четверг, 28 февраля 2019 г.
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal Chapter 14
Chapter 14Meanwhile, stern at the hotel elbow room, Raziel has given up his trusts to be a professional wrestler and has resumed his ambition to be Spider-Man. He make the decision aft(prenominal) I arcdegreeed tabu that in Genesis, Jacob wrestles an angel and wins. In short, a human discomfited an angel. Raziel kept insisting that he didnt estimate that happening and I was tempted to find the Gideon Bible in forth of the bathroom and coming into court him the reference, unless Ive effective started reading the Gospel of Mark and Id lose the book if the angel erect out or so it.I thought Matthew was bad, skipping accountability from Joshuas birth to his baptism, bonny now Mark doesnt unconstipated bother with the birth. Its as if Joshua springs forth full boastful from the head of Zeus. (Okay, bad metaphor, besides you sleep to gravelher what I mean.) Mark begins with the baptism, at thirty Where did these guys get these stories? I once met a guy in a bar who knew a guy whos sisters best friend was at the baptism of Joshua bar Joseph of Naz atomic number 18th, and heres the story as best as he could remember it.Well, at least Mark mentions me, once. And accordingly its tot wholey out of context, as if I was just sitting around doing nonhing and Joshua happened by and asked me to rag fourth dimension a languish. And Mark tells of the deuce named Legion. Yeah, I remember Legion. Compared to what Balthasar speaked up, Legion was a wuss.I asked Balthasar if he was smitten with me, Joshua translate ever soyplace supper.Oh no, verbalize experience. We were eating in the girls quarters. It smelled really good and the girls would rub our shoulders while we ate. Just what we needed after a tough sidereal day of studying.You werent supposed to let him live on we were on to him. What did he say?He said that hed just come shoot of a hard breakup and he wasnt ready for a human relationship because he just needed to spend a little sni p getting to know himself, that that hed erotic love it if we could just be friends.He lies, said delectation. He hasnt had a breakup in a atomic number 6 long cartridge clip.I said, Josh, you are so gullible. Guys ever so lie about jostle like that. Thats the problem with your not being allowed to know women, it means you dont image the to the highest degree(prenominal) fundamental nature of men.Which is?Were lying pigs. Well say boththing to get what we deprivation.Thats avowedly, said rejoicing. The other girls nodded in agreement. but, said Josh, the superior man does not, even for the quadrangle of a single meal, act contrary to virtue, according to Confucius.Of grad, said I, but the superior man kindle get laid without lying. Im verbalizeing about the rest of us.So should I be worried about this head trip he wants me to mete out with him?Joy nodded gravely and the other girls nodded with her.I dont invite why, I said. What trip?He says well plainly be g c ardinal a couple of weeks. He wants to go to a temple at a city in the mountains. He believes that the temple was built by Solomon, its called the temple of the Seal.And why do you put one oer to go a languish?He wants to show me more or lessthing.Uh-oh, I said.Uh-oh, echoed the girls, not unlike a Greek chorus, except of course they were speaking Chinese.In the week leading up to Joshua and Balthasars departure, I managed to talk pea Pods into pickings on a huge risk during her cant oer in Balthasars bed. I picked pea plant Pods not because she was the most athletic and diligent of the girls, which she was nor because she was the lightest of foot and most stealthy, which she was also but because she was the 1 who had taught me to make dye castings of the Chinese characters that were the mark of my name (my chop), and she could be trusted to get the most accurate impression of the key that Balthasar wore on the chain around his neck. (Oh yes, in that location was a key to the ironclad inlet. Joy had let it slip where Balthasar kept it, but I was sure that she was too loyal to him to steal it. pea plant Pods, on the other hand, was more fickle in her loyalties, and lately I had been spending a lot of time with her on and discharge.)By the time you return, Ill know whats qualifying on here, I whispered to Joshua as he climbed onto his camel. Find out what you can from Balthasar.I give. But be careful. Dont do anything while Im gone. I think this trip, whatal modes it is that we are going to moot, has something to do with the accommo assure of doom.Im just going to look around. You be careful.The girls and I stood at the top of the plateau and waved until Joshua and the magus, leading the extra camel loaded with supplies, rode out of sight, then, one by one, we made our way d protest the rope guide to the transition in the cliffs scene. The entrance to the passing gameway, and the tunnel for perhaps thirty cubits, were just wide teeming for one man to pass terminate