CHAPTER ONE: His Models of Space and Time
Disagree with the Spheres...
“Diane, could you please give me few minutes before the next client, I need some time.” I'm usually one of the most composed people on the planet, but that last therapy session was a bugger. Whenever a client reveals the details of a murder, even if it happened 20 years ago, it sets up a complex situation with the need for privacy against the safety of the whole community. I suppose I will have to speak to the Archdiocesan lawyers again. Twice in one month is too much right now, what with everything else that is going on. The life of a psychologist working with the most troubled and dangerously mentally ill people living in the dark underbelly of San Francisco's South of Market industrial and warehouse district is bound to have its' moments, but this month was proving to be one of the worst. I was ordained right at the same time that I finished my Ph.D in clinical psychology and parapsychology at the Vatican Institute and I was immediately assigned to the Catholic Charities' mental health clinic here on Harrison Street. After five years here and serving as a parish priest at St. Boniface, my life was was beginning to seem like a trip through Purgatory and back. October and Halloween always seem to bring out the weirdest of the weird. I can only say a silent prayer and hope the next client is just a garden variety case of depression. I usually enjoy meeting new clients, but something in the air today was giving me a chill right down my back and I just couldn't put my finger on exactly why.
Diane, our delightful and insightful receptionist, has a real knack for setting new clients at ease and helping them with the pages and pages of paperwork that helps us to keep the clinic open and funded. “Father Damian...” Diane was unusually confused looking and her usually immaculate blonde hair was definitely mussed up, which set me right to attention. She is always dressed and groomed to perfection in whatever style the smart young folks have chosen for this year. 1962 was seeing a bit more traditional look, which suited our work in the clinic quite well “Father, I think you better brace yourself....this new client seems a bit.....unusual, even by our standards.” “Diane, I don't need to be a detective to see that you are shaking...what is the client up to that has you so upset?” “Father, she is just not making any sense at all...she just keeps muttering about 'Long Ones and mirror races', she called them...the Lloigor and the Hasteach or something like that. She is just a tiny thing and seems harmless enough but It makes no sense at all and she just seems...dangerous....somehow. I just don't know, but she has me frightened.”
My mind raced back to my studies at the Vatican Instutite back in '54 and the forbidden libraries buried deep below the Vatican vaults, accessible only by well hidden elevators. There were books there that talked about the legends of the Elder Gods and the mysterious servitor races that were supposed to have been their children in the time before there was time...the Lloigor, the Shaggai, the Hounds of Tindalos and the hundreds of other races of long-forgotten fabulous beings from another Universe that somehow slipped between the angles of higher dimensions
into our own world. I shook out of my reverie.
“Bring her in, Diane.” “Father, would it be OK if after I bring her in I let Thomas know about your session and took a break?” Thomas was nominally our clinic administrator but he had a decade's experience as a psych tech at SF General. He was good to have around in an emergency and his take-downs with violent clients were works of art.
Diane came back with a woman whose paperwork said that she was a 28 year old caucasian, dressed in something that looked like the kind of white gown that people wear in psychiatric wards underneath a cheap brown cloth coat. It was a very wam day, our usual Indian Summer, so I wondered at the inappropriateness of her clothing. Her ash blonde hair hadn't been washed in weeks. She was painfully thin and haggard and kept looking behind herself every couple of minutes. She kept murmuring to herself without even acknowledging my presence. I started rummaging in my mental DSM-III...hypervigilant, anxious, dissociated and clearly experiencing paranoid ideation. Paranoid Schizophrenia would not be a bad first guess. I could actually feel the power of her mind racing like a horse toward some dark unknowable shore in the night. It was so uncontrollable and unsettling that I could see why Diane was upset. This one had a very, very different quality than our usual clients, even the potentially violent or psychotic ones.
