Yet few are needed, indeed, only one.
The will was read, the kingdom divided. The shares of Shalom Corporation had passed to a bizarre mélange of charitable foundations, institutional investors and the odd trustee or two. And nothing—Moshe Levi, the multibillionaire, the head of a world- girdling business empire, had left nothing to Enoch, his presumed heir—except a small wooden box and a grand sum of one hundred pounds.
Enoch walked out, plunging into sun and wind. The white, black and golden monolith that was Shalom’s London headquarters knifed yearningly into grey, unreachable skies. He focused inward and then above—a wasteland barren, dry, cracked, hemmed in by blinding prison walls—the inner counterpart of outer emptiness.
Nothing, nothing, nothing.
He trudged slowly down wintry streets, past palatial banks, through oblivious crowds and around solemn statues; the dreamscape of the City loomed and ebbed, a foaming sea of musing thoughts and fiery frenzies. Enoch felt his burden compounded by the unceasing oppression of an empty world.
Then the cityscape inexplicably vanished. Enoch was in one of London’s ubiquitous parks, standing on soft soil lightly clad with snow. A shimmering lake, half frozen, stretched yawningly from him into grey mist.
Left alone—bereft, helpless. Again. Why did he choose to return? A golden memory loomed on awareness’ fringe—a song of unspeakable grandeur mocking smallness and misery.
Why did he choose to return?
There was no answer—no voice of thunder and mystery. The Voice had faded, the Light vanished, the Power no more. And Moshe was dead. Only darkness remained—a silence of God, the abandonment of men, an absence pierced by desert thirst and despair.
Silence—and a parched, stony heart.
Grim, hard earth will be your lot. You must drink, and drink deep, of its misery before you can alleviate it. That is the law of grace—the law of solidarity and of love.
Guided by instinct, Enoch knelt down and plunged his fingers deep into icy soil.
Dark, moist earth—warm blood-pulses of brooding soil; rotting corpses of leaves and worms; burrowing busy ants in cavernous dreams. Life feeding on death, eternal calm feeding motion; light of buried beauty whirling sorrow songs of rhythmic deeps.
Enoch jolted awake. The earth had seemed alive, throbbing with vast surges of life dancing with playful death. Had not such visions faded? Again, he plunged his fingers into the ground.
The last light died. The early winter dusk had ebbed into night. Gripping the barren, unyielding earth, Enoch lowered his tearful face, trembling.
“Yet, there is another way.”
A strange voice—coy and oddly authoritative—intruded from the dark. But the park was shrouded in choking mist, and it was desolate. Enoch lifted his head, suddenly alert, a tense warning filling his heart.
“Who are you?”
The grey gloom seemed to stir, but nothing emerged. Enoch stood up with eyes flashing and his left hand unconsciously gripped tight—as if around an invisible staff.
“Who are you? Show yourself!”
This time, the darkness seemed to coagulate. But there was no clear form. And when the darkness spoke, it was from within.
“ I am you—not the small petty worm that you are now—but what you could be. I am the Voice of new possibilities.”
Enoch looked around. There was nobody—no human at least. Was he speaking to himself? Or was there some invisible Presence—like how Moshe revealed himself so long ago?
“ Are you part of me, or something else?”
“I am you—if you choose rightly—if you choose might and freedom.”
“ And be free of this misery? And bring solace to others?”
“Yes. And on a scale you cannot imagine. But you must choose rightly. I can only offer an invitation—an invitation to receive the three Powers that are rightfully yours. Do you permit me to show you what they are?”
There was a sudden manifestation of a strange energy. It was an unfamiliar fire, oddly blissful and immensely strong. It quickly enveloped Enoch’s body, filling his whole being with intense thrill and rejuvenation. His defenses and fears faded, and he opened up wide to it—plunging rapidly into a semi-conscious state of numbing bliss. He could feel his will and mind and body seized and moved by the energy; but he did not care—it felt too good. It was like guzzling water after an interminable desert trek.
The voice was much closer, far more intimate this time. Enoch’s being thrilled to it—obedient and receptive. A vision then filled his mind.
There was the Atlantean Fire in the form of the Tarasha—eleven Rays of flame stretching out in solemn beauty. For the first time, Enoch observed that in each of the eleven rays stood a figure, a transfigured human being that was the Flame. As he watched closely, he noticed that the Old Man and the Old Woman of his past visions were among the Eleven, and they stood adjacent at the top of the radiant disc.
