It seemed Steven, Prometheus, and I were without
option. Didn't figure there would be anyone on the
side of the vortex waiting with a basket with
to lower us to safety. There would be no
to Caesar, either. I would have liked to have
Ketchum's analysis, but there wasn't time. I
know if he would accompany us into the vortex
not, but it was time...
If we had been dealing with criminal types that
hostages in bank lobbies, and demanded
helicopters as escape vehicles, Ketchum could have
in a swat team, but such training and
methodology would have been useless here. I
wasn't the time to find humor in our dilemma, but
couldn't keep my imagination from displaying the
of fifteen heavily armed, body‑armor‑clad
rolling around in the vortex as I had done.
However, the sad truth of the matter was this,
flesh and it's weapons would have no power over the
spiritual forces we were about to face, and that fact
I pondered the legal ramifications of our
precedent setting event, wondering if Ketchum had
jurisdiction at all beyond the gate opened before us.
I wondered if his highly trained mind could
comprehend, or even imagine a solution which would
satisfy the demands of justice.
Because mine had been the privilege to taste a
portion of the characteristics which revealed
themselves to me inside the vortex, I did all I could
prepare Steven and Prometheus for our journey down
passageway of the serpent to the "quote," Adamic
or whatever. Ketchum listened in.
I briefed them with few words, but hit hard on one
point. No matter what Dr. Sheolman surprised us
void, maintaining a functioning will, was our
hope of survival. "We must not, at all cost," I
advised, "focus our eyes on the vortex prior to
entering," and, I continued, "once inside, we must
the void to yield to our authority."
Last of all, I pointed out that we had perhaps one
advantage. Dr. Sheolman had no prior knowledge of
might be the deciding factor in whether or not
returned alive, and that was, as I had been
instructing, our wills. We, not Dr. Sheolman, not
not Hell, and not Death, or Astarte, had
authority on planet Earth. As long As Dr. Sheolman
convinced we were totally powerless inside the
vortex, he might be inclined to become careless and
us just the time needed to make our escape
"You don't sound to me like you believe Sheolman
gonna let you all go after you deliver Prometheus
that stuff to him," Ketchum said after
listening to my briefing.
"No," I replied curtly, "should I?"
"Well, realistically no," Ketchum replied in
sardonic tone, implying he felt we were foolish to
our lives for Old Blackgoat.
"One thing you do have goin' for ya', though,"
Ketchum continued, softening somewhat toward us,
maintain the attitude you've demonstrated, that
there's no way in hell Dr. Sheolman's gonna let you
go, and you might just find a way of escape."
I entered the vortex first, taking care to
discern, if I could, what my own spiritual response
going to be to the new environment. I
particularly wanted to discover, if possible, whether
the passageway afforded me the same
reality as the one I had encountered at hell central.
As soon as I could make out Steven and Prometheus
floating along behind me, I righted myself and
imagined a concrete pathway of short duration beneath
feet with which to walk on. That worked out fine.
motioned to Steven and Prometheus that everything
it had been at hell central by pressing my
to my middle finger. That was our prearranged
signal. I then imagined the sidewalk disappearing,
released my will to the natural flow of the
vortex, which, at hell central, had whisked me along
some distance. I was not disappointed.
Steven, Prometheus, and I floated along peacefully
some time without incident. I only hoped
my companions were tapping in, as it were, by
man, as I had at hell central. Soon they
be as proficient or schooled as I in the finer
navigating the realm of the vortex. Such
expertise, I hoped, might come in handy by the time
arrived at the Adamic plain, whatever it was.
I could see that up ahead the vortex veered
sharply to the left. Disdaining hesitation, I
inward self in search of the still small voice of my
spirit. I knew it would comfort me as I awaited
confront us around the bend. A picture of the two
scaled specters, the same two who had delivered
Sheolman's ultimatum, flashed across my eyes.
were standing watch, or so it seemed, waiting
our arrival at the gate, of what, I couldn't
make out at first, but then it became clear.
I could see that the vortex ended where the two
spiritual hooligans stood guard. Beyond them an
expanse of flat, sandy desert stretched as far as my
eye could see.
