The Presence is noumenal and outside time; though the
human creature always apprehends it mixed with phenomena,
and within the temporal series. *
Maria is telling it…
It pains me to speak of the void – that immeasurable span of nothing in which I dwelt for days incalculable and unknown. Six thousands years I might have spent in that bodiless state, without flesh nor any semblance of form: a discarnate soul, adrift and alone, the prey of unseen things that whispered in the inky depths.
Of what they whispered I could not tell – their ceaseless uttering was an alien tongue, full of strange sibilances, glottal aspirations and wet warblings. They conjured thoughts of tentacled things, like the deep sea titans of yore, whose gargantuan shells grew by the languid accretions of immemorial Time. And as I peered into the abyssal dark, my soul stirred with vague impressions of arcane cephalopods with fleshy lobes and limpid eyes – the Ammonites, Hibolithes and Ectenolites of some forgotten realm – mysterious creatures long extinct, whose frightful aspect lurked only in the dim recess of ancestral memory.
My position in the void was ambiguous, or rather my orientation in space was unknown and impossible to define; yet despite the precipitous blackness, I had superimposed a framework of Euclidean geometry; I sensed height, width and depth – but even these linear quantities seemed infinite and beyond capacity of mind. Despite these limitations of sense, I perceived a manifoldness that went above the known world of three dimensions. And with this came a supersensible knowledge. I realized that all formal logic was but an abstraction of reality and creation of mind. Mathematics, geometry and algebra were but childish representations that could never attain the Absolute which they described. The simple contrivances which man had formulated about the world were overwhelmed by the chaos that permeated the convoluted darkness.
My discarnate fears, however abstract, had a concrete confirmation. I was a non-material agent, but my residual self-image was that same phantom of flesh some ghosts cling to when divested of their mortal coils. And in this respect, I could still sense my immediate environment. Most perplexing of all, were the changes in density. For the surrounding matrix was subject to constant alteration; at times it felt as rarefied as mountain air; at others it had the consistency of sludge, so that I was forced to writhe through convolutions of tarry darkness. The viscosity increased to the point where movement became impossible, and I was engulfed as a fly in amber. Entombed, I lay in stasis for an indeterminate epoch, so that my identity faded into a far mist, and all memory of earthly life was obliterated. Then instantaneously, the matrix reverted back from solid to liquid, and from liquid to gas (or so these shifting dimensions appeared) – and my tarry tomb dissolved into a vapour. Then once again I was free to move, like a Wood frog enduring the freeze-thaw cycles of Time. Each resurrection began with an impulsive fall through hyperspace, which felt like a simultaneous expansion in all directions. But I knew I was falling. And with this descent, my memories returned to torture me, with sunlit days of terra firma, and garden walks through green herbaceous borders.
I felt myself doomed, as one who is thrown into a domain of demonic abysses. Plummeting through howling space, I beheld a labyrinth of inconceivable hollows and crypts of darkness: the nebulous quanta of Creation that permeate the interstitial realms of matter; the Cyclopean Halls of Time, in which the madmen of the ages have cast their darkest fears and visions. My very existence felt like an abomination, beyond all earthliness and natural law. I could not ruminate on a single event of the past without feeling irrevocably damned. All my conquests and achievements were naught but Icarian flights of vanity, which had plunged me into a bottomless pit, where the occult shadows of the soul heaved in numinous clouds of an impersonal cosmic force.
