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SAGA OF DARKNESS VISION OF LIGHT

Chapter Twelve - Professional Help

by Dennis R. Cook


SAGA OF DARKNESS VISION OF LIGHT

Chapter Twelve - Professional Help

by Dennis R. Cook

Torre was feeling much better by the time we arrived at the Fort Defiance Medical Clinic. He assured us their outpatient services provided common pharmaceutical treatments for infectious diseases one might incur as a result of contact with a non-sterile blade. "They can handle any routine emergency," he said.

Old Blackgoat had concurred with Torre's assessment of the Defiance infirmary, but, I had my reservations, and so did Steven. Not about the quality of care, mind you. We had other concerns. If we would have taken Torre on to a hospital in Gallup, at the very least, we could have enlisted the aid of the McKinley County Sheriff's Office.

Steven started to argue with Old Blackgoat about our concerns, but was cut short. Use the phone, Old Blackgoat said. That ended the melee. Why hadn't we thought of that? Sometimes, I guess, the most obvious and practical solutions to a problem get overlooked...,whatever!

One thing was for certain, police on the reservation were not equipped to handle our blockbuster case. We needed the FBI. At least, with the FBI, we knew they had the resources to do a thorough investigation. Whether they would or not, based on recent performance, was a matter of conjecture. Tis a strange society we live in, but I digress. Back to the story.

Torre and Arlena were only part of a much larger puzzle. First, of course, there was the vortex or whatever. I had recounted the details of my abbreviated trek through the passageway during our short jaunt from hell central to Fort Defiance. Steven and Old Blackgoat were as perplexed by my experience as I was. What did the vortex have to do with Dr. Sheolman, Torre, and Arlena?

Other parts of the puzzle were just as complicated. Coming up with logical, intelligent speculations about the why of Dr. Sheolman's actions and disappearance, stretched our cognitive abilities to their limit.

Everything pointed to radical rebellion. Sheolman's failure to keep the passageway of the serpent top secret, and Prometheus under wraps, had to be serious offenses in the kingdom of the devil, deserving severe penalties. Dr. Sheolman must have at least thought Satan was going to kill him for his gross incompetence, and used what little time he had available to him to escape or make amends.

We didn't know which, but the speed with which Dr. Sheolman acted gave us another clue. Dr. Sheolman, perhaps, at some juncture, had learned how to open the passageway into the spirit realm. We thought it was clever of him to save it for just such a scenario. Was he or wasn't he in the vortex? We didn't know, but I offered my two cents by pointing out that I hadn't sensed his presence there.

Maybe the devil didn't know either. If not, Dr. Sheolman had bought himself some time, time to disappear.

Dr. Sheolman's intent seemed obvious at the time. It seemed his intent was to expose the passageway of the serpent and embarrass Satanists everywhere for what they really are in their hearts, murderers. Exposing the Satanists would make it difficult for them to kill him out in the open. The flaw in Sheolman's plan, it seemed, was his exposure as well. On the other hand, had he disappeared within the vortex, and vanished to the far side of the universe, his exposure here wouldn't matter.

One question still plagued us. If Dr. Sheolman's intent was to escape via the vortex, why hadn't heclosed it behind him to avoid being tracked?

I could say, based on my own experience, that perhaps Dr. Sheolman's intent hadn't been to enter the vortex at all. Perhaps, like me, he had gotten caught up in the thing accidentally. If he had, then all our other assumptions were wrong. His real intent had been to murder; sacrifice to the devil in order to regain favor. That made more sense. After all, leaving the passageway of the serpent open for the world to see was a horrendous blunder, a blunder from which all humanity could profit.

The entire mess presented a brain teaser for minds more in tune with criminal thought than our own, it seemed. Nevertheless, all our speculations were about to be brought into sharp focus.

"Come out of there, you Belladonnas!" I heard a vaguely familiar voice shout, from just outside the treatment center.

"What's going on out there?" Old Blackgoat said, poking his head out from the room where Torre was receiving care.

Sounds like we have an angry night visitor, Steven said, parting mini-blinds with his fingers toget a look outside the infirmary.

I did the same. It was Harley. Before I saw his face, I recognized his six wheeler.

"Well," Steven said, opening the door to the parking lot. "We might as well see what the young buck wants."

"Get back in here!" I whispered harshly. "He has a gun!"

As I pulled Steven from the doorway, a booming shotgun blast ripped through a near-by window scattering glass everywhere. Two other blasts followed. Squealing tires told the rest of the story.

Steven cocked his head and gave me a perplexed look as he rose to his feet. "You know," he said, "I see Dr. Sheolman in this thing somewhere, but a big chunk of the puzzle seems to be missing. Any idea Joseph?"

