The Apple Of Eden
Last Sample Chapter From “18 Feet Under”
While our doomed sisters Cyan and Grace Crown chatted loosely about the tragedy coming their way from Eden, the apple of Eden slept.
On normal days, the sun would have sparked some joy from the young eyes down at “Eden’s Garden” but today in the very mean heat, the best it got back was some squints and spit in the dirt.
Eden’s Garden, or just Eden, was the name insiders gave to the quiet bit of property that lurked on the outskirts of the great mechanical city Zoltan. With its bronze frameworks, digital towers, and ever growing canyons of distrust between the messy districts.
But to the Garden’s Apple, the crazed teen Osiris, those concerns were for their leader, for Pan. He would lead them to salvation. At least that’s what Osiris told himself, so he could fritter and laze beneath the sun, dodging the inevitable.
‘After all, a child trusts his father, and he is father to all. To all our sins, and to our new world. So close, too close.’
Osiris kept squinting up at the sun, crouched in the dirt, knowing more than most about the things people don’t want to think about. The messy troubled teenager doomed to play his part in the most important conflict of this strange Earth.
There had been genetic modifications applied before his true birth. Ones of holy secret implications apparently. He’d never been able to read the full medical notes. If any of them were even the truth that is.
Dirt, dust and leaves were stirred by a quiet breeze. With that breeze, Osiris heard footsteps. They echoed in across the front porch. While the gnarled mesh-wire fence observed the scene from all around.
Pan had been smart (or a crafty demon with a cutthroat mind for gain) to acquire the property that made up Eden’s Garden. Its front porch alone was similar in size to a gymnasium. The type gladiators would train at.
As the footsteps got louder and more present in his blistered ears, Osiris decided there was no point in feigning ignorance. He stood, mud and faded grey scuffs marked his old-school jeans, while the black patrol boots he wore looked like they’d been dunked in a well several times.
“Don’t just stand there. Have you gone dumb already you thicko?”
The voice came from the form and soul of Solomon. Younger than he was when he would go on to form a House Of Hell, oh yes, but perhaps this where he got his inspiration. For being an evil twat.
Their sky’s sun continued to grin down at the camp.
‘Can it really be a camp anymore? After we have a house like ours.’
Osiris admired the way the golden sun shone off the dark oak house. How it gave even the oldest windows some life.
“Pan wants you.” Solomon said, with fresh eyes and even fresher features that he would soon lose. They walked toward the big house, parallel to one another.
Osiris let the words flow, despite the sun making those words dry as dust.
“It’s about time, been long enough.” He had more to say, but the heat was getting to him today. So they went on in more silence. Osiris knew the oily shithead had more than a bag of woodchips on his shoulder and so let the irritation slowly roll itself out his system.
As he reached the threshold and opened the door, Solomon stayed outside. There was a very strong sense that scores between them were much less than settled.
Osiris shut the door. It acted as a primitive airlock to keep out the sun and all the feelings it sweated out of a person’s mind. Now in home, things could be done with a clear head.
Within the entrance hall, dust floated in and around beams of sunlight that pressed in past the house’s thick windows.
Far across on the other side from where Osiris stood, past the staircase and scratched paintings of dead people. Past all that...
Through a still open kitchen, he could see everyone else through the other windows, training in the backyard. This carried two meanings.
The first was that it showed the discipline of Eden’s disciples to anyone who may be spies.
The second was that it followed a simple rule of the household. No one else was to be in the house while Pan spoke to a single individual. A more than slightly creepy formality.
No one questioned it, there were rules about that sort of thing. So indeed, down to every last disciple, all were outside. But humans are humans, people are people. So bending rules was an easy skill to learn when you lived at this house. When you walked in its dirt and slept under its roof.
By this point, all the people outside going through their eerie drills, were masters of not just tweaking or bending rules, but reshaping them from the ground up.
So while they frittered about outside in the hot sun, Osiris possessed no doubt that they were listening. Listening and waiting.
Osiris halted for a moment longer to see if Solomon had gone to join them. ‘Perhaps I’ll spot his stupid smug fucking face.’ He pushed away the thought of what that same smug face had been telling the others about him.
He forced himself back to the task at hand, Between himself and the window was the staircase.
Osiris walked up to the wide staircase. With each and every step fear tried to invade his mind’s lower floors of perception.
He reached the landing.
Up here, only one room was officially in use. The one named Pan’s study.
Etched into the woodwork of Pan’s study door were immaculate carvings. They depicted many ribcages. Osiris noted just how heavy his own heart felt as it battered its own ribcage from the inside out.
As with the house’s main door, this one opened then closed behind him with the same noise as if you were to kick over a skeleton. Many clinks and clacks. And a settling of dust as Osiris gently shut it without looking. For his attention was now being pulled in a million different directions.
First the smell. Droplets of pale red blood dotted the walls like paw prints. A copper tang hung in the air, so many old books were piled up.
And of course, a mural of Adam And Eve glared down at everyone with detached eyes of flaky paint. The snake was hidden, the apple shone just a bit too red.