How I longed for the material world of sense! Where every proposition rests on other propositions, as one temple-stone rests upon another! Where axioms were fundamental truths on which all other truths were founded! Where things assumed without demonstration were self-evident! But there was nothing self evident about the void; it was realm of innumerable mirrors, reflecting all the hidden composites of mind; the prenatal memories of the aeons; the archetypal imprints of evolution, concealed in the shadows of the self. The void was the repository of the entire history of Creation – a place outside Time, whose mysterious fabric was amorphous as the mind that perceived it: a primal continuum of unconsciousness, forever striving to realisation and individuation. Freud was wrong. The unconscious was not the vessel of repressed desires – it was the potential for Ultimate Being; and our repression of it lay not in sexual neurosis, or genital libido organisations, but in a primal existential terror. Terror of our own latent power. A transcendental power. A supernatural empery over Nature and all materiality. Was mankind not destined to be gods? Is that what Jack Vallis had become? A mad god, who transcended Time and Space? At this disturbing thought, waves of reverberation pulsed through the void, like a heartbeat of becoming…
Strange images emerged in the darkness then fell back into obscurity before my mind could grasp them – like dreams that vanish on waking. I experienced many sudden shifts in consciousness. At each level of mind, new sets of images appeared, but there was nothing familiar or intelligible about them. These phases of conscious activity differed from dreams by the absence of embodied ideas, and I was only left with alien impressions of the weird and uncanny. If these were dreams, I could not furnish them with any perceptual elements. I felt these awakenings were not awakenings at all, but descents into lower states of mind. Then I was struck by a most hideous notion. Was I reverting to some lower form of mental life? Like a primaeval worm bereft of image-forming power? Or a simple cell, were all sensation is diffused and undifferentiated over the entire form? How would I distinguish myself from the world without? If the void was without…
This was all perfectly natural, I told myself. I had suffered a psychotic break, and nothing more. In dreams we are deficient in self-consciousness because it is only a partial self that dreams. Besides, the history of mental illness depicts an undeniable similarity of consciousness between dreams and certain forms of insanity. A recovered lunatic will often regard their illness as a strange nightmare. I was familiar with the morbid paralysis of the insane: the disturbance of sensation, and the abolition of deep reflexes. And I knew the creation of insane thoughts, like the dream world of the somnambulist, is often carried over into the lucid state; but patients only succeed in recognising their disease after a troubling and painful process of realization. Yet in the midst of the void it was impossible to delineate between fantasy and reality, simply because the known world had ceased to exist.
Had I become an inmate of Sunhill? Was I, at this very moment, undergoing some abominable experiment at the hands of doctor Pontius? Even that unthinkable fate was preferable to the void, for at least there was a chance of recovery. But my wounded pride could not bear to think that I had gone insane, much less that I was deserving of eternal damnation. So I satisfied my conscience that the void was indeed a real place, which existed quite apart from the material world, and I had fallen into it by some terrible misfortune. I reassured myself that salvation was nigh, and that by the grace of God, I would overcome my dissolution. Yet I could not shake the conviction that my destiny was to become a creature of the tarry sludge – either by gradual devolution, or as the prey of some savage titanic worm.
My mind swung violently from one extreme to the other. At times I felt mentally clear but completely abandoned by God. I became cynical of my discarnate state, and self-critical of my own thoughts. My vain and grandiose belief in transcendental powers was symptomatic of psychopathy. But far from thinking myself mad, I was angry at my clouding of consciousness. Many phantasms beguiled my senses and crowded my mind, until I was unable to contemplate the former state of things. Once again, I could only surmise that I was suffering acute psychosis. My mental torment was such agony that no bodily pains could compare. Existence itself was insupportable. I felt doomed to oblivion. My only consolation was that mania would pass, and suffering would end in a haze of forgetting.
But far from recovering, things only got worse. I told myself the best way to dispel delusions was to avoid thinking about them. My brains had been overtaxed. Rest and quiet were the surest remedy. The void was nothing but a projection of my religious remorse – the consequence of renouncing my vows. Yet no matter how hard I prayed, I could not dispel the darkness, nor the terrors that lurked in its depths. The malady was chronic, and I was compelled to believe that recovery was hopeless. Indeed, whilst working in a small asylum for the upper classes, I found that chronic forms of mania often lasted many years. I recalled a patient by the name of Elizabeth Sykes, who had the schizophrenic delusion that she was an automaton, and could escape her cell by means of certain wires that were concealed in the walls and floor. She would never admit that her ideas were delusions, and tried to justify or explain them away, even to the point of denying them altogether, arguing that there was no necessity for keeping her under restraint. And so I began arguing with God in the very same way. Then I too began looking for hidden wires, groping through the void like Elizabeth in her cell.
