He found an empty corner of the bar; surely he had help not of this world to find such isolation that Friday evening. It was happy hour and all the white-collar slaves toasted to the worth of their empty lives. Slaves they were only they were too weak, too insensitive, too modern, yes that was the word Malcolm should use. They were too modern to know it. Society today is too modern.
He chuckled aloud. “Am I better off?” he asked himself, as he always did.
These people do not know the utter uselessness of their existence. But was he so useful then? No, and certainly not better off knowing that. Why live out a useless existence and be miserable with knowing it? Maybe he should want to be like them; useless but happy, so blind and happy.
He always tries to work on his music in some bar but still alone. Wanting to concentrate without losing touch of reality, but that is what he wanted to do, disappear into another world? The antics of people always amuse and disgust him and he never gets his work done. Wandering thoughts pull him from his task. So Malcolm watched people as he drank his scotch, only one, for he and his band had a show that evening. He daydreamed, he watched this world as watching a village from the dark edges of a misted forest, almost as dense as his own mind but not so dark. But who was watching the watcher?
As he studied the actions and the words and marveled at what must be the thoughts behind them he felt eyes. Curious eyes, exploring everything as he was exploring; they were exploring him and through him. He felt his body being looked over and even his mind being pried into as he was prying at others’. He turned his head and four seats down there was a glass, almost empty, its contents splashing at the sides as if it was quickly put down. He looked towards the door, into the crowd, but saw no one rushing off, only the drunken mass of humanity.
It was getting late. Off to the arena, another show, another paycheck, another night’s work. Malcolm tried to realize how lucky he was, to become rich and powerful by playing music. Every man’s dream, but it just didn’t make him happy but he hadn’t the courage to quit. The money and sex was just too easy, thus he was just as bad as those he despised. And he knew it, and that compounded his misery in a foul cycle.
Malcolm lurched off to his waiting car to take him to the venue. Under the spotlights the glossy black guitar shined as the unholy notes sang forth from the giant speakers towering behind the four demons, even so they could barely be heard over the wailing of the damned souls in the audience. The diabolical forces cried forth from the deep well of Malcolm’s throat as his huge arms pounded the sparkling strings.
There were thousands of eyes on Malcolm but he felt only two. He looked into the third row and spotted an empty seat. Impossibly empty.
When the bards finished their music they went, as they did every night, to pick the finest maidens from the crowd. Malcolm would have none of that this night. He grew weary of his band mates; destroying their bodies with narcotics, arriving late to appointments when they arrived at all. Malcolm alone wrote the music and on their last album he played all instruments on several songs. No, he didn’t accompany his mates and their bounty of wenches to the taverns, but had the long car take him to the hotel, to his luxurious chambers. The concert did not go very well. While he played as brilliantly as ever his fellow musicians seem to get worse every time; and although appreciated his fans’ patronage (both in tickets sales as well as screams), he knew it wasn’t the pure genius of his music that attracted them. Malcolm’s brain grew weary of these thoughts, his intellect taxing his energies. At the hour of one in the morning he sought his bed, so early for him.
As he unlocked the door to his suite he was assaulted by the smells of incense and candles, odors that triggered distant memories that did not exist. In the flickering light he saw the terrace doors were open and the curtains moved like creeping ghosts in the breeze.
“Wonderful, as usual,” said she, lounging in the push velvet chair, her black curls framing her creamy face. Malcolm caught those dark eyes and he recognized them, but from where?
“Thank you, Lady.” As if they were familiar to each other Malcolm casually sat on the bed to remove his tightening boots. There came a knock at the door. Malcolm rose and suspiciously eyed the woman who was wearing a bemusing smirk. He answered the door and in walked a uniformed man pushing a cart of covered dishes. “Dinner, sir. Miss.” The Lady held out her hand and both her beauty and the folds of paper she held out for him drew the lad to her.
The young man took the bills and quickly exited.
“What do we have here?” Malcolm inquired. The smell of hot food reminded him that he hadn’t eaten for hours.
“Roasted rabbit, grilled autumn vegetables, and this.” She poured amber colored liquid into a tall glass, few bubbles rose to the surface.
Malcolm sipped and smiled. “Cider! My grandfather in Wales used to make this.” He took a large swig. “This tastes like his.”
He ate the sumptuous meal while she watched, for some reason he liked her watching him eat. He drank the cider in great gulps. “I know you,” he finally said, pointing at her with the fork. “From somewhere, I know you.”
The Lady poured herself some cider and telephoned room service to send up more, quite a bit more. “We’re going to have a long talk, you and I.”
“At least you drink. Now I know you’re not a banshee or something,” he joked with a mouthful of meat.
“Do you?” she asked rhetorically.
The cider came and she poured for both of them.
