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Alice 1: The World Of Shadow

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ALICE 1

The World of Shadow

(Book I of The Alice Trilogy)

Janis Hoffman

Copyright 2015 by Ernest Kinnie

Shakespir Edition

An Over-Sexed Super-Smart Foul-Mouthed Brat

BOOK I

THE WORLD OF SHADOW

CHAPTER 1

My wicked foster mother called me an evil, lying, little tramp and came at me with a very sharp knife. That was a seriously bad mistake. Sweet Uncle Dave was put on trial for murder and I was sent to another foster home. When I testify, Uncle Dave’s lawyer told me to act cute, a little scared, and say how lucky I am to have such a wonderful uncle.

____________________

“Ms. Shannon, may I call you Alice?” He’s not too bright, and talks like a toad.

“Oh yes, please do.” Glance nervously around the room and shake a little. I’m a very, very good actress.

“Thank you, Alice. Would you tell the court where you were on the night your foster mother, Mrs. Delancy, was murdered?”

He made a big booboo there. I burst into hysterical tears, jumped out of the witness box, and ran down the aisle past two cops who crashed into each other trying to catch me. I’m also a very, very fast runner.

After they gave me a delicious chocolate ice cream cone, double dip, I was back on the witness stand. Oh my, all those eyes looking up at me, so full of concern and pity. People are so stupid and gullible, except for a skinny guy with a Santa Claus beard in the back of the room, and a cute little girl with Shirley Temple curls near the front. They know I’m just having a little fun.

“Ms. Shannon, where were you on the evening of October 24th?”

“I don’t know. I guess I was home. I’m always home.”

“Yes but…a…the 24th of October was the evening when the police came. Do you remember that Friday evening?”

“Oh sure, I always watch the Billy Wiggly Show Friday night. He’s so cute.”

Skinny Santa and the pretty little girl were enjoying my show. The nice lawyer was not.

“Right. But…but…Ms. Shannon, on the evening of Friday, October 24th, something very bad happened to your foster mother.”

Oh well, might as well go for variety. I screamed, started to cry, and froze. Skinny Santa, the little kid and I were having such a good time.

____________________

Uncle Dave was acquitted and I never saw him again. He wasn’t my real uncle. I don’t have any aunts or uncles. I don’t have nobody. Oh boo hoo hoo.

Save your sweet pity.

I couldn’t care less.

I never knew my father but he left a pile of money, so I have a dumb, overpaid guardian. He sent me to a shrink but that didn’t work so good. I went hysterical or froze whenever that so tragic evening was mentioned. I tested the bunch of pills on the dog next door, and flushed them down the toilet. Poor Romper staggered around for a week.

The shrink gave up after a couple of months. Then I turned 18, got the 12 million and a cute little cottage by the sea on Big Sur. Robinson Jeffers used to live nearby. I’m not much for school but google a lot. He’s my favorite poet.

Click poems and Tor House,

built from rock he dragged up from the sea.

A month after I moved in, Skinny Santa came for a visit. Didn’t push the buzzer or yell hello, just walked in and plopped down on the ugly, overstuffed chair.

“I’m with a group that also has the Gift. We’d like you to come visit.”

“Well of course I’m terribly flattered, but I’m sure you know a very attractive young lady, with a tiny bit of money, has to be very, very careful. You look kinda old for sex, but money greed lives forever”.

“You have a lot to learn about older men, Alice. No, we aren’t interested in sex or your money. We have plenty of both. We must decide whether to invite you to join us, or kill you. We had quite a fight whether to give you a chance. I fought for you because I like your spirit, intelligence, and sense of humor.”

“What will decide if I live or die?”

“Whether we can trust you to use the Gift responsibly, and keep it a secret.”

“Well now, I have so many gifts. Which one?”

“Your Shadow hands.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“I believe you do.”

Should I throw him out? Nah. The chance to meet other people who know about Shadow hands might not come again.

“I accept your gracious invitation. When and where?”

“This coming Monday evening at seven, 9324 Guinevere Drive just south of Carmel”.

“I’ll be there. Got time for a few questions?”

“No”.

____________________

I was 2 or 2 ½ when I realized I was different, that I had the Gift. I was using my chubby hands to stack my blocks and they were almost right. So I pushed them just right with my magic hands. My mother saw the blocks move all by themselves and made a kinda funny, squeaky noise, and had a scary face. After that I was careful not to get caught.

First grade was when the fun began. Ugly Dorothy spit on me and after that kept spilling stuff all over herself. Like once she was just about to take a sip of orange juice and my magic hands shoved the glass just a little away from her mouth. They stretch a long way. That bright orange juice splashed all over her pretty, green dress. Oh my, how sad.

When I was in the third grade I watched a show on ancient Egypt. Hey! The program was about Shadow hands, just like my magic hands. There’s a whole world right next to this one. The old Egyptians called it the World of Shadow.

THE WORLD OF SHADOW

In high school I learned all about linear time and Euclid’s three dimensions. The teacher thought he had the whole universe figured out. Nope. When he reached for the chalk I moved it a little with my Shadow hands. He hid his surprise best he could, but the third time the chalk moved he freaked. His tiny brain just wasn’t up to the challenge.

A guy hit on me once, put his hand up my dress. That was a seriously bad mistake. My Shadow hands squeezed his balls, just a little. What a pitiful howl he made. Oh my, how sad.

And then there was the marvelous miracle. The nice priest was raising the Eucharist in front of the sheep. Yeah I know, I know, I’m supposed to call them a flock of lambs but they looked like sheep to me. Anyway, he raised the little white wafer high above his head and it slipped out of his fingers and just kept right on going.

Oh my, the herd went crazy. There were gasps and grunts, and shouts and screams. It stayed up there a few seconds, and then I let it drop. The priest must not have been much of a baseball player. He missed the catch.

The next day the talking heads were all over it, throwing around words like mass hysteria and group hypnosis. Nobody suspected it was just a skinny, 15-year year old brat, having a little fun.

Now I’m off to meet some people who also have the Gift. I’ll be nice, learn what I can, and then decide what to do. Who knows, maybe they’ll be the family I lost when I was four and my mother ran sobbing out the door and into in her car. I watched out the window a long time in my first foster home. She never came back.

Never knew my dad but he left a pile of money. Better than nothing.

CHAPTER 2

Skinny Santa wasn’t kidding, they don’t need my money. They live down millionaire row in a mansion by the sea. A frumpy woman came to the door, maybe late 20’s. Thick glasses and buck teeth, if she ever smiled. She wants me dead. I followed her down a long hallway into a room with Skinny Santa, another man, and a woman sitting around a table with a pile of colorful crystals in the center.

“You’ve already met Molly. This is Johnny and Linda. Please call me Greg.”

Johnny has a nice smile. He voted me to live. Linda doesn’t have a nice smile, and for sure voted me to die. Somewhere in her 40’s I suppose. Messy hair, a small scar on her left cheek, and awful lipstick. It’s too bright and doesn’t go with her skin color. So the two guys voted life, and Bucky and Scar Face voted death. Can’t blame them. There is no way they can compete with a cute, sexy, little girl like me.

“Come on over and sit next to me.” I felt the cold eyes of the women as I went by.

“Linda and Molly are afraid you’re an angry, self-centered brat, not capable of caring for anyone but yourself. Someone like that with the Gift is very dangerous.”

Ok, I’ll go with honesty. “They’re right. I had to take care of myself ever since my mother left when I was four, and that was ten lousy foster homes ago. Sure I blew them and they deserved to get blown. Well, not all. A Buddhist couple from Tibet gave me my best foster home, but a bunch of God fearing Christians overflowing with love and kindness killed that one. I could have made it in another, but the handsome guy’s wife didn’t want to share. So here I am, looking at another bunch of strangers. Linda and Molly don’t like me and I don’t much like them. I’ll be friendly as long as you’re friendly.”

That’s pretty good coming from an angry, self-centered brat. The women softened a little.

“A good start,” Santa said, smiling.

Not for Bucky. She went back hard. “Why did you kill your mother?”

“Number one, she was my foster mother not my real mom. Number two, if I did kill her why would I tell you?”

“Because being honest with us is the only way you’ll stay alive.”

I don’t take threats well.

“Ok! Ok! Enough! If you women are going to stay hard against me no matter what I do give me your best shot! Give me your best shot right now! Right now!!”

Linda and Molly stood up, and I got ready to fight for my life. I never had to fight anybody with Shadow hands before so I don’t know how this is going to turn out. But they didn’t attack. They smiled, came over and gave me big hugs. What the Hell?!

“That’s what we like, spirit.”

Molly doesn’t have buck teeth.

“Why the death threat and now a warm welcome?”

“It’s a bonding ritual developed by Johnny, our psychologist,” Skinny Santa said. “The sudden shift from threat of death to warm acceptance is very powerful. You’re now part of our group in a way that would ordinarily take months. Pick up a crystal with a Shadow hand.”

No problem. I picked up a beautiful blue crystal from the middle of the table and lifted it a foot in the air. Wonder if they’ll be impressed? Not bloody likely. A green crystal near Santa lifted in the air and gently tapped mine. It made a tiny, tinkling sound which brought back memories of mommy tucking me into my warm bed. The bells and fairies of fairyland often came to sing me asleep. I was so loved and safe.

Linda, Molly and Johnny also sent crystals to gently tap mine. The shining crystals began to dance back and forth, around and around, kissing mine and ringing the fairy bells. Such powerful surges of love and joy, feelings I haven’t felt in a long, long ago.

Then I saw my mother smiling down at me, and the pain hit hard. They held me a long time, and the pain slowly went away.

“We have a room ready if you’d like to stay tonight. Tomorrow we’re going to Tahoe to get back a little of the loot the casinos take from tourists. Our van has room if you’d like to come.”

“Sure. Thanks Greg.”

I’ve never gambled but roulette is easy. Use a Shadow hand to nudge the white ball onto your color but don’t get greedy. There are sharp eyes in a little room watching the action from cameras in the ceiling. If you get too lucky, or nudge the ball a little too far from where it would normally drop, some very unpleasant people come running. Be cool.

Oh yeah, not to worry. I’m cool.

 

CHAPTER 3

We started climbing into the Sierras just east of Sacramento, past the dusty, digger pines of the hot foothills to the dark-green sugar pine, spruce and cedar of the cool mountains. Then over Donner Pass and down to that long, gorgeous lake. Johnny said Lake Tahoe was formed by an ancient lava flow across the Truckee River.

On the way he explained the most important trick casinos use to take people’s money and bring them back again and again to lose some more. Intermittent reinforcement. There’s a ton of research on the relationship between percentage of random reward and how long rats continue to press a bar, and humans continue to drop their chips in the little circle, and pull the handle of a slot machine.

And casinos create wonderful excitement! The slots blast cheerful sounds and flashing lights when somebody hits something, even a lousy two cherries. The place goes ballistic when somebody hits a jackpot. There are shouts of winners at the crap table. Losers leave quietly. So many winners and the next winner will be you. Don’t miss out! And there are excellent buffets and free drinks to keep people happy, believing they are getting value for their money.

As I walked into Harvey’s the world shifted from reasonably sane to a colorful, noisy madhouse. A swirling kaleidoscope of lights, noise, and people. Energy! Excitement! Drama! I people watch and found paradise.

Click Tahoe casinos, and take a look.

Rows of old ladies at the slots, feeding those one-armed bandits from buckets of coin between their legs. Bet they haven’t had anything else there in a long, long time. Macho guys and gals at the crap tables muscling the dice, and quiet, brainy types at the blackjack tables. Gotta know the odds to play the game. At the roulette tables? Mostly newcomers to gambling, and lazy people who can’t be bothered throwing those heavy dice, or learning the odds.

A loud speaker blasted the wonderful news that Ms. Janis Hoffman, a dedicated, hard working ranger from Glacier National Park, just won $20,000. I suddenly felt very homesick for those wild, rugged mountains in Northern Montana. Don’t know why. Never been there. Hughie and Kanti popped into my head. Wonder who they are.

Johnny warned me to be careful, people catch Gambler’s Fever. They win. They double down and win again. Joy! Life is wonderful! Can’t lose. Then hyperventilate and go crazy

Sooner or later, mostly sooner, they begin to lose. Oh no, gotta get it back! They double down. And lose. They triple down. Lose. Hopelessness! Despair!

Then the long, long drive home, broke. Never going back there again. Nope.

A plain clothes cop with a big nose and fat belly ordered me to hand over my ID. He grinned when I acted scared and confused. Caught an underage kid for sure.

“Why do you want to see my ID? I’m not sure I have it with me.”

“You better have it with you, little girl. You gotta be 21 to be in here and you sure as hell don’t look 21 to me. And don’t you lie!”

Oh how I love playing with big, dumb bullies.

“Please. I don’t know who you are. Why are you bothering me?”

“I’m casino security and you’re in big trouble.”

“Please sir, I don’t want to get in trouble,” and my lower lip began to quiver. Works great.

“Too late for that little girl!” and grabbed for my arm but I jerked away.

“I’m scared you’re going to hurt me.”

“I told you damn it, I’m casino security!”

“Please sir, how do I know?” He reached in his back pocket, flipped open his wallet, and shook a badge in my face.

“But sir, last week a man showed a badge like that to a little girl, and then raped her.” I said that last part kinda loud. People were watching and starting to get angry at this big guy hitting on a sweet, innocent, little girl.

Then he made a fatal mistake. He got mad and grabbed for my arm again, but I pivoted quick and he grabbed my breast instead. I screamed and a couple of big guys jumped him. I faded into the crowd and watched the gotcha moment of a delightful game of Let’s You and Him Fight.

Yeah, I’ve read Eric Berne’s Games People Play. Nobody reads that old book anymore, so people are easy marks. Uproar is the game I played in the courtroom.

Wonderful drama for a while, and then everybody calmed down and the nice casino manager politely asked for my ID. I have a very good ID, made by Patty the Pro. All I had to do was be a little nice to him. He was pretty good so I didn’t mind. I never understood why it’s so bad to trade a little fun for something I want.

Maybe you can explain.

The manager apologized big time, gave a comp to a show, three meal tickets, and a 100-dollar chip. My gratefulness assured him I wasn’t going to sue.

“You just let me know anytime you’re in town and we’ll see what we can do for you. Here’s my card.”

“Thank you, Sir. You are a very nice man,” and gave him a thrill as I brushed past his lips on my way to a tiny kiss on his cheek. Can you believe it, he blushed. You males are so simple.

My new family was not so pleased, but I’m pretty sure Skinny Santa was amused. I understand. We want to fade into the crowd and almost causing a riot is not good. They were ahead about two grand and after lunch we went across the street to Harrah’s to practice some more.

“Just watch and be cool. Ok? Please.”

“Not to worry. I’m cool.”

A guy at the door checked my ID. No problem. The same bright lights, wild noise, and crowds of people.

Went to the cashier, got two rolls of quarters and change for my 100-dollar chip, and began my gambling career. You put a quarter in the little slot. You pull the handle. Three wheels whirl around and around and stop, one after the other. You win or you lose. You put a quarter in the little slot. You pull the handle. Oh my God, such mindlessness. What could go wrong?

A little old lady in tennis shoes was playing the slot next to mine. Nope, I didn’t make that up. She’s wearing ugly, green tennis shoes and they’ve seen plenty of miles. Probably blows her pension check on slots.

I asked if I could watch, “I’m all new to this gambling stuff.” Sure, she’s a little lonely.

I was right. As soon as she gets her monthly check she jumps on Harrah’s free bus from Oakland. Casinos are so kindly, so generous.

Wonder if I can help her out. The third wheel slows down and hesitates just before it comes to a stop. Yeah, I can help. After the second wheel stops I’ll know if there’s a chance for a payoff. Like if the first two are plums, I’ll wait for the third wheel to slow down. If there’s a plum nearby my Shadow hands can speed up or slow down the wheel for a nice payoff.

Worked great and she even got a $200. jackpot, but then I caught gambler’s fever. We were flying high, screeching it up with the best of them, and when I saw a chance for a second jackpot I took it. Unfortunately the third jackpot bar was too far from where it would normally stop, and I had to push too hard. Alarms went off and people came running.

The technician looked very puzzled when he opened the front of the machine, “never saw that before.” The third wheel was smoking. Oh well, she did real good and the third wheel stopped at the jackpot bar so they had to pay her another $200. She was so happy.

My new family was not so happy. They were seriously concerned I didn’t know the definition of the word cool. Ok, ok, I deserve a little sarcasm and vowed to be good. After a while everybody was cool, and we had dinner at a great, little place just west of Sacramento.

 

CHAPTER 4

The next morning Molly, Linda and I went out to the veranda with our tea and coffee, and watched waves crash against the rocks, and seagulls swirl and squawk.

I never had any female friends. The girls in those foster homes were stupid, wacked out and a pain in the ass. And that description fits me pretty good, except for stupid. I have many, many faults, but stupid isn’t one of them. Humility isn’t up there either.

Now maybe I’ll get some girl talk.

Yes, there really is girl talk! Santa’s been kind of weird lately. He’s friendly and helpful but holding something back, like he has a big secret. Johnny’s an open book and usually a nice guy, but a little macho. They were a pain when we were young. Now so easy. Males are not too bright, not even a psychologist like Johnny.

I pointed out Linda’s awful lipstick and Molly laughed. “Yeah I told her, but Linda’s stubborn as hell. Let’s grab her, wipe that crap off, and put on some good stuff.”

We wrestled on the ground, laughing and shrieking like a bunch of school girls. Hot tears splashed down my cheeks. All those years in all those foster homes. Gone!

They’re going shopping tomorrow if I want to come. Going up to Marin where the super rich, super elegant live. The fancy women wear designers a few times and throw ‘em away. All that expensive stuff ends up in a Tiburon or Sausalito second-hand store. Of course they don’t call them second-hand stores up there. They have names like Twice Blessed and Daphnia’s Delight.

____________________

Up early, hit 101, and got to Sausalito mid-morning.

So much fun prancing around, modeling stuff, talking colors, style, prices.

“No! No! No! Makes you look like a pregnant pig.”

“Well sure, go for it if you want to look lumpy and dumpy.”

“Oh yeah, that’s nice. Turn around.”

“How can that cheesy little purse be so expensive?”

We got great stuff and great bargains. Yeah, yeah, I know. I have lots, I mean lots and lots of money. Doesn’t matter. A bargain’s a bargain no matter how rich you are. Anyway, I like playing poor little waif. You learn a lot about people when you look naïve and easily taken.

Kinda weird though. Sometimes I flash to a dirty, smelly little village on a bluff, high above a big city. Up there I really am a poor little waif. The Krazy Kid. It’s so real.

VILLAGE ON THE BLUFF

As we left Dorothy’s Dowry, a middle-aged woman wearing a funny hat waved from across the street, and Molly and Linda waved back. She gives me the creeps, twisted in some really bad way. When we went into Matilda’s Treats I asked who she was, but they don’t want to talk about her in the store.

We were tired and happy with packages under both arms when we went into The Purple Onion for mid-afternoon whatever it’s called.

Linda explained, “Betty Bradenton is the head of a coven here in Sausalito and visits her mother in Carmel every other week. Yeah she’s weird, but sometimes we aren’t too bright and thought it was a good weird. So we spent a week-end with her coven. They’re into the ‘female power’, ‘we can do anything’ trip.

“They were Raising-the-Shield to protect a member from a black magic attack. I decided to help out a little. So at the critical moment when the Cone-of-Power was cast into the little shield on the table, up it went. They just stared, and then Betty shrieked, ‘We have the Power.’ She raised her hand and up it went. She lowered her hand and down it went. That was probably the happiest moment in her life. Given the almighty power of the placebo effect, we figured there wouldn’t be any more black magic attacks.”

Betty came through the door and plopped down at our table. “We figured out we need you two to raise the Cone-of-Power. Who is she?”

“She’s a close friend,” Molly said, not too politely. “We’re just finishing.”

“Stop, just for a second. Please. Don’t you realize how important this is? We’ve found the combination that raises the Cone-of-Power. Are you sure she’s ok? She looks like a little twit.”

“We really have to go.”

God Damn it, don’t you get it?! I’m asking you nicely to come join us. I won’t ask nicely a second time!”

Perhaps you remember I don’t take threats well. Calling me names is also not a good idea.

“Who the hell are you, you ugly bitch. Get your fat ass out of here before I dump a big Cone-of-Shit on your stupid head.” I learned a lot of fun words walking the streets around my foster homes. My guardian didn’t care how bad the neighborhood. He’d probably get a cut of the estate if I died.

Her face turned a glorious purple, and with eyes bulging, tiny breasts quivering, belly bouncing, she made great circles in the air with her hands, and threw whatever she gathered at me. I laughed in her face, which didn’t seem to calm her much. She screeched a few truly vile threats, and left.

Just outside the Purple Onion the Shirley Temple look-a-like from the courtroom, ran up, jumped in my arms, and gave me a big kiss.

“Hello Alice, you’re so pretty. We’re going to have such fun together in Sedaria.” Jumped down and started to run away.

Hey! What’s your name? And where is Sedaria?”

Ashara,” and disappeared around the corner.

Who the hell is Ashara? Linda and Molly never saw her before and never heard of Sedaria.

____________________

Santa looked worried when we told him about Betty Bradenton. “Alice, you must control your temper, you must. We will not harm you, but others will”.

“What others?”

“It’s late and you’ve had a long day. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about a visit from John the Baptist.”

 

CHAPTER 5

The next morning we went out to the veranda with our coffee, tea, scrambled eggs, and waffles smothered with real Vermont maple syrup. The fog had rolled back out to sea and the sun was warm and lovely.

“About a year ago an old man came to the door. He said he was John the Baptist so I figured I had a nut case. But then he touched my shoulder with his Shadow hand and said we need to talk. He’s from the Dancers, who make sure groups like ours don’t go crazy. Few believe Shadow hands exist and the Dancers want to keep it that way. Back in 1857 in Hangtown, a couple of guys were using their Shadow hands to steal gold from the other miners. They got greedy and were warned, but kept on stealing so the Dancers sent in their assassin.

“They are very concerned about Alice Shannon, a young girl they’ve been watching for a long time. She’s self-centered, immature, and uses her Shadow hands to get even with people. But they’re reluctant to get rid of her. She’s highly intelligent with enormous potential. Would our group take her in and see if we can grow her up? I said we’d take a look and let him know.”

“So you were telling the truth the first time. I am being tested to see if I live or die. Are the rest of you in on this little secret? Linda? Molly?”

“No they aren’t, and I’m not sure I made the right decision. I was afraid knowing your life really was in danger would put too much strain on everybody. I care for you Alice, and I’ve been worried how you’d react when you found out the truth.”

“Damn straight you should be worried. Except. Except. If you care, I can take all the lies and games you can throw at me.”

And in the warmth of the sun, the sound of the sea, the fresh ocean breeze, and a few sand fleas, we had a lovely group hug. Yeah, yeah, I know. Too soupy for some of you.

Wanna kiss my pretty kitty?

“We’ve always known we must not be the only ones with the Gift,” Johnny said, “but I don’t like the idea we can be killed anytime the Dancers decide our behavior is unacceptable. Maybe the guy was just spinning a story. It’s pretty far out to think the Dancers were in California during the gold rush and sent an assassin to Hangtown to do in some greedy miners. What do you think?”

”He was very convincing, but that doesn’t mean he was telling the truth.”

“The hell of it is,” Johnny continued, “we have no idea what kind of threat we’re dealing with or how to protect ourselves. If he’s telling the truth, the Dancers know a whole lot more about Shadow hands than we do.”

“He left a phone number to call when we feel Alice is no longer a danger. We can ask a few questions when he comes to check her out.

“I’m ready now. Call him.”

They looked so worried, but didn’t say anything. “Look. Ten foster homes taught me how to survive. Call him!”

They still looked worried. “Ok, ok, you doubt I’m ready but don’t want to say so. It’s my life. I take responsibility. Call him.”

Santa called him. John the Baptist will come this Friday evening, and bring a woman with him.

____________________

Molly and I were in the kitchen getting refreshments ready as the minute hand moved closer and closer to seven. The guys were in the living room going over questions they want to ask.

I’m cool. I’ve faced so many crises in my life I stopped worrying long ago. I will survive or I will die. So be it. Makes me strong. Maybe foolish.

