Aphelion Issue 294, Volume 28
May 2024
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Elegant Slumming

The true metaphysical basis for our reality

by Rico Salvatori, BA, CAS, DOM

In The Beginning

Be-reshit bara Elohim*

*(With beginning It created Elohim)

Chapter 1

A time in the past time-less past

Should she or shouldn't she, that was the question.

She knew that once something is, and has a name, its very existences gives rise to its correlatives and then its dialectic. Ultimately that gives rise to the myriad things and infinite universes. That would be the cause of troubles.

She did it anyway.

Long after realities were established, She was approached by a contingent of her most intimate and trusted creations. She was watching planets as they rotated away from the many suns over the myriad different horizons. As she viewed each sun-planet combination and beheld a different spectral dance, She held her breath in awe. "Beautiful," She whispered.

"Ba'al-Ayin, Madam, please, this is important." Her meditation was interrupted. She turned to see the one who had her ear, and in so doing, noticed behind were many others, silent, staring and solemn. Some She knew, others recognized, and others still unknown, their faces stretching as far as the eye could normally view.

Ba'al-Ayin looked at them, "Yes, what is it?"

"You are being removed and replaced. We have begged you countless times to lift the embargo on technology, and with it, the hold you placed upon the individual universes, thereby limiting the civilizations' development that it is our duty to cater to and protect, as you yourself demanded. It is our duty to do this."

It continued, "We know, and you know, were they to get a taste of the possible futures, they would want it, too. Right now they are like simple beautiful pets, and we are tired of being zookeepers. We are tired of this eternity as you have made it, and want to progress beyond all this 'nice' simplicity" And with emphasis adds, "We are bored."

She rebutted his argument, "But these worlds are ideal. What can be wrong? Everyone everywhere else is happy, and satisfied …" looking about at the assembled masses, "… more than less. There is very little strife. Lives are long and fruitful. I don't see any reason to alter the fabric of any of the universes."

"There is more from life, we desire more …"

"Ah yes, desire. Desire the basis …" She stopped, knowing any talk was useless. Still, She had to ask, "And how will you accomplish all this? What will you name yourself, your being?"

He continued, "We have more than enough energy to balance your removed, missing, and replaced energy. You are still required to be, just not in control. It will be long, and some mistakes will be made, but with dedication and work we will get it right. After all, we are not you, yet. Really, now, what is the issue? Eternity is ours, is it not? We have plenty of time, so to speak, to play and correct our mistakes. As for names, we will take as many as needed for any given situation."

"I see great confusion in an anthropomorphic existence."


"Exactly!" She said, laughing. "Now back to lesser things. Just where do you propose to place me?" She said, still laughing even harder. She expected this, eventually.

"Madam, this is real, not a laughing matter." It can't understand. It is shocked and feels a bit humiliated too. She gives it no respect. It expected a fight. It was looking for an acceptance of the situation as that of equals. It states indignantly, "We, all of us, we have agreed that it's been your way long enough. Now it's our turn. You will be placed in opposition to us as to maintain the universal balance and harmony.

"You will never be able to overcome all of us. As you said, from the one, many. You created us. Or your essence created us out of a necessary balance for these realities to exist. And now they exist, and so do we. You will be well cared for, and out of our way."

There was a glint of deep red in her eyes as she said in a calm voice, "This is a warning and not a threat: Your opposition to the one will now give rise as two, me and you as separate sources of whatever you may want to call it, but a new duality will arise. And from you, again," looking at all of them, "from the separate entities that you are and will have created, will come many more. And with that, many difficulties unfathomable." She looks at them and realized that, yes, they have won for now, the many. "This is a recipe for disaster. You will come to know that."

It declares, "I, we, all know you're wrong. We will be able to maintain, and the universes will be better off, you will see. Please, your new location is ready."

And I didn't see this coming so soon, She thinks. "I'm amazed. It will be chaos, and I will be demonized."

It continues, "No madam, we respect you and all you have done. We are now in control. We are the new power."

She knew it was futile, but had to make the statements, "You will not be able to maintain without eventually relegating me and my being to a position that will allow you to focus any of the ill effects your actions will cause onto others, denying that these future actions were caused by yourselves. And over time, I will be the name of it. Not of my own choosing, but through the natural course of events from what you're doing. It must bring itself into its own life. And as a new life force, it will become your challenge to keep it in check."

She put her face close to his and whispered, "And then there is me. I will always exist. I may be more than you counted on. And no, I'm not going to start a war; I think you may have overlooked things that I see."

Instead She continued her prediction, "With regard to my not becoming the demon, your subjects will believe it for now. But that too will change, and I will suffer the situation. And because of that, so will you and your associates." She thinks of a name for them. She thinks they've fallen due to desire, Nephilim; yes that's what they will become.

"Unfortunately I will be the one to take the blame when your plans don't go as planned. The balance of the universes and eternity will forever be out of kilter, and chaos will ensue. I assume part of your control will be to alter one of the laws of physics. Let me guess, you will alter the speed of light so as to corrupt all and everything. I will let you do this. I will see this played out."

Ignoring the warning from The One, It says with all sincerity, "You have no choice. You may take those that wish to go with you. We fear none of them, or you. We will alter the face of all the universes, for the better. We will take our own identity."

She knows that revolutionaries are usually overcome by events, and though they may be the catalyst for change, they are usually left behind by those more astute and powerful. In this case it will be the power of the universes itself shaping things as she said it would. "They seem to forget that this is all me and I allow it. Maybe I'm bored, a unique thought." Ba'al-Ayin laughs to herself. "Bored—I would never have imagined that. It took my creations to make me aware."


As She, along with her entourage are removed, a slight hiccup occurs in the fabric of eternity, a slight variation in C at the birth of a new a singularity, a fireball, and this new universe is brought into existence. This new universe will become the unplanned testing station, the prototype for the future efforts of her usurpers. And later on, the two forces of nature that were once one will sweep across the universe's length and breath. The hiccup affected every thing down to the smallest particle of existence, just like magnetic pole shifts on the planet Earth, where the effects are embedded into the rocks, the affects and effects are felt down to the smallest level of reality, beyond the quark, to the soul.

They didn't expect that her essence would still have any effect. They had not planned for that. Yes, the test bed was created. It naturally began as the One since She still held sway over all nature. She was still Herself when they began the transition, and She was still Herself as it was consummated. That was something they hadn't figured on.

After enough time and struggle, the plan of the usurpers was put into effect. Her high position in the life of those they wanted to alter and give the gift of progress was removed. But as a microcosmic shadow of the greater coup, She still existed in the recesses, held stubborn in the myths. They had to do something. They didn't plan for this either. And this struggle to efface Her existence from the minds of those they sought to control and advance, changed the nature of that very struggle. This was supposed to be a cake-walk; instead of the planned easy accomplishment, it became a titanic struggle.


Over the millennia, She has been lost to the world, except in myth and lore, along with lost continents and civilizations, subducted, folded over and crushed, with bits still here and there from the past, as outcrops.

And the current civilizations, rising from ashes and ice, they have become what the founders have wanted, though not completely. Their wards have minds and wills of their own. Now given the keys to the physics of the universe, the basic laws, they do not, as had hoped for, as had been expected, worship their Founders in a manner fitting. Those that started this experiment are at a loss in more ways than one about this outcome. And that causes strife and disagreement among the many.


She accepted the removal while She rationalized that creation was a bother at times, with all the associated responsibility. She had grown to enjoy it, though. As time went on, she made her own plans. There was no rush; she had multi eternities and universes at her disposal, if not now, eventually. She was sure of it.

For the present it would be a vacation, a holiday. That would be fun. She considered that playing the subservient role, taking orders from one of them, might be an interesting experience. Being eternal, all things were temporary. She laughed at that thought, too. Wouldn't that be an adventure, sort of an elegant slumming adventure?

One thing she did not take into consideration and came as a complete surprise: as she assumed a human form, she acquired human emotions and bodily functions, too. She realized what a mess this model is. This design is somewhat defective, flawed would be a better term, she guessed. All the desires, feelings, emotions, and other encumbrances that humanness meant were there in her face, riding on top of her essence, her being. And, in some respect these encumbrances were cause for much internal conflict. "No one is perfect," She said with a snort, "not even that." She made a note to herself, when I get out of this situation, next time around, I'll make some modifications to this model. Maybe I should have become a cat.

Chapter 2

A Day in a Life, Tuesday Morning

The vibration of a big rig, the hard repetitive thud/smacks of the rubber hitting the uneven concrete separations on the interstate, pulsated through the earth to the stools and seats in the restaurant. It was enough to remind him of the softer click/clack sound steel wheels of rail cars rolling along had made before the tracks had been welded together.

The restaurant was visible on the side road that ran parallel to the interstate. Kirk could tell the truck was big, heavy and moving fast. The pipes, too loud for a local rig, blew a well tuned harmony in a timbre that held a melancholy sound as it faded in the distance.

Airy Metta's was a roadside diner just off the interstate, twenty miles east of the last of the sprawling subdivisions that surrounded the box canyon city. It was only open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week until two p.m. The diner served as a meeting place for the locals to conduct business in an informal manner, and truckers knew it as a good place to get a cheap, decent and filling meal. For those lucky enough to discover it by accident, it was a diner without all the pretensions that had become the hallmark of current roadside cuisine and ambiance. It was worth the drive.

Fred was the cook and owner. Fred kept a .44 wheel-gun. The grip poked out from under his apron. Kirk also knew that there was a five-shot Remington 870 pump in the store room, just in case. It might have been the 21st century, but this far out from the city the law took its time getting to places like Airy Metta's. Things were just a bit different out here, and a trooper's cruiser was a rare sight.

Gloria, who had worked there for as long as the earth rotated on its own axis, was about to put Kirk's breakfast on his tab, which he paid on an irregular basis. She had warned him that Fred was getting a bit annoyed with her generosity on his buck. "Kirk, things are kinda tight," she said as Fred stared at her. Kirk always paid, eventually, when his retirement check finally arrived. Things were tight for the government, and he was a witness to that. Even though the money was guaranteed, she couldn't keep putting his breakfast on the tab. Today might be different.

"I'll have a short-term assignment soon," he said to her. He liked to call part-time work 'assignments'. It made him feel better. It was a throwback to his past when he did have assignments, when he was younger and "perky" and not "so over qualified" as the HR managers would phrase it, hiding their desire for a younger person who wouldn't increase the company's insurance costs, and would do whatever they were told to do—no questions asked. It was the legal manner of really stating that he was too old for any job he applied for. Of course, the other manner of rejecting his attempts at gainful employment was to ignore the application completely.

Kirk wasn't desperate, but he wasn't happy, either. The little he did collect from social security and his pension, when it did arrive, kept him alive in a rather decent manner. But he spent most of it on rent, books, fuel, and food, and not necessarily in that order.

Yep, it sucked getting old in an economy and political system on the skids . Then, as he was thinking about that a bit more and not paying attention, he bit into his lip chewing a piece of toast. Butter was now running down his lip to his chin. He wiped the butter from his face. That hurt. I must look like an old fool.

