Inheritance -- 2. The Becoming

2. The Becoming

How many days has it been since I last saw light? Since I last ate? I know not. How quickly these concern’s recede before the Mente’s primacy.

                Words cannot describe the wonders I have witnessed, or the horrors I’ve bore. Alas, these words are all I have. They possess me now and perhaps always will. Days I've spent in this dark, breathless room, muttering the same words over and over, repeating these same passages

The things I have seen, that I have in my dreams wrought, are fuel enough for a hundred thousand nightmares. The memories plaguing me in the dark, most not my own, inspired by that shadows that haunt Man’s history, leave me gibbering in fear.

I see the men who have come before me, each discovering the book, leaving their own mark. I see the quest they undertook, now my quest. How close they came. How absolutely they failed. I see how the book has endured in secret, in the dark, biding it's time until it may spread again. I see a council. The Blind Monks. And how they will oppose me at every turn. I've never met them and already I hate them. That they cannot the beauty of our Ascension.

The voices, a thousand different voices, each speaking a different tongue. And yet, and yet... I know they all say the same thing. For those words are within me, even when I am silent, I speak them. Even when I sleep, I write them again and again.

These words are all that drive me, and when they see how easily I succumb, they sustain me. I need nothing else.

My mind is an asylum. In it madness spreading like blood on a marbled Senate floor. In my hand I see the knife, which rends through flesh time and time again. Am I the actor, or merely its tool? When I close my eyes, Boston burns. And another older city, and a library older still. The flames touch me, yet do not hurt. In these dreams, I am not flesh. I am papyrus, paper, bamboo. I am above pain. Inanimate, indestructible, above the effluent destruction of the unenlightened.

 The stench of blackened flesh clogs my nostrils. Ancient, forbidden hieroglyphics dance before me in the darkness. When I close my eyes, I remember all it is I have done… or is it have yet to do? It all appears before me in The Book. To read it is to become its author. To read it is to be deceived into believing you possess agency, when you are but one of many flies tangled in its web. One of many characters trapped on its pages. And on that page I see the truth, I am not mad. I am sane! The only one who is sane! I see, with absolute clarity, what I must do. Where I must go.

We have a great journey before us. These words are not mine, and yet they are within. My dark passenger.

I sit on the floor of my shop, which now has been closed for many days, the sickly sweet smell of red ink intoxicates me. Writing haunts my days, page after page, copy after copy. I could cite every word by rote, down to the page, paragraph and line. It is a recording of the dark histories, this Mente, the shadow side of the truth. To know it is to be part of it. And I know soon, for the book has told me, demanded of me, I will go out into the world. I will share what I’ve learned. And we billion monkeys, banging away on a billion hapless typewriters, we will be brought to an accord.

The truth, this book’s truth, has languished in obscurity for too long, has been ignored for too long, to remain silent any longer.

But hark, dear journal, a knock at my door. A particularly persistent customer, given the closed sign. Perhaps they need my guidance, my advice. Perhaps I have just the words, the only words, they need ever read…

My time of writing, for now, is at an end. Now comes the time for testament. For the Word to be spread. I am Becoming alone, but not for long. This light shines too brightly to go unseen.

Inheritance -- 1. The Discovery

PART I: INHERITANCE

Chapter 1 - The Discovery

 [found in the basement of Fulcanelli’s, a rare bookstore]

August 6th, 1921

It's amazing what you can discover when you live all on your own. What you notice that other people might pass by. What consumes you, when others might just let it lie. What obsessions fill the void that most paper over with companionship. My companions were lifeless, little more than words, and ink and paper. They were, at least. Until...

Until...

                Before, I lived what most would consider unremarkable life. A Bostonian bookkeeper buried under ancient tomes and dust. More at home among words than men. More alone than not. I like my life this way, despite what others might think. I see the way they look at me, and how I am shunned. Even here, in 'enlightened' New England, nothing scares people more than a man of dark skin and surprising erudition.

Books, however, they never disappoint you; they do not judge or condemn; they are not prejudiced, nor are the capable of hate (leave that to their authors); they never leave you; and aside from the way entropy slowly consumes all things, they never change. I write this all to say, dear journal, how very fitting that I should be the one to uncover this majesty. I am a lover of books, it is mere... destiny that one should choose to love me back.

