Aphelion Issue 258, Volume 25
February 2021
 
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Tesla's Nightmare

by Charles E.J. Moulton




No matter how fast he ran, it felt like running through quicksand. That January 7th, 1943, a strange pigeon-like creature chased Nikola Tesla down Park Avenue with a lightningbolt as a weapon. His soul fell into his own body, having spent an eternity in the dream world. It took a while to get used to the real world. Having escaped the beast, or thinking he had escaped the beast, he sighed a sigh of relief, looked around and smiled to himself.

What he saw, his drops of sweat still drying on his forehead, caused his hands to shake. The nine foot tall beast waited for him at the foot of his bed, gazing into his soul, hollow eyes penetrating his spirit. This obscure version of an Egyptian God seemed to be whispering curses at the wind through its beak. As memories from his current life flooded across the room into the old man’s soul from the strange creature’s soul, Tesla shivered. He knew the beast to be a manifestation of his own recollections, his own fears. The beast had come to get him. A Charon of sorts, the beast looked at him, saying nothing, waiting patiently for him to run away again into illusion and let the hunt begin again.

Everything the beast wore had a resemblance to something Tesla had once seen or liked in his life, something he could relate to. This time, these familiar things turned into perversions of joy, transforming love into a bizarre expressionistic artwork.

Tesla’s face turned white, stretchmarks scarring his already decrepit face. Pain dug into his wooden heart like an axe dug into a rotten oak. Tesla wore the expression of someone tortured by a demon, an expression not unlike Edvard Munch’s 19th century painting The Scream.

In Tesla’s mind, the beast screamed sweet nothings into his left ear. And so, mouth flung wide open into a soundless cry, the ‘Aah!’-like grimace echoed out into the eons as silent vocal dust. Tesla chewed on his tongue, as a result of this silent cry, and blood and saliva spread down his aged gums. He felt like running away, disappearing into the oncoming night and never ever coming back, running away from the nightmare that had become reality, going back to Serbia, to die, to sleep, no more, and by that sleep perchance to dream a safe dream.
The Bestia Non Grata before him remained steadfast, nonchalant, not uttering a word, still, unwilling, anonymous, neutral, angry.

“You’ll be dead soon,” the telepathic wind of a breeze uttered in an eager whisper, using the beast as its alter ego.

The old man’s blue-grey eyes looked toward the hotel bathroom for a way out, but his fear prohibited him from moving toward it. He looked to his left and saw only a painting. Straight ahead, the creature’s chest rose and sunk, the only indication of life in a present being.

Tesla’s eyes resembled static colored orbs in pastures of white fairy-dust. The eyes that watched time slow down felt themselves fall into an oblivion at a faster pace than could be endured. Like endless streams of hectic insects buzzing, the wings of time flapped like crazy, in obscure slow motion, screaming loud curses to deaf ears, with fear as a result.

A pigeon’s head. Unlike the pigeons Nikola always fed in the park, this head did not move, it pecked with its beak against the glass of the lightbulb that surrounded it. It seemed to be proof of the fact that he had imagined it all. He closed his eyes tighter than he ever had, his old face transforming into a roadmap of pain.

Would the beast be gone when he opened his eyes?

No, the beast still stood there, patiently waiting for him to die. A pigeon’s head in a lightbulb. Who would imagine such a thing? But the creature that stood in his room right now had chased him down Park Avenue in his dream. How could that be?

“A perversion of my own memories visits me and waits for my death,” Tesla whispered to himself. “Who are you, creature?”

The creature remained silent.

A familiar feeling of deja vú came over him, a sense of it all happening again and again. Repeating his own life or, at least, going back to solve old problems.

Fear was his only friend.

Pressing the back of his head against the bedpost in this small New Yorker Hotel-room, Tesla felt the urge to crumple the bedsheets and throw them at the creature, but all he did was wrinkle them, tattered and torn, with bare fists, making his body shiver.

The wind from the open door whispered at him. Sweet words of death meandered into the 86-year-old man’s troubled soul.

Fear, it whispered. Fear is not your friend.

