Futuristic Realities

Artwork by Gene Duplanter
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DVD Savant museum revival Review: Metropolis (dvdtalk.com)

THE DULMEN

By:

Steve Erdmann

Steve Erdmann – Copyright  – C – 2021

A novel of and written in the 1970s

Another version of this article can be found at The Shape of the Human Condition – https://wordpresscom507.wordpress.com/2020/06/07/

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Chapter One

The Dream World

Martin Salisbury was a stalwart man, in his early thirties by the standards of the society in which he lived, rather tall, rugged, and dark-complexed with a bronze look about his physique.  His face, the look of pure, untouched youth as if the purity of the honey of wild bees along with the scent of naivete’ as a graduate of the Parthenogenetic College of Imperial Dulmania.   He was a ‘Dulmen’—a rather muscular specimen of the one world government.  In his deep-red cape, knee high bronze sheen guards, the Dulman accentuated his uniform even more with his bold stance.  The metallic sheen of his metal fibered clothing outlined well the emblem of the Dulmen government___ a sword crossing a nude female body in a reclining position, leg raised, knee bent; around this curious X was a striking 3-dimensional artwork of flames and famous individuals of the Dulmen history—a history that was so extravagant and inclement as the fury implanted upon the emblem itself, a history largely hidden and inconsistent to any student that might be fully Dulmen.

From Ambrose Hill he could see Maylar City below—a metropolis of gleaming synthetic steel-like tubes, a crystal-clear diamond dome of a glass-like appearance containing tube-shaped structures 2000 feet or more into the air, cris-cross lines creating a patchwork of squares here and there and ant-size dots steadily moving along their lengths: the speedway and their “Zot” Cars, miniature mobile-homes-laboratories built into cozy traveling vehicles; the ‘Zot’ Cars ran on pure atomic energy.

Here and there was a glitter, a gleam would shoot upward from the complex of metal and diamond inside their Bubbles (smooth curved Domes as if growing out of the ground and containing the uniform and expensive homes of the residents).   Inside the Domes could be seen tall, stately mansions of Gothic-type architecture with many steps leading to Parthenon temples and Gothic forums, serenely constructed columns and spirals stood independently as if photographed from an ancient Roman city; flawless silver-like parabolic shaped constructions as long, low-radiused bulges of metal coming up from the ground; towering cubical superstructures of almost pure transparency; the ascending circular-levels of the ‘Arena’ distanced above each other.  One could also see the crowds of people as floating specks using  their transport aides— personal aerial transports mechanisms attached to their waists.

In other parts of the city could be seen two needle-type electrode-anode superstructures jutting crooked and jerking bolts of electricity between the two.   These Domes were miles in radius almost nudging Ambrose Hill, and they held the city in a state of controlled air-conditioning and seasonal regulation and adjustment.

Martin took a deep breath of the crisp fresh air.  He smiled smugly, then grabbed his cape and briskly swung around and marched into an archway-opening in the side of the cliff.

“Ground level please!”  he snapped at the attendant.  Attendants were necessary for their auto-airelevators, if only for policing purposes.  The Department of Welfare  had a high standard of vigil.

It had been a few hours since Martin had been released from his “perimeter of learning”  at the University in Zerok, a sister city of the capitol Mylar.  From the apex of Ambrose Hill, he could survey his homeland terrain like an inheritor of a vast fortune examining delicate fruit to be plucked at his whim.  The enclosure of the elevator subdued his passion somewhat, but his spirits rose to their previous height of the excitement when he was confronted with the huge cinemascope Viewing Screen  before him; an ingenious way of permitting the passengers to watch their ascent and descent as if they were virtually “falling”  or  ‘‘ascending’’ along the side of the hill (elevator was not the only mode of travel in Dulmania, but it was shared with several other modes that could have accidents and harm).

The cold, mechanical stare of the attendant was commonplace here in Dulmania—for years, human mice had been stimulated to do tricks and feats in their quest for a bit of cheese:  now mankind had become the mice and his blind hopes and vain aspirations had become the cheese.  

“Thank you.”  Martin looked quickly from side to side as he stepped out of the elevator chamber onto the smooth pavement street which led straight to the city several miles away.  A Zot Car of the Department of Welfare swung abruptly in front, its sliding panel moved rapidly (sometimes the  Dissolve Mode  would  be used and an opening would magically appear), revealing the opening to the vehicle as several descending steps permitted Martin easier passage.  The panel slid shut.  The Zot Car practically made a 90-degree turn and shot down the stretch of highway towards the domed city several miles away.

Before the mighty hulk of the city, all terrestrial creation seemed to bow in ignoble servility!

**********

Chapter Two

The Brain

“Martin! Martin Salisbury,” the voice was almost tearfully happy.  An elderly, plump, ruddy-faced man came around his desk, a shining semi sphere suspended a foot or so above the floor, revealing an indented writing panel on one side.

Martin thought it somewhat comical how one looked as if he were sitting in midair aside one of these desks for one was suspended by scientifically controlled jets of air and laser light from vents in the floor as they cushioned one’s body in the air at various heights. This was one’s ‘chair.’

The ruddy-faced man grasped the young lad’s hand: “Martin,” he said again, this time with the concern of a loving father, “It’s good to see you.  Please sit next to me.”    He led the fellow by the hand a few feet to his desk and pressed a button.  Martin smiling broadly was magically elevated into the air.  The gentleman pushed another button and Martin floated within pleasant conversation distance.

“Uncle Redress— my friend —”  Martin had wet drops of moisture forming in his eyes.  He tried to hold back the emotion of tears.  Their hands met — they spoke no more for a moment for fear of bursting into raw emotion.   After a moment of calm, Uncle Redress spoke.

“Well Martin, tell me, have you really graduated from the Institution of Truth or are you still playing hooky with lush damsels of the Aroian Palaces?”

The remark immediately brought a recurring reminiscence consisting of mosaic gardens, dogwood trees and exotic scrubs, cool, refreshing fountains of sparkling water, giggling adolescence, all geared to counter what fears and frustrations an aristocrat may have in his  bustling paradise.

Martin noticed the obvious humor and laughed, “No, Uncle,  your Martin has finally graduated—graduated!”   Martin slapped his hands almost fanatically on his legs with a sharp snap.  “Uncle, you’ll not know the exhilaration I feel – like – like…”

“Like a superman?”  It was a musing remark from his uncle.

“Yes!  Like a Superman.  I am a Superman!”   He looked thoughtfully at his Uncle and leaned forward to him, “We are Supermen!”

“Right my son, right.”  His Uncle reached into the storage boxes of his desk-sphere and pulled out a capsule of Z-BR8, a drug of mind-bending proportions comparable in utility to the cigarettes smoke several hundred years ago.   First there had been the hallucinogens, then Peso Drin, Cobanarcin, till an altogether different specialty arose when the “drug complex” completely broke down and a policing of all used and registered drugs were quarantined by the Momads of the Kausar Regime which added a special toxin to be sold and exchanged in public consumption.

‘‘Care for one?”

“Yes, thank you,”  Martin responded.

A quick snap of the capsules between the thumb and fingers and the Z-BR8 ingredient was suddenly absorbed into the bodies’ metabolism. It took only a fraction of a second.

“Tell me my loved one, just what do they instruct in those grand halls of teaching today? You know, it’s been over 130 years since I was strolling the great auditoriums and laboratories,”  the uncle’s eyes searched the air longingly as he spoke.  “Ah, thaw’s heaven itself!  Tell me,  please, is Professor Airheart still there?”

Martin was not sure he heard the question correctly for a generation of rewritten history had occurred since his uncle’s attendance at Zerok.

“Uncle!”  Martin chuckled, “That was over hundred and forty years ago,” he sobered for a moment, “Professor Airheart was executed…” Martin quickly caught himself; what a foolhardy mistake—things had changed so much since then, one hundred and forty years, especially in Dulmen schemata, could be considered a long time, many generations!

“Executed!” his uncle thundered. “You are mistaken, my son!” Puzzlement shown all over his face, “Professor Airheart…?”   Anger began to show on the uncle’s face:  “He was one of the greatest political scientists…,”  he stopped for he was overcome with his own emotion.

“Ah uncle let us not argue! It’s my first visit!”

Martin was being gracious indeed.  He could have his uncle jailed for such arrogance.  For a long time, it had been  a teaching of the Dulmen government that the elders did not speak out against  the younger. The youngsters were so much more previous.   All the scientific Mind Control, the Hilam-Hick-8489-Abstraction-Mind-Philosophy  was come of age.   No oldster tasted of such ‘Truth.’   A knowledge explosion had been started without any scheme of where it would lead them, or who would be smashed beneath its crawl as it progressed.  Wisdom and truth, at least that approximation that was deemed coaxial with Dulmen philosophies at that period, came at an earlier age in the Dulmen world – and earlier and earlier.

“I’m sorry! Sorry,”  Uncle Redress lowered his head.

“Indeed,”  Martin replied softly.

Martin reached over to the desk and took another capsule, doing the same as before releasing  the toxin into his body.  He looked rather coolly at this uncle.

“You asked about schooling.  Many things have changed.  Plane A of the early structure of learning has become compressed within a period of several weeks.  As you remember, it took a year or more, “ said Martin.  “They’ve done away with private isolation chambers.  We are now all continued in gravity-free lines forming a ‘hub’ in the air and there are over six hundreds of these levels several miles into the air. This is called a Silo—miles of floating bodies, everyone lined to the ‘Brain,’  the Big Sire, as the students call it.  It resembles nothing of the old system. Plan B: it reaches further. You remember the underground Hyper-Thought-Ocean where some four million minds floated in the electromagnetic fluid for at least three days?  Now, over 60,000,000 –  if need be –  can be passed through in a steady flow.”

A receiver rang, a small red light on the desk-sphere was the only evidence.

‘‘Hello?”  Uncle Redress spoke into the open air.

“Master Arian, Division G-2, wishes to speak to you and Sire Salisbury – both –  at once,” came a clear voice seemingly from midair.  “He will be coming along shortly, please,”  instructed the midair voice.

Martin’s uncle smiled a bit sheepishly when looking back to the young man, and then almost with a sign of inferiority went on to explain, “Master Arian is also a graduate, short one year than yourself, Martin…”

“Yes, I’ve seen him over the years.  I will be happy to confront a fellow student face to face,” confessed Martin.

“As a graduate with honors, Martin, he will soon take my place.”  There was only slight shock to the words of the elderly officiate, for the new structure of government was happening so fast that nothing could surprise them anymore.

“He will direct your office soon?”  asked Martin unnecessarily.  His uncle nodded resolutely.

Within seconds Arian walked into the room.  While all three persons present were dressed in the attire of the ancient Roman warriors of Greece, Martin had been  the only one wearing the full array of leather-like vinyl-atomic-synthesized-breast covering, and plumed gold helmet. Arian and Sire Redress wore more comfortable clothing consisting of sandals, light metal-fibered clothing with the official Dulmen emblem. The clothing design was generally that of ancient Greece – though Martin, or any of the others, would have not  invariably traced clothes to that  time; neither did they know that such a country had once existed!

Martin was now holding his helmet in his lap.  Martin didn’t stand; Arian bowed reverently to Martin.  The young man nodded back.  This much protocol was automatic and honorable as breathing to a Dulmen aristocrat.

Arian Yul was a fair complexed, slender, and broad-shouldered fellow.  When he was a child of three, he had been the pride and joy of his alleged mother.  While his mother had hopes of young Arian becoming an interplanetary pilot in the Dulmen military, Arian had different hopes and expectations. He envied the young bourgeois of the University Forums; these were the reckless and dramatic – ofttimes, violent – protégé’s of the various educational branches of special education.  Some would become highly skilled politicians (after one or two scandals), some great doctors (after a murder or two), and perhaps even a few would aspire to engineers and chemical scientists only (following some form of mass destruction on their part; they would call it evidence of their skill).

But Arian didn’t fail on that point and had claimed several atrocities to his record before graduation from the Dulmen reorientation process—a process that was impregnated into every human creature on the face of the Earth.  The process reached its acme in aristocracy and the demigods where Dulmania only could they give it the official enjoinment and “stamp of approval.”

“Have you informed Martin of the situation yet, Arian?”  the uncle  addressed the co-worker-aristocrat.   He hovered directly in front of the desk where Uncle Redress extended the drawer exposing the stock of Z-BR8 drugs.  Martin took another.  Arian simply ignored them.

“Not as yet,”  Arian began to realize the true purpose of the visit and needed to get back on track with the true sentiments, his face became serious.  He subdued the ‘jets’ beneath him lowering him to the floor, pacing slowly as he spoke.

“Martin, I have a rather weird, complexed story to tell. I don’t really…” his uncle’s eyebrows rose and lowered  “…know how to start…Ah…”  he glanced at Arian “…perhaps because we don’t really know what we’re up against!”

“That’s what we hope to find out!”  Arian added.

Martin noticed the slight confusion and used it as ample opportunity to inject a fresh idea.  ‘‘yes, maybe we would go to a local diner for a lunch.  Perhaps the atmosphere would be more conducive?”

It was obvious that the bulky framed Department Head had no intention of going into deep discourse now.  Perhaps he had more hopes of soliciting the affection of his nephew more appropriately (the latest manufactured replica of Dulmania in human form on public display).

“To the Arena basement?”  asked Uncle Mark Redress with a touch of pleasantry.

“Fine. That sounds nice,” Martin nodded. “but let us walk.  At the Academy we were taught to walk, not for the fact that our physiques thirsted of it, bit out of the tradition of good health.  And we are to walk as the gods we truly are – praise Vera, the heavenly seductress,” he smiled gingerly, “besides, a stroll in this great city would interest me!”

“Swell,” his uncle acknowledged, “we have some great points of interest for such a fine graduate.”   There was a touch of humor.

“Come!” Arian graciously bid them to leave with a polite Julius Caesar-Shakspearian gesture of the hand. 

Through the passageway thy walked, and just as quickly the wall reproduced itself into a solid mass, the same as before.

**********

Chapter Three

Conspiracy

In full array, the three men briskly walked down the streets of the city, proudly and vainly, as the official gods they claimed.  On their waists they carried small boxes that hummed slightly; these are the sensors  –  a micro spy agency in a box.  Through these little boxes, information was fed to and from a central computer and Informational Brain in the Department of Welfare.   Any detection of human forms and alien agencies following the three man with possible criminal intent would start the detection and then processthe information.  It could even smell the aroma of a person within miles, detect their nervous status and, eventually, criminal behavior or intent—then the following  arrest!  There was no predetermined range.

The mechanism worked  in principle of using various sensitive substances and chemical reactions of micro pick-up plates which used electronic modulation of the atomic reactions as recorded and amplified crystal-clean.

(A very simplified example would be the way a sulfur dioxide chemical reaction to wet litmus paper breaking the beam of light to a device recording the intensity of the beam.  Substances of various kinds could be used in various chemical reactions involving an accurate measurement of hundreds of odors.  Dulmen science had refined it a hundredfold to ‘atoms’ being collected in the air for miles and then identified according to their molecular ‘beds’ — if they had highly classified material to discuss, an alarm would sound the minute any trouble was detected, they weren’t taking any chances.)

Martin was seeing a stunning avenue of white, silver, and green; largely fashioned after the architecture of the ancient Romans –  one would think that Martin was on Rome’s Mars Hill but with weird abstractions of the ultramodern  interwoven.  The beast-like statues on each side of the wide expanse of steps leading to the hill that were skirting the entrance of the Department  of Warfare were not lions or bears, but even more grotesque beasts: mutations created in the Dulmen laboratories for battle.   The “Bors,”  they were called, super strong, raging, furious masses of terror; hide thick, strong as steel (yet flesh); jaws as strong as that of a 20-ton steel trap; multiple arms and tentacles with the tensile strength of diamond that would sweep and slash flagitiously.  The Boors, created as a scientists’  vain joke, had become centuries ago an indispensable weapon and had been used by the thousands in battle and herded into conflict to subdue and destroy cities and villages ahead of the on-coming armies.   

The pillars of the complex were made of diamonds from the depths of Jupiter and Mars. The steps were carbon synthetics from Dulmen laboratories as if polished gems fit for a god.

Ahead walked the graceful bodies of the maidens of the city strolled; genetically bred, named after Dulmen goddesses of lust, perfect specimens of female invention—they were totally Dulmen in nature.  Martin watched them as they majestically climbed the stairs into the shadows of the pillars and columns in their thin, transparent robes revealing their nudeness; some carried jars of perfume; some carried exotic drink—they all were meant to adorn the streets of Mylar City.

“I think you’ll enjoy our Arena Pub,”  Uncle Redress informed. “Some of the more noted dignitaries will probably be there.”   He was loosening up quite rapidly as denoted by a hidden smile upon his face.  The three strolled robustly, capes flipping with vigorous rolls of the cloth in the city breeze.   Here, there, the erotic maidens appeared; some childishly laughing as they stood near a well or a fountain or raced around green foliage or trees.   Everything appeared programmed.

It was dusk and golden hues appeared in the sky outside of the domed city which allowed a majestic view of the setting sun.  A flash appeared as Dulmen spacecraft passed silently over the domed city in perfect unison and coordination—small balls of light which suddenly veered in a 90-degree turn, then disappearing at great speed.

The city had begun to light up; fountains were rainbow colors; there were no streetlights—things lit up; a pillar there, a statue here; a tower; an archway; a stainless steel-like structure, a rotundum of many stories high and many hundreds of feet wide, lit up the city at night highlighting  gigantic Dulmen emblems.  People could be seen going up and down the structure, carried by the midair suspension mechanisms seen  as thousands of dots moving uniformly.

If the three aristocrats could have known of previous eras in history, they would have known of an unknown Roman poet of the third century A.D lustfully wrote his verse on the Eve of St. Venus:

So, the petalled crimsons have unveiled their blush,

And a flame of roses breaks from the warm clusters,

The goddess herself has bidden the roses loosen,

The raiment from their maiden buds,

To be naked virgin birds in the fresh daybreak.

But since those millions of passing moments had been so fettered from their senses, they would probably espouse a similar poem of one their contemporary poets, Zol:

Computer quadrant A – strobe, strobe, strobe,

Take all that is within this heart of mine,

And feel the passion rise,

Computer quadrant E – connect, link, charge,

For before the night’s reprieve,

Our lusts will all run dry.

Poems were all usually synchronized with the deranged minds of the Dulmens’  Brain, an insanity that had become conformity and a berserk reasoning that had become the norm.

The men were in active conversation, Arian gesturing quickly with his hands as if in symphonic proportions, a thrust of his hands here and there.  Uncle Redress was more consistent, his hands a steady shaking of his fists.  Martin was a little more than interested in what was being said glancing down and forwards over and over in pensive thought ad serious concern.

(For they were but smothered, mindless creatures, totally under the watchful eye of that largely unseen but forever present Thing that was lurking behind all earthly creation whose astral eyes that treated mundane existence as if cogs in the overall sardonic game.  To see them from the vantage point of ourHidden Jupiter, they are but synthetic manikins on a large chess board of human activity painted with realistic, sweet smiles and ostentatious glares, but nevertheless as empty as the clay and dirt from which mankind was once constructed.   Even their language was styled and put-on.)

The story Martin was hearing unfolded before him was indeed intriguing—-for anyone who was aware of the Dulmen hierarchy  and  its exotic methods of espionage—-for anyone to escape the detection of The Brain stationed deep within the bowels of the Earth (far below even The Department of Truth, its sister Department of Welfare,  the Thought Police and The Welfare Patrol) was indeed fantastic. Dulmen people were not only watched, but their lives were programmed and computed!

But this is what the indications were: somewhere, somehow, persons unknown has been detected with no electronic linkage whatsoever with the Central Brain.  How startling, for everything had been checked over and over; there were no flaws in the components of the computer; the hanumen monsters which crawled the limbs of the Big Sire reported resoundingly that all was well. The alarm systems were functioning perfectly.  Everything was completely within the prescribed framework built upon Handleson-Berg system of failsafe.

One of the hundreds of new innovations in the Ultra Computer was that of Mean Time to Failure had been reduced to a nominal minimum by self-regulation of all electronic and mechanical parts of The Brain itself.  The whole body of the computer was, in effect, a pulsating, scintillating organism mimicking flesh and blood organisms.  The link-up leads were fashioned much after the nucleotides in the DNA arrangement of the human body; the electronic logic circuitry after the genetic chain that might be found in deoxyribonucleic acid; there were many more comparisons that were numerous and fantastic.

A ride through the computer shafts of the Big Sire was a psychedelic adventure to anyone of a knightlier bent.   A full, three-hour excursion could be made in gravity-controlled projectiles in the shafts traveling through flashing circuitry and shimmering, crawling walls of flesh-like metals and synthetic ‘cells.’   From the middle of a shaft to the end of its radius was one mile:  A multitude of Computer Projectiles  traveled each shaft of the thousands of shafts throughout the computer.

No one knew the exact extent or range of The Brain but the  Brain itself—-this audacity was tolerated only in the fairyland of Dulmenia!

**********

Chapter Four

Nowhere to Hide

“Just when was the first indication of a conspiracy?” asked Martin, sipping the nectar from the thimble cup.

About them was a rather dreamy scene of flowing curtains and polished metal mobiles and statues of abstract war-gods and lustful goddesses.  Couples and citizens were reclining or seated around transparent tables — all suspended in midair on invisible suspending jets; some were at different levels; some separated by walls of flowing curtains.  A large service bar was to one side, where barely clothed maidens floated to various parts of the room delivering the refreshments.  Behind the service bar was an enormous telescopic view of the inside arena: some of the most degenerate debauchery was going on now in the Circus Maximus.  

‘‘Well, you see, Martin – ah, we can call it a conspiracy – but we don’t know of it as such yet.   All we can say is that these unknown entities – well, they’ve just escaped control, that’s all.”   For a man of almost 200 years of age, Mark Redress spoke with the vibrant manner of a young Mus-chute,  that band of Dulmen soldiers who stormed the hidden cities of the Vars  deep within the mountains of planet Mars.

The Vars were the last of the remaining population of what was once the lower Eastern hemisphere of earth some 1000 years ago who had escaped to Mars for safety.   And while Uncle Redress was somewhat heavy now, there wasn’t an ounce of flesh he couldn’t harden into muscle by tightening of his tendons in his youthful moments.

“Amazing! But why haven’t they been captured – at least one of them?”

Martin expressed a small amount of pique by flexing his fist and elbow on the table.

Arian was sitting cross-legged and in deep seriousness, then he shrugged.  “Could it be incompetence?” he asked.

“Oh wait, my noble friend,” Uncle Redress swiftly informed, “let’s not speculate unnecessarily — you are speaking of the death penalty.”

Death in the kingdom was without hope of immorality.  Only the Dulmen hierarchy had the power of continual existence (or not) of one’s personality being recorded on  Atom Discs  and played into a newborn infant when life was again restored.  There was a slight psychological problem at first, but that was only temporary and Dulmen ingenuity again solved the problem.  This immorality was the only kind offered to those who had lived devoted lives to the Dulmen government  and bestowed upon a person in the name of one or two of the god or goddesses of Dulmen creation.

“It wouldn’t be the first time, dear Arian; though I must admit  it was during the Xerion era that the last traitors were captured.”  Martin paused and gave a slight sneer-like sniff while gazing through the transparent table.   “The fools!  My father spoke of how proud and vain they were while they feverishly worked at building that contrivance that purported to blast Mylar City off the face of the Earth.”

Martin’s vocal cord moved nervously at the utterance of the word father, for Misslou the Great was but a dark void in his memory—- the smile, the looks, the gestures of his father were vivid recollections, but they were cold, empty, almost like spurious food or the feel of a wet tongue against cold metal.  The memories resembled as one viewing a theatrical presentation over the Thought Screen in his father’s lifetime, and it all seemed just as distant.  Martin went on:

“They didn’t realize that they had been watched for over six months – clear on up to the surprise capture.”  Martin summoned for another drink; the baldheaded man behind the bar nodded.

“But you see, Martin, this is so much different.  No one’s attempted anything of the sort. We’ve found no evidence of infiltration.  Sectors A through Q have been completely voided of Specs.”   Uncle Redress went on, wrinkling his forehead in consternation as if to impress the problem upon the young nobleman.

“ I see.  That leaves us without any available data?” asked Martin.

“Just some eyewitness data.”

“And what did it disclose?”

“A variety of individuals. Some elderly; some in youth; at least five altogether.”

“And they were seen only in the sprawling Flats and its Pit Areas, the Outer Cities, Bubble Cities?”  queried Martin.

The Pit and the Outer Cities  were those villages and hamlets outside the Bubble Cities; while these environments were policed regularly and scanned always, there still was a semblance of freedom, often just for the whim of the Dulmen aristocracy.  Mylar police would gather Outer City citizens off the street to erase all control, speak rude and derogatory phrases, and deliberately throw them into a rage, only to kill them on the spot, or arrest them to be used as bait for the events in the Arena where the three men presently had the opportunity to be seated.

The Pit was a multilevel, underground city, sometimes stationed near Outer Cities as an extension.  As one descended through the levels, one also descended the cultural way of lives within  the  subterranean shafts.  Within the bowels of the Earth were some human animals in ghettos that still utilized the homes of the once rich some several hundred years previous, though savage hands and minds plied them to shambles and ruins, some more than others, though by Dulmen standards of its  aristocracy,  the homes were slums.  These cavities became abodes of discarded creatures, while always under strict surveillance, were permitted to exist. One could enter these territories, these lost limits, when fooled that control might seemingly appear lax, but where  laxity never really existed at all.

The ‘Flats’ were miles of nuclear bombed craters and peculiarly rearranged landscape having the appearance of the craters on the Moon.

“Apparently then,”  Martin continued as he adjusts his sandal a notch, “it  is these areas that must be closely watched.”   Martin glanced into the serious faces of the two officiates.  “There are several things we can do.  We must program preliminary tapes into the Central Computer to scan those lower regions more fully.  Then check again the Big Sire to see if any accommodative action was taken,’’ Martin smiled, “ we don’t want to infuriate the intelligence of the Brain, we’ll humbly suggest such, and, depending on this, we may send out patrols of police to those points of suspicion.  From what I access, it doesn’t pose much of a problem.”

The others were obviously more vexed with Martin’s conclusion.  “It’s outrageous Martin!  I have no sympathy for any citizen who would dare to conspire – in anyway – against Dulmen authority,”  Arian expounded.

“And you yourself know how difficult it is to break the Ring of Detection.”

“To do so, one would have to be one of the Hanuman Incubi that crawl in the flesh of the Majesty Brain hidden the god cities.  No one has ever seen them, to my knowledge,” Uncle Redress was trying to  emphatic, “indeed, their specific locations in the computer inner sanctum is unknown”   Mark Redress was silent for a moment; was the young nobleman getting the proper perspective?  “I don’t see how the possibility of Reality Escape could be.”

At the words “reality escape,”  a low clicking could be felt in the back of young Martin’s brain.  He subtly reared his head back, as if drawn from a magnetic to that sound.  Perhaps it was a burst of electrical energy that was activated within the nerine matter of his brain (a common occurrence that was indicative of the detection of the Mighty Sire) to the ruling computer and its eternal vision.  Martin gained his composure without indicating the slight intrusion; one would compare it to it to a hypnotic subject coming out of a session-trance without any awareness of the intervening time lost.

‘‘Yes, yes, your right uncle,” Martin added, “it is intriguing, I must admit.  I make no pretention as to that fact.  It is of great interest.  I can only imagine how much it concerns you as the Caesar Officiate of theDepartment of Dulman Security.   I imagine you’ve been pulling your hair out.”   At Martin’s words,  Uncle Redress lifted his eyes towards his forehead and rubbed his hand on a balding spot there in evident humor.   “But I want to also impress upon you,”  Martin continued, “the opportunity this gives us for loftier ambitions.  I think it will brighten up your perspective, no end.  You now think it is nothing but a threat.  But it could possibly be an opportunity for gaining honors with the gods, such as not been seen since the Xerion Conspiracy.  Did not either of you think of that?”

Martin glanced curiously at the two staring somewhat mystified back at him.  Arian nodded in accordance.  So, he was a graduate only greater than he by one year, thought Arian Yul, but he was not going to become the new Cesar Officiate of the Department of Dulmen Security.  Even if the thinking of the younger graduate was fresh and active, Arian hoped that he need not worry as to the security of his forthcoming position.  He could have said those words just as easily, he assured himself.  But then, one year was only one year, and who was to say the Big Sire didn’t have something special in mind with this Son of Misslou?

A loud roar arose from the large crowds of spectators around the arena.  Everyone in the lounge must have looked up at the Panorama Screens which had been giving them a full-length, cinematic, virtual reality view of the circus.  Portions of the spectators were in frenzy, leaning over their fellow viewers and waving their fists and shouting profanities.  Others were pouring aphrodisiac drink and perfumes into the air.  Some were engaged in rather sensuous and activities in the spectators areas as well.  In the Circus Proper  below several hybrid beasts were devouring Dulmen maidens deliberately brought to the Circus in prospect of such erotic acts; they symbolized the fertility of maidenhood.

At one end of the circus, policemen were beating couples into doing sexual copulation; each being replaced by new couples while the exiting couples were taken to their destruction—-males to sadistic battles to their death, females to their death by beast.  It was the height of perversity, and it was what everyone had waited to participate in during the Week of Preparation.

(Somewhere in the Dulman hierarchy, the ratio of human passion was recorded against the tolerance of Mind Control, supposedly for scientific purposes: it reeked of the essence of one European dictator centuries before, called Hitler, and for similar scientific experience.)

Martin was also gripped with the scene.  It had been some years since his last visit to the arena.  As a young boy of nearly fourteen – Dulmen time scale –  he could remember the rote loyalty drills; these were bits of phonic, holographic testing and training that young noblemen  were exposed to during their waking hours; the sole purpose being to psychologically train them to the Dulmen Imperialism as if a Father Image.   Whatever self-esteem was involved for a young nobleman or women —  indeed, any child, nobility or not  —  from a parent — it would be virtually traced back organically as a love for the child’s government, right or wrong, as a nostalgic and invincible ‘Father.’

Background music would be a steady beat of a monotonous thud of base sounds whenever the word loyaltywould be shouted out followed by more successions of monotone sounds until sequence was repeated.  Soon the word ‘loyalty” would flash on the Cinematic-Virtual-Reality-Holographic-Thought-Screen  along with an audible production of the word.  This would be repeated over and over.  The words “loyalty Dulmania,” with the same pattern and sight variation happened (a quick flash of various current places and people of importance would appear for split seconds in screaming out to the audience seated in utter darkness):   A plethora of gods, goddesses, battle scenes, Grand Caesars of Dulmania, various points of historical and contemporary prestigious scenery.  One would suddenly find oneself flooded with an array of fantastic, scientifically timed portrayals of sight and sound.

At points, various pictorial and live action events happening within the arena  where injected into perceiving minds; first, still- photographs, then live action, always decorated with corresponding slogans such as “love Imperial Dulmania,”  “feel its Eagle Grip,’’  “ Eternal Dulmania, it is our life,” and other bombastic slogans.

(It would have been only with slight surprise that Martin would have previously left his small cubical chamber at his University to march rank and file, along with fellow students, to the Arena to their pretentious Forum area allotted for the University City, to find themselves wrapped up in the frenzied, exhilarating optative miasma as an evil aroma of lust and violence  directed towards the love of a Fatherly Dulmania.  The brutal Forum debates were only a childish form and preparation for the coition with the Arena.  Martin had visited more frequently  since those earlier visits.)  

Martin sipped pensively on his capsule of drink, eying the Screen rather coldly but enraptured. The huge bulk of the muscular policemen’s back blocked the midportion of the view; every muscle churning, rippling, stretching with the mechanical lashing of the whip as it ripped up the flesh with bits of the metal knives protruding at the end of the whip.   

The Screen was suddenly streaked with red drops of blood which rolled down as the Pickup Lens was within the range of the slaughter.  Blood was starting to spurt everywhere, yet no one turned their heads away in disgust.  No one winced.  No one  protested.  There was nothing of protest or uneasiness that would have been representative of more sacred societies.   Amid the screaming, shrieking mobs, one could hear the shouts of “Kill!  Kill!  Kill!”

“Wonderful!” groaned Arian.  Arian lifted himself upon his knees placing one hand on the invisible cushion of thrust and leaned forward as if to fall into the three-dimensional panorama.  Uncle Redress stood upright with his hands at his waists, breathing rather heavily, his fingers turning white from the taunt pressure on his belt; his complexion was more than ruddy, it was dark red; and it looked as if he had gone the limit of the mind-bending drug.  Martin also stood upright, hand supporting chin, the other arm supporting elbow.

The ruffle of velvet and silk came from the shadows as a petite but charming face of one Countess Flora moved into the soft light, the stone white complexion of her pristine, cold but lovely skin was seemingly filled with an icy and penetrating radiance.   As if drawn by the magnetic pull of her eyes, Martin rose to his feet, staring deeply into those eyes. 

Countess Flora had obviously been informed of the new graduate and his title as the son of the late Misslou the Great.   Already rumors had started to spread  prior to his homecoming telling of his flighty, mysterious ambitions. Martin recognized the famous Countess immediately, the gracious Mistress of Mylar, for her prestige had spread far and wide among the aristocracy.  For Martin it was a bit more personal as he gazed with awe, for the Countess had been the mistress of Misslou, the General Deluxe, and it was with a bit of nostalgic interest that she had her way to the Arena that day.

The Countess moved to one side of a dangling mobile of  faces  and shapes, smiling innocently at the young man, her blonde hair blown  gently by the breeze.  A juvenile handmaiden floated quickly to the nobleman and offered a perfumed handkerchief, which Martin took, and she receded back to the side of her mistress.  Martin rubbed the material between his fingers and casually glanced  to her for reassurance.  Martin looked around to see many people staring in wonderment, as well as the bothered expressions on the faces of his present companions.

