Legend has it the ancient Lemurian city of Telos lies beneath the great northern Californian volcano of Mount Shasta. Lemurians live on, so the storytellers say. We’ve seen them, they say, tall, handsome, beautiful, gentle giants with blue eyes and flowing manes of blonde hair. Small people too, miniature, darting from here to there, so fast the eye cannot follow. Living in hollow earth, where light ends darkness, where walls are tinted gold, the ceilings cast in jewel, the floors copper laid. Animals abound, the fish and the fowl too, living in harmony, nary a bone left to rot. And here you will find the flower, foliage, and fruit, sweet nectar, all, next to none, snatched away only to reappear, to nourish in the morrow.
And what shall we say of the mountain dwellers? Those who reap the essence of the mountain, who practice the ancient art of transferring and manipulating lifeforce energy, for neither is it created or lost, only shifted from one to another. Should we say they are benevolent? Or merciless?
Surface dwellers bite their tongues, fearful their whispers of tittle-tattle will be heard, their destinies forever lay to waste by the masters. Only the Mnemonists, old men and women, a foot set in the grave, dare discharge the secrets they hold, for death is the enemy of misery and a fond friend to those who seek nirvana.
Learned men will tell you lifeforce knows no evil, knows no good. And so, too, the body which holds the soul, it must be chosen with care and due diligence, for what good is it to cast a net only to catch a finless fish, a wingless bird, a bull without heart, or one who casts aside The Law of One.
The Mnemonists say foretelling is written in the Record of Ancient Matters. What is to come will come. The Lemurians will a day ascend, lift their superlatives to the surface, pledging to wage war, not with blunt force but with imprint. The chosen few will learn the ways of surface dwellers, liberate their hearts and minds, and turn them away from ruin to redemption.
One, they say, will lead the coming, going forth to select a surface equal, to unite with her as one, as is inscribed by The Law of One, to procreate. All will come to know the infant as, HeIs. For the time will come when all things aged must end, when the world will replicate the obliteration of Mu and, for those who survive, no choice but to endure.
To this end a bride, virtuous in heart, physically pure, and of Lemurian blood, must be mated. And on the day of her bequest, the sun will stop, reverse, and start again. Solstice will pass. A new world will seek restoration through rebirth. New will replace old, scraping clean what is, so what must come will be. Good victorious over evil.
And so the story begins, a tale to be told and handed down through the ages, so all will know a New World is yet to be born, for as it is written in the Record of Ancient Matters, so shall it be.
1 BOY HUNTING
In the overall events of the world, skipping a class on history to lark around on such a grand autumn day shouldn’t be such a big deal.
Turns out it’s a radical life changer for me.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought a simple act of defiance would lead me to my end. If someone had told me that I’d become the Holy Grail of life, I'd thought them insane. Melting mirrors? Levitating? Gifting life? Or that I'd die? Twice! Lunacy. After all, how often is a young girl chosen to be the surface-equal bride to an ancient species? To the Godman no less.
My first week as a sophomore in a new high school and here I am ditching my last period class. Why do I need to know what happened in ancient history? What sixteen-year-old girl is going to care who fought who in what war? Was there ever a good reason to blow up the world?
I didn’t think so. Yet that’s my destiny.
Mr. Mattingly, my history teacher, said, “Don’t like my class? “See the door? It swings both ways. Don’t let it swat you in the hindquarters on the way out.”
So I took Mr. Mattingly up on his offer.
I glance across at Cherrie who has her left leg tucked up under her butt. She’s sitting in the driver’s seat of her grandfather’s Lincoln Continental. I suppose I can blame her for my infraction. After all, she’s two years older than me. She started school a year late—something about Attention Disorder. And managed to flunk a few classes in grade school. But I know she’s not dumb. As far as I can tell, she’s the smartest student at Shasta High School (SHS). Clever enough to find a shortcut around six hours of classes a day. More important, she has access to her grandfather’s car, i.e., the Tank.
We speed out of Shasta City and enter I-5 heading south. I can’t help but feel like Louise in one of my mom’s favorite movies, Thelma and Louise. Only I haven’t been raped. And Cherrie hasn’t killed anyone, or at least she hasn’t in the two short months I’ve known her. Yet, like Louise, I sense the emotions she did after fleeing her abusive husband. Elated for having escaped. Psyched at the journey ahead. And petrified of the repercussions upon my return. At the same time, having taken charge, I'm at peace. Calm. Controlled. Relaxed. But there’s no escaping the elephant riding on my chest.