It is your problem.

From a distance, the reflections inside the bird-creature’s eyes looked like the dancing summer lights of his childhood lake back in Serbia.

He remembered sitting there with his mother, drinking milk and speaking of science and speaking of fiction. Like the milk that now rested in the hotel cup on the nighttime table, the milk tasted like love.

After 86 years of life as Nikola Tesla, he still liked milk. Milk reminded him of home.

Mom. Protect me from reality.

Mom did.

And so, he still remembered her.

He still loved mom, wherever she was now.

“Mother,” Tesla whispered to himself.

“I am here, Nikola, but you must take care of yourself now,” his inner mom responded. “You are a famous man. A scientist. A prizewinner. A legend in your own time.”

“A mad scientist, mom,” Tesla cackled. “Afraid.”

Fear is your problem, he remembered the wind whispering.

“You are my boy, Nikola.”

“I will always be your little boy.”

“Look away,” his fear persisted. “Don’t look at the beast. Close your eyes.”

Tesla couldn’t avoid the fear. He had to look.

And so, Nikola’s eyes again turned to the stranger by his bed. Something else glittered inside those occular cameras called eyes. Something different. Sparkling, elusive.

After a closer look, Nikola Tesla understood that these were his own multiple exposure sparks from 1899, created by himself back in Colorado Springs. Bolts of lightning and explosions people had heard clashing from a distance of 15 miles. How they had complained about the fallout of appliances. His appliances donated by his own genius.

What did the Germans say?

Selber schuld.

Yes, that’s right.

That was it.

If they hadn’t bought the appliances, they wouldn’t have to complain. Did that justify that fact that he had carried out the experiments?

The lightbulb that kept the pigeon’s head imprisoned enclosed it like a bubble, the bottom half of the winding mechanism transforming into a kind of a throat.

The lightbulb meandered into a version of his own Tesla coil, the one he had patented in 1891.

Edison. Of course, everything was Edison’s fault. Edison, who had triggered the existance of this creature, had found a way to penetrate his own mind. This thing, a response to Edison’s jealousy, created havoc in his spirit. Edison, whom he had left in 1885, going to do bigger and better things, win awards and invent machines, had found a way to return to the material world twelve years after his death.

Machines the smarmy hotel manager loved. Coils and lightbulbs. Edison. He had not been able to work with that man, who had cracked jokes on his expense.

Tesla, not understanding American wit?

Had Edison understood Serbian wit?

Wit? No, nitwit.

Lightbulbs or not, Tesla had disliked Edison.

Edison had never come up with the idea of that Tesla coil, so his jealousy, or Tesla’s reaction to that jealousy, created this ... creature.

As Tesla bashed his head against the bedpost, on and on, he wondered if there was more? More? More blood on the back of his head? More anguish in his soul?

More terror inside his brain?

“I bash my head against the bedpost, because I make the same mistakes over and over in every life,” Tesla whispered to himself. “My head is bleeding. It is time to go back home.”

This bird? A visitor? From where? Hell? Ridiculous. Hell. An invention. Such thoughts belonged in third rate fiction novels and not in his mind. A scientist’s mind.

If he only could remember where he put his folder with the diagrammes and the description of the weapon, only to save the plans from being stolen. Had someone sent this creature to steal the plans for his superweapon?

His oncoming loss of control had a disadvantage: forgetfulness. Accordingly, Tesla could not remember where they were, the plans.

Would the Nazis find them?

The appearance of the beast could have other reasons, as well. The fact that he had only ordered 17 napkins instead of 18 in the hotel restaurant yesterday, only walked two blocks instead of three and shaken hands with that hotel manager?

Fear, compulsive fears, occult anguish.

The Devil.

“Oh, no,” Tesla spat. “I didn’t say that.”

Tesla shook his head profusely, like a squirrel searching for a nut. God damn it, Tesla himself felt like a nut. The nut of the Pigeon Goddess, ready to be eaten and digested.
The Pigeon Goddess. Yes, that is what he would call that thing that stood before him. The Pigeon Goddess moved toward him one step at a time, raising her wings inside the golden outer rason, the traditional holy Serbian wear.