“Barbara....Barbara, Hello, I am Damian and I am here to help you. What brings you in to us today?” Barbara could barely focus her eyes toward mine. Not being able to make eye contact is a common sign of many disorders. Her head hung low as she tried to speak to me in barely a whisper: “I know that they will kill me today and I need to tell someone about this.” “About what, Barbara? Who, exactly, wants to kill you today?” Father, I came to you because I did something horrible and I deserve to die. I did things no one can even imagine for the ones that promised me....” There was a very long pause as I guided her into a chair. I sat directly opposite her, which I usually never do during a session, because it can be too confrontative to someone who has experienced trauma, but I needed to be right there with this woman and to feel whatever hellish pain it was that was wracking her wiry body with visible pain. “Tell me your story, Barbara, I want to hear your story.” Barbara's gaze drifted to the floor with a sense of guilt and difficulty confronting the demons within her. “I just answered one of those ads in the back of a magazine. Crossworld puzzles, it was. In the back, there was a small ad that caught my attention...with someone wearing an Egyptian headdress. It promised to teach all the secrets of the Universe and then it said that they could take all of human pain away. That one got me. I was horribly abused by my uncle when I was a teenager. Raped, beaten, tied up and left in a closet for weeks. My parents abandoned me and the court decided that my uncle was the best person to take care of me. After ten years of being a prisoner, I finally had an opportunity. He was drunk one night and forgot to lock the closet door. After he fell asleep I snuck into the kitchen, got some duct tape and a big cleaver. He was so far gone that he never even noticed that I was taping him and trussing him up like a pig. I taped his mouth real good and then I poured a bucket of freezing cold water over him. You should have seen his eyes when he saw me there, swinging the cleaver like a baseball bat. I didn't say a word to him. I started with his hands and feet and then his ears....he was bleeding a lot and kept going in to shock, but I kept pouring icewater over him to wake him up. I dressed his wounds and kept him alive for a couple of days, just slicing here and there when the mood hit me. He was passing out real bad, so while he was still awake, I shot him up with some speed he used when he used to beat me. I did some fine surgery on his face at that point and then took his head. It took three big whacks and he was still conscious through the first one. It felt good.
I cleaned the place up and cut most of the flesh up in the disposal. That took a few days and by then the place was smelling pretty bad. Finally, when I was down to the bones I cleaned them off, wrapped them in butcher paper and threw them down in the crawlspace under the house under about four feet of dirt. I cleaned the place up with lysol and it looked and smelled pretty good. I was careful to leave it looking lived-in so no one would suspect anything. It would be just like my dear uncle Frank decided to go to Rio. I took the $500 he always kept around the house. He was very sloppy when he talked to me while he was drunk and I found out a lot. I was just 18 a couple of months before that, so I decided to just start a new life. None of the neighbors had seen me for ten years. He never let me out of the house. I grabbed a Greyhound bus for San Francisco and rented a cheap room in the Tenderloin when I got here. I decided to get a job somewhere where they wouldn't ask me too many questions or worry about me, so I got a job as a cocktail waitress at a bar out in the avenues. There was this crazy bubble-organ out there and this bald guy with a crazy goatee would play all kinds of sentimental music on the weekends...the Lost Weekend, that was the name of the bar. It was while I was working there that the organ player decided to leave a crossword puzzle magazine for me...like he knew that I needed to see that ad in the back.”
I offered Barbara some water or coffee. She took the water and drank it down in a couple of swallows. She was obviously on the run and thirsty from the exhaustion and stress. I put a whole jug of water next to her with the glass. Something was really beginning to bother me. Her total lack of emotion seemed reasonable, given her schizoid presentation, but the story she was telling was virtually the same one my previous client had just related. The stories were diverging here and I hoped that she hadn't somehow been in cahoots with the client right before her and that they weren't playing some sort of elaborate practical joke on me.
'I answered the ad by sending a letter to an address in San Jose. When I took the Caltrain down, It turned out to be an unmarked warehouse in on the outskirts of the light industrial district. I was confused, but I went in the side door, like the their response letter said to do and I was in complete, utter, pitch-black darkness. The door closed with a bang and even if I had been able to find it again, I felt sure it had been locked. I was afraid, on the verge of a panic attack when suddenly I felt a cool breeze behind me. A very soft voice said: “We are here only to help you. Walk three steps directly ahead, breathe deeply and trust that you will find everything that you are searching for.” I did just what the voice had said and at first, there was nothing, but then I started feeling the darkness getting darker and darker. The last thing I remember was seeing a bright silver star, just like at night. When I came to, the lights in the warehouse snapped on and there was not a soul in there besides me and absolutely nothing on the floor anywhere. I was stark naked but my clothes were neatly piled next to me. I put them on and went outside into the bright daylight. I found my way back to the train stop and bought a newspaper out of the stand. It was exactly seven days after I had first entered the warehouse. I knew that there was no point in going to the police. I knew way too much now and I had been places that had changed me forever. I just shut up and took the train back to San Francsico.
