The Drowned God, Chapter 3

When I slept, I dreamed of giant, black open mouths swallowing me. I was falling forever into blackness. It wasn’t just death, it was … worse. I heard those wet thumps; I smelt the burning flesh. I woke up shaking. After a couple days, they took off the cervical collar, and the swelling around my throat had improved enough for me to talk. They moved me to a regular hospital room to watch my airway one more night before they sent me home. Robin came to see me.

“Hello Ram,” he said, clapping me on the shoulder. Robin Bearshak was the FBI agent in charge of my family’s case. He was a huge black guy, shaved head, 6’6, 250 lb at least.

I knew him because I’d been in Witness Protection after my Dad freaked out and disappeared. He was in some Satanic cult. My Mom had testified against him and the cult, and I got put in witness protection with her. She’s still out in the Utah desert, and I hadn’t been home in two years.

“Fuck, Robin, I’m so sorry, man. I promise I didn’t tell anyone who I was. They’re dead because of me.”

“Slow down, buddy. You didn’t kill those kids. You’re sure they knew who you were?”

“The leader called me Xarque Ozyeus.”

Robin shook his head. “No one’s supposed to know that’s you.”

“I swear I didn’t tell anybody.”

“I know, I believe you.”

“Is my Dad alive?”

“He hasn’t popped up on our radar anywhere. These guys are fucking scary. They’re not Satanists like your Dad. They’re something different.”

“How the fuck did all of them disappear?”

“Hold on, Ram.” Robin picked up the phone receiver on the bedside table and took a small speaker out of his pocket. He switched the speaker on and put it to the mouthpiece. A shrill whine made me wince; he adjusted it so we couldn’t hear it anymore and put the receiver and speaker on the table. “You should assume from now on that you’re being recorded. This should ruin any recording devices listening in.”

“So what’s happening?”

“The FBI is compromised. I’d suspected it for awhile, and now I’m sure of it. They shouldn’t have been able to find you. If they all got out of custody, that means that a lot of guys are working for them. You’re in serious danger.”

“You can’t figure out where these Penitents come from?”

“No idea. The USA just had college students murdered and kidnapped by a death cult from terrorists who we can’t identify. We’re being invaded and we don’t know by whom. We’re being attacked and we don’t know by which country. They’re everywhere and we don’t know who they are. They wear those hoods and stand in rows, and we can’t figure out who they are even if we kill them. Their fingerprints aren’t in the databases, their pictures don’t match anything we’ve got. We’ve sent pictures to our allies but haven’t got any matches. Just random fuckers trying to kill everybody.”

“The leader said they wanted me to be king, or an offering to their god. Who the fuck is the drowned god?”

Robin shook his head. “It’s something that came up with Atlantis.”

“That shit is real?”

“The tabloids don’t get everything right, but, yeah. Basically, a huge chunk of a sunken city floated up to the surface after an underwater earthquake six months ago. The researchers found idols with inscriptions in no language they’d ever read before. Stone idols and pillars worshipping some horrible sea beast. There was a giant tomb; when the team went down there, it was empty. There were massive chains, discarded.”

I started shaking. “How did the Penitents find out about it?”

“Everyone who went onto the Atlantis site is dead or disappeared. Once they got to mainland, the researchers started losing their minds and became so violent they had to be restrained. We think there was a cult to that sea beast that had been maintained in secret throughout human history, and the surviving researchers are with them now.”

“Does the sea beast have a name?”

“Abaddon. Apollyon. The Destroyer.”

My whole body was shaking. “Is he from the Bible?”

“He’s mentioned, but probably much older than the Bible.”

“What do they want me for?”

“There’s a legend … it says that millions of years ago, Abaddon fucked a human, probably one of your ancestors. There’s a bloodline that goes through history of some of the worst dictators and murderers ever. That’s your Dad, and that’s you. Your Dad is probably dead. So are his other kids. You’re the only one left. You can probably do crazy shit you don’t even know about.”

“What’s Abaddon going to do?”

“No one really knows. This is all guesswork based on myths and legends. The Penitents believe that we should serve this evil fuck, and that he’ll make them gods like him. They want him to take over the world and kill everybody.”

“Who are they going to rule if everybody’s dead?”

