SAGA OF DARKNESS VISION OF LIGHT
Chapter Six - Night Thieves
by Dennis R. Cook
I was glad to learn Sheolman would be attending a school
board meeting and not an athletic event. Spring
athletic events tended to be outside and after school.
Sports events made it too easy for him to leave. I
had worried that Sheolman would somehow slip away to his
coven quarters for some unknown reason, and catch us in
the act of gawking at whatever he had hidden in the
belly of that mountain. It had bothered me a lot,
so much so, that prior to learning Sheolman would be
attending a school board meeting, I borrowed Steven's
four wheeler one afternoon, "needed to buy some
groceries," I told them, and went on a little fact
finding mission of my own.
Didn't know what I
expected to find, but knew, even if I didn't learn
anything about Dr. Sheolman, I was going to learn more
about the Navajo culture, especially the local school
administration, which seemed to accept the fact that
separation of church and state on the "RES" was passé.
That intrigued me.
I was fascinated by things I
had learned about the local education system from Steven
and Old Blackgoat after Mrs. Begay's revelations.
I wanted to learn more. I would have liked to have
had a couple of days in libraries and museums collecting
pamphlets and the like, but I settled for a buzz past
two nearby high schools and a stop by the school
district central office in Gallup.
I didn't exactly hit the
jackpot, but I managed to smooth talk a central office
secretary out of the school district's new teacher
orientation booklet. "Unbelievable!" I thought, as I
browsed through the information. New teachers were
actually forewarned of the threat witches posed to their
well-being. I couldn't believe it! But it
was right there in black and white....
Of course, having found
something concrete to back up Mrs. Begay's allegation
that Dr. Sheolman was tossing curses right and left
against unsuspecting teachers helped my understanding
some, "but the poor teachers," I thought, "especially
the ones with no spiritual background, how were they
supposed to defend themselves? What had they
gotten themselves into?" Gave me the willies! The
ramifications were terrifying! What if such
knowledge got into the mainstream of society, say, by
the world wide web? What could be done to prevent it?
Hey, you don't like your boss? Just hook up and
log on to www.witch.com, and the rest is history,
Babylon is back...
My sense of impending doom
lessened with the knowledge of the board meeting.
That sense of doom receded into the background with Mrs.
Begay's assurance that a school board meeting had never
been rescheduled, except for snow.
* * *
Our plane tickets had finally
arrived via the mail. It was high time, too.
The board meeting date had come. Things were set.
We would go to the cavern, come back, and pack for our
Easter jaunt to Los Angeles to follow Sheolman.
The first Sunday after the first full moon, after the
Vernal Equinox, was less than 48 hours away.
We had been meticulous
planners. It seemed nothing could go wrong, but,
then again, tell that to Bonnie and Clyde...
It would be an understatement
to say that I had begun to wonder why I had ever let
Steven talk me into leaving Mammoto Corp. for the
hellfire and brimstone of front-line
spiritual warfare. I wondered if Father gave
ticker tape parades in heaven for His heroes of faith.
I knew He gave crowns of glory....Then, too, I realized
his heroes later went by the name of martyrs. Were
we but scapegoats for His larger plan? I wondered.....
I had been sitting at the
kitchen table watching the evening sun give me winks.
Patches of tawny pink and blue cloud wisps marched
across it giving the wink effect. I winked back.
Forgetting my apprehension momentarily, I breathed in
the peacefulness. There was ample time to worry and
fret. I wanted to enjoy the sunset, for who knew
what night would bring.
Old Blackgoat and
Steven were outside checking gear to be sure we had
tools enough; that lanterns, should we need them, were
full of oil; that ropes, should we need them, were not
frayed. I had been impressed that Old Blackgoat
had been thoughtful enough to borrow hard hats from a
lineman who was on the church board. We acted like
we knew what we were doing, but I still had
reservations, and as it turned out, we had no idea what
we were getting ourselves into. Well, that's not
exactly correct. Perhaps Old Blackgoat might have
known, for his visionary powers were great. But even if
he did know, he wasn't sharing his know-ledge with
Steven and me.