What man or woman can ward off an attack of insanity? Did my own nervous predispositions render me ill suited to the treatment of the insane? Was my mental constitution so frail, that I had to be shielded from the horrors of this world, and spend the rest of my days in a convent? And if not a house of God, then a mental asylum? I was a young and unprepared physician when I arrived at Sunhill. And after meeting Vallis, I had encountered the unknown depths of my own psychic existence. What was the void but a disorientation and darkening of consciousness – a psychic catastrophe, caused by the collision of opposites. I felt utterly alone in this dark night of the soul. But in rejoining the secular world, had I not taught myself to be rational and self-reliant? The only way out of this quagmire was the judicious application of Jungian psychology. But I knew from my own medical training that a doctor is never taught the significance of his own prejudice when making independent judgments. So I surrendered to the enemy, and sought treatment from my greatest critic: Freud. How grateful I was to Sigmund! Without delay, I subjected myself to his rigorous analysis. I had just finished revising Jenseits des Lustprinzips, when, to my utmost horror and alarm, I heard a long and lurid diagnosis: it was doctor Hulme discussing my case in a low baritone voice…
‘Maria Torris suffers from acute religious hysteria and erotic paranoia. She came to Sunhill in the capacity of psychiatrist, but suffered a major psychotic break and was committed soon after. Her initial symptoms were sleeplessness, erratic thinking, indecision, talkativeness, and obsessive behaviour. At first these symptoms were minor, and she was employed on the farm, where she looked after the goats and chickens. Repeatedly during this period she was visited by the Devil, who appeared as a youth with horns, loitering by the well. After some weeks, the patient noticed that she had drawn the unwelcome attention of the priest, who maltreated her in riddles, mocked her love affair with the Devil, and made vulgar proposals. From day to day, the patient became confused by numerous hallucinations. She heard voices which brought threats of poison and death. One night the Devil came to her cell. She did not see him, but felt his lean and muscular body holding her in bed. Then began her sexual derangement and self-abuse. She started talking in a pompous high flown language, declared supernatural powers, and made speeches to invisible friends. She developed a mania for writing, and when paper was not at hand, used the walls and floor of her cell. Her nymphomania is strewn with many erotic fantasies. She claims to be the daughter of the Egyptian king Cheops; during his reign, she willingly gave herself to a thousand soldiers – an orgy that lasted seven days and nights. The pyramid of Cheops was built with the gold, paid by her countless lovers. She suffers many violent and convulsive ecstasies, during which she copulates with black stallions, mastiffs and bulls. Her orgiastic paroxysms occur mainly in sleep, or when in states of narcotic intoxication. Her unsatisfied hypereroticism will often rise to a coitus hallucination, during which she resorts to the most shameful means of satisfying her lust. She will use broomsticks, leather straps, skittles, billiard balls, doorhandles, washing line, and even hobnail boots. She claims it is her right to obtain sexual gratification in any manner she desires, and if she cannot get her way, she threatens suicide. Her refusal of food cannot be overcome on account of her fear of poisoning. Despite heavy medication, her mania has increased with profound disturbances in consciousness. Last week she sequestered an old rocking horse from the Victorian wards, which she rode furiously all night long – a sexual act which evoked a prolonged epileptic attack. When the horse was confiscated, she rolled up her mattress and used it as a substitute. She is now subject to paroxysms of blind fury and violence. She requires a padded cell with barred windows, and is not fit to walk in public thoroughfares. Perversely, she is at times so elated by the nature of her disease that she does not feel the straight-jacket. She sings lewd songs and makes foolish wit. Although she often protests that she shouldn’t be imprisoned, she remains in such a state of boisterous mirth that she begs never to be released, and claims her bondage a great reward. Despite this, she has made many hazardous attempts to escape. Last week she set fire to the kitchens, and attacked her attendants with lumps of coal. She may act like a child, but always remains treacherous and dangerous. She is not to be trusted, and will take up a sudden dislike of anyone about her…’
There was the truth of it! I had fallen into the clutches of erotic insanity! Oh for sleep! To procure some bromide, sulphonal or paraldehyde! To dissipate the horrors of the void, allay my fears, and disperse the threatened mischief! I could only think of escape. The wires! The wires! I must find the hidden wires!