It was a couple of months later that I began to be followed. It was always women. Expensively dressed, sunglasses, hats, lots of jewelry. Totally out of place in the Tenderloin, but they would be there, night or day, as if they were just asking to get mugged. No one ever went anywhere near them though..there was something just off about them. There were two, both tall, jet black hair, ash-white skin, dark red lipstick. They could have been twins, but one had a serious limp and the other was just a tad heavier. Everytime I got on the streetcar or came home or went to work, one of them would be there. It was driving me insanc. One day, one of them held up a crystal to me as if she wanted me to take it. I refused and ran off. The next day, the same thing happened with the other one. This went on for a week and then one day they were just gone. Not a sign of them anywhere. I was so relieved and then I went home. There, laying on my bedspread was the crystal. I freaked out and tried to smash it, but before I could so much as throw it, it stuck to the palm of my hand and began to vibrate and heat up. I was suddenly back in the warehouse and someone...orsomething was whispering in my ear that I had better take the crystal or something horrible would happen to me. I couldn't lift it out of my hand...it was glued or something. I was so scared, all that I could think of was getting to a hospital and having a surgeon take it off. It took me a couple of hours drinking straight vodka to calm down and drop that idea as a bad one. I realized that I was really one of them now and that nothing was going to change that. Ever.
I was depressed for days and then I started noticing some small things. I was always cold, even on the hottest day. I would have whole weekends where I was living like a dream. I would snap out of it Monday and not be able to figure out what had happened to me. Then I started having really horrible nightmares, about things that I can't even talk about. My dreams started centering around dying and it got so that I couldn't even think about anything else. One of the other girls at the club must have seen me out of it, because she gave me your card. I know I am going to die, but I want to give you this crystal before that happens, because I am afraid of what it will do to me after I am gone. I want you to take this....she pulled out a sharp knife and proceeded to cut the skin that was holding so ferociously to the crystal. I immediately punched the panic button on my floor for the on-duty psych technician. Despite some decidedly odd elements to the case, the knife was not a good thing to see. She suddenly turned around to me.
“Here, take this!” She hissed like a snake. She held out her left hand to me and motioned for me to hold out my hand. I was more than a little unsure about the wisdom of doing so, but I felt that I had better go along with this and to take whatever she was proffering to me. She closed her eyes as she dropped something ellipsoidal, cold and heavy in to my outstretched hand. I had the strangest feeling of slow-motion as I moved my hand into my range of sight to see what it was. It was a milky white crystalline stone, about two inches across, very highly polished and carved into the shape of a spider and was very beautifully reflective. As I took a closer look, a large human eye with a blue iris came into focus right on the back of the spider's body. I gasped when the eye suddenly winked at me as if the thing knew exactly who I was and wanted to acknowledge my presence. I dropped the damned thing as if it was alive and maybe it was. Barbara had already backed away toward the door and the only other thing she said was “It belongs to the Order of the Midnight Blue Sun...they are closing in....” I got up to stop her, but she suddenly started making a gurgling sound that sounded like a death rattle. I cmotioned to Thomas, the psych technician to get the paramedics and just as he began to leave the room, she began to slowly pull the skin and fascia from her musculature, as if a zipper had been pulled from the top of her head to her groin. Thomas and I stood transfixed as her muscles and viscera sloughed off the skeleon by their own accord with horrendous snapping sounds as the tendons broke off the bones with enough violence to raise a cloud of bone-dust. Still, she chattered on and on as if nothing at all was happening to her. There was a sudden and shattering sonic explosion that blew out every window in the room and down the hall. It sounded like metal grating, but down at some atomic level where iron burns in the heart of the Sun. Neither Thomas nor I could even begin to move as we held our ears shut against the oceanic vibrations. The smell was somewhere between a dentist's office and cow-bones being sawn by an electric saw. Her leg and arm bones began to shake like a whiplash as they unwound in a peculiar double helical form, each side moving apart like a spray of birds shooting off into the air...I could still see Barbara's lower jaw moving up and down with the chattering...as the bones danced and shredded themselves into wiry filaments through the thick smoke cast off by the friction of unwinding. They began to form bizarre structures on the floor in the middle of her cast-off gore and grue. One side was creating an unbelievabe model of something that I immediately recognized from a book in the Vatican vaults...the supposed 14th Century “Ch'Thaat Aquadingen”...the model had to be of the city of Ry'leh that is supposed to lie at the bottom of the Pacific in a deep trench near the island of Ponape. The angles and shapes were more than somehow “wrong.” They began to chew at the core of my sanity like a rat chewing around a piece of mouldy bread. The other side was a similar structure, but there was something much odder about it. It had a clearly feminine aspect, very different from the model temple on the other side, but I had never read anything about such a temple or city in all of my years of research. While my mind was trying to grasp the unbelieveable scenario on the floor of my office, Barbara's grue-covered spinal column and skull were still hanging in mid-air with no support whatsoever. As if in direct response to my thoughts, the chattering finally stopped...she stared at me and said: “You have seen too much.” Her skull and spinal column began to glow a deep red and melted down in an explosive flare into the middle of the mess on the floor. Within a minute The entire pile of what had once been a pitiful human being was slowly melting down into a glowing violet putresence. How could bone melt? The whole experience had taken less than five minutes. Just as the paramedics burst into the room, I looked over at Thomas. He was staring blankly, as if something had left him...like his soul. I had the paramedics take him off to take care of him since there was nothing to be done for whatever it was that was now laying on the floor in a tangle of bloody geometries. As I looked down at my feet, I noticed the crystalline spider carving...the horrible eye winked at me again. It was gloating.
