I wonder why they call this the Gold Coast? Sonta was perplexed. He had never been to this part of America, wasn’t from here, and never could be called a history buff. The high-rise condos lining Lake Shore Drive along the Chicago skyline were undoubtedly impressive. Hailing a cab at Grand Central Station, he headed to his destination.
Sonta could have flown, but the train was more conducive for his activities while traveling. The accommodations of the compartment on the City of New Orleans allowed him to bring two female companions with him. The duo willingly supplied personal pleasures for his enjoyment.
Sonta was a fallen angel and possessed powers far beyond those of earthlings. In his demonic state, he towered over the tallest mortals. His wings spanned twenty feet tip to tip. Sonta answered only to a few.
When Lucifer and his followers went tumbling out of Heaven’s confines, Sonta was among them. The castoffs had eventually gathered in a place called the Second Heaven from whence they dispersed, bring their wrath to all civilizations.
Like his brethren, Sonta was a changeling, cable of altering his appearance. The importance of this capability could not be overstated since there were many worlds where operations were ongoing. The inhabitants of these worlds were totally different; no two planets the same. Here on earth, he presented as a tall European gentleman with somewhat aristocratic roots.
Arriving at the address given to him, Sonta and the women waited impatiently for the private elevator to take them to the penthouse. Luxury fairly oozed from the marble floors, the window treatments, andthe reception area. The surroundings fit his persona. There was no reason why he should not be enjoying more of these moments, but it had not happened yet.
Boarding the elevator, Sonta day-dreamed about being able to enjoy all the creature comforts available in this world he now temporarily called home. Being one of the fallen angels God castout of heaven eons ago had resulted in an always fluid algorithmof changing conditions. Assignments with no end, battles with no resolution, had led him to this place in a land called Earth where all was available.
Sonta couldn’t help thinking that his master, Koal, was collecting chits that carried his imprint. I have been as successful in battle as he has, yet here he is, summoning me.
Jeremiah Koal was just a name chosen because its prefix had biblical standing. A Christian name in the mortal community seemed necessary for an Overlord of the demonic kingdom whose direct responsibility was the heartland of America.
Koal was a handsome man in his earthly presence, but an object of fear and loathing in his demonic form. There was no measuring the evil that resided within him since it was without measure. He had blood red eyes sunken beneath a misty haze, foulness oozing from his pores. When thoroughly demonized, he was nearly twenty feet tall, with a 30-foot wingspan and yellow hued complexion. He had fallen slightly behind Lucifer. Koal engendered such fear that his adversaries, with good reason, always wanted to run, but couldn’t, being frozen with fear’s massive adrenaline shooting through their veins.
The elevator stopped one floor below the Penthouse. Sonta and the women stepped out. People scurried everywhere. It was a busy place, a typical American corporate office setting. Computer screens received data and routed it away. Phones rang. Quiet conversations were taking place.
Two security personnel, handguns holstered at their waists, approached Sonta from a rear stairway area that was hidden by beautiful palm trees.
“Are you Alexander Sonta, sir?” one asked.
“Well, yes, I am Sonta,” he replied.
“I don’t know where Alexander came from, but I am Sonta, and I am expected.”
It was apparent to Sonta that Master Koal had given him a first name, an earthling name, entirely without his permission.
“Sir,” said the other guard, “please walk up to the next floor where Gozan will meet you. We will keep your companions entertained here,” he added, with no hint of emotion.
Sonta didn’t want to leave his girls. Nevertheless, he had to comply.
Gozan was Koal’schief of staff, his right-hand man, who held down the position that should have been his, a position Sonta had earned on the battlefield.
Perhaps if I was more accommodating, thought Sonta, things would change. He brushed the thought aside. Whatever the role he had played, the lives he had taken certainly merited promotion. One day soon, he would become a member of the High Council presided over by the great master Satan himself.
‘Sonta, so good to see you,” said Gozan, forcing a smile. He had never liked Sonta whom he considered too full of himself. Sonta wanted his job, and Gozan knew it.Fat chance of that happening.
“Sure, good to see you, too,” Sonta mumbled as he scanned the surroundings, barely hiding his contempt for a lackey who was most obviously not a warrior.
“What’s up with the names? I was just told I am Alexander.”
“First names only exist when humans are present, we can’t be bothered with them here. How was your trip?”
“Other than having to board the City of New Orleans at 3 a.m., it was just fine. It passed the smell test.”
“I don’t understand those words,” said Gozan.
Sonta looked atat the man with a condescending stare. “The girls never complained, so all’s well that ends well.”
“The girls?” Gozan seemed taken aback.
“Yeah. You know, girls, women, sex, stuff like that,” replied Sonta, almost laughing out loud at what he perceived as embarrassmenton Gozan’s face.
“Well, what you do is your business unless it’s mine,” replied Gozan, looking at him evenly with no hint of inferiority.
“ Well said,” replied Sonta, thinking that he might need to reassess his situation. This was their new life, not his.
“What is on the agenda?”
“That depends on Master Koal,” said Gozan, “He doesn’t clear his schedule with me.”
“That’s quite an admission, Gozan, coming from his chief of staff. I was summoned, had to leave in the middle of the night to get here, endure an hour and a half cab ride in rushhour, and still have to wait on his supremeness. To top it all off, you don’t know the agenda!”
“I don’t know why I am giving you this heads up Sonta,” Gozan said, “but our master has read your recent report, and I observed some discomfort as he laid it on the conference table.”