"I was afraid you would ask," I confessed. "What bothers me, is, I think I am beginning to understand this mess. You see, it all began when we were back on Old Furry making preparations to purify ourselves spiritually. While you were off looking for shelter, Harley, that guy that just shot at us, showed up, and demanded we get off his sacred mountain. I didn't mention it to you at the time, thinking it was no big deal. I guess I should have. You know, hindsight, and all that.

"Anyway," I continued, "I'm pretty sure Torre and and Arlena were with him at the time. Harley, the guy that just shot at us, kept telling Arlena to shut up. Seems she was opposed to Harley's actions."

"Ohhh.., now I am beginning to see," Steven said. "This Harley must be Sheolman's apprentice."

"Exactly," I said. "Now things are beginning to make sense. Sheolman's motives are more clear.

"Being what?" said Steven.

"Revenge, torture, and sacrifice," I said. "Arlena and Torre stopped Harley from roughing me up. Sheolman found out about it and decided to make an example of them. You know, one of those do not get in our way things." I paused.

"I'm following you," Steven said. "Go on."

"Well," I said, "here is what I think was to take place tonight: Sheolman was to pick up Torre and Arlena, take them to hell central, torture them, and leave. Harley was to show up later, kill them, and dispose of their bodies in the vortex."

"Makes sense to me," Steven said. "They just didn't count on us spying on them."

"Right," I said, "and they didn't count on their timing being off, either. My guess is, Sheolman was early with his part, or Harley was late."

"Speaking of Harley," Steven said, "how do you think he located us here?"

"I bet we passed him on the highway, or he just guessed right," I said.

"Well," Steven said, "it's high time we made that phone call don't you think?"

"Be my guest," I said.

Steven located the number for the FBI in Gallup. Meanwhile, I held my breath, hoping we would somehow, get lucky...

Special agent William Ketchum was indeed on call, and awake. Understandably, he was not too keen on the idea of coming up on the Res to Fort Defiance in the middle of the night. He consented for the sake of preserving the evidence. Steven, as mentioned, had done the talking, convincing Ketchum that Torre and Arlena might not be so willing to talk if given the time to reconsider.

Ketchum arrived at the Defiance emergency medical center where we waited at midnight. He wasn't disappointed. Arlena and Torre were eager to tell their story. Ketchum received their permission to tape every word, making their testimony key, even if something should happen to them.

I figured we'd get our turn as well, but that would come later. After calling the local constabulary to monitor the situation at Ft. Defiance, and putting out an all-points on Harley, he turned toward us and said, "let's go."

Ketchum followed Steven, Old Blackgoat, and I north, back to the cold foreboding confines of the wicked dead. He seemed eager. Perhaps he had been awaiting the moment for some time. I was convinced Ketchum had been in on similar investigations in the past, although not to the same extent, and I was almost certain our little scenario presented him with his first live witnesses; thus explaining his eagerness.

We hoped Dr. Sheolman's car was still parked near the gorge below the passageway. We headed there first. Dr. Sheolman's car contained evidence directly linking him to Torre and Arlena. Once impounded, we had another nail in his coffin.

Turning right off the mountain highway, we rolled down the side road that led to the gorge. Ketchum followed. Would Dr. Sheolman's car be there?

"There it is," Steven said, excited by the prospect of our discovery.

Steven parked his 4X4, but left his lights on to illuminate Dr. Sheolman's car. Ketchum soon joined us carrying a heavy-duty, hand-held, lantern. We stood to the side giving him space to confirm that indeed we had Dr. Sheolman's car.

"Well," Ketchum said in a strong Texas accent, "unless someone else with a school faculty parking sticker left his Acura here, we're in business."

Old Blackgoat shook his head. "I had hoped Torre and Arlena had been mistaken. That is Dr. Sheolman's car. I have seen him in it often."

While Old Blackgoat was lamenting Dr. Sheolman's apparent loss, Ketchum returned to his sedan to radio for backup and a tow truck. Afterward, Steven, Old Blackgoat and I gave Ketchum a short tour of the cave. He was taken aback some by the elevator shaft. Of course we couldn't go up since the elevator was out of commission, but Ketchum was impressed nonetheless, realizing something big was indeed going on.

"Let's drive back to the main highway," Ketchum said. "We can wait for the tow truck there. After it arrives we can proceed on up the mountain to that there hideaway. I'll radio my men to meet us there.

"Well, I'll be," Ketchum said after we had parked our vehicles inside the hidden mountain garage, eyes marveling at the impressive detail the frequenters had gone to. "Didn't spare any expense, did they?" Ketchum said, eye expressions changing from marvel to stone cold contempt.

