‘As far as Freudian analysis goes, the issue is not if the patient is happy is his life, but rather if he looks good on paper. Pontius was only interested in modifying human behaviour to fulfil certain therapeutic goals.’

‘And what about you Doctor Schneider? Do you look good on paper? What of your quest for Human Potential? The frontiers of the human mind? Look where it’s got you. You’re trapped in a quantum realm; a realm of almost nothing; a dimension most rarefied and sparse. You exist between electrons, down a rabbit hole of subatomic particles. You have entered the World of Nothing, where only Faith consolidates your entire existence.’

‘I don’t deny it. Faith is everything.’

‘And what of Vallis? Where is he, I wonder?’

‘Impossible to say. The Old World, perhaps. I dreamt it would end like this. A precognition if you like. I should have listened to my intuition. How perverse, that all the ghosts of the old faculties, long since banished by the Freudians, still haunt our dreams.’

‘When did you first meet Jack, exactly?’

‘Long ago. I was sent to Liverpool by order of the Vatican.’

‘To perform an exorcism?’

‘No, that came several years later. I was sent to ascertain the true nature of his powers. I shall never forget it. I met him at school one rainy Saint Patrick’s day in 1949. Jack was in detention for stopping the clocks. That’s when he claimed he was – ’

‘A girl?’

‘No. He introduced himself as Zeitenwanderer.’


Zeitenwanderer. A wanderer in Time. I asked him how. He replied: “Artificial Equilibria imposed on elements proceeding from the dematerialization of matter.” In the name of God, what seven year old would know that? What fifty-seven year old? He seemed to be expecting me. He knew all about me, in fact. So we got talking about his gifts. Then he laid down the basic doctrine of transmigration of souls; to-wit: positive mind and negative matter. He asserted that Mind alone gives matter its potency and form. He claimed that Mind was eternally progressive – and that’s how he stopped the clocks – because of his eternally progressive mind. He was more than a little pompous, especially for a seven year old from the tenements of Toxteth. But very charismatic and charming all the same. What we have here, I thought to myself, is a prodigy. So I gave him some crayons and paper, and asked him to draw something. Can you guess what? He drew a monster with a blazing eye. “What is it?” I asked. “The Cyclops,” he whispered. “He teaches me things.” Naturally, I began to suspect demonic infestation. But Jack read my mind at once, and said: “Alas, the Church’s biggest problem is not materialism but ecumenicism…” I was completely astounded – and more than a little afraid. “What does the Cyclops teach you?” I asked. “That creative Mind is coexistent with everything in the Universe; and that every manifest thing owes its existence to creative Mind.” Jack clammed up after that. He told me to go home because my cat was sick. Sure enough, when I got home, my cat was sick. According to the vet, she had a fur-ball obstructing her bowel. I met Jack again six times during his adolescence, but he always insisted the Cyclops was real. The Cyclops has appeared throughout Jack’s life. But even after all these years, Jack still doesn’t know what it is.’

‘The Cyclops is a numen of his psyche; an unconscious projection of his parasitic twin. She was female, you know. He feels responsible for her death.’

‘Indeed. I know all about it. But if you think the Cyclops is just a phantom of the id, then you’re quite mistaken.’

‘So what is it?’

‘An E.B.E. Extraterrestrial Biological Entity. A highly evolved being that operates beyond the space-time continuum. These creatures are interdimensional. They interface with human consciousness directly. We call them Archons. They can manipulate the mind like clay: make you think, see and believe whatever they like.’


‘To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. Whether this being actually possesses Jack or engages in some form of sympathetic mediumship I cannot tell. But I’m sure of one thing: the Archons have been interested in Jack ever since he was born – and possibly long before that. Do you know what happened when Vallis died on that E.C.T. table? He crossed over to the other side. The Great Beyond. And when he returned, he brought a bit of Beyond back with him. I don’t know how, but he opened a portal. That’s what you fell through in the basement.’

‘And you? How did you get here?’

‘Oh, I entered the portal long before you. But Time has no meaning in this place. I thought Pontius might have tried to save me, but he refused to accept Jack from the start. The Roman doctrine is just an anathema to Pontius. “Superstitious Maryology” he calls it. I’m sorry to say that Pontius has been a great disappointment. His entire psyche is drawn from the material world; he believes only in Nature. He wanted Jack to embrace the same – to recant his faith and return to Nature alone. But Jack couldn’t be a naturalist philosopher any more than he could be a man. For Jack knew of a world that is more than Nature – a world that is anti-Nature: a world of spirit and miracles. Pontius hates this world of anti-matter. He despises it. His atheist dream is to wipe Religion from the face of the earth. What peculiar ideas he has about Life and Death! Needless to say, no analyst likes to look a fool – especially on paper. After all, Freudians regard themselves as the final arbiters of the human mind. But the spectrum of human consciousness is infinite and unquantifiable. No matter how hard Pontius tried, he couldn’t destroy Jack Vallis… Vallis was out of his league; he was too mercurial; too inscrutable; too complex and intangible for such an obtuse and blinkered mind.’

‘That’s all very well. But how does it help us now? Without Jack we’re doomed. We’re prisoners here.’

‘But I feel quite liberated. Like I can breath for the first time in my life. Looking back, my earthly years were a ghastly struggle; like treading water from one day to the next. But there is peace here. Great peace. Do you not feel it? It permeates the soul like a warm glow. Tell me that you feel it too.’

‘I feel nothing but remorse.’

‘You’re still angry with Pontius.’

‘He abandoned me. For all his noble talk, he’s nothing but a measly coward. Perhaps I’m being churlish. He tried to warn me about Vallis, but I wouldn’t listen.’

‘Pontius was right about one thing. Vallis knows nothing; he is the priest of nothing; the doctor of nothing, and the master of nothing.’

‘I don’t understand. You exalt him one minute then denigrate him the next.’

‘On the contrary, I venerate him.’

‘How so? You hardly deem Vallis an expert in these matters, do you?’

‘Oh but I do. Jack Vallis is the very definition of an expert.’

‘Which is?’

‘An expert is someone who knows more and more, about less and less, until he knows absolutely everything about Nothing.’

‘I’m not in the mood for riddles.’

‘In Nothing is Everything: an unbounded and limitless potential. All transformation comes out of Nothing. Remember what King Lear said: “Nothing will come of nothing.” But the lord God made the entire Universe out of Nothing. That’s the point. Isn’t it?’

‘Is it? I’m no longer what I used to be. I miss my body.’

‘Do you Maria? Yet I’m so happy to be rid of mine.’

‘I wish I could see your face, if even for a moment.’

‘Count your blessings. We can at least hear each other. We can have this conversation.’

‘The darkness frightens me. This disincarnate darkness.’

‘We must pray. Prayer alone permeates the Heavens and Hells. Say the words Maria. Say them…’

‘…May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible, and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified, in Heaven, on Earth, and in the Hells, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of the Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.’

Copyright © Nicholas Shea 2020

Image credit: “Artificial Equilibria imposed on elements proceeding from the dematerialization of matter.” From ‘The Evolution of Matter’ by Dr. Gustav Le Bon. (The Walter Scott Publishing Co, Paternoster Square, London, 1909).