SAGA OF DARKNESS VISION OF LIGHT
Chapter 2 - Capturing Faith
by Dennis R. Cook
The following morning I arrived at work early. My office was on
the third floor. I didn't know if I would miss it even though I
had spent more time there than at home. The office had the usual
amenities for an executive of my level, bar, shower, etcetera.
The plexiglass windows afforded me a nice view of the
headquarter's landscape, and served as my retreat when the chaos
outside reached a feverish pitch.
First order of
business was filling out my leave request. I would have to hand
carry it up the chain of command. That wasn't hard, but required
a long walk from my department's third floor location on the back,
or east side of the five story, rectangular, 240,000 square foot
industrial complex, to the personnel office, just, I say just,...
two levels below me on the first floor,...but,...on the west side,
or front of the building.
It was a darn
long walk, and coupled with my disdain for the personnel
department; reasons varying, but primarily because of scenarios
department heads detest, i.e., if you have ever been a department
head, or become one, as I have, you will realize how essential the
personneldepartment is in the facilitation of a department head's
endeavors. A department head's fear of the personnel office stems
from nightmarish scenarios that end with the following dialogue.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Morgan, we were unable to schedule the training
program for your team during the week you requested it. And we
are really really sorry, but Bull Winkle has declined your offer
and taken a job with General Motors."
At any rate, I
would have to hand carry my leave request through proper
channels. There wasn't time to route it. I hoped all would
Of course I
would have to see my boss, Mr. Amomoto, and there were some things
in my office I didn't want to leave lying around for prying eyes.
I would have to check them out through security as I...passed out,
once again, through the personnel office. Ha!
I made no
mention of my real reason for taking time off on short notice, but
told my boss my "Father" was needing an extra hand running his
business. Perhaps I meant my Heavenly Father.
My moment of
embarrassment came when Mr. Amomoto asked me what my Father did.
I knew he had access to my personal file. He had to know my dad
was a newspaper publisher. Amomoto was only curious, but I
blushed anyway. "I thought you knew my Dad was one of those who
gets the Word out," I replied, tongue in cheek.
I quickly looked
at my watch, gave an errant look of surprise, and dashed for the
elevator. I must have thoroughly convinced Mr. Amomoto I was an
idiot, but I didn't care. The opportunity to give a little
time‑honored service to a higher calling soothed my conscience.
Besides, I had earned my extendedvacation time.
As I closed the
front door to my home that noonday, the sun greeted me
enthusiastically, warming my face with happiness. I had no doubt
it was glad to be appreciated following a night of rain and fog. I
turned my face upward and bathed in the full glow of the sun's
energy. "Ah, freedom," I sighed... then turned, and headed for my
BMW.“Ah! Supreme freedom!”
If only I had
known what was to come...
I popped the
cassette Steven had given me the day before into the tape player
and fired up my BMER. The message was fascinating. What I
thought was going to be the "here we go again" message of "not so
friendly" whatever types increasing their activity in the
southwest was, not only new to me, but disturbing.
From the sound
of the speaker's voice, I gathered the fellow delivering the
message was a wise old native American. He sounded at peace with
himself as he pointed out that the Caucasian population in general
was being duped by misinformed pseudo spiritualists. To him,
those white eyes with forked tongues were seeking to lead all that
would listen from the path of righteousness, by introducing evil
entities to them asbest friends, friends that promised to guide
them in their search for paths of harmony and light.
One phrase was
He said, "white
men have always sought to conquer new worlds that can be seen.
That is easy. The greater challenge lies with the enemy within
the veil of man's darkened faith, whose seed God refused to make
heir to the earth, that goes unseen, yet must be seen to be
didn't quite understand what the old fellow was trying to say...
Whose seed? That held my attention, and found me wanting to hear
more. After all, he had an interesting way of presenting the
word, andperhaps, knew something I didn't. Was there a species
introduced in scripture I didn't I didn't know about?
Naw...," I said
to myself entering Steven's driveway.
his front door for me before I had a chance to knock. I took that
as a sign he was as eager to bend my ear about our project as I
was to listen.
OK?" Steven asked, alluding, I had every right to assume, to my
abrupt departure from Mammoto Corporation.
Not bad," I
quipped, enlivened by the prospect of a much needed vacation.
