The Substitute (20)

Book II: Chapter 20
July 11

<Grgggl… Grrrrrr> I watched as Mystery continued to struggle against Dr. Ma’bus, the girl begging him for her life.

“What’s that?” Ma’bus joked, pretending to lean in to listen to his victim, even as he tightened his grip on Mystery’s neck. “Can’t hear you, honey. Cat got your tongue? Ah, that’s too bad.”

Just then the door to The Beast’s chambers opened and his servant Jamir entered – carrying a silver platter, upon which sat a scorched black caisse (I’m sure you know what’s inside).

Turning around at the intrusion, the evil dictator nodded, “Ah, thank you, Jamir…my loyal servant. Wish I could say the same for everybody here.”

His eyes glazed over as if under a spell, Jamir merely bowed his head and remained standing for further instructions.

“Please, set down the tray, Jamir,” Ma’bus detailed, “then bring the box over to me.”

The man did as he was told without hesitation, and Ma’bus smiled down at Mystery, before reaching over and carefully undoing the lock that held the box’s lid in place. After this he gingerly opened the ebony container and positioned Jamir’s hands so that Mystery would be afforded a view inside.

Now I know, to the uninitiated, a cursory glance at the contents of the box Jamir held wouldn’t have warranted a second look – for the lone item inside was merely an inch thick, eight-inch long piece of hammered iron.

From a modern-perspective, YOU would probably look on it as nothing more than an ordinary railroad tie and wonder why such a meaningless object would be afforded such a glamour treatment. But believe me when I tell that you it was impossible to separate the visual sight from the <aura> that emanated from the Nail itself.

For <DEATH> radiated from the Nail in the box.

<Abandonment>

<Forsakenness>

<Hopelessness>

These feelings and more pulsed forth from the Nail. (Even in my location, I could feel It’s calling!) Anyone confronted by the sight would have quickly sought to escape the Nail’s presence and were it not for Jamir’s subjection to Ma’bus spell, the dictator’s servant would have been unable to even hold the chest.

Yet, it was Mystery who took the brunt of the Nail’s force.

“Krrrrr—yrrrr—RAAAAW!” She screamed — yet it was all she could do to just to raise her voice, as Ma’bus still held her muscles in check – something that clearly amused him.

“Well now. Let’s see.” The self-proclaimed Antichrist said. “Certainly I didn’t bring Lazarus’ Nail in just so you could look at it, Mystery. Oh no. I want you to FEEL the full force of that power. Shall we?”

Again, Mystery’s eyes went wide in fright. She tried to scream in protest once more – to no avail.

“Well, without further ado.” Ma’bus smiled. “What say we get this little experiment started? Who’s with me?”

(Something tells me this is not going to end well).

Trapped in place, Mystery was forced to stare at what appeared to be the instrument of her demise. Her eyes bulged as blood vessels began bursting from the pressure of her fear.

Luckily for Mystery, her master’s next words were not what she expected — as Ma’bus advised. “Jamir, old boy, how’s about YOU reach in and touch The Nail for us?”

(Don’t do it, Jamir!!)

With a lack of hesitation made possible only because he was already <dead> to the world, Jamir set down the case on a table next to Mystery’s chair, and then reached his hand into the box.

(You’re making a BIG mistake!)

Mystery (and I) watched in horror as Jamir’s fingers neared the Nail…

“YAWWPP!” The man reeled back in agony before collapsing in a heap.

Ma’bus had initially backed away at his servant’s scream, yet now he rushed over to inspect Jamir, “Ah yes, just like all the others.” Then turning back to Mystery, “Notice how he is bleeding from those ghastly holes in his hands and above his ankles. He has the infamous Stigmata of the Nazarene. So far, it’s been consistent with all who have touched the Nail.”

For her part Mystery was unable to reply — for terror was still written all over her face.

Next, Ma’bus tore open Jamir’s robe – to reveal a horrible gash in the man’s side. “And this wound is reminiscent of where Jesus was pierced by the roman centurion Longinus. Oh the theatrics of it all, neh?”

Spear of Longinus

“What about…” Mystery managed to mutter.

“The marks of the Crown of Thorns?” Ma’bus interrupted, as he reached down and hefted up Jamir’s head to bring it closer to Mystery for inspection. “Look here. Do you see them? Notice how his hair is matted with blood – it’s pulsing this picket-fence of tiny pin pricks around his scalp.”

“My God.” Mystery had her voice back. “The <power> IS real.”

“Verily.” Ma’bus smiled, letting Jamir’s body drop to the ground. And using Jamir’s hand to place the Nail back into its case, he then turned to Mystery. “And so, that brings me back to you, my dear…”

(Excellent – I hope Ma’bus gives that slut the justice she deserves!)

Her face pale, Mystery looked at Jamir lying in an ever-growing pool of blood, “Ghaz, please, no!” She begged, as Ma’bus threatened her with the Nail. “You need me. Why are you doing thi–?”

Ma’bus grabbed her by the throat, “Don’t tell me what I need! If you have a part to play, what that entails and how long you continue in your role is up to ME! Not Benedict, not John, and certainly not you!”

“What have I done to anger you? Why are you turning against me?”

“That’s like asking the wind why it blows. Seek not to understand me, dear. Instead seek only that I might understand you.”

“What… are you g-g-going to do to me?”

Again, Ma’bus brought Lazarus’ Nail’s case close to the woman’s face.

Mystery tried to turn away, “Please, Ghaz’, please! I’ll do anything!”

Ma’bus snapped the case closed, “You’re too easy, girl. Don’t you think I already know you’ll do anything? Yet, that’s what concerns me — for others could too easily, ah, encourage you to do anything for them too.”

“That’s not true. You know I serve you only. Only YOU, Ghaz’!”

“Is that so? Well, time will tell if you speak the truth. Be that as it may, for now, we need to move forward. Elijah and Enoch are about to give a new message. I need you to go to Rome and ensure that Benedict issues a response to the world. In addition, you are to contact Marrollo again, he needs to know about Lazarus and Mary – inform him they will soon be on the way to Rome, intent on…”

And so, the dictator continued to deliver new plans to his underling. It was clear to me that both of them knew these tasks were mere test missions to confirm Mystery’s loyalty — and it was obvious she understood the penalty if she failed – another date with Lazarus’ Nail – only the next time her experience would be much more up close and personal.

For her part, Mystery groveled for her life, assuring Ma’bus she would not fail him.

In the end, he accepted her promises and let her go. (Much to my chagrin).


Continue Reading

Cross of Peter
21 – The Cross of Peter
Book II Table of Contents