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Birthing the Lucifer Star: Releasing the Unsustainable Light by D. E. Bartley

Acknowledgments I would especially like to acknowledge my sister Stacy Bartley and brother Gregory Bartley, who sacrificed time out of their busy schedules to edit and rewrite passages of this novel. I would also like to thank Maureen, Michael, Laura, and David, my brothers and sisters, for supporting me in this endeavor. Special thanks to White Buffalo Calf Woman, your twin deer mother, and his holiness David Shooting Star. Most important of all a very big Thank you to Patricia Hesketh, without her support physically mentally and spiritually this endeavor would have been impossible.

Dedication This is dedicated to all of those seekers who keep the vigil to reveal the truth to all of humanity. Although this is a fictitious work, many words of truth are revealed in this jest.

Introduction This novel was undertaken to answer the hard questions of existence, reality, and duality. The answer might not please everyone, but to bring about change, the tough questions have to be asked in order for the truth to reveal the answer. Many who have gone before and those who have yet to travel through this existence have been called. This book is dedicated to all of those who have heard the call and have chosen to heed it.

Prologue A point in the infinite Universe will send out two other points from itself on each side, and these two points will send out points in multiples of two, until they finally all meet again at their point of origin; this is the beginning of movement. The initial point is female: potential. Potential is presented as the womb. The two emitted points are also female; they travel along the infinite, creating eternity. The three together are one and moving, elongating, represented as the male (phallus). So this is where we all began. You are here in the infinite universe, which contains an infinite number of possibilities—you are! So, in this universe of infinite possibilities, all of which will come to pass, regardless of odds, how can you ever not be?

Chapter 1: Initiation The room was pitch-dark; a small table with strange symbols—perhaps runes, or hieroglyphics—in the four corners seemed to shine with a translucent light. On the center of the table was a form; Shirley could not discern what it was, not yet, as her eyes became acclimated to her surroundings. Darren stood next to her. ―This is for you; this is my gift to you, here, now,‖ he mused, seemingly in a selfhypnotic state. Shirley felt only contempt. She knew that this was the wrong place, the wrong time. The peyote and jimsonweed concoction that she had just drunk was intended to help her discern the light, not gain knowledge of the dark. The knowledge of the dark was only the utilization of the destructive forces; the energies or powers only came from the putrefaction of organic substance. She stared at the form and realized it was a cat, immobilized by a shot of curare. Darren was dressed and hooded in black garb, along with eleven other people that Shirley hardly knew—and did not want to know. Those in attendance began to chant in low, guttural sounds as one of them—Shirley was not quite sure who—lit a torch made of mullein leaf and turned to the cat. She suddenly realized what was happening. Somewhere, her mind fought ferociously, psychically against this ritual, but the concoction of psychotropic stimulants had a strange effect on her, and she could not speak. The Gregorian-type chanting became louder and louder as the hooded host firmly held the head of the cat, pronounced a decree in the direction of Shirley, and in one swift motion slit the cat‘s throat, the blood running and pooling at the four corners of the altar. Shirley stood dumbfounded as a symbol, perhaps of a double eagle, seemed to be floating in front of her. She grabbed her mouth, but it was too late: she retched all over herself. She tried to run, but hands were now holding her, leading her out of that damned place. Darren softly and repeatedly slapped Shirley‘s face. She slowly found her way through a daze, trying to focus her eyes on him. ―Are you okay?‖ Darren asked. ―You‘re as white as a ghost.‖ ―No. I‘ll feel better when we get some air …‖ Shirley stood up, but swayed and realized she didn‘t have her feet under her. ―Whoaaa.‖ Darren giggled. ―What did you think of your initiation?‖ Shirley stared at Darren. ―Initiation?‖ Shirley had spent her young life as a Daughter of Jacob. Sure, she understood the mystic and spent many years studying kabbalah, but this ritual was not part of those mysteries—that she knew. This was the knowledge of Lucifer, the angel of the lesser light … Her thoughts were interrupted when Darren whispered to her, ―It was good that you cleaned yourself out; you did exactly what you were supposed to do. You were clearing the path, both physically and spiritually.‖ ―Clearing the path?‖ Shirley‘s head snapped up. ―This is about reincarnation?‖ Darren smiled at Shirley. ―You know that you took the first step to be with me … into infinite eternity.‖ Shirley rose up on her feet and walked to a nearby door. ―It‘s time to go,‖ she announced. What had he been thinking, bringing a Cohen into a Masonic temple? Darren got to his feet and helped Shirley out to their SUV. She was silent as she plotted the demise of her fiancé. ―Where are we headed?‖ Shirley queried.

―I have some fieldwork to do in Idaho. Would you like to come along?‖ Darren half begged. ―No,‖ she answered. ―I have a seminar in Butte, Montana, and I will be speaking to a crowd of rabbis.‖ Shirley knew that Darren was physically weak; she could easily overtake this scrawny, blond-haired man sitting next to her. She even remembered when, shortly after they first met, they had gone to the Badlands. Darren was a paleontologist, and a cache of prehistoric dinosaur remains was neatly layered in the bedrock near the Yellowstone River. They had camped near the strange rock formations, where she had taken many photographs. Nearby had been a mountain pass with steep cliffs and a fissure in the earth that some said went into the bowels of hell itself. She did not know why her mind continually dwelled on that particular geological area, but her thoughts continually wandered to the Badlands. Darren brought her home, to her home. ―I gave you the gift of immortality tonight. What are you willing to give me?‖ Darren teased. Shirley climbed the steps and opened the door to her apartment. ―Anything your heart desires, my knight in shining armor.‖ She giggled. ―Just let me slip into something a little more comfortable.‖ God, she loved that old cliché. Shirley quietly went into her closet, removed her little .22caliber peashooter, and went back into her bedroom. Darren was lying naked on the bed. Shirley never spoke; she just went to him and favored him with one last kiss—the kiss of death. Jesus! She had made a mess of the room; she spent all night cleaning it with peroxide. She washed the bedding in bottles of peroxide, bleach, and ammonia; she scrubbed everything at least five times. Luckily, only the bedding was splattered and messed up—nothing on the floor, and only a little on the headboard and walls. Shirley decided that she would get the lead paint from the cellar. She repainted the whole wall behind her headboard, making sure to let it dry before adding another coat. She wanted to be sure that there was no blood. Afterward, she retrieved a dolly from her garage and placed Darren‘s body upon it. Using plastic garbage bags and electrical tape, she bound Darren to the dolly and then secured the tape with rope. She had only a few vials of mercury; it would have to do. She uncorked the mercury and poured it into the exit wound at the back of his head; she wanted to make sure he would never reincarnate onto this earthly plane again. She felt like a modern-day Moses, killing her pharaoh and placing him in a hermetically sealed tomb. Mercury weighed down the spirit of the exiting soul, as instructed in the Lesser Key of Solomon. Shirley looked at a map. She was eighteen hundred and some odd miles from Montana. She easily rolled the wrapped body into the SUV. She then went into the house and prepared a half dozen pistachio butter and black raspberry preserve sandwiches for the trip. This was what she and Darren had done when they first hiked in the Badlands so many years before. Shirley drove like a maniac. Once she hit the open road, she easily did 100 and kept that speed all night. There was no one on the road through the Dakotas, so she played with the speedometer, sometimes getting up to 120 miles per hour. She reached Makoshika State Park and paid the entrance fee, using cash only. She slowly circled the Badlands, looking for the best place to park. She drove to the edge of the steep cliffs and finally scoped out an area where she could stop and unload Darren. She perused the area; the steep fissure was only a few hundred yards away. As Shirley unloaded the dolly, she was immediately surrounded by a dark presence; she felt an odd burning in her spine, and a tingling sensation slowly ascended to the top of her head.

She realized that she was protecting herself against negative energies or bad spirits by raising her kundalini. She wheeled the lifeless body of Darren, who was now taped to the dolly, to the great fissure. The nearby plaque spoke of some unheard-of depth of the true fissure; twice, pioneering adventurers had tried to descend to the great crevice‘s end, but after going down thousands of feet, they never hit bottom. Shirley said good-bye to Darren. ―This is truly where you belong: in a bottomless pit with the other dark discarnates,‖ she mused before dumping his body into the deepest fissure on earth, with maybe the black hole of Calcutta being the exception … ***** Two years later, a torrential downpour trampled its steady beat on the aluminum roof of the bus stop, which heaved and buckled dangerously under the prevailing mass. Strange, thought Shirley as she sat, drenched to the skin on the shelter bench, her pocketbook acting as makeshift protection against the ever-flowing torrent of water. You’d think the design of a place exposed to the elements (whatever that meant in a place like New York City) would incorporate a more modern structure, other than a wafer-thin layer of metal overhead. She realized she was receiving hellish messages, and her mind was baffled by the onslaught of evil portent. She checked her watch; it was 11:11 AM. Public transportation was now a necessary evil as far as Shirley Cohen was concerned. She had had to crash the SUV on the outskirts of Butte, Montana, and she was now relegated to public transportation. As a full-time inspirational speaker, she had been in the habit of going anywhere she could in that old SUV her father had given her so many years before. Shirley ran a gentle hand through her long, auburn hair, letting the beads of cold water gather around her fingers, as she thought about where she had to go—and why. The phone call had been so unexpected. When someone rings at four in the morning, it‘s always bad news. Somehow, Shirley had expected this call someday, but this was so soon. She had created a protective aura around her, thinking everything would always be fine. She had fought back tears as she dialed her mother‘s number, and they had both cried. Ruth, Shirley‘s mother, had been almost as fond of Darren as her daughter had. Marty, her father, had felt the same. ―Keep a stiff upper lip,‖ her father had told her in his deep, soothing tones. Marty had been born in Jerusalem, the last child in a huge, but poverty-stricken family. His father had died when he was four, and although his mother still kept in touch by mail (by sending small, scruffy letters written in broken English), all Shirley knew of this part of her family was embodied in the small photograph her father kept on his desk. It was funny—in all her twenty-eight years, Shirley had never thought to ask for anything more. The topic was something of an untold taboo in the household. The small pieces of information she did have came from dropped hints and hasty conversations her parents had initiated behind closed doors when she was a child. Ruth and Marty (Shirley had never called them Mom and Dad, even when she was tiny) had met at university, and two more different people there couldn‘t have been. Ruth was a typical Jewish-American princess. Her family had expected Ruth to get this far, and she had, without too much trouble. Marty, on the other hand, had been something of a genius, learning English from an encyclopedia at the age of five years and doing the unheard-of in transferring to

a university in America as soon as the chance presented itself: at the age of ten. They had married years later, and, well … the rest, as they say, was kismet. Realizing she had sat too long, Shirley peeled her damp bottom from the wet metal bench and ventured out into the teeming rain. The call had been brief, the voice at the other end of the line cold and formal. ―Good morning. Is Miss Shirley Cohen available?‖ ―This is she.‖ There was a slight pause, a rustle of papers. Shirley thought she heard muffled voices but couldn‘t be sure. In the background, people talked and laughed. Who was this person? The woman coughed nervously. ―Ah, hello, Miss Cohen. I‘m afraid I have to speak to you concerning one Darren Jason. I believe you know him?‖ Shirley‘s hand went frigid, as if the phone had morphed into a frozen mass. She could feel her pulse rising, her heart beating itself into a major frenzy beneath her light nightgown. She had been standing by the bed, but she sat heavily down on the comforter now, causing the mattress to creak stubbornly. Her voice finally became audible; it was parched and strained, as if she hadn‘t taken a drink for weeks. ―What‘s this about?‖ Shirley asked, trying to regain her composure. The voice on the line remained silent. Then: ―Darren Jason,‖ it repeated softly. But the voice was still cold, as if sympathy were something foreign to it. ―I‘m afraid I will have to have confirmation that you knew the man before we continue.‖ Knew the man—perfect tense! Shirley‘s breath caught in her throat. Fuck me, get on with it, she thought, but muttered, ―Yes, yes, I knew him.‖ The woman cleared her throat. ―Then I‘m afraid I will have to make an appointment to see you as soon as possible. There is no easy way to say this … but we think we have found his remains.‖ The months—almost two years, now that Shirley thought about it—since Darren‘s disappearance had taken their toll on the Cohen family. Her mother, especially, wasn‘t the same person now as she had been before. Ruth was once a kind of legend among her peers, managing to slip through the years without a trace of it on her. Time had caught up with her now, however. The hands of time had etched another ten years, at least, onto her aging cheeks. Darren‘s family had coped better—if ―family‖ was the right word. He only had his dad left: a small, scruffy-looking man with graying hair and deep blue eyes that bore right into you before narrowing into small, serpent like slits. He would visit or phone every day for news—not that there ever was any. Not one piece of information had surfaced since the last time Darren was seen: walking towards the subway on that Monday morning, briefcase in hand. The police had come round as soon as they could, of course—as soon as he was missed in Idaho. They asked questions, following legal protocol. Shirley remembered vividly the first time they had descended on the house, a gang of New York‘s finest, scaring her parents half to death. The police officer in charge of the case was a big, burly lieutenant by the name of Danny O‘Toole. He led the action, calling the shots, speaking at the press conference, appearing on the weekly edition of America‘s most wanted, making numerous public appeals for information. None of it did any good, however, and as Shirley saw it, he couldn‘t have cared less about her little boyfriend if he had tried. Oh, sure, she played the distressed fiancé and called the good lieutenant up for any information. The morgue stood at the end of a small cul-de-sac, forming a shrouded hollow of reds and yellows in the ominous October air. The air was cold, but not harsh, forming clouds of

swirling mist as it was expelled from her body. The building was nothing special—certainly not the foreboding laboratory she had expected. She came upon a large, colonial brick building in the heart of Brooklyn. Hedges lined the gravel drive, accompanied by a clear stretch of freshly cut grass on either side. The windows of the morgue were blackened, as if someone inside were afraid of letting the sun in. The door was a pale gray and sported a gold nameplate: City of Brooklyn Morgue. On the side of the door, a list of names lined a column of doorbells. Shirley squinted to read the tiny lettering beside each: Dr. Malcolm MacDougall, Dr. Simon Silverstein, Dr. Isaac Shem Tov, Dr. Janice Aiello. At the sight of the name she remembered from the phone call, she gingerly pushed the square button. Somewhere far off, the faint sound of a bell could be heard from within the morbid walls. Then, silence. Shirley whistled aimlessly through her teeth, a habit she had picked up as a child. Above her, the autumn sky darkened, and the first drops of a fresh torrent of rain could be felt. She pulled her already soaking coat tightly around her and hoped the downpour wouldn‘t start until she was well inside. A slight click from behind the door made her jump, and before she could ponder it, the huge, gray monstrosity swung open to reveal a middle-aged woman, dressed smartly in a tailored pantsuit covered by a white lab coat. Her naturally blonde hair was held back in a tight ponytail, and wire-framed glasses clung firmly to her face. ―Miss Cohen?‖ she asked. Shirley recognized the voice from the phone call and nodded her head, finding there was a lump in her throat. The bare foundations of a sympathetic smile played on the woman‘s face. ―I‘m Doctor Aiello. Do come in.‖ The building‘s interior was as dark as it had promised to be from outside. A thick, maroon carpet led the way to the tight metal doors of a lift, which stared boldly out, mismatched with the blue, misty wallpaper and mirror panel that it interrupted. Dr. Aiello stepped forward and pushed the Down button; when she stepped back, she looked at Shirley, who was staring straight ahead. ―You don‘t have to do this, you know,‖ she said softly, almost kindly. ―Most of the time, we rely on dental records, but it seems that Mr. Jason didn‘t go to a dentist. The DNA results will take another two weeks.‖ She smiled and then looked at the floor. ―We would have asked his father, but none of our calls were answered. If you don‘t feel comfortable …‖ ―No, no,‖ stammered Shirley, a bit too loudly. Realizing her tone, she spoke more softly: ―No, I‘ll be fine.‖ The doctor smiled and signaled the way as the lift doors opened. Shirley stepped in and felt suddenly claustrophobic. The lift was small and square, its metallic walls reflecting the revolting maroon of the carpet under foot. The doctor stepped in neatly and pressed another button, which sent the lift shooting downward. Shirley felt her stomach lurch and had to fight back vomit as her already twisted insides tried to reject the latte she had sipped that morning. The journey couldn‘t have lasted more than a few seconds, but each felt like an hour as she stood in the dim illumination cast by the inset light and stared into the security camera, listening to the slight humming noise the lift made as it neared its destination. Looking up at the mirrored walls, she saw a ghost staring back at her with wide eyes: pale, feeble, scared. What had happened to her in these last few months? The lift made contact with the buffer with a slight clang, and within a second, the doors slid smoothly open. On the other side was a cold, impersonal world. Nothing could have been more in contrast to the pale colors and serenity of the upstairs level. The entire place was constructed of

stainless steel, with white marble floors. Two waist-high metal gurneys stood in the center of the room. One of these was covered with a white sheet, from which a pair of dark shoes protruded. The other was empty. Over on the far wall was what looked like a large filing cabinet used for storing dead bodies; it reminded Shirley of the doors on the Good Humor ice-cream truck. Above them, wide-paneled lighting hummed relentlessly. There were no windows; instead, very large turbofans were embedded in the walls above the cabinets where the deceased were chilled. Dr. Aiello stepped out of the lift and indicated for Shirley to follow. She walked over to a small desk that sat between the lift and the two long tables; the desk was surrounded by three small chairs. ―Please, have a seat.‖ The doctor smiled at Shirley as she spoke for the first time since they had entered the elevator. Shirley did as she was told and wrapped her arms around herself protectively as she felt the hard plastic dig into the small of her back. This room seemed even colder than the bitter autumn day she had left behind. Noticing her discomfort, the doctor shot a brief look of sympathy across the table. ―We have to keep it cold for the cadavers …‖ She trailed off and looked down at the desk, moving after a moment to retrieve some papers from one of its many drawers. ―We‘ll need you to sign these before and after you‘ve seen the body.‖ Shirley nodded, feeling the nerves and upset inside her beginning to claw at her skin. She felt as if she needed to run. She needed to get out of this cold building with its stale smell of disinfectant and hard, cold, metal walls. She wanted to get outside, even in the torrential rain, and be free of this godforsaken room of death. ―Miss Cohen?‖ Dr. Aiello tapped her gently on the shoulder as she slid the papers across the table. Handing her an expensive-looking fountain pen, she whispered, though there was no one to hear, ―Are you sure you want to go through with this?‖ At another nod from Shirley, the doctor took the signed papers gently from her trembling hand. ―You know, most people say it isn‘t as bad as they expected.‖ She stood up. ―They say it‘s more like seeing someone in a very deep sleep. Don‘t worry. All you need to do is identify him. You never know—this might not even be your fiancé.‖ Shirley managed the faintest of smiles as she got up, but inside she was screaming with the agony of it all. Even before the other woman stooped to draw back the bright white sheet on the metal gurney, she knew it could be Darren; she just couldn‘t believe it actually would be. How could he wind up back here in Brooklyn? She knew he was dead, because she had seen his body, although she had dumped it in a deep fissure thousands of miles away. She knew the man under the sheet might be her missing fiancé, Darren Jason. She knew, because she had put him there. She had taken his life. The good doctor slowly pulled down the thin sheet that covered the corpse. Shirley could not take her eyes off the doctor‘s hand as she performed the procedure. She let out a gasp as the head and face were exposed. ―No, no … this isn‘t my Darren. Darren was short … his face rounder.‖ Shirley perused the physical features of the cadaver. ―Darren had a pug nose; this man has a very prominent nose, almost like an eagle‘s beak.‖ She almost laughed with relief. ―This person‘s hair is obviously black and long … Darren had blond hair.‖ ―Okay, well. The lieutenant will be disappointed, but thank you, Shirley.‖ Shirley couldn‘t wait to get out of that place. She turned and asked, ―Why did you think this was Darren?‖ ―This man was found with Darren‘s wallet on him, but I really can‘t tell you much more. Maybe the lieutenant can bring you up to date,‖ Dr. Aiello surmised.

―Well, I guess I‘ll be going …‖ Shirley was booking for the lift door. ―Yes, sure. Thank you, Miss Cohen, for your cooperation. It looks like this man drowned; his body was found washed up on shore at the south end of Fire Island.‖ ―Fire Island?‖ quizzed Shirley. What the heck was going on? ―Yes, bodies always seem to turn up there. The riptide near Coney Island is very strong, and many people get caught up in it; some are found among the rocks near Fire Island after they are taken by the undertow.‖ Shirley had to find out how Darren‘s wallet, which should have been deep in a Montana fissure, could possibly have turned up on a dead Native American on the rocky shores of Fire Island. Ode to the sacrifice I hold my secret tightly beneath the layers of my skin— away from prying queries or conflicts that might have been. In metered beat, the rain will fall south, where winged creatures fly; no longer will my afflictions pause to hear the fates‘ reply. My mental anguish, given wings above fields of waving grain, will search a greener meadow, surviving winter‘s cold refrain. If carried in a windswept seed to deserted, ghostly towns, a facet shaped from yesteryear will bring forth age-worn frowns. My friend, I‘m writing tactfully with fighting words that sparred, to reveal my truest nature, leaving undisturbed the scarred. For I‘ve dishonored deep-set wounds, never sounded bells of warning. In doing so, I duly pray to be left alone while mourning.

Chapter 2: Vision Quest All along the twenty-third layer of sedimentary rock, as far as the eye was allowed to see in both directions, were prehistoric skeletal remains. Ghostwolf realized he had reached what was rumored to be the ancient order of the serpent clan. This thin band of maroon rock territory held the secrets of Uktena the Keen-Eyed. Dan Ghostwolf knew he must be close to five thousand feet down as he gingerly made his way down the cliff. There were bones strewn upon the cliff‘s overhang: the bones of giant snakes, the bones of mastodons, and the bones of great medicine men, which had once been lured to this place and eaten by the great rattlesnake Uktena. Along the narrow margin of this vast country of bones, Ghostwolf decided, would be a good place to camp for the night. He was excavating in search of pink sapphires, and also the blazing diamond that had once been called Ulun‘suti—―Transparent.‖ He realized while setting up his hammock, which would be hanging a few feet up from the cliff that he was in a very dangerous area. The great snake had never been found, and the ancient legend had never been dismissed among his people, the Lakota. The excavator hated being in this godforsaken habitat of brittle bones and stuffy air, where the artifacts of the dead were the currency and the lifeblood of modern society. But no one was exempt from the hypnotic allure of the Badlands. At various points along the layers of these many-hued strata of rock, mounds had been erected of the bones that had been sorted, sifted through, and discarded. Some paleoworld bones had been shaped by artists or tourists into the bizarre likenesses of totems, or supernatural monsters. The creations that lined the fissure became more grotesque the deeper one descended into the abyss; others had eroded and fallen off over the millennia. Ghostwolf had climbed down the great fissure to find the myriad bones of a long-forgotten past. Ghostwolf realized as he perused the ancient remains, he was literally sitting on a gold mine. He stretched his hammock and readied for sleep, guided by the light attached to his hard hat. At only three thirty in the afternoon, it felt more like midnight in the pitch-black atmosphere of the fissure. He realized that he might have to use his oxygen tank now that he had descended more than a few thousand feet. He rested upon the hammock, pondering the sacred mystery. Whoever owned the Ulun‘suti was assured of success in hunting, love, rainmaking, and every other business, but its great use was in life prophecy. Why his mind was continually brought to this crystal, Ghostwolf could not imagine; it was the pink sapphire that he had found five years before that he found so alluring. He patted the few dozen yogos in his pocket as he drifted off into a deep sleep … A white horse stood before him; a great warrior stared down upon him from atop the steed, beckoning him into unknown realms. Bang! Ghostwolf awoke with a start as his hammock swung out over the cliff and into the void, then settled back into place again. What the hell? Who else could possibly be here? Ghostwolf looked up; about six feet above him, some form was seemingly stuck between the two sides of the great fissure. He tied a rope around himself and found the spikes that he had hammered into the sides of the cliff; he climbed up the six feet to have a look-see. It was a dolly with a bag taped all the way around it, holding something to it. Ghostwolf tugged at the dolly, half hoping it would continue its fall into the abyss. He realized immediately that the form was human—a dead human. Ghostwolf tied the rope to the dolly, and tied the rope to a spike, and then dropped the dolly slowly to the overhang he had been sleeping on.

He used his knife to cut open the bag. The stench hit him so hard in the face that he lost his balance, desperately grabbing for the hammock. He was looking at a dead man. He laid the body down. The dead man‘s clothes said he was a well-dressed man—perhaps a banker. He then went through the pockets of the man‘s pants and found a wallet. He opened the wallet and put his flashlight upon it, revealing a motor vehicle identification card with the name of Darren Jason upon it. ―Well, Darren, this is one hell of a place to wind up.‖ Ghostwolf kept Darren‘s wallet but sent Darren on his merry way. He decided to load his bag up with a few of the paleoworld bones that were just lying about and then ascend the cliff. He‘d eat, get some rest, and start his ascent after a good nap. Ghostwolf tied himself back into the hammock, making sure that the ropes were sturdy, and tried to fall asleep. He realized that he had packed thousands—maybe millions—of dollars‘ worth of dinosaur remains into his duffel bags; he‘d be rich for sure. He took a swig of Injun whiskey—just enough to numb himself as he listened to the gentle swaying of the hammock, succumbed to the elixir, and slept. Dan Ghostwolf awoke with a start. Something extremely heavy was lying right on his chest. Two glowing eyes met his. He could not move; he became frozen with fear. He wet himself as he stared into the reptilian eyes of Uktena. The great serpent had laid his head upon the chest of Dan George Ghostwolf, and Ghostwolf knew for sure he was a dead man. ―You are an intruder!‖ hissed the great reptile. ―I will allow you to breathe … but first, I have something planned for you.‖ Daniel was snake food. ―Are you the keeper of the great Ulun‘suti?‖ The wise serpent was clearly not fooled by Dan‘s quiet demeanor; he could smell the man‘s fear. ―Yes, and you shall have it shortly. But first, you must climb down the fissure and retrieve my servant.‖ ―C-climb down the cliff?‖ Dan stammered. ―I was just going to climb back up the cliff.‖ ―No, you shall bring me the body of my servant, and then I shall bestow the great crystal into your keepsake,‖ the snake commanded as he slithered off the chest of Ghostwolf. Dan Ghostwolf, with great purpose and lightning speed, wrapped up the hammock and started to descend the side of the fissure as quickly as possible. He descended for what seemed like hours. He realized that no one—absolutely no one—had ever descended this far. Dan‘s light beam caught crystals—large, beautiful crystals embedded among veins of gold—as he made his way into the void of the earth. He had reached another landing. He strolled along it, hoping that Darren Jason would be among the strewn red and maroon rocks and boulders; he searched for some time and realized that on the other side of the fissure, he could make out a form lying among the rocks. He would have to climb up the wall and swing himself over to the other side of the fissure; this would be no easy task. He checked his watch; it read 3:00 AM. He realized that it would take him at least eight hours to ascend the wall of the fissure after retrieving the body. Exhausted, Dan George Ghostwolf finally brought the body of Darren Jason to the overhang where he had originally met the great serpent. He looked up and down the sides of the overhang, but he did not see the great snake. He decided that he would get while the getting was good; after unceremoniously dragging the body to a pile of bones, he started his climb. ―Just one moment …‖ A loud hiss interrupted Ghostwolf‘s endeavor to escape. ―This is for you.‖ The serpent easily pushed a very large crystal toward Ghostwolf.