It was whilst searching for Ariadne’s thread that my soul endured many disturbing bilocations. In this manner I became witness to my own demise: I saw myself clawing through the sludge, frothing at the mouth, suicidal with despair. When the prospect of damnation dawned upon my mind, I swung to the other end of the scale, and suffered excited exaltations and foolish hilarity that brought tears of hysterical laughter. I could not decide conclusively upon my condition. Either my mental functions were in a state of terminal dementia, or I had died and gone to hell.
Then into this primaeval realm, in which I seemed to float like a krill of the briny deep, there came a faint and flickering light, as of a distant sun, whose dim rays plumbed the black abyss. The rays grew brighter, longer, illuming fathomless depths where pale leviathans swarmed in horrid hordes. As the light touched their lamprey flesh, their whispers rose to a cacophony of rapid clicks, and I glimpsed colossal jaws, flanked with rings of terrible teeth.
Encompassed by a luminous beam, I sensed a swift oscillation, and felt myself rise toward the surface – the surface of what I could not ascertain, for it seemed so impossibly distant – yet the swell of its lambent waves looked so peaceful and familiar. The light was drawing me up, pulling me like a magnet. The prospect of escape filled my heart with hope – a hope I dared not entertain, lest the light vanished, and left me destitute in darkness. Yet to my astonishment, I kept on rising, forging through the depths, with all the impulse of a cork released from the abyss.
My hope was short lived. For the light had revealed my location in the void, and a hideous worm rushed forth, screeching and lunging through the pitch, its gaping mouth a serrated hole of unbridled terror. It was a poisonous unclean thing, with foetid aspirations that hit me like a tempest, rank with corruption and decay. The drooling fluke was but five fathoms distant, hissing and seething, a putrid saliva foaming in its bristling lips. As the vile beast drew near, its jaws engorged with blood, so that they doubled in size, and both mandibles distended, revealing terraces of barbed teeth, which flexed outward, like the spines of a porcupine. I beheld this anatomical mechanism in primal fear, as a seal must behold the Great White, just before the kill. There was no escape. My fate was sealed. The prospect of imminent annihilation was like a shard of ice in the soul. My last resort was to call upon The Christ, and the words left my lips in a whimper:
‘Jesus, save me!’
At His name, the void was rent in two, and a shimmering bolt forked through the firmament. At once the worm dispersed into the nether darkness, and I was left alone, bathed in flames of celestial fire. I presumed the gates of Heaven had yawned ajar and that redemption had come. But what appeared was not The Christ, nor any Seraphim that might transport me to the Snow White Rose of Paradise. No, what stood before me was a towering figure of liquid flame whose glory streamed forth in filaments of gold. Most of the entity was lost in an effulgence of light, but I had the impression of a giant Sequoia, with a blazing eye at the apex. This eye was most beautiful to behold, its orb being a kaleidoscope of iridescent colours, the intensity of which I had not seen with mortal eyes, nor could describe with mortal words; yet their rainbow turbulence was not dissimilar to the prismatic effect of oil on water when caught by the sun. And when I gazed into that azure film of shifting hues, I knew at once what stood before me: The Cyclops.
In the presence of his Light, my earthly life was nothing but worldly business and the trappings of filthy desires. Even my contemplative life in the convent was an artifice – a two-dimensional existence that failed to grasp the immensity of what I was, or the majesty of Creation. Yet despite his glorious radiance, I feared this being of fire. For I did not know his purpose or from whence he came. And why did he resemble a tree? At once he answered in a voice of rushing wind:
‘I am a son of the Primary Essence, the first beings of Creation, sung into existence by the angels of Orion, the mighty Seraphim, who dwell in the Sepulchre of Id, wherein the crucible of The First Mystery shines exceedingly and with immeasurable Light. In the beginning, we covered the face of the Earth. From the plains of Eden to the shores of the crystal sea, we grew tall and strong, standing over one thousand ells, reaching high into the clouds. Our race was noble and mighty, and without precedent in all the Spheres. We were the guardians and keepers of Life. Our leaves renewed the air and our roots sustained the soil. We lived in peace for aeons, communing with The Great Mother as she ran her course amid the stars. All heavenly secrets were known to us – we who whispered with Venus and consulted with Mars.’