if he stooped, and I always managed to bruise an elbow or a shoulder along the way, which allowed me to show off my ability to curse in four languages.By the time I got to the chamber of the elements, where we practiced the art of the Nine Elixirs, Pea Pods had the flyspeck furnace stoked to a red heat and was adding ingots of good-looking medication to a small stone crucible. From the wax impression we had made a wax replica of the key, from that wed made a p tolerateer mold, which wed put bug outd to melt out the wax. directly wed take a crap one chance to cast the key, because once the metal cooled in the plaster mold, the only way to release it was to break off the plaster.When we stone-broke off the mold Pea Pods held the end of what looked like a brass dragon on a file.Thats some key, I said. The only hooks Id ever seen were great bulky iron boys, zero e stagecoachant enough for a key like this.When are you going to use it? asked Pea Po ds. Her look went wide like those of an excited child. Times like that I or so fell in love with her, but fortunately I was always fend offed by Joys sophistication, Pillows maternal fussing, Number Sixs dexterity, or any one of the other charms that were heaped upon me daily. I understood completely Balthasars strategy to arrest from fall in love with any one of them. Joshuas situation, on the other hand, was harder to figure, because he enjoyed spending time with the girls, trading stories from the Torah for figments of the storm dragons and the monkey king. He said that there was an innate kindness born in women that hed never seen in a man, and he liked being around them. His strength in resisting their physical charms astounded me perhaps even more than the other fantastic things Id seen him do over the years. I couldnt relate to the act of raising soul from the dead, but turning d throw a beautiful woman, that took courage beyond my understanding.Ill organise it from here, I said to Pea Pods. I didnt want her to be involved any further in case things didnt turn out well.When? asked Pea Pods, meaning when would I attempt to open the door.Tonight, when you cook all gone to live in the military man of pleasant dreams. I tweaked her jab affectionately and she giggled. It was the last time I ever saw her in one piece.At night the halls of the garrison were lit by the ambient light from the moon and the stars that filtered in from the windows. E actuallywhere we went we carried a clay vegetable oil colour lamp which made the serpentine curves of the passageways seem even more like the intimate of a huge creature as they swallowed up the dim orangish light. After several years with Balthasar, I could find my way by dint of the main living quarters of the fortress without any light at all, so I carried an unlit lamp with me until I had passed the girls quarters, releaseping at the form doorway to listen for their gentle snores.Once I was well away(predicate) from the girls door, I lit my lamp using one of the fire sticks that Id invented using some of the similar chemicals we used to make the explosive black powder. The fire stick made a soft pop as I potty it on the stone wall and I could swear I perceive it echo from the hall up ahead. As I made my way to the ironclad door I could smell burning brimstone and I thought it strange that the smell of the fire stick had stayed with me. Then I saw Joy standing by the door holding an oil lamp and the charred remains of the fire stick shed used to light it.Let me see the key, she said.What key?Dont be foolish. I saw what was left of the mold in the room of the elements.I took the key from where Id tucked it in my belt and hand it to Joy. She examined it by lamplight, turning it this way and that. Pea Pods cast this, she said matter-of-factly. Did she take the impression as well?I nodded. Joy didnt seem angry, and Pea Pods was the only one of the girls skilled enough in m etallurgy to have through with(p) the casting, so why deny it?Getting the impression must have been the hard part, Joy said. Balthasar is fierce about guarding this key. Ill have to ask her what she did to distract him. Could be a good thing to know, huh? For both of us. She smiled seductively, then rancid toward the door and pushed aside the brass plate that covered the keyhole. In that butt I felt as if a frozen dagger had been dragged over my spine.No I grabbed her hand. Dont. I was overcome with a feeling of repulsion that wrenched my insides. We cant.Joy smiled again and pushed my hand away. I have seen many extraordinary things since I came here, but there has never been anything that was harmful. You planned this, you must want to know what is in here as ofttimes as I do.I wanted to stop her, I even tried to take the key away from her, but she grabbed my arm and pushed into a pressure institutionalise that made my whole left side go numb. She raised an supercilium as if to ask, Do you really want to try that, knowing what I can do to you? And I stepped back.She put the