I’m out of breath from running as I finally get to the library. Basha is talking to Miriam, her mom.
“Hi, Basha. Hi Miriam,” I gasp, “Sorry I’m late.”
“Well,” Basha scolds me, “It is about time you showed up. Ladies do not like to be kept waiting.”
“Sorry Basha, I...” I respond.
“Daughter,” Miriam interrupts, “I found the book you asked for. At least I believe this is it. But daughter, be careful. This is no simple Book of Shadows that you ask to read, I am not familiar with it, but it feels powerful. I didn’t know we even had this book. It was a long search to find it.”
“Ahh, Miriam,” I interrupt.
“Do you have a book called ‘The Red and the Black’?”
“Now this is very mysterious. Just yesterday, buried under a pile of misplaced items I came across that very book. I never saw it before, but there it was. How did you know of this book?”
“The title came to me in a dream.”
“Well I’ll just be a minute and I’ll get you your book. Why don’t you two go to the alcove I’ve set up for you? It’s the one with the pot of tea, fresh-baked scones, and fruit-butter.”
Basha takes her book and off we go. I make myself useful as I wait for Miriam to return, by pouring the tea. Basha starts right in with her efforts. The enormous volume is in Hebrew, I recognize the language from some text’s Basha had been reading.
“So? What’s this book?” I ask.
“This is incredible,” Basha exclaims in a whisper.
“The book. To begin with,” Basha makes herself comfortable; she knows explaining something to me can take a while. “What is it doing here? This text is written in Hebrew, some previously unknown treatise on the Jewish Kabbalah.”
“You’re right, it is odd,” I mutter, “how did this text come to be in the care of the Goddess, considering the traditionally patriarchal religious views of most of the ancient Rabbis?
“Mystery number one,” Basha remarks, “Mystery number two is the author.”
“Well, who wrote this stuff?” I ask.
“It was written by Simeon Ben Zoma,” Basha answers; saying the name with emphasis as if everyone knew that man.
“Of course, how could I forget Ben Zoma,” I say jokingly, “Isn’t he the guy who wrote that recent bestseller ‘The Dream Quest of the Unknown Pooh Bear’”?
“Very funny, Kid,” Basha quips, “Ben Zoma was one of four legendary scholars who dared to venture beyond the heavenly gates and look upon the face of the Holy One, Blessed be She.”
“Okay, back up. Start from the beginning and explain it for the uninitiated.”
“In the Talmud...” Basha pauses, “you do know what the Talmud is?”
“Yes, I was awake during that class and,” I respond, “as always, I read the homework assignment, go on.”
“Well, in the Talmudic tractate Chagigah, which deals with festival offerings, a tale is told of the disastrous end that came upon these four famous scholars because of what they did.”
“Is this the Jewish version of the bogey man? Some fairy tale to keep kids from wandering off into the woods at night, as in, to warn off lesser scholars from the study of this Kabbalah stuff?”
“No,” Basha sighs, “the Rabbis are totally serious. If you stop interrupting me, I will explain.”
“So, the story goes that four pious and very learned scholars desired to learn the secrets of the Kabbalah, specifically those known by the phrase ‘Ma’Aseh Merkavah’, the Work of the Chariot, as in the chariot of fire that the prophet Ezekiel saw. They studied these mystical texts and prayed for guidance,” Basha relates all this with smoldering intensity, “Through their efforts, they uncovered the hidden and well-kept secret paths of power. By means of uncovering the many layers of meaning that the Torah contains, they found the doorway that opened unto the gardens of Heaven, and how to ride the chariot up to the garden. There, the dangerous path to the very throne of the Holy One, blessed be She, lay before them. What they saw and what they experienced on that journey has never been recorded. Or, at least that is what has been assumed. This text before me purports to be the last written words of Ben Zoma upon his return from the Throne of the Holy One, blessed be She, and before Ben Zoma and the others were struck down.”
“As a result of what he did and what he saw, Ben Zoma went insane. Of his companions, Simeon Ben Azzai died, and Elisha Ben Abouya lost his faith in HaShem. Only one man returned unharmed, for a time. Rabbi Akiva later was flayed alive by the Romans, but that is another story. Thus, you could say that no one has ever come back from the Throne untouched and unharmed.”
“And you study this Kabbalah?” I ask incredulously, “Is that wise? If your insurance agent found out she’d definitely revoke your policy.”
“Not all of the Kabbalah is that dangerous,” Basha reassures me, “It’s a matter of choosing your paths wisely and knowing your strengths and limits.”
“And this text of Ben Zoma’s is obviously one of those safe, wise paths, right?”
“Well, to be honest...”
“Which is what we all want.”
“Well,” Basha wheedles, “It is probably not exactly the safest path.”
“I thought so. Then, you should be careful.”
“I am, always,” Basha musters up absolute conviction.
“What’s the title of this Jewish magic book anyway?”
“The title is Sefer Tzaeleem Shavareem, which translates from the Hebrew as The Book of Broken Shadows or even the book of shattered dreamers. Since the word tzaleem is used to represent a dreamer’s astral body or what we would call their dream body.”
“What is it?”
“Broken, shattered, same difference,” I mutter, “that is the book from my vision all right. It must be it.”
“According to the text he wrote this up until the very moment when his insanity overcame his ability to write.”
“What do you think makes this book so useful to us?” I ask.
“According to Tradition, the Eternal Torah was used like a set of blueprints as the means to build all of Creation. To update the metaphor, the Torah is the ultimate software or computer program. It is the code that explains how everything in the universe is built and works. The Kabbalah is the study of analyzing that program,” Basha continues. “It all has something to do with the fact that each Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent. Thus the words of the Torah can all be broken down into a great big string of numbers.”
“Like the machine language codes in computer programs!”
“Correct. I would reason that this particular treatise is so important is due to the fact that Ben Zoma and the other three Rabbis had gone deeper and farther than anyone else in uncovering the practical application of the Divine mysteries. They had broken the code completely and used it to get to the Heavenly Garden, to stand before the Throne of Glory and came face to face with the Holy One, blessed be She.”
“Ahh! Therefore,” I interject, “with this text, you could figure out how to build spells to alter the very fabric of reality, which is what we need.”
“Correct. Sort of. To explain: whoever made the first gate that Jon stepped through did it within the framework of the cosmos. It was a natural part of how the Universe works.”
“And the weird gate opening you called it natural. You deduced this fact from, what?” I ask.
“From how you described the opening of the gate that Lana and you witnessed. The area around the opening was not cataclysmically altered or disturbed.”
“From whose perspective?” I ask, “It seemed to me cataclysmic is an accurate description of what took place.”
“Not really,” Basha asserts, “‘Cataclysmic’ should reflect an Earth-shattering event, like ‘End of the World’ stuff. What you described was awesome, but not like that. It was a relatively speaking, non-disruptive event. There was no accompanying doom and gloom stuff going on at the time of this gate opening, no earthquakes, tidal waves, fire pouring down from the heavens or erupting up from hell below, etc. If such a gate was to open, and it was not meant to have been opened, what we know as reality would have been wrenched in all directions. You did not describe such an occurrence. The spell caster behind the creation of those gates was like a surgeon using a laser scalpel to cut an opening in the body of the Waking World. There was blood coming out of the open wound, but this was to be expected, that was the dark skies, funnel of air, etc., that you saw. Now, we on the other hand, are going to have to force open this gate. It may be at the proper place and a related time but our opening of the gate is not in accordance with how the universe and those gates were established. When we open up the gate, it will not be in accordance with the regularly scheduled timetable that had been established for this gate. We will be more like barbers, than like surgeons, who will be wielding double-barreled shotguns in our attempt to open the gate between the worlds.”
“I see. Then you are saying that this is not going to be a neat and clean job.”
“Not at all. The event will be very messy. Using this text perhaps I can find the recipe for how such Gates are made and how we might open one up.”
“Hmm. I see.”
“Well, Basha relates, “if these had an index, we would be looking for: dimensional gate spells and the location of some naturally occurring gates between worlds. But, no such luck, they are not indexed.”
“I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be that easy.”
Miriam brings me my book and departs. It looks exactly like the one that I had held at Tezcat’s temple; it has the same odd creepy tanned leather cover.
 The brief outline of the tale is from Talmudic tractate Chagigah section 14b.
 The seed of this idea comes from the book of Proverbs, chap. 8 v. 22+. The Rabbi’s assert that it is the Torah, herself who is speaking. In the Midrash Rabbah, which literally means: the great Midrash [collection of stories], the commentary on Genesis chap 1 v. 1, begins as follows: The Torah said, I was the architectural instrument of the Holy One.
“These texts are not church hymnals.”
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 1979
I am floating high above the Earth. Out of nowhere a black serpent appears. He’s huge, slimy, and evil. I try to fly away. He’s catching up. I cannot escape. It is inevitable. He lunges at me. I struggle with the ebony snake. It manages to wrap around my flaming hands and bind them together. The other end of the serpent wraps around my legs and continues to wrap around me. As it does so it smothers my flame! Without my flame, gravity will grab a hold of me and I will fall! My fears become reality, as I am now an ebony mummy plummeting earthward. The roaring ocean-like sound of air rushing by as I fall.
I cannot move. The snake fights me and tries to inhibit my slightest movement. Even the labored rising of my chest to breathe meets with resistance. I cannot take this confinement. My muscles twitch, aching for release and freedom. I am being crushed like a serpent’s victim. It is getting harder and harder to breathe. Think Basha. Concentrate. Then, impact. Ohh. I open my eyes. I am wrapped up in my bedding and on the floor. Ouch. Great, just what I need. Nightmares.
When I wake up, I find out that this time Tezcat was a little negligent in seeing that I kept up with my homework. I had to think fast to explain why some of my assignments weren’t ready to be turned in. All my teachers looked at me oddly. What was going on while I was asleep at the switch? I had a lot of catching up to do. Which I guess is good. I don’t have much time to think about what happened last night. I really don’t want to. Better to fixate on my schoolwork. But ‘all’s well that ends well’.
Since Basha now smiles at me! She is concerned for me! This is great. I only wish she would stop calling me Kid. Then everything would be perfect.
Ahh, perfect? You call being chosen as a human sacrifice a perfect situation? Okay, relatively speaking it would all be perfect. I just need to work on that one little detail. Anyway, focusing on the positive, I’ll get to see her in my dreams! For Real!
Remember our agreement. Come to my temple.
“Agreement. Temple. Oh, yeah, Tezcat, I’ll be there.”
I wander through Miriam’s store in search of answers. I find a book entitled The Flayed God, which is most informative. I devour as much information as I can in anticipation of reporting back to Basha.
‘Omnipresent and omniscient in human affairs. Tezcatlipoca was the master of human destiny precisely because he represented the center of the cosmos and ruled the four directions. The black Tezcatlipoca, his most powerful unfolding, a capricious, nocturnal god…was the god of darkness. Protector of magicians and sorcerers, he was himself a trickster whose nature it was to tempt and tease mankind. Capable of evil, he was not what one would consider a devil;…He was the darker, rather than the evil, side of a single nature. Their cosmic conflict, expressed on various levels in various myths, symbolizes the struggle between the creative and destructive forces of nature: opposing light to dark, good to evil, priest to ruler, spirit to matter, and life to death.’