I knelt in reverence, shielding my eyes and asked:
‘Are you the one called Krew?’
‘I am he. But Jack Vallis has never seen my true form; my Essence is filtered by his consciousness into something more appropriate to his beliefs and historical expectations. Jack believes I herald from ancient Greece. But my Essence was born in the crucible of The Father, long before the Earth was formed.’
‘What is the Essence?’
‘The Noumenal Essence is of The First Mystery. But I am forbidden to reveal its secret. To behold its true nature would surely annihilate you. Your Jungian philosophy is useful in this regard, although I speak of things which are unknown to the academic mind, and regarded with contempt. Your modern materialist paradigm is so hopelessly naïve. But any man, who is master of himself, and freed from the shackles of his age, will understand the nature of my being. We Cyclopeans are a noumenal race, and guardians of Earth. Just as your heathen gods were noumens of the planets. But the true secret of the Essence has been hidden from mankind since The Fall… The Evil One, by his great deception, concealed the truth and threw your hearts into confusion. And so you fail to comprehend the Verbi Dei Mysterium [Mysterious Word of God].’
I began to feel an overwhelming fear at the mad apparition that towered before me, (even more so than the lampreys of the deep). Was it furious delirium, or a genuine noumen beyond the comprehension of my Jungian mind? Could it be that I was face to face with a divine Archetype? Had I crossed the borderlands of Death into the Unus Mundus? Was this the ultimate reality, so long declared by visionaries and mystics? The radiance was so glorious I felt it would consume me, and I cowered awestruck and gibbering.
The Cyclops spoke softly:
‘Be not afraid, Maria.’
‘Where am I?’
‘You are trapped in a matrix of the Jinn.’
‘I humbly ask that you release me.’
‘I am forbidden. Only the Jinn can release you. I have little power in these lower realms.’
‘I have fallen into hell.’
‘I don’t belong here.’
‘True. Your soul gleams with many gems, not least your supernatural gifts. You are not like the others.’
‘I speak of the hypocritical fools who profess knowledge in spiritual matters, but who are secretly aware of their own ignorance, incompetence, and illegitimacy. The falsifiers of words, beliefs, and persons; all the arrogant deceivers, who tamper with the sacred truths of soul, and bring forth disease of body and mind; the militant idealists who use the slide-rule instead of the heart; the irrational rationalists and medical materialists; the meddling bureaucrats and atheist fanatics. You think Freud can mend your mind? Freud does not deserve your gratitude. Freud and his school rejected the Archetypes as mystical and unscientific; he explained unconscious acts of conscience as repressions caused by the superego. But as you well know, the unconscious of Man is ontogentically and phylogentically older than consciousness itself; the unconscious mind can hardly ever be influenced by the conscious will. All of which makes you wonder what I am. Remember that the psyche is a phenomenon in its own right, and not a subject of the will. The unconscious component really is unconscious – and no conscious limitation may be assigned to it.[i] Regardless of what Freud might say, I am much more than an archaic vestige of primitive belief, or some universal attribute of the human psyche. And what of Jung? Am I just an unconscious archetypal projection, particular to your ecological and spiritual beliefs? A mythical manifestation of mind? An involuntary and spontaneous fantasy product which appears without premeditation? Or have I come into existence by my own volition? Try the Spirits whether they are of God.[ii]’
‘My inner voice tells me that you are of God.’
‘Shall you follow that inner voice wherever it leads? Shall you put your trust in divine guidance, and ignore the common herd of humanity, with all its petty dictates, laws and traditions?’
‘My inner voice lead me to you, great Cyclops.’
‘Indeed. But for what are you searching Maria? What do you want? Can you face the terror of your own latent power? Transcendental power. What would you do with such power? With supernatural empery over Nature and all materiality?’
‘I am not worthy.’
‘Indeed. No mortal is worthy. Hubris, Maria. Hubris.’
‘Is the void my punishment?’
‘Morality is a universal attribute of the human psyche. But you do not deserve the subliminal judgement of this interstitial realm. Which begs me to ask how you got here.’