dragon key into the lock and turned it trio times. There was a clicking of machinery finer than anything I had ever heard, then she withdrew the key and shot the three heavy iron bolts. As she pulled the door open there was a rush of air, as if something had go by us very quickly, and my lamp went out.Joshua told me what had happened later and I put the quantify together myself. As Joy and I were opening the room they called the house of doom, Joshua and Balthasar were camped in the arid mountains of what is now Afghanistan. The night was crisp and the stars shone with a inhuman blue light like loneliness or infinity. They had eaten some scratching and cheese, then settled in close to the fire to share the last of a flask of fortified wine, Balthasars second that evening.Have I told you of the fortune telling that send me in search of you when you were born, Joshua?You spok e of the star. My mother told me of the star.Yes, the three of us followed that star, and by chance we met up in the mountains east of capital of Afghanistan and finished the journey together, but the star wasnt the reason we went, it was only our means of navigation. We made the journey because each of us was looking for something at the end.Me? Joshua said.Yes, but not just you, but what it is said was brought with you. In the temple where we travel now, there lies a set of clay tablets very old the priests say that they date back to the time of Solomon, and they foretell the coming of a child who impart have military unit over evil and victory over death. They say he give carry the key to immortality.Me? Immortality? Nope.I think you do, you just dont know it but.Nope, Im sure, said Joshua. Its true that I have brought people back from the dead, but never for very long. Ive gotten better at healing over the years, but my back-from-the-dead stuff simmer down needs work. I n eed to contemplate more.Which is why I have taught you, and why I am taking you to the temple now, so you may read the tablets yourself, but you must have the power of immortality within you.No, really, I havent a clue.I am both snow and sixty years old, Joshua.Ive heard that, but I be quiet cant helper you. You look good though, I mean for deuce blow and sixty.At this point Balthasar started to earphone desperate. Joshua, I know that you have power over evil. Biff has told me of you banishing the Tempters in Antioch.Little ones, Joshua said modestly.You must have power over death as well or it does me no good.What I am able to do comes through my father, I didnt great deal for it.Joshua, I am preserved by a pact with a demon. If you do not have the powers foretold in the prophecy I pull up stakes never be free, I depart never have peace, I will never have love. both minute of my life history I must have my will focused on controlling the demon. Should my will fail, th e destruction would be unlike anything the world has ever seen.I know how it is. Im not allowed to know a woman, Joshua said. Although it was an angel that told me, not a demon. But still, you know, its hard sometimes. I really like your concubines. The other night Pillows was giving me a back rub after a long day of studying, and I started getting this massive By the Golden Tenderloin of the calf Balthasar exclaimed, leaping to his feet, his eyes wide with terror. The old man began loading his camel, walloping around in the darkness like a madman. Joshua was following him, attempt to calm him down, fearing he might have a fit any second.What? What?It is out the magus said. Help me pack up. We must go back. The demon is out.I stood cringing in the dark, waiting for disaster to fall, for mayhem to reign, for pain and blighter and no good to manifest, then Joy struck a fire stick and lit our lamps. We were alone. The iron door hung open into a very small room, it too lined with i ron. The entire room was just big enough to contain a small bed and a chair. Every span of the black iron walls was inlaid with golden symbols pentagrams and hex symbols and a dozen others I had never seen before. Joy held her lamp close to the wall.These are symbols of containment, Joy said.I used to hear voices coming from in here.There was nothing in here when I opened the door. I could see in the second before the lamp blew out.Then what blew it out?The wind?I dont think so. I felt something brush me as it passed.Just then soulfulness in the girls quarters screamed, then a chorus of screams joined in, primeval screams of absolute terror and pain. Instantly Joys eyes filled with tears. What have I done?I took her sleeve and dragged her down the passage toward the girls quarters, snatching up dickens heavy dismisss that were supporting a tapestry as we passed and handing one to her. As we rounded the curves I could see an orange light ahead and in brief I could see that it wa s fire blazing on the stone walls from impoverished oil lamps. The utter was reaching a higher pitch, but every(prenominal) few seconds a voice was removed from the chorus, until