My friend Tezcat turns out to be a major deity throughout Mexico and Central America, an area of land more properly referred to as Meso-America. Most interesting that Tezcat appeared to me in one of her / his many forms, while appearing to Basha as his / her opposite. Hmm? Tezcat in the traditions of Mesoamerica does not have a feminine persona; I wonder why he did so with me?
I once more walk up, more like sneak up, the highest hill in Atlantis to that foreboding and long-forgotten Temple made out of Obsidian, the home of Tezcatlipoca. It is near Midnight and few Dreamers are about. Millions of stars fill the night sky like diamonds scattered unto a sheet of velvet. Dreamland’s immense moon is only a visible thin sliver of bleached bone. I pass the guarding jaguars and walk the empty halls to Tezcat’s throne. My heartbeat begins to race. I’m nervous, a bit afraid and I admit, a bit turned on. Who could forget that body of hers, huge full melon breasts? Wonderful curves. All that bare skin with the gray smoke swirling out of her teasing you, letting you only see a little glimpse of skin here and then there. The ultimate Sex Goddess. My reverie is interrupted by the sight of the real thing when I come to her throne room.
“Welcome, Lamont, our Chosen One. Come into our presence and sit near us.”
I can’t help myself. I rush to be by her. She clothes herself in the smoke that rises off her silver, black, white, red, and blue skin like sweat off of someone in a steam room. She is overwhelming. Her presence and her scent of honey and vanilla fill me and I’m consumed.
“Your wish is ever my command, O’ Tezcat.”
“You are sweet our little one. Sweet like precious chocolate is your flesh. Soon you will give it to us. And towards this end, we have your gift.”
“You said you had a book of spells for me.”
“There on the steps beside our seat is our gift. There is the painted book, The Book of Red and Black. The flower songs of those that danced before our smoking mirrors.”
he book is bound in pale tanned leather. Inside is painted pictographs like the ones on the burning, but not consumed, door that first led me to Dreamland. I stare at the pages and soon everything begins to spin. I stumble across images like a stone skipping across the water. Then the stone sinks beneath the water, and so do I. Down into the inky black waters I plunge. I sink into the dark ink.
“You will find this, our gift, waiting for you in the Library of Dreams. Ask for the Book of Red and Black.”
I awaken. The throne room is empty. Oh. My head hurts. My eyes sting. I have one huge, massive headache. Hammers pounding between eyes. The book is gone. I stumble out of her obsidian temple. I can tell by the length of my own shadow that it must be noon already. I promised to meet Basha at the Queen of the Night’s temple. She’s probably there waiting for me. I’m late; I’m late for a very important date.
 From John Heywoods’ book Proverbs, (chapter 10), a collection of English colloquial sayings first printed in 1546 and reprinted in 1598 and later reissued in 1874 when it was edited by Julian Sharman.
 Pg. 83, The Flayed God: The MesoAmerican Mythological Tradition; Sacred texts and Images From Pre-Columbian Mexico and Central America, By Roberta H. Markman and Peter T. Markman, HarperSanFrancisco, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1992.
I feel soft hands. I’m shaking a little. I’m drenched in sweat. Soft hands. Soothing words. Cinnamon. I smell cinnamon.
“Lamont, can you hear me. Everything is all right now. That damned demon is gone. We forced him out. You will be fine now.”
My lids feel like lead. I struggle to open them. Finally, when I do I see Basha’s beautiful face filled with concern for me!
“Ahhh...” I moan.
“You are back.”
“Ahhh...how do you know it’s really me?” I ask.
“That is easy. Only the real Lamont is so suave and articulate, that is how I can tell. So? Are you interested in getting up or do you intend to lie there all day?”
“Do I have to?” She’s so close. A soft breath away.
“We cannot stay here forever.”
Why not? ”Yeah. I guess so. I feel so weak.”
“Well, you went through a lot. Here let me help you up.”
I survey the scene. Everyone is worn out but glowing with the feeling of satisfaction.
“Do you know what happened to me?” I ask.
“Sort of,” Boots answers. “Some sort of demon took you over. As to how it got in you, we’re clueless.”
“I have been thinking,” Basha says. “I believe that the Shamanic books that you read must have been the cause. You must have tried to use what was in the books. You probably do not remember doing this because of the thing that you unknowingly called into you when you ventured into the Shamanic trance.”
“Oh,” I articulately respond.
“Our lesson for today is,” Basha continues, “do not go messing around with knowledge that you have not been properly trained to use. If you want to try some magic, ask me next time.”
“Really?” I reply.
“Yes,” Basha emphatically states.
“Hey! I just remembered!” I blurt out, “I do need some magic making. How could I have forgotten this for so long? It doesn’t make sense. Oh well, better late than never.”
“What are you talking about?” Boots asks.
“I’ve suddenly remembered what I should have been doing ever since I got to Dreamland.”
“Which is?” Basha asks.
“Look for Jon,” I answer, “that’s what.”
“Who is this Jon person?” Basha asks.
“Did your mom tell you about Lana and Jon?”
“No. Why should she?” Basha responds, “What am I missing here?
I tell everyone about my dream, how I saw Jon walk through some sort of a gate between worlds. I tell them what Tezcat told me, without naming names, about how Jon is now in Dreamland and how we need magic to bring them back together.
“You sure know how to pick them,” Boots observes.
“A little magic?” Basha exclaims, “I have no idea how to do this.”
“Are you saying Basha,” Boots asks, “that we’re not going to try to help?”
“This sounds like a whole lot of trouble coming down the tracks,” Lenore remarks.
“Sure we should,” Boots replies, “Just because I’ve never felt it, doesn’t mean I don’t believe in storybook love. This Lana and Jon sound like they found this true love thing.”
“What about everyone else,” Basha asks, “Zeh’Brah, Oolong, and Selene? Should we help Lamont, bring the two love birds back together?”
Most of the witches respond in the affirmative without hesitation, all except for one.
“‘We must not be hasty, for it is easier to shout stop! Than to do it,’ ” Lenore recites in response.
“Why the hesitation?” Basha asks.
“This could be dangerous,” Lenore replies, “You asked us to help out this friend of yours, Lamont and look at what happened.”
“And nothing happened to any of us,” Boots blurts out.
“Only to Basha,” Lenore corrects, “the rest of us came out of this unscathed. But that might have been mere chance, it could have been any one of us who got singled out.”
“But nothing happened,” Basha obfuscates, “It was no big deal. I...ah, fainted, that was all.”
“Yeah, right,” Lenore continues her accusation, “You look like shit. Your stoic act might fool the others but not me. That thing that was in Lamont tried to get to you, didn’t it?”
“After a fashion. I was regaled with its attention,” Basha confesses, “But it was really fixated on Lamont. It wasn’t interested in anyone else.”
“But it could have been,” Lenore continues, “it could have transferred its fixation, as you put it, to one of us? We were just lucky it wasn’t, according to you. Besides, you aren’t really telling us the whole truth about what you experienced in your encounter with it, are you?”
“What is there to tell?” Basha continues to obfuscate.
“Volumes,” Lenore continues, “The point is we don’t really know what we’re getting ourselves into by agreeing to help Lamont bring those two back together. It could be dangerous.”
“Perhaps,” Basha concedes, “But, if there turns out to be any danger we can always back out then.”
“That’s easy to say now, but once we’ve committed ourselves, it won’t be so easy. Pride, if nothing else could be our briar patch.”
“That is only if we allow it to be,” Basha says, “We always have a choice. Think of it as a challenge, Lenore.”
“But, Basha,” Lenore demurs, “honestly, has anyone ever done this opening up of doorways between the worlds before?”
“That is the exciting part,” Basha asserts, “besides, do you have any other more pressing engagements? It will be an adventure. So, how about it, are you in or out?”
“I don’t like this,” Lenore sighs, “and I have a feeling I’m going to regret all this later, but, since everyone else is going along with the program, I’m in.”
“That settles that,” Basha turns to me. “Well Lamont, the Wicked Witches are coming to the rescue. Though how we can pull this off I cannot fathom at the moment.”
“I know how,” I say with a feeling of unease, recalling Tezcat’s message to me.
“What?” Basha says with surprise, “How do you know this?”
“While you were doing the ritual,” I fabricate, “I had a vision. I saw a book that can help us.”
“Lamont,” Basha laughs, “when you go up to heaven, and come face to face with the heavenly court, standing before our Maker, blessed be her name, to you she will appear in the form of a book, of that I am certain. So, you had a vision of a book. What book? Can you be a little specific, does it have a title, and perhaps do you have any clues as to where in the world we find this one book out of the billions of books that exist?”
“In my vision the book was in a library,” I reply, “the library is in some temple of the Goddess. As for the book's title, it was called the ‘Book of shattering’ or maybe the ‘Book of the shattered’, something like that.”
“Well,” Basha speculates, “my Mom is the head librarian of the
Great Library of Dreams. This is housed in the Queen of the Nights temple. I presume that is the place that you are talking about. Maybe she does know a book with that title.”
“Well, what are we waiting for,” I exclaim, “it’s off to the library we shall go!”
“Great,” Boots says sarcastically, “checking out a library is definitely my idea of a fun time.”
“Hold your horses, Kid,” Basha calmly interrupts, “we have had a rough time here and I think we have accomplished enough for one night. I think we are not going anywhere except back to our own bedrooms to get some sleep. We can talk about all this later; the book is probably not going anywhere.”
Everyone agrees and they all depart; soon only Basha and I are left.
“Good,” Basha blurts out, “Now that everyone is gone, you can start by telling me what is really going on here.”
“Then you are either a little dumb or you are lying. And since we both know, you are not stupid, that only leaves option number two. Now out with it. You know more about all of this than you have so far disclosed.”
“For one thing that thing, that demon, did not just happen to possess you. For another, it claims to be a god, and I bet my bottom dollar you knew that.”
“He did?” That’s odd, why is Basha referring to Tezcat as a he? Tezcat’s anatomical features were quite obvious to me.
“Yes,” Basha continues, “So, what do you know about this self-proclaimed god?”
“I told you. I don’t know…”
“Come on Lamont. You, who probably never met a book you did not like, are you telling me that you have not checked out this Tezcatlipoca, the blue warrior of the south? Not even in a one, single book?”
“Hmm? You know, that is odd. I confess. I honestly never did. Which is...”
“For you, extremely bizarre. This leads me to conclude that this guy really had you under his spell, and it must have been a strong one at that, considering he was able to stop your most basic inclinations.”
“It was strong. Tezcat did take complete control of me.”
“He kept on referring to you as his chosen. I do not like the sound of that. You need to check out this guy. He said he was an Aztec and Mayan God, amongst others. I did not recognize the other names. You report back, got it?”
“Knowledge is our best defense. Good hunting, Kid.”
Basha poofs out of Dreamland like a candle suddenly extinguished. She’s right. It must be Tezcat’s spell that kept me from looking her up in some book. And why is it that Tezcat appears to me as female and to Basha as some male deity called the blue Tezcatlipoca?