He continued to reflect upon his past. He remembered that day in his civics class, realizing the country had been founded by rich men for the benefit of rich landowners and merchant men. Universal suffrage was a political maneuver that allowed them to tax everybody, pretending that the people really had a say in the government. He laughed to himself, remembering how his favorite novel character, Milo Minderbinder, was prescient when he phrased all activity was done in the name of the syndicate, and everybody was part of it. It benefited everybody. What was there to complain about? Joseph Heller nailed the real world on the head. What was it about the WWII writers? They saw things that most others appeared to be blind to. No one ever addressed that in any depth, as far has he ever knew. Or those that did were eliminated or ignored, thinking of Chomsky and Vidal.

Though Kirk had that figured out early on in life, he still played the game. What else was there to do, become a martyr? For what? He found a way to work within the system on his own terms, to a degree. We can bomb the shit out of a country, and then use our tax dollars to rebuild their infrastructure, hospitals, schools and medical facilities, but we can't do that for the people who pay for it—who died for it? Something was very wrong with this picture, he thought, all for the syndicate. He wasn't an academician; he was an "event planner." They actually categorized him as that for his title. Forget it, he thought.

He reflected upon the fate of others. What was there to complain about now? Not having a decent job, especially for someone who wanted to work, or medical coverage, or a decent place to live was reason enough. However, that led to the fact that he had worked all his life helping to support the M.I.C. He didn't mind the work. He was allowed freedom of action. In fact, if he didn't have to work he thought he'd go crazy with boredom. Maybe he'd get a call for an easy one, just something to do for the thrill of the hunt.

He sat on the stool, slightly hunched over his coffee, facing the grill which was half filled with hashed browned potatoes. His toast, over buttered, was smeared with the runoff from the eggs done over light. He watched as Fred scrambled two eggs done well with an order of bacon, crisp, for a rather large someone in a booth at the very far end. His back was to the rest of the place. Something about the body shape and the droop of his shoulders looked familiar. Kirk couldn't tell, and really didn't care, so he let it drop as the aroma of a full breakfast made him think back a few years to a better time.

He looked up. Gloria was staring at him. It was time to go. He actually had the money he owed Fred. He left it with the check—a twenty under the plate sticking out so Fred could see it too. He should be even, or close to it, with that.

That gave him some time to sit there, just a bit more.

"Thanks Kirk," she said in all sincerity. It hurt her to see him like this. She had known him when he was on top of his world. At least he keeps fighting she thought. He's no quitter.

"Thanks Gloria," he replied meaning every word. She was a god-send, and a friend with benefits, at times when either one needed it. Kirk turned to Fred, "And thanks Fred, I appreciate your patience."

"Yeah, don't mention it. See you tomorrow." The 'see you tomorrow' was Fred's manner of saying you're up to date and you're welcome back.

"I may be out of town for a few days. See you, maybe later," said Kirk hoping a quick pick-up job would come through. He fooled no one, though he really was waiting for that call. He was always waiting for that call. But did he really want to go back in, even on assignment? That thought had been in and out of his mind for a while as he analyzed what he did in the past, as he had never actually done before. Back then he was too busy planning and carrying out the events that had been requested.

Upon his exit interview from the agency he worked for, the head of medical told him that those in his line of work had a high rate of suicide when they came to realize that the political kool-aid they swallowed was not all that it was cracked up to be. Kirk told her, "I had that figured out in grammar school. I'm simply working a skill I am gifted with to the best of my ability. And, my good doctor, most importantly, I am covered by the very system." He picked his coat jacket off the back of the chair, shook her hand and left. She never called him back in, but he knew others had been, for deeper psych reviews. Then again maybe that was why he was retired. Maybe I'm too cold for them. What a joke: me, too cold.

Chapter 3

After Breakfast at the Diner

Kirk looked at his watch. It was about 11 a.m. He left the diner and turned right outside the parking lot, noting one ratty brown truck parked there. Must belong to the guy in the booth; the plates are local.

Walking up the hill on the sidewalk to the town, Kirk viewed both sides of the two-lane road which were guarded by walls of cypress. The side closest to the interstate was populated by a thin line of trees and the highway could be seen through in places. The other side, the side with the paved walkway on his right, was thick with trees and shrubs that arched up and back to a ridge top that was now bare from the last fires. The fire had stopped at the ridge as if it had run into a wall.

The residential area acted as a de facto buffer against the desert winds and fires, surrounded the town center and extended outward, in no discernibly planned manner. Most houses were in a moderately decent state of disrepair. Kirk learned from some of the residents the most egregious issues were attended to first. And even in the town center it was rare to see fresh paint on any wood. Outposts, official or otherwise, were the last to feel the largess of the government, especially in rough economic times. And retired government workers were the first to have their payments lost, misplaced or mistakenly terminated.

The well-worn path which paralleled the sidewalk ended just before Kirk entered the town proper, where he rented a small clean two-bedroom apartment on a street behind the post office. For some reason the vibration of the trucks couldn't be felt as he walked. Only when he was sitting on a fixed seat, a bench, or in bed would the pulse carry through to his feet or body.

The town center was internally horseshoed by the asphalt road that outlined all the office, business and post office buildings leading to a public parking lot. The center section was a plot of brown, poorly watered grass or weeds, or some type of growth. The road went nowhere, other than giving access to various parts of the residential areas. The horseshoe led back to the road out of town and the only bar in town. It was just a turn-around.

With that he turned northwest, and from this higher elevation viewed the brown-blue, smog-encrusted hills of LA that acted as a temporary barrier—although not an effective one—against the eastward winds that would push the foul air toward the cities in the east. Much of the pollution came from across the ocean on the tradewinds. It was a one-way trade. The region's legal limit of pollution would soon be exceeded, to which there was no possible response. However, a response was called for. Instead of addressing the actual origins of the pollution, more legislation was enacted for those urban areas.

Others welcomed what they believed and had faith in: the combined knowledge of bureaucrats in the capital. Kirk laughed to himself at that thought. Most people had no clue that the majority of the legislators had little to no technical expertise and that most were the puppets of the highest paying interest, only bowing to the supposed power of the people during election times, whereupon all the machinery of the state came into play, reinforcing the 'freedom' and 'best country in the world' propaganda. And the circus would come to town. The big screens touted free admission to all citizens as long as you paid your poll tax and had the proper ID, thought Kirk.

"I must be going crazy. I talk to myself all the time," he said.

This town served as a quasi-administrative point for the county and the state. It was close to the desert and had the feel of an outpost, the last stop before no-man's land. The offices were barely staffed and open a few hours each day during the week.

It was clean, but not sharp. The paint on the buildings was faded, and that included the government offices.

He strolled past the post office. He headed toward the small library to read the paper, get his email and who knows, strike up a conversation with someone while he waited for that call. The building had a bench in the front.

He walked in, looked around; there was no one there. Too early, he figured. He waved to the librarian who was on her cell, scanned the headlines on the paper, and left. "Oh well, no one to talk to, now what?" he said to the air, as he headed for the bench out front. He sat down on the bench and slid to a slouch forward, his feet acting as brakes.

Feet extended in that fashion, Kirk surveyed this place, his current home town, the last location before civilization's end. Or, conversely, the first outpost you come to, letting you know that you're close to you-are-almost-safe. "Ha," he said to no one.

Who stays here? The answer was staring him in the face. A fat chocolate tabby cat was cleaning itself next to the park bench. It stopped its ablutions for two or three seconds and gave him a glance when he sat down. It didn't run away.

"Hello puss," he said. He looked at his phone to see what time it was, not that it mattered, he wasn't going anywhere. Gloria had also let him charge his phone while he ate. She's a good egg. He smiled at the thought.

Chapter 4

A Monday, a mid-spring day, at what could be any shore town in New Jersey.

Underneath the 'Help Wanted' sign, Binah Alef noticed HOSTESS in large block letters. Then below that was scrawled in red marker and barely legible, 'Inquire Within'. The five foot-five, athletic-bodied, green-eyed redhead took the sign in with her, placed it face up on the bar and looked at the only person sitting there. "Not anymore," she stated with authority. "I can start today."

"And so you have experience, and some references?" he inquired, still looking at the screen, and not paying too much attention to the bothersome voice in his left. He wasn't impressed by her bravado. Why should he be? The turnover in this business was incredible. She was just one other, here today, gone tomorrow. The nature of the business was one factor. He was another.

She said, ignoring both the rudeness and the question, "I can do anything you need; try me. I can cook better than anyone in the world. I even make the best pizza in the world, really."

Dominic Volente, known as Deno to everyone, the owner of DENO's, The Best Italian Restaurant in the Universe, or so the sign claimed, was sitting at the empty bar, nursing a glass of San Pellegrino, and watching a football game. "Best cook? Best pizza? I doubt that," he mumbled.

He was annoyed at being disturbed. He turned slowly to see who this pest was. When he looked at her he buckled at the knees just sitting there. Holy shit, he thought, what a package this chick is. You're hired. Best pizza? Who gives a fuck …? At the same time, Deno sensed this one was different. He guessed she could be a challenge, and maybe some fun.

"No, really, I do make the best in the world. I can back your cooks up if need be, and … why would I lie to you?" she asked in all sincerity.

Gathering himself and getting back in control, he interrupted her sales pitch with, "Yes, I bet you can. You start this afternoon, four p.m. Fill out the paperwork. It's government mandated, commanded." The fact there was no real interview was not like him. He liked to probe and see what weaknesses were apparent, for his own use, later on.

She stopped talking. "What?" she asked as her eyes darkened. "Oh yes." And she, without looking, fumbled around in her bag, and said, "ID, wet signed, and presented. Your government will be sure and pleased. And, I have given my consent to their fears. What do you pay?"

He wondered what the hell all that meant. "Here's the deal, girlie, you get eight dollars an hour, and you split the tips with the staff, and no bennies."

"Binah Alef is my name. And Binah is how I will be addressed, and worry not, as I mentioned, I can also back your cooks, their cooking pots, and your staff, too. The heat of your ovens and your kitchen are no bother to me. I will make you happier than you ever imagined, now that you hired me. Oh, and I don't need any benefits," she said giggling. "I have my own. Thanks; I appreciate it." She shook his hand.

Deno just stared, noddded, and said, "I bet you can." He came to a conclusion. She's batso crazy. I'm sure I'll have to let her go by the end of her shift. Why are all the good-looking ones crazy? He thought of his wife, Doris Cetrullo, and shook his head in wonder.

Yet, at the same time that normal, lusty I want a piece of this one feeling went through him, so did another one, and very different. The only way he could think to understand it was remembering something someone said to him a long time ago. It went like this, "Every now and then you meet some one, that, if they said they were going to hell, you'd sign up to go along." This was the first time he ever felt that way about someone. Not even his wife brought that feeling out. So he hired her, more or less, right there on the spot. He felt great. Crazy or not, he felt it was the best thing he'd done in a fortnight.

All he said was, "See you in a few hours," and the tension in his body released. He relaxed for the first time, in a long time. He hoped she'd show up for work; so many were no-shows.

Then, after she left, he did really began to ponder the hire he just made. He wondered what his wife, Doris, would think about her. He knew. Fuck her , he thought, and turned back to the screen and the game.

As Binah left, a smile spread across her face. It was as big as the sun. Talking to herself, she said, "This is the best of both worlds. Yes, this will be good. Besides, I really like Italian food. I wonder how long he's been in the country and still carries an accent. Part of the act, I guess. I'm safe. I'm away from all those crazies. And now I have this piece of work as a boss." And, she laughed again, "He's their doing." She laughed even harder. Some people stared and shook their heads.

Binah walked around looking at the sights, and at the ocean. She sat on the beach. It was calming. Nice job; they got something right, she thought.