Someone switched the décor lighting, and the room was bathed in a seductive blue hue spotted by sparkles of light reflecting from revolving mobiles.  Anxious swoons went out from the café’ crowd as they were drawn by more of the barbarous activity going on in front of them on the virtual realistic Thought Screen.

Martin sniffed casually on the perfumed handkerchief.  He stepped away from his table and stood on his ‘palm’ of controlling jets.

“You know, gentlemen,” Martin spoke clearly and intentionally brisk with no sign of artificial phoniness, “a solider would certainly be worthy of such ecstasy if one paid homage in a special way to Great Goddesses Lucia, Vera, Donna, Sherell, and offer a gift of the highest order!”

Martin slowly took larger stepped forward, his face erasing each minute wrinkle one by one as growing rapture encased his face till it converged into a youthful sheen of fanaticism.   “Not since the Xerion Era has such a challenge been.  I’ll offer no stately mansion; no invention; I’ll offer no orgy; no new asteroid for a well-loved goddess.”

He was drawing as much attention to himself now as was the chaotic activity in the Arena to the attending viewers;  In fact, his gestures and actions seemed to blend in perfectly with what had been going on before them.   A neurotic feeling arose within him, a confused melody of emotions, partially dedicated to “ love of Fatherly Dulmania,’’ and partially to his own Superman lusts!  Only in a world were satyrs, imps, trolls, ghouls, where all  the Orient and Greecen monsters had truly come to be —-could such thoughts—-have taken shape.

The young nobleman steadily moved forward out of the shadowed area into the glow of the Viewing Screen, his face lit with a soft fluorescence as his steadily pounded his fist in the palm of his other hand.

“I’ll offer a gift worthy of a new Dulmen graduate!  One that will show the true stature of this Prince of Duggar, Son of Misslou!   Greatness as has never been seen will be demonstrated as a lesson to all!”    Martin’s eyes wide with frenzied thought; his breathing labored and intense; Martin threw  both arms above his head in a dramatic V  as his cape swung to make a dark silhouette of the beastie god, solider policeman.  “I’ll give them the conspirators!  Soon! Here, for the Circus!”

In momentary relief from tension,  Martin casually turned to the Countess who had lurched back into the shadows and was looking ominously at the graduate.  He bowed quixotically to her with his helmet in one hand.

In the background continued the shouting and clapping of the Circus groan beating to the continued slaughter:

“Kill!  Kill!  Kill!”

**********

Chapter Five

Prelude to Destruction

In the dark  surveillance room, the Spec Boards eerily glowed  in the dark.  The faces of the operators could be seen seated in front of the detection screens, oval graphs of sectors A through Q; these concerned the Pit Area and the Outer Cities and  their Entrance Perimeters.

Martin hadn’t wasted any time:  he had quickly posted police squads in various parts of the cities.  Should anything be detected, it would be forwarded to the Brain  when the Spec Boards located that  particular white dot that meant a genetic-molecule arrangements not within the electromagnetic effect of the Brain—-police would converge on that spot within a matter of minutes.

Uncle Redress leaned close to one of the screens as the operator waited to point at an uncertain blimp.  Uncle Redress smiled fatherly.  Squeezing on the man’s shoulder as they both smiled: some aberration had appeared on the screens, probably due to an animal or bird that may not have pertinently computed.

Uncle Redress  had spent many hours in such Operation Rooms during a battle some decades ago when they circled Mars and pinpointed the scattered number of Vars  after they had smashed their major hideouts.  The Martian surface had been broken up into specific sectors outlined by intrinsically accurate grids: down to the micro degrees (for the sake of the operators, not the computers, which needed no such illustration).  It was only with the invention of the new Genetic Modulation Analyzer-Computer (G.M.A.C) that the blackout effect of the Vars could truly be combated.

Uncle Redress had gotten quite a thrill and become quite an expert at locating the white specs of light popping up on the grids, moving converging and  spreading. He also directed the feeding of the computer with the grid information as well as the aiming of the Atomic Guns that propelled a stream of electromagnetically atoms from a circling satellite to those individual lights as an uncontrolled atomic reaction in the bodies of the victims and their total annihilation.

The defeat of the Vars was stupendous news after their escaping  detection of some 700 years.   Much hoped for ingenuity had been put into their Vars encounter.   “To Find the Vars – To Destroy the Vars”  had been a Dulmen slogan during those battle-lean years.  Uncle Redress had found himself in such a unique position at the frontlines – it was only natural that his name was brandished about from every citizen and propagandist news film and Thought Record.  His face loomed from many billboards and placards for some time as a national hero  –   as a well-trained graduate which earned him high places of esteem in the Dulmen government at that time.

The present episode had that atmosphere of suspense, that anxiety and excitement which could only appeal to a Dulmen soldier and his swelled pride.  For a moment it seemed as if it was anticipation of locating Vars all over again.  The Vars: who had journeyed to another planet to escape the consummate evils that had come upon them.

**********

A Cascade of light appeared on side of the room wherein Arian entered and the opening vanished.  “How are things, Mark?”  Arian took a position next to Uncle Redress and began a casual examination of the Screens.

“Nothing, nothing as yet,” Mark Redress dryly responded.  The snap of a Z-BR8 capsule was heard.  “I don’t imagine it will be too much longer.”

“Well, I’m to meet Salisbury,”  informed Arian, “he’s following the police squad through City A-1 now.  I believe he feels that it will be in those areas that any response will be made.”  One could almost become hypnotized by the soft glow of the screens with the  tranquilizing aura they projected—-of course, that was impossible as the Brain would block it instantaneously.  “By the way,” Arian continued, “police squadrons and Spec-Observations are being  erected in the 200-odd cities in this territory.  Should we find anything there—-well, it would only amplify the problem was much bigger than we imagined.  To think!”

“I thought we’d do that, Arian, we really did,’’  Mark assured the group as he leaned on a panel of one screen into its in its glow.

“Well, I best go.”  Arian broke his gaze away from the glow.  “Keep in touch,”  seeing the humor of the situation, chuckled, “No doubt.”  

In the thinking of the two Dulmen Statesmen-Soldiers it would be a matter of minutes before another historical epoch in Dulmen history would be swiftly traversed.

**********

City A-l was nestled in the rolling fills just outside of Mylar City.  In fact, some of the suburban homes were only a thousand feet or so from the transparent dome of the Dulmen god-City.  From where Martin stood it was many miles from the other side of City A-1.

From their elevated point the group could look down  and observe the god-City of blinking lights, glimmering Zot Cars on streets, the rumble and haunting chatter of the neighborhoods below where lights and lit homes looked like many twinkling stars dotting the hills of the terrain.  Further on the horizon, like some huge and gigantic, majestic moon beyond a horizon plain  stood the magnanimous dome of Mylar; the tall, metallic  and synthetic structures from within  jutted up, slightly resembling the pock-marked features of Earth’s Moon at a distance; a rather awe-inspiring sight  to those who were strangers.

Off in the distance a small globe of light was creeping towards them just above the glow of Mylar; it grew every second until the figures of the two men were seen in a transparent bubble of light—-it was Arian and the Globe Transport Operator that detected Martin and his group by Sensor and was guided directly towards them.  The device quickly circled overhead and came within a foot of the street.  A man-size section of the bubble dissolved and Arian stepped out, turned, and watched the transport quickly elevate, disappearing, jetting away to Mylar as a faint dot of light.  

**********

“Any minute now, my friend!”  Arian spoke with the usual vanity of a Nobleman as he approached Martin with a Nazi-type salute that had become everything that Dulmania stood for.  Martin did the same, but more casually.

“Yes, what did Uncle Redress have to say?”   Martin smiled slightly.  Martin could imagine the old fellow puffed-up with visions of military conquest.  As a child on Leave  from school, Mark Redress would tell Martin the most amazing accounts of Dulmen conquest and glory; often placing Martin on his knee and gesturing with vivid and darting hand motions as he portrayed some of his experiences. 

There was “The Stone City.”  Was it real?  Was it a dream?  Martin’s uncle did not know.  It could just as easily be a heavenly reality, a bit of Dulmen Dream Candy, supplanted in his mind to treat him to reward him for a job well-done; or maybe it was real.

(Whatever the reason for this strange discovery, the Caesar of Security once trampled through the battle-torn cities of the Vars hoping to find some abandoned citizens who were left behind in their interplanetary escape.  After several hours of relentless and anxious searching through the homes and streets that reeked of the Penetration Ray, Mark listlessly wandered off into the surrounding fields.

It had been near dusk, and several miles later, that Mark came over the rim of a grassless hill to gaze upon an amazing sight: there, for miles in a deep valley  was perfect radius of stone monuments and pillars as if closely placed tree trunks.  Mark could not see the center of this magnificent  ‘wheel,’ nor could fathom the purpose for what purpose these constructions these had been built.

Mark noticed that the tips of the of the grooved pillars were broken off at irregular levels; it was almost as if a forest of stone trees had once existed here and due to some fantastic holocaust, only tightly packed, possibly underwater,  pillars remained.  Why? Who? What? Perhaps the Brain knew.  “Do not worry about it too much,” Mark explained, “it was only one of the oddities of our society.”)

Martin smiled at the telling of his uncle’s past.  Here would be another adventure the Caesar Uncle to brag about.  Arian smiled too, “He’s busy now.  Terribly busy.  Say, what have we here, does she dance for you, the new Graduate?”   Arian asked  at the erotic movements of a maiden who now paraded for the three other men lustfully.

“No, Arian, she dances because she knows she is in the presence of a god!  And she hopes to steal a bit of our gracious attention.”   The men leaned on the pillar in a moment of sensuous relaxation.   Each of their uniforms contained special compartments for these erotic times—-special elastic pouches that covered their genitals, allowing a comfortable erection of their organs.  A small group of whispering neighbors had also begun to form on the Porta Walk along the rim of the street; they too had wondered why the ‘gods’ had chosen to visit their neighborhood.  One of the persons who watched so attentively was the girl’s mother. 

“Say, little one, do you think your arrogant little heart would beat so carefree if a god  should succumb to your gift of gesture?”  Arian spoke daringly, both hands on his hips.  The girl, somewhat slyly,  but brazenly nevertheless, danced  over to the men.

“You may provoke a god’s wrath,”  Martin continued, stroking her hair as she danced away.

Still, this was no time for teasing—-the time lapsed far above that which Martin had imagined for the capture of conspirators; his grandiose vision of jailing  at least one conspirator soon was in doubt.   He slapped his right  fist  around the handle of his sword  in a sharp snap:  “Blast it, oh Mighty  Zerichonus!  Why has nothing happened!” 

“Take it easy, brother!’  Arian cajoled, “a gift by early morning would be great; but a gift presented to the gods by another day would not diminish the importance of your conquest.”

“You’re right.”  Martin was encouraged by Arian’s remark.  “But still….”

“Come Martin,” Arian enticed Martin’s mind to other thoughts, “let us take this young lady at her word,”   Arian was led into other thoughts, “let us take this young lady at her word,”  he gestured with an  open palm into the lit patio.  “So, you want to flatter the gods?”  Arian smiled at the nymph.

Something akin to a Sex Flush came on their faces. Then came Martin’s single command:  “Take her!”

The others immediately disrobed , and a subdued gasp came from the crowd eager to join in the game of lust from a god.  The mother stumbled forward a bit as if by mistake to protest,  but only whimpered, and placing her hand over her mouth, turning back into the crowd to hide.  Martin glanced over his shoulder at the Mother as he disrobed.

‘‘Take care, Mother!  Your child will be made blessed tonight!”

**********

The countryside before the man was a beautiful subarctic landscape—-the Caucasus Mountains formed a majestic ridge before him with rich, green ferns and evergreens cascaded like a delicious balm on a buffet covering the whole panorama.  The snowcapped mountains portrayed an undeniably dazzling emblem of sensuality and beauty.  

This was the land known once long ago as Russia, specifically the Mount Usha territory.

“Coming little one.  Elia is coming!”

Somewhere in that thicket, Elia thought to himself, up that mountain base about one-hundred-feet, was a lost lamb. It had been a last-minute decision that caused Elia to take the fold out this day.  But now he had, and one was lost, he would attempt to find it.

Fighting his way upward through the thistles and lashing branches, slipping now and then upon wet  and sometimes snow-covered ground, Elia progressed painfully.   There was no sight of a beaten path.  The tail of the animal protruded from Elia’s trench coat but had become somewhat of a stumbling block in the undergrowth of stems and branches.

It had been five years now that he had lived with that device grafted onto his body. And if it hadn’t been for the huge, thick lion’s mane around his head with his own  furry body hair and full mustache, Elia would look as normal as any conventional human.

But many years ago, before he forsook Dulmen citizenry, he begged to become one of the Wild Ones—-those who sought the thrills of a lifetime by looking and feeling like an animal of their own choosing.  Dulmania was filled with such mutates and genetic creations.

“Yes, I hear you little lamb!”  Elia announced.

Oh, how foolish he had been, about as foolish as that lost sheep, now in some precarious situation in some gully, or perhaps in a thorn infested thicket—-one thorn had inflicted a cut on Elia’s cheek.  Why did not the creature stay put, instead of sneaking off spurred  by some kind of adventurous curiosity?  Why did he not stay alongside of his brothers and sisters?

“Brother!”   What a strange word to be using out of the clear blue.  Elia had come to a dead stand still; the slope had become unbearably steep where Elia would have to scale a ledge of thick granite of about ten-feet high or maneuver around it.  “Yes, I have a brother,” Elia thought to himself, “a flesh and blood brother, somewhere and someplace in this carnival world.”    It struck him twice as odd  that the last time Elia had seen him, his brother was but a small child, barely entered the instruction levels of education facilities, and he was about to be given and initiated under a new name.

“What was that name?”  Elia asked himself.  “Ah, I cannot think now!  What was it?”

Breathing like these were his last sudden breaths of air, Elia pulled himself up on a rocky ledge that had become heavily infested with clinging vines.  The lamb had obviously come away from the path and become snarled in the vines.

It was a small black lamb; not a pinch of white; it bayed forlornly  as Elia stood smiling gently at the creature.  Then Elia stooped to rescue the lamb.  

What was my brother’s name?  “What an indifferent relationship that one could not even remember your own brother’s name!”   Well, there’ll

be no more ‘lost moments,’ if Elia could help it, “like this sheep,” he told himself, “ they’ll all be brought Home, if he had a choice.”

Stooping, Elia wrapped the lamb inside his toga beneath his coat near the thick hair of his body.  Through a clearing in the towering trees his eye caught a patch of flawless, mild blue sky—-this struck Elia as odd  because it looked so new and different.  It was almost as if something were ‘out there,’  invisible yet real and dynamic, just waiting to burst through that serene atmosphere.   Elia could also feel the tension, so solid, almost as if he could reach out and touch it but preventing his hand from doing that very thing.  He turned his head  from side to side, got up to leave with the lamb, taking the pathway he had previously missed finding.

Suddenly, Elia was struck by a revelation:  “Arian!  That was my  brother’s name!  Arian Yul, they named him!”   He thought again, “too bad there wasn’t more there between us.  Ah, but that is Dulmania.  That is Dulmania.  Arian, I  wonder what he is doing now?”

**********

Chapter Six

Moderato, Scherzo

The majesty of Dulmen Control was an art.  Everyone proceeded under the phantom of Free Will.  In the Dulmen Bubble cities the Brain did control and did interfere. The masses there were thoroughly indoctrinated.  A world of Robots in the absolute sense was the last thing the pontificates of Dulmania wanted.  What they wanted was the total possession of one’s being, not  his total relinquishing of all creativity.

Oh, they tried it that way, but it was a defeat to their own purposes.  For Dulmania had another foe—-the real foe—-and it kept demonstrating its reality in the human psyche.  They had hoped to accomplish their goal by completely and totally channeling the creativity of the masses, not destroying it.  To do this was quite an art.  At times, complete control, Robotism, was necessary but the Brain was very wise in such matters: over the eons the Brain discovered that several personality traits were vital to the wellbeing to the Dulmen purpose—-an insane uncompromising desire for personal gratification, of lust and spirit, had led more than once to a person or person’s invention of a horrible weapon of conquest and destruction, and perhaps mayhem and havoc lie in the attainment of that invention or weapon; the Brain always weighed the alternatives, and proceeded  accordingly.

Perhaps it wouldn’t have been but a mere starvation of several hundred people; the murder of one or more officials; the explosion of a SD-3 spacecraft or other mysterious sabotage (this happened when the great Dulmen Senator of Zeker City had overthrown a faulty system in the political structure; some wondered if it was an honest overthrow, or, what exactly was accomplished or the motivation behind it.  Dulmen propagandists bannered the Thor affair as heroic).

There was the case of Terrace Merrion—the medical scientist of the academy of Vera .  Merrion programmed a sophisticated plan for the renovation of a quarter of the outlying Cities.   Merrion had for several years studied the growing number of genetic degeneracies in the Middle Class of the Outer Cities that was also becoming evident in sprinkled cases in the Lower and Slum residents.  While not a direct threat to the most curious Statesman, the Brain had, however,  perceived this more discerningly.

Merrion noted that the outer layer cells in the cerebellum and the spinal cord nerve column had a slight irregularity in the nucleon and other organelle.  This was not true for those individuals whose physical constitution had been replaced by synthetic and mechanical parts, but since these parts were arbitrarily bestowed by the whimsical guardians in the god-Cities; however,  but no such creations could elude the Brain.

The same irregularities had been associated many years before when large groups of the Outer City slum people rose in unrest, boarding overnight in revolt.  The cause was completely unknown; nothing in the environmental-control tracings indicated an aberration.   A few other more brazen slum dwellers began to rear up as spokespeople for the dwellers: they were all quickly collected and rushed to the Sector 5 encampments of the Dulmen Educational Enforcement—-here the anarchists were placed in the Hyper Thought Ocean.  The ‘ocean’  was a huge abyss as part of the ‘transport tube’ (among other uses) functioning to permit travel to the multiple subterranean cities within in the bowels of the Earth.  It was often referred to as The Pit.

Aeneas and Sibyl in the Underworld Painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder
Intercepted by Gravitation: Image (tumblr.com)

Within hours, Big Sire has transformed their mental functions into a harmonious version of Dulmen Robotism; the citizenry settled into their routine lives; the irregularity in the nucleon soon disappeared—-so did 20 citizens in a mass arrest one evening—-without a trace.  When questions arose, propagandist heralded that the Brain had it all under control.

When Merrion again studied this potential threat, hoping to find a noble place in the eyes of the Dulmen hierarchy, he ecstatically set out to heroically crush the hidden threat with all the might of a lightning strike.   In programming the data to the Brain, Merrion asked that these conspirators be immediately sent to the Hyper Ocean        for readjustment  —- and then immediate shipping of the gang to the asteroid Phyllis for isolation  —-  an undetermined isolation.

The Brain reacted with enormous ferocity and contrarian action:  the potentially threatening citizens were herded together within hours – sent to the Arena  —  while all news and communications media announced the surprise Circus.   A gargantuan  slaughter and heatless debauchery took place in a fast and furious arrangement which no one questioned (if any questioning was done it resulted in imprisonment in one of the labor camps).  The Brain’s decision as final!

So, when a mother twanged at the sight of seeing the rape-seduction of  her impish 19-year-old daughter by such stately  and eloquent gods,

The mother’s emotions were viewed with suspicion; surely the mother realized that the suddenness, thebruteness, the utter disregard was mandatory for such a deed? These gods were involved in a big mission —- a whimper from a sibilant peasant was totally perverted to that line of reasoning.  When the mother would eventually return from the Office of Welfare, the mother would mysteriously feel different somehow.

But there is more to happen this this night of nights —- the sky was a rather clear early autumn eve, and a somewhat crisp smell filled every activity, the sights, ambiance, the unusually warm season, and most citizens considered this all part of the unusual erratic weather they were having.   A bit of frenzied, creeping  excitement was in the air; and like the somewhat perfumed gust that melted across the face of the city with an ingenious feeling of frightfulness and a tantalizing, almost murderous,  tension that  filled the darkness and finessed the mellow streams of soft light from businesses and homes; the twinkling stars were heralding more stentorian Dulmen activity. 

Andante Alterato

The square in the middle of City A-1 had an enormous statue of two beautiful goddesses.  They were wrestling each other  in a fight to the death in a magnificently efficacious battle that only the Brian could manufacture by its Control.  The two lesbian ladies were fighting atop a withering snakelike creature that had synthesized human features to its arms and legs, and a weak human resemblance to its reptilian face.

Its arms were lifted in pain from supporting the weight of the ladies, and the appearance of its uplifted tail and the darting split tongue denoted its struggle to escape.

The exact meaning of the edifice was lost  in meaning to the Outer City people, lost in antiquity for they did not know it proclaimed the death of three Dulmen god-goddesses.  The Dulmen hierarchy created and destroyed their gods-goddesses, and the death of the three were memorialized in connection of with the surrender of the last remnant of a foreign government: it must have been quite an episode. 

The status was bathed by light from the perimeter-base  positioned behind exotic shrubbery in a purplish-white, green, and blue tinge that would throw one into ecstatic rapture should one gaze too long.

Around the lighted square was immediate darkness with the golden hues of squares and rectangles of light from the mystic silhouette of the homes bordering the square; columns flanked the perimeter of the square of the square, some casting long projecting shadows over the area.  Men, women, children strolled across the square—-the children playfully chasing each other in laughter.

Suddenly, overheard several squadrons of Dulmen aircraft swept silently through the skies, rather low but swiftly:   first one V – formation of oval blue-white globes, then another and another, each brilliantly lighting the square in white splendor as if smelted silver metal from some casting pot were poured over the intrigant scene causing by-stander-citizens to make exclamations of reverend awe.

The discussion that Martin and some cohorts were having denoted their restless anxiety concerning the delayed arrest of the unknown conspirators.   As usual, their conversations surrounded their belief in the utter control of Dulmania and even how eloquent the conspirators were in their evasion.

‘‘You know, Jerald, should you drink anymore of that mixture, you’ll not be working with me tonight,’’ Martin threw the words at one of the intoxicated Mus-chutes who polished the golden jeweled handle of Martin’s sword, a young squire of a particular unit that accompanied him. The squire worked  skillfully with a special buffing pad.  Jerald stopped his boastful jesting to the others as he turned to a serious vein, allowing the bottle of liquor to lower to his side.  He swaggered over to Martin.

“Ah, my lord, I drink not of my own accord.  Tis, all the fine gentlemen  with us tonight that are imbibing,”  Jerald rationalized.  “Why we all have noted the air is full of magic expectancy—-it is a night as tonight that moments are made of.”   His drunken and relaxed body bobbed  about as a puppet on strings.

“Clown!   You celebrate much too early!”  Martin pointed one finger at the man, this time in dire seriousness.  Jerald’s flush face showed no alarm, he blinked innocently.  “You all are about to fall on yourhonorable  faces!”

‘‘Please Martin, it is not the time to chastise us, it has been sometime since such a memorable occasion has come about.  Take it easy on your men tonight,”  Arian moved to Martin’s side.

Martin rebounded:  “ If it weren’t for the fact that within minutes, we’ll be busy in capturing conspirators, I’d have no need for any of you.  I’d just as soon have you in jail for disrespect.”   Martin swung his arm in a radius indicting the bunch of men before him.   A unified murmur arose from all of them aligning with Arian’s merciful plea.

“Our hearts are heavy too, sire,” Jerald followed closely, moving next to the standing god, affectionately placing his hand on the man’s shoulder.  The others suddenly commenced with laughter.  Jerald looked, but twinged in surprise; he saw nothing humorous. 

“Stop it !” ordered Martin.  Jerald turned to expound further to Martin,  “There is something here that is not quite correct….’’  Jerald was uncertain as to what exactly to say, wrinkling his forehead, gripping his sword handle, “this is different!”

“Different!  Why different?”  the Son of Misslou asked.

Jerald turned his head from side to side and if searching for words, “Why…why…whatever we are looking for—-hiding!

“Hiding?  Is it not true, sire, that within the last centuries, no purported conspirator has escaped detection?  We have even watched before they made their final steps, is that not correct?”

‘Correct!  It will be no different this time.”  Martin glanced over to see that several policemen and soldiers had gathered to listen.

“ But it is different now,” Jerald confessed.

Martin could have easily become angered.  This night had manifested itself to  be an infuriating mess. In fact, in his own natural surroundings at the University he had only to visit the Aroian Palaces where lovely damsels could  intoxicate him with all the erotic science at their learned trade.  On a good night, Martin could cram into four hours what normally would have taken twenty-four.  In his private chamber Martin could attach to the Main Stimulator and sleep the night in an ecstatic world of Ultra Make Believe; tonight, it was prevented by the serious business at hand.

“It is not different!”  Martin slapped back, grabbing his sword from the stunned squire, slamming it into his sheath.  “it is not different!”  Martin raced a few steps towards the other men, waiting for a reply from Jerald.

“If you say so, sire,”   Jerald gestured with an outstretched hand.  He quickly put it to his waist.  “But three hours have passed; to one as uneducated as I, that seems to be some kind of record!”

Martin tightened his lips over and over as he gripped his sword—-Jerald didn’t realize how close to death he had come.

Several of the City residents had gathered to examine the commotion.  It was the first time some citizens observed these gods in their golden array.

Martin eyed a lady creeping within the crowd between the policemen.

“It is no different, Jerald, my friend, then one of these!”  Martin grabbed the ladies’ hair with one big swoop of his hand, violently yanking her into the middle of the human circle.  She gasped in pain as she crashed to a stop on her knees.   An anxious murmur went up from the growing crowd.    “ You see, Jerald, we have complete control over her and her mind.  They are what we want them to be!  Nothing more; nothing less.”  He rammed her head to the ground with his foot  and let it rest there.

“Because of Control,” Jerald mused almost sarcastically.  That sarcasm would have long ago been intolerable if it were not for some common but whimsical  decency of one god to another.

“Yes, Control!” shouted Martin.

“But tell me Prince of Dulmania, have they no guts in the middle of their skulls of their own?”

“None.  They are slaves of the Brain.”

“Then you have nothing to fear of them,”  assured Jerald.

“Nothing!  What are you driving at, mad man?”

“Just this, Son of Misslou, there is something in that gray matter of these animals that has eluded genetic, synthetic, mathematic invention!   Something different!”

Jerald threw both bottles of liquor at the ladies’ head, smashing instead in front of her, showering her in fragments of glass.

“Different indeed!  If you have any facts, demonstrate them!”   Martin’s face had turned red in anger.  He gripped his sword handle with a whiten, clenched fist.  His breathing was slow and deliberate.

Jerald had the limelight.  He knew it.  A cocky smile was hidden beneath his phony smoothness, and his eyes sparkled with sarcastic laughter.  Jerald realized that he had not graduated with as many Honors as Martin; whatever the reason, this time he was out to teach a cruel lesson. 

“May the gods of Dulmania forgive me, but what if…what if…Control were dropped from detecting these poor creatures?  What if all electronic, vibratory linkups were ‘cut,’ and they could see for themselves for what they and we really are?”  Jerald stepped a few steps forward with his arm outstretched beseechingly.

Martin didn’t like what he heard, at all.  “What do you mean?  What are we really saying here?”

“Naked!  Naked in the sight of any!” Jerald rebounded. “Stark reality!  All true history!  All fact!”

Martin snapped back, ‘‘The Brain is fact!  The Brain is reality!  The brain is all  there is!  It is the total of existence.  Outside of it will only be chaos!”   Martin stepped harder and tightened his foot on the woman’s neck.  She gagged.  Martin looked down with a look of spite.

A large crowd of citizens had gathered flanking as a fence of golden policemen-Mus-chutes.  An agonized murmur ebbed over the crowd. 

“Then why do they rebel so hatefully against us when we Sport with them?”  Jerald was referring to the many nights that gods from the Bubble Cities would roam the prosaic streets of the Outer-Towns and in jest or spite remove all seeming Control and allow them to see Reality as never seen before.   Usually, it was done  to a select crowd, and as the Dulmen gods threw vicious epithets are them, the crowd would grow into a rage and try to kill the harassers.   Martin never had a participant to such events while at the University, but he had heard of such.

‘‘Are you saying such useless attempts against authority are beyond the knowledge of the Brain?  It would know what and why these things would happen!”  Martin angrily  assured. 

“Yes, but that same rebellion—That same defiance is there in our ‘new’ Conspirators,”  Jerald looked coldly into the eyes of Martin, “yet we haven’t dropped Control!”  Martin’s eyes bonded to Jerald’s as Martin finished, “they have!”

Blast you, Jerald!” Martin’s voice rang out as Martin lifted his sword high into the air over his head, strangling the jeweled handle, swinging it about as if looking for a suitable target.

‘‘Drop Control, Martin!  Drop Control and see!’’  Jerald chided devilishly, “drop it, Son of Misslou!  Drop it!   Now!”   Salvia dripped from Jerald’s lips denoting his drunken frenzy.

Martin threw back his arms in a dramatic arc, jetting out his chest, and looking to the sky with watered eyes of agony; he resounded:

“Ye gods and goddesses of Dulmania:  I beseech thee, grant the grace I ask!  To prove the sovereignty of the Sire, give us power for Sport!”

Martin steadied himself  in his footing, holding his sword high over his head in a tight grip as if he were expecting the sword to be struck by lightning.  Instead, a loud rumble of thunder  rang out; the Brain had consented! With that Martin brought the sword down upon the women’s  neck!   An insane yell went up from the citizens gathered in the square: all Control had been removed!  The crowd lunged forward at the guards who barely had time to turn somewhat to see the wild-eyed, savage snarling, clawing  crowd attacking  at the some of the soldier-policemen. 

The remaining policemen took a pace backwards in unison, swords pulled from their sheaths in a graceful and synchronized motion:  the first layer of the mob was stopped; the bodies fell; in a second the full force of the citizen herd momentum followed, incited by the slaughter of their neighbors; for the first time, they viewed in an all-together different frame of mind.

Pointing their swords directly at the citizen crowd, the police began jetting-out green-white rays  of death that disintegrated masses of citizens all around the square.  Indiscriminate slaughter revealed deep, red crimson slabs of the square amid the shrieks and screams of ladies dying and raped, and the animal grunts and snorts from enraged men; the terrifying crying of children rent the crisp night air; a peddler’s wagon had broken loose from its ponies, rolling into the crowd, its crops strewn over the bodies of dying and mangled bodies.

“Mama!  Mama!  Mom!  Mama!”

**********

Chapter Seven

Concerto Mysterium

The large golden orb of the morning Sun filtered through the branches of trees and between the corners of houses in the outer limits of suburbia A-1.   Zephyr Road was just off the lake where one could look downhill to see a blanket of morning mist arising into the cool fresh air denoting thin wisps of moisture rising.  The dew filled nostrils.  Down the road and towards the east below the valley lay  Mylar City; the bubble was much smaller in view now than Martin and his cohorts viewed earlier. 

Directly behind it, Ambrose Hill was sleeping beneath ruffled sheets of Milky white clouds.  Then, a flash; a spark; a small glow, would emit every few seconds.   White humps dotted the green and brown, red hills of the Autumn landscape; these were the many homes of the Outer City.  Zephyr Road  jutted to the forefront of the scene.  Birds sedately chirped rhythmically as a Zot Car  smoothly climbed the road next to the lake and headed west through the city limits.

The only clamor this rather demure Thursday morning was that of an old peddler who was strolling the streets of the county road picking up bits and pieces of stray junk the children had thrown upon the streetPorta-Walks hoping to sell them somehow later.  Occasionally, he would walk over to a Disposal Chute  at the intersection  corner of the road and press the lid button to see if any miscellaneous paraphernalia had not been disintegrated yet. 

As he traveled on, the homes became more spaced, and the spaces became more wooded.  The clean-looking shrubberies and evergreens were being replaced  by many large oaks and elms. Heavy  undergrowth and thicket appeared generously. 

Suddenly, the quick swish of a sliding door panel was heard and out of the semicircle domed shaped home on a slopped lawn came a happy sweet shriek of laughter and excitement, as two nude figures  came bounding down the lawn, landing on the Porta-Walk; they preferred to run down the walk rather than use it, playing leapfrog over each other for several hundred feet.

The peddler took only a casual notice and then went about his business; the undraped appearance of the two teenage children were nothing new;  neither  were a pair of adolescent persons acting so brusque at an early hour.  They ran one and on and came to a pathway leading off the road, the two trying to prevent each other from getting onto the pathway, tripping, and pushing each other amid childish squills and comments.

Finally, the one broke ahead, turned, kicked dirt up at the other and ran on.  They soon disappeared in echoing laughter and romp.  The path led up a hill for several hundred feet, then down into a gorge holding a little stream. The two ran down the hill and soaked themselves in the icy water (they had produced a sweat, even at that early hour).

“Stop it, you simpleminded thing,” the girl said in unconvincing exasperation, “stop it, Teddy.”  The boy continued to throw water on her until she just sat there looking an insincere look of anger.

“Okay, Marian,”  the boy took time out  from laughter to help the girl up, “let’s see what is on the other side of that ridge,”  he pointed to a row of trees outlining a field just above them on an eroded bank.

“You’ll have to help.  It’s all loose dirt.”  She placed herself in a position to be helped by his arm up the slopped terrain.

They continued through the field which was heavy with orchard grass;  Ted tried to hide, and a game of Hide and Seek ensued.   They must have had sex at least three times before exiting  on the other side of the field. 

Ted has the girl’s arm pinned behind her back and was smiling impishly as he put force into the judo hold.   ‘‘That’s enough!”  she winched.  In that minute he let loose, she observed the look of impish delight he gave to her predicament.   She slapped him.  His immediate response would have been to throw her to the ground, it was prevented by her remark, “You get a real kick out of administering pain, devil of Darrigan, don’t you?”