Curiouser and curiouser.
 J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings, book II The Two Towers, chapter four, pg. 77+.
The sound of dark icy laughter gives me the creeps. It drips with evil. Out of Lamont’s body, I see a spectral form arise like a ghost taking leave of a dead corpse. At first, the spectral form takes on the shape of a multi-hued blue feathered hummingbird. It then sheds its skin and out of dense blue smoke appears an indigo skinned Hispanic male dressed in a plumed headdress, multicolored leather skirt, and leather sandals. He holds the fire serpent shape sword and spear.
“Who are you?”
“We are Tezcatlipoca! We are one and four. To our dear heart, we are the dark one of the North. For you, we have shown our form as the warrior of the south. The sun’s zenith, the warring sun. The blue Tezcatlipoca. We are also known by the name Huitzilopochtli , the hummingbird of the south, in your ancestor's tongue.”
“Actually you have got it wrong. My direct ancestors, my grandparents, were not native to this land, and did not speak English. I am only a second-generation English speaker.”
“Ever the insolent child.”
“Yes, that is me.”
I listen for Boots, expecting some kind of retort or come back, to my remark, but there is none. Oddly, I am surrounded by silence. Someone has messed with the audio portion of this picture. I have been so caught up in arguing with this apparition that I failed to notice what has been going on around me. Or, should I say, has not been going on.
“Everyone has just stopped moving. How did this happen?”
“You noticed. We have stepped out of the river of time and now we walk along its bank. Only we and thee are unaffected by the flow of the river.”
“I am flattered. So, tell me, why me?”
“You are obviously the leader of this band of women. You are strong and tightly bound. When you walk amongst the others, you move like an eagle across the sky.”
“Oh. Really? We do not actually have an official leader, but I guess I am the unofficial one. I am impressed with all this time stopping magic and the costume and all, but the bottom line here is that you have got to leave. My guess is that our magic was working and we forced you out of Lamont. You have stopped time and thus stopped our spell. But, we cannot stay here indefinitely. Can we?”
“You babble like a brook. You are not as clever as you think. We are outside the flow of the river that is time. We can remain here as long as we so choose.”
“That may or may not be the whole enchilada. This is a spell, and like any spell, it takes energy to cast and maintain it. I wonder how long you really could keep this up. Forever? Somehow you do not impress me as the forever type.”
“You prattle on. Your words are as scratches made in jade. You show no respect. To your women you are an eagle. To us, you are but a pigeon. We are your master. There will come a time when all will come and tremble before our mat.”
“What an inflated sense of self you got there. Who and what are you really?”
“We are a God.”
Suddenly I am falling. I feel the rush of cold air and the roar of the wind like the sound of a dozen lions. I am falling. All I see around me is the bluest sky, the whitest white wispy clouds, and nothing else. The colors are so clear and bright it stings my eyes. I look down and far, far below is the earth.
“Look upon your doom. You are helpless as you rush to embrace your death. Now, do you believe?”
“Me, helpless? Not likely. Watch O’ Southern Tezcatlipoca. Ignite Basha, Ignite!” I feel that rush of searing red exploded in me. I am aflame! I am fire. Gravity no longer has any hold over me and I hover under my own flaming power. Then I see Him Standing on a cloud next to me. “See O’ Blue warrior of the South. I too know some tricks. So, Mr. God. What did you call yourself? The blue Tezcatlipoca? What people called you their God?”
“We were worshipped by many peoples, the Olmecs, the Zapotecs, the Maya, the Toltecs, the Aztecs, many peoples harkened to our voice. As soon many shall once more come before the mat of the
Eagle and the Jaguar and tremble before us.”
“Sorry. Never heard of them.”
“You will. And sorrow will fill your lungs like the smoke of my fires.”
“What makes you think you’re wanted now?”
“We have smelled the offerings made to us. Millions of souls burned in the sacred fires. Their ashes floating like beautiful feathers in the wind. Mountains of fire. Cleansed white bones dazzling in the sunlight. Such a delight for our eyes. Your people were offered up on those sacred pyres.”
“Fire? Ashes? Mill...! O Dear Shekinah, Mother of All. You are talking of them, may their names be blotted out forever! The Nazis. The Holocaust.”
“Such devotion has not been shown to us in so long. That sweet smell filled our nostrils with delight and out of death’s deep slumber, we awoke. And thus we know that not only are the stars almost right for our return, but now so many people are willing to worship us in accordance with the sacred rites.”
“No way! No Goddess blessed way! You like fire, here have some of mine!”
My rage burns out and I blast Him. My hands are like twin flame-throwers as I bathe him in my rage. All he does is laugh. How can this be?
“Pretty eagle. Pretty pigeon. You do not still understand before whom you stand.”
“So? Enlighten me.”
“We shall. It amuses us to so instruct you. Feel the crushing weight of our night.”
From his hand, a ribbon, which shimmers like indigo silk, floats in the air. Then like a rattlesnake, it rises up and strikes. It envelopes my hands and begins to wrap around them. I struggle with the indigo ribbon. It feels as smooth as silk but it has a life of its own. It manages to wrap around my flaming hands and bind them together. The other end of the ribbon wraps around my legs and continues to wrap around me. As it does it smothers my flame. Without my flame, gravity wraps its hands around me and yanks me downward.
Soon I am an indigo mummy plummeting earthward. There is a roaring sound like the ocean. It is the air rushing by as I all too rapidly descend. I cannot move.
The ribbon fights me and tries to inhibit my slightest movement. Even the labored rising of my chest to breathe is met with resistance. I cannot take this confinement. My muscles twitch, aching for release and freedom. I am being crushed like a serpent’s victim. It is getting harder and harder to breathe.
Think Basha. Concentrate. But, then, there is an impact.
Blackness with flashes of scarlet. Agony. Pain from my arms, legs, and chest. Now I know what broken bones feel like. Pain lancing throughout my body. I cannot move-my every limb is shattered bones. I just want to sink into the pain and disappear. I hear laughter! His laughter! Damn him. Who does he think he is? He is treating me like I am something he can dismiss with a flick of his finger. No. I have to stop him. Lamont is counting on me to free him. Arrgh! Dear Mother! My chest is being used as a pincushion. Each breath I take moves my broken ribs and they cut into my lungs like blades of a hundred swords. That is it. Go into the pain, Basha. Dive into and let it become everything! Dear Mother, I hurt! All there is, is pain.
Now I must burn. Become a ball of searing fire to consume my flesh. Become the setting sun. A ball of flaming agony, which sets into the sea of pain.
Heat. Warmth. Life. Breathe. I am the sun that rises with the Dawn. I am born anew once again! This is the cycle of life that is eternal! I am the sun and I fill the world with my healing, life-giving light! I feel exhilarated as I rise and my light pushes back the night and the fear that night once brought.
“Did you find amusing my ribbons of indigo night? That was a trifle. The smallest expression on my will, of my power.’
“You cannot stop me that easily. I am like …”Arrgh. He thrusts his spear into my chest. Arrgh! He yanks it out and my blood bubbles out of the hole left behind by his spear.
“Why do you continue to challenge us?”
“Why...have you possessed Lamont?” I gurgle out.
“We are the asker of questions. It is you who must answer.”
“Why does everyone seem to get so annoyed whenever a question is given as a response to a question?”
“You are insolent.”
I am thrust through with his spear again. Arrgh! “Quite true and you are arrogant. Ohhh. I never knew how immensely painful...having a spear rammed into one’s gut can be. Damn...I thought it was...bad enough to have it pushed in...and then pulled out. It does not feel so good...to have it just hang in me. Ohhh. Damn! It would be a real inconvenience...to bleed to death, there is so much to do here.”
“We are weary of this game. Leave us.”
“No. Not until...you have agreed to leave Lamont.”
“What is he to you?”
“He is someone who needs help. And I am someone who is in a position to help.”
“That is all? He is not kin? Not of your tribe?”
“No. He is a stranger to me.”
“You risk your life for a stranger? Again, I must ask, what is he to you? A lover?”
“Absolutely not! No way! Where did you ever get such a crazy idea? He is just a kid. Okay, he is Cute. But...but...he is still just a kid. We are friends. That is it. Just friends. Nothing else.”
“The Lady doth protest too much, methinks. ’ Then why do you endure all of this?”
“What you are doing is evil.”
“What we have done is not evil. We are offering our Corazon a great gift. A gift of power.”
“Did he ask for your gift?”
“He did not know to ask. He was chosen. The gift of power goes to the chosen vessel. That is how it must be.”
“He did not ask. You forced yourself on him. This is evil. You took away his right to choose. And I believe that if we asked him, he would refuse your gift of power. He does not seem to be the kind that wants power.”
“He cannot refuse. He is the Chosen One. That is his fate. That is his destiny. He is the Opener of the Way.”
“You see, you impose your desires without any concern for his wants. That is why what you do is evil.”
“To you it is evil. To us it is necessity.”
“I cannot hear of such evil being done and ignore it. If someone threatens a stranger today and is not stopped, then tomorrow someone I know, or perhaps even me will be next. Evil acts must be stopped. Evil acts inevitably threaten everyone.”
“Thus you must pay the price of your interference.”
Damn! Ohhh. He’s turning me into his personal pincushion.
Hades balls! Arrgh! Another one! This is getting to be painfully repetitious and boring. I need to do something. I grab one of the wooden spears and burn it into ashes. I burn each out of my body that way. I am still bleeding from each of the wounds. My life force leaks out of me. I have had enough of this. The next spear comes whizzing at me and I form a staff of flames and knock his spear out of the way. Then another comes at me. I move to knock it aside. Then another. Block it with my staff. Then another. My arms move on their own. It is as if I am a spectator. I watch as one after another of the oncoming spears are deflected. How long can I keep this up? Enough! I go nova! I become a searing sun that burns all the spears out of the sky.
“I can burn your spears all day. But this is getting us nowhere. Perhaps the fire of Righteousness will give you pause.” A fiery sword of justice forms in my right hand and I thrust it at him. This time he reacts. He can feel my flames.
O God, help me! The fire burns me! Please make it stop!
(Corazon, do you wish the pain to stop?)
Yes! Please make it stop!
(We can. If you trust us. We will leave you. We must make adjustments to our plans. We have been discovered before you are ready to give us what we need.
That woman will not let us alone. We must be as the serpent in the jungle, hidden before he strikes. The time is not now right. We must now return to our first plan, we will allow you to remember the task of finding the Jon Dale. We will once again use that hapless mortal as the bait in the trap. We shall help you with that task Lamont. You must begin to search for him. In the end, we know with certainty that you will give us what we desire. Your destiny has not been altered. Trust us. Believe us. To this end, come to our temple. There we will give you a book, which will show you the way. We know there is also a book for the Basha, A book of Shattering, A book by one who was shattered. She must seek it out in the Temple of her Goddess. Tell her this. Tell her she needs to do this to help you. Will you do what we ask?)
Yes! Anything! I’ll do anything, please, make this stop.
(As a sign of our trust in you, for now, we will no longer take over your flesh. We will once again be only a trusting voice in your ear. For now, that is enough.)
Anything! Arrgggg! Anything! The Pain ... I can’t...
