Read House of Cabal Volume One: Eden Online
Authors: Wesley McCraw
Tags: #angels, #gay, #bisexual, #conspiracy, #time travel, #immortal, #insects, #aphrodisiac, #masculinity
HOUSE OF CABAL
Copyright 2016 Wesley McCraw
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The House of
Cabal Volume One
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Table of Contents
Angels entered the timestream and bore
witness on Earth. They traced crisscrossing destiny threads, of
lovers or of enemies, along a preordained pattern originating at
the Big Bang and ending at the Apocalypse. The angels dressed in
performance accoutrements and interpreted what they had seen by way
of operas on the holy stage in the Parthenon of the Art. They
glorified a single artist or martyr. Or the angels worked together
in temporary, operatic, task forces to stage a million melodramas
at once, exploring themes such as love, greed, or nihilism. The
operas exalted God and His creation. He offered unconditional love
While my brothers and sisters performed in
Heaven, I bided my time in a banjo tree just inside the gates of
Eden’s Garden, where the rules of time and space weren’t so strict
and I could live as an ascetic. The other witness angels hid their
disapproval. I knew they thought less of me. For never performing.
For my stage fright. For being the odd witness out.
Sometimes I chatted with Uriel, who always
stood guard at the garden gate as if a human invasion was eminent.
Guard duty was pointless. Not only were Adam and Eve never coming
back, they had been wiped from existence. The entire cherubim army
had no enemy to fight and spent their time reveling in the
barracks, partying away eternity like some kind of divine college
Mostly, I kept to myself.
Inspiration for my singular opera would come
along. Until then I waited.
The other witness angels witnessed, composed,
performed, and repeated. They thought their art was worthy. Allah
literally saw everything coming from the beginning of time.
When I was feeling particularly masochistic,
I spied on their performances and felt the embarrassment they
should have felt for themselves. It didn’t matter if they depicted
war or peace, one moment or a million years. No matter how
extraordinary, no matter how obscure, their stories were never
going to spark revelation in the Almighty, not when they selected
their plots from a grand design Elohim had created Himself.
If I didn’t settle, if I was patient enough,
I would discover a true secret. Something only I had seen. Their
pity over my inaction would burn away in the flames of my glory.
They would lay prostrate at my feet.
But only if I kept my faith. There was
something even God didn’t know. I would find it by letting it come
to me. I was Siddhārtha under the Bodhi tree. I was Sir Isaac
Newton. The lotus would bloom, the forbidden fruit would fall on my
head, and I would be inspired. So I waited.
A high-pitched scream disrupted my
From my perch in the banjo tree I saw Dana
Parr, a middle-aged blond woman, terrified, screaming her head off.
A python-sized millipede had coiled around her legs. It sliced
through her pants with its mandibles and feasted on the rinded
Near a cherubim-shaped void where Uriel
usually stood, Dana’s husband sat, horror-stricken and mute in a
motorized wheelchair. Hundreds of beetles swarmed, drawn to the
foreign material. The beetles dissolved the chair’s tires, consumed
the unused tread of the man’s boots, ate the leather, the laces,
the metal grommets, and then his socks. He had no reaction. The
beetles swarmed his bare feet; ate away dead skin, microbes, and
dirt; and started in on the cuffs of his pant legs.
I leapt from my branch. My robes flared.
Dana, seeing my massive form land in the bug-infested grass, lost
her color and continued screaming. Tears streamed down her pallid
The endless conflicts of humanity had
hardened me to human suffering, yet her shrill cries pierced my
indifference. To appear smaller and less threatening, I folded
inward and kept my distance. It never occurred to me before that if
humans were to return to paradise, they would see it as hell and me
as some kind of demon.
When Adam and Eve existed, this was their
home. We played together without worry in a peaceful ecosystem. All
arthropods were safe here.
Above Dana, insects thickened the sky like
storm clouds. In the distance, sentient foliage moved across the
landscape like advancing armies. Her horror was primal, seated in
an evolutionary memory that would be difficult to nullify.
Poor woman, exquisite in her naked suffering.
The Garden of Eden was nothing like she imagined.
Life and death and time and space were
mercurial here. That ambiguity, if introduced to Earth’s rigid
reality, could fracture existence. A second Big Bang could not only
restart the universe, it could make it so the timeline that led her
here had never existed.
Dana Parr couldn’t leave, whether she thought
this place a nightmare or not.
The millipede stiffened, smelled her
screaming mouth with its antennae, and took the opportunity to
clean fig remnants from Dana’s otherwise flawless teeth. In that
moment, I decided to witness for myself the events that led to her
unexpected arrival, thus bringing my hermitage to an end.
The Iraqi army disbanded in 2003, leaving
thousands of men and their families without income and Baghdad
unprotected. Dana Parr and her husband took advantage of the
ensuing chaos and paid a museum guard to smuggle out a
five-thousand-year-old cuneiform tablet from one of the Iraqi
National Museum’s underground storage rooms.