He walked on in silence, and within a few seconds they both looked like two very bored souls.  Marian was still rubbing her arm. The morning had turned out to be such a bore—-nothing new, just the same old things.  But the two were just children of the lowly, uneducated class of the Outer Cities; already at their early age, the best they could hope for would be to die in the graces of a Dulmen god or be made a foster child of the Bubble City goddesses.

They came to a wider dirt road, one used by peasant slavery to haul produce, it hadn’t been used for some time.  Clumps of crab grass and weeds readily covered it.   They walked on.

“What bothers you?”  Marian asked, “you act strangely, normally you would have passed up on the chance to slap back.”   She threw pieces of gravel gently against him.   He didn’t answer. 

Broken branches hung out into the road.   Occasionally a large insect would dart spasmodically over the road.  A lizard darted off the road into the weeds.  Sunlight threw a dark silhouettes on the road from large elms and oaks as lofty umbrellas.   One could only wonder how the woods had not  closed-in and swallow the road.

Marian muttered now and then about her cousin Xekter  from Common, a city several thousand miles away.   She was quite thrilled about her cousin for he lived in a city that was quite different.   Xekter lived in an underwater city.  Oh, how Marina loved to hear the thrilling tales of his boyish adventures:  Imagine riding bareback on live fish!  

Marian had never been outside of City A-1 by herself.  So, this visitor from Common City was always a treat.  The jealousy she was trying to provoke on Ted seemed more promising now.

Ted would glance blankly at Marian occasionally. Marian soon  realized she was getting nowhere; she stopped suddenly; thrust her hands to her sides;  and stomped her feet:  “ May your heart be rent out by its roots  –  you — you…”

“Come off it, Marian!  Please let’s just walk.  For a change, let’s just be silent,’”  he gently placed his hand on her chin and squeezed softly; this struck Marian as odd.  They continued to walk.

After a mile or more they came to a smaller pathway that denoted an entrance to someone’s property ahead in the woods.  On a small spruce tree next to the road was an old metal sign that had been affixed intothe tree, furrows of bark  infringing the edges showing it had been sometime since it was posted: in large black letters, it read “POSITIVELY NO TRSPASSING—VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED—-Order of the Department of Welfare.”

They sat for a moment on the large stones situated to one side of the area as they gazed obstinately at the sign.

“Hey!  We’ve never been in there!”  Marian exclaimed tossing bits of dust in the direction of the path.  Ted gave her a half sneer.

“Violators will  be prosecuted!”  Ted motioned with his palms upward as if lifting an imaginary boulder; he slumped back into his thinking posture.

“So, we’ve done it before, let’s do it again!  They just put those signs up to scare people—-unless it is really offending the Brain—-they say nothing!  You know that!”  Marian was tugging on Ted’s arm, asking him to follow her down the path.  He went limp and made the weight of his body a difficult object to lift.

“But what if it  is wrong—-regardless!”  Ted’s childlike innocence struck Marian as somewhat precociously odd.  She helped Ted to his feet and the let go of him to give him a stare of curiosity.  He long sleek, shinning black hair partially hung over her shoulder; for a child of seventeen she had developed voluminously according to Dulmania standards.  To be less would mean she could not visit the Bubble Cities on the Eve of the Sun when Dulmen priests manifest a wonderous display of gods and goddesses as they stalked the Citizens’ Championship into the realm of the Lesser Human Gods: special invention of the Brain.

She flipped her hair over her shoulder and stroked a few bits of straw and weed from it.  She cocked her head  to indicate her curiosity.  Ted felt her suspicion and anxiety  bubbling up.

The two gained momentum until they stumbled into the folded  legs of the towering statue.  They stopped in fearful apprehension.  They took a short glance of this beast, barely seeing the nose projecting over the statue’s folded arms.

“Shoosh!  Be quiet!”  Marian giggled as she  pushed playfully on Ted’s shoulder.  Ted returned the gesture.

“Looks like an opening there!”  Ted pointed to a jagged opening in the base of  the stature dividing the beast’s legs suspiciously.   It looked as if the golden statue had been built over an opening to a subterranean cavern indicated by the jagged edges of stone protruding along the metallic opening.

The two had broad grains as they tiptoed into the opening.  They were greeted by a soft luminous rock, a product from Dulmen space mining.  There were steps leading to an alter patio on which was overlayed with lovely clothing and various materials.   Containers spaced throughout  with strings of beads and jewels heaped high into the air that decoratively lapped over their edges.   In the middle of the patio was a table of stone.   A rather awesome feeling was  created by the stalagmites and stalactites doting the ceiling and base of the interior.  

“A temple, Marian!  A temple!  Here they worship some secret god.”  Ted exclaimed as he ran to the center of the patio and slapped his hand on the stone slab, his voice vibrated and echoed in the hallow chamber of the room.   Ted took on a pensive stance as he looked bewilderingly at his feet, he wrinkled his forehead in deep thought. 

“What if there was only one god?  One god?”

“One god?”   Marian shouted credulously; she  raised her upper lip slightly in a sneer.

Ted glanced back at her, her feet together, her hands folded at the base of her stomach.   Marian was so naïve; yet so full of knowledge in ways that Ted at first was only beginning to see as also terrifying:  She was friendly; yet a friendship that would end with the first selfish whim.  Faithful;  yet always changing to new and dubious faiths.  “From where have you gotten that idea?” Marian exclaimed. 

“What if I said, ‘the Brain—-the Brain’ was not the final god?’”  Ted’s hands began flaring about indicating his predicament of thought. Marian was trying to see through the quandary he created.

“But you didn’t, did you?”  Marian remarked in friendly suspicion.

Ted hesitated.  Could he?  Could he speak as he felt?  Surely Marian would understand.  “No, I didn’t!”  Ted exclaimed.  He held a serious expression as he walked down the  steps, earnestly looking for words.  Looking directly into Marian’s eyes, he paused for a second, the spoke:

“ A man….a very wise man…so gentle and kind but unusual, had talked to me some time ago,’’ Ted held his hands out as if holding an invisible box, shaking it every now and then, glancing to Marian, begging for her understanding, “and as he talked, and I began to see somethings differently.  He told of a tribe of people from many, many eons past, a people devoted to one way of life…to one god…a real god…I mean,” he was showing signs of exasperation at his inability to convey his thoughts, “A single god…a father god…these people worshipped no man, no manmade image.   It is hard to explain, Marian, but they led a simple life.’’  He chuckled and looked back into Marian’s face, now  standing with an astute expression, “ they marry, but only once, and to only one women whose life is dedicated to the same goals.”  Marian opened her mouth in a slightly  humorous gasp.  “The children are subordinate, taught by command…and…and,”   ideas were now raging through his mind until he became almost overtaken by the scope of the picture parading through his imagination. Then he slapped his chest in a sharp crack and walked aimlessly into the sunlight.  Marian followed sheepishly as if to hear more revelations.

They spoke little as they steadily strolled towards the road at the top of the hill.  Ted remembered the many childhood episodes he had when he lived with his parents.  Ted was encouraged to rebel.  Often, he would be viewed in his Block Room, a reinforced Cell  with various pieces of fake furniture onto which he could vent all his anger and hate.  Dulmania was preoccupied with such demonstrations as a bonus for either an aggressive solider, a Circus Torturer, or a stonehearted politician.  This was all recorded-on circuits and all accompanying body-reaction was thoroughly studied. But unfortunately, Ted Andrew Zeo was not found of the aristocratic background and prospects, a fate of so many Outer City children.  It was customary for children of Dulmenia to be born to the mortal gods, or not,  and to practice hostility and rebellion; if they wouldn’t, how could they be expected to stand by their government in times of alien threat?  (And, oh, those alien threats, all elusive, all unseen!   Dulmenia had wiped-out all traces of or incorporated  in any foreign government in the solar system; but there still seemed to always be an alien threat from somewhere, someplace).

Often when Ted’s parents and neighbors had engaged in orgiastic worship on the Special Day and in the pageantry and color of the Dance, some would rise into a rage and destroy objects inanimate or animate about them, things with life or not, Ted would gleefully yell, scream, or shout, destroying “playthings” laid about him; and with great strength, surprising for a child of three years.

It was exceptionally warm on this autumn day, warm enough to cause perspiration, and Marian proceeded to flick-off  the weeds and grass sticking to her voluminous body as they strolled away from the road and down a slope towards a school building.  Ted wanted to introduce some frolic to alleviate building tensions.

“Come on, let’s race down the hill!”  Ted grabbed Marian’s arm shaking her out of her nonchalant sun-basking.  She giggled and laughed and her muscular but feminine body dashed alongside Ted down the gradual slope to concrete pavement around the building.  The asphalt-like pavement was hot but no hot enough to seer through their mud stained.  Their voices and laughter echoed against the towering wall before them.  Ted picked up a clump of tarred gravel and threw it at an imaginary “hoop.”

“Just like the primitive people did once, Marian, it was a game, but back then they used an inflated sphere.”   Ted slapped his hands together, “Come!  Let’s attempt to go inside!”   He firmly took Marian’s hand and led through double doors outfitted with push-bars across them.   He peered through the clear windows.  A clink-clank rang out when Ted pushed the bar and to his surprise the door swung open.  It echoed loudly in the sunlit interior hallway.  They suddenly reared their heads back in disgust:  “What a smell!” Marian choked, “This place must have dead vermin in  the corners!”   Yet, the walls and corners revealed a curious absence of spider webs, and there was no thick blanket of grey dust that would have indicated a lack of activity for some time.

Ahead, directly in front of them, wide steps led to a main hallway from which various other door and entrances could be seen.   To their left, a concrete-like incline dropped off to what appeared to be a basement level.  They had no idea as to why they walked into the area, but they advanced slowly into what apparently was a basement recreation area that contained a deep depression, apparently a swimming pool; two opposing doors on the other wall led to another  segment of the gym. 

The unusual stench was unrelenting.  Both youngsters had their eyes completely smarted with tears.   Flowing down Marian’s cheeks were tears as she gave soft coughs that echoed loudly in the lonesome surroundings.  From the sunlight  streaming through the basement windows, they both eyed a bluish-red ribbon along the rim of the pool.  Hand in hand, they advanced to investigate.

The two became gripped in a frozen state of shock!  They stood motionless and all color left their faces which shared each two dilated eyes; Marian slowly stared into the pool and then   swung around to face away.  Throwing her hand over her mouth to try and stop any vomit that would surely have happened.   Ted churned his head from side to side in hopes of rejecting a steady stare.  In the large pool where the mangled, blood-stained bodies of men, women, children of all ages and sizes were indiscriminately deposited here from a massacre:  It was the  result of the Sport of the gods  from a night or two earlier. 

The body of one Jerald Cosnic, a daring Mus-chute, could barely be seen in the mayhem.

The two stumbled feebly back up the incline by which they came.  Marian had become a failure to her Dulmen breeding, whimpering like a child of three, and it was plain that something alien had invaded her psyche like a lightning bolt.   For some reason, somehow, the Dulmen Circus  didn’t compare, exactly why remained unclear, but something that Marian had previously said….something…!

“Ted  Zeo!”  The voice was booming and startling!   Marian’s breath was frightened out of her.  Ted squeezed her arm in the wake of terror.

Before them, one leg advanced,  fist on his sword,  whiten in anger, stood a muscular Dulmen soldier. Sunlight struck the gold of his helmet companying the purple plume.  Further behind the soldier stood three other soldiers gripping their atomic-weaponized swords: a sardonic, dank expression on each.  Outside, positioned about, were transport crafts.

“Come with us,”   the soldier boomed again, “you’re under arrest!” 

**********

Chapter Eight

Alterato Sonata

It was quiet.   It was peaceful.

The rough branches of the maple tree rocked in the breeze that caressed the forest.   The leaves would twist and turn, this way and then that way, as if to push themselves out of their branch sockets.   The outer leaves would strive to clutch at the ancient Sherman Oak across from it, almost as if the two would  clasp branches together in a handshake suited for nature.

Above their autumn green-orange-brown color was a pure light blue of the afternoon sky.  The slightly chilled air gave the scenery a medicinal feeling.  Extremely high in the sky was seen the thin vaporous white cirrus clouds.  There were also large patches of mild light blue until the sky partnered with fluffy cotton-like cumulus clouds.

It was the freshness of nature, almost unbelievable in its beauty  and delicacy.

What was once a heavy deciduous forest of broadleaf branches and sturdy oaks, tree seedlings, shrubs, wildflowers, and a forest floor of last year’s leaves (as well as many thousands of years past) had become the straggled, matted and weeded ‘lot’ that sat just beyond the industrial area on the verge of a major city.  Its eerie but tranquil beauty of years past was lost, exemplified by a seriously rusted  piece of metal obscured beneath the leaves, or a girder heavily coated with moss and autumn-stricken ivy; these were just a few of the tell-tale artifacts telling of the activities that once ensued over the millennia. 

A crystal-clear stream meandered down through the woods carving a well-defined gully as it went.  It was feed by an underground spring just over the hill to the north, and it lazily rolled on down to the granite and flint rock cliff and became part of an industrial waste pond a mile farther down the sloping terrain. How this natural beauty of pure, uncontaminated fluid existed in relationship to the turbulent history that occurred during the thousands of years at that very spot would be a difficult conundrum.  But there it was: a small silvery, shinning ribbon of icy fresh water in a dying world!

Yet, it was quiet.  It was peaceful.

A small pinkish form was making brisk jabbing motions at the bottom of the slope by which the stream ran.  Two tiny hands were actively taking he mud and packing it tightly together to make a dam on the edge of the water; two small feet would dolt back and forth through the lip of the water, quickly grabbing small shinning crystals from the bottom of the stream and artistically place them on his handiwork.

“You are playing pretty, honey?”  came the voice of the mother from the above tree line up above the stream.   The mother was tenderly smiling down to the boy  from her reclined position; she had put aside her paint and crayons from her work on the canvas she had placed before her to watch her two-year-old child.  The mild blue eyes of the fair young child rose to look at her lovingly and a joyous smile rose to acknowledge her.

Then his glances were increasingly drawn to the majestic, lone Shermond oak tree that  towering over his mother.   It was his tree, he thought, his favorite tree.  He has just claimed it.   It would forever be part of him and his memory, along with the rosy complexion of his mother so lovingly looking at him; and all fresh smells of the damp living woods about him.    A great joy swelled within him.  He suddenly threw his mud pack onto his youthful creation.

“Ya, Mommy!  Pretty!  See house!”   One or two more mud packs on his already cluttered creation and he would be finished.

He turned around in circles two times with a musical sound from his stubby little neck, only to be confronted by a rolling tumble weed which hit him smackdab in the face; the surprise of it caused him to fall on his backside, clutching the weed as if it was a ball.  He began to laugh just as joyously as before. He saw the whole event as wonderfully humorous.   The mother was also laughing affectionately at the episode. 

“Okay now—-build a big castle.”  his mother conjectured to the little toddler.  I  build ‘god castle,’ he announced back referring to the capitol Bubble Cities.  I go there, Momma.”

“Yes honey. Now play pretty.”

The mother went busily back to her artwork, but the baby really wasn’t interested in creating anymore.  The child had already gathered a small but unique collection of bits and pieces consisting of old Dulmania refuge and ancient debris, carrying the tumble weed to his spot and adding it to his collection.   A small coil, maybe a gear that had been at one time from a lazar pistol that were in the army of the Quothian Empire.   It was badly rusted  and the twists of the coil could barely be discerned.   Also found were a few bits of metal stripping and more recent pieces of film from the industrial laboratory only about two thousand feet away.   The child cherished it with more vigor: It was to him the prettiest of the bunch.

Already he was conducting a new excavation on a new discovery.  Several feet away, just to one side of a dwarf evergreen, he had found a rounded pebble and metal stone, overturned it,  having been guided there by the sight of the dwarf evergreen.  Such a tiny plant.  He would make it his by uprooting it and bringing it to his mother, but when the task proved too complicated, the child went back to working the protruding object.  He rested his small features by the rounded object and began to dig  around what now actually was a crescent of metal in the dirt.  Occasionally, the mother and child would exchange glances at each other.

It was quiet.  It was peaceful.

To the south just barely over the slope of the hill at the top the curved top of the industrial complex was visible.  The opaque material of the building would light up with a flare in minute intervals.  When each burst of light occurred another atomic-synthetical  ‘slab’ was created for the industries used in spacecraft and aircraft and other mechanical uses.   The vast amount s of atomic radiation and waste was quickly dispelled through the  affinity chute  whence the contaminates were drawn into a fluid retainer and discharged into the waste pond at the base of the lot.   Logically, the catalyst substance in the water was to hold and subdue the radioactivity…its success was very elusive.

The babe seemed to sense the awesome and terrifying prospect of the site, even though details were only vague recollections from misunderstood conversations.

He swung his little head away from the direction of the industrial complex; he wanted to concentrate on what on what was left of the beauty around him.   And he found beauty everywhere as seen in the weeds, shrubs, that swarmed the dry and complexed ground; a milliped was briskly traveling the branch of a tiny beech tree seedling and he sat there and innocently stared at the insect until it reached the slightly brown and orangish-green leaves of the plant.  He looked down at his project  and began to circumnavigate the stick around his bit of archaeology.

Time had raced past this spot changing the forest mantle and at fantastic speed.   At one time a giant Tyrannosaurus stalked these grounds.  Beneath a thick layer of leaves, several yards into the dense brush, enshrined in hardened and fossilized rock many feet below, were the footprints of that mighty beast; indeed, twenty feet further away and fifty feet below the ground  was the skeleton of a giant Triceratops.  But no one will discover it at this time, far too secure in its tomb—-nor does anyone care.

And time had raced ahead bringing another collage and cinematic swarth of  history:  flint arrowheads, broken bits of clay pottery yet to be discovered by those with more able minds.   For amongst the varied color pebbles that lined the stream  the ancient settlement of an Indian tribe existed—-pulverized and camouflaged by times’ passage, but it was there.

If one knew where to look, he would investigate the hallow of the large maple on the edge of the brush, beneath a heavy muck of leaves and sediment, to find the remains of a rubber strip that once was part of an automobile tire.   At one time a heavy rope held that tire to a  thick lower branch on that maple; children would gleefully play and swung on it.

An active hangout for the neighborhood hoodlums during the mid-twentieth century, a campfire would be built near the deceased scarlet oak tree, only sixty feet from where the babe now played, the teenagers would sit and tell vulgar jokes and use gutter talk and drink heavily of the beer they had stolen from the back room of a tavern on the skirts of that woods.   A foot further in the dry cracked soil was the end of a busted switchblade knife brought to that condition during the many boyish but dangerous scuffles around the campfires. 

An even more current artifact was the riblike girders of steel that once was the supporting foundations of afield buggy  factory where manufacture of a small  compact  mobile unit that once raced between the slender bodies of the R-Squad positions.  It was destroyed one night during an apparent sabotage attempt: the white color of the aircraft pad was unrecognizable.  

Though largely contaminated by the passage of time, the weakened forest still gave a gallant shout-out of its vitality.  The breeze could still stir through the hues of colors and still play frolic with them.  The old Shermond oak  would smoothly bow its head in acknowledgement   —    and then bow, stand erect momentarily once again, only to bow routinely as if a conductor in a grand symphony of nature.  

The smell of decaying leaves swelled-up in the child’s nostrils.  It was a smell so rich and good, yet  as symbolic of the dying world in which he sat and played, he had been raised in one of those families that had been relatively ignored by the multiple tentacles of the Dulmen spy world.  He had an original mother, though the scandals in the life of such peons were so accepted, no shock had yet been etched in the mind of such  a little one.  His lovely mother was dying slowly of a venereal disease, that only the aristocracy, the rich and pompous, were allowed the luxury of a cure—that Dulmania mental sickness of mind of the power-hungry rulers had not yet become possible to medicate or cure.  Indeed, during the Sedox Era, such diseases had been totally wiped out through prenatal immunization.  With the advent of various Dulmen instruction only those politically favored received the ‘remedy.’

The babe had no need or capacity to be concerned with the problem, he was gazing wonderingly towards the sky.   He watched the cumulus clouds pass over.  He almost felt as if he could reach out and touch their serene, rolling surfaces.   A gust of wind swept past him carrying the autumn aroma.  He contently went back to his digging.

A red squirrel scampered up the trunk of an old spruce tree and made its way quickly through the branches.  With a shove from the wind, the spruce hugged a dogwood nearby and intermingled its crimson-green leaves and red berries: the squirrel traversed through all this.  The babe was still attracted to the mighty lone Shermond Oak hovering over the bank of the stream, to the child it stood out as the grand conductor of the autumn symphony of musical players of other oaks, scents of thistle and evergreen, maples, hickories, and chestnuts.

The wind died down, the branches and twigs and stims of the wild living that had been swaying around them came to rest.  Birds with long, slender wings  slid over trees and then ascended high into a patch of cloudless sky.   The breeze started the second stanza of this nature song, leaves surging from one side to another, lulling momentarily, and then starting over again.

It was quiet.  It was peaceful.

It was a special treat  that nature preserved for the lonely and for the unfortunate; those who lasted through years of unending turmoil, revolution, and mayhem; of the same frightening faces and traumatic interludes:  these also shared with nature the unfortunate struggle for life in their diverted innocence, this much was nature willing to give. 

The lazy trickle of the stream water threw a blanket of comfort over the whole natural embroidery.  The contentment of this favorite autumn day was reflected in the dirty little hands of the child who busily stroked his stick around that ancient object slowly emerging from the ground; his small stature only making that task much more difficult.

The breeze combed his thin blonde hair, and the child mumbled letters he was mimicking from the object—“A—D.”   These were left over, but still largely used in various citizenry breeds ‘‘from the age of the Great Eagle,”  the golden years of the Sedox Era, a preDulmen empire  that had large hopes of a One World Society.  The Sedox wanted the language to be short, concise, and very communicable: the Telephar alphabet.  Each letter denoted a full syllabus of expression.  What came to be neanderthal-like grunts, hisses, and whimpers, was said to be the most sophisticated language in the world.   “E” – energy;  power; force, and so on.  “A” – atom, miniature; ash: all-encompassing, and so forth. Later, with the dissolution of that society, the Dulmen rediscovered the novelties in old, Anglo-Saxon twentieth century expression and created a whole mystique using proper titles and rank.

The rather snappy and melodic chanting of the child came to a peak as the babe finished his excavations.  Nearby, the quiet crunching of a forest predator could be heard munching on several acorns; a hard low thud somewhere deep in the woods as a fox had scampered knocking a stone into the gully,  followed by a refrain of a gust of air sweeping through the orchard grass;  the yellow backsides of still green leaves fighting to parade their existence in the green and brown forest.

Somewhat breathless, the child began to tug at the object with both hands, his bare body  had begun to show signs of chilling that even the early morning Sun wasn’t able to alleviate. The boy was too preoccupied to worry about his personal comfort.   With a final yank, he pulled the badly corroded object out of the ground.  In his tight little fist, he examined it closely, and utilizing two dirt caked stubby legs, he toddled over to his to his pile of findings, throwing the object down onto the top of his collection.  The object sled down the heap into some autumn-struck Kenilworth Ivy.  It was a round object, obviously having had a silver tinge at one time, and an image of a face could be seen against the corroded edges.  It was an ancient coin, a coin from an empire that bore the words IN GOD WE TRUST on one side: a plaything that the child had no way of comprehending its true worth.

The mother now motioned for the little one to come to her.  She stood up and held the outdoor scene she had created for the child to see: an exact replica of the wooded area about them with the white, fuzzy figure of the boy in the middle of the artwork.   He smiled contently at his mother and began quickly to struggle up the small pathway leading to the top of the ridge where his mother waited patiently with an outstretched hand.   When he reached her, somewhat out of breath, he firmly grasped her hand.  As they turned to leave, the child held back to place his hand along the bark of the Shermond Oak.  He looked straight up into the towering limbs above him with the fluffy white cumulus clouds passing directly farther above.  It was his tree; his favorite tree; it would be his forever he told himself.

It was quiet.   It was peaceful.

He turned to walk along with his mother. His small body busily pumping his short infant legs to keep up with her as they strolled home through the tall stalks of grass.

**********

Chapter Nine

The Palace of Dreams

Across the snow-white pavement of the square strode three strutting figures with their uniform capes gingerly whipping behind them.  A steady slap echoed against the whiteness of stone and marble as their sandals thrusted against the surface. The sun seemed to have darkened in the shade of the trees circling the large square.  They appeared to be heading towards a large monument in the center.  It was a towering pinnacle of stone with a small rectangular opening and around its parameter were windows spaced systematically  of no great quantity; the monument came to a tapered point: It housed many privileged mortals which slept in the dreams of the gods—-and perhaps, just perhaps, reasoned Martin, a conspirator!

They passed several stone columns and large monolith slabs placed arbitrarily throughout the square that contained slogans and epitomes dedicated to privileged  individuals as engravings heavily and gracefully on their front sides.   For the fact, however, that greenery and shrubbery were suspiciously missing along with some architecture,  it would have passed for a cemetery of the 21st Century.

The three soldiers marched briskly through the morning air, and with each step coming closer, broader in nearness, the top of the building seemed to rise higher and higher until suddenly they passed into the thick darkness of the interior.  Martin notice that the stones lining the rim of the entrance were enormous and a stunning tribute to Dulmania.

They passed down an extremely large corridor that took several minutes to traverse.   In the shadows of an immediate Entrance Room, they were met by blinking red, green, white lights  on the face of the Computer Wall that scintillated the interior with the synchronistic pulsations of color.   A smooth but varying musical hum weaved out from the guts of the Computer that nursed a collaboration of  the many incubated individuals that were housed to live an eternity of many times, either for a service rendered or a debt  paid.

“Welcome, gentlemen.  Welcome to the Palace of Dreams.  You have  been announced.  We greet you Son of Misslou, we hope you find the evidence you are looking for.”  It was the voice of the Computer: its store of information was fantastically clairvoyant.

Martin smiled musingly, “Good morning.’’   Matin glanced around at his two companions who were also smiling.  “May we  visit your corridors?”

“Be my guest!’  The Computer spoke with a mellow but nostalgic frequency.

“Thank you.”  Martin stepped a foot or so to enter a corresponding and ascending corridor.

”Please forgive the housekeeping,” it replied, “we don’t have visitors often.”

Martin glanced back momentarily, “Thank you.  Thank you very much.”  One didn’t have to know the age of a Computer to demonstrate politeness, it was just something about its manner that deemed it so.

The three started their journey up corridors of the temple.  Suspended on the invisible Jets, they progressed up the passage of Cells.  To one side an infrequent beam of sunlight flashed across the corridor from the “peep hole” rectangular windows; on the other side were synthetic viewing windows into the Cells allowing one to investigate the Sleep Chambers.

Martin would occasionally investigate a Sleep Chamber, and holding up his hand, the conveyer would slow, and the movement the movement of the suspending jets would stop momentarily as Martin would peer intrigued into the Chamber.  Usually, the person inside  would be laying in a silver suit, silent, and still on a metallic slab.   On the wall above the person’s head, a roving Eye would pivot in its socket and scan every inch of the Chamber.   Below, a Computer Unit showed signs of its existence by its scintillating lights.

The Dream Palace, or Temple as it  was called, was the Dulmen  way to reward those of a certain Elite with their noticeable and outstanding  reward from this life (and the next).   He or she may have been an Outer-City peasant – or a noblemen  — of the Bubble Cities, a soldier who had done some heroism in outer space,  or had fought in a success Dulmen battle, now being rewarded with ecstasy and sensuous delights of the senses of millions of years crushed into  and capsulated into the matter of a few minutes.   These individuals need not live out their normal life span.   Normally, a person would die and the sum total of his existence, his personality, would be computerized  and his identity would become a part of the Great Brain to live on eternally as a recorded memory bit of holographic information in the Nirvana of the dark depths of the awesome, master Brain: a scientifically verifiable eternity.

Halfway up the Memorial, the Computer spoke:

Pardon me gentlemen, I have an irregularity located on Level 85.   My information suggests nothing of alarm, but I suggest you check it out anyway.”

Martin arched his neck back and looked curiously into the air, “Thank you, it may  be what we are looking  for.”

Martin’s pulse stepped up slightly.  His expression took on a more serious consternation clinching his teeth lightly together causing a drawn expression on his cheeks.  It had been a full day – with much tension – under the weight of his promise to catch the elusive entities.  His patience was gone and he was wearing a peculiar wrath at this point.  Body upon body, face upon face, had appeared through the Chamber Windows as they swiftly ascended the corridor.  Some had a pasty white appearance, others a soft pink.  All were, however, straight lipped, unsmiling in their perfumed dreams.

The Suspension Platform  slowed bit by bit until it stopped suddenly across from the hatch door to a particular chamber.  The hum of the conveyer jets died down and then disappeared with a low hiss.  The three men stepped over to the hatch-door, Martin peered in but suddenly reeled   back, regaining his composure, and stepping again to peer through the diamond-hard viewing portal.

Inside, was a young lady sitting upright, yet unable to beak the straps around her wrists.  By the expression on her face, she was in stark terror and physical pain, rolling her head side to side  and twisting her mouth in agony.  He long hair was pasted to her lips by her saliva.  She gave a blank look, almost as if she saw them, yet didn’t, perhaps looking beyond them.  Because of the soundproof enclosure nothing could be heard, but she obviously was in the struggle of a great tragedy.

“What’s wrong with her, sire?”  a soldier asked stepping closer to look.  Martin just shook his head.

‘‘She appears to be  in agony!  Is something wrong with the machinery or electronics here?” asked another.

A malfunction!  It can’t be corrected at this time.  She’ll have to be taken out by our technician custodians,” announced the Computer.

“Has it anything to do with our quest ?”  asked Martin rather loudly, still having difficulty viewing the horrid scene before him.

None.  She has not received the proper information feed,” was the Computer’s nonchalant response.  “It is nothing more.”

“Why?”

”I don’t know.  This has never happened recently.  Most Dulmen are quite receptive.”

“Yet she is not !”  stated Martin sarcastically.

“No.”

“You say no conspiracy,”  Martin was analyzing differently,  “ I’ve seen this seed of rebellion lately and it indicates only one thing: a connection with the conspirators!”

Maybe so,” replied the Computer, “ but we’ll never know for sure.”

“She is completely out of our reality!” challenged Martin as the Computer ended the conversation in sedate,  human phonetics.  Martin asked no more questions.  He peered into the chamber once again: the girl was no longer young and beautiful but had magically turned into an elderly hag of many years, wrinkled and decrepit and barely able to hold herself upright.  Martin saw something else: before their eyes, suddenly, her hair had turned gray and silver, bit by bit, it turned to white!

Martin glanced down at the Identification Label on the hatch of the cubicle, it read:   Mary Longarm, 5890-892-4600, Sector 5, Level 85.

“Let’s get out of this horrid scene, leave.” Martin ordered almost begging.  The military unit turned to descend to the ground level.

Martin was fearful.  Something!  Something different had been seen in that face of bedlam: it had signified something beyond Dulmania Control and he just didn’t know how to picture it.  The face of the Outer City citizens, when soldiers had jested and played with the experimental release from Control, the experimenters could then see the reality outside of Dulmania; Martin grabbed his cape and sword handle in a tight and fearing grip.

**********

Elia had the small lamb safely nestled  in a bed of straw hear his slung hammock that extended along one side of the tent, while the other half housed a comfortable array of food, preserve, blankets, cushioned folding chairs, electric cooking stove (a rarity for a person as himself, and a well-cared for possession), plus a table and several stacks of clothing and blankets.

A hanging lantern descended a few feet from the apex of the tent and a cozy glow filled the weatherproof shelter.

It was early morning yet while the rising sun was only a few minutes away: stars could be seen clearly in the night sky above the pitch-dark forest.   Not a speck of light could be seen through the hills and mountain sides.  Not a campfire.  Not a torch blaze.  Not even the distant halo-glow of a Dulman city.  No, Elia’s tent stood alone in the valley with a singular warmth all its own.  The fire he had built to warm the sheep had finally died to a mass of glowing embers.  The braying of goats and sheep denoted a restlessness for the coming morning.

It also was a freedom that Elia wouldn’t have dared exercise except for the fact that several unusually large earthquakes have suddenly isolated a nearby area with the Caucasus Mountains as the diameter.  With the complete collapse and utter destruction of Mount Elbrus, the 18,500-foot mass of  rock and earth dissolving into rubble as if acted upon by several mysterious forces, Dulmen citizens left with a rapid hast explicit of uncontrolled fear.  The Officiates didn’t prevent the exodus, but rather aided it with great haste.  The unknown was always a highly controlling factor.

Elia’s ‘people’ quickly converged in droves from their few isolated ‘spots’ in the continent.  His ‘family’ had lived silently in the rugged valleys of upper Siberia.  It was there he would return within a few hours to carry-out the assigned task.  But now he wanted to mediate and contemplate first.

Combing his silky ‘mane’ back as best he could after taking a razor to his beard (shaving his face with the ancient razor; he had accompanied a disgust for lengthy hair of his more frivolous days), and washing his face, Elia went about the task of shutting down camp.   

He will pack his gear on the three mules that accompanied his short journey from the ‘village.’  The small lamb that he discovered, he will carry; aside from minor cuts and scratches, it had become symbol of the unfortunate, the lost, and those who were possibly blindly chivalrous.

Soon this curious  procession will be seen coming across golden fields and down a slopping pasture into the small street of the nearby desolate village.

“We have been given immunity”  Elia would think of the ever-watchful eye of the awful Zeus, the Great Brain,  “but why?  And for how long?”

Quietly swishing his strong lion’s tail like a content cat, Elia glanced at the gentle lamb.  He stroked the lamb  twice.  The desolate and uninterrupted serenity of nature’s quit was too good to be true, and the star-studded heavens seemed to hold back that potential, haunting fear that might break through any moment  and cause even the embers of the campfire to extinguish.

