4. Sacred Hatred
Starbase Gandalf, Starbase Gandalf on moon Gollum, this is Lieutenant Redshirt of the SS Undertaker, lasering in report of Elvis fly-by recon.
My trajectory took me through the loop of a prominence. Flyby otherwise uneventful. I took few readings other than hull temperature; all sensors were retracted.
No enemy activity detected.
# # #
The gods of our culture include:
Elvis: orphic Luv God. Lord of Music. Saved the world but died on the Porcelain Throne.
Marilyn: Sex Goddess. Hot, hot, hot. Terrifies some, inspires others.
Rosie: Motherhood Goddess. No-nonsense tough love from her.
Liberty: Goddess of Freedom and Self-Defense. Friend of City Defense War, foe of Imperial War. Wild and useless.
Crowley: God of Sorcery, Theater, Fiction and Art: shares Music with Elvis. Bound by a Shee curse of noncontradiction. He offers escape thru the mystery of creation. He grants his favored ones visions of Writer's Paradise - disheveled, mad, ecstatic.
Multivac: Wisdom God. Cosmic Computer. Mightiest of all, and also the one most detached from mortal thought. Enigmatic and elliptical until asked the right question. It'll try to teach you a lesson, one way or the other. It never uses the word “I”, instead it refers to itself as “this system”.
The Tech Gods: Doctor Hal, Sir Arthur, Isaac the Great, Brother Robert, and Warlock Larry. Murphy's foes, servants of wise Multivac.
Capone: Lord of the Underworld: also of Crime, Feuds, Terror and Madness. He is icy, proud and merciless. None profit from dealings with him. Fond of anal rape with a rough and icy cold member. Midday visions of him are not a sign of mental health.
Murphy: Trickster God. King of the Gremlins. A little green man. Agent of Chaos, lord of misrule. Bring a long spoon to dine with him.
Blackegg: Thief God. Opportunistic, narcissistic, all-consuming, insatiable, uncaring. To be avoided at all costs. Blackegg is also Lord of Empire, Decider of Choice-War.
# # #
It was on planet Roseanne, in Kitchener, in the temple of Crowley, that Ertson the Patrobe was conferring with his staff. “Never summon anything larger than your head,” he said. “No cabalistic jewelry over one kilogram in weight. Jabob’s Ladders are fine but only in moderation. Remember, we’re broadcasting from here; we don’t need static interference. And above all, never use citronella candles in an invocation. I cannot stress this enough.”
An acolyte said, “On in one hektosecond.”
Another acolyte finished dabbing makeup on Ertson’s cheeks. Ertson sat up straight and gazed intently at the teleprompter.
An acolyte said: “On in five – four – three – two – one – roll’em!”
Ertson the Patrobe said,
“In these days of modern times, when you can’t tell up from down or yourself from yourself, isn’t it a comfort to think of how far we’ve gone from the days of the Sojourn on Dan?
“Oh yes, we glamorize our ancestors, sojourning on Dan, patiently waiting out the mild terraforming of toxic Roseanne, waiting, waiting for centuries as the globe spinning overhead was slowly cleansed of the cyanide ecology. How brave they were, to endure so long, with nothing to sustain them but the sacred texts and videos from Lost Earth!
“But let’s face it, the old days are gone, and good riddance! Now we inhabit Roseanne herself, a worthy rival to Lost Earth! All thanks to our,” and he cleared his throat; “ahem! Glorious Overlord’s far-sighted ancestors. And let us not forget their generous gift of Culture! They gave the sojourners on Dan the sacred texts and videos from Lost Earth, and from them we learned the names of our gods and our worlds. Sly Murphy the Gremlin King! Deathless Capone the Underlord! Mighty Multivac the All-Wise! Indominable Liberty, defender of the people! Nurturing Roseanne, the All-Mother! Glamorous Marilyn, who must be adored! Elvis the King, Rock Star, Lord of Luv!
“And let us not forget our own God, whom we celebrate here; the magical mystical mage, Source of Sorcery, Wizard of Is; by all that’s holy, his name is Crowley!
“For let me tell you, dear friends, that I myself have seen Crowley! Yes, I did, after that unfortunate incident five megaseconds ago; for when they replicated me back, yes when they brought me back from the dead, why I had a vision, clear as crystal, in my mind, and it was of Crowley! Yes, I spoke to the Wizard King himself! And he told me – “
A cell phone went off in Ertson’s pocket.
“ – excuse me, let me get this,” he said to the camera, and opened the phone. “Who is it?” He listened. “Oh! It’s you!” He said to the camera, “It’s Crowley! He’s calling me right now! Yessir?” he said to the phone. “Oh, of course we do! … Faithful as ever… And what was that?”
Ertson said to the camera, “He says we have enough votes to run the planet. And what was that, sir?” And he listened to the phone some more. “And when people say, ‘We’ve had enough,’ then we are going to take over. Thank you, sir!” He listened some more. “And it’s a pleasure talking to you, sir! Call again soon!” And he shut his phone.