The doorbell rang.

Everything was ready, so we loaded trays and brought them into the living room. The old man introduced himself as James Benson and the woman as Maggie O’Flanigan. He must have just been having a little fun with his John the Baptist routine. He’s old all right. White hair, wrinkled skin, and half-asleep.

Maggie is maybe in her 40’s, red hair, green eyes, and not much bigger than the leprechauns that haunt the Irish countryside. She looked up as I gave her a cup of tea and I suddenly felt very sad. I turned away so nobody would see I was starting to cry, and went into the kitchen.

Damn! Where’s the tough broad who chewed out a high school principal, and shoved a couple of big bastards off the pier, and laughed as they splashed into the cold Pacific? When I dried my eyes and went back, Maggie got up and invited me to walk with her along the shore.

We walked for a while beside the hissing surf, watching seagulls take off ahead of us.

“Is the story about the Dancers sending an assassin to Hangtown true?”

“No.”

“Do the Dancers exist? Are you a member?”

“Yes, they exist. I lead them.”

“I don’t like that. Do I have to bow, say sir, or something?”

“Leadership doesn’t require such nonsense. We are equal in every way except I have more experience. If my experiences are useful to you, learn from them. If they aren’t, don’t.”

“And you kill people who misuse the Gift?”

“Yes.”

I waited, but she didn’t continue.

“Ok then, how come you look like a nice lady instead of the leader of Killers International?”

“For the same reason nice people kill rabid animals.”

“Oh no you don’t, bad analogy! It’s one thing to kill an animal frothing at the mouth and attacking everything in sight. Quite another to kill a guy because he’s greedy.”

“Ah young lady, you are so correct. The analogy is a bit of a stretch.” She was becoming irritated and the nice, nice was slipping away fast. “Ok then, how about this? We have a big edge and not about to let anybody blow it.”

“At least honest, but that makes you just as greedy as the people you kill.”

Yes!” Her face twisted, and her voice grew ugly and hard, “and if we have to kill to protect our edge that is what we will do. And that is what you will do!”

I felt myself grow strong in a very deep, quiet way. “No! I won’t do that. If that’s your test, I failed.”

I closed my eyes, felt my body grow warm, and knew my life was ending. I have no regret for the choice I made, but regret not knowing what might have been.

Nothing happened, and I opened my eyes. Hers were full of tears.

“No Alice, you didn’t fail, you passed. Welcome to the Dancers.”

 

CHAPTER 6

When we got back, everyone was so relieved when they saw Maggie smiling. What a weird bunch of loveable lunatics, but then I remembered those Russian dolls within dolls. I looked around the room at the smiles, the caring, maybe even love, and wondered how long before the next doll pops.

“Are you all Dancers?”

“All Dancers,” Skinny Santa answered.

“Do the Dancers kill people who misuse the Gift?”

“No.”

“Then what do you do?”

“Support. Training. Missions. And lots of fun and games.”

“Missions?”

“Yeah, like finding lost Gold Rush coins for a friend.”

Bullshit! You’re holding something back.”

Skinny Santa laughed. “You’re going to be very valuable. We need a good lie detector. Yes, we sometimes take risks, like once retrieving documents from a Russian courier.”

“That sounds right, and buttering me up will get you nowhere.”

“Sure I was buttering you up. I was also telling the truth.”

“God knows what the truth is in this group. The only way I might find out is to be around you for a while. Am I invited to become a full member of the Dancers, or are you going to play some more games with me?”

“You are invited to be a full member and no more games. And you’re right. The only way you’ll know if we’re telling the truth is to join. Do you accept our invitation?”

“I do.”

“Good! Maggie is holding a class for Molly, Linda and Johnny tomorrow morning at nine on the veranda. You’re free to attend, and the room you’ve been using is yours if you’d like to stay for a while.”

____________________

Another warm, sunny day by the sea. We ate a delicious bacon and cheese omelet breakfast, and went out to the veranda.

“Today we’ll practice temperature control,” Maggie said. “Most people can learn to make their hand warmer or colder, especially if they use biofeedback.” She opened her bag and passed out little black boxes with silver wires ending in gold rings.

“Put the ring on a finger and watch the number on the box.

“Notice the number is going up as the temperature of the ring matches the temperature of your finger.

“Ok. Now just play around changing the temperature of your finger. Just intend the change and it will happen.”

After a remarkably short time, we could all move at least a degree up and down.

“Good. Pair up. Molly, Johnny. Linda, Alice. Take turns increasing and decreasing the temperature of your partner’s finger.”

My Shadow hands hovered over Linda’s finger and sent down waves of heat and then waves of cold. I don’t know how I do that. I intend it to happen and it happens. I have no idea how I raise my hand, but I want it to go up, and up it goes. I have no idea how all those neurons, muscles, and tendons are coordinated.

We all succeeded after an hour or so.

“Good,” and took an ashtray and piece of paper out of her bag. “Now everyone, increase the temperature of the paper.” After a few minutes there was a little puff of smoke. “A bit more concentration.” After another minute or so it burst into flames. I suspect she did most of the work.

“Ah, what a talented group. Here are more ash trays and paper. Go to it.” Heating the paper was so much harder than warming fingers. But by lunch most at least smoked the paper and a couple of us got that marvelous flame burst.

After lunch Maggie brought glasses of water and by the end of the day we could all at least float a few ice crystals.

“Good. Tomorrow we go to Cannery Row and have a little fun.”

____________________

Click Cannery Row.

Maggie picked a pastry shop near the aquarium.

“Linda, see the guy in the blue shirt over there? Heat his fork just enough to get his attention.” The guy looked puzzled, and dropped the fork. After a few seconds the guy carefully picked up his fork, shook his head, and went back to eating.

We spent the next couple of hours practicing. No problem, except Molly upset a lady when she cooled her cup of tea. The lady started screaming and screeching that her tea was cold. Molly quickly got the tea boiling as the waitress and manager came hurrying over. Oh I wish you had seen the expression on the lady’s face when she looked down and saw steam rising from her cup.

____________________

There was cold rain the next morning and we could barely see the hills surrounding the Carmel Valley. We met in the cozy den with a log burning in the fireplace.

“Ok Johnny, take this briefcase and walk past Alice. Alice, there’s an envelope inside. As he goes past zip the envelope from the briefcase into this handbag.”

Piece of cake. At school I zipped lots of goodies out of lunch bags into mine with my Shadow hands. Good thing I have a high metabolism or I’d be big as Dumbo. Did it for their own good too. I only stole from fat boys and girls. Oh Yeah.

They were impressed, and by the end of the day Molly was almost as good as me.

Surprise! Skinny Santa came by and told us to pack for 2 or 3 days. We’re going treasure hunting in Colorado.

 

CHAPTER 7

We flew San Francisco to Denver to Leadville and arrived mid-morning. Rented a van, bought a shovel and crowbar, and spent the rest of the day walking around the old mining town.

I toured the fancy Victorian where Baby Doe lived with her husband Horace Tabor, the Silver King. When the price of silver crashed he lost all his money, his fancy mansion in Denver, the Victorian in Leadville, and died. She spent the rest of her days living in a shack out at Tabor’s old silver mine. He swore one day the Matchless Mine would see riches once again. It didn’t.

Ashara, long curls flying, came running around a corner, gave me a kiss, slapped an envelope in my hand, and ran away. How did she get from Sausalito to Leadville, and why me? Inside was an old photograph of Baby Doe in rags, standing by the shack at the Matchless Mine. She had been so rich, so beautiful.

BABY DOE TABOR

And as I looked at that sad photograph, I flashed to an old Indian woman. I don’t know where the flashes come from or why.

KANTI

Kanti is sitting by a worn out canvas tent making a pair of snowshoes. She was the ghost singer for the Blackfoot before the tribe was herded onto the Reservation. Sometimes she hums a love song and remembers the days of long ago, camped along the Swiftcurrent with Khoo-ii.

She was posing for a white man. He didn’t promise to pay much, and didn’t even give her that. Just laughed, got on his horse, and started to ride away. She sang the Song of the Sta’au, and the horse stumbled. The lying bastard fell and broke his neck.

____________________

That evening we headed West over Tennessee Pass, down the winding road to a long, narrow valley. Half-way down the valley there were a couple of old, broken down cabins on the South side of the road. We drove behind one and cut the lights.

“Ok, we’re looking for a metal box, around 4 by 12 by 12. It’s probably hidden inside the walls or under the floorboards in one of the cabins. Alice, Johnny and I will search this cabin. Maggie, Molly and Linda go do the other.”

Half the roof was gone so light from the moon was good enough. We went around the walls of the room then back and forth across the floor. Ah, something under the floor boards. Nah, just a bunch of nails. Heard a car and froze. The highway patrol didn’t even slow down.

Maggie came over from the other cabin. They think they found it. Used the crowbar on a floorboard, and there it was. No lock but the lid was rusted so Santa had to pull hard to open it, and a few sheets of paper scattered on the floor. They were filled with names and addresses.

“Yeah, this is it. Put the floorboard back and let’s get out of here.” Well in the movies this is when bad guys show up with grins and guns. Nope.

Santa answered a few questions on the way back to Carmel. Camp Hale was in the long valley back in the 50’s, home to the 10th Mountain Division. They trained Special Forces and airborne troops in mountain and cold weather warfare. The two cabins were a nice perk for Army generals who wanted a few days relief from the heavy grind of leadership. They landed on the camp airstrip and were taken over to the cabins across the road, nicely isolated from the rest of the camp.

The cabins were of course generously stocked with food, hunting and fishing equipment, and lots of booze. There were rumors pretty girls were available on request. General Reed hid the box in the cabin right before the camp closed and the 10th moved to Fort Drum.

Santa did not tell us what was so valuable about the names and addresses, and was gone a couple of days.

____________________

Santa and I had a little talk when he came back. I love him to death but don’t fly blind like this. I need to know more about what I’m getting suckered into. He agreed and we all met for lunch on the veranda.

“A couple of weeks ago the Pentagon learned General Reed, back in the late 50’s, had the names and addresses of our spies in Czechoslovakia and East Germany and was planning to sell them to the Soviets. He died before he could do that. The lists could still cause trouble because old spies can be blackmailed, prosecuted, and they and their families killed for revenge.

“So when the Army heard about the lists they went to visit a couple of General Reed’s daughters. One of them remembered that just before he died, he went to Camp Hale with a bunch of papers in a metal box. The army sent out a search team but found nothing. They called us because we have an excellent reputation for finding things.

“And you need to know about the Vigilantes. As you can guess from the name, they use the Gift to right the wrongs of the world. They work out of a small village on the southern edge of Glacier National Park just outside the Blackfoot Indian Reservation, so we call them the Glacier Gang. Sometimes we don’t get along too well because we consider them wild-west gunslingers and they consider us fat, lazy drones wasting our gift on trifles. We try to keep on decent terms because we don’t want to find out what a war between us would be like. Good enough, Alice?”

“Yeah, at least for now. Thanks.”

“And I have an announcement. The Glacier Gang has asked for help on a mission. They’ve never done that before. Alice, would you come with me to Glacier? You’ll be my lie detector.”

“Sure, as long as I get a tour. I’ve heard Glacier National Park is incredibly beautiful and wanted to go for a long time.”

“Good. Pack for 3 or 4 days. We leave tomorrow, six in the morning.”

“Any other questions? Johnny?”

“Do people we work for know about Shadow hands?”

“No. They just consider us very competent, except for Karla. He’s an old friend and works out of UC Berkeley. I’m pretty sure Karla is CIA.”

 

CHAPTER 8

Skinny Santa and I flew from San Francisco to Denver to Great Falls. Arrived mid-afternoon, rented a car, and drove to East Glacier.

The Glacier Gang live in what used to be an old hunting camp, with ten or so cottages surrounding a large, main lodge. All natural wood, with weathered brown and grey cedar shingles on the roof and sides.

David, a handsome young man, opened the door and led down a corridor to a large room with a high ceiling and big stone fireplace. Brightly colored blankets here and there, pictures of the old west on the wall, and sculptures of cowboys and Indians scattered around. David said they’re all Russell and Remington originals, and the blankets are Navajo. Whatever else these weird people are, they are not poor.

Ruth and Betty were so open with their emotions and gave me big hugs. Doris is maybe in her early 50’s and appears to be the leader. Her hug was warm enough, but was obviously checking me out. The two guys shook hands, no hugs. Ralph’s maybe in his 60’s, a bit stand-offish, suspicious even. Probably their lie detector. I liked David as soon as I looked into his eyes when he opened the door. It’s been a while, and I’m not much for solo.

“Where’s Stephen?” Santa asked.

“He died a month ago,” Doris answered. “We buried him down by the creek, beneath the giant Ponderosa he loved. We miss him.

“Thank you for coming. You’ve been invited for two reasons. One, to help out on a little mission. More importantly, I want our two groups to get to know each other better. There have been problems between us over the years, maybe even bad feelings. I regret that.”

“I regret that as well, Doris. You and I have always gotten along and from the bottom of my heart I hope that continues. There are so few of us. What a shame we can’t be friends, visit sometimes, and support each other.” Everybody nodded.

“Ok, here’s the deal. There’s a bunch of cyber-thieves in Cut Bank preying on the elderly. My mother was one of their victims. You and I are very good fire starters and around nine tomorrow evening we’re going to fry their computers. Their offices are on the ground floor of a two-story, commercial building on the edge of town. No night watchman, and cops go home early in Cut Bank. Alice and David will be lookouts.”

“I’m in. How about it, Alice?”

“Sure, as long as I get to see Glacier.”

“That will be no problem,” Doris said. “David knows the park very well, and I’m sure will want to share his love with you. Ok, we leave for Cut Bank tomorrow evening around six. This evening we have reservations for dinner at the East Glacier Lodge. Hungry?”

I think I get the big view. Doris figures getting David and me involved is a good way to get a friendship going between our groups. Good thinking. He doesn’t look all that experienced so I’ll play innocent. Then shock the hell out of him.

Well no. Hell isn’t really what I have in mind.

On the way to the lodge David gave the history. It’s one of the large, magnificent hotels railroads build in National Parks throughout the West at the beginning of the 20th century to encourage people to ride the rails. In Glacier one is at Lake McDonald, one here at East Glacier, and the grandest of them all at Many Glacier. They’re Swiss Style, built by the Great Northern around 1913.

Well, this one is grand enough for me. A flower lined promenade starts at the railway station and ends at a large 4-story, u-shaped building, framed by high mountains. The inside is as rustic and beautiful as the outside, and I can see why the Blackfoot call it the Big Tree Lodge.

Click East Glacier Lodge, and take a look.

 

CHAPTER 9

The next morning I got up early and walked over to the kitchen. Brrr! Northern Montana in August is colder than Hell. Odd phrase. Might put the fear of damnation into a few Eskimos.

I hope Ruth and Betty are there so I can get a little girl talk. Nope, but Ralph is sitting at a table by the window. I’ll do my innocent, dumb dance. He watched as I walked over and got my coffee. His eyes are kind of weird. Not crazy weird, more like he’s having a deep conversation with himself.

He looked me over though, so he’s still alive. No leer or anything, just what guys do. The poor dears can’t help it, they’re hardwired. Some women say they hate being looked at. Oh yeah, sure! And of course they never look at guys.

Bunch of uptight, prissy hypocrites!

“Good morning Ralph, do you mind if I join you? Where are Ruth and Betty?”

“They should be along soon, they sleep in sometimes.” He took a sip of coffee and leaned over.

“How do you feel about tonight?”

“Should be easy. You must go on a lot of missions.”

“Yeah, I used to. Not anymore.”

“Why not?”

He paused a moment. “I’m beginning to wonder if we did more harm than good.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Do you know about unintended consequences?”

“No. What are they?”

“Why are you lying?”

“Because I don’t know you, and I’ve found it’s best to play dumb female at first. It works great most of the time, but not with handsome, super-sensitive guys like you.” He laughed.

“Ok, let’s reboot as they say in the computer trade. Just before you came I was sitting here drinking my coffee, and wondering if even the missions we thought turned out well may have had bad unintended consequences. We were so full of ourselves, so self-righteousness.”

Is this going to be a philosophical dissertation or an appeal for forgiveness? I’m not much for either. Thank God Ruth and Betty came in, but then felt bad when Ralph got up and left. Like I had let him down.

The two women were friendly and I got the skinny. Ralph has been weird since Stephen died. They were very, very close. I guess my ego got in the way when I thought he was looking me over, or maybe he swings both ways. Ruth and Betty sleep with each other, and David visits sometimes. Doris doesn’t seem to need that sort of thing.

They won’t be jealous if David and I get it on. He makes it sometimes with the girls over at the Lodge. The headquarters of The Great Northern Railway is in St. Paul, right next to the University of Minnesota. The Great Northern still owns the lodge and hires kids from the University to work summers.

____________________

We got to Cut Bank around nine in the evening and parked a couple of blocks from the Commercial building.

“When no one’s watching, go into the woods over there and circle to the back of the building.”

There are a lot of bushes to hide behind, and Greg and Doris came a few minutes later. They put on gloves, zipped the lock, and went in.

Oh No! A car came around the corner and parked. Should we warn them? David motioned to keep quiet and my head down. The guy got out of the car and walked toward the building. About ten feet from the door he fell unconscious to the ground.

“Great god, how did you do that?” We carried him behind some bushes.

“He’ll be out for around half an hour.”

When we all got back to the car we saw smoke coming out of a window. Opps, a little too much heat. Doris called the local fire department on her cell phone, and few minutes later two fire trucks arrived. A fireman smashed the glass in the front door and 5 or 6 ran in. I guess the sirens woke the guy in the back because soon after the fire trucks arrived he came around the corner waving his arms in the air.

The next morning we went to the website of The Pioneer Press.

FIRE IN LOCAL BUSINESS

Last night around 9:35 The Financial Planner, a local business at 2243 Main Drive, sustained a loss of all of their computers. A short in one of the computers caused a minor fire that was quickly put out by the Cut Bank Fire Department. Ms. Collins, owner of The Financial Planner, was unavailable for comment.

CHAPTER 10

A quick breakfast, and off to Glacier with David. We stopped at the little store at Two Medicine and got a Glacier Park specialty, soft huckleberry ice cream.

Click Two Medicine Lake.

Then started on the trail around the Lake. Held hands the first quarter mile, arms around each other the second, behind some rocks the third. Yes, I shocked him, and very happy to report that Hell is not what came out.

And if I shocked you, please accept my sincerest apology.

You are so wonderfully sensitive and refined.

Go watch a nice comedy on TV.

Every summer in the old days, Blackfoot shaman came from the high plains to practice two kinds of medicine. David took me over to where their teepees stood beside the lake.

TWO MEDICINE LAKE

“Imagine a radio dial but instead of tuning in stations go back in time.”

I closed my eyes and moved the dial. Easy. I watched guys build the store, and then a crew build the road. A few more twists of the dial and I saw a one-eyed Indian and a white guy on horses, looking out over the lake. The Indian has long, black hair tied in a big bun on top of his head. The white guy has reddish-brown hair, blue eyes and is clean shaven. I thought all those old mountain men had beards. Wonder why he looks so familiar.

I moved the dial again and saw three Indians sitting around a small fire, eyes closed, humming and swaying. One was the one-eyed Indian with the white guy. He suddenly opened his eye and saw me.

Get the hell out of here!”

Of course I didn’t understand the words but the message was clear, and I dialed back to the present. I got a wonderful imagination.

David and I sat for a while by the side of the lake, listening to water lap rock and watching birds skim for bugs. He pointed to a large mountain on the north shore.

RISING WOLF

“That mountain is called Rising Wolf, Hugh Monroe’s Indian name, a white guy who lived among the Blackfoot around 1845. He liked to be called Hughie. When he died his friends buried him on the mountain, nobody knows where.”

“Ok, that’s Interesting, and now something even more interesting. How did you put that guy to sleep?”

“I was wondering when you were going to ask. Do you know any neuroanatomy, like what the brain stem does?”

“No”

“Ok. At the top of the spinal cord is a bulb like structure called the brain stem. It has three parts, and one of them puts you to sleep. Just follow the spine to the bulb at the top with your Shadow hands, and give it a tiny squeeze.”

“What happens if you give it a big squeeze?”

“Not so good. I once squeezed a mountain jay hard to see what would happen, and the poor bird dropped dead. That hurt. The mountain jay is my totem bird. There is a wide safety zone though and I’ve never killed anything else. It’s sort of true the harder you squeeze the longer they sleep, but that varies a lot from animal to animal. Not so much for humans.”

“Sounds dangerous. Not sure I want to do that.”

“The Squeeze can be very handy.”

“Good point. Ok, let me try.”

“See the squirrel over there? Go to the top of the spine with your Shadow hands, feel the bulb, and give it a squeeze.”

Nothing.

“A little harder.”

The poor thing keeled over. God, what a power surge, and that scares the hell out of me. Power corrupts, somebody said.

“I don’t want to, David. It’s too dangerous.”

“Nah. Just don’t squeeze hard and you’ll be fine.”

“I don’t mean that, I mean the power. I’m afraid it will twist me into a monster.”

“Yeah, I remember the warning from Lord Acton, ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.’ Notice he said ‘tends to corrupt’. Not letting power corrupt is one of the challenges of your life. You can’t run away.”

“Kind of preachy David, but good advice. Ok, make me a promise. If you see monster horns start to grow on top of my head, splash a big glass of ice water across my face.”

“Agreed, if you do the same for me.”

“Agreed.”

So I accept the burden and glory of power. He’s right, I have no choice.

We ate a sack lunch by the lake, and then got a couple more delicious, double dip huckleberry ice cream cones. Spent the rest of the day walking around, enjoying each other and the wonderful mountains and lake. Even saw a wolverine.

I gently put little animals to sleep, and they were usually up and around in a few seconds.

Late in the afternoon we got our third huckleberry ice cream cone. They are really good. That one-eyed shaman followed me around all day, glaring and shaking his silly rattle. I finally had it and told him to stuff that rattle down his fucking throat. He raised it high in the air and I raised high my double dip, huckleberry ice cream cone. He grinned, turned coyote, and ran into the woods.

Tomorrow we go to Many Glacier, the most beautiful and magical part of the Park. And David promised to teach me more about the Squeeze, something the group has been working on.

 

CHAPTER 11

Well no. So much for Many Glacier. Linda is at San Francisco General. She was mugged and the bastard broke her arm. Quick drive to Great Falls, shuttle to Denver, red eye to San Francisco. On the way I told Greg about the Squeeze and he thought it would be good to teach it to the group. I could tell he already knew about it. Why has he kept it a secret?

Linda’s ready to come home so we hit the interstate. I’ve never seen her so mad. If she knew the Squeeze, that guy would be on a cold slab. And what would I have done? Squeezed the hell out of his brain stem, kicked him in the balls on the way down, and spit in his face when he hit the ground.

The next morning I taught everybody the Squeeze. We went from birds to cats and dogs. Once a curious deer came out of the woods and Linda squeezed a little too hard. He lay there for quite a while, but eventually got up, looked dazed, and jumped back into the woods. Linda was the best student and accidently killed a couple of seagulls. I figure she plans to go back to San Francisco to get that bastard.

Johnny is a fisherman as well as a clammer and loves to fish off our pier for rock cod. He saw a fat one near shore, did the Squeeze, and that poor fish turned belly up and floated to the top. He jumped up and down, yelling and screaming, pointing to that poor dead fish. Is that legal in California?

Tomorrow we practice on each other.

____________________

By the end of the next day we mastered the Squeeze, and God help the next mugger.

I was right, Linda’s going back to get that bastard! Skinny Santa said no way and we had a very big fight. Molly and I sided with Linda. Johnny and Maggie with Skinny Santa. Old man Benson but didn’t say anything.

“Ok, ok, so you’re going,” Skinny Santa said. “What are you going to do if you find him, which is not very likely?”

“I’m going to squeeze the hell out of his balls, like Alice did to a guy. I want that prick to hurt, like he hurt me. Maybe he’ll learn what it’s like to hurt people.”

“I understand revenge, not so sure about the lesson. What are you going to do if he attacks?”

“I’ll put him to sleep and hope he has a real bad headache when he wakes up.”

“Won’t that blow our cover?”