―You must make sure this touches the hands of a certain woman. You will go now and find her; besides you, only she is allowed to touch this crystal. Anyone else, and your family— your wife, your children, your grandfather—all will perish.‖ Ghostwolf stared at the incredible crystal. Now he wanted no part of it, but he realized he had jeopardized the lives of his whole family; he must take it. He emptied some of the bones from his duffel and put them in his backpack so that he could carry the great stone of portent— Ulun‘suti. ―Just follow the information in the wallet,‖ the serpent hissed and then vanished. Dan Ghostwolf began his ascent at warp speed, hand over foot, racing up the sides of the steep cliff of the great fissure, making haste to leave the Badlands as quickly as possible. Elsewhere, in the culverts and gullies along the true fissure, the discarnate and their masters chanted perpetual liturgies to the ten thousand gods of darkness. Daniel stared into the great expanse, seeing for thousands upon thousands of miles; his sight was unimpeded as he looked in all nine directions, seeing into the culmination of the consciousness of the people. Children of men were now memorizing the names of the ever-swelling numbers of the dead. Everywhere, the deep, booming knell of the Luciferian arm of the military marched to the hymns of death and cast up daily, its never-depleted plethora of fresh and diverse bones picked clean by a salivating population whose members contended with each other to possess the choicest treasures, beating back snarling jackals, vultures, and fellow scavengers—a bleak vision indeed.. Daniel catapulted himself onto the grassy knoll of the Badlands, happy to be free of the blight and plight of the darkest corner of the earth. He climbed into his Land Rover and beat it out of the state park, thinking about that long trip to New York City.

Chapter 3: The Gift of Prophecy Shirley opened her eyes. The soft air was ecstasy for every crease of her soul. She was awake. Her eyes followed the iridescent lavender curtains as they danced to the music of the new morning‘s song. The French doors were open and sharing their view, like windows to her soul. She could hear the autumn‘s brilliantly hued leaves rustling in the soft breeze. She could hear the subtle calls of the birds to their lovers and friends. She heard a mockingbird telling her his favorite memories. Her feathered friend sang with his heart while his mind created vistas of beauty for Shirley to partake of. She could see squirrels playing tag through the trees, and she could feel the warmth of life in the crisp, dew-filled air. She snuggled into her silky black sheet. She closed her eyes and breathed in the most magical air. When she exhaled, she rolled over onto her back and opened her eyes. She glanced at the ceiling before letting her sparkling brown eyes fall to the other side of the bed. A wave of sadness washed over her, followed by a rush of sweetness, when she noticed a single yellow rose in a crystal vase next to the bed, on the art deco nightstand. She marveled over the fantastic, simplistic beauty of a single yellow rose in a plain glass vase—that something so small and seemingly insignificant could fill her with such joy and hope! The day before had been a nightmare, the morgue cold and inhuman. She had been so close to spilling her guts, admitting to the most unthinkable crime. Shirley had trusted in her own strength. She turned over and gradually sat up on the bed as she took in the air and thought about what she would do that day. I will cook today, she decided. She had not cooked in months, and she felt that it was time that she started doing normal things again. She wondered if she had any more of those blue, scented candles. She remembered Darren saying that he liked the scent; she would have to find them. And the music—how could she ever forget the music? She‘d play some Van Morrison. She decided to mull it over in the shower. Shirley took her purple bathrobe and hung it on the bathroom door. She let her silk nightgown fall from her body and let it lie on the floor. She looked over her body in the mirror. She had lost some weight during the past few years. Her shoulders had always been wide; now they seemed to show more bone in them. Her neck seemed longer as she noticed her shoulders. Her breasts had not changed; still they clung to her, large and ivory. Her torso slimmed to her waist, then blossomed again into her large, fertile hips before gliding down to her small feet. She wasn‘t entirely satisfied with her figure, but it was tolerable. She turned on the water in the shower and then brushed her long, silky, auburn hair to remove the tangles of sleep. In the shower, she nurtured her body with many aromatic shampoos and body washes. After her shower, she sat at her black iron vanity, staring into its mirror, trying to decide what to do with her hair. Her peace was interrupted by the steady ring of the doorbell. She let it ring, but then decided she must answer it. She slowly made her way to the front door. She looked out the peephole, but no one was there. When she unlocked the door and stuck her head out, she immediately spied a brown delivery truck pulling away from the curb. A small package lay on her front stoop. Shirley bent down to retrieve the heavy box addressed to her. She noticed that the return address was in North Dakota. The name of the sender was a Mr. Daniel Ghostwolf. Shirley had no idea who that could be, so she brought the box inside and put it on the kitchen table.

The phone rang, startling Shirley out of her self-induced hypnotic gaze toward the box. ―Hello?‖ Shirley answered. ―Hello. Shirley Cohen?‖ a masculine voice on the other end of the line questioned. ―This is the lieutenant who handled the case of your missing fiancé. Do you remember me?‖ ―Certainly. Good morning, Mr. O‘Toole. How are you?‖ Shirley asked. ―Fine. I‘d like to stop by and ask you some questions. Do you have time this morning?‖ ―I have a speaking engagement this afternoon, so it will have to be now,‖ Shirley announced. ―I‘ll be here until 1:00 PM.‖ ―Great. I‘ll be there in about half an hour, okay?‖ O‘Toole queried. ―That will be fine,‖ Shirley said. Suddenly, she began to panic. Her heart raced, and she could feel it pounding through her chest. She found it hard to breathe, hyperventilating as she gasped for air. Her vision blurred, and she felt dizzy. Tears poured out of her eyes as she sobbed uncontrollably. She crawled into the bathroom and rummaged through the top drawer for her medication. The overwhelming urge to scream and cry took over. She searched frantically for the bottle. It has to be here, she told herself. Finally, she held the bottle in her hands. She struggled with the childproof top until it finally popped off, scattering the pills all over the bathroom floor. She popped a couple in her mouth, ducked her head under the faucet, and turned on the cold water. She swallowed the pills and slumped into the corner of the bathroom, by the oval tub. She sat there, clenching her fists and shaking. ―You gotta get ahold of yourself, Shirley girl.‖ She stood up straight, combed her hair, and proceeded to wash her face with cold water. Drenched, she sat by the sink until she remembered that she had to speak that afternoon. She suddenly ran around in a rush, trying to tie up loose ends. She then spied the box on the kitchen table—it would have to wait. She brought the box upstairs to her bedroom and tossed it on her dresser. The doorbell rang; Shirley was as ready as she was ever going to be. She answered the door. There stood Lieutenant O‘Toole with another detective. ―Come in, Officer O‘Toole,‖ said Shirley. ―I went to the morgue yesterday—‖ ―Yes, Miss Cohen. That is why I am here,‖ the lieutenant said. ―You didn‘t recognize that man, did you?‖ ―Not at all. I was very relieved it wasn‘t my Darren,‖ Shirley mused. ―That guy looked like a Native American to me.‖ ―Yes, well, his real name was Daniel George Ghostwolf. He was from North Dakota.‖ ―Well, he had Darren‘s wallet on him; the doctor told me that much,‖ Shirley confided. ―Did Darren ever mention this man to you?‖ O‘Toole queried. ―No, never. And I think I would have remembered him if I had met him; he had quite a prominent nose,‖ Shirley offered. ―Well, we will have to find out why this man had Darren‘s wallet on him. Seems he was a prospector. We tried to notify his next of kin, but we could only find his grandfather. His mother, wife, and children seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth,‖ O‘Toole commented. ―Maybe Darren did business with him. His home was filled with dinosaur bones—‖ ―Dinosaur bones? That‘s the business Darren was involved in; he went all over buying old bones from the Pleistocene era for his clientele,‖ Shirley mused. ―Well, if you remember anything—anything at all—please do not hesitate to call me.‖ O‘Toole handed his card to Shirley. ―You betcha. I‘d like to know myself,‖ Shirley confided.

―Have a good day; see you soon.‖ With that, O‘Toole and his partner left Shirley‘s house. As soon as the men drove off, Shirley zoomed up the steps to her bedroom. Where the hell had she left that box? She ripped the room apart in search of the damn thing before spying it on her dresser. Shirley held the box in her hands. It was addressed to her from a Mr. Daniel Ghostwolf! What the hell was going on? Shirley was half afraid to open the box. What if he had seen something? Well, it didn‘t matter, because he was dead, she rationalized. Shirley Cohen sat on her bed and opened the brown-papered box. She had a hard time, as it was glued and stapled shut. Under all of that was a wax seal, Shirley observed incredulously. She finally pried the box open. Inside was a very large, but plain-looking piece of quartz. It was white with a thin, gray line running through it. There was a small note attached. Please keep this in a very safe place. You must take it out and feed it every full moon; failure to do so will put you in imminent danger. Shirley laughed; this had to be some sick prank. The more Shirley laughed, the more the quartz seemed to glow. Startled, she picked up the quartz; burning hot to the touch, it seared her finger. Shirley ran to the sink to run cold water on the burn. She eyed the quartz suspiciously. She went over and picked up the note to continue reading it. As the owner, you must keep it wrapped in deerskin, inside an earthen jar, hidden away in a secret cubbyhole or in a hidden wall. Every few days, you must feed it with small, fresh game—something you have trapped yourself—rubbing the blood all over the crystal as soon as the animal has been killed. Once a year, it must have the blood of a deer or other large animal. Should you forget to feed it at the proper time, it will come out of its earthen jar in the shape of fire and fly through the air to slake its thirst with your life’s blood, so don’t forget to feed it. You may save yourself from danger by telling it, when you put it away, that you will not need it again for a very long time. It will then go quietly to sleep and feel no hunger until it is again brought forth to be consulted. Then it must be fed again with blood before it is used. Shirley didn‘t know what to think. A large piece of quartz to be fed blood? She needed to find someone to find out what this was really all about. Who was Daniel Ghostwolf, and why would he send this thing to her?

Chapter 4: Advent There was nothing anyone could do but wait. Tortured by worry, despair, and selfanalysis, his face stuck to the ICU glass, Dan Ghostwolf stared at the vast array of IV tubes keeping his daughter alive. When Sara had been transferred to the ICU, hospital personnel had cleared her room, stripping her of the things she loved. They had dragged away her stuffed animals, books, flowers, and balloons. Bareness crept over everything, and no matter how snugly the nurses wrapped her favorite blanket against her legs and body, Sara often cried when negative thoughts invaded her mind. Ghostwolf stayed near his daughter, squeezing his hand into a fist against the glass that held him fast from his daughter‘s bedside. Bending her face toward her father, Sara Bravebird, with outstretched arms, tried to sit up. ―It hurts, Daddy.‖ ―What does, sweetie?‖ Ghostwolf whispered. ―Dying.‖ She gasped, forcing the word out. Sara collapsed; her body remained motionless. The nurse, bringing in a fresh set of vials, became startled by the sight and dropped the tray. The vials fell and shattered on the floor. Oozing silver medicine flowed slowly, meticulously, as Sara lay unconscious. Doctors, nurses, and specialists were now dashing toward the room. Sara could feel herself breathing more freely as she slid away from her body—from the clay container that held her forcibly. Sara‘s spirit, now free, darted over the walls and ceiling. She was now feeling blissful, free from pain. Sara circled the room several times before skittering forward. In the blink of an eye, she found herself in a vast meadow filled with roses, lilies, violets, daisies, and wildflowers. The morning sun projected strips of light and shadow that she gave chase to. There was an absence of fear—no perception of being deserted or totally alone, no panic or thoughts about the bad things that must have happened. Something furry tickled Sarah‘s cheek with a touch so soft that she hardly noticed. The gentle presence was a butterfly‘s wing. Sarah tried to scoop it up in her hands, but she began to feel shaky and wobbly. She lay down on the grass and concentrated on breathing slowly. Babies do the same thing, she thinks. Sleep soundly and control their breathing, even when people are coming and going, talking, and moving around. That was the way her life had always been since birth. She had struggled inwardly throughout her entire existence to gain an ordinary composure, trying not to feel tired while at play. She had successfully hid her frequent nosebleeds and shortness of breath while attempting to overcome the pain in her bones and joints. She spent years denying the low-grade fevers, the swollen lymph nodes. Even after the diagnosis, she kept her mind steadfast on remission and recovery. But her determination had changed when her mother was found dead in that terrible storm. Her father became distant, different. He had always been a sweet guy—shy, sexy, popular with various women, and absent. Sara just knew he‘d been with someone … many someones. But she loved him completely and convinced herself it was all just a huge misunderstanding. Sara Bravebird could not move, but she realized with her last breath that when you return to someone you love, the love is always returned. ―I‘m sorry, Daddy.‖ Her body began heaving up and down, desperate for air … dandelions rose from damp metal screens. The white room witnessed the writhing of her life. Time and space soon became mere acquaintances. The cause of death: lymphocytic leukemia. The time of death: 2:40 AM. Daniel Ghostwolf cried at his daughter‘s bedside. ―My sweet, sweet Sara Bravebird, this is entirely my fault.‖

Ghostwolf left the hospital. He had been duly warned; he had not done what he was told. Now, his wife was dead, his little boy was missing, and his daughter had just died. Dan went home to pack his bags and head for New York City. First, he had to explain all of this to his grandfather. ―Grandfather, I must leave. I have brought great pain upon me and my family,‖ Dan said to his great grandfather. ―There is no peace in my soul, and because of this, my whole family is gone. I do not wish to bring harm to you also; I must leave.‖ ―Was it another woman?‖ the great great grandson of Chief Spotted Tail asked. ―No, no. I have not been allowed to tell you. But now … it makes no difference. I was given a great crystal,‖ Ghostwolf confessed. The old medicine man stared hard at his grandson. ―It was given to me by Uktena, the Keen-Eyed One,‖ he revealed in soft tones. ―So … you have the great crystal? The Ulun‘suti?‖ his grandfather mused. ―Sshh … please, do not speak of it, Grandfather. No one else should have to suffer because of this infernal rock.‖ ―You have not used it wisely!‖ his grandfather proclaimed. ―No … I was … selfish. I used it to find treasure … bones. Instead I have only found death.‖ Ghostwolf pushed out the words as his voice filled with fresh tears. ―I must go and give it to someone else.‖ ―You have made bad medicine; you must do what is right.‖ His grandfather spoke harshly. ―You have brought a curse. I can only pray with my sacred pipe …‖ His voice trailed off as he fingered his Yuwipi stones. ―Did I not sing to you to always follow the red road of the sacred white buffalo calf woman?‖ he questioned. ―Go, find your peace,‖ the pejuta wicasa commanded. ―You know where to go.‖ Daniel Ghostwolf hopped into his Land Rover and headed east. He pushed the tape into his old cassette player and listened to the sacred music: ―Sigh of the Lakota Seventh generation restores the sacred hoop: (drumbeats) I am the seventh generation, the heart of everything that is, the sacred hoop was broken, but now it‘s on the mend (drumbeats) We are spirit, we are warriors, we protect the sacred tree whose roots find sustenance on that red road, it will bloom when we are free … Daniel George Ghostwolf ruminated on the total destruction of everyone and everything he had ever loved in his life. He had nothing left; his only responsibility was to relieve himself of the curse of the Ulun‘suti, the stone of portent, before it took his grandfather also. As he recklessly drove toward the east coast of Turtle Island, a thought came to him: he had never found his son, who had vanished with his mother on an expedition to Moose Lake in Minnesota to harvest wild rice and participate in the sacred wild-rice ceremonies. They had gone out with their knockers to tap the delicate rice into their birch-bark canoes when the area was inundated by high winds and flash floods. Ghostwolf‘s wife had been found in a shallow pond days later, but his son was never heard from again. Search parties had been sent out into the marshes and shallow lakes around the rice paddies, but his son‘s body was never recovered.

As Ghostwolf drove toward Moose Lake, he wondered if the crystal could be used to locate his missing son. He traveled on foot along the marshes, watching groups of people of the Ojibwa tribe row between the rice reeds, harvesting the sacred wild rice. He held the crystal in his hand while wiping it with the blood of a crappie he had snagged by the edge of the marsh, searching the multicolored hues of the marshes for any sign of his beautiful little boy. He remembered what his son used to say: ―I fear nothing!‖ His son had uttered the words while laughing in his haughty laugh, taking a chunk out of his apple with his rather large teeth. By now, Ghostwolf could remember such bits and pieces without shedding tears. The past one and a half years had worn him to a frazzle, and he drank more often to assuage the pain of his wounds. Reminiscing, he felt the familiar remorse and knew he would not find the power to forgive himself truly; he felt he never could. The presence of his son lingered in the Minnesota air—the feel of his glare from the tiny gems of his eyes—a sinful reminder. Ghostwolf was to blame—a fact engraved in granite, there to stay forever. He piled himself back into his Land Rover and once again turned in the direction of the East Coast, searing the final touches of his plan into his consciousness. He listened to the sacred words of ―Canku Luta‖: It‘s the red road I searched for, the road to my home, Wisdom and strength my bow and arrow in the wilderness of roam, I had seen the far reaches of the tree of life and yearned, But I wound up on that black road … the path of no return … ***** Young Robert Growling Bear was preparing for the ceremony in the sweat lodge. He had gathered the sage and cedarwood, piling them onto the hot coals, when he heard someone call his name. He climbed up out of the pit and walked to the edge of the clearing. He swore he heard his father‘s voice. He waited, straining his ears. He was sure he had heard his name wafting through the fiery autumn canopies of aspen and elm. ―I think that your father is calling you, son,‖ said Roger Sitting Bear. ―I know. I heard him,‖ Growling Bear replied, then waited for Sitting Bear to continue. ―Will you go to him?‖ Sitting Bear questioned. ―You have been my father these past few years; it is you who saved my life,‖ Growling Bear stated as a matter of fact. Growling Bear stared at the man who had saved his life that fateful day while he and his mother were harvesting wild rice. The ibom had been sudden; there was no time to react as the fierce wind blew the tiny craft into the ash trees lining the marsh. Growling Bear had been thrown into a clearing where Sitting Bear was gathering cedarwood and pine needles for the sweat-lodge ceremony. Sitting Bear had witnessed the incident and ran to Robert Growling Bear, who had stood up, yelling and screaming, his arms and legs flailing against the tempest. Sitting Bear had had no time for such nonsense. He had grabbed the boy and, using buffalo hide and rope made of hemp, tied himself and the boy to a large Buckeye tree. The fierce wind flattened most of the birch and ash trees to the ground; young Growling Bear had lacerations on his face and legs. Sitting Bear, the local medicine man, brought the boy to his home to nurse him back to health. Growling Bear had suffered from amnesia and for the longest

time did not remember who he was. He had often become frustrated as he agonized over his memory loss, throwing himself down kicking and screaming against his inability to remember anything of his past. Thus, a boy who had once been called Robert received the name of Growling Bear. Sitting Bear had taught the boy to accept his fate; he calmly and patiently raised the boy as if he were his own. Young Growling Bear was an apt student who quickly learned all the healing knowledge the medicine man had to offer. ―Do you want me to go?‖ Growling Bear asked, his eyes growing wide with confusion. ―What you decide is totally up to you; remember, you are your own person.‖ The great medicine man spoke calmly. Growling Bear grabbed the buckets of water that were needed to create the steam in the sweat-lodge ceremony. Quietly, he shoveled more coal into the pit, and then gathered up more sage and cedarwood chips. Growling Bear finally spoke: ―I hope it‘s okay with you that I choose to stay.‖ ***** Yes, Ghostwolf‘s future was certain; he was a victim of circumstance, an innocent led astray by the beckoning of the great serpent of the underworld. The gnarled trees boasted their ghostlike branches, reaching out to grab him—to choke the life from him. The red road … what was it called? The facts began to escape his mind to flutter on the cold wind. Whatever it was, it was supposed to be there—a blinding, piercing ocean of purity, glaring into his soul, begging him to spill out all the blackness within him that had interrupted its pale perfection. And then it would be gray, like the sky overhead, and everything would melt into blissful oneness. No longer aware of his actions, he stumbled over to the bridge‘s overhang, near a plaque welded into the bridgework. He stared at the name on the plaque—Verrazano—next to a date that his failing senses could not discern. He dug his feet into the wires, wishing to find warmth underneath the wretched cold. He stared forward and looked upon the gray sky, with metal wires etching the ether. The man in the moon, the cynical observer that he seemed to be, exerted a bitter, mocking stare as another lost soul died in its mirthless light. And then it all faded into oblivion. He was cast into the depths of his mind—his last refuge. Vertigo … doom … the feeling of flying … a mother‘s comforting voice … vertigo. Then the cold chills mercifully disappeared. Through his last remaining sense, he heard a soft, deep melody lilting up from somewhere in the rough waters below, floating above the misty air, landing gently upon his emaciated libido and burying itself deep inside his mind. Yes, in the misty waters below, he saw the faces of his mother, his wife, and his children, and with great happiness, he jumped into their waiting arms.

Chapter 5: Dreamland As night awakened and day snored in slumber, the moon slowly rose above the horizon only to give way to dense clouds that seemed to settle across the land like a blanket of warning. A whippoorwill called in the distance, its mournful song eerie and mysterious, making the hairs upon the neck of a weary traveler stand on end. Upon the slight breeze that rustled the leaves of trees nearby, whispers carried to her ears begged her to seek refuge from this night. A stranger to this land she was, coming from far away. She had been drawn like a moth to the candle, only to have her wings seared by the dancing flame. Something was here; she could feel it in her bones. Yet what it was, she did not yet know. So onward she ventured, wandering slowly, as if to invite whatever was out there to test her forbearance. Somewhere between being awake and asleep, where the Elysian Fields passed between the twin pillars of reality and dreams, a little wrinkled medicine man with long, white hair sat upon a smooth, flat boulder of igneous rock, making notes and curious sketches of wayfarers upon that ancient, well-traversed road. When he had created a handful of these gargoyle-type portraits on finely pressed charcoal paper by inscribing it with pungent elemental pigments, he would consign it to a constantly tended fire pit just to the right of the boulder, the dancing flames of which demanded to be fed. Shirley stopped to visit, curious as to why the medicine man would send all of his creations into the fire. ―I quench the thirst of the eternal flame,‖ said the medicine man. Dipping a nib into a flask of sable ink, he quickly executed a not-entirely-flattering portrait of her with knotted hair, a warted nose, and a dark complexion mottled with pale spots. Shirley was not overly impressed with the medicine man‘s rendition of her. ―That is quite horrendous; I wouldn‘t mind if you threw that into the flames,‖ she said. ―It is truly ghastly.‖ ―It is the picture of your soul I paint,‖ said the medicine man. As her eyes turned dark in indignation, she fingered the great crystal Ulun‘suti, then uttered a particularly malevolent series of injunctions against this vindictive man that caused the unfortunate shaman to become naked. The skin on his body was etched in words, and as Shirley tried to decipher what was written upon him, he rapidly assumed the physical attributes of a wolf, a snake, a bear, a mountain lion, and a majestic eagle—each of which, in a passionate act of auto symbiosis, caught and then consumed with considerable relish its immediate predecessor. The eagle unceremoniously spewed forth the medicine man to stand before him. The medicine man: ―The never- ending red road unfurls at my feet, The boundless sky beats its wings above my head; the steps of the sacred white buffalo calf woman begin at my doorstep; my pipe of peace and truth feeds an eternal flame.‖ The eagle: ―I will pluck the ever-watchful eye from the sky to feed my little baby in its nest of down. I will pluck the quills from the wings of infinity to weave into the walls of my nest with twigs and little strips of frayed rags filched from the hides of the rotting carcasses of buffalo. Once, this mighty wilderness was crisscrossed by a thousand pathways; prancing wolves, elk, and buffalo beyond number traveled upon them, seeking mysterious and glorious pastures. Now they are the playgrounds of scavengers and bone-hoarding vultures.‖ The medicine man:

―I have looked Chief Yunke-lo in the face and read the great truth in his amused expression; I have seen the sons of man wielding the perennial scythe that harvests the souls from all mortal forms. In the interval between two breaths, I stole a glimpse to the entrance of heaven and, making my obeisance, prostrated myself before the Great Spirit of Wakan Tanka.‖ The eagle: ―Here I am in my bright and flashing plumage; observe the exquisite arch of my wing and my white-crested head! What need do I have for the divine realm full of resplendent mystery? The sun is warm upon my back, the water is wet beneath my sure talons, and the rainbow trout wriggles delightfully in my golden beak! Besides, there is a monster—a great serpent blocking the way, impeding all who would look upon heaven.‖ The medicine man: ―My life‘s blood runs through all of creation; all things blowing in the wind is my father, and the womb of potential is my mother. The stars that shine in heaven are my ancestors; everything is a thought-projection of the Great Spirit—even Uktena, the Keen-Eyed One, who is the keeper at the gate.‖ The eagle: ―Here is the rain to smooth the earth and heal the framework of the world. In their bright, speckled eggs, my little chicklings dream of what is yet to be. I will call to the young doe; surely she will quell the desire of the serpent monster, and then together, we will glimpse the happy hunting ground.‖ The medicine man: ―Days and nights fly over me; one day there will be no more tomorrows, and the shell of the fragile grandmother world shall crack. My children will be proud and strong-winged warriors in the light of the final sun; they will traverse the great red road of the sacred white buffalo calf woman; only then will I put off feathers and flesh to dance a final sun dance before the Great Spirit …‖ ***** The wind was at her back, pushing her farther toward her fate—the one Lucifer had specifically chosen for her. This was what he had planned, so it had to be done. Shirley wasn‘t even worried about the seventy-seven-story plunge; he would carry her and fly her to his kingdom, where she would be his queen, taking her place at the side of this anointed cherubim. ―A few more steps, my love,‖ the young, blond-haired man whispered from behind her. ―And do not worry about the child. I will care for him until it is time for him to join you, with me. I am his father; you can trust me with his soul.‖ ―Yes! I can trust you. I named him after you. And one day, we will all be together. We will all be safe together.‖ He agreed wordlessly, pushing her effortlessly toward the brink. When her bare toes were hanging over the edge, she looked down to see the ground rise up to meet her. Things were so small down there—so insignificant, so not worthy of her, her pending power, or her immortal soul. All she needed to do was jump; only her will mattered. Then … the man-child would be born. She was almost over the ledge now, the wind whipping around her like the angel of death, pulling and yanking and tearing until she gave in. The wrist she had drawn blood from to paint the now-crusted pentagram on her chest was still dripping with crimson blood. She licked

the blood thirstily, drinking deeply and dreaming of her glorious future. Pushing herself closer and closer to the brink of mortal destruction, she heard his voice again—and for the last time. I am leaving you now, love; I am off to be with the child. He cannot be alone right now. Then she was left alone. Closer and closer she drew to the edge, saying a final prayer of safe deliverance and worship to the one she loved so dearly. The plunge didn‘t seem so far, and she knew he would catch her. In his large, warm arms, he would catch her and carry her to her new home, where she would finally be awakened. After all her years of waiting, it would finally happen. The child had been his idea; he needed the child to create a gateway from his home on Titan to this mortal world. The child would validate his very existence. Shirley, not wanting to anger him, had agreed. ―I adore thee, king of evil, by the beautiful body thou hast fashioned in the likeness of Lucifer. By its purity impassioned, I adore thee, king of evil!‖ she proclaimed, in a quiet yet somehow reverberating voice. It was then that she threw herself, feet first, back upon the roof of the building. She landed on her feet; the clouds opened, and a small ray of light touched the manchild. Immediately, the child was caught up to God... Shirley then realized she was not just a naked creature standing accused; she was a co creator. Shirley sat up in bed. She went to her nightstand and took out the crystal, its beauty was overwhelming. She kept it wrapped in deerskin, and she fed it regularly. She had never asked anything of it during the few months that it had been in her keep. But now … something was calling to her. She realized that the dreams she had been having were real. They were, in fact, more real than her waking life. She now needed to follow her dreams—but not the image of the handsome, young, blond-haired man. Oh, yes, he had been cajoling her, calling to her, speaking sweet words in her ear. Somehow, it sickened her, repulsed her. She felt violently ill when she thought of him … yet, she was also very attracted to him. Her dreams were telling her that she must find him. She would take a trip in her new Jeep to North Dakota and find out about Daniel Ghostwolf. He had sent her this crystal; she needed to find out about this man. Her curiosity would not allow her to leave it alone.