Upon the pigeon’s head, a Kamilavka resided. This clerical top hat, worn by his father in church and worn by all Serbian- Orthodox priests, had Nikola Tesla going back years and years into his own past, shivering at the thought of having his own childhood recollections twisted and vomited into a modern mess.

The Podryasnik, the inner rason robe with its wide sleeves, covering those eagle’s wings, at the moment resting, ready to challenge him at any moment.

“Who are you?” Tesla heard himself croak at that beast.

His own fear bubbled inside like a volcano under a mudpit, if such a thing existed. He felt his own scream rise up from his lungs, hitting his vocal chords and ejecting itself through his mouth like a fireball on a catapult.

“Who are you?” he repeated, but the beast only breathed, not responding, its hollow eyes glittering over a pecking beak. Tesla began shifting his feet in bed as a result to the creature’s immobile neutrality. Tesla shook his hands, shivering, screaming soundless screams, the smell of his own sweat overcoming him, the taste of blood oozing into his mouth, the sound of the wind nailing his audial connection to the world.

“Who are you?” Tesla repeated, now yelling in abundance. “Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?”

The feet of the Pigeon Goddess, simple alternating current motors similar to the ones he had invented in 1887, moved twice over toward him on clonking steel heels as a response.

Strapped on the creature’s back was a shovel, not unlike the ones he had used in 1886, earning $ 2 dollars a day as a ditch digger during his time of terrible headaches and bitter tears. What did the strange creature want to do with that dirty shovel, ridden with mud, dripping with slime. Dig a grave and bury him? Where? Here in the hotel? In the cellar? Bury him in the hotel safe?

Slowly and solemnly, the creature lift one of its eagle’s wings and pointed at Tesla, then lowering its wing.

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol came to mind, The Ghost of Christmas Future pointing at Scrooge. Tesla felt like Scrooge, a lonely man challenged.

He saw it in his mind’s eye.

Nikola Tesla, it would say, born on July 10, 1856, died January 7, 1943.

“Point your finger at me, you beast,” Tesla whispered, nervously. “I will never give up.”

Moths danced inside Tesla heart, hungry to leave this place of pain. They were angry moths with only one intention: to be releaved of agony. An extended nightmarish scream came oozing of his mouth, sounding like the kind of shout coming from a man in a fever dream, his body too loose and inactive to use his vocal chords. The last yell of anguish, flabby, lost and terrified, attracted the creature. It liked the sound, took a third step toward him, raising the level of his anguish, making it sizzle.

“Pain,” it oozed. “How delightful pain feels, when felt by another creature.”

Pain reminded Tesla of Cholera.

What rested at the bottom of the lightbulb looked like the Vibro Cholerae, the cholera bacteria that had plagued nine months of his teens, providing him with many near-death experiences in that year of hell, 1873, giving his 17th year a painful memory that might have been partially a cause for his neurosis and fear when it came to bad luck.

How his mother had taken care of him back then, before the fame, before the stress, before the gambling debts. The common people, how they watched him when he walked the streets, knowing how smart he was, how different.

“He has a screw loose,” they cackled, looking at him from the side, as he fed the pigeons. “He is such a smart man. Why does he live in that hotel? Why is a bachelor? Why does he walk so strangely? You know, there are people who say he has developed a super-weapon. The Nazis are interested in that thing. They will kill him one day, you know.”

Sparks, like the ones inside the lightbulb of this beast, made those Vibro Cholerae fly around the bulb. The Pigeon Goddess seemed to be producing the clicks, due to these sparks. Clicks he had heard in radio signals back in 1899.

He claim to believe those clicks came from outer space. Extra Terrestrials.

Soon, there would be a E.T. boom in the world.

He knew it.

The world did not.

Tesla would be an icon.

A dead icon.

The old man let go of the bed sheets, still grimacing, still raising his eyebrows and rushed across the carpet with bare feet, knocking down the cup filled with milk.

