Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Chapter 14 ---The Pentakotic Gateway

Expand Messages
  • Mathew Morrell
    The service was held the following Wednesday at a sea-side graveyard in Connecticut. A cross bore his name, Giovanni Migliazzo, at the top of a steep cliff
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 19 3:39 PM
    • 0 Attachment
      The service was held the following Wednesday at a sea-side graveyard
      in Connecticut. A cross bore his name, Giovanni Migliazzo, at the
      top of a steep cliff overlooking the Atlantic's gray-blue, cerulean
      waters. Strong, wet, oceanic winds blew ashore, tasting of salt
      after mixing with the white spray of crashing waves. Drizzle misted
      outstretched umbrellas. Not many showed for the funeral despite the
      publicity his death generated, just several family members, all
      clothed in black, an ex-wife, four business associates, a lawyer and
      a sorrowful Elizabeth Sinclair accompanied by Mark Sonntag. A couple
      men-in-black monitored the gravesite from an adjacent cliff, and were
      snapping pictures throughout the service. Towards the end a package
      arrived, via a parcel service. The attorney opened the box and
      immediately closed it. Ten pounds of rotting fish, courtesy the
      Serenghetti crime family. Afterwards, the casket was lowered and the
      fish thrown into the sea.
      Ed MacIntosh was at his apartment the day of the funeral,
      fully intending to pay his respects, but unable due to the, at times,
      violent consequences of the Red Lion. Days went by and still he
      didn't leave his apartment and ignored the repeated attempts by the
      New York Department of Health and Human Services to reach him
      concerning his escape from the sanitarium. A social worker from
      Health and Human Services knocked on his door Friday afternoon, to no
      response. The concern was that Ed MacIntosh would harm himself or
      relapse into another catatonic trance and be mentally unable to seek
      medical assistance. Ed was alone in New York. Elizabeth had gone on
      tour with the ABT two days after the funeral, and Mark was with the
      FBI in Quantico, Virginia, interviewing for a job with the North Star
      Research Commission. The social worker didn't return until 7:30 the
      following Friday, when night fell over the Bowery where Ed lived.
      His cat could be seen rummaging food from the trash receptacle
      standing on the sidewalk in front of his apartment --- only its gray,
      bushy tail sticking out the top. Across the street was the commuter
      rail tracks, and underneath the tracks a liquor store and the
      Alligator Blues Bar. The starless night sky contrasted the train in
      such a way that it was a flat, black, two-dimensional image rushing
      as if through outerspace.
      MacIntosh had no intention of returning to the sanitarium to
      undergo psychological evaluation, and when the social worker knocked
      on his door, once again, Ed did not answer. He continued packing his
      suitcase, fending off short, intense visions that would come upon
      him, unwilled and unwanted. Grotesque canvases, still wet and
      sticky, were curing on the wall behind the mattress, each showing
      different versions of the same rotting, decomposed spirit he saw the
      other night when he escaped from the sanitarium. Other than these
      canvases and the mattress the apartment was empty. The majority of
      his belongings hardly amounted to anymore than a table, two chairs
      and a dresser, all of which was placed outside with the garbage
      yesterday, in fact, was standing on the curb until about eight pm.
      tonight when somebody went off with them.
      The cat pulled a partially-eaten hamburger from the garbage,
      jumped down to the pavement and scurried across the street; in the
      headlights of an oncoming vehicle, the glowing cat eyes looked like
      two burning embers independent of a body floating above the pavement
      towards Ed's van. The back of the van was filled with framed and un-
      framed canvas; there was a litter box behind the drivers seat; his
      camping gear was on the roof, covered in a tarp and strapped down
      with elastic cords. Later the same night he fooled his cat into the
      van by placing a feeding dish on the passenger side floor board.
      Then he turned the engine over, black exhaust belched from the tail
      pipe, and the car moved forward with a sudden jerk; the van hadn't
      been driven in months and the clutch was worn. On the Vanderbilt
      expressway, heading out of New York, he drove in the slow lane.
      The FBI was anxious to meet Ed, as well, and were rather
      baffled when he came up missing. They wanted to interview Ed
      MacIntosh about his possible involvement with Giovanni Migliazzo and
      the Serenghetti crime family, but all they found was an empty
      apartment. Mark Sonntag insisted there was no connection and that
      MacIntosh had simply left town, not to escape the law, but to go back
      home and work at a grocery store his father manages. The last thing
      Sonntag wanted was the FBI to think Ed was involved in subversive
      activities; but to, instead, emphasize his patriotism. Proving this
      was imperative if he wanted to work for North Star Research
      Commission since they worked closely with American intelligence.
      Infiltrators were a serious threat. The FBI went so far as to
      investigate Sonntag's friends and family, searched his apartment,
      looking for communist propaganda, obtained school and medical
      records, and insisted that Sonntag undergo a `technical interview,'
      also called a lie detectors test; questions included: Is your name
      Mark Sonntag? Did you grow up in Eatonville, Washington? Are you a
      communist? Have you ever traveled abroad and met with communists?
      Are you a homosexual? Have you taken drugs? After the test, Mark
      and his interviewer chatted about Ed MacIntosh, the war, family and
      business matters, and his desire to work for North Star. Mark said
      that while he knew little about North Star, or the FBI, he liked the
      idea of serving his country.
      Sonntag was an ideal candidate, and it was out of formality,
      not suspicion, that the FBI continued the background check longer
      than they already had. His profile report said that he
      was `solid', `industrious', `creative', `an excellent student who
      surrounds himself with peers of equal qualities. . .' The exception
      seemed to be Kansas City native Edmund MacIntosh. He did not seem to
      be Sonntag's equal in any respect. In fact, he seemed to be the
      mirror opposite, was a loner, prone to periods of depression and
      sullenness, was frazzled in appearance, often un-shaved, fiercely
      independent, and had trouble negotiating inter-personal
      relationships. (In the Army, while stationed in the Orient, he
      picked up the habit of patronizing prostitutes, but otherwise was
      known as a good soldier, excellent in combat situations.) To make
      matters worse, Ed, as of late, had been behaving more strangely than
      normal, and was seen staring long hours into empty space, that ocean
      of beingness into which the insane and mystics alike retreat. The
      FBI had a branch in Kansas City and they themselves witnessed other
      unexplained events that included the time when MacIntosh was caught
      sitting alone on a park bench, talking to himself. Moreover, his
      paintings begun to assume gruesome tones suggesting deep-seated
      psychological conflicts that were simply not normal.
      Ed lived with his parents in June and July of `69. Down in
      the basement he had a bed, his art supplies, a desk and several books
      including the Bible. He went to work at 8:45 AM and was home by 5:15
      PM. There were no friends in his life. On his days off he came up
      out of the basement usually for one reason: to eat, before going
      back down again. In his journal he wrote that although he had a
      desire for friends and family he could not seem to give up his
      monkish austerities nor the blisses of solitude. He painted at
      night, worked at day, smoked and drank too much, smoked because he
      was anxious all the time and drank because it numbed that region of
      the mind responsible for mystic cognition, blunted it, so that he did
      not have to see as visionaries see, rather as normal people see and
      think, solidly. After work one day, he stopped at a small, shaded
      river off the highway and collected as many licichen and moss samples
      as he could fit into a shoe box. The colors obsessed him. He took
      the samples home and spent the coming weekend perfectly sober in the
      basement, engrossed in color studies. The canvases he produced in
      June and July, his first months in K.C., took on a certain look that
      was at once highly refined and bizarre. Spore-like creatures entered
      his repertoire.
      By August he had earned enough money stocking shelves to pay
      for his accumulating expenses: art supplies (a role of canvas, paint
      and stretch bars), a new clutch for the van, which he and his father
      installed on a hot Saturday afternoon. There was enough money
      leftover to buy a cheap, used motorcycle posted in the classifieds.
      Ed and his father and several men from the grocery store drank beer
      and popped wheelies and roared up and down the block. The father was
      drunk. At around midnight he tried popping a wheelie up the steep,
      grassy hill in Brookside Park, nipped a boulder and wrecked.
      Everyone laughed. Ed wrote in his journal that night: `I love being
      American! Dirt bikes, bad beer, good friends, hot summer nights,
      Chiefs football. I never want to return to New York.'
      That night he stepped outside and did a little star gazing
      before turning in. The night was cloudless, but the sky was not
      completely clear; a shower had previously rolled over Kansas, leaving
      a faint, opaque haze near the horizon. With a glass of lemonade in
      one hand, and a pair of binoculars covering his eyes, his magnified
      trajectory of consciousness fell upon the eclipsing binary star,
      Algol (or Beta Persei), hovering in the constellation Perseus. His
      eyes told him it was a harmless pin-point of light suspended in
      outerspace, moreover a thing of beauty, that totally contradicted its
      evil reputation, and he gazed at it admiring its subtle blue-tint
      wavering in the haze.
      His mother and father were sipping lemonade on the front
      porch, fanning their faces; the night was hot and the pitcher of
      lemonade was sweating beads of water. His mother poured a glass for
      a neighbor who dropped by. Everyone was excited about today's moon
      landing and they sat there listening to a radio broadcast of the
      event. The space craft was hurling through the space towards that
