JACK PARSONS & THE CURIOUS ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN SPACE PROGRAM
Part 15: Mute Testimony
Craig sat in Oral Jerry Swagger's outer office waiting. You always had to wait, even when OJ summoned you frantically. OJ's office was a revolving door of high-level traffic at this time of the day. That's just the way things were in $100 million-a-year organizations, Craig reflected.
Craig turned his attention back to the report. Occultists in the military? Well, he had always known that was possible, whether or not they had anything to do with the cattle mutilations. He had seen some weird shit in his Washington days. But an Antichrist was hard to take seriously. Preachers needed an Antichrist the same way the Pentagon needed the Russians. It didn't hurt to have a bogeyman to wave around before the faithful right before you dug into their pockets.
Craig read over the details. A woman on a ranch in Colorado was up late one night when she heard the sound of a helicopter. She stepped outside onto the second floor balcony which encircled the house, giving her 360-degree surveillance. There were stars in the sky but no lights from the chopper, nothing she could see. She could hear it though--it was the third time the sound had mysteriously emerged in the last three days--and she felt a fear she couldn't define. Her dog had come out onto the balcony with her, and it began to growl and back up into the house. She followed the dog inside and called the sheriff's department to report the helicopter with no lights.
Later that night as she sat up in bed with a back ache, she saw the chopper for the first time. The clear yellow light came in low from the bluffs to the north. She went out to the balcony and watched it pass by and gradually disappear. Afterward, with the help of an illustrated book, she identified the craft as a Sikorsky Black Hawk.
The following morning she found one of her cows lying on its side in a nearby pasture. The coyotes hanging about had tipped her off to the presence of the carcass. The long grass around the animal was somewhat trampled down, but there were no signs of a struggle. The cow's right ear had been removed in a jagged circle. There was a small amount of blood in the ear cavity. The right eye had been extracted, along with a strip of hide. There was also blood in the eye socket. All but three inches of the tongue had been severed, and the jaw and teeth on the right side of the face had been exposed through surgical removal of the lips and hide.
The other end of the cow had not fared any better. About one-half the udder had been carefully excised, as well as the bottom half of the remaining two teats. The rectal area had been cored out, leaving a hole about eight inches wide and six inches deep.
The coyotes remained in the neighborhood over the following days, but they refused to actually approach the carcass itself.
The question of the mutilations, or the "mutes," had preoccupied Craig for months. He had reports of hundreds of similar cases. Craig wanted to know the answer, but not out of any deep intellectual curiosity. Ever since his days as a political dirty trickster, he had viewed information simply as a mechanism for influencing behavior. But to play the game the right way, one needed to avoid surprises. Surprises were unexpected events that could upset the scenario one was developing. To avoid surprises it was always better to know what was really going on.
Craig's most recent job before going to work for Oral Jerry Swagger had been more boring, but easier. He had been employed by a government department as a fabricator of documents for release under the Freedom of Information Act. There he had had more control, because he got to see all the available records ahead of time. There were no surprises, at least with respect to the files. Once he had a clear picture of what was available, he would go to work: altering a sentence here, inserting a paragraph there. Though illegal, the result could be explosively effective: the recipient of the information lived with the fantasy he was using the FOIA to force the government to expose the truth, and consequently had all his guards down when slipped a doctored document.
Craig hadn't known exactly what to expect when he had joined OJS's secret investigative agency. The "Antichrist Squad", as it was informally called. The questions were different and the intended audience was different, but it was political work of the type Craig was used to, and he was paid good money.
Plus he was able to pick up a few extra bucks by cross-filing all his reports with Trans-Global Consultants in Philadelphia. Craig had known about Trans-Global's interest in religious organizations from his campaign days, so he had put in a call to Edward Lodge shortly after receiving the employment offer from OJS.
One thing Craig was sure about: the mutes weren't due to coyotes. As one farmer had said to him once: "If it was a coyote that did it, that coyote must have brung his scalpel. And his flashlight. There were bright lights flashing all around those parts about an hour earlier. No, there weren't no coyote tracks around that carcass either. Or tracks of any other creature. No, I figger it must have been some of them ufos."