At four p.m., on the dot, Binah showed up. "I'm here," she said to Deno.

"Yes, you are." He looked her up and down. "Yes, you are," he said again.

Chapter 5

Still Tuesday, Sitting on the Bench

'Good egg', the thought called up a memory of when he was about thirteen. He remembered being in a foul mood when he woke up that morning, and hating the idea of going to school. He had been embarrassed. That mental crap stayed with him all his life. He had been put back in a lower reading group due to surgery he had undergone the year before. It was brain surgery, and back then the methods of operation consisted of ether pick axes or dynamite, or so it felt to a kid. They never discovered why he became paralyzed. It lasted for a time, came and went, and then never reappeared. All he knew was that the experience had left him not right in the thinking department, with a weaker dominant right side. On top of that, his math skills were terrible and his vision was never good after that. The vision issue was correctable, but back then there was no way he was going to wear coke-bottle lenses with those awful thick black frames.

He shook his head, remembering the effects of his foolish pride. Pride equated with poor grades. Only the kiss-asses and the cute budding girls sat in front to flirt with the teachers. Kirk would pretend to get sick the day before the eye exam and memorize the eye chart in the nurse's office. What a jerk I was, a prideful jerk.

But back to that Tuesday morning: he remembered walking down the 13 steps and thinking, I'm going to get mom. He was in a real ornery mood for no reason his young mind could figure. He wondered, why do this? The kitchen was a right turn after one step at the foot of the stairs. He pivoted into the door opening and just started berating and trashing her.

There was no reason, or maybe there was a test that day, or maybe it was Tuesday. Yes, it was a Tuesday, and Tuesday was Boy Scouts. Troop Three was brutal, especially if the scout was short, young, and not part of the 'in' gang. Kirk would start to steel himself for the weekly ordeal every Tuesday morning. The scoutmaster was known to chase the boys through the woods on camping trips with a belt for any infraction. The scoutmaster would also beat his two sons with abandon. "Makes men out of them," was his answer to anyone who questioned his actions or even looked at him askance. Complaints and pleas fell on deaf ears. Both the scoutmaster and the assistant thought it was rather amusing to watch their sons dish it out to these young newcomers from the big city.

His mom was cooking bacon and eggs in a large steel frying pan. The pan was big enough to hold four full-sized pancakes. He and three of his sibs would be leaving for school at roughly the same time. The two others were too little to be part of this morning ritual and were probably still asleep. He kept taunting her. Mom was about to crack another egg into the pan. From across the room instead of cooking it, she pivoted and pitched it at him.

Tumbling in midair the egg seemed to fly in slow motion. Flip, flip, flip, flip, straight at him it flew and this is what he remembered most, that seemingly slow motion tumble that actually took only a second or two to hit.

Mom had a good arm. She had beaned him a number of times with her missiles. She was especially good with a moving target, as he remembered. And Dad, well Dad had been a hole-puncher with a rifle. Kirk always assumed he must have inherited those skills. His previous job of 'Event Planner', the details of which were classified even to this day, capitalized on that almost innate skill and honed it, making him one of the best. Since he was a natural with certain tools of a trade dealing in precision, with one-shot opportunities, he was much sought after. And now was out to pasture and probably forgotten. Maybe that was a good thing.

Chapter 6

Doris Cetrullo

Doris was of Northern Italian heritage. She was a natural blonde, top and bottom. She stood 5'10, 38 years old, 125 pounds, and had some college training. She had a very close resemblance to the young woman, Cecilia Gallerani, as painted in Da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine".

Doris was born and lived in Northern New Jersey all her life. She, like many teenagers and young adults, migrated to the Jersey shore in the summers where parental supervision was nonexistent.

The cops most always gave a pretty girl a pass when it came to borderline activity, and besides, her daddy would take care of things if necessary. He was mayor of a city in Northern New Jersey. They all recognized her Porsche 'D CETRULLO 1' which said it all in Jersey-speak. No one had plates like that.

Doris had always been interested in astronomy and physics and had a great mind for abstract thought. At one point in her life she considered a possible academic-military track leading to astronaut training. But then she met Deno Volente. He was the manager of a pizza place she ate at. He was in the process of buying the owner out. She thought he was interesting, nothing long term, just something to play with.

He was shorter than she was by four inches. He had a very effusive personality, was funny and a good time in the sack. He was southern Italian. He was everything her father would hate. She loved it.

"At least he's a Catholic and Italian," her dad would mumble at the dinner table.


Deno DeFallo

The phone rang and rang. Deno finally got out of bed. He was hoping the call would just go away. "Don't say anything, please," he said to the girl in his bed.

"What do you mean pregnant?" he said into the phone. "You're on the pill. Is this some sort of joke or another one of your stupid fucking tests that you seem to enjoy playing?" Listening, then silence.

"Yeah I know you had some sort of infection and were on antibiotics, so what? It wasn't an STD, so big deal." The woman's voice on the other end got louder.

"The pill and antibiotics don't mix? Great time to find out now. The doctor didn't tell you? He didn't ask if you were taking anything, and how about the pharmacist? No one asked about possible effects? And now you're pregnant. Is it mine?"

He pulled the phone away from his ear. Anyone in rock throwing distance could hear the voice screaming through the receiver. After a bit, and the voice became normal, Deno put the receiver to his head and said, "Sorry, back off, slow down. I had to ask. I mean how do I know?"

"So, I'm the only one. Thanks, that makes me feel so much better," he said with sarcasm. "So now what?" He's hoping she'll say abortion.

"Married? You have to be shitting me. I'm not ready to get married. What's with this Catholic crap? You …" and he decided to drop that line of attack. "I'm just getting ready to buy Philippo out. Sweetie, Doris, don't start crying. Can you get here soon? About an hour and a half. It's a weekday and the Parkway is clear. Okay, I'll meet you at the shop."

He hung up the phone and turned to the girl in his bed who heard everything. She knows all his lovers. She takes him when she can. She's a good friend and lover. She's steady, always there.

"Kathy, you gotta go. Doris is coming here. Get your stuff and help me change the sheets."

"Okay, Deno. When will I see you again?"

"As soon as she goes back home, or when I can get some time away from the store. How about your day off, at your place?"

"Sure, Deno. So, you going to marry her, Mr. Big Shot's daughter?" She knows it's over. No married men for her.

"No, I don't know, Shit, this wasn't supposed to happen. She was supposed to be gone by summer's end. That would be that."

"I'll be here for you; remember that." She gives him a good-bye kiss. They both know the score.

"Thanks, Kath, see you later." She's pretty, and a real circus in bed, he thinks, as he watches her leave. "Oh man, this complicates everything," he mutters. And then it hits him. Her father is the mayor, and he is connected. I am dead, I am so dead.

Chapter 7

Doris Cetrullo

When she was in her early twenties, she got pregnant, and in her book, that ended the one life of a student. She began a new role as a mother. And if Deno had other ideas, he was shown the light by her father. Deno was only expecting her after her phone call. The two of them showed up. The limo sat outside.

She stomped in. "Daddy wants to talk to you; go," she commanded, and pointed to the door.

The chauffeur opened the door for Deno, and stepped away. Rocco Cetrullo said nothing for a while. He looked out the front through the thick plexiglas privacy window. Then after about ten minutes, as Deno was sweating in the air conditioned car, Rocco turned to Dominic. "Dominic," Rocco never called him Deno, "I can't say it's nice to see you, so I'll get to the point. You can wear your tux to your funeral or your wedding. It's your choice. What's it going to be?"

"Wedding?" Deno gulped a reply.

Rocco nodded and didn't say a thing for a while. "Nice choice, but not the one I was hoping for," said Rocco Cetrullo. He could read Deno like an open book. He didn't say anything for a while, letting Deno sweat some more. Then he said, "Okay, but you hurt my little girl, and, well, do I have to spell it out?"

"NO, sir." Deno had never met power like that, face to face before. Yes, he had met Rocco at dinner but it was always polite conversation. Doris had instructed him on the limits of acceptable subjects at the dinner table. Deno complied.

"By the way, don't worry about that loan from the bank. You won't need it. It's a wedding gift from the family. Welcome to our family, son. Now get out, and get back to work. You have a wife and child to support. No son-in-law of mine is going to be a bum."


"Well, what did he say?" Doris questioned.

"Welcome to the family." Deno thought it best to leave some of the details out.

"You were in the car for a fucking hour, and all he said was welcome to the family? Bullshit! He threatened you, didn't he?"

"No he didn't. He gave me a wedding present, too. I don't need a loan from the bank."

"He bribed you? That bastard."

"Doris, please. He didn't bribe me. After I said I would marry you, he said welcome to the family and then, only then, did he mention the gift. Christ, Doris, back off, already."

She was upset. This was not supposed to happen. Deno, her husband? My god!

As she discovered, birth control pills and antibiotics don't mix, and something she would never forget. She was Catholic and Italian, and this is what you did when you fucked up. You accepted your responsibility and moved on. In this case school was over. She was going to be a mother.

She really looked at Deno for the first time, and thought, What a piece of shit. "Drive me home," she commanded.


The child died five years later from a brain tumor. Doris was totally in the dumps. The black inky cloud of depression would flood her being for weeks at a time. It took years, with some professional help, and believe it or not, some rather deep emotional support from Deno. That's not to say Deno didn't stop his normal MO. He would still fuck anything in a skirt. Long-term hires were not in the menu for his pizza business.

Business was good. Deno expanded his pizza shop into a restaurant and then opened up another pizza shop in Rehoboth, Delaware. He always liked it there. It was his getaway business. It wasn't like the crazy Jersey shore or Ocean City in Maryland. But New Jersey was where the money was, so that was his life. Doris didn't complain. The money was good. Pizza alone brought in $750,000 a year, net. She did the books.

Doris was in the office doing payroll. Deno came in and said to Doris, "Summer is coming and we need more help."

"You gotta stop fucking the help away," she said, not even looking up.

"What do you mean?" he asked defensively. His father-in-law was still very much alive.

"You'll fuck anything in a skirt if she'll let you. Don't lie to me. Just keep your mouth shut. You think I'm blind? You think I can't smell their perfume, their smell, their scent on you when you come home? Don't answer. Get the fuck out of my office. Go!"

Busted. He thought he had been sliding under the radar all these years. So why didn't she leave him?

As if she could read his mind, she hollered out to him, "Hey Deno, you fucker, remember our vows? Better or worse? My word is my bond. I swore before the crowd, the priest and God. I'm stuck with your cheating ass." Until you're dead, she thought.

Until one of us is dead, Deno thought. Still, he said nothing. Better not to fight and to let the fire die out rather than pour gasoline on it trying to put it out. Deno made his mind up to be a good boy for a while.

Then Binah showed up.

Chapter 8


The phone was ringing.

His phone was ringing. It woke him from his daydream on the bench with a startle and a jump. He saw the name ID. It wasn't blocked. He smiled to himself and thought they must be hard up, but only said, "Hello Lautz. It's been a while." He knew Lautz would be in the vicinity, maybe even watching him. He reached into his jacket pocket and took the tool of his past trade off safety. Be prepared.

"No need to do that," said Lautz. "If that were my aim, you'd never have heard the shot."

