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Chapter Eleven - Dr. Sheolman's Gambit

by Dennis R. Cook


Chapter Eleven - Dr. Sheolman's Gambit

by Dennis R. Cook

Headlight beams caught me full in the face. They were accompanied by the low guttural sound of a truck gearing down to pull itself up a steep grade.

"That's Harold Yazzie," Old Blackgoat whispered. "I better hurry back to the camp to see what he wants."

"We'll stay here and wait for you," Steven said.

Steven and I crouched down low and waited. Pensiveness deepened with the inquisitive looks we gave one another, both pondering the question of Yazzie's visit. I could still hear his engine idling. I assumed that meant he would complete his business in short order and be on his way. I wasn't disappointed. Soon, the deep laboring whir of his engine in first gear brought his truck lumbering back toward us. Brakes squeaked as Harold passed us and slowed, preparing to meet the highway. Seconds later he was gone.

Old Blackgoat reappeared.

"He brought us a sheep dog," Old Blackgoat said. "Harold told me he'd heard reports of a bear sighting up here."

"Can't be too careful," I whispered.

"Shh, hush," Steven said. "Did you hear that? I heard something..."

He wasn't imagining things. I heard it too. The telltale sound of a hydraulic system in operation moaned beneath our feet.

As I anticipated, a section of the old mountain trail which lay only yards from our covering, shuddered, then gave way, revealing a slow rising hatchway wide enough to receive any vehicle up to and including the size of Mr. Yazzie's cattle truck.

I focused my sense of hearing, as though hearing could see, half expecting the sound of a fast approaching auto to explain the opening of the underground garage. But instead, caught the faint wheezing from Blackgoat's weathered nostrils.

A shoulder nudge from Steven brought my attention back to the passageway opening. A hooded figure with head down was coming into view. I could see that an arm was draped across the eyes to give the appearance of someone in tears. Then I heard her sobs.

Long, pain filled sighs raised and lowered the woman's breasts as she parted the hatchway. There was little hesitation in her gate, at first. She headed straight for the highway. But her determination melted in the face of her grief. She crumpled to the ground well short of her goal.

Minutes passed as we remained observant of the woman. When it appeared no one from the passageway was coming to her aid, Steven, Old Blackgoat and I, cautiously made our way through the pine rich forest to where she lay, taking care not to be caught in the light radiating outward from the hidden entranceway.

"We are sheep herders," Old Blackgoat called in a soothing whisper. "How can we help you?"

Though continuing to sob, hearing Old Blackgoat's tender voice brought the young woman's head around toward us. "Help me, oh help me, please, oh God," she sobbed.

Blackgoat gently, but firmly lifted the young woman to her feet. She was Navajo.

"I can't help you," Blackgoat said, "unless you turn off those tears and tell me how I might."

"There," the woman pointed, doing her best to catch her breath between sobs.

"In there, my husband," the woman gasped, pulling away from Old Blackgoat to lead the way.

"We must hurry," the woman urged with renewed hope. Gaining composure, she hurried down the incline toward the passageway.

Steven and I quickened our pace. Not wanting to frighten the woman, we had trailed behind.

Down the ramp we raced, not daring to think we were being led into a trap, or of what might await us ahead. Through the dining room doors which had oft held repasts for Satanists and gruesome beasts from beyond we sped, meeting no resistance.

Ahead loomed the split level pleasure palace where the clank of cocktail glasses filled with blood had saluted the demise of aged witches and heralded, no doubt, a wedding between worlds forever forbidden by design, cursed into nothingness at the entrance of the Word..., that gives light...

Never would I be eager to bound downward on the steps to the unhallowed hall. Even the woman slowed noticeably as we began our descent. I could see she was crying again.

"My husband," the grieving Navajo maid said, choking somewhat on her words, as though unable to bear the knowledge of her husband's fate. "My husband is bleeding to death on the altar in the next room," she sobbed, sinking to the base of the double doors that blocked our path. "I couldn't free him," she cried, as Steven pushed beyond her into the hall. "Please free my husband," the woman pleaded, grabbing my sleeve as I sped past her, casting a raw longing of hope into my eyes I will never forget.

I called to Steven. "Wait a minute!" I said. We need to pray before we go in there.

Old Blackgoat lifted his holy hand into the air. "Dear Lord," he said, "in the blessed and mighty name of Jesus, be a banner over us, a shield of protection around us, the power within us. Amen!"

Entering the hell-spawned hall I surveyed every corner to ensure our safety, taking care to investigate every shadow. As Steven and Old Blackgoat approached the altar, I turned my attention there. The woman had spoken the truth. A man was indeed pinned to it, and he was a bloody mess. I shuddered for a moment before gaining control.

As I moved to catch up with Steven and Old Blackgoat, my eyes caught sight of something peculiar. A circle, emitting a vortex of luminescent vibrating pastels, rotated high above the young man's head. "Nonsense," I told myself, arriving at the young man's side.

"He's still alive," I heard Old Blackgoat whisper to Steven.