Steven, Prometheus, and I allowed ourselves to
harmlessly into the awaiting clutches of the
gargoylean guards. One grabbed both Steven and me
scruffs of our necks. The other grabbed
Prometheus. As planned, we acted as though we were
totally out of control. I gasped for air perhaps
apprise the evil pair of my frustration. Steven
as though he couldn't gain control of his
Prometheus stared into space as though
catatonic. I hoped we hadn't overdone our little
It didn't matter I soon discovered, at least to
degree. The Adamic plain, though parallel to the
passageway, I sensed, did not allow me to connect with my inward self in the same way. The
was so rife with sordid perverseness I balked
at the thought of any continuance of control
closed my eyes in revolt.
Soon I found myself along with Steven and
Prometheus floating high above the wretched expanse
desert below in the grasp of two devils. It was
though we were not any different to the specters
the sheep Steven had observed them carting off from
Blackgoat's flock to Dr. Sheolman's underground
As I turned my attention to scanning the
desert's horizon for signs that might indicate an
upcoming encounter with Dr. Sheolman, I noticed what
appeared to be an oasis of some sort not far off.
startled me that the immenseness of the thing hadn't
my attention before.
One magnificent tree which appeared to spread
branches to the horizon in every direction and
towered to the very edge of heaven above, seemed to
it's source of life from a crystal clear lake
surrounding it's trunk. Our predicament was
reflected in the lake's shimmering appeal.
With quietude, as had been the demeanor of the
serpentine figures that bore us above the sandy
expanse, the creatures settled us upon the shoreline
of the Adamician oasis and floated, with quietude,
Though we all were awed by the spectacular
before us, we dared not speak, or move,
maintaining what we hoped was still a convincing
illusion, that we were quite helpless.
I still maintained the sense that the Adamic
was full of abject perversity. I hoped my
of the macabre was not so intense as to be
detected by Dr. Sheolman. In fact, I counted on
trusting that his intuition was no more keen
concerning good than mine was concerning evil.
Welling up within me was an explanation for what
before us, but I couldn't quite get the gist of
pangs of primordial hunger began to gnaw away
gut, drowning out what remained of my intuitive
A fierce driving urge enveloped me as puberty to
young man. I so wanted to wade into the cool water
search of a tree limb bowed low from the weight of
fruit of that magnificent tree that I soon lost
with the foreboding sensory variance stirring
I spied a fruit laden limb. Oh how I hungered
that fruit. I stood and hovered by the water's
and was on the verge of diving in to fetch my
when one word literally exploded inside my
As though scales had dropped from my eyes, a
of revelation riveted my body to the sand,
horrifying me at the thought of what I had almost
Before me stood the Tree of Knowledge of Good
Evil in all its glory, the ultimate deception;
snaking its poisonous roots to humanity below, ever
penetrating to the very core of humankind with
perversity, blinding each person to the right and
nature of Father, forever sealing the fate of
preferring darkness to light, lies instead of
I could see from the eyes of Steven and Prometheus
they, too, had recognized the terrible
significance of the primordial tree and had also been
preserved from its consequences. Had we yielded to
appeal, we would have belonged to Death forever,
our resting place would not have been this
shimmering lake but the lake of fire. God had
enabled us to overcome through the life of His Son in
spirit's, but I wasn't so sure how the rest of
humanity was about to fare gazing on the countenance
son of perdition. After all, who is like God,
from the very beginning, has declared the end?
know, microcosm to macrocosm?
I couldn't imagine what was to come our way
Surely Dr. Sheolman knew we had power in that
to exercise our volitions since we had overcome
lure of the tree. What did he have left for us
endure? How long would he allow us to remain in
custody of Steven's bootblack can of faith? The
questions were forthcoming. It was as though
Sheolman had read my thoughts, for the bootblack
faith hidden in Steven's hip pocket, loosed
as though by unseen hands, and flew by
sprouted wings beyond the tree and our vision.