"I'm glad you came along. I would never have taken a vacation on
Steven down the narrow hallway of his small brownstone. A doorway
on my left suddenly took Steven from my view, but the cloppity-clop
of his heavy shoes told me he had darted down a stairwell.
I was about to
follow, but the scent of lingering perfume, just like I had
detected the day before, brought me up short. That piqued my
curiosity! Where was she? I descended the stairs, meaning to
ask, but I was immediately distracted.
His basement was
well-lighted and that was the problem. I was floored by the sight
of a dozen cardboard crates overflowing with chaos. They showed
Steven's obvious contempt for organization or sanity. Then I
remembered, he had just returned. Nevertheless, the scene reminded
me of the storage rooms many college professors keep from the
public eye. Tombs of fire I call them, with stacks of books,
yellowed papers, and Xeroxed articles all ready to go...,poof!
Well, Steven, I
hope your project isn't buried in this," I said chuckling, as I
swept my arm across the breadth of carnage.
shrug told me Steven wasn't smitten by my observation. He
immediately walked away and began wading through another set of
Aha!" I said to
myself, "there is life on the other side of chaos," as I caught up
with Steven. He was rummaging around a reasonably well dressed
work area. Tools rested within reach of a non-cluttered
workbench. Quite a juxtaposition. I concluded Steven hadn't
quite decided yet whether he was left-brained or right-brained.
Like this area
better?" Steven said, looking up, having located whatever it was
he was rummaging for.
Sure do," I
replied, trying to get a better look at the small object in
Steven's right hand.
What have you
got there, Steven?" I questioned nosily.
this is an old shoe polish can," Steven replied with a toothy
grin. "Here, catch."
I laughed as I
fumbled to get control of the darn thing.
I looked at
You know how,
don't you?" He teased.
I fumbled for
the lever on the bottom side of the can and used thumb and
forefinger to elevate the lid. There was some type of glowing oil
on the inside. It wasn't shoe polish, or at least I didn't think
it was. If it was, it was strange shoe polish! "What do you
think that stuff is, Joseph?" Steven said, tongue-in-cheek.
Let me ask you
a question first," I responded. "Is it my imagination, or is this
Oh, there's a
glow," Steven said.
It looks like
living honey," I said, "but hey, you've got me stumped, Steven.
What is it?"
responded with a wry, mischievous glint in his eyes. His glint,
like his response, didn't give me the faintest clue.
You are holding
living faith, man..., that is real faith!" Steven removed the
container from my hand and replaced the lid on securely.
I stared at him in disbelief. At Steven's nonverbal response, I
tried to change my look of disbelief to one more receptive.
No sense trying
to be coy with you, old buddy," Steven pointed said. "I'm not
kidding. You were holding living, vital faith.
However, I can
tell you, that for the moment, you can't respond to that fact any
differently than you have already. Anyway, don't let it bother
you, Joseph, have a seat."
But it did
bother me! I sat down on his workbench immersed in thought. Was
the substance in the shoe polish can the captured faith he had
mentioned in the short phone conservation we had the night prior
to Reverend White's visit? I assumed, if I would but listen, I
Steven began, "I've been over in New Mexico ministering to the
Navajo. That's where I met Old Blackgoat, the native minister who
delivered the message on that tape I gave you yesterday. He
invited me to live with him and preach some. I also helped him
graze his sheep."
Ok," I scoffed,
"so you've learned to be a shepherd. What does that have to do
with Kiwi cans and living faith? Cut to the chase, man,...cut to
Steven began. "A
few months ago some of Old Blackgoat's parishioners began losing
sheep. Obviously someone was stealing them."
the police come out?" I asked.
Yes, but they
couldn't find any clues. Blackgoat and I talked about it, and I
suggested we set a watch over his flock. Blackgoat agreed.
At that time
Old Blackgoat had his sheep pastured on a high plain north of Old
Furry, a sacred mountain to the Navajo, located in the northwest
corner of New Mexico.
We headed out
one evening about an hour beforesunset. Blackgoat knew of a high
place that we could use as a vantage point to watch the sheep
unnoticed. It also made an ideal campsite. It was his usual
vantage point from whence he watched the grazing sheep.
After a meal of
mutton stew and fry bread, we relaxed while dry-cleaning our tin
plates and utensils. We talked about the pastoral pleasures
of shepherding sheep, the nature of his congregation, and the
spiritual legacy of the Navajo. You know. Just little things.