But the moment also made Elia feel good.   It gave him that extra bit of courage he would need when he will shortly visit the various citizens in Dulmania.  It had been five years, but that was not long enough a period to wipe away the familiar faces  and some of the  happiness and even the sad and sordid past-times he had with those neighbors.  How would they receive him?

What would he say?

Would he even finish the journey?

Or would it already be too late?

**********

Chapter Ten

Basso Continuo

Uncle Redress had watched the faint glow of a speck of light on the scanner.  Over a period of minutes, it increased in brightness.  He checked the location as to the territory of the find.   It had passed into an area that was Do Not Trespass-Restricted Area of the Dulmen government.  

His face held a soft, low smile; but if one looked closely, he could note a sign of sardonic wickedness there also.  He couldn’t help himself altogether because some baser instincts within his subconscious adhered to his Dulmen training  –   a mild ‘jerk’ of his head indicated as much—and he enjoyed it!   Everyone had been allotted their potent of Z-BR8 capsules.

“Good!  Good,”  he muttered to himself as he jumped from one scanner to another, peering over the shoulders of  the operators.  “Fine! Fine.”

The room lit up with brilliance momentarily and then sled back into total darkness as someone entered through the dissolvable portal to the room.

“Police have been dispatched, Sire,”  the person informed.

“Did you also inform Martin?”  Uncle redress questioned. 

“Immediately, sire.  He has just been reached at the Palace of Dreams.”

“Palace of Dreams?”

“Yes, sire.”

Uncle Redress looked somewhat puzzled.  What could Matin have found so interesting there?  Surely, he didn’t think a conspirator would be able to hide in that scrutinized mansion.

“Oh well,” Redress mildly exclaimed  and turned to look back at the florescent panels, “I suppose they’ll take the captors to the Hall of Criminal Detention,’’  then quickly declared, “yes, and let me know as soon as they arrive.” 

“Yes, sire.’’

‘‘Tell Martin, I leave within a few minutes.”

“yes, sire.”

“That’s all.”

The room lit up again, and immediately regained it black solace.  Uncle Redress folded his hands at his crotch and balanced himself on his toes, rocking, showing some childish smugness.  This could be a big event for him!  Oh yes, a big episode for a true god of Dulmania, one could become ecstatic within such wellbeing. 

“I believe they are captured now, sire,”  one of the operators informed, “the Pointer has faded.”

“Check back with me, informing me by Communications; if so, I’ll leave immediately.’’  Redress smiled confidently.  The operator spoke swiftly into the Communications. Uncle Redress had begun to sway like a high-strung adolescent, partially singing a tune.   He rubbed his hands his hands together in excited  impatience.

“They are headed back, sire,”  the operator announced.

“Then I go!”  He informed his personnel of their further duties.

The room lit up again, and immediately regained its black solace as he disappeared into a fray of light.

**********

The nude boy and girl stood before the semi-oval seat of the Questioner that swayed in midair before them.  The Judgment Hall  had a curious touch of Aztec and  Mayan architecture blended rhythmically with that of ancient Rome (all of which was lost history to average citizens and some of those present).  Martin sat there soberly tapping on his new black boots with his short leather whip—-an obvious distinguished aspect of the Questioner and Examiner.

Behind the two captives were several officials of the immediate Investigation Squad, which included Redress and Arian.  They all stood in patient complacency, looking sternly at the two, for this was the break they had been waiting for. 

The chamber was dimly lit in red that surrounded  as a phosphorus glow in the chamber.  There was also burning torches protruding from strange architecture in the crannies uniformly located on down the walls leading into the darkness at the far end of the room and contrasted expertly with the white glow of Martin’s throne.

Martin stepped from his throne and walked casually over to the boy; he glanced at him with great hate that impinged upon the limits of his psyche. 

“Do you know why you are under arrest?”  Martin snapped sharply.  He had taken his allotment of Z-BR8 to curve his rage.  He continued to pace in front of the boy. 

“Yes, we trespassed on restrict and private Dulmen property.”

“Is that right?”  Martin stopped to ponder the boy’s erroneous assumption, or lie, then continued to walk.  “And nothing else?” His questions were brisk.

“I don’t know.”  The boy was shaken with wrenching fear.  His body had turned to a cold icy feel from the panic growing within him.  His face was stained from tears.  Their wrists were swollen where cords bound the two, but not necessarily out of necessity, but mockery.

“I doubt that!”  Martin stopped to tap him spitefully with his whip.  He continued in his restless pacing. 

“It is much more than strange that the two found the unfortunate ‘burial’ site at the old relic?”  interjected Arian, referring to the ancient school building that had existed in somewhat pristine condition. Apparently, its condition was due to use before by Dulman governmental agencies.

“Yes.  Yes, it was, Arian,”  agreed Martin.  “And also find it interesting that it was in such a short matter of time, as well.”   Martin paused his pacing and gazed coldly into the boys eyes, “ Was it because you had followed the solders from the Jest to the old relic—secretly hiding?”

The boy knew what the godman was driving at, and he rocked his head from side to side in utter disbelief, “No, no sire.  It was nothing like that.  It was just a morning stroll.”

“Just a stroll!”

“Yes.”

“Just a morning stroll, nothing more?”

The boy timidly and hopefully glanced up at Matin, “Yes.”

Matin’s expression turned to dire hate, “You lie!”

This was not happening, the boy thought, it was not true, surely, surely someone could defend them, yes, someone—-the Brain—-yes, the Brain knows!  “Ask the Great Lord!” the boy blurted out.

“Indeed!”  Martin shouted out, raising his whip as if to slap the boy, the boy jerking back his head to absorb the potential blow.  Martin lowered his whip to his side in more composure.  “Indeed. You see, we have—-and you were detected!”

Detected?”

“Yes!”

“As to what?  We’ve done nothing. Said no…”   He stopped, for he suddenly realized how strange and misleading it would have been to complete that remark.  Mark saw his predicament.

“Yes, your correct child, you said and saw much—-it showed on our scanners!  Trapped!  Caught!”  Martin stood  looking dominantly at the two as he slapped his whip repeatedly in his palm.   A slight smile of arrogant pleasure was on his lips.  The girl began to cry aloud.

A moment of silence emerged, then Martin asked, “What have you to say for yourself?”

Ted’s thoughts were now rapidly envisioning that kind old man they had encountered, the visions of which had to have been detected by the Scanner-Sensors.  He could picture his rosy complexion, his flowing white robes, his cane in hand, and that air of a personality associated with something outside of Dulmania, something totally disconnected with the mile after mile of stone and metal, synthetic construction, of Circus, of Jest, of the atrocities such as that Marian and he had stumbled upon previously; and he spoke of a Father—-a Father which sparked a warm glow within Ted’s heart that he never realized existed.  Ted certainly never experienced it with his own father.

“It was nothing evil, Lord,”  Ted pleaded, “we were just discussing an elderly man I had met.  He was kind.  A kind person.  He spoke no harm.”

“No harm?  We think differently.  We Sensed  differently.  There is something there that is aberrative—-it doesn’t equate, it doesn’t compute!”

Marian was sobbing almost hysterically.  She fell forward at the feet of Martin and began kissing them, pleading irrationally for mercy while visions of the fate to befall such traitorous action began to enthrall her thinking.  Oh, how now she remembered the reports of slaughter in the Circus.

In Dulmania, one wasn’t just content to help the hierarchy capture potential conspirators, but if, within one’s self and own being, a person could detect any trace of rebellion, any smidgen of resentment or fear, that person would be disposed to turn his or herself over to the officials of the Bubble Cities! 

From that point, a person would the go through Purging and finally Ecstatic Death  with the promise of eternal life in the Information Banks of the Big Sire.

Long lines of the confessors would line into flanks and march solemnly into the center of the Circus.  There they would sing praises to the gods and goddesses of Dulmania of whom they wished to resign in eternity.  Drugged  into a state of sublime ecstasy with Z-BR8 and other hallucinogens, they patiently awaited their forthcoming slaughter into their eternity.   It was hoped that this mirage prompted others watching to jump into the Arena  as also confessors and receive the same ending.

At this point, Marian didn’t seek such a reality; she wanted to live her life out.   She insisted, he had done nothing wrong.

“Can you tell us where you will meet this man?”  Martin began questioning again.

“I don’t know, sire.  That is, not exactly.”

“Go on.”

“It was during late summer at the waterfall of the Lily Pads, the one decorating the Goddess Vera.   I occasionally walk there because it is not too far from my home; Vera has been a patron goddess.”  Martin sneered at what he felt was a dubious remark by the boy.   “One day as I sat praying, I felt a presence behind me—-opening my eye to see a reflection cast in the water before me….”   Ted was beginning to relax somewhat now, thinking he was doing something to please the gods, “….I was startled.  In pure snow-white robes, the person was almost as if he had materialized.  But I had turned only to see an old man balanced on a wooden cane.   He looked calm and sincere.  There was something about his deposition that projected great wisdom.”

“What did  he say?”   Martin looked casually down at the girl; she had stopped crying to listen.  Martin nudged her to her feet indicating she should stand to listen; this she did revealing a dirty tear-stained face.

“The first words to come out of his mouth were, ‘If you must pray, why not pray to a real God!’”  Martin stared ahead with resentfulness.  “Then he proceeded to say  that I was a ‘Son of Evil’ and would die in evil unless I came face to face with the ‘Father of All.’”

“A traitor!  Truly a traitor!”  Uncle Redress shouted.  He stepped forward near Martin to speak.  Martin bid him silent.  “Go on,”   Martin requested. 

‘He said many things; some I cannot remember!  He spoke of ‘another reality,’ one outside of Dulmania. He said we were ‘slaves of unreality.’”

“Blasphemy!” Martin shouted. Ted’s eyes widen in expectation.  Something quite unexpected was happening here that neither he nor Marian had come to grips with earlier. 

“He also said we were ‘servants of death,’  and that our freedom was only a ‘slave reality: real slavery.’’’

“Why wasn’t this old man detected by the Big Sire?”  The Son of Misslou turned to accost his uncle, “Why didn’t the scanners pick him up at this point?”

“Perhaps if has something to do with this ‘other reality’ he spoke of,” Arian said.   He came out of the dimly lit red of the back area into the white light of the foreground.

“You have ‘freedom.’  By the hand of the gods, you have complete, total freedom.  Has anything been kept from you?”  Martin queried.  “In the Brain is complete ‘Truth.’   In the cities of the gods are complete reality. We create reality.  We are reality!”  

The allegation this old man made to young Ted made Martin quite confused, “We don’t deny you freedom, short of traitorous action to Dulmania….”

Martin jerked his head back, and then made several short jerks, stopping to gaze into the air over their heads of those before him: The huge letters M-A-R-T-I-N had materialized overhead: The Brain was about to speak, the Brain would sometimes make its presence known at surprising times and in often unexpected ways.   Much like a tele-type of ancient times, a message produced in midair and passed before them across the room.  “THERE IS A BIT OF INFORMATION THIS YOUNG MAN MUST RECALL.”   A short and silent pause must have been on the lips of the Unseen Genius, “IF HE WOULD RECALL, SEVERAL YEARS AGO, AS A BOY OF FIFTEEN, YOU MADE AN ERNEST REQUEST OF ME.”  Ted was now showing signs of trauma, now bending on one knee,  “YOU HAD A BROTHER YOU HATED,  HE WAS TO BE A SOCALLED ‘SON OF GOD.’  YOU WISHED HIM DEAD AND SWORE TO REVEAL THE SEEDS OF TREACHERY IN HIM.  YOU ALSO SWORE TO THE SEEDS OF ANY FURTHER TREACHERY IN HIM—AND EVEN GREATER ALLEGIANCE TO ME.”  Another pause before more frightening words, “YOUR  BROTHER WAS DESTROYED SHORTLY AFTER, WAS HE NOT?” 

Silence was a heavy camion in the room.   Its drudgery lasted almost a minute.   Martin was the first to muster a breath—-then words.

“Freedom!  Total and complete freedom!  Not slavery!”   Martin’s words had been given an extra firmness considering the Brain’s equally  overbearing expression.  Ted Zeo no longer could speak.  He was numb in the quagmire of confusion.

“Where are you going to meet this man again?” demanded Martin.  There was only silence.  Ted gazed blankly at the floor.

“Where are you going to meet this old man again?”  shouted Martin grasping the boy by the hair and jerking his head back in a swift motion.   The boy gagged.  A look of fear and hate, both, covered the boy’s face.   The boy clenched a fist.   “Where?”  Martin raised his whip; his eyes dilated with hate.   Martin’s smooth childlike complexion had become contorted into a ruddy pink  beneath the contortions of face muscles; fury was denoted by short snorts of air out of his nostrils; he was a magnificent example of Dulmen machinery functioning at its fitful best.

“Tell him!  For the sake of the Dulmen gods—-tell him!”  Marian became hysterical and moved towards the boy to add emphasis.  “Tell him, you imp of a demon!  Tell him!  Tell him!”   She began to beat the boy with her fists: harder and harder!

“Please Marian,”  whimpered the boy, somewhat distancing from the control of the demi-god and was swaying with each blow from the girl. “Don’t Marian,” he pleaded, “please,”   his nose began to bleed, “ please don’t,” he sobbed.

The guards grabbed the girl and pulled and pulled her back from her contortions of fear and rage.  Her actions apparently verged on insanity (if that had any equivalency in Dulmania).

Martin relaxed momentarily and began to speak more casually.  “I suppose this old man led you to believe that Dulmania was somehow not in your best interest.’’   Martin recalled how the main themes at the University centered on how all treachery and rebellion and how the overshadowing evidence of Dulmen  benevolence transfigured that.  “I suppose he told you how life inhabits not in the veins of Dulmania, but a Higher Power!”

Those words sparked  some acknowledgement in Ted Zeo.  He glanced up into the eyes of the demigod.

“Yes, that is correct.”‘  There was a twinge of spite in Ted’ remark.

“And that ‘killing’ at the hand of another mortal was wrong?”

“You are saying this, sire.”

“And that the gods of Dulmania are not really gods, but just flesh and blood such as he?”

Oh, how those ‘histories’ were now invading Martin’s memory.  Like phantoms of the past come out again, but only to haunt a forbidden secret.   And there was something being seen here now that he had not seen before that moment.

“And it was wrong to ‘hurt’ or ‘kill,’”  Ted continued in his own words.  Martin noted the arrogance of the boy.   Martin’s contorted lips and his grip on his whip again highlighted his hate.

“Then tell me traitor, how long will you be able to watch ‘this’ before you divulge the information we seek?”

Martin dismissed the guards, bluntly faced the girl, and began to beat the girl mercilessly.

**********

Chapter Eleven

Saltarello – Moderato

The waterfall cascaded over the rim of the cliff serenely, melodiously; the flowing water sprayed about exuberantly on the rocks into the pool below.   It narrowed into a stream fenced by lichen, foliage, moss, and other botanic vegetation.  Stone benches had been placed now and then along its bank.  Arching over the stream was a huge marble sculpture of the goddess Vera; she looked as if she were about to descend to the top of the stream and glide down the waterway: arms were at her sides and tilted gracefully.  Her chin slightly bent  towards the heavens and her cat-like eyes stared upwards with a look of longing.  She was treading on hundreds of smaller stone images of human arms and legs. 

In the spring of the year, the park site surrounding the waterfall was astoundingly beautiful.  Lily pads covered the small pond pools on each side  of the stream outlined by long lines of exotic flowers and plumage.   The stream contained at some points blossoms from apple and cherry trees. Roses would pop through the climbing vines partnering closely with oaks and weeping willows.  A few swans visited to dart back and forth and glide over the crystal-clear water.  The fragrance of luscious wild fruit ad botanic redolence strode in the breezes.   It was almost magical.  Rhythmic chatter would issue from couples who sat and made conversation and prayer to Vera.  Sometimes the dialogue became outrageous and the water would carry traces of scarlet and red.  Often, in pure indifference.

Ted Zeo sat motionless, expressionless.  His arms limp at his sides.   He protruded one leg out from him in a relaxed manner.  He obviously was drugged or under a form of Control.  He wore a one-piece outfit like moccasin material or animal hide, simple with an outdoor appeal.  His head was lunged slightly forward in his zombie gaze, and at the nape of his neck was a swollen red streak, a tell-tale sign of the whipping he received at the Crimson Corridor of Justice that night before.

As the birds chirped gently and cheerfully in the morning light, almost unnoticed came a ruffle from the brown-green ticket behind him.  Then it stopped.  It was followed by crunching, sliding gravel.  The boy was being watched by invisible glances. Ted somehow perceived the projections for he knew the source.   The gravel sound continued until a shadow fell across Ted’s lap.  Ted cared not to move.

“My father could not be here, Ted Zeo, alleged son of Maccabee Zeo, child of destruction—but instead, I offered to come.”  The voice was that of a much younger person.  It had challenge to its tone, a crisp determination, yet with compassion and benevolence. 

“Is that so?”  replied Ted, coolly, calmly.  He rotated his neck slightly, barely seeing the person  behind him.   “I’ve come to wait for him just as he said might be possible.”   Ted turned back to his original position.

The other young lad moved directly in front of Ted to face him.  “Why?  Why did you come again?”   Ted said nothing, just continued his trance-like stare.  The new-comer gave his name:  “My name is Matthew.  That name is highly esteemed among my people.  It had been given to those who hope to lead my people.  I only hope that I hall earn that name.”

Ted raised his eyes only momentarily to gaze at the boy.  He was somewhat near Ted’s age, but his look of youth was tempered.  The boy obviously has seen work, hard work, revealed by the creases and wrinkles in his hands.  His blonde hair was being tested by the wind and he appeared to be an outdoorsman.  His dark blue eyes were clear and analytical.  The thick cloak and robe-like mantle-toga were snow-white wool that almost glistened in the sunlight.

“You  can offer me nothing any longer.”   Ted remarked despondently, his eyes fixed upon the fair-haired boy.

“I offer the greatest gift of all.”   The youth stepped closer and in an unsuspected touch placed his hand upon the shoulder of the hopeless Ted.   “I can reveal to you the eternal love of an eternal Father.’’

Ted frowned again and lowered his head.  “Father!  What is a  father?  I am owned  by a guardian who presents me twice a year to the Department of Welfare for personal initiation into various Dulmen rites,”  he paused in thoughts that came sluggishly, “my mothers are many…no, my one legal guardian is a lady…”

“The true history of your family and ancestry is a confused and erroneous one — as is the fact with all  of Dulmania.  The truth of which you will not be able to bare  at this time.”

“To bare…”  murmured Ted, becoming incoherent in his thinking, “I must have you stay long enough.”   Ted swayed slightly and appeared to gasp for air while speaking.  He stumbled to his feet while Matthew graciously helped him.  “You must stay just a few minutes longer—just a few,”  Ted pleaded.

‘‘Of course, my…my brother.”  Matthew smiled and squeezed Ted’s shoulder affectionately.

A moment of silence was broken by a low but audible high-pitched sound above their heads.  The mellow-blue sky first appeared empty but then as if on an invisible angel’s harp strummed  beyond vision, high in the placid sky, it became louder and louder into a noticeable hum. 

The stranger quickly glanced over upward to see a silver speck zigzagging about a mile over their heads.  It was soon joined by another and then another, and all three descended vertically downward —- Dulmen transport globes that separated about two-hundred-feet above, spreading into a circle on the ground, one on the far bank of the steam and two on either side of the boys. 

At lightning speed,  Dulmen guards seized the bewildered youths.  Matthew jostled and pivoted on his toes much like ancient football players did when active in their sport, but it was in vain for his struggle was futile.  They harshly and expertly bound his wrists together behind his back and shoved him into a craft.  

Matthew slowly turned to glance at Ted from the transparent sphere.  With two guards next to him, Matthew appeared to be calm, giving Ted a glance of pity and determinism.  Ted was also bewildered by the arrest.  Slowly, they also led Ted into the other Bubble Craft.   A wave of a guard’s hand the crafts ascended slowly for the first ten feet and then picked up speed and rapidly veered briskly into the sky.

The arrest appeared to have completed more expertly  and profoundly than their earlier expectations.   They rewarded themselves with more Z-BR8 capsules.

In the on-going silence of the morning, a sparrow glided straight down the middle of the stream, banked, and fluttered to the bench on which Ted Zeo had been seated.  The bird chirped frequently while pecking with his beck on the stone.  Spying a small shiny object on the ground, the bird hopped down to it, eyed it suspiciously, and begun pecking it as well: It was a small medallion that had been lost in the shuffle of the arrest; sparkling clean and the silver circlet glittered with each turn.

To a discerning eye, one could see the miniature image of a dove descending upon a fish.

**********

Chapter Twelve

The Arena – Circus Maximus

The youth stood before two heavy metallic sliding doors, huge monstrosities with steady blinking lights around their edges.   Outside the thick structures one could hear the low, thudding throb of beating drums; the steady ‘‘Boom!  Boom! Boom!”   A slow hypnotic moan.   Guards stood beside the doors, awaiting to attend the matter of opening them and escorting the herd of homosapiens into the Circus Proper

Firm fingertips were upon the individual as two guards jerked his wrists  together and began to encase the cords around them.   It hurt.  It was painfully tight.  They checked him over to see if his robes were straightened properly for this fashion, especially the blood stains from previous whipping.   It was to be most illustrative.

“Stand ready to meet the gods!”  the one guard sneered.  He slapped the boy on the shoulder lunging him off-step and almost into the girl in front.   “Father, have pity!”  she sobbed huddling against the boy and supporting him to a standing position.  Matthew halfheartedly smiled back to the tearful girl, who was, then, immediately forced to turn back around.  In her face, though stained with from tears, and eyes that were  perpetually moist, he found solace, and better still, remembrance of something soft, warm, and loving that he had felt only a day ago; and apparently, had little chance of immediately returning to.

The guards, presently stunned by their allotment of Z-BR8, continued checking the captives on down the line.  Matthew’s mind was one big blur of colleting memories and events.  His capture had been quickly followed by many others in his community.  With amazing accuracy, scanners placed throughout Dulmania cities and rural regions begun picking out the, now, familiar white specs.  Within hours the maneuvers of the guards concentrated upon descending about Conspirators in an accurate science after the first global arrests of the Hidden People  that had been picked-up and transported to Mylar City for questioning. 

Then, just as swiftly, those scanners stopped: no more traces were found!  But Martin Seisbury  was happy with his accomplishment.  Apparently,  twenty-five conspirators had been caught  a few hours after Matthew’s arrest.   The Judgment Halls, which Martin now actively presided over, became crowded with large amounts of officials in the dimly lit crimson light of the auditorium.  One by one, the suspects would file before the brilliance of the Judgment Seat highlighted by the huge three-dimensional Dulmen emblem in the back wall.  Each suspect was dressed in the clothes of plain and simple garb of the nomad.  Each hung their heads in silence.  Each refused to speak or confess anything, but would speak-out with such expressions as:

“Father have pity on us!”

 Or occasional:

“Preserve us to the end.”

It would infuriate Martin immensely, and the watching crowd  (which often manifest itself as a violent mob) attempting to grab the prisoners and attempt murder but stopped by the mysterious and stunning flashes of large block letters overhead from the Brain:  “ LET THEM BE!”   And so, the mob would restrain their actions, drop their grips, fall back, and allow the nerve-shattered victims to remain to stand in silence—- silence or song —-for some would be so brazen as to sing sweet melodies—hymns  praising a One God—-a Creator of All.

It would be at this point that Martin would beat them maliciously or have them beaten, yet they remained silent upon his questioning, or they sang until knocked into unconsciousness.   This show of authority would come to an end when this giant-sized Dulmen ego was satisfied, and the victim finally sent to the Hyper-ocean where their brain patterns and memories were raped naked and minutely analyzed In the deep recesses of the Mighty Sire.   Every crook and cranny of their ‘super egos’ were psychologically dissected—-and even then, there was something that didn’t compute!

**********

Just when the patience of Dulmen gods were being irksomely tested, the needed information was discovered!  The major source of this simple tribe was located—-somewhat unwittingly—-during Dulmen psychological and mental rape.   The source was seemingly the cliffs and hills out on the far end of the Forbidden Zone near the edge of the Flats!    The Flats were mirror-like Moon-like prairies created by the searing and hellish heat of the last atomic-nuclear war on the planet:  a rough area of approximately 2000-miles square, pock-marked with deep dark craters—-centers of the various explosions that often evaporated-away rock, boulder, mound, bill or mountain!

It was only near the farthest  edge of the vast area that a gradual hill or rock irregularity would appear, until knolls and then large, majestic towering and even spiraling cliffs, unnatural archways, windows, and icicle-like columns.    It was within the corners, sinks and tight fissures of these cliffs that caverns had formed  within the bowels of rock by means of the gyrations and convulsions  in the earth from the nuclear holocaust; existing within these convenient caverns and stone hallows, the tribes of Conspirators had hidden for many, many eons—-secret, ever-elusive, ever watchful, yet never fully protected or invulnerable.  The only protection they had was the rugged terrain and —– some Higher Source.

The area had been immediately quarantined due to the extreme radiation in the thousands of roentgens and desolation; the, then, present government posted stern prohibitions and limits.  Any youth venturing into the areas would be almost instantly turned into a senile, deathbed  patient displaying wet and grotesque burns and sores.  The effects of the war could not be contained just to the Flats—-the governments did instigate a timely and ingenious propaganda as to explain away the global deaths which suspiciously appeared to be radiation poisoning.  The profligacy of human governments had not changed that much in intervening years. 

As Dulmania came into existence, various catalysts and Reducing Agents were dropped into the areas from orbiting spacecraft hoping to abate the radiation levels.  A certain amount of success was obtained, but the area was still avoided as dangerous and plague-like.   Children grew-up associating the area with theDulmen god of War—-Maxz—-and the war-torn area was known as the Land of the War gods.

The fantasy taught to children was astounding, and the extreme to which the government went was significant of the huge statue which stood like a towering monster over a highway leading into the War Zone: a fanged, pupil-less, hairless monstrosity of a Dulmen solider with arms crisscrossed over his chest, disintegrator sword in his fist, and a metal-tipped whip in the other.   The statue rose some eight-hundred feet into the atmosphere and the top would often be obscured by clouds.

A large stone dedication at its feet announced: MARXZ – ALL THAT IS HUMAN.

**********

Chanting could now be heard through the large Arena doors.  The audience of the Arena must have grown full and spectators impatient.  There was no deed for citizens to be troubled by the weather  growing cooler and their losing their sun-warmed afternoons with barely warming  radiant heat from fall seasons  —-  to the contrary, the weather inside the Dulmen Bubble City was disgustingly mild and fair!  Their blood was already stimulated by drugs and Z-BR8 intoxicants.  Trumpets were starting to join the beats of the of the drums in a brisk and military style.

Directly in front of the metal doors, eloquently dressed, fully intoxicated ladies and gentlemen in elaborate garb danced in a childish fashion; their laughter was enough to cause horripilation and hysteria.  The dancing crowd began to disrobe each other teasingly; Matthew could only shake his head in disgust, tears began to roll down his cheeks.  Many of his people turned their heads in shame or disgust at such haughty display which gave little respect for the feeling of the new captives which were about to sacrifice their lives for some eternity in the memory of the gods.   Many had come forth to confess sympathies secretly harbored within themselves and realizing this only upon hearing the announced arrest of the Conspirators: and now they wanted to make final restitution with the hidden rulers of Dulmania.

Matthew’s eye caught a familiar face of a boy dancing in frenzied rapture, the same boy who he had confronted on the day of his capture—-his very being was about to be consigned to the electronic circuits of the Ultra-Computer. Ted Zeo!   Ted Zeo had finally made a ‘mark’ for himself in Dulmania eternity and legendary.  Matthew shook his head: so near, yet so far!  The fate of that young boy could have been different  if….  

Cries of horror and fear rose from behind Matthew and the snapping of a whip forced his attention to focus sharply on the new activity:  large transparent enclosures had been rolled into place on each side of the line.  Within them, hideous, snarling  and grotesque beasts—-The Boors—-lashed their tentacles about like octopuses, revealing between lashes large teeth in a gapping cavity of a mouth whose roars could  be heard even outside the enclosures.

Matthew’s people were in tears and cringing in freight.  Thoughts of Lorna, Matthew’s sister, as well as his father, Paul, were painfully as well as intimately haunting him.  But above all this was his vision of his sweet wife, Roseanne; he had felt her gentle fingers upon his hand numerous times in previous hours, looking up in expectancy of seeing her petite and smiling face, only to realize that this was a fantasy of his mind fostered by the fear of the forthcoming terror!

The men tried to comfort the women as best they could, handicapped by their imprisoned limbs.   Matthew struggled  back into the crowd to do likewise but was cut short of breath by a husky hand around his throat and forced back again; regaining his  breath, he stuttered, and then shouted over the heads of those before him into the crowds of people:

“Sing!  Sing!  Loud, my brothers and sisters!  Sing!”

Matthew tried to raise a clenched fist into the air in a show of brave expression, only to feel the pain of the cord around his wrists.  Tears streamed down his cheeks instead.

“Sing to our Father!  He has not left us!”

A large hand muffled his mouth, allowing only mumbles as he vigorously struggled, biting the hand of the soldier who grabbed his chin in pain.  The boy jutted himself straight and continued:

“This has happened for a purpose!  A new and terrible Age has opened!  The time has come!  It is here!  So, sing!”

The citizens, soldiers and aristocracy of Dulmania perhaps were struck  by the irony of the situation: The Brain, in its immense and total Power to Control, had allowed all players to exhibit  a veneer of free actions  rather than resort to rote zombieism, perhaps as a way of showing Dulmen eventual victory and Rule.

Matthew’s voice unexpectantly at last hit a noted of joy and he began to smile.  Then, just as suddenly he was knocked to the ground and left lying.  Immediately, voices rose in song, a stentorian melody, loud, vibrant; to the Dulmen, it was alien, incoherent ,  but to the persons of many centuries before, it would have been familiar.

“‘A mighty fortress is our God…,’ the song went, ‘a trusting shield and weapon,’  faces of the crowd and attendants became struck with surprise, ‘He helps us free from every need, that hath us now overtaken…’”

And on and on it went!   The snapping of the  indignant whip over their heads had little effect, neither the vile and nasty remarks of the soldiers, nor the slapping of the faces of the women.

“ ‘The old evil foe now means deadly foe: deep guile and great might, are his dread arms in fight…’”

The erotic dancers stopped suddenly in amazement and they began to study the strange chorus. Matthew regained consciousness and smiling was helped to his feet by someone unknown.  Despite pain, he began to sing as well.

‘“…on earth is not his equal…’”

The guards, despite their confused expressions and murmurs of exasperation, were given a signal to commence.  The Circus audience was impatient for their big event.   A wave of the hand, a crisp, sharp monosyllable from the Centurion Officiates of the Arena Games,  and the huge doors began to roll aside to reveal the enormous Pit Area of the Arena.

‘“ Tho’ devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us, we trouble not, we fear no ill, they shall not overpower us…’” 

Whips lashed out overhead as the procession and signing continued.  Yes, it continued!  It continued into the loud roar of mankind at its animal worse.

‘“ This world’s prince may still scowl fierce as he will…’”   

The jeering, the cursing, the throwing of urine and aphrodisiac-hallucinogenics increased, but the captives went on signing for as long as they could through exhaustion.  The main terror was nearby.

“‘…he can harm us none, he’s judged, the deed is done…’”

They quickly prepared themselves for their final acts of loyalty as they strove to grasp each other’s hands to signal confidence and love to their religious tribal brothers and sisters.

‘“…one little word can fell him…’’’

Until the captives reached the point of unbearable exacerbation and passed into oblivion!

**********

Chapter Thirteen

The Ascending God

Though huge portraits of Martin Salisbury decorated the pillars of the Arena, the whole of Mylar City Proper and continuing suburbs, Martin was feeling no warmth, contentment, or composure.   And while the news dispatches had gone out in eloquent processions, and the Dulmen propagandists did more than their share to advertise this latest Dulmen victory, Martin felt something deep-down in the pit of his stomach that wasn’t the essence of victory.  He had been fashioned into an overnight hero yet he felt defeated (feelings that were probably reviewed by the Brain), he had won the favor of gods and goddesses, yet he felt like an undeserving child.

In the early minutes before the Circus, Martin approached the Circus Proper through the Officials Chute-Corridor. The conveyor jets transported him and his personal guards to the praetorium of the mid- length of the Arena  where the official Box  was for honored guests and dignitaries.   He nodded only halfheartedly at those who stood to greet him.  Uncle Redress (smiling lustfully with pride), Arian, several Dulmen dignitaries and officials spoke:

“Congratulations,”  slowly spoke Arian with a board grin.  They shook hands, the rest nodded.  Martin quickly swiveled and sat upon the suspending set that faced out into the Arena.   Martin shaded his eyes and solemnly glared at the Pit  area.

The spectators appeared to be in a robust and wanton mood, and the seating-area was full; everyone rocked and bounced on the plastic-like Veri-Cushion (a flexible but invulnerable  sheet or canopy that was in fact a  spectacular Belt that could, at will, form into a ‘seat’ and backrest upon the presence of a body; it appeared as a popping motion about the Arena as various rows of spectators appeared).

Occasionally various citizens would light-up in an aura of blue-white light evidentially because of a Ray Device  held by another individual.  These were the Stimulation  Devices that would suddenly throw the victims into a momentary  frenzy of erotic and ecstatic delight.  One could see a female arch up on her toes and heave her bosom into the air, musically weaving her arms through the glow while bathed in an eerie blue-white light hovering on top of the green halo a few inches from the skin of her body.  Suddenly, the light would vanish and she would drop back to her original position, usually to comic with the provocatory.

The drums had stopped abruptly.  Then the loud, clear blasts of the trumpets.  The huge entrance doors sled open.   Martin’s attention was enlivened — he sat up erect on his throne.  Then it turned to dismay as he as he began to view again all the familiar faces that stood before him in the preceding hours. His eyebrows rose in serious consternation as he noticed the captives signing in jubilation.  Then, again, he thought to himself, this was not so surprising given the irony of this band of ‘loners.’