      silver, glowing moon looming large in Ed's binoculars. He kept the
      moon in his line of sight. Around it was pure space.
      Then he rotated towards the southern sky. Where Algol should have
      been he saw instead a dreadful, disembodied head floating in
      outerspace having two, long black horns and a beastly, hideous face.
      The vision produced a jolt of fear. The demonic head configuration
      was interposed upon the star. He gasped and looked away. The
      binoculars fell over his chest.
      `Lemonade, darling?' his mother asked.
      Her form moved without distinction in the enveloping
      darkness. . . a shadow. It wasn't until Edmond came within ten feet
      of her that he saw the glass that she was offering. All he did was
      shake his head. He was not thirsty. The vision had sickened him.
      Now he knew why Homer called Algol a ghastly sight, deformed and
      dreadful, and a sight of woe. Or why Medieval Arabian astronomers
      called Algol Al Ra's al Ghul, The Demons Head. Now it made sense why
      Greek star charts showed Algol as a head writhing with lives snake,
      whose bluish white eyes, when looked upon, crystallize men into stone
      figures. Ed went down into the basement, depressed and exhausted.
      For the Hebrew's Algol was Rosh ha Satan, The Head of Satan.
      MacIntosh saw it himself. For that brief flicker of time, The Head
      of Satan floated before his eyes in the Akashic Ether.
      Strangely enough, the depression continued through the week;
      at work he was shy and introverted, and ate lunch alone behind the
      loading dock. Occasionally, spectral entities visited him. If they
      caught his interest he grabbed his sketch pad and made a quick
      drawing. In this way, he produced an exceedingly unique and
      impressive catalogue despite the depression. When he was happy, he
      had not desire to paint. Out of agony and suffering came his
      greatest life-affirming works.
      He came home Thursday night to find that the Seventh Street
      Gallery in Greenwich Village had sold one of his paintings. A check
      had come in the mail, $550. He cashed it the next day and didn't go
      to work. Instead, he started up the van and drove through Eastern
      Kansas looking for a place to set up his easel. In Leavenworth
      County was a bald, treeless hill surrounded by un-fenced pasture.
      Nightfall came, the stars un-raveled above him; he stood motionless,
      a paint brush clenched lengthwise in his teeth, in his hand a broad
      #3 brush. Every so often he looked up at the star-filled sky,
      studied it for some time, and as if inspired by an insight the
      brushes switched hands, his arm thrust forward, and his brush made an
      irregular run of cobalt-violet across the canvas. The strange violet
      color swirled like hundreds of cross currents through a black,
      aqueous sky. The stars were not pin points of light; he painted them
      as rings and circles caught up in a great nebula of spiraling star
      dust. Several hours later, he dropped his brush into a glass jar
      quarter filled with paint thinner, compelled by intuition to quit.
      There was always a danger in trying to make a painting too good. Had
      he tried too hard his effort would have destroyed the freshness and
      purity of his initial impression.
      Successive trips to the treeless hilltop revealed another
      side of Algol, however. On his third night he immersed himself
      psychologically inside the inner workings of the star, pierced Algol
      spiritually by merely gazing at it, felt himself involved soulfully
      within its interacting forces. Deep in trance, and fully immersed in
      a vivid dream-life, the universe unraveled itself to his eyes
      symbolically like a great tableau of hieroglyphic images. The stars,
      thus seen, were no longer points of light. In his myth-saturated
      consciousness, he was presented with just such a Universe where stars
      were gods personified. Algol was a great, glowing Satanic head
      configuration, frighteningly alive, releasing its immense fire
      thoughts into the black, crawling chaos of stars, each of which were
      as vitally alive as Algol was: a horned devil amid fiery mythological
      life forms, a Capricorn, a Taurus, a Scorpio, a Crab Nebula to the
      South, each moving faintly to a silent cosmic beat pulsing through
      the stellar system. MacIntosh was dumb with terror. Yet, he
      persisted to paint.
      The canvas he came home with was a thing of horror. Quickly,
      he hid it behind some canvases in the basement so that his mother and
      father, nor anybody could see it. And for the next week he avoided
      going out at night and stayed indoors most of the time. He kept
      himself busy over the weekend by painting, reading and drinking gin.
      Going outside was simply too stressful on his nervous system; and
      again, large quantities of alcohol helped him to escape the memory.
      But in his dreams he still saw the terrible head configuration and
      still heard its cosmic pulse beat through the Void; beating in the
      Augment Fourth; its soul, psychological force piercing space and
      time; roaring like some gigantic, mythological beast. He woke in a
      sweat, gasping for air. In a delirium, he bolted outdoors to eye his
      tormentor.
      In November of that year, he rented a cabin in the Nevada
      desert. The colors were unique and at the same time foreign to him
      as an outsider new to the area. The rocks had a wonderfully-soft,
      red tone that came from the rich iron content, and at sunset the
      hills blazed metallic red. Ed completed many, many paintings, mostly
      landscapes but also ones that were not of this world. He read, too,
      and studied the science of astronomy. Algol, he learned, was not one
      star. It was two co-orbiting stars making up a binary system which
      consisted in a blue, spectral class B8 (Algol 1) and a larger, older,
      but less bright K2 giant (Algol 2). An eclipse occurred when Algol 2
      orbited into the line of sight between Earth and Algol 1; then, from
      the Earth's reference point, the star dimmed into the orange-tinted
      shade of the K2 giant. The space between the K2 & the B8 was 10.4 km,
      a large distance by human standards but close enough so where the
      decaying K2 giant was locked into an elliptical orbit and unable to
      escape the sucking gravitational field exerted by the B8. Connecting
      Algol 1 and Algol 2 is a cosmic umbilical cord, the Roche Lobe.
      Through it flowed hot, gaseous accretions that are stripped from
      Algol 2 and devoured by the young, vampiristic blue star absorbing
      the death and dying essence radiating from the K2 giant, which is
      lessening in mass every moment that its gaseous accretions spill over
      into the Roche lobe, essentially feeding the ghoulish accumulating
      mass building up in Algol 1.
      Strange lights and floating spectres could be seen for miles
      lighting up the remote, desert cabin. During his month-long stay,
      glowing spectres came from Algol and other malign regions of the
      cosmos. Townsfolk begun to talk of unexplained happenings, and when
      MacIntosh begun shipping his canvases back to KC., the local postal
      worker spread tales of devil worship; people eyed his strangely when
      he came to town to eat at the local diner, and a young, frightened
      native women crossed her self and kissed her crucifix while muttering
      incantations; for the paintings were of devils colored in those
      black, bacterial colors, hideous shades of green, orange and reds.
      Hell itself seemed to impress its agony and suffering upon the
      canvases that were shipped to Kansas City. None sold, but he kept
      producing them at a prodigious rate, one after another, despite the
      menacing solitude of the cabin. At night he hated looking up at the
      stars and seeing Algol. It was an evil sight, most despicable and
      unwholesome; it had two red reptilian eye, two magnificent horns
      arching above is cloven head; two long, sharp fangs. The universe
      resounded with ungodliness. At other times the star made horrible
      animalistic noises and diabolic screams that vibrated time and space
      through and through, down to the very heart of matter. Everyday Ed
      lived in the presence of evil, not only feeling it but seeing its
      menacing fires glow in the ink black darkness of outerspace.
      Eventually, the locals forced him to "go back where you came
      from." So MacIntosh drove to Kansas City and spent the next month in
      his parent's basement. He had no strength to paint and merely
      slept. While in a delirium he felt his spiritual double lift out of
      his body and hover in a soft billow of clouds. The feeling was
      extraordinarily peaceful, and he lingered there watching the white,
      vaporous clouds wisp around him. In his sleep he was a vapor among
      vapors, among dull, glowing lights, floating in infinity. When he
      awoke he felt refreshed, but not altogether healthy. The basement
      was cold and damp; and he spent all morning in bed under the covers
      pondering the sketches he made of Ahriman. At 11:00 AM his mother
      came down stairs into the basement to do the laundry, saw him laying
      there, and started crying in her hands. She was concerned for his
      health and sanity. His father simply feared him, and didn't speak at
      the dinner table that night.
      During this long, frigid winter of 1970, Ed MacIntosh spent
      an unhealthy amount of time in bed, dreaming but also painting when
      he had enough strength. He grew thin and wane and started to paint
      the cryptic, otherworldly spheres he visited in his deliriums. These
      otherworldly spheres became tangible realities in his life, and he
      painted them as normally and realistically as any landscape artist
      might paint a seashore or a mountain. Ten times in his sleep he
      crossed and re-crossed the black impious gulf in-between the Earth
      and the shining orb of Algol; explored the perverted kingdoms of
      Gheanna, Nib and Quotzle; witnessed first hand the burning lakes of
      fire flaming in the lower hells; narrowly escaping demons and
      devils. In Gheanna loomed Ahriman's gigantic astral body and there
      revered and worshipped as an omnipresent god. He is One, voices
      chanted. He is Many. He is a boundless number of astral bodies
      dispersed throughout the universe.
      Ahriman, Ed thought, knows who I am. His servants visit me
      and watch me paint. They're befuddled and enraged by my paintings.
      Today, two red glowing eyed watched Ed as he worked on a landscape
      painting showing a dilapidated temple surrounded by a witches
      Sabbath. Then, in slow degrees, the eyes vanished.
      Ed cleaned the oils from his hands. Later that night he
      wrote in his journal:


      "The Pentakotic Gateway, herein, was rendered by an artist in paint,
      but upon the luminiferous ether it is a mystical fact. Let those who
      have eyes see the Gateway. It is branded, as if by a flame, in the
      Soul of the World, and is open to all, though not all are worthy to
      pass. In appearance the Gateway is a smoky white light.

      "The Gateway will appear, it will open, and if so desired the soul of
      the initiate will enter a Principle (or a plane) beyond the light.
      Beware. All will appear according to your inner nature, for nothing
      is outward in spirit. All is inward. Unless the mental traveler has
      committed himself to the Great Work, and therein finds the joy of
      God's enfolding wisdom greater than the suffering the aspirant
      endures beyond the Gateway, then avert your eyes from the painting.
      To kamalocka you go. The experience will manifest great fear and
      suffering within the un-initiated, which is not God's will, but
      rather the diabolical will which Lucifer's perverted wisdom uses to
      cast mankind into the hellish abyss outside the Tree of Life.

      "This painting of mine is a coordinate designed for the self
      surmounter, the lover of wisdom, and not the idle searcher of
      mystical knowledge. Cling to Faith, which is divine knowing, fill
      your spirit with God. Otherwise, the darkness will enter the soul's
      sweet delight, defile, then there is no return. You are a lifeless
      servant to the Ahrimanic impulse.

      "But if one enters the Pentakotic Gateway --- in a purified spirit,
      clear, conscious and awake --- the knowledge you will return with is
      nothing short of genius, Ahrimanic genius, although cold, hard,
      brutal, useful on the spiritual path. To master the Pentakotic
      Gateway, and the world beyond it, is to master the wisdom of that
      great Serpent; it is to shine in the brilliance of his million
      gleaming scales; it is to think with the mental sharpness of his
      fangs; it is to live in the vitality of his poison. If you willingly
      sacrifice Ahrimanic genius and surrender it over to the Higher Self,
      his fiery, poisonous wrath is redeemed and indeed transmuted within
      the eternal Love of God, becoming the divine Elixir. Longevity and
      wisdom is your boon.

