Five: Episode Forty-five is based off the following book excerpt from my science fiction, supernatural, thriller, The Contingency Generation.
Snake in the Grass
The board room is silent except for sounds of slurping. Four heads bowed over four bowls of pho soup from Charlie’s lunch cart are the source. Fol knows his next words will astound, so he chooses to ignore his cronies’ inattention and bad-mannered ingestion.
“Gentlemen and Baph,” he states. No one meets his gaze except his heshee sibling, who otherwise sits motionless in front of the fifth bowl watching him.
“It’s happened.” Still nothing. The pho soup appears to hold their complete attention. He begins to circle the room, an activity which usually makes them anxious.
“Resurrection has occurred.”
Four heads remain tilted over the elixir before them.
He refuses to give in to his mounting anger. He can be patient and kind. He will entice them by glorious words. His day—the day when all universe worships his leadership—is close. Mortar is not the only one who can bestow grace and inspire wonder.
Although purely for mirage, he attempts a Zen-like composure and focuses on a vacant chair, pushing it back into position under the table. He starts again, using his gentlest tones. “Dear friends, don’t let me interrupt your lunch. Please continue while I give you the good news. News that will forever anchor our corporation as the world’s top shipping company. As I said, RESURRECTION has been achieved.”
No change in posture or offerings of praise come from his cretins. How can they be so uninterested?
Fol feels himself slipping and quickly elevates his voice to counter his descent. “THIS accomplishment comes only because of our support. Our age old slogan, Delivery Conquers Need, becomes even more potent as we are now able to supply men with life, the most basic need of all. DCN will bring new increments of existence to every man, woman, and child who needs it. For all contingencies, we are truly the one stop shop—the source of everything, the bonanza of bazars, the superist of superstores, the most majestic of monopolies….”
He stops. His words conjure no response except from Baph. The heshee’s mouth twitches ever so slightly in a way that he cannot discern. Why is manipulation so difficult? If the world were up to him, he would never have given freewill to anyone, human or heavenly. Robots would do his will without question, but Mortar believes some kind of glory exists in being chosen.
He smiles insidiously at their hideous head tops. His power could crack them wide open, but then he would have to start all over again to find a new body for them to indwell. They are the best he has available for now. “Gentlemen. You must comprehend the irony of it all. Don’t you see how resurrection greatly increases our power and control over men? And this, in turn, allows Mortar’s influence over his imageries to become as the dust from which they are made. It’s such a wonderful development.”
Morbid looks up and gestures with his spoon. “How is it to DCN’s advantage when resurrection isn’t a product we can transport?” The ancient gives a sly grin and then dives back into his apparent quest of trying to shovel as many rice noodles into his mouth as possible before they can fall off his spoon.
Fol winces at the ignorance. He walks to Morbid’s chair and reaches in to snatch the spoon from his hand. Then he spins the old maggoty man around to address him just inches from his face, but he reconsiders when he’s almost overpowered by Morbid’s peculiar stench.
He hastens to put distance between them as he scolds. “Such a literal you are, Morbid. Always pretending to have trouble following my spin. Of course resurrection is not a product, but the needs arising from the prospect are deliverable. There will be bodies to transport and all sorts of necessary tangibles related to the process. In addition, since DCN’s donations to the resurrection project far exceed any other source, then it’s our company who will be credited with the amazing success.”
As Fol anticipated, Lucifer tosses him another challenge. “What about Five? The messages? Won’t people figure out there’s more than one world and that the door opens to the next one through death?”
“But they DON”T know that, now, do they Luce. We’ve been countering their belief system for years. DCN’s faithful work to decrease access to the Book of Wisdom has allowed Mortar’s recent little instigation to fall onto ignorant ears. Interest will die down. Messages from Five will seem insignificant when broadcasts of Beast’s live resurrection permeate every sector. Humans have always hated death. Now they can reverse it. That’s the bigger news.”
Excited over their attention, Fol can’t resist a little show. And besides, getting the group to perch on the same roost with him is important groundwork for his greater announcement. He waves his hand to send a hologram into motion in the center of the board room.
The soup slurping subsides, and the gang watches his portrayal of a future newscast where a journalist discusses with him the success of the Beast’s resurrection.
The hologram journalist comments. “People want to know what prompted your vision of helping the science community reach successful resurrection.”
The hologram Fol responds. “Many have grieved a loved one’s life being cut short. Our society of recent years has endured great agonies and been deprived of great minds due to the accelerated decline of human species. Death is the snake in the grass that hinders our accomplishments, so, to my way of thinking, it is resurrection that will make us strong again. I want our company to partner with the resurrection team and become the beacon standing for the greater good.”
Snickers occur around the room. Fol’s joke is understood.
The hologram disappears, and Fol pats the shoulders of a dark glowering willow of a man hunched over his steaming bowl of pho. “Apologies, Snake. No offense intended.”
A Thor-like crony across the table dips his spoon up and down in the clear broth and grunts, “Why does it always have to be so hot?”
The limit is reached. Fol pounds the table. “Soup is supposed to be hot, Abaddon.”
The impact of his effort sends an instant crack through the marble surface and causes soup to splash out of each bowl. Everyone puts down their spoons, and Abaddon sweeps back rivulets of soggy hair that land in his bowl. He accepts Lucifer’s offer of a napkin and uses it to dab at his locks.
Fol claps his hands, and the soup gathers from the bowls and spills on the table into one mass in the center of the assembly. Then Fol swirls his finger, and the soup puddle goes airborne and swirls off to the corner to hover obediently over the trash can. Fol points down and hears the collective sigh from the sorrowful soup eaters as they see pho elements disappear into the receptacle.