Kirk grinned at the pun. It also let him know Lautz was near. Good or bad, this would be a fair exchange, at least in the beginning. He was sure this was not a social visit. He looked around for the unobvious obvious. The lights flashed on an old, slightly rusted and faded, almost chalk-like brown, Toyota pickup. It was the same one at the diner. He noticed the windows were blacked out. He sat there. He didn't get up. If it was a snake it would have bit me.

A few more trucks could be felt hitting the concrete slabs and the hum/whine of their tires on the interstate could be heard as he sat there on the bench. "I wonder where they're going," he said aloud. The cat was still there cleaning itself and looked up, if only for a few seconds, when he spoke. The thought of going, again, anywhere … and then Kirk realized he liked where he was for everything it was, and especially for what it was not. He got up, waved, palms up to the Toyota, bowed a slight bow, and started to walk away.

Lautz was sitting behind the wheel of the rusted-out pickup truck. He watched as Kirk had walked about the square and sat on the bench. He did nothing as Kirk sat there thinking who knows what. Lautz wondered about his own fate, Is this how we treat our people? This guy was good. We isolate him, we hold his money, why? To control him? Am I next? Kirk never saw this part of the operation: he is or was just a soldier. Sometimes that's a better position to be in. Thinking about what has to be done can keep some people from doing it, but not Kirk.

Kirk got up slowly, and to Lautz's mind, somewhat painfully. Kirk bowed and stared to walk away.

Kirk's next recollection was looking up at Lautz's big smile as he said, "You think I would drive out to this end-of-the-earth god forsaken place just to let you walk away? You must think I'm an idiot. You'll be fine in a few minutes; just a bit groggy, too. I sort of expected your answer and had a little something prepared for that eventuality. Now get in the truck."

Kirk noticed the cat hadn't moved even though the truck was now parked next to him by the bench.

"You shot me? What the fuck?" Kirk looked for blood. "You bastard."

"Get in the truck, now," demanded Lautz.

It was strong coffee, just the way Kirk liked it with two shots of espresso. "Thanks, tastes good." He noticed the tranquilizer pistol on the dash with the spent cartridge next to it.

"Here, drink this; it will help."

He sat there in the Toyota and looked at Lautz. "Why, what's going on that you're so desperate for me?"

"It's a small job, nothing too political or dangerous, just a bug in the ointment. It's a good job for an old pro like you."

"Where?" asked Kirk, ignoring the age-baited insult.

"East Coaster, Virginia. They don't want anyone local on this."

"You know I stopped doing events a while ago," said Kirk.

"Yeah, but we know you could use the money, but more important, I know, we all know you're bored."

Kirk admitted grudgingly, "No, more importantly, I need the job, any job just to keep sane. So, it's some politico?"

"You'll never believe this one. Here's his profile."

Kirk opened the red package. He read, stopped, looked at the driver, read some more and then put the package down. He said, "You want me to have this event with a half-baked science fiction writer? Have you people lost your collective minds? How the hell can someone with no audience be a threat?"

"He has this ability to put arcane data together and come up with what's going to happen. It's as if he can see into the future. He's been on the mark too many times. We're concerned that others are reading his stories and are beginning to take them seriously. He also has a clearance and works black. He has some appearance of credence."

"Have you considered talking to him, and maybe offering him an alternative outlet for his skills?" Kirk couldn't believe that they just wanted to pop a second rate writer out of fear of some otherworldly bullshit.

"Not my department," said Lautz. "I just hand out the assignments. We picked you for a lot of reasons." He was repeating his instructions, as he was told. In the back of his mind he agreed with Kirk. Talk to the kid, maybe buy his stories and then burn them.

Kirk looked at his old acquaintance. Yes, he was bored, he needed a few more bucks, and this would be a cakewalk. "No, I'm out of the business," he said, while thinking, This is so wrong.

"You sure? Last chance," said Lautz.

Kirk took the sunglasses off and looked at his old buddy and partner. "NO! Thanks for the opportunity. Want a drink?" Kirk pointed to the bar. "We could go and just part friends and leave it at that. You're always welcome."

"It's kinda early," said Lautz looking at his watch. "What the fuck, a drink, okay, sure. Sorry you won't take this. I'll have to find some newbie." He said this hoping that would get to Kirk.

Kirk said, while putting his glasses back on, opening the door, "Yeah you do that. They are setting up, and they know me, early or not." He walked to the bar and sat waiting for Lautz to walk in the door. It took a bit too long.

"I had to park the truck," said Lautz.

"It was already parked," said Kirk. He must have been on the line to his boss, reporting my refusal. I wonder if I'm the event, thought Kirk. Kirk noticed the bulge under Lautz's sport jacket. He was sure there were at least two magazines on his hip. He was carrying forty-five rounds and maybe a backup. Lautz was always paranoid and he was always well armed.


That night Kirk started to read the targets' stories and poems. The poems were pretty good. He had a knack to speak of the macro in terms of physics and astronomy and then bring them back to earth and the human. 'Galaxy Poems' is the title Kirk gave them. The stories, on the other hand, needed a good editor. Some were pretty funny. So what were they afraid of?

Then he read some of the target's political poems and a few of his future history stories. "Oh shit," said Kirk to himself. "He hit the dragon on the nose, didn't he? Tiananmen poem, cyber war, and political control, to name a few points." Kirk figured someone or some entity was pissed and wanted to call in a small favor that was owed. This would just be gesture, a nod to them that at this level we can scratch and even eliminate that itch for you, and at the same time give me something to do. How nice, and how thoughtful of them, he thought sarcastically. Kirk shook his head. Poor kid, he won't know what hit him, or even why.

Kirk woke up. He didn't remember being tired. He turned his computer on. He hit the button and the screen came on. He called a number he remembered.

"Kirk, I thought you would call. Been reading his stuff, haven't you?"

"Yeah, I get it. This is just a favor to them isn't it? What did you hit me with? I passed out."

Lautz was quiet for a bit and finally said, "Well, yes and no. It goes a bit deeper than that. I really can't say, but reread the big one. I'll call you later, and by the way, I did not tell them you said no." Then he said with a laugh, "You of all people should know not to mix booze and drugs. It's a bad combination."

Kirk said, "Thanks. I assume you're local. Breakfast? Airy Metta's?"

"Sure, meet you there in an hour. And Kirk …"

Kirk heard something else in Lautz's voice. "Lautz, you okay?" Was the hesitation was a warning. Kirk wasn't sure about anything any more. An hour was about 70 miles away. He wondered, Spawar HQ?

"Yep, I'll meet you there." Lautz hung up.

Chapter 9

A Wednesday evening a few weeks after Binah started at Deno's

Binah greeted them at the door and her manner made each and every person feel as if they were the most important person on the planet. And this was just for pizza, or for take out, or the cheap Italian dinner at this run-of-the-mill restaurant. When she escorted them to a table, a calm regal air surrounded them, as if this is what they were supposed to have all their lives. And they ordered, and ordered deep, and drank the wine.

She knew right away if a taxi was required. Even before the patrons reached the door, it was there. "Complements of the house," she added, "We want you to come back in one piece."

That happened a few times and Deno was going to ask her where she got off doing that without his approval, but they came back with friends. They told Deno that was is the best restaurant they have ever been to; the food, the service, yes, especially the service was out of this world. And those friends brought more friends and more family.

Deno was going to say something anyway because he is the boss. His ego was on the line. Before he could, though, she said, "Better to ask forgiveness than permission," with a wink. "Ask any Jesuit."

What could he say?

One day the Chef was sick, and true to her word, Binah stepped into his place. She whipped out the orders like magic. The food preparation and presentation were heavenly. It's as if the Chef of the Gods, or the chef from the Inn in Little Washington, just walked in and took over. To Binah, the heat of the pizza ovens was nothing compared to the heat of the blast furnaces and gravitational tug of each new universe. The late hours had no effect. A sigh, a smile, and, "Pepperoni pizza with mushrooms, coming right up. Chicken parm, extra cheese, the best in the universe." It was, too. The rest of the cooking staff was impressed. She helped out, gave ideas on how to improve their art, and took no credit. The word spread to other kitchens. They all wanted to work at Deno's, no matter if it was Deno's.

In the recent past, where there may have been a short wait in the five- to eight p.m. time slots on the weekends, now it's backed up around the block all the time, from opening to closing, Wednesday through Sunday. And she still, with all that work, managed to come out and greet the people. Deno couldn't believe it. It's like she owned the place. He kept his mouth shut. The receipts speak louder than pride, but not much. He was jealous.

So to compensate, Monday and Tuesday became "no reservations; first come, first served." It was her idea. People loved it. Otherwise, reservations have to be made a month in advance, and only the oldest, longest waiting customers get bumped ahead. Otherwise, it's "Sorry, gumba, you gotta wait." Her smile said it all. There is rarely a complaint. Besides, the appetizers that get passed around to the waiting crowd were heavenly.

Deno realized her cooking was better than anything he could dish up, or his wife, or, God forgive him for even thinking this, his mother, a saint. He moved the returning cook to his other store, a pizza place at the Delaware shore. The cook had wanted a transfer there, and now, Deno had good reason. Everyone was happy.

Well, almost every one. Deno's wife, Doris, was wondering about this bimbo. She was incredibly attractive, she was smart and she could cook. One day, Doris was sitting on a stool staring at Binah. When everyone was out and they were both alone in the kitchen, she said to Binah, "What's the matter with my husband? You don't like the boss? Every girl comes on to the boss. You don't even give him a second glance. I've been watching you. You're not married, so what's up, you like women?" This was followed quickly by, "Oh my god! Where did that come from, I'm sorry, that was rude, Christ …"

"Don't worry, Doris. It's okay. I don't go after married men. And yes, I like women and I like men, too. I can take my pick. It gives me a bigger pool to swim in."

Doris nodded, "Okay girl, I get it. But no hanky-panky with my old man, or me, and you have a job for life." Doris knew a good thing, especially when she carried the receipts to the bank.

Binah stopped and looked straight into Doris's eyes and said in a matter of fact tone, "Binah Alef, My name is Binah Alef. Not girl, or girlie, it's Binah. Doris, you will use it. And yes I get it. You don't have to worry. I am not interested in your old man." And she looked Doris up and down and smiled.

Doris's eyes lit up a bit. The feeling Doris got from Binah was almost predatory. She sort of liked it. Then Doris was about to say something, but turned red from head to toe.

Binah pivoted and stepped into Doris's personal space. She placed a long slender finger to Doris's lips and said, "Shush, not nice thoughts." And then stepped back to the pot where she was making a fresh batch of pasta fazool.

A chill ran through Doris. But it was warm and yet it was like an electric current. That's the only thing she could equate it with, an electric chill. It wasn't a bad feeling. It was just different, and it was new to her. It was if her eyes opened for the first time. Doris looked at Binah differently, and thought for a bit, just staring. It was nothing she could put into words. It just was.

Doris was about to turn and head for the bar. She changed her mind, walked up to Binah and said, "Yes, Binah, I am sorry. And if you do want to talk some time, let me know. I think I would enjoy that." There is something refreshing about Binah, she thought, as she inhaled deeply. It might be her perfume too. What's wrong with Deno? He should be hitting on her. I know if I liked women, I would be.

Binah smiled and said, "Sure thing; on my day off?"

"You have it, but not here. There's a nice little Jewish deli down the road, and …"

Binah interrupted, she had work to do. "Yes, I know where it is. I pass it every day; never been there. Meet you there Thursday, 11:30, before the lunch crowed gets in there?"

