HERMETIC MILLENNIA Excerpt: Just Because It Made Me Laugh
I realize it is wrong on many levels for a writer to be amused by his own words, but keep in mind I don’t consider myself to have invented Mickey the Witch of Williamsburg, but rather to have discovered him from the Muse who whispered him to me.
This is a scene from HERMETIC MILLENNIA (on sale now!). The setup is this: archeologists of the race of the Blue Men in the year 10515 AD have looted a ultralongeterm hibernation facility, and woken the slumberers from several different eras and previous civilizations.
One of the men they woke is Menelaus Montrose, the inventor of suspended animation. Over the centuries and millennia, a myth has grown up around him, and the more superstitious centuries regard him as a godling, like Anubis, the guardian of tombs and sacred crypts where the ancestors rest.
He is said to condemn any age of history which does not maintain a technology level sufficient for space flight, and to sentence the civilizations of that age to apocalypse and destruction: and therefore this fearsome figure is called the Judge of Ages.
He actually does possess the art, learned from supremely advanced and mysterious aliens, of statistical prediction of the future, something like the ‘psychohistory’ of Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION stories, and so can predict the downfall of civilizations, or set in motion events calculated to cause a downfall. So the myth of a Judge of ages is not baseless, even though it is not accurate.
One of his loyal allies is a warlock from one of the more superstitious of the many Dark Ages cratering the landscape of history, a man named Melechemoshemyazanagual Onmyoji de Concepcion, Padre Bruja-Stregone of Donna Verdant Coven at the Holy Fortress at Williamsburg. Since that is impossible for poor Meany Montrose to pronounce, he calls him Mickey.
The archeological dig is also a prison camp, where the disinterred and thawed out slumberers are kept, and forced to work digging up other hibernating relics from ages long lost. Outside the wire, the world is suffering an Ice Age, and whether or not Menelaus Montrose’s ancient enemy, Ximen del Azarchel, is still alive, or whether anyone is still alive, is a matter of debate.
We join the conversation as Mickey and Meany are discussing the aircraft they can glimpse in a small airfield beyond the prison camp wire.
“The Blue Men have flying machines. That implies some place to fly to. It implies a technological civilization with air traffic.”
“Technological, perhaps, but not a current one. Mine.”
“What? Your what?”
“My civilization: The Delphic Acroamatic Progressive Transhumanitarian Order of Longevity: the Delphians, whom the mundanes call Wisewives or Witches.”
“Those are Witch-markings on the aircraft wings. Far Eastern Witches, maybe Taoist Alchemists or Bon, from the look of them: the blue winged beast is Lei-kun the Thunderer. Haya-Ji is the whirlwind spiral. Shenlhaokar is one of the Four Wisdom Deities. Others I don’t recognize. Those ships are Demonstrator Wind-Craft. Heavier than air flying machines from the days of the Last Collapse of Steel and Smoke, 1400 years before my time.”
“What about the larger ship? The helicopter?”
“Also built by my people. She is an air ironclad called Albatross, used by my ancestors to hunt down the remnants of the Sylphs and Demonstrate them. The iron hull was resistant to hunger silk.”
“With nerve toxins or radioactive chemtrails. My people are pacifists, and not allowed to employs soldiers, but the Coven Law allows for peaceful mass-demonstrations by activists. The Demonstrator flying machines were the only things left over from the days of Steel and Smoke, the technology days, that still worked. The totemic markings on the wings allay the anger of the sky-beings, for using internal combustion engines and marring the blue sky with black smoke. Such machines would be very carefully preserved. All this happened long before my time, but Witches are scrupulous about keeping our lore correct, and we neither flatter our ancestors nor condemn. It is one of the blessings of Gandalf, that our memories are as long as our shadows.”
“Or, in your case, as wide. Wait. Did you just say Gandalf?”
“He is the founder of our order, and the first of the Five Warlocks. He comes from afar across the Western Ocean, from Easter Island, or perhaps from Japan.”