“These guys haven’t thought that far ahead. They just want to wreck everything. They want the world to stop. They want you because they think Abaddon will talk to you, because you have his genes. You’ll let him manifest, have a corporeal body in the material plane.”

“So what the fuck do I do?”

“Don’t trust anybody, even the FBI. I’m sending someone to get you out of here. We call her the Eye of the Needle. You’ll go with her to some place safe. I’ll meet up with you if I can.”

“The Eye of the Needle?”

“It’s a codename. You have to go through her to get to the Kingdom.”

“What about Birdie? What about my friends and the Betas?”

“The best thing you can do for them is stay away. They’ll be a lot safer if you’re nowhere near them. Get some clothes on and get ready to move.”

He put on a pair of latex gloves and pulled the needle out of my arm, sticking a bandage on it. He looked at me and looked sadder than I’d ever seen him. Robin cleared his throat. “This whole thing is an existential crisis for those of us in the government. It’s like, ‘ok, that was history, that was myth, and now, we’re living in it.’ Nothing makes sense. Suicide seems entirely reasonable. You die, you go insane, you commit suicide. Those are your options.”

I stared at him. “You’re supposed to be the one who knows what’s going on.”

He chuckled mirthlessly. “Ram, you know, I get it, you’re young, dumb, and full of come, and so you have every reason to go back out there into that fucking shit-show. But what about me? Shit’s already happened. I don’t even fucking know. My wife is dead, my daughter is gone, probably wearing that mark, everything’s lost. Let’s just let those assholes kill us all. Who cares?”

“Fuck you, man, you can’t just say that to me.”

He got a creepy look in his eyes, and his voice changed; it went higher. “You know, maybe you were right in the first place. You’re the reason for all of this. They need you to make it work. You’re the missing link. If you don’t lead them, Abaddon probably can’t manifest in this plane. You’re the secret seed. I should just kill you, but I can’t. I can’t. I should. No.”

I stood up and put my fists in front of me. I didn’t want to fight him, but I would if I had to. “It’s time to go, Robin.”

He got up and shook himself. “I’m going to go stand guard at the nurse’s desk. I’m sorry, man, I was talking out of my ass. I don’t know what came over me. I was talking shit.”

I nodded, and he backed out of the room. I sat on my hospital bed, and then got dressed in the clothes Birdie brought me and waited. I tried to watch TV, but I felt like I was choking. I must have fallen asleep.

“Xarque.” I sat bolt upright. There was a stranger sitting next to my bed.

“That’s not my fucking name,” I snapped, instinctively, to a surly looking maintenance guy with a cap pulled low over his eyes. “Who the fuck are you?”

“I knew your Dad, Xarque. I’m with the Penitents. We got off on the wrong foot. Let’s start again.” He reached a hand out. He smelled like piss and I couldn’t see his eyes.

I moved up the bed and hit the call button for the nurse. “Don’t touch me.”

He held his hands up and put them back in his lap. “We’re just talking here. I’m not here to fight you. This is an invitation. You and I are the same, Xarque. We know that everything is just a fucking joke. There’s not going to be any survivors when Abaddon comes. Let’s go out in a blaze of glory.”

“You guys are monsters. I’m not like you.” I hit the call button.

“You’ve always known this was coming. You’ve been waiting for your entire life. What do you think you like to stick your fingernails in peoples eyes and nose when you fight? Because you’re a fucking cannibal. You’ve got no respect for humankind or human dignity. Why don’t you just give up this farce? You’re an evil piece of shit.”

“How do you know how I fight?”

“We’ve been watching you for a long time, Xarque. You like to fuck and fight. So do we. We can get you girls, pretty ones, too, or fat ones, if you like that. Everyone’s going to fucking die, might as well get your dick sucked while you’re waiting. Come with me and you can fuck whoever you want to, whenever you want to. We’ll line them up for you.” He smiled with a mouth full of rotten teeth. I winced and hit the call button again.

“I said ‘no,’ goddamnit, would you get out of here? I’m not going anywhere with you. You stink like shit.”

He laughed, which sounded like pig snorting. “Xarque, you’re a killer. We know it. We’ll make you our king. No one else is ever going to tolerate you for long. What do you think you’re going do when they find out? Everyone’s going to find out. Maybe they already know. You’re just going to get them all killed.