I intensify my heat. Blasting him. Righteous indignation wells up in my and is poured out in my fire. Evil is countered by justice.
“This is not how it should be. The stars are not yet right. That time will come. On that day, remember this. He is the one. On that day, you will come to believe as we proclaim. We are your one true God.”
“You can just go on holding your breath indefinitely on that one, you will never be a god of mine.”
“Then you must learn the price of not acknowledging us. You are insignificant and have become an annoyance. We shall depart but in so doing we leave behind a parting gift that shall end your existence here.”
A funnel of jade wind begins to form around him. My flames are sucked up into it. He fades from view; his image disperses on the whipping winds. There is now only a tornado of jade smoke. It engulfs me. I cannot see. Cannot breathe. The smell is horrible. It is like being in the center of a slaughterhouse on a hot summer day. The air is ripe with the scent of death and decay. Coughing. Can...not...breathe...the force of the winds are pulling me limb from limb. The winds are...ripping me apart. The stench and the smoke...can not breathe. Arrgh! My legs and arms are being wrenched out of their sockets! Can’t...Can’t...I am going to die!
Dear Goddess help me! Wait. I’ve got it. I call out in my mind.
“Hummingbird! Tezcatlipoca of the south! Huitzilopochtli! Here me! You cannot kill me!”
There is a flash of blue and contemptuous laughter.
“Soon you will take your last gasp of life. Your death in mere moments from now will prove my words to be true.”
I Struggle to find the air to concentrate. “Oh, yes, I cannot stop you from killing me. This is true. But, you will not. You cannot.”
“Child, we have heard enough of your scratching on jade. Why should we not depart and leave you to choke on your own thoughts?”
“Because...if I die all your plans for Lamont…will be ruined. This is why I cannot die.”
“If I die...by your hand. Lamont will know this. He will never forgive you. I know and you know, he is in love with me. You kill me and he will hate you for the rest of his life. Thus, ending his cooperation in your grand scheme of things.” I can barely think or see. I am losing consciousness. The world is a haze. Was I right? I can’t...breathe...all is dark...
Then, there is an explosion of life and air! I can breathe. I live.
“You are an impudent insect.”
I cough out a response, “True.”
“As you have reasoned correctly, we cannot kill you. But, we can silence you. You will never be able to impart this knowledge to our dear Corazon.”
Arrgh! My tongue has been ripped out. My mouth fills with pain and blood. I am gagging on it. Arrgh! Now, my mouth has been ripped off my face! I truly cannot speak!
“That is how it will be. Blessed is your silence. Kill you we cannot. This does not prevent us from inflicting punishment. We depart once more. But long will you remember this lesson of our power.”
I watch in mind-numbing terror as thousands of spears form all around me. They tremble with anticipation. Soon all that I can see is a dark wall of spearheads. They wait, in unseen hands to be let loose. Nooo! There is a thunderclap of pain as they strike. Every inch of my flesh screams...in agony. I can feel my self-covered...in blood…oozing out of my wounds. Too much. The pain is...ohhh...thank the Goddess...
The world of pain…has ceased. I lie in a pool of my own blood. But, I am alive. Lying on the blessed earth. Though, I am without strength or will. Rest.
How long has it been? I find the strength to open my eyes, but that is all. I am on the floor in the Queen’s temple. Everyone is still frozen in time. I blink. I feel like I have miraculously survived being hurled by a tornado.
“Basha? Basha! What’s wrong?”
Shaking. Earthquake? No. I am shaking? Someone is shaking me. Every inch of my body hurts. My eyes still sting from the smoke. I blink back tears and open my eyes.
“Boots? Ohh, Boots.”
“Basha you look awful. What happened?”
“I met up with a demon that had delusions of divinity.”
“Is that what was in Lamont?”
“Yes. He was not a happy demon. He showed me his displeasure by repeatedly trying to crush and suffocate me. Hundred-mile drops, crushing black ribbons, and a tornado. Did I forget to mention he threw in a few hundred spears into the deal? All, in all, this has not been one of my good days.”
“But Basha, when did all this happen? One moment you stopped singing and the next moment you fainted.”
“Too tired to explain. Boots help me up. I cannot move on my own.”
“Sure Basha. Lean on me.”
“Is he gone?” I ask.
“Who?” Boots answers.
“Him. The warrior Tezcatlipoca is he gone?”
“Who is that?”
“The megalomaniac demon that was possessing Lamont.”
“I don’t know.” Boots replies.
“How is Lamont? Any better?” I ask.
“He is still lying unconscious, stiff as a board.”
“We should continue the chant. Finish the spell.”
“For how long? How do we know when to stop? How can we tell when this demon has left Lamont?”
“I believe he is gone, but to be certain we should continue our spell. There should be some visible change in Lamont when the demon’s influence has left completely.”
“You need someone to watch over him?” Selene sings the words in a long drawn out breathy blues voice, like the old Torch songs. “That’ll be me.”
“Good,” I say. “Let us begin again.”
“Are you sure you’re okay Basha?” Boots asks. “Maybe you should rest.”
“No. I feel...fine,” I say, hopefully sounding better than I actually feel. “Just let me continue to lean on you.”
 (pron. Weit-zi-lo-poech’t-li)
 From William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, written around 1600-1601, Act III scene ii, line 242.BASHA
“Someone to watch over you.”WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1979
We continue on. It’s late afternoon and the sun paints the sky a blazing pink as it makes its way towards the horizon and, higher up, the huge waxing quarter moon has appeared in the darkening sky. When we get to the temple, we walk through the columned temple entrance into the moonlit night sky of an open inner courtyard. We are greeting by a priestess who is tending a central bonfire. Oh, wow! She’s like a living, breathing version of that famous toy doll. My gaze fixates on that famous, not-to-be-found in nature, chest. Those twin firm globes of flesh are both enormous and gravity-defying. After a few seconds, I manage to pull my eyes away from her amazing mammaries. This twenty-something lady has crystal blue eyes, thick wavy, shoulder-length, bleached-blonde hair, a tiny waist, minimal hips, and a small, firm round butt.
Her clothes are as provocative as her figure. She’s wearing the most incredibly high, python leather boots I’ve ever seen. They go all the way up her shapely legs. She also has on long snakeskin gloves that nearly reach her armpits. As for the rest of her Dream-suit, it isn’t much. Under normal circumstances, I’d say she was wearing a bikini top and bottom made of python skin. Except here, there are literally no strings attached. There isn’t any visible means of support for the cloth; it’s all done by will power. On her stomach is a tattoo of a Python and it is drawn so that its open mouth holds the large diamond she wears in her navel. I catch a whiff of her perfume, which is the scent of musk.
“You are welcome in the house of the Goddess. How may we be of service...Oh, it’s you, Basha.”
The Living Doll notices me noticing her.
“He’s cute. What gives Basha? Are you so hard up for boyfriends that you’ve taken up robbing cradles?”
“Who? The Kid? No way. He is no way my boyfriend. He is merely the reason I called us all together. He is the one we are trying to help. Kid, this is Boots. Boots, this is Lamont.”
“Your name should have been obvious.”
“Such a boring outfit Lamont,” Boots says after walking around me to get a good look. “Can’t you do better than that? Although, the skin-tight fit does show off your nice buns.”
I blush and stammer out, “Ahh. That’s my problem. I can’t do anything with my Dream-suit. All I’ve managed to do is to get it from drab and bland mousy gray to this darker shade. As for how it fits, it’s not my doing, believe me.”
“Don’t worry,” Boots says. “Sometimes Dream talents can’t be rushed. They come when they do; at least that’s how it was with me. And, if you ever do learn to dream up some new clothes, take my advice, stick to the same tailor. It really shows off your ass-ets, if you get my drift.”
I try not to blush again.
“Are we done with the fashion review?” Basha interjects.
“I believe so,” Boots says.
“Good.” Basha says, “Is everyone else here and ready?”
“Yes, Basha. We’re the last and I’m now off the clock. The next attendee is running a bit late. I was just hanging out waiting for you to show up. Shall we go?”
“After you, my dear Boots.”
Boots takes up a torch, ignites it in the fire, and leads us down marble corridors. I walk behind them in the flickering darkness, which, all things considered, is a great place to be. A sensual delight. Besides the visual, there is a wonderful mixture of fragrances; the spicy smell of cinnamon, the heady scent of musk all mixed with the pungent smell of pitch. As we walk, Basha’s Dream-suit/catsuit begins to glow. It now has a sheer effect, which, while brazenly concealing her nakedness in semi-transparency, it just as shamelessly reveals the hourglass curves of her great looking body. The suit now displays the sun rising between the hills of Basha’s breasts and the sun setting in the valley between her legs. In her navel, she too wears a gemstone. Basha's is a red ruby.
We arrive at a doorway covered by thick burgundy-colored velvet curtains. We step through, entering a huge empty rectangular room with bare polished wooden floors and a high domed ceiling. All along the wall is a mantle where hundreds of votive candles are lit providing much of the room’s lighting. The back wall of the room is a huge walk-in fireplace.
An Asian woman, whose backside is turned towards us, is tending the fire. In the way of conventional attire she is wearing black high-heeled sandals, smoke-tinted, thigh-high stockings, and lastly, long coal-colored leather gloves. The rest of her is covered by an elaborate tattoo. It is an image of a long ebony reptilian tail traveling between her legs to curl up the center of her back. She has straight, shoulder-length jet-black hair, which soaks up all light, smothering it into its dark depths. When she finishes with the fire, she turns and I can see that the reptile displayed on her Dream-suit is a Chinese variant of a Dragon. The Dragon spreads out with its head lying against her neck, facing the viewer. The upper claws of the Dragon cover her breasts. In her navel is a black jade gemstone.
Another navel ornament. I’m detecting a theme for this group. In the room center, everyone congregates and we go to join them.
“Witches,” Basha announces. “This is The Kid. Also known as Lamont. Kid, these are the members of my coven.”
I’m getting awfully tired of this Kid stuff.
“The name is Lamont,” I proclaim.
“We call ourselves,” Basha continues, “the Wicked Witches of Atlantis. The Dragon lady you are staring at is Oolong.” I catch her scent, which reminds me of an Asian smoky flavored tea.
“Next to her is Zeh’Brah...”
She is a tall and very slender Caucasian woman with a mane of sable-colored hair. Her only ordinary clothing items are her calf-high black leather boots. The rest of her Dream-suit forms black bands that stretch all across her pale skin. The bands are strategically placed to cover the more intimate parts of her anatomy. In her navel is a large white opal. I discern the heady, sweet smell of White Shoulders perfume.
“I’m Lenore,” a tanned blonde girl states with a smile. Lenore has the tanned California beach girl look, with azure blue eyes and curly ringlets of blonde hair. She wears white leather go-go boots. Two large and perfectly formed Scallop shells cover her breasts. In her navel, is a huge pearl. The remainder of her Dream-suit forms into the image of an Octopus, whose head resides below her waist, and the arms of the Octopus wrap around her legs. I catch the scent of Giorgio.
“And last, but absolutely not the least by any stretch, I go by the name Selene,” Selene announces.