there was only one. As we approached the beaded doorway into the concubines chamber the belly laugh stopped and a divide human head rolled in front of us. The creature stepped through the curtain, oblivious to the flames that licked the walls around it, its massive body filling the passageway, the reptile struggle on its shoulders and its tall pointed ears grating against the walls and ceiling. In its talonlike hand it held the all-fired torso of one of the girls.Hey, kid, it said, its voice like a sword point dragged across stone, a yellow light coming from behind its dinner-plate-sized cats eyes, it took you long enough.As they rode back to the fortress, Balthasar explained to Joshua about the demon His name is Catch, and he is a demon of the twenty-seventh order, a destroyer angel before the fall. As far as I could tell, he was first called up to uphold Solomon in building the great temple, but something got out of hand and with the help of a djinn, Solomon was able to enrapture the demon back to hell. I implant the seal of Solomon and the incantation for raising the demon almost two hundred years ago in the Temple of the Seal.Oh, Joshua said, so thats why they call it that. I thought it had something to do with one of the barky sea animals.I had to become an acolyte and study with the priests there for years before I was allowed get to to the seal, but what is a few years against immortality. I was given immortality, but only so long as the demon walks the earth. And as long as he is on earth he must be fed, Joshua. Thats the curse that goes with being this destroyers master. He must be fed.I dont understand, he feeds on your will?No, he feeds on human beings. It is only my will that keeps him in check, or it was until I was able to build the iron room and put golden sy mbols on the wall that would hold the demon. Ive been able to keep him in the fortress I made him build for twenty years now, and it has been some respite. Until then he was with me every minute, everywhere I went.Didnt that win enemies to you?No. Unless he is in his eating form, I am the only one who can see Catch. In his noneating form hes small, the size of a child, and he can do little harm (except for being unbelievably irritating). When he feeds, however, hes fully ten cubits tall, and he can tear a man in half with the swipe of his claw. No, enemies are not a problem, Joshua. Why do you think there are no guards at the fortress? In those years before the girls came to live there, some bandits attacked. What happened to them is legend now in Kabul, and no one has tried since. The problem is that if my will were to fail, he would be set loose again on the world as he was in the time of Solomon. I dont know what could stop him.And you cant send him back to hell? Joshua asked.I can with the seal and the right incantation, which is why I was going to the Temple of the Seal. Which is why you are here. If you are the Messiah predicted in Isaiah, and on the clay tablets in the temple, then you are the direct descendant of David, and therefore Solomon. I believe that you can send the demon back and keep me from suffering the fate of his return.Why, what happens to you if he is sent back to hell?I will assume the aspect of my true age. Which I would guess, by this time, would be dust. But you have the gift of immortality. You can stop that from happening.So this demon from hell is loose, and we are returning to the fortress without the Seal of Solomon or this incantation to do exactly what?I hope to bring him back under control of my will. The room has always held him before. I didnt know, I truly didnt knowKnow what?That my will had been broken by my feelings for you.You love me?How was I to know? The magus sighed.And Joshua laughed here, despite the dire circ umstances. Of course you do, but it is not me, its what I represent. I am not sure yet what I am to do, but I know that I am here in the name of my father. You love life so much that you would brave hell to hold on to it, its only natural that you would love the one who gave you that life.Then you can banish the demon and preserve my life?Of course not, Im just saying that I understand how you feel.I dont know where she open up the strength, but the diminutive Joy came from behind me and hurled the heavy propel with as much power as any soldier. (I felt my own knees starting to buckle in the face of the demon.) The bronze tip of the ray seemed to find its way between two of the nuts armored chest scales and group itself a span deep under the weight of the heavy shaft. The demon gasped, and roared, opening his massive maw to show rows of saw-edged teeth. He grabbed the shaft of the lance and attempted to pull it out, his huge biceps quivering with the strain. He looked sadly dow n at the spear, then at Joy, and said, Oh, foul woe upon you, you have kilt me most dead, then he fell back and the floor shook with the move of his huge body.Whatd he say, whatd he say? Joy asked, digging her nails into my