Within moments all the desert around us blurred,
the scene before us, and Steven, Prometheus and I
ourselves standing alongside Old Blackgoat
against one wall of what could have been launch
control at NASA.
Turning to greet us, Old Blackgoat gave us a
containing a mixture of emotions ranging from
perplexity to relief. "Did Scotty beam you in,"
sage quizzed, as he poked around on us as if to
himself we weren't a vision. "I was afraid
wouldn't make it past the forbidden fruit," Old
Blackgoat sighed, looking upward as though to give
thanks. "God heard my prayers for you. I
didn't deliver you he would have to listen to
granddaughter, Sarah, complain about having no one
take care of. I told Him that would be fine with
I told Him I had been listening to her complain
having to help care for me for many years. I
He would see that you made it here to rescue me.
Anyway, He told me after our fight with the bear it
our time to go home, yet, anyway."
"What's going on here?" Steven asked Old
Blackgoat, turning to survey a myriad of ethereal
looking devices emitting the unmistakable glow of
faith. "What are those things for?"
"Looks like we're in some kind of war room," I
Prometheus surveyed our surroundings. "I have
seen anything like this in my travels. Witchcraft
found many new toys with which to torment man."
Old Blackgoat interrupted. "I believe I know the
to this great puzzle before us. Who must prepare
way for the Antichrist before he can come?"
"A very good question," Steven said, "but I
I know the answer. The Earth has always had
problems with people who channel and interpret
services of beings from parallel dimensions. Our
society is no different. Call a 900 number and pay
dollars a minute and you can have your world
upside down by psychics, clairvoyants, and
soothsayers. The consequences are minimal, and
receive, or seem to receive benefit. Those
charlatans appear to duplicate the powers of heaven,
itself, and are taking, or keeping people from true
deliverance through experience of the Spirit of God.
Moses met these types in the persons of Jannes and Jambres
in the court of Pharaoh, but their roots go
the way back to Babylon where Prometheus was
trapped and imprisoned.
"They've had six thousand years to prepare for
day. Jesus said the chief characteristic that
be prevalent before the end would be deception.
said many false prophets would arise and deceive
The book of Revelation reveals under whose
those false prophets would gather. Now,
Joseph, you tell us, who has prepared the way for the
"Well, through the Bible with Steven, from cover to
in two minutes," I laughed, remembering what it
like to be in class with the guy. "Well, mmmmm,
see, who could it be, uh.., Mother Babylon?"
"Yes, that must be who it is," a somewhat
surprised Prometheus said, having his spiritual
enlightened a little more. "And that woman Astarte
seduced me, she and Mother Babylon must be one and
the same. God has given me a chance to get my
"Calm down big fella'," I cautioned. "You aren't
of that tree anymore."
"Well, are you finished?" I teased Steven a little,
knowing when it came to analysis, he could always
in a few more blanks.
"Now that you mention it," Steven smiled, knowing I
bated him, "Astarte, err..Mother Babylon, has a
"That is right," Old Blackgoat said, happy he
the only one with a little understanding.
"Go on," I urged Steven, motioning with my hand to hurry
along, "what do you mean, double edged role?"
"I know you are aware of the error Christians
the Jews made in regard to their interpretation
prophecy concerning the messiah's coming. They
to see the duality of his role. To them he
couldn't be both a suffering messiah and deliverer.
could only be their deliverer. The problem we
understanding the role of Mother Babylon are
similar. Mind you, I didn't say the roles are
similar, I said the problems we have understanding
role of Mother Babylon are similar. Mother
Babylon must first come and set the stage for the
of the Antichrist. The Earth has to be
dripping from her way of life."
"And that is," I interrupted?
"Witchcraft, Satanism, Idolatry, Numerology,
Voodoo, Astrology, Palmistry, Phrenology, Humanism,
Socialism, Communism, Fascism, i.e., perverse
governments in all forms along with its adherent
culture. You know, music, art, cinema, etc.
Babylon offers everything at the flick of a
and the touch of a computer.
"In other words, a big bunch of crap," a
familiar voice with a Texas twang on it, interrupted.
"Ketchum," I said! "How..er,..."