Veronica, the dark-haired, hazel-eyed damsel who had stood before him for an hour, was again in his view.  Unable to harass her into speaking, a guard slapped her.  She only cried.

“Why does my God-given brother persecute me?”  she  sobbed.

“Brother?”  the guard snapped back, “I would not wish to ‘touch’ the likes of you!”

Martin observed the incident, “A bit too harsh,” he thought to himself. The women stumbled forward.  Martin noticed that here was a woman that was far too eloquent, of a majestic heritage, much more than those mechanical nymphs that decorated the Mylar City gardens.  Here was a women whose face was ruddy from wind and not from the artificial color injections into the glands of erotic damsels.  She had the strong, firm muscles from the many hours of tilling the ground, harvesting the crops, and rearing the children; not the mathematically and systematically developed thighs, hip, and breasts of the Mylar maidens; their physiques were calculated  to produce desire of the human Dulmania gods.  Her hair had the half-sheen of wind and dust after he a long day’s journey across the prairies, not the forever-sleek strands of the Aroian Palaces. 

**********

“Why — why does my brother persecute us?”  she sobbed with large owl-like eyes.

Martin swallowed his saliva before speaking:  “You are addressing a god!’’   He paused briefly, “I am not your brother.”

“You are a prisoner that you judge us so vainly.”   The intense stare of her eyes continued their sober fixation.  Her statement whirled around in Martin’s head that was the very essence of Dulmania (from his lustful nights in the Aroian Palaces to the mentally electric ‘throb’ of the Dulmen Universities).   He could not comprehend. 

He jerked his head back in several small flicks. 

“You are far too wise a woman to be a traitor.  If I could offer you your ‘freedom’—HERE—NOW—in exchange for your allegiance would you give it?”   As if written there, Martin held his hand out  flat and straight.

The women just wryly twisted her lips in a sly grin:  “Why should I give up all that I have—all that I WANT—for a parcel of bead that is already rotten with disease?”

“You speak riddles!”   Martin stomped from side to side.  “You make no sense!”   He looked at her in cold examination.  “I could have your mind transferred in a twinkling of an eye!’  He shook his finger at her.  “Your whole  body molded into an exquisite damsel of Dulmania, every thought plucked, dissected, by the Brain, whether you liked it or not!”  Martin looked at her expecting unusual reaction—-instead, she slowly tilted back her head and cogently, almost in pain and agony, spoke:

“There are somethings, my earthly brother, where you have no ownership—neither can it be bought—or sold—neither can you rob it.   For ‘it’ lies in the protection of the Power of one much higher…”   She stepped forward a few paces to deliver her remark.  “…for our Father is not mocked, as you are doing unto your brother  so shall it be done unto you!   Sooner or later, it shall be done unto you!”  

“Riddles!  Confounded riddles!”  Matin rose two clenched fists in anger, an angered god!   But to Veronica he appeared as a lost child.

“Take her away!   Let the Brain have her!” 

 **********

Martin halfheartedly slammed his fist into the other hand as to not disturb those seated around him.   His thoughts traced over the others in the procession.   These few who were so enigmatic to his robotic mind.  “Why?”  The thought kept sneaking  snake-like, rat-like into his mind.  The question had no business being there, there should have been no question at all.

“Why?”

And “why” kept lingering there as he recalled another familiar face  below in the Arena.   That face was contorted in joyous song.   It was the blue-eyed, blond-haired, lovely adolescent, Sandra.   She had kept her silence and only tears betrayed her hate.  But she tried to remain silent, though misunderstanding followed her aside the atrocious evens she had seen.

Sandra let her anger be known when she attempted to slap Martin’s face—-Martin at first felt a reciprocal rage, but it mellowed into admiration—and then haughty laughter.  The Hall took its cue and began laughing as well.  The cold, almost damp stone slabs that checkered the walls of the Judgement Hall echoed vibrantly throughout, rebounding the sound back and forth along the Malayan-type faces sculptured in the stones in the periphery of the reddish nocturne corridor.

This furthered Sandra’ s resentment, and she promptly spit in the man’s face.  

“Take the brat!”   He calmly further reflected examining his glossy whip.  “Rape her if she refuses to talk.  Then turn her over to the Brain,”  he flipped the whip from one hand to the other, “that is all!”

Sandra was briskly escorted away.  She expressed a look of ghastly horror  as she disappeared into the mass of vultures lurking in the red haze of the Hall.  Still, she shouted:  “Dulmania will die!   Our God is not profaned!  Dulmania will die!  Father, help us!”

**********

There was Andrew:  a husky and muscular specimen of the mysterious tribe. Clothed in the customary toga and heavy sheath with the emblem of dove and fish on the front, he now stood before the Grand Questioner.  He also stood mute.  In short order, Andrew had been flogged.   It was obvious he had been flogged because of his muscular iron-like physique.  Instead of the smooth, flawless skin  seen in Dulmania, there were the scars and wrinkles of hard labor on his hands and neck.  He was a man of 34-years-of-age but he appeared much older.  He evidently was not a product of the Bubble Cities or even the Outer Communities. 

Andrew had been in the last train of captives, and Martin had become quite proficient in the handling of the last few.  Martin stood in almost  bored tears as he watched Andrew grimace in pain.  In great pain, Andrew recited some of the chants and prayers of his tribe; no one could understand them, but they were buffers to ward off the pain.

“Blast your god!”  Martin cried out.  Nothing could harm the man any more than he was hurting in the lashes of the flagellations.  “It is trickery to delude us in the rebellion against the official gods of Dulmania!” 

Andrew said nothing.  He peered up at Matin quickly and continued to chant his sayings.  

“Damned be your Father!”   The last lash struck – the man was released to fall to the cold floor.  He looked as dead.  Martin went to stand by him and turn him over with the toe of his boot, but was startled to see Andrew attempting to raise, a slow eternal moment in which he rose a full arm’s length.  His sweat and blood glistened as his dark eyes reached out to the Dulmen towering before him and he groped for words   He murmured in a deep breath of exasperation:  “He who is a friend of the world is an enemy of the Father…,”  he paused, “…he who is against the Father…,”  pause again,  “…is an advocate of the world.”

Andrew’s head fell to the floor as a heavy rock, and then he lay unconscious.

**********

The terror for the captives had passed.  The slaughter was finished. Cheers were still ringing from the spectators around the Arena, many were climbing the inner wall to travel to the Pit area, all in frenzied excitement.  Some were exhibiting cannibalism to the mutilated bodies strewn about.  Small globe-transports zig-zagged about the growing mass of Arena spectators in the Pit area, like darting hummingbirds, they zipped about charging close to spectators as if to disrupt their activity, and then quickly moving to another spot.  Trumpets were again sounding and the drums throbbed against this wall of anarchy with a jubilant resonance, the whole Arena was in a mass orgy.   It wa a manifestation of Dulmen gods!

They were calling out Martin’s name!

“Stand forth Son of Misslou!  Arise our Ascending god!””

Over and over went the chant, first low and feeble, then in unison, gaining in volume joined by the clapping of hands, into a thundering roar.

“Stand forth Son of Misslou!”  

Around the inner wall of the Pit were wide viewing windows stretched around the four corners of the partition and in the midlenth sections.  Around the windows a line of spectators could also be seen shouting and clapping; others held their children over their heads as if to give them a better view.  Some had their noses pressed tightly against the windows. 

“Arise our Ascending god!’

Banner-bearers held large flags of state and federal motto which waved back and forth gracefully and in unison.

“Stand forth Son of Misslou!”

Hands were being  clasped onto Martin’s shoulders in friendly congratulations, and the dignitaries that were seated near him were raising their arms in salutations.

“Arise our Ascending god!”

Martin began to awake from the indifferent stupor he was in.  His thoughts had been in a momentary battle and he was first aware of the complete scene about him. Unable to erase haunting faces that appeared before him during the last hours, Martin rubbed his eyes hoping the visions would go away, but they remained.  He reluctantly viewed the shouting mob. He silently beckoned Dulmen gods to remove his disturbing thoughts.  His vision ascended to the canopy of electrical static that branched out into the atmosphere of the Bubble City from the Purifying Tower  that was visible just over the rim of the Arena bleacher-area, the jagged arcs of electricity  would jerk out from the tower’s pinnacle, spreading white and blue spray and mist over the city.

Slowly, Martin banished his frame of mind and then stood silently and somewhat disinterested stood before the crowd. The roar of the spectators turned into deafening applause and shouting.  Garments and various clothes were thrown into the air, stimulator-devices were activated in rapid succession.

Unavoidably, Martin’s eyes fell upon the Pit Area as the actions of a trained falcon as to what he had done.  He waved his arms towards the crowd…once…twice…and then dropped them to his side in what appeared to be a forlorn droop, turning to those behind him in his mysterious melancholy.  Slowly, he investigated the rancor of hysteria around him.  The creases in his neck somehow now felt like heavy lead had been poured there.  The dignitaries about him produced a sight that caused growing disgust to Martin:  their occasional ‘jerking’ of their heads indicating the ‘Control’ of the Big Sire, the Brain.  And then in ironic repugnance, Martin felt his own ‘jerk’ of his skull.

“An Ascending god,” he thought momentarily to himself, “indeed!”  That was a rank signifying the evolution of a personality from the realm of the demi-god ‘humans’ that now ruled the Bubble Cities to an actual ‘real god of the heavens’ that came to walk amongst the people once a year at the Big Festival.  It should have racked him with pleasure, but  mixed feeling s and confusion were his only realism.

“Prepare to send our Special Police Squadron out…”   Martin addressed Arian who smiled at Martin in dizzy admiration, “I will meet you at the Space Terminal  shortly within the hour.”

Martin walked away quickly without further explanation!  He was unaware of the looks of amazement and questioning that suddenly appeared as he advanced into the Officials Corridor.

These captives were not the only specimens to ponder —  there were other mysterious organisms and threats to investigate as well.

**********

Flashing images from the past, like delicate burst of color and shape, laughing faces and glaring eyes, confronted martin’s  consciousness:  psychedelic renderings from his ID: completely and totally Dulmania.  

First there came the drawn face of one Professor Aultorixus, his rubber-tipped cue waving back and forth rhythmically at the casually grouped before him. His high cheek bones accentuated his pale complexion, and his quick movements of his thick lips resembled the mincing of a jungle monkey.   An instructor of history, he had no peer, and no one could equal his devotion or mental dexterity.

“There were six consecutive governments,” he was reciting, “each with an inherent seed of weakness that made their downfall inevitable.”  The smell of fresh fruit and floral perfumes were conductive to his low and melodious voice.  “They all had essential structures which prohibited the ultimate discoveries of Power and Might.”   Through the ivory columns that rounded the rather cool Study Hall, one could see warm sunlight caressing the evergreen shrubberies directly outside.  Beyond that, in the Athletic Fields,  students were engaging in sports of combat—while cheering females urged them on.

Aultorixus stopped to look his class over; he spoke again. “‘Let me illustrate a point.”   He strolled over to Martin who was lazily reclining on expensive tapestry and linen sheets.  He eyed Martin curiously.  “In Dulmania we have evolved to a point beyond what Krendelson labeled the Psychic Apex, is that correct?”

“Yes sir!”  was the snappy reply.

Aultorixus slapped Martin’s face, quickly and with might, while he gently shook the man’s other hand in a sign of deep friendship.  Martin was only momentarily stunned.  He had seen these acts portrayed on the visual units in his Learning Cubical, it should have come as a total surprise.   The others were looking on with unemotional interest.

Professor Aultorixus did the routine again.  Martin reluctantly tried to keep himself from emotion under the sting and radiant warmth of the slap in hopes that his cheek would stop quivering. 

“So, your see that personal relationships are varied and depend solely on how much we can psychosomatically endure as well as project.”

The Instructor casually strolled to the front of the podium and began more of his insouciant conversation.  The psychosomatic syndrome in other ages would have gone by other definitions and descriptions; two thousand years earlier, provided they were agile enough to recognize the syndrome for what it truly was, it would have been called ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘double-mindedness.’   It was essentially what led the Cyrenaic or Hedonistic school of thought by Hegasias to turn into a religion but with a new twist, yet already as ancient as the First Parents, to evolve and grow in ever more subtle ways of life until it became worldwide and incomprehensibly ‘evil.’

One could see the relevancy of this when confronted with the history of Countess Flora.  She had become the perpetual ‘virgin’ (any comments to the contrary would have would have brought damnation in the Dulmen Laboratory Incinerators).  She was a protégé of the goddess Vinos, a revolved form of the goddess Venus, and as such she was granted the perpetual grace of Holy Virginity; all eyes were fixed to that fact with demanded loyalty.  It was an insane form of truth, for Countess Flora was far from a virgin.  Indeed, the concubinage was starkly evident and her reputation certainly no secret and no disgrace by Dulmen standards, but inherent and necessity for a society where wickedness was so rampant that ‘virtue’ had to be invented, even if by insane measures!

These recollections of Martin’s faded suddenly.

“Better get in, sire,”  came the request from a guard-attendant, “ you’ll be crushed to death by that oncoming mob.”

Seisbury ogled the murmurings of a group of people on the porta-walk that had noticed the ‘Ascending god,’ their new Caesar, and then their footsteps turned into swift running.

“Quickly, get in sire!”  Martin became suddenly alert and stepped into the control seat of the Zot Car, a gentle purr and the car shot away.

**********

Martin was again wrapped in reminiscence.  He was envisioning a lovely maiden of the Aerion Palaces, involved in one of her seductive renditions, her long silken hair tumbled down upon his face enveloping him in a usual strong scent of aphrodisiac perfume.   She began to laugh hysterically, a second group of women near them directed their attention and laughter to a visiting officer. 

Suddenly, an earsplitting cry of pain and terror rang out, highlighted by insane grunts and squeals. 

Martin grasped for balance as he tried to force himself upright as he threw the surprised maiden to the floor.  Martin lunged  forward to investigate, holding his Penetrating Pistol  in front of him, the chaotic noise suddenly stopped, all eyes turned to Martin slowly approaching the encircled activity.  Spectators backed away casually, almost purposefully as if planned, each with a mystifying grin on their faces that gave Martin a chill!  When they had flanked back, the scene revealed a horrible murder; it was the mutilated body of the Head Officer of one of the nearby military divisions.  It was just one of Martin’s deepest lessons in Dulmen morality.

Martin’s head began to ‘jerk’ incessantly, causing a slight ‘ache’ between his eyes and a warmth at the nape of his neck: The Grand Ruler, The Big Sire, the Brain was discharging  Martin’s disposition of shock and Martin’s possible questioning the morality of the incident.

Martin’s thoughts continued to the days that followed that incident, he had the opportunity to learn ‘firsthand’ the justice of the Dulmen Empire, the rulers of that land in their most direct and perverted form.

Sandra, a particular maiden which had occupied Martin with her attentions during this murderous act, was set free,  she was found innocent of any charges, and was said to be neither a witness to a crime or an accomplice.  This struck all as odd, though none knew officially of such complaints.

Martin had testified that her behavior, before and during the act was indicative that she knew what was about to happen and that her hysteria indicated that much—a laughter which intensified before the act.

The prosecution immediately jumped upon this point.  The prosecutor also questioned Martin that the girl’s physical position above him was suspect of the possibility that she was attempting to ‘pin’ Martin down while the homicide was being done. Martin collaborated that suspicion.  There were no jurors — the Brain had made juries extinct —  the Sedox Era saw the last real “Court of Jury,”  for already seeds of inscrutable vanity had transformed courts into a whimsical  ‘Kangaroo Court,’ resulting into Dulmen juvenilia bowing to the complete control of the mighty network of their Electronic Ruler.  And when the Brain spoke, it was final!  This much, Martin had been trained to believe.   So, when the girl was found completely innocent of the charges, the only suspicion one could hold was against the prosecution for their incompetence.

Jess, Marine, Val, the three other female witnesses that been sought to testify—were condemned to death! The Officer to whom the witnesses had been assigned to for that evening, Thor de Charge (the grandnephew of one of the highest generals on the Martian surface), was soon to be placed on that planet in hopes of helping his Uncle solve a colonization problem.  It was thought that the evening’s ribaldry would lend to that possibility.  These girls’ legal distraction was considered an act of ‘treason.’

How odd, thought Martin, that he should look upon such tactics as of no suspicion!  And why?   Why was he even ‘allowed’ his suspicions?  His head began to ‘jerk’ under the weight of free-thinking and the detection of the Brain.   Susan, the sole maiden found guilty of the full charges of murder, was put to death, though there was no evidence to perpetuate that action.  The other two women—-strikingly and beyond comprehension—were found innocent!

Inquiries were not permitted!  Prosecution ordered a mistrial.  The High Judge of the Department of Justice controlled the situation saying that no new trial was necessary. But the legal oddities continued.  For the first time in years, a group of dissenters were found guilty of treason.  They were no longer heard from.  But a rumor already began to circulate as to the reason for the Court’s irony of justice: the two girls had more important duties the following night: two visiting, robust and gruesome officials from the city of Star of the far west!

Why?  That thought came back again and again to Martin, why should he deem the situation so odd; did not the Great Computer actually ‘Know?’  Surely, Martin, of all people, should have known how Dulmen accomplishment hinged on the surreal and erratic timing of Dulmen jurisprudence.  

There was, however, something here that made Martin’s stomach quiver, what if (and this very thought had escaped him for some time) Martin Seisbury had been attacked instead of the Head Officer?  Martin’s thoughts were very confused.   In the soft green glow of the Zot Car cabin, he could feel the perspiration on his face.   Nervous tension brought nausea to his stomach, and that hadn’t happened in eons.  His fingers stroked his sweat and he tasted It and the bitter salty taste.

“Are you in a hurry, sire?”  the attendant asked.

Martin answered slowly and trancelike, “no, no.”

“Then I won’t bother to speed our travel,” confirmed the attendant.  The Zot Car had the ability to ascend into the air vertically and then dart off, or, if it were wished, it would ‘dematerialize’ and ‘materialize’ and travel to one of several Electromagnetic Ports throughout the city (an engineering feat that the government scientists had quite a problem stabilizing and perfecting over the  centuries).

Dulmen science, like Dulmen politics, didn’t always move in a straight line.

**********

“Isn’t it great, Martin,” exclaimed the shinning face of one of his fellow students; it had been sometime since that pumpkin-face had invaded his memory, and here it was again, cascading across the motion-film and kaleidoscope of his mind’s eyes.

“Yes, Zon, it’s wonderful.”  Matin remarked; the exact occasion had escaped him.

“I want to pull my hair out!”

“Go on.”

“I want to run!”

“Run.  Run.”

“I want to dance across….”

“Sure, Zon!”

“I want to pull my guts out!”

“What?”

“I want to kill!”

Kill!  It was a word that already had placed more than three punches to Martin’s stomach. Ironic for such a word in the daily life of the Dulmen totalitarian empire.  It only added a notch in his stomach tension.   Fellow student Zon’s plump face slowly faded.  There was in preparation another psychic melodramatic event:  this event had not been spied nor captured by the Great Erebus Brain that lucked everywhere, even  beneath Mylar city  —-   indeed,  beyond capture by anyone in the general citizenry!  

Through transparent slots in the side of the Zot Car cabin, Martin could peer into the surroundings.  They had just come along side of sterile white business halls,  a huge pavilion supported by thick and designed marble columns.   People and officiates strolled up and down the wide and long expanse of steps; most in discussion about some latest philosophy that had been aired in the courtyards of the Hall.  Swankly dressed and pressed uniforms and cleansed capes, knee high boots that shined,  paraded the lengthy expanse of the steps.

They didn’t always have that slow clip, thought Martin.  His mind raced back to the time that the rank and file would line up in squadrons and march in union on the Arena plastic-like seating transparencies.  Four, five, six or more levels, one above the other, back, and forth the soldiers would march like millions of ant swarming; several levels above and looking down it would appear as if a mosaic of red and brown and grey. 

The soldiers would seem to march for hours. Stereophonically-methodically tuned for precise emotional reaction, such that by the end of a three-hour period the soldiers were entranced, and the herded off to the Aerion Palaces for a release to their frenzied state in a stampede that required utmost coordination, a Dulmen ‘creation,’  a dynamic ‘organism’ within an ‘organism.’

Martin’s Zot Car had turned onto an Express Highway that led almost directly to the Space Air Station; built so that the thick reinforced highway arched over an inner-city river, and then spiraled around a towering monument building—a similar innovation in other sister cities—the highway would level off and the arch down lower and lower till it became again ground level—spreading out for several miles till it neared theSpace and Air Station .   

As the Zot Car picked up speed along the highway, a steady blue light ‘beeped’ off and on synchronistical  on the control panel.  The green glow of the panel itself was throbbing from light to bright in rapid succession  corresponding to the gathering speed.  Sensor-Controls were placed irregularly alongside of the highway, they stood upright on a slender support  and looked like a huge ‘eye’ gyrating in various positions. Along the highway were various ‘gardens’ and fields of commercial and laboratory crops and plants owned by the Department of Welfare.  Every mile or so there were smooth slopping curves of an hourglass shaped  structure which had ‘viewing windows’ at the top (the only sign that it might be occupied): these were the biological laboratories were bold experiments were performed.

**********

Martin Meets the Brain

(Martin’s first encounter with the Brain, the Big Sire, was no gentle introduction; experiments indeed, thought Martin. What wild and wonderous history; just how far back in history did it extend?  Again, his mind sank into the churning recesses of his aggregate of consciousness-subconsciousness.  Martin was about 15 years at the time and had been told about these great moments.  Lesson after lesson prepared him for these ventures, and he expected them to be frightful, but his teachers stressed his encounter with the Brain as a mystical parent, kind and loving .  

(He suddenly found himself elevated to about 600-foot level of gravity-free. His head was shaved bald. Cold bits of metal, miniature electrodes, were gently placed to various parts of his scalp.  The connections led to a central ‘spinal cord’ of the hub down which ran all the other electrical nerve-lines from the many other students located in the spirals. 

(Suddenly, the gossip and murmurings of several thousand people shrunk to a whimper, and then, an almost invisible purr.   A blackness descended over him as light was shut off by blinders over his eyes.  A solitary ‘clunk’—short and metallic as if a lever or throttle were thrown.  A fragile but frightening silence before a low glow of ‘creeping irradiance’  flowed into his brain: it began at the nape of his neck, the back of his head, and slowly crept across his gray matter to meet another ‘feeler’ creeping backward from  his forehead.  Where they met was a tingling as if a kindling of a small fire within his cerebrum until his whole skull was an imaginary ‘glow’ pulsating in synchronization to the electrical input.

(Martin had been blindfolded, he only saw pitch darkness and the usual imaginary green and red spots of closed eyelids, but strikingly an array of sparks emerged  out of a white speck; then ‘stars,’ wind, lightening, and thunder!  Faces, thousands of them, unknown and familiar, all thrown together in a matrix of color and sensuality.  Voices, millions of murmuring and gibbering monotones and some high-pitched shrieking  voices.  Laugher, insane, hysterical, and then jovial, and pleasant.   A large booming sound as if an explosion:  a whole city consumed in flames and an exhibition of molten metal. 

(The scene shifted to the underwater; a few escaping bubbles turned into a vast armada of rising bubbles, upward, upward; and far below were the marvelous Underwater Cities—semi-spherical metropolises that were several miles across and could travel the water at several knots of speed.  [These were later destroyed in the global tsunamis and earthquakes – tossed about like seaweed.]

(This exhibition was destroyed by collapsing pillars and crumbling monuments.  Millions of people in the early century Dulmania were racing madly across fields and desert terrain trying to desperately escape the repeated  blinding flashes and searing heat of atomic bomb  explosions that quaked the earth with a humongous force that dissolved a person’s flesh instantaneously.

(The drama quickly turned into a somewhat alien, more serene, panorama:  Martin and several others were moving down a street  viewing the odd architecture of the homes, buildings along the way.  This was certainly outside the present era of Dulmania. Every conceivable architectural composition since the beginning of time. The homes were decorated in quaint yet bizarre arrays.  Three-story homes with all sorts and shapes of windows, frosted, colored, multiple porches and patios of all designs, strings of lights around corners and down streets, beautifully decorated lawns with exotic and beautiful shrubs, plants, evergreen trees and strange towering prehistoric-like botanical monsters.  Martin felt small and puny in this neighborhood.

(Thrown into a lightning-fast vortex, Martin felt as if he were punched in the stomach, a vertigo with gusts of air all around him, his arms and legs extended outward in weightlessness as he fell into blackness.  A light suddenly appeared and he noted that he had passed into a cavern shaft, he was running down a cavern tunnel created by human hands, torches lined the sides, and his footsteps seemed to echo as his feet rapidly dug into the dirt.  His heavy  breathing was almost a prayer that he would find the end and burst into fresh air and sunlight, and when that happened, Martin found himself several thousand feet in the air over the side of a mountain from where he could observe the peaceful countryside spotted by white, red, and brown homes nestled next to the silver ribbon of a river—–then he plunged!  A great sickness came over him, a belaboring nausea, a whirlpool of flashing green, white red and many colors, and murmurings, an occasional distortion of a blurred face, and finally a loud ringing that became intensified until……)

This emersion into the Brain would not be Martin’s last excursion, only his first, until the time the Brain was convinced that Martin was well-attuned into its grasp by its juggling chromosomes and DNA, synapses, and nerve paths, and at its satisfaction. 

**********

“Stop!  Stop!  Stop!”   Martin screamed.  His back ached and Martin felt the wetness of vomit upon his chin and chest and found his right leg in the awkward position of having been pinned over his head against theViewing Slot  of the Zot Car as he tried to prevent himself from falling below the front of his cabin seat.  The attendant was trying to force Martin upright and trying to place a tranquilizing substance to him.

“Out!” Martin weakly ordered.  The attendant failed to respond.  “Out!” demanded Martin in anger. The curved hatch swung open and permitted Martin exit and a fall to the ground. 

“Oh, the gods forgive me,’’  Martin whispered, “oh, the gods forgive me!”

He was sobbing now, and utterly ashamed of his condition.  He was thinking how obnoxious he was.  “Oh, forgive me!”   With the strength of one arm, he nervously forced himself to stand erect.   He glanced around to see where they came to rest, then began to rub himself as if to calm his nervous agitation.

The highway was deserted.  Ahead, several miles, he could see the Space and  Air Station which stood near the rim of a Bubble Dome.  In the opposite was Mylar City canopied by waves of pink, green phosphorescence that rolled over the city from the electrical discharges of the Purifying System  of its gleaming towers.

A cool  breeze was cutting across the hydroponic fields they had parked along.  It appeared that the Weather Control System  sent a purifying air turbulences throughout the enclosed city as well as the surrounding areas.  It felt good.  It cooled Martin’s perspiring body.  Martin slowly paced the gravel along the highway praying his stomach butterflies would calm down.

“Shall I call for medical assistance?”  asked the Zot Car driver from the hatchway.  It would take, upon request, seconds for the black Medic Craft  to arrive.

“No.”  Martin sedately replied continuing to pace and glance at the ground.  Martin queried himself: How could this be?   Why was the Brain’s method of Psyche Mind Control  not operating at this moment?  He knew how subsequent Control Operations went—-it was like passing into sleep and upon waking he would be something  new and completely Dulmen.  It would be like going to sleep at night and waking instantly without memory of the night’s dreams.  Why should he now be bothered by this something inside—-something!

Martin paced in the opposite direction.  He glanced about the highway to see where the Highway Sensors were spaced.  He noted one appeared to be some distance from them, but Martin feared that  all-controlling presence  of the High God, The Big Sire, the Brain  was ever-present.  The best he could do would be to ask for pardon.  What if Mylar City citizens had seen him at such a weak state?  His fate would have been consigned to the dank and limitless memory banks of the Brain and its dubious ‘afterlife’ in the Dulmen eternity; and it would be rightly deserved.

Or would it?  Would it?

Martin covered his face at the fright of having such thoughts.   It was making him dizzy to wrangle with himself over such  fuzzy thinking. 

“Please sire, come back in,”  pleaded the Zot Car driver, “you’ll want no one to see us standing here so questioningly.”

Martin would have struck-out with a reprimand at such presumptuous talk, but he was in no mood, he was exhausted.

“Alright.  Alright.’’  He threw the small fist of gravel that he held to the round and stepped through the hatchway of the Zot Car.  “I’ll want to change this uniform as well.  It smells.”

**********

As they turned to leave, the child held back to place his hand along the bark of the Shermond Oak.  He looked straight up into the towering limbs above him with the fluffy white cumulus clouds passing directly farther above.  It was his tree; his favorite tree; it would be his forever he told himself.

It was quiet.   It was peaceful.

He turned to walk along with his mother. His small body busily pumping his short infant legs to keep up with her as they strolled home through the tall stalks of grass.  (Chapter Eight, Alterno Sonata)

The sun had begun to set.  Due to the promptings and urgings of the small husky toddler, the mother had escorted him to his novel playground just beyond the lengthy field of orchards and tall flowing grasses where, this night, the Sherman Oak could be seen protruding up from the irregular curve of the tree line.

He wanted to dive once again into the collection of odds and ends he had found.  Perhaps some had blown away, his mother questioned, though the wind had died down to a small zephyr.

As they crossed the field their long shadows extended before them as the warm disappearing sun caressed their backs.  They quickly kicked their way through yellowish clover;  above them and to the horizon was a large soft white image peering down on them, the moon.  The sky had become completely void of clouds and only a yellowish-white fog could be seen at the level of the treetops in the distance, a man-made smog circling in all directions. The air had a deceptive appearance of being clear atmosphere that one was accustomed to years ago — back then, one could almost feel exhilaration with every inhale.

They reached the mighty oak.  The mother stood patiently as the babe scampered down the path to find his collection of odds and ends from the previous daytime venture.  The rays of the setting sun lit up the trees,  roasting them in the shinning of the golden orb.  The branches  allowed a trickle of red, yellow, and brown leaves in a contrast on the forest floor.

When the babe found his stack of souvenirs, he momentarily glanced at his mother standing atop the ridge.  He glanced about the area with slightly drawn eyebrows.  It was a pretty sight to see, the shadows falling upon each other through the woods as warm patches of sunlight still caressed some limbs.  The stubs of grass quivered in the steady soft breeze beneath them.

For the child, life had just  begun.  It was good.  It was real and mysterious.  The babe could still smell the fresh juices of the spring before. As if a freshly moved lawn was still somewhere in the air somehow joined a haunting combination of thistle-evergreen and clumps of tall, towering ferns and evergreens in a slight rocking motion.  Birds darted above high in the mild blue sky.

The child let out a sigh of anticipation, “ I play mommy?”

The mother sat beneath the oak tree and nodded her head in acquiescence.  The babe contently went about his filling his bag with his souvenirs.  He would occasionally pick a plant or a bit of goldenrod or Maple leaf viburnum about him.   

It was still quiet.  The peace was supreme.  Life was good.  The child’s thoughts were friendly: It was a forest all his own!  If ultimately only a unbeknownst masquerade.

**********

Chapter Fourteen

The Search

Suddenly, Elia was struck by a revelation:  “Arian!  That was my  brother’s name!  Arian Yul, they named him!”  He thought again, “too bad there wasn’t more there between us.   Ah, but that is Dulmania.  That is Dulmania.   Arian, I  wonder what he is doing now?”  Chapter Five, Prelude to Destruction.

**********

It was nearly 45-minutes into the hour that Martin assured Arian to have the patrol squad ready.  They had driven very slowly; Martin needed the additional time to alleviate his nervous condition.  He downed the thin shells of several Z-BR8 capsules as he stepped onto the sparkling clean pavement of the take-off patio.

Stretched out for hundreds of feet in sheik symmetrical flanks were several squadrons of military space craft, slender windswept oblongs with translucent curving forefronts enclosing the crafts’ cabins.  Four thin spidery telescopic legs supported each crafts’ weight.

The launching patio seemed to extend for miles in all direction.  Along the rim were various humps of metal signifying the spacecraft hangers.  To one side was a huge structure which appeared to be made of glass-like material  with metal strips into large rectangles as the only signs of support.  That was a spacecraft factory that ran uninterrupted for several miles along the highway at the east quadrant of the launching patio. 

Through the various sections of the diffuse semi-transparent walls, one could see a bursting red flare along with a low hum and churning; at other points, a blue-white light, or, green, in shadows of the  high-speed machinery. 

The factory was only slightly obscured from sight by projectiles and missiles that radiated to the far edge of the humongous patio.  They were all different sizes and diversifications.  Most of them were of circular or globular types—a proven design for high-speed travel. 

Arian waited patiently outside one of the crafts.  His peripheral version caught sight of Martin and he stopped his conversation with the spacecraft crew and he went to meet the Son of Misslou.

“Greetings, Arian.   Do the crew people need further elaboration on the purpose of the mission?”  Martin raced to the grist of the mission.  Arian noted the growing importance of the new ‘god,’ but was never presumptuous enough to bring it up in conversation.

“Yes, sire. We have brought every policeman up to date. The Mus-chutes have already been informed last night.  We are to enter the ‘Flats’ in twelve squadrons each parallel to one another by six miles.”

Martin spoke with ease though he was impatient.  “We’ll scan all regions as we go. Communications will be kept fluid through operations.  At the least detection, each squadron will break-away to investigate, but all squadrons can be ordered to any trouble spot.”

Arian nodded in agreement.  Martin dismissed the Zot Car driver.  Martin’s darting glance at the driver conveyed his wish for strict confidence about Martin’s previous paranoia along the highway.