      "I am an artist of time and space. My heart is inspired by fantastic
      forces. Yet I am nothing in Ahriman's gaze. To him, I am a
      worthless floating cinder. In an instant, his immense fire-thoughts
      could hurl me into non-existence. Therefore, listen to my
      suggestion: Bow before forces greater than your self. Abbaddon is
      not your home. You are visitor. When we sacrifice the Grace of God
      for knowledge sake then we are dark travelers in god-forsaken voids.
      Angels will not aid you, for they dare not tread Ahriman's magnetic
      fires. Do not, I stress, interfere with Ahriman's demonic legions.
      They are ruthless souls whose single objective is to ensnare visitors
      in a web of confusion, to inflict horrendous, psychological torments
      the likes of which I would not wish upon my worst enemy.

      "If the initiate is still willing to cross the Pentakotic Gateway --
      this despite the horrors I have mentioned -- then ask yourself why.
      What draws you towards evil? If it is to escape the drudgeries of
      mundane life, then you have made a mental error of grave
      consequence. Do not enter the smoky white light. Thrill seekers
      should stick to mountain tops and surfboards and not dabble in the
      Mysteries.

      "Or, if for ambitious reason, you seek to steal Ahrimanic power, then
      you too have made an error. Better chain a rock to your body and
      throw yourself into the sea than think that you and your heavy, self
      ambitions can enter the Abyss without falling. Ahriman casts thieves
      down to the sodomites.

      "Yet the worst damnation of all is also the quietest. I weep for all
      those numbered among the accursed searchers who Ahriman saves from
      the karmic repercussion of error. If the initiate returns un-atoned
      from error, there will be a black spot in his memory. He will not
      remember his journey beyond the Gateway. It will be as a dream that
      never happened.

      "If you find yourself in a state of forgetfulness than I would
      suggest fasting and prayer. Doing so will un-leash the darkness of
      the memory. Otherwise, your errors will sink deeper roots into your
      soul starting at the mind and brain and then spread darkness into the
      whole of your being. You will wake one morning a devil's child;
      heavy, dross, materialistic in thinking; a divider of friends;
      embittered, perverse in spirit; spiteful, cruel, wishing harm upon
      fellow man; empowered by a malicious archeatype working unsee in your
      unconscious, that seeks to destroy the evolutionary impulse that
      washed man of all his sins. You will be an anti-Christ.

      "Beyond the Pentakotic Gateway, in the nameless, un-created universe,
      eternal night wraps the kingdom of Gheanna in sinister darkness. The
      terrain is hilly and jagged; no sun or stars shine in the sky, and
      the ground is a kind of black, glazed crust liken unto volcanic
      stone. Without warning the ground can fall away, huge chunks of
      ground, mountains, hills, miles in width, plunging into the abyss.
      No place is safe in Gheanna, not its creosol surface, not its liquid
      black sky, nor its flaming seas that wave and surge chaotically and
      irregularly in whichever direction. If it is not the ground tearing
      apart and devouring the mental traveler, it is the knife-wielding
      reptilians roaming the outer void in murderous bands, attacking
      hapless dreamers; or it is the air itself, ripping and being ripped
      by light-blue lightening bolts. Here the earth is alive. It is an
      organism; nay, a beast that rumbles and quakes, eking green sulpheric
      gasses.

      "I am told that the elements--earth, wind, fire and water--cannot
      exist on the spiritual planes, that Gheanna is a spiritual
      impossibility. Yet I was there in spirit and in spirit I bore
      witness to this elemental kingdom, indeed traveled a portal into its
      belly; the portal spiraled as it dove down through empty space into
      the bowels of the Original Universe, which encompasses Gheanna in a
      queer, hyper-dimensional matrix. When I arrived, I was greeted by my
      friend Mostaffa Hannif, the Philosopher of the Deep, who is known
      here as the Mad Arab who dances above flaming pillars. Because the
      reptilians think he is insane they leave him be.

      "Miles from his hovel is a the dilapidated Temple of Heliopolis. I
      say a matter of miles, but it could be hundreds or thousands since
      time and space are so strangely woven and so closely connected that
      they are liken unto flat surfaces which mirror each other, making
      everything seem both very far and very close. From Mostaffa's cave I
      gazed at the ritual bon fires burning bright in the court yard of the
      Temple of Heliopolis, and in a red haze saw their naked reptilian
      figures move and twist to frantic drum beats and to chanting evil
      hordes and to other chaotic, diabolic melodies that surge and crest
      creating spectral colors in the sky. On the horizon looms Ahriman's
      monstrous astral body. Never once have I seen him move. He is
      forever still, and eternal, for he sees all.

      "Torture has become a trade of the highest respect among the heathen
      priest class and is practiced with timely car and patience in order
      to achieve the maximum degree of pain and suffering against the
      victims. All night I heard their screams. I was in Mostaffa's cave
      as he was on a pilgrimage, and his absence troubled me to a great
      extent. I hoped he we would return, for I was much of afraid that
      the orgy of violence in the temple would spill over onto the streets,
      up into the hills, and that the heathens would capture me and inflict
      un-told acts of horror upon me. Of the tortures I have seen them
      inflict upon human travelers include surgically supplanting their
      astral bodies into trees. Every now and then I happened across these
      half-human, half-tree creatures; one time while exploring the
      floating forests of Nib and Quatztum, I saw their gray, sorrowful
      faces exuding from tree trunks and their barren lifeless boughs
      moving like flaying arms and legs in the noxious wind. May God give
      them rest!

      "Thankfully, the reptilians did not approach the cave. In fact,
      they've never once, in all my journeys to Gheanna, attacked me or
      molested me; and that they haven't, gives me pause for reflection.
      Mostaffa thinks that the Ahriman's are studying me, to see how I
      live, how I think and feel in my earth life, in order that they may
      understand my psychological composition, and therefore won't kill
      me. I agreed. They have become common visitors in my life, and not
      just the idiotic, brainless Moogogs, but the pre-historic, genuinely
      intelligent Gray alien species that travel eons in deathly silence at
      the bottom of the Great Void.