Thinking back, I expected the worse when Dierdra, my mother, informed me we were moving cross country. I’d been to Shasta City when I was five. I don’t recall much about the town. But I do have fond memories of Uncle Mickey. His walrus mustache. Toothless grin. Crow's feet eyes. The way he’d grab me, hoist me to the heavens, and recite the I’ll give you a nickel for a pickle rhyme.
It was because of Uncle Mickey’s antics that I retained vivid memories of his log cabin. Feet of snow blanketing the house, burying the Christmas lights. Him riding the sled down the snow caked driveway with me bouncing in his lap. Making angels in the snow. Building Crooked Carrot, my first snowman. Standing as one, shedding tears, when the intense sun decapitated poor CC.
For a while those cherished memories roiled within me. Tarnished by the hatred I felt for Uncle Mickey’s role in the death of my father, Simon Grant.
Uncle Mickey and my father perished in a white out on Mount Hood. Their bodies lost forever. Hollowing holes in our hearts. It took a few years for me to accept the fact father died doing something he loved to do. And to come to terms that it wasn’t Uncle Mickey’s fault. Even though it was he who had badgered my father into becoming a mountaineer.
I found a semblance of peace with Dad’s passing.
Uncle Mickey, in his will, left his log cabin to Simon. Dierdra inherited it upon Simon’s death.
I suppose it was because of me it took years before mother closed on the idea of relocating to California. I didn’t expect it to happen after I had already completed my freshman year at White Bear Lake high school. After having made friends and growing deep roots.
I felt sorry for Dierdra, so I didn’t complain much about the move. She’s a psychotherapist. She’s good at assisting others with their anxieties, depressions, and phobias. But it was increasing clear she wasn’t good at helping herself. I could feel her slipping away. The mood shifts, the staring out the window at nothing, weight loss, drinking to excess, that sort of thing.
Moving to the town of Shasta City would allow her to find closure in Simon’s passing. Or at least that was what she told me. It didn’t seem to matter to her Mount Shasta wasn’t where father had died and now laid entombed in ice. Simon and his brother Mickey had climbed Shasta a half dozen times. Two of those from the perilous north side. This is where my father had chosen to set his spirit free. It’s where, I imagine, Dierdra believes his spirit remains. How, I wonder, will she find closure by chasing ghosts on a mountain?
And I didn’t complain because I knew I could use a change in scenery, too. After having lost a boyfriend and my father to death within a year’s time, the life I’d known imploded. I found myself asking the question: What’s the point if sorrow scores everything worth living for? As Cherrie’s life did for her, the brutality bruised my soul, burrowing inroads into my will to live. I became suicidal. Contemplating the end sooner than later.
So why should I care?
I lost my passion. Grew apathetic. Joy perished. It was time for a change. Some would say a drastic change. So I didn’t melt down when Dierdra approached me and asked if I wouldn’t mind moving to California.
I met Cherrie, who lives across the street with her grandfather, Garland Dariush, the same day we moved in. She sported blue jeans, a flannel shirt, and paint-splattered work boots. With her short-cropped hair and unlit cigarette hanging from her mouth, I mistook her for a boy. Within days we were inseparable. It soon became clear Cherrie needed a lackey for her misadventures. I needed a lifeline and a bridge to my new life. So I catered to her whims. Or at least that’s what I like to tell myself.
Fact is, there was no other choice to escape my tortuous life.
After all, isn’t that something I learned through my studies? That discernment is the greatest gift in life? That only I can know my body, feel the space around me, and know my capabilities?
So what ripple in the world do I want to create?
I give Cherrie the once over in attempt to gauge her mood. She did say we were going “cliff climbing” in the Castle Crag State Forest. I can only hope Cherrie and I, unlike Thelma and Louise, aren’t planning on hurling over a cliff. Which, dreary enough, seems to be Dierdra’s favorite scene in the movie. With Cherrie you never know.
I heard Cherrie once punched a guy who outweighed her by two-hundred pounds square in the gut. Something about him not pronouncing her name letter perfect.
“Penny for your thoughts,” Cherrie says, as her lips clamp down on the unlit cigarette.
“Why’re we going cliff climbing? You know us Minnesotans stub our toes on gopher mounds.”
“Julis, girl, take a look out there.” Cherrie points out past the road, her finger stretching long in a southwest direction. “What’d you see?”
I'm not about to punch Cherrie in the gut for bastardizing my name. Even if Julis rhymes with clueless. I stare out beyond the highway and the pine studded forest.
Castle Crags State Park is well known throughout Northern California for its towering crags and spires and convex slabs of granite, one of which makes up Castle Dome.
“Rock,” I say.
“And lots of it.”
“And we have to climb it, why?”
