ours is a jealous god, my comrade. To be of value to Mammon, one must be willing to slay anyone, even his own son.” Xenotula looked at me, his eyes cold and seething with enmity.
Adrian braced himself. He raised his head and stood defiant beneath the blue and white emblem of the U.N. He looked down on his subordinates and, in a bold voice, proclaimed, “Behold the destiny of those who defile our way. A similar fate will befall any who dare challenge the order.”
The scientists fell to their knees and sang praises to Mammon.
“Dr. Neumann,” Nacroanus said, “tonight you will alter the course of destiny for those who cling to the Light. Go to the chamber that has been prepared for you. Pray to Mammon you will find the courage to honor him and praise him for the blessing he has bestowed upon you.”
Nacroanus studied me with cadaverous eyes. A look of spiteful betrayal highlighted in the intricacies of his features. I had never seen this look before, and I cringed.
“Turn your back on your imaginings, my son or they will destroy you. If you fail in your assignment, your ambivalence will cease to be a problem. I will end your struggle for you. Do you understand me, boy?”
“Yes, father, I understand you completely.”
“Then go. I will send Miss Whithers, my trusted consort, to help you prepare for the ceremony.”
I knew Adrian had seen my interiors, and I feared him greatly.
Three Enukai agents came up from behind. Xenotula looked hard at the tallest of the trio and winked. The Reptoids tongue darted from its mouth.
“Go with my boys, cherub. You’re not afraid of boys, are you?”
My contempt for this lecher burned like bile in my throat. “You know, Xen, I didn’t think it was possible, but you’re prettier inside than you are outside, aren’t you?”
A bead of sweat like Vaseline shone on the Baron’s forehead, and he whispered in a sultry voice. “Once I have circumcised your will, you’ll see just how pretty I am.”
One of the Reptoids nudged me, and we headed for the doors of the assembly hall.
Copyright © 2014 by John W. Steele