Part 12: Stairway from
In Philadelphia Homer Nilmot stewed. He had expected to be taken
into Edward Lodge's confidence, but the information flow had been
one-way. Homer didn't demand much in the way of salary and perks.
But he wanted to feel needed. To be in the know. To be a part of the
decision-making process. Yet after pumping him relentlessly about
Oral Jerry Swagger's history, Edward Lodge had proceeded with the
operation without making Homer privy to the details.
Homer had to know what was happening. That, he knew, had been one of
the reasons he had broken with Oral Jerry Swagger. And, as in those
days, he now found himself standing on a step ladder, pushing up the
acoustical tile in the ceiling, and sticking his head through the
opening to take a look around.
Nothing more than a tight crawl space above an aluminum frame. Was
it structurally stable? His weight might bring the whole ceiling
crashing down into the room.
It had been easier back at OJS headquarters in Pasadena. There, in
the area above the fourth, or top, floor had been a small catwalk
alongside the air conditioning ducts. So if you pulled the ladder up
behind you, you could then move from office to office, dropping in
at will after removing a ceiling panel and lowering the ladder like
a stairway from heaven. It had been simple to bypass door locks and
The best, safest time had been in the middle of the night, when he
would make his way through Oral Jerry Swagger's desk drawers and
filing cabinets, reading the letters and the memos, perusing the
strategy papers he was normally denied access to.
There was no one to whom Homer could have justified his activities,
in those days. No one but himself. They wouldn't understand his
dedication and his desire to know. He just needed to understand, he
had told himself, so that he could be of greatest assistance to the
Work. So that he could make the maximum contribution. He wasn't
stealing, trespassing, he told himself. But he had been well aware
he would have been fired had he been caught in the act.
Homer looked around the crawl space. The path into Edward Lodge's
office looked impossible. Maybe he could remove a panel just this
side of the office wall, wiggle through, and come down immediately
on the other side of the wall, bracing against office furniture or
the wall itself. But this appeared dangerous. He would leave marks,
dust. The trail would lead right back to Homer Nilmot's own office.
Homer sighed and replaced the ceiling tile. When someone took
everything you knew, and then said thank you very much, and kicked
you out of the room . . . Well, it felt like mental rape. A
violation of a trust. What you have to tell us is important, they
seemed to be saying, but what you think about what you are saying is
It was worse than that, even. For Edward Lodge had brought an
outsider into his deliberations. The woman. The goddess. Trisha.
When Homer had first seen Trisha around the office, he had asked
Lodge if she was a Trans-Global employee. No, Lodge had answered.
Was she a client? No. Well, what was she? A fellow traveler, Lodge
had grinned. Just a fellow traveler. For a while Homer had thought
Trisha was one of Lodge's girlfriends. But that wasn't right either.
She was a fellow traveler who was involved in the operation against
OJS, Homer had come to realize. When he had discovered that, he had
almost spoken to her. Almost, but not actually. Women that beautiful
Homer was sensitive to nuances. Back in Pasadena, he had first come
across Jack Parsons' name in the bundle of letters Oral Jerry
Swagger kept locked in his upper right desk drawer. It had been
Homer's third or fourth middle-of-the-night visit to OJ's office,
when he found the key hidden in the bottom of a hanging folder in
one of the filing cabinets. The folder was labeled "Moriah" and
contained some news clippings about the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Homer had tried the key immediately and it had fit. OJS had
apparently placed the spare in an obscure location, but one easy for
him to remember.
Homer had puzzled his way through the letters. The occasional
references to Jack Parsons had always seemed cryptic, tinged with
mystery, pregnant with meaning. But never explained.
Yet one thing had been evident. What the exact relationship had been
between Parsons and OJS wasn't clear, yet the subject of Jack
Parsons terrified Oral Jerry Swagger. And the letter writer was well
aware of that fact, taunting the evangelist, and asking for money to
help pay various medical bills.
Homer sat down at his desk and leaned back in his chair. He looked
at the ladder. He would have to return it to the janitor closet
before he left. He looked at his watch. It was only 8:30 p.m.
Then he thought of Sheri. She was Trisha's roommate: might she know
something? No, it didn't seem plausible. Sheri was also Hermes'
secretary. "We need a diversion," Lodge had said. And then he had
set Hermes on the track of Parsons' killer, sending Homer himself to
recruit the "ontological detective" for the job. Homer was sure that
Hermes and his secretary Sheri were that diversion. Just bit
players, really, to stir the waters, and to give OJS the illusion he
was being pursued by a demented ex-stock broker from Philadelphia.