“Who’d believe him, and he’d never tell anybody he was put down by a woman.”

I asked if she would like me to come along and she gave a big hug. “We leave in the morning.”

That really got everybody going. Greg went on and on for some time about my reservoir of anger, my lack of experience, immaturity, impulsiveness, misuse of the Gift, etc, etc. He honey coated the sermon with my great progress, how much they all care for me, concern for my safety, etc, etc.

Santa’s a nice guy and I love him, but I don’t do well with heavy parent.

____________________

We got to San Francisco mid-morning. Bad neighborhood. What was Linda doing here? Guys whistled and a few cars stopped and asked our price, but no mugger until the afternoon.

“There, just inside that alley, the man in the brown shirt with that other guy.” We acted as if we didn’t see them as we walked by.

“Hey Jimmie, look at that sweet pussy. Hey ladies, lookin’ for some wild stuff?”

“I know the old bitch. I took her money and gave her a lesson not to give me a hard time.” They pushed us into the alley and pulled knives.

“This is your lucky day, ladies. You’re going to find out how a real man fucks a woman, and don’t you try to fight me again or I’ll cut you good.” And herded us to the back of the alley.

“Now we’re real gentlemen. You want it on the ground or against the wall?”

“And we’re real ladies,” I said. “So we’re gonna give you sorry pricks one chance to get the hell out of here before we beat the shit out of you!”

Oh my, how they did laugh. Probably the funniest thing they ever heard, and maybe the last. I don’t do well laughed at, so I did my thing. They doubled over and hit the ground. Linda’s guy got up wild eyed, spraying spit. We squeezed and he hit the ground hard.

His friend turned into a wittle, waby wabbit, and hopped back down the wabbit twail as fast as he could hop.

“Think we killed him?” Linda asked.

“Yes.”

Why aren’t I even a little upset, remorseful? I just killed a guy and all I felt was that oh so satisfying, so dangerous surge of power. Are the monster horns growing so soon?

The next morning there was a report was on the bottom of page one of the Chronicle.

A STRANGE DEATH

An unidentified man was found dead in the Mission District yesterday around 7 PM. Two knives were found nearby, but there are no knife wounds on the body. Police report no obvious cause of death.

____________________

Skinny Santa got us all together that afternoon for more preaching. Nope, not Santa. Old man Benson.

“Let me give you a little history. As some of you know, Stephen was the leader of the Vigilantes for many years and died recently. We call them the Glacier Gang. He and I formed the Vigilantes and everything went well for a few years. We discovered the Squeeze and used it to right the wrongs of the world, to spread Freedom, Justice, Truth. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. It all fell apart for me one day when we made a mistake, and killed two innocent people.

“The lesson Stephen learned was to be more careful. I spent a month revisiting the places that had been blessed with our good deeds and found we had not looked carefully enough at the possible consequences of our actions. I came to the very painful conclusion our fight for Freedom, Justice and Truth may well have caused more harm than the wrongs we righted. Stephen did not agree and we parted.

“I know the surge of power you feel, the glorious crusade to punish the wicked and reward the good. Please, please, don’t fall into that so seductive, so self-righteous trap. Continue to go on missions and have fun but don’t start a Freedom, Truth and Justice crusade. Humans don’t have the capacity to know enough of the consequences of their actions.”

“Ok then, what should I have done?” Linda asked. “Just let that bastard go on mugging and raping? Have we no responsibility to rid the world of scum like him?”

“I have no problem with what you did, but things are rarely that clear. You have to take other people’s word for things. You have to consider motives, reputation for telling the truth, conflicting information, your own motives and prejudices, and on and on. The farther you move from a firsthand experience like yours, the more likely you are to make a serious mistake. Yes, Alice?”

“Have groups like ours ever been at war with one another? And if one of us went crazy, is there a defense against the Squeeze?”

“Good questions. Stephen and I formed the Vigilantes to protect him from a group called the Libertines, who believe all authority corrupt and freedom the only virtue. Stephen got in their face and they almost killed him. Unfortunately we never found a counter to the Squeeze except to squeeze first or physically attack.”

“The Glacier Gang is working on a counter,” Greg said, “and may be close to finding one. Alice, would you be interested in helping them out?”

“Sure, and I’ll finally get to Many Glacier.”

“Good. To get back to the reason for the meeting, we aren’t going to become vigilantes. If you want that kind of life I’ll put in a good word with the Glacier Gang but you may be out of luck because they’ve changed since Stephen died. Anything else?

“Ok. I just got a message from Karla, my friend in Berkeley. He has a mission for us and has sent a courier with the details. He wants us to check out an ancient Zapotec ruin on a plateau above Oaxaca.”

If you’re wondering, Oaxaca is pronounced wah-HAH-ka. I’d like to go to Mexico, never been there, but won’t mind seeing David again. Hope they have lots of big boulders at Many Glacier.

CHAPTER 12

That night just before I went to sleep, I got another flash to that old, smelly village.

[_ A very dirty eight- or nine-year old girl was rolling a drunk lying in the mud. People in the village call her the Krazy Kid. The drunk woke up and chased her down the dark, winding street, bellowing anger at the top of his lungs. No problem, she’s a very fast runner. He tripped over a cobblestone, hit his head, and was out cold. The little girl giggled and laughed as she finished going through his pockets, but couldn’t get the nice ring off his fat finger. _]

The guy was up from the city for cheap wine and easy women. She’d never roll a local, just outsiders.

____________________

David picked me up at the Great Falls airport. Am I falling in love with him? God, I hope not. When you are in and out of a bunch of foster homes, you learn not to get too close. Being dumped back to Social Services by someone you loved and thought loved you hurts…a lot. I’m close to Skinny Santa and the others, but that’s different. They’re family.

But here I am, looking at him, loving him. Nah, not love! Just my hormones kicking up a ruckus. But maybe the rules changed and I don’t need to be so scared. Nah! Stick with wild sex. Leave love to giggly, pimply school girls.

Everyone was so glad to see me. Ruth and Betty were jumping up and down, Doris had a big smile, and even old Ralph gave me a hug. The mountains are so lovely and I feel such a yearning to be among them. I must have been a trapper, exploring the wild rivers and mountains of the old west. Those were the glory days.

Gone! All gone.

We’ll work on the Squeeze when we get back from dinner at the East Glacier Lodge.

____________________

“Ok Alice,” Doris said. “Squeeze David’s brain stem just a little, just enough to put him to sleep briefly.”

I squeezed and he fell asleep for a few seconds.

“Ok, try again.”

Nothing! Wide awake.

“A little more.”

Still nothing.

“Wow, it feels like squeezing something covering the brain stem. You’ve solved the problem. Great!”

“Not quite. We don’t know how strong the defense is and aren’t about to find out the hard way.”

“How did you do it, David?”

“Cradle your brain stem with one or both Shadow hands. People squeeze your Shadow hands, not the brain stem.”

“What if two people attack at the same time?”

“We don’t know and afraid to try,” Doris said, “and there’s an even bigger problem. Your whole body is vulnerable. If you guard your brain stem, all somebody has to do is squeeze some other vital organ. Stopping your heart will kill you almost as fast”.

“Well, can we make giant Shadow hands and cradle the whole body?”

“Nope. The defense is too thin and people squeeze through.”

Ralph had an idea. “There seems to be about a two-second delay between the first awareness of an attack and when it arrives full force. We need an alarm that triggers immediate awareness and a counter. Ok, enough for now. Let’s figure out how to set up an alarm and meet tomorrow morning.”

That evening David and I didn’t have to hide behind a rock, he has his own cute little cabin. We melded together on the soft blankets, in the warm flickering light of the fireplace. The fairy bells were ringing and the blue and green fairies flashing around our shining bodies, as the ancient dance of soft hardness, sliding into slippery softness, created the holiness, of love and joy.

Sometimes gentle.

Sometimes wild.

Just sex of course. No love. Nope. None. Nada. Just the glorious rush of hormones and pheromones. Two wild animals in heat.

Eat your heart out you romantic, fantasy loving, sentimental fools.

____________________

The next morning Ralph had the answer, associative conditioning. We’ll associate a word or sound to the first tiny feeling of being attacked. ZAP was the trigger I chose. ZAP will pop and I’ll quickly put my Shadow hands around what is being attacked.

It took two days of practice before the sequence became automatic for everyone. Now the whole sequence from ZAP to defense takes about a second, well within the time needed. We’ll have to reinforce the association now and then to keep it strong.

Maybe I’ll go back to school and learn more about intermittent reinforcement and associative conditioning. It would be so much fun taking advantage of all those big, strong, horny guys with my naïve, little girl act. Yes, I love playing predatory female. About time we got ours.

But that’s all in the future. Tomorrow morning, real early, David and I are off to Many Glacier.

 

CHAPTER 13

Well no, the call from Oaxaca came late at night. Linda is missing. David insisted on coming along, and early next morning we drove to Great Falls and got the first flight to Denver, Dallas, Mexico City, Oaxaca. Greg and Johnny met us at the airport and a taxi took us to a little hotel just off the Zocalo, Oaxaca’s main square.

Click Zocalo and take a look.

“Karla asked us to come as a favor to the Mexican government. Many Monte Alban artifacts have recently appeared on the black market, so grave robbers must have discovered something new. Karla thought of our group because there have been three strange deaths recently inside one of the temples. No apparent cause, so he suspects the Squeeze.

“Last evening after the tourists left, two Federales and a guide took us into the temple where the three people died. We went down narrow stairs to a maze of cold, dark corridors and rooms. And Linda disappeared. She was there, and then she was gone. The guide and Federales became very nervous and wanted to leave. My Spanish is not so good, but I figured out they were arguing whether it was a brujo or an evil curandera.

“We searched and searched. Nothing! When we got back to the Zocalo I called Karla and asked him to find someone who knew of secret rooms or passages in the temple. He called back a couple of hours later and said an old man will meet us early tomorrow morning at the entrance to Monte Alban. David, did your group find a defense against the Squeeze? We may need it.”

“We’re pretty sure we have a good defense but it’s not fully tested, and I don’t think we can teach it quick enough.”

“Try.”

We tried, but it won’t be enough.

Molly, Maggie, and Johnny protested but Greg was firm. Just he, David, and I will go.

____________________

We got up early and took a taxi. Waiting at the entrance were two Federales, a guide, and a bent over, arthritic old man with a lizard-headed walking stick. Not the same Federales and guide. They refused to come back.

The main section of Monte Alban has a simple layout, reminds me of a football field. There are large temples at each end and smaller temples along the sides.

Click Monte Alban

The guide pointed out the sights along the way, like the statues of dancers. I looked at those twisted forms and knew he was either ignorant or lying. Those are tortured prisoners, not dancers. How do I know? I have no idea.

I did a quick radio dial and saw a lovely, colorful festival down on the field. People were dancing and singing to the sound of drums and very long pan pipes. But then I made the mistake of dialing a little further back in time. Mass cruelty that made me wish I hadn’t eaten breakfast.

We walked down to the field and over to a small temple at one end. The guide unlocked the door with a large iron key and we went down narrow stairs to the corridors and rooms where Linda disappeared. The old man led to a small room at the end of a corridor, went to one of the walls, and pushed against a stone.

I dialed again and a procession came into the room. Silent, somber men completely naked wearing animal masks. They went to the wall opposite the old man, pressed a 5-sided stone, and pushed. As the wall they were pushing moved in, the wall on the other side of a pivot moved out into the room, like a revolving door.

The old man was having a hard time finding the right stone, but eventually did. There was a small room behind the wall with a couple of skulls and a tiny altar. He shrugged and the Federales pushed back the wall that had pivoted into the room.

They started to leave but I held up my hand and went to the opposite wall. As I started to push the 5-sided stone the old man went berserk, screaming and clawing at me. The Federales grabbed him but he kept screaming. Greg and David pushed, and the wall swung in.

There was another stairway going deeper into the rock. Something smelled bad, overly sweet. At the bottom was a corridor with rooms on both sides full of pottery, statues, masks and glints of gold. There was a faint light ahead and when we went around a corner saw it was coming from behind a large wooden door.

There were three smiling men behind the door. Linda lay off to the side and then I knew what the sweet smell was. The two Federales went down. I squeezed the brain stem of the guy nearest me and he went down, as did the guy near David. I put the Squeeze on the last one and he dropped.

But so did Skinny Santa.

I didn’t cry, I just stared at him, lying face down on the cold stone floor. David turned him over and tried heart pump and mouth to mouth.

____________________

Back at the hotel we just sat, saying nothing. There was a knock and David and I went to opposite sides of the door. Maggie asked who it was.

“Greg’s friend, who invited you to Oaxaca.”

Karla looks like Jimmie Stewart, easy going and friendly, but cold steel just beneath the warm fuzzy. That must be the description of a master spy.

“Greg and I have been good friends for many years and I will miss him. The Mexican government is very pleased the grave robbers will rob no more, and that a major section of Monte Alban has been discovered. Please take this package home as a gift from the US and Mexican governments. It has a State Department seal and will go through customs unexamined. With your permission I will have the two bodies flown back to Carmel.

“Is there anything I can do for you now? Here is my Berkeley phone number. You may have made serious enemies, and I can be of help if you find more trouble than you can handle.”

And that is how my childhood ended.

 

CHAPTER 14

After we buried Linda and Skinny Santa beneath a cypress by the sea, I spent a couple of days sitting on a rock, watching waves churn sand. What’s the point? Yes, that is the question, what is the point? Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ve heard all those wonderful, wondrous stories about the meaning of life. Fairy tales for the stupid and gullible.

Hunger, sex, pleasure, pain—-that‘s the meaning of life, and old great-granddaddy Darwin showed how it all works. God bless his honest soul. All the rest is honey-coated elephant shit, piled higher than your eyeballs.

Bottom line? I need food, shelter, and guys. What could be simpler than that? And it would be best not to get in my way.

The missions are pointless. What the hell do I care if a bunch of grave robbers cop a few? If they have the guts and competence to pull it off, my hat goes off to them. The Mexican government just got pissed because they didn’t get there first. And what did our government do with that list of spies we found under the floorboard at Camp Hale? Probably blackmailed the poor bastards themselves.

We gave the $100,000. in Karla’s package to Doctors Without Borders.

I’m going back to school and learn more about intermittent reinforcement and associative conditioning. How about Berkeley? It’s Karla’s home base and the University of California is where the smart, beautiful people go. I’ll major in psychology, with a minor in philosophy. Yes, I’m an over-sexed, foul-mouthed brat. And a deep, deep thinker. With no humility.

One tiny problem. I didn’t really apply myself all that well in high school. Actually, I skipped most of the time. My school records would not put me high on the list of applicants. So, I’ll have to lie, steal, sleep around, bribe, whatever. It’s the end of October so I have two months before the start of spring semester.

Piece of cake.

____________________

I stayed in Carmel long enough to make sure Molly, Maggie and Johnny can protect themselves against the Squeeze, and off to Berkeley.

I’m playing poor little waif so I took the Greyhound from Carmel to San Francisco to Berkeley and got off seven in the morning at San Pablo and University. Quite a hike up University Avenue but it was nice weather and I figured somebody would come along and ask if I wanted a ride. I look pretty needy in my semi-shabby clothes and heavy suitcase. My modestly tight sweater won’t hurt if it’s a guy.

I’m so excited. A wonderful new world of knowledge, wisdom, and hundreds of healthy, horny males.

After only a couple of blocks an old guy in a black Mercedes stopped and offered a ride. I was shy and reluctant, and let him assure me he’s ok. Put my suitcase on the back seat, and hopped in.

“Where you going?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been here before. Berkeley is so big.”

“Where you from?”

“Three Rivers, a little place up from Visalia.”

“Oh I know where that is, I go through there sometimes. It’s just outside Sequoia National Park. You have a place to stay?”

“Well no, I just want so bad to go to school here. I just got on the bus and came. I’m sure I can find something.”

And now the interesting part. Is he going to take advantage or be helpful? He looked over and it’s a fatherly look.

“It might not be so easy mid-semester.”

“Oh? You think I might have a hard time?”

“Well there’s Arlene’s, not too far from campus. It’s pretty cheap and she sometimes has a room, but I have to tell you it’s because her place isn’t all that nice. People move out when they find something better.”

“Are you going nearby?”

“Sure.”

Nice guy. I thanked him and zipped a $500 bill into his glove compartment. Wish I could watch his reaction when he finds it.

Bet you didn’t know whose ugly face is on the front.

WILLIAM MCKINLEY

Yep, Arlene’s is a dump. I pushed the buzzer and a 40-something, mildly unattractive, over-worked woman with a sour puss opened the door.

“Yeah?”

“I was wondering, I was wondering if you had a room for rent.”

She looked me over and decided I wasn’t going to be much of a cash cow.

“I have a room, but it’s pretty expensive.”

“How expensive?”

“360 a month.”

“Oh my, that’s a lot of money. Is there any way I can get it cheaper, maybe help you out sometimes?”

“No, I’m sorry.” I waited and looked pitiable. “Well ok, I can let you have it for 330 if you keep your room clean and don’t play loud music.”

Let the bargaining begin!

“Oh thank you so much, that is so kind, but I don’t have much money. Is there any way you can let me have it for 250?”

“Good heavens no, 330 is a very low price! I can’t go any lower.”

Oh I was so pathetic and disappointed, and whimpered a little as I slowly picked up my heavy suitcase. The moment of truth.

“Wait! Ok. If you water the outside plants twice a week I can let you have it for 295.”

I was so grateful, effusive is the fancy word I believe you super sophisticated people use. I could have gotten her down to 275, but I’m not greedy. I love to bargain.

I unpacked and watered all the outside plants. That surprised her and her sour puss became a little less sour. Then I washed up, put on better clothes, and out the door to explore my new world.

 

CHAPTER 15

It was still early in the morning and fog had not yet completely burned off the hills of Berkeley. Lovely white strands slowly moved across the dark green. So delicate. Like a Japanese landscape.

People were heading to campus for morning classes and I joined the herd. Picked up a Daily Californian from the bin at Sather Gate and sat down on one of the benches in Sproul Plaza. I know all about UC Berkeley because I googled to get the skinny. I particularly liked old photographs of crowds of students demanding that the administration allow free speech in Sproul Plaza. Those are my kind of people. Not the tight-ass, PC nannies going around trying to shut up anybody not as wonderfully sensitive to the feelings of others as themselves. I hope Berkeley hasn’t forgotten the fight for freedom of speech fought and won so long ago.

Click * UC Berkeley*

I closed my eyes and tilted my head back to let the sun warm my face. The Campanile, the high bell tower in the middle of campus, rang the hour. So peaceful. So far from the cold stone darkness of Monte Alban.

I opened my eyes and lazily watched the world go by. Women can be anything they want here. Moving past in a steady stream were sorority princesses at one end of the possibilities, to way out-of-date hippies with no makeup and lots of jiggling. I prefer minimal make-up, modest clothes, and maybe a little jiggle now and then to snap a guy’s head around.

Lots of foreigners. Arab men? Nah, too authoritarian. Might try a Frenchmen to see if they really are superior lovers, and a hot blooded guy from Spain. I suspect Frenchmen and Spaniards are riding their reps but I might be wrong so better triple-check that out. If I want orgy, I’ll spend a long weekend at a friendly fraternity.

Lots of nerdy guys—-shy, not much pizzazz, and fumbling lovers. I seduced a few to boost their egos and give them a few lessons. They’re fun for a while but then fall too hard, too fast, and get too hurt when they realize I don’t want a long relationship. I warn them. Doesn’t do any good.

Walked across the Plaza to the Bear’s Lair. The burger and fries weren’t too bad, and the two chocolate donuts were delicious. A couple guys tried to get my attention but my top priority, at the moment, is to get enrolled not laid.

Start at the admissions office? No. Better to be already registered. Have to find where the student data base is kept and add my name. Went across the Plaza to the administration building and told the guy at the front desk I was doing a paper on how UC keeps its student records up to date. I smiled nicely, jiggled a little, and he took me to see Ms. Grayson, in charge of student records. She’s proud of her work, but not many eager students come her way.

“Thank you for taking time to see me, Ms. Grayson. I assume you have a master data base listing all enrolled students. How do you keep it up to date?”

“I get this form. See? It lets me know whether to add or remove a name from the data base. All those forms in my work box over there are going into the computer today.”

I zipped a couple of blanks into my purse, asked a few more questions, and thanked her for her time.

Found a cubbyhole at the library and made out the form. It asked what you would expect—-name, address, age, sex, etc. I wrote in date of admission and checked ENTERING FRESHMAN and TRANSCRIPTS ON FILE. No signature at the bottom. Pretty loose system, easy to game. Maybe I’ll speed up my college career and enter graduate school next year, and get a PhD the year after that.

Went back to ask Ms. Grayson a couple more questions and zipped the form into her work box. Done, and didn’t have to bribe or sleep with anybody. Just lie and steal a little. I zipped a McKinley underneath the stack of forms in her work box just before I left.

There are dozens of tables set up on the edges of Sproul Plaza, manned by super-sincere, super-dedicated young people with causes to hawk. I never saw so many signs pushing the three most beautiful, empty buzzwords in the English language.

FREEDOM

JUSTICE

EQUALITY

And so many signs threatening the end of the world unless you join the cause. They pump guilt, anger and fear to get your attention, support, and money. Well at least there’s passion here, and looked around for a guy who might want to share. It’s been a while.

Ah, there’s a nicely shaped young man with fire in his eyes. Let’s see if I can move the heat a little lower. Oh my, he’s pushing the scary that mother earth will burn with the fires of hell unless we stop breathing. He’s arguing with an equally sincere young man who feels he might be exaggerating a little. No exaggeration. ”Don’t you care about your children and grandchildren?!” And then they started arguing who cared more for the children and grandchildren they didn’t yet have. Oh God, I hope his sex is better than his rhetoric.

Aaaah, forget him. He’d waste all that wonderful energy and passion trying to convert me to the cause.

There’s a quiet young man sitting behind a small table. Sometimes the quiet ones surprise you. He’s shilling libertarianism with Ayn Rand books for sale. My handsome, Scottish foster father was a randy Randian, and indoctrinated me into her world. You really pick up a lot of stuff bouncing from foster home to foster home.

He looked up as I came to his table and I did my shy-innocent. Guys like him can be fun if you’re not in a hurry. Libertarian Charlie was so grateful to talk to a pretty girl who knew who Ayn Rand was. We continued the conversation over dinner and then wine at his place.

He was a little too gentle, but sweet. I so enjoyed bringing out a level of passion he didn’t know he had. Gently squeezing a guy’s prostate with my Shadow fingers just as he cums is very, very effective.

He asked me to stay the night but I said no. I felt so guilty letting him have me so soon. He would think I was easy, maybe even a slut. He very sincerely assured me he would never think that. He was so sorry he took advantage of me, but I was just so beautiful, so innocent. He lost control.

I zipped a McKinley under his mouse pad.

 

CHAPTER 16

The next morning Arlene invited me for a cup of coffee. She’s sad and angry. Life has not been good and somebody’s going to pay. She has a tender, loving side she thinks she got rid of long ago.

“How you like Berkeley so far?”

“I don’t know. It’s so big. I grew up in a little place in the mountains.”

“Yeah, I thought so. Be careful. A lot of guys around here will just take what they can get and then dump you for the next pretty face.”

“Why would they do that?”

“You are from a small town. No guy ever tried to get you drunk? Feel you up at a dance? Get you in the back seat?”

“They wouldn’t do that!”

Oh my God! I guess you’re not on the pill.”

“No. I know what a birth control pill is but I never took one.”

“Can I give you some serious advice? Go to a doctor and get a prescription. I got pregnant once and didn’t have the baby. I’ve regretted it ever since.”

“You had an abortion?!”

“Yes I had an abortion, and don’t let them tell you it’s no big deal. It’s a very big deal. I know the name of a nice doctor nearby, would you like her address and phone number?”

“Yes please, thank you.”

Wonder how I can help her. I could slip her a few McKinleys, but she needs a whole lot more than money. My innocence gives her a chance to play mommy.

____________________

Bought the booklet of administrative rules, courses and schedules and went into the lair of that silly bear for scrambled eggs, coffee and two delicious, chocolate donuts. Ashara came running over.

“Good morning, Alice. Are you going to eat both those chocolate donuts?” I gave her one.