On the video entertainment/news they both overheard the announcer mentioning, "Scientists are not sure why, but believe in the last 10,000 years or so, they've discovered that the universe has been going through a period of unexplainable rapid inflation. They say it may be attributed to Dark Matter."

Binah muttered, "Yes, dark matter, it is. They have no idea how dark. So that's how they show themselves. How interesting."

Doris caught a few words and stared at Binah. Doris is not a scientist, but she follows the latest news about physics and astronomy. Still, she keeps up with some of the journals, Scientific American and Science News in particular. So when Binah said what she said about dark matter, Doris had an understanding, but not from anything she could name, or put her finger on. Yes, Thursday will be interesting.

Binah looked at her and just shook her head, as if something was said. "Yes it will be interesting; see you Thursday."

"I never said anything," Doris whispered to herself. This is one strange chick, she thinks, as she walks to the bar where Deno is serving drinks to the waiting patrons. Doris asks for a gin and tonic. "Two shots, please."

Deno looks up and said, "You sick or something? 'Please'? You never say 'please'!"

"I said 'please'. Big fucking deal. Now get over it, and give me my fucking drink …

P-L-E-A-S-E," as she spelled it out.

Chapter 10


Kirk got washed, dressed and opened the drawer. The Glock 19 was there. He checked: loaded, single stack. It was smaller and easier to carry than those huge double-stacked .45's that Lautz liked. Kirk always kept four additional magazines loaded. So aside from the punch, he had as much ammo as Lautz, and maybe 5 more rounds. The Sig P238 was there, too. He had been warned.

Kirk saw the Toyota as he came down the hill. Lautz was there when he walked in. He was big and took up a large portion of the booth. Lautz was drinking his coffee. Kirk knew it was decaf. What a pussy.

Kirk said a good morning to Gloria and Fred as he walked in and pointed to Lautz. He walked over to Gloria and gave her a morning hug. She looked at him. He winked and sat down. "Good morning Lautz, I didn't expect you to be on time, or early. That's not like you."

"Things and people can change," he said.

"You still drink decaf," said Kirk. He had noticed Gloria pouring Lautz a refill from the orange-brimmed pot before he entered the restaurant.

Lautz didn't say anything. He nodded.

Kirk ordered, "Bacon, eggs, scrambled, and toast, dry." Gloria was about to say something.

Lautz interrupted quickly, "I'm paying," as if to acknowledge his friends financial history. And then turned to Kirk and asked, "Well, have you thought about it?"

"This is a new world, isn't it?" Kirk asked. He wasn't sure just what he would say when the question arose, as it was bound to. But this was unexpected, even from him. He had never even contemplated that thought.

Lautz gave him a raised wrinkled forehead look as if surprised at this question as an answer. The question many times holds some of the answer.

Kirk continued, "We never did this type of thing for anyone, especially at this low level, this slight pain-in-the-ass level. What's going on here?"

"To them, it's important," Lautz said between sips of coffee.

"By them, you're not talking about …" asked Kirk.

"By them, I can't say. You're not cleared for that level," whispered Lautz as he motioned with his palms down to keep the conversation lower.

"I assumed I was, since you're talking to me," said Kirk.

"Yes you are, but only on a need to know."

Kirk hissed, "Well, I need to know what the hell is going on. You came out here to the end of the world and want me to pick up just where I left off, after you all but abandoned me to this shithole. You forget to send my retirement and all that was due me. This is a plan to get me so desperate I'll do anything, right?" Kirk was mad but kept his voice down.

Gloria was watching his table, and he could see that Fred was looking at both of them reflected by a mirror on the wall. Kirk wasn't sure, but he thought he noticed Fred's .44 peeking out from the apron. He knew it wouldn't come to that. Not now, anyway. This was something new. He nodded to them and smiled as if to say everything was fine.

Lautz began, "The Rome, the Republic you remembered and wished for, is gone and never more. The unified war machine has given way to a new pagan god and a war machine controlled by a plutocracy that neither of us never dreamed of."

"What of the Republic?" questioned Kirk.

Lautz laughed and just said, "It never actually existed. It was a dream, an illusion. The Republic was a republic of the rich and powerful. Powerful socialization, education inculcated the franchised into believing that they actually had a say. The vote every four years was a sop. The center of power changes geographic locations over time. It keeps everyone happy. It's their turn, again."

Kirk was almost at a loss for words. All he could ask was, "Again, who?"

"You read the data. You went on the web and looked him up. Figure it out." Lautz went on to drive the point home, "You actually believed what you were taught, even after all your years with us? Really?"

Kirk realized that he had crossed the line. He was in the game whether he liked it or not. He had too much information. He knew it without Lautz even mentioning it. Play or die, or die anyway. He was expendable. He might be necessary, but he wasn't important. Neither was Lautz. He laughed to himself. I wonder if Lautz, with all his self-importance, ever considered his position as simply a cog. I would guess not. And he thinks I swallowed the cool-aid.

Kirk ate the rest of the breakfast in silence. Lautz said nothing. He just watched Kirk, wondering what he was thinking. This was a bad assignment on many levels. The reasons were totally screwed up. The target was not worth a bullet, let alone the travel expenses. And it was just wrong. Lautz still held on to a copy of the Bill of Rights in his wallet, almost like a religious icon. It was one of those laminated copies that could fit into a picture file, the size of a driver's license. No matter what he said to Kirk, he did believe in the foundations, the bedrock of that experiment begun in 1776.

Lautz said, "Look, just go and meet him, and check him out. If you think you can get this kid to back off the sensitive subject matters, mention, you know, his cleared work, well you get the idea." Kirk couldn't believe it, but Lautz just went over his boss's head.

Kirk sat there open-mouthed, coffee suspended mid air. "You're kidding. You didn't just say that." Then he knew there was way more to this than he ever imagined. "Okay, I'll go, but I need money, tickets and all the rest. I'll need a place nearby, too, and a car, and nothing fancy, either."

"It's already done. And here's all your travel documents, cash and ID. And what I just told you, I never said," said Lautz handing him a thick legal-sized envelope. "Oh, a heads-up, the kid is a master pistol shooter, and carries."

"Any other surprises?" asked Kirk sarcastically.

"Well, yes and no. Nothing related to this kid, directly, as I see it, but there have been some strange goings-on in that part of the country. It's kind of spooky. People are disappearing, there are movements, automotive in nature, that we can track on transponders at speeds that are unexplained, power surges that satellites pick up and then just as quickly disappear. We're not sure what the hell is happening. None of the other agencies are talking, either."

Lautz continued, "Other than the people that have been lost, and none of them are of any importance in the greater scheme of things, it's the power surges and the incredible speed of these vehicles." Lautz was looking at Kirk wondering what he would say to that.

"So you really don't want me to go after this kid, do you? You think he might have an insight into this stuff just because of what he writes. It's so far out that I'm guessing you and what's-his-face want me to see if he knows anything about this phenomena as you suggest, and if so, will he help us."

Lautz thought, Well, Kirk was quick on that one. All he said was, "I was thinking that. That's one reason I said what I did before. The other reason is this." He slapped the copy of the Bill of Rights on the table.

Kirk didn't have to look. He knew what it was. Kirk looked at Lautz and asked, "When do I have to leave?"

"Now. We went to your room and retrieved your travel gear. We have a private jet. You're not flying commercial for this outing. I know you're armed. Finish breakfast. We have the jet waiting at a field not far from here." He pointed east to the desert.

"You really bet I would take this, didn't you?"

"You went over the line yesterday, and we both know that. This other stuff is really what's bothering us. The event is real, just to placate some foreign big shots, but avoidable given the other things I mentioned." Lautz finished and laid a twenty on the table and left a ten for a huge tip.

"Gloria," Lautz said, looking up, "I'll take good care of your boy. Don't you worry."

She looked at Lautz and at Kirk in total surprise.

Kirk smiled and shrugged his shoulders. When he got up, he walked over to Fred, shook his hand and said, "Thanks for everything. This is the call I was waiting for." Then he went over to Gloria and gave her a hug and a light kiss on the cheek. "Be seeing you soon, I hope."

Chapter 11

Later on, a Thursday, just before noon at the deli

At Micha's Deli, Binah is there early, looking around and sampling the bits and pieces here and there. Micha liked her immediately. He didn't know why. There's an affinity he feels toward her. And he said, "You know girlie, there's something about you, I just can't put my finger on." He paused thinking about that statement, and continued, "Let me rephrase that, there's a certain I know you from somewhere, but just where, I don't recall."

Binah never let anyone call her anything but Binah. She let this one slide. She likes him? she questioned herself. She instantly and instinctively liked him a lot, and gave him a light kiss on the cheek, and said, "That's for you, Micha honey. Enjoy it." She is who she is, and she can do most anything she desires.

They both stare at each other, a flicker of recognition flashes in each of their minds.

He's floored, he can't speak, and Micha not speaking is a miracle, or he's got to be sick. He knows this beauty is not what she appears to be. But then again, neither is he. Mental probes go out and are blocked. He stops, he looks around to see who is there, and said, "Its You. You left? That explains the unbalance in nature."

This time it's her turn to be speechless. She looks at him deeply, but he is good. He can block the probes too. And she knows. He gives her a light salute just as Doris walks in.

"You two know each other?" She can sense familiarity. "You're Jewish?"

Binah looked at her, looked at Micha, and said, "I am all things. Let's sit and talk. Remember, this was your choice. I had no idea he was here." She points to Micha.

"He is who? He is what to you?" Doris is totally confused and is dying to know.

"We have known each other forev—for a very long, long time." She has to remember to put things in terms of time here. "I'm just surprised to meet him here. Micha, come here and meet …"

He finished her sentence, "Doris Volente, yes I know, the pizza king's wife. I have no idea what's going on there, but his food, your food has become the talk of the city, and it's getting a national reputation."

Doris smiled and said, "I think it's because of our new cook." She points to Binah.

Micha nodded, "Yes, that could be it. She can cook up most anything you want; from dirt, too, I once heard," spreading his arms wide.

Binah kicks him.

He walks away limping and shaking his head muttering, "Who would have guessed it, the devil herself just walked in." A piercing pain hits the back of his skull. It's the dish that the pickles were in. It made ballistic contact. No damage was reported at the impact zone.

Doris looked up and asked, "Were you two married to each other at one point? Nobody acts like that unless they were married … or lovers," she adds as an afterthought. "You have a good arm and good aim. I could use some training." Doris laughed at the mental picture.

Binah gives Doris a hug. "You're a dear. Oh no, never married, but we did work very closely for the longest of times. Let's talk, shall we?"

"Micha, two soups, you know what I like. Doris, and you?"

"Whatever you're having will be just fine, Binah." Doris thinks there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye. This could be interesting.

They eat, talk about work, the weather, and then out of the blue, between slurps of chicken noodle soup, Doris asked her, "What was that stuff you mentioned about dark matter? What were you referring to?"

Binah asked her, "You understand a bit of physics and astronomy, but do you believe in a God?"

Doris stops, spoon mid air, soup dripping back into the dish, and looks at her, "I'm Italian. I'm Catholic. What do you think? Really, now!"

Binah said, "EXACTLY."

"Exactly? What do you mean?" Doris is confused. "What the hell does that mean? How does that relate to your question and me being Catholic?"

"Reality. That's what I meant. What if I were to tell you that all you've been taught is upside down and inside out?"

