Our Lady of Darkness

Chapter 5

The cubical room housing the elevator's hoist was like a wizard's den atop a tower: skylight thickly filmed with dust, electric motor like a broad-shouldered dwarf in greasy green armor, and old-fashioned relays in the form of eight black cast-iron arms that writhed when in use like those of a chained-down giant spider - and with big copper switches that clashed loudly as they opened and closed whenever a button was pushed below, like such a spider's jaws. Franz stepped out into sunlight on the flat, low-walled roof. Tar-embedded gravel gritted faintly under his shoes. The cool breeze was welcome. To the east and north bulked the huge downtown buildings and whatever secret spaces they contained, blocking off the Bay. How old Thibaut would have scowled at the Transamerica Pyramid and the purple-brown Bank of America monster! Even at the new Hilton and St. Francis towers. The words came into his head, "The ancient Egyptians only buried people in their pyramids. We are living in ours." Now where had he read that? Why, in Megapolisomancy, of course. How apt! And did the modern pyramids have in them secret markings foretelling the future and crypts for sorcery? He walked past the low-walled rectangular openings of the narrow airshafts lined with gray sheet-iron, to the back of the roof and looked up between the nearby high rises (modest compared with those downtown) at the TV tower and Corona Heights. The fog was gone, but the pale irregular hump of the latter still stood out sharply in the morning sunlight. He looked through his binoculars, not very hopefully, but - yes, by God! - there was that crazy, drably robed worshiper, or what-not, still busy with his ritual, or whatever . If these glasses would just settle down! Now the fellow had run to a slightly lower clump of rocks and seemed to be peering furtively over it. Franz followed the apparent direction of his gaze down the crest and almost immediately came to its probable object: two hikers trudging up. Because of their colorful shorts and shirts, it was easier to make them out. Yet despite their flamboyant garb they somehow struck Franz as more respectable characters than the lurker at the summit. He wondered what would happen when they met at the top. Would the robed hierophant try to convert them? Or solemnly warn them off? Or stop them like the Ancient Mariner and tell them an eerie story with a moral? Franz looked back, but now the fellow (or could it have been a woman?) was gone. A shy type, evidently. He searched the rocks, trying to spot him hiding, and even followed the plodding hikers until they reached the top and disappeared on the other side, hoping for a surprise encounter, but none came. Nevertheless, when he shoved the binoculars back in his pocket, he had made up his mind. He'd visit Corona Heights. It was too good a day to stay indoors. "If you won't come to me, then I will come to you," he said aloud, quoting an eerie bit from a Montague Rhodes James ghost story and humorously applying it both to Corona Heights and to its lurker. The mountain came to Mohammed, he thought, but he had all those jinn.

Back to Table of content

Copyright © novelfull thefreeonlinenovel.com All Rights Reserved.