Selene is a large, plentiful woman with an hourglass figure. She is of African descent and has her black hair styled like an Egyptian queen. Her Dream-suit is an incredible field of stars set against the dark night sky of her natural skin color. She has the Milky Way wrapped around her body and a large spiral galaxy centered on her front and one centered on her back. She wears leather sandals with straps wound up her muscular calves. In her navel is a blue stone of lapis lazuli. I catch a whiff of her subtle lavender scent. The group forms a powerful and heady bouquet.
Basha motions me to stand silent with the others, as Boots steps out of the center.
Out of nowhere, Boots now has in her hands a silver sword with twirled Celtic snakes forming the hilt and handle. She struts towards the altar in the north and, with the tip of the sword, traces out the sign of the pentagram. The pattern of the forest green pentagram floats and sparkles in the air. As she does this, she calls out.
“By the Earth that is her body and the forests that is his home.”
She sashays to the center of the eastern wall. She conjures a glowing azure pentagram in the air.
“By the air that is her breath and the music that is his song.”
She repeats the circuit of the room, this time stopping in the center of the southern wall, wherein lies the fireplace. From there she conjures a flaming red pentagram. “By the fire of her bright spirit and the heat that is his passion.”
She comes to face the west and conjures a pale blue pentagram. “By the waters of her living womb and the dew that is his tears.”
She then undulates over to where she started her perambulations and stops in the very center of the room. She points her silver sword Earthward draws the pentacle of rich brown soil and dull gray of stone, and then with a circular motion and brings the sword skyward to trace the second pentacle of sun and starlight in the air above.
“By all that is below and all that is above. The circle is cast. We are between the worlds. What is between the worlds can heal the worlds.”
The sword and the pentagrams all vanish at the same time. Next, Oolong gracefully glides toward the altar set against the Eastern wall. She opens wide her arms, as if to hug the sky.
“Air, my breath, breeze of morning. Stallion of the dawn star. Whirlwind, bearing all that soars in flight. Bee and bird. Sweet Fragrance. Wailing storm’s voice. Carry us! Powers of the East send forth your light.”
Between her hands forms a glowing ball of blue fire, which she sets down within a blue bowl in the altar’s center. The ball of fire remains as Oolong returns to the center of the room. Basha strides towards the fireplace set in the southern wall.
“Baruch atah Shekhinah, Malcha Olam! Blessed be the Shekinah, Queen of the Universe! Fire my heart, burn bright. Our spirit is your flame. A blaze leaps from nerve to nerve. Spark of the solar fire! An answering heat raises unbearable delight! The flames sing. Fire consumes us! Powers of the South send forth your heat, your energy, your flame!”
I am captivated by Basha’s beauty. The firelight splashes against her and ignites the glow of her dual suns. Her tanned skin glows a gleaming pale bronze. Her wavy red hair weaves the light into itself and becomes a halo of fire. She is the embodiment of living fire. The fire coalesces into the ruby in her navel and, out of that, comes forth a fiery sun to rest upon the altar. She returns to the center of the room and Lenore, with ceremonial pace, approaches the western altar.
“Water our womb, our blood. Wash over us. Cool us. Waves sweep ashore on white wings. The rush, the hiss, the rumble of stones as the tidewater’s caresses the shore. That rhythm our pulse. Flood, gushing fountain. We pour ourselves out. Sweep us away! Powers of the West send forth your flow.”
She forms a ball of flame to sit like a fiery pearl on an open shell. With each flicker, the flames change color. First, that of the clear jade green of the Pacific, then the dark blue of the icy waters of the Arctic ocean, the lighter blues of the Mediterranean, the froth white of a raging river, and the calm blue of a deep lake. The flame keeps changing to match the myriad colors of water. Lenore pivots and, with measured steps returns to the center. Zeh’Brah slowly trots over to the altar along the northern wall.
“Earth our bone, our body. Mountains our breasts. Green grass and leafy tree our trailing hair. Rich dark dust, oozing mud. Seed sending white root deep. Carpet of molding autumn leaves. Be our bed! Powers of the North send forth your deep abiding strength.” 
She manifests a lump of black coal, which begins to implode and transforms into a gleaming glowing diamond, which is set upon the altar. From the diamond, there gushes forth a rainbow of light. She then prances back to rejoin the group. Selene steps into the room’s center and spreading out her arms, she rises up on one foot and twirls around like a ballerina. Faster and faster, she spins into a blur becoming a cone of rainbow light reaching from the floor to the ceiling. Then, like the petals of a collapsing flower, she folds into a huddle on the floor. Once again she rises, with arms outstretched, like leaves grasping for the nourishment of the morning sun.
“We are between the worlds. Beyond the bounds of time. When night and day, birth and death, joy, and sorrow meet as one. This is the Center. From here, all the spirals of life radiate outward. This is where the One Tree resides. The sacred Tree of Life that is the Sefiroth; the sacred tree others called Yggdrasil. The tree of origin that is the central pillar of the many realms of the worlds, known by a multitude of names, in a multitude of languages. Hail the Power of the Center. Ground us. Lead us safely outward and back!”
Basha then intones. “The fire is lit, the ritual has begun. I call upon you O’ Shekinah bestow upon us your wisdom, your truth, and your blessings.”
All gathered in the room respond with “Blessed be!”
Basha in a hushed clear voice begins to speak. “Now take a moment to pay attention to your body and the air you are taking in. Feel the stuff of life that you breathe. Focus on your breathing. Let it come in and out naturally. Feel it flow through you. Feel its soothing effects flow down your neck into your chest and lungs. Feel a calming sensation flow ever downward. Through your belly, through your sex, traveling down your legs and into your feet. Now, imagine that you are a tree and your feet are your roots. Imagine those roots digging into the Earth below us all. They travel down into the soil; deep down they go. Passing with ease down into the very center of our Mother. Down into the heart of fire that is the core of this planet. Feel the heat. Feel the power that she has. Now, let all your unwanted thoughts and feelings flow down your roots. All the stuff of this day, and of days past. Any thoughts, feelings, or energies you do not want, you do not need, let them flow downward into the Earth’s core. Let them be composted. Let all of that stuff be released. Let go of it. Let your voice call out that release.”
As a spark carried on a strong wind, each is touched. Once so touched, a low growling sound comes forth. Everyone begins to shriek, moan, groan, or yell out.
“With your voice purge yourself of all you want to be released!”
After a few more seconds, the howling dies down.
“Good. Now feel her cleansing power, her cleansing fire flow into your roots and journey upward. Feel the warmth flowing up and up. Feel it in your toes as it flows up your thighs, into your sex. It fills you. It heats you up with its soothing heat. It goes up into your belly and up into your chest. Feel it flow into your shoulders and through your arms. Up it goes into you, this healing soothing warmth of the Mother, into your throat and up into your head. The energies are a fountain pouring through you and it shoots up and out of the top of your head to flow skyward. We are a conduit for the cleansing power of our Earth Mother. Take in as much of this clearing, healing energy, as you need. Then give back to her what you do not need.”
After a few seconds, first one, then others kneel down and place their hands on the wood floor. Soon everyone is kneeling.
“Blessed be,” Basha whispers.
And her whisper is spoken by the group.
We slowly stand back up. Now Boots begins to speak.
“We call upon Goddess in her many incarnations. Many names. One Being. She of the three countenances: Maiden, Mother and Crone. Giver of life. Let us chant to honor her. Sing with me, ‘Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Shekinah!’  ”
Everyone else takes up the chant. The words have a natural rhythm and they flow easily. I begin to sing with them.
(No! You shall have no other Gods but us!)
The voice drowns out all others. The voice shatters all else. I begin to shake. (Flee! Flee! Flee!) A feeling grabs me and compels me. (Flee! Flee! I command you. Now! Now! Now!) I let go of the hands I am holding and step away from the group. (Flee! Flee! Flee! Flee! Flee!)
The sound of Basha’s voice calling my name, saying my name for the first time, takes my breath away and brings me to a halt.
(No! Do not stop! Obey us! Flee!)
Panic hits. I shudder as if I was doused in icy water. Hands touch me. Hands hold me. Hands are restraining me! I’m sweating and shaking. I must flee! Get away! I must!
“Let go of me!” I cry out, “You can’t do this! Let me go! Get away!”
I break free and run toward the exit. (Escape!) I hear behind me Boots’ voice calling out. (Run!) Suddenly a wall of fire appears ahead of me. (Get away from here!) I turn. Then the ground all around me begins to shake. (Do not stop!) A mass of earth rises up suddenly. No time to... Impact. The smell of grass and moist earth. Pain. Falling. Hands grab me. Arms hold me. I am floating. I am being smothered by warm skin all around me. What do they want with me? What am I doing here? (Flee! Flee! Danger! Danger! Listen to us! Listen only to us!) I feel a sense of fear. I feel the comforting warmth of motherly flesh offered up to sustain me, comfort me, feed my needs, and take away my fear.
Ohh. White light. Warmth. Sound. What happened? I blacked out. I’m surrounded by female hands and faces. Basha’s coven. From their hands, pour forth white, soothing light. Bathing me. Pouring deep into me. And I hear a wordless chant, rising and falling with each breath.
“Stop the daggers! Stop the knives!”
“Lamont? What’s going on? Are you okay?”
“Who stands before the jaguar and the eagle mat?”
I hear voices. I hear my voice! But I am not speaking. What am I saying? Everyone is talking in gibberish. I can’t understand a word that is being said, although I know I hear my own voice saying this gibberish.
“Who are you? You are not Lamont.”
“We are the dark night. We are the wild wind. Kneel before approaching the jaguar mat and the mat of eagles. Show respect for the black and red of the ancients.”
How can I be speaking and yet not speaking? What is happening to me?
Oh my God! Tezcat! Tezcatlipoca has possessed me once again. I’m now but a silent shadow lurking in the desolate corridors of my own mind! I’m possessed! Doomed!
“Kneel? Respect? Those are big words. Words that have to be earned.”
“We know what happens when too long have the ancient words have gone unspoken. The ancient voices have too long been silent. Regrettable it is that your fathers did not instruct you to harken to the voice of the wind and the voice of the night.”
“Obedience was one of my father’s constant lessons. You are correct. ‘Hear O’ Israel’. ‘Listen, Daughter, these are the commandments I command you this day.’ ‘These are the rules in my house.’ ‘No deviations.’ ‘This is the way it is.’ You two think a lot alike. I do not think the world is big enough for two ‘Ultimate Sources of Truth’, though the black or white world of my father would be familiar to you, O’ demon.”
(Damn you Tezcat! Why are you doing this to me? Why?)
(You asked for our help Lamont.)
(That’s true. I did.)
“If as you say you were taught the way of the black and the white, then you would know that to our voice you must obey.”
“No way!” Basha shouts back. “Blind, uncritical, obedience is not for me.”
“Such a choice is not for you to make, the time of our accessions is coming.”
“Your what time?” Basha asks.
“The time of our awakening is almost upon us. The time when all choices will be gone. Then you shall obey us. The stars will be brought around to our time. The time of our arising will then be here. Then all shall hear our voice and all shall harken to us.”