“Good morning, Ashara. You are a very pretty little girl. Where are your parents?”

“I’m an orphan like you.”

“How do you know I’m an orphan?”

“Oh I have so much fun following your adventures.”

“Ok, Ashara. You’re obviously a little more than a cute little girl who travels a lot. Who are you?”

“We’re old friends, and pretty soon we’re going to have such fun together.”

“Always up for fun, but I have a little problem. I don’t remember being old friends.”

She grabbed the other donut, and skipped out the door. Greedy little kid.

Back to courses and schedules. Urrggh! You have to take all those introductory courses before you get to the good stuff. Looks like a waste and all the departments require them. Well, maybe those 101 courses are more interesting than they look. I’ll go test a few. They’re all in large auditoriums so nobody will notice.

Then as I paged through the front of the booklet I noticed a section describing how to take tests to opt out of courses in the first two years. If the introductory books and lectures are a waste, that’s the way I’ll go.

Off to Kroeber Hall to check out Psych. 101. Got there a little early and noticed the students weren’t all that eager and alive as they came in. When the prof arrived I saw why. He’s taught the course many, many times, and lost his enthusiasm long ago.

I bought the textbook for Psych. 101, found a bench outside the Bear’s Lair, and began my academic career at the University of California, Berkeley.

Oh, I may not have told you, but you probably guessed.

I’m a super fast reader and have an excellent memory.

The textbook wasn’t too boring and some of the basic concepts and facts are important. I went to a guidance counselor the next day and easily passed Psych. 101.

_____________________

A couple of days later I was reading the textbook for Psych. 102 at the lair of the bear, when I heard a familiar voice from Oaxaca.

“Hello Alice, do you mind if I join you?” Yeah it was Karla, the Jimmy Stewart of the spy world.

“Of course not, you are always welcome.”

“Thank you. I see you easily passed Psych. 101.”

“You get around Karla. I suppose you’re vice-president in charge of student affairs.”

“No,” he really does have a nice chuckle just like Jimmy, “but I am very friendly with the administration. And you are a registered student now. Congratulations”.

“Thank you.”

“I had to give you a little help there though.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. You did a superb job providing the necessary paperwork.”

“Thank you. It wasn’t too difficult to get the right form and have it made out properly.”

“Yes, excellent work. Except…”

“Yes?”

“Except a careful clerk noticed you have no transcripts on file. Now how could that be? You were admitted, so they had to be there. A great puzzlement for the young man.”

“Yes, I can see that.”

“The dean of students called because I have an excellent reputation for solving puzzles. I told him I knew Alice Shannon and assured him the transcripts must exist and I would do my best to find them. And guess what. Here are copies. I‘m amazed how well you did, such excellent grades and high honors. You might want to look them over carefully in case you may have forgotten some of the details. The originals are in a filing cabinet at the last high school you attended.”

“Oh thank you so much, Karla. I have no idea how they could have been misplaced, but I’m so grateful you were able to find them. How can I ever thank you?”

“Well, I do have a little something, if you have the time.”

“I thought you might.”

“Could you meet me in the Administration building when you finish? Go in the front door, turn right and down the hallway to the fifth door on the left.”

“It will be a pleasure.”

“As it will be for me.” I watched a Karla walked away. Pretty well preserved for God knows how old he is.

 

CHAPTER 17

He offered a cup of coffee, but no chocolate donuts.

“A student copied sensitive material onto a flash drive like this one.” It was black with the usual silver end that plugs into the computer. “The student left the drive in a drop box, which in this case is a locker in the girl’s gym. The pickup is going to take place this evening around nine, and we need to get the drive back before that happens.”

“Why not call the cops?”

“We don’t want them to know we’re aware of what they are doing, and hope for a little anger and confusion when the drive disappears.”

“Ok, an easy Zip.”

“Exactly.”

He spread out a map of the gym. “The girl’s side is here, and the lockers are on both sides of this corridor. Number 742 has the flash drive and is located here.”

“Do I need identification?”

“If anyone asks just say you’re new and want to look around.”

“What do I do with the drive?”

“Give it to Jimmy Taylor, your new guidance counselor. He’ll be in this building, Room 146.”

The gym is just back of the Administration building. Followed the signs to the girl’s side and walked past 742. The drive is near the front. Kept going and looked around the gym for a while. Lots of exercise equipment and vending machines with power drinks. Oh my, two kinds of girls using the equipment, those that don’t need them and those who do who’ll give it a try and drop out within a week.

Then walked past 742 again, and off to Jimmy Taylor.

“Hello, glad to meet you. Please come in and we’ll go over your schedule”.

He’s a tiny, red haired guy in his 30’s with a big smile. Reminds me of Maggie O’Flanigan. If he also has the Gift, maybe all those stories about leprechauns are true. There really are magical, little people.

“Oh thank you, Mr. Taylor. I’m so new here and I appreciate your taking the time to help me“.

His grin grew even wider. He obviously appreciates a quick study. We talked about my career goals, what courses I should take, and he’ll be glad to help me test out of a few introductory courses. I palmed the drive as we shook hands on my way out.

“Come back anytime, Alice.”

“Thank you, Mr. Taylor.”

I ate dinner at a little place on University, and back to Arlene’s. Her sour puss is almost gone and she handed me a plate of chocolate chip cookies she baked. I gave her a hug which shocked her, and after only a tiny hesitation hugged back.

I smiled at a couple of people staying at Arlene’s but they aren’t friendly, and our community TV room is empty.

____________________

The next morning I picked up The Daily Californian at Sather Gate on my way to the Bear’s Lair.

A DEATH ON CAMPUS

The body of Cindy Collins was found late last night outside the Hearst Memorial Gym. She was a 24-year old graduate student in the Physics Department. Police are investigating the cause of death. Those close to the investigation believe she suffered a heart attack.

Karla got his anger and confusion.

I stopped by libertarian Charlie sitting behind his little table to give him another chance to say how sorry he is for taking advantage of my innocence. He didn’t mention the McKinley under his mouse pad but I notice he’s wearing a very nice gray and brown tweed jacket that looks pretty new.

A guy came up as I walked away. Odd looking young man with black hair and green eyes that sparkle in the sunlight.

“You are the one!” Oh my, that’s quite an original line. Let’s see where it goes.

“Yes, I am the one.”

“Please come.” I went along with his awkward grab at my arm and let him lead me to a bench with three girls with super sweet smiles. I’ve seen those smiles before and call them Buddha Grins—-beatific smiles to show the world how holy you are.

Baaarrrfff

The girls gave me a nice welcome but the guy hugged me in a most ungentlemanly manner. No doubt dreaming of adding me to his harem.

“I’m Carl and this is Sylvia, Susan and Sally.” The girls look like happy peas in a pod with their silly grins.

“We have waited so long and now you have come,” Sally squealed.

“Yes I have come and I see you are worthy. What do you desire?”

“We desire wisdom and light,” squeaked Susan, the girl with blond, straggly hair.

“And you shall have wisdom and light. We must go to a place of quietude, away from worldly confusion, where you can once again become one with all that is. Where you can once again become what you have always been.” Pretty good stuff, eh? Well at least they thought so. I learned the patter from a foster mother who was into the “one with the universe” trip.

“Let’s go to my place,” Carl said, and we walked a few blocks to an old Japanese log cabin he inherited from his Aunt.

Yes, there are Japanese log cabins

We sat on the living room floor and Sylvia lit a stick of incense. The cedar smoke curled into the air and they all looked at me, eager for wisdom and light. And they shall have wisdom and light.

“You know the meaning of all that is. All that is, is part of you, and you are part of all that is. When you wake in the morning, it is there. When you go to sleep, it is there, guiding you to a reality far away and long ago. A reality that shimmers with the golden light of Truth.”

Oh my, I almost burst out laughing. So funny for me. So serious for them.

“I have only a short time to sojourn among you. This will be our only meeting. Do not try to contact me again, and never ever tell anyone about me or what happens here today. Do you agree to this?

“ Swear it!” They swore it.

“Now in this place and in this time you will feel your power, your inner core of immense power. The power to create whatever life you desire. The power to lift you into the glory of wisdom and light.

“Carl! Feel the power within you.

“Feel it grow strong.

“Feel the power of your inner being lift your body up into the glory of wisdom and light.

“Arise!

“Arise into the glory of wisdom and light.

“Arise!”

And he arose, with a little help from me. My Shadow hands have grown strong over the years but this was testing their limit. Gasps and tiny cries from the girls.

“Carl! Feel the power within you.

“Feel the power surging through all the wonders of your being.

“Use the power to rise even higher, even higher into the glory of wisdom and light

“Arise!”

And he arose a few more inches off the floor. The girls stared with open mouths.

“Now allow your body to slowly return to the earth of your birth.

“Always remember the power you now feel. Use that immense power to create the life you have always wanted, and to empower the lives of others.”

And did the same for Sylvia, Sally and Susan.

It transformed them in a very deep way. Carl and his harem had tears in their eyes when I left. No more Buddha grins. What started just a fun time for me was a powerful experience for them.

But what about unintended consequences? If I worried about those, I’d never get out of bed.

Never thought about it before but maybe some of that spooky stuff in the tabloids at the checkout counter really do happen. Most peddlers of the supernatural are fake of course, taking advantage of the needy and the adventurous for money, power and sex. But maybe belief in the supernatural has stayed alive over the centuries because there really are a few people who have the Gift.

____________________

During the next few weeks Jimmy Taylor was a big help arranging tests to get me out of those boring first and second year beginner courses. I’ve passed Phil. 101 and 102, and Psych. 102, 110 and 111, and am working on Psych. 155 and 156. I like the little, red-headed leprechaun.

I took his advice to sit in on a few of the first and second year courses to see if any were worth doing. Only found one, the Psychology of Adjustment class taught by Dr. Kinnie. A great teacher and he wrote the textbook, 60 Psychological Adventures. I was hoping the class would go on the sexual adventure in Part 3 but Dr. Kinnie and the University of California are a little shy. David bought a copy and is getting the candles, incense and blankets ready.

I’m going to take Dr. Kinnie’s Advanced Psychology of Adjustment class in the fall. Yes, he wrote the textbook, Psychological Maps.

CHAPTER 18

Arlene invited me for bacon and scrambled eggs. I told her I found a job so won’t have any trouble paying the rent and thanked her again for her kindness. She began to talk about the men in her life. There haven’t been any for a while. Sometimes she’s glad and sometimes she misses a man to care for her.

I did the dishes and asked if she knew a place where I could get my hair done. There‘s one not far and she offered to go with me. She needs her’s done, and a whole lot more. She’s a mess.

At the beauty shop she decided my nails needed a little help but I said no, maybe later. She assumed I didn’t have the money and insisted on paying. She’s obviously not rich. I have to find a way to get a little money in her life. Clean her up. Maybe help her get a good man.

____________________

That fifth door on the left may or may not be Karla’s office, no name plate. He was there in the afternoon. Told him I wanted to give Arlene $80,000. without her knowing it came from me.

He fired up his computer, which I imagine accesses quite an impressive data base. It didn’t take long to come up with a plan. Arlene has an Uncle Fred who never existed but died anyway and left her $80,325.24. I gave him a check and he promised to have her inheritance in the mail by tomorrow afternoon, from a lawyer in Wisconsin.

____________________

I think I’ll explore spook groups around Berkeley. They’ll be a lot of fun and I might even learn something. There are a few meetings this evening posted on the bulletin boards. How about the Hairy Women of Apollo? Women who call themselves that can’t be all bad.

I came early to the meeting, held in one of the women’s dorms, and watched the Hairy Women arrive, mostly lesbian. They started with a chant accompanied by an Irish harp. Beautiful harp, ugly chant. Then to business. Two women, one fat, one skinny, stood up and reached for the sky, bescreeching and beseeching Phoebus Apollo to descend upon them. Good Lord, what would they do with Apollo? Aphrodite maybe, but Apollo? Whatever. Wish I could materialize a big horny Apollo, and I mean BIG, but sadly I cannot. But I can do the next best.

So there they are, two women in the center of the room, arms raised, eyes closed, bescreeching and beseeching. My Shadow finger rapidly tapped the clit of the fat one. Her eyes flew open

and she screamed. Good Lord she’s sensitive. Wasn’t she begging Apollo to descend upon her?

After she apologized and everything quieted down, they bescreeched and beseeched some more. This time I tapped the G-spot of the skinny one. She dropped to the floor and spread her legs as wide as they could go, and her hips began to jerk. Her eyes rolled back in her head as I tapped faster and faster. She screamed “Apollo” twice and fainted. Phoebus Apollo was pleased.

They had a lively discussion the rest of the evening about the profound spiritual, ontological and metaphysical significance of Apollo’s visit. I meekly suggested some of the other ladies might also like to experience Apollo’s power, but there were no takers. How sad. Imagine an all night orgy with a God. I’d go for it, but Apollo’s Hairy Women are a little shy.

Oh my, oh my, what loud choruses of yells and screams of shock and outrage from some of you super-sensitive, super-refined, super-prissy ladies and gentlemen. How could I be so rude, so crude. A shocked and angry woman even called me uncouth!

Who you trying to kid?

I know what you do to yourself when no one’s around.

And I got plenty of couth lady.

____________________

In the next week I passed the test for Psych. 156, and started reading the textbook for 281. There’s an awful lot of padding in the first and second year textbooks. What a waste to spend two whole years reading them. Beginning Neuroanatomy 281 is an exception. Not much padding. Slow reading. Lots to memorize.

 

CHAPTER 19

No more sour puss. Arlene so enjoys mothering me and said I needed a new wardrobe. I told her that if I’m careful, by January I can begin to buy new clothes. My clothes are a bit shabby, but her’s are old maid ugly. She has a nice figure, but nobody would guess. I thought she was in her 40’s. Nope, early 30’s. I have a lot of work to do.

If the inheritance check is sent Special Delivery, she’ll get it tomorrow.

____________________

I think I’ll look on the bulletin boards for other psychic groups. The Hairy Women were a lot of fun. I’m pretty sure the real psychics, if they’re around, do not advertize but I might bump into a few slumming or looking for new recruits.

Ashara came skipping over while I was having mid-morning coffee at the Bear’s Lair. Smacked a piece of paper on the table, grabbed both donuts, and ran.

SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE REVEALED

Yes, you have all read promises like that. Our group is different. We know no secrets of the universe. Humans are far too limited to know them. We explore the frontiers of human abilities. If you would like to join the adventure come to Soder Hall, room 121 on the evening of Dec. 4th at 7pm.

Well at least they’re humble and I have nothing else to do this evening.

____________________

Soder Hall is on the wrong side of campus, not where the elite live. As usual I got there a little early and watched the crowd come in. Not much of a crowd. Humility doesn’t sell in the psychic world. All young people except for a well-dressed, white haired lady. I did my shy dance and they gave me a warm welcome. The old lady, Cynthia Crowley, wasn’t the leader, more like a mentor.

Gary led a short meditation to ground us and clear our minds from the cares of the day. The agenda was psychokinesis. He took out small pieces of paper and matchsticks, and we tried to move them with our minds. Brought back memories of my babyhood, so long ago.

Not much luck. Sometimes a small piece of paper moved, but I suspect someone was breathing hard. Mrs. Crowley suggested we slow down our minds even more, and led a meditation that did a pretty good job of moving our brain waves from beta toward alpha.

See.

I’m reading my textbooks.

It worked. Some were able to move the paper a little, the match sticks just sat. So the Gift is not only inherited but can be developed with hard work. Glad I was born lucky. Sadly, when it came to my turn the paper didn’t even flutter.

The group was so excited, tonight was obviously a major breakthrough. I was tempted to help out a little but they need honest feedback.

After the meeting Mrs. Crowley gave me a piece of paper with an address and invited me to come to her home tomorrow evening. Ashara is a greedy, sneaky little kid.

 

CHAPTER 20

The Special Delivery came as we were eating breakfast. Yes, she shrieked as you would expect and came running into the kitchen waving the check. At least for that magic moment she looked young and beautiful. She thought her mother mentioned an Uncle Fred but wasn’t sure.

She’s going to use the money to pay off the rest of the mortgage and buy me clothes. She was so excited and I was just as excited because I’ll make sure she buys clothes for herself as well. I protested of course but she was very firm. I relented but made her promise to add more ways to help around the house.

After breakfast we shopped all day. At first she didn’t want to buy anything for herself, but I picked out a cute, little outfit and she was shocked how nice she looks. No problem after that.

____________________

The Crowleys live on the correct side of campus, where the administrators and full professors have their little cottages. I was surprised there wasn’t a butler with white gloves showing me in, but no, Mrs. Crowley herself graciously led to the sitting room. Mr. Crowley stood, shook hands, and we sat down around a small table.

“Thank you so much for coming, Alice. Would you like coffee or tea?”

“Coffee please, and thank you for inviting me.” Coffee was poured and a silver tray with cookies and scones passed around.

Yes, I know all about scones. The parents in one of my foster homes were Scottish. Never liked scones much, except when generously smeared with orange marmalade, and that marmalade better be from Scotland.

Such a wonderful time when I was 15. My handsome foster-father enlivened my life back then by generously sharing his passion for scones and sex. He was a wonderful teacher, and I am so grateful for the love, joy and scones we shared.

Oh my, another heresy to enrage the righteous.

Would anyone like to kiss my pretty kitty again?

“I watched your attempts to move the paper last night and am a little puzzled. I sense you have the Gift.”

“I tried hard and was so surprised when others succeeded. I didn’t know you could do that.”

“Yes, it can be quite a shock.”

“I hope you don’t mind,” Mr. Crowley began. “This morning I talked to some friends at the University. Your guidance counselor feels you have enormous academic potential and have passed an amazing number of opt-out tests.”

“Mr. Taylor has been so helpful. I would never have been able to pass those tests without his support and guidance.” Maybe I’m buttering the bread a little thick.

“Mrs. Crowley and I are on the board of a foundation that provides support for promising young students. You apparently have limited resources. Would you be interested in applying for a scholarship?”

“I don’t know, I have a part-time job now and think I can make it. I’m grateful for your kindness but don’t like to depend on others.”

“Very commendable. The primary reason financial assistance is offered is to free students to devote full time to their academic pursuits, rather than having to support themselves with outside work. The assistance provided is the payment of tuition and a modest monthly stipend.”

“Oh that would be so helpful. I do want to do well, and it would be so much better if I could be full-time.”

“Good. Here is the application form. If you apply by next week and are accepted, the foundation will take care of your spring tuition and start your stipend the beginning of January.”

“I am so grateful for your kindness. How can I thank you?”

“By not being quite so guarded.”

“I don’t mean to be unfriendly. I’ve just learned it’s best to be careful until I get to know people.”

“Fair enough, and you need to be careful, Alice. You have the Gift and are wisely keeping it hidden. There have been a number of deaths this past year, supposedly from heart attacks. One was a close friend and had the Gift.”

____________________

About a block away from the Crowley’s I noticed a guy following me. I turned right, he turned right. I turned left, he turned left. I went around a corner, turned around, and waited. When he peeked around the corner I waved and gave him a big smile. He was startled, but quickly recovered and waved back. He’s in his early twenties and doesn’t look like a mugger or pervert. His big ears remind me of Dumbo, old Walt’s floppy eared little elephant friend.

“Why are you following me?”

“Would you believe you’re the most gorgeous girl I’ve ever seen?”

“No.”

“Ok. How about my girlfriend just dumped me and I need female companionship real bad.”

“No.”

“How about I’m here to give you a warning.”

“Yes.”

“Jacob Crowley is the grandson of Aleister Crowley, ‘666’, ‘the Great Beast’.”

“That sounds more interesting than frightening. What’s the problem? Aleister’s grandson eats little girls on All Saints Day?”

“Enjoy your sarcasm, the warning has been given,” and started to walk away.

“Ok, ok, I’ll drop the sarcasm. You probably won’t tell me but I’ll ask anyway. Who are you and why are you warning me?”

“You’re right I won’t, and I really don’t care if you live or die.”

“Then why are you warning me?”

“Not my idea.”

____________________

When I got back to Arlene’s I looked in the UC Berkeley handbook and found that Dr. Jacob Crowley is the dean of the faculty. I have no idea what the dean of the faculty does but sounds impressive.

So I have two warnings, one from Dr. Crowley, the grandson of the Great Beast, and one from Dumbo, a floppy eared young man who doesn’t care if I live or die. Much too vague to know how serious the danger so best talk to Karla. And I’ll visit the Glacier Gang Christmas and reinforce the defense against the Squeeze. They’re in Sarasota winters. Never been there but think it’s on the west coast of Florida.

The two warnings are jacking up my paranoia and I notice people watching and following me. Probably just phantoms of my mind, but I’ve learned from my statistics textbooks you need data to determine probability. I have no data.

I passed a couple of old trash cans in an alley and flipped back to that smelly village on the bluff.

The little girl was digging for something to eat in the trash next to the bar. A guy came up behind her and shoved his hand between her legs. She pivoted and hit him hard in the balls with her sharp, bony hip and he doubled over and hit the ground. She ran around the corner, grabbed a cobblestone, and hid behind an old shed.

He came running and cursing, closer and closer. She crouched down even lower and was very still. Suddenly big hands were around her throat.

You little bitch. Here’s your ticket to hell!”

She hit him on the head with the cobblestone as hard as she could. He fell back stunned and she hit him again before he could get up. And again and again, and again, until he lay still. Blood and gray stuff oozed out of the cracks.

She stared down at the mess but felt no remorse or compassion. The bastard got what he deserved. You don’t mess with the Krazy Kid. She pulled two nice rings off his fingers, and found a fat wallet and an expensive watch in his pockets.

He’s not local, just up for a good time. He won’t be back.

____________________

Only two weeks before Christmas break, so have to hustle with the first and second year opt-out tests so I can take junior courses in the spring.

I made out the form for the Opportunity Foundation and mailed it in. So useful to play poor, little waif. Can you imagine the buzz around me if people knew I have lots and lots of money? You could never trust a smile.

I miss David.

 

CHAPTER 21

Arlene was wearing her new clothes at breakfast and had scrubbed her face and put on a little makeup. I think she forgot how attractive she could be. We started talking about men and I wondered where I could meet nice guys. She hasn’t looked for a while so she’ll call some friends and ask. I oh so casually suggested she might check for herself as well. She made a face but didn’t fool me. For the first time in a while she’s ready to put herself out there.

The next morning Arlene had on no make-up and hadn’t called her friends. She’s scared again. Maybe wait until I get back from Sarasota and push some more, or maybe not. She knows better than me if getting involved with a guy would be just another disaster.

____________________

The Foundation approved my application. Spring tuition will be paid and a check for $800. deposited in my bank account each month starting January 1. If I maintain a normal course load and at least a B average the payment of tuition and the monthly stipend will continue until graduation.

I went to see Karla every day but no Karla. He’s gone a lot.

Then finally, all opt-out tests completed. Off to Sarasota.

Flew into the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and big hugs all around. David gave me a seriously sensual kiss and I did my best to show my appreciation. I told them about the warnings from Dr. Crowley and Dumbo. Sure, they can use the practice, and I’m going to love a new trick they discovered

Short drive to The Meadows. It’s an early planned community from the 1980s with many different condo associations, each with their own distinctive architecture. Many lakes and forests, hiking trails, fancy country club, tournament tennis courts, and three golf courses. One pitiful, artificial waterfall so awful people call it Freddie’s Folly, after the poor guy it’s supposed to commemorate.

Click The Meadows

On the north-east corner of The Meadows there are a few mansions carefully set apart from the lesser rich, and down that road we went. No backwoods hunting lodge for the Glacier Gang in the winter. It’s a beautiful, Sarasota style mansion with a huge front yard and lake in the back.

That moonlit night, on my back, legs spread wide, in David’s powerful arms, soft hardness slipping into slippery softness, sometimes gentle, sometimes wild, is as close to heaven as I’ll ever get.

____________________

The next morning after a computer was fired up, a large screen appeared on the wall with the usual semi-transparent front and side views of the human brain. Doris pressed a button and a little light appeared on the side of the brainstem.

“It’s too easy to kill someone accidentally so we’ve been exploring. You don’t have to press the whole brainstem. A light tap here will put someone to sleep for a few seconds and the harder you tap the longer they sleep. That got us thinking about the rest of the brain.”