“So, who are you?” Malcolm asked.
“Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself Malcolm? Recount your days and perhaps you’ll find me among them.”
“A little she asks? A week of my life is a novel my dear, my whole life is no little bit of nostalgia.” He shrugged and agreed. So, his mind freed by the cider, Malcolm told all that came from the opened gates of his memory. Of his youthful days on his family’s estate in Wales; although they were not wealthy, Malcolm’s family was an old one and they did descend from Celtic tribal leaders. They were important when those ideas were important, in the days when one man’s blood was godless and another’s worshipped by the luck of genealogy. The land has been lawfully in his family since even before then, since the days that cannot be remembered by history. He told her of how, while attending the University at Bath in England, he met many Americans and other kinds of British and Europeans. He told the Lady of how he came face to face with the endless world filled with its endless possibilities of humanity while visiting the ancient cities and towns of Europe.
He told her of when he picked up a guitar one day and felt the spirits of his Celtic ancestors. He felt the lust of the warlords, the curiosity of the druids, the passion of the bards, and eventually, when he came to reign over millions with music, he even felt the pride of the kings. As a poet sings an ancient saga, Malcolm told the Lady of how he formed that troupe of musicians and how he explored the world in search of something, something that was more than everything. He told her how he always knew, even as the serious, un-playful and rather somber child, that he is more than he is, but not how or why. He told her of how he laments in his hatred for the world as it is but has never ceasing curiosity about it. He tells of how he dreams of being in a better day.
“I know you,” he again proclaimed.
By this time they were both well liquored. Malcolm reflected on his life and times, his loves and labors, his agonies, his defeats...But what did they all mean? In sum they had a purpose, they must. But what? He got up and on shaking legs walked to the window. He looked out onto a wide river and living city of the New World on its far side.
"Where am I?” he begged. “I know you.”
Malcolm stepped towards the Lady and his knees buckled, weakened by emotion and drink. The Lady wanted to act but remained in the chair. She was frightened at her impotence; the dearth of human instinct left her frozen. The large and strong, this perfect specimen of a man crawled on all fours to the Lady. He took the hem of her black dress and buried his face in her lap. “Take me back,” he whimpered without realizing what he said. Then she knew he would remember.
She stroked his dark locks and rubbed his neck to soothe his passion. Malcolm looked up and through his thousand tears saw the Lady smiling, her once playful eyes holding back sympathy. He rose, slowly to hold nausea at bay, and kissed her lightly. His mouth opened on her parted lips. He led her off the chair and stumbled with her to the bed. He pushed her down, lay beside her and fell into sleep. She laughed and kissed his slumbering face then removed his clothes. A sudden and violent jerking of his whole body brought Malcolm back to this world. All was dark save for several candles burning from various corners and mantles of the room. He saw that the Lady was indeed not from his dreams as she read a book on the velvet chair.
“How long have I been sleeping?”
“About forty-five minutes.” She closed the book and approached the bed, sitting by Malcolm’s feet. “Tell me your dreams.”
He sat up eagerly and recalled what he could of the rapidly fading visions his mind let him see. “I was in a place. I was in Wales, I think, but not at my home, or...I don’t remember. I only know that things felt... right.” He was about to get up but realized his nakedness. “What happened between us?” he asked warily.
“Now Malcolm, what kind of rock star is so modest with a young woman?”
He took a deep thoughtful breath. “Lady, I thank you for your company but leave. I want to be alone. Please.”
“Damn you!” she screamed, surprising him. The sweet Lady was now indeed an angry banshee. “My patience is on a thread! How thick are you? I know!” And she said it again, with sympathy, “I know.”
“What you refuse to admit to yourself,” she explained. “I know what you suspect, but your mind, polluted with the contemporary world with all its modern dogma and civilization, won’t allow you to believe or explore it. You are what you think you are, what your dreams tell you, and what your conscience whispers to you when you are alone with your thoughts.”
He knew what she meant, but how could she? “I’m sorry for losing control, alcohol can...” he said, dismissing all that was said and done.
“The world has abandoned most of the Old Ones because to worship them is ludicrous and primitive. How ridiculous it is to make sacrifices to higher beings in the night under a crescent moon!”
“Isn’t it?” Malcolm retorted. “Old ones. Are you a witch or something? Do you worship trees and build stone circles?” he laughed, trying to convince himself of the foolishness of the conversation.
“Oh my dear! It is no more stupid to hoard masses into buildings to sing songs one morning a week for an hour or two. Two hours a week is hardly enough time to absolve sins, pray for the dead and dying and the unfortunate, study the sacred texts and worship Gods.
"Listen, I know you were brought up Christian in this mortal life, there is nothing wrong with that, it is the same. All worship is at its essence the same.”