When she came back into my office, Diane saw the last of the paramedics leading the now comatose Thomas off. She surveyed the damage, while I just stared at the tiny stain on the floor...all that was left of Barbara. The windows had all been blown out; it smelled horrible and a faint blue haze of smoke still hung in the air. Diane spun around so fast that I was sure she was going to spill the coffee in a wide arc, but her sense of control was flawless. It was completely like a strange performance enacted for some uncomprehendable purpose to an audience with no clue as to its' meaning.
“What on Earth was going on with her, Father?” “Diane, she was here all of five minutes and I am already beginning to doubt my own sanity. I had all but forgotten the weird stone that our strange guest had gifted me with. “Let's take a look at the artifact that she left behind.” “Artifact, Father? What on Earth are you talking about.” “Diane, if my suspicions are correct, this is about as far from Earth as one can possibly be.” We went back to my office and sure enough, there it was, still laying on the soft fluffy white rug that stood between my chair and the chair for my clients. I picked it up, half expecting it to do the winking trick again, but it just sat there, looking pretty and slightly ominous. I didn't quite know what to tell Diane, so I just sighed and said: “well, it's a souvenir from our paranoid friend. I'll just keep it here in my little curio cabinet with all of the other odd bits I've collected. Let's just take the rest of the hour off and we'll take Sister Clare out to lunch. Diane was starting to calm down, so I just let it drop and filed away Barbara's reference to the “Order of the Midnight Blue Sun” for further research.
Lunch with Sister Clare was enjoyable. Clare told us some of her stories about working in the South Pacific during the 1950's. She taught school through several mission schools in Micronesia and her stories were always fascinating. Lunch, as always, was superb. The one thing that we could always count on in San Francisco was glorious food. The best outside of Italy.
The rest of the afternoon was uneventful and mercifully light. A couple of clients failed to show, so I had to make the usual calls to the San Francisco General to see if they were over there and by the grace of God, I tracked them down. Head-colds and nothing more serious. I was getting ready to finish up my progress notes and head back to the Rectory at St. Dominics where I was being temporarily domiciled, when I got a call from Inspector Cahill from the SFPD. Jim and I were old friends from Lowell High School and often got together to check on each other, since we were both in dangerous businesses. Jim had gone to U.C. Berkeley to study criminology and forensics and becamce an inspector with the San Francisco Homicide Squad. He had a real knack for finding clues and evidence that even other old-timer's on the Force had a hard time with. Today Jim was more sombre than usual and I asked what was going on. He was obviously unsure about how to break something to me. “Jim, just spill t out. Today has been a hard day at the clinic and I think I am ready for just about anything.” “Dami, one of your clients was found murdered today.” “One of my clients? Who?” “A woman named Barbara.” “How did you know she was my client?” “She still had one of your business cards clutched tightly in her right hand.” “My dear God, I only met her this afternoon and only saw her for maybe five minutes. She was so paranoid about being killed today that she ran like lightning from my office before I could catch her.” “Damian, we found her in a culvert about three blocks from your office...at least the top half of her.” “Jim, what are you saying?” “Damian, someone had somehow sliced her clean in half at a forty-five degree angle at her waist...and we still haven't found the bottom half. The weird that was that she was smiling...a great big grin on her. It was unsettling. Damian, if you can remember anything, even the slightest little thing that will help me out here, I hope you will tell me. This is going to have to be hushed up from the newspapers or there will be panic. The other thing the examiner couldn't figure is that there was absolutely no blood at the scene whasoever. It was as if someone cut through her like butter with a hot knife that just cauterized this gaping mortal wound. No blood, no body fluids. The Medical Examiners were just shaking their heads. They won't have full autopsy results for a couple of days, while we search for the rest of the remains.” “Jim, like I said, she was barely here five minutes and all she said was that someone was going to kill her today, then she bolted off like a gazelle.” I couldn't tell him yet about the other aspects of her visit because I didn't understand them myself and I didn't want to send my old friend off on a wild occult goose-chase without good reason. “Jim, If I find out anything else I will be sure to let you know. I will send a copy of whatever paperwork she might have finished over to you. Maybe you can find something out from the scraps bit that Diane was able to eek out of her before the therapy session.” “Thanks, Dami...I will keep you and the clinic out of this if the press catches wind, as they usually do. Say hello to Monsignor McMerritt for me...” “Sure Jim, and thanks for keeping us out of it for the moment.” At this point, I realized that I needed to know a lot more about this mysterious Order and what they might have had to do with the mythical Lloigor, this stone and our unfortunate friend, Barbara.