                When the proprietor of his eponymous shop, Merle Fulcanelli, died without an heir, there was no one to object when I, his lowly attendant, stepped into his shoes as owner. And yet, his passing left many a mystery to discover. Underneath the shop sprawl many winding catacombs, leading to rooms packed high with ancient texts. Many a year I could while away, and indeed have since Merle returned to the Earth, trying to read and catalogue them all.

                One drafty night, as I wandered down a hall I thought I knew well, I stumbled into a room I never laid eyes on before. A door that seemed to open up in front of me, appearing from nothing in the wall. One that I could have sworn I had never seen before and yet, upon looking at for just a minute, seemed intimately familiar.

At first glance it looked much like the others: stone walls, scores upon scores of books on rotting wooden shelves, the pleasant, pulpy smell of old paper and long undisturbed air. But as I began to leaf through one book, and then another, and then another, its strangeness became fast apparent. Every book was a mirror for every other. Each bore the same title, scrawled in red ink that looked for all the world like clotted blood: Maligna Mente. The Evil Intent. Or The Lingering Madness, depending on your mood.

Pulling books at random from the shelves, another oddity manifested itself. Several tomes were in English, others in French or Spanish or Italian, others in hieroglyphs I couldn't even begin to decipher. And despite that, somehow I knew, each book bore the same prose. Words that seeped off the page and into my mind.

These books, reflections of one another, were all handwritten, each in a different, increasingly frenzied hand. I wondered what might possess a man, or league of men, to obsessively copy this tome so. After reading, more aptly after my eyes and fingers absorbed these malignant words, I began to understand.

My own hands began to itch.

Prologue -- Libraries Burn, Words Last Forever

Prologue

[48 BC, The Library of Alexandria]

            A shadow stark against the flames, Caesar watched as his men took torch to the halls lined with papyrus screeds. Flames licked the walls which cracked and ruptured under the heat of their scrutiny. He felt the loss as keenly as one feels the loss of a limb, so much knowledge consumed in smoke, so much wisdom. And yet, despite the egregious crime of such destruction, the worse crime would be to let this altar to words stand. Despite the building quickly rendering to ash before him, the Consul could not help but hear long held fears echo in his heart.

            Is it gone? Really gone? Will I ever be sure that we are safe? That our species will survive this… this…

            He dared not even name what it is he sought to destroy, even after just the briefest glimpse at its pages, ghosts of its words haunted his mind still. Threatened to consume him whole in his dreams. While he slept, he saw it: A door at the pit of his subconscious, a dark smile of an opening, beckoning him, prodding him, pleading…

Come to me Caesar, Come to me...

Just to think of it sent a thrill through his spine. For a moment, Julius longed to close his eyes and… and…

            No!

            He forced himself to look at the flames, as if focusing on them would banish the thoughts and desires within. A sickness, he knew, if he would not admit it, that would harry him to his  grave. A voice that whispered, of knives, of betrayal, of Ides. A voice that promised knowledge, that promised to save him from that death that came.

            If he would but listen. If he would but write.

            The library crumbled, all its words lost. And Caesar turned his back on it at last. Marching from it at the head of his legions, he could not banish the words from his mind.

            Maligna Maligna Maligna Maligna Maligna

            He could not let his men see how his hands trembled. He was glad he led them, so they would not see his eyes, bloodshot from lack of sleep, full of tears from fear that he had failed. He knew deep down, the book survived. He could smell them in the smoke, the words persisted.

            MENTE MENTE MENTE MENTE

            Later that night, as he collapsed at last from exhaustion. Caesar gave in, Caesar opened that door. Inside he saw the truth: Libraries burn, but words... words are forever.

Those words, stretching into the past and beyond into the will-be, showed him many horrors. He saw his death, hatred in the eyes of friends. The blades that rose and fell again and again. That bit into his flesh. That brought death--such sweet ecstasy!

Though he did not notice, beguiled as he was by the reverie of his discoveries, in his sleep he sat up and began to write. The same words, the same pages. Over and over. In Latin. In Greek. In languages not yet risen from above time's haze. And when he woke the next day, he wept openly, salt tears of joy. What a relief to finally know.

            He would be dead long before the world unraveled.