Book II: Chapter 15
“I am the Mercury of the Wise.” I intoned.
“The Water that does not wet the hands.” Miriam chanted back again, continuing to do what I instructed her as part of our rite to save Alan.
The Nigredo had been going for nearly eighteen hours….
Yet still Alan lolled helplessly in his chair, with his eyes glazed over and his body dead to the world.
When I told Miriam that things would get ugly, I wasn’t lying – for Alan went through hell during our ritual.
First there were the convulsions – wrenching physical spasms that forced his body into inhuman contortions.
Then there were the Voices – terrible ravings about unspeakable atrocities – all spilling out of Alan’s mouth, even as his face took on horrible visages to match his words.
(Miriam had to cover her eyes more than once during this stage of the putrefaction and as I stole a glance at her during one of Alan’s more gruesome Voices, I wondered – was she recalling <whispers> of her own demonic possession from a time long past?)
I had no time to ponder further about her, because suddenly Alan tried to break loose from his ties! Were it not for the heavy straps that I’d used to bind him to his chair, he might well have succeeded in harming himself or one of us. As it was, I had just enough time to douse him with a foaming liquid from one of the flagons I had on hand – and although the container was marked with a skull and crossbones, by the time Miriam saw that infamous warning mark, it was too late – for I had already used the potion.
The result: Alan was immediately immobilized.
Although I had saved us from his ravings, as the hours passed, Miriam and I realized that there was something worse than the voices or the physical abuse — The Silence.
For nearly twelve hours, Alan did nothing.
He said nothing.
His once beautiful face now the unrecognizable mask of a man tortured from the inside out.
If I had not constantly been checking his breathing, I would have been certain he was dead.
But such was not the case.
And then, suddenly there was an instant in which Alan’s eyes were not glazed — as if his soul had reached to us across the depths.
But the moment quickly passed and once more Alan was gone.
Confused, Miriam broke the silence, “Did he…? Was that…?”
“You saw correctly.” I advised calmly. “Lazarus is coming back from the dead… again.” I chuckled, enjoying both my pun as well as the scientific curiosity of this whole experience.
I then forced an effervescent liquid down Alan’s throat and followed this up by dousing him with a special powder.
And finally it happened…
Wonder overtook Miriam as we watched Alan transform.
First the bruises and awful marks disappeared from his body.
Then Alan’s frame cast off its slouch, even as his face released the bonds of their internal struggle.
And finally, Alan’s eyes cleared of their haze once and for all.
Tears welled up in Miriam’s eyes, “Oh, John… I mean, Azoth… you did it!” But under her breath, I heard her say, “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever.” Finally she reached down to Alan, “I knew you wo—“
<GAAAASSSSP!> Alan convulsed again and began gulping for air.
Miriam shrank back. “What’s happening?”
“Stand back, you fool. The rite was not over yet!” And ripping Alan from his bonds, I heaved him upon my back and raced towards the door. “Come on, we have to submerge him in the tub, otherwise, he’ll suffocate!”