Craig had snorted at the mentioned of ufos. You expected farmers to be wily in the ways of coyotes. But in other ways they were just dumb hicks. Craig didn't care much for Oral Jerry Swagger's explanation either. But that was the one he was being paid to verify, and he would do his damnedest to come up with supporting evidence.
OJS said it had to be Devil worshippers. Who else would mutilate cattle for body parts and blood? And thousands among OJ's television and radio audience would send for the book or the video expose. There was profit to be made in unveiling the wicked deeds of the ungodly.
Craig himself personally believed the mutes were nothing to get excited about. It was just the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or whoever, conducting routine research on chemical and biological weapons. Everyone knew about the similarities between human and bovine nervous and reproductive systems. Better to do in a few cows at a farmer's expense than to do in the farmer himself.
Biological warfare experimentation would explain the surgical post-mortems. But Craig was still puzzled at the clandestine use of choppers. Even Senator Jack Schmitt of New Mexico had discussed the mystery helicopters when he had co-sponsored a mutilation conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1979. That had been eight years ago. The mutes, meanwhile, continued to accumulate.
Oral Jerry Swagger, for his part, was sure that a cult of military Satanists using government helicopters were at work among the farmers who wrote to him from rural America. No wonder there was a decline in America's God-given military strength: there were Devil worshippers in the Pentagon. OJS planned to go public with all this on his weekly telecast once Craig had sufficiently documented the charge.
But, at this rate, that day was still some months away. OJS would never get his documented proof if he kept sending Craig and the others on spontaneous chores like whatever it was that was brewing now.
* * * * *
Oral Jerry Swagger wasn't ready to talk to Craig yet. Craig was an unbeliever, one of the few who worked in his organization. And OJ needed to think how to properly present the task at hand. OJ used unbelievers to fight fire with fire. They were carnal, disposable, and could be assigned ungodly tasks that believers should not properly perform.
Like taking care of the inquisitive snoop who was staying at the Pasadena Hilton.
OJ paged through his Antichrist file. Wasn't it ironic, OJ thought, that "CFR" appeared on al Dajjal's forehead?
OJ had never determined why Jack Parsons had chosen to sign his name al Dajjal. Al Dajjal (or "Dagjal", under an alternative spelling), the Antichrist in Islamic theology, was--according to OJ's researchers--supposed to be one-eyed and marked on the forehead with the letters "CFR," standing for cafir: infidel. He would supposedly appear between Iraq and Syria riding on an ass and followed by 70,000 Jews. His reign would last forty days. The first "day" would be a year, the second day a month, the third day a week, and the remaining thirty-seven days would be just ordinary days. Al Dajjal would destroy every city but Mecca and Medina, which would be guarded by angels. Finally, al Dajjal would be slain in Jerusalem by Jesus at the Gate of Lud. Jesus will be assisted by the Inman Mahedi, and afterward Christianity and Islam will become a single religion.
CFR. Cafir. But the initials CFR stood also for the Council on Foreign Relations, the group which now largely determined U.S. foreign policy.
Was it only a coincidence that the Council on Foreign Relations symbol was a picture of a man riding an ass?
OJ's thoughts returned to the immediate task. It had been one of his viewers who had alerted him to the investigator staying at the Hilton. Her attention at work at the hotel desk had been aroused by receipt of a faxed copy of The Book of the Antichrist, by one Jack Parsons, followed by some other faxes which mentioned OJ's name. She had called into the main switchboard, and had been transferred to OJ's executive secretary, who had taken the information and thanked the lady. Hermes T. Megistus was the hotel guest's name. OJ, Jack Parsons, The Book of the Antichrist, the message said.
It was probably this guy, Hermes, who had broken into his house that night, placing an altered copy of The Book of the Antichrist on OJ's desk, frightening him out of a weary sleep.