Old Blackgoat checked the church one last time ensuring
that everything was secure. As Blackgoat put it,
"one never knows on the reservation when one might have
a visit from a thief in the night, not even Dr.
Sheolman." I marveled at his double entendre, for
that night on the reservation we would be the sneak
thieves, and Dr. Sheolman the unsuspecting property
We were far enough south of the serpent's passageway
that a detour east to Route 666 and then northward past
Tohatchi would only have delayed our arrival by about an
hour. We had debated taking the alternate route as
an extra precaution, but in our final analysis concluded
we couldn't spare the time.
All fear had left me as we climbed into Old Blackgoat's
pickup, perhaps for the final time. A single
minded determination gripped us all. Nothing short
of an earthquake would deter us from our course.
Driving at night in Navajo country required caution.
Horses often meandered across unfenced thoroughfares at
an unpredictable moment, but they were not the only
wanderers. Deer and cattle and sheep were just as
apt to be among the things that go bump in the night on
a Navajo road.
One had to be careful. Hitting a stray animal on
the reservation placed one in double jeopardy. The
penalty included a fine, and, of course, higher
Our trip seemed like a short one. I suppose the
excitement and anticipation of being part of a covert
operation made time of little concern at the outset.
Nevertheless, we were all well
aware of the possible consequences should we over stay
I got the honor of carrying two fifty foot lengths of
rope over the uneven gorge surface. They were
heavy, and grated against my shoulder skin. I
wondered why we were bringing them at all. I
couldn't imagine any of us falling into a deep chasm
inside that cave, although Steven and Blackgoat had
already been there and done that. On the other
hand, I knew we might need them. We might have to
scale some obstacle, tie up an intruder, or drag some
object from the cavern. I cleared my mind. After
all, contingency planning could only go so far, and
fretting about things was not going to make obstacles
any easier to overcome.
Steven carried our lamps along
with an extra bottle of lantern fluid. Old
Blackgoat packed the screw driver edged tire iron we
would need to pry up the elevator switch cover. It
Once seated on the cold stone
floor of the elevator, Steven asked me if I would honor
of putting us in motion. Without hesitation, I
obliged. The shaft lurched, as though in protest
that we had disturbed it's rest, then sped upward.
I expected a short journey, but
our assent entailed a mind boggling distance
encompassing several hundred feet. Our stop was
abrupt, so much so, that our stomachs seemed
catapulted into our already parched throats.
The silence that ensued
following our stop was frightening. I wondered if
the incessant pounding in my chest was a voice my
compadres understood as well. I couldn't tell.
Only a stethoscope in the hands of a deft physician
would have told the story.
A long, dark tunnel of some
thirty feet lay ahead, and at its end, stood double
doors of red. The tunnel had been excavated, literally
carved out of the barren rock via man's ingenuity, or so
it seemed at the time. We walked it's
length...with very deliberate steps.
I placed my lantern squarely on
the tunnel floor very carefully, then reached for each
brazen door knob. Determined, with ever increasing
pressure, I forced them ajar. Placing a foot
against the base of each frame to guard against their
retreat, I stretched my left arm toward my lantern,
righted myself, and prepared for what lay ahead.
Attended by Steven and Old
Blackgoat on either side, I arched my lantern high into
the darkness, eager to survey the scene before me,
taking care, as it were, that my first step was not my
last, before launching outward onto the cold, black,
"Come on," Steven whispered,
"let's find a light switch. I want to see what's
He didn't waste any time locating a row of
gray buttons behind one door. With the push of the
first button, the muffled hum of a power generator
kicking in gave us quite a start.
"Good grief!" I said.
"Shhh..., be calm," Blackgoat
said. "The other buttons will bring light."
I wish they hadn't.
I stepped back, eyes
aghast, gaping at the lavish setting.
"The guys at Duke will never believe this," I
A black marble floor
rolled out across an area at least the size of a
football field, perhaps larger. The greatest of mortal
kings would have stood proudly upon it. We were
dumbstruck, mortified by the wealth before our eyes.
