Book II: Chapter 23
The very next day, I was in my living room with Alan and Miriam. It had been nearly a week since I’d brought back Alan (nee Lazarus) from the dead – I’d hoped that my former friends would have left me by now but as usual nobody seemed to care what I wanted.
While Miriam had continued to help Alan recover, I’d been raked with more revelations (no rest for the weary). So far today I’d been free of vision, however that didn’t mean I could relax. As I sat in my Laz-e-boy trying to drink myself into oblivion, Alan and Mary were sipping tea on my raggedy couch (and clearly not getting my many hints for them to scram).
They had no idea about my visions the past few days and I wasn’t about to tell them. I did my best to conceal the shaking of my hands but it wasn’t working — for no matter what I did, I couldn’t escape the image of The Beast nailed to Peter’s cross!
Meanwhile, Alan was now back to his old self – which is to say that he was determined to understand what was going on in the world; and now he and Miriam were both wearing me out with their questions.
“Thank God you were able to find me, Miriam.” Alan gushed again. “Even while I was lost inside myself, I could feel the slightest something… tingling at the edges of my mind — a faint calling that kept me from falling over the precipice and into Oblivion. Miriam, you saved my life!”
(Hmmm. Alan’s talk suddenly intrigued me. For a moment I forgot about Ma’bus as I realized that if I could somehow get myself into one of those Chairs, then perhaps I could succeed where Alan had failed).
“Hardly.” Miriam corrected. “It was John who really saved you.”
(Yeah, you’re welcome – now get out so I can get back to work).
“Well, you both did.” Alan smiled. But then, after pondering further, “Miriam, you’ve talked to me with your telepathy before, but this time it was different — it wasn’t so much a voice I heard, as a <presence> I felt. Was this because of The Chair of Woe?”
Miriam blushed, “Alan, I was desperate. Time was running out, and telepathy wasn’t working. I, ah, had to use… my Psychic Probe.”
“John, stop!” Miriam commanded.
Yet it was too late to save Alan from embarrassment, and his face went from a canvas of shocked whiteness to one of flushed red.
At this, Miriam quickly added. “Please. Don’t worry, Alan. I only used the power to locate you. I did not go into your memories.”
(Well, if she did, then she’ll know the secret Alan’s been keeping from her lo these many years. Oh, this is rich!)
“Ah… thank you?” Alan was clearly still horrified at the prospect of Miriam inside his mind. “It’s not as if I have anything to hide, mind you. It’s just… just that…”
“A man’s thoughts are his private business.” I wagged a finger at Miriam. “Nobody should be able to get into the mind of another person. I don’t even know why you call that ability a gift, – it’s witchcraft.”
“And your Alchemy is any better?” Miriam shot back. “John, you’ll go to the Pit for your lack of discipline – led astray by your own great folly! Talk about witchcraft, why that’s the very defin—“
“People!” Alan broke in. “In-fighting is not going to get us anywhere. Look, I am grateful to you both. By whatever means necessary, you saved my life. Thank you.” And he switched subjects. “I should have known that Teri was the real Mystery. After all, how could a woman like that be so interested in Biblical Antiquities?”
“Amen to that!” Miriam chimed in. “It only took me one look to see that there was more to her than meets the eye.”
“But, if Mystery is the Evil Temptress, how do we explain her dealings with Benedict? After all, even though Jesus charged us with The Commission, I’ve always felt that The Pope would be OUR ally, not theirs.”
“Benedict can’t be aligned with Ma’bus.” Miriam replied. “The Beast must take down The Rock of Peter before he can begin his own reign.”
“Well, Francis is that rock now.” Alan advised. “Clearly there’s more to Benedict then we all knew. How do you explain his role otherwise?”
“I believe there’s only one interpretation,” Miriam offered. “Benedict will be the one to kill Ma’bus and enable the Second Coming – not us!”
Miriam caught me off guard with that comment and I saw that Alan was taken back a bit as well.
(I know what you’re thinking – now would be a good time to tell them about my vision of the future with Benedict supposedly killing Ma’bus, but I wasn’t about to give Miriam the satisfaction).
Instead I entered the conversation with a word of caution, “It’s not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. You’d never make a good scientist, Mary, for you only reach conclusions that you WANT to find and fail to consider other possibilities.”
“Such as the potential that Ma’bus is NOT the antichrist and that Benedict is.”
(Sorry, but I couldn’t resist throwing that out there – if only to get them riled up a bit!)
“No chance.” Alan shot down my comment. “Ma’bus IS The Beast. Mystery told me so and we all agreed on who she is.”
“Interesting – I don’t recall me agreeing.” I replied. “After all, if Mystery is The Evil Temptress wouldn’t it be in her nature to mislead you?”
Alan did not reply.
“And even if Benedict is not The Beast, couldn’t he be The Second Helper?” I suggested. “Perhaps he will bring The Nails to Ma’bus as part of the Armageddon Rite, maybe Benedict is the one who will install them into The Crown of Doom, thus stopping the Second Coming. Perhaps, he—“
(Suddenly I stopped short, realizing I was saying too much).