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SAGA OF DARKNESS VISION OF LIGHT

Chapter Fourteen - Blackmail

by Dennis R. Cook


SAGA OF DARKNESS VISION OF LIGHT

Chapter Fourteen - Blackmail

by Dennis R. Cook

More than one thing had begun to bother me about Prometheus since his return earlier in the day. For One, he was no longer clothed in the skin tight tunic in which we first found him in. He had on a monstrous sweat suit. Since his body maintained the perfect temperature regardless of the weather, why the change?

Another thing which had begun to gnaw at my insides had to do with his choice of lingo. I couldn't figure it out. Had Prometheus spent the past few days around high school students on the beaches of southern California, or watched a lot of tasteless television? At any rate, Prometheus seemed much more human, and I wasn't sure I liked the change, although I was certain I could adapt if the rationale was acceptable. His comment to Ketchum that he had become as a man needed clarification, but I had decided to keep quiet for the moment.

Ketchum had been intrigued by our recap of events leading to the discovery of Prometheus, but had remained "untouched." That is, we hadn't converted him to faith in God.

"That's for you fellas’," Ketchum said, meaning he was perfectly satisfied with his life the way it was, and wanted no "new" realities to complicate his rationalist, materialist perspective.

I doubted Old Blackgoat needed to make the effort to encourage Ketchum to invite Jesus into his heart, knowing the Spirit of God needed time to prepare the ground before sewing. The seeds of our story would need a little time to germinate. The fertilizer of a little personal combat with the devil, Blackgoat would say, would make a believer out of him. After all, I knew Old Blackgoat's experience with hardcore (you ain't gettin’ me in that church door) nonbelievers suggested a conversion pattern. Faced with the loneliness associated with death, most chose some form of repentance from their unbelief, asking somehow, if possible, after all the evil they had done, if God wouldn't somehow reveal himself to them in a way which would enable them to know death was not a thing to be feared. I knew it was Blackgoat's experience that God never failed any of them.

I didn't know exactly how the Lord would work on Ketchum, but I was certain of one thing, Satan wasn't going to take lightly the spoiling of perhaps his most favorite earthly habitation. In fact, I was convinced in a whole-hog-kind-of-way that we had all earned more than our fair share of affliction, not to mention, temptation, trials, and testings, persecutions and the like.

At any rate, having given Ketchum the kind of thorough exposition of the problem we had promised, and with him having taped every word, the silver-tongued Texan then invited us to view what his men had discovered on the west side of the elevator.

That stirred me up! But before made our way through the double doors leading to the unholy sanctuary, Old Blackgoat joined us. "I must go down to the church to prepare for the evening service," he said. "Can I count on the two of you to water the sheep and make it to the church on time?"

"Whew, is it that time again, already?" I said.

"Don't worry, Old Blackgoat," Steven reassured the sage, "we'll see the sheep are watered".

"Hey, no need to run off," Ketchum piped in. "This is your reservation. You need to join your two compadres here and come see what we found on the other side of the elevator".

"Are you going there, right now?" Old Blackgoat asked, needing to make the most of the time he had available.

"That's where we're headed," Ketchum said, again showing signs of fatigue.

Ketchum’s men had removed the back wall of the elevator transport.

And it didn't surprise me that the corridor leading to the elevator continued on the other side of it. We found wooden steps at its end that led down to a lone cavern. It had few frills, if any, I could see. Tire marks covered the damp cave floor.

Ketchum used a remote device he had found in Dr. Sheolman's other car to elevate a hatchway. The little demonstration showed how Dr. Sheolman had made his escape.

All loose ends, save one, had been tied up. It was unfortunate, but Ketchum's men hadn't, to the moment, located any device which might have been used to help hypnotize Steven and me, if indeed we had been hypnotized, but of course Dr. Sheolman could have taken that with him. However, that still left us with the mystery of the vortex.

Blackgoat departed soon after Ketchum had completed his little demonstration. I marveled how well the ol' fella carried himself as he sauntered off in the direction we had come. He was one tough cookie!

Soon thereafter Ketchum got on the horn and radioed an all points lookout for Dr. Sheolman in the southern California area. In the mean time, Steven and I high-tailed our way back up the mountain where the sheep were waiting, and made ourselves some lunch of peanut butter. Somehow,...I wasn't surprised when Prometheus picked up the jar.

I nudged Steven when Prometheus started eating. "He isn't supposed to need food, is he?" I asked.