But Trisha might have said something to Sheri. Why she was going to
the West Coast. Or why her departure coincided roughly with that of
Hermes. Or whatever. Who knows what she might have let slip?
8:30 was just 5:30 in Pasadena. Sheri might well still be at the
office, in case her boss called in from the West Coast. Homer picked
up the phone and dialed the number for Personal Paradigms Inc.
Sheri had had a good day. With both Hermes and Trisha gone, she felt
generally lonely, even a little lost.
Hermes had called in that morning, in a rush.
"Parsons wrote something called The Book of the Antichrist. Do we
have a copy in the files somewhere?"
"How did you hear about it?" Sheri wanted to know.
"Renny told me about it. I'll explain later," Hermes had said.
Renny? Was that a man's name or a woman's name? Sheri felt an
immediate prick of jealousy that there might be some woman out in
Pasadena helping Hermes in his search, while she was stuck back here
in Philadelphia in the dark.
But after looking through all the magic files, Sheri had eventually
found a copy in a different location, tucked away with some
Christian interpretations of the Book of Revelation, the Beast 666,
and so on. It was a stupid filing system, Sheri had decided, much
like creating an "anti" file where one placed material on the
Antichrist along with scientific articles on the antiproton and
political material on antidisestablishmentarianism.
She faxed a copy to Hermes at the Pasadena Hilton. Only afterward
did it occur to her to wonder who would pull it off the fax machine,
and whether they would read it before placing the fax in the
appropriate guest mailbox. Oh, well. Pasadena was a weird place, and
they had to be used to weird things like that.
Now she sat sipping frop and annotating the text of The Book of the
Antichrist. Today's choice in frop beverages was an underground cola
with phenylalanine, and it cleared her mind and made her heart go
pitter- patter. She felt alive and excited. She planned to stay
right on top of things, Renny or no Renny.
Now it came to pass even as BABALON told me, for after receiving her
Book I fell away from Magick, and put away Her Book and all
pertaining thereto. And I was stripped of my fortune, (the sum of
about $50,000) and my house, and all I possessed.
Sheri was sure this referred to Allied Enterprises, the joint
venture with L. Ron Hubbard and Betty. The idea had been to buy
boats cheaply on the East Coast, and then to sell them on the West
Coast, where they would bring a premium. Betty was the USC coed who
had been Parsons sister-in-law, and then his mistress, before
devoting herself to Hubbard.
Parsons had put up most of the money in the venture, about $21,000,
Sheri's information said. But Parsons had lost more money than this.
$50,000, it said here in the Antichrist. And he had lost the house
on South Orange Grove, the one he had inherited from his father, the
This all took place "after receiving [Babalon's] book". Allied
Enterprises had been formed in January 1946 and was later dissolved
in July 1946. So Parsons must have received Babylon's book before
this--in 1945. That would have been when he was attempting to create
a Moonchild with his new scarlet woman, Marjorie Cameron.
Sheri began flipping a pencil in the air, seeing if she could catch
it by the point after two flips. It was ironic. Parsons, the
Magician-Scientist "fell away from magic" at this time. And
immediately things begin to go wrong. It was as though Parsons had
cut off one of the founts of his genius and success.
Then for a period of two years I worked in the world, recouping my
fortune somewhat. But that was also taken from me, and my
reputation, and my good name in my worldly work, that was in
Two years. This would be approximately July 1946 to July 1948. What
had happened? Parsons says he had gotten some of his fortune back,
but then lost it. How? Along with his scientific reputation. Why?
This was a mystery. None of the sources she and Hermes had consulted
said anything about Parsons' activities during this two-year period.
Hmm, hmm, hmm. A sip of frop.
And on the 31st of October, 1948, BABALON called on me again, and I
began the last work, that was the work of the wand. And I worked for
17 days, until BABALON called me in a dream, and instructed me on an
astral working. Then I reconstructed the temple, and began the Black
Pilgrimage, as She instructed.
The work of the wand. That would be some form of sex magic. The wand
was the penis. Was BABALON really just a metaphor for Marjorie
Cameron? Some entity that spoke through her? Although now BABALON
was speaking directly to Parsons:
"BABALON called me in a dream, and
instructed me on an astral working."
Then he "reconstructed the temple." This was probably a temple like
the one at 1003 South Orange Grove, where the Agape Lodge had held
their meetings. And then the Black Pilgrimage began. Right. What the
hell was that?