He turned around fast, hands shaking. His fingers reached for the cup and saw the Pigeon Goddess, striding up towards him, slowly. Tesla now threw himself against the hotel room wall.

Now, the Pigeon Goddess seemed like his own father, pointing a sacral wing at him, forcing him to be a priest.

Drip. Drip. Drop.

The faucet in the bathtub.

Drip. Drip. Drop.

“I want to be a scientist,” he had told his father.

Leaking.

Drip. Drop. Drop.

“What good has that done you? Governments chasing you for your secret plans? Going to confiscate your plans,” his dead father croaked from the other side.

Drip. Drop. Drop.

For once, the leaking faucet felt like a welcome guest. If he only could find his way into the bathroom and stay there. Maybe the Pigeon Goddess would then disappear and leave him alone. The plan folder with the documents for the super weapon, where was it?

His old mind could not remember that. If government officials came knocking on his door, he could tell them that. They would not believe him.

Slapping his wet palms against the wall of room 3327, Tesla found his way into the bathroom, feeling his way along the floor. The 9 foot tall beast followed him step by step, the bird’s head gazing at him with empty eyes. His 6 foot 2 inches tall frame rubbed against the wallpaper, feeling every bit of fabric, every bump and nook and cranny in the wallpaper, hoping to escape the calmumny of this licentious demon.

Tesla finally slipped inside the bathroom, closed the door behind him, but felt the beast pulling at the door. The handle turned slippery in his grasp. Tesla grabbed it, fighting to close the damned thing. The creature’s wings pulled the door back, opened it. Tesla closed it, the beast opened it.

Tesla gave the bathroom door one strong fierce bang, locked it, rushed to the bathtub, closing the shower curtain, squeezing the faucet shut.

Squeeze the bastard shut.

There. No more drip, drip, drop.


His own hot breath fumed the tiles, worse than any hot water would. The slow flapping of wings outside the door waited to spit him out into the open grave and shovel the dirt onto his remains.

The bang that came from the other side of the door sent a shock wave across his body that threw him across the tub, making him land on his back. The injury returned and the memory of the taxicab having run over him back in 1937 appeared vividly in his mind. Tesla’s supported himself on his hands, an imaginary screw boring into his backbone.

Tesla shook his head, holding his ears, his old body scorching with pain. The banging got louder, throwing him over again, hectic insects buzzing inside his soul in slow motion, returning with a vengance. The anonymous beast lift his wings, he could hear it, and bashed them repeatedly against the bathroom door. Now, the beast was angry.

The bright lights of the echoing space he was in could not help him. The steel feet of the demon kicked it, saying nothing, uttering every hateful emotion simply by kicking and bashing its wings bloody.

The first hole. He saw that left alternating current motor that the Pigeon Goddess called a foot bashing the door in. Another bash. Another bang. Now two steel feet had created holes in the door. Behind those holes, Nikola Tesla simly saw ... a pit. Hell. He was no longer in the hotel.

With one swift stroke, the door of the bathroom ripped wide open and displayed a darkblue hole. Water sippered down from the bathtub he was in and down the floor towards the door. Now, Tesla realized the house he was in no longer on a vertical angle. The house leaned over to the right.

More and more, it tipped over to the extent that Tesla, himself, had to hold on to the edge of the bathtub.

Tesla hung from it, dangling like a mountain climber, fighting not to fall into the hole beyond the door. For one moment, he gazed downwards, saw the washbasin hanging on the right side of what was now the right wall. The golden lamp that hung from the what used to be the ceiling now dangled alongside it on a horizontal angle.

The lamp, that had hung from the bathroom ceiling, crashed alongside the current wall, bumped a few times on the tiles, breaking, and rolled alongside towards the door. It bounced a few times again, rolling over and then disappearing into the black. The old man still hung there from the bathtub when he listened for a crash, a thump, a bash or any kind of sound that indicated where the bottom of that pit was, where the lamp would land. Tesla heard no bottom arrive. It seemed the lamp would fall forever. He could only hear the wind blowing through an endless pit. It was the heaving and sinking of a huge beast. The Pigeon Goddess.