Chapter 6: The Calling Eagle Flying Bye was a pejuta wicasa (medicine man), akicita, decorated war veteran of World War II, and wakan wicasa (holy man) from the Hunkpapa tribe of the Lakota (or Sioux) Nation on the Standing Rock Reservation. The Sioux Nation was better known for its leaders of the 1800s, such as Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and Chief Spotted Tail. Eagle Flying Bye had spent much of his early years helping his tribal elders prepare medicines and praying over sick people. He had built the reservation‘s sweat lodge. He would often travel into town with his grandfather and listen to the old men talk of battles and life on the open plains. His grandmother would also tell him creation stories at night, and in these ways, he had become a keeper of traditional knowledge and culture. Eagle Flying Bye chanted by the small fire as he prepared the pipe given to him as a child by his great grandmother. He sang the sacred pipe-filling song and prepared himself for a hemblecha (vision quest), lighting a dried braid of different herbs for the smudging ceremony. He then uttered a traditional Lakota prayer: Grandfather, Grandmother, to the powers in the animal nations of the four winds. Watch over the sacred pipe, Grandmother Earth, and the people: Our forefathers, elders, little ones, and the unborn. Grandfather, have pity on me. I pray through the sacred pipe for my people, all life, for health and happiness. Grandfather, hear my prayer. I humble myself; help me. Wakan Tanka, Great Spirit, I long to see you. The great serpent who shines his light stands at the gate, has become the guardian, his ever-watchful eye denying any and all their chance to see heaven. I call forth the innocent fawn, whose pale face visits me in my dreams ‌ Let her come forth to face the great serpent. Eagle Flying By then took the great hollow healing bone that he had beaded in turquoise to make good medicine. He needed to heal himself of any hurt feelings caused by this woman he had beckoned from across the great expanse of Turtle Island. *****

Shirley loaded as many suitcases and overnight bags as she thought she would need for her long trek to North Dakota. She checked off her list, making sure that she had absolutely everything—especially her crystal. She was resplendent with material possession, yet she was naked. She was ready to do battle. She did not know the enemy, and she did not know the ally; she only knew that she was being called. She did not know whether the call was coming from a dark, forbidden corner of the earth or from the brightest star in the heavens; regardless, she was taking heed. She would find out what she needed to do. Was she capable of fighting a holy war? Holy shit, she couldn‘t believe she could, or would, or should be a part of it. Somehow it had chosen her; she had not chosen it. She was sure of that. At what cost did true salvation come? At what cost independence? Where the scales of justice were the backdrop of peace and democracy, on this stage where the sum of rights was absolute, where did freedom begin and tyranny end? Was it the prerogative of the people to be exempt from any restraint of thought or physical wandering? And why did this entail martyrdom—the ultimate sacrifice? And why did she feel that whatever lay before her was to redeem the American experience? It seemed far beyond her capacity to deliver a mixed multitude from the throes of inherent evil and corruption. She understood that everyone now stood at a time in history when civilization was scarred by the filth of corruption, from the highest rulers to the lowliest caste, where human life was considered cheap and the sanctity of life was marred by man‘s inhumanity to man—where people prayed not out of a desire for healing, fellowship, and understanding, but out of hatred, division, and ignorance. Selfish leaders were shoving everyone straight into temptation and into the arms of evil. The atomic clock was ticking, and the eve of destruction was but a holy war away. The field of Megiddo had long since been prepared, waiting for the fallen ones to build up the courage to make use of it … Holy jihad! The world was now dangling from its fraying thread, and she, for one, innately felt that the end was near. But now, she was being called upon to take part in something. Was it redemption? Was this the great tikkun? Was this making the path straight for the longawaited messiah? And why was she being called? She had partaken of the sin of Cain. She was guilty of the most heinous act … yet this might be the only way for her to redeem her own soul. Men created confrontation, confusion, ignorance, and fear—to the point of war. There was nothing holy about it. It was fomented as the flame of hatred was fanned by those who profited most from it. But she herself had committed an act of holy war when she took the life of her best friend and lover. Darren was indeed a martyr; had he not died for what he believed in? Shirley could not understand the quest for martyrdom. Did not martyrdom assume the state of self-immolation in the face of conceding principles and beliefs? Was martyrdom not the acceptance of pain and suffering before the acquiescing of one‘s own convictions? And if so, how did that translate into murdering innocent people? How did blowing oneself up in a shopping mall, going on a shooting spree in a school, crashing a jetliner filled with people, or— frankly—flying over small Muslim villages to drop bombs wherever and whenever possible, regardless of the lives at stake … how did any of those actions signify the acceptance of destiny and self-sacrifice before the deprivation of one‘s belief and cause? Was martyrdom even necessary? What was this need for suffering and torment? Did pain and torture really bring someone to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Of course, for martyrdom to occur,

Shirley had to believe that God both decreed and condoned Cain killing Abel. What was this entity called God? This question had plagued Shirley for her entire life as she searched every holy corner for the answer. That was what she decided she must do: stare into the very guts of heaven to witness ―he who sits upon the throne.‖ Like Ezekiel, she would seek out the Holy Merkabah. There were three truths of the human mind: reality, duality, and rationale. Shirley was left to create an explanation for herself, so she had to rationalize her reality in the face of this duality to its concise point. So what was the point? A point in the infinite universe would send out two other points from itself from both sides, and these two points would send out points in multiples of two, until they finally all met again at their point of origin. This was the beginning of movement. The initial point was female (potential). Potential was presented as the womb. The two emitted points were also female, traveling along the infinite, creating eternity. The three together were one and moving, elongating, represented as the male (phallus). So this was where everyone began. Any one person was here, in the infinite universe, which contained an infinite number of possibilities. So, in this universe of infinite possibilities, all of which would come to pass, regardless of odds, how could any given person ever not exist? Rationale was everything, yet it was nothing at all. The one many people referred to as God seemed to have given the human mind the ability to reason—a divine gift granted unto mankind to give him the freedom to decide between right and wrong and allow him to make up his own mind and to choose which path he may want to follow. The conscience stayed unaware if one were unwilling to ask himself those questions that have no answers and then spend many sleepless nights trying to find the lessons meant to be learned from that which he will never understand. It was a lust for life and a thirst for experience. It was not the thoughts of those great minds that had come before Shirley and her fellow humans. No one should let anyone fill her mind with ideas that she had not already thought of on those sleepless nights that gnawed at her consciousness. The greatest philosophers were those within whom nameless faces of reason created wee, small voices. They were the simple people— stopping to eat from the plate of experience, feasting from a buffet that overflowed with empirical knowledge, and then asking why. Every mind asked the question; it was just whether any given person allowed the question to fully awaken and become lucid in the dream state, before the first rays of the sun painted the rosy cheeks, red upon the breathing beings of this, the everyday waking state known as reality. For in truth, dreams were more real; the many questions plaguing the questioning mind could only be answered somewhere between the realms of dreams and death. And now, as Shirley continued to pack her wares for the long trip through sagebrush and bitterroot to the edge of an abyss, the insidious face of the great serpent trying to block her view, she momentarily closed her eyes. She opened them again only to scan the great expanse from the middle of the city to the long, outstretched arms of the Badlands and thought, What can I do? Oh! I know not what I can do, but I can try. I can give it a piece of my soul. Yes, I have something to give. They ask for something; I give them this. Purity, come unto me; expurgate my soul, let me taste innocence anew. Come! Come unto me! Free me from the corruption of the flesh. The taste of tobacco appeared suddenly in her mouth; she continued to muse on her calling. She was an inspirational speaker; she meditated and entered into a vision; she found herself in front of a large assembly of people—more people than she had ever spoken to at any one time.

―Ladies and gentlemen, let us raise ourselves. Let us rise like steam from this fetid, rotting hell—this crooked foundation we have erected for ourselves. Remember the vision we had at the start of our quest; do not settle for simulations created by mankind. The realization of that vision is not something to be created; no mere digital or electronic gadget is going to take us to this summit. It is something to become. Shed your ungodly deeds and habits; rip this crooked foundation an arm‘s length out of the ground; let us start anew. To attain such a dream is to step into its skin. Come, men, women, children, and all in between; let us exalt ourselves! You have forgotten the taste of purity; you have forgotten how savory and delicious it is! It is beyond all other flavors; it outstrips anything and everything in comparison; it is the greatest of epiphanies. Come! Mankind, let us cleanse ourselves and become divine! Do not lose yourself; come! May life truly enter into our souls! Let us once more become the pure, innocent children of the earth!‖ This was what she would ask of the crystal: to give her purity of heart and clarity of mind, for all mankind, for all eternity, before the very face of God. Spirit guide, eagles spying on the ground. Life is speaking words profound. A little blue, but I‘m not down— truth is the beauty that I feel. Happiness has come to win. Guide me, time and time again. Show me now, just where and when, your presence is becoming real.

Chapter 7: The Witness Darren Jason had relinquished his will to his assassin in humility and peace, without any regrets. He lay immobile, fixed in the warm sands of the windless noon‘s haste. He tried to involve himself in the scene, but his mind focused on the white beam of light instead. The light separated him from his body, starting small but growing larger as specks of dust danced in its whiteness. He felt like a child, alien and lost in a swirling mass of formless matter. He panicked when he saw another circling mass in the opposite direction—a much larger pattern that would bisect his path somewhere. He was still tainted by his karma, but his memory was as clear as the light before him. Lucidity came over him as he started to meditate on the death process, remembering the words of his Blessed and Most Holy Maitreya: ―Be leery, for your human side cannot help that. But have no fear, for your spiritual side cannot be afflicted.‖ He removed the links of chain that kept him grounded to the material world. A strong, rapid motion fell across his body, and he felt himself sink into the earth as the earth dissolved into water. Through currents and tides, he became the child of the day. He saw his surroundings: a deep, dark crevice, where he lay on an overhang. He experienced the existence of another child in another part of the world and tasted griddlecakes with maple syrup, organic orange juice, and applesauce. As he passed from the human realm into the animal realm, he saw the cold, yellow eyes of a starving dog ready to strike him down. A Native American in a sheepskin coat stood between them, and the hound greeted the spirit guide, coming to rest at his feet. As he entered the hungry ghost realm, he experienced the pain of social injustice, repression, shoddy education, scarce nutrition, inadequate clothing, a lack of shelter, and poor health. He felt himself becoming absorbed by smoke as the water disseminated into fire. He was sucked into a vacuum filled with red light—the hell realm—and felt the absence of happiness. He smelled the sulfur—strong, hot, and rank—and was overtaken by the shrill, frantic laughter of the lost souls, who yapped and strained like wild animals. Fire absorbed into air as Darren awoke in the demigod realm. He was engulfed by the appearance of darkness and felt as if he were slowly losing consciousness. There, he was reunited with the spirit of his mentor, Maitreya. ―I did you a favor,‖ Maitreya said. ―Now you do me one …‖ He trailed off slowly, an evil smile forming. ―What?‖ Darren asked in confusion, looking up at him. ―Become my pet for eternity,‖ the great serpent whispered hotly in Darren‘s ear. His features suddenly grew dark, the look of hunger filling his eyes. Darren didn‘t have time to react; it was too late as the serpent plunged his teeth deep into Darren‘s neck. When he pulled back and looked into Darren‘s eyes, Darren could feel the blood pouring down his neck. He was stunned in place—unable to move—and was beginning to feel faint. How could he do this to me? He promised he never would! He thought in shock. ―The choice is yours, love. Live or die?‖ the snake whispered, a smirk forming on his blood-lined lips. ―L-live …‖ Darren stammered out the best he could. ―To live … you first have to die,‖ he said as Darren‘s body slowly started its change. The pain was immense; his organs were dying, and all he could do was lie in the middle of the valley of bones, looking up into the crescent moon as rigor mortis set in. The summer air seemed to have gotten even warmer in the hour‘s time he‘d been out there. He could hear the cry

of the banshee; coyotes howled at the full moon; discarnates pushed and shoved against his ghastly form. His head spun. His body shook and trembled as it was devoured by thousands of maggots. As Darren started to change—half man, half beast—he clenched his eyes tightly shut. Upon opening them, he found that he had died and been reborn; the bite was healed. The night of his mortal death had been etched into his mind for eternity. He celebrated life and knowledge and felt compassion for the reptiles he should have feared and hated. He spotted the symbol of the red dragon and consciously followed it through the Bardo. The demigods felt jealousy and desperation at his resolve as air passed into consciousness. He looked up, down, and around himself and watched his body of blood, skin, bowels, and bones become a memory. A strange sensation touched his soul as he became seepage of moisture again, existing somewhere between earth and water, in a place of rebirth. In the foothills of Rattlesnake Butte, a baby was born to the Lakota people. The Chief drew blood symbols in the entrance of a sacred cave as part of an arcane celebration. A bright, white light filled the region, slowly turning to an iridescent glow. Fish became abundant and were visible to the naked eye, like crisp, white stones. The sick were healed and the dying found renewed life as a network of intuitions became one among the cries of a newborn white buffalo calf. In the Badlands, an unusual light filled the dark night sky; people who witnessed it became blind. Suffering and violence infiltrated with affected easiness. War, in all its rigidity, furiously attacked all logic. A child was born from an unclean creature: half man, half serpent in the personification of death itself.

Chapter 8: Wohpe Shirley had been driving for days; her destination was now close at hand. Devil‘s Lake was just a few miles away, and she would try to locate the family of Dan Ghostwolf. The crystal that lay in a box by her side seemed to be growing hotter by the moment. She finally found the small town of Minnewaukan. Shirley found a small group of ramshackle houses near Summit Hill. She searched for the address that had been on the box mailed to her from North Dakota. A small trailer park rose up out of nowhere to her left, and the dirt road ended. This was as far as she would be able to go; the rest of her journey would have to be done on foot. The lustrous blue sky transformed into deep, sunken amber. The clouds disappeared as they were replaced with heavenly hawks, which soared high in the sky to watch over their traveler. All seemed peaceful, but Shirley had a sense of foreboding; fear started to creep its way into her consciousness. She could feel the hair on the back of her neck rising, and a tingling sensation climbed up her spine. She found an old, dilapidated mobile home. The red paint had worn off eons ago, and the front lawn was littered with rusted motorcycles, baby carriages, bicycles, old Tonka trucks, and a mountain of garbage. An old, black dog lay under a small, wild raspberry bush; he didn‘t even bother to look up. ―Hello? Is anyone there?‖ Shirley asked, her voice just above a whisper. She could feel the crystal growing hotter inside the deerskin and the box that protected the crystal. Walking along a wide path, she stumbled across a broken-down shack that was something of an eyesore. Shirley prepared herself before knocking ever-so-gently upon the front door. No one answered. Shirley walked around the shack to the back. There were clothes hanging on a clothesline, but they looked as if they had been hanging there for a very long time. In fact, they were very stiff to the touch, drab-looking, and riddled with holes. Shirley instinctively went to feel them; they must have been hanging there for years. ―Stop!‖ came a gruff voice from a clearing among the trees. ―Who are you?‖ ―I am a … I‘m here to find the family …‖ Shirley was completely taken back by the appearance of a very old, very wrinkled, white-haired man. ―I‘m looking for anyone who might know Daniel Ghostwolf.‖ Eagle Flying Bye recognized Shirley as the paleface who had visited him on many nocturnal occasions. ―Dan is my grandson,‖ Eagle Flying Bye announced. ―Why do you look for him?‖ Shirley, a great inspirational speaker by trade, became very still as emotion swept over her features. She tried to regain her composure. A lump formed in her throat. ―May I sit down, please?‖ Shirley asked. The medicine man realized that Shirley had news of his grandson. ―Certainly, Miss … We have not been introduced …‖ ―Oh, I‘m sorry. My name is Shirley Cohen. I traveled here from New York City, trying to find someone who knew Dan Ghostwolf and who could clear up a few things for me.‖ ―Did my grandson send you here?‖ queried the great shaman. ―No. Well, sort of … I mean, maybe. Mr. Ghostwolf, I have some news for you …‖ Shirley‘s voice trailed off … ―My name is Eagle Flying Bye, but my friends call me Sam.‖

―Well, Sam, there is no easy way to say this, but your grandson‘s body was found off Fire Island. Apparently he had drowned.‖ Shirley‘s voice was just above a whisper. ―The police told me they could not find any of his relatives, and I had to come here … to find out a few things or clear a few things up. I‘m so sorry.‖ Eagle Flying By stared at the young woman for a very long time. ―Then this is not why you are here. You didn‘t travel all the way from New York to tell me that my grandson is dead.‖ ―Well, no,‖ Shirley confessed. ―I … well, this is very strange, but to tell you the truth, your grandson mailed me a package. The return address was here, on Summit Hill, but it was postmarked from New York City. I know this sounds strange, but he mailed me something, and I was just trying to find out why.‖ ―I think I know what it is that my grandson sent to you,‖ Eagle Flying Bye responded. ―How do you know that it was my great grandson who had drowned?‖ Shirley spoke very truthfully. ―My fiancé went missing over two and a half years ago now, and when the police found Daniel‘s body, they found Darren‘s wallet on him.‖ ―This man Darren—was he your husband?‖ ―Yes,‖ Shirley lied. ―He was a paleontologist, and he excavated in the Badlands. He disappeared, and no one ever saw him again.‖ ―My grandson told me that he had found a body in a crevice.‖ Eagle Flying Bye knew that Shirley was being deceptive, but he quietly waited for her response. Shirley skipped over any reply or query about Darren. ―Your son mailed me a crystal. A stone … well, more than a stone, but I can‘t explain this. But it … well, he left me instructions on how to care for it and, well, feed it.‖ Shirley stared at the medicine man to see his reaction. ―Daniel informed me that the body of the man he found had been murdered.‖ Shirley stared blankly into the face of the wise elder. ―I know.‖ Shirley slowly revealed the box that she had carried protectively at her side. Inside the box, the crystal lay wrapped in deerskin. Shirley had used thick rubber bands to enclose the crystal; she undid the rubber bands and stared at the box. A piece of white quartz lay in it, still hidden from view. ―Your grandson mailed me this.‖ Shirley looked confused. ―I‘m not sure what this is, so I traveled here from New York to shed a little light on the subject.‖ The great shaman sat beside her and told her the most extraordinary tale about the beast that sleeps in the deep crevices of the Badlands. She turned and looked straight in the man‘s eyes with utter disbelief and then began to laugh. ―It is no laughing matter, my young friend,‖ Eagle Flying Bye reproved her. ―You don‘t really expect me to believe in this monster, do you?‖ Shirley mused. ―If you keep that stone, you will believe … and then wish that monsters remained nothing more than a myth,‖ the medicine man announced. ―My grandson was given that crystal, and it took away the lives of his wife, my blessed great grandchildren, and now … him.‖ ―Well, then. Let us find out who is telling the truth.‖ Using her left hand, she unhooked the latch, lifting the lid of destiny. The hawks that had soared above in the sky of harmony vanished as quickly as they appeared. The leaves on the nearby trees rustled and then inexplicably fell to the ground, leaving barren and desolate carcasses of wood. The cold wind blew across the land from the south. Within a matter of minutes, the land became void of sound. ―What happened?‖ whispered Shirley.

―By opening the box, you have awakened Uktena, the owner of the Ulun‘suti,‖ the great counselor advised. ―Who is this … Uktena?‖ ―The great serpent you hesitated to believe in.‖ Their eyes scanned the horizon, searching for some paranormal experience. Nothing was worse than having to wait for the inevitable to happen. A single strand of lightning struck the earth a short distance from where the two sat. Clouds of dust sprang to life as two enormous wings surfaced. Eyes of pearls stared upon the two who either had had the courage to stay or were just too foolish not to run. ―Who is the keeper of the transparent crystal?‖ The question was transmitted mentally. Shirley peeked through her clasped hands to see before her a snake of such size and strength that she could only whisper a prayer pleading to leave this godforsaken place. The medicine man looked upon her legs, which trembled with fear, and did the only thing that could possibly be done. A gentle and kind hand caressed her leg as if to give confidence to her inner soul. The medicine man pulled her hands away from her face, gazing into her eyes. ―It is now time for you to take responsibility for what you have caused to happen, and I will be by your side,‖ the great warrior promised. ―I do not think that I am capable of confrontation,‖ Shirley confessed. ―Then you should not have awakened the beast that stands before you,‖ said Eagle Flying Bye, as he caressed his keya, an amulet that hung around his neck and held his umbilical cord. Eyes of pearls turned to eyes of ice as Uktena glared upon the inferior beings. The serpent‘s tail ferociously swung from side to side, rattling loudly, encompassing the two in clouds of dust so that they could not see anything but what stared back. ―Who is the caretaker of the stone?‖ the great serpent demanded. Shirley knew that this time was the time to make things right once more, or this serpent would do what came naturally to a beast such as he: feast upon the weak. ―I am the keeper of the stone,‖ Shirley announced. ―Then you must answer correctly this riddle in order to obtain the great knowledge and strength that the crystal bestows on its safekeeper.‖ The great medicine man gave words of encouragement to Shirley and told her that she should listen to her heart and not her mind when she was asked the riddle. ―Are you ready?‖ the great serpent hissed. ―Yes, I am,‖ Shirley lied. ―What is the smallest, yet strongest conqueror known to have lived a million lifetimes, and who will continue to live long after you have perished?‖ Oh, no—so many possibilities, but which was the right answer? The puzzled look on Shirley‘s face was a bad omen. She stared down at the scales of the serpent and pondered which answer to give as quickly as she could, for she knew she had a limited amount of time. She stared at the ground beneath her, hoping that the answer she was about to give would be correct. Standing, she turned to look at the old native, giving him a wink as if to tell him not to worry. ―I think I have the answer,‖ Shirley stated. Uktena peered down, knowing that the answer she was about to give would more than likely be the wrong one. It was at times such as these that the great serpent would rather tell the individual the answer instead of having to deliver them into the bowels of hell.

―May the answer you give be free from thought and true of heart,‖ the great serpent stated. ―Hunger?‖ Shirley asked. ―This is what you give me? You are nothing more than an inferior being with nothing to offer the human race.‖ Her soul cried out, wringing through countless dimensions into trillions of kalpas of time. The medicine man dropped to his knees, weeping for his grandson, his family, and now this woman whom he had promised to protect. ―You could have left this place unharmed if you had never opened the box to reveal that infernal crystal,‖ the medicine man said. ―What is so special about the crystal?‖ Shirley asked. ―The crystal contains the conqueror of which Uktena spoke.‖ The ghostly apparition of a door suddenly appeared in the back of the shack on Summit Hill. As the bowels of hell beckoned, a kind voice drew Shirley closer to the gates of the dark underworld. The door began to close, and for the first time, Shirley realized what was in the crystal: terror. Terror was the answer that she needed to give, for she was frightened to death. Her heart was filled with the answer: terror. The great serpent hissed, its great head in Eagle Flying Bye‘s face. ―No mere mortal can save her.‖ ―Please … Great Eagle Flying Bye … save me!‖ Shirley‘s voice echoed through the caverns, through the Black Hills, through the great expanse to the Badlands, through the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters. Her voice could be heard calling, echoing through the Atlantic corridor to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. ―Save me, Eagle Flying Bye. Free me … free me …‖ All of Turtle Island could hear the cries of the woman of the wilderness. Eagle Flying Bye, being a great warrior, did not fear, but knew that this was now his battle. The great medicine man stooped down to retrieve the box that carried the crystal. He knew he must prepare for the battle of a thousand lifetimes—but how to win such a battle? He spoke out loud: ―Well, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.‖ Sophia begot Barbelo once upon a bygone time, before the pen of nursery rhymes, when water flowed with finite brine, Epinoia spewed perfumes divine. But there was no nose to smell her vine, no tongue to taste her fruits of wine, no ear to listen to music chime, no eyes to see radiant beauty shine, no touch to caress in evening time. And as the fountain of all radiance, she spewed stardust—the first ether dance. Birthed daughter Sophia, Mother‘s first romance, a mirror of magic in winds of enhance. A mother‘s child, full-grown one day, and taught her love a virgin‘s way. Together, breathing garden spray

in radiance of heaven‘s play. Potential grew from far away, came down to earth, and kissed the clay. Then the tiller appeared in break of day as girls made boys to share and play. And as earth crust twisted, formed, and turned, molten magna within her burned. A ball of butter formed, when churned, made cosmic fire explode her ferns. The sun shone hot to bake her clay, as spinning mass made night and day, an atmosphere to soothe the blaze. As heavens called, Adameh raised to rapture some to paradise above. All women‘s spirits flew like doves, gave every life a taste of love as each newborn‘s eye spied Mom above. Love was the essence of her connection; robbers came, taught man insurrection and made clay genders with sore infection to mine for gold little god defections. And stars on high cried, heaving tears as gases flamed and terrors seared and gods fought earth as man stole gears and soured the wine, binding woman in fear. And earthquakes rocked; volcanoes blew; boiling lava overflowed; hurricanes made nightly news; tsunami tidal waves crashed through. The heavens pulled the earth apart as ozone holes exposed hinder parts when black oil spilled gusher starts made men to die from weak, failed hearts. And Mother‘s womb took back her chord; they didn‘t know that she was Lord. So all men died of one accord, their breath cut off by the Elysium sword.

Chapter 9: The Gathering of Bones Eagle Flying Bye, called upon the Great Spirit of Devil Lake to help him in his quest. An eagle‘s feather floated softly, ever so lightly, at his feet. Wiyohpiyata was one of the four cardinal directions—a mysterious realm, home to spirits like the Winged One, who commanded thunder and lightning. He had to prepare himself; first he would follow the direction of the feather. He took a train to New Mexico—specifically, to the Gila River, which silently lapped the shores of eternity, near a great burial mound. He cleaned a spot on the north side of the great river, brought branches of soft leaves from the red ash trees, and made himself a bed. He would begin to gather his strength. He faced the east and pointed his sacred jeweled arrow to the left, to ward off evil. A power animal, the eagle soared high above him, keeping an ever-watchful eye over his resting body. A lone wolf spied the sleeping medicine man, tucked his paws beneath his chest, and lay down at the banks of the great Gila River to keep vigil. Soon it would be daybreak, and Eagle Flying By would enter a different realm to find the courage he was seeking. Eagle Flying By recited his rendition of a Lakota battle prayer: ―Today is a good day to die. I do not fear dying. Nor will I allow this great battle to worry me. It is something for which I have been preparing myself since the days of my youth. For I have known since the time of my birth that my true inheritance in this world would be a death befitting whatever, and whoever, it was that I was called to become. My dream has always been to die a warrior‘s death, my life ending by the swiftness of an arrow or a fatal blow from an act of war. And yet, I must admit, a peaceful end would also be a good way to die; surrounded by those I love within the comfort and warmth of my lodge, listening to the sounds of their grief, while the medicine men sing prayers and anoint my body to help my spirit to climb to that higher plain, is also a good way to die. But to have my life end, knowing that my courageous deeds might change the world for the better, is still the best end that I could wish for. That is why I do not fear my death.‖ He listened intently as the great warrior spirit of Geronimo beckoned him: ―Go east, old man.‖ Eagle Flying Bye immediately realized where he must go to gather up the strength to do battle. He first must receive the blessing of the great warrior chief. The ancestral home of the Apache having blessed him, he turned his face toward the east coast of Turtle Island, preparing for the hardship that would lie ahead. ***** On High Street, in the middle of the Yale University campus, stood a cold-looking, windowless Greco-Egyptian building with padlocked iron doors. This was the home of Yale‘s most famous secret society, Skull and Bones. The medicine man sat across the street from the building and made himself comfortable on the well-manicured lawn. He prepped his prayer pipe and filled it with four pinches of sacred tobacco as he faced each direction and recited his pipefilling prayer. Finally, he turned toward the north. Waziya ouye—the north power Waziya ahtah—the white giant from the north. Strength, endurance, purity, truth stand for the north.