And I went into the sunset with Her sign and into the night past
accursed and desolate places and cyclopean ruins, and so came at
last to the City of Chorazin. And there a great tower of Black
Basalt was raised, that was part of a castle whose further
battlements ruled over the gulf of stars. And upon the tower was
The City of Chorazin. Maybe Parsons was astral traveling. A soul
(mind, nous, whatever) journey while his body stayed in California.
Sheri had decided such journeys were not impossible, in principle.
Was Parsons in the Middle East? Black Basalt. Wasn't the kaabah
stone in Mecca constructed of Black Basalt?
And one heavily robed and veiled showed me this sign, and told me to
look, and behold, I saw flash before me four past lives wherein I
had failed in my object. And I beheld the life of Simon Magus,
preaching the Whore Helen as the Sophia, and I saw that my failure
was in Hubris, the pride of the spirit. And I saw my life as Giles
de Retz, wherein I attempted to raise Jehanne d'Ark to be Queen of
the Witchcraft, and failed through her stupidity, and again my
pride. And I saw myself in Francis Hepburne, Earl Bothwell,
manipulating Gille Duncan, that was an unworthy instrument.
Hmm. The past lives of Jack Parsons. The first one, Simon Magus, was
the big bugaboo of the early church fathers. He had--according to
their diatribe--been one of the primary early heretics. Simon Magus
had tried to fly from a tower, or so the story went. Much like
Parsons had tried to fly via his solid-fuel rockets. But Parsons had
succeeded. Giles de Retz? Earl Bothwell? Sheri would have to look
And again as Count Cagliostro, failing because I failed to
comprehend the nature of women in my Seraphina. And I was shown
myself as a boy of 13 in this life, invoking Satan and showing
cowardice when He appeared. And I was asked: "Will you fail again?"
and I replied "I will not fail." (For I had given all by blood to
BABALON, and it was not I that spoke.)
As a boy of 13, this would be--what? 1928. Toward the end of the
Roaring 20's. Parsons at 13 invoking Satan? The age of puberty.
Sheri wondered what he had done and how he knew it was Satan and not
some other spiritual imposter.
And thereafter I was taken within and saluted the Prince of that
place, and thereafter things were done to me of which I may not
write, and they told me, "It is not certain that you will survive,
but if you survive you will attain your true will, and manifest the
What had they done to Parsons? You haven't been brainwashed until
you've been brainwashed by the spirits, Hermes was fond of saying.
Maybe Parsons' experience was positive. But maybe it was a spiritual
mind-fuck. Either way he had been through Chapel Perilous.
And thereafter I returned and swore the Oath of the Abyss, having
only the choice between madness, suicide, and that oath. But the
oath in no wise ameliorated that terror, and I continued in the
madness and horror of the abyss for a season. But of this no more.
But having passed the ordeal of 40 days, I took the oath of a
Magister Templi, even the Oath of Antichrist before Frater 132, the
Frater 132 would be Wilfred Smith. The former head of the Agape
Lodge whom Crowley had expelled. The one who had run off with
Parsons' wife Helen. Apparently he was still around. This was in
1948, Sheri reflected. Crowley had died in December 1947.
And thus was I Antichrist loosed in the world; and to this I am
pledged, that the work of the Beast 666 shall be fulfilled, and the
way for the coming of BABALON be made open and I shall not cease or
rest until these things are accomplished. And to this end I have
issued this my Manifesto.
Belarion Armituss AL
First revealed Oct. 31, 1948 e.v.
Well, at least Parsons had a mission.
The phone rang, and Sheri picked it up, expecting to hear Hermes
It was Homer Nilmot instead. Theme and variation on the letter "H",
Sheri thought. Hermes was the Greek messenger of the gods. But
"Homer"? That was a hick name. Why didn't Homer change it? Sheri
thought all this. But what she said was:
"Yeah, Mr. Nilmot. What can I do for you?"
Zak gradually learned that Hoova was a sort of messenger. As best he
could determine, Hoova, coming as it (as they?) did from the future,
was in all probability simply a forward version of humanity itself.
Hoovans had long since disgarded ordinary biochemical bodies and now
existed as personality/character recordings in some unknown, but
more permanent, medium. In that form they controlled their ships,
which were, in truth, mobile homes. They were virtually immortal.