Steven gave me a puzzled look. "He has been acting a little strange this morning, hasn't he?"

"My thoughts exactly," I said.

Steven and I jumped up from the weathered rocks where we had been sitting eating our sandwiches, and casually walked over to where Prometheus was standing at the other end of the shed.

"I might as well tell all," Prometheus said, before Steven and I could pummel him with questions.

Prometheus sat the empty peanut butter jar on the post a few feet away from the outside edge of the shed, and turned toward us. "I've become mortal," Prometheus said in a soft voice, a voice that cloaked both humility and embarrassment.

"But how can that be?" Steven and I asked, exploding with incredulity. "We've seen you appear and reappear. You've read our minds. You still have incredible strength!"

"All true," Prometheus acknowledged, waving an arm in the air to suggest an inability to explain his circumstances.

"Why, you even told Ketchum you were an angel of the most high God," Steven said.

"I...I..still believe I am, in a way," Prometheus said. "I do still have all my original powers, I just seem to have acquired the needs of the flesh. Don't worry, having read your minds, I understand my human behavior has been immature, and that I haven't chosen the best examples of human behavior to emulate. I will do better.

"It's just that since my moment of glory to Father on the cross, I've found that I have emotions and desires. I get tired and have to sleep. I get hungry and have to eat. I feel cold and heat."

"Do you still have the pure oil of lamb's blood?" I asked.

Prometheus rummaged deep into the well of his sweat suit, an oversized pocket that as a marsupial’s pouch, could have hidden a young Kangaroo. Steven and I marveled as the titan's hand and forearm disappeared, then reappeared holding the familiar bootblack can containing the pure faith. He handed to Steven.

"I wonder," Steven said, "if the other side could have somehow used this stuff to strip you of your immortality?"

"Perhaps," Prometheus said, "but somehow I think my mortality has to do with my conversion to Christianity. That Father has honored my belief in His Son cannot be denied. Perhaps the price I must pay for salvation must be that of a man, to live out a mortal life trapped in an imperfect shell, subject to all its failings, my present hope secured by faith only in what Father supplies me through Son and Spirit.

I suppose if my future return to Father's house means I must forfeit my immortal shell for a time in order to learn what it is to rely on Christ and all that He is more completely, then and only then, to be enabled to comprehend and appreciate the greatness of what God did for us in sending his precious one to pay the penalty for our perverseness, then I accept the challenge to endure the sufferings inherent by fortune of inhabiting this mortal robe, and purpose to endure to the end, as it is written, and be saved. I accept my role.

"And that is?" Steven asked

"The role of a servant," Prometheus said humbly. "I will live as Jesus gave us commandment, to walk in love and faith, even to the death on your behalf if necessary."

"This is without precedent," I murmured, head down.

"Maybe so," Steven said, "but all precedents are covered in one parameter-less statement.”

"And that is?" I said.

"All things are possible for God, and, for those that believe," he reminded me.

"There is no doubt," Steven said, addressing Prometheus, "that God has made a special case of you beyond the experience of most any born of man. Joseph and I witnessed your conversion, and not only did we witness it, the Spirit of God bore witness within our spirits, that you had indeed become a child of God.

"If the Lord desires your faithfulness to withstand the test of time, we ain't goin’ to stand in His way. It ain't easy being mortal, and it ain't easy being Christian. It may well be God's way of making certain you won't change sides again when Satan comes tempting you with some global scheme of rebellion. And brother, considering the signs of the times goin’ on all around us these days, you can bet your bottom dollar, a scheme of global portent is just around the corner."

"True enough," I said to Steven, "the Lord doesn't take betrayal lightly. Look what humanity has had to endure as a consequence of Adam's disobedience."

"I suppose it really does make sense when you think about it," Steven said. "Since you have received the gift of salvation, it's fair you suffer the consequences, too."

“Oh, I remember now,” I said.

“What?” asked Steven.

“Somewhere in the Old Testament there is a prophecy about Lucifer. And in that prophecy he is described at his end as just a man. Perhaps Lucifer has to take upon himself humanity in an attempt to overcome the same way Jesus did. You know, to keep planet Earth and its kingdoms from becoming the kingdom of our Lord. Of course he fails, but it does at least shed some light on the change in nature apparent in Prometheus.

Dark, ominous looking clouds were gathering in the west as we finished watering the sheep. The area had been dry for some time, which wasn't unusual of course, but a good rain was always appreciated on the reservation. I, however, wasn't sure how I would like working in it.