She pushed another button and 15 or so lights appeared. “This is what we’ve found so far. A tap on any of these sites will change a person’s mood, the content of their awareness, or trigger a physical action. There is some variation in location from person to person, but surprisingly little.”

She pressed another button and a number appeared beside each light, and numbers appeared on the right side of the screen with a description of what happens when tapped. She handed me a print-out and smirked as she pointed to Number 7, Sexual Arousal.

I’m going to have fun in the spring when I take the course in neuropsychology from Dr. Mary Barteau. Wonder what I’ll do when she says the brain does this, and I know it does that.

There were trips to the beach and a candle light dinner at a fancy place on the Gulf of Mexico. Off early one morning to see the wonderful art of that wild and crazy guy Salvador Dali in St. Petersburg. Sarasota is a great place, where the Ringling Brothers wintered their circus. Along with the fun, we worked hard reinforcing the defense against the Squeeze.

I spent some time alone tapping my brain. Once I tapped the motor strip and punched myself in the jaw. I also had to be careful tapping where memories are stored. Once I watched my sobbing mother go out the front door, down the sidewalk, into a car, and drive away. But another tap and I relived a wonderful lesson from my Scottish step-father on how to achieve a high level of arousal and fulfillment.

I was surprised how hard it is to leave David and the Glacier Gang. Why not stay? Why go back to God knows what in Berkeley? Because I like the challenge, and don’t want to be cramped by the wonderful but limited life moving back and forth between Glacier and Sarasota. Maybe later.

 

CHAPTER 22

Arlene flipped back to wearing makeup and new clothes while I was gone. A couple of friends told her to go to the Unitarian Church Saturday Dance to meet nice guys. As you might guess, I’m really not much of a heavy churchgoer. But for her? Sure! Anyway, Unitarians only call themselves a church to get the tax break. Seven in the evening, day after tomorrow.

Karla was in.

”Good to see you again. I suspect you have a few questions for me.”

“You suspect right. Is Dr. Crowley the grandson of Aleister Crowley?”

“Yes, he is.”

“And is he carrying on his grandfather’s work?”

“Yes he is.”

“Have people with the Gift recently been killed in Berkeley?”

“Yes.”

“Is there a deadly fight going on between groups with the Gift at Berkeley?”

“Dr. Crowley who leads one group and Dr. Spengler who leads the other believe they are enemies.”

“And what do you think?”

“That there is a third group or individual causing the trouble.”

“Why didn’t you tell me any of this?’

“The odds of someone targeting you are low and I wanted you to have a good time exploring Berkeley.”

“Was the woman who died of a heart attack outside the gym part of the war?”

“No. A foreign government assumed she double crossed them and used a fast acting injection to stop her heart.”

“What is your position here at the University and who do you work for?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t tell you that either.”

“Ok then, why should I go along with your next request?

“No reason, except we are useful to one another. Either can end the relationship when no longer true. I like you, but usefulness is the primary basis of our relationship.”

“Ok, fair enough. How Gifted are the people in the two groups you mentioned?”

“You can run circles around them.”

“Do they know that?

“No. They’re aware you’re overdoing the poor little waif bit, but assume they are more advanced, and I wouldn’t do anything to change their opinion.”

“A young guy with big ears followed me when I left the Crowleys and warned me about the Great Beast. Know who he is?”

“Dennis Crowley, son of Jacob. They don’t get along. Dennis is a member of the Spengler group.”

“Thanks.”

____________________

At the Saturday night dance Arlene came out beautiful, available female and males noticed. Three took turns asking her to dance and at the end of the evening she left with Barry. I picked a big guy with lots of power and no couth. Perfect!

The next morning Arlene blushed when I asked how it went. Oh my, a 30-something woman blushing. It’s been a while I guess. She’s so alive and happy. Have I helped her start a new, wonderful life, or set her up for another disaster? God only knows.

____________________

Worked out my spring schedule with Jimmy. Nice variety of psychology and philosophy courses and no big lectures. I’m most looking forward to the neuropsychology class taught by Dr. Mary Barteau, an eminent researcher in the field who wrote the textbook.

CHAPTER 23

A notice on the bulletin board at the Vedanta Center snapped my head around.

ENHANCE SEXUAL FULFILLMENT AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH

The enormous power of sexuality has long been used to further spiritual growth. We primarily use the methodology and spiritual focus of Tantric Yoga. Shiva and Shakti are united, and liberation obtained. Only the spiritually motivated are accepted.

January 12th 7PM

223 Felicity Lane, Berkeley

Oh Shiva. Yes. Yeees. Yessssss.

I bought the textbook for Neuropsychology 301 and went to the Bear’s Lair for my usual coffee and two chocolate donuts. As I walked over to an empty table I saw Dumbo, Jacob Crowley’s prodigal son, sitting alone in the corner reading The Daily Californian.

“Oh you were so right Dennis, your father tried to eat my soul. Thank you for the warning. I got away just in time. Oh, thank you! Thank you!” I tried to give him a big hug but he was uncooperative. He dropped the paper, spilled the coffee, and fell off the chair.

Son of a bitch!”

I guess there would be no point in trying to hug him again. He got off the floor, pulled over what was left of his coffee, and gave me a marvelous hate stare. I wonder what he would like to do to me.

“I believe you dropped your newspaper on the floor, Mr. Crowley. Would you like me to pick it up for you?”

He started to throw what was left of the coffee in my face, but my little Shadow hands did their thing and the coffee splashed his own instead. This first date is not going well. He didn’t even bother to wipe the coffee dripping from his nose and chin, just turned around and left. Isn‘t a gentleman required to bid farewell to a lady as he departs?

The table was a mess, so I moved to another and began to read about the behavioral functions of various cortical centers for Dr. Barteau’s class. Looked up and there he was, looking more puzzled than angry.

“May I sit down?”

”Of course.”

“How did you do that?”

“Do what?”

God Damn it, don’t play dumb! You know what I mean.”

“Oh, you mean that little muscle twitch just before you were about to throw coffee in my face?”

“How did you do it?”

“Well assuming I did anything, you really need to see someone about that little muscle twitch, why would I tell you?”

“Because very bad things might happen if you don’t.” As I’m sure you remember, I don’t take threats well.

“You sorry little pervert. Why’d your father kick you out of the house? Catch you diddling your mother?”

Oh my, his face contorted and turned a beautiful, shiny pink. A titanic battle was going on whether or not to hurl bad things at me. The poor boy doesn’t know I can easily counter anything he can throw. But then closed his eyes, and after a few seconds became very still.

“Ok, Alice. I don’t know who or what you are, but that was the most interesting series of events I’ve ever had. I would like to go back and start over. Ok?”

“Sure. That was the most amazing transformation I’ve ever seen. Some kind of meditation trick?”

“I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.”

“Don’t change the subject.” We laughed.

“Are you friends of my father? Are you in his group?”

“No. I’m not in his group and not really a friend. Your parents helped me get a scholarship and I’m grateful“.

“Oh, ok. I have to go but if you come here often maybe we’ll meet again. I hope our next meeting won’t be quite so dramatic.”

“Maybe we overdid it a little.”

 

CHAPTER 24

Arlene is pretty depressed, Barry hasn’t called. Hormones control a guy’s life and any woman who doesn’t know that is in for a lot of trouble. But hormones can easily be used against them and smart women learn how early on. I don’t think Arlene is one of the smart women.

I went to the Bear’s Lair for breakfast and I was disappointed that Dennis wasn’t there. No! No! No! I don’t want to hook up with that egotistical, hot-tempered brat. Too much like me, and those Dumbo ears don’t turn me on.

When I came home for lunch, Arlene was all excited. She and Barry are going to a movie tonight. I wish them well.

____________________

The meeting for sexual fulfillment and spiritual enhancement is in a lovely little cottage. A nice looking man in his 30’s led to a room heavy with incense, and Thangkas on the walls. Yes, I know all about Thangkas. My Tibetan foster parents and I meditated in front of one every night. The Kalachakra is my favorite.

KALACHAKRA THANGKA

There was a raised platform covered with soft blankets in the middle of the room. Perfect for spiritual growth. I was early as usual and watched the crowd gather. Mostly horny young guys looking for an easy lay. Some Buddha Grins. A few looked like they might actually be spiritually motivated.

A woman rang a tiny bell. “We welcome you to our home. Some of you are old friends, some are new. As always we begin with a meditation on the spiritual experience of the joining of Shiva and Shakti. The joining of the lingam and the yoni. The moment of completeness and liberation. Please close your eyes. Allow quietness and calm. Allow the world to drift away. To drift away, drift far away, far, far away.”

And so on. I could hear from the rustling in the room that most are not too familiar with meditation

“Some are ready for the spiritual journey, for the joining of Shiva and Shakti, and some are not. I will move about the room. If I tap you on the shoulder you need a bit more spiritual development and will be asked to leave. Be not disappointed. Continue your spiritual journey and return when you feel ready.”

I could hear her move around the room tapping people. The room became very quiet. She rang the tiny bell again and asked us to open our eyes. Two guys and two women were left.

“The spiritual experience of the joining is all that is important,” the man began, “dogma and intellectual discussions only get in the way. You have all moved into a quiet and peaceful place where a spiritual experience can be obtained.”

I assumed I would enhance everybody’s spiritual experience my way by tapping here and squeezing there, but that is not the way it went. My Tibetan foster parents gave me the finest moments of my childhood, and in my joining on the platform I returned to those moments of completeness and liberation.

If you have never had the experience there is no way for me to share what it is like. How do you share the experience of listening to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy with someone born deaf?

After half a year with my Tibetan parents, Christian neighbors began to loudly complain to the Department of Social Services. The soul of one of God’s sweet children was being corrupted by Devil worshipers. I was removed, and my spiritual journey traded for a hard pew in a cold church.

 

CHAPTER 25

Arlene hasn’t been blushing lately. Too tired.

Dennis came over just as I finished my bacon and cheese omelet and was about to enjoy my two delicious chocolate donuts. I was surprised how glad I was to see him, and unhappy about feeling glad. Women have hormones too, and a few rare men know how to take advantage. Fair’s fair I guess.

“Hi, Alice. I’m on my way to my guidance counselor and can’t stay. My group has asked me to invite you to a meeting tonight. Can you come?”

“Sure.”

“Good. I’ll pick you up here at 6:45. The meeting’s not far.”

Ashara skipped over just after he left.

“Hello, Alice.”

“Hi, Ashara. Are you going to steal my donuts again?”

“Of course, if you let me. What’s the problem, you don’t like to share?”

“Sure I like to share, and how about sharing who you are and why you keep popping up in my life.”

“Be very careful tonight on your walk to the meeting.”

“Why do I have to be careful?”

She snatched both donuts and ran. She’s really, really fast, and really, really greedy.

____________________

Dennis was five minutes late so we hurried out the door and over to the elite side of campus. We turned onto a side street with widely spaced street lights. Something is not right and I remembered Ashara’s warning.

“The meeting is in the white house over there.”

Two men came from behind a bush. “Good evening, Mr. Crowley. Your Devil blood will no longer pollute God’s sacred earth.” I felt an attack on my heart and countered. Squeezed the brain stem of the guy nearest me hard, and then quickly squeezed the other guy. Dennis went down but was still breathing.

I ran to the white house and banged on the door. “Dennis has been hurt”. Four guys came and carried Dennis back to the house and called an ambulance. Then went back and got the two bodies. They will soon be feeding the fishes or nourishing the nasturtiums.

After the ambulance left, the group asked what happened.

“I would be dead without Dennis, he took on both men. I tried to help but wasn’t strong enough.” Tears came to my eyes. They were real, I like Dennis. “They said his devil blood would no long pollute God’s sacred earth.”

“It’s probably a Christian group I’ve heard about,” the older man said. “They call themselves the Holy Warriors of God and kill people they consider the disciples of the Devil.”

“Oh, and they called Dennis, Mr. Crowley.”

“That fits. I’m sure Aleister Crowley and his relatives and followers are very high on their list.”

“Then Dr. Crowley is in danger.”

“Yes. We need to warn his group and begin to work together. We made a terrible mistake thinking we were enemies. May we drive you home?”

“Oh, thank you. I’m still a little scared”

It’s odd I don’t regret killing those two guys. Well, why should I? They tried to kill me and lost. Fair fight. Well not really, but that was their tough luck.

 

CHAPTER 26

Karla called the next morning during breakfast with Arlene and asked me to come to his office at ten.

Dr. Crowley and the white haired man from last night were there.

“Alice, you know Dr. Crowley and met Dr. Spengler last night. Dennis is doing well, and will probably be out of the hospital in a couple of days.

“Dr. Spengler, as you suspected, the two men in the pictures you took are members of the Holy Warriors of God, from Plattsburgh, New York. Most likely there are 5 members left here in Berkeley and they appear to be targeting the relatives of Aleister Crowley and their friends. The Plattsburgh group may get scared and go home, but I doubt it. Here are the photographs of the five that are left. Their leader is the one with an X.

“Gentlemen, Alice is close friends with a group of Gifted people in Sarasota. Would you object to their coming to Berkeley as backup? Good. Would you mind asking them, Alice? How many do you think will come?”

“Four or five when they learn I was attacked.”

“Ok, gentlemen. Government agents will quickly find the rest of the Holy Warriors. The heart Squeeze is their primary attack. Do either of your groups have a counter?”

Neither did.

“Then your best defense is never to be alone. If attacked, physically attack the attacker. I’ll let you know what the government agents find, and hopefully we will soon welcome the group from Sarasota. Thank you for coming.

“Please stay Alice, so you can call your friends.”

After Dr. Crowley and Dr. Spengler left, Karla asked if the Glacier Gang was still tough. “I’d bet on them against the Holy Warriors. Those two guys last night didn’t have a defense against the Squeeze.”

“Use my secure phone. The reason I’m supporting this is because the government has been trying to get rid of the Holy Warriors of God from Plattsburgh for a long time. This is the best shot we’ve ever had. Over the years the Holies have killed two of our agents, along with a lot of other people. We can’t prosecute because there’s never any evidence. Voodoo doesn’t sell well to a jury.”

The Glacier Gang agreed to come when they heard I had been attacked and was in danger. It reminded them of the old days when they were Stephen’s Vigilantes. They called back an hour later and said they will arrive in San Francisco tomorrow morning. Karla gave directions to a safe house in Orinda, a cute little village for rich faculty and administrators just over the hill from Berkeley.

____________________

The Glacier Gang arrived at noon. Ralph did not come. The refrigerator and shelves are well stocked with California’s finest, and we talked with Karla over lunch.

“Our agents have found where the Holies are staying and monitors are in place. We will soon know their plans. Here are their pictures. I’ll let you know when we learn more.”

We spent the rest of the day practicing the Squeeze and reinforcing the defense.

Karla called late in the afternoon. The Holies plan to attack the Crowley group tomorrow evening at their weekly meeting. He suggests we arrive just after dark.

____________________

The next morning we practiced attack and defense and in the afternoon walked around Orinda. Lots of pets and the Bichon Frise is the most popular. They are bright, loveable, little white fluffy dogs.

Click Bichon Frise

Weird history. They were the favorite of Marie Antoinette and 18th Century French Royalty. The poor Bichon were guillotined along with their mistresses and masters. A few escaped to Switzerland, necks intact, hidden under the skirts of loyal ladies of the Royal Household. That must have been quite a trip. At least that’s the story we got from a lady who has one.

We left for the Crowleys around six and were all in place by seven. A few minutes later Karla got a phone call. The Warriors changed their mind and are going to hit the Spengler group, also meeting tonight. Karla was suspicious, so David, Betty and I went to the Spenglers, and Karla, Doris and Ruth stayed with the Crowleys.

It was too quiet. We went down to the basement, and bodies were everywhere. When we checked if any were alive the five Holies came through a side door and attacked. I felt the beginning of a heart squeeze, countered it, and squeezed the brain stem of the nearest Holy. Three went down, leaving two. I squeezed the brain stem of the older guy but couldn’t get past a defense he threw up and felt my heart squeezed more powerfully then before. It took effort to counter. Then the fourth guy went down and everyone attacked the leader.

Dennis, Dr. Spengler and two others were still alive but it was too late for the rest. We told the Crowleys the Spengler group put up a tremendous fight. When we got there all of the Holies were dead except one, and he died soon after we arrived.

 

CHAPTER 27

I needed a little getaway time so went back to Sarasota with the Gang. If I ever settle down it will be with David, but that day may never come. I like the freedom to do whatever I want. Skinny Santa was right, I’m a self-centered brat. My life is down to basics—-food, shelter and guys. I dumped that meaning of life crap and prissy morality long ago.

Yeah, maybe I’m over doing the cynicism a little because I’m scared. Too many times I’ve lost people I love. So I’m a super-tough, super-smart kid just underneath the poor little waif I love to play. Or, am I a poor little waif underneath the super-smart, super-tough kid?

I called Dr. Crowley the day after I got to Sarasota. Dennis and one other member of the Spengler group survived. Dr. Spengler did not.

After a couple of wild and wonderful nights in David’s bedroom, I flew back to Berkeley. Don’t want to miss any more class time especially in neuropsychology. I can’t wait to have a little fun with Dr. Mary Barteau, eminent scholar of the behavioral concomitants of neurological activity.

____________________

I got to Dr. Barteau’s class early and picked a front row seat on the side. Twenty-five or so students were in the room when Dr. Barteau arrived. She’s a dumpy old grandmother, but

noticed me so hasn’t gone senile.

“And who might you be?”

“Sorry Ma’am, I wasn’t able to come the first week.”

“Name?”

“Alice Shannon.”

The first slide was the usual front and side view of the human brain and there were little white dots scattered around. I brought the Glacier Gang’s printout to compare with what science has found. She went through the major areas of the brain and what they did, like the motor strip controls motor functioning. Duh!

She noticed I was looking back and forth between the screen and the printout. I should have been more careful.

“That looks interesting, Alice. What is it?”

“Oh, I got it in high school. Teacher hand-out.”

She glanced at it, made a funny noise in her throat, and snatched it. She just stood there looking at it without moving for at least 3 minutes. Then gave it back and went on with the class. At the end of the hour she asked if I would please stay for a moment.

“Where did you really get this?”

“You don’t believe it was a high school hand-out?”

“No, I do not! Several sites haven’t been published yet, and most haven’t even been researched.”

“Well, I guess my high school teacher was ahead of his time.”

She laughed. “Yes, he certainly was. Perhaps you’ll be a bit more forthcoming when we get to know each other better. May I make a copy?”

“Sure, if you make copies for me of your research papers, published and unpublished.”

“That is so strange, Alice. In all my years of teaching, I’ve never had a student ask that. Makes me sad, as if all those thousands of students were just sleep walking in and out my door. But so much for the sadness of old teachers. If you don’t have a class to go to, sure come along and I’ll see what I can do.”

She spent an hour gathering reprints and making copies of unpublished research. What a team we would make, objective data and subjective experience. But I can’t share my very special methodology, at least not directly.

I spent the evening going through Dr. Barteau’s stuff. What a gold mine. Her research adds many sites the Glacier Gang haven’t found, like auditory memories and hot flashes. Only one bad mistake. I laughed when I tapped sneeze.

 

CHAPTER 28

Arlene is spending a lot of time with Barry. Odd he never comes to the door to pick her up. When I asked when I would meet him she seemed evasive. I saw him at a distance at the dance but didn’t get a good look. She’s purring like a kitten but I have a funny feeling.

Karla called and asked me to come in around ten.

He offered coffee, but no chocolate donuts.

“Good to see you again, Alice. I have a little job if you have time.”

“I always have time for you, Karla.” He’s kinda old but looks in great shape.

“Thank you, Alice. I’ve grown very fond of you as well, and that is not good in my business. There is a group on campus called the Warriors. They have an open meeting at eight tomorrow night to recruit new members. One of them, Jerry Wright, was a member of a group of Holy Warriors in Golden, Colorado a few years ago. We haven’t put many resources into the Golden group because they never seemed to do much except rant about the sins of the world and their own piety. I’ve put in a request for another look.

“Here is Wright’s photograph. If you can make the meeting I’m particularly interested if he or anyone in the group is an active member of the Holies, and whether they have the Gift.”

“Sure, glad to. Would you check out somebody for me, Barry O’Sullivan. My landlady is going out with him and I have a funny feeling. Never met him so maybe just scared Arlene will get hurt again.”

He fired up his computer and quickly lost his cheerful Jimmie Stewart smile. Not good.

A few minutes went by and the printer began to print. “Barry O’Sullivan was or is a member of the same group of Holies as Jerry Wright. Sorry Alice, they may be using Arlene to get to you.”

Oh my God! That is so awful!”

“A lot of unknowns here. Going to the meeting will help clear up a few and there is a good chance Barry will be there. Here’s Barry’s picture.” The printer ink was still wet, and smudged my fingers.

God damn that mother fucking bastard!!”

“Easy Alice, too many unknowns right now to do anything except gather more information. If he’s the bastard he seems to be, he’s all yours.”

“Fair enough. You want to get together day after tomorrow at ten? I’ll tell you what I found and maybe you’ll have an update on the Golden group.”

____________________

Went to the Bear’s Lair and half-way through lunch Dennis came over. He’s pale and has lost a lot of the fire I admire. Two heart squeezes do that I guess.

“Hello Alice. May I sit down?”

“Of course. Want part of an omelet?”

“No thanks. Alice, what really happened?”

“You saved my life by killing two Holy Warriors of God, and then you and your friends killed the rest of the Holy Warriors at Dr. Spengler’s”.

“I don’t think that’s what happened, but I ‘m not sure. I’m so confused. The doctor said it will take a month or more before I’m my old self again and the memories may never come back. I’ve made peace with my father. What’s left of the Spenglers have joined his group.”

“What made you leave?”

“I wanted independence and power. My father wanted wisdom and light.”

“I thought your father was carrying on the Crowley tradition, and old Crowley for sure was after power.”

“Yes, but in his final days Aleister renounced darkness and chose the light. The beautiful sounds of Heaven rocked the house when he died. At least that’s the legend. My father also chose the light. He is following Aleister’s last and greatest insight. ‘The emotional threads of joy and delight bind the universe as one.’ William Blake sang the same beautiful song.”

Oh my yes, I’ve heard that wonderful escape from reality many, many times. Always from sentimental fools who eat well and live in safe neighborhoods. All the horrors of the world are kept far, far away by the army, the police, and the Zoning Commission. And I have seen the shock when raw Reality hits those super-nice people as old age brings the slow death of mind and body. The Zoning Commission can only do so much.

That is so dark. I don’t like myself when I get in this mood, but it won’t last and I’ll soon be singing Blake’s lovely songs again. Knowing Arlene will be hurt has grossed me out and my meddling in her life was the cause. Of course my intentions were of the very finest. Oh yes.

____________________

Dr. Barteau and I are having longer and longer conversations after class, sometimes about neuropsychology, sometimes about life and love, and sometimes how to cook a raspberry omelet. Guess I’m still looking out the window for mommy.

 

CHAPTER 29

I have a hard time at breakfast looking at Arlene’s glowing face, knowing the only reason Barry has been paying attention to her is to get to me. Oh my god! I just thought of another reason for that glow. I thought sex before marriage was a sin. I guess Hell’s infernal can’t compete with testosterone’s raging heat. Karla said to wait until we get more information. That “more information” better be good.

____________________

Jerry Wright’s home is a little cottage set back from the street, partially hidden by a high hedge.

Why do guys have no sense of order and beauty where they live? At least it’s reasonably clean. Jerry probably spent the whole day wiping up the mess he made since the last meeting. Guys are such lovable pigs.

Jerry is open, friendly, and has a warm smile. A super actor? I told him my name was Maria Stockton and he led to a room in the back. There’s a large crucifix on the wall and Christian pictures and symbols scattered around. I was early and there were only four people in the room, and Barry was one of them. He looked up and smiled when I walked over and like Jerry he doesn’t fit the Holies I have known.

“Hi, my name is Maria.”

“Hi, I’m Barry.”

I watched carefully and saw no sign of recognition. If he were a spy for the Holies he would have been given my picture.

“This is my first time here, are you new?”

“Oh no. Jerry and I are old friends and when we came to Berkeley decided to start a group like we had in Colorado.”