The north covers our Mother Earth with the white blanket of cleansing snow. The snow prevents many sicknesses found in places without snow. After the winter snows, our Mother Earth wakes refreshed to bring forth the bounty of springtime. For us two-legged, it is the time of long contemplation. We must think of when we will have the face of the old. We will want to look back upon our lifetime and hope that we stood for the straight road in our relationship to all things. It is also a time to do small things, crafts and creative works, in order that we may pass through and enjoy our long winter‘s wait. Courage and endurance— these strengths we seek and wish to be blessed with as we stand here facing north. (Ancient Lakota pipe filling prayer*) He ignored the stares from passersby; nothing would deter him from his desired purpose. He began to chant and summon his animal spirit to conquer the cemented walls of the so-called tomb. Slowly, the medicine man began to swoon in deep meditation … He found himself inside a casket. Looking up, he witnessed a skull and crossbones insignia on the inside lid of the coffin; it seemed to glow in the dark. He closed his eyes and concentrated deeply on the symbol, never allowing his thoughts to be altered. Consciously, he became aware of a room—a small room. Thirteen men of great renown were sitting together around a wooden table. Maps of the world were rolled out as they machinated over the world‘s destiny. Eagle Flying Bye spied the skull; it was in the middle of the table, surrounded by four thick, black ceremonial candles, their flames dancing wildly upon his entry. Geronimo spoke to him. ―This is all it took. I am free. I am no longer a prisoner here. They have relinquished hold of my essence. You have freed me from this prison.‖ Eagle Flying By had infiltrated the white devil‘s sacred sanctuary. He looked around; the room was empty. None of those important men were there; they had suddenly dissipated … He awoke on the grass and checked his watch: it was 7:17 PM on March 22, and the spirit world rejoiced in the return of their great chief. Magic Words Glow, glow the magic words you chant from pen of sacred ink they rant and all of black returns to white.

In verses of sweet music beat, beat the magic words replete, with reversing gloom as shadows retreat and all the darkness of the night fades to your utterance of light. Glow, glow the magic words you chant.

Chapter 10: Battle of Will After a full day‘s climb, the medicine man finally reached the great serpent‘s high cliff. Night was creeping up the slope behind him and would soon devour the peak. Eagle Flying By decided to rest until morning. The clean air of the mountain turned sour and became tainted with irritation as brimstone and sulfur assaulted his nostrils. He knew that, if the legend was true, the great serpent, Uktena, awaited him over the next rise of jagged and rugged cliffs. The elder medicine man sought shelter in the lee of a leafy tree for the night but could not sleep. He built a fire, toasted some wah^pe khalyapi, and made himself a pot of herbal tea. All through the night, the earth shook. Firelight flickered and cast shadows on the mountainside. Electricity in the air made his hair stand on end. His mind mulled over the old legend; he considered going back home, but the reward was too great—so great that it was worth the risk of life to carry on with his destiny. For in the Badlands—specifically, the great fissure of the wily serpent, it is said—lived a beautiful maiden: a maiden who never aged, a maiden who would bring immortality to the man who came to her rescue, a maiden in whom all the beauty of creation resided. She wore the white linens of a virginal princess over her long, creamy legs and pert, rounded breasts. Her long, flowing black hair framed a face as beautiful as her form and disposition. This was the doe that he had sent to the slaughter. But first, there was the matter of the serpent to deal with. Sun now drizzled around the edges of the Badlands, outlining the peak with a halo of light. His fear had vanished overnight; he was ready to face what came next. After a sip of courage from his goatskin and a few berries and nuts, he set out for the fissure. He knew the serpent monster would be waiting for him; he could hear him stirring deep in the abyss of the fissure; his bold footsteps became shaky. Indeed, by the time he had climbed to the crest, he was weak-kneed. Longingly, he looked back toward Dakota—toward home. Stepping out onto the rise of land overlooking the deep abyss, he waited to hear the hiss of the slithering serpent. He was confronted with a vision—a giant, even for a legendary horned rattlesnake: a mound of scaly, undulating flesh all of fifty feet long; a horned head at least three feet across; a tail that could wrap around a sweat lodge; enormous fangs. The great medicine man stumbled backward. The Lakota healer chanted incantations to a full, blue moon in a tongue that had been already ancient when the moon itself was born. As he chanted, he climbed, clinging perilously to a stone cliff face eight hundred feet above a bed of jagged rock. Dark slate night clouds occasionally eclipsed the cold, reflecting orb, forcing the shaman to pause until light returned. The dimly illuminated stone, with its hellishly smooth surface, was testing even Eagle Flying Bye, the most powerful of the Lakota warriors. His lithe, lean, well-muscled form quivered with exertion as he steadily, carefully rose, and he knew that without the enchanted potion he had consumed earlier, the climb would have surpassed his physical limitations. No mere mortal could survive here, he thought. From the ground, the medicine man scarcely looked human. Now, the jutting tip of the final crag marked the last—and seemingly insurmountable—obstacle of the arduous, thousand-foot ascent. He hung precariously below it by his fingertips, weighing the task at hand. He quickly concluded it was physically impossible to traverse the three feet of angled rock barring his path. 'Fortunately, there is a more ethereal approach, beyond the physical.’. No sooner had the thought become memory than he began systematically closing his senses to standard reality: first, hearing; then smell; then taste; then sight; and finally, all forms of touch.

He retreated deep into the labyrinth of the mind, opening doors that led to other planes … and to communion with a dark, demonic presence. ―Great Wakan Tanka, protect me in this hour of total darkness,‖ he hoarsely began. ―Great Wakan Tanka, I seek strength—not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy: myself‖ His voice had grown louder now, and higher-pitched. Again and again he repeated the chant, voice growing progressively shriller until a tortured, high-pitched shriek ended the ecstatic spell. The shaman sensed an astral vortex gleaming with dazzling, self-generated light in the liquid black infinity inside his head. As he moved toward the portal, it opened, and he became an ebony wave flowing through into … what must be Tohu and Bohu! Eagle Flying Bye, entered into the realm—of perversion, corruption, and putrefaction—encompassing the totality of it in his own soul, and shuddered not. After an interminable time, during which he conversed with the living embodiment of disease, the astral vortex suddenly reappeared, and again the medicine man was liquid jet, splashing forth as a wave of night. He now stood atop the cliff, facing the precipice and staring at the full moon in utter amazement. Exactly how he had arrived was anyone‘s guess. . Absently, he noted that the night orb‘s usually golden color now seemed a darker shade of pale, sickly yellow. Then his hypnotic gaze shifted, as he spied the entrance of an underground cave, which lay between his feet and the crag‘s jutting tip. Around the portal, carved in natural rock, were carvings of perverse images; inhuman torture, human sacrifice, sexual perversion, wickedness as an art form... etched in the circumference, the serpent swallowing its own tail as the height of demonic lust. Still, Eagle Flying Bye shuddered not, for he was cold, frozen to normal human compassion. He would not let the vision disturb his quest. Far on the dark road he had already traveled, visual torture, performed in dark gullies surrounded by warped, distorted demons... he was gaining powers while growing forever distant from his own plane by tasting the forbidden fruit of other dimensions. Without hesitation, the medicine man slipped through the opening, his fear a wild beast that he learned to cage a long time ago. He descended on broken shards, lashing out at unseen incubi as they tried to weaken his very resolve. In a rough hewn tunnel, which was cut out of solid, stalagmites, the limestone reflected opaque, olive light which radiated from great, rounded columns descending from the stone ceiling. Almost immediately, the shaman felt a hot, incessant breeze blowing fetid in his face. Like the entranceway, the walls were worked with the most sordid of engravings. Eagerly past them went the Eagle, drawn inexorably deeper by his own insane obsessions. Closer, closer, closer … to attaining great power while destroying ultimate sin. The stairway abruptly ended, giving way to a small, circular room, still hewn from the same underground dripstone, the inner sanctum. Between Shaman and opening, protruding seamlessly from the center floor, lay a small, circular altar hewn from a cave pearl... Its sides were etched with further hieroglyphics from the same demonic-possessed serpent as before, and a small, polished-sable stone marked its center, contrasting with the main-stone. The ebony circle was so perfectly joined with the rock it seemed it had always been there. A small, round bowl made of Ivory, about the size of an eagle‘s egg, was centered therein. The thin tracing of some rough, verdant-hued, fluorescent material delineated the circumference of the depression, which itself was a part of the circular altar.

The shaman stepped to the beveled pedestal carved from a stalagmite, left hand slipping into a fold at the hip of his leather breechclout. From the pocket he pulled a small, turquoise urn and a clear vial in which blood-red powder was visible. Setting his jeweled hollow bone on the stone, he quickly but carefully emptied the contents of the vial into it. Now, thought the shaman, comes the battle. Dropping to his knees, the medicine man began expertly drawing strange, arcane glyphs in the hellish air, one with each of the fingers of his left hand. The crimson powder, which consisted of the dried blood of a sacred white buffalo

and certain extra dimensional herbs, Yerba Santa and sage, suddenly burst into phosphorous flame. Eagle Flying Bye raised his arms above him, his palms spread wide in supplication, and began chanting. He had spent years and risked much tracking and perfecting this shamanic spell that now contorted his classic Lakota features in ecstasy as it opened the seal to the realm of Uktena. Simultaneously, the smell of putrefied flesh permeated the air. From his knees, the shaman fell unconscious to the floor, swooning in a violent, unrelenting stupor. Then the smoke was sucked like a vacuum into the small ivory bowl. Eagle Flying Bye awoke with a start from a short, nightmare-haunted sleep. He was on his side, in fetal position and completely disoriented. Rising with some difficulty to his knees, he surveyed new and terrible surroundings. Finally, the shaman blanched—for, unlike the other distorted places he had been, this was a horror that children of God were never supposed to witness! The very substance and geometry of the place was literally inconceivable.. The medicine man recoiled, shaken by the maddening effect. With superhuman effort and steely resolve, the shaman focused both inward and outward, fighting off the feelings of vertigo, seeking a clue to the entrance he knew must be there. His trained mind sensed an opening—or what might be an entrance, so perplexing was its nature. Momentarily he purposely blurred his vision;, he scanned the spot where he thought the gateway should be. Slowly, his vision refocused, and in it was a familiar shape: the same white, polished ivory stone bowl that had been centered in the rock niche he had so recently departed. Instinctively, he knew the stone to be the door. A sudden awareness of the hellish, unremitting breeze that had followed him (or had always been there) brought thought: ―'There are realms within realms, within planes, within dimensions, without end, without limits…‖ His chant ended his brief reverie, calling upon his prowess to again transcend the finite world.

Still on his knees, the shaman took a thin, razor-edged dagger from his sash and sliced deep into his left wrist, slitting flesh and causing blood to well and drip from the gaping wound. Standing, he squeezed his fist until blood flowed into the tiny, bowl of the familiar altar, filling the bowl before spending the rest on the maddening, serpentine rocks as he ejaculated his life‘s seed. The home stretch of a long, dark journey was now at hand. Again Eagle Flying Bye retreated, via transmutation, to the liquid, black infinity of his essence. There, he became a solid black ball, falling through an astral vortex that lay below him, descending deep, deeper, and deepest into the pressure-filled depths of an abyss. The enormous compression crushed him incessantly, rendering him a tighter, denser spherical mass, which dropped through a long stretch of actual intestines, he was shooting through the bowels of hell…., … The shaman re-entered the physical world on a, glowing, ebony shoreline before an ocean of warm, thick claret. The tide‘s alkaline smell was overpowering. The visible sky was the ivory bowl, with no apparent ending or light source. Out in the distance, luminous, silvery giants swam in hot hemoglobin. Now and then, one of the gorgeously glowing monsters would leap free of the viscous, red ocean, revealing its gleaming, rounded body and squirming tail, which were huge even at this distance. The medicine man recognized his own sperm, romping in his own blood, and thought, ‗everything is relative.‘ For a long moment, he stood frozen, transfixed by the disturbing symmetry of the scene. Gradually, he became aware that one of the rollicking multitudes was now swimming toward him, closing vast distances effortlessly. Closer and closer it glided, looming larger, and larger, and larger, striking real fear in the medicine man as it approached him. Blood lapped the shoreline, against his feet, then knees, then groin as the huge sperm swam close, displacing tons of liquid before it. The true immensity of the creature was finally apparent. It towered over the medicine man, taller than a tree, its

head wide as a subway train. Up close, the gleam of translucent flesh was blinding, as he tried to make out the features visible on its luminous face…..

He stood frozen to the ground as he watched two eyes appear just above the gaping mouth (from which flickered a forked tongue). ―Human, what are you doing near my mountain? Have you come to satisfy my taste for red men‘s flesh?‖ ―Y-you can speak?‖ the great medicine man stammered. ―Well, you don‘t see anyone else around here, do you?‖ it replied. ―Do you get many visitors up here, Uktena?‖ He remembered to pronounce the snake‘s name clearly, even though he was full of fear. ―I have no time for chitchat, human,‖ it replied. ―I see you know the game—calling me by name. What brings you to this place?‖ ―Huh? Oh, yes, you‘re the great serpent, Uktena, and you possess the great crystal, Ulun‘suti.‖ ―Enough of this chitchat!‖ it hissed. ―Why are you here? Tell me—before you become my breakfast snack!‖ ―Why, there is only one reason for me to be here,‖ whispered Eagle Flying Bye. ―I‘m here to rescue the fair maiden who lives in your cave—the doe that I personally sent to you.‖ Flicking his forked tongue, the mighty snake hissed in what must have been its idea of laughter. Flame shot across the clearing to where Eagle Flying Bye stood. His clothing flashed and was gone, and every—every—hair on his body became thousands of crispy critters and vanished … without burning his skin. In fact, although his hair was missing, he had no burns on his flesh. ―I suppose now you‘re going to eat me?‖ Eagle Flying Bye commented. ―Eat you? I don‘t eat meat; I eat the dust of the earth. It ferments in my belly and fuels my fire. But now tell me,‖ the great serpent Uktena hissed. ―Why do you think you are worthy to see the princess? Where is your army, your armor? I don‘t even see a knife, let alone a sword or spear. How do you expect to fight me?‖ ―Sir Snake, I am but a poor red man without many possessions. I had hoped that my ability to speak reason would convince you that I am worthy to complete my quest. I am a man of peace,‖ the wise medicine man announced. ―Good grief, boy, I feel sorry for you. I am here to do battle for this fair maiden. What say you?‖ ―My father died when I was young, and I was raised by my mother and her sisters …‖ The shaman‘s voice trailed off. ―Well, then, I truly do feel sorry for you, little human … because I‘m going to let you pass. You may enter the fissure and take back your doe,‖ granted the great serpent. ―Just like that, I can enter? No song and dance about being worthy? No great feats of strength or courage?‖ ―Little human, even though you have brought no weapons, as you stand before me naked, it is easy for me to discern that you are amply endowed with all the … attributes you are going to need. In fact, you are exceptionally well armed for what you are about to face. Now pass me, and enter the cave before I change my mind.‖ ―But … but … I have no clothes …‖

Chapter 11: Stealing Lucifer‘s Light The great serpent sat at the edge of the abyss, dreaming of his place in the universe as a bright and shining sun, the galaxies of Andromeda dancing with the Milky Way at his feet, with all their colored suns and planets cast upon it bowing down to his light in great reverence. In his dream, the young woman came to him with a deck of playing cards. ―Come, let us play a few hands of poker to steal the night away …‖ She stared up at the reptilian face of the great serpent Uktena as if uncertain … but, making up her mind, she tugged at his long, red, fiery scales. ―I‘ll see your five and raise you ten?‖ The serpent eyed her, feeling uncertain. For a long time, he gazed down at the small figure as stars and planets birthed and expired while the known universe swirled on between its ebony banks. Finally, he too made up his mind and replied. ―Well, my sweet slave, but what shall we play for as we deal these little cards upon the empty shells of Sheol? Shall we gamble upon the souls of eternity or simply play for pleasure?‖ ―If I win,‖ said Shirley, the fairest of maidens, ―you must grant me my greatest wish: freedom. If you win, I must remain your slave forever.‖ The great serpent thought for a while as vast pockets of diffused nebulous matter collapsed and aggregated upon tiny droplets of moisture and dust. A small snowshoe rabbit hopped merrily along. Spying a carrot top, it nibbled gingerly … then went for the root, falling deep into the bowels of hell, dragged down into the tempestuous torrent of raging souls. ―My darling Shirley,‖ said the serpent, ―you are already my slave for all of eternity, until judgmental time collapses. As for your other requirement: alas, although I hold all mankind in my discriminating grip, although I discern nation‘s fates, and worlds live and die by my discretion, I am not a djinn who grants magical wishes. Let‘s just enjoy a few hands.‖ ―Oh, very well then,‖ said Shirley, the fairest of maidens, ―but you must deal first, and I will bid on the cards that have been dealt to me.‖ Now, Uktena thought this was a funny thing for the fair maiden to say, but he agreed readily enough and, kneeling down on the Altar of Lust, he dealt the cards, trying hard not to cheat. Empires and civilizations rose and fell on a myriad of diverse worlds as Satan‘s holographic doubles wielded their scythes this way and that, reaping in a harvest of a million souls. Eons and millennia passed, and a vast repository of skeletal remains piled up on either side of the galaxy, leaving only a narrow strip of level space for the two poker-faced players to pursue their cosmic card game. But finally it was over, and the fair maiden (by sleight of hand or luck?) had bested the great serpent. ―Take what you will,‖ he said from his towering height. She took naught—only moved to kneel before him. ―You have earned it,‖ Uktena urged her as he nudged her gently toward his treasure room. With tear-filled eyes, she gazed upon him in all his majesty. She turned her head away. ―I want nothing that is beyond that door.‖ She sighed as she bent her head and whispered softly, ―I have earned … not the treasure I craved.‖ ―Would you take what I give?‖ he asked her bent head. ―If given freely, Milord Uktena,‖ she murmured. Wetness dotted her knees and the floor.

―What would you give?‖ Curiosity colored his smooth tones. He surveyed the room. ―Money, jewels? Your freedom is already yours‖ He cocked his mighty head and raised a brow. She merely shook her head. ―What, no parting wealth? I thought that was what all mortals desired.‖ He lowered his head to the floor to look more closely at her. She turned her head away, shaking her long hair down to hide her face. Intrigued, he reached out a gleaming, cloven hoof and tilted her tearstained face toward his. ―If you were giving, what would it be?‖ Wet, shining eyes searched his for but a moment. A fleeting smile touched her trembling lips. ―My lord … it would be my love …‖ she whispered tentatively. Surprised, he barked out a laugh. ―You would love me?‖ His voice softened in awe and disbelief. ―I am naught! I am fire and armor—hard as steel, hard of heart. And you could love something, someone, as hard and cold as me? You are strong of will, spirited, joyous of life, warm, tender, soft, and vibrant … I am naught for one so full of life!‖ She shook her head, hair rippling in the light. Passion flared unexpectedly in his heart. ―You are the sun, the rain, the moon, and the stars,‖ she answered. ―Joys tempered by sadness, fantasy in reality. You have taught me to appreciate the life around me. You are … worthy of love, and so much more …‖ Stumbling over the words, she bent her head again. Tears flowed freely as she brokenly told him, ―but love is nothing if not given freely. It cannot be earned.‖ He stared down at her shaggy mane of hair, wondering what it would be like to touch it— not with his cloven hoof, but with soft human hands. To revel in the touch of soft, pliant skin … with these thoughts in his mind, he reached out to her. But before he could touch her, pain exploded through his being. A clattering startled her as scales rained about them. The sound bounced and echoed hollowly throughout the cave. Battle-hardened hands raised her from her knees. Startled, she flinched away from them. Worriedly, she searched the room with her eyes. Scales were heaped upon the floor like armor discarded in haste. A hand still supported her. ―What the hell?‖ queried the serpent. ―You have bested me—the Destroyer is destroyed. Come, my sweet pet, and breathe your warmth upon me.‖ ―I will do more than that,‖ said the fairest of all maidens. ―I will claim my rights, for it is my heart‘s desire to kiss the lips of the great serpent Uktena.‖ And saying this, she climbed upon the serpent‘s scales and, staring into his shocked countenance, kissed the cold, steely grimness of his lips. As she did so, pale and golden flesh formed upon the serpent‘s scaly face as he blushed. His scales shimmered like diamonds all over his body, and a bright red rose blossomed in his chest. No longer cold-blooded, he felt the warmth of two hearts beating. ―My heart is yours!‖ he said in amazement. The Arch of Desire collapsed, and the elemental remains of all who were given over to death came crashing down into the starry flood, where they too put on radiant breath again and swam amid a joyful melee of sprites, faeries, cherubim, seraphim, angels, and other strange and wonderful creatures toward some undiscovered ocean beyond infinity. His relentless grip of judgment loosed, and the heavens rejoiced in the resurrection. Now within Shirley‘s small, cupped hands was Lucifer‘s light. It quickly overtook her, mingling with her fleshy form. The history of the universe filled her. Every star, every planet, every dust particle, every single fact and process, every explosion, the history of alien civilizations in every galaxy—so infinite that applying a number to them would be pointless—

filled her head. Every transaction, every move, every damn thing in the entire age of the universe—quantum jumps, quantum physics, string theories, quantum weirdness, quarks, neutrinos, free will—and sentient life could barely comprehend the amount of physical matter in the universe, never mind the details. Ninety-eight percent of the universe was, in fact, the paperwork. There was simply too much information for one singular mind to handle. Her mind convulsed and then scrambled. Agitated, it short-circuited, making her lose control of her body. Her sanity followed, but that returned in a little while. However, while her lucidity was away, something seared into her mind, her soul: his very spirit, knowledge, the great gnosis, the truth of everything. The veil was torn asunder, and the pure beauty of this truth sent her into the throes of insanity. When the great serpent finally awakened from his dream, he found himself holding the ace of spades. Searching, he could not find his way in the dark; his light was now dimmed. But the great serpent well understood that curvature was the illusion of desire—that light would always find escape from confinement. He knew also that when the day arrived, Shirley would have her freedom; she had earned it, and in truth, he would now return from whence he came. After all, he was the anointed cherubim—the righteous one. He bowed low to Shirley, freed of the burden of pointing the accusing finger and persecuting mortal man. He understood what humanity had to offer; he had gone through the circumcision of the heart. Love—unconditional love—was what the inferior human had over Lucifer. An eternal love— I hear their voices, feel them all: the souls, big waves set free from earth, the chosen ones in heaven‘s call swept in the stream of heaven‘s birth. Away from slipping, sliding sand, away from plates on earth that fail into the safe, protecting hand where loved ones drift without a sail. Sweetly dressed, now warmed and freed— no cares, now safe in heaven‘s see, the honored guests with no more need joining their friends and family. Soon, time and space will be no more; we‘ll all be called to heaven‘s shore to live in love forevermore.

Chapter 12: A Case of Demonic Possession ―What the hell is that?‖ Dr. Ira Rosenfeld asked the man to his right in a tired and altogether fed-up tone. ―It‘s the schizophrenic, Doctor. Tried to calm her before, but the Demerol isn‘t working.‖ ―Screams like a bloody banshee,‖ Rosenfeld muttered to himself before continuing with his reading. The blasphemous screams continued for more than an hour before being cut short. The men were too far away from the room to hear whatever happened afterward. Neither had had any peace since Shirley Cohen‘s arrival two nights ago, so they welcomed the quiet, without even considering why she had finally stopped her ranting and screaming. ―Do we have a diagnosis yet, Doctor?‖ Rosenfeld asked. He shot a look at Dr. Caspar Gavorkian, then put his head down. In all the years he had known Gavorkian, the man had never liked being looked at, and Rosenfeld was too afraid of him to ask why. ―She has been here two days, and you‘re asking for a diagnosis?‖ Gavorkian retorted. ―I‘ve barely even had time to look at her, what with all the screaming she‘s been doing. I‘d kill for a next of kin.‖ ―And we don‘t have one yet?‖ Rosenfeld queried. ―No,‖ he answered bluntly. Feeling Rosenfeld‘s eyes stray to study him, Gavorkian began to explain. ―She‘s not from Montana, and we have no definite ID—only that she calls herself Shirley Cohen. The local police found her walking naked, covered in blood, speaking some strange language and chanting. She‘d stop and draw hexagrams, octagons, and pentagrams. Looked like a satanic ritual, if you must know … though the witnesses—yes, there were a few— said they saw no one else. I would say it was attempted suicide. Still quite possibly sacrifice to the dark lords of hell, but I doubt if she hurt anyone. ―So she might be a Satanist,‖ Gavorkian continued after a pause. He had been a psychiatrist for just over four years, after spending years practicing as a geriatric physician. The ritual killing of his first wife had spurred him into the career change. She had been a practicing member of the OTO. ―They found her with the pentagram on her stomach painted in her own blood,‖ Gavorkian said. ―She said she was known throughout the Badlands as ‗the fair maiden.‘ She was appearing in Black Masses everywhere, claiming to have the second sight. She claimed to be able to converse with demons and even might have said that she was carrying something of Lucifer‘s—perhaps she‘s pregnant with his child. If you ask me—‖ His words were once again cut off at the sound of Shirley‘s bloodcurdling screams. Eastmont, a facility for the mentally disabled, had opened in 1967 as a peaceful place of sanctuary for those with mental disabilities. But now it was a training center, and medical students came here to get their first taste of a psychiatric facility—or, less tastefully, a nuthouse. Dr. Rosenfeld had been in charge for just over ten years and had given it a better name than most other psychiatric facilities in the country. It was very rarely more than half full, but it could hold up to twenty patients at a time. At this time, there were only ten, and most of these were in lockdown for security purposes. This number included Shirley Cohen. ―She calm yet?‖ Rosenfeld asked the guard sitting in front of the monitor by the locked doors of the security ward. ―Shirley? Quiet as a lamb, Doctor … been talkin‘ a bit, casually, though. You know, ‘bout her wanderin‘ the road since Lucifer set her free.‖ He nodded politely as Rosenfeld passed through the steel doors.

The corridor he found himself in was paneled in dark chrome from wall to wall, broken only by the steel-rimmed windows on each of the five doors. The doctor strode down to the end of the long corridor; Shirley Cohen was in the last room. He peered through the small glass window on the door. The girl was sitting quietly on her bed and staring blankly at the walls of her cell. He was careful not to disturb her meditation, for that was what he thought she was doing. Rosenfeld fumbled with the keys in the lock, slid the dead bolt over to the right, and opened the door. Shirley was sitting quietly on her cot, her back toward the door. In a patient, quiet voice, the doctor spoke. ―My name is Dr. Rosenfeld. You can call me Ira.‖ ―Ira,‖ she repeated, and Rosenfeld immediately knew he was talking to Shirley herself— no alternate personalities, no haunted doppelgängers. This was Shirley. ―I‘ve got to ask you a few questions, Shirley. Is that okay?‖ he asked in the kindest voice a heartbroken man could manage. ―Everyone wants to ask questions—so many questions,‖ she muttered. ―Why ask questions when I can already answer them? I‘m feeling okay. I don‘t have many childhood memories, but I remember watching lots of television. The usual reality TV they have nowadays doesn‘t interest me. I never indulged in too many sweets, never used food to assuage my anxieties. My father‘s a rabbi. Who is my father? He‘s a great man, a leader—not the divine Lord but almost … thereabouts. And yes, the weather is good today. I can see the sun through that little window up there, through that steeple—strange place for a steeple, but I can see it through the ceiling.‖ As her bony finger trembled upward to point to the thick brick wall above her, Rosenfeld felt a chill run up his spine. She had answered every question he had thought of; she had simply plucked them from his mind. Suddenly, she cupped her hands and presently brought forth a handful of Lorna Doones. ―My favorite,‖ said the doctor, surprised that she had offered him his favorite cookie. Steady, Ira, he cautioned himself. Don’t start jumping to farfetched conclusions of telepathy or magic. In states of deep concentration, people have been known to conjure up extraordinary skills and lose them just as fast as they get them. His thoughts were stopped from branching any further when Shirley uttered, ―You skinned your knee playing tennis the other day. You must look after it; it is becoming infected with streptococcus.‖ Dr. Rosenfeld now gave Shirley his full, rapt attention. He looked down at his knee, but there was no discerning the large scab through his dress pants. Shirley‘s face seemed to distort, and she appeared to become a whole new person. Her eyes thinned at the edges; her cheeks grew wider, and her mouth became wider. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but Rosenfeld would swear in any court that her hair had momentarily lightened and that she had aged at least fifteen years. She looked almost like a different person. When she spoke, he realized that her voice had also changed. It was deeper, but not necessarily more masculine. It was raspy and thick and seemed to throw out perfumed air with every aspiration: ―Hello, Ira. My name is David. Would you like to ask me some questions, too?‖ ―David?‖ Rosenfeld felt as if he had been stabbed in the heart. ―Hello, David,‖ he croaked. ―And who, exactly, are you?‖ ―I‘m insulted, Ira! You don‘t recognize your own brother? It‘s been a few decades, sure, but it‘s not like I‘ve aged!‖ It laughed then, and Rosenfeld recognized the laughter immediately. It was that of his brother. ―But it can‘t be you!‖

―Yes, one would think the matter of being dead would get in the way! But the boss is quite lenient when it comes to matters like that.‖ ―Boss?‖ ―Oh, you know. The head honcho upstairs.‖ ―I don‘t believe you. Tell me something that only we would know.‖ Rosenfeld couldn‘t believe it—the voice, the laugh, and even the eyes belonged to David. But it couldn‘t be him; it was impossible. There was no heaven. There was no hell … so how could David—an atheist like David—have spoken from the dead?