"So this is where
Madoff hid his treasure," Ol' Blackgoat said.
Ike frowned before
"Would you look at
that ceiling? Jesus! I bet it is made of marble as well.
And that painting! Where do they get these guys?"
"Ya," I said.
"It had to be stroked by the hand of a master."
"Perhaps Michelangelo has
returned from the dead," ‘Ol Blackgoat said.
I wondered... For a triumphant
pictorial display of Satan leading away one third of the
host of heaven toward earth, caused me to marvel at the
sight. The facial detail shocked me with its
intricacy. The brightest of pastel colors, pink, green,
blue, lavender..., engrossed me. It was as if we
were in the refurbished Sistine Chapel. I felt the
hair on the back of my neck bristle. I shuddered.
Beneath the beauty of the
pristine ceiling, suspended in mid-air, a masterpiece of
ornithological wonders appeared to fly before us.
Hundreds of crystallinecreatures displayed in a myriad
of hues ranging from dazzling white to darkest purple,
squawked,chirped, tweeted and guffawed while moving in
a great arcing pattern above us. I was reminded of
the Tikki Room at Disneyland.
Seeming to materialize from nothingness, floating balls
of fire and light projected into the room from all
directions with an ebb and flow which was both
horrifying and hypnotic in its appeal. The best
laser light shows paled by comparison.
Beneath it all, the golden altar we had been desperate
to find, rested as the centerpiece of the mammoth
sanctuary. Surrounding it, a great white circle
harbored menacing pictures of paradise lost.
Round about the walls were pagan sculptures finished
with the finest detail. Ionic pillars made of
glowing bronze stretched their pagan strength like arms
Far to the opposite end of the counterfeit temple our
eyes came to rest on the end of our survey. Great
white marble steps made an arching semicircle around
three towering black ebony thrones, each inscribed with
Greek etchings inlaid with pure gold. As we
approached the shrines, the names only dark minions
hallowed, worshiped, and adored, appeared.
Lucifer, Hell, and Death, sat there.
Steven tore into his hip pocket with all Godspeed, and
ripped out his little canister of faith. With
fevered brow, and hands trembling, Steven removed the
lid. Once open, he shoved the priceless substance
into Old Blackgoat's hands.
"Quick, anoint us," Steven breathed, his face ashen.
Old Blackgoat flattened the entire palm of his
weathered hand against the substance and wiped the
residue, first upon the forehead of Steven, and then
upon mine, chanting Holy Scripture in his native tongue.
When he was finished with the two of us, Steven repaid
Old Blackgoat the kindness, also in Blackgoat's native
Somewhat calmed, our eyes
continued to survey our confines. There was
another set of double doors to the right of the thrones,
and though inclined to satisfy our curiosity about them,
we found wrenching our gaze away from the room's unholy
regality and prodding our feet into action a first rate
"Come on," Old Blackgoat said,
"there is much to explore and so little time.
Look, there is a stairway beyond these doors."
At the top of the stairway we
entered what looked to be a modern living quarters
replete with leather couches and loungers surrounding a
towering rock fireplace. Sconces blazed eternal
flames on either side. Ebony lamps helped the
comfort of the setting, while a rainbow fountain to our
left streamed, to our amazement, letters of words I
could not quite make out. There were a few well
placed, expensive looking paintings. We noted a
cocktail bar stocked with the finest liqueurs along with
some brownish red liquid left unlabeled. I gagged
at the thought some crazed mind could imbibe such, then
sobered at my own naïveté. Long ago the Aztecs had
worshiped through both blood drinking and cannibalism.
Beyond the fountain spiraled another staircase, this one
of wrought iron. Taking its course we found a
catwalk which encircled an Olympic sized, swimming pool.
The only way down was by the ladder on the high dive
located opposite us at the other end of the catwalk.
We retraced our steps.
Back in the living room our vision rested upon a hallway
partly hidden from view by a bushy, greenish, tropical,
FICA plant. Once inside the hall we found thirteen
bedrooms, each paneled and trimmed with the same walnut
veneer. Canopied beds, richly covered with satin
and lace, welcomed not the tired and sleepy, but the
aroused who yearned for illicit love.