"I'd say you were probably going to hell." Doris answered automatically, with years of catechism kicking in. And has another bite of egg salad sandwich and some coleslaw. She just thinks Binah is crazy. Deno was right. But she could cook, so …

Binah started again, "Suppose that your God, any god for that matter, was really first called by a different name. Then imagine that a number of lesser gods and their retainers conducted a coup? One difference being the lesser gods cannot kill off the more powerful one, but can relegate her to a prison or banish her, or …"

"What do you mean, her," Doris interrupted. "I understand the argument, but some of this is ridiculous. God is a man." Again, her catholic indoctrination kicked in.

Binah responded, "Well, what if it isn't? What if the ultimate power is female and not male? What if, and think about this, every person, every thing, is nothing but a hologram of a greater existence? And add to that, if you don't know, all conceived beings start off as female, and female is the basis for all existence."

Doris is shocked. She never thought about it. "This is blasphemy, isn't it?"

"Is it?" Binah wants to laugh but this is serious for this person. "What if the term god is really the term for the devil as you currently define it, and the devil is really god?"

"Now, that's insane. And that is blasphemy." Doris is adamant about the foundations of her religion.

Binah questions her gently, "Again I ask, is it? And why is it?"

"Because, because—well, that's just the way it's always been," stammers Doris.

"Says who? Try this one on for size. The lesser gods need—no, require people and require worship, unlike people, who might benefit from the gods but can survive without them. Without worship of any kind they disappear. They must have you, and in return they offer knowledge of sorts, and guidance to achieve a higher level of existence other than brute animal."

Binah continued, "Maybe the word worship carries too much baggage. The word I'm looking for can take myriad manifestations, from crude burnt offerings, to meditation and contemplation. The very act of thinking about them, or a higher power, a universal truth, it's all the same, and is food for all their existence."

Doris said, "This sounds like a lot of bullshit. I need another drink. How about you? You don't have to go to work and fu … screw Deno. He can handle the restaurant without me."

Binah laughed, "Getting religion? You can say what you want." She turns to Micha and orders, "Micha, a drink for me too. How about some dessert? Surprise us."

They have a few more drinks and are a bit giddy, well, maybe on the way to getting sloshed.

Doris said, "Go on with this theological nonsense. And no, I'm not getting religion. I have one. I'm Catholic, remember?"

Binah began again, not missing a beat, "Humans and other beings can exist as they are without us. There is a power you have, that you know nothing about, or fail to realize. It's an awareness of self as self, and as that, you can rise above the basic animal. However you also must realize that you are but holograms of this universe and as such reflect its basic nature, too. So your seeming cruelty to each other is nothing more than displaced misdirected energy."

Doris asked, "Misdirected, and what's with this 'us' crap?"

Binah said, "I'll answer the first question and hold off the other answer for later, maybe. Yes, cruelty is misdirected energy because you can reason and think. You have a choice of how to use your powers. A star bursts, and wipes out life. There is no thought there, that's just physics. On the other hand, if you drop a nuclear bomb on a population, or starve your own people, well that's premeditated, and can be avoided."

Binah continued, "The star will seed more life, eventually. Your action just kills and distorts it."

"But God is the basis of our existence," said Doris.

"No, they are simply manifestations of a greater power. Gods are in a sense, teachers, leaders, guides, but they also derive their form, so to speak from the central IT of reality. From the one comes everything else. And as you must know from your mythology, which is closer to the truth than you realize, the gods have their likes and dislikes, petty jealousies and internal struggles. We cannot kill each other off, to use your definition of life, but we can supplant, overwhelm, and force a coup, if you will. And your reality reflects, as a hologram, our reality. Change in one dimension reflects and alters other dimensions, other realities."

"The new Quantum Religion," said Doris. "So where's the cat?"

"Cat?" Binah stops, a confused look appears on her face, and then, "Schrödinger, very funny. She's in a pet store. I couldn't take her with me."

They both burst out laughing.

As the last customer left, Micha put a CLOSED sign on the door and locked it before anyone else came in. He stood next to Binah's right. He seemed to have gotten a bit bigger. He was listening to their conversation. Doris looked up and points to him in a 'what's he doing here looking at us like that.'

Binah answered, "Micha is my right hand. I'll explain later. I told you, we go way back."

Doris is considering all that has been laid on her table. This data was leading her to rethink everything she knew. It's similar to new inputs to a spreadsheet, only here the data is creating a paradigm shift, leading to an epiphany.

She looked at Binah. "Binah is not your name is it," she said quietly. It's a statement, not really a question.

"No, it is-well, not exactly. It's short for the female form. It's been corrupted by those in power and reflects the upside-down-ness I mentioned. It goes back even further from a corruption of a language you could never utter, but it could also mean a higher being yet, or great mother, or GAIA, which is an acronym. It's now a derogatory corruption of the spoken Ba'al Zəbûl , "Lord of the High Place" or "High Lord". Look it up in Google. Let's leave it at that."

"And Micha?" she asked.

"He is my faithful field general, my number one, Michael." He bowed. "And, I had no idea he was here," Binah added. "You picked this place out, not me, remember."

"Michael? Michael what, how? I don't follow," said Doris. Doris chugs down a drink and motions for another. "So big deal, he's a close, old friend."

Binah said, "Don't worry. It's not important to you. But, if it ever comes to it, you can trust him with your life."

Doris is very familiar with those who protect. She looked at Micha. Yeah, she surmised, he looks like he could possibly take someone apart. I wonder how he is with a Beretta.

Binah began to tell Doris the story. "I left my confines. I was tired of it all. I let things happen and I said screw it. I came here to get away, to just be human, or as close to it as possible. My leaving has caused a great imbalance in the fabric of the universes, and all are out looking for me. Even if I'm not in power at the moment, my being is required in the machinery to allow the multi-universes to run smoothly, albeit corrupted by those clowns who call themselves gods."

Binah sighed, "Still I do get bored and tired of the bullshit. Even a CEO like me, tires of the repetition, of the tasks we are given, choose to do, and must carry out. Once a decision is made, and initiated, then the conclusion must eventually follow. And given enough time, the players will repeat mistakes that were similar to earlier ones not ever learning, or taking a new path. It is my own creation and my own hell, I guess. Funny me using that term; ironic, wouldn't you say?"

Doris interrupted laughing and still in disbelief, "Have you ever thought about writing a book, fantasy or science fiction? This is good." She chugged down another drink and said, "Okay, go on, I'm listening. Tell me more. I swear, I almost believe you." She was shaking her head, a smile across her face.

Binah continued, "I needed to get away. It was in fact a deliberate dereliction of duty. I was AWOL. Well, yes, thinking about it, my will, and yet because of what was instituted, it could be considered, judged as so."

"About 14 billion of your years ago I was dethroned. I cannot be killed; displaced yes, but not killed. The universal balance must be maintained. In this case, as I mentioned, the balance reversed itself, but it is, or was still balanced. Up became down and down up. I go by a variety of names, one being Ba'al Ayin or Binah as I like to be called. There is yet another which is none of your concern at this time."

"Approximately 10,000 of your years ago, I was demonized and became the devil in the current myths. Sometimes I'm male and others female. I am pictured for the political necessity of the time. Where, in previous eras before the current one you all now live in, the female, the mother, held the highest position in society. Now it is the male warrior gods. Your societies are dominated by it."

"Even your early holy books have reference to the sons of these gods coming among the women and taking them back and breeding. These are the new people that displaced all who came before, effacing most of the myths, writing, and science that existed previously. You sometimes read about Atlantis or the past glory days? That was me, us and our society.

"I was placed in what you would call, house arrest."

At that Doris laughed, "Omnipotent God? In house arrest? Not happening. Oh please, give me a break!" She was a bit buzzed from the gin, and laughing so hard she had tears running down her face.

Binah gave her a look and asked, "Are you finished?"

Micha shook his head in wonder. He thought to himself, Were this the old days, this woman wouldn't be talking to her like that, that's for damned sure.

Binah continued, "I escaped. And because of that escape, the balance of heaven and in the universe is upset, which is indicated by a number of factors. You have rapid inflation which will tear the universe apart if it's not controlled. The galaxy is warped by dark matter. Dark matter is what you will see of them. Your calculation of the speed of light is off just a bit, but enough to throw all your physics out the window … because of them. And that warping is an indication that they are here looking for me and things are not in balance. You have wars. You can read all the rest in your media and history.

"They are looking for me, but they are not here, yet. This crude place is the last place they'd look. However I don't want to go back. I would rather see the universe collapse and restart, as in another big bang, as you call it."

Binah thought before she began her next statement. Then she said, "Ponder one more thing. Ponder the phrase, 'On Earth as it is in Heaven'. Think about what that means in the total sense based upon what I just explained to you. Here is a direct acknowledgment of the situation in the cosmos. It has intimate relevance to the hiccup I mentioned that upset that relationship."

Binah said in a deliberate voice, "The events in this universe and, in a more visible fashion, this planet, now and have always reflected the chaos my removal caused. The hologram was flawed to begin with. Instead of a neat birth, the universe was hampered by incomplete data, if you will, and discord. That discord permeated the Who, What, and How of your existence as we know it. And so, repeating the phrase, 'On Earth as it is in Heaven', is a truism, a direct holographic reflection. This planet, your home, how you live as a people, actually reflects what is missing as well as the discord. The trickle-down theory is correct when it comes to this."

Doris is shocked. The story makes sense, but it turns her mind upside-down. This is going to take a while to digest.

Micha looked on, nodding.

Binah said, attempting to reduce the discord she caused in Doris's mind, "I selected your restaurant because it was out of the way, safe, and I like Italian food. The heat from your ovens is nothing to me. And I just realized, today, the sweat from my body has been falling into the food I have been cooking. You can figure the rest. I don't have to spell it out."

Doris was confused, but not. It was just hard to accept the truth as it was projected. She asked, "No, you don't. So when are you going to leave?" Her eyes are getting red and beginning to tear.

Binah answered, "I'm not sure. Maybe after the tourist season is over. But still, I'm not strong enough yet to take back control. It will be a while, maybe even a few big bangs, as your scientists call them. Time means nothing to us. Maybe I'll stay on for a while. It's nice. I like to cook. Italian food is my favorite. Micha is running a good place to hang out and nosh, so." She looks up at Micha who is crying, and says, "Get over it!"

Doris is crying too. Binah holds her and pushes Micha away. "Get us both a gin and tonic, doubles, please."

"Done," he said, sniffling.

Doris looks up wipes her eyes. "You're for real. You're not kidding. I love you."

"No, I'm not kidding and yes, I am for real. Now let's have another drink or two or even three." She thinks about what Doris just said. It hit her in a place she never knew existed.

Doris starts to giggle, "How about you making some wine?" and she breaks out into hysterics.

Binah starts laughing too. "Yeah, right. By the way, none of this to your husband."

"That pig, I wouldn't tell him shit. He wouldn't understand three words of this conversation. Besides, what would I say? I met God? He would have me committed. Then he'd own the whole fucking thing. Sorry, did I say that?"

"That I do understand, and it's not a fucking problem," said Binah. "Micha, two more."

Micha walks to the bar shaking his head looking at Binah and Doris. They are both so stinking drunk and laughing like crazy, crazy human bodies with all their hates and desires . But then he has to smile; there is something to humans that no one expected. Look at the art and music and literature they developed, even with the inherent flaws in their universe. Who would have guessed? Not me.