‘I cannot rightly remember. I was searching a basement. There was a flash of light. Then I came through a portal. The portal created by Jack Vallis.’
‘Why would you enter the door of a mad man?’
‘Is Vallis mad?’
‘All men are mad. Vallis in an agent of the Jinn.’
‘You speak of fallen angels.’
‘Not all of us are fallen.’
‘You come from a realm of demons.’
‘You know nothing of demons, or their operation in the physical world. Satan is the greatest fallen spirit: the second most powerful being in all Creation. His primary purpose is to undo God’s work. But Satan does not reside in hell. Satan’s realm is The Third Sphere. He has a ruling government and a chain of command. He is served by many different kinds of warring demons, who come in all shapes and sizes. The greatest of these are the Jinn who once roamed preadamite Eden. But amongst their fallen ranks there is a new resistance – a group of defectors who are plotting Satan’s overthrow. They call themselves the Jinn of The Immaculate Conception. Vallis is their empath and agent. He knows the secret of the Essence and the purpose of The Fall. Alas, modern man is willingly ignorant of his true origins.’
‘In the beginning, the Earth was divinely created for human habitation. Bright was seed of Adam, progeny of the Gods, without blemish or imperfection, a wonder to behold. Adam dwelt with Eve in radiant splendour, surrounded by flashing Seraphim. Of gleaming gold were the gates of Eden, beset with rubies, sapphires and emeralds, each weighing more than ten talents. Wondrous were the crystal fountains with onyx basins, planted with perfumed orchids and borders of intoxicating flowers. Everywhere were bubbling streams of holy water, gurgling through conduits of chrysolite and channels of beaten silver. The artisan of angels was everywhere to be seen, with a multitude of alabaster towers, carved in a myriad of geometric patterns most pleasing to the eye. Most splendid of all were the gardens of The Thrones, whose radiant blooms were the abode of brilliant butterflies, with florid wings two cubits wide. The lustrous Tree of Life shone throughout Paradise, from the shores of the crystal sea to the heights of the marble mountains. And beyond the gates of Eden, the crystal domes of the Jinn rose into an astral sky. All lived in harmony, beauty and peace, for the Essence of The First Mystery was one with all Creation.
‘It was Paradise on Earth. The Father of the First Mystery was so pleased with His work, that He appointed the highest Seraphim, Satan Gadreel, to watch over the terrestrial sphere, as protector and guardian of Creation. But Gadreel despised The Father for bestowing Man with the Essence and boon of immortality. Before long, Satan rebelled and gathered a great army of Cherubim, who descended from the higher spheres over which they ruled, in order to thwart the Divine Plan and steal the Essence of The First Mystery. And so a great war broke out in Heaven, between the emanations of Satan Gadreel and the Keepers of the Essence. The rebel angels fought in great number and with great wrath, even though The Father had done them no ill. The war was long and bloody, with heavy losses on both sides. But as the third aeon drew to a close, Heaven overcame, and the emanations of the Arrogant were cast into the outer darkness. The Seraphim rejoiced in great victory, for the Keepers of The Essence had preserved the secret of The First Mystery. Satan Gadreel and his legions of fallen Cherubim were condemned to wander the terrestrial sphere, there to remain until The Father’s return. And so the earthly paradise became Pandemonia, which is literally a place of demons. Earth is the Third Sphere, it being the third planet from the sun.’
The Cyclops wavers like mirage, then continues:
‘The rebel angels were trapped, and dwelt in a constant state of frustration and wrath. Most of all, they were filled with hatred toward Mankind, whom The Father had cloaked in Light. The fallen emanations of filth and wickedness instructed Man in their magic and forbidden arts, so that the sons of Adam might accomplish impious works, and offend The Father with evil deeds. And in turning away from The Father, the sons of Adam became mortal creatures of clay, subject to corruption and disease. The earthly paradise was plundered for profit; the emerald forests were turned to ash, and the mountains levelled for metals and precious gems. And by this deception, the fallen emanations of Satan Gadreel cloaked Man in darkness…’
‘Great Cyclops! How I have been troubled by you! The thought of you terrified me! I feared to ever meet you! But you are not as I imagined. I have something to ask. Something important. But I have forgotten what. My mind is in a whirl. I have forgotten everything. If you would just stay a little while. Give me some time to remember. Your light is so beautiful.’