"Before we go on, I better let Phoenix know what's goin' on up here," Ketchum said, before returning to his gray 4-door sedan.

Once patched through to the regional command center in Phoenix, I overheard the law enforcement professional request a forensics team to be delivered by helicopter.

Ketchum's countenance didn't change as we gave him the tour of the complex. He kept the same stone cold look about him the entire time. He did, of course, ask us a barrage of probing questions, but didn't wince at the sight of the throne monuments to the wicked trio, or blink as he contemplated the significance of the vortex.

"Don't touch that," I warned Ketchum as his hand came dangerously close to finding the pressure plate which would open the pit.

"Here, I'll show you," I said. "Just take a step back. There," I said with satisfaction, as I pressed the plate and moved aside.

"Well, I'll be..," Ketchum said, again showing surprise, taken aback by the smoke billowing up from the pit.

That had done it. He lost his stone cold demeanor for good, taking on himself the attitude of the good ol' Texan he was. His comments were all filled with the surprise and wonder of a fiscally conservative cattle rancher's first look at the apparel found in a Beverly Hills lingerie shop, "Well,.. would you looky there!"

He found drugs, tools of torture, pornographic tapes and novels, vials of blood; and something Steven, Old Blackgoat and myself had overlooked; a library.

The library, like the dungeon, was located by touching a pressure sensitive plate. Ketchum located one behind the unholy trio's thrones. The wall separated to reveal a room containing volumes of forgotten lore Edgar Allen Poe would have enjoyed reading on some midnight dreary. In fact, I had no doubt that every ancient evil incantation ever written was hidden somewhere on those book shelves.

I couldn't believe my eyes..they even had a computerized index system sorted by author, title, and subject. Unbelievable! I could just see some well-dressed executive walking into the room carrying a lap top at his side sitting down and logging onto the Net.

Neither Steven, Old Blackgoat, or I breathed a word to Ketchum about the one diminutive book still resting on one of the study tables. Blackgoat and I parked ourselves between Steven, the book, and Ketchum. Ketchum seemed oblivious to our ploy, and failed to notice Steven lift the book and hide it away in his clothing.

"Why don't we all sit down here at this table," Ketchum said moments later. "I'll take your statements and you all can go home."

"I'm not sure that would be best for you," I said. "I mean," I stuttered, "to leave you here alone."

"Don't worry about me none," Ketchum ya'wned, unperturbed by his environment. "My men will be here in a few minutes. I doubt if we finish our consultations before then. You see, I have to talk with y'all one at a time."

"Oh," we all droned in unison.

"Well, who's gonna be first?" Ketchum asked, pulling his mini-recorder from a pants pocket.

"Guess I will," Steven said.

Old Blackgoat and I walked around the corner through the double doors and took seats on the marble steps. I was about to ask Old Blackgoat for the book when I remembered Steven was the pilferer. I was a tad antsy to see if the page Arlena had read from while Torre was being filleted matched the book in Steven's pocket.

I, for one, was certainly not going to re-enter the vortex without at least knowing as much about it as Sheolman, and even then, I determined I wasn't going alone. I only hoped the manifestation of the vortex lasted long enough for us to have that opportunity. That would be our first problem.

The second problem would be getting back inside the unholy fortress past the FBI. I had no idea how we were going to accomplish that. I figured once the yellow tape went up we might as well pack things up and head down the mountain.

Ketchum had been correct. His forensics team had arrived by the time he finished interrogating us. Ketchum was polite to us, but in no uncertain terms encouraged us to "get the hell out of there before we further contaminated the premises".

I yawned. The sun was coming up as we shuffled up the mountainside to where the sheep awaited us. I didn't look forward to seeing them at all. No doubt we would water them first thing...then head up the mountain slope and over the top to pasture them on the other side.

I was comforted by a few things...We could analyze any data the book could offer us, and we could sleep the day away after we finished with the sheep. I supposed I would survive.

I had completely forgotten about Blackgoat's new dog. She was a cheerful thing. Catching our sight she bounded down the hillside to greet us as we parted the pine trees and advanced into the clearing.

She was a midsized Border Collie with a flowing, silky black coat that glistened all the more in the brilliant morning light. She cut a few kitties around us as we neared the sheep pen to let us know how eager she was to get to work.

"The sheep need to eat more than we do," Old Blackgoat said, eyeing me and Steven, tongue in cheek. "But here, you can chew on this for breakfast," he grinned, reaching into a backpack to retrieve a healthy chaw of homemade beef jerky for each of us.

Shep moved the sheep from the pen to the pasture and on toward water. It took us a good hour to water them.