About 9:00 P.M.
Old Blackgoat began to complain about feeling uneasy, but it
wasn't until he knelt and began to pray in the Spirit under his
breath that I caught the sense of his discomfort...then I saw.
Coming toward us
from the mountains were two dark,and I mean dark, figures; darker
than the night, traveling effortlessly, suspended in mid‑air,
eight to ten feet above the meadow. They were headed, it seemed,
right for us. I wouldn't have been able to make them out I tell
you, if the aura of their darkness had not literally cast a shadow
upon the night. I didn't know if they could see us or not. I
reached over and put my hand on Old Blackgoat's shoulder to get
his attention. "Get up," I whispered harshly, "look!"
I've seen," he
replied, quite calmly. "They will take two of my sheep to the
gorge in the shadow of the green mountains. This night, I shall
follow. Come with me quietly."
unperturbed by their presence, Old Blackgoat tossed our gear back
into the camper while I stared in disbelief, both at the old
fella's lack of concern, and that true to his word, the creatures
passed us by, collected two sheep, and returned into the night,
all without giving us so much as a second glance."
But what about
that faith substance?," I asked. "Where does it come in?"
Just slow down,
Joseph," Steven said. "I'm getting to that. Now let's see, where
was I. Oh yes, ok. We climbed into Old Blackgoat's camper,
returned to the main road, then headed east. Blackgoat appeared
to know where he was going, so we didn't have to hurry.
Was the Lord
directing him? 'Were we in good shape?' I asked myself.
While we were
on the main road, I wondered if the Holy Spirit had kept us
undetected, or were the principalities or whatever they were too
caught up in their endeavors to notice? I was reminded of the
drug users of the seventies. I had associated with a number of
them during my stint in the Navy. I had no choice. They were in
They got away
with their drug use for a while, but ultimately their disdain for
law made them careless. They thought they couldn't be caught.
They had become oblivious to all warning."
lawlessness is beginning to abound," I said. "I remember all too
well smelling pot smoke everywhere in those days."
Well, it's the
same principle today," Steven continued, "but it isn't man's law
being broken, it's God's. Satan has become so arrogant. He's
getting careless to the point of not even being aware Father is
watching him and his followers. At any rate, that's what I
thought that night.
As I was
saying," Steven interrupted himself, "it was only a thirty minute
drive to the base of the mountains. Soon we began our assent,
winding around the snakelike mountain road. It was about 10:00
P.M. The night's half moon was aglow, suddenly visible above
the pines for the first time.
minutes passed before Old Blackgoat veered right and jostled us
down a rock filled, potholed trail, where, after about a mile, he
stopped. He got out of the truck and motioned me to follow.
seemed fearless. He didn't grab any gear. Of course, I had never
seen him with a gun of any kind, so we were on our own, fortified
by our natural wits with the Holy Spirit as our guide."
"But since I'm human, I grabbed my lantern. Later, I would wish I
had grabbed more."
By this time I
was becoming engrossed in the story. I had questions, but I was
too intent to ask. I waved my hand in a circle, indicating I
wished him to continue.
continued, "the trail Old Blackgoat put us on wasn't very steep,
but with only the faint light of the half moon and my lantern, we
had to go slow. After about ten minutes, I could make out
the sheer face of a rock escarpment. At that instant the Holy
Spirit heightened my senses. I became keenly aware that this was
our destination. We both quickened our pace simultaneously.
"In front of the
mammoth cliff were large boulders of sorts. They seemed to
diminish in size on down the gorge. Pines and firs stood on
either side of the cliff and outlined the gorge. The reflected
moonlight helped me see puddles of water here and there. Such
rock tanks were something I should remember, I thought, if ever
there long without water.
sure footed for his age, virtually rolled past the crevices and
cracks hidden on the fringes of the water slickened rock. By the
night light, I almost became frantic trying to keep up with him,
not to mention huffing and puffing right up to the escarpment
then?" I said. I'd suddenly lost my intentness.
Then I stubbed
my toe!" Steven laughed, then continued, sobering somewhat as if
to declare that what was to come next wasn't funny.
"Bending down to
see what had brought me up short, I found the skull of a once
worthy pack animal glaring at me out of a rotted eye socket
angrily glaring at me as though I might have disturbed it's rest.
than one demon in these hills, son," Old Blackgoat chided.