      " `Sit in peace, they will not harm you,' says Mostaffa Hannif,
      Philosopher of the Deep. `To them you are a laboratory rat. Eat,
      drink and spin your wheel.' "




      Within the span of weeks the hauntings temporarily stopped.
      Consequently, the illness lifted; he rose from his sordid depression
      and climbed out the basement for the first time in months to take a
      stroll outside. The blood returned to his face. His pulse
      quickened, and he got that peculiar feeling again. It was the desire
      to travel.
      It wasn't long before he was on the highway in his van. When
      he depleted his financial resources he returned home and worked at
      the grocery story stocking shelves for union wages. Combined with
      the money he made from his paintings he earned enough to eat in
      moderately priced restaurants and to rent cabins or sleep in hotels
      and buy art supplies, as well as maintain the van, which required
      repairs almost on a bi-weekly basis. Over time he replaced the
      tires, installed a set of piston rings, a universal joint for the
      rear axel, all new headlight, and performed a carburetor overhaul.
      In southern California he watched the Pacific heave and surge and
      crash into the rocks and with each wave his heart rejoiced. Next, he
      drove Highway Five to Washington State and camped out in the Mount
      Rainier National Park, where he fished rainbow trout from crystal
      waters. He spent some time Alaska and Canada and hiked through
      Montana and North Dakota, and later drove south into Colorado. The
      van's odometer turned-out greater and greater numbers over time. The
      mileage closed in on the 200,000 mark. Still, he drove on. Partly
      out of nostalgia and sentiment, he kept the van and drove it further
      yet, deeper into Colorado and over the sand dunes to the south.
      Here, the exhaust belched black smoke. The cylinders started
      misfiring, and backfires sounded like shot gun blasts. Ed was more
      nervous than usual because he did not have the finances to cover
      major repair work. There was no compression left in the cylinders
      and he was having to depress the gas pedal to the floor in order to
      sustain normal highway speeds.
      In Kansas it was flatter. The western part of the state was
      graze land, brown from the scorching sun. There was almost no
      breeze. The windmills were all stationary and all the farm ponds
      were receding from their banks. The summer of 1972 was hot.
      Finally, the van broke down 50 miles outside Clutter. After
      he lifted the hood, black smoke poured from the air-cooled engine
      block. Repairing it would have been futile. The #2 piston had blow
      straight up through the cylinder head. At that moment, there seemed
      to be no other alternative than to abandon the van where it was
      parked. He grimaced and kicked the tire, cursing. It was
      discouraging, if not a little frightening, to be stranded on a remote
      country highway in central Kansas.
      There was a small path of shade underneath a highway sign
      riddled with bullet holes; the sign stood a fair distance from where
      the van smoldered in the late afternoon sun. Ed sat in the shade
      along with some of his belongings that included a journal, a pair of
      cloths, a canteen, a sketch pad, all of which he stuffed inside a
      military duffel bag labeled United States Marine Corp, Third Infantry
      Division. The wind came from the south, blowing the smoke away from
      him as he settled down in the shade and crossed his legs. Behind him
      was pair of railroad tracks. Skirting the tracks were tall, wavering
      prairie grasses whose sun yellowed stalked tapped and rustled in the
      breeze along with blossoming thistle weed plants and a sunflower
      whose gigantic seed pod attracted a meadowlark. Beyond the highway
      the wild grasses were shorter, more resilient fescues indigenous to
      the area. The summer heat had browned the open range into a subtle
      maroon shade, and amid the cold stood an isolated windmill. The
      miles of wild graze land expanded towards the horizon where the earth
      seemed to dissolved into the sky's great blaze of intense blueness;
      and throughout the pasture there were miniscule white flowers. These
      flowers were too small to see unless one pealed away the blades of
      grass and studied the opulent sub-layer of growth; such beauty living
      below the grass on the most limited supply of water, for the earth
      was dry and cracked this time of year. So simple and beautiful were
      the flowers Ed sketched one in his journal under the heading August
      1, 1972, Broke Down in Culvert County. His sketch showed a clump of
      flowers that were almost spore-like; as he drew them, with the
      journal spread across his lap, his ears half-listened to the
      meadowlark's trilling voice. Eventually, he knew, a car would show
      up and give him a ride. The thought cheered him, and after finishing
      the sketch he took a long draught of water. The road was empty in
      both directions, except for a few anonymous weeds growing in-between
      the cracks in the asphalt. The blades were scorched, bleached white
      from the sun. He wiped the sweat from his brow, although miserable
      from the heat, thankful for the plentiful amount of water in the
      canteen. He looked back at the van; it was still smoldering. Then,
      his strong, sinewy arms flexed as he lifted the duffle bag off the
      pavement, and rose to his feet. He was down to 140 pounds. At 5'9",
      he was thin. His tank top and cut off short hung loosely over his
      thin, wirey frame; his thick neck, red from the sun, rose above his
      bony chest plate. The bland, mid-western tranquility of his
      expression seldom broke its look of meditative calmness, but when it
      did it was as if a mask lifted. His face assumed a wild, bewildered
      look when he saw a train coming his way.
      The timing was perfect. Not a car had passed in the last
      forty-five minutes. The road's empty, east-west trajectory conveyed
      the strong likelihood that rides would not be forthcoming. The
      thought of having to sleep in the van, exposed to the heat and the
      elements, inspired him to contemplate jumping the train. At first it
      was no louder than the rustling sound of the waving grasses, but then
      the locomotive drew closer. The daunting metal grill grew in size
      the closer it came to highway where the road the railroad tracks ran
      parallel with each other for about a mile. The seemingly endless
      string of cars carried a diverse spectrum of commodities; open-topped
      cars overflowing with ripe, golden-red, summer wheat; cars mounted
      high with tons of black coal; cars transporting automobiles; filthy
      black cylindrical cars sloshing inside with raw crude oil; military
      equipment from the installation in Fort Riley; but it was the
      abundance of green, Union Pacific box cars that finalized the
      decision. The Union Pacific Railroad Company owned one primary track
      in the area around Oakley, Ks --and it ended in Kansas City's
      Intermodal Hub.
      MacIntosh crouched low in the prairie grasses as a
      precautionary measure. Hiding in the thicket limited the chance of
      being detected while the train lengthened out; preceded by the
      locomotive whose narrow window overlooked the open tracks. The engine
      increased in loudness. The sound went from a muted hum to the earth-
      shaking throb of the diesel engine. The train was traveling faster
      than he initially thought, maybe ten to fifteen miles per hour. That
      meant that he would have to run at least that fast in order to have
      enough momentum behind him to jump into an empty box car. The road
      and the tracks ran along side each other for another 100 yards before
      they branched off in separate directions. The highway curved towards
      the north, whereas the train continued in a straight line; black
