There’s a chill in the air.
I’m reluctant to crawl out of my sleeping bag It’s actually cozy in here. Everyone leave me alone…
“Okay, Doc,” says a commanding voice from a head poking into the tent, jarring me awake. “We’re goin’ in for her. Get set up.”
Doc? Set up? Shit. I don’t know if I can wing this one…
A quick peek outside the tent shows me a law enforcement camp out. An armed team is about to go inside a hole in the wall of the mountain looming over us. There’s a train track leading into the hole.
Sitting outside the tent next to mine is a middle aged lady and a person that I can’t readily classify. The lady turns her head to say, “Good morning, Doctor.”
“Hi there,” I respond. Clueless. There’s something familiar about the one sitting beside her, but I’ve never seen her before in any of my Earths.
“No offense,” she says, “but I hope your services aren’t needed.”
Her inflection suggests that this is a situation where I may not have to fake it after all. “I’d like to ask,” I say, “what might I be expecting here?”
“Well, it’s been a week,” the woman tells me. “No telling what he’s done to her. She might be dehydrated. She might have abrasions. It could be anything, who knows? Burns? Broken ribs? Damaged organs? Just be ready for anything is the takeaway here.”
“So…am I the only doctor on site?”
“The only one still alive.”
Men scream. Turning to that train tunnel I see, hear and feel a liquid explosion burst from the hole, knocking down a dozen armored cops. I figure it’s water but the screams continue as the cops writhe on the ground. It’s acid, eating away at uniforms and flesh.
“That’s enough!” cries the lady next to me, leaping from her folding chair. She grabs my collar pulling my face close to hers. “Bones, I need you. Are you with me?”
Bones? I’m Bones? Damn it! I have to go! Even if I’m… not quite credentialed…
“Come on, Neon,” she orders her companion. It’s a man, now I can tell. Standing, he glances at me, then walks solemnly toward the tunnel. The woman follows, expecting me to do the same. Since I’m a doctor – assuming a medical degree – I should probably grab that bag. It looks like a medical kit. So I grab it and follow.
“We’re not going in there, right?” I ask seeking clarification. “I mean, did you see what…?”
“Alligort can’t use that acid blast again for two days,” says the lady. “Stay to my right side, Doctor.”
I do not want to experience being eaten alive by acid. Unlike most, I would have to live with it. But these folks have a problem and are counting on my moral support if nothing else. What good is my life any more unless I can do something in the here and now? I may never again have the opportunity to build a future. Still…
“You don’t have any weapons, how will you…?”
“I am a weapon, Doctor,” she asserts. We turn to go into the tunnel and down the track. “Mount up, Neon.”
Neon leaps into the air just as a horseshoe-shaped UFO with prongs zips into the tunnel from behind us, overhead, allowing him to effortlessly jump and grasp it. As soon as he does, his legs seems magically lifted behind him and he’s floating down the tunnel above us.
The woman is raising her arms, waving her hands in odd patterns and chanting as we go down the track into ever more darkness:
“By the power of Hermes Trismegistus
With the guidance of sulphur and salt
Let mercury’s poisonous touch halt
In the names of Hiram and Hiram of Tyre
Invoke now the essence of Solomon’s fire!
By cube, pyramid, sphere and desire
No force of harm resist us!”
We head around a curve losing sight of the tunnel’s entrance. This disturbs me greatly. I feel intense waves of doom in my marrow. Panic is about to cause me to turn and run back when the gentle voice of the spellbinder quietly tells me, “The kidnap victim is Lupe Munoz, the wife of a top government official and my little sister.”
We continue into darkness illuminated only by the three bulbs on Neon’s flight device.
“How far in are we going?” I ask.
“As far as necessary,” she answers.
“Who is this Alligort? Do you know him?” I implore, trying to keep my head focused.
“I’ve seen it,” she says, cautiously moving forward, whispering. “Half alligator, half gorilla, it’s gross. The long snout with the teeth, on top on those huge scaly shoulders? Repulsive! But we know who’s behind such monstrosities.”
We do? Well, that’s comforting I suppose. Nevertheless I’m feeling uncharacteristically cowardly. “Look, sorry, but I’m going back to the entrance. I’m sorry, but, I’m no good to you down here. I will be right outside, waiting. It’s better this way, because the alligator-gorilla thing in here is just…so…okay, I’ll be out there waiting.”
I won’t be alone. There’s a mob at the entrance cleaning up the remains and waiting for orders. When they see me coming the chatter increases.
I emerge with the latest report then hunker down with the crowd. During the wait I’m able to garner the story of this woman that I followed into darkness. She’s known as Alchemo, and Neon is her grandson.
Neon was unusual at birth. Rumors were rampant. Was he a mutation? Maybe an alien? Or might he even be the son of a demon? His nose was much wider at the top than at the tip, and that garnered comparisons to the trunk of an elephant. The more ignorant of his classmates simply took note of his nappy hair and resorted to racial slurs. But why was he so far from anything “normal?”
In school his very heavy brow and a negligible jaw gained him the nickname “Nean” which was short for Neanderthal.
They say Grandma Mary dropped out of society and spent the decade of her 20’s in a commune in the magnificent canyons of southeastern Oregon.
Besides developing the most trip-predictable psychedelics existent, the cult sustained and advanced the oral connections with elemental transformations, the art of Satuese.
Grandma Mary was their most remarkable student by the time she left to return to civilization.
Was it because of her unusual early lifestyle that her son and grandson both turned out “different?”
The founders of the remote settlement were Toma disciples of a guru named Bija Laa Smata, focusing on the chemical aspects of the ancient sage’s physical teachings. Could it be the very same Bijaksana Lama Satu that I encountered upon my earliest awareness?
Grandma Mary has re-established herself in Nevada where, for years, she has personally stepped in to aid exploited women and children with her rumored unusual abilities.
And her sister wound up marrying a doctor.