The two leading crewmen were dressed for cooler weather: new, glossy knee-high boots, sturdy thick leather visage and coat, all with the Dulmen emblem in front.  Their suits squeaked from the newness.  Their sword-weapons slapped slightly on their sides as they walked.  A brisk salute went from the crowd to Master Seisbury.  The crews scrambled to their crafts, inside walkways, and operation consoles.  Martin and Arian vanished into the lead craft.

**********

‘‘Martin!   Martin!  Martin!’  jovially laughed Uncle Redress coming down the center aisle of the control cabin.  He grabbed Martin’s hand in warm affection and then bowed his head towards Martin’s feet and  kissed his hand.  “Martin, my nephew, what a day of bliss.  I believe I could cry.  Martin!”   The man obviously was unprepared for words; those about stood in confused attention boarding on uninterest.

“Yes, Mark, we are all happy with this occasion,”  Arian did not want to disclose any information about “‘the Ascending God’s” growing discontent, “I am quite sure he is most anxious to see this affair to the finish!”

Arian flipped his hand through the air signaling the start of operations.

The crafts rose from the launching patio one by one, row by row, as globular ‘bubbles’ wobbling from watery depths racing to the surface; the crafts all struggled to the Air Trap Chute on the slope of the cities ‘bubble edge.’ (The electromagnetic force field kept the pristine inside atmosphere from meeting the outside molecules.)

Upon slipping through the Chute, each craft waiting patiently outside the city forming the respective squadron units until  their  small armadas  were  formed and pointed towards the horizon.  The mighty U-shaped armadas slowly began in sped which quickly exhilarated into the setting sun, a large orange orb slowly nestling up to the rim of the horizon.   

**********

The crafts’ wrap-around canopies of transparent synthetic diamond often switched to a polarized blue shade.  Weightless and graceful globules, the crafts glided over the statue of a Mus-chute solider guarding the main entrance to the  legendary ‘Flats.’

They passed over their first crater and its sleek, shinning sides that were formed by terrifying heat and enormous pressure.  Deep shadows were thrust against their backsides from boulders and rocks.  Soon the craters were  many as if a newly created Lunar surface.

Martin viewed the odd and eerie sight.   He was aware of the ancient legend telling of how  men first placed their feet on Lunar soil and were told a mythical story of the goddess Luna caressing the earth and enticing men to her feminine charms.  And then followed centuries of amazing discoveries and industry.

“Thinking of the goddess Luna?”  queried Uncle Redress with his usual compassionate smile.

“You knew?” Martin replied. It was Luna here on Earth but only perfectly designed.  A Dulmen production.  Uncle Redress interjected:  “She lured mankind from his birthplace to her boudoir like a lustful love adventure, but she beckoned them to their total destruction.”

It began to dawn on Martin that here, again, were bits and pieces of knowledge that his government-peers didn’t feel necessary to divulge to him.

“How was that uncle?  I mean, her magnificent mineral resources, yes.  The advantages of an eternal guardian Military Outpost, yes. A new domain for Dulmania, yes.  But to our ruin?  How?”

“Shortly before that, Martin, shortly before.  It was the imperfect government that preceded Dulmen rule.  Through their incompetence and impatience to compromise with other worldly competitors, a warring faction arose on the Luna orb.  Global conflict broke-out on Earth, my nephew, it was amazingly easy to bombard their opposing party with nuclear weapons from the Moon.  Within seconds  the Earthly arm of that opposing faction threw at the Lunar civilization all the nuclear might they had.  We are now passing over what once was the  mightiest and the most glamorous civilization that ever existed —- except our glorious Dulmania —- which incorporated everything of wonder  from that defeated civilization.”

Uncle Redress  further explained that through the efforts of politician and military spy, Chardin Maxz, that the revolution was a smashing success and the beginning of Dulmania.   Martin only stared in pensive thought.

“Ah, there is more, much more.  The story of Chardin Maxz is an epic in itself,”  Mark Redress continued.

But Martin wasn’t satisfied with such ‘history.’   For the first time in his new career, Martin felt as if a puppet  in some secret plot in this marionette play.   But should he be brazened enough to even question?

Leaning towards the Viewing Canopy, Martin still had questions.  “When did they first land on the Moon—I mean, there must have been a time when they first transported human beings from earth to that satellite?  What civilization was it?  When did it take place?”

Mark continued adding more facts:  “There were a few side effects to such disasters.  As you can well imagine, the high radiation.  This poisoning was a number one epidemic that science placed an all-out attack.   Another was the ‘wobble’ of the planet; it was a serious threat.  For a while, large portions of Dulmania were transported to the Moon for safety—-until the electromagnetic fulcrum could be invented.”

Martin jerked his head to stare at his uncle, almost in hatred.  The Uncle seemed to be ignoring Martin’s remarks.  Mark Redress seemed to stare beyond him, he wasn’t listening at all.

“When did they first land on the Moon?” demanded Martin.  Mark may not have known, Dulmen brainwashing was often a fact.

“Of course, Maxz was challenged during the battle as well…”

When  did they, Uncle!”   Anger was stirring in Martin that he couldn’t appraise himself, for there was a lot Martin couldn’t recently understand.

“The challenged government of that glorious civilization did dispatch four nuclear projectiles towards the vicinity of the Lunar dissidents and today we can see them seared into the Lunar surface—craters of the new government:  Might, Supreme, Justice, New Order.  Simple names appropriate to the occasion.”

Martin was about to strike his Uncle.  The motionless and empty look upon Mark Redress’s face, he was not going to defend himself.  Martin brought his fist to his chest, the incessant movements of his Uncle’s lips only increased Martin’s anger.  He slowly brought his fist to head level and started to grimace……

“Scanners activated!  Scanners activated!”   It was the voice of one of the Console Operators.  It broke Martin’s spell of anger.  Martin stared at the console to his left.

“Close in!”  Arian shouted.  “Tell the rest of the squadrons to hold position.”    Arian eyed the Scanner closely.  “Descend to two hundred feet.”

The craft veered to a lower and newer location.

“Look!” shouted a soldier who was viewing through the Canopy.  He pointed to a glassy surface below him.  Soon Martin and several other personnel stood by the Observation Canopy.  Below them were panic-stricken forms, humanoid in shape. Clothed in animal, rawhide clothing, they ran apelike showing dark strains of thick black hair on arms and legs.

“Drop down1  Let’s get a closer look!”

The humanoids scamped about looking for shelter; some behind a blast swept boulder where they huddled in fear; others stumbled as they ran throwing terrain objects such as stones, waving clubs in anger and freight.

“Look at their faces!  They’re not human!”

“Mutations!”  exclaimed Martin.  “We’ve suspected as much!’

A few remnants of the pre-Dulmen civilization must have survived to beat-out an existence in the destitute environment. “just how many, for what end, we had no idea,” Arian interjected.

The small band of freaks eventually disappeared into hiding.  ‘‘They’ll make good specimens,”  Arian spoke, “ we can take care of that later, for we know those are not the ‘conspirators’ we are looking for now!”

**********

But the moment also made Elia feel good.  It gave him that extra bit of courage he would need when he will shortly visit the various citizens in Dulmania.  It had been five years, but that was not long enough a period to wipe away the familiar faces  and some of the  happy but even the sad and sordid past-times he had with those neighbors.  How would they receive him?

What would he say?

Would he even  finish the journey?

Or would it already be too late? ’’   Chapter Nine, Palace of Dreams.

***

Elia had no trouble Navigating the small Rugby Craft.   Though it was centuries out of style, its simplicity led to no difficulties for even an isolated group of people to repair.  Besides, when Elia glided into the snow drift landing spot several miles out near one of his old home cities,  he knew he probably wouldn’t have any further use for it.  But then, one could not be sure.

He left the craft below the white snow drift with the compartment lights running.  The soft blue and white of lights shone through the veil of snow;  It would  make a good beacon upon his upon his search for the craft when he attempted to return a few hours later.  He walked  away from the craft into the whistling wind, leaving deeply entrenched foot marks—they would disappear within minutes in the downpour.

When Elia arrived in the city, he found large Portal Screens atop the maze-like cubical apartments that made-up most of this northern ‘outer city.’  The screens displayed a serenely smiling, nearly bald, gentleman parading a wide collar and a plump face that covered the screen.  People were huddled in packed crowds earnestly listening while other were racing away  and dashing madly about.  All were heavily clothed as protection against the elements.

Elia kept to the shadows along the sleek cubical mosaics.  Now and then he thought he had recognized an old friend or a familiar neighbor.

“Luzian?”  he inquired of one mutate who was gazing at him from his lizard-like face.  The cold, strange stare from two dark, beady eyes denoted unfamiliarity and they both went separately without further conversation.

Elia continued to slink down through shadows, occasionally bumped by hurrying citizens.  The few people that he did recognize zipped into the nocturne of this of the almost perpetual ‘night’ of the artic.  Elia was glad that not all the cities he planned to visit would not be so endlessly dark.

Suddenly, he caught sight of a lady he had not expected to encounter.  She was no mutation, but a rather conventional but beautiful lady with rich auburn hair tucked beneath a Worker’s Cap.  He had recognized her appealing form while she stood in the light of the Portal Screen.    Elia took solid and deliberate steps to stand close to her; his frosted breath caught her attention.

“Elia,” she said emotionless with only a spark of surprise.

“Kathern, my wife!”  a bit of heartsick longing rose within him.  Elia recalled her as not being totally dominated by Dulmen propaganda.

“How are the children?”

“Fine. They’re somewhere in the city.”   She kept her gaze to the screen with its reflection traveling  across her youthful face.

“And you?”  Elia asked, followed by a short silence.

“Fine.  Are you listening to the orator’s announcements?  Conspirators have been found in the recent earthquake areas.  The Big Sire has had them under surveillance for days now!”

Elia might have known.  Nothing less than an act of the Almighty might have protected the Exodus People.  The ingenuity of the Big Sire had seemed to have overcome even that.

“Why did you come back?”  his wife asked.

Elia swallowed, a hard knot in this throat, he wanted to say so much, it hurt.  “I love you!” he said.

“We haven’t been to bed for years, my husband.”  She kept her gaze on the screen.

“No, no, Kathern, I love ‘you.’”   She gave him only a blank glance, then turned back to the newscast.  

It was hopeless at this moment, he thought.  Tomorrow Elia planned to travel to his other Siberian communities.  Perhaps after hearing  him in speaking to these others, Kathern would come back to him.

The Portal Screen was announcing certain persons that cogently struck Elia:  “…officiate gods Arian Yul, Mark Reddress, Mylar City resident……”  The words boomed in his ears from the orator’s narration.  Elia stopped to listen;  what an informative surprise; so, his brother was very much alive and active.

Perhaps they would meet on these matters so intrinsically important.

**********

Saltarello

The young girl sat upon the level crag of a boulder.  She looked over the silver-tinted wasteland.  She was snugly enveloped by a woolen robe that was thick and heavy protecting her from the night cold.  A bulky  shawl shielded  her head and neck and only allowing her rosy-windswept cheeks, full lips, and watered eyes shingled by visible dark long lashes; she watched the huddled sheep on the pathway and clearing at the foot of the boulder.   A circle of stone and rock formed a small wall as shelter for the animals, protecting them from the cutting wind that raced across the Flats.  She listened to the baying of the sheep, stroking one now and then with her long wooden staff.

She would glance at the full moon peering over the wasteland giving it a silver glow and shadows.  Although many miles away, two huge craters could be seen.  Towering rock spirals wrestled thin by the elements and the extreme forces of atomic explosion.    The night sky was a heavy mosaic of clear, sharp specks of light as scintillating, quivering stars.   The cold nip of the icy air gave the scene a sanitary aspect.

The clinking of a bell on an old ram caught her attention.  A burning torch in a crevice was the only light she had, but its glow covered several hundred feet.  Softly she hummed a gentile, sweet melody.

Her husband had been gone for several days now though he meant to be back by the dawn of the preceding day from his short and unromantic task.  Most of his latest missions for the Commune were strict business.   Now, he failed returning  at the time he had promised and she worried that he had run into some dire difficulties.

It was inevitable, she reasoned.  It had to be done.  The Elder, John Alexandrius, Matthew’s father, was presently incapable of continuing the missions in that area.  His health at his age was not at its acme, Matthew would carry-out that program with dexterity  But Matthew convinced the Elder that is was time for a ‘young blood’ to take responsibility and he assured his father that he was well-prepared to take on the hazards of the program.  Because he was of married status, the father protested, though Matthew was without children, and it only took slight dispute to convince the aging man of the unavoidability of the situation.  Already, younger men had been going on projects to various global territories; for its success for the Community Missions, Matthew said it was best that he took some of the responsibility without delay.

The young girl rose to her feet to stand, balancing herself on the long staff.  She took one finger and whipped the chain of tears that ran down her cheeks, they would make her cheeks red and chapped in the cold of the night.  Besides, if Matthew did appear suddenly, he would question her about the tears.  It took several days for some of the Ministers to return from trips—-though Matthew had gone farther in distance this time and, perhaps, had several feats to accomplish.  She leaned her head upon her hands clasped to the staff and cried in earnest:

“Oh, please come home, Matthew.  Oh please!”

She gave a sigh of remorse and exasperation, letting her arm swing to her side, turning to step upon stones leading to a higher vantage point on top of another granite slab.  The staff clinked on the hard surfaces; she raised the staff for a head rest.

“Such a lovely, lonely place for some to look upon,” she spoke to herself, “yet, should it be filled with the glory of love it would be boundless in beauty.”

She gripped her hands together around the staff in the posture of prayer and gazed up the multitude of glowing orbs across the sky, and spoke:

It is written: ‘therefore, rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.  Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea!   For the devil has come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.’”

She closed her eyes in earnest expression  and again her eyes began to water.  “Oh, please Father, if it be thy will,  if within thy purpose, return my husband to me.”

A hard knot appeared in her chest but she again spoke:  “It is written: ‘ But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils.  And in the synagogues, you shall be beaten.  And ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for testimony against them.’’’

Her mind was beginning to ramble over past events; cherished moments from years gone by.   She began to taste the bitter tingle of human tears.  She visualized a warm and cozy summer’s day  and pleasant green vegetation and long stalks of corn.  From Matthew and herself laughter rang out as they ran freely through the plantation.  With dirty stains upon their hands from pulling weeds, they momentarily stopped to frolic.

‘‘We best get back to work, Matthew,” she had giggled as she dodged the boy as they bounced around a cherry tree chasing each other.  The boy stopped to catch his breath and then he sank into a green carpet of grass.  

“Come, set down.  Rest a moment.  We have all afternoon for us to work.  Here, take a cherry!”  He plucked one from a low branch.  She nodded in thanks and gracefully sat next to him.

“It was only a few year ago that this planation was nothing but rock, dry brittle soil, but look at it now!  A small paradise right here, only a half miles of so from the rim of the Flatlands,” exclaimed  Matthew. 

She smiled with a bit of reverence as she caressed tops of grass.   “Yes, and by the hard work of the Commune.”  She glanced over at the bobbling heads of crops.  “Like so many things we’ve done, it was by hard work and the devoted love of our people.”  Her eyes rose to meet  Matthew’s.  “If only it could grow the world over, we are so few.”

“It has grown, Christine.  There are a few communities as our own.  Not many, I’ll grant you, but there are a few,” Matthew assured her.

“Have you seen the others?” she inquired.

“No, but I’ll have that opportunity soon. I’ve heard so much about them, I just as well should have been there myself.’’  Mathew took on a worried look.  “You know, communications at any distance is a problem.  A big problem.  But for the first time in years, we can make reliable contact within a reasonable time.” 

“Is that who Tamor is?” she asked about a familiar name.

“Yes,”’ assured  Matthew,  “Tamor is an elder of the Commune which resides on the eastern quadrant of theFlats.   He is a very courageous man.  And a terribly busy one, I might add, for such depends on him.”

Christine shook her head in wonderment, “All this growth. I never realized it. Seems that when I been just a child,”  they both had to smile because they both had not yet reached adulthood, “when I was smaller, I didn’t remember seeing this large plantation.  We didn’t have any such thing, but perhaps a weather-beaten garden.  Now, we grow our own produce in such magnificent numbers.  Cattle and sheep, look at our herds!”  She pointed to the brown and white animals strolling on a hillside.

“Em, yes.  It is a warming thought if you should stop to really look at it.”  Matthew had more on his mind.  He smiled to himself and then  slide into a more comfortable position to make a longer comment.  “I’ve seen all kinds of growth within the past years.  I admire the work of the Commune, what the beauteous labors that have produced.  Some of the magnificent craftsmanship that our carpenters and clothiers have produced are marvelous.  But the beauty of a ‘human’ is one that no man can match.” 

Christine looked at Matthew in innocence, not knowing why the grin on his face.

“Take the growth of one girl that I know.  Just a small, tiny little thing some years ago.  Rather thin, but healthy.  Very industrious.   But all in all, I had little interest in her.  She was a friend, true, but I had a lot of friends.’’

Matthew’s grin grew a little larger but controlling it.

“What little girl is this?”  asked Christine in serious expression.

“Well, now, wait a minute.  I’ll get to that shortly…time had passed on.  I watched this little friend grow into a young maiden helping to make our Commune existence even more worthwhile.   Struggling at the side of her mother and father to organize our way of life against the elements. Studious? Oh, what a student; and how often I was embarrassed by her as a rival.  Dedicated.  Charitable.  Yes, I suppose she was all of this and more.  But she was also ‘lovely,’ she had grown into a rose from the earth blossoming into fullness.   No finer creation might be found on earth to herald the handiwork of our Heavenly Father.”

“Well, who is she?”   asked Christine determined to discover her.

Matthew looked at her as if he wanted his eyes to speak.  “You, my dear, you are the lovely one.  And it is deepest wish, providing things are right, that you know my love for you.  And, perhaps, one day, if it be your wish as well, we will marry.  It is my highest compliment .”

Matthew leaned over her and lightly kissed her on her forehead, then he assisted her to her feet.  Christine did not know exactly what to say.  She was magnetized by his sweet  words.   She answered with admiring eyes. 

“We will talk again, Matthew, I promise,”  she assured him.

He understood.  “Come Christine.   We best get back to work.  I believe your father is calling now.”

The memory vanished, and Christine found herself again gazing over the desolate wasteland

Matthew wouldn’t have carelessly given up all this love, all this devotion here in the Commune to throw it away for some careless endeavor in the cities of the barbarians on the other side of the Flats, she thought to herself.  If it took this much sacrificing, it must deserve the effort…and the risk.  What was it that Matthew said right before he left?   “It is written: ‘Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth?  I tell you, nay, but rather division.’  It is also written: ‘Who when is that faithful and wise Stewart…blessed is that servant. Whom the Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.’’’

Later, in quiet study, Christine found the words so true, and the implications were so presently adequate.

In the frosty night breeze, the voice of the elderly John Alexandrius could be heard calling the girl’s name.  He repeated the call.  His voice was coming from over the rocky ridge to which the barren path descended.  Christine realized the late hour, and she would have to stop her herding and gather the animals back towards their pens.

“Christine,” came the robust tone of the Elder, “gather your animals together and put them away for the night.”

“Coming father!”  she replied, cupping her hand to one side of her mouth, “I hear you.  We’re coming,”  as the baying of the animals began their march back to the farm.

And it would be a good thing too; perhaps the warmth of her father-in-law’s understanding, his guiding and vibrant wisdom  would be a welcome thing on such a cold night.  She could visualize now his two dark eyes, singled by bushy eyebrows, peering at her out of a rosy-cheeked face haloed by his snow-white hair and beard.  Often, his serious face would burst into a heartwarming smile. 

A few minutes later, “Coming father!  Let me shut the gates to the pens!”  She felt the pain of remorse gathering within her, and the uncontrollable thickness of the anxiety in her throat forming tears.  She thrust the long wooden staff over the boulder and into the wooden gate forcing it open.  She again used the staff to check the amount of animal feed.  Satisfied, she moved along the boulder until her silhouette  disappeared into the ravine.  All that was left was the last flickers of a dying torch and the low murmuring of huddled sheep.

But if the night quietude could speak, it would have uttered screams of panic and fear: for if one looked closely out over the plain in the direction that Christine had faced, out into the thousands of silver and white specks of heavenly lights, one would see a horizontal line of orbs growing in brightness, becoming more defined with each second.  It was the StarCraft squadrons carrying the ineffable Dulmen with crafts that extended to the horizon!  

Within minutes, the orbs of the crafts eerily covered  the rocky ridge.  First, one squadron glided gracefully in small groups of five over the farthest part of the ridge of jutting granite.  Then five more floated over the ridge.  Five more.  The armada of crafts had broken into various groups of five, each dispatched into a particular sector; their Scanners fully activated.  They came in a steady stream rapidly peeling off a main squadron group and proceeded into investigatory places. 

The low-burning farmer’s torch, the sole illuminance for those baying gerus ovis, had already given one last flicker, and the crooked shadows of the animals quickly ceased.  Christine summoned her loyal and trustworthy herd-dog to her side, and then dispensed the dog to rounding-up the animals for the pens.

The night waited for the next suspense-filled interlude!

**********

Chapter Fifteen

Feline

The smell of cheap wine fumed up into the nostrils of any near passerby that could find his way through the cluttered walkway.  Humped amounts of paper, wood, old paraphernalia from lamps to worn-out shoes, to dinnertime garbage, lay strewn up and down the alley and street.  A floating lamp was the only light in that dark recess, and its low wattage have only given a person a headache.

The meow of an old tomcat accompanied a discovering of some human object beneath a pile of discarded papers and a large poster that had been hastily torn down to be replaced by a newer one at the cold metallic side of the building that formed part of an alley:  the newer  sign was a portrait of  the expressionless, wrinkle-free, youthful face of Martin Seisbury.  Oddly, the propagandist had invented a queer twist to these productions:  they gave Martin shoulder length hair as a rather effeminate appeal, and a message introducing him as “The Ascending god.”

Arms and legs thrashed about  to throw the awkward bulk from on top of him.  Sluggishly, a gruff-faced man joggled himself upright and peered through heavy half shut eyes that were red with bloodshot and were watered in irritation, shingled by heavy and puffed eyebags beneath.  A dark and wiry beard radiused his face looking as if someone smeared charcoal over his face, denoting a shave a lady hobo had given him days before.  He lifted his redden hand, sick from sores,  to straighten the beat-up old hat upon his head; the crown of the once stylish derby was bashed and creased all over.  He deeply  growled and coughed  as if sick.

“Eeeem.  Blasted place is about as comfortable as laying on a bed of nails,” he mumbled as he tried to lift himself up but only falling back into the trash, “Where is it?  It was here before.  Where is it?”  He angrily  demanded throwing the thick pulp aside and kicking a spilled trash can out of his way.  “I smell it!  It’s here!”  

He forced himself to his feet and staggered across the alley to fall against  a wall of granite that supported him from collapsing.   He remained silent for five minutes.  When he regained some coordination, he slowly pushed himself into the light of the main street.

“Forget it,” he slurred, “there’s another one—-there’s—–there’s…,” he nudged a bulky object in the pocket of his seamless one-piece jumper that was torn to smithereens from wear and tear, “What?  What’s this?”

He dramatically grabbed the bottle of wine from his pocket, sniffed it, and proudly held it up as if a magnifying glass to a floating street globe.  “Wine!  Ah, wine!”  He began to laugh hysterically.

He cupped the bottom of the bottle in his hands and reverently swung around in an arc to again raise it to the pulsating advertising light over a nearby tavern.  A velvet-red glow shone on his face revealing a very sickly set of jowls and wrinkles from chronic illness.  His tearful eyes gazed upon the red substance splashing about in the bottle.  Above him was a three-dimensional nude female model gyrating within the advertisement-plasma beckoning passerby’s to come in for merriment and unrestrained pleasure.

With one brisk movement of his hands, he threw the neck of the bottle into his mouth, whimpering like a spoiled child, he gulped the stringent fluid down.  It seemed to add metal to his feet, and upon wiping his mouth upon his sleeve,  he was ready to venture forth again—-at least, for the distance of a few feet.

The street upon which those nightclubs, taverns, and apartment buildings were situated ran for several hundred feet and then abruptly at an edge in front of him turned into a monstrous chasm that had been created by multiple earthquakes rendering the underground city into pieces.  The cliff of that fault-crack had eroded into a steep slope with a few remaining trees, forest brush, that led down to more of the heavily destroyed city below.

High overhead was an orange ‘flicker’ as if a red-hot coal that was still slightly burning: It was the huge electrode of the Sol Globe  situated at the middle-ceiling of the arching underground shaft.  A buzzing sound crackled from it ever so often and thundered through the poorly lit cavern.  The shaft was so poorly lit that the citizens of Feline were living in a perpetual night; it was the last city in the multilevel complex of subterranean shafts.  The Department of Welfare having long ago neglected the public electrical facilities such that Feline, as a city, remained in a stupor. 

The number of artificial lights could be counted in a matter of seconds

In the black darkness of the city staring outward like a stretched lattice of glowing eyes; more were the jaunting flickers of manmade torches and bonfires that glowed in yards and patios of vaguely visible homes accompanied to fluttering shadows of nearby people and things.

Here in this Alice in Wonderland world one could find the conventional Dulmen homes of synthetic domes and zigzags and squares, but even more so, were the homes that projected a lost page in time.  Stately mansions with tall columns, elegant vines, evergreens, and then next to it an almost flat suburban-type home with an arching garage and wide yards: all equally ruined and devastated.  And so, it went throughout the city.  The gross  deterioration masked the bizarre ruin of the homes.  Even less occasionally would some light be seen from the interior of the homes.  

The perimeter ledge of land  on which Tom Longram took his drunken stance was  strangely well lit, perhaps because it was a Dulmen estate that remained intact to the electrical apparatus coming from the main shaft.  The earthquakes had well torn the subterranean metropolis but eventually the citizens of  Feline returned to establish a ghetto-type of existence.  Property, life, and limb had fallen prey to anyone’s whim, and what could be summoned by municipal police was far too lame to curtail any crime.  Besides, it was much too convenient for crooks and even ordinary citizens and the police to take a hand in pilfering and the pandemic occasions of rape and mayhem.  This all fit well with the general Dulmania lawlessness.

Much earlier, registered citizens left the devastated site in large droves carrying what property and possessions they could to settle in areas available in the neck of the shafts and in the cities above on the surface.  Strangely, Dulmen permission was perfunctorily given but that usually depended on a citizen’s relationship or generic background to officials or citizens on the surface, which could be punitive and harsh, often involving enslavement or other dirty dealings.

Those that remained in Feline did so because of the uncertain reality on the surface which was viewed as another alien world.   Few had ventured from Feline since their birth.  Dulmania was satisfied to have them corralled in their present circumstance.

Many questioned the metaphysical aspects of the catastrophe.  Maybe it was a warning from the gods!  Perhaps they had lost favor altogether with the gods and goddesses for Feline had long ago been portrayed as an outcast city relinquished into Dulmen subterranean life.  Although unknown to Feline citizens at this time, Feline one of the first cities that had witnessed the appearance of the mysterious and unique ‘conspirators’ from the shadowy ‘Communes’ hidden in the wildernesses around the globe.  And it was in Feline that the Big Sire could be heard to occasionally rumble and groan, the same Big Sire that was part of the global computer-complex that ruled Mylar City and all the other regions.

Tom Longram shuddered to think of his reality as he stood immobile and pensively gazed at the dark vault of the sunken city.  He leaned on a column from a ruined bannister, the only remains of an outdoor beer garden.  That hazy glow might appear any minute in the far wall of the shaft, he thought to himself, and slowly grow into a golden swirling vortex almost as if something were trying to burn through the solid rock wall with a penetrating ray.   That mass of radiance would turn into a drifting cloud of orange, green and red amid vapors of black smoke.  Citizens would stop their activities to watch in horror at the grotesque mass of energy and see an odd human image forming:  two blue dots advancing from within  the vapors and growing into large catlike eyes that would shift about in its stare—-and then end in one spot.  The apparition would let out a scowl, a horrifying heart wrenching yowl comparable to a cat   or even a lion.  Even after many such visitations, citizens never quite grew docile enough to see the Great Mind roaming about—-it was such cat-like locutions that priorates gave the city its name.  The irradiance would diminish into a small globe of light and then slink back disappearing into the subterranean wall.

“Ah, Mary,”  Tom sighed, “why did you have to go?”  Tom bowed his head in grief and began to stumble towards a line of honky-tonks.

His wife had departed some time ago along with the vast crowds of citizens; Tom never did quite understand why although she seemed to be engaged in some secret project for the Department of Defense, Tom never felt obliged or was brave enough to question about the nature of the activity.  He shunned the interim of the whole thing while his wife became more and more indifferent to him and the family.  However, she was of the generic rank of the 21st level, and he only a servant class of Dunbar.  She often spoke that she was destined for service in the higher ranks of Dulmania and she bragged how she had somehow obtained just that!  Tom did not know what to make of her declaration; one thought he envisioned was the tales he heard about the Palace of Dreams on the surface, but it all remained confusing.  

Whatever her secret project was, he understood that it was ‘big,’ and she had been under constant surveillance and control since the day of her inauguration into her new duties.  At first, it appeared to Tom some type of tragicomedy, but the scene soon changed when Mary excited with the other citizens.

“Tom,” she said, “I must leave!”  Tom had raised his eyebrows.  He began reciting her words:  “I’ve been asked to leave.  Something ‘big’ is going to happen—-something ‘more.’”

The memory evaporated and Tom once again stood in the glow of three floating street globes.  “Something ‘big,’’’  he said sarcastically, shaking his head and waving his bottle, ‘‘something ‘more.’”  His sarcasm was filled with sadness.   He began to stumble into the street, staggered back to the curb and fell on his buttocks with a thump.  He slumped the bottle of liquor to his feet and then lowered his head into his arms and elbows.

“Why couldn’t that white robbed fella leave us alone?   He started it, whoever he was!”   His voice increased in volume, ‘‘Why didn’t he stay away?  I knew he was trouble from the first  time I saw him!”   Tom took another swig from the bottle and allowed the puissant-smelling liquid dribble through the grisly stubs of his beard.

Two females had stepped away from the entrance to the smoke-filled honkytonk and were talking low but emphatically as if in a quarrel.  They appeared to be youngsters in the latest gross tightfitting apparel.  The two waved their righthand index fingers at each other and then parted paths.

Tom continued his thoughts.  He thought at first that his wife had a genuine concern for him; how their saddened situation came about was hard to say.  All he could related to be the afternoon she had returned from a trip to the Department of Welfare for ‘tax adjustment’ that this mysterious ‘sphinx’ of a problem appeared.  They had  been late in their tax payments.  Usually, a monthly audit was asked, so she packed a small duffel bag and  headed for the Subway Transport (a subterranean train and transport in the major shaft where ‘shock free’ projectiles would propel citizens to further transportation on the surface).   It was a customary practice (depending on a citizen’s generic assets, as well as some physical ones) which might be pleasing to a ‘god,’  that payments might in the form of sexual prostitution.

This didn’t bother Tom, nor the children,  nor, apparently, his wife Mary.  The only fear they shared  was that the ‘gods’ might tire of such compensation and demand  their entire estate and then force them into physical slavery.  This led into other difficulties.  Some might even find themselves confronted by torture in the Arena or in the basement of some Dulmen officiate.   This was the only real concern Tom could muster over the whole affair, and the implication was that Tom should not become too prying or concerned  at the sentient issues. 

He remembered the afternoon that Mary came running into their compartment cubical-living quarter, breathlessly muttering words about having been ‘wrong’ about something or another (Tom had been busily repairing a Viewing Screen.  Dulmania no longer assisted in their repairs, though they always made it mandatory to have at least one functioning).

She sat down immediately and gleefully began telling him of a strange man who almost appeared out of nowhere and captivated her with a plethora of talk that was confusing yet startling.  He seemed to know instinctively the personal plight they were in: their delinquency in tax and rent, the sexual prostitution as payment, the pilfering of food to avert starvation of the little children, he even knew a fact that made Mary’s skin crawl:  that numerous faults and cracks were multiplying throughout the Earth’s crust and mantle and fissures of great pressure were appearing  in larger and larger Dulmania ‘shafts’ (part of the Pit system) and bubbles throughout deep pockets within terra firma! 

“He said: ‘Repent or there will be no way for you to escape!  Neither will your goddess Vera, your Marxz, your Horus – nor any of your diabolical phantoms will save you!  The Evil One had grown and reached the ultimate step – but the last – that he will take!’  I believe that is what he said.  Quite sure.  What does it mean?”

She leaned forward on the foam hassock and received her husband’s vaguely hidden bewilderment.  He set the electrode that he was working with aside and kneeled before her, noting the quiet, impassive expressions of their children (these were ‘Rob’ children, the only children that Tom and his wife were allowed, artificially inseminated,  by serial sequence and generic match in the laboratories of Dulmania, created by synthetic substances and energy: they were the only children that Tom Longram and wife will ever have!

“I don’t know, Mary,”  Tom had said, “either he was a prankster or – or –  or one of those poor individuals they will be sending to the surface laboratories to be exterminated.  It is obvious he is ‘mad,’ completely discordant with Dulmen reality.”

“That’s what I thought.  That’s what I thought.  But he was sane enough to tell me about my personal secrets.  And there has been many earthquakes, Tom.  We’ve heard the reports, remember?”  She pointed her finger at her husband in seriousness.

Tom’s robust face  had appeared to her a masterpiece chiseled out of marble: piercing dark eyes, handsome features, but still being ruled by the whimsical dictums of the city prelates, though  the wife often took the situation under her  wavering control:

“Tremors have occurred – and I heard many more rumors!” she asserted.

“I’d stop that, Mary. I wouldn’t  bother with that fellow anymore.”

Mary wasn’t really listening.  Her mind was already visualizing some of the other things the man had said.  She sat looking past her husband.  Tom rose to go back to his errand.  He glanced forlornly at this wife.  They said no more on the topic for over a week.  But he knew she continued to see this mysterious man; he even spied the two out in the garden of the patio Plaza of the apartment.  The man appeared to be polite, clean and in a spotless white robe, features that were unusual in Feline.  Mary had said that this mystery man had expressed the wish to speak to the whole family together. Mary prevented this for unknown reasons.