“You’re going to see how long it takes for everybody to start. Family, church, country, school, love, marriage, not of that is going to mean a big hill of shit in the end. You gonna watch people fuck and kill each other in the fucking streets. It’s all going to fall apart. What the fuck do you think you’re going to do, go to business school? You’re an animal. They call you “the Beast,” right?”

“Get out of my face. You don’t know me. I’m not going with you.”

He leaned forward and lifted the hat from his eyes. That red hexagram was scarred into his head. His eyes were narrow, yellow tinged, full of hate. “Your mom thinks you should’ve been the one that died. She has dreams that you’re dead. She wishes with all her heart that you were dead instead of Jim. Everyone does. They know just how disgusting, evil, and pathetic you are.”

My eyes teared up. “You’re making shit up. You don’t know my Mom.”

You remember the sound that morning, Xarque? You woke up, and you heard the crackle of the police radio? You heard your mom sobbing, ‘no no, it can’t be true?’ And you closed your eyes and tried to go back to sleep, just in case it might be a dream and you would wake up and it wouldn’t be real. This is real. This is no dream, you little jerk-off.”

Robin’s huge figure appeared in the doorway and he grabbed the Penitent’s shirt and dragged him out of the room, kicking and spitting. I breathed and tried to pull my shit together. I heard commotion and shouting in the hallway. Robin was shouting, the gunfire echoed. I went to the window and looked for a fire escape, something I could climb out on.

When I turned around, a tiny Asian woman was there. I almost screamed; she clapped a hand over my mouth. She pointed to her forearm, where there was a syringe tattooed, and then to her eye. The Eye of the Needle.

I followed her into the hallway, jam packed with cops and FBI. I saw purple hoods on the ground, and wanted to throw up. She led me into a stairwell, up several flights of stairs, and then opened up the door to the roof. A black helicopter was waiting on the hospital’s helipad. The pilot opened the door for us and handed me ear protection. We ascended through the clouds.

Chapter 4: https://hermanshermitage.com/2020/12/11/the-drowned-god-chapter-4/

The Drowned God, Ch. 1

I had been fucking Birdie all night and all morning, and finally I was getting tired of it. I hadn’t come, couldn’t come. So now it was time to get her the fuck out of my room. She dried out an hour ago, and she was done. I would’ve had her leave and walk home by herself, but she made me feel bad.

Birdie was going on about how the worlds going to end. “So you know, Edgar Cayce said that Atlantis was going to rise in 1999, which is this year. Right now. The oceanographers have been testing all kinds of weird stuff surfacing from the bottom of the ocean. And people all over been showing up with these weird hexagram tattoos on their hands and their faces, and a lot of them can’t even explain how they got them. I think it’s the Mark of the Beast or something.”

“Yeah, OK, the world’s ending.”

“This is important Ram! Haven’t you ever read the Bible?”

“Not really. My head hurts.”

“Do you think it’s because you drank too much that you couldn’t come?”

“Maybe. I don’t really want to talk about that either.”

“Listen Ram, it’s the end of the millennium. It’s 1999. This is a big year for astrology and it’s a big year for prophecy. Stuff is happening right now and we have to pay attention.”

We reached her door, and I went to give her a kiss. She put her finger on my lips and blocked me. I shut my eyes. I was really annoyed. “Does this mean I’m your girlfriend now?”

I leaned back and shook my head. “Can we talk about this when my head doesn’t hurt so much? I got to go back and get some sleep.”

She leaned forward and gave me gave me a little peck on the cheek. She whispered, “you’re such an asshole.”

I trudged back from her dorm up the hill to the Beta Sig house. The door slammed behind me, and the guys were all sitting in the cafeteria, watching TV. Their heads swiveled, saw me and started shouting. “BEAST! BEAST! BEAST! BEAST!” They were stomping their feet, hollering. It was disgusting.

I screamed: “SHUT THE FUCK UP! I HAVE A HEADACHE GODDAMNIT!”

“We heard her moaning all night! She’s totally your girlfriend now! You’re screwed dude!“

“She’s not my girlfriend! She’s just around all the time so we hook up. Yeah, I fucked her all night, but I couldn’t come. So that’s got to be a sign we’re not supposed to be together.”

The cafeteria erupted in laughter. “What’s wrong? Scared of a little birdie?”