Osiris, still taking things in, felt a funny feeling at the crown of his head, a warm buzzing similar to a faulty circuit board. The connection started at the apple, which Eve held, then to Adam’s hand, where he was brandishing a pinecone.
‘That’s not right.’ Osiris screamed in his brain, an earnest confusion in the words.
Then he heard a noise, like an ancient equivalent to a record scratch. It was the rustling of papers and the hazy fog of deep concentration being broken.
Pan looked up from the papers, with their loose biro schematic annotations, and forced a smile for the first time in a week.
“Oh. How are you.”
Osiris considered the very real possibility that Pan had totally forgotten asking Solomon to fetch him. He was unsure if that made him feel better or worse.
Pan’s mane of hair crawled from his scalp like an old strong animal. Near totally grey, the dignified type of grey that hinted at wisdom and clarity. And an impatient waiting grave.
Pan stood fixedly among a circle of books. They bore the half-trashy, half- mysterious graphics and titles that heralded the study of occultism.
Under the sun of a normal day, and normal circumstances, Osiris would laugh. But things had not been normal for a long while.
As Osiris drew closer to Pan, he saw more of the grand designs that could and would so easily end the world. And the papers were close to just being treated toilet paper. For all the immaculate whirring of Pan’s brain, some chaos had a fundamental need to express itself via Pan and via the cosmos.
Pan was crossing some very serious lines. Lines for the material world just as much as the other ones. That being what Osiris wanted to say but could not bring himself to.
But even all the sour-tinged thinking Osiris had been doing in the front porch, could not prepare the young lad for seeing the plans in such detail.
Still this did not strike Pan as anything but joyful and electric enthusiasm. He rolled over as fast as a cat balancing on snooker balls.
Pan’s hand scooped up a seemingly random selection of papers, but even with that one subtle movement, Osiris saw energy. The energy of passion. Madness. Both.
With no further words, Pan shoved under Osiris’ nose, a diagram. One that depicted the forms Murmurs could take. Those ‘Angels of science’.
Osiris considered the grisly details in front of him. ‘This is not right. Why have I gone along with this, this is all evil. Stupid. Wrong.’
But then Pan spoke and once again Osiris saw in plain view, why this commune had grown so much, it was because of Pan. But even now, Osiris felt he could glimpse a dark shadow in Pan’s eyes.
“Think of it, in the whole picture. The grand scheme of things. We’re almost ready to launch.”
Pan clapped hands as if summoning a butler, but instead the room went dark. The lights had been killed. Then a soft glow grew in size and brightness all around them.
Osiris thought of the garden-variety disciples that were no doubt right now craning to get any kind of glimpse via sight or sound of Pan and Osiris meeting. After all, family reunions are not often. Especially not in Eden. ‘But when the garden fully blooms again, we’ll all be family. The world will be united.’ Osiris repeated the liar’s mantra to himself internally.
All across and around the walls was invisible ink only accessible to the subtle dark light now flooding the study.
Osiris recognized the handwriting, it curved and crossed patiently in strands of ink across the walls. Even the floor, where concentric rings of ancient Hebrew had been written in mad frenzies.
To be brief about it, they depicted the Eden Coffin technology that Pan was gearing to have installed worldwide.
Osiris could hear Pan seething with pride, like an evil pin-drop that continued to stretch out. This was all like some kind of nightmare.
Osiris the once and future runaway of the devil’s own realm, saw the plan. Coffins, Murmur Demons…
In the next split-second moment Osiris was spared from having the difficult conversation of disagreement. Distracted by a book. A book that had been gifted some extra glow thanks to the dark lights that continued to submerge the study in an eerie darkness. The book was an old hardback first edition of The Wizard Of Oz. He felt like the tinman showing in the cover’s illustration. All function no heart.
When Osiris turned around after picking up the book, it was tough not to catch Pan’s confused expression.
“Ah yes I remember this book. A lot of memories are held in it. Precious things...”
Pan trailed off. In his eyes that looked to the floor, the fog of memory shone. A haze was clear to see as it clouded the leader’s judgement. For a moment that felt far too long for comfort, Pan stared, and the fractured family endured a cold silence.
Then he spoke again. “It reminds me of your mother.” A lie, a cruel one that they both knew held no water. Osiris had no mother.
With a quiet dignity, Osiris turned to leave. The Floorboards of Eden’s Garden groaned like a ghost.
But then Osiris stopped and went back to get the book. I don’t know why, but he needed it. The same way junkie needs a fix.
“Thanks for inviting me up anyway.” Osiris said.
As he began to close the door, the teen glimpsed another rare emotion. Shock. Pan spoke his own last words for the day slowly.
“What? I didn’t ask for you...”
Osiris shut the door anyway, there were too many questions buzzing around to untangle, Pinecones that should not be there, Murmurs and the coffins being near to launch phase. And a certain place called Oz, that called to him...
While Eden made its final preparations, the fresh night sky grinned as birds of prey circled the Garden, and thunder rolled over to cover Zoltan.
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