Cherrie grins. I think I know what she’s going to say. The same thing George Mallory said when they asked him why he climbed Mount Everest.
“Because it’s there? Right?”
“Course not, dweeb. We’re not climbing rock.”
“Because that’s where the boys are.”
“For real! Didn’t we just leave a school full of boys? Over two-hundred my last count.”
“None like these.”
“And these are?”
“Rock climbers. Spidermen.”
“Cough. Sputter. I’m risking detention at school and grounding at home to see Toby Maguire in tights?”
“You haven’t seen these hunks climb the wall. Pretty impressive stuff. Muscle versus mass. Sweat staining stone.”
“Only walls we have in Minnesota are mounds of snow. No one climbs them but little kids.”
“Reason enough to take you along. Might broaden your horizons.”
Cherrie’s right. My horizons could use some expanding, and I don’t mean through schooling. Sure, I agree. To make it in this world an education helps. But so do life skills—in the real world. If stalking sweat-soaked, half-naked climbers improves my chances to land a boyfriend, who am I to argue?
“Okay. I’m in.”
Cherrie glances up and down the freeway. “Like you’ve got a choice?”
I chalk up a point for her. Once I had stomped off campus, there was no turning back.
If the lack of vehicles in the parking lot is a sign, we’re in for disappointment. By my count, there are exactly two, a Ford Ranger and a BMW, of all things.
Cherrie shrugs off my look of despair. “Most climbers,” she says, “hitchhike their way down I-5, waylaying semis. Truckers and climbers are born with kinship blood.”
“Yeah? How’s that?”
I don’t expect an answer, and I don’t get one from Cherrie. So, as we step out onto the stone-studded trailhead, I fill in the blanks. Climbers need a ride, and truck drivers need a welcome break from the monotony of the road. I imagine rock climbers can weave some harrowing tales of their experiences. And the truck drivers, I know, are all ears. Or at least they pretend to be, as they stare at the road markers zipping by. I know this last part because my father had been a truck driver. I remember the look he’d give me as I prattled on, spinning stories of the adventures I had while he was away long-hauling.
It’s not long before we step out onto the plateau beneath the rock spires of Castle Crags. The Crags are cast out of granite. Mammoth towers of rock, rising six-thousand feet, thrust into the sky. In comparison, we’re like ants crawling around at their feet. Glancing up, I get the sense the rock towers are crashing down. The feeling bores a hole in my stomach, same as it does when flying over an unexpected dip in the road. When I adjust my perception, I see the clouds moving, not the towers. Still, I’m leery about lingering in one place too long.
Cherrie plops down. I follow suit, slumping as if I’m out of breath. Which I am. The oxygen up here, as my dad use to say in reference to mountain air, is as thin as Dierdra’s pancakes.
“See there,” Cherrie says.
My gaze follows the point of her finger. Before us, but at some distance, stands a sheer, massive wall of granite. Its expanse eludes me until I spot the tiny dots clinging to its face.
“Good,” I tell her. “This is what you brought me here for? To watch itsy-bitsy spiders scale rock? Not exactly what I had in mind to meet boys.”
“Chill, girl. Wait til they come down. Then you’ll see.”
“When? Tomorrow morning? Tomorrow’s Saturday. I hope to be in bed. Sleeping. Flirty dreaming about Asher Angel. Or Noah Schnapp.”
“Shazam? Stranger things?”
“Never heard of them.”
“Don’t you ever watch movies? TV?”
“Why? So I can rot my brain? Rather read.”
“Thanks for popping my bubble.” I make a show of hanging my head, as if my heart has burst.
“Not to worry, lovesick puppy. There’ll be more climbers coming up the trail. Watch and see,” Cherrie says, as she consumes an imaginary drag on her cigarette. She stares down the trail we just hiked. “You’ll see. They can’t get to the wall without passing us.”
I play along. “Okay. And then what? We make conversation? Hope they’ll stop and take notice? Invite us to go climbing.” I point to the skyscraper wall. “On that! No thanks.”
“No.” Cherrie leans back. She rests her head on a rock. She looks to the twilight sky. “Not much light left. They’ll be in a hurry to climb, so there’s no stopping them. But it’s the ice breaker. Make eye contact. Say hi. Next time, who knows? They spot you downtown, remember you, and ask you your name. Next thing you know Spiderman wants to climb all over you instead of rock.”
I scoot alongside Cherrie. “Got to tell you, Cherrie, I think there’re easier ways to grab a boy’s attention. Like say, kicking them in the groin?”
“Not these hunks. Fish in the shallows, shallow fish you catch.”
“What’s that?” I pretend to poke my finger down my throat and barf. “Folk wisdom?”