“What kind of group was that?”

“Well, we called ourselves the Holy Warriors of God, but I never liked the name, too pretentious. I’m not all that humble, but I don’t set myself that high.”

“Yeah that does sound a little way up there, humility being one of the virtues and all. What did the group do?”

“It was pretty activist. We picketed a place that kills babies and wrote letters to politicians supporting the sanctity of the marriage between a man and a woman. Things like that.”

Either this guy is really good, or Karla and I have nothing to worry about. But it can’t be this easy. Why did he choose Arlene at the Unitarian dance? And would a devout Christian go near a Unitarian Fellowship?

“So the Holy Warriors of God just wrote letters and picketed. That’s it?” Said with just a tiny hint of scorn. Let’s see if he takes the bait.

“Well, one time we burned a bunch of pamphlets advertising an abortion clinic, and another time we threw rotten tomatoes at a meeting of atheists. I guess maybe we should have done more, but mostly we just tried to be decent people.”

“That sounds good enough for me. Did you ever hear of a girl called Alice? Alice Shannon?”

“No. Who is she?” Nothing. No sign of recognition.

“A friend who I thought came here. Do you have a hard time finding nice people to go out with?”

“Yes it’s hard, not many good Christians here. Well, you don’t have to be a Christian to be good. I have a friend who is just a nice, nice person. She was raised Christian but doesn’t go to church anymore.”

“Have you been going together long?”

“No, not long. We met at a dance and really like each other.”

“I’m so glad, Barry,” and you don’t know how close you came to Hell on earth. I detect no dishonesty. So the spy scenario was nothing but coincidence and paranoia? Or is there another doll ready to poop in my face?

“Welcome to all,” Jerry began. “I see some new people and some old. Welcome to all. We are a small group who try to live good lives in a world of sin and corruption. We are not saints. We are human as Christ was human, doing our best to lead decent lives in the midst of the seductive temptations of the world. We attempt to bring a small portion of the love and truth of our Lord Jesus Christ into the world through prayer and ritual. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but we always try our best.”

He began an evocation using a small cross on a table. At the high point of the ritual the cross rose a couple inches. I could sense it took an effort, and it quickly dropped back. Then there were prayers, an old Negro spiritual, and the meeting was over. I thanked Jerry for the wonderful experience and asked how he raised the crucifix.

“It was not me. The glory of our Lord Jesus Christ was here, answering our prayers.”

He really thinks the Lord came down and has no idea he or someone else in the room did it. Like all humans, he used the belief system available to understand what happened.

And yes, you smart trouble makers are correct.

I have done the same.

How do I know the Lord Jesus didn’t come down?

Just before I left I folded two McKinleys and zipped them under the cross on the table to show how generous the Lord can be when pleased with the devotion of his followers.

 

CHAPTER 30

Such a relief watching Arlene move about the kitchen. It’s her turn to make breakfast.

“Are you pregnant?”

“Yes!” Such a beatific smile.

“Does Barry know?”

“No. I don’t know how to tell him.”

“How about, ‘Barry, I’m going to have your kid?’” She laughed.

“Yes, I should do that but I’m scared he won’t want the baby and won’t want me. What if he says I have to get an abortion?”

“He’s pro-life! If he goes hypocrite, shoot the bastard.” Glad to see her laugh. I’ve dropped the poor little waif routine with Arlene and we’re woman to woman now.

“You’re right, Alice, and the sooner the better. I’ll tell him tonight, but I’m scared.”

“I’ll be here, whatever happens,” and gave her a big hug.

____________________

Dr. Barteau has offered me a job as her lab assistant this summer, a job usually reserved for graduate students. I once asked why she never married but she became so sad I never asked again. I’ve become the daughter she never had and she’s become my second mother. That kind of relationship can end badly, but we have a lot more going for us than emotional hooks from the past.

She knows I know more than I let on about the behavioral concomitants of neurological activity, but respects my reluctance to share. I on occasion, oh so subtly, guide her toward fruitful research. She’s not fooled.

____________________

Karla handed me the usual mug of coffee as we sat down at the table in the back room.

“Barry and Jerry try to live up to the ideals of Christianity. Their Shadow ability is minimal and they assume the power is coming from the Lord.”

“Pure coincidence Barry picked Arlene at the dance? And even stranger, he went to a dance at a Unitarian Fellowship?”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Maybe I want to believe that so Arlene won’t get hurt. No! I’m a very good lie detector and those two guys are what they seem. What did you find out about the Golden group?”

“They disbanded a few years ago. They were never heavy Holies, just a few minor incidents.”

“What do you think?”

“Let’s go with coincidence, for now.”

“I have a few questions about the Holy Warriors of God. How many groups are there in the US and is there a group leading the rest?”

“There are nine groups we know of with a loose leadership from a group in Walton, NY. That’s a small village on the west side of the Catskills. The Plattsburgh group has been trying to take over the leadership from the Walton group, so the Waltons are probably not too unhappy their rivals have dropped out of sight. But when they learn they’ve all been killed, they might feel honor bound to seek revenge, or at least find out what happened to protect themselves. They are under fairly regular surveillance so we’ll know if they plan to come to Berkeley.”

“How good are they?”

“Don’t know. On occasion they’ve killed people they considered dangerously evil, but were never the bloodthirsty, God fearing holies from Plattsburgh. How is the Carmel group doing?”

“I feel guilty about that. I guess losing Linda and Greg at Monte Alban makes it too painful to go back. But I should, they are dear to me.”

“We may need their help, along with the Glacier Gang.”

____________________

The Carmel group would love to have me for the weekend. Old man Benson died a month ago and is buried alongside Skinny Santa and Linda under the cypress. That leaves only Johnny, Molly and Maggie. They want to talk about joining the Glacier Gang. And Molly is so excited. They have discovered something wonderful and can’t wait to show me.

 

CHAPTER 31

I’m tired of playing poor, little waif, so flew to Monterey. I felt so sad when I saw just Maggie, Molly and Johnny waiting at the gate. I cried a little on the way home. They understood.

The next morning Johnny gave us a great treat. He got up early, dug razor clams, and made clam omelets for breakfast. Bet you never had a clam omelet, and it’s best you never do. It was a culinary disaster.

“What do you think about our joining the Glacier Gang?” Maggie asked. “You know them well.”

“Their hunting camp at East Glacier has plenty of room and I think they also have enough room in Sarasota. Doris is their leader and Ralph is an older man, no longer very active. Ruth, Betty, David and you three make eight, which seems a comfortable size. Give them a call and talk it over. The snow is falling in northern Montana so they’re probably still in Sarasota. Maggie, you and Doris will need to get your roles straight.”

“What kind of conflict might there be?”

“You are both strong women, used to being in charge. You need to see if you can work together. Ok Molly, you were so excited over the phone. What’s the big deal?”

“Stand over there Alice. Ok. Now look ahead of you near the wall. Lightly tap the left side of your pituitary.”

Nothing.

“Now tap the right side.”

Oh my God! A copy of myself was standing against the wall, wearing what I‘m wearing. The colors are a little pale, and after a minute or so it faded away.

“Wow! What was that?”

“You said the ancient Egyptians called our invisible hands, Shadow hands,” Maggie began, “so we did some research. You just saw your Shadow. Kind of weird. Many occult traditions believe the pituitary is the link between the body and the soul. That’s one reason Hindus put a red mark in the middle of their forehead”.

“So all those wild stories about seeing ghosts were just ways to make sense of a real experience. They were seeing Shadows.”

“Exactly!”

I tapped the right side of my pituitary again and walked over. There’s a slight smudge on my left cheek. Make-up too thick? She just stood there with a blank stare, silent and motionless, and then faded away.

“OK. What do you do with it?”

“We have no idea. We just discovered it a couple weeks ago. We’re trying to find a way to transfer our consciousness, but don’t know if we should. Maybe there’s no way back.”

“Can you all see my Shadow?”

“Yes, and you can see ours“

A Shadow formed in front of each, just as motionless as mine.

“I’m sure you’ve tapped every other part of the pituitary.”

“Nothing,” Maggie answered. “We’ve seen a few Shadows but most don’t seem very aware, more like sleepwalkers. There were two exceptions. Last week we saw the Shadow of an old man floating over by that rock. He was looking out to sea and seemed very sad.

“And a few days ago we went to Cannery Row and saw the Shadow of a little girl. She was very awake and aware, skipping along and looking at everything. We have no idea if her body is dead or alive, we know so little.

“Oh! And we saw the Shadows of two large, black worms slowly circling the old man. Ugly and scary!”

Can’t wait to sit on a bench at Sproul Plaza and watch for Shadows. Do horny Shadows spy on naked women? That must be pretty frustrating unless they can do more than look. Maybe there really are incubi, male Shadows who take advantage of sleeping women? And succubi, female Shadows who hit on sleeping guys? What a trip that would be.

 

CHAPTER 32

When I got back to Arlene’s Sunday night, she was in the kitchen tired and worried. Barry was shocked! Shocked! He needed time to think, poor dear. But just maybe Arlene set him up, told him she was on the pill. Yeah, there are ugly rumors women sometimes do that to grab their guy.

“What did he say?”

“He said he loved me and wanted a little time to decide what to do. You were right, he didn’t say anything about an abortion.”

“Did you tell him you were on the pill?”

She burst into tears. “Yes! I did! I did! And I’d do it again! I want this baby, Alice, and I’m going to have it!”

I went over and hugged her.

“Nobody can stop you having the baby.”

“I’m afraid I’ll miscarry,” she wailed, “or have a monster come out because of what I did to my first.”

I held her tight and comforted her as best I could. Should I tap her calm center to make her feel better? No, that would stop the natural flow. Just comfort and reassure her we’ll go through this together, no matter what Barry do.

“Should I tell him?”

Good God, no! The less guys know about such things the better.”

______________________

I saw nine or ten Shadows on my way to campus but they’re hard to see from a distance. They don’t seem very aware, just drifting along.

While eating my usual breakfast at the Bears Lair, Dennis came over and sat down. He looks more like his old self, thank God.

“Morning Alice. You sure you can eat those two chocolate donuts all by yourself?” I gave him one, I’m not all bad. I assume he’s a gentleman and won’t steal the other one. Ashara is no lady.

“Thanks. We would like you to come to dad’s place this Saturday, seven in the evening. Our group is going to evoke St. Francis of Assisi to help cleanse the planet of the harm done by greedy polluters.”

“Glad to come, St. Francis is my favorite saint. I love the statue of him holding a sweet little bird and Bambi licking his toes.”

“Good, see you then,” grabbed the other donut and ran. Damn! Just as greedy as Ashara. I was so tempted to trip him with my Shadow hands and get my donuts back but stopped myself just in time. People might wonder what two delicious chocolate donut were doing gliding through the air.

Bought a couple more, got my cocoa high, and off to Sather Gate to watch the Shadow World.

____________________

Holy shit! What is that!? A huge, slimy slug in the Shadow World was slithering past, maybe five feet long and three across, dark brown with red and yellow splotches. A heavy wave of disgust and horror went through me.

It suddenly stopped and slowly turned the head of its slimy body toward me. She has no eyes but she sees me and knows I see her. Slow waves began to undulate back and forth along her body. Suddenly a three-foot long, black worm pooped out her rear. No fart ever sounded so bad or smelled so awful.

The black worm started floating toward me with its huge mouth open. The swirling nothingness of that open mouth was going to suck me in. I freaked! I don’t freak, but I freaked and ran into the Bear’s Lair. When I looked out the window mommy and poop were gone. What would have happened if that worm had sucked me in? I have no idea but the thought brought back the horror of my worst nightmare.

When I got back to the Plaza I noticed a movement over on my left and got ready to run. No, it wasn’t a black worm or its slimy mommy. It was a naked male Shadow with a hard on. He was running in and out of the crowd hitting on girls.

Not much of an incubus. All he could do was run up and jerk against them a couple times. Probably the only way the little pervert can get a little. Too bad I don’t know how to activate my Shadow. I’d have fun teaching him what real rape is. That thought sure feels a hell of a lot better than the fear and horror from that slimy slug and her sweet poop.

I saw maybe nine or ten more shadows. Mostly professors and students wandering in and out of Sproul Plaza, all sleep walkers. A beautiful Shadow girl in a bikini came into the Plaza and danced to her boyfriend’s bongo drums for a while.

Oh! Oh! Just to the side of Sather Gate was the Shadow of a little, old man sitting on a fancy, wrought iron Shadow bench. He’s wearing a brown robe and hood. The monk, friar or whatever was awake and aware but when I walked over he ignored me.

A very impolite Man of God? Or maybe scared what a hot, beautiful woman would do to his vow of celibacy. I don’t want to brag, but have found that Men of God are very easy prey.

 

CHAPTER 33

Arlene and I were having breakfast the next morning when Barry called. She motioned me to pick up the other phone.

“Hi Barry, what did you decide?”

“I want to marry you Arlene, but there’s something that might get in the way.”

“Yes? What might that be?”

“My children have to be good Christians. Is that a problem for you?”

“That must mean you want me to become a good Christian too.”

“Yes I do”

“That sounds non-negotiable.”

“Yes, I have to be straight with you. My love of Christ is the central part of my life, and I want the Lord to be the central part of your life as well.”

“That isn’t something you decide, Barry. He’s not a central part of my life now, and may never be.”

There was a long, sad silence as they realized the moment of truth had arrived.

“I love you Arlene, but I love the Lord more.”

“What does that mean?”

“If you can’t accept the Lord as your savior, we don’t have a future together.”

“I’m sorry to hear that Barry. I wish you well.” Hung up, and burst into tears.

Wicked thoughts came swirling out of the blackness. I go to one of their meetings and all hell breaks loose. And I mean the She-Devil sends all those religious symbols crashing around the room, and then runs over to the crucifix on the wall. First she colors Christ’s face a sickly green, then a shocking pink. At the grand climax of the diabolical orgy, Christ’s face bursts into bright red flames, and melts into a black, slimy, smelly mess.

But I would never do that. They are decent people trying to live good lives. They have a very rigid belief system but whether that’s good or bad is not for me to decide. Yes, and mine is just as rigid, so who am I to throw a stone. Barry’s sin was to get involved with a woman he knew would not accept Christ as her savior. Testosterone’s infernal heat kept that awareness far, far away.

The phone rang.

“Arlene, I love you. Please, please come to our services a few times to see if there is any chance you can accept the Lord.”

“No, Barry, and I’m not going to raise my child in such a closed-minded environment. Don’t call again!” Hung up, and burst into tears.

Gotta make sure she doesn’t go back to sour puss, old maid.

____________________

Classes are going well and summer school will start in a few weeks. It’s going to be fun working with Mary in her lab. She stimulates sites in the brain and records the behavioral response, either a physiological reaction or self report. She hasn’t gotten around to studying the pituitary. Wonder if electrical stimulation will have the same effect as our taps? Wow! Would that ever blow minds and guarantee a Nobel.

Fat chance! They’d put that senile, old woman away as quick as they could catch her. Can’t have crazies running around messing with the OVR, Official Version of Reality.

____________________

Arlene didn’t go back to sourpuss old maid. She knows what a nightmare it would be if she bowed before Barry’s God. And she is going to have a baby! We went and bought some unisex baby clothes and supplies. Her pelvis is spreading and her breasts are tender and growing. She loves it.

Maggie, Molly and Johnny have gone to live with the Glacier Gang for a month. The Gang was so excited when Maggie showed them their Shadows. Next week is the start of summer vacation and lab work with Mary doesn’t start for a while so think I’ll go see how the gangs are melding. Checked the weather forecast for Glacier National Park. They aren’t going up there anytime soon.

Damn! Will I ever get to Many Glacier?

 

CHAPTER 34

As I left the Bear’s Lair, I saw a young girl in the Shadow World wearing 60’s hippie clothes walk through Sather gate. Two black Shadow worms were following her. They came nearer and nearer, opened their mouths, and struck. She tried a few times to pull them off but gave up and kept walking.

I followed her to the Campanile and she flowed through the door. After a few moments I heard a scream from the Shadow World and looked up. She was falling from the top of the tower. Her Shadow body was a gruesome mess when it hit the concrete, and the two worms were still sucking whatever they suck. Poor girl. I wonder how many times she’s reenacted that terrible decision made so long ago.

In the afternoon I saw a boy and his dog in the Shadow World. They were running around having a great time chasing each other. So pets have Shadows? Maybe not. The monk created the iron bench to sit on, maybe the boy created the dog to play with. So if the evocation is successful this evening will it be the real St. Francis? How will I know? I don’t have a clue.

I’m not used to feeling this stupid but it’s all relative. Yes, humans are smarter than ants, but imagine a super-super-being who creates universes in his spare time.

____________________

The evocation of St. Francis was held in a large room in the Crowley home. Flickering candles provided an otherworldly atmosphere, and there was a pedestal in the middle of the room covered with white fur. Religious and occult symbols covered walls and ceiling.

The Crowley group was warm and friendly. Shared danger does that.

And to assure you I’m carefully attending to my studies,

I have the data to prove it.

Dr. Crowley started with a short meditation and then began the evocation.

“Let our love and joy reach out to our beloved Saint Francis. Mother Earth needs his love and kindness to heal the neglect and destruction caused by greedy, uncaring people. They close their hearts and they close their minds to the harm they do.”

Oh my, four Shadows came into the room. They look like old frat boys. The Crowley’s aren’t aware of the Shadow World, so can’t see or hear them.

“Saint Francis, feel our love, feel our joy. Let our love and joy grow as we invite our beloved saint to come among us. Send out our love and joy. Send out our invitation for Saint Francis to come among us to help heal our beloved Mother Earth.”

One of the Shadows began to morph into St. Francis. The robe of the saint appeared and then the halo. Another Shadow was changing into the Devil, with the usual tail, horns and pitchfork, or whatever it’s called.

“Send out our love and joy. Send out our love and joy for St. Francis to come among us.”

The other three shadows noticed the Devil and burst out laughing as the Devil started to walk toward the pedestal. They grabbed him and wrestled on the ground as macho guys sometimes do.

“In the name of all that is just and holy, in the name of beauty and truth, we ask St. Francis to come among us.”

The Shadow boys finished wrestling and St. Francis was moving toward the pedestal.

“St. Francis, use our love and use our joy to guide you here tonight! Come among us in love and joy! Come among us! Now!”

And yes indeed, the Shadow of St. Francis floated onto the pedestal and the faint outline of his robe and halo began to appear. There were many ohs and ahs, gasps and grunts, as they realized their prayers were answered.

“Yes! Yes! Feel the love, feel the joy. Yes! Yes! I see our beloved Saint.”

St. Francis was becoming more and more solid and gaining color. His golden halo was beautiful. There was complete silence as the Saint materialized in all his glory. The shimmering light around his body was a nice touch. And the great Saint began to speak.

“Your love and your caring have brought me forth. I feel your love and feel the goodness of your hearts. In life I also sought to heal our beloved mother earth and her many creatures. Evil people are now causing great harm.

“You are among the blessed, and I give you my love, and I give you my joy, my wisdom, and my strength. Fight the evils of the world! Fight evil with love! Fight evil with joy! Fight evil with wisdom! Fight evil with strength and courage!”

The Shadow guys were jumping up and down, clapping their hands at this magnificent display of saintly rhetoric. And pointing and laughing at the gullible fools.

“My stay here is brief and I must go. I leave you with a heart full of love and joy. Blessed followers of the Lord like yourselves nourish all Reality. Together we will make the world a wondrous paradise for all God’s children.”

Everyone stood with outstretched hands as Saint Francis faded away. We overflowed with love and joy.

Not for long. The Devil jumped onto the pedestal, there was a loud clap of thunder, and he suddenly appeared in a midst of smoke, fire, and brimstone.

What a magnificent display of demonic glory. Heads snapped around and mouths flew open.

“You stupid fools left the gate open and I am now among you! I am the power behind all realities. I am the power behind all creation. Your simple little god lives only in your simple little minds. Poor little talkative Christianity. All the divine words from ‘Let there be light’ to ‘It is ended’ are nothing but the vicious threats and empty promises of fools, liars and thieves.”

Oh my, these really are college boys and the Devil has taken British Lit. Most of that last part was lifted from E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India.

Dr. Crowley was the first to gather his wits and courage.

“Be gone Satan! I beseech you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the power of God almighty. Be gone!” The good doctor falls back on the rhetoric of Christianity in a pinch.

“Empty, meaningless words. What pitiful, ignorant weaklings you humans are. Your tiny minds understand only the simplest maps of Reality. Reality itself is far, far beyond your comprehension. I’d gouge out your eyes and take your souls, but they aren’t worth the trouble.”

The other Shadows were rolling in the aisles. I was beginning to feel a little sorry for the Crowleys. This guy playing the Devil is good. I gotta admire Dr. Crowley though, he was badly shaken but not giving up.

“By all of the love I have ever felt! By all the good I have ever done! I order you in the name of God Almighty to return to Hell! NOW!

Well, I decided it was time to help out a little. So at the end of that reverse evocation I stretched out my Shadow hands and found the Devil solid enough to grab. Picked him up, turned him upside down, lifted him in the air, and dropped him on his head.

Oh my, what a sad, pitiful howl of fear and pain, and then the poor Devil faded back to full Shadow. He’s obviously not used to such rude treatment at these fun events he and his friends attend. The frat boys looked around trying to figure out what happened. They were scared and when they didn’t find anything, decided it was time to leave lest further evil befall them. Remember the old saying, “it ain’t no fun when the bunny’s got the gun”.

Dr. Crowley quickly recovered. “Yes! Yes! With the help of our Lord, we have conquered evil. Oh you good people. Oh you good, decent people! St. Francis sent us the love, the joy, the strength, the courage, to send the Devil back to Hell!!”

And they burst into a soul shaking chorus of “Onward Christian Soldiers”. They really aren’t Christians but that great march was just right. I was moved.

I heard a noise in back of me from the Shadow World and turned around. The Shadow monk from Sather Gate was clapping and laughing, and Ashara’s Shadow was standing next to him, jumping up and down and waving her arms. Then they faded away. Well as I suspected, Ashara is a little more than a sweet little girl who steals chocolate donuts.

I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t dropped the Devil on his head. Would Ashara and the monk have saved Christianity?

The Holy High was still going strong a half hour later and I had enough holiness for one night. I told them how profoundly impressed I am by their almighty power and glory.

And what about poor old Aleister and all those demons and monsters he evoked?

THE GREAT BEAST

Just a bunch of Shadows having a go at the poor, ignorant man? What chuckles they must have had.

 

CHAPTER 35

David met me at the airport and wanted to spend a little quality time together. So we found a cute little motel on Sarasota Bay and chatted, among other things, for a good three hours. He is able to maintain an extraordinarily stimulating and satisfying level of communication for a long time. The fairy bells were ringing and little blue and green fairies were flittering around our shining bodies.

We had a nice, healthy glow when we came through the front door of the Glacier Gang’s mansion in The Meadows. We were a little late to no one’s surprise. The cake was fresh. The ice cream still frozen. All’s well.

They’ve decided to combine the two groups. Doris will be the leader and depend upon Maggie when she’s not around. Thank God they like each other and have similar styles. Everyone will go to the hunting camp summers, and alternate between Sarasota and Carmel winters.

I told them about the 5-foot slimy slug that poops black worms like the two they saw floating around the old man by the sea. And warned not to get too close when mommy poops.

Everybody laughed and cheered when I told them about dropping the Devil on his head.

“What worries me is the frat boys are way ahead of us. They know how to transfer their consciousness into their Shadow, how to change the appearance of their Shadow, how to partially materialize into this solid world, and even how to create the fire and brimstone of Hell. We don’t have a clue.”

“Yes,” Johnny said, “and we don’t know how dangerous their Shadows or their materialized Shadows might be. Just maybe the Holy Warriors of God from Walton know all about how to use the Shadow World. Not so good if they find out what we did to their buddies from Plattsburgh and come for revenge.”

“I’m pretty sure those four guys at the Crowleys are students at Berkeley. I’ll find them when I get back and do whatever I have to do to learn their secret.”

“Be careful, Alice,” Doris said. “If you need us we’ll be there.”

“I’ll do some research,” Johnny said. “Maybe there are hints in the religious, occult and spiritual literature about how to activate Shadows.”