I called my old friend Frenchy at the Metaphysical bookstore on Sutter..the one up in the second floor with all of the dust about 35 years old and about an inch thick. Frenchy was one of the first astrologers trained in Germany during the Weimar days and she had collected one of the best reference libraries on the occult around from vaious libraries broken up by the First World War. Up on the third floor of the old masonic hall that she called home, she had her small apartment and a vast library, catalogued and cross-referenced to the teeth. Frenchy's obsessive compulsive side ran to the librarian style. She very graciously gave me a spare key to the bookstore and the hidden door that led to her private library. She was off with one of her cronies to tonight's performance of Wagner's “Der Meistersinger” at the War Memorial Opera House, so I would have well into the night to do my research. Between her books, my own private library and a few long phone calls to my contacts in the basement of the Vatican Library's forbidden collection,I was determined to find out what on Earth or off it was really going on.
My training in Psychology at the Vatican Institute was focused on intensive research into the history and practice of parapsychology and phenomena of the mind which are usually passed over in the scientific journals. I remember when I was a child, being fascinated by those crazy ads in the back of Popular Mechanics for the Rosicrucians. They seemed to have something that my usual Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes at St. Stephen's seemed to lack...mystery with a capital “M.” I satisfied my curiosity with my studies into magic and alchemy, undertaken with the ostensible purpose of learning how to perform the Rite of Exorcism. Of course, I went deeper and deeper in to the mysteries and it was in my third year of school at the Institute that I ran into a remarkable teacher who understood my interests and helped me through the maze of symbols and beliefs. Father Johann Sonnenschein was a brilliant Jungian analyst and an expert on the occult tradition during it's earliest manifestations in Babylon, Sumeria and Egypt. together, we used Dr. Jung's theories of four personality types as a way of organizing the material I was uncovering into an understandable schemata. This proved to be indeispensible when Father Johann took me down into the deepest of the subterranean vaults underneath the forbidden collection, where there is a virtual arsenal of magical texts and weapons culled from the very oldest cultures from every part of Earth. The latest acquisitions when I was there in 1957 had been brought in from the collection at Wewelsburg castle, the center of Heinrich Himmler's occult empire and the Ahnenerbe, the secretive school of archeologists that he employed in their journeys around the World in search of the secrets of occult power. One of the strangest objects unearthed by the Ahnenerbe in one of the Central Asian expeditions was a plain stone jar, sealed with pitch. When the Germans broke the seal, an odor much like sulphur erupted from the jar and they described a palpable darkness, like a cloud emerging. Inside, was a simple scroll, on the kind of wooden handle that the Tibetans use to roll and unroll the Thangkas. The letters and images on the scroll were completely unknown to the Germans and subsequent research revealed that the only culture that the scroll could be connected with was a barely known megalithic people from the islands of Micronesia. How this scroll came to be in a jar thousands of miles from its' point of origin is still under research, but what was clear once the script could be related to a known type, is that the scroll told a fantastic story of a time hundreds of thousands of years before human culture existed, when a race of Elder Gods from deep in space battled with a powerful race of sentient silicon-based lifeforms called the Great Ancient Ones. The Great Ancient Ones were reputed to have entered this Universe from an entirely different dimension through the use of non-euclidean geometries and a technology of faster than light travel. The whole thing read like a wild science fiction tale, but a few aspects of the scroll had an interesting relationship with the afternoon's bizarre events. The scroll mentions that the Great Ancient Ones had several reaces of servitors in their employ....one of them was the Lloigor, the impossibly long legged wanderers of space, who were supposed to be able to survive the freezing vacuum of space as well as the boiling heat of the core of a star while literally walking the spaces between star systems. How did our mysterious murder victim have any knowledge of this obscure legend, much less the conviction that these beings were out to kill her?