“No. A grandpa quote. Popa says it every time he sees someone fishing. Says it pertains to people as well. Want to know someone with depth, you’ve got to troll deep.”
“Well, they,” I say as I eye hikers coming up the trail, “look like they’re full of depth.”
Cherrie swings around to get a better look. “Who?”
I point to a gap in the trees.
“Oh, the Delmons.”
Cherrie bastardizes their name as if she’s saying, “The Devils.” My curiosity crests.
Cherrie shakes her head. “Lost cause.”
I study the threesome as they hike single file up the trail. The boy in the lead, head erect, keeps his eyes fixated on Castle Dome. The two boys trailing stare at the heels of the hiker in front. All three boys sport leisure wear. Two wear white collared shirts, the other a blue collared shirt. All three wear shoes one might see at church. Loafers. Certainly not shoes made for hiking. Out on the street, one might mistake them as evangelists, except these guys aren’t lugging bibles. And their hair, far from kempt, flow as manes onto their shoulders and backs.
A stiff breeze blows, the end-of-day back draft surging down into the canyon. I turn my face windward to sweep the hair out of my eyes and to grab Cherrie’s attention. “You pissed them off, didn’t you?”
Cherrie hesitates, as if there’s some truth to my accusation. She spits out the cigarette butt. “Never given the chance. Popa told me to steer clear. Told me they came up from hollow earth. Said the Delmons will suck lifeforce out of you. Said if you get too close, they’ll kill you with the touch of a finger.”
“That can’t be true.”
“Sure it can. If you believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. And that Pops wasn’t drunk when he said it.”
I angle my head into the wind. Sweep the hair from my eyes. Gaze at the threesome.
As they clear the forest, dust rises from the Delmons’ shuffling feet, obscuring detail. Yet, between gusts, I catch glimpses of the threesome. Muscular. Square jawed. Taller than most. Strutting with ease. Shoulder length hair, colored gold by the setting sun, framing their faces. Motionless. Motionless! Which in this wind is odd. And yet as I strain to pick out detail, it dawns on me; nothing on these three is being spirited by the wind. Not their hair, shirt tails, sleeves, nothing. As though they exist in a protective bubble.
Hollering from the main spire draws my attention away from the Delmons. I squint to get a clear look at what all the fuss is about. A spiderman hangs from a roof. He’s shouting down instructions to his climbing partner.
I overhear Cherrie mutter, “Julis, clear the trail.”
As I turn, I come face to face with the Delmons.
For more than a second our eyes connect, and for more than a flick of an eyelash I become light-headed. Weightless. Guess in actuality I am, rising up, to step aside and let the Delmons stroll by.
Not a word spoken as they pass. No, “hello.” No, “have a good day.” Silence. Even from the pounding of their feet. Their abnormal, pupil-filled eyes shift to the destination ahead. Except for the boy at the end. He stares at me. Locks eyes. Penetrates. Siphoning information. Breaks free. Shifts his eyes forward.
I’m left standing. Sitting. The queasy feeling flooding my gut. Unable or unwilling to move. Lost in a mysterious pool of darkness. From which I don’t care to escape.
Until I hear Cherrie.
“Shush,” I scold her. “You could at least wait until they’re out of earshot.”
“Not like they’re going to hear me.”
A smell energizes my nostrils. Churns my stomach. Prickles my tongue. I’m at a loss to describe it. It takes a comment from Cherrie to clue me in.
“Storm coming,” she says, as she looks to the sky. “I smell lightning.”
I smell scorched air, but not the severely pungent odor acquainted with the burnt air molecules my science teachers have referred to throughout my school years. This smell has a milder, sweeter scent mixed in with a man’s sweat. It sends shivers radiating up and down my spine, the good kind one feels as they step into the sun on a warm spring day. I feel my lifeforce surging.
I turn and watch the Delmons march up and away, as though nothing else exists. They seem oblivious to the Spiderman’s hollering echoing across the divide. I watch them climb up the trail and, just about the time I am ready to lose interest, the boy in the rear, who is dressed in the blue shirt, pauses, turns, and stops. He looks out toward the spire where Spiderman is barking an order to his partner.
I jab Cherrie in the ribs.
“What?” she says.
For once Cherrie holds her tongue. And me too. We freeze, mesmerized by the sight.
The boy in blue stands high above us, god like, a force leaning deep into the wind. The sun, hanging low in the western sky, colors his hair gold beyond the natural blonde hue. His face exudes a glow to the point of brilliance.
We see him raise his right hand high into the air, palm flat, fingers thrust out.
And we hear it.
