I had been searching for a long time during my background research into the life of Christ. I had been through more private libraries and Monasteries than I could reasonably count, and this one was only a little more isolated than the rest.
Way out in the middle of the desert, it was near a small town - across the road - but the town was very interesting indeed. It had a history of civil defiance - a very intersting history - regarding plural marriages, of all things. I mean - who cares if someone wants to have more than one wife? If they can afford the tremendous expense in terms of time, effort and tears; who cares?
I have never seen a whole town so afraid. It was like the government was the biggiest 'boogieman' in town. They even had a local legend that the feds were seeding the area with chemicals from high-flying jets. Excuse me? Say what?
I could only shake my head, and laugh privately. These people did not have much of a sense of humor. The desert is a different place. Remember that, OK?
The Monastery was a front for Yoga practitioners - a very special type of Yoga for those sensuously inclined. I looked it up, and confirmed what I remembered from vague references in Seminary.
Tantric Yoga can be a very black art indeed. It is dedicated to the idea that the use of Tantric can not only increase sexual, sensual and spiritual abilities; but will control all those involved by whomever is the leader of the group.
In this case, it was a woman, a very beautiful woman who might have been 20 or 50, but a body most women would die for. Showing it off to all concerned was not a problem, because clothes were not a strong suit for anyone there, including a young woman who kept coming to my room on one excuse or another. She was about 18, and very nubile indeed. Since I was old enough to be her father, just being around her gave me the cold sweats; let alone the one who was nearer? my own age. She had a husband, or at least I think he was her husband. The only way you could tell was through body language. The language was pretty explicit. Reach, out - touch and taste; welcome to the control trip of the year. No thanks. I was innocent in some ways, but not stupid. The Bible says: "Beware the froward woman." [I looked that one up. It means 'willful'. Whose will I wonder? God's or anyone else's?]
As soon as I finished my research, I was out of there; post haste. So long, you all. Looking back on the experience; I started to wonder: what if? Then, I shook my head and went on.
While there, I had plenty of time to walk, and enjoy the desert solitude. The sunsets made me rethink light forever. I swear the silence was so absolute I could hear the sound of the sun. Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" had nothing on this. You could imagine anything your mind could conceive. An absolute sensory deprivation chamber. Any direction I turned, it looked the same.
On a good day, the sense of peace was overwhelming.
On a bad day, you just knew you were going to make a little mistake that would kill you deader than the sand whispering over the tops of your boots in the persistent, eternal desert wind. It never stopped, and neither did the irritation which went along with the quiet, ever-present 'sssss' of that sand and wind; whispering dementedly between the ears of the cholla cactus so loved by the animals here for a ready repository of water and nutrients.
That's when I learned you could change the reality simply by changing your mind to love it rather than fear it. Yet, the only true reality belonged to Jesus and God, and the desert never let you forget it. Not for one moment. The moment was all you had. There was no past, and no future. Only now meant anything at all. The eternal search for meaning writ large on your psyche and soul.
Are you hearing voices now? Shhhh. Someone will lock you up for thinking like that. Then the laughter would begin. Who?
You had to wait until long after dark to detect any wild life at all. The only place in the world where water would evaporate out of a sealed container. I didn't believe it either until I waited out a sandstorm for two days with a sealed gallon jug between my knees. Watching it disappear was a very interesting exercise in fear and trepidation.
Prayer becomes a very real exercise, and just when you think you're not going to make it, the wind stops and some Mexican-American-Shaman gentleman drives up with some water and tortillas for you, and you're twenty miles from anywhere. Prayer? Oh, Yes. Prayer.
How did he know I was there? "Quien Sabe, Amigo. Est Via Con Dios. OK? Get out of here, Gringo. These desert will kill you, man." I took his advice. Burn the stump. Sift the ashes. You won't find me. I'm out of here!
It happened like this: I was sick, real sick. It felt like a heart attack and I had been there for two days. No one had come by. No one. Finally, a warm comfortable feeling.
I noticed a blue van, up on the hill with Bluelight's colors. Then a small black ford sportscar cruising the back road, about half a mile from me. I couldn't move anything but my eyes. I was praying as hard as I ever prayed. I think I was hallucinating: lack of good, water and too much pain with O2 loss. If someone had walked up and put a bullet in my head, there was not a thing I could do about it, and I was ready to die. I'd made peace with my own tormented soul, and with God; and I was ready.
Suddenly, I could hear the General's voice; like he was inside my head. I looked around for the microphone, but I couldn't spot it. "It's OK, Eric. I'm here. It's OK." "General, is that you?" "Yeah. It's OK, Son. You're going to be OK. You have a big job to do, and you're going to live. Know that's true. She's dead, Son. I took care of it."
Earlier, I thought I saw her trailer, towed by her boyfriends' white truck, trying to turn into the drive where I was, not a half mile away. Somehow, it couldn't get in the entrance. It tried to turn around. From where I lay I couldn't see the actual entrance. After the truck and trailer turned left, I saw the black ford drive down that way, parallel to me, about a hundred yards away.
"Don't worry, Eric. I'll take care of it. Rest now. Just rest." The soft, gravel toned voice was so soothing, I did. I laid my head back. I never heard a thing. I must have dropped off, because suddenly the black ford was rolling back toward me.
"Eric? You OK?"
"Sure, General. Just tired."
"I'm sorry, Son. I blocked the entrance, but she just kept coming. She was going to kill you son. I got out, pulled my silenced Smith Nine. I said: "This one's for Eric. I put one round between her eyes. She's dead, Son. She will never bother you again. Relax now, rest."
So I did. I could still see the black Ford, prowling the streets around me. "What's up, Sir?" I asked.
"Just checking the perimeter. Rest now." His gravel soft voice sounded like it was coming out of a tunnel, and it convinced me. I lay back, thinking.
"How did you know, Sir? I didn't call you."
"We've been keeping an eye on her for some time, Son. I couldn't let her get you, Eric. I'm sorry. We need you.
The Country needs you, Colonel. Bluelight needs you."
A new voice interrupted. "The General is resting now, Colonel. You take it easy, OK? This is the Team COMSEC. You're surrounded by the whole team, Colonel. No one will harm you. The whole 'angels' varsity."
"COMSEC, tell that guy up on the hill to take his foot off the brake. The tail lights are in my eyes." I heard him chuckle. "It's OK, Colonel. It's just to reassure you. Sleep now, OK?"
For the first time in months, no nightmares. No visions. Just peace, and a good night's sleep.
In the morning, I slowly walked out of there. Just another nightmare, I thought. Just another nightmare.