Malcolm shot her a look of humorous disbelief, trying to pretend that her words did not touch some part of him, so deep and forgotten.
“Listen to me,” she began again. “Christ is a god of the wood, a god of the harvest, the sun god. Do you want to hear about a primitive and savage religion? About mythology? A poor man, born of a virgin of course, wanders the wild for years and when he emerges he proclaims himself to be the son of the Supreme Being. He walked on water, healed the sick and dying, raised the dead. Nailed to wood and rose from the grave and then ascended bodily into the Otherworld, quite impossible my man. Only it did happen, but a bit differently. And since then the followers of this man pretend they drink blood and eat human flesh. They say that all will rise from the grave and be punished or saved on the day that the earth will be destroyed by this lover and forgiver of all. Makes sense, right?”
She saw Malcolm staring at her, thinking he thought her insane, but in fact he thought that of himself because she was making sense.
“When was he born? They say late December, the winter solstice, the Roman Saturnalia. When did he rise from the dead? Easter you say? I say the spring equinox. And All Souls Day is none other than the Samhain, the Autumnal Equinox. See! All these days are the same, just a different shroud over them. Yaweh, Allah, the Christ were, are, three of us.”
“Us?” Malcolm repeated, noting she included him in us.
“Yes. You did as they. You put yourself into a mortal body, only when it died you went into another and another. A long time ago, one of us spoke with Abraham, to have his own followers of a different people in a different part of the world. Those people began worship so passionate that they suffered for it. Then another went down and took mortal form to temper those passions and to help them evolve but unwittingly infused future generations with such a passion for good that they did evil. He changed the course of history for man, and his mortal form was killed by man…he was Christ. And another, disappointed with man for what the others did, became Allah and set down such rigors that no harm could be done. But, man being man, found away to do harm in the name of the Holy. We must set it right. The world of man is falling to ruins, and what are we without man?”
“I am a god,” Malcolm said to himself, just beginning to realize what the Lady was really saying.
“Yes. We didn’t know why you kept reincarnating yourself. We think it is because you loved the mortal senses and soon you lost sight of what you are, you forgot it all. I am here to bring you back. We are preparing to make history again, to topple those three, for they have gained much power, and we will bring back the old worship, so simple it was. Will you come back? Will you help destroy man’s heart so we can rebuild it? Will you help us subdue the three and save the world?”
Malcolm took in her words, looked into his soul to see if they fit. They did. All made sense. He was being worshipped on earth; within the timeless medium of music he was a god, only lacking the supernatural powers. “And for those you must discard the clothing of the flesh, as fine looking as it is. You must return as you were, as you really are.”
“I knew it,” he whispered to himself. Finally his plague of uncertainty ended. He found what he truly was. “All the pain, all the loneliness here, I knew it couldn’t have been for nothing. I knew there was more. Take me back, Lady. Show me how, I want to go home.”
“Be still. We will return together. We will be in the Otherworld tonight.”
A knock at the door disturbed their moments. Malcolm angrily put on a robe and as he opened the door the offensive odor of stale beer and cigarettes being wafted from the mouth of his drummer. “Malcolm! We got five cases of some Irish stout delivered to me room! C’mon mate, the girls are all over the place!”
Malcolm grabbed the musician by the throat and shoved him back into the collection of drunken women.
“You fucking cunt-” the drummer started as Malcolm slammed the door.
He felt such anger; he felt the fury of a wrathful god. He felt the power surge through him, fighting to be released. “But a mortal form cannot channel that strength,” she said from behind.
Malcolm turned and the Lady held a long ornate dagger, its blade engraved with ancient symbols.
"What..." he began but his words were cut off by the burning pain in his stomach as she shoved the blade in. He grabbed her writst and looked into her eyes, wide and crazed. He tried to pull her hand away but her strength was unnatural.
Finally she pulled it out, the metal dripped with his blood.
Malcolm stumbled to the bed and sat. "It hurts!"
"Change is always painful."
He laid back and looked at the concrete ceiling.
The Lady sat atop Malcolm, straddling him.
"No!" He was afraid.
"Change is always fearsome."
She brought the blade down hard into his throat, he tried to scream but only blood came forth.
“Join us,” the Lady said as she brought the blade, with all her human weight and strength, slamming into his sternum. After several plunges it finally slipped between two ribs and entered the heart.
Malcolm felt the burning cold metal inside and as the blood quickly drained a chilly silence took over. He felt himself quickly growing tired as he watched the darkness encroaching from the edges of his vision until all faded black.
“Welcome home,” the Lady whispered. She let the blade slip into her own neck to drink of her borrowed blood so she may discard the borrowed flesh and follow Malcolm into the Otherworld where they ruled with and as Gods.
And so began the second Great War in the heavens.