Book II: Chapter 21
My revelation concerning The Beast was about to take a very strange turn – for as soon as she was released from Dr. Ma’bus’ assault, I watched as Mystery ran to her room and broke down.
For nearly an hour, she let her emotions pour out – eventually crying herself to sleep.
(It was quite a mess and I wasn’t sure who was being tortured more – her or me?)
Unfortunately, my own agony didn’t end – I had to endure this vision until Mystery at last woke up and blubbered, “I’m doomed if I stay here. But what else can I do? Who would want to save ME?”
After a time she pondered, “Can I come clean with Benedict? If I plead for his protection, will he spare me when The Moment arrives?”
Yet even as she said the words, I saw her dismiss that notion — first off because I think she knew that Pope Benedict would not believe her, and secondly (and much more importantly!) surely she must have known that Ma’bus could read her mind and that harboring such a traitorous idea would surely lead to her doom.
As if on my cue, she gasped, “Don’t even think it. That was not my idea.” Again I watched her throw a tantrum, pounding on her bed in frustration — trying to erase even the memory of that treacherous thought. “Oh now – He knows!”
Frantic at this new idea, Mystery jumped off her bed and raced back toward’s Ma’bus’ quarters. “I’ve got to explain — I am not a traitor!”
“Where is he?” Mystery screamed at one of the guards who barred her entry back into the dictator’s private domain. “Which room?”
“Miss Abbracciavento, I’m sorry, you are not permitted right now.”
“You don’t understand, I must see our lord. Now!”
“There is noth—“
A knee to his groin cut off further words and, as the man fell to the floor, Mystery flew past him down the hall.
Reaching the door to Ma’bus’ room, she wasted no time in knocking but instead barged in… only to be met with something quite unexpected.
In the far corner of the room, a large wooden cross had been erected, set up in the shape of an “X.”
Nailed upon that cross, upside down, wailing in agony, was Ghaz’ al Ridwan Ma’bus!
It was not a pretty sight – Ma’bus’ naked body was coated in a mixture of blood and sweat. Just as Mystery entered, his chest was racked by a violent spasm, and then his eyes bulged from his head, as if he was unable to withstand the intense pressure building up inside his skull!
“Ghaz, Noooo!” Mystery screamed.
Even though Mystery was now standing in plain sight, it was clear that Ma’bus did not see her — in fact, I got the feeling that he was not actually looking at anything (or at least not anything in THIS world).
Too curious or perhaps too scared to just leave, Mystery was unsure what to do.
But then it happened – all at once Ma’bus’ wailing ceased, his head flopped forward, and his body went limp as his weight pulled against the nails that impaled his wrists and feet.
(Could it be? Is he?)
“Oh no, Ghaz, you can’t die! Don’t you dare leave me!” Mystery ran over to the gruesome display and fell to her knees at the base of the cross, trying to talk herself out of this nightmare. “Why Ghaz? When you first showed me this macabre thing last year, you said it was the very cross of Peter of Galilee had been crucified upon, and I knew you were enamored with it, but… I didn’t think you would really do… THIS?”
(Was this really Peter’s cross? I had to admit, it sure looked the part).
“What’s going to happen now?” Mystery looked at her lifeless lover.
Meanwhile, I was left to wonder – did The Beast really just destroy himself? Was this all part of God’s Great Plan?