The tablet was traded off, and a local expert
helped decipher the uniquely primitive Sumerian symbols. The
symbols referred to vague landmarks that led to a remote valley
among the rolling dunes, the supposed birthplace of humanity. The
Parrs led an expedition into the Iraqi desert and followed the
landmarks. On the third day, at hopefully the correct destination,
guides set up camp. A security detail of independent contractors
from Blackwater Worldwide scouted the perimeter. It was all sand
and more sand. Scientists from Eastern Europe took samples and
unpacked lab equipment. The couple wasn’t sure what to look for,
only that this was the place to look.
Before sunrise the day after establishing
camp, Boris Kachka, a lanky Russian-born scientist, went outside
the Bedouin tents to take a piss. Drowsiness made him sway. Back in
Tbilisi, Georgia, his wife was due to give birth and wouldn’t leave
his mind no matter how much he tossed and turned on his cot next to
the other sleeping scientists. There was no way to contact her to
make sure she was okay. The satellite phone was to be used for
The full moon hung huge on the horizon and
illuminated specks in the sand fleeing from his urine. He squinted
and blinked his itchy eyes. What were they? His forearms and the
back of his neck prickled in repugnance.
The tiny, black, fleeing things had
He pulled up his shorts. No matter how much
the things frightened him, he didn’t want them to escape. He got
down, ran his palm along the slope of the sand, and caught a few
between his slender fingers.
Despite his first impression, there was only
one, and it squirmed like a maggot. Careful not to crush it, he
held it close to his face. By the moonlight it resembled a tiny
obsidian sun, like a bit of darkness come alive in the desert
He studied the creature under a microscope
inside the mobile laboratory at the south edge of camp and tried to
remain calm. Its body was that of a mite, but not its legs.
Tentacles, or energy tendrils, reached out in all directions like
black solar flares. They behaved simultaneously like particles and
This absurd desert creature could be his
He brewed coffee to give himself time to
breathe, went back in with a level head, and continued studying the
tendrils through the microscope. As he did so, something squirmed
between his thumb and index finger.
He shook out his hand. The squirming didn’t
go away. The sensation was inside his finger, like his index
finger’s distal bone had grown restless and wanted free.
He reached without looking for his coffee and
took a sip. The warm ceramic felt comforting in his hand, and the
smooth yet acidic liquid was the perfect temperature: just under
He looked and saw that his cup was still on
the other side of the laboratory. His hand was empty.
Confused, he assumed he must have just
forgotten that he’d set it down. He counted his steps as he crossed
the rectangular trailer. It took twelve steps to reach his cup. It
was an impossible distance to not notice. He took another sip to
test the coffee’s current temperature so as to approximate the
passage of time. If he had lost himself in thought, it should have
been colder, but the temperature seemed the same as his first sip:
just under scalding. If anything, it was even hotter.
Something strange was happening to reality,
or at least to his perception of reality.
He exited the lab in haste. The sun had
peeked over the horizon. His bosses, the Parrs, would be displeased
if he waited any longer to inform them of his discovery. He also
needed to wake his colleagues. Going it alone was a selfish and
unwise misstep. Science functioned best when collaborative. He
rubbed the goose bumps on his arms as he walked. Besides, he would
feel better if other people were around.
He passed the tan canvas Blackwater tent,
which comfortably housed twelve men and was the camp’s biggest. The
officers inside already stirred. Most were hotheads he tried to
avoid. Now their bravado gave him comfort. He heard one of them
laughing and felt ridiculous for having been so spooked before.
He came upon the tent again.
Somehow he must have gotten turned
The logo on the side of the tent was
impossible to miss. A red oval surrounded a bear’s paw print with
“Blackwater” in bold. A laugh came from inside the tent again.
Boris strode forward, trying to shake his déjà vu.
And there it was again, the Blackwater tent,
the red oval, the paw print, and the distinct, muffled laugh. For
the first time, he realized the red oval was a crosshairs.
Maybe sleep deprivation was causing his déjà
vu. That was more plausible than a tiny bug distorting
Only when he spoke to the Parrs did he call
his discovery an Eden mite. He had to call it something.
“The Eden mite has a different elemental
“Dr. Kachka, what does that mean?”
“It means…” Boris spoke English very well but
was flustered. “I don’t know what it means. As a scientist, I’ve
never seen anything like it. It will take time.”
Dana’s husband, an ex-oilman, knew a valuable
discovery when he heard one. “We found something!” He slapped his
arm rests. “We’ve really found something!”
“We found a mite.”
“An Eden mite!”
Dana’s skepticism was understandable, but
Boris knew the mite was only the beginning. “Where there is smoke,
there is fire, as you say.”
Dana ordered everyone in camp to scour the
The guides helped move the tents. They argued
that an Arabian summer shouldn't be treated with such arrogance,
repeatedly pointing at the rising sun. They refused further orders
and stubbornly rested in the shade.