(I asked you, Tezcat, to help me bring Lana and Jon back together. I don’t understand how taking over my body accomplishes that.)
(We are preparing you for what is required.)
(How are you preparing me?)
(We were molding your body like the clay vessel that you are. Shaping you to be fit to receive our blessed being. Making the vessel stronger, making is fit for its task.) “Know now that we are the one true light in the eternal darkness. We are the only way to deal with the fear you feel. To give yourself to us. To trust us completely, blindly. To let us watch over you. Then you will forget that you are afraid of the night. Obedience is your destiny.”
“I know now who you are. I know the sound of a Czar, a Hitler, a Stalin, and a McCarthy. I do not, and will not ever march to the sound of that drummer. You speak the Great Lie. There is no Only One True Way.”
“Blasphemous! You should burn for those words.”
“Ahh. The sweet voice of orthodoxy.”
“You will pay for your insolence. You will pay for your disobedience. Our time is coming when all will hear our voice once more and all will obey.”
(Vessel? Task? I don’t understand?)
(Understanding is not required of you, only trust. We had wished to act under the cloak of shadows and silence. We did not wish our presence to be known by others yet. That time has not come. We have been noticed. Now we will not be left in peace for us to continue our task. Those others will be like flies buzzing around us while we try and feast. They will be a constant annoyance. They will be a distraction. We need focus. You need focus. Thus, we must alter the course of our plans. In the end, this will not matter. You are to be the gate. For now, you need only trust. You must trust us, dearest Corazon. We will help you to accomplish that which is your destiny. You will be the opener of the gate to our destiny.)
“I am getting tired of that tune. I’ve heard enough. It is time you were banished from Lamont. I cannot imagine that he cares to listen to your prattling any more than I do. Where you came from, I do not care, but I know that back to that black hole is where you will go. Leave my friend alone! Torment Lamont no more! By all that is Holy, all that is Sacred, by the many names of the Goddess and the God, I banish you! By all the power that is Holy, by all the power of three times three, this spell bound around you shall be! You who do not belong! You must leave! Spirit of Evil, unfriendly being, unwanted guest, begone!”
The Wicked Witches take up Basha’s chant. I can feel each word like needles pricking my skin. Everyone focuses on me and I can feel the intensity of their thoughts as heat as if I am being bathed in fire. All the while Tezcat laughs with sinister glee.
“Leave the body of Lamont! Leave this place! Leave this Circle! That the Shekinah may once again dwell within. Go! Or be cast into the Outer Darkness! Go! Or be drowned in the watery abyss! Go! Or be burned in the flames! Go! Or be torn by the whirlwind! Go! By the powers of life, death, and rebirth, spirit of evil be cast out!”
I feel myself being pulled by forces. I feel myself lift off the Earth. I am floating in a pool of energy. It burns. I am being roasted alive! I can see the words, sharp shards being flung at my bare skin. Cutting into my flesh. Why are they doing this to me? Can’t they see what’s happening?
“We banish you! We banish you! We banish you! Begone!”
Arrgggg! The flames burn my flesh. The shards, like pieces of glass as cold as ice, slice into my flesh!
“Your ritual is for naught. It has been foretold. He is the heart that is to be the gate.”
“You are not welcome here! By Air and Earth, By Water and Fire, You who have taken residence in our friend, you who do not belong, so be you bound, as we desire, by three and nine, your power we bind. By Moon and Sun, Our will be done. By Sky and Sea, you will leave!”
 This invocation as a way of beginning a ritual is an amalgam of the invocation that Starhawk learned from Victor Anderson, with some lines she added herself. Source is Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery, pg. 111 - 112, Harper San Francisco, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1987. Newly added are the references to the God whose words were composed by Todd Herriot. I made two minor changes, I changed ‘his grove’ to ‘the forests’, and I start below and then go above in casting the center.
 The invocations used to address the four compass points is Basha Edelman’s adaptation of an invocation composed by Starhawk found on page 87 of the 10th anniversary edition of The Spiral Dance; A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, 1989, HarperSanFrancisco.
 The chant is a variation of Deena Metzger’s , Her original chant was “Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”
“She changes everything she touches.”
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18, 1979
Having told my Mom I would, I keep my ears open to go find out how the Kid is doing. I have to be circumspect in this, Goddess forbid anyone should get the wrong idea about my interested in him. This is strictly business. Yesterday, I decide to start my investigation by checking out the public library on 18th and Judah. The place always looked to me like it was a cross between a tomb and a temple. The Head librarian knew Lamont in an instant and she told me how odd it was that she had not seen him lately.
Today, I noticed how usually in the morning I would bump into the Kid at his locker. But, now that I reflect back, that has not been happening. I cannot fathom him coming in so late. He must be getting to school earlier. So? Where does a bookworm go so early in the morning? To the library. Only, when I ask the head Librarian about Lamont, she says she has suddenly stopped seeing him. He no longer wanders in there at all. This is odd. She had seen him walking toward the school gym.
This is “Curiouser and curiouser”. I ask around at the gym. To my astonishment, he has been putting in an appearance in the morning and after school, working out, of all things. This does not ring true. Physicality and books are usually like oil and water. What is going on here? My Mom is right. Something is not right with the world if the Kid is into the jock scene.
When I finally run into the Kid in the halls, he looks at me differently. When I try to talk to him, he is polite but evasive. I hear discomfort in his voice, but not the cute puppy love manifestation, as before. Now, it’s as if he actually fears my attention.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1979
“A dybbuk has taken over him,” My mom pronounces, “I’m certain of this my daughter.”
“I am beginning to feel you might be on to something.”
“I have been telling you this for some time now.”
“Anyway, the other day an invitation arrived at the Temple of the Night, addressed to us. It was an invitation to attend an afternoon tea with Zuki. It will be held at her place and there we can meet the Kid. He’s lodging there now. I feel you should be there and talk to him.”
“You go daughter, I think he’d rather be seeing you alone.”
“Fine. I will check it out and report back.”
Zuki sprawls out on the window ledge, sunning herself by the warm light of the sun and the cooler reflected light of the large full moon in the Dreamland sky. Sitting on the futon couch, I cautiously sip some hot honey-sweetened peach tea while nervously waiting for Basha to show up.
She literally shows up as if on cue, appearing like a single match flaring up in a darkened room and expanding into a dazzling flaming vision. She clothes herself, relatively speaking, in the same sort of one-piece article of clothing as I do. But, there’s a world of difference. Wow! I thought seeing her in those tight jeans was fantastic. Be still my beating heart! The difference between my gray suit and her suit is like the difference between the sun and the moon. She is decked out in a crimson, velvet catsuit with a cleavage-revealing neckline. It fits her body like skin. A golden sun buckle rides on her hips. She’s prancing high, in her flame-red cowboy boots, like a show horse in the ring. Hmmm. When you think about it, what can be more appropriate to wear to a cat’s house, than a catsuit?
Oh, wow! I can’t stop staring at her. She’s truly an awesome sight. This must be how Coronado felt when he first set eyes on the Grand Canyon.
I breathe in Basha’s seductive scent of cinnamon as she settles down next to me on the futon. Basha reaches over and scratches Zuki’s head.
“Hello Zuki. Hi Kid, small Universe.”
“Yeah. You look great,” I respond.
“Thanks. You look, plain,” Basha remarks. “So, what does a girl got to do to get service around here?”
I start to pour her some tea but I miss the teacup and begin to spill it on her. Zuki leaps out of the way and gracefully lands on the table. I fumble with a napkin and nearly knock over the jar of jam. While Basha straightens everything up, I meekly tread water in a deep pool of embarrassment.
“Lamont,” Zuki asks, “perhaps you would do better serving me some tea.”
“Zuki,” Basha interrupts, “I feel that it would be better for all concerned if you let me do that for you. The Kid’s must have started drinking before I got here, so for all concerned he should refrain from operating heavy machinery while under the influence of strong stimulants.”
Basha pours the tea into Zuki’s saucer.
“I like my tea with cream,” Zuki says.
“Of course, that makes perfect sense,” Basha says. “Do you take sugar or honey with your tea?” Basha asks.
“Neither; thank you,” Zuki responds.
We all take a few minutes to enjoy our tea. Zuki daintily laps her tea up, and when she finishes she licks a paw and rubs it against her face.
“My friends,” Zuki says, “I do not mean to lap and run, but I have some business to attend to on the moon. Duty calls.”
“But, you can’t leave me here all alone. I mean, leave me here alone with Basha.” I glare at Zuki trying to convey my sense of panic.
“Ah, my friend, I must,” Zuki purrs. “Duty calls. Make yourselves at home.”
With that Zuki exits leaving me to face Basha by myself. I sit in awkward silence being once again tongue-tied.
“So,” Basha says as she turns and faces me, “how long have you been coming to Dreamland?”
“According to which time frame?”
“Well, ahh, according to Waking World time, I just came upon this place a few months ago. According to Dreamtime, I’ve been here for at least a year, if not more.”
“So, are you apprenticed still?”
“No. I earned my stone a month ago, give or take a week. This place is rough on the calendar business.”
“Really. Who was your mentor?”
“Mentors, plural. Their names were Sarah and Rebecca, do you know them?”
“What! Are you telling me that you were living with a couple of Lesbians in Dream Land?” Basha says with horror.
“I guess you know them.”
“I have heard of them. Their coven is helping Starhawk to organize Reclaiming’s first public Samhain ritual. We travel in similar but, significantly different Circles. You are avoiding my question.”
“I was their apprentice. Why should that bother me? I didn’t know anyone else who could train me. I had, made their acquaintance at a most auspicious time. Long ago made up a phrase to explain these sorts of things, based on a saying from Kurt Vonnegut’s book Cat’s Cradle, ‘Unexpected invitations are dancing lessons from God.’’ I took advantage of the opportunity. What’s the big deal?”
“You were running around in the presence of two lesbians in just the Dreamworld equivalent of your skivvies and you were at their beck and call. I repeat, didn’t that bother you?”
“Oh. Is there a Dreamland tradition against a guy wearing only his Dream-suit around a female? I doubt it. As for serving them, they explained that was how all their other apprentices paid for their services.”
“They could have been lying to take advantage of you, did you consider that?”
“No,” I explain, “What they said felt right. My feelings on such things haven’t steered me wrong yet. So I believed what they said. Anyway, as I later learned, that is the tradition in Dreamland. Apprentices work for their Master/teachers; isn’t that right?”
“Yes, of course.”
“The real issue here is that you definitely have a problem with them being lesbians, how come?” I ask.
“How come?” Basha says surprised, “my reaction is understandable, what is odd is your acceptance of their sexual behavior. Did it not bother you?”
“We’ll get back to whether your reaction is more typical or not. As for their sexual activity bothering me, why should it? They behaved in a perfectly respectable manner. It wasn’t as if they had sex right in front of me.”
“Okay, so they did it behind closed doors, fine. So, are you telling me that you did not have any qualms about the situation you found yourself in?”
“Only while we were first talking about it, yes, but, once I had made a decision, actually and honestly, no. After that, I really didn’t give it much thought. Probably that’s one of my many character flaws.
“And I did not come here to discuss either philosophy or your poor choice of the social circles you travel in.”