"Yes, but he won't be for long," Steven said. "If we don't get these wounds dressed and stop the bleeding. Would you look at the blood he's lost!"

The altar indeed was a mess! Someone or something had gone through a great deal of trouble to relieve the proud Navajo of skin on his left leg and arm, severing a number of capillaries, and perhaps a few veins. It was apparent the only reason the lad was still alive hinged on the fact arteries had been spared.

Steven caught me as my knees buckled and I began to lose consciousness. "Nothing can be more traumatizing, than the unexpected sight of someone bleeding profusely," Steven said, pulling me back to my feet. "Hang in there, Joseph, we're going to need your help getting this guy some badly needed medical attention."

Refocused, I thanked God the brave Navajo was still breathing, though out cold, and prayed his condition wasn't nearly as terrible as it looked.

Old Blackgoat pulled out a pocket knife and sliced through the ropes holding the young man tight to the altar. As we lowered the young man to the floor, his beloved joined us, kneeling to cup the brave Navajo's head in her hands while we contemplated our next move.

"We have to apply pressure to these wounds to stop the bleeding," Old Blackgoat said, "before we move him anywhere."

"I'll see what I can find," Steven said, leaving us for the living quarters of the palatial dwelling.

I tried to get the young lady to give us any information she could about what had happened, even though on the inside I knew she couldn't. She had to be in shock. No doubt it would be some time before she would be able to speak of the incident.

I turned my attention to the rotating pastel colored vortex and determined to climb upon the altar to get a better look at it. I took care to avoid the hidden pressure plate. I could see that the same golden honey glow emitted by Steven's bootblack can of pure faith was present, and as I continued to gaze into the slowly rotating aura of light and color, a tremendous calm came over me.

I drew as close to the aperture as I could, standing on my toes, straining to see...then it was too was a trap...I was lost. My torso was pulled upward. First my arms, then my head, soon my entire being was engulfed inside God only knew what. A tunnel? Yes, I was inside a tunnel filled with flowing multi-colored bits of light.

I marveled as my body hovered inside the entranceway of the vortex, then floated onward, defying known physical restraints, i.e., gravity, time,, but I felt no fear. The tunnel was alive with thought. It seemed to caress my mind with instructions enabling me to at once become one with the new environment. I perceived I could escape if I could but will it. But, finding my resolve was not to be.

Panic swept over me as I searched for the key. Speak, speak, speak, speak, I told myself. I flailed my arms groping for something, anything to hold onto. Finding nothing, I grabbed my ankles, and bowed against my arms with every ounce of might I could muster, until the pressure on my abdomen became excruciating, and the spirit voice of my belly came bursting from my lungs with a great cry. "STOP!", I demanded, sending a reverberating shockwave of power echoing throughout the passageway.

I felt my heart thumping like a piston. My scream had revitalized me. The peace that had been so pronounced at the outset of my journey through the passageway, void, vortex, whatever, began to return. I hovered, surveying my surroundings once more, contemplating my next move.

Revelations caressed my mind, each a gentle wave of precious understanding, refreshing, calming, reassuring. That I could control by merely willing it reassured me. I perceived that with concentration of thought I could navigate within this passageway, this dimension, this other world,...,whatever.

I should walk, I imagined, envisioning a golden pathway on which to tread. And there it was! I righted myself in mid-air, extended my legs downward, and, finding true support, proceeded toward what I deemed to be the direction from which I had come.

Everything will work out, I reasoned. I continue my journey with a full measure of control. If I have a self will, then I must be connected to my own spirit, and if connected to my own spirit, then I must be connected to the Spirit of God. If the Spirit of God is directing my spirit, then because I am connected to my spirit, my spirit is guiding me, and my perceptions are true. Therefore, I now understand how to operate in this realm. Faculties of the spirit/Spirit operate here. Faith works here. Imagination works here. Words become reality here. Perceptions are correct here. I can control whatever I envision, believe for, or say, right now! The physical realm cannot limit my spirituality in this realm. Oh, I see, this is the realm of the spirit! Awesome!

I was excited, but I had other things to consider. I needed to understand the "why" of my predicament, blessing, whatever. Perhaps Dr. Sheolman had worked a spell making trans-dimensional travel possible. Or worse yet, perhaps Dr. Sheolman had worked the same spell concocted by the Babylonians of Tower of Babel fame, the same spell that brought the confusion of languages on humanity, and subsequent dispersion.

But what about Dr. Sheolman? If this spell was his doing, where was he? I surmised that after bringing the tunnel into contact with the physical realm, either Sheolman had disappeared into it, or something had gone wrong, causing him to abandon both the tunnel and the Navajo couple, but I couldn't surmise what. Was the inter-dimensional tunnel a trap for Steven, Old Blackgoat, and me? I didn't perceive Dr. Sheolman's presence anywhere, not in my spirit, or in the spirit realm. He had disappeared.

It was time to get out of the tunnel. Getting out would be a snap, just will it by envisioning myself at the mouth of the vortex, and "Walla!� I'm out! I did it!