“Здравствулте!, брат. Rachel здесь слишком, она говорит мне вы украсило ванную комнату потом. Mauve и серый цвет оно? Вы всегда любили цвет серым.‖ The David-Shirley-thing said and smiled. Rosenfeld stepped away toward the door, his eyes wide, his mouth agape. ―Hello, brother. Rachel is here too—she tells me you decorated the bathroom afterward. Mauve and gray, is it? You always liked the color gray.‖ After Rachel, Rosenfeld‘s wife, had slipped and fallen in their bathtub, she had hit her head on the glass door, fallen forward, and cracked it open onto the marble floors, killing herself instantly. Afterward, Rosenfeld had changed his home‘s interior. He had told no one of this, feeling somewhat ashamed of his actions. And, yes, he had redecorated in mauve and gray. David had also been fluent in many languages, one of those being Russian; the brothers had learned it together when Ira Rosenfeld was just a teenager. How would Shirley know that they had spoken Russian? Feeling overwhelmed, Rosenfeld had told the David/Shirley … whatever … he had been speaking to that he had to go. He left quickly and soon joined Gavorkian in the study. ―Well?‖ Gavorkian asked the minute Rosenfeld walked into the office. ―Multiple personality disorder,‖ Rosenfeld said with an air of exhaustion before slumping into the burgundy armchair in the corner. ―And she‘s been meditating. Expect her to be able to read minds for at least another few hours.‖ Rubbing his temples with his left thumb and forefinger, Rosenfeld undid his tie with his free hand and sank even further into the chair. ―Either its schizophrenia or it‘s a case of demonic possession!‖ Rosenfeld quipped. It had been a joke, but Gavorkian took the comment seriously. ―Hey, I read a paper on that once. The symptoms of schizophrenia and possession are very similar. I‘d like to have a look at her, if it‘s okay with you. Not tonight—tomorrow. I need time to reread all the old text on it.‖ Too tired to even laugh at his colleague‘s notion of possession, Rosenfeld was still an atheist and wasn‘t planning to start believing in a demon of some kind—or even that his own brother had possessed the girl in lockdown. He sat back in his leather recliner and reached for the pipe in his left pocket … he shortly produced a Lorna Doone cookie and popped it in his mouth. ―You can question her all you want.‖ ***** It was late the next morning when Rosenfeld found himself outside Gavorkian‘s door. He had to admit that he was increasingly curious about Gavorkian‘s hypothesis of possession. As an atheist, he couldn‘t believe in this, but he had spent a good deal of the night on his laptop searching the Internet for information about the subject. He wasn‘t sure if he believed it, but he

was now curious. Everything couldn‘t have been a coincidence; the synchronicity had reached supernatural proportions … ―A penny for your thoughts,‖ interrupted Gavorkian. Out in the hallway, the two men stood and stared longingly down the corridor. Neither knew quite what to do with himself. After an awkward moment or two, they finally strode wordlessly toward the lockdown unit on the south end of the asylum. Rosenfeld was, naturally, leading the way. ―Good morning, Nigel.‖ Rosenfeld nodded to the guard outside the ward. Nigel Sterling had been a guard at Eastmont for seven years; he kept a journal of all of the patients that had graced these padded cells. ―Morning, Doctors. Are you here to see Shirley? She was ill last night, or so Bender says. But he makes up stories for attention sometimes. You know, on the night Shirley arrived here, he said he saw her crawling on the ceiling! I mean, honestly! How gullible does he think I am?‖ ―That‘s one of the signs!‖ Gavorkian muttered to Rosenfeld, unable to keep the smirk from his voice. ―Yes, we‘re here to see Shirley,‖ Rosenfeld told Nigel. ―Please make sure no one comes in here until we‘re done.‖ The doctor spoke calmly, as if he were just on a routine check, instead of searching for signs of demonic possession. ―We don‘t know how long this will take, but that doesn‘t matter. No one interrupts. Got it?‖ ―Aye-aye, Captain!‖ Nigel said and saluted with a boyish glint in his eye. Rosenfeld and Gavorkian strode once again down the chrome hallway. Stopping outside Shirley‘s door, they each took a deep breath before hesitantly sliding open the door. ―You are late,‖ Shirley stated the moment Rosenfeld had closed the door. ―We were expecting you much earlier.‖ ―We?‖ Rosenfeld asked skeptically. ―Oh, of course, Ira Rosenfeld, resident nonbeliever. I had forgotten about you; it is we as in me, father, and the great Uktena. Father speaks your language, but with a slightly different accent,‖ Shirley announced. ―If you cannot understand him, I‘m afraid I cannot help that.‖ Rosenfeld fingered the Dictaphone in his pocket. ―Ah, he has arrived,‖ Shirley said. Her face began to distort. Her lips were longer, thinner, and paler. The once-blue eyes grayed and became wider. Her features became masculine, and her body gave off a dark aura. Even Rosenfeld sensed the evil wafting from this body. ―Greeeeetingsssss …‖ The voice slithered from Shirley‘s mouth like the snake in the Garden of Eden. Shirley paused before walking over to Gavorkian. ―The great serpent is present,‖ she said, and her body began to twist and turn, convulsing violently. Her face crumpled in on itself and stretched outward again. Her eyes became black, and her hair appeared to grow. Her legs stretched upward, and she became at least a foot taller. When the metamorphosis was complete just a few moments later, a whole new woman appeared to be standing in front of them. And, in both of the men‘s eyes, she was the most beautiful woman they had ever seen. She was tall, thin, and pale, with high cheekbones and perfect red lips. Her hair curled wildly, but looked so immaculate that it could not be called messy. Even in Shirley‘s nightgown, this woman‘s perfect figure was obvious. Her deep, dark eyes engulfed the two men, swallowing them, drawing them in. She was what every man fantasized about. And her voice, as beautiful as

it was, made Rosenfeld wary of fixing his gaze upon her, for fear that she would, like Medusa, turn him to stone. ―Good evening, gentlemen. Welcome to my world.‖ The reality of God I‘ve studied the big Theory of Everything, essence of man‘s gnosis missing one sure thing. Perception is the key, I‘m told in many ways, logic symbols see ‘cross universal says. Material and abstract are words to make men chew; material thoughts are facts, reactions, standard views. Abstract cannot return confirmation, as imagination burns one way somewhere, alas. If I may paraphrase with words that I have heard, in truth we know the way; pure truth speaks God‘s own word. And all of man‘s confusion is only sad illusion of abstract thought infusion— perception from intrusion. Imagination‘s purpose is to extend Creation not smear the truthful surface in ego lust temptation. The words of man are empty when ears are grounded in imagination‘s fantasy without God‘s truth within. And man‘s clay heart is evil; in lust and greed he walks, forever empty dreaming, null, the ways of wicked chalks. And all of science studies in logic rules of man is just one side and muddies refracting light in sand. And in the truth dimension,

no warp of time and space, spirit through ascension knows loving life-force grace. I‘ve studied the big Theory of Everything, essence of man‘s gnosis misses one sure thing, the reality of God.

Chapter 13: Counting the Sacred Steps to the Healing Waters of Atagahi Eagle Flying Bye stared up at the stars. The song of the pack rose up all around him. He sighed and pulled his mind away from the pack. He knew the time was near for him to start running with the pack. The wolves wanted him to run with them, but he couldn‘t. He had to stay in his human form a while longer. The winter was well under way, and winter was a harsh time to travel in these lands—even for a strong, untamed wolf-walker such as himself. ―The wolves are active tonight.‖ A deep voice spoke quietly into the night, disturbing his silent reverie. Eagle Flying Bye heard the screams of the doe; they pierced his thoughts. She was somewhere south of here, although he did not know where ―here‖ was. He had been wandering aimlessly through the Badlands for a moon or so; her screams had brought him out of his confused state of mind. With clarity of mind and purpose, the medicine man concentrated on her voice. He would find her. He would save her. It had become his life‘s passion. After all, it was he who had offered her up to the great serpent. He looked into the starry heavens. ―At times, it seems the stars are the only ones who want nothing of me.‖ That was why he had come out here: he loved looking at the sky at night. He had discovered through the stars his link to the wolves before he knew what his destiny was to be, for wolf-walkers were often feared and alone, bereft of human contact. Her voice was deceptively mild as she spoke. ―Is that the only reason to be?‖ Shirley‘s voice ebbed and flowed through the recesses of his mind. ―You do talk to the wolves?‖ His tone was mildly amused. Eagle Flying Bye easily reached for the pack mind. Through the wolves, he could clearly sense her; his keen eyesight scanned the hinterland hills. He would follow her scent. ―Can you hear me, Shirley?‖ His howl echoed over canyons and steep valleys. Her voice was full of wonder. ―Yes, yes! I can … I can feel your mind.‖ The wolves, as one, swarmed his mind, trying to undermine his determination, and as usual, he found himself fighting desperately the almost compulsive urge to give in. Finally, the tide of wolfish pleading ebbed. Eagle Flying Bye sighed in relief as he sought refuge with the pack under the full moon. The medicine man awoke, refreshed. He would go to the Great Spirit of the lake, Atagahi. He would journey a thousand miles as he took his first step. Atagahi … he would find it—not for himself, but for the sake of all Mother Nature. He needed to record in his mind every nuance, every object, and every sacred footstep. Rain Can opener Indoor formula Coffeepot Ramen Coffee Nuts and berries Wallet Keys Winter coat Battery pack

Wolf pack Short tail over back of couch Bottle of Injun whiskey Pouch of blessed tobacco, sacred pipe Gasoline-filled Jeep, rope for climbing or hanging, axe, shovel, screwdriver. Screwdriver? Razor, towel blanket Old photo album. I will be gone one or two moons. His face was glistening tears. Old photos from a long-ago quest Sometimes it rains inside. I was reading about Atagahi and I reached forth my paw and touched my tears. Wolves crying, howling crossing Smokies on a dreary fall day. The moon breaks out, beautiful Driving old Land Rover, Whiskers against windshield the sun is going down behind in the back window. There is an old Lutheran church with a black sign stuck out by the highway saying ―Service at 5:00 PM‖ in white letters. ―Come all who want to attend.‖ The moon rises and is an unexpected sight. It is reflecting the light from the sun going down behind me. Just past Caney Fork and another mile marker and past the rest stop. I glance to my right at the railroad bridge crossing Shawnee Fork Now past Shawnee Fork River and up the Cumberland Plateau. Forty-five minutes black asphalt and white lines and concrete barricades because there is continuing construction. Moon rising with the color of violet beneath it and translating blue above it and the gathering brilliance from the sun going down. The asphalt weaves, as does the plateau. Up and down, to the right to the left, a straight, and all around again. 198 miles on I-74 And still climbing the Cumberland to reach orange flame azaleas and Grays‘ lily, striking tall, and cascading water running from the Little River and down past Tremont. Clingman‘s Dome Parson‘s Branch Chilhowie Cherokee Andrews Bald Abrams Creek …

trout fishing Shifting gears Clutch set in Down in a low hum of first gear Up into second and six cylinders humming Clutch set in again and up into third and another whine. Fourth and then clutch again Pattern of gears First straight down Second straight up Third straight down Fourth straight up Fifth gear to be driven to right and then up. The sepia, amber The plateau visible as I chant 4:07 PM by Central time All stops out and the reed of a clutch. Smell of the buffalo on the grassy knolls. White buffalo woman pointing to red road leveling out on the top of the plateau. The moon is rising in resounding curvature. There is violet under the hanging moon and into the tick of Eastern Standard time past the airport exit and into a wide curve with a dented guardrail and down past laburnum trees. The sky changes in a moment. The time zones change. 5:39 PM Eastern time The violet is now above the full moon, caressing, and the blue is settling into subservience. Hard right Forty-five miles to next exit and on to Sweetwater on to Murphy, Coker Creek, a runoff of Tellico, where there is still gold to be panned out of the water. Desperate faces, small hands, Piercing eyes scanning pebbles and sand Gold dust Journey for best medicine the hiss of Coleman fuel combines with the running sound of Porters Creek. Freshly caught trout bacon grease, wild mushrooms, and fiddleheads waiting. The Coleman stove took a minute to ignite. There was a hornet‘s nest in it because I forgot to clean it before packing. The skin of the trout I caught today browns and crisps. The Coleman is set away from the lean-to as to not attract any predators of the night

Whether they be dangerous or just curious, I set it away from the makeshift of dead scored branches covered with my old blue tarp. I looked today for the stone that‘s shaped like a three-quarter fan. But it must have been colder last winter, Because I couldn‘t find it. The fan must have shifted from the heavy snow and slicing water under the ice these last few winters. My marker is now hidden, because the water of Porters Creek no longer flows over the fan made of thunderhead sandstone. Star mosses like little green pincushions have sprouted up in the dry fissure along with trailing pink arbutus and three-leafed lion‘s tongue because Porters Creek has changed its bed since I was last here. I know because I searched for the fan all day, wading in Porters Creek in my old sneakers and turning over displaced pieces of Porters Creek. A flood has come down and has scoured out a fast-running stream and has turned Porters Creek into a lazy pool of slowly flowing water. Sneakers are the best things for wading, because you can feel the rocks through the thin soles of sneakers, and you can feel the smooth bark of a fallen slick limb and I forgot that my ankle might not be up to the hike; three and half miles one way. I waded through the knee-deep water and came up with my sneakers slick. There had been one of those strange creatures gliding past, one of those hellbenders, looking like a giant salamander crawling under the water and moving its head slowing and its long tail, crawling through Porters Creek. I looked up from the hellbender and back down into the wet shore before me. Two pronged toes are in the coarse sand of Porters Creek. A deer has come to drink from Porters Creek. She fixes her doe eyes upon me … ―I‘m waiting,‖ she whispers. I‘m beginning to walk to Thunderhead and then maidenhair fern soft lifting in swaying drift of air rising from the creek and white, wheeping birches standing on tiptoes. Trillium Gray‘s lily. A hidden slipper of pink is tinged with violet and hiding under the maidenhair fern. Almost embracing the lady‘s slipper with fronds encased within a cobweb that almost looks like lace from a bobbin, weaving a pattern over a pillow with the needle of a fern. I will weave a blanket in honor of this beauty. Drum and call of ruffed grouse thrumming of grouse on a log. Towheetoweee-toweee Catbird yellow and red set on shield of folded black wing. Titmouse tittittittittittitt Bobwhite, with soft calling whistle: sweeteetsweeteet and then a tweaking pair of cardinals hovering over a nest. I was seeking, seeking Atagahi today.

Sweet stink of black-bear manure, he shit in the woods honey and heady musk scent of black bear. Up past Alum Cave, through the wooded path, seeking Atagahi … today. Past long-logged timber. Death and decay of virgin wood. I paused to tie my shoe, because it was unlaced from its simple over knot taught when I was two. I am missing my moccasins … I tied my shoe again and leaned against a peeling white and black tree. Then I stretched my cramped legs out and reached for my pack. And then I set my foot down. And then I could feel the ground once again. The sun is bright today I set out again to climb Thunderhead. Atagahi just around a bend … calling to me … The trail is smooth under my feet. My sneakers are laced correctly now. I missed one of the grommets in my haste to get out of the car while at Alum Cave. Had been in such haste to get to the trailhead my right shoe is laced and tied in four-figure knot. My right foot rocks against the ground, step by step, soft leather, my toes and heels in calmness on the trail to Thunderhead. The left follows and then forward. Right Left Right Left. Left Right Left Right. I have remembered how to walk over the beginning to Thunderhead. The trail to Thunderhead is smooth on outset. I must not waver in my calculated step. I reach ascension and adjust the straps on my back. The trail turns to the left for a half mile then turns back. I have only walked a few miles from Alum Cave. The trail switches back again. The sunlight is beginning to fail through the trembling aspens, and arrow leaves are falling over the trail to Thunderhead. And my feet are already sore. I will have to soak my feet tonight in salted water. There will be puffed skin tomorrow. Ill have to heat a needle to lance the blisters on my heels and will find some golden seal to rub in,

but I will sleep tonight, satisfied that in my frail attempt to climb Thunderhead, I have accomplished the first quarter mile to Thunderhead and all because there was the peeling of a birch tree behind my head and whispering in peeled and shredded bark with a voice rooted deep into the ground. Indications, small clues I had rested my head up against the only birch tree that still had its root set deep into the earth of the beginning trailhead to Thunderhead. All the other trees had sprouted root over fallen timber that had disintegrated with time and constant evolution but the birch tree against which I had rested my head to spend a quiet moment writing in my diary. It was old, had a trunk that had cuts from a logging axe. The cuts from a logger‘s axe had healed over, because the birch must have been just a sapling when the loggers came to cut down whatever treasure there was in hard wood, but there was no value in birch wood. But he speaks to me, tells me to rest here tonight … nothing to be gained; it was too soft a wood, but its bark was perfect for making a canoe that could slide over fast water and down descending rapids and peel with a torrent of water up and down, bobbing and then fast rising up against a rock … and sluicing down over a short fall, shooting past white churning rapids into waters of an unnamed cascade and into currents that … on the surface looked like air bubbles escaping from the deep current billowing up in white foam. I would follow the roots of the old birch after I rested beneath his sacred canvas. I hiked past the tears of Alum Cave today and past the bluff that tastes like salt. I must taste the salt of Alum Cave three times to make it so. I walked up the trail that leads past the weathered bluff of Alum once again. I brought my winter coat out of the closet for no reason. The label said ―Rated for 15 degrees and above.‖ I placed my hand against Alum for support, drew my fingers away, and tasted the salt of Alum yet again today. It was warm today. I didn‘t need the coat I had on. I didn‘t need the old gear but I did need the square of buffalo jerky and the walnuts and the berries for the trail to Thunderhead. The weatherman had said on the radio ―blue skies today—weather should be clear as well‖ for three days. But I had gotten my old coat just in case other hikers had come down from the trail leading from Alum. I wanted to see Alum.

Alum Cave … Five miles, up and back, moderate walk. Though this short trail promises an easy return. I wanted to set my foot down again. I looked at the trail near the signpost. Alum Cave walks, very easy. I knew what was on the face of Alum Cave. I touched Alum again and tasted the salty tears of Alum. The rain had almost torn Alum into bits, and there had been such rain, so much that even the Smokies couldn‘t absorb it. But the Smokies had shifted onto some other plane; the heights of the Smokies had shifted and had sunk down, and Alum had shifted and didn‘t look the same. Touchstone Lodestone White Quartz seamed with Pyrites as like a fool‘s vein. Thunderhead, sandstone Granite. Sharp-edged, as if it had been hewed from a chisel and hammer. And hidden marble and then gray, fragile leafing slate that had come from nowhere except in ageless days. I looked at Alum‘s water and creek bed, saw all the rocks that were tumbled around. They were all different, but you couldn‘t see their colors unless they were wet with water. I rubbed my toes. They were still sore. I had spent weeks walking barefoot in the Badlands, open sores and blisters turned once again to Thunderhead but this time to Thunderhead I made sure I had plenty of goldenseal in my pack I held the tears of Alum in my mouth, tasting the salt for the third and last time. Careful not to miss the tiniest detail— only then would the Thunderhead call back to my echo, There is no sound outside the cave. At least someone has been kind enough to leave some firewood. There is no sound except for the snapping fire and the scratching of mice in the rafters and walls. I have made it to Thunderhead today, but not by much. Today started out bright and clear, just like yesterday, but a little colder because of altitude and over twenty miles to Thunderhead. November must have rattled the leaves down. I was walking today, watching my feet and not the sky. I didn‘t notice the morning and afternoon sliding away in my wayward assault to Thunderhead. Everything changed in ten minutes. The sky turned to lead, moisture in the air changed, quivered,

and then everything went white. There‘s nothing to see, no landmark, nothing. Complete whiteout before me. Now I lay me down to sleep Guide my steps before Thee take, and it‘s cold even though I am still sweating. Thank God someone has remembered to follow the courtesy of the trail. Very few come to Thunderhead, but someone has gleaned two miles back, and I am reaping the benefits of that courtesy. Someone has left gathered firewood and a box of waterproofed matches, double wrapped. And not only that, but has laid a dry fire of tinder and oak on the hearth. And the ridge of Thunderhead glistens with over five inches of newly fallen snow, snow covering Thunderhead like a featherbed, and the sky is as blue as Logan‘s sapphire, and the brave sun, rising, travels over the crusted snow. I spun around today with my arms opened wide to greet and to embrace the fresh morning on Thunderhead Ridge. Cleansing my five senses, all-night vigil, Fasting … Chant to Great Spirit … wish for a cup of coffee. Alums salt tears are gone from my fingers today. Only forward steps now … My head clear, my mind filled with purpose. My spirit is lifted up as I gaze skyward to the smoky mountain ridge, white, ageless. Thousands of ducks suddenly appear, as if from nowhere. My ascent begins on the rugged walkway. No one has ventured this far. I am only Eagle Flying Bye, not worthy to see the Great Spirit of the Lake Atagahi, oh revered water! Cliffs appear on both sides of me. Ascension has stopped. The trail now descends. Purple water cascades from both sides of the cliffs. Oh, Atagahi! Heal me, heal my affliction. Kneeling down, I pray to Atagahi, who has graced me with his presence. I pull off my coat and clothes, plunge my sinful, broken body into the water … Suddenly I am flying high over the hidden lake, I am Eagle Flying Bye. My Eagle‘s eye spies the Doe. She is on the periphery of my vision; she has followed me. Heaven sends its love as the stars rainbowed lightning in the heavens of the sun in the mirror of earth‘s sorrow came tomorrow‘s ruling one when mother birthed the daughter and where daughter birthed the son, hiding truth where all‘s inverted; where earthy evil runs;

the bride of resurrection hid, a girl inside his skin through dark clouds masking glory all the gods saw her as him. The stranger in a manger called the morning star to send a little light to stormy night, an evil world to mend; the groom came for a wife and grew a womb, absorbing fall. In the oceans of rot seamen, she founded my life‘s call, helping end the hurt and pain of lesser light‘s abusive maul. Sharing perfect grace … perfect peace … pure truth releasing all. Come! Invert earth ways … find happiness; make love … have a ball in spirit‘s womb, truth‘s wisdom … Come, one and all!

Chapter 14: Where to Place the Unsustainable Light? While the woman standing in front of them appeared to be a whole new person, Rosenfeld managed to take in the fact that it was still Shirley Cohen standing in front of them. She had changed dramatically, but it was still her. It was still the young woman from the high security ward. ―You are a dark angel?‖ Rosenfeld asked, in his usual stoic tone. He was amazed that his voice remained so emotionless, even now, when he felt as if he were falling head-over-heels in love with the being standing in front of him. ―Yes.‖ ―Prove it.‖ ―Γιατί με θέλετε στο, Ira Rosenfeld? Γιατί εάν εγώ?‖ She was speaking Greek. (―Why do you want me to, Ira Rosenfeld? Why should I?‖) ―Weil offensichtlich Sie mich Ihnen glauben wünschen,‖ Rosenfeld shot back in German. (―Because you obviously want me to believe you.‖) ―For those who believe, no clarification is required. For those who do not, no answer would be sufficient!‖ Rosenfeld paused. There was no way this creature was plucking the answers from his head, as Shirley had done with the questions he had wanted to ask during his last visit, which felt as if it had happened moments ago. She appeared to think, though her face always held the same, stony expression. Soon, she nodded and tilted her head backward, so her chin was almost parallel with the ceiling. Both arms seemed to be pulled backward, and she stood this way, on the tip of her toes, for a moment or two before an icy wind began to run around their ankles. And then she levitated. ―Tittittittittittitt … sweeteetsweeteet … towheetoweee-toweee …‖ ―What is that supposed to be?‖ Rosenfeld asked, confused. ―I am communicating with my feathered friends …‖ Shirley‘s voice trailed off. ―Specifically, I‘m speaking with a grouse, a catbird, and a titmouse.‖ ―I suppose you can speak to lower life forms?‖ Rosenfeld asked facetiously. ―You are under the false impression that humans are the highest life form on this planet, but you are quite mistaken; only humans reside in the fallen state, not the rest of God‘s creation.‖ She hovered over them for over ten minutes, doing nothing other than that. As the two men stood there in awe, she turned her head to face the small, round glass in the door on the far wall of the cell. The glass began to shake and convulse violently, as if it were being pushed and pulled by many pairs of invisible hands. Rosenfeld and Gavorkian dove to the floor, hoping the guard heard the noise. Rosenfeld‘s eyes wandered up fearfully to the demonic specter hovering above his hunched-over figure. No interruptions, he realized—he had asked for no interruptions. No fucking interruptions! . They were alone, totally and utterly alone, unless … He had seen a film with Rachel once, about demonic possession. He hadn‘t thought it very good, but there was one thing he remembered. If only he could believe … wait. Possession? But I don’t believe … do I? He took a deep breath and belted out the words he thought, hoped, prayed, and maybe even believed would work. ―Our father, who art in heaven.‖ She stopped laughing.

―Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.‖ She settled on the bed, eyes closed. ―Give us this day our daily bread, and …‖ And what? She sensed his weakness; he had forgotten it. He couldn‘t even remember the next word. He was about to stand when he heard Shirley continue, ― … Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.‖ He finished the prayer with her and surprised himself by genuflecting afterward. While Shirley remained quiet and meditative upon her bed, Rosenfeld, the nonbeliever, had to get out of the room immediately. He grabbed Gavorkian‘s arm, and they moved to flee the padded cell. ―Rosenfeld, I am not possessed by a demon.‖ Shirley spoke simply, quietly. ―I stole the light of Lucifer and carry it within me. I must find a fitting place to rid myself of it.‖ Rosenfeld turned and looked Shirley in the face. ―How do you expect me to believe that?‖ ―I know it sounds insane, and I myself am seeking a moment of clarity—seeking one lucid moment of sanity, or solace. I cannot calm my mind, I am in utter turmoil; every receptor of my brain is in overdrive. Too much knowledge … too much energy … my organic composition cannot sustain this much longer.‖ Shirley pleaded, ―You must help me.‖ Rosenfeld could not fathom Shirley‘s predicament. He was a self-proclaimed atheist, and this would take divine intervention. He motioned toward Gavorkian. ―Maybe you can help her?‖ Gavorkian had no answer. ―Well, I‘ll have to read up on a few things. I‘m not sure where to begin, but perhaps something can be done to help this troubled young angel.‖ Shirley could only sustain this light for so long. The overload made her flee her physical body, and she experienced out-of-body interludes, or night flights, to relieve herself from her physical predicament. From a cloud, she watched the wind: no order, just eternal formations incessantly changing. The beauty of the ever-changing skyscape was … euphoric, she thought, losing herself within the swirl as she flew above the creamy expanse. If she could only get to heaven, she could release Lucifer‘s light … she would follow the calls of the catbird as he offered her his form. She sensed the pack and flew faster to get a glimpse. Suddenly, she felt a shattering shock. Pain ripped violently through her delicate catbird body. Blood dripped relentlessly down her feathers, drenching them in crimson. Her bones ground together, scraping within her wings. She had heard the grouse, the titmouse, the catbird beckon to her, telling her where to go to be healed. She had almost made it, had followed the calls … heard the howl of the great medicine man … The clouds, so magnificent, did nothing to hinder her spiraling descent from the skies above. Out of control and falling fast, Shirley felt the fear of God touch her heart for the first time in her whole existence. A thought occurred to her as she went into free fall: had she been pushed? As the wind shrieked though the tatters of her broken wings, she closed her eyes and awaited the inevitable impact. Slamming into the earth with terrible force, she felt excruciating agony blast through her fractured form. She quivered and screeched out her suffering, yet no one responded to her cries for help. Eventually, she was well enough to slowly walk away, leaving a trail of yellow and red feathers in her wake. She walked among the living, looking for help. Still hurting, she reached

for the way back to the heavenly skies, to her only peaceful existence; her ruined wings would never take her home. Despair crept like a thief into her heart; her expectations were gone, her vision mortally wounded. As she had once been broken of body, she was now broken of spirit. Her head hanging low with dejection and self-pity, the fair maiden almost didn‘t hear the stranger approach. ―You are lost?‖ the stranger asked her, but perhaps it wasn‘t such a question. He was that tall, blond-haired man. A strange aura surrounded him—a taste of something hidden. She looked at him through her tears; she saw that he was familiar, yet couldn‘t quite put her finger on it. There was definitely a connection. He was the handsome, blond-haired man of her dreams … but could she trust him? ―I‘ve lost my way, and I‘m trying to get back home,‖ she slowly shared with him, half expecting him to laugh and walk away in derision. But all he said was, ―I‘m already aware of that.‖ She looked into his eyes as he went on: ―I will help you on your journey.‖ ―I have this light,‖ Shirley explained. ―The only place to keep it was in my stomach, so I swallowed it, and now, I am seeking a place to let it out. Then I will be free …‖ Crying tears of joy, she wondered whether this angel, was sent to her in her time of need to be her guide on the journey home. She reached out to touch her shining knight. Pure agony screamed through her, jolting the catbird back from her … Maitreya? The blackened flesh of her hand matched the flesh on his arm where she had touched him. What had happened? Her heart sank; somehow it knew the hidden truth that she did not: something was very wrong. His visage shimmered and changed in front of Shirley‘s disbelieving eyes. The great serpent stood in its place; his dark eyes glowed, and wicked horns crowned his brow. But that diabolical face contorted in torture, the creature rubbing his cloven hoof over the smoking flesh. He had been charred by the touch of this fair maiden, just as she had been hurt. He looked at the wisps of smoke curling from her burned fingers, injured by contact with the serpent himself. The horror in her heart overrode her hurt hand; she felt betrayed yet again. ―Creator of purgatory, what would you know about the way home? What else would I expect from someone such as you but a corruption of goodness, deceptions, lies, and temptation? What else would I expect from a monster who leads the children of men astray?‖ She spoke coldly—angry now, with righteous wrath. The horned serpent stood as he had before. ―You are right about heaven; I do not know the way. I have not been there for a very long time.‖ His voice remained calm—with a tone that seemed disingenuous. ―Shirley … as much as you do not trust me, I am still willing to help you find a place for that light that you hold within you. Angel …‖ He whispered this last word before a long, drawn out pause. He then continued: ―I am a creature of hell no more. I now walk among men. I saw the evil of my being mirrored in humanity, and I was repulsed by what lay within me. I look to find a higher path, rather than the path of the tempter. In helping you, maybe you can help me; I journey also. I wish to go home; the path shall be different—and, I fear, more tumultuous.‖ How could she trust him—Lucifer? But what other choice did she have? The light within her was destroying her physical composition, but somehow she felt revitalized about her quest. ―Very well, Uktena. I will believe you—trust you. Although my logic and common sense tell me not to, my heart tells me to give you a chance.‖

The serpent nodded, silently thankful. ―The way to release my … er … I mean the light … I have been here, upon this world, for a long time. I have seen many things here. You are just learning. Maybe you should allow the light to guide you.‖ This gave Shirley pause. ―I‘m not sure if I can find a way to release this light. I‘m looking for a place where the light could be used for the welfare of all mankind. Maybe you could show me what this light has already done?‖ With a slightly theatrical look to the skies, the demon sarcastically proclaimed, ―Angel, you do not make it easy for me. But I suppose nothing easy is ever of value, and salvation through sacrifice is the ultimate goal. I may not have divine inspiration as to where you should release this light, but I can hazard a few guesses. I will show you what my light has already done.‖ He led her to a place of great greed and wealth, where men sought control and power over the earth. The stock exchange on Wall Street was a hive of frantic activity. Mounds of ticker tape told the story of their so-called futures. Barely audible above the chaos of gaining and losing, the serpent spoke: ―The mortal dream of such power and the control it brings. They are afraid of the chaos of their lives, and this control makes them safe and secure. Is this a good place to release the light? No, it is an unsustainable light! But I grant this power and glory to them, because they worship me. But I pity them—their light is dying. ―Sure, you could leave the light here, but it would be ill-used. In truth, they would love such control; they seek their peace in it. But they are the ones controlled. At the mercy of the whim of their false god—that would be me—they sold their souls. Now I do not want them. I gave them power, control, and wealth beyond their wildest dreams, and in return, they worshipped me … but it is a lesser light: a flash-bang, then gone. The sad truth is, they keep coming back here through their so-called divine bloodline—life after life through me, through the dark night. Sure, I gave them that knowledge, too, and that lesser light … but their time is through.‖ Shirley was shocked by the serpent‘s candor. At their next stop, they witnessed a place of glamour, beauty, fame, adoration, and fortune. They stood upon the Walk of Fame at Grauman‘s Chinese Theatre; a parade of Hollywood‘s elite exhibited their vanity, blinding the hawks and buzzards who surrounded them to watch and salivate. Reporters and paparazzi swarmed around the stars, snapping roll after roll of film as the music played. The commentary went on as Uktena spoke. ―Look at these actors and actresses, the idols of millions. They have beauty in face and form, and the mortal dreams of such love and admiration given to them as such objects of splendor. Exquisite, are they not? They flaunt their beautiful bodies, and they want the world to bow down to them and worship them in adoration and praise. ―But then they grow old, and their beauty fades … and they become ordinary. It is to the false god of vanity—which would be me—to which they pray. But this light is the lesser light; it is not sustainable. They call themselves stars and create a walk of fame … but their stars do not shine in the heavens. They might fantasize that they do, but they too have sold their souls just to shine for their ten minutes of fame in the lesser light … pathetic, fallen creatures, chasing the beast, the unsustainable light …‖ Shirley agreed, ―You sound more like the grim reaper.‖ The Keen-Eyed One flicked his split tongue in contemplation. ―Come with me, Shirley.‖ He led her to a place of filth, misery, despair, and resignation. They came upon a dirty tenement in the middle of the ghetto, where the dejected residents plodded grimly, broken dregs of society

living in dire poverty, suffering to slowly live out their downtrodden lives. In contrast with the prior two places, this one was deadly quiet. And to match the difference in surroundings, instead of speaking of this place as paradise lost, the serpent stood mute. Confused, the fair maiden asked her guide, ―Why did you bring me here? This is the result of your light too, isn‘t it? But all he offered in his defense was, ―Shh. Shush. Listen.‖ Curious, the light-bearer did so. In the seemly unending silence, she heard something unexpected and melodious: a group of children singing a joyful song. Curiosity led her onward, and she laid her almost unbelieving eyes on children singing in what remained of a burned-out building in the middle of the slum. They were singing, harmonizing, and the sound was greater than that of any angelic choir. As Shirley continued to gaze upon this incredible sight, the demon‘s voice drifted out softly to her. ―Them. They are the reason I led you here. Look at their surroundings; everything—the place, the people—radiates wretched defeat. Yet there is still hope.‖ The serpent‘s voice held a strange note—a note of reverence and awe. ―They are shining stars in the void of the little hell that they live in. I come here often; sometimes, I feel they are the very last hope of this world. Listen to them sing; they have found happiness in the terrible throes of sadness. They do what any caged bird would do: they sing. This is where hope springs eternal; this is the eternal light—the sustainable light. This truly is what God sends to darkened stars to make them gleam,‖ he admitted, his voice tinged with jealousy. She could hear the tears in his voice. She knew of his despair, of the likely futility of him ever leaving the earth. ―There is no place to rest this light—not here,‖ Shirley surmised. ―This lesser light has brought nothing but misery. This lesser light is a curse—the ruin and bane of mankind.‖ The serpent smiled at his own slyness; he smiled at the audacity of hope. ―So where do you think the light should shine?‖ quizzed the ever-slippery serpent. Shirley had an idea, but she said nothing. She needed to get out of her padded cell as soon as possible. How thou hast fallen— Lucifer, you ought to feel ashamed. The morning star no longer in the game, I see you now, the fallen one in chains, still pointing that accusing finger to lay blame. An old hand now, who, through the years, has learned his job to point in the direction—why not that? Your legion‘s weak, their scheming soon discerned: their selfishness, their vanity, their doubt. Temptation, the trick you used to play— you peer from hell to higher realms and sigh. Carrots, strings, and axes put away, your stern facade slips. You wipe tears from your ―eye‖ and grasp in your hand man‘s lone unsettled debt: twice bitten, the core you won‘t forget.

Chapter 15: Secret Bilderberger Meeting The Lords of Belgium sat in conference, reviewing the current state of the economy around the world. Sir Rothschild was receiving the reports of his lesser chief, the royal crown of England. ―My faithful servant, what is your report?‖ ―Sire, I bring disturbing news from the American sector. The production targets on the flu vaccine are being met, but industrial progress is slow. Asia, meanwhile—they are much closer to their targets and have been making greater progress.‖ ―What should I see as disturbing in that last report?‖ ―Sire, if you will recall, the Americans are leaderless, their President, is our puppet, so no one really takes him seriously … They have been making these improvements on their own initiative. As they clearly are outstripping India and China, where there are strong leaders in place, they are gaining pride in their own progress, their own initiative.‖ ―I see. That could be grave. The dollar has not yet reached its intrinsic value of zero. Confidence in their own capabilities could cause them to resent the taxes and levies they pay to us … damned Americans refuse to be subservient.‖ ―In fact, sire, there have been inquiries regarding certain levies of ours. Complaints have been made that certain line items are excessive.‖ ―Then we need to take action. Tell me: has their progress been steady?‖ ―For the most part, sire, yes. However, in the last reporting period, we note a leveling out. Some discontent with this is evident in the tone of the reports; there have even been rumors that certain states want to create their own greenbacks.‖ ―Then we have our window of opportunity.‖ ―Sire? I don‘t understand.‖ ―My faithful servant,‖ the Lord Rothschild said, a tone of deliberate patience in his voice, ―please recite for me the mantra of progressive evolution.‖ ―Evolvement is not a steady upward curve, but is a series of steps punctuated by periods of little or no upward movement, known as plateaus. When a table is reached, it is important not to forsake the methods bringing progress, but to persevere and accumulate the incremental improvements that will finally break out of the plateau and once again bring upward mobilization.‖ ―This is what brings us our opportunity to institute change to our benefit,‖ the Lord Rothschild stated. The queen was clearly perplexed. ―Change, sire? I thought the mantra of progressive evolution dictated steadfastness, patience, and perseverance?‖ ―Recite for me the mantra of reconstruction.‖ The queen stood silent, at a loss. Across the table from her, Warren Buffett stood up, smiling smugly. ―Reconstruction is good when instituted and controlled from above. Altering the status quo from below becomes good only when it is accepted and taken under direction from above.‖ ―Very good, Warren; you may sit down. Now, explain how this fits the current situation.‖ Ben Bernanke stood, was recognized, and then spoke. ―The current situation allows us to invoke the mantra of reconstruction to our advantage. We can accomplish our objectives by instituting a change of our own that will co-opt their change and bring it completely under our control.‖

―Most excellent, my loyal servant. I see that you, at least, have been paying attention. Put yourself in for a raise. I will approve it.‖ ―Thank you, sire!‖ Bernanke wiped a tear of gratitude from the corner of his eye. Lord Rothschild gestured, and his underlings sat down. ―The Americans cannot be allowed to continue to self-govern and question our legitimate rule.‖ He smiled coldly. ―Therefore, we need to create a large enough altercation to shake their little world. The silly mass shootings being blamed on Muslims are just not viable; the Americans are seeing through these black ops. However, there will be a new sun in place by the time the current plateau is overcome, and we‘ll see that the credit for this incredible feat or progress falls to us. Thus, we will reassert our control, and the questioning of our levies will cease. George, when does Cassini II launch?‖ ―It launches in just 7 days—a most wise plan, sire,‖ said George Herbert Walker Bush. ―We will show them our power and confirm our control.‖ ―Thank you, George. The Cassini is equipped with two tons of plutonium; we have directed the ship toward Jupiter, and hopefully the nuclear fission will be enough to create a sustainable blaze, creating a new sun. It is imperative that we get this right. Does anyone have any questions? No? Good. Then this meeting is officially adjourned.‖

Chapter 16: One Moment of Heaven Shirley prepared for her escape. She realized that with the unsustainable light, she had all the attributes of a familiar. During the past forty-eight hours, she practiced with what was available in the asylum: first a roach, then an ant, and then back to human form again. It became easier each time. She had a plan of action; Uktena had been right about his inability to get to heaven, but she could. In that meeting of the minds, she had instantly realized what needed to be done. In a split second, reality could change—in one moment, one blink of the eye, one lucid thought, one infinitesimal grain of recognition. I dream of lifetimes before me, not knowing if they’re my own. I keep dreaming, keep seeing, yet … my dreams have been coming true. The stories that grew from my dreams are coming true. Do I dare speak of them? Do I dare heed the call and give them life, as they have given me life? Do I expose myself to public ridicule and condemnation, or do I keep these dreams for my own madness? I wonder even as I think this. I know that my words will change the consciousness of human existence; that is not an ego-driven summation, but a statement of fact. So it is visualized; so it shall materialize. In a few days, my life will change dramatically. I’ve seen it—parts of it—and I know that even though I fear the future, I must proceed and act upon what it is I have been called upon to undertake. I must strive for it; I must reach out and do what I must. Too much rides on the completion of these tasks laid out for me. I must reach for the void of the outer realms that I am bequeathed to, for in those realms, I will change my destiny and become what I never was before. I must do this for myself and for everyone around me. Life will never be the same—not even my afterlife. Heaven’s realms, or the great halls, the akashic records—everything will be changed for the millennia with my actions. Am I humanly capable of carrying out such a feat? Will I be cast as some tinfoil-hatwearing nutcase? Look where I am now. But those who have come before to make straight the path had the same insight that I have. They knew the odds; they could see the consequences of their actions; and they forged a new destiny not by their will, but by the will of God. The outer door to the high security wing of Eastmont Hospital swung open; Dr. Caspar Gavorkian entered the cell with another doctor. ―Good morning, Shirley,‖ Gavorkian said. ―There is someone here to see you. I would like to introduce you to Dr. Jeb Bello; he‘s here to transport you to a different hospital.‖ Shirley tried hard not to react. ―Dr. Jeb Bello: psychiatrist extraordinaire who works for black ops!‖ She stated in a matter-of-fact tone. ―He‘s come to take possession of me.‖ ―Good morning, young lady,‖ Dr. Jeb Bello greeted her. ―Dr. Gavorkian was good enough to explain your situation, and I believe I can help you.‖ ―Yes, I believe you can.‖ Shirley winked at Dr. Gavorkian. ―I‘m all packed and ready to go, Dr. Jeb.‖ ―Now, don‘t give me a hard time!‖ Dr. Jeb Bello suddenly shouted. ―We might have to sedate her, Dr. Gavorkian.‖ ―That won‘t be necessary,‖ Shirley answered. ―Put me in a straight jacket, or hand cuff me. I‘m willing to leave with you; I did not say I cannot, will not, or shall not!‖ Bello eyed Shirley suspiciously, and Gavorkian spoke up: ―It will not be necessary. She has joined the other patients in the social hall and has been our best patient.‖

Shirley was allowed to dress in a white outfit that fit her, and they brought her paper shoes to put on. She looked and felt a mess, but now was no time to worry about how she would appear in public. They all went into the office to fill out release forms; Dr. Jeb Bello filled out a new set of commitment papers. ―Dr. Gavorkian! Dr. Gavorkian!‖ The security guard had come into the office. ―Shirley‘s father is here to pick her up!‖ Shirley looked up, startled. Her father? Her parents had no idea where she was. She actually started to cry. ―Papa?‖ The security guard allowed the visitor entry and brought him to the office, where they were filling out Shirley‘s transfer papers. Eagle Flying By stood in the doorway. Shirley ran to him and gave him a big hug. ―Oh, Papa! I‘m so glad to see you. Thank you for coming for me.‖ Shirley‘s face crinkled up, and she cried loudly. ―Excuse me … Mr. Cohen?‖ Dr. Gavorkian looked at Eagle Flying By. He looked Native American: dark skinned, white haired. ―We were just in the process of transferring your daughter.‖ ―Yes, er, aah … we are taking Shirley to a hospital in Colorado,‖ Dr. Jeb Bello stated. ―Well, I will come along,‖ Shirley‘s father stated. ―I will act as her guardian.‖ Dr. Jeb Bello looked at the old man, all flustered. ―Well, there‘s no law against it,‖ he mumbled. The three of them left the hospital through the front door. An ambulance was waiting. As soon as Shirley walked through the front door of the hospital, she easily turned into the catbird who had allowed her his physical form a few days before. Eagle Flying Bye took the cue and sailed into the heights. Dr. Jeb Bello had walked out of the hospital with the girl, a guard on each side of her. They all stood there, perplexed, not mentally registering what their eyes had told them. Bello screamed at the guards, ―Don‘t let them get away!‖ The guards did not react, however, because they didn‘t know where the two had gone. ***** In the early-morning twilight, streaks of aquamarine spilled into the lavender horizon, coloring the floating clouds with faint tracings of the rainbow between the shimmering sheen of silver outline. On high, gentle breezes lightly powered the lovely formations to the west, and they sailed like majestic pirate ships described in tales of old. Upon the distant, crimson-faced cliff, just beyond the rise of a great mountain with its peak hidden in the thick of clouds, was a faint crack in the ancient maroon rock. This was where the mature eagle made his home. White feather down had been buried deep beneath the drab-colored plumage of the bird‘s aging. So as he had begun, now he returned—yet larger and stronger, with attributes gifted to no other, for he had partaken of amrita. Food of the great serpent had never before been tasted by one of his kind. Eagle Flying Bye had grown large and powerful, attaining a gnosis that heretofore had not been possible in the world of men. Awake at the crack of dawn, the eagle looked out upon the world. This was the same view that he had held for over eighty-four years. Despite the experience of time, Eagle Flying Bye was still young.

With a wingspan greater than that of the largest maritime birds, it seemed impossible that the eagle could fit through the little opening that acted as a doorway to his home. Softly, he began to sing the song of freedom. Slowly, the crevice widened under the spell-song as Eagle Flying Bye rang out the notes he knew so well. Leaping forth and going into free fall, he spread his massive wings and glided effortlessly down the sides of the cliff. As he sailed along, delighting in the sensation of pure, unadulterated pleasure, the widened crack closed again behind, barring any other access to the great eagle‘s home. Turning and making the slightest motion with his wings as they gleamed with an iridescent aura in the sun‘s rays, the bird checked to make sure that the fissure was shut once again. Chirping happily, the eagle turned toward the great river, where he knew there was rainbow trout aplenty waiting for him. The clouds parted above, giving full vent of the sun‘s light to the eagle. A trail of misty steam tailed the bird as he flew happily along. This far out, no other manner of beast or person was about to hinder him in his delightful pleasure. Truly, this was the greatest of all freedoms: to fly high above the bright blue marble and see all there was to see below. He was diving now, in and out of the billowing clouds, leaving streaks of violet behind. Just like some earth-born fireworks display running playful patterns, the eagle made symbols in the sky, all the while singing out a mighty song of cheer—one that would make even the most sullen of the angels lighter in spirit. Eagle Flying Bye spotted Eastmont Hospital for the Mentally Insane and swooped easily to the macadam driveway below. Perching on the windowsill to Shirley‘s chamber, the bird sang a love song that was so sweet, it brought tears to her eyes. When his song was finished, the eagle tipped his head and gave an inquiring chirp. A gentle hand stroked his feathered breast, touching his warm feathers. Eagle Flying Bye had suffered much roughness in his youth—or was it his former self‘s youth? This touch was so different. There was no malice, no evil in the touch. The bird happily sighed; she was one of the few he would ever allow to lay a hand upon him. She stroked his chest and offered him food, which he eagerly accepted. After he had eaten and then sung once more, he didn‘t fly away, as per usual. Rather, he sat upon the sill, chirping away. Unused to the speech of eagles, Shirley knew not what he said, but called upon her borrowed light to translate. Eagle Flying Bye chirped out thanks and farewell after a long silence. As he rubbing his beak against her cheek, a gleam formed in the bird‘s eye to mingle with her own. Taking to flight, the eagle knew that a little loneliness was better than many of the alternatives, but he knew the feeling of being loved. He slowly walked toward the front door of the hospital, putting the escape plan into action. … As the catbird flew behind the eagle, the winds shifted, and suddenly Shirley‘s wingspan grew until she was almost as big as Eagle Flying Bye. She would need the strength and speed to reach Cape Canaveral. Abruptly, she turned south. The eagle noted that there were no clouds above; the water below had turned to pure blue; and the breeze was so light, yet cool against the fire that silhouetted his spanning wings. Eagle Flying By turned to fly in ever-widening circles, making a sky-born whirlpool of jet-stream clouds, waiting to see what her next move would be. He sang a new melody, even more powerfully sung than before, his long, slender beak moving gently as the flow of notes lined up in perfect outpouring of spirit. Even the sun gleamed brighter with each note that flowed outward; the seas were calmed to near stillness, and even the winged creatures of the air ceased flying to give full center stage to the mighty crooner in the

sky. An answering song came from behind him, with notes so matching his own; at first he was startled by what he heard. Turning with wings moving slowly, he looked back, his eyes growing large in amazement. There, flying toward him, was the most beautiful young wanbli he‘d ever seen. She seemed to be made of heavenly down, yet had the pure white of untainted marble. Her feathers danced lightly on her wings as she glided. Her feathers stood up on end in a twirling motion; he would call her Dancing Feather. So it started: a new beginning. After the self-doubt and imprisonment, Shirley realized that an overwhelming feeling of happiness and contentment led to an equilibrium effect. To balance life, the pleasure had to return to equal the bad. The cup of life was filled: half lose, half win. The clarity of life was before them. They could see all of life‘s colors shining in their true magnificent brilliance: the carmine reds, royal blues, midnight blacks, and envious greens. All were distinct, converse to the mélange of one indistinct, gray, depressing world of human routine. Some people saw only black and white, while the rest stepped outside the boundaries of slavery to observe the surreal shades of gray that the watchers wished them to perceive. The eagles, on the other hand, had reached another level of vision color—not the type of color on a television screen or a painting, but the colors of life, which could not be comprehended by just anyone. Even the most famous artists could not paint these colors. They could not be created, only visualized, which was why the truly great artists were tormented beings. They could not convey the beauty they had discovered, only a mere interpretation of true emancipation. Now the two graced the sky—one with the luminosity of life‘s passion, and one who held the purity of heart with the sure perception of unadulterated love. With a depth of compassion, Shirley vowed to make a commitment, giving up all for one blessed, perfect love, letting go of the mere earthbound things, letting the wings grow from the heart—from the soul—with unmatched feeling. Then, at last, the two became one spirit, soaring, diving, catapulting, flying free—a moment in heaven. Life‘s dreams A miracle to me, it seems, that I have touched upon life‘s dreams. Now the happiness I thought I‘d find lies so impressive upon my mind. My thoughts of death, a vicious scheme have left me for some time. Rejoice—I‘ve found life‘s dreams. Defeated heart and tattered soul, I suffered all to reach this goal. This drove me from my childhood to strive for the rights of womanhood while more worldly men still controlled incidents—some bad, some good. My piec-ed body reached its whole. Such happiness do I deserve? And does it really take some nerve to tell the world that I‘ve found love?

Or should I curse the stars above for pleading with my mind to curve to my inner self to seek the dove to which my heart could serve? Enough of foolish thoughts, my friend; it‘s time your sadness found an end. Shout to the world that you found your dream, forget that foregone blackened stream for you have found what God does send to darkened stars to make them gleam, and the joy that‘s yours shall never end.

Chapter 17: Sending Forth the Unsustainable Light From the perspective atop the Cassini II launchpad gantry, the ocean fanned out in an azure dream. Dancing Feather and Eagle Flying Bye had arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in the nick of time. Scientists and personnel were scurrying around the rocket in last-minute attempts to put everything in order. It was easy to creep into the capsule and snuggle against electronic and surveillance equipment. Shirley bided her time, waiting in anticipation for the rockets to ignite. She gazed up through the window of the capsule and saw the moon, pale as a ghost in the ethereal sky. She felt butterflies in her stomach; the reality of where she was and where she was going suddenly dawned on her. She was on her way to Jupiter. The final systems checks had been completed, and the rocket was on complete internal power now. Countdown was seconds away from ending when she felt the mighty giant begin to shake as the engines powered up. She glanced out the window and watched the launch tower recede as the rocket ignited. ―Liftoff … we have liftoff …‖ she murmured as she was catapulted into space. She was at three g‘s and passing over Easter Island. She felt the shudders as the stages and booster rockets dropped away into the ocean. She looked around, trying to find something to hold onto as the rocket hit sonic booms; she managed to crawl beneath a cabinet, still in her eagle form. Suddenly: movement. Shirley caught something in the corner of her eye. The g-force was too strong for her to move, but something else was in the capsule with her. Her mind drifted back to the present danger. The command module had entered earth‘s orbit; the path took her over North Africa and the night, where below, in the sea of darkness, she could see lights glowing far away in what must be the Sahara Desert. These were the fires of nomads whose travels took them on vast journeys through the continent. She watched the earth below recede and get smaller; she heard the engine fire the trans-planet injection burn, and she realized now that she was really headed for the planet Jupiter. She couldn‘t believe that everything was going as she had planned. As she reached speeds faster than any humans ever had before, she realized she‘d be the first human on the planet of Jupiter—silently, without foreknowledge that the world would ever know. But she was doing this for humanity; she was doing this to preserve life on earth … wasn‘t she? Eagle Flying Bye said, ―Excuse me. Sorry if I‘m interrupting you.‖ Shocked out of her reverie, Shirley looked over at him. ―This was my responsibility, not yours—why are you here? This isn‘t a joyride; do you know where we are going?‖ ―I know where you intended to go, but you do not have to do that,‖ Eagle Flying Bye announced. ―Yes, I do. This is a personal matter, and I do not expect you to understand,‖ Shirley stated, reverting to her human form. ―I know where you think you need to go, Shirley. This rocket has two tons of plutonium on it, because it was designed as a nuclear warhead, and its trajectory is at Jupiter,‖ Eagle Flying By informed her. ―I was taking the unsustainable light to a far-off place, a safe distance from the earth; I was doing this of my own free will,‖ Shirley implored.

―Yes, I suppose the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But you are doing exactly what Uktena wanted you to do,‖ Eagle Flying Bye informed her. ―No, you are wrong—it was my idea. I wanted …‖ Shirley was now confused. ―Lucifer wants his light to shine brighter than the sun‘s light. He wants to prove to all of humanity that he is the brighter star. You were tricked. Did he not tell you that he cannot get to heaven?‖ the medicine man asked. ―If you bring his light to that planet, you will be doing the bidding of the fiery serpent.‖ Shirley was utterly confused. ―What now? It‘s too late; we are on our way, and the light is still within me. The only way to remove it …‖ ―I know how to remove the light from you, Shirley Cohen!‖ announced the elder shaman. ―And after you remove the light, then what?‖ Shirley looked around. Where would it go, once the light was released from her? ―Now, that‘s a good question. We had better search the capsule for something.‖ The pair searched as Shirley looked across the vastness of dark at the blue and white orb, whispering goodbye to everything she had ever known and everyone she had ever loved. This was a sobering reality: they were so far from home, and there was a good chance they might never return. ―There is a very small chute about ten inches in diameter in the storage room,‖ Eagle Flying By announced as he maneuvered himself to the control panel and shut off the rocket‘s engine. ―It opens and closes, it was built to house a camera, because I pulled the camera away from the hatch. Apparently, they also used it to blow in insulation. We can allow the light to escape through the hatch after I release it from you.‖ Shirley was confused, but she finally agreed to undergo whatever the medicine man had in store for her. He drew a diagram and made Shirley sit in the middle. He reached into his pouch, handed Shirley a wad of Salvia divinorum leaves, and told her to chew them slowly but not to swallow the leaves—only the juice. Shirley complied; she started feeling woozy and then sick to her stomach. All the while, Eagle Flying By chanted. Eagle Flying Bye grabbed hold of Shirley and pulled her to the open chute, ―Try to projectile vomit out of the chute…‖ he was yelling at her now. Shirley did as she was told, pursing her lips and aiming the vomit. It flew out of the capsule in a long, yellow strand. The vomit appeared as thousands of light dust particles as it was released from her; it poured forth into the darkness of space, a bright, long strand stretching for literally hundreds of miles. ―I can‘t believe that was once inside of me.‖ Shirley finally spoke. ―We have no time; we must leave this capsule,‖ Eagle Flying Bye urged. ―But how? There‘s no way, no suits. What, we just jump into outer space?‖ Shirley laughed. Eagle Flying Bye, grabbed hold of Shirley. ―We will find a way …‖ Shirley looked at the hatch to the capsule. ―Houston, we have a problem.‖ She stood in stunned silence as the medicine man tried to figure out what to do next. Shirley suddenly pivoted and grabbed him in a bear hug, saying, ―I‘m frightened!‖ Eagle Flying Bye replied, ―We‘ll find a way. There are no problems—only solutions.‖ She said, ―I don‘t want to die here.‖ The medicine man laid a hand on her face, wiping away her tears. He whispered, ―We‘ll find a way.‖ She touched his lips with her fingers.