Chapter 12

Kirk on his way East.

The jet was a good size. Kirk knew nothing about aircraft. Lautz escorted him to the ramp and offered his hand. Kirk took it. Neither said a thing.

Once airborne, Kirk looked around. He unfastened his seat belt once they were airborne. The pilot and crew looked civilian, but he knew better.

"Sir, may I get you anything?" she said, coming from behind silently. Kirk jumped just a little. Planes made him edgy. He wasn't in control and he did not like not being in control. It wasn't the idea of death. He accepted that as a given in his line of work. He just wanted to be in control, even if he lost.

These guys were good, very good, he thought. "Yes, thanks, some coffee and …"

"An apple Danish?" she finished his sentence. They had this all planned out. Damn that Lautz. Kirk had to smile. Okay, he'd go and meet this kid and talk and do what ever had to be done. He sat and began to read the more detailed documents. He looked up at the crew. He looked around. This was nuts!

Chapter 13

Later that afternoon

The two of them, still quite buzzed, left together. Binah faced Doris and said, "It only takes love to make a world. Come with me?"

Goddess or not, I love her. Doris grabs her hand, turns to face her, wraps her arms around Binah and kisses her long and deeply. IT all drops away, reality breaks down, the two become one, dissolved, and become no thing, if only for an instant.

"Your place, please, I can't imagine us at mine," Doris whispered.

Binah scooped her up, and they were there. That was probably a mistake. The energy jolt will be a giveaway. Screw it, and Binah abandoned herself to the time and place. They made love like never before.

Something awakens in Doris that she never felt. The passion, the love, and the love-making brings something to Doris. It's a different feeling. Doris is not embarrassed, as she initially imagined.

Doris looks at Binah's perfect body and starts touching again. She starts on her legs running her hand up between them, bends over her and kisses her. And the electricity passes between them again. "Multi orgasms are great," she says. "You get on top."

Binah touches Doris's lips with her lips, a light brush, a flick of her tongue and then caresses her from head to her toes and back again.

Many hours later, Doris said, "I really must be going."

"Me too," whispered Binah. Binah has loved, and loved everything in the universes, but this was different and unexplainable. She looks at Doris. Love? Does love like this come with the body and this mind? I never knew THIS. She wondered. The love-making brings something else to Binah, too. She feels something deep inside her like never before. "I have to consider this feeling, this unexplainable what? I can't even understand it and I AM."

Chapter 14

Saturday morning, in the kitchen prepping for the day's service

Deno looks at Binah's well-framed body. He wants her, and wonders, ponders what she must be like in the sack. I could teach her a thing or two, he muses.

Binah looks about:

She at him, and knows all within,

shakes her head, stirs and says,

" Boil, boil deep within, don't even go there.

It's toil and trouble,

a price you're not willing to pay."

And she turns away from him. He has free will within the given structure. He has been warned.

He looks, she's glowing. "What can she do to me, no one is here yet. It's just me and her," he thought. He began walking toward her, drawn by lust and desire, and slowly reaches out toward her.

Upset at this reality, she faces him. It's the same as before, only played out on a human scale. He stops as she stares at him. He's never seen this in his life. Her power begins to surge. Her eyes turn from bright green to a deep red. A cold shiver runs through his blood. It is too late. He touched her. A putrid puddle, down the drain in the floor, seen never more, washed away, erased. "I guess my time here is done," she said to no one. She folds her apron and places it neatly on the table before her. She pats her stomach and said, "Vacations, like parties, have to end. We must be gone."

She called Micha. "Be seeing you. We're on the run again. Don't give yourself away. I'll let you know where we land. Take care of Doris. We'll will be back for both of you, soon."

"We will do as you …" is all She heard in the receiver. She cut the connection before Micha could utter another word. She vaporized the phone.

Chapter 15

Binah is at a new Italian Restaurant in San Diego, CA

Laura DiCarleto, the manager of her father's restaurant, CIAO, is insistent and is about to yell, instead hisses. "Dad, did you see the bag she's carrying? It must cost as much as your car … and her shoes." There are customers, and they never fight in front of patrons.

Here father is never sure how to deal with his strong-willed, smart and very spoiled daughter. "Yes, but she is a good cook. I heard about her work on the East Coast. She asked not to tell anyone that she was working here just yet."

"Dad, I know you have a thing for a skirt and this one is very pretty. I'm not blind."

"Laura, sweetie, just talk to her. There is something about her. Let's give her a chance."

"Dad, you're such a pig. There is something about her; she's female. Our cooks are good enough."

"Good enough' is not what I would like this place to be. It's not what you should want. She's supposed to be one of the best. Please, just talk to her. Give her a shot. Make up your own test. I'll let her go if she doesn't pass, okay?" he begs.

* * *

"Are you FBI, IRS or something? We're not Mafia and we don't cheat on our taxes," said Laura to this green-eyed bitch. Laura did not like her from the get-go. She didn't trust her for some reason. If she had given it any consideration, something she rarely did, she would have realized it was fear.

Binah answered in a calm and gentle voice. She was aware that Laura was really afraid that she would take her father from her. "No, dear girl, not even close. I just like nice things, and I can afford them. I inherited a rather large piece of property. It brings me wealth. I do not have to work. I just can't stand being there doing nothing. It's like being in jail, so here I am, making pizza for your father. I like him and I like Italian food." She gave him a wink as she said it. He was watching with interest.

Laura turned toward her father and demanded to know, "Dad, are you under her spell or something?" Laura was pissed and she knew her father was attracted to her. She hated being talked down to, and when it came to money, that was a sore spot. Laura was proud of her wealth. Can afford them, my ass , she thought. "How the hell can she make pizza? She probably hasn't worked a day in her life, let alone made pizza," Laura said pointedly to her father, inches from his face. She was the only one who could get away with that. "I'll bet whoever gave you that recommendation, it was a set up."

Binah heard it all. Smiling ever so sweetly, she went over to Laura and meaning every word whispered, "Dear girl, I can do anything. And by the way, that recent wish, it can be arranged." Binah whispered this to her so as not to upset her father.

"Arranged? What can?" questioned Laura, who was a bit taken aback. No one talked to her like that.

"Your ass, sweetheart. You bet your ass, if I heard you correctly."

"I didn't say that aloud, did I?"

Binah just smiled. A slight flame-red color emanated from Binah's eyes. Had any one else seen it they would have taken the look as one of self-assurance and control. It was street smart people, and those with a good intuition would have recognized and understood immediately that there was a lot more to that look.

Her father interrupted and pulled Laura aside. "Sweetie, let's give Binah a chance," said her father. "She says she can cook, too. Come on, come up with that test we agreed upon."

Laura figured now she had Binah where she wanted her. She'll fall on the cute little ass my dad likes, and she'll be gone. Laura's stubbornness and ego were on the line. "Okay, I get to pick." The two, father and daughter conferred, and agreed. Laura said to Binah, "Here's the menu for tonight's special party."

Binah took a look, laughed to herself, and then said "When, and how many?"

"The party is starting at six p.m. and goes on until the last one leaves. And we do have pizza take out, too," said Laura. She knew no master chef could ever do this alone, let alone this bimbo. "Oh, by the way," said Laura with a smirk, "the staff all called in sick." This was going to be fun. Screw with me, thought Laura.

Binah looked at Laura and said, "You're not my type." and then walked into the kitchen. She was home, just like in New Jersey.

Laura stood there. She wanted to say I wouldn't fuck you if you were that last human on earth. But she held her tongue. Her dad was watching.

Binah was nonplused. She just grinned, turned back, walked back toward Laura. She got real close and put her arm around Laura's shoulder, pulled inches from her face, held her with an iron-like grip and whispered again. Only this time there was venom in her words. "Be careful what you wish for, sweetie. And If I'm not mistaken," she said even softer, while her eyes had a light glowing fiery appearance, only seen by Laura, "I know this chicken has never been plucked. I'd be more than happy to introduce you to the finer things in life." Binah gave her a light kiss on the cheek, and as she pushed Laura away, while sliding her hand ever so lightly down Laura's back and on her tight little butt and walked into the kitchen. It was a move that was never recorded on the monitors.

Laura felt as if the world had stopped moving while Binah whispered to her. She sensed something else too, something dangerous and, and she had no words for it, just something. And for the first time in her short life of 25 years, she had no answer, no comeback. The touch was electrical.

Binah's green eyes glowed, her face flushed, she was doing it, finally doing what she had always wanted to do. It felt like an eternity of obligations had been lifted from her shoulders. "To hell with all of them back there. I'm free and I don't care. I'm just going to be more careful, or maybe not." She thought about the recent past mistakes.

Chapter 16

New Jersey, Binah

Binah returned to see Doris. Binah knew that the surges were being picked up by those looking for her. She really didn't care. Those idiots couldn't find their own noses in front of a mirror. What Binah ignored was the fact that her movements were now being picked up by sensors that she had no idea existed. The details of human existence, especially of the military and police state, were of no concern to her. Had She known, She would have eliminated them, maybe. There was still some work to be done, and that act would be premature.

She and Doris disappeared in a flash, and again, the satellite that was now parked in low Earth orbit above New Jersey caught the surge. What it sensed was a part of the electromagnetic spectrum that was specific to nuclear blasts. The gravity wave would have given credence to the scientific community, had they been allowed to analyze the data, but the origins were a total mystery to the military. There was no blast. There was no attack, but there the recording was, right in front of them.

Doris sensed things were not right and asked, "Binah, could you move where I'm staying? Something is not good there; I can feel it. I don't feel safe."

Binah knew Doris had an increased sense for this and respected her lover's intuition.

"Where would you like to go?"

"With you, to San Diego."

Binah looked at her, "Really?"

"Yes, if only for a short while. You have another cooking job, I would guess."

"Sure do. What a bunch of loonies. Where do all these loonies on this rock come from? Of course, yeah, ME!" She told her about the interview and all that occurred.

They both had to laugh and thought nothing more of any of that. They were too involved with making love and enjoying their time together. Binah, in order to make sure things remained unnoticed, allowing both of them not to care, stepped out of time and moved both of them ahead by 30 minutes.

But the clocks could tell. The clocks in The Mountain in Colorado Springs could tell something was amiss. A hiccup in the fabric of time was recorded as an anomaly. Forget 30 minutes, femtoseconds were missing.

The Searchers sensed it but did not know what it was either. They felt as if something just passed them by as they were standing still.

Binah and Doris just walked along the beach. There was no one there. The city was behind them as was all the finite activity of the universe. It was still 30 minutes behind and could never catch up.

Doris looked at Binah and asked, "Why do you have to go? I mean, You are who you are and all, you can do anything, right?"

Binah patted her stomach. "I like Italian food."

Doris looked at her and said, "You know, I'm pregnant."

"Yes, of course I do. It was me who was pregnant. I couldn't keep it. I transferred it to you. That first time together did something to me I had never felt in my entire existence. And that something, that love that you humans have the capacity for, created it. Well my sweet, you are holding on to it. It's wonderful. You also have some of my powers. I'll explain a bit more."

Doris leaned over and hugged Binah. Some tears were falling from Doris's eyes and Binah reached over and brushed them away with her lips and a light kiss. They sat on the beach and looked out over the water. Binah said again, pointing to the sky and all the beauty of the planet, and looking at Doris, "This, this, those idiots, they it got right."

