Nothing in his life felt real. He sat on the bed with an open laptop and an I-phone. The posters of super-heroes peered down from the walls of his room. He was smoking a joint and beating off to porn playing on the laptop. Danny was a teenager–but it didn’t fit. He knew he was a forty-year-old man. His life was in the Cloud, now; and he didn’t know how to get it back.
Sharp pain tore through him as he was wrestled to the ground by Samantha. She held him there like a prisoner and whispered in his ear, “You’re mine, now. Gotcha.” She snickered, tied his hands behind his back, and proceeded to berate him. She knew he enjoyed it.
The game turned ugly when the other kids went home and mom forced him to take a bath. He cried. He was too old for that. Mom put Danny over her knee and spanked her little boy; then she made him strip for his warm bubble bath. The bath was nice, but mom was always in charge. She told him he was dirty and she had to wash every nook and cranny. He cried.
Everything was wireless, now. Electricity singed the air like acetylene fire. Daniel remembered the Charnel House where he met Mr. Hamm. It wasn’t that long ago, but it felt like a thousand years in the past. The place was run down. Decrepitude was rooted in the eyes of the denizens who drank and gambled in that dark catacomb. Daniel told Mr. Hamm that he wanted his life back–but that was wrong. What he really wanted was a “real” life; something that made him feel alive. The cadaver smiled as he poured dead-spirits into their glasses. He was ready to make a deal, but the price was always inhumanely painful. “It’s different this time,” Hamm’s voice sounded like bones grinding together.
“How is it different,” I asked.
“There is no price to pay–just do me a favor.”
I had never seen Mr. Hamm look so conciliatory. It frightened me.
Daniel Ot stared at the new equipment in Jupiter Fogg’s lab. He knew something was cooking. Ot was confused. He remembered making a deal. He remembered Mr. Hamm. Clearly he was not in his right mind. Fogg constantly berated Daniel–telling him his mind was in the clouds. It was a clear memory even though it wasn’t his own. The new mirror devices in the laboratory were relics invented by Carmine Stolmock, the revered alchemist. Fogg had privileged access to Carmine’s inventions. The mirrors were electrified. Flashes of black light shot across the reflective surfaces. Looking into one of the devices was like peering into a person’s brain. Mental images were displayed, sliced and diced–and converted into mathematical models of the universe.
Jupiter Fogg was singing to the blaring music of “Crimson Death.” His voice was piercing–a storm of rage and hubris. Fogg was dressed in a red hooded-robe. He carried a crosier. He danced as he moved from one arcane apparatus to another–adjusting dials and moving levers. Daniel Ot was naked and bound with leather straps to a gurney in the middle of the laboratory surrounded by equipment. Jupiter Fogg was performing an experiment. Daniel Ot (the sorcerer’s apprentice) would be pried open like a walnut. A sacrifice was necessary to release the power of the Philosopher’s Stone.
The Golgol Monks hadn’t moved for eons, but time was not relevant to the monks. They were “perfected”–outside time and space. The monks were preoccupied with code: calculating, defining, replicating, and mentally affixing code to all things in existence. There was a code for the Earth, a code for Red City, and a code for Daniel Ot. (to be continued)