We were running on Navajo time. Rushing around didn't help. We were still late for church. Even so, a few men were standing outside the front door as we drove up in Steven's old 4X4. I assumed they were on Navajo time, too.

Approaching them, however, I detected an overall look of concern on their faces, a concern that quickly melted into curious wonderment as they caught sight of Prometheus. I expected a barrage of questions, but the group stumped me by resuming their deliberations. That puzzled me! "Something's wrong, here," I thought. Two of them, I observed, were on the church governing board.

"Ya’-ta-hey," the men chorused in unison as we approached.

"Ya’-ta-hey," we replied, taking care not to give offense as we moseyed on in and sat down behind Mrs. Begay, who also seemed to be wearing a stark look of concern on her face.

"Have you seen Old Blackgoat?" Mrs. Begay whispered, using caution not to alarm any of the others seated in the sanctuary.

"Isn't he in the pastor's study?" Steven asked.

"No, he isn't back there," Mrs. Begay whispered, "I was the first one here this evening. The church door was still locked. That hasn't ever happened before. Old Blackgoat always unlocks the church, or has for as long as I can remember. I had a few of the men go over to his house a few minutes before you arrived. He didn't come to the door. His truck is parked behind the church as usual, but no one seems to know where he is."

Steven and Prometheus were half way out of their seats before I could get "let's go check" out of my mouth.

Reaching the front door where the Navajo gentlemen were still gathered, we checked to see if any had searched inside Old Blackgoat's trailer or the barn area, and received firm negatives on both counts.

Prometheus was first to arrive at the trailer. Finding the door locked, he forced his way in. There wasn't any sign of Old Blackgoat. It didn't appear that he had been inside either.

The men who had been standing out front when we arrived were way ahead of us, having observed that we didn't find Old Blackgoat in his house. They raced to the barn area ahead of us, throwing open doors and overturning bales of straw in what, it seemed, had become a frantic search for Old Blackgoat.

If they were thinking along the same line as I, seconds could mean life or death for the old saint. I suspected a heart attack or stroke. He was the right age.

With everyone else inside the shed, I circumvented the conventional entranceway and trotted around to the side of the shed which opened to grazing land. A six wheeler pickup neatly concealed in the shed's open bay brought me up short. Dr. Sheolman!

A lightning charge shattered the air and scorched the earth not fifty yards from where I was standing. Mammoth rain drops began pummeling the semi-arid turf. A tumultuous thunder clap followed. I noticed the hair on the back of my neck was standing up.

Steven, Prometheus, and company, startled by the abrupt onslaught of the storm, having found nothing on the other side of the bay, bolted through the doorway that opened at the hood of Dr. Sheolman's six wheeler.

"Look out, Joseph, behind you," Steven screamed, above the roar of the storm.

A half turn of my torso storm-ward froze me in my tracks. Two man-like, green scaled, serpentine forms only yards from me were approaching fast.

Two arms clutched my shoulders from behind, sending chills zinging up and down my spine, but I quickly realized it was only Prometheus pulling me back to join the others in the bay.

Within seconds the beasts stood before us. We were about to be addressed by ambassadors from the netherworld. Prometheus bristled.

"Wait!" Steven commanded, stepping in front of Prometeus and placing a hand firmly against the giant's waist, as if he could restrain him. "They are here to deliver a message. We have to let them speak.”

"Our master has taken the one called Blackgoat as payment for that which you have stolen,” the one to the right of us said. “If you desire the man to be returned to you alive, then those responsible must deliver the substance stolen to the gate of the Adamic Plain. You may only reach the Adamic Plain by passing through the vortex which shall appear here this night at the witching hour".

"In addition," the green-scaled specter on our left said, "there is one more item which our master desires to have returned to him in exchange for the one you call Blackgoat".

"And that is?" Steven asked.

"The fallen one who stands there," the specter said, serpentine lips turning upward, displaying his obvious pleasure with the demand, knowing we were in no position to bargain.

"We await thee," the serpent on the right said ominously, pointing a crooked gargoylean finger at us all.

Struck dumb by the spectacle, we stood speechless, hearts in our bellies as the serpents turned, and disappeared into the fierce thunderstorm still pummeling the semi-arid turf.

I felt the perplexed eyes of the Navajo men. Despite a rich and cultural spiritual tradition, these Navajo had little knowledge of real spiritual darkness. I hated the idea that they had come face to face with the gargoyles only to discover their shepherd, Old Blackgoat, was firmly in their evil grasp.