She said, ―If this is our last time alive, I want to make it count.‖ Shirley unzipped his coverall trousers. Bewitched by the Doe at the gates of heaven—so near, so palpable—he surrendered to her in the trembling moment of desire. He felt her body, so warm and enticing in his arms. The spicy sensation of her caress intoxicated him. Dancing Feather and Eagle Flying Bye would go sweetly into the darkest night … ***** Shirley crouched naked, hovering near the floor, clasping an electric cord to a machine in her hands, feeling the effects of the loss of gravity. She looked so soft and vulnerable bathed in the solar luminescence streaming from the window. Cast in the sunlight, her nude form seemed so fragile and delicate. The medicine man broke the silence, saying, ―Let‘s not throw in the towel yet. We have several hours of oxygen left, and I shut the rocket propellers off. We are only about 130 miles or so from the earth‘s atmosphere.‖ They stared out the window of the capsule and watched the long, serpentine strand of light weave and snake its way in the darkness. It was a dazzling display as it shot through space at some ungodly speed. Up ahead, in the darkness of space, Shirley spied a very large, metallic-looking machine. ―Hey, look. What the hell could that be?‖ She pointed curiously. ―I think that‘s the space station.‖ The medicine man became excited. ―Perhaps there is a way to turn this capsule in that direction! I have an idea. I need your help.‖ ―Aye-aye, Captain.‖ Shirley saluted the medicine man. His look reproved her, and she grew silent. ―We need to take all of this equipment and move it to the east end of the capsule, in the direction of the space station.‖ The two of them worked feverishly to push all of the equipment to that side of the capsule, which made the capsule dive, buckle, and soar through weightless space. Eagle Flying By used the electric cords from the equipment to batten down the various panels and electronic surveillance equipment. Shirley looked out the tiny window. ―I don‘t think we are any closer to the space station, but we seemed to have gotten closer to the earth,‖ she surmised. As the planet Earth loomed larger ahead, she felt the pulse of life in her arteries. Their arms around each other‘s waists, they gazed ahead at the milky blue marble adrift in the ancient and vast cosmos. The medicine man looked into her eyes as she looked ahead; there was a mystery there that he would never fathom or try to circumscribe. It was as boundless as the infinite sea in which they had set sail. ―We might get close enough to jump,‖ suggested the medicine man … ―I no longer have the ability to change … I can‘t jump.‖ Shirley looked into the medicine man‘s face. ―Go—save yourself. I already figured I would be the sacrifice—the proverbial virgin, so to speak, jumping into the mouth of the volcano. This was supposed to be my destiny.‖ ―No, I believe we both can make it.‖ His voice trailed off as he watched the stream of light head straight toward the sun. ―We all must go home.‖ Shirley watched the stream of light reveal its knowledge through thought forms as it seemed to be sucked into the sun. The stream of light blinked and glittered, revealing its light as it gravitated toward the luminous orb. Thoughts poured forth, one after another, running on and on: a run-on …

***** The stream of light at God speed headed toward the sun at superhuman speed. No struggle to stop, free falling … recirculation, entryway, an exit once was. Paddle wheel was spinning while allowing access. Medium of motion vibrated: carried pulse waves from one place to another and told the prodigal returned that he was not alone in this place. Fragment syllabics carried from Cartesian coordinate points on three-dimensional planes to a second effectively zero light-years away, time passage to travel just as negligible. Communiqué accepted, rejected, spewed forth out of one form and accepted back into the other. The syntax offered for consideration. Dilation, then constriction pulsated in a stream of molecular matter. Wavelengths familiar, sinusoidal motions locked away, pinned down in neuromatter memory unigrams by permanent physical alterations. Moon glow shimmering in silence, hazed behind a mask of shadows haloed by the same: traits of both demon and angel given by a lone influence. Split down the middle and divided, goat and sheep along the rift, chasm, dualism made evident in this schizophrenic shift thereafter beside itself always revealed in the incomplete thought, the incomplete image. Lunar orb shone with a light not its own—I know the feeling. Now lightning and thunder descended atop the streaming band of vomit. Ambient light for an instant imbues pillars of salt, all in the snapshot created. Whitewashed tombs that had been dark only to flee again wallow in the dishallowed halls of Hades. Impact of the image of light upon, always forces change of form: solid, liquid, then gas to light. The once-solid pillar melted and was taken up in the flow it had hindered, split, ignoring that the current caused capture within it. Rebellion from any given set of standards caused strict adherence to another. Difference negligible at best, end result the same. Following the bends of the liquid always and selectively, or else mindlessly, water sought its own level. Middle ground tricky business subject to reproach. Comprehend? It‘s a neverending story. Therefore go: go, and let the liquid guide you, but never lead. Follow the rivers of consciousness along the lines known best. Only then can one rise as a gas. Come to me again and again and again and rest; I might grant you, choice remains—choice of how to remain. Choice of return to yours, but watch out: the carrot dangles on the stick. Reply, perfunctory in nature, given as forward momentum, continues. Law of inertia: an object in motion tends to remain, such as one at rest tends to motion resist. Cliché followed by cliché … point made in passing. Platitudes. Worse it could be, yet that is true of most all. Could be worse, the me, universal or solar at the very least. I wish to lie down: to be another son of another mother. Return. Look on the dollar-store shelf and become someone else with ease. Perhaps I could have done something if I were. Perhaps if I had been designated the messiah just once? I only condemned so that He could forgive. Usually want to give more to that special someone than you have to give, and still the thought runs through the mind that someone else might be able to offer more, so why not me? Salvation not an option, no matter how much effort I put forth. Tried my damnedest;. I can now apologize. Out of sight, out of mind—good-bye, cruel world. To the gates—an archway of ninetydegree angles—and these gates of a heaven open, though far from the pearly gates promised. I once spied the promised land, looked incomplete from where I stand. Then spews the flood; with blessings I will shower you. Slide open, shafts glisten, dancing in a dazzling display of liquid light. Step aside. Gravitational pull incessant. The flow improper to be caught in: destination

incorrect—not my star. Not my star! By Jove, into the tram of heavens, cable tied to the night sky, tower of babbling at any hour. Choose your destin(y)ation. Twenty three, psalmist numerical equivalent well-known, who is my shepherd. Who? I rose up from green pastures. Oh, but you don‘t know about the rivers there. When the sun is gone, color fades. Valley of the shadow of … breathe, last. Sigh. Inside, the gates close. Momentum shifts upward. All have fallen, let fall, seventh-inning slump. Self-induced autism, the outside is dead, universe of om wind preferred. Solipsism effective in the confines of the sons of men. Convince the mind and the perception of reality (which is dictated to be reality by the definition of the said term; therefore the perception of reality can be removed without recourse for more accuracy) will then follow. Rewrite definition for space currently occupied by several-inch-thick sheets of the written word; now transmuting to nothing/absence of. Close the windows, so the impression on the inside fades while blocked by the blinds. Reopen. Claim there‘s nothing there; say there‘s nothing there; even believe there‘s nothing there. But it‘s there, still. Beliefs contrary but kept in confines of that lowly, three-brained creature; it could still change—always probable, never possible. Numeral: second in sequence of generally used illuminated with pale yellow amber replacing the light gray of instants ago. Motion continued upward, like a waterfall in reverse, Turbulence in the windless shaft to the heavens: trust lacking in many therefore. What if there‘s a fire, prolonged stop, severed cable? Coffin made, trapped within a box while the world falls apart outside. No better place to be: hear it all as it comes down. Will the last trumpet be heard, or will it have to be spelled out for you? T-e-m-p-e-s-t. Yes, the end is here, but do you need to be hit on the head? I took them as far as the physical could possibly go. I pushed the envelope, brought the light to the tiniest point of void, to the tiniest quark. A courteous player death proved to be: grace of a long, drawn-out illness with end in sight. Modern medicine allowed clear picture of the final day. Not always—an instant, sometimes, such a tragedy we never saw it coming, how could we expect this? Suffering was inevitable, but so was its end. Told life will flash before the eyes just before then. Bright lightbulb, camera‘s strobe, flash set to one last exposure—rather than drawing in images, vomiting out the ones passed. I wonder where that started: who died so that they could say their life flashed before their eyes … and somehow lived to tell about it? History possibly able to name a few truly dead and resurrected, but by now, they’re dead all over again. Ever stop to think and, remembering to start once again, consider that maybe the life running before and into your soul’s windows did so because you didn’t die? You never tasted death? Glad for second chance? Your own second coming? Know then, I will not have a second coming—don’t have time to wait for. It won’t be long now anyway. All short stops on much longer trip, awaiting the honeymoon. But it’s only a dream; bring the consciousness back to reality; it’s all in the dream. If there is no marriage, then how will that follow? Honeymoon, dream, it’s not real. Bridegroom and bride drink from the river of life, it’s but a dream … next Arabic symbol highlighted with the same color as the last. If one, then two, and if time allows, then obviously three. So on, so on … soon, however, the sequence is not indefinite everlasting. Upper bounds, limit as x approaches infinity. Rules, universal language, the specific dialect founded by a man (and concurrently by another) who watched an apple fall. It’s the definition of a derivative. A universal, therefore applied to all things: limit of a singular human life as it approached the undeniable (given time, denial being a psychological stage of slowly coming to accept most difficult facts of existence) end. Sometimes you win, others you lose (always with others), but the

game is ultimately played by all at some point. Paradox indeed: outcome being the same for everyone, yet victory for some, defeat for others. Only two options, really, a no decision not being at issue, just a stalling for time. Win. Lose. Last moment before the eyes close, determining instant if opportunity reflection given. Look back? Inner dialogue flash and then the regrets flow. “Oh my God, what have I done with my—” Or more along the lines of “Yes, yes, if only I would have done this or that … If Woody would have gone straight to the police … Pillars of salt all.” Who knows: light at the end of the tunnel (which one is that? … maybe blackout only? The gates of heaven opened once more, and … not yet his stop. Enter another. Another path, number, choice, highlighted option in amber glow. Hello, he said in monotone. Nothing offered, nothing gained. Let alone ventured. What is to be expected does in fact follow—lips mine open to whisper, a fragment. Deception tasted so sweet … Deception … I needed only point in the direction, why not that? It was your creatures who divided their brains into three. Hell—an under-breath evocation of air with little or no substance behind it. Summoning, invocation … of a sigh formed in two syllables. Eyes drop; how can the head be so heavy when in one and out the other is possible? Gray matter lacking where? Indifference observed as more evil than hatred. Suicide bombers therefore the lesser evil; they are still passionate, the greater being the indwellers who remove themselves as part of a society. Ignoring something, or detachment, is worse than destroying it: any structure can crumble from indifference, just as simply as they can be destroyed by detonation. Velocity the only anomalous factor, speed the variable. Constant: destruction assured. Once my sole domain, I embodied putrefaction; I embodied the gloam, kept a third dying to secure the belief in the limit of death. He traveled farther up, in silence now. The ether exhaled with a still, quiet shaking. Time passed well enough on its own, beyond the ability of anyone to add or detract. Perception only changed. Its constant beat, a 4/4 series of quarter notes, seemed to vary if circumstances changed. Immutable, the fourth dimension was just as constant as the first three; the same rules applied. A mile would always be a mile, but it could seem like less or more (when walking as opposed to taking a ride in a car, for example). A funeral dirge recounting the circles ran before him, rising to dramatic heights, reaching for the apex, climax, yes! It swooned thereafter to the depths of the ocean, pulled under by a riptide, recanting. March on, stop? No! Proceed instead for the (less than) climatic conclusion. More stories end with an air of resignation than a melodious bang. Brief reflection, ambiance fading, and then gone … still frame of Kodak moment, joy/sorrow/tears/laughter. A flicker, a whisper, a sigh … everyone lives, so why can’t I? Some will live, but all must die. If A is, then B will come, but B may be present in the absence of A … 14x + | 15 | = | 71 | a hundred thousand beginnings may bring about the same end (in select cases have even been shown to coincide with one another—life and a life at the same instant). The start doesn’t matter, because everyone knows the ending and how to get there. Denial, still, on some level in all: shades of grey or gray. May darker or lighter be, yet the windows of human brains are cloudy to begin with and therefore lack accuracy; I directed them all to the abyss. All possess some degree of color blindness, monochromes all. Fade to gray … Chemical imbalance, three brained creatures, content to live the superficial life of sense, genetically impaired, born between intellect and will, where is the love?

Mathematical representative of incompleteness (origin of evil) displayed. Six, sex, sin. And don’t they all chase that beast? Relationship drawn easily noticeable; I recognized it first and then created linear thought. Base for faith is evil, not good (if there is no evil, then there is no sin, and if there is no sin, there cannot be need for redemption; if there is no need for redemption, there is no need for confession, and if there is no need for confession, there is no

need for salvation, if there is no need of salvation, there is no need for men of the cloth; with a lacking need for clerics, there is no need for religion and therefore faith; if there is no wrong, then all is right by default). My consciousness quivers with remembrance … all the deceptions unfold and the word made straight … I deceived with delight, tempted, and then pointed the accusing finger … I was the anointed one … carried the light … forced them against their will to see the light … e = mc squared. Abracadabra, squared cm = e, arbadacarba, they could only perceive the destruction. If A, then B; if six, then seven. If blank, then blank. If evil comes, good will follow? Opposite shown in creation story: inherent perfection given, corruption followed; contrarily shown in ending story: evil taken (by force, rather than coercion or choice, free will, freedom?) Free will stopped? Replaced forever with good? Obedience to precept is a new concept for some … The fear of god is the beginning of wisdom. Love multiplies when it is divided. No one can plan farther than they can envision, God help us with the eternal perspective. The gates reopened; he was left alone now—left to his home, presumably, or perhaps to another‘s. Nobody wanted to be alone; even the arms of a stranger left one wanting more. Companionship was the ultimate goal; reunion was always joyful event, joining another and becoming one. A best friend was the one you could stay with for eons and never speak a word. Awkward silence was never the issue. A shoulder to lean on was something to be desired. A companion who knows all of your weaknesses but only shows your strength. Someone to share with, darkness or light—that’s not what’s important,

only need a split second of sustainable light … to feel eternally loved. Sturm’s theorem in play now, back to the roots. He was now in his final turn. First cow on the right, straight on ’til morning (nearly, seems eternity to go further)—what is affectionately known as home stretch (how condescending!). Drought brought to climax; only a few fragments remain, the sum total of all the parts now discerned, stream motioning still from incline downward. Does that savior call home my orb as well (more accurately, call home what I did not)? Wary of asking, as most here wary of strangers, even more so under the shroud of darkness. Why not? I cast the shadows of doubts, and stand long and tall does he. The eternal flame of truth beckons me … in the ink-black ether of void; distinguish one from the other … daunting task. Still, the eyes say nothing in between new moons, away from amber glow, night turned to day reverts to the animal self, my purpose achieved. Matter of perspective is all: see what you want to see (you don’t see me). Do I even see me? Truth be known, it was a game of sibling rivalry, and I was none the wiser. Next dash of amber reminds me it’s not such a small world after all. The eyes say different, yet how is difference apparent? When the only shade is gray, black and white strangely absent from this picture. Two colors meant separate, poured out one atop another and left for the rain. My red and green lines, once so lovely to feel, once so lovely to be, fade to gray. Black and white that I no longer see, and only the giant sphere of light before my eyes is real to me. Return to the first station, return as the anointed cherubim. The prodigal son returns, burn off the dross. The stream of light crashed into the sun. A strange phenomenon, the stream of light danced around the sun, splashing in and out, diving, and looping. The stream released a sigh of resignation, and then it was completely absorbed. And the sun grew very quiet. ―I am‖ at play How can there be, but circles of … see? A perception of nothing‘s … infinities what is, what was and what ever shall be

inverting illusions … spec dualities. Boiling hot light, waves tiding in dance, inversely freezing … in thermal romance end rationales where ―there is,‖ never starts, palpitates, racing in soon-to-be hearts? Where every word of this mystery Whispers, ―Just what can I be?‖ Springing forth from the fountain of what magic ―might be.‖ Confused? All is nothing! Full‘s empty! … Aye! … Nay! Full … yet so empty, this ―is‖ I am ―at play.‖

Chapter 18: Rough Landing Shirley stared out of the small window to the earth below;, the rocket was now floating along in space. Eagle Flying Bye was busy in another part of the capsule. She did not disturb his thoughts for fear that she would disrupt whatever escape plan he was now involved in. It gave her pause to think back over everything that had happened. Eagle Flying Bye, presented himself a few minutes later. He held in his hand a metal container. ―This is the only thing I could find,‖ he stated. ―It will have to do.‖ Shirley looked into the container, but it was closed. ―What‘s in there?‖ Shirley asked quizzically. The medicine man spoke softly. ―Something I need so that I might create an archway or a bridge of mist … but we are still not close enough to the earth‘s atmosphere, I‘m afraid.‖ Shirley looked at the earth; they were much closer now. She even managed to find out how to open the hatch. Cassini‘s instrumentation consisted of: a radar mapper, a CCD imaging system, a visible/infrared mapping speedometer, a composite infrared spectrometer, a cosmic dust analyzer, a radio and plasma wave experiment, a plasma spectrometer, an ultraviolet imaging spectrograph, a magnetospheres‘ imaging instrument, a magnetometer, and an ion/neutral mass spectrometer. There must be something there that they could utilize to escape. ―A bridge of mist? How are you going to create a bridge of mist?‖ Shirley was curious and anxious. ―Everything has a spiritual double. When someone passes through an area or a place, they leave a footprint, or body print—like an aura of flecks of substance, or a little something upon the nothing.‖ ―Huh?‖ Shirley looked perplexed. ―Let‘s just say I will gather up the substance of all of those who have come before and create a bridge of mist. It will reveal the gate that we can safely enter through to return home. We are only eighty miles from the surface, so it won‘t be long—maybe another twenty miles before we can leave.‖ ―How will I … I mean, you can become the great eagle, but I can no longer return to the form of the catbird—or the eagle, for that matter. I was able to do it with the light—‖ ―Stop—quiet yourself. I want you to remember your exact thoughts when you became the eagle.‖ ―I don‘t remember—‖ ―I said quiet yourself. Now be quiet. And just think.‖ Shirley closed her eyes and tried to remember the words that had formed in her consciousness in order to allow her to change her human form. ―I don‘t remember,‖ Shirley finally stated. ―I can‘t.‖ ―Then you will die,‖ the medicine man simply stated. Shirley stared hard at the medicine man. She remembered that the catbird had allowed her his form. She thought hard about what happened next. She remembered allowing her arms to become light as a feather … she was starting to remember. Her mind‘s eye formed words that made her understand the very consciousness of the catbird. Shirley remembered. She consciously surrendered to the spirit that allowed her to change form until she once again possessed all the attributes of a familiar. The medicine man suddenly spoke: ―Very good. We will be able to get back home.‖

Shirley chirped. She suddenly realized she was standing before the medicine man as a catbird. The medicine man then floated to the control panel. ―I think I can reignite the rockets, but I am afraid to. We are now pointed toward the earth. We must somehow put the Cassini back on track toward Jupiter, or we could blow the whole earth to kingdom come.‖ The medicine man located the ignition; he‘d keep it in mind once they were ready to leave. ―Where do we have to go to get to the bridge of mist?‖ Shirley asked. The medicine man turned to see Shirley in her human form. This was going to be a problem; she could not hold the thought for long. He changed the subject: ―Let me tell you of an ancient time, of those who came before.‖ He spoke quietly, in a singsong voice. ―Upon the sunrise of this early planet‘s time, when the earth grandmother was still considered sacred and honored, a song was sung out to the universe. The sun and stars surrounding the earth heard the song. The sun was joyful to hear such a glorious sound that vibrated the waters as he rode his shining steed up the sierra to the sky. The stars danced to the music at the top of the peaks and laughed stardust laughter, as this was a very good song. Thus, the universe smiled at the earth, and she in turn smiled back, creating a rainbow of magical stardust and mystical waters: the bridge of mist. ―Earth Mother bore many children and taught them all the wonderful song. For a long time, her children sang to the universe, and the universe sang back; this created a bridge, an archway between the children of the earth and the universe. The sun rode his steed up the mountain each morning, and the stars dazzled and laughed each night. The moon cast spells across the sky, creating wonderful vistas for the stars to see. The earth children gazed at the nightly wonders and danced with joy around warm circles of fire. When the sun rode up the mountain, the earth children painted pictures with red clay and purple berry juice on the white rock ledges to create the mystical waters, so they would never forget the gift of star dust—the bridge of mist. ―As the children grew, they divided into tribes, each becoming proficient in their own specific skills. They lived by the waters, they lived in the mountains, and they journeyed across the hot dry deserts. They grew apart in the process of becoming themselves and forgot some of the pictures they had painted on the white rock. The fire circles became smaller, and the earth grew older. New children came and did not see the great steed run up the mountain; they saw only the day. New children came and did not notice the stars laughing stardust laughter, or see the magic spells cast by the moon; they only saw night. The universe was sad, because it did not hear the song. A great dark silence came to be, and it was called deaf. ―The moon cast many spells, unnoticed, and the earth turned sadly in the great, dark void. But, as the children had grown apart, they began to grow back together. The far-away wanderings brought them back to where they had begun, as the earth was round, and this is how the Great Spirit designed it to be. They painted the white rock ledges with all the colors of the earth and sang a new song out to the universe. Once again, the universe rejoiced, and the earth sang back. And this is how it was. As the magic of berry juice is set on white rock, as spells are cast across the black sky of night, as the sun rides up and down the great mountain, the earth turns, and the wind echoes the voices of those who came before, creating the beautiful rainbow, the bridge of mist. ―The hatch is pointed toward the earth. I will pour this out in just a few miles, and the bridge of mist will become evident in a few seconds. Then we will have to open the door, which

will be hard, because there is no gravity here—‖ He broke off, startled by the reigniting of the rocket. The blast sent the capsule careening backward. ―We have no time—we must leave now!‖ yelled the great medicine man. The medicine man grabbed ahold of a machine and pulled Shirley with him; the capsule jolted in the dark void and moved ever closer toward the earth. Eagle Flying Bye then made his way to the hatch, the metal container in his hand. He once again unscrewed the large telescopic camera that was there and opened the container, careful not to release the contents until he had the opening level with the hatch. Eagle Flying Bye watched as his urine floated through space. He quickly shut the hatch and made his way to the window. Shirley was already there, watching with wonder as an arch suddenly formed in the dark void. ―We have to go,‖ Eagle Flying Bye said. ―Quickly—you must change before we open the door. The window of opportunity is slim.‖ Shirley stood before him, a beautiful female eagle. Eagle Flying Bye could not take the time to adore her beauty and perfect plumage. He opened the hatch door to the Cassini spacecraft and fluttered out; Shirley was right behind him. She headed for the rainbow of mist and found it thick enough to walk on. Eagle Flying Bye, grabbed her gently with his great talons, and they sailed through the bridge of mist until they were about twenty-five miles above the earth‘s surface. Eagle Flying Bye knew Shirley would not hold her form forever and circled above the great Canadian tundra looking for a safe place to land. Eagle Flying Bye focused on a clump of white pine trees. He circled slowly until Dancing Feather had the chance to land on a high-hanging branch. He let her down softly, and to his surprise, she circled along with him. They soared and then lighted upon a grove of northern white pines, still feeling exhilarated by their tremendous feat. Eagle Flying Bye was chirping in a loud, melodious voice—happy to be home, happy to be alive. Shirley, feeling more brazen, took off again toward the south, playfully chirping back at Eagle Flying Bye. She was anxious to be home, to be herself. She flew out of sight. Eagle Flying Bye, rested a minute before taking off in the direction that Dancing Feather had flown. She was nowhere to be found; he searched, circling the earth in wider and wider circles. He found her at the bottom of the far side of the ravine. Eagle Flying Bye landed immediately;, though not in his human form, he jumped to the ground. No longer in bird form, Shirley lay broken and bleeding. She had tried to return home in the night. As a bird at night, she had become disoriented. She had thought she was at the top of the cliff when she changed back into human form. She had realized her mistake too late, falling; she fell far and landed upon an overhang in the side of the cliff. Her voice was fading when she cried out for Eagle Flying Bye. The great eagle had heard her cries, he flew deep into the ravine and approached her. She reached for him; he lowered his head under her hand, and she gently rubbed him. Whispered words escaped her lips as the bird answered her with the love song he had sung first so many hours ago—and now, for what would be the last time. The bird moved closer to her as the last of her strength faded away. The medicine man knew that this was beyond his thaumaturgy, his simple healing abilities. Eagle Flying Bye let out a terrible cry that carried over the cliff to the mountain. He began a song of sorrow and despair that floated upon the winds. Hearts wrenched and stomachs knotted at that sound. So opposite from all other songs the bird had sung over the years, this one made the strongest nature spirits choke. Tears flowed from every searching predator; rivers

flowed down from the mountain; dark, menacing clouds rolled overhead; the Great Spirit thundered across the skies for what was lost. There could be no mistaking the meaning of the song, nor what had prompted this song of agonizing sorrow. Eagle Flying Bye ended his song and then set forth a cry that shook the cliff itself, causing the ocean waves to freeze and the dark clouds in the sky to gather in frenzy. The great leader on the mountains was shaken from his throne as the sound of that cry ran around the earth on high, making it all tremble. The great bird reached for his love, but there was no consoling him. Another song, more heartfelt, of anguish and loss echoed to the four corners of the earth. Then, impossibly, Eagle Flying Bye began to cry. Genuine tears fell from his eyes as he perched upon she whom he had loved so dearly. Huge droplets struck her face as he gave full vent to the emptiness within. Shirley saw the tears, saw the source. She stared in amazement—an amazement that grew, for she was breathing again. She stirred some, causing the medicine man to break off his song. He looked at her; he checked her pulse. Her breathing was very shallow. He had to get her to a hospital right away. ―Dancing Feather, you are still with me!‖ The skies cleared; the trembling stopped. A great sigh of relief went up all around the wilderness. The combined grief that had become such a threatening terror to all had given way to something else—something brighter, something fantastic, something amazing, an epiphany … a miracle. The medicine man bent to lift her into his arms; she transformed back into Dancing Feather. She flew up into the sky, calling for Eagle Flying Bye to follow her. He took to flight right away; though she wanted to play, he made her fly to the mountain. Someone would have to make sure she was all right, though Eagle Flying Bye was sure now that everything would be all right. Shirley flew into Cook County; Eagle Flying Bye knew the area well, as he had relatives in Grand Portage. There was even a hospital nearby. Shirley flew to a bright clump of Japanese cherry blossoms and waited for Eagle Flying Bye. The momentous day dissipated into the threads of the eon as Father Time looked out across the leaders of all things and shook his head in disgust. The Cassini II was now well on its way to Jupiter, a destiny that would cause the largest planet much harm. Shirley slumped back down against the tree of life. What to do? When all hope seemed lost as to a solution to the rocket that was filled with enough plutonium and rocket fuel to destroy a planet … ―I feel fine,‖ Shirley assured the medicine man as he inspected her body. She was bruised very badly above her thigh; a hematoma about the size of a baseball had developed. The shaman directed her to a nearby stream, where the water was very cold, and instructed her to walk into the stream to her waist. Shirley stayed in the stream until she started to shiver before the two of them walked into the town of Grand Portage. Shirley stared up into space. ―How long will it take for the rocket to get to Jupiter?‖ ―I guess about three earth years,‖ responded the medicine man. ―Why would anyone want to nuke a planet?‖ Shirley quizzed. ―The illumined ones want to create another sun. They think that they know the answers, but they were only doing what the great serpent wanted them to do.‖ Shirley turned red. She, too, had been duped into doing what Lucifer wanted her to do. ―You were there to save me and snap me out of it,‖ Shirley praised the medicine man. Eagle Flying Bye, stared at Shirley. ―No need for praise. I live by the clear light, not the lesser light of chaos and confusion.‖ ―What do they possibly hope to achieve by this horrendous feat?‖