Tesla felt the remains of the bathwater drip on his fingers and struggled to hold on. Grabbing on with both hands to the edge now, he felt himself grasping the bathtub like a drowning dog paddling in deep water: he felt like a desperate being, unable to stay above water. His heart struggled to comprehend where he was or if this actually was a reality. It seemed real, but that couldn’t be, could it?

With all the strength remaining inside his body, he heaved himself up towards the edge and finally managed to support his left elbow on the edge of the bathtub. One foot swung up on the white surface would be his saving grace.

Tesla slipped and fell, hit his chin, knocked out a tooth and simply rolled off, falling into oblivion through the door into what seemed to be an endless ride of black. In fact, this seemed to be a closed tunnel leading somewhere.

Cave walls surrounded this tunnel. He only saw these red-brown cave walls as he fell, deeper and deeper into the unknown. As he fell, it seemed he fell into the insides of the Pigeon Goddess. He had been devoured.

As he turned upside-down, he gazed upwards into what had been the bathroom. He still saw the bathtub, the shower curtain and the dripping faucet, but it was all far away now. He dared not look down, his heart feared too much what he would see. And so, the man most New Yorkers saw as the ultimate mad scientist closed his eyes.

Blood still lingered in mouth and burned his tongue. He felt that blood trickle down his chin. His hand reached to wipe it off and felt how thick his own blood had became. He gazed at the left-over drop on his finger. Inside that drop were Vibro Cholerae, bacteria that had made his life miserable in his youth.

Panic stricken, Tesla looked at he wall and saw a scene from his life displayed in a kind of a film-resembling display. It seemed to follow him as he fell. In the scene, he was near death, in pain, in bed, pale, shaking, sweating, nervous, ready to leave this world, surrounded by dear ones, crying, hoping for the best, expecting the worse.

Other scenes appeared before his vision, but they were all mixed up and not chronological at all. The taxicab hitting him in 1937, his refusal to see a doctor and his subsequent pain as a result.

His time at the Budapest Telephone Exchange as a chief electrician in 1881.

Tesla holding a copy of TIME magazine on his 75th birthday in 1931.

Tesla writing his article in the year 1900, stating:

“For ages this idea that each of us is only part of a whole has been proclaimed in the consummately wise teachings of religion, probably not alone as a means of insuring peace and harmony among men, but as a deeply founded truth. The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one.”

Tesla saw the oncoming floor too late. Accordingly, the approaching floor hit him with a bang, more teeth breaking out into the darkness and more blood spilling out onto a new floor. The old man whimpered, sounding like an agonized canine. Tesla opened his eyes and saw a black floor, polished to the nines, shining. The floor actually remained the only visible thing here. No tunnel, no bathroom, no scenes on display. Just a black floor.

He realized that his presence gave a light to this place.

In fact, he was the light.

Tesla supported himself up on his hands, every single bone in his body cracking, the muscles throbbing, frantic cramps haunting him, making him shoot up and scream. The throat veins, one moment ago tensed, felt like steel wires by force stuck into his mouth and injected through his gums down into his lungs. Unable to relax his throat, he only with great effort managed to get up on his hands and knees. His heavy breathing echoed in whatever huge vaults he was in. Moreover, his breath ejected visibly cold smoke, visible breath, and a wave of chill came over him.

Now tense all over, Tesla wandered back and forth, searching for something he recognized or something he did not recognize for that matter. Anything at all. All he could see was this black floor with himself as the light.

As a boy, he would walk for hours on end and deliberately avoid people. In fact, he would turn and go the other way when somebody approached.

Suddenly, at 86 years of age, Nikola Tesla, one of the most famous scientists in the world, found himself praying to meet someone, anyone, even the Pigeon Goddess.

Was he inside her?

“Hello?”

His voice echoed in the open cathedral-like blackness of the vault. It felt like a deserted factory with the lights off, only that not a single light could be seen in here, save the one that emanated from himself. He seemed to be the light.

Nikola Tesla longed for people. That was new. In the hotel room, at least, he’d had the light from the window, the radio to turn on, a book to read, the sounds from the street and the possibility to go out. Hell, even the smarmy hotel manager now seemed a fitting diversion from this darkness.