I flopped hard on the cold, golden altar. Dazed, I turned myself, and sat up. Steven was returning with water and cloth. Blackgoat was still kneeling by the wounded Navajo warrior. No time had elapsed during my journey, or at the very least, only a few minutes. I didn't think anyone had noticed my disappearance, but I sensed within my stint in timelessness was far longer than the time passed in the physical reality of the altar.

Old Blackgoat had noticed me impact the altar. Startling noises in a place like that tend to get your attention if you know what I mean. He saw I was alright and renewed his ministering to the young man.

Steven, on the other hand, had the entire scene in view. Handing medical supplies to Old Blackgoat, he came over to help me get off the altar.

"What in the world is going on?", Steven asked, in awe of what he had just witnessed. "Are you OK?"

"Sure, I'm alright," I said. "Listen," I said, "we've got enough to deal with. Just forget about what you saw for now. I'll tell you all about it later."

"Are you sure you are alright?" Steven asked once again.

"I'm sure," I said, and smiled.

Old Blackgoat was the first to notice the young Navajo was responding to the effects of the cool, moist towels.

"I think he's coming around," Old Blackgoat said.

Steven and I moved closer.

"See if you can get a little water down him", Steven said.

The young fellow surprised us all by gulping down the whole cup. "I'm O.K.", the young buck said, lifting himself up out of his wife�s cupped hands to a full sitting position.

"Take it easy," Old Blackgoat said. "We don't want to start those wounds bleeding again."

"Why don't you go get my 4X4,� Steven said to Old Blackgoat, handing him his keys. "The sooner we get these two some real medical attention, the better."

Blackgoat didn't respond. He didn't need to. We all knew there was high probability infection would, if it hadn't already, set in on the kind of wound inflicted on the young buck. The sooner we got him to the doctor, the better.

As Old Blackgoat headed for the double doors, Steven and I helped the young buck to his feet, taking care not to disturb the wrappings on arm and leg now secured by strips of cloth we had ripped from an extra towel.

We introduced ourselves, not intending to force any unnecessary conversation on the couple, but the young man, whose name we learned was Torre, needed to talk, and we listened.

"I'm sure you know," Torre said, "that Arlena, my wife, and I are not old enough to be married. We are only seventeen. We quit high school only last month when we learned Arlena was pregnant."

"Arlena...,Arlena...?" I thought to myself.. "Where have I heard that name before?"

Torre continued. "I was lucky enough to find a job working for a local food store, but still we have not been able to afford a car. Arlena sometimes shops where I work, and then waits for me to walk her home when my shift is over."

"It is several miles to our small trailer. Sometimes someone stops and gives us a ride. That is what happened this evening. I was sure we would be fine because I knew the man who picked us up. He used to be our school principal."

"Do you mean Dr. Sheolman?" I asked.

"Yes," Arlena said. "He told us he had been concerned about us and wanted to hear how we were doing. He asked us if we would mind riding a short distance with him on north of our trailer. He said he would drop us off on his way back. Torre and I were both so happy to ride with Dr. Sheolman. It was an honor to us that he cared.

"When he pulled off the road and headed for the gorge," the young Navajo woman continued, "he told us he was checking on a story about Satanism and asked us if we would like to look around the gorge with him for clues."

"I said sure," Torre interrupted. "I thought everything would be O.K., but when we came to a hole at the bottom of the cliff, he pulled a gun and forced us into it. We walked a short way to an elevator which brought us up here. Once here, he tied us both to the altar, then put on a white robe. Then he untied Arlena, and made her put on a robe, too. He told her if she didn't say and do exactly what he told her to, he would kill the baby in her womb."

"He gave me a page from a book," Arlena sobbed, "and told me to read it aloud over and over and not to stop reading no matter what I heard. He told me if I stopped he would kill us both instantly. So even when Torre began screaming I kept reading. I read until I was so hoarse I lost my voice. I expected to die instantly, but when the bullet didn't come, I looked up. Dr. Sheolman had disappeared. I tried to untie Torre, but I couldn't. I tried the elevator, but it didn't work. I ran to every room looking for a way out. When I finally found the other exit, that's when you found me."

"What do you think happened to Dr. Sheolman?" Torre asked us.

"Any number of things," Steven said, not willing to traumatize the young couple further with needless worry based on ungrounded speculation.

I picked up the paper Arlena had been reading from as we escorted the distraught couple through the double doors. There would be time to examine it later. Perhaps it explained the mystical origin of the vortex or the reality of Sheolman�s spell. I folded the parchment and stuffed it in my hip pocket.

"Arlena?" I thought, once more. "Where have.., oh, now I remember! She must have been the girl in the back seat of the six wheeler that saved me from trouble up atop Old Furry. That explains why Sheolman chose get even...."

We left hell central the way we found it, lights on, doors open. It was time for show and tell. I was sure, as an educator, Dr. Sheolman would appreciate our method. After all, we wanted to do the best job possible educating the public. I was sure Dr. Sheolman would understand ...

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