Well, Mr. Hermes wasn't going to get away with this. OJ suddenly came to a firm decision. He would tell Craig he was an appointed "avenger of the blood." OJ himself would anoint Craig in this role. Craig would then have the authority to administer God's justice without personal sin.
OJ knew Craig was capable of killing. He had done it before. Oh, he wouldn't look you in the face while he cut your throat. No, Craig wasn't that type of guy. But Craig knew how to arrange little accidents. And he enjoyed it. "It's just research," Craig had explained to OJ, that one time before.
* * * * *
Edward Lodge was watching a basketball game in his office when the call came through.
"Mr. Lodge. It's Craig. From California."
"Where are you calling from?"
"Someone gave me a job."
"Yeah?" Lodge knew that Craig was referring to Oral Jerry Swagger.
"I'm looking at another investigator. He's from out your way. That's why I thought I would call."
"What's his name?"
"Hermes T. Megistus."
"Never head of him," Lodge said.
"Okay. Just thought I would check. Didn't want to step on any toes."
"I appreciate that," Lodge said.
"I'll be copying a report as usual."
"I look for it." Lodge severed the connection. He reflected. Things were moving ahead of schedule. Maybe too quickly. Lodge buzzed his secretary.
"Yes, Mr. Lodge?"
"Find Homer Nilmot. Tell him to pull Hermes T. Megistus off the case he's working on. Tell him to tell Mr. Megistus thanks, and to send us a bill, but we no longer require his services."
So, Lodge reflected. OJ must have had his ear to the ground, to have already learned of Hermes' investigation of Jack Parsons. Unless that woman, Trisha, had somehow planted a bug in his ear prematurely. Where was she, anyway? She hadn't checked in for two days.
Thinks were heating up. And Lodge liked to know where all the players were at all times.
* * * * *
Sheri sat at the bar in the Knave of Hearts on South Street in Philadelphia, waiting for Homer Nilmot. The room was lit with the soft glow of candles. Fresh flowers on the tables. It was romantic, and definitely not the place she wanted to be meeting Homer Nilmot at. But he had suggested it, and she couldn't really resist the food there. She was dying for the peach soup and the roast duckling.
What did he want to talk about? He had seemed to imply it was business. The Antichrist, he had said cryptically.
Sheri took a sip of cote du rhone. The Antichrist would have to be a woman, she suddenly realized. It was obvious when she thought about it. It was a naturally occurring duality, a change of polarity from protons to antiprotons, or sex from yang to yin. Christ was male, so the Antichrist would be female.
Like any new idea, this thought energized her, lifted her spirits. The female Antichrist. It was a mallet with which she would bludgeon Homer Nilmot for inviting her here to this romantic spot, when she would rather be with . . . well, Hermes. The messenger of the gods. The magician. The god of borders. She wished Hermes would return and drag her across the border into Mexico, or Canada, or anywhere.
Sheri signed, some of her elation evaporating. With Hermes and Trisha gone, it was lonely. She hadn't heard from Trisha, and barely from Hermes. What was Trisha doing in LA? All her instincts told her it was related to Jack Parsons, same as Hermes, but Trisha had not been forthcoming, the conversation devolving into the usual sorts of Trisha-style paradoxes and parables.
Sheri found it impossible to be angry with her roommate. Because at heart she worshipped Trisha and yearned to be like her. Trisha is a goddess and I'm just a groupie, Sheri thought. That's all I'll ever be, a groupie. There was always a distance between them Sheri couldn't seem to close.
Sheri saw Homer Nilmot come past the wall into the bar area. "Hi. Sorry I'm late." He took a seat beside her at the bar.
"Get you something?" the bartender asked.
"I think I'll have what she's having." Homer point at Sheri's wine.
There was a moment of silence. Then Sheri spoke: "Well, what can I do for our noble client?"
Homer shuffled on his barstool awkwardly. Finally, he spoke: "Well, frankly, I was hoping you could help me figure out what has been going on in California. But I guess it doesn't matter anymore. I just got a phone call. My boss is pulling your boss off the case."