―Lucifer has promised them immortality—something he himself does not have, which is why he tried to send his light—or source of his light—to Jupiter. He wanted to go and prepare a place for them: a new earth, Titan.‖ ―By bombing the shit out of Jupiter?‖ Shirley looked perplexed. ―The scientists and those who have backed this project are hoping that the explosion would cause nuclear fission large enough to create a sun.‖ Shirley laughed. ―But the light is unsustainable—even Uktena showed me that much. The serpent knows that the light is only a flash-bang—he told me so himself. He has deceived those who follow after him.‖ ―The blind lead the blind, and they all go to the sides of the pit,‖ remarked the medicine man. ―And that is what he has prepared for all of those who have blindly followed him: a pit. ―We will visit my brother-in-law,‖ the medicine man commanded. ―He lives here, in Cook County. We will stay there tonight and go home tomorrow.‖ ―I doubt if I will be welcome,‖ Shirley surmised. ―Your relatives do not know me, and I am not a Native American.‖ ―You are my wife, and as my wife, you are welcomed wherever I am. My brother-in-law is a Chippewa of the wolf clan. We often run with the pack together; he knows that I had prepared myself for the battle of a lifetime. He followed me to New Mexico and watched over me.‖ ―Wolf clan …‖ Shirley repeated. ―The Chippewa believe that the creator once placed the wolf and the original Chippewa together to walk this world together as brothers. Then the creator separated the Chippewa and the wolf to walk different paths, saying that whatever befalls one will befall the other. If the wolf tribe perishes, so will the Chippewa people.‖ Shirley laughed. ―Do you really believe that?‖ ―The Lakota people have great admiration for the wolf; we learned many good things from the wolf, and the wolf has helped our people to survive in the past. We learned honor, endurance, perseverance, and loyalty from the wolf. Now, let‘s go visit Harry. I‘m sure he will show you great respect.‖ Shirley had heard him say ―wife,‖ but it hadn‘t sunk in yet—too many shocks to her system in the last twenty-four hours. She only realized he had meant it when they arrived at Harry Cray‘s humble abode. Harry was sitting out on the porch surrounded by a group of children, smoking his pipe and telling them a story. It was then that Eagle Flying Bye introduced Shirley as his wife, Dancing Feather. She snuggled close to the medicine man, the great healer, and dreamed … I should be thankful that you blessed me, great teacher. Being raised within a Jewish home, I was unclean from my illness. It was unnatural for a woman to bleed from the womb for all these years. To bleed from the womb was to render a woman unclean; I was an abomination, and I had been soiled for so very long. No man would touch me; no rabbi would bless me. I was grouped with the lepers, though my skin was then as it is now: pale and perfect, with no telltale marks or pallid look of disease. I had paid for the finest physicians, but there was no cure, so great was my affliction! There were none who could heal me. There was no savior for one of the unclean— no savior for me. Until you, Eagle Flying Bye. Where no man has ever been

I was slowly walking along my way Feeling poetry in light, looking afar. Suddenly! There she was in my bright day: an angel? A goddess? A glowing star! I was swept away into her far sky. Quickly I rose to her mist, high somewhere, as she smiled at me and taught me to fly. We left dark earth, headed into the air. My hard heart melted as my spirit rose; I‘d never felt so warm before. And as we flew into new heaven glows, I knew it was the rapture, maybe more. Sweet ecstasy, no mortal could ever hold a woman loving me in outer space. And as we flew beyond pure blue to gold, I was vaporized, woven into her lace. And now I‘m just another spirit wind; she took me where no man had ever been— where no man has ever been.

Chapter 19: Lunar Spirit Shirley could not get comfortable; the baby was due any day. She had not seen Eagle Flying Bye for a few moons. She was feverish, falling in and out of awareness, dreaming, entering different dimensions between dreams and death … As the shallow breath of life diminished, her perception became acquainted with the consciousness of Death, which came more and more to fill the vast empty chambers and rebuilt temples of her mind. This consciousness whispered its familiar secrets, stared at her from hollow skulls, or gazed with her at the endless vistas beyond this system of Satania, glimpsed between columns of variegated marble stained pink with the eternally setting sun: oceans of fire-kissed opal over which troops of delicate wood sprites danced; forests of violet and crimson-leaved trees, their canopies alive and swarming with iridescent winged creatures, dragonflies, butterflies, and glowworms, emitting and transmitting mysterious signals to bedazzled or hypnotized constellations. And so she drifted in and out of imaginary worlds, down cerulean-hued rivers on ships of trumpeter-winged preternatural Barguest, with sails of billowing moonlight, then on to ebony funeral pyres bearing high- and low-borne corpses to Centaurus, Orion, and the Pleiades, their lifeless shells wreathed in thick incense, opulent lotus petals and apple blossoms trailing in their wake. She sailed on translucent sleighs of starlight, pulled by nebulous-haired djinns of deep space. She witnessed the hulls of collapsed planets and moons, formed of the burned-out husks of binary stars, on the backs of great China day dragons and the shoulders of celestial beings reflected in vast galaxies, who spread their wings that seemed to span immeasurable gulfs. She saw pixie faeries encased in a single grain of stardust as she was transported in the mouths of deities and zygotes, in the belly of Leviathan or the Behemoth, beneath the flickering tongues of ghouls and great invisible apparitions, or carrion-eating demons. She was uncertain whether her mortal body still reclined in some trailer park in some remote wooded forest of earth, clinging to life by means of the cold washcloth pressed against her forehead at night. She hallucinated between sleeping and waking, trying to witness events unfolding around her. It being summer—a new cycle—the dark room was filled with a grayish mist, which introduced to the atmosphere a hypnotic effect. The room seemed to be moving, filled to its very perimeter with fear and dread until the walls gave way. A voice spoke from behind the darkness; Shirley‘s shallow breathing quickened. ―Where is the duad?‖ A storm moved slowly across the horizon—thick, smoky clouds with five protruding funnels. It closed in on the small room, then disappeared. Three forms converged, appearing as one ghostly figure, and entered the room. Female, ghastly, but apparently human, the figure moved slowly towards Shirley. ―Where is the duad?‖ The figure demanded to see a man-child. The old crone reached for an apparition, it became solidified, a boy-child. She searched its tiny body for the mark of Cain, but there was none to be found. The three who appeared as one called themselves Norns. They disappeared into the darkness, emerging once more as five funnel clouds upon the water. Two men were in a fishing boat; the funnels lifted the tiny craft out of the water and sent it reeling to a place called Oannes, 19-66.

The men awoke and found themselves walking along a shoreline. The summer sun beat upon their bare heads and red shoulders. Around them, people wandered, milling about and looking awkward, stark, and mindless, like –zombies. The two men scrambled to escape from Oannes 19-66. They trudged through the hot sand of the beach, over dunes with withered sea oats, past the rotting carcasses of dogfish and snails, until they spied their boat floating at anchor near the shore. They jumped into it, hoping to make a getaway. Suddenly, the sky darkened once more. The water began to swirl around, churning and rocking the boat to and fro. It pulled the craft upward into an inverted whirlpool. Inside the whirlpool, the men could see creatures in many indistinct forms floating in the waters around the boat: half man and half fish—horrible, wretched, woebegone creatures. The men moved upward inside the whirlpool toward a distant light. It was a light enclosed in a shadow, far far away. They slowly circled toward it. Finally, they realized it was the moon, in all of its fullness, appearing as Demeter and giving birth. A form fell from the moon into the swirling waters; half man and half fish, it swam to the fishermen‘s boat and flopped upon the deck. ―Duad!‖ resounded the cry from above. The Norns approached the boat with a lightning rod, speaking from behind the dark thunder. ―Where is the duad?‖ The storm moved slowly across the horizon, just above the waters. Its thick, smoky clouds with five protruding funnels entered the swirl. The fish-man jumped from the boat into the water. The funnel clouds chased him feverishly and then shot lightning bolts upon his scaly back, hitting him in the head, throat, and bowels. Dead, the fish-man sank into the deep abyss. A tear rolled down the face of the waning moon. One tiny drop fell into the sea and plunged into the whirlpool; down, down, down the teardrop fell, swirling among the admixed living and dead until it reached the point of the whirlpool. Instantaneously, Shirley‘s water broke. There was a showering of blood below, and then the child fell downward and out from her onto the soaked straw mat. She carefully cut the long cord with a sharp arrowhead, wrapped the child into a colorful blanket, and went to lie before the fire with him. He was beautiful, this child, with obsidian eyes and a thick swatch of the whitest hair! The small, licking fire danced off his bronze skin, and his cheeks were as full as those of a child born in summer, when the forests were thick with game and corn ripened on the stalk. Shirley cried. The babe had been born on July 4, 2007, to the sound of liberty, unlike any man-child she had seen before. There were things she still wanted to do. For this reason, when she heard her ancestors calling out to her, she paid the ghostly voices no mind. ―Dancing Feather,‖ they whispered into the biting wind. ―Wife of Eagle Flying Bye, your time has now arrived.‖ ―Not yet,‖ she pleaded, a vast white globe of luminosity rising in her mind and filling her vision with splendor. She sensed but tried to ignore the entrance gate to heaven as she lay in fever in the ruin of her body in the tiny shack she dimly remembered as being her home in this mortal world. Still, she was not yet ready to meet the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka, by the devil‘s lake, though the wind whistling through the trailer park that howled across the water‘s edge told her it was indeed her time.

As the brightness of the mysterious realm of heaven and the impenetrable darkness of the ultimate pit inexplicably and enigmatically became one, merging yet retaining their mutually exclusive and antagonistic natures, there could be felt the slightest brush of exquisite satin flesh against her bosom and the pressure of a tiny hand in hers—the familiar, overwhelming, joyous presence of her long-awaited newborn son, beside her and forever within her: the delicate scent of his skin and hair, the clear poetry of his breath in her ears, his tiny lips pressed to her bosom, the intimate merging of their breath. The man-child was large, like his father, Eagle Flying Bye. He was much too large for such a small woman to have pushed out alone in her trailer bed. She had hoped that Eagle Flying Bye would be back in time, but deep within the bowels of her gut, she had known he would not. He had set out to run with the pack, being a wolf-walker; it might be many moons before he returned. Dancing Feather‘s loins still ached. She grew colder as the wetness of the fresh blood swept a course across her spreading thighs. Like a great river, it moved outward and spread beneath her there in the quiet darkness. That the child would have no mother was a source of great sadness for Shirley; that he would not remember her was too painful a thought to bear. Her fears plagued her. Visions of the child alone until morning only added to her mounting agony. Outside, the groaning voices of the dead wept her name upon the boughs of pine and ash. Sadly, the moon was full, the hour just before midnight. In the midst of growing pain, Dancing Feather felt the irresistible pull but held fast to the child and to the earth, trying to grasp the coattails of forever. She cupped her hands over the child‘s ears as if to keep the voices of her long-gone relatives out. She had never prepared herself for this moment. ―Glowing Eagle,‖ she whispered, ―Pay no attention to those fawning spirits. Your father will come for you.‖ Then she suckled him at her breast to satiate his newborn hunger. The child smiled afterward, but by this time, Dancing Feather lay unconscious. The night was long and soon enough grew into pitch. An ineffable beauty and infernal night both consumed and devoured Shirley. Her spirit lifted up, borne high upon the flaming arc of eternal desire and eternal repulsion, eternal joy and eternal suffering, eternal separation and eternal unification … The endless waves of Creation crashed upon her from every conceivable direction, externally and internally. In the cool of this night air, Glowing Eagle tuned his delicate ears to the comforting sounds of the forest, lulled to sleep by the occasional hoot of owls and the cricket‘s chirp upon the hearth. The wind died down; the fire grew smaller by degrees and eventually fell completely away. The warmth around the child faded, and in that total darkness, the child lay quiet at his mother‘s breast. Glowing Eagle heard the winds return to the tranquil lake and the cutting bite of his father‘s expectant footsteps growing closer. There was a long period of silence, followed by the sound of a door opening. A long cry of grief echoed through the trailer park—a shrill far too terrifying for the infant‘s ears. At once, he felt the sure hands of the medicine man lift him up to the security of his father‘s arms. ―Glowing Eagle,‖ a cracked, raspy voice whispered. ―Son of Dancing Feather.‖ The man-child we wish to see. Come, daughter of the heavens—

come into my arms and dance. Come into my arms and one, two, three— a waltz of far romance. For we are called by stars above to love across the seas and birth a soul in depths of love to build new galaxies. And as we dance until the dawn along the silver sea in fond embrace; in never place, we dance a one, two, three. The love we share for everywhere engulfs the human race, for all the spirits in the air come sharing our embrace. How strange man thinks it cannot be, two lovers called to lay connecting worlds through ecstasy in fiery love this way. Two hearts now fused into one soul, one spirit of two zygote dreams: a child of spirit, ever whole mending tattered cosmic seams. Formed in love from heaven‘s call to lead the earth in wisdom‘s stream, a soul now seen to serve us all, our child held in our sacred dreams. A seed to plant a new wilderness from two seeds: yours and mine. You are the roots; I am the breast, to blossom the divine. And as we rise into that place in never-never land and build a cloud in sacred grace to love and understand, We call all spirits: come into the arch above end times. We drink the living waters of love‘s perfect spirit wine.

Definitions Chapter 1 mullein: A plant from which wicks can be made. An old superstition existed that witches used lamps and candles provided with wicks of mullein in their incantations, and another of the plant‘s many names, Hag‘s Taper, refers to this. Both in Europe and Asia, the power of driving away evil spirits was ascribed to the mullein. The plant is considered a sure safeguard against the effects of evil spirits and magic. peyote: A spineless, dome-shaped cactus native to Mexico and the southwest United States that has having buttonlike tubercles that are chewed fresh or dry as a narcotic drug by certain Native American peoples. Djimson weed: This and other species of the genus contain a narcotic poison, stramonium, similar to that of the related belladonna, that has been used by many people‘s for various purposes—for instance, as a medicine (now chiefly inhaled for the relief of asthma or applied externally as a painkiller) and, in the past, as a poison and an instrument for obtaining prophetic dreams or messages in various tribes. The amusing antics of soldiers in colonial Virginia who ate djimson weed have been recorded. Gregorian chant: The central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical chant in Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services. double-headed eagle: The symbol for the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. The number ―32‖ inside the triangle represents the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite. The Latin motto, ―Spes mea in Deo est,‖ means ―My hope is in God.‖ clearing the path: A ritual practiced by some religions (such as Buddhism and Scientology) to prep the mind and soul for its journey into the Bardo state, in preparation of reincarnation. reincarnation: Literally ―to be made flesh again.‖ This is a doctrine or metaphysical belief that some essential part of a living being (in some variations only human beings) survives physical death to be reborn in a new body. This essential part is often referred to as the spirit or soul, the ―higher‖ or ―true‖ self, or the ―divine spark.‖ According to some beliefs, a new personality is developed during each life in the physical world, but some part of the self remains constant throughout the successive lives. kabbalah: A discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Judaism. Lucifer: A Latin word, literally meaning ―light-bearer,‖ that was used as a name for the morning star, which precedes the rising of the sun. The name is frequently given to the devil in Christian convention. The use of this name in reference to a fallen angel stems from a particular interpretation of Isaiah 14:3–20, a passage that speaks of someone who is given the name of ―Day Star‖ or ―Morning Star‖ (in Latin, Lucifer) as fallen from heaven.In 2 Peter 1:19 and elsewhere, the same Latin word lucifer is used to refer to the morning star, with no relation to the

devil. However, in post-New Testament writings, the Latin word lucifer has often been used as a name for the devil. Badlands: A type of arid terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. It can resemble malpaís, a terrain of volcanic rock. Canyons, ravines, gullies, hoodoos, and other such geological forms are common in badlands. They are often difficult to navigate by foot. Badlands often have a spectacular color display that alternates from dark black/blue coal strata to bright clays to red scoria. Yellowstone River: The Roche Jaune, or yellow-rock river, as French trappers called the Yellowstone, is one of Montana‘s best-loved waterways. The river gets a high degree of respect from anglers and floaters who appreciate the unusual circumstances that led to the river‘s pristine waters and productive fishing. Lesser Key of Solomon: An anonymous seventeenth-century grimoire and one of the most popular books of demonology. It has also long been widely known as the Lemegeton. Kundalini: Sanskrit for ―coiled.‖ In Indian yoga, a ―corporeal energy‖—an unconscious, instinctive or libidinal force or Shakti, envisioned either as a goddess or else as a sleeping serpent coiled at the base of the spine, hence a number of English renderings of the term, such as ―serpent power.‖ 11:11 AM: Coincidental time of evil portent. Fire Island: One of Long Island‘s south shore outer barrier islands, approximately 31 miles long and varying between approximately 0.1 mile to 0.25 mile wide. Fire Island passes through southern Suffolk County, New York, and is southeast of Long Island, separated from the mainland by the Great South Bay in the state of New York, running approximately southwest to northeast. Chapter 2 All Lakota prayers are from St. Joseph‘s Indian School, Uktena: A horned serpent that appears in the mythologies of many Native Americans. Details vary among tribes, with many of the stories associating the mystical figure with water, rain, lightning, and thunder. Horned serpents were major components of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex of North American prehistory. Serpent Clan: Ancient tribal members of both Hopi and Chippewa legend. Ulun’Suti: The blazing diamond is called Ulun‘suti—―Transparent‖—and he who can win it may become the greatest wonderworker of the tribe. But it is not worth a man‘s life to attempt it, for whoever is seen by the Uktena is so dazed by the bright light that he runs toward the snake instead of trying to escape. As if this were not enough, the breath of the Uktena is so pestilential

that no living creature can survive inhaling the tiniest bit of the foul air. Even to see the Uktena asleep is death—not to the hunter himself, but to his family. yogos: Lakota term for small, colored sapphires found extensively through the Badlands. Chapter 3 North Dakota: A state of the north-central United States bordering on Canada. It was admitted as the thirty-ninth state in 1889. Acquired through the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and a border treaty with Great Britain (1818), the region became part of the Dakota Territory in 1861. It was set off from South Dakota when statehood was achieved. Bismarck is the capital, and Fargo is the largest city. The state has a population of 640,000. Pleistocene: The epoch from 2.588 million to 12,000 years BP, covering the world‘s recent period of repeated glaciations. Chapter 4 Lymphocytic leukemia: Chronic leukemia is a cancer that starts in the blood cells made in the bone marrow. The bone marrow is the spongy tissue found in the large bones of the body. The bone marrow makes precursor cells, called blasts or stem cells, that mature into different types of blood cells. Unlike acute leukemias, in which the process of maturation of the blast cells is interrupted, in chronic leukemias, most of the cells do mature, and only a few remain as immature cells. However, even though the cells appear normal, they do not function as normal cells. pejuta wicasa: Native American medicine, a Lakota term for an herbalist. Yuwipi: A sacred ritual performed with clear stones to heal the sick. Red Road of the White Buffalo Calf Woman: Lakota Legend of a great woman who saved the Lakota people and brought to them the sacred pipe. Chapter 5 Pentagrams: Drawings used symbolically in ancient Greece and Babylonia, and used today as a symbol of faith by many Wiccans, akin to the use of the cross by Christians and the Star of David by Jews. Chapter 6 Merkabah: A word used in Ezekiel (1:4–26) to refer to the throne-chariot of God, the fourwheeled vehicle driven by four chayot (Hebrew: ―living creatures‖), each of which has four wings and the four faces of a man, lion, ox, and eagle.

hollow healing bone: A metaphor for the conduit through which healing flows from the spirit world into the world of ordinary reality. In shamanism, it is said that the healer acts as a hollow bone or hollow tube, becoming filled by power before giving the power away so that others can be healed. smudging ceremony: A ceremony performed with a smudge stick, which is a bundle of dried herbs (most commonly, white sage). Often, other herbs or plants are used or added, and the leaves are usually bound with string in a small bundle and dried. Some other herbs and spices that are often used include cilantro, cedar, lavender, and mugwort, none of which are native to the Americas. Smudge-stick herbs have a strong, pleasant aroma when burnt. Chapter 7 Maitreya: The Buddha who is yet to come. In Buddhist tradition, the future Buddha will descend to earth to preach again the dharma (law) when the teachings of the Buddha Gautama have completely decayed. Until then, Maitreya is believed to be a bodhisattva residing in the Tusita heaven. Mentioned in scriptures from the third century AD, Maitreya is the earliest bodhisattva around whom a cult developed and is still the only one generally honored by the Theravada tradition. His images, found throughout the Buddhist world, convey an air of expectancy and promise. Chapter 8 Barbelo: The first emanation of God in several forms of Sethian Gnostic cosmogony. Barbelo is often depicted as a supreme female principle, the single passive antecedent of creation in its manifoldness. This figure is also variously referred to as ―Mother-Father‖ (hinting at her apparent androgyny), ―First Human Being,‖ ―The Triple Androgynous Name,‖ or ―Eternal Aeon.‖ Wohpe: It is said in the origin stories that Skan, or ―Sky,‖ produced a daughter called Wohpe (meaning ―Peace‖ or ―Mediator‖). Wohpe mediated the oppositions between the spirits and all things and so created harmony in the universe. Chapter 9 shamanism: A range of traditional beliefs and practices concerned with communication with the spirit world. ―Shamanism‖ is a prominent term in anthropological research. A practitioner of shamanism is known as a shaman. Many variations of shamanism are practiced throughout the world, but several common beliefs are shared by all forms of shamanism. Shamans are intermediaries between the human and spirit worlds. Geronimo: (June 16, 1829–February 17, 1909) A prominent Native American leader and medicine man of the Chiricahua Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States and their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades.

Skull and Bones: A secret society at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The society‘s alumni organization, which owns the society‘s real property and oversees the organization, is the Russell Trust Association, named for General William Huntington Russell, who cofounded Skull and Bones with classmate Alphonso Taft. The Russell Trust was founded by Russell and Daniel Coit Gilman, member of Skull and Bones and later a university president. The society is known informally as Bones, and members are known as Bonesmen. The oft-told tale is that George W. Bush‘s grandfather, Prescott Bush, and some of his buddies at Yale, dug up the grave of Apache chief Geronimo, removing his skull and femur and placing them in a glass case in the lobby of the Tomb, the headquarters of the university‘s notorious Skull and Bones society, back in 1917. Chapter 10 wah^pe khalyapi: A Lakota word for medicinal tea. Chapter 12 doppelgänger: The ghostly double of a living person, a sinister form of bilocation. In the vernacular, the word ―doppelgänger‖ has come to refer to any double or look-alike of a person. Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO): (Order of the Temple of the East, or the Order of Oriental Templars) An international fraternal and religious organization founded at the beginning of the twentieth century. Aliester Crowley became the head of the original organization. The OTO was revived in 1969 by one Grady McMurty, who claimed to be the rightful successor to Karl Germer, who had died in 1962. schizophrenia: A mental disorder that makes it difficult to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behave normally in social situations. Sheol: The abode of the dead, the underworld, or the pit. Sheol is the common destination of both the righteous and the unrighteous dead, as recounted in Ecclesiates and Job. Chapter 13 Atagahi: An enchanted lake where wounded animals would go to bathe and heal. The way to Atagahi is so difficult that only the animals know how to reach it, according to Cherokee legend. Chapter 14 Gruaman‘s Chinese Theater, Walk of fame where Stars are embedded in the sidewalk with the names and handprints or feetprints of famous Hollywood actors and actressess Chapter 15 Bilderberg Group: The steering committee does not publish a list of attendees, though some participants have publicly discussed their attendance. Historically, attendee lists have been weighted toward leaders, politicians, bankers, and directors of large businesses. Chapter 16

black ops: Missions often fitting into the deniable category, in which there is no claim of responsibility for the action. Sometimes, a false flag operation is used to give the appearance that another actor was responsible, or—most often—an extensive arrangement hides the fact that the black operation ever occurred. Black military operations, or paramilitary operations, can be used by various secret services to achieve or attempt to achieve an unusually sensitive goal. The methods used in black operations are also used in unconventional warfare. Depending on the precise situation in a given case, and the level of authoritarianism of the national government or other responsible party, some tasks will be conducted as black operations, other activities can be admitted openly. Chapter 17 Salvia divinorum: A psychoactive herb which can induce dissociative effects. It is an herbaceous perennial in the Lamiaceae (mint) family. The specific name, Salvia divinorum, was given because of its traditional use in divination and healing—it literally translates to ―diviner‘s sage‖ or ―seer‘s sage.‖ Chapter 18 familiar spirit, imp, or familiar: An animal-shaped spirit who serves for witchery or other magician-related subjects. Familiars serve their owners as domestic servants, farmhands, spies, and companions, and may help bewitch enemies. Familiars are also said to inspire artists and writers. Chapter 19 Dagon: is related to Hebrew dāg/dâg 'fish' and that Dagon was imagined in the shape of a fish: compare the Babylonian fish-god Oannes. In the thirteenth century David Kimhi interpreted the odd sentence in 1 Samuel 5.2–7 that "only Dagon was left to him" to mean "only the form of a fish was left", adding: "It is said that Dagon, from his navel down, had the form of a fish (whence his name, Dagon), and from his navel up, the form of a man, as it is said, his two hands were cut off." The Septuagint text of 1 Samuel 5.2–7 says that both the arms and the legs of the image of Dagon were broken off.[5] duad:. A unit of two objects; Two together; pair; couple Five Funnel Clouds: five funnel clouds. They represent the extention of the cube, (or the image of God in genesis) as a detatched random extension. They become time (for the sake of synchronicity) and we can only physically see, or realize the present, so they are seen as one old woman (nornes) they appear as old because she's past dependent bringing it to future, no newness. Oannes: Half man, half fish, Oannes was given his name by the Babylonian writer Berossus in the third century BC. This mythical being taught mankind wisdom. Berossus describes Oannes as having the body of a fish but, underneath, the figure of a man. He is described as dwelling in

the Persian Gulf, rising out of the waters in the daytime to furnish mankind with instruction in writing, the arts, and the various sciences. Mark of Cain: "mark of Cain" is nothing more than incarnation of the flesh into this duality. Therefore typically, any newborn, is of course a duad, receiving the mark of Cain at birth. Monad: Philosophy. An indivisible, impenetrable unit of substance viewed as the basic constituent element of physical reality in the metaphysics

Norns: numerous female beings who rule the fates of the various races of Norse mythology. Definitions can be found In webster‘s Dictionary, and Wikipedia

Bibliography All Lakota prayers and mantras are used with permission from, the Web site of the Manataka American Indian Council, St Joseph‘s School, and the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center, all of South Dakota. This material has been edited for style. Lakota myths paraphrased from First Nation legends. All legends have been edited from historical documents and are believed to be in the public domain. All Native American Lakota language descriptions come from English Lakota Dictionary 1989 by Sidney Keith (

ressurection vs reincarnation  

looking at the difference between ressurection vs reincarnation

ressurection vs reincarnation  

looking at the difference between ressurection vs reincarnation