      exhaust shooting straight up from the locomotive as it pulled forward
      underneath the highway through a short tunnel. Seconds later, the
      locomotive emerged on the other side, followed by a consecutive
      string of coal cars which entered and exited the tunnel one after
      another.
      A vehicle appeared in the heat waves rolling off the black
      top. It was a black, 55' Chevy pick-up truck traveling far faster
      than the train whose cars continued their regular, predictable pace
      down the straight away and through the bridge. The truck seemed to
      be doing close to 100 mph. The clear, gaseous heat waves appeared to
      blur the truck as if it was a mental vapor.
      Ed stood upright in the prairie grasses that waved around his
      hips. His mind was structured in such a way that his consciousness
      became keenly receptive to an aura of violence frightening the
      skittish meadowlarks. The truck came to a stop, but Ed did not ask
      for a ride. Instead, he backpedaled two step towards the train
      rushing behind him, for there was no driver behind the wheel of the
      truck. Quickly, Ed pealed through the weeds. At the top of the
      embankment the tracks were skirted in gravel. He moved alongside the
      train, but at a lesser speed that allowed three oil cars to surpass
      the strides he made over the loose gravel. Behind the oil cars was a
      Union Pacific box car. Ed gave it a rapid sideways glance over his
      shoulder, noticing that the box car was about twenty feet behind him
      and that its sliding door was fully open. He shorted his strides
      just enough so that while running sideway the oncoming box car surged
      forward from behind. At the precise moment, he heaved the duffel
      bag. However, it landed on the ledge; the leather strap dangled over
      the side near where the heavy-coiled springs flexed in-between the
      lumbering cog wheels. By throwing the bag he lost a step. The car
      surged forward. He tried to catch up but the gravel swallowed his
      strides; and his wild, bewildered face, behind its frazzled mass of
      brown hair, assumed an enraged expression. His most precious items
      were inside the duffel bag.
      A hand extended towards him as he ran. It was hairy and
      powerful-looking. Briefly, Ed looked up at the hand then at the
      person who offered it. A short, stocky, bearded man bellowed at the
      top of his lungs. `Come on you fucker,' said the man who stood
      inside the box car, whose large, calloused hand extended towards Ed's
      outstretched finger tips. `A tunnel's comin!' the man bawled; and if
      fact, the oil cars up head already entered the shadow covering the
      tunnel's entrance.
      Ed ran even with the car, then in one surge of strength
      stretched forth his arm. The stranger pulled him aboard with perfect
      ease. The box entered the tunnel. And for a moment, the noise was
      deafening. The next moment Ed found himself lying on his back,
      looking up at the wooden ceiling overhead, feeling the box car throb
      underneath his back, at the same time hearing the stranger laughing
      hysterically. Ed was shivering with fear and relief, while the
      stranger yelled: `YeeeeHeee, by Jobe, damn nere made hamburger out of
      ye!'
      Sunlight blasted into the box after it surpassed the tunnel,
      and the hot wind coming off the prairie swirled around them. Ed was
      still on his back.
      `Should've let ya go,' said the black bearded stranger.
      Ed struggled to catch his breath. `Huh?' he asked.
      `Should've let you go, I said. Last time I let go the guy
      looked like hamburger. After he came out of the wheels, his arms
      were going this away, his legs that away. I would've liked to have
      seen that again. That was special.'
      Under the circumstance, the perversity of the remark was
      inconsequential. Ed was grateful for the assistance. He said:
      `I'm glad you didn't let go! I don't think I could have done
      it alone.'
      `You couldn't have. You're too slow and you weren`t reaching
      for a hand rail, dodo bird. Don't you know nothing?
      `I guess not.'
      `You're right you don't. Without me you'd be hamburger right
      now. You`d be laying on the tracks like blob of ground beef. I
      could shape your ass into a nice big ol' pattie and fry me up some
      ass sandwich.'
      `Nice visual there.'
      The stranger laughed diabolically, his eyes enflamed and his
      upper row of teeth yellowed and decayed looking.
      `You owe me one, buster,' said the stranger.
      `Right. I owe you.'
      Ed said this in a small, meek voice, still too grateful to be
      offended by the gruesome rudeness. Besides, he thought, the rudeness
      didn't seem intentional. In the shadowed, engine-facing end of the
      box there was a wrinkled grocery bag and a plastic milk container
      filled with water. That's where the hobo crouched on the balls of
      his feet, near his belongings which included a woolen blanket and
      filthy pillow covered in stains. Ed tugged his own duffel bag across
      the floor, away from the threshold and into the opposite tail of the
      box. He like it that the box was all wood. Otherwise, the walls
      would have been untouchable.
      `The breeze sure does feel good in here,' Ed remarked.
      `Huh?'
      `I said the breeze feels good.'
      `Man, speak up when you talk to me. I'm not no faggot.'
      It was then that Ed begun to feel decidedly un-comfortable.
      `I said the breeze feels good,' Ed repeated a step higher.
      `Ah yeah, shoot,' the stranger responded, this time in a
      friendly tone. `You oughta wait till we really get rolling. It's
      like a whirlwind.'
      `I bet.'
      The awkward silence that followed would have seemed
      uncomfortable had it not been for the pleasant, rhythmic sound of the
      train rolling across the picturesque countryside. Through the open
      door, near which Ed settled down with his pouch of tobacco, a free,
      unrestricted breeze blew against his face. The hobo sat oddly
      silent, watching Ed hand roll cigarettes.
      `You smoke?' Ed asked.
      The man nodded. Ed leaned against the door frame; one leg
      dangled outside the car, his other legs straight and flat against the
      dusty, wooden floor. Not for a second would he turn his back on the
      hobo.
      `I don't suppose you've ever jumped a train before,' said the
      hobo scratching his beard. `At least, it don't seem like you has.'
      `It was going faster than it looked.'
      `A train always looks like it going slow than it is.
      Beginners luck.'
      Ed tossed him a cigarette after lighting his own. Then, he
      shook out the match; making an effort to avoid eye contact. The last
      thing he wanted to do was become defensive. That would only lead to
      confrontation. After folding both his legs inside the car he eased
      back against the door frame and watched the passing scenery. If he
      were alone he would have curled up into a ball and taken a nap in the
      breeze. However, sleeping was simply too dangerous.
      `You wouldn't happen to know where this train is heading,
      would you?'
      `KC.'
      `Thought so. Have you been there?'
      `Sure I have. Lots of times. Biggest terminal next to
      Chicago and Saint Louis. There's places to sleep and eat. Lots of
      good people, as far as people go. Myself, I prefer aloneness. That
      way you know people won't steal your stuff.' His crows next beard
      made his face seem completely expressionless; his eyes distant and
      remote. Filth was stuck in his beard. His black, shoulder length
      hair was amassed over his pair of broad, simian shoulders. It was
      not his height but his width that was concerning. He had a stocky
      build. His look of brute strength was added by the fact that he was
      wearing black jeans and a tight fitting black T-shirt that
      accentuated his arm muscles. Ed removed his pocket knife and cored
      an apple.
      `Apple?' Ed asked him.