shoulder. The demon had spoken in Hebrew.He said that you killed him.Well, duh, said the concubine. (Strangely enough, duh sounds exactly the same in all languages.)I had started to inch forward to see if anyone was still alive in the girls quarters when the demon sat up. Just kidding, he said. Im not kilt. And he plucked the spear from his chest with less lawsuit than it might take to brush away a fly.I threw my own lance, but didnt wait to see where it come upon. I grabbed Joy and ran.Where? she said.Far, I said.No, she said, grabbing my tunic and jerking me around a corner, causing me to nearly coldcock myself on the wall. To the cliff passage. We were in total darkness now, neither one of us having thought to grab a lamp, and I was trusting my life to Joy s storehouse of these stone halls.As we ran we could hear the demons scales scraping the walls and the occasional curse in Hebrew as he found a low ceiling. perchance he could see in the dark somewhat, but not a lot better than we could.Duck, Joy said, pushing my head down as we entered the narrow passage that led to the cliff above. I crouched in this passage the way the monster had to crouch to move in the normal-sized halls and I utterly realized the brilliance of Joys choice in taking this route. We were just eyesight the moonlight breaking in through the opening in the cliffs face when I heard the monster hit the bottleneck of the passage.Fuck Ouch You weasels Im going to crunch your little heads between my teeth like candied dates.Whatd he say? asked Joy.He says that you are a sweet of uncommon delicacy.He did not say that.Believe me, my translation is as close as you want to the truth.I heard a horrible scraping racket from inside the passage as we climbed out on the led ge and up the rope ladder to the top of the plateau. Joy helped me up, then pulled the ladder up behind us. We ran to the stable where the camel saddles and other supplies were normally kept. There were only the three camels that Joshua and Balthasar had taken, and no horses, so I couldnt figure out why we were taking the time to stop until I saw Joy filling two urine skins at the cistern behind the stable.Well never make it to Kabul without water, Joy said.And what happens when we make it to Kabul? Can anyone there help? What in the hell is that thing?If I knew, would I have opened that door? She was remarkably calm for someone who had just lost her friends to a unconscionable beast.I guess not. But I didnt see it come out of there. I felt something, but nothing that size.Act, Biff, dont think. Act.She handed me a water skin and I held it in the cistern, essay to listen for the sound of the monster over the bubbles as it filled. All I could hear was the occasional bleating of th e goats and the sound of my own pulse in my ears. Joy corked her water skin, then went about opening the pig and goat pens, shooing the animals out onto the plateau.Lets go she yelled to me. She took off down the path toward the hidden road. I pulled the water skin from the cistern and followed as quickly as I could. There was enough moonlight to make traveling fairly easy, but since I hadnt even seen the road in daylight, I didnt want to try to negotiate its deucedly cutbacks at night without a guide. We had almost made the first leg of the road when we heard a hideous wailing and something heavy get in the dust in front of us. When I could get my wind again I stepped up to find the bloodied carcass of a goat.There, Joy said, pointing down the mountainside to something moving among the rocks. Then it looked up at us and there was no mistaking the glowing yellow eyes.Back, Joy said, drag me back from the road.Is that the only way down?That or diving off the edge. Its a fortress, remember its not supposed to be easy to get in and out of.We made our way back to the rope ladder, tossed it over the side, and started down. As Joy made it to the ledge and ducked into the cave something heavy hit me on the right shoulder. My arm went numb with the impact and I let go of the ladder. Mercifully, my feet had tangled in the rungs as I fell, and I found myself hanging upside down looking into the cave entrance where Joy stood. I could hear the terrified goat that had hit me screaming as it fell into the abyss, then there was a distant thump and the screaming stopped.Hey, kid, youre a Jew, arent you? said the monster from above.None of your business, I said. Joy grabbed the ladder and pulled me inside the cave, ladder and all, just as another goat came screaming past. I fell on my face in the dust and sputtered, trying to breathe and spit at the same time.Its been a long time since Ive eaten a Jew. A good Jew sticks to your ribs. Thats the problem with Chinese, you ea t six or seven of them and in a half hour youre hungry again. No offense, miss.Whatd he say? Joy asked.He says he likes kosher food. testament that ladder hold him?I made it myself.Swell, I said. We heard the ropes snivel with the strain as the monster climbed onto the ladder.