Hoova was only one genre of a hierarchy of messengers. At the top of
the pyramid were the Nine Controllers of the Universe. Zak wasn't
exactly sure what Controllers did, but he understood the Nine were
responsible for his own contact.
Sometimes Hoova would leave messages on his telephone answering
machine, or on the tape recorder which he left unplugged in a nearby
desk drawer. After he had listened to a tape, he would later find it
had erased itself. Sometimes the tape disappeared entirely.
To avoid socio-political disturbances, the Hoovans had elected to
contact selected humans in a manner that would avoid much tangible
evidence for their existence. Thus if their alien presence became
psychologically intolerable to the public, an automatic process of
reaction would reduce the credibility of such contact.
The Hoovans explained their conditioning process thusly: "The surge
of interest in ufos will soon peak, then gradually fall out of
fashion. Then we will see what came in with the tide. We work in
periodic waves. The force of each wave crests, then ebbs in
preparation for a new surge. The ebb period is important, for it
allows the debris and jetsam to drift away, leaving the sands clean
for a new impression. Each successive surge, proportionate to its
power, generates a foam of premature credulity and false or
half-false contacts, along with a scum of books, talks, efforts,
frauds, and talk-show clackings. During the ebb period, the latter
are blown away by the winds of common sense. The lack of immediate
re-inforcement allows the idle- and weak-minded to turn the
inconstancy of their attention elsewhere.
"One of our most important pieces of work was to foster the rise of
metaphysical sensationalism in The Weekly World News, The National
Inquirer, and similar publications. The public is bombarded daily
with news of Bermuda triangle disappearances, teenagers pregnant by
Bigfoot, ufo crews in Moscow hospitals, Presidents who consult
astrologers, three-headed babies who speak six languages, ghosts
aboard 737s, killers possessed by a family pet, and secret races
dwelling at the center of the moon. The sheer number of outrageous
reports leads the educated public to believe none of them. The
signal has been effectively obscured by a barrage of noise."
Despite the attempted explanation, it was not clear to Zak what
Hoova was up to. Hoova frequently talked about peace and seemed to
have an inordinate interest in the Middle East. Because, they said,
they had first landed in Jerusalem thousands of years ago. Zak
thought about it. If the Hoovans were really from the future, what
the fuck were they doing in Jerusalem thousands of years ago? It was
one more of a growing list of Hoova enigmas.
For a season Zak hypothesized Hoova was a group of Cosmic Clowns,
out to have a good time by razzing the natives.
On one occasion Hoova informed him its agents had infiltrated U.S.
and U.S.S.R. military bases and had determined that the Arab-Israeli
confrontation in the Middle East had increased the probability of
nuclear war to nearly thirty percent. The Hoovans themselves, being
recorded intelligences, were relatively impervious to the threat,
but they had thoughtfully prepared an assortment of shelters for the
more earthbound messengers.
Each shelter would furnish food and supplies for 100 people for
approximately two years. No one would be permitted to bring into the
shelter any electrical apparatus, watches with phosphorescent dials,
or objects made from pure titanium.
Hoova had instructed Zak to maintain a prayer vigil for peace, but
he had rebelled because they wouldn't tell him where the shelters
were. Finally they had relented and said there was one near Dulce,
A shelter in Dulce will do me a lot of good in Los Angeles, Zak had
reflected. He had erased the tape himself, and instead of praying
for peace had gone out for pizza.
But, more often than not, he did what Hoova asked. He went over to
Hollywood and Vine to witness a curiously-dressed individual get out
of a black limousine, walk stiltedly to the corner, and disappear.
He took one of the tapes recorded by Hoova, put it in a brown paper
sack with the name "Sally Rand" marked in large letters, placed two
empty mason jars on top of the tape, and left the sack on the
doorstep of a house in San Marino. He drove out to the Mojave desert
late at night and waited for an hour until a large aerial craft with
blinking blue lights passed, then returned to his apartment at 5:00
a.m. to observe the light sunburn covering his body. He purchased a
borrower's card at UCLA and spent hours researching Middle East
"Why do what they want?" Dean asked him once. "Maybe they really are
just jokers, sending you out to play fetch like an obedient dog."
Dean was one of the few people Zak told about Hoova. Dean and two
Zak mused: "I guess it's because I'm having more fun doing this than
anything else I can think of."
Dean's question had been rhetorical. Dean didn't believe in Hoova
for a minute. Zak obviously worked for the Mossad. How else could
Zak have learned about his meeting with Larry Meier?