"Is it true?" Harold Yazzie asked. "Have they taken Old Blackgoat?"

"Yes," said another, "don't you belladonnas think we have a right to know about all of these things happening on our reservation?"

"Of course you do," Steven said kindly, "but please hold your questions for now. I'll explain everything when we get over to the church. I think the sisters need to hear, too, so they will know how to pray".

"Joseph," Steven said, "you head over to the pastor's study and get hold of Ketchum if you can. I'll address the congregation."

I wasn't lucky enough to catch Ketchum at home, but I left a message on his answering machine giving him the church phone number to call. I hoped we would hear from him before the bewitching hour.

Meanwhile, I waited patiently by the phone with the study door open. I wanted to hear everything Steven had to say. It didn't surprise me to hear gasps and sighs coming from the sanctuary as Steven recapped the events of the previous weeks. He didn't leave anything out. He started from the beginning with the theft of the sheep and carefully detailed all the events. It had to be overwhelming for most of them. I didn't envy Steven one bit, but it had to be done.

He told them of our discoveries about Dr. Sheolman and the pure oil of lamb's blood, the passageway of the serpent, the unleashing of Prometheus, our confrontation with Death, our escape thanks to Prometheus, our trip to California, the recapture of Prometheus, our vision of his torment and conversion to Christianity, his subsequent escape, our stakeout above the passageway, the kidnapping of Torre and Arlena, the involvement of the FBI, our deliverance from the bear by Prometheus, and finally, Dr. Sheolman's gambit, which set up the kidnapping of Old Blackgoat.

One thing Steven failed to say about the vortex that still had me wondering, was that perhaps the vortex wasn't a ruse after all, but a true entranceway into the fifth dimension. Otherwise, Steven was thorough, so much so that the men were shaking from fear, the women were wailing. Nasty stuff this business of spiritual warfare!

I had some of those disgusting carnal thoughts about it all. You know, how dare the devil touch one of God's elect! They didn't last long. I could see from where I was sitting, Steven had remained unperturbed by it all. That helped me some. On the other hand, I wondered if he hadn't lost his marbles, but my spiritual man sensed otherwise. Steven reined in the bleating sheep like the good shepherd he was, and began to preach. Then a strange thing happened, the likes of which I've never seen before. A glory cloud rolled in through the front door and filled the room. Everyone was filled with the most astounding peace. It was incredible! God had the answer to Satan's fear! And comforted everyone with the fact...He knew what was going on!

"Whoa, glory!" I yelled from the back of the sanctuary.

"Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus," Steven Said. "You have often heard Old Blackgoat stand before you and warn of the wrath of the Almighty God which is to come, for which cause many of you have repented of your sins and believed on Jesus Christ of Nazareth to the dawning of a new day upon your soul. You have all become new creatures in Christ Jesus by taking Him as your savior and making Him Lord of your life. You have all become born again and Spirit filled believers. Therefore, I say to you, fear thou not! For even our Lord Jesus did describe these days that are at hand, saying, false Christs, and false prophets shall arise, and show great signs and wonders, in so much that, if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived.

"But take heart, my beloved brothers and sisters, for you are God's elect, and He has saved you from the wrath now coming on this present world.

"This evening, after the specters of terror departed from the brothers and me, one dear friend made a profound statement. He said we have a right to know about all these things that are going on around us. I'm sure our brother didn't realize it at the time, but the phrase, all these things, is the key phrase so often repeated in our Lord's great judgment discourse of Matthew chapter twenty four.

"I dare say it is of the utmost importance that every person in this generation who has called upon the name of the Lord know the truths revealed in our Lord's sign of all these things.

"Wars, such as in the middle east, rumors of wars as with Israel, famines as in Ethiopia, pestilences such as AIDS, false Christs such as the Hindu, and false prophets such as the Satanists, are all fulfillments of this very prophecy, the sign of all these things.

"But fear thou not, for there is yet one sign which must be fulfilled before the Almighty God's great day of wrath can come, the testimony of which, as a sign, is as legally binding upon man, as it is upon our Father in Heaven. For it is written, this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations before the end can come. Brothers and sisters, 'this gospel' is contained in the following phrase: he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved."