Meanwhile, Steven and I studied the text he had snatched from underneath Ketchum's nose. It was written in Greek, but that didn't deter us from locating the spot from which the page Arlena had been chanting had been taken.

I wouldn't say that either of us was a Greek scholar, but both of us were adept at the art of exposition when in possession of a good Greek/English lexicon with parallel translations. Without one the odds were not good our memory of Greek words would be adequate to decipher the text. Nevertheless, wild horses couldn't have dragged us from the task. The countless hours we had spent memorizing Greek vocabulary words in seminary would have to be put to the test.

From what we could decipher during the short time we were at the stream, the book was old as the hills. The book's translation into Greek had occurred at Pergamos around the turn of the first century A.D. by a scholar named Hermodias. According to Hermodias the book had its origin in ancient Babylon a few thousand years before his time.

"Pergamos," Steven observed, "that's where Satan's seat was located at the time the "Book of Revelation" was written by the prophet John.

"No coincidence to find it here, then," I mused.We didn't have time to get any deeper into the book's translation as Old Blackgoat barked a few meaningful commands in Navajo at the dog. Another hour passed before we could return to deciphering the book. The sheep stopped frequently to nibble at every splotchy clump of mountain foliage on the way, which made the hour seem like a decade.

In addition to the historic roots of the occult manual, further inspection confirmed the book was intact. It contained all the information anyone would need to produce lamb oil. The lamb oil of the pagan world could have been compared to the proverbial philosopher's stone fabled during the days of castles and dragons.

The substance, the book revealed, could be derived from the blood of goats, sheep, bulls, or other cud-chewing animals of domestic origin, but the preferred sacrifice was lamb. In addition, the book detailed several practical uses for the substance, foremost of which was "quote," capturing the evil jinn. Other tricks included turning rock into gold, coal to diamond, human to animal, and so on to absurdum.

The advantages the occult masters had, holding sway over others, raised the hair on the back of my neck. One pagan king had such lust for gold, he had sacrificed twenty children in exchange for lamb oil. The sorcerer increased his power every time he served up a child to the devil.

Murder, murder, murder,..., elaborate ritual,...there seemed no end to it, but conditions had to be met of course before the devil got his due. Only blood trapped in chambers of a victim's heart could be used. The heart had to be severed from the victim and maintained at body temperature. Babylonian phrases had to be chanted over the victim's severed heart. Then, and only then, would the substance, the book called, "the pure oil of the lamb," form in the chambers of the severed heart.

An exact reference was not given to the vortex, but all the basic information was there in the book to conclude a closer examination would reveal one. I doubted that just anyone would be allowed access to the realm of the spirit. After all, such a possibility had brought about the scattering of humanity beneath the Tower of Babel. Entrance into the heavenly realm was not legal and Satan knew it, but apparently that hadn't kept him from sneaking a few chosen followers in and out over the course of human history.

Scary thought! Buried somewhere in the pages of that book was a spell that could bring down the wrath of God on mankind. "Perhaps we better back off digging any deeper into this thing," I told Steven, tossing the book at our feet as we sat gazing out across the semi-arid plain stretching to the horizon beneath us.

"Even though I have traveled within that vortex I can't say whether the realm is good or evil, real or surreal. Spirituality is certainly magnified in the void, I know that much, but how might that benefit Dr. Sheolman, I do not know?"

"I don't know, either," Steven said, picking up a small rock at his feet to examine while reflecting on our circumstances. "Perhaps we were his guinea pigs. You know, he could have opened that hole in the sky to see what kind of reaction he would get from heaven. The fact you entered the vortex and survived may have told him all he needed to know. And even though he wasn't in there with you, he may be in there now."

What Steven had to say made sense, but we needed proof. Was Dr. Sheolman in the vortex? I glanced once again at the book I held in my hand. We hadn't found a spell which could produce an open way to heaven, but the pure oil of lamb's blood, pure faith, whatever, was purported to be so versatile, could Dr. Sheolman have invented a new use for it? We couldn't be sure.

Arlena hadn't observed the phenomena appear. She had been so engrossed reading the ancient script, an unknown tongue to her at that, she couldn't be held accountable one way or the other. Based on the evidence, what she was reading had no bearing on Sheolman's scalpel work on Torre, or in opening the vortex.

Torre had passed out soon after Dr. Sheolman had begun torturing him, but neither mentioned having seen Dr. Sheolman do anything but put on his robe. None of it made any sense, but I was certain of one thing, I had seen the pure oil of the lamb radiating from the outward surface of the vortex. The glow was unmistakable.

Dr. Sheolman, it seemed, had performed the perfect vanishing act, and left a trail which apparently, we couldn't follow.




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