‘I cannot stay. My presence here is forbidden. Soon the Jinn will discover my whereabouts.’
‘Take me with you.’
‘My dwelling place is not for human eyes. What is your question?’
‘Truly, I can’t remember!’
‘Then I must go. You will only survive the void by non-attachment and tranquillity of mind. And you shall not escape until the higher powers release you.’
‘But you don’t understand! If you leave me here, it will be the end of me!’
‘Little do you know, it will soon be the end of everything.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘If Jack fails the Jinn, all life will perish.’
‘What do the Jinn want with Jack?’
‘An end to nuclear proliferation. Man has unlocked the secrets of the Atom, but he is ignorant of its Essence. Each nuclear detonation destroys the matrix of the Jinn. The destruction of interstitial space is ten thousand fold that of physical matter.’
‘It seems a great contrivance of mind, that angels as omnipotent as the Jinn, would need a paltry human to stop the bomb.’
‘Jack Vallis is no longer human. His brain has been altered by a psychotropic agent. And now his supersensible powers exceed even that of the Jinn.’
‘That is madness.’
‘You are free to believe whatever you like. But now I must take my leave.’
‘Wait! I have remembered my question.’
‘Do I suffer from erotic insanity?’
‘Was I ever committed?’
‘No child. You are more lucid now than you ever were.’
‘And the hidden wires?’
‘There are no hidden wires. You are not Elizabeth Sykes.’
‘I should have listened to father Michael. I was a fool to think I could save Jack Vallis.’
‘You still can. You can save each other.’
‘But how? Jack doesn’t need me.’
‘He needs you more now than he ever did. You alone initiate his miraculous powers.’
‘I wonder if his miracles are real at all.’
‘Why, you were his first and greatest miracle! The birthmark on your left shoulder. Do you not remember?’
‘My past life is a mystery. The Old World is a fairytale.’
‘Yet I stand before you as testament. Why do you doubt? The Old World is real. As real as the void around you.’
‘Then how long have I been here? It feels like centuries.’
‘You have been in the void nine earthly days. The Gregorian date is 23rd November 1963. Soon Jack will return to the Old World – to find Grazide.’
‘A Jinn of The Immaculate Conception.’
‘What does he want with her?’
‘To know the answer, you must eat of my fruit.’
‘I’m afraid to eat.’
‘You did not have this fear when you first transgressed.’
‘I was young and ignorant of the consequences.’
‘You broke your vows. Make recompense and eat.’
‘If I eat now, I will surely die.’
‘You shall not find peace except by my fruit. Eat.’
‘I fear what will befall me.’
‘Eat. And you shall emerge from the void into a new kind of life. The Old World awaits. Taste. My flesh is wholesome and sweet. A balm for the soul.’
‘What shall I become?’
‘At this very moment, in another sphere, you are a beautiful milk maid, making curds in a mountain parlour. Eat.’
‘But what if I become a man? I could not endure it.’
‘Have faith. My fruit is your salvation. Eat.’
‘I don’t know. I’m not sure.’
‘Why do you hesitate? Shall you end your days in this modernist hell? Satan is bitter against you. He is wicked and envious of the Essence within you. He will soon destroy the whole Earth with fire. But my fruit will preserve you, even unto your hoar hairs. Eat…’
Reaching into the branches, I plucked the forbidden fruit – a translucent drupe of Light that quivered like a jelly. The skin felt turgid and cold. Inside the glassy orb was a highly refractile globular mass, wherein a bright stone spangled with ruby light.
And the Cyclops whispered:
‘Eat. Ex ova omnia. [Out of the egg, everything].
Copyright © All rights reserved, Nicholas Shea 2018
* ‘Man and The Supernatural’. Evelyn Underhill. p.222.
i. C.G. Jung. Civilization in Transition, Vol 10. VI ‘A Psychological View of Conscience.’
ii. I John, 4:1.
Image Credit: The Spiritual Pilgrim Discovering Another World. Woodcut 19th (?) century.