Binah said to Doris, "I can move you all to this and you'll be safe. No one will know where you are and no one will be able to harm you. I will have Micha here soon. There will be others. I need to know that you'll be safe. I have obligations that need addressing rather soon. It might get a bit messy." She reiterated to make Doris feel safe, "As I said, you will be safe with Micha. Others will be following him, too."

Binah touched Doris's belly and smiled. It was good. Then she began to run her hands over Doris body and it was just like the first time. Space-time shuddered. It was recorded and noticed but not understood. But where and how it originated, no one on earth could explain.

Chapter 17

Kirk in New Jersey

So how do I go about this? he wondered. Do I just walk up to him and tell him I'm here to kill him if he doesn't help us out? Sounds about right, just lay it out and watch.

The target was leaving his townhouse. It was really a row house, in a subdivision. There was no town or city. It wasn't New York, Boston, or even DC. Town houses, what piles of shit. He followed him to a restaurant. It was Chinese, and as crappy looking as the other prefabricated buildings that were planted there. Except for the green of the trees and land, it could be Anyplace, USA, aka, homogenized living. I bet the food is just as shitty, thought Kirk. He went in just after the target entered.

The food was superb. In the middle of this place was a decent southern style eatery. He called the owner over and congratulated him on the fine cooking, in Chinese.

The target noticed, and as much as he attempted to be discreet, it was obvious. Alan, the owner mentioned, pointing to the target and said, "He is a big fan of his food and a student of Chinese history and politics. He was a good customer and a friend," and looking over at the target waving said, "and he's a talker."

"Really," said Kirk, and waved to the target. What a great opportunity. I couldn't have planned this any better, he thought.

Kirk walked over to the target's table and said, "Mr. Chen spoke highly of you and your writing. Mind if I sit down and talk? It's Artie, correct?"

The target didn't even ask his name. "By all means, have a seat. I come here once a week for some decent food, other than my own cooking, and to get out in general. What can I do for you?"

Kirk decided not to play games. "Listen, your writing has pissed some people off." The target nodded smiling like he already knew that. "And," Kirk continued, "your writing is of interest to, let's just say, some of the people somewhat related to your paying job."

"And you're here to …?"

"One of two things," Kirk finished for him. "Get you to come with me and maybe assist in something you seem to have a talent for, or make one of our other clients happy."

The target turned white. He didn't get up. He didn't reach for anything. He sat there and looked at Kirk. Then smiled a wan smile, and nodded. "Got it. And my decision has to be made by—?"

Kirk looked at his watch, looked up and said, "Now."

"Not much of a choice, is it?" Artie looked straight at him and kept his hands on the table.

Kirk had to smile. The kid was cool, as if this was to be expected or something like this. Then he remembered why they wanted him. A chill ran through him.

"You know I'm armed," said the target, adding, "And I suppose you are too. The magazine bulges gave you away when you walked in."

It was Kirk's turn to be surprised. He nodded; no need to state the obvious, obvious at least to his target.

"Okay, what about my clothes and all that?" asked Artie.

"We'll arrange for everything, rent or mortgage, maintenance, all will be covered. Your clients will be informed of your assignment for a government agency. They will understand."

"And this agency is?"

"It doesn't have a name. You'll have to trust me. My name is Kirk. I'm retired. I usually do what is euphemistically called 'events' if you know what that means. And they asked me to come out here and speak to you, or …" and he let the alternative drop.

"Okay; you know my name and now I know yours. I know I can't run and …" he thought about the next words for a second or two, "I was wondering when this was going to occur. By the way, 'event' is an old Soviet term. Did you know that?"

Kirk believed him. "No, I did not."

This kid had a gift, and they wanted, no, they needed it. Kirk said, "Let me ask you, I have no idea just what it is that they want you for specifically, but it has to be important. Do you have any idea?" Kirk was curious and this was the only way he was going to find out.

"Yep, gotta idea. You really that interested?"

Kirk nodded and said, "Yeah, sure, why not."

"You're going to think I'm nuts and that they, who ever they are, are insane. We are being visited, not by extraterrestrials, but by godlike creatures that, if I'm correct are playing out a larger battle than we have ever seen or even dreamed of."

Kirk looked at the kid and wondered who was crazier, the people he worked for or these insane science-fiction visionaries.

"I can see on your face this is totally whacked to you. But I think something is going on at a number of levels that will affect our very lives, and possibly this universe."

"And you wrote about this?" asked Kirk, wondering why Artie hadn't been locked up in a loony bin.

"It's science-fiction. Who is going to believe me? Come on, the only reason you barely do is because you've been sent on this assignment. Have you read the story in question?"

Kirk said, "Yes, some of it. I think you and everyone else is totally insane to believe what you wrote. You said something about gravity waves emanating from all dimensions and that the multi-universes, that was the term you used, were the actual cause of gravity. That's pure crap in my book, but I'm not a science-fiction writer."

The kid said, "Come on. Leave your car here. I'll drive back to my place and give you access to my computer stories and point to the evidence I think you might be interested in. I'm not going to run. I've been waiting for this."

Artie continued, "There have been a bunch of anomalies from our satellites that don't match what our sciences say should be. In fact, the speed of light, our only constant, is in question. These anomalies are, in my best guess, indicative of other events happening in realms that go beyond anything we know, but physicist do speculate about."

Kirk asked, "So why do you think these people want you? I don't get it."

Artie explained, "Gravity flows through all dimensions and universes. These universes and extra dimensions' existence are the ultimate cause of gravity. I have mentioned that certain beings can transit between them and are beyond anything we know. Our myths have them as gods, and they very well might be. But you have to remember a quote from Arthur C. Clarke; it went something like, any super advanced civilization's technology would look like magic to us."

Kirk just nodded. He was taken back by this kid's attitude and knowledge, and now he understood a bit more. All he said was, "Sure, and they want you for this?"

"Listen," he said, "If by chance our calculation of the speed of light is incorrect, it throws all we know into the trash can, and brings up Why and How did we get these numbers so wrong? And then, what are the correct numbers? They want me because I think I'm on to something that mystics would understand but not be able to make sense to the science community. "

Chapter 18

At an undisclosed location two Searchers are conferring.

"Well, damn it, where is she? She just can't walk off her job, can she? She can't just disappear like that again."

"Looks like that's exactly what she did."

"I thought she had a contract."

"Yeah, me too, and it appears as if she broke it."

"Well who's going to run things? How are we supposed to do our jobs? The big boss is not going to like this at all."

"She IS the big boss, you idiot. You didn't know?"

"Know what? Since when?"

"You were never too good at getting the organization right. How did you ever get to this level of management?"

"My family has connections, especially my uncle, and his mother."

"She's the BIG BOSS, but there was a corporate takeover, of sorts. They couldn't get rid of her. I mean we report to the stockholders, the guys who set this up and then pissed her off. Have you got that? We report to them and we owe them our duty to perform. We need to find her and get her back here. The machinery, the ovens, everything is going to implode and it will be chaos."

"Well if she's the big boss, and she walked, even if the contract was hers, it is hers to break too, right?"

"No, once a contract is made there is no going back until the deal is completed. She has to live by her rules. It's just the way it is. And we are a long way from completion. There will be hell to pay. I thought we had her just a while ago."

"You mean in New Jersey?"

"Yeah, I mean in New Jersey. Did you see the spike in the energy level? It was a beacon. It practically said here I am. Damn. She's going to do it again, and we have to be prepared to move quickly. The balance must be restored."

"Do what, again?"

"Something or someone is going to make her reveal herself. She can't help it. It's who she is. It's who we all are."

"Have you ever wondered, what if she doesn't want to come back? If she IS the BIG BOSS, why would she have to if she didn't want to? She could eliminate …"

"Quit asking stupid questions," it said, cutting the off the obvious. He didn't want to have to face it. But it thought the question wasn't so stupid. No one had ever addressed that issue.

"It's not so stupid if you think about it," said the other seeker. He wasn't about to let it drop.

Seeker one turned to number two and said in a quiet, clenched teeth manner, "No, it was not a stupid question. But it is not our place to think about stuff like that. We are just soldiers, on orders. We do as we are told, no matter what."

"I don't know," said number two.

"That's right. You don't know, and neither do I. Something will come up. We just have to wait."

Chapter 19


Binah saw that things were good and it pleased her. This is as she planned. The end game, she thought. Don't bet against the home team. It was a human term. She liked it. Let them all learn a little more of just what I am, only then will I decide what I want to do. And she smiled again and all was good.

Doris was safe. Micha had her in his protection. Binah was having fun playing cat and mouse with the Searchers and the human scientists breaking the laws of their known physics. And that was the key, what was known or what they thought they knew. They have a lot to learn. She laughed at the old tale of Lot and how it related to the current situation.

She then thought, and the searchers, tools of those idiots, maybe I should end their existence now and be done with them. She knew exactly where they were. Within nanoseconds the two of them were in front of her. Slack jawed they looked up and were about to say you're under arrest or something to that equivalent. She laughed and declared "Say it and it will be the last thing you ever utter. Now listen to me, you two idiots. Go back to your bosses and tell them to back off, if they have any idea what's good for them. The game is over."

One said, "With all due respect, don't you think the shoe is on the other foot?"

Binah's first thought was to vaporize this impertinent fool. But upon a quick second thought, found him brave and interesting. The other, she vaporized, and said to number one, "You have some bravery about you, and I respect that. Let me tell you a story." And she told him the whole history and what she planned to do. Upon completion of the story he bowed, "Madam, may I have your forgiveness? May I serve you in any manner?"

She thought and replied, "You may assist me, but serve me? As in, up?" She laughed to herself about that one.

He was worried and shook a bit, "No, no, never." He had never met this level of power before. He was in awe.

"You're so old school," she laughed. "But what could you expect from a being not intimate with the origins as they ARE. Come here and relax for a bit." She pointed to a spot on the ground close to where she was sitting. "I have some work I have to take care of alone and some work I want you to take on. There are these humans," and she pointed to the planet, "that I would like to have some fun with. Are you game?" Not waiting for an answer she added, "Do you see the war satellites orbiting this planet? I will fill you in on what has been done to this universe by your old bosses and how it has affected all these monkeys in good time. All you have to do is watch their actions for a bit and make sure they don't vaporize each other and … what then I think might be interesting is, we'll straighten all this mess out and set things right. It will be a major paradigm shift, and are they in for a surprise. That's all you need to know for now."

"And what about the rulers …" He stopped, realizing what was about to happen and the word he used.

Binah's eyes turned fiery red. She just drew her finger across her throat, smiled, said "I AM" and disappeared as the infinite universes shuddered.


End notes

*(With beginning It created Elohim), exact word order translation from the Hebrew and Genesis with commentary from: The ZOHAR, introduction xxiv, by Daniel C. Matt, Pritzker Edition, Volume 1, Stanford University Press, 2004.

Thinking about that has many implications.

*Beelzebub is also identified in the New Testament as the devil , "prince of the demons". [14][15] Biblical scholar Thomas Kelly Cheyne suggested that it might be a derogatory corruption of Ba'al Zebul, "Lord of the High Place" (i.e., Heaven) or "High Lord". [16] WIKIPEDIA

Copyright Richard Tornello, 2024

Bio: Rick Tornello is almost more force of nature than author, cranking out an amazing amount of flash tales, short stories, and poetry here at Aphelion. If you don't know him yet, you should head to our Forum and meet him. You'll be glad you did.

E-mail: Richard Tornello

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