Instant Recap: We learned that Vance & Carol were healed of psychosis when they joined the Kin of Aries. They brought to Soul Haven a psych student named Sam Lafolette, who was overjoyed to find people who knew natural methods of treatment as opposed to the “poison pills” used by the psychiatric establishment.
4. Highway Through Hell Up To Heaven
By her second day on the Greyhound, Mindy was in hell. She called it “Hades”, and in fact it appeared to her more like the classical realm of shades than the Christian pit of fiery torment. But besides the souls of the dead it held plenty of devils and demons, all of which did their best to afflict her with misery.
Worst of all was a creature who called himself an Operator. His appearance constantly morphed into the visages of every authority figure or ego-tripper who had ever done harm to Mindy, from cruel innuendos to physical abuse. As she sat curled up like a fetus in a corner of the back row of seats, he rattled out his purview that all the world’s people were divided into a secret ruling clique of Operators like him, and their hapless hoodwinked patsies who were contemptuously called Things. His harangue tortured Mindy’s heart, but she did her best to feign indifference. This rankled the Operator, who grew belligerent and said, “The driver is one of the stupidest Things I’ve ever seen. It should be easy for me to push a couple of his buttons and get him to plough the bus into a nice big tree and bring your juvenile jaunt to a smashing conclusion.”
Mindy roused up at this and said furiously, “Oh yeah? And you don’t give a damn that all the other passengers will die too?”
The Operator disappeared with a hearty “Bwahahahaha!”, and Mindy was left with the horrible realization that he had tricked her into betraying herself. Luckily the bus wasn’t crowded, and people occupying the seats closest to her private preserve in the back had abandoned them long ago because of her strange
rumblings and discourse with invisible beings. But this last outburst might be too much ~ it could give the impression that she was dangerous and get her kicked off the bus, or even popped for a 72-hour hold here in unknown territory. Sure enough, she saw a couple of heads turn and look at her in apprehension, but then the people seemed to shrug it off and turn back to their smartphones or plug in their earbuds.
In the early evening the Greyhound had a twenty-minute rest stop at a strip mall in the middle of nowhere, but there was a Starbucks and many of the passengers disembarked for refreshment, including Mindy. The grande latte she brought back to her seat was for her a flask of nectar that would soothe her spirits and keep her grounded long enough to drift off to sleep, for her body’s reaction to caffeine and other stimulants seemed to be the opposite of most people’s. She dug a thermos out of her backpack, but just as she was about to pour the coffee into it the Starbucks mermaid on the tall cup suddenly sprang to life. It detached itself, grew in size, and morphed into an Echidna, a serpentine female monster with a split tail like the mermaid’s. As the creature confronted her, Mindy’s shock of fear transformed into anger ~ she had had enough of these demonic intrusions! She swiveled her left arm and the shield tatoo became real enough to block the snake’s attempt to bite her. Then the spear snapped from her right arm like a switchblade, and she skewered the Echidna clean through its black heart.
The demon was gone, but there was her coffee in a puddle on the floor at her feet. Luckily the lid hadn’t popped all the way off, and there was just enough left in the bottom of the cup to wash down her pastry. The bus’s restroom was right at hand, so she was able to clean up the mess. But alas, it looked like it was going to be a long night!
A couple of hours later Mindy was sitting bolt upright, her eyes fixed on the darkness in front of her, her heart roiled by opposing waves of hope and fear. Why am I crazy? she thought; who picked me to be born with this curse? Why do I see the numenal overlay when nobody else does, and have to deal with all the evil creatures who live in it? Well, the Gods live there too, and it’s a real blessing to commune with the Gods, but why do they have to be a package deal with the demons? Why am I constantly tossed back and forth between Heaven and Hell, Olympus and Hades? Why, why, why?
As if in answer, white light appeared over her head again, and this time it expanded. She looked up into the radiance and all her fear fell away like broken shackles. There was a semblance of sunlit clouds in the vision, and then they coalesced into a pair of benevolent faces looking down at her in heart-melting compassion. “Zeus!” she said, “and Hera! Dad and Mom! Am I ever glad to see you!”
“Beloved daughter,” they said in unison, the dual voice resonating as if to the ends of Heaven, “we’re with you always, even in the worst of your trials, though our presence then is veiled.”
“Yes, I know,” she said, or rather thought, for the uplifted state evoked by the deities made her mindful not to speak aloud. “So why am I going through all this? Will I ever get cured? And what’s gonna happen when I get to California… or if I get there?”
The Father of the Gods, whose Roman name was Jupiter, said: “The Fates have crafted a masterly plan that will deliver you safely there, where your questions will be answered and the thread of your life will weave into its destiny.”