These memories and visions faded and Tom Longram found himself back in the present.  Tom’s ears began to ring, louder and louder, and he quickly clasped his hands over them and closed his eyes.

“Oh no,”  he thought, “not again!”  He bit his lip in fear as this was a regular experience.  The ringing would stop and then bleak silence.  Yes, Tom was going deaf and there was nothing he could do about it.  It was inevitable because his Class could not avail to profitable services, not until all past debts were ‘cleared,’ and even then, it would be  necessary for him to perform some outlandish sacrifice. 

Again, two females were in debate.  His head swirled beyond that which his  inebriated state would prompt.  The glaring hologram advertisement of the tavern cast an unstable scenery.   When he rose again there was only the tomblike deafness.  He swayed as he looked at the two lesbian females in a physical brawl over a physical advancement that led to a slap.  There was a swirl of a hand, a bright burst of light, and the one female slumped to the pavement—-dead—-lifeless—-while the other ‘strolled’ into the darkness at the far end of the street!

(The scientists of the Sedox era did a commendable job of hologramlike advertising where such utilizations of such technology in Mind Control were astounding in symphonies of light, shadow, and darkness.  It was almost as if ‘time’ itself had vomited up a gasping plea for mercy: Stop!  For heaven’s sake, stop! )

And then Tom witnessed a third sombrous interpolation that entered his scenery as a man and his lady friend, a group of homophiles, a few other people, all demonstrated the same indifference: a man came by and upon encountering the body, stepped over it, almost as if it weren’t even there;  his face had hidden beneath the rim of his hat, of which he tipped the rim closer to his forehead so shadows would cover it even further.   Soon he disappeared.  A steady flow of people came down the avenue demonstrated the same indifference in a trail of mosaic orchestration and esoteric dance, but with no audible tone: a song of silence.

Tom could feel the heavy breathing from within himself; he placed his hand on his chest to see if his heart were still beating: the silence was so deep and so continuing he could not be sure of anything.  

The street tilted more as he grabbed onto a railing that led to a basement cabaret which prevented himself from falling down the steps.  He stopped short but swung himself onto a wall of the building next door.  The pulsating glow of the advertising plasma illuminated a plethora  of painted and scribbled symbols from hoodlum gangs that trailed along the street.  Amid the expressions of vulgarity, bad humor, dissent, seven words struck him the most, even though it had been difficult selecting them out of the hodgepodge of scribbled éclat:

IT IS HE END OF THE WORLD.

And so, it is, thought Tom.  His hand slipped on the railing and Tom Longram realized for the first time in many months that his wife and children had been, oddly, the only other living things that he had really cared about; why he didn’t realize it sooner, he really didn’t know, he only knew it was too late.

“IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!”  his voice rang out in a surprising vibrance despite his weak condition.  The railing slipped away from his grip.  Total darkness and complete silence descended upon him.

It was death!

**********

The mother sat beneath the oak tree and nodded her head in acquiescence.  The babe contently went about his filling his bag with his souvenirs.  He would occasionally pick a plant or a bit of goldenrod or Maple leaf viburnum about him.  

It was still quiet.  The peace was supreme.  Life was good.  The child’s thoughts were friendly: It was a forest all his own!  Chapter Thirteen.

***

The child’s plastic bag was filed with all the odds and ends that once were paraphernalia of the forest.  The babe slowly made his way towards the path carrying his most prized possession: the ancient coin.  The nip of the cold night air made his task even more awkward.   The bright glow of the moon appeared to make ample light to work but the mother stood by sternly watching because she had just admonished the child that it was getting late. 

The star-studded sky was a glorious sight to the child who had held out his hand as if to grab some of the points of light that were myriad in their appearance.  The fluorescent moon looming above as if the child could grasp  it as tied to its mother Earth by a thin umbilical cord of life.  The face of the moon hadn’t changed noticeably over the eons allowing a child to question, still, about the proverbial ‘man in the moon.’

The twisting branches of the forest stood out as shadows against the dark blue star-filled sky, and the babe imagined all sorts of mysterious and prying faces composed by the forest.

He hurried quickly, sometimes stumbling in his task of carrying his bag of souvenirs.  Here and there, creatures of the forest could be noticed in the tall yellow grass and pale reeds, only adding to his determination to reach his mother’s side.   Dirt-stained, sweaty, with a slight cut on his fatty leg from swish of a thornbush, he eventually grasped his mother’s hand, his smiling out-of-breath-body finally rested his head upon her dress.  She gently caressed his hair as she gestured that they should quickly leave, the chilly night air was more than she cared for.   Together they grasped the bag and headed across the moonlit field.  Suddenly, the boy tugged on the bag and asked the mother to stop walking.  He turned to look back at the mighty Sherman Oak  that guarded the entrance to the woods.

The silver orb of the moon seemed to protect his favorite place with warm care.  It was quiet.  It was very peaceful.  The babe raised his arm and sadly waved at his new favorite place of play.

The two quickly scampered off to a warm home.

**********

Chapter Sixteen

The Conspirators

The Searching Party had been patient.  They had crisscrossed the mountainous ridges over and over, covering the picturesque  granite archways, pyramid boulders, towering plateaus of red rock, the maze of stone debris and explosion-torched earth.  When they had no results, they spread the search farther beyond the sloping hills to where more comfortable terrain appeared  of sleeping trunks  and roasted limbs of trees and brush.

To not waste any further time circling the same incommodious area, the order was given to spread the five Group Squadrons farther down the range, and several to ‘trace-back’ across the Flats, and a few headed back to the point of their entrance.  Martin and his craft remained in the immediate vicinity.

Their sprite-like globular craft glided over a crater rim, dipping down in between  the spirals of rock and granite, down an eroded fissure of a canyon-size split in the side of a mountain, then up again and back towards the rolling hills.

“My Lord look at those zigzag lines of brown,’’ beckoned one of the technicians towards his Viewing Screen hiding him beneath  a bright hue.  

Martin turned from the Sensor Grid to visually observe the meticulously organized rows of brown below the craft.   “Appears to be a plantation, I’d say from their arrangement,”  and Martin motioned for a few others to look as well.  “Why didn’t we notice it before?”

“I don’t know, sire,’’ came the excited voice of Mark Redress, “but all of your scanners have been activated as well.”   And, indeed, all the scanners were suddenly operating.  Small white lights could be visually seen, and then several more  pinpoints of light appeared throughout the terrain.

“What’s that large luminous mass?” asked Martin about a definite glowing blob on the scanners.

“It denotes the largest amount of human or subsisting activity, Lord.  We’ve circled closely in that area but a moment ago, and there was nothing!  Nothing at all!”  reported the technician.  Martin looked at him in surprise. 

“Alright!  Circle that area—-then descend!”  Martin stood erect from his stooped position over the consoles.  His chest swelled with anxious anticipation.  “To your battle stations!   All stations alert!”

Their spacecraft was a small arsenal of atomic destruction, a  virtual single-craft-Army that would be able to ward off any aggression till the other crafts arrived; notwithstanding, they could totally obliterate the opposition.

The craft turned back and dipped down to within feet of the crumbled, valanced face of a cliff.  The scanners noted a small life forms, peering out of the cabin canopy, the crew noted the stampeding bodies of sheep.  Martin threw his head back in roaring  and uninhibited laughter:

“Found them!  Found the rascals!  Found them!”

He spun around, unsheathed his sword, and began to lightly tape the tops of those seated at the consoles.  The technicians stared at Martin in confusion and fear.   He swirled the sword over this head and then rammed the weapon back into its sheath.  Here was the opportunity to relieve that oppressive pressure that had built within his physique and banish that bleak, untamed fury in his mind, establishing his sovereignty as a Dulmen god!

Martin glared at his technicians with a sardonic smile, snapping his fingers over his head.

“Set her down!’   A rise in the pitch of the craft’s generators, then it turned into a low vibratory hum.  The craft nestled into a center of a boulder-nest and reduced its fluorescence to a  bare minimum.  Within minutes, the red capes and the brown-black vestures of the soldier patrol emerged from a hatch and down a ramp. Drawing their weaponized swords, they immediately dispersed in military fashion to boulders and rocks for hiding.  The only visible sign of their entrenchment was their vaporized breaths in the cold-night air.

They were facing a well-chiseled entrance to a cavern beyond the guarding boulders.   From within a dim glow emitted.

After a few minutes of silence, Martin and three-high-ranking soldiers ordered the patrol to slink into the cavern mouth.   Martin raised his hand  in a signal for his patrol to momentarily stand motionless. The cool expression on his face, the slow movement of his eyes from side to side, with an engrossed look of deep interest, the stark expectation that possessed him was evident.   It was almost as if his mouth were salivating with the hunger of excitement.

They passed several sister tunnels running in various directions, but Sensors on their vestures  told them that the main activity lay ahead.  Arian and Mark Redress looked like some gorilla-warriors slipping into a forbidden enemy war zone.  Arian ran his hand over his belt and a pea-sized light popped out of a belt-slot and continued to rise into the air.  It grew in its luminosity until it was bright enough to cast a daylight hue that accompanied them at their side.  The deeper they went in the shaft  their Sensors became a steady pulsating green.

Low musical rhythm could be heard of voices in chorus, and with each step the words became clearer and discernable.  A rather jubilant song.  The diction was not entirely Dulman though similar; some of the men whispered that they only recognized  a partial familiarity.  There were words talking about a king which was in glory; they were questioning his name; he was promised for ages; his name was Emmanuel!

“THE KING OF GLORY COMES, THE NATION REJOICES!  OPEN THE GATES BEFORE HIM, LIFT UP YOUR VOICES!”  Such a haunting melody full of happiness and promise.  ‘‘IN ALL OF GALILEE, IN CITY OR VILLAGE, HE GOES AMONG HIS PEOPLE CURING THEIR ILLNESS!”   Again, a solemn refrain,  ‘‘THE KING OF GLORY COMES, THE NATION REJOICES!  OPEN THE GATES BEFORE HIM, LIFT UP YOU VOICES!”  

Several soldier lowered their hands to the handles of their Penetrating Swords  and fists whitened as they gripped the jeweled handles.  They began to take a battle stance and with each step the chorus of voices grew louder.  Tambourines could be heard mixed into the chorus.

“SING THEN OF DAVID’S SON, OUR SAVIOR AND BROTHER: IN ALL OF GALLIEE WAS NEVER ANOTHER! THE KING OF GLORY COMES, THE NATION REJOICES! OPEN THE GATS BEFORE HIM, LIT UP YOUR VOICES!”

They were beginning to pass chiseled sculptures of men on the sides of the tunnel and beneath each image, unknown names, in a forgotten language.  Martin glanced back on his patrol to see if they were in a battle stance.

“HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR US, THE PLEDGE OF SALAVTION…”

Suddenly, they turned a corner to be confronted by a large sleek velvet curtain, clean without the dust of the cavern, their guiding light produced a sheen across the flowing ripples of the luxurious material.

Martin order them to stop, and the line culminated into a position of soldiers who waiting anxiously to hear what Martin had to say.  Martin felt that whoever was on the other side of that pendulous veil had to have heard them, but then, because of the volume of the conspirators’ chorus, he could not be sure.

“HE TOOK UPON HIMSELF THE SINS OF THE NATION…”

Somewhat breathless, Martin wished he could have prepared himself better against what laid ahead.  He imagined that, now, steadily spreading from one Dulmen metropolis to another, propagandist would have heralded the news of the new “Ascending god,” about the epoch that was about to emerge upon the world; how the last remnant of traitorous conspirators ‘in all creation’ had been discovered and were promptly and invidiously being dealt with.  The citizens of Dulmania would never have to fear of such a threat every again!

(The ‘programmed’ hysteria would not be a normal thing but a creation of the Brain.  Madam Marza would dance nude in remembrance of the deaths of her husbands.  The children of her neighborhood would prick her with pins and sharp objects as she danced hysterically about.  The Rob children would march in long divisions down the street of outer cities; they would lift their feet up high and slap them to the ground in a march like that of infantrymen of a mad dictator eons ago, the Third Reich.  The Rob children would converge on the properties and bodies, by their own request, and demolish them to smithereens.  Other Dulmania citizens would offer  on the day of the Jest  remembrances of their family and friends to Dulmen gods and goddesses and the new Ascending god.  Under the disguise of worship, their new god played with their minds and lives, while citizens told themselves it was all glorious!

(The hysteria, the debauchery, would spread throughout the globe: every home, every city, every place where people gathered, esoteric practices that usually were not practiced but at special times during the year, would be indulged in.  Mothers and fathers would stand immobile before their sons and daughters and endeavor to sing profanities to the gods as their children slapped them in their faces, punched them in their stomachs and kicked them on the ground, again and again.

(Or the opposite would happen.   Drunk with drugs and liquor, laughing fiendishly in the new festival, parents would sneak into the rooms or living areas where children resided and begin to throw stones and furniture at them, all the while jeering at them and asking the children to fall upon their knees and pray in thanksgiving to the gods, trying to explain in breathless anxiety the meaning of the festival.  If a two-month-old baby were killed, well, the gods were at least appeased; if a son or daughter maimed, they would praise and brag about it as a blessing from the eternal gods and goddesses.

(Erotic orgies; sadistic murders; wanton criminality; in trees; in the torn openings of graves, amongst the corpses; bestiality among domestic and feral animals—often by moonlight and projected hologrammatic images; huge cinematic portraits of Dulmen officiates smiling down on vast areas along with bursting shafts of light in all shades of brilliance, rolling, tumbling,  spreading beneath its umbrella over a world that had gone ‘mad.’

Martin Salisbury’s thoughts revolved back to the task at hand:  he rationalized that all the praise and commendations were for a job well-done.  Then his thoughts were snapped completely back to the current situation by more chorus:

“THE KING OF GLORY COMES, THE NATION REJOICES!”

He motioned two soldiers to advance to the curtain.  The others stepped back a few paces, and in unison they all  drew their weaponized swords, pressing a tab on their jeweled handles by the weight of their palms causing the wide edges of their swords to glow with intense heat and light.  “alright,”  Martin remarked, stepping back a few paces himself. 

“OPEN THE GATES BEFORE HIM!  LIFT UP YOUR VOICES!”

With two swings of two weapons, from the top of the curtain diagonally to its lower edge, the laser-action of the swords ripped a neat “^”  and the heavy material fell with a loud clump.  With raised swords, all the patrol stepped into an immaculately clean chamber that had rows of torches extending down the sides of the cavity.  A large fire was in the center of the area that  housed a metallic-grid-fireplace  with animal designs.  A circular grid in the ceiling allowed the smoke to dissipate.  Wooden benches, stone stools,  table slabs, pieces of wardrobe and clothing were in the immediate area; and at the far end a flight of stone stairs leading to a leveled podium encircled by a wall of books (not the kind that Dulmania was accustomed to, but antique, ancient, and with binding including many pages).

Shrieks and gasps suddenly rang out!   Women left their benches of decorating and embroidery to grasp the hands of their children and race towards another curtained archway on a far wall.  Their panic caused some torches to be propelled onto the floor.  Women and children, then,  barely vanished  through the second curtain leading to the other chamber.   A handful of men swirled away from their tasks at the library shelves  and in a defensive gesture attempted to hurry the women and children along.

The voices of the chorus that had introduced the soldiers into the cavern suddenly stopped and loud murmurs, whisperings, and crying began.  Martin watched in suspenseful interest at the split-second response of the alien people.  Martin snapped his fingers, and a few soldiers shot blobs of stunning energy disabling some of the  scampering men to the ground.  The second curtain was thrust to one side and out stepped a rather stern-looking male with white hair, long flowing robe and gown, staff in hand, and a medallion around his neck.  Others peered through the archway in fear and shock.

The elderly man said nothing but stepped quickly thrusting his staff into the dirt floor with a ‘crunch’ with each jab.  A barely subdued look of anger was upon his hoary features.  When he came within feet of the brazen Martin Salisbury he stopped and looked at Martin with cold penetrating eyes.  A strange uneasy silence came upon the scene, a silence that Martin had never encountered before.  Martin felt that he had at long last come close—-very close—to the aching mystery  that swelled up in the recesses of his mind.

“Whom do you seek?”   Somewhere from beneath a cloud of white and slightly grey hair came the deep resonance of the man who obviously was high in authority.   Martin really didn’t need the two muscular and stern Mus-chutes that stood at his side, Martin thought to himself, he had enough courage to handle an old man.

“You are addressing ‘the’ new god, old man!”   Martin was mustering up a tirade of sardonic and crudeness to spew upon the patriarch but  the old man’s face was too much of a unique reality to make that possible. “I am the Son of Misslou!”

No one moved.  Then suddenly Arian and Mark redress became curious and confident enough to enter the line of confrontation.

“I know what  you are!”  The old man jobbed his staff angrily in the soil.  “We’ve been expecting one such as yourself for some time now.”  The old man spoke perfect Dulmen dialect for he had previously ventured into Dulmen territories many times. His rugged pink complexion and the calluses on his hands did show that he had not been averse to herding sheep in the cold autumn night,  nor plucking crops in the blistering heat of a summer afternoon.

We, old man, are your ultimate salvation or your destruction!   We are about to save you or destroy  you!  Whatever I see fit!’’  Martin stiffened for the old man’s response.  “What do you say to that, ancient one?”

The old man gave only a slight smile, realizing that much was at stake.

You have not that power – you batch of mindless protoplasm – you empty vessel of vain temptress thoughts —  you…”    

Martin cut his diatribe short, “ Stop it!”   Martin brought his hand up to swing it against the man’s face.  John Alexanrius did not flinch, though a few female gasps could be heard from the other chamber.  Some of his people scampered to his side in defense. 

Martin forced a weak smile.  “So, you speak riddles as well?  Some of you people speak nothing but riddles!  The empire will fall,”  recalling that threat of the Circus victims, ‘‘your god is not mocked?”   Martin spit upon the ground in contempt.  “Bah!  Do you realize for how long we have existed?   Do you, old man?  That is only one fact that says that my kingdom will go on forever.”

John Alexandrius saw an opportunity to factually educate Martin.  “For some time now the substrata and core of this planet has been in dishevel; when our Lord sees fit within days – years – this planet will crumble into itself.  The bowels of Mother Earth growls.  You have seen evidence of that yourself.” 

Martin pretended astonishment, “We’ve had no catastrophes!”

“None of which your Master Computer would allow to be known.  What of Feline?”

“Feline?”  Martin grasped the old man’s thoughts.  “What of Feline?  That city was ravished by the anger of our Great Mind.’’ 

“Not that master alone!  Our all-mighty God destroyed her!”

“You old fool!  I’ll strike you dead now if you speak as such again!” Martin thrust a finger at John’s face.

John Alexandrius glanced wearily to the ground, “You’ll not solve anything that way.  What happened only foreshadows what yet is to come.   It is written: ‘Nothing under the Sun is new, neither is any man able to say: behold this is new.  For it hath already gone before in the ages that went before us.’’’   Alexandrius glanced sadly at the younger graduate-god, “‘The perverse are hard to be corrected: and the number of fools is infinite,’ so it is written.”

“We’ll see how your scorn stands fast  when your homes, houses, and supplies are ravished!  When your women and children are raped!  When your able-bodied men are strapped to a stake and tortured for long, endless hours with  ‘penetrating’ rays,” thundered Martin.  “This cavern will crumble into utter oblivion!  You must confess and relent your so-called ultimate reality peacefully.” 

“And become mindless robots wandering the unholy streets of damned cities?   To become puppet-people unknowingly acting out a fake life and death drama on a stage set with waves of cues and signs that flow relentlessly during a great sea storm,’’  said John.   “We’ve heard it all too often in the history of  your civilization:  ‘Sit here, unholy child! Rise now, unholy child!  Eat and sleep now, unholy child!   Die, kill, worship me now, you ghastly unholy child!  But please do not understand  that your personal ‘freedom’ is truly only a wild slavery!”  The patriarch’s mustache rose and lowered with his succinct expressions. 

“Slavery?”  said Martin sarcastically.  “What freedom  have you?  Living like hidden rats, like wild prairie animals in a desolate wasteland,  huddled like frightened beasts timid of any luxurious greatness.”    He quickly glared at the faces peering from the adjacent archway.  “Your women wear simple adornments  of savages and your men attack us with nothing but burning torches!  Your vocabulary is nothing but gibberish.  You have substituted ‘evil’ for ‘live’ and ‘dog’ for ‘god.’  I’ve had enough of your ‘riddles’!”

“Then understand this, you Son of the Dragon, your civilization will die – will be utterly destroyed shortly – the One and only True God will demonstrate His universal greatness!  Your livelihoods and bounty will be ravished!   Your women  and children will seek unrequited safety in the wastelands!   The whole face of your civilization will be smeared over like molten tar!   And our people will have no hand in your demise other than our God will be the one to wrought this.  It is written:  ‘“And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid to waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the Lord!’”’ 

Martin was wondering how the promised destruction of their god was any different than the Dulmen destruction this tribe was forecasting, but he kept the thoughts to himself.

“Yes, this little band of people,” continued John Alexandrius,  “for all your pomp: all your garrisons, military, weaponry will be utterly helpless.  His Greatness will be magnified by your rebellion.  It has been long in waiting; it will be great in its Coming!’

Martin churned his fist over his sword handle, waving his head from side to side in exasperation.  Martin queried to himself:  Why did not the mighty Brain speak out now; indeed, it had been suspiciously silent in finding words or actions.  Martin did take notice, as well,  that the Brain’s ‘jerking’ of his head had ceased for some time now.  Frustrated, he threw his golden helmet from his head to the ground.  “Blast you old man!  I’ll kill you I swear!”  Martin strode down the dirt and rock chamber to the far end of the cavern and pointed up at the shelves of book.  “What book?  What book ‘whence it is written’?”

John Alexandrius could only  look at Martin with growing sad pity; it was still a mystery why this ‘Ascending god’ appeared to them at this time, in this way.

In the quietude of the books on the rock shelves stood numerous titles long forgotten and largely unknown.  The Dialogues of Plato, Jowell, I Led Three Lives, Herbert Philbrick, Critique of Pure Reason, Kant—-and many more, some greatly aged, some barely materialized—-but all miraculously preserved somehow by mysterious measures.  The list of published valium ran on and on.  Some showed signs of great age with a musty smell and a yellow appearance of antiquity; they couldn’t have survived this long if they had not been kept in a  Preservation Vacuum Chamber.

“I’ll tell you of what is written in the laws of Dulmania, my white-haired Patriarch, I’ll tell you that!” boomed Martin.  “It is stated that ‘…whosoever alienates the principal teachings and lessons of the gods and goddesses of Dulmania and willfully conspires to break the union to the government by secret or private meetings or worship to endanger the security of all Dulmania, shall be persecuted swiftly and as mentioned by other articles in the law…’”   Martin smiled at the elderly man.  “And that could begin right now!”

John Alexandrius moved his lips rather dryly as if mustering more strength: “It is written: ‘Mark them which divisions an offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them…’”  Martin’s eyes narrowed into a glare, for Martin considered this semantical battle was almost wrung dry, ‘‘…It is also written:‘For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through such wantonness…while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption.’” 

Martin had lost all patience, lunging at the library, taking his sword in hand, pressing it turned-on, and wildly slashing it through the books, disintegrating many into vaporous  dust, ‘‘It is written!  It is written!  Where is it written?  Let’s see this book!”

“You out-Herod!”  shouted Alexandrius raising his staff as if to give a defense.  He stood in the white film of disintegration dust  falling about them.

“Please, Father, no!”  shouted one of the female Commune people.  Two men dressed in knee-high kilts of sackcloth and rope belts quickly grabbed the old man, preventing any further disaster.   Arian and Mark Redress drew their disintegrating pistols as a warning of their defense.  The gathering Communities could only stare in anxious anticipation.  Some helped others to their feet. 

Martin no longer wanted to badger these people.  His fascination now centered on this mysterious book and many of the esoteric sayings.  Everything that this tribe of people stood for had been a rude shock to his sense of reality.  He felt weary and somewhat tired.  He released his tight grip on his sword handle, hearing it clump to the bottom of his sheath.  He spoke to the old man who now was in prayer or deep thought.

“Would you show me this book ‘whence it is written?’’’ pleadingly asked Martin.   John Alexandrius sensed the man’s change of attitude and lifted his head in small increments to stare at Martin in surprise.

“Yes, but you must send you’re the rest of your fleet back along with their crews, or I promise you,  you will not see that book!  You have no choice!”  

Martin thought the ultimatum over, he bit on his lower lip in frustration.

“Alright, But I must see this book!!”

“No, Martin, don’t be a fool,”  shouted Uncle Redress, “your whole future is at stake, don’t you see? You are able to receive the gift of immorality!”

Martin just looked at his uncle blandly.  His uncle could see that Martin had not been moved by his uncle’s comments.  Mark Redress made a few emphatic steps towards Martin, “Martin, Dulmania is at stake!  You’re ushering a New Age, man, don’t go blind over a worthless bit of prehistoric parchment!”

“What possible interest could you have in a compilation of paper?’’ quizzed Arian swiftly, “ surely your Thought  Inference Records would be much more useful  just by its eloquence?”   Arian patiently waited on Martin’s reply.

Martin pensively examined his crew and the cavern people.   After a moment of silence, Martin pressed a button on his belt—a slight crackle went out.

“Patrol Ship  No. 1!”  Martin called out. “This is Martin Salisbury!  This is an order:  All Patrol Crafts are to return immediately  to Home Base!  Understood?  Immediately!”

“Anything wrong, sire?”

“No.  Have all patrol crafts return at once!  This my personal command!   That is all.”

Uncle Redress shook his head in disbelief.  Arian gave a sigh of despair and folded his arms across his chest in a sign of disappointment.   Arian stood mute in the glow of the leaping flames of the center gridwork, recalling soothing childhood memories of his revolving room he spent time in as a youngster, his tension release mechanism; but he also noticed that ‘he’ did not have the formidable body ‘jerks’ utilized by the Central Computer for some time now.

Martin appeared to be pleased  with his decision.   A curious calmness came over his person.  Casually Martin walked over to where his tossed helmet  in the dirt, staring at it momentarily as if to decide about his next action.  Then he placed it under his arm.

“Uncle, I wish you to back to the Patrol Craft with the rest of the men,’’ Martin sensed a potential rebuff,  “No, I want you to go!  That is an order!  Remain in the ship until further notice.”

His uncle tilted his head to one side in disgust and forged his way into the crowd of soldiers, policemen and crew outside of the first ‘arch opening.’  The order Martin gave could vaguely be heard repeated by his uncle to Martin’s men.  And then they turned about and vanished taking the artificial floating canopy of light with them. 

‘‘Arian, my friend, remain with me.  I want someone other than myself to attest to these facts,” then struck by a sudden thought, Martin turned to the Commune patriarch  for assurance, ‘‘Is that alright, Lord of the Commune?  I would not want it any other way.”

John Alexandrius slowly nodded, “Believe me, it is not up to you to decide, but it will be permitted.  But you must promise that no word of your finding this Commune will be sent back to your headquarters.  You must promise!”

In Martin’s new and unusual demeanor, Martin nodded in agreement, ‘‘This whole affair is within purview of the Big Sire, you realize that!”  It struck Martin that the Mighty Mind, the Brain, had been silent throughout this whole episode.

“Our God has protected us,’’  said John, “the Arch Murderer has been our enemy from the beginning.  However, why was it not that you detected us earlier?”  There was a twinkle of humor and  irony coming from beneath the heavy eyebrows and the forest of a mustache and beard.  Martin, on the other hand,  only looked expressionless, perhaps realizing the implications of which the Commune patriarch spoke.

Martin nodded for the Commune leader to carry out his promise.  Martin and Arian stepped closely behind John Alexandrius as Commune members stepped aside allowing the small procession to continue amidst the low, excited murmurs of the tribe.  They traveled further down the tunnel being filled by tribespeople and they could see that ahead was a well-lit room. (Martin had become fascinated by these tribespeople:   Human by every outward appearance, yet alien in their mannerism and attitudes; having both pity and fear; standing in direct conflict with Dulmania).  The exit of the cavern was an oblong cavity with torches in many cracks and cavities.  Stalagmites and stalactites seemed to be objects till suddenly the room was ablaze with hundreds of slender candles as a pyramid shape.  Center of that  soft brilliance was a dark form that could have been a human body suspended in the middle of some contrivance.

After a few seconds Martin could see more clearly:  This appeared to be an image of a man, suspended with both hands high over his head, clasped together by nails or spikes through his wrists into a beam,  and with what appeared to be blood running down his arm and seen on various parts of his body.  His feet were nailed in the same way on a wedge and oozed more blood.  A towel-like toga barely covered his pelvic area.  His rib cage protruded, for his obviously was famished.  The image’s head was slumped to one side; his hair was lengthy and matted, held in place by what appeared to be a crown of some plant.  Blood leaked from various wounds about his body.  He appeared to be totally exhausted and either dead or near-death.

Martin was not totally unfamiliar with crucifixion for he had seen it often in the Arena, but this statuesquescenery had a different quality behind it.  It was, however, out-of-sorts with his conception of the Commune people.

“What is this all about?”  asked Martin pitifully surprised by the sight.  “’Why does this man hang like this? For what crime is he being punished?  What has he done?”   Martin was beginning to ramble, “Why did you do this to him?”  Arian just held his gaze on this bizarre spectacle.

John Alexandrius turned to look at the Dulmen; John had the look of a prophesier.  He was looking for words to describe the event to the obdurate Dulmen aristocrat.

“It is not real, my son.  What you are seeing before you is a statue.  A very real statue, yes, an unsurpassed work of art, I must grant to your astute senses, but only a manmade creation.’’  The words reverberated somewhat in the hallow underground cavity.  “We worship no idol; it is forbidden to worship mere images; true art appreciation is another situation.  What it represents is very real and greater sense.  He lives today – He lives now!  What happened to him is a story on a long continuum that has bespoken to the ages.”

“He looks dead!  Was he rescued or pardoned?”   Martin glanced back and forth from John Alexandrius’s face to the beautifully bewildering sight before him.

“No, no, young man,” said Alexandrius, “I suppose he never could really  die. You see, his Father saved him for His predestined purpose, aside from his righteousness character and total faith.  He was totally unlike any human that ever lived.  He committed no crime; took no lives; murdered no one; He spoke no guile; He…”

“Then why  was he killed?  Who killed him anyway?”

“The official government!”

“Then he must have committed a crime.  Probably he was a traitor!  That is not that unusual, you know.  I’ve had some study on this subject.   I assure you:  government has become such a science that no crime could go undetected.’’   Martin spoke with a certain pride in his voice.

“Oh, but you see, the greatest crimes were committed by the self-righteous hypocrisy of His friends and the community.  One of His specially chosen followers, a disciple, betrayed Him for a handful of money.   Another lied and denied ever knowing Him when He needed his support the most.  Some fled away when He was arrested.   A Judge could not decide to follow his own conscience…’’

“Conscience?”  Martin broke in for the word was so unusual and bewildering.  Martin felt that he was starting to learn a whole new vocabulary. 

John Alexandrius continued:  ‘“Conscience.’   He decided to leave his fate up to a mob of the community which released a hardened criminal to go free in his place as an act of appeasing the people,”  Martin was visualizing some of the court proceedings that he had witnessed,  “and then he had the gull to admit that he could see no evil in the man and he washed his hands as a symbol of avoidance of the affair.”   John Alexandrius looked profoundly at the statue.  “You cannot see them from here, but the back of the Man is slashed red with blood and raw flesh from the whip-thongs of the soldiers who beat Him!  They hit Him!  They spat upon Him!   They jeered and called him names!’’   John looked seriously into Martin’s eyes.  “The official church of that community turned against Him!”

“You mean that the ‘gods forsook him?’” 

“You know what it is like to have one of your alleged gods forsake you?”  asked Alexandrius.   “Then you must know what it was like for His Father to have seemingly forsake Him.   He called out a plea to that effect just before His death.’’

“Yes, I suppose I’ll never know that—I’ve never seen my father.”  Martin was being startlingly candid.

“There is much you won’t be able to bare right now, but very few in Dulmania have real fathers.”

“My father was Misslou the Great, an officiate of the Imperial Army!” 

“Could you bare the truth of your origin?”  asked John Alexandrius.  Martin nodded, no longer sure of what to expect.

“As far as we can tell, your real father was a political scientist in the halls of Dulmania learning.  He was executed when he advocated a system of  ‘family living’ which rubbed the grain of the hierarchy-aristocracy and common people alike:  that of a more stable system of having one husband for one wife.  He swore that a venomous poison had spread throughout the so-called civilized world and that mankind was devouring itself by catering to its own ‘lusts.’  A stable monogamous family was the solution.”

“That’s not so!”  protested Martin.  “How can you charge such a thing?  You make me out a common citizen!”

“His name was Cornelius Airheart and…”   The elderly man was interrupted by the shrill voice of the Dulmen graduate.

“No!  No!  No!  Professor Airheart was a traitor!”  protested Martin.

“He was your true father, the only father you ever had.  Quite against convention he fell in love with a maiden who was an official liaison to the Aerion Palaces.  He wanted to offer her more than was allotted to her in your despicable society. He offered her a monogamous  marriage!”

“No!  This can’t be!  A traitor, yes!  But not my father!”

“A child was born in hopes it would hasten that possibility.  Instead, the philosophy of one Johnathan Airheart was condemned as age-old heresy.   After his execution, a pseudo-legend was propagated: One General Misslou de Gallius, a great war hero, had died and had gained immorality as a god.  He had a son by their mystical union with Madelyn Shaw-Salisbury who is well on her way to gaining a place with the god himself – through the lustful caterings to the officiates  who visit the Palace.” (In Dulmania it was common for the child to take on the names or last name  of the mother if the union was of alleged mystical origin.)