“So far we’ve just had fun,” Maggie said. “Now we get serious. Alice will be here for a week. Let’s get to work”.

We got nowhere. Our stupid Shadows just stood there staring back no matter what we did. How hard can it be? The frat boys can do it.

It wasn’t all work. We walked around the huge banyan trees and great orchid collection at Selby Gardens, and went shopping at Saint Armand’s Circle. Then off to the Friday Night Artwalk at Towles Court, a cluster of funky little 2-story cottages that used to be a migrant camp. Artists live on the second floor and sell their creations on the first. Wonder if they have Friday Night Orgy right after the Friday Night Artwalk?

And toured the marvelous Persian style mansion built by John and Mabel Ringling.

Click Ca’d’Zan

Then goodbyes and back to Berkeley. Gonna miss David and the Gang.

While waiting for my connection in Atlanta, I saw a crowd of Shadows go thru the check point and flow into the boarding area. They behaved so naturally, talking to one another, reading a paper, watching people. When their flight was called they all got up and went through their final gate. Why this need for reenactment?

 

CHAPTER 36

Arlene was very anxious at breakfast. She threw up twice last night and phoned her doctor’s office early this morning demanding she be seen immediately. I assured her it was just morning sickness but she’s taking no chances. Her high level of anxiety is not good for the baby and I gently tapped her calm center.

Surprise! On my way to class, the Shadow monk waved and smiled and I waved back, attracting the attention of people walking by. They saw nothing and stared back at me with that “she must be crazy” look. I walked over but he ignored me, again. Limited conversational skills from too many years in his tiny cell at the monastery? Where’s his buddy, Ashara?

Between classes I searched the bulletin boards for Satanist groups. Two looked interesting.

YOU HAVE BEEN LIED TO

God and Satan dance together eternally. Neither exists without the other. We worship the power of creative destruction. All are invited who no longer believe the Christian God is all powerful and all good. That is an obvious lie. Come to our group and learn the truth.

June the 2nd 7 PM

784 Bainbridge Drive, Berkeley

The second group was not quite as philosophical.

COME TO THE RIGHTSIDE

Do all those holier than thou Christians make you sick? Do all those self-righteous hypocrites make you puke? If you’ve had enough flim flam Christianity come to our meeting. We worship Reality, not sugar coated lies. We worship the true, the glorious power of the universe. We worship Satan. 426 Socrates Lane, Berkeley, 8pm June 4th.

____________________

Half-way through breakfast with Arlene the next morning Karla called and asked me to come in around ten. Well good, I want to find out about the Satanist groups on campus. I have no idea if he knows about the Shadow World and don’t want to ask. He can be trusted to treat me well, as long as I’m useful.

The Shadow monk waved again on my way to see Karla and pointed past Sather Gate to the sad Shadow hippie walking to her death. Three black Shadow worms were following her. The monk moved between the girl and the worms, did something, and they scattered.

He put his arm around her as she came through the Gate and they floated to the Campanile, and through the door. I heard beautiful music from the Shadow World and looked up. They were floating higher and higher into the sky. I’m pretty sure I won’t see her again.

Why did he invite me to come along? How did he scare the worms away? And why has he watched her go by so many times and decided to help today? I hate knowing so little.

____________________

Karla’s in a good mood, poured coffee, and pushed over two chocolate donuts. He’s discovered the second best way to make me happy.

“That was quite a show at the Crowleys.”

“Oh my, yes! I was so impressed with Dr. Crowley. How many people do you know can send the Devil back to Hell?”

“None! That took great courage and self-control. Oh I so wish I’d been there. What drama! The Devil himself, appearing in a clap of thunder, surrounded by fire and brimstone.”

“Believe me, it was impressive! I’ve never seen a better entrance and I‘ve never seen a better exit. Dr. Crowley flipped that poor Devil upside down and dropped him on his head. He howled and screamed, and flew back to Hell with his forked tail between his hairy legs.”

“Amazing.”

“Very.”

He burst out laughing. “Alice, you are so entertaining.” Nice laugh, too bad he’s so old. “Ok. If you have the time I have a little job for you.”

“Sure, and I have a question for you.”

“Go.”

“What do you know about the Satanist groups on campus?”

“We know a lot about them. Would you like basic information about the five most important, and pictures of their members?”

“Yes I would. Thank you.”

He typed, and the printer printed.

“Ok, here is what I would like you to do. It’s rather important so I would be grateful if you would come with me now to the National Lab at Livermore. This is short notice and I apologize, but it is highly important. A helicopter is waiting.”

“Sure. Never rode a helicopter before.”

The helicopter pad is on the roof of an old building on campus. They built solid back then. Wow! What a rush as the helicopter went straight up and the campus become smaller and smaller.

“Here’s the deal. There’s a shift change at the lab in about 2 hours, and one of the workers will be carrying a very valuable red plastic cylinder. The cylinder is about 6 inches long, 1 inch wide, heavy, and sealed at both ends. No markings. I would like you to stand next to the guard at the exit gate and search for the cylinder with your Shadow hands. When you find it, quietly let me know.”

“Won’t people wonder who I am?”

He opened a bag. “Here’s your uniform.” Ugly gray and green.

“Change now, or…?”

“Changing now would save time, if you don’t mind.”

So I went down to bra and panties. He looked, but he’s a gentleman and only glanced. Strange, he’s getting younger and I’ve always been fond of Jimmie Stewart. The uniform has a badge with my picture.

The guard will hold each person at the gate until I nod. They know Karla at the Lab and will ask no questions. He gave me an ear plug and little mike.

____________________

As I waited for the workers to start coming through the gate I noticed two Shadows standing against the far wall. Both male and I think one has a beard. Foreign spies? CIA? Tourists? Does Karla know there are Shadows here? Should I tell him?

Never played authoritarian before, kind of fun for a while. I ran my Shadow hands over everything and everybody as they passed through. When they had 2 or 3 bags I asked for an ID.

That guy has something very strange. “Karla, the guy in the blue jacket has five heavy plastic cubes in his briefcase.”

“Thanks, we’ll check it out.”

Then I found it. A young girl was carrying the cylinder in a secret compartment at the bottom of her purse.

“Good work, Alice. Do you mind staying there for the rest of the shift and see if you can find anything else unusual?”

“Sure, if you pop for dinner.”

“It’s a deal.”

Then the two Shadows started toward me and I knew I was in trouble. I felt an attack on my brain stem, ZAP, but part of the attack got through and I lost consciousness.

 

CHAPTER 37

I woke the next morning at the Kaiser Hospital in Livermore. I had a headache and was very confused. I didn’t know who or where I was. A pretty little girl with long corkscrew curls held my hand for a while. Then she left and a guy with a nice smile sat down next to the bed. It was a while before I knew it was Karla.

“Glad you’re back, Alice. How do you feel?”

“Still a little confused but I know who I am now and who you are.”

“Good. What happened?”

“A couple of guys put the Squeeze on me and I couldn’t completely counter.”

“What guys?”

And so the moment has come. Should I tell him about the Shadow World? No point in lying. He is a very good lie detector.

“The Glacier Gang calls them Shadows, as did the ancient Egyptians. They are invisible to most people. There were two at Livermore and attacked just after I found the cylinder.”

“We explored that area but got nowhere. It seems others were more successful. Could you tell from their appearance who they might be?”

“No. Casual clothes, faces not clear enough to judge race. Both male and one had a beard.”

“Then at the Crowleys the Devil and Saint Francis were Shadows.”

“Yes. They looked like old frat boys, playing saint and Satan. That’s why I asked for information about Satanists on campus.”

“Ok Alice, I’ve had such fun dancing with you, but it’s time to stop. I am CIA Western Sector Chief. I also have the Gift and can do what you do but know nothing about the Shadow World. I won’t try patriotism because you’re too cynical, so I’ll go self-interest. You are now a target and the more I know the better I can protect you.”

I’m an excellent lie detector, but he’s an excellent liar. I can’t tell for sure, but I think he already knows about the Shadow World, probably much more than I do. Is this another test? Those pesky Russian dolls are laughing at me again.

“We can see Shadows but that’s it. The Glacier Gang is working hard to learn more.”

“OK, time to reactivate our research team. Are you interested in working for the CIA? I can offer you quite a handsome salary in exchange for coming to Langley on occasion and keeping us up to date on your progress.”

“Thanks, can’t do that. I don’t trust governments and certainly don’t want to work for one, not even my own.” He wasn’t happy but didn’t push.

“Feel good enough to go back to Berkeley?”

“Sure. I’ve been wondering, how did you get your name?”

“I chose it. I admire Le Carre spy thrillers and Karla is the name of his Russian master spy.”

 

CHAPTER 38

Great news! Mary is going on sabbatical the end of the next school year and has been offered a visiting professorship at the Sorbonne in Paris. I will be her research assistant. With hard work and a little maneuvering by Dr. Crowley, Jimmy and Mary, I can get my Bachelor’s degree in time to be a graduate student. Starting today we’ll speak French as much as possible. She grew up in Paris, and her 90-year old mother, Madame Jeanette Barteau, still lives there.

Oh, and I’ll be Mary’s assistant in the neuropsychology class next year and help in the lab. Unusual for an undergraduate but as you may have noticed, I’m not an average undergraduate. Going to even have an office in Tolman Hall shared with three graduate students. Wonder how they’ll take having to share a room with an undergraduate?

I checked the photographs of the members of the Satanist groups Karla gave me. I’m pretty sure the ones at the Crowleys are members of the Merry Jesters of Darkness. They never have open meetings so I’ll visit the two Satanist groups I found on the bulletin boards and hope members of the Merry Jesters sometimes go slumming. Worth a try, and I might have a hell of a good time having my own merry jester fun.

Tonight is the meeting of the philosophical Satanists, 784 Bainbridge Drive.

____________________

The house has a messy yard, peeling paint, and broken down awnings trying to hide dirty windows. Perfect for worshipers of the Dark Side. I got there early and sat in the back. The people coming through the door are as dark as the house, and too cheap to buy soap or deodorants.

About 13 people were in the room, including two females, when the Devil’s Disciple walked to the front. He has intense eyes, a tiny tick on his right cheek, and the goatee of the Great One.

“Welcome to all,” he said in a deep, solemn voice. “Here in this room we are the reality of the world. Here in this room we fulfill the mysteries. Here in this room we dance love and hate, creation and destruction. You cannot have love without hate, creation without destruction. Do not deny your true nature. Do not deny your need to destroy in the service of creation! Your need to destroy in the service of Satan!”

Oh my, I have to do something. This is too heavy. I picked a guy in the front row and tapped his laugh center. He burst out laughing and almost strangled trying to stop. Tapped the laugh center of the girl in the second row, and then tapped a few more.

Yes! Yes! Satan has come among us,” screamed the Devil’s Disciple. “Feel the power of Satan’s laughter! Feel the almighty power of Satan filling your heart! Yes! Yes! Satan is here! All hail Satan! All hail your wisdom and glory!”

They want Satan, they get Satan. I grabbed his head off the table at the front of the room with my Shadow hands and lifted it into the air. Everyone stopped laughing and started to shout and scream and grovel before the Great One. Then I sent Satan’s head swirling around the room and people groveled even lower.

The Devil’s Disciple lost it, crawled under the table, and babbled and blubbered obscenities and curses at everybody and everything. After I set Satan back on the pedestal a few good people tried to pull Satan’s Disciple from under the table, but it was obvious his part in the service was over.

The headless herd didn’t know what to do. They began to look around, confused and disoriented, afraid of what might happen next. Then everyone broke for the door at the same time to get away from this accursed room. Maybe Satan wasn’t as much fun as they thought. Big trouble at the door but eventually everybody escaped, except Satan’s Disciple. He was still babbling and blubbering under the table.

I went over, crouched next to him, and tapped his calm center. He recovered quickly and looked around at the empty room.

“What happened?”

“Satan came, and Satan is not pleased. You are unworthy.”

His eyes rolled back in his head and he uttered such a long, pitiful sigh. “I try so hard to be worthy, so hard to be bad. But I keep being good. Oh I try, I try, but I fail. Satan is right, I am unworthy. I try so hard to take him into my heart. I pray to him every night and sometimes, oh so seldom, but sometimes I feel his presence. I beseech him to make me worthy to follow him through the Gates of Hell. But then he leaves, and I doubt I will ever be evil enough to enter his Kingdom.”

“I have been sent to tell you that you must first go through the Gates of Heaven before you are worthy to enter the Gates of Hell. You must first embrace goodness before you can embrace evil. Go and do good deeds as penance. After you have done 25, look again at this image of Satan. He will decide if your sacrifice is worthy.”

“Oh thank you, thank you! That is the answer I’ve been searching for. I don’t know who you are but I feel the power of Satan in your words.”

“My next visit is with the Merry Jesters of Darkness. Do you know of them“?

“Oh yes, they are most worthy followers of darkness, but they sometimes seem to have more fun than is proper. But who am I to judge, only Satan has that right“.

“Where do they meet and when?”

“Friday nights, 7 O’clock, at Jason’s place on Connecticut Street, 476.”

“I sense you will succeed in your quest. Do the penance you have been given and you will return to the path of our beloved Lord. Please tell the Merry Jesters I will be attending their next meeting. Tell them the Dark Lady will be coming for a visit.”

“Yes I will. Thank you so much!”

 

CHAPTER 39

Jason’s place is a lovely Victorian, nicely landscaped with a recent paint job.

“You must be the Dark Lady. Nice name. Come on in.”

I don’t think Jason recognizes me. He must be in his late 20’s, and still has a frat boy look. I have no idea what it is about guys that make them look like frat boys. Well yeah, I think I do. They have an expensive, casual look, are fun loving, and don’t much try to hide their sense of superiority. At least those at Berkeley.

What a shock when I got to the meeting room. No black candles sticking out the noses of cheap, plastic skulls. No dark, gloomy symbols or flickering candles along the wall. The meeting room

was well lit and full of flowers and greenery.

Ah, I see! A statue of Pan is on a pedestal beneath a bower of flowers. He has a very impressive erection. I think I know where this gang of guys hope to go with a visit from the Dark Lady.

I went over to Pan, bowed, slowly stroked his penis three times, and bowed again. That got the guys’ testosterone surging through their bodies. Males are so stupid when they’re hot. I went and sat as demurely as I could on the couch. A guy sat down next to me and started to fondle my breast. I’m pretty sure it’s Darryl Delaney.

“I will tell you only once, Mr. Delaney. Take your hand away!” He laughed and a couple of others giggled. So I did my thing, got the howl, and he fell on the floor. Stunned silence. Then he got up and started toward me.

You mother fucking bitch.”

Two of the guys rushed over.

“No, no, let him come. I love playing with dumb assholes.”

They shrugged and let him go. In the middle of his charge my Shadow hands picked him up and slammed him against the wall. Knocked the breath right out of him and he lay there looking very stupid.

“I advise you never to try that again, Mr. Delaney,” and turned to the other three. “So, you are used to abusing women. That is a serious mistake. Give me the slightest excuse and I will show you how serious that mistake can be.” They were stunned, so probably don’t know about Shadow hands or how powerful they can be. And didn’t send out their Shadows.

I went over to Pan and bowed again. “May your days be long and your maidens sweet. I worship the holiness of lust. The lust of a man joyfully entering a woman’s slippery heat. The lust of a woman joyfully opening her legs to the man’s burning fire. Kindly instruct these ignorant peasants in the proper treatment of a lady.”

Slowly stroked his penis again, bowed, and sat back on the couch.

Nice transformation from lust to respect. They all stood and clapped. “Well,” Jason said, “we never had a meeting start like that before. And we thought we knew what drama was. I congratulate you Dark Lady.”

“Thank you. Your St. Francis and Devil at the Crowleys were wonderful.”

“I thought I recognized you. You sent our poor Devil back to Hell.”

“Yes I did. I love drama and that was the dramatic thing to do.”

“Yes it was. Why have you come to our meeting tonight?”

“I would like to be part of some of your dramas.”

“Interesting. A female would add many dramatic possibilities. What do you think guys?”

“I want to know how you threw me against the wall.”

“Pan loves my sweet caresses. Would you like him to do it again?”

They all laughed, even Darryl. Good, I don’t want an enemy.

“Ok Dark Lady, your humor fits right in. We’ll have all our members back in a couple of weeks and talk it over. How can we get hold of you?”

“Leave a message for Alice with the secretary of the Psych Department.”

“Good. Thank you for coming. You have brought wonderful new dramatic possibilities to the Merry Jesters.”

Jason’s Shadow followed me out the front door, and I turned and waved. He smiled, waved, and went back into the house.

I don’t know how to play this. I don’t want them to know I can’t activate my Shadow. They’ll want to know how I threw Darryl against the wall.

On my way back to Arlene’s from Jason’s, I think I’ll see if I can seduce the campus rapist. He’s been terrorizing women for a couple of months. But it’s a big campus so the odds of his finding me are small. Except, women are advised always to pair up after dark, and I’m alone.

A guy came walking toward me and brushed lightly as we passed. We both stopped and looked at each other. Could he be the rapist? He’s very young and shy, with a slight droop on the left side of his mouth. He cleared his throat and said hi.

“Hi.” Poor boy just stood there not knowing what to do. Mighty lame rapist.

He cleared his throat again. “Hi. I’m Jamie.”

Maybe I could have a little fun with him. As I once said, shy guys can be fun if you’re not in a hurry.

“Hi, I’m Maria. Where you going?”

“Home,” and looked down.

Nope. I’m not a mother, martyr, or that horny.

“Nice to see you, gotta go” and turned around. No, I didn’t suddenly feel a gun or knife in my ribs. He went his way and I went mine. Life is mostly like that. No chills. No thrills.

Oh. The rapist found me.

 

CHAPTER 40

Arlene’s hips are spreading and her tummy is getting bigger and bigger. She found out yesterday it’s a girl, so today we’re going to buy some of that soft, pink, little girl stuff mothers love. Barry called a couple of times. No hope there.

Arlene has spruced up the place and it doesn’t look like a dump anymore. People are staying and she’s going to raise the rent a little. See? We don’t need you big, hairy, smelly apes. Well, maybe to take out the garbage, and a few other little things.

____________________

Big surprise when I got to Sproul Plaza. The Shadow monk got up from his bench, waved and led into the administration building, down the hallway to the fifth door on the left. Karla’s office, as I’m sure you remember. In the back room he touched my forehead. There was a flash, and I saw my solid body standing a few feet away. Oh my, how young, pretty, and innocent.

“Hello Alice, I’m Brother Timothy.”

“Hi, Brother Timothy. How about Sister Alice for balance?” He laughed. “How did you do that?”

“When I send you back to your physical body, make your Spirit hands very small. In the center of your third eye, the pituitary, there is a tiny sphere, the Divine Dot. Give it a slight squeeze and you will return to your spirit body.”

Another flash and I was back in my solid body. I made my Shadow hands small and felt around the center of the pituitary for the little Dot. I searched for 10 minutes and found nothing. He motioned to make my Shadow hands even smaller. After another ten minutes I found it and flashed back to my Shadow body.

“I assume I get back to my solid body by finding the Divine Dot in my Shadow.”

“Correct.”

So I made my hands very small and searched. There’s no pituitary in my Shadow head, so finding the tiny Dot was very difficult. It took almost half an hour before I got the flash back to my solid body. This will take a lot of practice. I found the Dot faster the second time and flashed back to my Shadow.

“I’m very grateful, Brother Timothy. Why have you given me the secret and how can I repay you?”

“I no longer have a physical body and limited how I can help others, so on occasion I hope you can help me carry out good deeds in the physical and the Spirit worlds.”

“Gladly! What can I do for you now?”

“There is a woman dying at Berkeley Memorial, Dorothy McGill. Please contact her son, 734-4479. On the top shelf of the closet in her bedroom there is an old cloth doll her mother made for her when she was a child. Ask her son to bring it to her. The doll will ease the dying and create a strong desire for her mother, who will come and provide love and guidance.”

“Will do. Give me another. You have given me so much today.”

“All right. The rapist you killed last night is confused and terrified. His spirit is hovering where he died but is too fearful to see his mother, who has come to guide him to his new home. Send waves of calm so he can become aware of her.”

“Not sure how to do that, but if you think I can that’s good enough. What are those ugly worms and their mother? And how did you get rid of them when you helped the young girl?”

“They are called Brools. You get rid of the worms by sending waves of love and joy. Stay away from the mother.” And Brother Timothy faded away.

After a hard struggle, I flashed back to my solid body and called Dorothy’s son.

“Yes, I will. Thank you. Who are you?”

____________________

Not sure I want to help that bastard. My gratitude got in the way of my judgment. And what will he and his mother do when they see his killer coming?

He was naked, crouched behind the dumpster, shivering with fear. So different from the guy who put a knife to my throat and threatened to kill me. His mother was frantically trying to get his attention. She was also trying to get rid of 5 black Shadow worms sucking on his face and legs. I went off to the side and squeezed the little Dot. Took only a couple of minutes this time.

I sent waves of love and joy toward the worms. Nothing. Sent waves toward the closest worm and it popped off and floated rapidly away. Easy.

Oh shit! The other four started toward me, black mouths open. I felt sucked into that awful nothingness. I will not freak! I will not freak! I threw good feelings and they slowed down, but then came on. I didn’t think, I just gathered everything I had and threw it at them. They hesitated, flipping back and forth. I kept pushing love and joy as hard as I could. Not easy staring into nothingness.

Thank God they closed their mouths and floated rapidly away.

“Thank you,” the guy’s mother said, “but why did you have to kill him? He was so young. He could have been saved.”

“He threatened to kill me. I wasn’t the first and would not have been the last. We need to help him now.”

“Yes, we need to help him. A priest abused him in grammar school and his father called him a faggot. He was out to prove his father wrong and did it by abusing women. Well, his father abused me so I guess that makes sense. What sad, awful waste.”

“What’s his name?”

“Michael. We called him Sonny because his father’s name was Michael. He never had a name of his own, and hated Sonny.”

I could feel and see dark-red waves of fear coming from him. Emotions flow like colored clouds or very light liquids in the Shadow World. There was a battle between his dark flow of fear and my lemon yellow clouds of soothing calmness, and I wasn’t winning. Ok, this is hard but let me add pale green clouds of caring. I feel at least a little pity for the guy because of his history.

Ah, that’s better. My flow of calmness and caring began to push back the fear. But then he saw me, and red fear gushed out of him again and he tried to get even farther behind the dumpster. What to do now? Try again. And increased the flow of caring and calmness.

“Why did you kill me?”

“Because you were going to kill me.”

“I wouldn’t do that. Mommy says I’m a good boy. My father hates me and calls me a faggot. I’m not a faggot! I’ll show him! I’m gonna go get a bunch of girls and show him!”

“That was then. This is NOW! Look at me! Good! Now look at your mother.”

Mommy!” and began to cry. She was gently rocking him when I left.

 

CHAPTER 41

Summer school is over and the lab closed, so off to Glacier. I told the Glacier Gang I have a very big surprise. I can’t wait to explore the Shadow World with them, and I’m finally going to get to Many Glacier. Oh yeah.

Well, as you surely know, so much for that. There is a big snow storm on the way and arctic air has come early to northern Montana. So the Gang has moved back to Sarasota for the winter. Carmel next year.

I’m so tempted to explore the Shadow World alone but decided to share the joy of discovery with the Gang. And maybe I like the idea of having some friends around, just in case I get in trouble. Of course that is so rare, but you can’t be too careful.

____________________

David met me at the airport and took me to the cute little motel on the bay for our 3-hour stimulating chat. I’m super curious what sex is like in the Shadow World. I’ve read about astral sex, the direct exchange of sexual energy, but I suspect that’s just a come on to sell books and ease the seduction of innocent young boys by older women.

When we got to The Meadows, I wanted to add a little suspense, so I asked Johnny what he found in the religious, supernatural and occult literature.

“I discovered the real history of religion. What happens is some guy accidentally stumbles on some small part of the Shadow World, and from that limited experience spins a wonderful fantasy. If he’s a gifted leader or writer a cult is born. And if the cult fits the needs of the King, Sultan, Emperor, or politician, a religion is born. Then they have Holy Wars, each side absolutely certain they have The Truth and God is on their side. So many useful idiots. ‘KILL THE INFIDEL!’ ‘DIE FOR THE GLORY OF GOD!’ Of course the rulers have no interest in The Truth. They use religion to gain money, power and glory.”