"Keep your eye on the prize, boy."
stooped down and grabbed the old jawbone. Holding it to the
light, he spoke softly, "this will be the hand of God with which
we shall enter the domain of the dark, and spoil them.
ass's head to me, he commanded. "Break the stubbornness of the
Somehow, as if
on the inside of his mind, I knew what to do. With all the zeal I
could muster, I crushed the skull, like Samson against the
Philistines, against the escarpment face! With no mean aim I
might add. A thunderous resonation shuddered throughout the
Good grief!" I
shrieked, unable to squelch the excitement building in my gut,
"what happened next? The suspense is overwhelming me!"
horses, Joseph! Allow me to tell the story in my own way."
as I said, "I'll never be the one to wreck a good story!"
continued, "I had little time to marvel. Things were
happening too fast. The earth trembled beneath my feet.
“In terror I
glanced in Old Blackgoat's direction. The ground had begun to
give way underneath us! There was a great rumble...then we were
swallowed whole! I thanked God and my lucky stars that we were
sliding downward, not falling. But our descent was not without
incident. When our feet and torsos touched bottom we both began
tumbling. I clung tightly to my lamp. Then thud.
semiconscious. The only information my dulled mind could process
at first was the overwhelming opaqueness of the crevice. Then my
ears caught the tumultuous sound of a thousand bats fleeing. We
were in a cave! Chills hit my spine like a million tiny needles!
I realized Blackgoat and I had lost control of the situation. Did
Father have a purpose in it all?"
said, "at Duke your faith was never shaken."
grumbled, "at Duke I'd never skidded a hundred feet down into a
cave. I tell you, some obstacles really test you."
Be that as it
may, Steven, please continue."
I began to
check my body for broken bones. Although stiff, everything
called, in a harsh whisper. "Blackgoat?" Getting no
response, I began to grope blindly for him. Then I realized I
still held the lamp in my right hand. I only hoped the bulb
hadn't shattered. I sighed in relief when the lamp fired at the
flicking of the switch. I held the lamp face down at the ground,
first, not wanting to disturb anything or anyone accidentally, if
you know what I mean. Then, sensing we had not gotten anyone or
anything else's attention, I quickly located Blackgoat only a few
feet away and hurried to his side. He was smiling.”
I bet you
thought the good Lord had taken me home before my time," the old
saint sighed, as he pulled himself to a sitting position. "Don't
you know the Lord is faithful?"
“The old saint
grinned, pulled himself to his feet, and began brushing himself
I just gave him
a great big hug.
lantern we soon located a cavern tunnel, and although I wasn't
sure how long our light would last, at the prompting of the inner
witness, we cautiously trekked on. Our fate awaited us."
cut to the chase, man. Just tell me what awaited you on down the
tunnel of the cave."
continued. "I'm sure we both were hoping we would find something.
Blackgoat quietly prayed under his breath in the spirit. I heard
only silence. Then Old Blackgoat stopped. I sensed he was seeing
in the Spirit again.
There are three
creatures performing the black rite in their sacred hall,"
Blackgoat cautioned. "One masquerades as a man, but God has shown
me that his heart is as black as the two scaled ones that stand
The man stands
before an altar of pure gold. The creatures are bound within their
circle. They are the ones who stole my sheep."
Blackgoat urged, "we must hurry and disturb their work before the
man can cast his spell."
whispered. I, too, had suddenly received the same sight as Old
Blackgoat. I sensed they knew we were watching them.
creatures turned. They glared at me as though no cavern
boundaries separated us, then disappeared, as it were, as if in a
cloud of sulphur. Unbelievably, the man levitated right
through the roof. I stood staring. Stunned!
looked puzzled. "What in the heck did we just see?" I quizzed the
hesitated..."I'm just an old one. Not the one with the college
degree. But I would say the man physically was not there.
Whoever he was, he was an astral projection. He existed in some
Of course," I
said, "that's got to be it."
We both began
to be a little puffed up, feeling ourselves clever to have figured
it out. Nonetheless, we were still nervous. Neither of us knew
but that at any instant all three apparitions would break in on us
and attempt to dismember and disembowel us.