      `Don't mind if I do, sir. Considering I saved your life I
      suppose you owe it to me.'
      Now they both sat in the open doorway, eating their apples,
      looking off into the fence-bordered pastureland.
      `You a Vet?' asked the man
      `Yep." Ed had no desire to speak. He wanted off, and now.
      `Thought so. Your canteen is camouflage and your sack says
      Marines. I bet you think you're a bad ass. When did you get back?'
      `Years ago. I don't like talking about it much.'
      `The killing bothered ya?' the hobo asked.
      `Yeah.'
      `Me, I don't mind it.'
      `Mind what?'
      `Mind killing. It don't bother me none.' The stranger wiped
      the apple juices from his beard. `My pops, may his soul rest in
      hell, ran a farm. We did lots of killing back then, lots,' he added
      with a proud, lazy chuckle. `Killing just don't bother me.'
      `Well, you killed for survival. That's different.'
      `I suppose so. But I enjoyed it, too, I admit. The squeals
      were pretty funny.'
      Ed tossed the apple core into the air rushing outside the
      train. He wanted to jump right now. The comment gave him a creepy
      sensation. But the train was moving faster than it was thirty
      minutes ago. Gauged by how quickly the train caught up to a truck
      going down a gravel road, they were doing at least fifty-five miles
      per hour. Above which, the ground was too unforgiving to cushion the
      fall, baked as hard as stone.
      `So your father ran a farm, did he?' Ed murmured softly.
      `It was a crap of a farm. Don't get me wrong. All my pops
      did, may his soul rest in hell, was raise chickens and pigs. And he
      did a poor job at that.'
      Ed grinned without facing him, but was instead facing a brown
      dust-devil whirling up from the tilled, summer wheat crop.
      `I take it, you don't care much for your father. Has he
      passed away?'
      `What do you care?'
      `I don't, to tell you the truth. It's not every day you hear
      somebody speak so cruelly about his father.'
      `My father was a bad man. He deserves it. Do you know, he
      sat down one night and broke every finger in my mother's hand, one by
      one?'
      `He did that?'
      `Sure as hell he did, right in front of me. They did a lot
      of things in front of me. Sixteen years of this shit starts working
      on a kid's mind, you know. Screw John Hinkelman!'
      `Wanna nother cigarette?'
      `Sure thing.'
      Ed asked, as he lit the cigarette: "Where you headed?
      `Anywhere and nowhere, man. Anywhere and nowhere.' The man
      leaned back on one hand, and with the other hand he pinched the
      cigarette wedged between his lips. As he inhaled, and squinted, the
      goblinish wrinkles around his eyes tightened. He was looking
      straight at Ed, saying:
      `So how was it like in Nam?'
      `It was awful. What do you think? It was awful but
      necessary.'
      `How did you feel, though, being out there in the jungle?'
      `Do you have a fascination with war or something?
      `I suppose I do. Did it give you pleasure plugging them
      gooks?'
      Ed gave him a sharp, disdainful look. `What kind of sick
      bastard would find pleasure in that?'
      The blackbeard broke out into harsh, bitter laughter. `Sick
      bastard like me, that's who! I'm a sick bastard, a monster, like my
      father was. I would have tore up those gooks, and laughed all the
      while, too. Fuck em!' His violent diatribe ascended into an
      emotional fit of rage. He made machine gun noises: tsh, tsh, tsh,
      tsh, tsh, tsh, tsh. Yeah! How do you like that gook? tsh, tsh,
      tsh, tsh, tsh, tsh, tsh, tsh, tsh, tsh, tsh, tsh. Spit shot from
      his mouth as he made these noises; as he shot imaginary `gooks' with
      his imaginary rifle, spraying imaginary bullets. `There's one, boom.
      tsh. tsh. tsh,' the blackbeard said. 'There, boom!' and then he shot
      Ed in the head and laughed. 'Boom! shot cha. Boom Ed! Shot cha
      again! Boom Ed. tsh. tsh. tsh. You freaking ungrateful, free
      loading mother fucker! I oughta kill you, you faggot!'
      The next bridge spanned the Saline River; it was short bridge
      and the little box car blew across it before Ed knew it was there.
      His thoughts partially blinded him to everything except for the
      rising surge of hatred and repugnance. The blackbeard must have
      sensed the accumulating tension working itself into Ed's clenched
      fist, for he immediately stopped the idiotic machine gun noises.
      `You pissed now?' asked the blackbearded hobo.
      Ed didn't answer.
      `If you are, I'm sorry. I was just foolin, you know.'
      `How much longer until KC?'
      `Oh, I don't know. Four more hours, I suppose. Sorry for
      mentioning Nam, man. I can see, now, that you're the sensitive
      type. Okay. Except my apology?'
      Ed didn't respond this time, or even shrug. He felt, if he
      did respond, it would place him in the un-advantageous position of
      being a victim, a coward, in the hobo's eyes. Instead of saying
      anything, however, what Ed did do was rise to his feet, produce his
      pocket knife from his pocket, and begin sharpening a #4 pencil which
      he pulled from his pea-green duffel bag. One by one, the wooden
      pealings floated away in the swiftening air currents. For the first
      time, the trend of events became exceptionally clear in his mind. He
      had expended a good deal of energy in an attempt to establish a more
      of less friendly repoir with this man, and now he realized that this
      was impossible. The hobo was sociopathic.
      `You look pretty darn dangerous with that knife there,' said
      the man. `If I didn't know better, I'd say you wanted to cut me like
      you're cutting that pencil. Whatcha doing?'
      `I'm getting ready to make a sketch. I'm an artist. I'm
      going to kill time, sketching.
      The hobo nodded as if perplexed. The idea of sketching
      seemed foreign. `Well then, I won't bother you no longer. I'll go
      over to my corner, catch a little shut eye. Can I see the sketch
      when you're done with it?'
      `If you want.'
      MacIntosh was careful choosing his words. He knew, if he
      didn't limit his speech, one too many words could spark another un-
      wanted conversation. Words were doorways into the mind, and the
      hobo was far more clever than he seemed at entering those doorway.
      He was quiet now and the two, more of less sustained a psychic
      equilibrium based upon not talking to each other. They kept to
      themselves; besides for a few curt words they exchanged over sleeping
      arrangement. Already the blackheard looked tired. It was dusk and
      he spread the blanket over the floor, laid his head on his pillow,
      then closed his hideous eyes. The sun was not far from the western
      horizon, and its slanting, early-evening light fell upon the dusty
      grasses wavering in the train's turbulent wake. They passed the
      towns Grainville, Quinter, Wakeeney then onto Ellis, Hays and Russel,
      Kansas ---but the space between the towns was largely defined by the
      vast, monotonous stretches of flat, parched grazeland. Looking out
      over the Kansas landscape, Ed spread a wire-bound tablet across his
      lap. His hands were no longer trembling from rage. Now that the
      blackbeard was quiet Ed could think in clearn, concise lines. The
      air seemed breathable again. Through the farming community,
      Dorrance, Kansas, the train rumbled past a number of impoverished
      farm houses. Ed watched them come and go one after another: a
      dilapidated shanty with a shaggy front lawn and free range chickens;
      another house with a tire swing hung from an oak tree; the next with
      cloths drying on a cloths line; and through an apple orchard,
      drenched in the organge light of dusk, ran barefoot children clothed
      in overalls. For the first time a smile creased Ed's lips. On more
      than one occasion he saw whole families assembled on the front
      porches, most definitely because it was cooler outside in the breeze