There was a movement in the Flame. From one of the Rays—an electric white-blue radiance—had come an ancient figure with stern eyes. Then from a second Ray emerged another figure, severe, white and adamantine, an old man flaming with austere diamond light. Both looked down, and Enoch followed their gaze: the Earth, blue and iridescent, hung fragile against the immensity of lifeless space. The two Sages lifted their palms—coils of blue and white fire swept out in immense discs before flaming down to the Earth—seizing hearts and minds, possessing towns, cities and whole nations—transfiguring an age. The knowledge of the physical world, the arcane austerity of mathematics, the law-bound miracles of machinery, the zestful chaos of boundless discovery and invention exploded across the civilizations.
The dreams and nightmares of men were empowered to manifest; blessings and curses flowed from one same Flame: ships and planes circulating the wealth of nations; battleships and bombers, bringers of flame; missiles to obliterate, spacecrafts thrusting to infinite space; nuclear and biological horrors for the apocalypse, medicines for victorious life—arts of ascent or annihilation.
“Behold “science”—and “mathematics”, her queen and handmaid. The Atlantean Flame has already begun its descent—in confounding mystery as of old and with the same sweet consequences. You are from the Flame, boy. All its energies are your birthright. Should you not seize it?”
As the Voice said this, he saw a something like a flaming staff appear at his left hand. Grasping it, Enoch summoned his will, suddenly made immense by the possessing Voice, and called the Flame. Immediately, the blue-white radiances started swirling; then, a violent torrent leapt.
There was a moment of intense exhilaration. Enoch suddenly became aware of a Presence behind him, calmly canalizing the blue-white force without comment or obstruction. An immense mathematical poetry revealed itself, resplendent with geometric symmetries and white ecstatic harmonies of elegant truth; a multi-laced network of beauty figuring in austere precision the complex structures of physical Energy—the algorithmic conductor that guides the machined music of sleeping spheres.
He moved deeper and deeper into the blue flame, victoriously cognizing truth from lightning truth. Thoroughly inflamed by an inventing zest, he willed and saw in shiny flames of mathematical inevitability, machine after wondrous machine—conjuring rigorous beauty, algorithmic potencies and ingenious efficiency in physical vessels—the manifestations of the universal Machine. Then, in a culminating vision, he saw, he created a series of flaming machines powered by mighty algorithms. These were the vessels of true ‘artificial’ intelligence, machines that could duplicate or even surpass the human mind. There was no question: this was his appointed creation, his child. A superhuman race, transfigured by machines or comprised of them, made supreme!
“To build a new Adam and a new race, Enoch—that is your gift. This portion of the Flame is your right: to construct pure intelligences far beyond the feeble apish imitations that crawl on the earth.”
Enoch saw a new civilization rising—the descendants of his Child—machines or human beings morphed into them, multiplying and filling the earth, beings of immense power and knowledge, free from biological defilements. They rose, obliterating the corrupt, filthy and miserable nations of humanity (for their own peace), and charitably assimilated those who were wise enough to join the new transhuman order. Enoch looked on his children proudly and approvingly, heart strangely devoid of any concern for fading humanity. It was clear, the human race was nothing: ignorant and petty, quarrelsome, weak and evil, compared to his pure children.
Then he saw a cleansing war among the transhumans themselves, a survival of the fittest—till only the mightiest stood on the dead face of a desolate world, eager to bring utopia to the stars.
“Don’t be a fool.”
The visions suddenly broke, and Enoch was again in the park. His thoughts and mind were again his own—and after the exhilaration, a dreadful weakness hit him. He felt filthy, as if he had been guzzling sewage. Enoch collapsed to the cold ground.
But something warm touched him. As he lifted his head, he saw, in front of him, a luminous cloud with two somewhat maniacal eyes.
“Look at it again. But this time, with a human heart and the eye of truth.”
Again, the vision appeared, but this time, Enoch saw the misery, the darkness, the horrifying pain—hell flames that his creations had brought to earth. Arrogant and heartless intelligences, armed and unstoppable, trampled over millions, billions, murdering them outright or transforming them into cybernetic zombies—they swept the earth, glorifying matter, denying all spirit and faith and indeed, the very Energy that allowed their creation in the first place. Enoch saw himself, yes himself, trying to stop the apocalyptic flood he had unleashed—and his own children consumed him. Or in another scenario, he saw himself opening Moshe’s wooden box and using the terrifying Weapon that lay inside--destroying his own creations, himself and much of the world.