The sound of Spiderman’s barking, fading away, as if someone has reached out and turned the radio volume down. We look to the wall. The Spiderman, we can see, is still barking orders. But we can’t hear his words, or the echoes that follow.
We look to the boy in blue.
He turns his gaze upon us.
For a second or two, I feel pierced. As though he’s reaching out and thrusting his hand into my heart, with the intent to never let go. I feel purpose. Fulfillment. And an urge, an uplifting, to follow in his tread.
When the boy in blue turns to rejoin his climbing partners, the feelings vanish.
I speak. “Are they climbers too?”
Cherrie chokes. “Hardly. Not if you call hiking that, climbing.”
I take a good look at the rock the Delmons are hiking. Unlike the other spires, Crown Dome is a weather worn colossus of rock, smooth granite shaped like a man’s bald head. It stands alone, farther north than the other peaks. It looks climbable, even for me with my dilapidated tennis shoes. I see a cable or a rope at its top, swinging in the breeze, a helping hand to overcome the last hurdle, an overhanging lip in the formation.
“What do they do up there?” I ask.
Cherrie snorts. “Kinky stuff, I hear. Stripping down. Facing Mount Shasta. Sweating. You know. Like the monks do. Legs crossed. Hands facing up. Relaxed.”
“More than that, some say. One guy said he saw them levitate.”
“Can’t believe everything you hear.”
We hang around until dark settles in. No more Spidermen hike up the trail. None of the climbers return by us. So much for scoring with the hunks.
On our trip back down the trail, I can’t get the vision of the boy in blue, standing god-like, out of my mind.
“Do you know his name?” I ask Cherrie.
“The boy in blue.”
Aaron Delmon. A fitting name for a god-man.
“I’d sure like to meet him.”
“Imagine you will.”
“Oh yeah. When?”
“He’s a sophomore in Shasta High. But I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you. Meeting him, I’d guess, wouldn’t be any more pleasant than meeting the god-zog.”
“Hertzog. The principal. AKA head-hunter.”
“Aaron can’t be all that bad.”
“You want a punch in the face, you go right ahead. He’s not talking to you. He talks to no one. You’d be better off schmoozing a teacher.”
“Ugh. That’s disgusting.”
“So is hunting a Delmon.”
“We’ll see. I think he likes me.”
“Why? Because you think he looked at you?”
“I don’t know. It’s just a feeling I have.”
“Oh, gawd. Here we go. You’ve been falling in love with every west-coast boy you’ve seen since the day you got here.”
“Not every boy.”
“Okay. You’re right. There’re a few you missed.”
“And love isn’t the right word.”
“What word would you give your feeling?”
“I don’t know. Connection. Friends. Wanting to fit in. That’s all.”
“Well, believe me, you won’t fit in with the Delmons. They’re different. There’s a reason no one in your school hangs out with them. You should take heed.”
“You mean different like the way he held up his hand and silenced the guy on the wall?”
Cherrie stops, turns on the trail, and looks at me like I’m a crazed animal about to bite her leg. “What makes you think Delmon had anything to do with that?”
“You saw him. Soon as he raised his hand, we didn’t hear the hollering anymore.”
Cherrie shakes her head. “Girl, you’ve been living in the flatlands too long. Sounds in the mountains come and go all the time. Nothing new. Just because the boy raised his hand doesn’t mean he had anything to do with us not hearing the yelling. Wind blew it away, is all.”
“What about the smell?”
“The one that stunk of scorched air.”
“Oh, you mean the lightening smell.”
“I didn’t see any lightening.”
“You don’t have to see lightening to smell it. Another little well-known fact, which seems to have escaped you flatlanders. Smells carry far in the mountains. Blown by the wind, same as sounds.”
“Well, I don’t care,” I say, as we enter the parking lot and step around the Ford Ranger, the Beamer, and a beat-up old Dodge Ram truck. “I’m going to meet Aaron. You’ll see. He’s probably just shy.”
“Shy, my frog ass. But you go right ahead. You have as much chance of him being your friend as I have of finding one of the spideymens in my bed when I get home.”
“Bet you,” I say, as we climb into the Lincoln Continental and enter I-5 heading home.
I don’t hear a reply from Cherrie. When I look, I see her with her eyes glazed over, staring through the windshield out into the distance. As we round a bend in the freeway, I spot the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen in my life. Mount Shasta, draped in Alpenglow, seemingly floats above the dark forest horizon.
I wonder if Aaron, standing high on the Crag’s Crown Dome, sees it too, and I think, yes, he does.
I stare into this stunning sight and remember what Uncle Mickey said the storytellers told him.
“Rapture lives within her bosom. And from her heart springs life.”