The girl kept crossing and uncrossing her legs nervously and winding strands of her long blonde hair around her fingers. Like someone he had known in high school. He was surprised she wasn't chewing gum.
David Wilson involuntarily glanced up at her. Mistake. She suddenly froze like a deer in headlights, then crossed her legs once, the knees coming apart just slightly wider than demure. She stared straight at him with set apart blue eyes as though looking through him and beyond.
He cleared his throat. "And you found this manuscript where?"
"In a cave." She smiled brightly as though she knew how crazy it sounded.
"Stuck on a stalagmite?" he asked sarcastically.
"No. In an urn. Like at Qumran."
He nodded knowingly. He had no doubt she had written it.
"Let me guess, psychology major, minor in English. Or vice-versa."
"No. Classical literature." She smiled brightly again as though to show no offense had been taken at his getting it wrong. "And anthropology."
"Margaret Mead, huh?"
"No. She made all her stuff up. Innocent natives having unencumbered sex. She just wanted to get laid." The girl cocked her head slightly to one side, not smiling now. "In an academic way, of course."
Wilson wondered what getting laid academically meant. He was afraid to ask. Maybe one of his colleagues had put her up to this. A psychology experiment targeted at other psychology professors. He cleared his throat again and pretended to be paging through the manuscript for the first time. But he had already puzzled over it all night.
She had left the manuscript, with a note, in his department mailbox.
"There are some anomalies," he begin cautiously. "For instance, here it says that Aleister Crowley thought he was the reincarnation of John Dee. Was that just a mistake the main character makes in his hasty research into Jack Parsons' background? For, of course, Aleister Crowley actually thought he was the reincarnation of Edward Kelley, among others."
She looked at him haughtily. "He most certainly did not. Yes, Crowley wrote that. But he was always pulling the leg of his followers, whom he would laugh at when they took him seriously."
Wilson was startled at her confidence. Her tone of authority. He found himself looking over her face, and down the graceful curve of her neck to her breasts which would suddenly strain against the front of her blouse as she spoke passionately. In spite of himself, he was getting turned on. In an academic way, of course.
"John Dee was a scholar, Crowley was a scholar," she continued. "John Dee was a secret agent, Crowley was a secret agent. John Dee used a scryer Edward Kelley, Crowley used scryers like his wife Rose, Victor Neuberg, and others." She tossed her head. "And much more. Of course Crowley identified with Dee, not with Edward Kelley."
"Well, even if he identified with Dee, it doesn't mean he didn't think he was the reincarnation of Edward Kelley."
"Reincarnation is identification." She looked at him as though daring him to argue with her. Definitely one of my colleagues, Wilson thought. Maybe Petrograd had put her up to this. That crazy Russian was always getting defense contracts to do weird things.
"Who did you base the character Zak on?" Wilson asked suddenly.
She didn't appear to notice the implication. "Yeah, what was that all about?" She smiled again now. "I guess people still hear voices in this day and age."
More than you think, Wilson thought to himself. With the Babalon Working Jack Parsons had torn a hole in the fabric of space-time, and something had flown in. Now it seemed an alien current was slowly possessing the entire human race. Whether you thought this was good or bad depended a lot on your point of view.
"This would appear to be a description of my office," Wilson said, glancing around. "You've been here before?"
"I told you I didn't write it," she said coolly.
"But this is supposed to take place in what? In 1987. I've only been here three years. Since 1996."
"I was told you would find it interesting."
She began to twist hair around her fingers again.
"Oh, by a friend."
Wilson could feel the electric current in his groin. She was. What was she doing?
"Well, I would like to keep it another few days, if you don't mind." Wilson had already made a copy. But he wanted to make sure she returned, if only to pick up the manuscript.
"Sure," she smiled. "Well, I won't take any more of your time." She stood abruptly, smoothed the front of her skirt, and turned toward the door.
Wilson remained seated. He didn't want his erection to be obvious. You could lose your job for stuff like that these days, he was thinking.
"Who do you think killed Jack Parsons?" he asked.
She turned and looked at him as though he had committed an indiscretion. "In the latter days, a man's enemies shall be those of his own household," she said.
Wilson pondered this. "I didn't know they included the New Testament in classical literature these days."
"They don't. Anyway, I was quoting the Zoroastrian prophet Zaratust. From the Bahman Yast. There will be wars and rumors of war, signs in the heavens, earthquakes, plagues. All this was written 600 years before Jesus."
She closed the door quietly behind her.
(to be continued)
The Magician is the author of other episodes of the Jack Parsons story (http://zolatimes.com/jparart/Aparmenu.html).
from The Laissez Faire City Times, Vol 5, No 35, August 27, 2001