Chapter 8

In 325, a council convened at Nicaea under the pretense of authoring a unifying creed for all of Christendom, but really to go over the minutiae of an even more important text making the rounds entitled “Naked Ran The Lemming”, to which such attention was paid that the noble minds gathered to create Christian dogma forgot all about their claimed intention, a problem quickly remedied by Athanasius of Alexandria1, who cobbled together a bit of nonsense about “Three Being One”, an idea that had more truth to it than any of the others present could ever fathom. Athanasius was politically savvy – he knew the pagans would except this mamby-pamby spiritual idea of a Holy spirit, the Orthodox just loved the old Testament Father, and the remaining hedonists among them could really groove on the idea of some other poor sap dying for all the late night orgies and occasional virgin sacrifice that tended to blotch the record of anyone who was remotely interesting. Yes, the people themselves were easy enough to dupe, but the way Athanasius slipped in some legitimate prophecy that came to be the foundation of religious doctrine and snowed almost all the great minds of his generation, well that was just art. It was the kind of art that was his favorite, the kind that points a rude upturned finger at the unsuspecting audience and makes them pay for the privelege. That he knew the shape and fate of Destiny and The Universe, and that he instead opted to keep it secret and lead the needy masses over a cliff into the abyss was just his way of accenting the gesture with a wet and noisy raspberry. Thus the title, Naked Ran the Lemming. In the dark of a cellar, the man called Athanasius ran his fingers over a blank parchment page, his fingers gently grazing the crackling paper, a smile fixed on his face as if he were reading a beloved old classic, relishing each battle, mourning each death, chuckling at the wacky chaps who postured as if they had a clue what they were in for, and as always, dreading the outcome which he had read a thousand times and which he knew to be inevitable. Even in the cellar’s grotesque shadows, he could see the shape of things to come. A flash of brilliant blue lit the dark room, the walls echoed with a shrill ring, and rolling his eyes Athanasius reached for his cell phone and answered, “Magic Eye

A man that looked curiously like St. Germaine.

Psychics, Palm and Tarot card readings by appointment, how can I help you?” A ganja-seasoned voice drawled, “Oh, hey man, I got an image of what looks like Hunter S. Thompson at the bottom of my tea-cup – do you do tea-leaves?” Athanasius’ shoulders sagged as he pondered (not for the first time) that, as a career in the psychic slash visionary field goes, this was pretty much rock bottom. He sighed, for he had seen the Rorschach effect many times; most recently with a horny skater who saw an image of Scarlett Johansson in the gooey trails left at the bottom of his macaroni and cheese.2 Gently rolling up the parchment and snatching his copy of “People” magazine, Athanasius leaned back in his chair, affected his best generic Eastern-European accent, and said “A great and troubled man who’s nature resembles your own,” with the resignation of a man who understood that while the phony psychic racket was pretty lousy, it still beat the pants off delivering pizzas for minimum wage or that year he spent collecting plague bodies in Italy. He still had trouble eating lasagna after that. Athansius, knowing for a fact that the world was going to end shortly, could have just hung up on the idiot with the sage advice to put his head between his legs and kiss his ass goodbye, but he had a few hours to go before The Big Finale kicked off, so he decided to have a little fun with him first. “Although, seeing Hunter at this juncture indicates problems with your groin chakra,” he said, successfully surpressing a smirk. He imagined a pot-addled dorm rat with dreadlocks concernedly thrusting his hand down the front of his cargo pants and rubbing his nutsack with the same concerned expression a bomb squad newbie would wear as he worried over whether or not to cut the red wire or the green. “That blows man – I was hoping to nail this chick before the world ends today,” said the stoned voice, a voice that until now Athanasius assumed was any other mark. Shocked suddenly from his boredom, Athanasius leaned forward, fumbled with the phone, dropped it to the floor, yanked it up by the cord, pressed it to his ear, and asked, “Who is this?” “I’m Chaz, man,” he said, matter of factly, as if this was supposed to mean something to him, “and I see things from the smoke, you know, but, I guess I was looking

Curiously, the same bowl of macaroni and cheese that would later end up on the receiving end of Jack’s hand upon surprisedly awakening next to a dead nun.