“What distortion of the truth!”  bellowed Martin.

“It is the truth,’’ casually remarked the old man, “and your father came close to teaching  what that crucified man on that deathbed also espoused for he saw monogamous marriage as a means of stability and much more!” 

Martin’s eyes suddenly became a bulbous reservoir of tears.  Martin’s hands were shaking  as he pointed a finger in abeyance  at the statue, “Who…who…is he?  What …wh…what was his name?”

The history told in the last few minutes was taking a toll on Arian in its discourse on Madelyn Shaw-Salisbury.  Arian recalled the many sensuous visits to the beds of the Palace where Mistress Nymphia – the late love of Professor Airheart – held a lot of his passing hours.   It also began to dawn on him how much older he was than Martin Salisbury.   The truth had jolted him to his core as he began to see the puzzle-pieces join so momentously and inconceivably!

“He is the Christos, prophesied through the ages, Christ, Immanuel!”  proudly proclaimed the Commune superior.  The candle pyramid highlighted the old man’s grand  sculptured face.  Together the two humans ponderingly gazed upon the statue.

“It is written: ‘And behold , thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus.  He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His Father, David: and He shall reign over the House of Jacob forever; and of his Kingdom there shall be no end.’”

John Alexandrius pointed to a ’pyx’ at the base of the statue: A small transparent item with a generative apparatus to one side giving a slight purr.   John motioned that Martin should approach the apparatus along with him.  Together they stepped near the mechanism to look upon a large yellowed-brown book, much like those he had obliterated on the shelves outside of this Holy place.  It was in fact a ‘vacuum chamber’  with a circulation system leading to the  ‘pump.’  By turning dials on the front of the pyx, mechanical wires, threads, and tentacles would tenderly turn and lift the pages of the book.  Martin was led to believe there were several such scared books stored in a special vacuum system deep in the cavern.

“What you see before you is the pyx of the Scriptures.  It is a sole surviving copy of several  sacred  and original texts.  Their existence and reality  has long been denied and mention of them was even hidden, even before Dulmania arose it menacing continence.”

‘‘What is ‘scripture’?”  asked Martin as he fought the gnawing pain in his stomach.

“The sole records of the history of the Heavenly Father telling of the times and death of His Son, the inauguration of his Commune and the Prophecy of its future,”  John Alexandrius spoke naturally about the Books as if their existence was common knowledge to Martin as it was to Alexandrius’s beloved followers.

Perhaps such behavior would have seemed impetuous several thousand years before when the title ‘Christos’ was a household word, but to the Dulmen aristocrat — indeed an Ascending god — his great ‘conspiracy’ was being dissolved and demolished before his very eyes!  Martin began to cry, then sobbed visibly, choking and whimpering, no longer a replica of a god.

“Who…is…this…heavenly father?”

‘‘Perhaps, my son, he is the only Father you have right now!”  The stone-stare of the elderly man narrowed onto the Dulman, “And he is the only Father  that truly loves you.”

“Then why did he leave his son to die such a torturous death?”

“Earlier, much earlier, mankind out of their own vain lust, rebelled against their Originator, unable to remain within the righteous and perfect guidelines of that Guiding Manifestation, mankind would have been resigned to eons of brute, carnal — sometimes perverted existence  —  if it were not for the perfect sacrifice of His very own Son Who performed that which any natural man could not !”

John Alexandrius looked upon Martin compassionately as tears rolled down his cheeks. Martin’s lips quivered in fear.  Alexandrius continued:  “His Son was resurrected from the dead right after His burial — gloriously and triumphantly!”

“Lived, not died?”

“He lives now near His Heavenly Father – and within the hearts and  minds of his followers.’’

“What would I do to be included in these miracles?”  asked Martin, still exhibiting some smidgen of doubt.

Alexandrius  jabbed the staff  in his tight grip into the dirt:  “You must begin by turning your back on every evil, nefarious thing that your society that your world and your government exists on!  Turn yourself over to a new way of life!  You must turn your back to the evil lusts of your mind!  Right now, people of this planet are killing, maiming, murdering each other, and even in the name of righteousness, and many are literally tearing each other limb from limb, in military combat, but also in the consumption of flesh in mindless orgies!”

A single figure  emerged from the shadows of the back of the cavern; Christine said: “You must right the wrong you have done!  First you must change!”

Martin was still gazing into the friendly glow of the transparent pyx, despite his blurred vision and tears, Martin tried to make out the strange language and writing.   So, this is one of the books “whence it is written,” thought Martin.   Arian stood with bowed head in deep thought.  Christine went to her father and comforted him by her own warm hand.

“What’s wrong, my dear?”  Alexandrius asked, fearful of the girl coming so close to the confrontation.  Martin studied her with just as much curiosity. 

“Father,”  she finally spoke in broken and  faltering Dulmen dialect, ‘‘father, does he know anything about my husband?”   She covered her face to halt sobbing.  The mutilated bodies that Martin recalled in the Arena in just the past day was thrust into Martin’s recollection.   Martin shook his head in disgust.  ‘‘Can you describe him?”  Martin asked.  Martin glanced downward in apprehension.

“Fair.  Blonde.  Dark blue eyes,”  the girl momentarily stopped to swallow and stood still for a few seconds.  “…a young adolescent boy, handsome…’’

“He is dead,”  Martin coldly remarked.  Christine visualized some executioner’s axe falling on the victim’s neck.  Martin stood there and watched the girl tumble against the old man’s chest as he cuddled her and she wept in remorse and anguish.  John’s face also turned from a rosy complexion to a very light  pale pink:  he glared at the Dulman in utter hate.  The crowd of Commune members were also visibly upset. Echoes of dismay, protest and many female sobs could be heard down through the cavern.

Some member grabbed a torch from the wall and proclaimed a threat to avenge the death of the young missionary lad.   Commune members  protested against any further violence, and the member was restrained.  Coincidentally, the smell of bayberry and thistle intermingled with frankincense incense carried through the sacred spot oddly signaling an interlude to gain control.  After an undetermined period of silence, John Alexandrius finally spoke:

“It is written; ‘Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil  against you…’”

“Please do not quote the book,’’  begged Martin.  Martin began to feel a growing element of confusion, yet anger.

‘“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you’” 

“Don’t!  Quote!  The!  Book!’’  demanded Martin waving a clenched fist at the elderly leader.

‘“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.’’’

“Accursed be your foul book!  Accursed!’   Martin threw his golden helmet back amidst the padded cushions at the base of the statue where the choir sat and sang.  The helmet runed over and over and rolled up to the feet of Arian.  ‘‘Accursed  be your savior!”

Martin looked up at the statue and with his out-stretched fingers as to hide the image.  Patriarch Alexandrius softly kissed his daughter-in-law on the cheek, huddled her close to his side, and began to lead her in the direction away from the  statue.  “Come dear, come.” said  the elderly man in their strange language.  Immediately the chorus of voices that Martin heard earlier upon his patrol’s arrival began once again to sing with vibrant courage as the choir marched for more distant and safe places.

John Alexandrius looked at the solemn and worried face of Arian and offered his hand and gesturing that Arian should follow.  Arian hesitated  for a look at Martin but gave a deep sigh and then quickly joined the throng of carolers and Commune spectators.  Martin stood alone in the solitude of the Holy Place. 

“I’ve jested and joked and blasphemed at that which was sacred to you, oh crucified man—for why and what now, it is no longer clear to me,”  Martin continued his oration, and he was becoming increasingly aware that he was void of the classical ‘jerk’ of the Big Sire, the Brian.

“What you speak of as ‘holy,’ such as this special cavern, were meagre playthings for most Dulmen soldiers.”   Martin stopped to slam his fist into the other hand.  “Blast you!  I cannot think!  Your desolate  crucified man hanging there chides me!  His slumped head berates my mind!  Your haunting old book of ‘scriptures’  scolds my Dulmania prestige!”  Martin clasped his hands to his temples and shouted:  “I cannot think!  I cannot think!”

Martin heaved several gasps to ward off sobs.  He remained silent for a few minutes.  From somewhere in the bowels of the caverns could be heard the haunting trickling of cool underground spring water that echoed through the ancient subterranean world.

Martin lunged forward and with spread fingers he tied to cover the illuminance from within the transparent pyx. In his scrambled thoughts, now mysteriously void of the control of the Brain,  questions came rapidly into the matrix of his mind.  Why should I give up the power and glory of Dulmania to live in caverns in animal skins?  Respect for life, they speak of killing as a crime.  They speak of freedom, yet they live as impounded sheep.  They ‘box’ this together under one god and one marriage?  They say that freedom is not free.

Martin visualized the history of the riotous and frenzied crowds in the Arena.  The screaming face of one Mary Longram in the Temple of Dreams.  The cold electrodes of the ‘Hub’ programming being placed upon his skull.  Thought eradication.  And himself as a small boy running to the side of someone that he just could not now identify.   

Martin glared hatefully at the statue of the crucified man.   He raised the sword above his head to bring it with great force and full fury upon the purring pyx and its scriptures.  Suddenly and in shock, he found himself weightless and the scene about him turned into a vortex of blurring black and white tossing his body against the sharp edges of rock.   When he gained some sort of equilibrium of his senses, he was again stunned to find his sword embedded at the other end of the cavern – into solid stone!

But much more frightening:  he could swear that the head of the crucified man, if only for a moment, turned erect to match the stare of the Dulmen demigod

**********

Chapter Seventeen

Crescendo

The Portal Screen was announcing certain persons that cogently struck Elia:  “…officiate gods Arian Yul, Mark Reddress, Mylar City resident……”  The words boomed in his ears from the orator’s narration.  Elia stopped to listen;  what an informative surprise; so, his brother was very much alive and active.

“Perhaps they would meet on these matters so intrinsically important.”

Chapter Fourteen, The Search

***

Elia had grabbed at the shambles of a wall and fence, fighting away from the grips of the maddened citizens clawing at his flesh.

“They’ve got my tail,” grimaced Elia in in pain,  “release my tail!”

Oh, how they hated what Elia said:  It brought fear to some and hurt the arrogant pride of others.  The crowds hooting and hollering made Elia even more determined to free himself.  Kathern!  His thoughts suddenly were filled with her remembrance.  Did she grasp his last message, and would she try to find her way to the Rugby Craft  and wait for him?  Or was she now quickly making her way to the golden doors of the Siberian Caesar to denounce her own husband as a traitor?  Which?   And was there any real escape from the serpentine eyes of the Big Sire?

He gave a shove with this foot forcing his assailants to slide down the steeply collapsed rubble as he jumped to the top of the pile.  Elia stood still for a moment, frozen, immobile, his tail swishing nervously back and forth, stooped as if to spring into a high leap, his viewing of the citizens fanatically scampering to their feet, and then up the incline in pursuit once gain.

Elia, however, disappeared in lightening fashion over the earthquake strewn rubble and down into the cold night and city below him to continue his prophetic mission.

**********

The Winter months had been severe in that part of Dulmania; long and strenuous blizzards and snow falls that went on  for months leaving a blinding white  blanket over all visible terrain and superstructures.  

But springtime had now come and it was an elaborately  beautiful one.  Perhaps it was trying to compensate for the pricks and pains of the preceding year.  Here and there,  vines of plants  and freshly sprouting grass was attempting to grow on the lips and upper walls of deep crannies and gullies that were produced by the sudden and frightening earthquakes and tremors that had gripped the globe in  darkening fashion.

It was a terrible sight in many places. Several Bubble Cities, Methorphoria for example, had been split asunder by the rippling of the Earth’s crust, aghast, looking like the shell of a cracked egg that was discarded on the ground.   Many subterranean cities were destroyed; level upon level sinking downward upon each other with the shrieks of millions of men, women, and children!  It happened instantaneously,  dramatically, malevolently overnight.  Huge clouds of dust and debris ascending even above the crust.  Then came the secondary collapses with their thundering echoes over the Earth that continued to cause shudders in many that remained alive. 

Wild Bors  and various laboratory mutations had been inadvertently released from their captivities and now roamed the countryside devouring and destroying the garbage heap of mankind; terror stalked the planet.  Famine now became the present problem, and even the utilization of  synthetic inventions became a gross problem for the first time in eons.   Most of Dulmen extraordinary projects were suffocated in their tracks by the chaos!  Their ‘science’ became useless!

Like a mother bear, weak and out of breath from fighting foes against her cubs, Mother Earth stretched her aching and torn muscles and gave a whimpering sigh before she reclined back into her rubble for a suspicious nap.  But for how long?   And when the worst of winters came — and evenings held an icy star-studded sky  over half-orbs of a few remaining destroyed but barely operable Bubble Cities —  the only witnesses were the weak and famished citizens of Outer City homes and scarcely alive families.   Most saw the planet as granulated!

But for how long would such suspicious quiet  last?

And what would be the inventive explanation of official Dulmenia and its Brain conjure up—if, indeed, it could be said that these still existed at all?   There was a myth that had started in the wisp of gossip to the effect that a god, Zerionus,  would help the remnants of mankind search their conscience for a solution, for fear that the mysterious God would release Its Wrath once again. 

**********

On the outskirts of what once was Mylar City strolled a bearded man.   His sleek shinning hair denoted much care; an emblem of a dove descending upon a fish was clearly represented on his robe.  In the cusp of his hand was a booklet, rather small, but new and bound in leather.  In keeping with the warmer weather, his feet were sandaled. As he walked along, he viewed the multicolored fields and hills that also included the tragically disheveled devastation where, now,  miraculous sprouts of wild petunias, marigolds, zinnias, tulips, and lilies represented spring-time’s natural landscape had begun to forge again.  

When the man reached a dislodged boulder that on side allowed a ‘table’ or platform, he cleared his throat  and waited as the crowd began to gather.    The sweet fragrance of spring rose into his nostrils.  It seemed to give him courage.   He placed his book upon a rotten tree limb whose branches made a unique podium at stomach level.  He smiled now and then at the gossiping people as they gathered.

Now and then, someone asked  him as to the purpose of the event, he would bend low to speak to them and explain that he had an important message he will give.   Some would rush away to tell more family and friends.   Wonderment as to the mystery man’s purpose began to draw more people.   Was it a message from the gods?   Was ‘he’ a god?   Soon a voice rose from the crowd in protest:

“Come on, let’s hear what you have to say,” demanded a grizzly-faced man raising a fist into the air in protest.  A sizeable portion of the crowd chimed in with agreement; a composite of what remained of  Dulmania— the torn and tattered clothing, the broken and mended human limbs of those who miraculous survived the underground and worldwide havoc, the barely fed citizens of the Outer Cities, some trying to show emblems of their survivability with best stolen jewelry and linen.   Intertwined, were some suspicious maggoty and strained-faced officials and members of aristocracy. 

Finally:  “Citizens of Dulmania!  How many of you would turn aside from me, the one who tell you why your world has been so suddenly catastrophic?  How many?  Yet, I also will tell you that many ‘will be’ that foolish!” They all focused their attention on the man who occasionally swayed side to side; in the distance could be seen more people coming to investigate.   “You would be that foolish because you have been blinded, your vision has been spurned from your faces; no, not your literal sight, though has been more than tapered with in the on-going destruction, but I am referring not to your faces, but your mind’s eye.  Your heart cannot speak because of your lack of knowledge,”  he lifted his opened book into the air, “here is that knowledge!  Here is that Truth!”

The multitude began to murmur homogeneously.

“You have heard, no doubt by your propagandists,” continued the mystery-man, “that the goddess Vera, or the goddess Sherall, the god Marxz, or the god Zeronius cursed you,”  he stopped to point a finger directly at the crowd, “you have cursed you!”   A recondite smile arose and then vanish from his face.

It is written: ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness blasphemies!’    I say  that your Vera, your Sherall, Marxz and Zeronius are but inventions of your own diabolical minds, ushered through by the biggest imp – Satan – otherwise known as a diablerie of  electromagnetic forces and collection of memory banks, pulsating circuits neutronic mumbo-jumbo!   You have captivated ‘thoughts’ into ‘stones!’  You have harnessed power and energy into small atomic nooks!   A person’s whole ‘personality’ can be written virtually upon the face of a few atoms and they can be forced to live a phlegm-like immorality; should a circuit be broken, an ‘energy-pack’ disturbed, a radio wave not transmitted from anode to anode of that monstrous computer, your makeshift heaven ceases to exist!”

The man wiped the sweat from his brow, and he could see that the crowd was becoming intently curious.  Groups of adolescent children and their parents, some nude and painted in various psychedelic and opalescent colors as decorate ‘body painting,’ forced their way to the front to hear the mysterious speaker.   Their body-paints were overlaid with the dirt of the recent tragedies and hung on the skeletons of famished bodies.

‘‘‘Versed in nothing but morbid questioning and controversies, out of which is coming envy, strife, calamities, wicked suspicions, altercations of men of a decadent mind and derived of the truth, inferring that devoutness is capital,’”  he was again quoting his book, but he now continued in his own words,  “…the god of this world is the only real ruler, the Trickster, and his demons are one vast organization!  I say that he is the one that you unbeknownst worship!  For he has substituted ‘life’ for ‘evil’—Hellenism disguised as philanthropy; death for life; hate for love; licentiousness and lawlessness for true brotherhood; his inventions are varied and inconceivably reminiscent but fluidly ‘evil!’’’

The somewhat youthful face placed emphasis on the word ‘evil.’  Evil had been turned in a reverse-pattern that meant anything that Dulmenia said was against that empire and out of their control.  That logic had enabled whole races to be exterminated.   It was allowed prelates and officials a greater insanity of ‘hero worship,’ an obnoxious horror that was shared in their blood.  The man spoke of ‘thundering steeds’ rolling cross the skies that will bring even more worldwide destruction.  The mysterious prophet said that there was a better way and that was entreating them to war against their innate lusts of the body, and to pray to a true Heavenly Father who would aid them in their fight.

One man pushed his way to the forefront, raising his hand as a signal to speak:

“Prophet, what do you suggest to one who owns you completely, even as not yourself? I am part Dulmania, truly a part…”  he ripped open his coat in a fury, and the yanked a panel in his chest revealing the neatly packed glowing electronic coils that went into making his artificial inners—small scintillating lights blinking off and on in systematic, synchronistic rhythm aided by a soft purr of a miniature atomic generator.  ‘‘…sixty organs are built like this, for it was either have this done to me or to be created again as an early immorality with the gods, a tape and film existence in the electronic records of the ‘Big Sire!’’’

The prophet only shook his head; it was true; only all too true—what had been so commonplace to him at one time was now a pretentious shock.   He quoted his book again:

‘“Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Great Spirit?  We are confounded because we have heard reproach; shame hath covered our faces; for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the Lord’s house.’’’

“All in time,” spoke the prophet to the robotic man, “your Heavenly Father will  restore you All in All.”

A  beggarly and disheveled man forced his way to the front of the crowd and swiftly pointed a cruel finger at the prophet:  “I recognize you!   Aren’t you—yes, you are—the son of Misslou!  I recognize you now!”   The man turned to address the crowd with quick gestures of his hands.  “Don’t you recognize him?   He, whose face was so callously forced into our memories only a few months ago.  The ‘Ascending god!’”    The citizen took a cold and hard look at Martin.  “The one who was to have fought and defeated the Conspirators in a ground battle!  This is he!”

A low growl and convoluted murmurs went up from the crowd of Dulmen citizens.   A slight anger built up within him, enough to sting his nostrils:  It need not matter what his past had been;  he was facing a much better future.

“Yes!  Yes! You are correct!  But I have chosen the name of another,’’  Martin’s face was flush for this was the first time he was visibly shaken, “Urijah!  Urijah the prophet ‘who prophesied against the land according to all the words of Jeremiah!’’’

Henceforth, the name ‘Martin Salisbury’ was nonexistent just as the putrescence-like unreality of his past.   But who did any of the citizens think they were fooling, blind sheep to the slaughter?

“ ‘And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies, but they are not valiant for the truth upon the Earth: for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord!’’’

Martin- Urijah, grabbed small hemp bag tied to his rope-belt and jerked it off his waist.  Glaring at the crowd, he spilled its contents into his moist palm and clenched it tightly. A dark batch of vapor-like whirlwind dredged up into the air the gray clay of the plains.  This whirlwind, however, had a strange sound denoting that it was animate and artificial.  Without warning, and to the far right of the crowd  three swirls appeared forcing three separate clearings; the whirlwinds glowed with weak blue-white ionizations as a solid shadow formed within as three jostling Mus-chutes—official police of the Royal Imperial Court—emerged out of a materialization device; they could have come from the direct command of Martin’s uncle (many Mus-chutes resided deep within the lobby chambers of the vast computer and the atomic power plants of the Big Sire beneath Mylar).

Martin was observing all this activity taking place about him as bystanders pointed to the Bubble City  about a mile away.  Distant observers began to fidget as they observed a florid glow which many underground citizens of Feline would have readily recognized. The creeping Mus-chutes should have convinced Martin that his soliloquy was about to be cut short.

(Martin had done much study of ‘lost history’ in his discovery of the many manuscripts of the Commune; slowly Martin-Urijah became more and more sane.   A certain anger came and went as he studied, but the warm hand of the Commune children into his hand dissolved any  constant fear.  Small children found in Martin an ideal companion to frolic and play ‘hide and seek’ in the early spring months.  He had, also,  learned of the worldwide network of prophets—– names such as Tamar, Sansabar, Theodore, Elia, Jefferson, Townsend, others—-and there always was his beloved, Christine.)

Having no fear of the visiting Mus-chutes, Martin continued in his rapidly  produced lecture: Prophets hid in the Tibetan mountains of the Himalayas, worldly governments started to ‘invent’ miraculous tales to cause fear within the remaining populace of the Earth, the visitor and ‘Father’  from outer space, The Sun, Wandering Spirit, the announcement that Dulmania actually was the outcome of twelve successive authoritarian governments in the previous eons (all of which faltered and shared the same degeneracies).   The sciences of Mind Control and Propagandism progressed and became perfected in the Dulmania’s  Big Sire.  This was the problem that Martin-Urijah faced:  Compacting as much history to the ignorant populace in as short of time as was humanly possible before his capture and possible death! 

The rear wall of the crowd developed into a terrified frenzy as most  were aware of the Feline-City-type manifestation encroaching upon them.  Many were running towards the surrounding mounds and hills, only to be captured by the bestial manifestation about a mile from the spot the prophet was situated.   A soft rumble could be felt beneath their feet.  The lion-like face of the blob of energy let out a high-pitch growl as it advanced and grew; Martin remained steadfast in his sermon:

‘“The fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground!’’’

The onslaught began that very day around the globe!  In Tamar’s vicinity large starving hordes had massacred an army of people in a blitzkrieg for survival.  Their efforts were quickly wiped out by earth renting cracks and topsy-turvy fissures in the crust of the earth.  Several cities vanished within seconds.  The huge, towering statue of the War God Maryx had cracked instantaneously into thousands of fine lines, and then with a low painful rumble, shifted  and fell into itself as a smoldering and cascading avalanche of stone, metal and pieces of rubble.

‘“I will fill his mountains with his slain men; in thy hills, and in valleys, and in all they rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword.  I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return, and ye shall know that I am the Lord!’”

In John ‘Red’ Townstead’s Veron de Sheol, the prosperous and luxurious underwater city that traveled as a beautiful gem from aquarium port to aquarium port, its beauty and serenity was torn asunder by hurricanes and monstruous mystery  waves of inclement wrath.

‘Red’ Townstead was stubborn in  his prognostication of impending boom, as he left within an hour of the destruction of Veron de Sheol to the surface in an aqua ferry; only to learn of five other underwater complexes that were swashed in a maze of girders, plastics, debris that became swirling masses rocking to and fro in the turbulent waters!

‘“ I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until He came whose right it is and I will give it to him!’”

**********

Elia vividly recalled the first few hours of the blizzard.  He had been hiding in the local park, a beautifully decorated recreation area near the Imperial Bubble City nearby and he could see the first few flakes pass over the soft blue-white glow of the floating aerial globes throughout the park. 

Soon, a velvety blanket of white lay over the landscape, delicately balanced on the tops of pine branches and the boughs of oaks.   The statue of a once-famous Dulmen General, arched backwards upon the rearing stallion, had withstood the year round brutal cold.  Quickly, the snow crystallized into frightening proportions of a whiteout.  Not only was food a complete deficit in the economic-political confusion  caused by the intrepid amount of meteorological flightiness, but lawlessness and anarchy stole across the blizzard-stricken domain forcing some into the few underground hideaways in those areas.   Within minutes, these became  their sealed ‘tombs’ that irreversibly cut their dubious and tenuous lifegiving umbilical cords.

In the silence that sometimes accompanies tumultuous blizzards with its blinding white snow-blanketed terrain, Elia wept—-hard and deeply till Elia’s chest ached and his limbs were in pain.  The End was near and part of his life was tied with some of the rebellious breather buried beneath that cruel white crust.

(What was once South America in eons past, had come to be called Dano in the Dulmen international tongue—-meaning  dynamic; atomic; negative; operation.  Within its equatorial climate all that one normally could anticipate were hordes of nasty mosquitos and the savage vegetation, but the citizens of  Katri  were the meagre few that had still the semblance of abiding in what remained of a ‘god City,’ Bubble Complex.   Then came the awful and blistering hot that seemed to rain down from above—and  belch up from below—sprouting pits of volcanic openings in surprising places, spewing golden-red lava, and bellowing white steam.

(Within one hour, the jungle was a vast carpet of suffocating flame, huge, towering columns of smoke that choked the breath of life of all remaining creatures.  It was only a matter of minutes before the unbearable magma pounded against the Bubble City until the metropolis  succumbed to the twofold pressure of earth tremors and streams of lava.

(‘‘‘Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured upon this place, upon man, and upon beasts, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched!’” )

Thus, Rob Jefferson gazed in pretentious discernment upon his home vicinity from his Water Scout  projectile as it sped down the Amazon River.  Jefferson’s apocalypse was one of earnest and dangerous appeal, but he found an indifferent and savagely protective audience causing a thin escape with his life from the irascible officials.

And so, it was for the encrusted Christos Prophets around the globe—-all increasingly becoming aware of their time for ‘departure.’

**********

The scowling of Old Nick  who was a “murderer from the beginning,” pruriently flaunting himself behind the back of Urijah, with Nick’s lion-like growl and a grinding, agonizing ‘purr’ that would cause any audience to fall to their knees and hold their hands over their eyes to shield themselves from the brilliant light of the swirling vortex of the gaseous and vaporous Monster.   The catlike eyes of “the Prince of this World.”    Assenting were the Hanumen Monsters aroused from their cubicles – their tombs of the undying dead – their hairy atrocious  bodies dancing on spindle legs as if a bug intoxicated with an insecticide.   This showed their realization that their time on Earth was over.

A hot wind mustered up by Old Nick’s anger crawled about Urijah’s back.  The squall caused his hair to bristle and pull at his roots as the wind gradually grew into hurricane proportions.  Urijah took capsules from his belt-pouch and held evaporating Z-BR8 out for anyone to see:

“Behold your god!  And behold its designer!”   Urijah pointed backward to the Satanic adversary.  “We have awakened him from his hiding place  and his brother incubus of electronic memory banks, transformers and atomic generators!  He growls in pain for he knows his time is short!”   Urijah suddenly realized that the Big Sire, a Dragon, may no longer exist considering all the total and utter destruction happening about the globe.   

The ground was shaking mysteriously in the grip of seismic waves.  Huge locusts appeared in swarms: escaped mutations from several destroyed laboratories that ranged about the globe. The pitiful remnant of mankind had no defense against these monsters.

‘“And there came out of the smoke, locusts upon the earth; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.’”

Urijah allowed the few remaining Z-BR8 capsules to slip away in the wind.   ‘‘And this is your refuge!  You fight with this evil to appease your god!”   The wind pulled at Urijah’s limbs.  Some hair stuck to the corners of his mouth. “Disobedience has led to undeterminable lawlessness so you have hidden yourself in a wilderness of a  makeshift fantasy world!”    

Urijah, still a stalwart man with a rugged bronze appearance, but having lost the look untouched youth, the scent of naivete was no more.   He was a follower of Christos!   A follower of that  magnanimous Kingdom.   A Christos!   In his mind’s eye, Urijah could see the smiling faces of those from the Commune, patiently waiting for him somewhere beyond  all hills, beyond  this time!

Despite the shrieks and cries of terror going on about him in the world being torn apart by invisible hands that rent everything asunder,   Urijah prepared to make a liminal exit.   ‘‘Asteroid Watch” programs disappeared days beforehand when civilization and its watchdog agendas disappeared about the globe totally unaware as humongous celestial rocks collided into the Earth’s crust producing  absolute finality in a red mass that  blocked out the Sun.   That blinding flash ushered in of a new age!

“Oh earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord!”

***********

Chapter Eighteen

EPILOGUE

The babe’s ‘special place’  was no more, at least not in a terrestrial sense.  All the trees, scrubs, and hidden artifacts that the child discovered and had become so fond of, no longer existed.  The skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus  that had been undiscovered by human eyes, would never be discovered and seen.   Beautiful roses, golden rod, white poppies, bloodroot  would never be seen again.   The Moon  was a dark red and carried ‘splinters’ of Earth from the demolition of that planet and further decimation by atomic explosions thrown at the satellite by mankind’s last-minute madness they exhibited in their death-Theos and their calamitic ending.   With the annihilation of the Brain, interplanetary Dulmania outposts and bases also dissolved rudimentary connections and vanished from sight.

Uncanny and majestic large white oblongs, like, but not identical to the Dulmen spacecrafts, abruptly began to create a ‘gap,’ some supernatural hole in the stratosphere.  Huge objects quietly flowed out of that ‘vortex’ and filled the hemisphere in procession  and ranks until that whole sky was filled with the purring mysterious bodies, horizon to horizon.

It was the beginning of a new and glorious Epoch and a creation of a neoteric world!

**********

If we only knew what the next thousand years would bring; the next hundred years; the next day; the next hour.

If only the prognosticators of ‘hell fire’ and damnation would be quiet and allow us ‘fun loving’ people assume our toy of science and allow us to “get on with” our playing.

Perhaps all those other anguishing thoughts picking at the back of our minds would also cease: What of those quant and gothic-looking churches that are slowly deteriorating?   Now that God is dead, how is He going to fix those broken glass windows?  How soon will the utopia that our scientists predict finally arrive?   When will the panacea arrive?  Who will answer?

It is a rather fruitless quest, for the  Christos told us not to say, “lo here’’ and “lo there,”  for He was already among them.

Likewise, to ask when our fictional Dulmania will emerge, and will it have a resemblance of this futuristic science-fiction story, is also naïve.  Just a passing glance at news dispatches and current historical events tells us that Dulmania has been  in existence.  It is now!  We are the Dulmen!

In Communist Russia, ‘White Coats’ are the array of the KGB officers who inject aminazin and sulfazin into the bodies of the ‘political unreliable’ and dissidents who are out of step with Russian politics.  Some spend their remaining hours isolated in an asylum for ‘defaming the Soviet state and political system.’

Several years ago, in New York City, the late Reverend Billy Graham declared to a 20,000 audience that ‘‘unless our nation turns to God, we will not be spared by God.”

A government study on Crime in America reported that the “U.S was a violent nation…violence persists in the U.S while diminishing in most other countries…Americans have always been a violent people…’’

The once sparkling jewel of midtown Manhattan, Times Square, has deteriorated to a district of sleazy movie houses, pornographic bookshops, prowling prostitutes, and has received the title of “Slim Square.’’ 

The Louisiana Judiciary Commission recommended that Judge Edward A. Haggerty, Jr., the presiding judge at the Clay L. Shaw assassination conspiracy trial, be removed from office for the willful misconduct…Haggarty was arrested in a raid on a stag party, charged with resisting arrest, solicitation for prostitution and conspiring to commit obscenity.  John Haggarty resided at the trail whence Clay Shaw was found innocent of conspiring to kill the late President John Kennedy. 

It would be superfluous to distil recent crime and murdering statistics and details which would  outstrip the fictional scenes in THE DULMEN for their brutality, sadism, and horror.  If the citizens of the world feel helpless and hoodwinked by terrestrial events, we can only hope and pray that the nihilism engulfing us will soon have a ray of hope to shine brightly through.

Stephen Erdmann

2021

**********

https://www.ancient.eu/Jesus_Christ/

https://ufospotlight.wordpress.com/2020/12/13/the-military-industrial-corporate-complex-matrix-miccm/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christianity/The-Middle-Ages

https://www.ancient-origins.net/opinion-guest-authors/truth-behind-christ-myth-ancient-origins-often-used-legend-part-i-006130

https://www.ancient-origins.net/opinion-guest-authors/truth-behind-christ-myth-green-man-and-legend-jesus-part-ii-006132

https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-ancient-traditions/fearsome-wicker-man-eerie-way-druids-committed-human-sacrifice-005285

https://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-religions-opinion-guest-authors/are-nephilim-really-offspring-sons-god-and-daughters

**********

Steve Erdmann – Independent Investigative Journalist

**********

**********

https://www.ancient.eu/Jesus_Christ/

https://ufospotlight.wordpress.com/2020/12/13/the-military-industrial-corporate-complex-matrix-miccm/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christianity/The-Middle-Ages

https://www.ancient-origins.net/opinion-guest-authors/truth-behind-christ-myth-ancient-origins-often-used-legend-part-i-006130

https://www.ancient-origins.net/opinion-guest-authors/truth-behind-christ-myth-green-man-and-legend-jesus-part-ii-006132

https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-ancient-traditions/fearsome-wicker-man-eerie-way-druids-committed-human-sacrifice-005285

https://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-religions-opinion-guest-authors/are-nephilim-really-offspring-sons-god-and-daughters

**********

Steve Erdmann – Independent Investigative Journalist

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