“OK, Alice,” Doris said, “we fed you chocolate cake and blueberry ice cream, and Johnny has done a brilliant job summarizing the real history of religion. I can’t believe you ate two big helpings. Your turn. What’s the big surprise?”

“Has everybody tapped the left side of their pituitary? Ok, watch. This may take a couple of minutes.”

It only took a minute for the flash and shift into my Shadow body. I looked at them for a moment, knowing all they saw was the usual Shadow, vacant and motionless. Then burst into a wild dance, waving my arms and jumping up and down like a crazy woman. And the fairy bells and the flashing blue and green fairies were swirling all around me.

When I went back to solid they rushed over, demanding how I did it. I told them about the tiny hands and the Divine Dot in the middle of the pituitary, and warned it’s a whole lot easier to move their consciousness into their Shadow than to get back into their solid body.

After half an hour Maggie found the Dot and went wild, shouting and screaming, jumping up and down, swirling around and around. In the next half hour Johnny, Molly, Doris and Ralph also moved into their Shadows and went crazy. Betty and David were still struggling so I worked with them. Both made it after another 15 minutes.

And now the hard part, getting back. What if they can’t? What do you do with an empty body? Maybe my joy and enthusiasm got in the way of good sense. Nah! I can always squeeze the Divine Dot in their Shadow like Brother Timothy did for me. I hope.

It took two hours and a big struggle to get everyone back into their solid bodies. We’ll practice going back and forth the rest of the day, and tomorrow we explore the World of Shadow.

David and I wanted to try astral sex tonight, but decided to wait until we learn more about the Shadow World. Not to worry, in the meantime we will carefully tend the many gardens of carnal delight.

 

CHAPTER 42

The next morning there were bowls of grapefruit, oranges and tangerines on the table from the citrus grove behind the house. Johnny went clamming in Sarasota Bay and as a special treat for me cooked clam omelets. Just like in Carmel, they bombed. I mean really bombed. Everybody tried to keep a straight face and eat at least a little. I think Johnny got the message. God, I hope so! Not only does it taste terrible, that yellow, reddish-gray mess looks like vomit.

Along with the clams, he brought back a large sea trout for Maggie to cook for supper. He went to the end of the Ringling Bridge, waited for a fat one to swim by, squeezed its brain stem, and scooped it out.

After breakfast we’ll move into our Shadows and learn to create things in the Shadow World.

____________________

Can’t be hard if frat boys do it, and it isn’t. When in your Shadow, the greater the desire the more quickly your creation appears in the Shadow World and the longer it lasts. David found if you wind up your desire like a spring and then suddenly release it your creation immediately pops into Shadow reality.

The things created are well formed. You don’t have to desire what your want very clearly, just the general idea. The details are stored in your brain or wherever.

And you don’t need to know how desire works. I desire to raise my arm and desire to create a cute, little puppy dog. My arm goes up, and the puppy dog comes over and licks my hand.

We spent the rest of the day creating everything we could think of, and at the grand finale went out to the lake and created a herd of elephants. We sent them charging in a mighty cloud of Shadow dust toward downtown Sarasota, five miles away. I wonder if they made it to Main Street and if anybody noticed. What we create in the Shadow world lasts from a few seconds to an hour or so, depending upon how strong the desire.

The sea trout was delicious.

____________________

The next morning we practiced changing the appearance of our Shadows. Easy, just desire again. I changed into a pretty good Devil. Maggie changed into a duck, quacking and flapping around the room. Lots of fun.

Soon we began to show off. I went to the center of the room, created a big clap of thunder and appeared as the Devil in the middle of a pretty good flash of fire and black smoke. The sequence was a bit off but not too bad. Darryl’s Devil at the Crowley’s was better. I forgot the brimstone.

Doris and Maggie changed into Scarecrow and the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wicked Witch ran around tossing balls of fire from her broomstick at poor Scarecrow. I shifted to Dorothy, created a bucket of water, and that was the end of the Wicked Witch of the West.

So far we’re able to do everything the Merry Jesters do except materialize objects and ourselves from the Shadow World into the solid world. No problem. The greater the desire the more solid the creation becomes in the physical world.

Nothing seems to harm our materialized Shadows, but the more materialized they become the more we experience pleasure and pain. The feelings can be turned off by using the usual desire. Shadows can also feel pleasure and pain but not nearly as much, and can also be turned off and on.

Late in the afternoon Maggie found her Shadow can glide above the floor, so tomorrow we go flying. I wonder how far we can fly and still get back to our bodies. And what happens if the Holy Warriors of God from Walton come by and give our empty bodies the Squeeze. We dead.

Hell of a lot better than dying a sad, lingering death, strapped to a hospital bed with steel needles and plastic tubes sticking into what used to be human.

 

CHAPTER 43

Well, Johnny didn’t get the message. He went clamming again and served his culinary masterpiece for breakfast. We rebelled. It was his feelings or our stomachs. His feelings lost.

We went Shadow and out to the lake for flying lessons. A little jerky at first but smoothed out and by afternoon we were playing tag in the sky.

I wonder how fast I can fly, so I chased a jet circling Sarasota-Bradenton International. No problem. I perched on the wing and watched downtown Sarasota go by.

You should try it.

Wonderful view.

Then my evil brain created a leprechaun in the Shadow World and began to materialize it on the wing. One of the passengers saw it, and soon there were many faces peering out the windows. He waved politely, but then became too materialized and was swept off the wing.

__________________

The next morning the Herald Tribune had a short report on the bottom of page 1.

GREMLINS ON FLIGHT 241

Yesterday, passengers on Flight 241 from Atlanta, on its final approach to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, report seeing an object on the wing of the plane. A World War II veteran said it reminded him of the pictures of Gremlins, mischievous elves supposedly infesting military planes of that era.

The captain of the flight was contacted. She said air turbulence, window distortion, and sun glare are the usual explanation for such occurrences.

____________________

Today we explore some more.

Doris held a Godzilla, King Kong fight. Poor King Kong didn’t have a chance.

I had Socrates and Wittgenstein go at it. Socrates’ eternal forms got demolished. What a howler as Wittgenstein put it, trying to make a thing out of a concept, a mere abstraction. Ludwig is not nice, not even to the great Socrates.

Johnny played the Red Baron in his Fokker Triplane and David played Snoopy in his Sopwith Camel. The Shadow bullets from the machine guns damaged the Shadow planes until one or the other began that long, smoke trailing dive.

Johnny became a fish in the lake. Betty became a squirrel running through the trees. Ralph became a rock. Weird, but he said it was so relaxing and time moves very, very slowly. Who knew?

____________________

In David’s lovely bedroom overlooking the lake, in the light of the moon, with crickets chirping and owls hooting, we undressed and went Shadow.

We felt like a couple of shy virgins looking at each other, not knowing what to do. Then I became aware of a tiny sexual feeling, but it was so different. My sexuality is partly whole body but primarily centered around my nipples, behind my ears and between my legs. The sexuality I felt was not centered anywhere. It was sexuality itself, not a part of my body feeling sexual.

Sexual energy began to flow between us. So many fairy bells. So many flashes of beautiful blue and green fairies swirling around and around us.

The sexual energy began to throb as it flowed from me to him and him to me. The throbbing became more intense and moved back and forth faster and faster, until, in a marvelous explosion, our Shadows became one. It was the most profound experience of my life.

It went on and on, and then we slowly separated and watched the moon move across the sky.

 

CHAPTER 44

Back to Berkeley tomorrow for the fall semester. I’m a senior thanks to hard work and support from Karla, Jimmy, Mary and Dr. Crowley. It helps to have the dean of the faculty on your side.

And then the next year I’m off to Paris with Mary. Her mother has a large penthouse right on the Seine but I courteously declined the invitation to stay with them. That would seriously cramp fulfilling numerous fantasies involving super-sensitive, super-skilled Parisian men.

A wonderful thought. Millions of very creative humans have lived for centuries in Paris. Must be quite a Shadow show. And I’m so attracted to Montmartre, a place of marvelous creative frenzy in the second half of the 19th century, on a bluff high above Paris.

____________________

No clam omelets for breakfast. Johnny would end up in the lake if he tried to feed us that awful mess again. I got a phone call. When I got back, I must have looked worried because everyone stopped eating and waited.

“That was Karla. The Holy Warriors of God from Walton bought our cover story that the Spengler group, now part of the Crowley group, killed the Holy Warriors from Plattsburgh. They also learned the leader of the Crowley group is the grandson of Aleister Crowley. They are coming to Berkeley for revenge and to cleanse the world of that evil filth. Karla has requested we be ready. The Crowleys are no match for the Holies from Walton.”

Ralph stood up. “Are we now Karla’s assassins, killing wherever he points his bloody hand? How do we know the Walton group is so much worse than the Crowley’s that they deserve to die? Do we kill so easily? Do we so easily risk our lives, and start an endless vendetta between ourselves and all the other Holy Warrior groups?”

“So we just watch the Holies kill the Crowleys?” I asked.

Yes! Otherwise killing goes on forever. It has to stop! Every war, every revolution, every sanctioned killing is always called the last, with the promise that this time peace will come. What an awful, evil, bloody lie! We always fall for that stirring rhetoric, and create another river of blood.”

Doris slowly stood up. “Like Ralph, I’ve been troubled by what the Vigilantes have done over the years. Like him, I think we made serious mistakes. But I believe protecting the Crowleys is justified for two reasons. We killed the Holies from Plattsburgh not the Crowleys, and Alice cares enough to risk her life. She won’t be alone, I will be with her. Others are free to join or not.”

They all agreed to come, including Ralph.

“Alice, don’t tell Karla we learned to activate our Shadows.”

“I won’t. I don’t want any government to have that kind of power.”

____________________

It’s harder and harder to leave David and the Gang, and I can’t wait to get back to Berkeley. How’s Arlene? Maybe Brother Timothy has a good deed and Karla a bad. I bet the Merry Jesters of Darkness call. And what happens when Mary gets around to stimulating the pituitary?

Maybe I’ll revisit the Hairy Women of Apollo. There is a high probability that this time the Great God will materialize in a great flash of light, fully aroused and needing many females to satisfy his powerful desires. He will be truly outstanding, but I’m a little concerned the dear ladies will not be up to the challenge.

____________________

While waiting in Atlanta for my flight to San Francisco the same group of Shadow passengers I saw before came through the check point and into the boarding area. They acted so normal, doing what they must have done just before they went down the ramp.

I went Shadow to learn more. There was a little Shadow girl over by the gate.

“Hi, my name is Alice. What’s yours?”

“MaryAnn. Are you going to Denver?”

“No, I’m going to San Francisco. Why are you all alone?”

“I’m going to visit my daddy. He doesn’t live with my mommy. I get to go visit him sometimes. I love my daddy. Why do people get divorced?”

“I guess your mommy and daddy don’t like each other anymore.”

“Maybe they won’t like me anymore.”

“You are a very nice little girl. They will love you forever.”

“Time to get on the plane, MaryAnn.” A Shadow flight attendant led her to the ramp. She turned with a big smile, waved goodbye with her little fist, and disappeared down the ramp.

It broke my heart, but what could I do? I thought about replacing the Shadow worker at the check-in counter and announcing the flight was canceled. But what would that do, the plane crashed long ago. But that might have stopped the reenactments. Would that be good or bad? I have no idea. I need to ask Brother Timothy what I could have done, and the reason for this obsessive need to relive a horrible experience.

 

CHAPTER 45

Arlene is getting bigger and bigger, and eating like two starved pigs. Her doctor says all’s well. Renters are staying and paying more, so she added 5 rooms in the attic. With the extra rooms she was able to afford a part-time helper. It’s a cheerful place now and attracting cheerful people. Not like the old days, full of sullen faces and an empty TV room.

____________________

Brother Timothy waved me over as I walked though Sather Gate. I sat on a nearby bench and went Shadow.

“Sister Alice, can you help me. There is a poor woman who is stuck between Heaven and Hell.”

“Sure, glad to. How can I help?”

“It would be best to help now if you are free. She is an older, devout Christian who believes deeply in the literal interpretation of the bible. She is standing next to the bed where she died, awaiting the appearance of the Devil and Michael the Archangel. They will decide if she goes to Heaven or to Hell. I will play the Devil and you Michael, and we will have a lively battle over her soul. You will win and let her know she is worthy.”

Wow, Michael the Archangel. How high I have arisen! “Sure, let’s send the poor woman to Heaven.”

“Well no, let her know that a holy monk, Brother Timothy, will soon come to guide her along the path of righteousness.”

“Where will you take her? And where did you take that poor girl who kept jumping off the Campanile?”

“To a resting place.”

“We will have to go into that a little more sometime.”

“Yes we will. Let’s meet in Karla’s office.”

“Why do you always take me to his office, and why is he never there?”

“It’s convenient, and I know his schedule.”

I joined Brother Timothy in Karla’s office and went Shadow.

“Let me do Michael in case you are a bit rusty on Christian iconography,” and Michael the Archangel appeared in a flash of light. He wore a flowing white robe trimmed with gold, and had a shining shield in his left hand and a sword of holy fire in his right.

I walked around him to get a good look and then did the desire trip and appeared in a magnificent flash. Bet nobody ever saw two Michaels in the same room before.

“Good, very good. I will go first, and when I am about to lead her through the Gates of Hell I will bring you in. Keep your present form and wait here. It will be about 5 minutes.”

He vanished and I got my shield and flaming sword ready for battle. What do you guys do with that thing? So awkward. Women are so nicely finished off.

The call came and I appeared beside the woman. A hideous Devil was on the other side of the bed, hands outstretched, ready to take the terrified woman to his fiery kingdom. When I appeared he jumped back and I raised my mighty sword.

“Back you blasphemer of all that is holy. You will not take this good woman.” The Devil recovered well and shot a ball of fire I caught with my shield.

“I shall have this pig. She is a fallen woman and I shall have mine.”

“She will never be yours, evil spawn of the abyss. She belongs to the Lord God Almighty and the Lord will have his,” and started toward the Devil with my sword of Holy Fire held high. He shrank back and covered his face as I advanced. “Be gone Satan. Be gone. Back to eternal damnation. Back to the everlasting fires of Hell.”

Aaaaaah! No! No!” he screamed, and vanished in a very impressive cloud of black smoke. The woman fell on her knees and wept.

“Arise good woman and weep no more. The Devil is gone and will not return. A holy monk, Brother Timothy, will guide you onto the path of righteousness.” Brother Timothy appeared next to her and put his arm around her. Together they rose into the air, through the ceiling, into the sunshine.

The next moment I was back in Karla’s office. How does Brother Timothy space-shift like that?

____________________

Mary and I got together later in the day to plan the fall semester. I’ll help in the lab and the neuropsychology course. My job is to handle the paperwork, grading and take over if she gets sick or something. My French is getting better and better, and Mary is sure when we get to Paris next year, everybody will assume I was born there.

Odd though. My accent, cadence and syntax are late 19th century, and sometimes I come out with the filthiest French she’s ever heard.

 

CHAPTER 46

Karla was in his office the next morning.

“Hello Alice, hope your vacation went well.”

“Yes it did. Had a great time. May I ask a favor?”

“Of course.”

“Do you have information about the Holy Warriors in Walton, especially when and where they hold their meetings?”

“Yes, I can give you that. In return, how did the Glacier Gang do working with their Shadows?”

Wonder how to play this. Perhaps we’re reached a parting of the ways.

“I have a problem talking about what progress we may or may not have made.”

OH?”

“As you once said, I am very cynical about governments, including my own. If we made progress I would not tell you because I don’t trust our government to use the information responsibly.”

“And you believe the Glacier Gang will?”

“Yes I do.”

“Alice, the two Shadows at the Livermore Lab almost killed you. Our side is at a huge disadvantage if they are from a foreign government. We need to be able to defend ourselves. The information you have could be vital to the survival of our country and I’m not being overdramatic. That may literally be true.”

“The Crowley group is in immediate danger. The Glacier Gang needs the information I requested to protect them.”

He sat for a while looking at me, then went to his computer, and the printer did its thing.

____________________

That afternoon I sat on a bench near Brother Timothy and went Shadow. He congratulated me for my fine performance and I told him he was a very ugly Devil.

“Brother Timothy, do you know about the Holy Warriors of God?”

“Yes. They are militant Christian groups scattered around the country. Some do good, some do harm. I regret the death of the Plattsburgh group. Militant self-righteousness turns so easily into the Devil’s work.”

“How about the group in Walton?”

“They have made serious mistakes, but have done more good than harm. The Walton group is considered the leader of the Holy Warriors in the United States.”

“Are they aware of the Shadow World?”

“They only know how to use their Shadow hands.”

“Thank you, Brother Timothy.”

“You are welcome, Sister Alice.”

 

CHAPTER 47

The Walton group meets every Sunday at seven in the evening, 114 Shepard Street. I called Doris and suggested we attend their next meeting. Ralph agreed to be peacemaker and we’ll meet at the airport in Binghamton, either Saturday evening or Sunday morning depending upon plane schedules.

____________________

It’s a beautiful drive through the rural countryside. Just over the Delaware County line we went past the Cannonsville Reservoir which provides water for the City of New York.

The village of Rock Royal is at the bottom of the lake, sacrificed for the greater good. Well, at least that’s how politicians sold it to the good people of Delaware County. There are ugly rumors those wonderful, civic-minded politicians were able to afford a very pleasant, early retirement.

Beautiful forests cover both banks of the Delaware, no fall colors yet. The great River originates in Delaware County and flows straight south, past Philadelphia, to the sea.

Walton is a time capsule. People have been too poor to modernize, so the village looks pretty much as it did a hundred years ago, and the same number of people live there, around 4,500. We walked along the Delaware, watched fishermen and church goers, visited a few antique shops, had dinner at a 1930’s deco diner, and it was time.

____________________

Jennifer opened the door and looked very suspiciously at our group. White hair, maybe in her early 60’s. She didn’t much like a bunch of strangers at her door.

“Yes?”

“We would like to attend your meeting tonight,” Ralph said. “We have important information about the Crowley group in Berkeley and how the Plattsburgh Holy Warriors died.”

“All right. One of you may come and address the group. We will be grateful if your information is relevant and useful.”

“We can’t do that, ma’am. This is very dangerous for us all. We come in peace, but won’t endanger one of our members.”

“Then there will be no meeting,” and began to close the door. Ralph pushed it open and we all went through.

“I’m sorry ma’am, but we must have a meeting with your group.” The rest of the Holy Warriors came up behind Jennifer.

“Please, we come in peace. Give us a chance to give you vital information about what happened in Berkeley. We know you plan to attack the Crowley group. We need to tell you why that would be a serious mistake.”

It was very tense as each group carefully watched the other. No Shadow hands came out.

“All right, we will listen,” and led us to a large room in the back of the house. “As long as you are our guests, though uninvited, may we offer you tea or coffee? And Mary has baked a very nice Brown Betty.”

After we got our tea, coffee, and Brown Betty, Ralph stood up.

“We regret and apologize forcing ourselves upon you like this. The urgency required it. We know you plan to attack the Crowley group in Berkeley. There are two reasons why that would be a mistake. You misunderstand the Crowley group. Aleister Crowley on his death bed recanted all the evil he had done, and saw that his life was empty and meaningless. As he put it, ‘nothing but dirty straw in the barnyard.’ He embraced the light and died in God’s grace. His grandson who leads the Crowley group also embraces the light, and has never worshiped the Devil or any of his minions.”

“Are they good Christians,” an earnest young woman asked.

“They honor Love, Beauty, Truth, and…”

“No, No,” an equally earnest young man interrupted, “if they do not follow our Lord Jesus Christ, they have no Truth.”

“They may or may not have The Truth, but they are good people trying to lead decent lives.”

”How can they do that without Jesus Christ in their heart?!”

Jennifer got up. “Ok, Ok, let’s assume they are not evil followers of the Great Beast. What is the second reason?”

“We killed the Holy Warriors from Plattsburgh. They attacked and we defended ourselves.”

Sudden dark tension.

“Then everything you told us is a lie. If you have prayers, say them quickly.”

There was a brilliant flash and Michael appeared in all his glory. The Walton group was stunned and blinded for a moment, then recognized the Great Archangel and bowed their heads in reverence and awe. I walked slowly to the center of the room and turned to the Walton group.

“Stop blessed followers of the Lord! This is not the time for war! This is the time for peace! This is not the time for hatred and fear. This is the time for love and joy. These people tell the truth. The Plattsburgh group was evil.

“Look at each other. Look beyond words and ritual. Look into each other’s hearts. God does not care what name you give him or how you choose to worship. You and your visitors are all good, decent people.

“Feel God’s love!

“Feel God’s joy!

“Feel the love and joy flowing between everyone in this room.

“Love and joy are God’s gifts to share with all of creation.

“Embrace one another in God’s great communion!”

There was another flash and the archangel was gone.

“Praise the Lord” and “may God be praised.” rang through the room and we embraced. For the rest of the evening we munched Brown Betty and sipped tea and coffee. And, as old warriors will, reminisced about battles won and battles lost fighting evil. We have much in common and have fought on the same side for many years.

We invited them to visit Carmel this coming winter and they invited us to stay and spend the week in Walton. The Glacier Gang agreed to stay but I had to hurry back to Binghamton to catch the red eye to San Francisco.

Some of us have real jobs in the real world.

 

________________

Maybe I’ll continue to share my life in a second book. Maybe not.

Fare thee well.

___________________

Yes. I did. Click on the cover.

CLICK THE TITLE TO EXPLORE A BOOK OR PLAY.

(Be sure and click those marked * for a pleasant surprise.)

ALICE BOOKS by Janis Hoffman

The Alice Trilogy: an over-sexed, super-smart, foul-mouthed brat

[***]Alice:the world of shadow

Alice II: the nature of Reality

Alice III: the creation of Reality

  • BOOKS* by Ernest Kinnie

[***]A Light in the Darkwood: two children learn the power of imagination

60 Psychological Adventures: to explore and create your life.

[***]25 Psychological Adventures: experiences, concepts, strategies.

[***]Chasing Reality: an adventure into the nature of Reality

Cynical Soup: not for the easily offended, or the ridiculously naïve

[***]Thoughts of Old Man and a Young Woman

Psychological Maps: explore Berne, Perls, Skinner, Pavlov, and Freud

[***]Amoral Science: Brainless Religion: two world views

Eric Berne: the best of Games People Play

Fritz Perls: out of your head, into the NOW

[***]Skinner Pavlov Lenin: how they turn you into a useful idiot

PLAYS by Ernest Kinnie

The Brujo and the Four Professors: a 2-act play

10 Short Plays: Peak Experiences. Critical Moments. Epiphanies.

[***]Androidian Love: a short play

[***]Deep and serious: a short play

[***]High Flyers: a short play

[***]Sammy finds a way: a short play

[***]You want Sex?: a short play


Alice 1: The World Of Shadow

Book I: The World of Shadow. Book II: The Nature of Reality. Book III: The Creation of Reality. When I was four my mother run sobbing out the door, and never came back. My story is not for the easily offended. I learned a lot of wonderful words in some of my foster homes, and got rid of prissy morality long ago. I have such fun playing around with taboos, political correctness, and authoritarian bastards. My sexual adventures shocked and outraged a few of my dear readers. Such colorful emails. One woman even accused me of being uncouth. You are all fine people I’m sure, wonderfully sensitive and refined, and I so regret exposing you to raw Reality. And I got plenty of couth, lady. And some people were very unhappy with the tiny changes I made to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Jacqui and the Beanstock, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood. Something about befouling and besmirching the memories of their childhood. When I was very young I discovered my Shadow hands. They are part of the World of Shadow, a reality right next to this one, discovered in Egypt long ago. I play around with the nature and creation of reality, so if your sense of what is real and what is not real is a little shaky, best to pass on by. I easily conned my way into UC Berkeley and run circles around the intelligentsia of that fine institution. Never knew my father but he left a pile of money. Better than nothing.

  • ISBN: 9781311534750
  • Author: Ernest Kinnie
  • Published: 2015-11-11 13:40:22
  • Words: 41480
Alice 1: The World Of Shadow Alice 1: The World Of Shadow