      than indoors. It was a more lively detour, at any rate, which the
      train followed through Dorrance, at times receiving a friendly wave
      from the locals.
      The passage of Dorrance meant the train was in central Kansas
      and was easing over into that ecological boundary dividing the short
      grass prairie from the thicker, lusher tall grass prairie. Crops and
      not pastures dominated the landscape; fields of wheat, usually with a
      combine deep in the middle. The fields were ripe and golden in
      color, a vibrant golden-red gleaming brightly in the diffuse light of
      sunset. Ed, with his #4 pencil, sketched the dimming landscape from
      the perspective of moving box car. His legs were crossed. The wire-
      bound sketch pad was spread across his lap a few feet behind the
      rapid wall of wind rushing past the opening. The sketch, in effect,
      became a collage filled with timeless images hovering about his
      consciousness over the elongated distance between Dorrance and he
      next town of Salina.
      The sun dipped beneath the western horizon, and for a half an
      hour or so the train rolled along in the dimming twilight. The
      moon's huge orb followed from above the telephone wires strung
      alongside the railroad tracks --the wires sinking low until the next
      wooden post lifted them up with a jerk. At sundown, the stocky, thick
      legged stranger woke from his slumber. His deep set eyes were watery
      from sleep. He lay on his back for a while, the worted face looking
      straight up at the ceiling and his yawn revealing two rows of yellow,
      tobacco-stained teeth.
      `Where are we?' he asked through the yawn.
      `Somewhere outside Abilene.'
      `Abilene?'
      `We should be in Kansas City in a little over two hours.'
      `Crap. I thought we'd be there by now. Two hours?'
      `More or less.'
      `Feels like I've been on this god-damned train for ever.'
      The blackbeard grunted as he removed a bottle from his brown,
      wrinkled grocery bag; a full fifth of Jack Daniels. He said, as he
      twisted the cap: `Wanna cup?'
      `I'll pass.'
      `Suit yourself, all the more for me,' he said; coughing and
      hacking, he spat a luggy on the splintery planks making up the floor,
      then leaned his back against the wall and got quietly drunk off the
      charcoal mellow whiskey. Between Junction City and Lawrence he
      fidgeted constantly. He was never still. The fact that they were
      drawing near to their final destination only seemed to strengthen
      that satanic element in his temperament unable to resign itself to
      the rhythm of the train. When he wasn't brooding in his dark corner
      he was pacing back and forth through the box or drinking straight
      from the bottle or chain smoking. `Myself, they wouldn't take me,'
      he was said in his rant about the Marines and how they rejected him
      when he tried to enlist. `They said it was my knee... It was
      injured, you see.... and maybe it was,' he stopped. `But it isn't
      shot to hell, like they said it was! It's a good enough knee, god
      damn it! To hell with the Marines. To hell with you too. To hell
      with the whole US of A. They say killing is wrong but they're the
      mass murderers. Hypocrites!' His form stood in contrast to the
      moon's silver orb, which flung across the sky above the trees rising
      alongside the Kansas River. The moonlight lathered the earth in a
      silver glow, providing the minimum light needed to see tree-lined
      river valley. High above the river the stars filled the sky in such
      vast numbers that the constellations looked like a blazing scroll of
      hieroglyphic symbols. Among them was the eclipsing binary star,
      Algol --the Eye of the Demon-- glinting maliciously in the
      constellation Perseus. The hobo stepped away from the door, then
      went over to his corner and begun packing his belongings. The
      immense fire thoughts pouring into his consciousness from the demon
      star Algol increased his disgruntled mood and brought out all the
      distorted wrinkles around his eyes; thinner, finer wrinkles checked
      his forehead. He rolled-up his blanket and stuffed it into his bag
      along with his pillow, his plastic water jug and a pornographic
      bikers magazine. His head was beset with large clownish ears, a
      thick set of eyebrows and a wide, high-bridged nose which was
      flattened at the tip, as if broken. His etheric body --those
      infinitesimal lines of energy connected to each nerve channel-- did
      not flow harmonically. His energy was especially `blocked' in the
      cords going up his neck, and in the muscle fiber in his upper back
      and his arms, giving him the stiff gate of a muscle bound gorilla.
      MacIntosh sat and sketched like a child whose soul is a
      silent, inner star shining in the center of the universe. He had not
      spoken a word in two hours. Every now and then he glanced at the hobo
      then recorded his impression on the sketch pad. There was a
      helplessness to the hobo that aroused Ed's pity. The hobo's cheeks,
      as he imagined them to be underneath the beard, did not correspond to
      the rugged look of the broken nose; nor did the sad, self-pitying
      eyes correspond to the clownish ears; indeed, they seemed
      contradictory. The soft receding chin hated the oversized forehead,
      the fuzzy brow hated the flaring temples; the feminine eyelashes
      hated the protruding wort. His parents hated each other. The sketch
      amplified this hatred into a hideous caricature that was barely human
      and animalistic in appearance. That was how the man appeared when
      perceived from the etheric plane.
      They were close to the Hub, and slowing considerably.
      Another train curled around a bend and ran alongside their open box
      car. He heard nothing but the their cumulative roar. Then, further
      down the tracks, another train eased up alongside them and the three
      trains formed a convoy bearding down on the Hub.
      `Freaky shit,' the blackbeard said when he snatched the
      sketch pad. `You drew this?'
      `Yes.'
      `Is that monster me?'
      Ed stood up just as a loud ringing sound became audible
      outside the train. The ringing sound increased in volume as they
      stood there. A train-crossing flashed by the opening. Then, there
      was the silence of the gently-rocking car.
      `This is bullshit!' the blackbeard said; and his agitated
      face, within his disorganized mass of hair, wrinkled into the words
      he spoke. `I help you into the train, save you from the wheels, and
      you make a monster picture out of me! You think I'm a monster?'
      `You said you were a monster, yourself, if you remember
      correctly. I merely put your self image on paper. That's my job.
      I'm an artist.'
      The man looked up from the sketch, and in one black eye,
      which caught a glint of moonlight, Ed thought he saw a flash of
      redness erupt from the pupil. From the very beginning the blackbeard
      had verbally assaulted him with comments designed to whittle away at
      his self esteem. But Ed did not give in. He addressed Ahriman
      through the hobo's eyes: I will not be your victim! You will not
      dominate me! I stand firm in the Christ light.
      The impact of Ed's thoughts drove the blackbeard into
      submission, at least temporarily. Under his breath he mumbled.
      Then, with the sketch pad in hand, he grabbed his nap sack and rested
      it over his shoulder. The convoy of trains had entered the Kansas
      City Intermodal Hub. Unexpectedly, the blackbeard jumped overboard
      as the trains pushed onwards into the hub. Ed stuck his head outside
      the train. He saw, in the distance, a motion. It was the hobo
      rising to his feet, thrusting the sketchpad over his head, and
      yelling some profanity in his direction. A hobo was now in
      possession of the Pentakotic Gateway.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.