Again, at the end of the hallway, crimson doors told us
there was still more. I hurried to open them, my
curiosity getting the best of me. They opened up
to display a spacious dining room and well organized
kitchen. Thirteen chairs covered with rich, soft,
Spanish leather surrounded a table made of the finest
lead crystal, inlaid with pure gold. Insignias of
goat heads and pentagrams imprinted on fine china,
silverware and finger cloths completed the setting.
At the back of the kitchen, one last set of crimson
doors beckoned for our inspection. Through them we
found an enclosed, paved, parking lot, that, like
everything else we had seen, appeared built to rival the
finest of such architectural structures. A ramp
led upward from the garage floor. Two huge
hydraulic wells sided the ramp, which I concluded must
open a hatchway to the outside. I spotted a lever
on one of the metal pylons that fortified the compound's
superstructure about the same time as Steven.
"Flip you for this one," Steven teased.
"Oh, go ahead," I replied, smiling. "You deserve
Steven pushed the lever.
The pop and whir of air engaging an hydraulic system
filled the garage for a moment, then slowly the barrier
above the ramp lifted.
Steven and I raced up the
incline, Old Blackgoat following as fast as his legs
The hatchway opened to a rutted
mountain pathway with an incline of about 30 degrees.
We couldn't see the highway, but knew it couldn't be far
away. The sound of a lone eighteen wheeler
downshifting removed any doubt of that. We turned,
walked back down the ramp, and closed the hatch.
"What, now?" Steven asked.
"Do we see what's pool side or return to the altar?"
"I say we take a closer look at
that altar," Old Blackgoat said. "My legs have
tired from all this investigating. We have already
walked up and down too many steps and ladders."
I knew Steven was
anxious to see if there was any more of that faith
substance so I sided with Old Blackgoat. That
seemed to please Steven. Above all, I wanted to
keep us in agreement. Agreement was a hedge we
couldn't afford to be without.
The idea, however, of passing back by the monstrous
thrones began to bother me as we retraced our steps
closing doors and turning off lights. I didn't
understand my fear. The closer we came to the trio
of hideous thrones, the greater my sense of
apprehension. As we began our descent of the last
marble stairway, I hesitated. Suddenly, I bolted!
The idea of passing back by the monstrous thrones had
given me such a tremendous sense of fear and dread,
because of who might be sitting on them, that I wasn't
about to be the last one out. My companions may
have been ashamed of me at that moment, but I didn't
care. The thought of those three gruesome specters
glaring down at me was enough to swallow me up, and I
wasn't about to stop until I reached the far side of the
altar. And I didn't!
What shocked me the most after
I slid into the safety of the elevator side of the altar
was the clamor of footsteps I heard trailing in behind
me. I nearly fainted when Steven and Old Blackgoat's
faces came panting around the corner.
"What in blue blazes is the
matter with you?" Steven blurted out after catching his
"Couldn't," I stammered, still
panting, "couldn't overcome a vision of that nightmare
trio sitting at the ready, waiting to grab us on our way
out....had a panic attack...O.K., now,...sorry.."
"Thank God," Old Blackgoat
breathed. "You had us worried."
"We thought for sure you had
seen or heard something that spooked you," Steven said.
"That's why we followed your lead, thinking you must be
"Let's hurry up and get out of
here," I pleaded, heart still pounding. "I've had
all of this place I can stand for one night."
While Steven and Old Blackgoat poked and prodded around
the golden altar looking for a vulnerable spot, I
garnered enough resolve to pull myself up for one....,
last...., eye-level glance across the hall toward the
Was that ever a mistake...."Oh, no," I hollered, as my
ears caught the unmistakable sound of air engaging
hydraulics. "What have I done? Steven, Old
Blackgoat, quick, stand back from the altar," I yelled.
With that, the bizarre centerpiece began to ascend
before our eyes. Rancid smoke came billowing out
of the darkness of the gaping hole underneath the altar
causing us to cough and choke.