Book II: Chapter 19
A couple nights later I had my sleep interrupted again – this time with another vision of The Two Witnesses.
<Drip… drip… drip…>
<Drip… drip… drip…>
<Drip… drip… drip…>
I watched as a frustrated Enoch, despite his blindness, arose from the prison floor and tried to ferret out the source of the annoying drip. After a time, he did successfully locate the trickle, but unfortunately the crack in the cell’s ceiling was simply too high for him to do anything about.
<Drip… drip… drip…>
Ice cold rivulets splashed into Enoch’s maw – smelling of raw sewage they were far from refreshing. And so, backing away dejectedly, he slumped back down onto the pile of filthy straw that was his bedding and did the only thing he could – endure.
As for Elijah, he might as well have been a dead log. During this brief respite from their visions, I was certain that sleep, if the prophets’ could grasp it, was a welcome relief. (Even though my own was currently being interrupted!)
Turning my attention back to Enoch, I wondered if he ever remembered that he was once a man of renown – and if so, would that knowledge cause him to curse his present condition? For the fact that he formerly enjoyed the favor of God but was now subject to a fate worse than Job seemed like a pretty raw deal to me. (After all, this was something I could definitely relate to). Or was Enoch foolish enough to believe he was going to be rewarded for this ‘righteous’ suffering?
<Drip… drip… drip…>
“Will this never end?” Enoch muttered, head hanging in misery. “Where is our savior?”
(Well I guess that answers my question).
Suddenly my vision shifted – torn from the prophets’ cell, I was again looking upon Ghaz al’ Ridwan Ma’bus in his private quarters – the dictator was watching a webcam of the prophets and he was not alone.
“Don’t worry, my friend, I’ll save you.” Ma’bus replied to Enoch’s question, even though the prophet never heard him.
“What does he mean?” Mystery said. Climbing off the bed she clasped a wisp of silk around her – it did little to cover her — as she came up behind her lover to look at his computer.“What will never end? The world? His revelations?”
“Who cares? He’s clearly not having a true vision, so it doesn’t matter.”
“How do you know he is not prophesying?” Mystery wrapped her arms seductively around Ma’bus’ shoulders.
“Look at Elijah — he’s out.” Ma’bus casually brushed off Mystery’s advances. “The Two Witnesses never reveal wisdom unless they both speak. So perhaps Enoch’s just complaining about the food?”
Mystery ignored her lover’s rebuff and chuckled along at his last comment before growing serious, “Benedict suspects something about all this, you know.”
“So?” Ma’bus continued to stare at the webcam.
“So, he never got around to asking about the prophets, nor how Alan escaped — but only because I got out of there before he could dig too deep.”
“He knows about all of it by now.”
“How? Did you tell him? Did he—“
Ma’bus raised a hand, “Don’t forget the kind of power we’re dealing with. Joseph Ratzinger is no ordinary man. He is one of the Chosen.”
(A Chosen — Joe? Again, I’m as confused as you are).
And closing his computer screen, Ma’bus turned to look at Mystery, ignoring the temptation of her seductive body, “Benedict already knows that I have the witnesses. And as for Lazarus, surely Benedict knows that Mary came to my lair to rescue him… and that I let Mary succeed.” (Whoa, what’s that?)
“But he wasn’t happy to learn that you kept Alan’s Nail.”
“Of course not. He wants The Nails for himself – and he’ll stop at nothing to get them. I’m sure he’s already planning to influence Mary and John to bring him the other two.” (Hey, don’t bring ME into it!)
“But he won’t succeed.” Mystery smiled. “Alan’s nearly dead because of The Chair of Woe, and John is out of the game permanently.”
“On the contrary. Lazarus will be fine. John will repent. And Benedict will eventually get his hands on all three of The Nails.” (La, la, la, I can’t hear you!)
“What?” Mystery gasped – apparently wondering if she’d chosen the right side.
Ma’bus seemed to know what she was thinking, “Dost thou have so little faith in me?”And before Mystery could stutter a response, he explained, “This is all part of MY plan, dear. After all, I only wanted to toy with Lazarus in The Chair — you know he is needed for something far more important… later. I knew that Mary would come to rescue him once she was informed by Gabriel. So by torturing Lazarus, I forced Mary to take him to the one person on earth who could cure him of the wounds I inflicted.”
“The Apostle John.” Mystery nodded.
(No, this is not happening! Please don’t let me just be a pawn. Don’t let all of my actions be predetermined! Quick, what am I thinking right now? What am I going to do next? See, YOU don’t know, right? And neither do I. So how can they?)
“Correct.” Ma’bus replied. “Mary had to take Lazarus to John. Given his resentment against Jesus, I’m sure John resisted getting involved, but I expect that Mary was quite convincing.”
Mystery smiled knowingly at that comment.
“Oh, not in the way that you are thinking.” Ma’bus explained, pulling Mystery over to lap and ripping away her coverlet. “John’s too old to care about this sort of thing.”(Hey, you’re wrong there). “And I’ve always wondered if he liked women anyway – after all his own gospel says that he is the apostle that Jesus loved. Ha!” (Now that’s a low blow. I’m not gay – not that there’s anything wrong with it — that lifestyle just doesn’t appeal to me). “And Mary doesn’t have your… talents. But the bottom line is that she has learned how to control minds – remember the havoc she caused here – my people are still suffering from her rampage. And I don’t doubt she would use that power on John too.”
(Wrong again — I did not agree to help because I was influe– Wait a second, DID Mary use her Psychic Probe on me?)
“But, even if John cures Alan,” Mystery asked, still sitting in Ma’bus’ lap, “how do you know they will go to Benedict? And why in Hell would they give him their Nails?”
“My dear, let’s not forget WHY these Nails exist in the first place.”
Mystery hesitated, “Er… ah… to destroy… you.”
“Don’t be afraid to say it, love. After all, what you said IS the truth.” And here he pushed Mystery off as he rose up and took on a pompous air, “These are the very nails by which Jesus of Nazareth was gloriously crucified nearly two thousand years ago. The holy spikes that pierced his flesh and sent him to the grave. Why, the beat-up iron still retains his blood! Enemy or not, I understand the power these instruments contain — they will be the glorious tools by which I complete the Armageddon Rite and thus stop the Nazarene’s Second Coming once and for all. Indeed, December 21st will mark the official beginning to my own reign upon this world!”
Although Mystery smiled back, it was clear she was still unsure.
“I sense your uncertainty. Care to see what the Nails can do?”
Mystery took a step back, grasping for her coverlet again, “Here? Now? No. I’m confident in what I already know about them from my father, and in what you’ve told me.”
“Ah, but I don’t think you are.” Ma’bus reached out and grabbed her by the hair! (Damn, this girl’s been taking a beating lately, huh?)
“Ghaz, no!” Mystery shrieked, unable to break his iron grip.
Spinning her around, Ma’bus slammed her into a chair and ripped her silk away again, “Don’t move!” As he spoke, his eyes rolled back – showing nothing but the whites – and his voice became rich with an ancient <power>. “Now you’ll get a taste of what I possess.”
Although Ma’bus’ demonic persona quickly receded, Mystery remained trapped in place, whilst Ma’bus tapped his watch to activate its communication feature, “Oh Jamir, be a good sport and bring me The Nail of Lazarus.”
(Can you say, ‘Yikes!?!’)