“Hello?” the old man repeated.

Strange noises now emerged from elusive corners of this place. Sounds that seemed to come from electric machines somehow, but accompanied by voices filled with sarcasm. Whispers, cackles. Then silence. My God, what was this place. Tesla turned around, faced the darkness, heard another voice, a woman, now. She spoke no intelligible language.

The Pigeon Goddess.

A man speaking to him, moaning. A demon.

Suddenly, a rumble made the ground shake so hard that he fell again. It felt like an earthquake. Then and there, he realized that he no longer resided on a firm surface, but in the bowels of the Pigeon Goddess.

A fierce cough catapulted Tesla back through the tunnel, too fast to see where he landed, only that it was dark there, as well.

The uncomfortable landing gave his back an unfortunate jab and Tesla stood up in order to rub the bad spot.

Tesla turned around again, now only to hear something approaching from above. A sound like a projectile. A fast sound. Slowly, Tesla looked up, almost feeling like a man caught in the rain. From above, raindrops fell. No ordinary raindrops. They were huge raindrops. Big drops, whose fabric nearly constituted of light within a light, silvery in color. Now, Tesla saw what this was. Something silvery glittered up there. He was back in the bathtub, miniscule, running away from whatever drops the dripping faucet provided him with. He was in the bathtub in the bathroom again, but now the light had been turned off.

The Pigeon Goddess had spat him out into the tub.

But where was she?

Nikola Tesla sat up in total darkness, fumbling around, feeling for anything tangible, feeling for anything at all, for that matter. He found nothing familiar. Nothing he could recognize, anyway.

The strangest sensation came over him. Someone was in here with him again. He gasped aloud and at once felt such fear, because he would have absolutely no control over what would happened if that person jumped at him in the dark.

Dead or alive, who knew? Now he knew what blind people felt like. Not even a light. Walls? Also steel. Now, she travelled back in time to 1873, seventeen years old, scared to his wits, hypnotized with pain, interrogated to death, his life about to be changed for the worse.

“Hello?”

No answer. Not even a shallow breath. Nothing. Why did he think someone …

Tesla decided to try to move one foot, just in order to see if the floor felt real floor or if this really was the tub. His feet slid down onto the floor and felt a shiny surface, polished to the nines. Tesla felt his old heart pumping harder than he ever had felt before. He feared that his heart would actually give up the ghost, because it couldn’t take the stress any more. Breathing in once or twice, he called out once again and received only a response from the echo of this vault.

The sound that came from above sounded like projectiles. Wet projectiles. No, wet ... somethings. One of them landed close to where he lay with a strange splashing sound. The old man’s head snapped back as soon as he heard another one of thes splashing sounds.

Nikola Tesla was as miniscule as one of these drops. Every second that passed brought more water into the bathtub. The faucet no longer leaked. The water poured out of the faucet and Tesla found himself in the middle of a flood.

The water level arose to what would been a dozen feet in the real world, twisting and turning and leading to ...

Tesla grimaced again, his mouth forming that unbelievable screaming expression, his gaze turned crazed.

The water lead to the funnel, to the sewage system.

Tesla fought for his life, throwing his arms about, as he slipped down the sewers. Just in the last seconds before he disappeared into the water pipes, he saw the bathroom light turn on and the Pigeon Goddess run in, lean over and reach for his shirt, ready to vomit again.

He felt a claw reach for the end of the fabric of his clothes. It seemed strange that he actually prayed to escape into the sewers, away from the dark Goddess after wanting to see her. How mixed up everything seemed. A mythical creature chased him, consisting of dear memories from his life. How was that for Yin and Yang?

Hot damn, was all he could say.

Or as the would say in Serbia: Idi do djavola.

Tesla really did find himself on a hellride, as it were, rushing down the pipes toward the sewage rats, going deeper and deeper into dirtier territory, deeper and deeper into filth. Soon, he found himself swimming for his life, wondering where in hell he was, still in New York, among old bottles and cigarette butts, toilet seats and dead bats.

