Saturday, October 31, 2009

Book I - from the Brasillian fragments

Book I

They say I’m mad. Stark raving mad. But It is only because they fear the Truth. Well,
okay, so maybe it’s not THE Truth, but just little fingernail scratchings on the mirror of accepted Reality, to see what lies beyond.
You see, I sold my soul to the Devil, as my contemporaries - that is, the ones
from the first life I remember, which was hundreds of years ago, if you’re looking at a human linear timeline - would have it. I was born, or so I believed at that time, in the year 1488 A.D., in a village in Germany. It was a God-fearing time; but it was also a time of change, upheavei, intellectual and artistic revolution. I had a very strong imagination. But there was not yet much outlet for an imagination.
And so, after my studies in Theology and Philosophy had led nowhere, except in
circles, I turned to magic. I travelled to Krakow, where it was taught openly (at the time, at least), and I learned many things.
Then one clear night, after much contemplation on the subject, I went into the woods to conjure up a demon, to bond him to me as a servant.
I got a hell of a lot more than I bargained for.
But more on that later.
Currently, it is the 21st Century - I think, anyway. I’ve been holed up for some time now, trying to sort out the whole story. You see, this pact I made with the Devil, as I perceived it, was to last 24 years, at the end of which he was to come take possession of me, body and soul.
So, one stormy night in the year 1538 A.D. (I no longer remember what month - my sense of time has gone to the dogs), I gathered my friends and students for one last hurrah at my favorite inn outside of town, told them my sad story. I had been regaling them for years with wild tales, exaggerations of the truth, or even outright fabrications. Of course, I had to play it up for them. One last time. Though I knew the end was nigh, I had no intention of going out with a whimper.
They were spellbound, of course. I had become quit proficient In my storytelling,
You might say it was my profession. This is why so many official types said and wrote horrid things about me.
Anyway, after I bid them all a good night, and took to my room - I often, after
a long night of drinking, took a room at the inn, rather than stumble back to my house in town - where I awaited the Devil.
Now, mind you, in my experiences over the 24 years I had grown to disbelieve in all the christian hocus-pocus, including the Big Bad Bogeyman himself. But on what was to be my last night on Earth, according to the Pact, if indeed that was even what it meant, I found myself deathly afraid.
The wind outside blew brisquely, with occasional showers. Shortly before midnight,
it all became very, very quiet. All I could hear was the creaking of the building, and the occasional noises sleepers make.
Then all of a sudden there was the stroke of midnight from the church bell tower. I felt as if the ringing was sounding in my head. I broke out in a cold sweat. My stomach turned into a tight knot I wanted to flee. But whither would I flee? And my legs did not want to lift me, anyhows.
And so I waited. I kept glimpsing movement out of the corner of my eye. Was this
just my imagination? Shadows from my candles? But then I saw them directly. Saw may be the wrong word, for they seemed rather insubstantial. Like ghosts. Then one of the shadows seemed to loom large, and advance on me.
The world went black.