for a second opinion, ‘cuz I’m never wrong, but I just – I mean the whole thing is about to blow apart and I thought, you know, you might know something about it, right Big A?” Athanasius wasn’t sure which disturbed him more; that a total stranger seemed to know an unsettling amount about him, or that this same pothead managed to discover ancient and well protected secrets of The Universe swirling forth from the bowl of his bong. He had not run into another legitimate seer for at least a dozen years, the last one being a chicken farmer in Missouri whose range was limited to exactly predicting the weather. While a neat trick, technology had made the chicken farmer somewhat obsolete, and Athanasius had languished for years in the knowledge that he was a man apart in the world until this strange damn call. “I’ve seen all the signs man,” Chaz continued, “bees dying in record numbers, allied forces holing up in Megiddo, the white Buffalo being born in Wyoming – but something isn’t right – there’s a wild card somewhere and I can’t put my finger on it – and then I saw Hunter S. Thompson in my mushroom tea.” Athanasius blanched as it dawned on him that if this Chaz guy could interpret all the doomsday signs after spotting what was very probably a questionable likeness of a doped up journalist at the bottom of a cup of loose leaf oolong, then he might be speaking with a Master. Masters always gave him a headache. Or rather, the only other one he had personally ever encountered gave him a headache.3 His name was Josh, a mute kid that could see through ten dimensions and went mad trying to paint it on the side of a barn in the middle of nowhere. What had made him so obnoxious was his lunatic need to silently repeat rather harmless questions in anagrams that Athanasius had to decipher by reading lips, as when the simple inquiry “What’s all this?” was answered “That wall’s his. Hast wall this? Has that wills.” Infuriating. Athansius inhaled deeply, exhaled, and waited for a fresh burst of lunacy. “See, I’m an organic medium – I can see the future through plants, animals, weather patterns – but weed tends to work the best, at least for really detailed stuff, you know, like a nun getting stabbed as the lynch-pin that will pull our reality apart – but I

Masters, in addition to being exceptionally powerful, were also exceedingly rare and in a note of interest to nobody but other seers, especially fond of very strange eyewear.

need help with other details to make sense of it, like the past, and I figured, you know, since you’ve been around awhile…” There was not one damn bit of anything Chaz said that made a lick of sense to Athanasius, but as this guy seemed in on The Universe’s tricks and came to him for help, he effected his most understanding and intellectual deep voiced and said, “Go on.” “Where’s JC in all this – isn’t he supposed to show up, you know, right before the end?” The truth as Athanasius knew it was that Jesus Christ most certainly would show up as The End came, and in Megiddo, exactly as was told since the dawn of Christianity, where the lame duck figurehead of a long since irrelevant cult would be both a distraction to the muddled masses, and safely out of the way or the real Armageddon, an undercard to the Main Event. “He’s probably you-know-where already – you know no one’s supposed to recognize him yet,” Athanasius responded, in the verbal equivalent of waving his hand as if this was a mere trifle. “Well he isn’t that hard to spot if you know what to look for,” Chaz said as he exhaled a bong rip before adding, “Heck, he crashed on my couch last Tuesday.” A loud, splintering crash echoed through the room as the chair Athanasius had previously been sitting on splintered with a reverberating crash from the force of being knocked asunder. His chin cracked painfully on the table, and he slumped to the floor with his head swimming and his bottled iced tea pouring in his lap like a spreading pee stain. A thunderous laugh exploded from the phone receiver, as Chaz cackled gloriously and without shame. Athanasius rubbed his jaw and groaned as he got back into his seat, and with as much dignity as he could muster, asked, “What the fuck did you just say?” “I said, he crashed on my couch last Tuesday…turned all my Brita-water to wine before he left, too – best shit I ever drank.” “We have to meet,” Athanasius sighed as he rested his head in his hand, knowing that while this was indeed true, he was notably less excited than he thought he should be. “You have a houseplant over there?”

Athanasius shrugged his bafflement to nobody in particular, but dying to know exactly what was coming, he said, “Suuuurrrrrrrrre.” A noise like static came in reply, and then the sense that was static behind him, right in front of his potted fern. Though he had lived for roughly two thousand years, Athanasius knew that he was far from immortal, meaning that like any other person he had an unwavering fear of death, a fear that seized him as tightly as he seized the hissing, crackling receiver. Slamming it down mightily, Athanasius turned and froze in his tracks, for a besmirked skinny kid with brown goatee, brown dreads, and a bong that said “Chaz-mobile” on it, stood right before him, toe-to-toe. “Look, I have this nasty feeling that we are going to be stuck together until this whole thing plays itself out, so if there is any way you could not do any annoying tricks like that, I would really appreciate it,” Athanasius sighed patiently, knowing full well that, as a Master, Chaz had no choice but to be annoying in the most annoying of ways ever devised. Chaz cackled through a face that looked like it had never really seen pain. Athanasius knew that would soon change. A swift kick to the groin interrupted his cacophonous laughter, which Athanasius punctuated with, “Did you see that one coming?” “Harsh, man,” Chaz croaked as he fell to his knees, and Athanasius suddenly felt a brief twinge of guilt. Unexpectedly, Chaz began to laugh through his pain, and through his pained giggles, he said, "Now I know why I saw Hunter S. Thompson --guess why, Big A., I dare ya." "Now, see," Athanasius said as he wagged his finger like an adult discipling a disobedient child," that's just the kind of annoying stuff I was talking about." "--it because most of the older souls are disaffected," Chaz said, ignoring him, "you're all disaffected - but that's the energy we need right now." Athanasius opened his mouth to balk at such stupidity and lack of logic, but a line

flashed through his head, a line he had heard many times as the End of Days neared: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Chaz stood up, and held out his hand, more friendly than what seemed possible after being kicked in the nethers. Athanasius reached out slowly and took it. Chaz's hand felt hot and trippy, like a warm bong. The air seemed to fill with static. "Wait--" Athanasius started, before his body turned inside out and folded itself through time and space like a 4th dimensional oragami kailedescope.

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