Then, there was the more immediate problem of the curio and the illusion of the eye inside of it. How did that work? Was it the stress and confusion of the situation mixed with the suggestions Barbara was making that were responsible for my weird experience? I decided to take a closer look at the stone and try to figure out what made it tick. As I pulled it out of my pocket, I noticed that something was very wrong. The formerly room temperature stone was all of a sudden, freezing cold to my touch. It was almost impossible to hold, so I put it down on a black velvet cloth on the front desk in the bookstore. As I looked carefully over the top of the stone, I could see a mist or foginess rising from it, I looked at it straight on from the front...oh my God...there was the perfect blue eye again....but I couldn't see how the illusion was created. It seemed to be coming through something like pure milky crystal. I noticed something that I hadn't noticed in the hectic moments with Barbara. The pupil of the eye was somehow wrong. It was a three pointed slit, like a triangle, instead of the usual circle. Suddenly, the eye blinked and a low humming started that scared the wits out of me. The stone spoke, as if the sound was emerging dead on from it. “You are a not such a wise man as you think. There are many things that you still do not understand, but you will go to the garden of delights in the West, where the Lord of Death dreams in the City of Stone. Descend into the Temple of water and there you will find what you seek. V'kresn vuy-kn gran'h arksh ty'h nzal's naaghs wh'rag-ngla oth'e tryn-yal El-aka gryenn'h! ” With an explosive force all out of proportion to it's size, the stone shattered into a thousand pieces. The minute fragments of crystal were evaporating into smoke. My heart was racing from the explision, but I realized that my primary evidence was entirely gone. I quickly wrote down the whole dialogue as best I could remember it, with phonetic approximations for the final sentence. The strange and cryptic phrasing did remind me of something, but why the stone put on such an elaborate show for me remained vague. Something was just plain wrong with the whole performance, but I couldn't put my finfer on it.
“Garden of delights....the only thing West of San Francisco is the Pacific Ocean, but that could be anywhere. I was ready to go to upstairs to Frenchy's library, but as I turned out the lights, there was a loud ”thud” up there...someone else was here in the building and there shouldn't be anyone here at all...Frenchy was long gone and there was no other occupant in the whole building. I prayed that Inspector Cahill was home tonight. I quietly picked up the phone and dialed him. There were three rings and he picked up. “Jim, I am over at the Metaphysical Bookstore on Sutter and Mason, the second floor...there is an intruder upstairs....can you make it over?” “Damian, just stay put, I will have a couple of patrolmen over in a couple of minutes and I will be there soon...just stay put.”
I took a deep breath and just stood stock still. There was a faint sound of someone walking above me. After what seemed like forever, I heard a key opening the door downstairs to the street. There were two flashlights bouncing up the stairway...two policemen from Southern Station whom I had seen occasionally appeared at the top of the stairs and motioned me to speak softly. I directed them toward the entrance to the third floor stairwell, with a bad feeling on the back of my neck. They pulled their service revolvers and began to quietly pad up the stairs, flashlights off. There was a long silence. They must be adjusting their eyes to the darkness. All of a sudden there was a loud crashing sound. The lights went on and the two officers were standing in amazement at the top of the stairs. One of them called for me. “Father, please come up here!” I couldn't imagine what had happened. I reached the top and looked past their shoulders in to the library. The skylight was swinging open and long strands of a greasy looking substance were hanging from it. There was an oily patch on the floor in the middle of the stacks. The distance from the floor to the skylight was at least fourteen feet and there was no visible way to get from point A to point B, unless......unless you were very, very abnormally tall. They radioed for the police lab while I just took a moment to breathe deep and consider. This was not going to be easy.