What happened next is hard to describe, as it was neither visual nor aural. I sensed movement, but can not tell you if I moved, in what direction, if there was wind, light, darkness, etc.
I then found myself, or such as I perceived to be myself, for I knew I no longer
had a physical body, standing (if you will) in a desolate area. Not just desolate, but somehow damaged. Very damaged. I could see and hear it seemed, just as if I was still in a body. Though the senses seemed heightened. I knew, somehow, that this was still the Earth, but that something monstrously terrible had happened here. I could even smell, and it was an extremely unpleasant smell. I had nothing in my world to compare it to.
Is this Hell? I asked myself. What else could this be? And how was this still the Earth? What happened here? Was the rest of the planet like this?
While my mind, which I also seemed to still possess, reeled around these questions, I became slowly aware that I was not alone. A shadow - The Shadow - loomed near me. Death. My Death, for we each, as I’ve learned, have our own, personal Death. I can’t, at present, explain it better than that. My body, as it were, seemed to be made of light, and my Death was this very black shadow. Something like that.
I’m getting a bit confused even trying to remember this, and trying to put it
into words.
As Death, for want of a better name, seemed to be the only other being around,
I decided to ask it if it knew where I was. It said (using the term rather loosely) that this was not so much where, as when.
Well, we were communicating, somewhat, at least.
I took the bait, and asked, so when is this?
A future, it answered me.
Oh, I thought. Or maybe I said it. Relatively speaking - or in this case NOT speaking...
Okay, just for the sake of telling this part of the story, lets just pretend that I was still me, Faustus (as I had grown accustomed to being called), a man, as I had been when last in the flesh and this, being my Death, was a he, and we “talked” like old friends, and he told me about what I was “seeing-hearing-smelling-tasting-touching” and so on. Okay?
So, I said oh, and asked the next question, which was “What does ‘A’ future mean?”
“This is merely one of many possible futures,” he answered.
“And what happened in this possible future?” I asked next.
"This is the world destroyed by humanity.”
I looked around. The land looked not just blighted, but as if it had died by a
vile pestulance.
“How,” I barely asked.
“By harnising more power than they were mature enough to handle.”
“Was this the Apocalypse?!”
If Death could have chuckled, he would have done so now. "Those who unleashed
this power were of a mind that they were just following scripture, and it was time for the End of the world.”
Then a very obvious question entered my mind. “And how do you know all this?”
“Because I am Death. Your Death, to be sure, but Death nonetheless. And so, I
know much of death in the world. Including this one.”
“Oh,” was all I could manage.
“Should we go somewhere?” I asked after an uncomfortable pause.
“If you like.”
I looked around again. “Are there others here?”
“Of course. Do you think this would all be just for you?”
If I could’ve blushed, I would have. “Of course not.” I tried to be nonchalant, “I just didn’t see anyone else around.”
"There are others.”

We moved on for some time. Or so it seemed. Like the other senses, the sense of time was
rather relative.
But we could go in circles with that for an eternity, or a moment, and at the same time.
So, just for the telling’s sake, let’s pretend time still exists here.
We wandered over the wasteland. At times we saw others, like us, but for some reason, which I can not explain, we did not engage with each other.
Until, that is, I ran into Faust. Johann Faust.
We reminisced about old times.
He and I had been friends at Heidelberg University, where we both matriculated
in theology and philosophy. He was top of our class. We both were also interested in magic. At that time I had already adopted the name of Faustus junior, in honour of my favorite teacher, known in magical circles as Dr. Faustus, with whom I’d studied magic in secret in Wittenberg, and later openly in Krakow.
Faust and I, who became popularly known as the Faust Brothers, delved very deeply into magic. I also had an affair, and fell in love, with his sister, Gretchen; and she studied with us. (She ended up deciding to marry a University professor, which broke my heart).
Faust introduced me to his companion, an English playwright named Christopher Mariowe, who, it turned out, was very interested in my story. It seems that in his life he had written a great tragedy based on a chapbook, which from his lengthy description (the boy loved to talk almost as much as I) sounded as though it was based on the testament of my life I had left with my famulus, Wagner. However, from this same description I gleaned the fact that some christian hand - had Wagner been converted at the end - and a follower of that good old blowhard Luther to boot, had done much adding and subtracting in order to
make me an example for all good christians (though I suspect that same good christians
were probably thrilled by all the deviltry, which was much more exciting than the usual bible fair).
Not that I’d been loath to create a fair amount of balderdash myself.
Anyway, Marlowe was a bit of a character himself. If we’d been corporeal, we would probably have fucked like rabbits.
Faust told me he was taking Marlowe to meet Faustus senior, and that I should come, too.
So I did.
(I can’t recall now when I finally noticed that my Death was no longer with me
- was it just before meeting Faust and Marlowe? Had they seen him? Ultimately, the answer is utterly unimportant).