Tesla’s clothes stuck to his skin like glue now. The second skin of the wet cotton made him edgy, the dirt making him nervous. Somehow, it made it difficult to swim, as if his clothes were not clothes anymore, but a parasitic fungus sticking to his skin like some virus or leathal chicken pox. In this case, it would be pigeon pox.

Swimming for his life as he got splashed out of a tube into the Hudson River, he knew the Statue of Liberty gazed at him from behind him. She seemed to spit, knowing that all his fame had been a fluke. She seemed to have the soul of the Piegon Goddess. A neurotic part of him gritted his teeth, spitting at the damn jealousy he had experienced in this town, knowing how brilliant he was and how certain people had fought to crush him.

An exhausted Nikola Tesla crawled up on a New York City pier that night, wet, aching, angry, neurotic, ingenius, shaking, nervous and wondering how he had been able to arrive here in the depths of the night, pigeons pecking at his wet clothes and the Statue of Liberty, in his mind, at least, convinced how much better than he she was.

An injured pigeon arrived at his side, one with an eye hanging out of its socket. The sight scared Tesla a bit, a mix of repulsion and pity rising in his heart, vomit and love filling his bowels at the same time.

Tesla’s head ever so slowly rose, lead by blue-grey eyes. A tall figure in the uniform of a Serbian-Orthodox priest, walking on steel feet, squeeked with its pigeon’s beak inside a lightbulb. The creature flapped an eagle’s wing at the scientist, 305 feet up into aerial space.

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s sculpture from October 28th, 1886, no longer held a torch in her hand. She held a replica of something completely different. A head, a severed head of ... who was that? A round, sturdy looking face with penetrant eyes, full-bodied lips and eyebrows that pointed inwards toward the nose. The Pigeon Goddess held Thomas Edison’s severed head in his hands, as he might have looked when Tesla first started working for the Continental Edison Company in France of 1882.

In the other hand, the Pigeon Goddess held the Tesla coil, sparkling and spitting electric blue light. The scientist slapped his hand against his hand, letting out a scream as the Pigeon Goddess slowly bent over, pointing a wing at him. The hot air from Tesla’s mouth protruded against his hand, creating a very warm and almost bloodlike heat against his fingers. He stood there, looking like a golden catholic fresco, hand on mouth but not necessarily hand to mouth. This heat felt warm and familiar, almost like a warm blanket that he could slip into and snuggle inside. However, that was the only warmth here right now. Fear crept inside his heart like a lizard in the desert heat.

“Not long now,” he told himself, “if I am not fast enough, I will be dead sooner than I think.”

The dark night made Tesla stall. He waited, flirted with cowardice, trying to run. But he knew that beyond the nightly fog there were lurking shadows. His limited gaze could only make out the stone wall sixty feet away. As he ran along the harbor, chased by a gigantic Pigeon Goddess, the rest of reality vanished. A few dry branches spoke of a cold winter.

A moving branch swayed to and fro. A creature stood waiting for him to open the book. Tesla reached out and felt the familiar touch of those boney wings. The rugged texture made his fingers sway like a boat on stormy water. The sensation prickled his fingertips as he gazed over at that mysterious beast.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the reality of the New York City pier literally vanished under his feet, his legs scrambling for something to hold on to.

He dropped into oblivion and landed with a thud on his own bed. His blood ridden tongue now tasted of wine, salty meat and potatoes to last him a month. The Pigeon Goddess had summoned him.

Tesla’s belly shook from the trepidated sigh ejected past his tongue. He raised one index finger and bit it. It was time. Oh, God. Tesla kissed his own hand, as if he wanted to show himself that he loved himself. No matter, he told himself. Being rich and well-known in the region had no relevance when it came to staying alive.

One tear protruded from his left eye, making his hand slowly crawl up and remove it.

“Born to see wealth, gambling to see it vanish, dying in solitude,” Tesla whispered to himself, as he gazed upon the moors. “What kind of a life is that?”