“Man, fuck you guys. I’m going to bed.” I stomped up to the second floor. I had left my door open, and there was too much fucking light in my room. I slammed the door, got into my dirty, stinky bed, put my head under the covers and passed out.

I woke up to someone pounding my door; as dark as my room was now, I must have slept the whole day. I opened up to Hank, looking lost and jittery. I walked back to my bed and got in. He dumped himself on my couch and lit a cigarette. My eyes hurt and my head was pounding. Fucking brown liquor. Never again.

“Man, you would just think that God took a big shit on you? Like there was some cosmic joke with him and the angels, and you’re the dumb ass who has to go around getting laughed at all the time?” Hank was too smart; he kept himself wired on caffeine, trying to do a physics major, and making himself sick with worry while he did practice equations.

I groaned. “If you’re going to talk bullshit to me, at least give me a smoke.” I sat up, he passed me his lit cigarette and lit a second one for himself.

“You’re not a joke, Ram. I am. You’re a good-looking guy, you’re a fraternity president, you’re in college, you’re probably going to get some rich banker job and have a heart attack and die when you’re forty-five or something. You’re like the living American dream. Every girl wants to sleep with you, every guy wants to be you, you’re like the king of this fucking shithole college.”

“Hank, I’m not the guy to talk you down from the side of a building. My life is just fucking pointless. Like, why even go to college? Why do anything? Birdie was telling me this morning that the world is going to end. I’m kind of excited about it. I wish it was over right now.”

“It’s coming up, man. January 1st, 2000, 12:00 AM, we’re all dead. It’s been foretold.”

“You’re a scientist, for fucks sake. Who says that day, that time, those prophecies mean anything? The guy who wrote it was probably high. It was a thousands of years ago. They didn’t know anything, just like we don’t know anything. Nothing’s ever going to change.”

“Atlantis came up, dude. The dead are rising out of their graves. Plagues of locusts are devouring everything again.”

“I’m going to take away your radio if you keep staying up all night listening to Art Bell.

“I’m learning all this shit, all this higher order math, and I just think it isn’t going to make a difference to anyone. You get to the edge of the circle, you see the set of all the numbers you’re graphing, and there’s nothing there. I thought I was going to transcend this existence by the time I got this far in my studies, but I’m still the same Hank, just an asshole who’s going to be selling insurance in a couple years because no one pays anyone to do this kind of work.”

“We got to get ready for chapter tonight. It’s ritual practice. I got to make sure none of you fuck it up when the pledges get initiated. Get the fuck out of here so I can take a shower.”

Hank left, I stubbed out the smoke and got my shower stuff from the under the bed. Birdie must have bit me overnight; one my pecs was starting to swell up. It looked like a huge bug bite. Damnit.

I got myself showered and cleaned up, and met the executive officers in the chapter hall in the basement. We got our robes on and were walking around the pillars lighting the candles when Damon burst in. “There’s a demon at the door, a fucking demon!“

Hank was pissed. He had just gotten his candle lit. “What the fuck man, what’s going on?”

“There’s a demon at the door, he wants you, he wants you, Ram!

“That’s bullshit man, demons don’t just walk around. You’re fucking crazy.”

“Come on!”

I set my lighter down and the guys crowded around behind me as I walked to the door. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, but I forced myself to be calm. I swung the door open, got scared shitless. There was a huge figure there on the doorstep, with a peaked purple hood and mask, and a purple robe.  He must have been ten feet tall, silhouetted in the darkness.  I looked over his shoulder and I saw a bunch of robed and hooded figures with torches in the darkness outside. A dog was barking somewhere.

When he spoke, he sounded like the fucking crypt keeper, deep and resonant. “Robert Beezle, called Ram, son of John, today you inherit the kingdom. Come with us.”

I shouted back “Who the fuck are you? Are you the Klan?” The whole house was behind me now, thirty guys, all ready to brawl.

“We’re not the Klan. We are the Penitents. We serve the drowned god. We demand your presence. Come with us.”

He reached out and put a huge hand on my shoulder. I jumped back and screamed: “Fuck him up, Betas!” Then the fucking melee started.

Chapter 2: https://hermanshermitage.com/2020/11/29/the-drowned-god-ch-2/