“How so?” asked Sonta seeing a smirk on Gozan’s face.
“Not for me to say,” replied Gozan, walking towards a door on the right and motioning for Sonta to follow.
Opening the door, they entered a large suite. There was the usual complementof office equipment scattered neatly around. A large mahogany desk flanked by chairs and a small conference table occupied the center of the room. On the east wall,several large picture windows looked out over Lake Michigan.
Gozan pressed a button and the wall to the west began to fold on itself, exposing as it did an expanded version of the present room. The Chicago skyline was in full view.
“Settle in Sonta,” advised Gozan, “it’s a little after one. I’ll have lunch brought in. Hard to say how long you’ll be here before Master Koal makes himself available.”
“I doubt it will make any difference,” said Sonta, “but I do have an eight o’clock train reservation.”
“You’re right again,” replied Gozan, leaving the room, “it doesn’t matter.”
Arrogant ass! Thought Sonta, quickly dismissing the speculation knowing full well the powers of Koal, one of which was advancedtelepathy. It allowed him to monitor thoughts as a way of controlling the demons around him. He could have been listening to this entire preamble.
Lunch arrived, but Sonta ate fitfully still not knowing why he had been summoned. Eventually, he settled into a comfortable chair and dozed off. Awaking, he checked his watch. It was three-thirty.
Looking around the vacant room, his gaze meandered to the east windows that revealed several sailboats bouncing on the lake’s small waves. The beachfront up and down Lake Shore drive was also in view, which attracted sunbathers and windsurfers. It was a hot day, and through the binocularslying on an adjacent table, he spotted a topless sunbather roll slowly to her back, providing optimum exposure to the several other men in her proximity.
Sonta breathed hard as he observed the dynamics of the scene, so caught up in the grand design that he completely missed Koal’s entrance.
“If you are that interested in her,” Koal said, snapping Sonta'shead around at the sound of his voice, “I can have her brought up later.”
“Master Koal, I didn’t hear you enter,” Sonta sputtered.
“I’ve reviewed your report on Southern Illinois. As is, it appears in alignment with our master plan but looks a little skimpy. Did you leave anything out? Anything that affects our chances of success.?”
Sonta felt like he had been caught with his pants down, which is where he was with the girl on the beach below. But Koal was here now, and he needed to pay attention. He noticed the demon’s mortal appearance had changed since their last visit. More aristocratic looking, probably to help push his “Jeremiah” agenda.
“The report is factual, Master Koal,” Sonta replied as he wiped sweat from the binoculars and dabbed his brow with the back of his hand. He hadn’t realized how deeply he’d gotten into his voyage with the beach girl.
“According to your two-yeartimetable,” Koal continued, “our takeover will be complete. We will have determined who is faithful and who is not and turned the hearts and minds of the masses to our agenda. The population will be controlled or eliminated. Your confidence rides high, Sonta, does it not? But what about the opposition? In the past,you have not always been effective in that arena. There have been mistakes. What’s your strategy?” Koal’s earth formbegan to melt at the utterance of these words.
Sonta read the shapeshift as a danger signal. Tensing, he said, “I remind you, earthlings are poorly evolved. They are simple people, and our plan has already yielded results. Our land acquisitions have largely gone unnoticed. Those who became aware of even small portions of our plan have been neutralized. Possible adversaries have been identified. Those who pose a potential problem, well, let’s just say they are on the watch list. People we have aligned with in the past are being brought into the area. Let me assure you…..”
The setting sun had suddenly dipped below a roof overhang causing Koal and Sonta to shield their faces as the sun’s rays momentarily blinded them. Koal turned and groped for a panel on his desk. At the press of a button,the blinds lowered, obscuring the panoramic view of the Chicago skyline. Too much sunlight was dangerous.
“Let me assure you,” Sonta continued, “that this plan will be the gold standard for similar takeovers elsewhere.”
“Much depends on it. Much,” Koal said, his eyes framed with fire boring a hole through Sonta. “Let me assure you that your existence depends upon it as well.”
Sonta understood. Koal did not make veiled threats.
“As you know, our region is one of four. We are the test quadrant bringing the battle for humankind to the entire nation. Your plan will be a blueprint for the conquest of earth. I have three counterparts, as do you. Our Grand Master Satan has chosen America because of its decadence. In my opinion, we could not have selected a better environment. Our master has one worry that he voices regularly. He fears our takeover will not be complete before the Rapture sends all of us who follow him to the fiery pit, from which there is no escape. This event the Christians call the Rapture means we must be busy fulfilling our mission.”
The message was understood.
“Master Koal, do you remember how early last century you maneuvered the Ottoman Empire to eliminate the Armenians?”
“At your direction during World War I, I was able to infiltrate the Turkish leadership and harden their hearts and minds against the Armenians. We convinced the government that the Armenians were a dangerous foreign element. Today history calls it the Armenian Genocide. You were bloody and ruthless in your elimination of this Christian element. As I recall, this campaign won you your seat on the high council.”
“Yes, I remember the assignment, Sonta. Be careful in your analysis; these are entirely different operations. Here we are seeking to break the faith of those that would go should the Rapture occur. They are our priority. The non-believers are easily taken. There is no shortage of targets. Concern yourself with the righteous. Lord Satan himself has picked this land for us as a test case.” Koal had softened his voice somewhat, which Sonta took as a positive.
“I understand you have a train to catch. Gozan made sure your companions were not used while relaxing in the guestroom. They should be fresh for your return trip. My limousine is waiting for you.”