“Why did you come here?”
“Besides the excellent tea and scones, I came to meet you.”
She came to meet me! Could it really be that she likes me? Yeah, dream on. She might like me, only it’s probably like the way she would like a puppy dog. She’s always calling me 'Kid'.
“Kid, do you recall calling my Mom a day or so ago?”
“Hmm? (Why am I suddenly afraid?) No, I don’t think so.”
“Are you sure?” Basha asks again.
“Yeah. I’m sure. (There it is again. Somewhere inside, a voice of fear dwells.) Why? Is there a law against it?”
“Well, you did call,” Basha states. “She told me so. Are you sure you do not remember having called her?”
Could I have called her? I don’t remember... Wait! My blackouts! Did I call her while I had one of them?
(No! Do not listen to her.)
“No,” I feebly answer. “I don’t remember. I’m a bit spacey and I tend to forget little things. What’s the big deal?”
“You have not been putting in your usual appearances at the store,” Basha says. “For that matter, you have not been going to any bookstore in the last month. How do you explain this?”
“Ahh, (What? How can this be?) Would you believe I took up a new hobby, like knitting instead?”
“No. Are you aware that you have been going to school early and staying after school?”
“Ahh, again, no.” The hairs on the back of my neck begin to stand up. I can smell the unknown and the darkness creeping into the room. “Ahh, how do you know all this?”
“You did call my Mom. You called asking for help one minute and then telling her you were perfectly all right the next. You have even been working out at the school gym, of all things! Are you aware of that?”
Panic grips my throat. I fight it to get out a small breath. “No.”
“My Mom was afraid of this.” Basha continues. “How long have you been having these blackouts and memory loss?”
I’m caught. She’s found out. Rather than panic, I feel a rush of relief.
She’s right, I have been losing memory, and it isn’t because I’m spacey. Confession is said to be good for the soul. “Yes,” I admit,
“I’ve been blacking out. I’ve come to and haven’t been aware of what I’d been doing or how I got to where I am.” Wow, I really do feel like a weight has been lifted.
“How long has this been going on?”
“How long,” I respond, “as in ‘for how long has this been going on?’ Or how long as in, ‘how long has been the longest period of memory loss?’”
“Both,” Basha retorts.
“Hmm. I ahh...recently lost around thirty-plus days.” There, I’ve admitted it; I’ve finally faced the truth.
(No! You should not do this.)
“Dear Goddess! When did all this start?”
“It started around the beginning of this school year.”
“Was there anything else new that you got into around the same time?”
“I found my way to Dreamland.”
“That would not explain this. Have you been practicing any unusual rituals? Been hanging out around graveyards? Visiting sick relatives in the hospital?”
“No, to all of the above. Graveyards and hospitals? What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Soul possession. Dead souls hang around there and some people pick them up. So, what books have you read from my Mom’s store, since the beginning of the year? Have you been trying out some of that material?”
(Get up and leave this place. Tell no more!)
“Hmm? I’ve read books on dreams and dreaming. Then there was, Collin Wilson’s The Occult and Mysteries, Scott Rogo’s Parapsychology and The Poltergeist, Lloyd Auerbach’s ESP, Hauntings and Poltergeists, and then...”
“Wait, I do not need a recitation of your whole summer reading list. Focus in on that which is practical?”
“I wasn’t aware there were any books on practical things in your Mother’s store.”
“Practical as in, ‘the practice of’. Books on spell casting perhaps. Wiccan Rituals.”
“Odd,” Basha says, “If you had been meddling in forces that you did not understand, that could also help to explain what has happened to you. Are you sure you have not forgotten anything?”
“I never forget a book. Hmm. Oh yeah. Strange, I almost did forget to mention a new area I’ve begun to explore.”
“I’ve read a few books on Shamans. There was…”
“Please spare me the bibliographic recital.”
“Shamans, perhaps that is the cause, though it might not really
matter. It would be interesting to find out how this happened but the bottom line is to get this thing banished from you. So, teatime has ended. We need to get going. Come on Kid, it is time to blow this pop stand.”
“To the Queen of the Night’s temple and meet up with the members of my coven,” Basha says. “I have planned out a little ritual that should take care of your problem.”
I feel torn. An unknown force tries to pull me back. I want to know what is going on!
(Do not go with her.)
Damn it! I will know the truth! Onward Christian soldiers! Into battle, I go.
(You are walking into danger.)
“Danger? What are you talking about?”
“Kid, what did you say?”
(Do not go with her. You are putting in jeopardy all our efforts. All our plans.)
What plans? Tezcat, are you referring to Lana and Jon? Hey, I remember them, at least their names, all the rest is fog. They sound important. But, something is blocking the memories.
(That and much more.)
“Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t go.”
“What? Why the sudden change? Ahh, of course. Do you feel like you are of two minds on this subject?”
“That is your inner demon, or whatever it is. Do you usually hear voices before the onset of a blackout?”
(I command you to leave her. She is a danger to us.)
“I...urrghh…” Suddenly I feel as if someone is trying to choke me.
“Kid, what is going on? Are you okay? I need your cooperation to help yourself.”
(Do not listen to her. Listen only to me. I know what is best for us.)
“I’m hearing voices!”
“Uhhhhh….not this time,” I call out to Tezcat, trying to break free from her hold on me.
“You are hearing them right now?” Basha asks.
“We need to drown them out.”
“We can chant. If you focus on the chant maybe it will prevent you from focusing on the voices. It is worth a shot. Which chant? Perhaps, ‘We all come from the Goddess?’ No. Need something innocuous, nonthreatening. I got it. Here, Kid repeat after me: She changes everything she touches and, everything she touches, changes.”
“She changes everything she touches....”
“And everything she touches, changes. Again. That is it. Repeat the tune; keep on chanting it with me. She changes everything....”
“She touches and, everything she touches changes.”
“She touches and, everything she touches changes.”
Over and over, we chant. She holds my hand (!) And we sing as we walk.
“She changes everything she touches and, everything she touches, changes.”
“She changes everything she touches and, everything she touches, changes.”
The chanting frees up my conscious mind somehow. I try not to focus on Tezcat.
Sing the song, and think other thoughts. I notice, while we’re walking, that today the Mayor has added a gentle breeze to the otherwise stable warm climate of this part of the city.
“She changes everything she touches and, everything she touches, changes….She changes everything she touches and, everything she touches, changes.”
Tezcat’s voice is gone. I guess I can only think or hear so many thoughts at one time.
“She changes everything she touches and, everything she touches, changes. …She changes everything she touches and, everything she touches, changes. Well, Kid, how are you doing? You sound better, less nervous.”
“I think I’m doing okay. The other voice is gone.”
“Good. Let’s keep up the chanting as we head to the temple.”
 Vonnegut’s original phrase was, “peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” Cat’s Cradle, pg. 50, Dell Publishing Co. Inc., 1974 paperback edition, Delacorte Press, A Seymour Lawrence book, 1963.
So, I practice and I mull over all of these little puzzles. My unconscious keeps churning away on this stuff and then, one day, at least one thing gets resolved. It ain’t the answer to one of those big questions, but hey, it’s something. “When first I appear I seem mysterious, but when I am explained I am nothing serious.” The answer just rises out of my unconscious like the sun appearing over the ocean at dawn. I realize that my mind had approached the question of when an apprenticeship ends as it would any other childhood riddle, a riddle being something that has a hidden meaning, which turns out to be a pun, or a twist of logic, or a shifting of perspective.
I had been assuming that an apprenticeship could only end when the master decides. This is the key. The riddle takes this traditional fact and turns it on its head. Question: when does an apprenticeship end? Answer: when one realizes there is no longer a need, or a want, to be an apprentice.
After a couple of more weeks as Sarah and Rebecca’s apprentice, I realize that I’m as good a Dreamer as I’m going to be, at least for now. What few skills I have seem to plateau. Now, all that remains of my apprenticeship is what of my vast repertoire of talents I’ll demonstrate to earn my citizenship in Dreamland. This doesn’t pose much of a dilemma; I have very few Dream skills from which to choose. Thus, I work on my stupendous talent for juggling as my means of completing Dreamland’s rite of passage.
The day of my performance arrives. It is a small gathering of my three friends, and the mayor. For my efforts, I am awarded by the mayor a moonstone in order that I may participate fully in Dreamland’s economy, which is based on either barter of things, skills, or the direct exchanging of one’s own energy. The gemstones facilitate this by acting as storage receptacles for energy that one can draw upon to perform the Dream conjuring. Creating or manipulating things is tiring work. I’m told that it gets easier the more time spent in Dreamland. Some people can tap into the energy available in humanity’s collective unconscious, and some truly powerful Dreamers can even tap into the energy bound up within atomic and subatomic particles.
Anyway, no longer being an apprentice, I didn’t need to stay on with Sarah and Rebecca. It just would not be proper for an apprentice to remain under their mentors’ roof at the end of their apprenticeship. So I took up an offer from a friend of Sarah and Rebecca’s. Her name is Zuki Farwanderer. She lives in a home on the outskirts of the city of Atlantis. It turns out that she was the one who had first found me when I met up with the umbrella-wielding punk.
Zuki has sleek black hair, which blends into the soft small patch of white on her chest, and she always wears white on her hands and feet. Zuki’s home is Japanese in architectural design and is a specially commissioned Dream by one of the city's talented Japanese Dreamers. She is entitled to such a home, being one of the captains of the guards for the city of Atlantis. Her home is decorated in a black and white motif, with a white futon couch and black pillows, for use by those occasional living companions. I was not her first. In the room’s center area is a small wooden box, which is ornately carved with Japanese crests, and a golden paper bag, which has a Japanese coastal scene hand-painted in dark blue ink. Off in the corner is a tall multi-tiered structure. It rests on a platform covered in lamb’s wool the four posts supporting the structure this in thick cording, which shows signs of clawing. The rest of it is an elaborate thick black carpeted combination tree house and jungle gym, of jutting platforms and varying geometric shapes.
Today we are leisurely chatting and Zuki asks where I live in the Waking World. I realize what an odd question this is. No one in Dreamland has ever talked about their Waking World lives. I see no reason to refuse to answer. So, I tell her where I live.
“Well my fine M’an-friend Lamont,” Zuki purrs, “the best territories in the City I have found were the areas around Golden Gate Park.”
“You’ve been to San Francisco?”
“Oh yes. That is where I live in the Waking World.”
“Really. I can see why you were attracted to that location. It is a good location for hunting.”
“Very right friend Lamont. Excellent hunting, Fla-fa’az, Rikchikchik,
and Mre’az abound in the area.” Zuki twists herself around so as to carefully lick her back.
I wait patiently as she grooms herself. She gives herself one last lick, stretches her head towards me, then settles down, carefully placing her front paws together in front of her.
“Lamont, my friend. Perhaps you have met my other friend.”
“I doubt it. I have no friends in the Waking World. Only here.”
“That is a shame. But I think not true. You told me of a Mr. Wells and a Mr. Kay. Are they not among your friends?”
“I guess so. But I’m beginning to believe that I, I mean they, were just a dream. It’s just that I’m getting so confused. Lately, I can remember things that happened here more clearly than something that happened in the so-called Waking World. I’m not sure which is which.”