“No, I think he comes from the mind of a story writer. An old-fashioned Roman Catholic from the days just before First Space Age. Unless I am confusing him with the guy who wrote about Talking Animal Land? With the Cowardly Lion who gets killed by a Wicked White Witch? I never read the text, I watched the comic.”
“Oh, you err so! The Witches, we have preserved this lore since the time of the Fall of the Giants, whom we overthrew and destroyed. The tale is this: C.S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke were led by the Indian Maiden Sacagawea to the Pacific Ocean and back, stealing the land from the Red Man, and selling them blankets impregnated with smallpox. It was called the Lewis and Clark Expedition. When they reached the Pacific, they set out in the Dawn Treader to find the sea-route to India, where the sacred river Alph runs through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea. They came to the Last Island, called Ramandu or Selidor, where the World Serpent guards the gateway to the Land of the Dead, and there they found Gandalf, returned alive from the underworld, and stripped of all his powers. He came again to mortal lands in North American to teach the Simon Families. The Chronicle is a symbolic retelling of their journey. It is one of our Holy Books.”
“Your Holy Books were written for children by Englishmen.”
“The gods wear many masks! If the Continuum chooses the lips of a White Man to be the lips through which the Continuum speaks, who are we to question? Tolkien was not Roman. He was of a race called the hobbits, Homo floresiensis discovered on an isle in Indonesia, and he would have lived in happiness, had not the White Man killed him with DDT. So there were no Roman Catholics involved. May the Earth curse their memory forever! May they be forgotten forever!”
“Hm. Earth is big. Maybe it can do both. You know about Rome? It perished in the Ecpyrosis, somewhat before your time.”
“How could we not? The Pope in Rome created the Giants, whom the Witches rose up against and overthrew. Theirs was the masculine religion, aggressive, intolerant, and forbidding abortion. Ours is the feminine religion, peaceful and life-affirming and all-loving and we offer the first born child to perish on our sacred fires. The First Coven was organized to destroy them like rats! When Rome was burned, we danced, and their one god was cast down and fled weeping on his pierced feet, and our many gods rose up. My ancestors hunted the Christians like stoats, and when we caught them, we burned them slowly, as they once did of us in Salem. What ill you do is returned to you tenfold!”
“Hm. Are you willing to work with a Giant? I saw one in the pit, and saw the jumbo-sized coffin they pried him out from. What if he is a baptized Christian? Most of them were, since they were created by my pet Pope and raised by Nuns.”
“All Christians must perish! Such is our code.”
“Your code is miscoded.”
“What of the Unforgettable Hate?”
“Forget about it.”
“Ah! The Witches are a pragmatic race,” said Mickey in a tone of grandiose modesty. “Toleration is our cardinal virtue, second only to our scientific rationality.”
Menelaus raised an eyebrow. “You guys call yourselves scientific?”
“Of course,” said Mickey, “Enemies of science are cursed by the Crones.”
“The ones who paint fright masks on biplane-wings to create lift? Those Crones?”
“Don’t be silly,” said Mickey, “Lift is created by the Bernoulli principle: wing curvature magically creates a partial vacuum which the goddess Nature abhors, and so she lifts the wind-craft upward to occlude the void in compensation. The Witch-marks are inscribed not to create lift, but to avert malediction according to the law of sympathy and contagion. It is based on entirely different principle of the occult sciences.”
“And you believe this because you’ll be cursed if you don’t?”
Mickey looked at him with a level-eyed judicious look. “You have told me that you and your enemies can make it fated for nations, tribes and peoples to rise and fall, meet victory or defeat, expansion or extinction, by means of mathematical hieroglyphs and incantations you found written on a dead moon circling an impossible star in the constellation of the Centaur? And you ask me to doubt something as obvious and elementary as a curse? Everyone utters curses. You utter curses.”
“God damn it, I do not!”
RUSH RIGHT OUT AND BUY A COPY TODAY! If I do not sell through every single copy of this book, Tor will not buy the sequel, and my cliffhanger ending will be the only ending to the story they will publish.
And that would be sad.