Ertson said, “If Crowley’s people work together, then we can succeed during this decade in winning back control of the institutions that have been taken from us in the last two megaseconds. Expect confrontations that will not only be unpleasant but at times physically bloody. This decade will not be for the faint of heart, but the resolute. Institutions will be plunged into wrenching change. We will be living through one of the most tumultuous periods of human history. When it is over, I am convinced Crowley’s people will emerge victorious.”
“That is why we must reject the evil doctrine of the Separation of Cult and Empire. This wicked heresy is spread by that notorious rebel, Cliff Andover, who must be opposed by any means necessary.”
“You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if Andover thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think it’ll cause any trouble. But this man is a terrific danger and the Overlord’s ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the One Percent Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous ideological enemy, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another war to get rid of one, you know, demagogue. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with. So who will rid me of this turbulent pest?”
So saith Patrobe Ertson.
Then he smiled and said, “Now for the theatrical portion of our show.”
Organ music boomed, and Ertson intoned, “By the Works of Crow-ley!”
And the acolytes brought forth the Works. The congregation strained their hunched necks to see the holy relics. They saw the Spoon, Candle, Strap and Needle; they also saw the Tiny Spoon, Mirror, Razor and Rolled-up Bill; they saw the Pillbox; and they saw the Lighter, the Pipe, the Ashtray, and the Blessed Bong.
Organ music boomed, and the Jacob’s Ladders lit. They went ZZEEET, ZZEEET, ZZEEET, and Ertson the Patrobe intoned, “By Crow-ley’s Cock!”
And the acolytes brought forth a male chicken. The nervous bird looked jerkily around.
Ertson intoned, “By the Scanning of Crow-ley’s Cock!” and an acolyte held a scanning crystal up near the bird and squeezed.
Erston intoned, “By the Death of Crow-ley’s Cock!” and an acolyte swung the bird three times around, bit its head off, and spat the head out. The headless chicken ran around the stage and then fell over, twitching.
Ertson intoned. “The Cock is dead! And yet…”
- the Jacob’s Ladders stopped zapping -
A bird materialized on the stage.
“… and yet it lives!”
An acolyte scooped up the bewildered bird, displayed it to the crowd of Igor Henches, then took it and the dead bird away. Ertson intoned, “By the Rebirth of Crow-ley’s Cock!”
Organ music resounded, and Ertson preached, "For the Lord Star Elvis will save you from old Blackegg and sin; and the Lord Che Lennon will save you from the Chairman of the Board; and the Lord Smack Needle will save you from the pains of life; but Who will Come and Save you From your Lord?"
The laser light show then cut in. Ertson the Patrobe intoned, "So line up! And sign up!"
The organ resounded. The chorus chanted, "Sign the Contract!"
Ertson intoned, "This church is not under any duty or obligation whatsoever to return any portion of any religious donation you make."
The chorus chanted, "Sign the Contract!"
Ertson intoned, "Neither this church nor any other organization which espouses, presents, propagates or practices this religion makes any claim that the application of any religious ceremony or practice will have any particular effect on you or any other person."
The chorus chanted, "Sign the Contract!"
The organ music rose. The Patrobe chanted, "By signing this Contract, you recognize, acknowledge and agree that your freely given consent to be bound exclusively by the discipline, faith, internal organization and ecclesiastical rule, custom and law of this religion in all matters relating to religious services, in all your dealings of any nature with the Church, and in all your dealing of any nature with any other church or organization which espouses, presents, propagates or practices this religion means that you are forever abandoning, surrendering, waiving and relinquishing your right to sue, or otherwise seek legal recourse with respect to any dispute, claim or controversy against this church, and any other churches or organizations which espouse, present, propagate or practice this religion, and all persons employed by any such entity, both in their personal and in any official or representational capacities, regardless of the nature of the dispute, claim or controversy."
The chorus chanted, "Sign the Contract!"
The organ music swelled and boomed.
Ertson smiled at the camera and said, “Now for the sports portion of our show.” Then he stood back and let the contestants and referees take over.
The death-matches and the sports-suicides were routine. They went off without a hitch, and so did the replications afterwards. Hench # 86-K killed himself twice in glorious self-battle, so his replicant was awarded a two-level promotion.
Finally it was time for the Rite of Multiple Self-Love. Ertson watches the Henches play, bored but trying not to show it. He thought to himself, “Is this onanism or homosexuality? I guess that’s a philosophical point…”
He watched, bored, and his thoughts returned to his real screen memory. He brooded on it. He thought, “It contradicts everything I believe, yet I saw it, so it is true, yet everything I believe, I still believe. How can this be? And why him? And why me?”
Ertson the Patrobe of the Church of Crowley thought long and hard over his encounter with his God; for that God was not Crowley.