“Thank you!” said Mindy, her hands spontaneously clasping in front of her heart. Awash in this grateful, prayerful state, she hardly noticed that she was expanding again until she looked around and saw that she was seated on a thronelike chair, as were her two fellow deities, in a
sun-rippled palace on Olympus. A choir provided soul-stirring background music, as Athena-Minerva continued the conversation with her heavenly parents.
Hera, known to the Romans as Juno, said: “Now you have a better vantage-point from which to view your tribulations down below.”
“Yes!” said Minerva in a truly exalted state, “and I almost remember why I chose to take on that cumbrous burden of flesh. There’s some kind of dark fate, or karma as we call it now on Earth, connected with my very genesis here.”
“It was a real headache!” said Jupiter with a hearty laugh. “I was so desperate for relief that I adjured Vulcan to cleave open my skull with his axe. And thither you sprang, fully grown and clad in the same golden armor you now wear.”
“I do remember that. Your head was my womb.”
Juno said, “All of us Gods were astounded at the spectacle. But when we saw that you were of the same noble nature as ourselves, my heart went out to the motherless girl as to a babe, and I adopted you as my own.”
Minerva leaned over and hugged Juno warmly, kissing her on the cheek. “You are the dearest mother a Goddess could wish,” she said, “and I cherish you with all my soul.”
With a tear in her eye and a hand lingering fondly on Minerva’s, Juno said: “Deities are often born from archetypal patterns on the loom of the Fates ~ like your sister Venus who arose from the foam of the waves, which were fertilized by the semen of our grandfather Ouranos when he was castrated and supplanted by our father Saturn on the throne of heaven. Then Saturn was toppled and cast into Hades by his own son in turn, my dear husband your father, who bides with us here.”
“All of this we know,” said the King of the Gods, “as do the mortals, at least those of them who still bother to read the olden records. But there is a dark secret known only to us twain” ~ he and Juno exchanged a pregnant glance ~ “which I will now confess to thee, my daughter, for upon it hinges not only your own fate but that of the human world and all our people.”
“Oh, Father!” said Minerva as her hand tightened on Juno’s, “I honor thee always, and will humbly receive and hold sacred whatever secret this may be, though my heart bursts with foreboding to hear it.”
Jupiter looked humble himself as he said, “Know then that it was my own craven fear of being overthrown by the hand of an unborn son that caused you to be born in his stead, begotten not of the seed of my loins but the fevered dreams of my head.”
Minerva was startled. Juno said, “Do you know who was your father’s first choice for a wife?”
“I’ve heard it bandied among the Gods,” she replied, “that he was enamored of the sea nymph Thetis before her marriage to King Pelleus.”
“The rumor is true,” said Jupiter. “Has anyone ever wondered why I did not consummate my love with the daughter of Neptune?”
“I believe the Fates foretold that it would not be a fruitful union.”
“And that rumor is false,” said Juno. “The Fates prophesied that Jupiter would father by Thetis a godly son greater than himself.” Minerva gasped; her stepmother continued: “And this prediction harrowed the heart of your father, and he foresaw himself reaping his own karma, as you call it, suffering at the hands of his mighty son the same fate that he had inflicted on his father. And to assuage Thetis for his rejection, he pledged to bring all of us Olympians to her wedding feast at the court of the mortal king.”
“Oh!” said Minerva, “so karma was reaped instantly, when Eris came and worked her wiles with the golden apple, and it led to the Trojan War.”
“And it had only begun,” said Jupiter. “It was because I snipped a vital strand in the web of fate that Greece was deprived of the fresh infusion of masculine power which the new divine king would have brought. Thereafter the citizens succumbed to the vilest forms of faggotry and acclaimed it as righteousness; so when a great hero arose in the West, even Romulus, the legions of his stalwart sons came and restored the Greeks to virtue by crushing them in battle and making them vassals. Rome endured for the full length of its appointed aeon, but at last was conquered by the followers of a Godman who sprang not from us nor our mortal worshippers, but from the Jews. Now you can see how the karma of my shameful default continues on Earth to this very day, and threatens our people with extinction.”
“I can discern the thread indeed,” said Minerva. “It bodes that the children of Thule, our celestial homeland, can only be saved if a divine hero arises from among us at long last, and ravels up the warp of our collective destiny. It seems almost too much to hope.”
“Not at all,” said Jupiter, “for he has already come. He is a God like us, but has chosen to take on a mortal body, just as you have done. And this is who awaits you at your journey’s end on that highway down below.”
As if these words were a thunderbolt hurled at that very highway, the bus suddenly lurched and Mindy was shaken out of her vision into mundane awareness. She remembered everything as if it had been a lucid dream, and for the first time since the trip began she sat in perfect contentment and indulged in happy imaginings of the people she would meet in Soul Haven, one of whom would be a new Son of Heaven.