Lack of attention is no longer a problem.
He feels the heated gaze of disgruntled eyes on him. Too bad. He has a kingdom to run, and his executive officers are fools pretending with food, a human necessity they have no stomach to digest.
Playtime is over.
“My next point of discussion will be our expansion strategy.” Fol returns to the head of the table.
“Everything is so much simpler now that resurrection is achieved. When my father, The Beast, becomes the public’s first televised resurrection, we will gain the benefit of his revival and reputation to aide us in the promotion of our Carbon Code Contract. All who agree to the contract will have exclusive access to our best products as well as the new fusion fuel. None will resist the opportunity for complete fulfillment of all their needs.”
Snake raises his glass. “A toast to the rising of The Beast.”
All hold their various beverages up. “Here, here.”
Fol is pleased. He sits and drains his cider but chokes on the last drops just as others finish their drinks. They ignore his spasmodic heaving and begin to gather up belongings.
Unable to speak, Fol sputters and gestures emphatically, motioning them to sit, which they do with little enthusiasm.
When his throat clears, Fol resumes speaking. “You’ve not heard the most important thing. The benefit of successful resurrection, I believe, opens the door to instant possession and allows us to bypass persuasion altogether. The returning soul of Mortar’s design might put up slight resistance, but I’m convinced we can ambush, and we’ll carry the advantage by knowing almost the exact moment life returns and along with it, the soul.”
“Really, Fol? An ambush? How will that work if we’re not members of the medical team? We’ll never be allowed in the arena.” Lucifer’s challenge is expected. Fol sees the sneaky look he gives Baph.
Fol knows the two have banded together recently. Lucifer’s sure to know of Baph’s private disagreement with Fol over his desired use of resurrection. His sibling believes such action is unnecessary and a risky extension of their kingdom resources. But Fol knows one thing of certainty that Lucifer does not. His adopted sibling is loyal, despite their many differences, and when their father returns, all the more so.
“Baph will help you with the arena through masking. We will take shifts. I will know when the resurrections are scheduled because of my dear S. J. When it’s your turn, you will be masked and have the invisible company of an expertly trained indweller, who in the moments of life returning, will slip inside the body and assume control. If there is a fight, any display of spirit power must stay masked. We do not want the spirit world to become real to humans. That’s when things get out of control.”
Fol’s wrist alert goes off. It’s S. J. “Meeting adjourned.” He waves everyone off and all hurry away, probably to find the lunch cart.
Only Baph remains seated.
Fol nods at his sibling and picks up his call from SJ. “Darling. Congratulations. What an achievement. You must be proud….What? No I did not hear that. We’ll discuss whether that is necessary. No. I realize you are the one in charge, but I think you might be making a hasty decision. Give it more time….Right…love….I’m only saying…”
Fol squirms under Baph’s inquisitive gaze. He’s certain his perceptually talented sibling could manipulate S. J. far more efficiently than he is doing. Sensing motivation, fears and the weaknesses of others is Baphomet’s gift and immensely valuable to him if he is to continue to hold S. J. close.
“Look, dear. Let’s talk in a bit. The board meeting is just ending. Yes. I do want to talk. It’ll be momentariliy, I promise.” Fol disconnects and sits in silence until his heshee sibling speaks.
“Let me guess. There’s been a complication, and S.J. wants to put on the brakes. What is it? Physical incapacity? Mental amnesia? Something worse?” Baph sneers.
You never could imagine this one. He laughs boisterously. “Actually, dear one, it’s none of that. And I, for one, would categorize the development in an opposite manner of what S. J. would. Something rather good has happened that will benefit our kingdom.”
“Stop dancing and deliver.” Baph looks alarmed.
“S. J. says that John Doe’s family believes the man they know has resurrected, but he acts as if he has no soul.”
“How can that be? Surely, Mortar would never allow it. And besides, this generation doesn’t believe in souls; so why would they even say that?”
“I don’t know, but they observe something is altered. If no soul returns, then our plan to possess human life without visible affect is guaranteed. All we have to do is convince S. J. to keep moving forward. Resurrection will build us an army comprised of the best of both worlds. Our spirits in men’s bodies. One unified kingdom to reach even greater heights than Mortar’s kingdom.
Think of it, dear Baph…. This strategy to take over resurrected life allows us to become the deadliest snake to ever lurk in Mortar’s grass.”
This blog post is an excerpt from my supernatural thriller, Five, presented in rough draft version. The posts appear weekly as my story development progresses. The story snippets will likely be full of typos, garbage, and confusion. I’m sure to regret allowing readers a sneak peak of the chaos involved in this process of making a finished book.
Someday, if I still have an audience, my book(s) and screenplays will be polished and for sale. Until then, my story snippets are free, but payment by “subscribing” with your email would be a nice gesture. For doing this you might get a discount on my purchasable work should that day ever arrive. All you get now is a notice via email of a new story episode that I have ready to read on my “blog.” I don’t sell my email list or do anything else with it.
Why am I doing this stupid and terrible thing—letting readers see my “off the cuff” story writing?
Book industry experts say that in today’s world of book marketing, an unknown author must build their own sales platform. I’m supposed to advance my platform by collecting readers, and for now, by blogging. Since I can’t imagine blogging about what I had for breakfast or the things my cat does, then instead, I’m blogging fiction excerpts of my work(s) in progress.
Thanks for slogging along. Maybe we’ll meet on a bookshelf someday.