St. Marok's Orphanage taught Major Richard Blaine to curb his impulsive nature, but under great stress, he acts impulsively ...
and usually ends up in trouble ... but never so dire as now.
TO TOUCH STRANGE FIRE
“The moon stays bright when it doesn’t avoid the night.”
– Rabbi Lt. Amos Stein
I looked up into the hell-sky as if for inspiration and only saw Helen’s flaming angel form frozen in an arc of supple beauty and grace.
For some odd reason, the words of the forgotten poet, Robert Herrick came to me:
“Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind?”
Helen was racing to a suicidal charge against one hundred Nephilim … just when I had a glimmer of an idea how I might save her and the rest of my Spartan 300 … but me, not so much.
Now, she was flying away before I could tell her … or was she?
I glanced at Darael. I could see he was smirking though his features were misty … but not that misty.
What did the science for which he held such distain teach us? What could be done once could be done again.
I am an impulsive person when under stress. A thought hits me, and I act upon it. I can no more hold back any more than it is in a thoroughbred stallion to race slowly.
I should have held back.
Since he was in my mind, what I planned was plain to him … but too late … for both of us.
“No!” Darael cried.
I put all my mind’s focus upon Helen, her essence, her very soul, the faint apricot perfume that wafted after her whenever she passed.
All the sensations that embraced me when I held her image close in the darkest of nights.
It went faster than I dreamed … which should have clued me in right away that the dream had become nightmare.
I was drowning in a roaring maelstrom of madness worse even than when I awakened in the energy vortex within Sentient’s craft.
There was no up, no down, nothing my mind could grasp as sane or earthly or reasonable.
The fiery cataclysm arabesqued in currents of sizzling jade and searing silver.
“NO!” screamed Helen from all around me, though I could see her nowhere in this swirl of searing energies.
“You cannot be here!”
I put a shrug in my words though I couldn’t see myself any more than I could see Helen.
“Well ….” I began.
“Yes,” she snapped, her words billowing in my mind. “Obviously, you can. But you should not!”
She ignored me as was her habit when truly annoyed with me.
“You should have been vaporized the moment you entered my essence. I am in touch with the Infinite!”
I heard the capitol letter to “Infinite” without understanding it.
I sensed her attention elsewhere, and she snapped, “Darael! I should have known you were behind this!”
“No, fledging seraph. This intrusion into another seraph’s mind is beyond even me. This rash Son of Adam dragged me along with his rash impulsiveness.”
A low Voice, so modulated in waves of utter power and calm, it tremored the very marrow of my bones, spoke in a strange, bemused tone.
It possessed an air of massive antiquity.
‘Believe the provocateur, Helen Mayfair. Darael has a poet’s high, almost satanic, pride in what he can and cannot do.’
“Elohim!” They both cried out in sheer fear mingled with cavernous deep awe.
I did not need them to identify the Speaker.
I could not say that I knew Him. Only One had the right to say that, and the sons of Man had murdered Him.
‘How quaint. You, the black sheep of all my experiments, take off your shoes, as it were, in my Presence.’
“The prayers of Curtis and Richard, my smallest Spartans … they are keeping me in one piece here, aren’t they, sir?”
Praying He had a sense of humor with a corresponding sense of the absurd, I ended with …”Over.”
Helen gasped, “Richard, are you addled?”
The deep, mellow laughter went on for an ice age or two, then, finally,
‘Yes, he is … as what might be expected of an orphan who has survived his season of Gehenna at St. Marok’s.’
I felt icy fingers brush back the forelock of hair that I knew deep down had not accompanied me into the essence of the seraph whom I hopelessly loved.
‘Do not be too sure it is hopeless, Richard Blaine. I am the Deity of the Impossible. And you are correct: the moment you entered within all that is Helen Mayfair, the glow of the Spartan helmet pins went out.”
His chuckle was not cold, nor was it kind.
‘They wailed at the sight as if their sides had been pierced with a spear …
and though both were an ocean apart, at the same moment, they began praying for you to be resurrected, of all things.’
This time his chuckle echoed puzzlement.
‘So, what was there for me to do, but honor such childlike trust and love? Thus, is your unthinking act of kindness to two who could in no way benefit you rewarded.’
A sigh enveloped me.
‘You will be Man’s only briefly, whispering of the road between realities and the path into the stars. Yet soon theirs no longer.’
I felt a slap on my rump.
‘Now, off with you! It is time for you to pull a miracle out of your own hat for a change.’
Abruptly, I was in the midst of my Spartan 300.
Taylor gasped, “The Major’s back! And he’s glowing!”
Beside me, Darael groaned, “Of course, he is.”
Porkins gulped, “And the angel is on fire!”
“Which one?” grumped Reese.
I sighed. Things were back to normal:
“For thin is the veil betwixt man and the godless deep.
The skies are haunted by that which it were madness to know.
Strange abominations pass evermore between earth and moon and athwart the galaxies.
Unnameable things have come to this world in alien horror and will come again.
Beware: the evil of the stars is not as the evil of this world.”