He seemed to have a knack for overhearing our
conversations, I thought, somewhat perplexed by his
"Don't mind me any. You all go on with your
discussion. I just might learn something."
"The role," I reminded Steven, "finish up about the
of Mother Babylon, err.., Astarte, or whatever
"When the Antichrist comes, in order to make his
deception work, he has to get rid of Astarte. The
problem I have understanding is how will he
accomplish that? Will he just destroy all
fornicators, that is, all that practice those things
previously named, or will he simply discredit
claiming all her work to be his own? It's a
"What do you mean, Steven?" I asked.
"You see, Joseph, in order for the Antichrist to
the law abiding, conservative, Jewish and
Christian populations to follow him, his ministry has
initially convincing. Ridding the world of
would seem to be a great thing, and it would be.
this case, it would be a deception, if you
weren't God, and your real purpose was to snare and
everyone to hell.
"Sure scares the hell out of me," Ketchum
"How did you get here?" I asked, squaring
up to Ketchum with a smile on my face.
"I just figured I'd give the
three of you a little head start. You know, it's
not exactly a trade secret that we federal agents like
to gather information by following the suspects. I
wanted those two green skinned things to have plenty of
room before I tore out after 'em."
"Did you have any trouble in the passageway, or
the tree?" I asked with concern.
"No problem in the passageway. What tree?
passageway dropped me off right here."
Steven and I just looked at each other and shook
heads. "Never mind," I said.
"Well, where in the Sam-- hill are we?" Ketchum
looking around the ultra-modern war room.
"I would say we are in Mother Babylon's
kitchen," Old Blackgoat said coyly.
"Well, where is this Mother Babylon?" Ketchum
looking like he would handcuff her if he could
"Wish you hadn't asked that question," I winced,
a step back from the pack as an eye blinding
exploded in the center of the room, knocking us
our knees, arms raised to protect our vision.
"Welcome, boys," a soft disarming voice
"You don't know how long I've been waiting
your race to evolve this far," Astarte intoned
"Oh, boy," I mumbled, "we're about to make the
vaunted quantum leap into the god class."
"Why yes, Joseph, you are quite right," the
seductive voice acknowledged. "You are all so
wonderfully gifted it would be unheard of not to
provide you with every opportunity to exercise those
"Oh, I get it," Ketchum said, "we're gonna
your lab rats. You're gonna study us in an
attempt to figure out how best to pervert God's elect
the tribulation. Now everything makes sense.
whole mess has had me hornswoggled until now.
Couldn't figure out why anyone would want to burn
own operation. You needed guinea pigs. And
worth it to you to set up this whole elaborate
passageway of the serpent, hell-central-thing, to
us in your laboratory."
"My, how astute, Mr. Ketchum, for such an
impoverished spiritual person as yourself. But
please, do not be offended if we fail to wait upon
tribulation to implement the knowledge we gain
the five of you. Just look around the room you
now. Do you think these devices are mere
for your titillation?"
Astarte had us there. The myriad of
ethereal looking sensory devices embedded in three
dimensional transparent crystal work stations emitted
unmistakable glow of pure faith. As best as I
tell while shielding my eyes from the blaze of
witch's unholy glory, the overall purpose of the lab
pipe misinformation into the human equation
through the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and
running tab on each and every individual
on the ol' proverbial apple. If you read your
horoscope today for the first time, her lab
recorded the deed.
And, I assumed there was more. For example, I
assumed once a person got in Ma Babylon's computer,
computer began working out an elaborate plan for
person which ended abruptly at the pit.
"That may be so," Ketchum shot back at the
"but we wouldn't be here if Christians weren't
problem for your little toys. What puzzles me is
you think you're gonna trap any of us now that we
know what you're up to."
"Oh, my dear Mr. Ketchum," the voice spoke
caringly, "you are so bold for a novice, whatever am
going to do with you. We will just have to see."
With those words, Mother Babylon, that old witch
Astarte, split us up. I had expected as much.
Jesus in our midst. Alone, well, I didn't
know...Sheolman and companions always seemed to be a step ahead of us.