Slowly, he lowered his hand, watching that beast lurk up from the shadows again. He waited for that creature to come out. Now and then, he glanced over at the bathroom like a nervous soldier ill prepared for battle.

“A combat batallion is on its way,” he mumbled. “They smell my fear, like I smell the sulfur of wolves.”

As he looked into the eyes of the Pigeon Goddess, Nikola Tesla felt the real demons of the real world approaching with a steady step, seeking the plans for the superweapon.

In this fantasy nightmare, he felt the cold breath of the demon bird breathing vocal moans on his spirit. In the real world, however, the demons wore a swastika.

Reinhard Gehlen and Otto Skorzeny were already climbing the stairs, yet unseen by the smarmy hotel manager and yet undiscovered by any housemaid. She would discover Tesla later on that day, wearing clothes the Nazi conspirators had dressed him in. As for now, 86-year-old Tesla dreamed strange dreams about the Statue of Liberty turning into a Pigeon Goddess, an army of Pigeon Soldiers marching to take his soul away to better worlds, rats and lizards chewing in his remains.

The irritating sound of the leaking faucet in the bathroom with its steady drip-drip-drop drifted away from his audial attention for a moment. The dainty plop of a pencil falling gave way to a much louder rumble of a wooden chair being scraped against a hotel floor.

Tesla woke up cocked his head to the right, a cold wind travelling from the open door and hitting his face. The strange mixture of exhaust gas from the street met his nose. He smiled, remembering his mother, remembering milk, remembering Edison, remembering cholera, remembering Serbia, remembering the smarmy hotel manager.

Tesla heard the leaking faucet again. Penetrating his ear, he again entered reality and saw nothing but the darkness of all these filled shelves of existance, library after library of memories, haunted him. Good memories becoming bad. Bad memories becoming good. Everything receiving a degree of neutrality. And somewhere in the shadows of these old shelves, he imagined seeing Thomas Edison smirk in a corner.

Someone was in here. Tesla’s attention drifted away onto something more sinister, something more elusive. The voice from the other side spoke to him in amble prose that if he followed this road of ununusual discovery he would become something darker and richer.

Eternal.

The fascists were going to suffocate him, but 2000 people would attend his funeral.

Before the fascist conspirators lowered that pillow onto his shaking face, punching their right leather gloves in their right ones, Nikola Tesla saw the Pigeon Goddess in the corner, shaking, laughing and pointing its illwilled wing at the lonely old man.

The beast took the shovel off its back, raising it at the sky as a gesture to bury Nikola’s Tesla’s physical life and give the spirit of science freedom.

Nikola Tesla left his body that Thursday, his soul hovering above his body.

As the fascist conspirators clothed the old man in a suit and tie, the beast cried, reciting Serbian Epic Poems about Tsar Lazar choosing a heavenly crown. And while the next generation of living demons rummaged the room 3327, searching for Nikola Tesla’s secret plans and diagrammes of a super weapon, a folder they had promised the Führer, the scientist’s soul got ready to travel the eons in order to embark on his greatest adventure. He realized the villains would never find the plans.

Resolving his eternal karma and meeting his own inner demon would be his task in his new life. A strange creature by the name of the Pigeon Goddess would taunt him.

And every day in his new life, Nikola Tesla’s soul would wake up in cold sweat, seeing that beast approach him on cold steel feet, ready to challenge his mentality.



THE END


© 2021 Charles E.J. Moulton

Bio: Charles E.J. Moulton has been a stage performer since age eleven, growing up triligually as the son of opera singer Gun Kronzell and actor, author, singer and playwright Herbert Eyre Moulton. He has 140 productions, thousands of concerts, 200 published pieces and 20 published books to his credit. Charles is a chorus master, drama- and vocal coach and the editor-in-chief of the theme-based, bimonthly journal “The Creativity Webzine.” He is a steadily working actor, opera-, jazz- and pop-singer. He has also worked as a tourguide and as a translator. As an Elvis-impersonator in full Las Vegas-jumpsuit and as a Sinatra-vocalist, he tours the stages of Europe on a regular basis with various acts and bands. He is married and has a daughter.

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