I've got to
confess, Joseph, and tell you the truth. The thought of such
torture was not my idea of presenting my body as a living
sacrifice. I can do without that kind of mortification.
the inner witness gave me knowledge that such was not to be, that
in reality, they were far more afraid of the Holy Spirit whom they
had sensed. They were actually less willing for a
confrontation than we were, or so it seemed, then."
Well, go on," I
pleaded, "what happened next? Blessed Mother of God, don't stop
Give me a
break, Joseph," Steven scolded, "let me catch my breath. The
eeriness of the retelling makes it seem like I'm still there."
stretched, and took a deep breath. I understood. Presentations
were my forte. I made my living giving graphic orations. They
wore me out!
continued. "Anyway, Joseph, upon entering the unhallowed hall
Blackgoat rushed to the altar to free his sheep. As for me, after
adjusting my senses to accept the putrefying stench of dozens of
previously gutted animals, I caught sight of a very interesting
substance dripping from a spigot on the altar into a huge silver
I saw the whole
thing in an instant. It was like I was back at Duke. Remember
those arguments I used to have with my classmates when I seemed so
righteous? Well, I tell you, I could see things as clearly as I
could in my twenties, and with just the same zeal!"
"Well, what did
you see?" I asked, then quickly and sarcastically added, "the
devil as the science of invention, or the beacon of education?"
Let me tell
you, will you," Steven pleaded. "I saw that the warlock had found
a spell with which to rob innocent victims of their faith. He was
cutting out the pure hearts of sheep, offering the same to Satan,
but draining off the faith for his own use. The implications
were staggering! I suspected that with enough of that stuff the
man would be virtually invincible. But one thing puzzled me. Why
would the man abandon his treasure? It didn't add up then, and it
doesn't now. With this little can of faith in my hands, I could
bury the man in the belly of his own mountain."
Ya," I thought
to myself, "maybe with that shoe polish can of faith in your hand,
you could now be thekind of sheep the fiend is really after." I
didn't let on. Conjecture, assumption, prophecy. Time would
Instead, I said.
"Don't let the lure of that stuffsoil your garments, Steven, it
might not do what you think. By the way, why do you keep that
stuff in a boot‑black can of all things?"
This used to be
my tinder box, you know, dry twigs and grass to start a campfire
with. One never knows when a little fire might come in handy. I
stuffed the tinder in my pocket, and filled the can with faith.
Joseph..., this shoe polish can contains only a minute sample of a
very powerful substance. In the wrong hands this substance
could be used to bring more pain and suffering to humanity than
another World War II.
The man making
this substance has to be stopped. There is too much at
stake, here, Joseph, to close our eyes and simply hope he will go
away. Who knows what terrors he has planned or is planning
already for decent people."
Uh, oh," I
thought to myself, "what have I gotten myself into? Adventure,
project, whatever; yes,...but this sounds like a nightmare!"
Let's go have a
cup of coffee," Steven coaxed. "There's someone I want you to
Ah, ha!" I said
to myself under my breath, "now he feels comfortable enough with
me to let me in on his other secret. His Giorgio secret!" I
pretended to be surprised.
you wascally wabbit," I teased, "you've been holding out on your
It's not like
that at all," Steven shot back, miffed at the insinuation.
"Sarah," Steven called out as we entered his kitchen.
before a tall, striking young woman with jet black hair appeared
in the kitchen doorway.
fragrance of the fine Giorgio perfume again wafted through the
air. So this was the woman I had sensed the day before. She was
polite during our introduction, but something was amiss. There
was a stark coldness about her I couldn't quite put my finger on.
What I did
learn about the young woman was that she was Old Blackgoat's
granddaughter. She had accompanied Steven to California because
she had some, well, very important business to attend to, that, as
it turned out,...was,...none of mine. I determined not to pry, or
worry. I was going to be too busy getting ready for the windswept
outback of New Mexico in early April. Brrrr.....
I wouldn't have
minded moving a few mountains with faith just to get out of
Steven's basement. But my compadre, Steven, actually had moving
to a mountain in mind. He had it in his megalomaniacal brain that
we had to fast and pray before joining Old Blackgoat.
Steven said he
knew just the mountain in New Mexico where we could spend some
quality time with the Lord.
I didn't tell
him, but I didn't view an early Spring camping trip in the
windswept outback of New Mexico as quality time with the Lord, or
anyone else for that matter.
would pray. I would pray that when we arrived at the top of that
mountain I wouldn't freeze to death, or be blown to Texas by a