Ketchum still hadn't returned my call by the time a few people began filing out the front door. It was then I made my way to the front of the sanctuary where many were still praying for Old Blackgoat. I was about to join them when I noticed a tall figure standing just outside the doorway, as though waiting for the crowd to disperse so he could come in. It was Ketchum.

It didn't take him long to make his way to where I was standing up front. I took him aside to the pastor's study and closed the door.

"When I got your message I came straight on," Ketchum began. "Didn't figure you really wanted me to disrupt your service by ringin' in, besides, thought I would try and talk with Torre and Arlena one more time, but didn't find them at home."

"Listen," I said, "we have real trouble. Old Blackgoat has been kidnapped by Dr. Sheolman. He's holding him for ransom. Old Blackgoat is going to die if we don't meet Dr. Sheolman's demands by midnight."

"Why, it's 11:00 P.M. now," Ketchum countered. "What's he askin' for anyhow?"

I gave Ketchum a look of skepticism steeped with concern to clue him in beforehand that he was going to find Dr. Sheolman's newest gambit hard to swallow. Ketchum picked up on it.

"I was afraid you spiritual types were goin’ to pull me in on something strange," Ketchum moaned. "Let's have it."

"All I can tell you," I said, "is that seeing is believing. Dr. Sheolman has ordered Steven and me to deliver Prometheus and a small amount of Sheolman's sheep oil to a place called the Adamic Plain, a location somewhere inside a vortex which will appear behind Old Blackgoat's sheep shed at midnight."

"Where's the note?" Ketchum questioned.

"Sorry, no note," I responded, trying not to sound like I was playing a game with the man.

"Well, then," Ketchum asked, "did he make his demand by phone?"

"No," I said.

"Awe crap! Joseph, quit playin' twenty questions with me and cut to the chase. How, who, what...let's have it!"

"O.K., you aren't going to like the truth, but here it is," I said. "The messengers that delivered the blackmailer's ultimatum were of the green skinned, gargolean, serpentine, demonic type that defy gravity and disappear into thin air whenever they want to. Are you satisfied?"

"Oh," Ketchum sighed, throwing his head back to signify his disbelief, "then what you're tellin' me is some ghosts showed up and gave you and Steven an ultimatum. Is that right?"

"That's right," I said sheepishly, convinced of the absurdity of it all, but added, "I realize you have every right to be skeptical, but you witnessed Prometheus demonstrate his power."

"Point well taken," Ketchum said, "but who else saw these ghosts?"

"Nearly a half dozen men of the congregation," I said, knowing from his question he was at least going to give me a chance to prove I was telling the truth.

Something else flashed through my mind as well. It seemed my ability to perceive had been switched on by some unknown hand. I knew why Prometheus had been allowed to experience the flesh, so to speak. He was free to demonstrate the reality of the spirit realm to Ketchum. If he hadn't been, Ketchum and I wouldn't have been this far into our conversation about Blackgoat's kidnapping. Ketchum would have vanished seconds after I told him how the message of the kidnapping had been delivered. Prometheus and the bear had made an almost believer out of the FBI man.

"Alright," Ketchum said, "get those other men in here. I want to check out their story to see if it corroborates your own. You wait in the sanctuary."

It was 11:45 P.M. by the time Ketchum finished interrogating each of the men who had accompanied Steven, Prometheus, and me in search of Old Blackgoat, and who had seen and heard the specters. Time was running short. I was anxious to hear what Ketchum had to offer as a solution. Steven was standing withme when Ketchum came walking up. Prometheus had already headed to the shed area.

"Let's go," Ketchum motioned, extending his right arm toward the door. I could tell by the anxiety in his voice he was masking the frustration of feeling forced to believe something he didn't want to believe. I suspected that most of his thoughts played havoc with his trained rationalist, materialist mind. He was being asked to accept a theory that sounded something like mass hypnosis blah, blah, blah. But I knew his spiritual perspective was soon to include greater enlightenment, and beyond that, I was firm in my conviction, the Lord was going to make use of that man in the future.

The rain had long since stopped when we made our way toward our rendezvous with death. I prayed hard under my breath God would allow us to complete our mission by saving Old Blackgoat's hide and nabbing the Satanic scourge of the Navajo nation, Dr. Sheolman. I knew Steven was chomping at the bit to meet the person behind Satanism in the southwest, but my thoughts were elsewhere. "It's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God," I thought, "but what is it to confront the minions of His arch enemy?"

The passageway of the serpent which held our beloved brother Old Blackgoat appeared right on schedule. At the bewitching hour the vortex appeared.




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