What Faust took us to he called a bunker. On the surface, was just a heavy door, made of some kind of metal and in a design I didn’t know - Faust explained it was made of titanium and a 21st Century design.
We passed through the door (being ethereal this was no problem, though it “felt“ odd), which lead into a stairwell which descendended steeply. Though there was no light here, we could see without difficulty (another benefit of being preternatural).
We descended the stairs deep into the Earth, until we came out into a large room, filled with many dusty items, which I could (at the time) not identify. We crossed the room, passed through a door on the opposite side, and came into a narrow corridor. At about this point I realised how flat and grey everything was. There was light here, and it highlighted that the walls, floor and ceiling were all smooth and of a light grey material that looked like mortar (i.e., cement - though the ancient Romans had invented cement, in my time few were familiar with it, except building artisans).
As we passed along the corridor, I noticed a strange sort of hum, not human or
animal, but not of the kind of mechanics I knew. It seemed to gradually get louder as we proceeded.
We stopped in front of another door, over which there was a sign which read “Computer Room”, which we then passed through into another, larger room, full of what I was to later find out were called computers. Many computers. Of different shapes and sizes. Some were humming, others sat silently. Most were quite dusty.
We crossed the room, until we came to a figure hunched over one of the computers, tapping at the lettered buttons on the tray in front of what I thought at first was a magic mirror, as various images flitted over it. When the figure turned around I was astounded by his (I was sure it was male) visage. He smiled at us, looked at me, and said “Well, hello, Faustus.”
I immediately recognized the voice of my old friend and teacher, Dr. Faustus, a.k.a.
Mephostophiles. And upon looking at him more fully, I thought I sort of recognized his
features in this odd creature.
While at University in Wittenberg, I had been introduced to occult magic by soldier, sometime spy, great scholar, and wanderer Helnrlch Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim. He also brought me to a small, secret circle of practicioners, one of whom was one of my professors, Georg Helmetetter known in the circle as Dr. Faustus. He had introduced me to a wealth of occult knowledge; and we had travelled to Krakow together, where he had been murdered by an evil vampire (I’ll get back to her later). After his death, I had used necromancy to bring him back, and he inhabited my magic mirror [or a crystal], and changed his name to Mephostophiles (and I then was just known as Dr. Faustus).
I had last seen Mephostophiles on the night of my death. He had said we’d meet
again, and, so, here he was. Sort of. I was confused.
“You see, dear boy,” he began, “this is where I am from. I’m a mutation. After
the great man-made (woman having much more sense) catastrophe, there were few survivors, mostly in bunkers like this one. The survivors proliferated, as humans will, even in the most ridiculous of circumstances, and since some of what is called radiation did make it down here, the descendents mutated. Most of my fellow citizens, I’m afraid, have little more intelligence than a lump of coal, so in my boredom I study,” here he indicated the
computers, “and in those studies I became very interested in time travel.”
‘"Time travel? What’s that?” I asked stupidly.
Mephostophiles rolled his eyes. “You always were a little slow on the uptake.” He cleared his throat. “Time travel is just what it sounds like. To travel through time.”
I was amazed. I had never even imagined such a thing. I had imagined living in
a different time, but the idea of actually travelling there never entered my mind.
“So,” Mephostophiles continued, “I really wanted to find out if I could do it,
and get out of this shithole. I researched, and experimented, and contemplated, and I finally came up with the idea of using a mix of metaphysics, through astral travel, and biology, through cellular memory. I won’t go into details, because you simply wouldn’t understand.”
[or he does go on at length, confusing the 3 listeners]
[may be that time travel is a regular thing for the mutants, giving rise to legends of gods and demons and aliens...]
That stung my pride a bit. “Oh, stop being silly, Faustus. This is science and
metascience from centuries after your time.”
“Anyway,” he continued, “I eventually worked it all out, and managed to travel
back through time, in an ethereal body, back to what became generally known as the Renaissance, which I was very interested in, where I entered the body of one of my ancestors, whom you initially knew as Georg Helmstetter.” He paused. “Of course, no matter how much you research a time and place, you will never be fully prepared for the actuality of it.”
“Well, that does explain a lot,” I muttered.
Mephostophiies raised an eyebrow at me. “Such as what?” he queried.
“Well,” I fumbled, “you were always an odd one. Especially after your death.”
He laughed.

[M. Intro’s F. to the other mutants, who look like demons, aliens
and clowns; most are dumb as dirt, but a few are intelligent, and
F. befriends them, even taking on a fatherly role with some. He tells
them his story - this may be where the original story goes...]
[F. wants to do something to change this future, M. is sure that
can’t be done, but F. insists on going back in time to try. M. warns
that time travel Is a little precarious, and that he must pay close
attention, to “listen” to the point where he should “re-enter” the
corporeal plane; M. eventuaily agrees that he too wlii go back, to
help bring F. through. M. then begins leading F. through a series of
mental exercises In preparation, which takes many months (years?)...]

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