“Perhaps you are just trying to learn how to adapt to things here?”
“Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s something else, like, I’m losing my grip on reality.”
“Do not despair, my friend, sometimes, at the beginning of one’s stay here, one can get disoriented. It will get clearer, my friend, Lamont, in time.”
“I hope so. Enough of my complaining. Who’s this friend of yours you were referring to?”
“She is friend Miriam, a Wiccan priestess, with a daughter named Basha and a good looking ‘tom’.”
“Miriam and Basha? (How many Basha’s can there be in any world?) Well, Zuki, when did you know her?”
“I have known her ever since we both came to Dreamland. I met her during my first years with the force and I was first assigned to patrol the streets in the city of Ulthar.”
“So, Basha is in Dreamland. (She’s here! Basha has been here in Dreamland all this time.) Where do they live?”
“I would imagine, friend Lamont, that they live at the Queen of the Night’s Temple.”
“Well, thank you Zuki Farwanderer for this honor you have shown me of telling me of your friends. I look forward to meeting Basha and Miriam here in Atlantis.”
“Good, then it is settled. I will have them come over to my house and meet you.”
“One thing. Who is this tom person? I didn’t know Basha had a brother?”
“She does, but he’s adopted and he lives with her father. I was referring to the male cat that lives with them named Gizmo.”
 From Monika Beisner’s Book of Riddles, Jonathan Cape, Ltd., printed in Singapore, 1983. First American edition, 1983, Sunburst edition, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1987.
. Zuki is referring to birds, squirrels, and mice. Widespread knowledge of the language of the Az-iri'le / Feline Folk became available when DAW Books Inc., published Tad Williams' scholarly work, Talechaser’s Song, in 1985.
I am currently going through the text with the aid of the software Grammarly and will be creating a revised edition of the text. If you have purchased a copy of the book, I will gladly send you the final copy once it is available at no cost to you. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1979
I’m back in my own bed again. A glance at my watch tells me I’ve lost almost two weeks! Am I going nuts? Is it really Tezcat that’s behind it all? These black outs have got to be her fault, otherwise, if they’re not I’m in big trouble. If so, how is this all going to lead me to my great destiny? When is Tezcat going to give me some hints as to how I’m going to open up the gate and get Jon back to Lana? I’m so confused. What does she want with me? She said she would help me find Jon. How is this helping? I need to ask her. I need to go to her temple.
Let’s review the situation. I know that Jon is in Dreamland, though where, Tezcat ain’t telling. I should have started to search for him a long time ago. Why didn’t I? Why have I forgotten all about this while I was in Dreamland? As soon as I return, it’s off to the search I go, no matter what dangers lay ahead.
Hmm? Lana, I’ve got to talk with her. She should be told about Jon. But how? How do I make her believe me? I wonder if Miriam has any ideas? I can’t ask her now. Damn! Time ticks away. I’ve got to get ready for school. Damn! School! What difference will it make in the grand scheme of things? I’ve been chosen. Chosen, yes, but I have few choices. I’m not the master of my own fate. I can’t not go to school. I’ve got to go. I just have to go and get through the day. Wait till the school day is done and then it’s to the Gift of the Goddess I go. I need help. I’ve got to find a way to stop these black outs.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 15, 1979
Where am I? I’m in a darkened room with only one source of light. The source is perched over my shoulder. The glare from the light presses hard on my eyes. I wish it would go away. It hurts my eyes. But, like the raven in Poe’s poem, it ignores my plea and remains where it is. I focus and take stock of where, and of when, I am. A glance at the clock tells me it’s a quarter to ten. A feeling of horror grips my throat as I feel the gibbering of madness lying in wait for me just beyond the so-very-thin walls of sanity I’m now living within. I’m in my own room!
It’s night and before me sits my finished homework. I feel the pit of madness become a huge gaping mouth waiting to swallow me up.
“Where have I been all this time? Dear God in Heaven, what’s happening to me?”
I feel stiff and sore. Sore? Every muscle in me is complaining. Have I been having that nightmare again, the one where I was hanging naked, and getting whipped? Hmm. No, my body feels sore but not that way. Like all my muscles have been stretched. Hey, my body got muscles. I’ve been working out. What’s going on? I check my watch for the date. Oh no, it can’t be possible. I’ve lost control of my own body since September. Dear God! I need help. Who? Who can help me? Who will believe me? Who? Miriam! I’ve got to get to her. I’ve got to talk to her. The store is still open I can call her. My fingers tremble as I punch the numbers. The phone rings. Come on, Miriam, pick up.
“Hello, Gift of the Goddess, how can I help you?”
“Miriam! Help me please.”
“Who is this?”
“It’s me, Lamont.”
“What are you doing calling at this hour? What’s wrong?”
“I keep blanking out, losing track of time.”
“Calm down Lamont. Center yourself. Tell me slowly what you are talking about.”
“Lamont! What’s wrong? Lamont?”
(Keep quiet.) “Nothing is wrong. We’re sorry we called. We’re sorry we bothered you.”
“Lamont, what’s going on? First one thing now another. You don’t sound like yourself, are you ill?”
“Do not concern yourself.”
Click. The sound of a dead phone line. Bloody Hell! What’s...going...on? Why...
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 1979
I settle in, after cleaning up the dishes from dinner, to finish the remainder of my homework when my mom barges into my room unannounced. She speaks but I can barely hear her. Her words are drowned in the lyrics of the Moody Blue’s record album ‘On the Threshold of a Dream’ feeding into me directly from my headphones. I reach over,
turn off the music, and put the textbook down.
“Come on in Mom.”
“I am in.”
“Daughter, something odd happened last night. Lamont called. I need you to talk to him. He’s not himself.”
“The Kid called you? Why?”
“I know not. He started to tell me and then he seemed like he talked himself out of telling me. I’m worried about him. He hasn’t been coming to the store in over a month, either.”
“He does not strike me as someone who goes a long time between one hit from his drug of choice to the next.”
“Speak English daughter.”
“I was, get with it Mom. A hit from a drug, craving one hit after another, the Kid and books, inseparable. Books are his...”
“Drug? Nu? From where do you know all this about drugs?”
“Nu, they teach you this drug talk at school?” Mom asks.
“At school, but not in school. You just hear it. In the halls. At lunchtime. At school.”
“I think I’m not so happy that you can just hear this kind of talk at school.”
“Would you rather I go to dad’s Yeshiva in the East Bay?”
“Ha! No chance of that. You got out of there as fast as your feet would carry you. Okay. Nu, just don’t listen so well to this drug talk.”
“Of course Mom. So. The Kid is way past his usual time for putting in an appearance at the store. I will check it out.”
I find myself at Sarah and Rebecca’s, though I don’t recall how I got here. Sarah is trying, and failing, to hide her impatience with me.
“You’re late for today’s lesson.”
“Sorry. I don’t know what happened to me. I seem to have lost track of time.”
“You need to be disciplined if you are ever to finish your apprenticeship.”
Oddly enough, I seem to be aware of spending more time in Dreamland. I don’t really recall my Waking World activities. Anyway, I finally get some free moments from my lessons and I wonder what I can do with them. Then I recall my meeting with Lord Mictlantecuhtli and the contradiction between about how she’s supposed to keep out certain bad apples and what’s actually going on. This has been smoldering in the back of my mind. Now that I have some free time, I think it’s time to pay a visit to Mictlantecuhtli. She’s long overdue for a job performance review.
I fume over those and many other such thoughts and questions as I stomp through the Primordial Forest and up the winding Steps of Deeper Slumber toward the Cavern of flame, where Mictlantecuhtli holds court. As I step into the cavern, I’m awestruck once again by the eerie display, the pillar of chlorotic green fire in the center of the ring of scarlet sand.
“Greetings, Lamont Corazon,” as usual, she speaks in her deep important-sounding tone. “What is it that brings you to stand before us?”
“Hello lady. I would really love to just chat with you about old times, but I’m here on some urgent business.”
“And what pray tell might that be?”
The anger within starts spilling out as my earlier flippant tone shatters into harshness.
“When I first came here you, claimed to be conducting some sort of inspection of those new dreamers who make their way here. Is that right?”
“I made no such claim. I avowed that this is merely what function I serve,” she answers defensively.
“Really? Oh really! How in the name of all that’s holy do you explain the presence in Dreamland of the parasol wielding punk and his ilk who almost killed me? Or are you going to tell me that he got by you when you were out on your coffee break?”
My angry tone blasts the prior smugness off her countenance, revealing guilt.
“I have done as I have always done; I confront all who enter Dreamland.”
“Well, damn it! What in Heaven’s high name is going on?”
She tries to regain her composure as she responds. “I confront all. I inspect all. I pass judgment on all who come to this realm.”
“You’re beginning to sound like a broken record. Why are you repeating the same line?”
“To this question I am unable to answer, Lamont Corazon.”
“Of course you can’t, that wasn’t a real question. Wait a minute! You aren’t a country bumpkin, so there must be a reason for the tall, dark, and stupid routine. Hmmm. You keep repeating that you’ve been doing your job all along.”
“That is correct.”
“Then, some-when along the way, your powers to affect those who you’ve been inspecting ceased being effective?”
“Lamont Corazon, I am not able to say whether that of which you speak is a truth or a falsehood.”
“Of course you can’t! You were appointed to do a job and you were given the power to do it, but you have no control over those powers. And part of your job description limits what you can and cannot say. Now, who is it that put you in this job? Damn it, I know I read it somewhere. Or, maybe it was something someone told me?”
“Now you have asked a question to which I am able to answer, Lamont Corazon. I was selected personally by the High Lord of Dreams, our Lord, Tezcatlipoca.”
“What? Is this widely known?”
“No. No one else had ever bothered to inquire.”
“Really? So, it’s Tezcat who’s behind your impotence?”
“Do not be too hasty, Lamont Corazon. Recall that it was Tezcatlipoca who bestowed upon me this position of honor and responsibility.”
“Hmm. True. Why would Tezcat have you guard the gates and then stop you all of a sudden from doing the job that she set you up to do? No, Tezcat can’t be to blame for the sudden drop in your abilities. So, who is behind this?”
“Your inquiry should not only concern itself with not merely who, but you must also endeavor to ascertain how it is that I have been restrained from performing my duty, Lamont Corazon.”
“Great, as if I didn’t have enough to do already. I’ve run into that proverbial brick wall. Oh well, chatting with you further isn’t going to do me any good. I need time to think this through and figure out how to frame the proper questions that you can answer. And I’m not sure when that will be. My social calendar is pretty well booked by Sarah and Rebecca. Oh well, I’ll be back whenever. For now it’s adios amigo.”
“Go with our blessings Lamont Corazon.”
Hmm. I don’t get it. The pieces don’t fit. If Old Mictlan were right, why would Tezcat set her up and then stop her from doing her job? Hmm? That’s not the only thing that’s been bugging me lately. I keep on thinking I’ve been forgetting something, something important. Something I wanted to do here in Dreamland. But I can’t remember. It hurts my head trying to remember. I should be doing something while I’m here. But what?