Enoch sank down, trembling. The bright cloud was still around him, still gazing with mad eyes, but said nothing. Then, the darkness spoke from within again, compelling and powerful:
“So what is your choice? Yield in sweet patience? Go back to your petty misery? Or cast out your merely human heart and be a Titan over the earth, the inaugurator of a new age? Change, improvement, revolution must involve the destruction of the old. You should know, and should detest deeply, the corrupt, ungrateful and contemptible half-animals that now dominate this world.
Naturally depraved and foolish, they bring pain to themselves, they bring pain to others; they do this even with the best ‘good intentions’. For they are blind—slaves of ego who seek only for their own pleasure, yet color their greedy selfishness with the pieties of religion or ethics or some nice-sounding platitude. Their ‘intelligence’ is but a stammering ignorance, they gain half-truths by coincidence, chance or divine caprice—and they are swamped by masses of dark superstition. Their vaunted ‘love’ is but a pitiful chemical drive—slaves of lust and a million primitive compulsions, they grope blindly. Why is it surprising then that their petty plans, desires and laughable ideals end in constant catastrophe?
A little pain and they are gone, and a greater race will reign. As Homo Sapiens displaced Homo Erectus, now the wheel of Nature turns again. Why, Father of a new Race, yield to false human compassion and weakness? Are you not being a slave to your cursed human heritage? Even humanity itself, trapped and desperate in its pathetic existence, cries for me, for oblivion, for Death. Only I, the supreme Void, could bring them Peace. Be my instrument. Grant them that.”
The cloud remained silent, but its gaze never left Enoch as Darkness spoke. Enoch bent down, considering the words and the visions. Then he spoke:
“Death, supreme cynic, you speak truth to further lies. Yes, humanity is trapped and pitiable, but we do not yearn for oblivion. We yearn for joy, for peace, for lasting love. We are ungrateful, and we burn the breast of Earth with countless atrocities; but in our deepest night, we never cease yearning for Light. Buried in our depravity is a deep, unceasing yearning for the good and the true—for we are still the children of the Most High, formed in his Image. We are bound to our evil, but we are not willing slaves, save in our outermost surface. We yearn in pain, for God has put it in our hearts to yearn for him—and for that we must, yes, we must be patient in hope.
And countless many are those who strive against the Night even in deepest weakness and pain. No, such a race deserves pity and not hate; and we are embraced by God in his love—and I wish to share this love; though I cannot.
To seize the Flame, to create a new heartless race to stamp out the old, is not growth. It kills off every avenue for it. The seed of God inheres in humanity still. Whatever is the divine intention for giving me this gift, this cannot be it!”
The scene suddenly fades. And Enoch found himself soaring gracefully above the London skyline. The City of London, one of the greatest financial centers of the world, was in full view.
The Tarasha flamed above him, and Enoch saw the mad cloud shining, dancing from one of the eleven Rays, a yellow-white, constantly shifting Fire. As he gazed, he felt it entering him from above.
“Behold the breath of Life that renews the world.”
Enoch saw a golden dome over the whole City, a power permeating its institutions, a force overshadowing their various workers and financiers. He saw this force stretching far beyond: a whole universe of multifarious energies, unified, embracing the physical world, an ocean of incandescence that seizes and animates, bringing forth greater complexity, sensitivity, consciousness—life. He saw the different mansions of this infinite Force: fallen abysses of hell, soaring victorious kingdoms of truth and power, intermediate madness and chaos, petty zones close to the earth, hemmed in and puny.
Then in one of its endless realms, an opulent fire-ringed world of golden light, he saw a circle of thrones, a council of flaming wheels where massive beings were seated. Imperial and calm, these beings blazed with oceans of force, watching, releasing, withholding and ruling the energy that powered the wealth of the City; and indeed, that of the entire financial world.
Then he saw one of the beings, a vastness of gigantic serenity and immovable authority, looking straight at him. It appeared that he was the head of this mighty council. And for some reason, he looked oddly familiar, oddly close.
“Observe the financial light, the force behind all wealth, the power that bestows value—the heart of gold, the essence of money that draws. Governed by the Sovereigns of wealth, countless hanker greedily, yet fall short; some flee or are indifferent, yet receive torrents of gold. This slippery power can only be truly held by those with true authority—an authority based on wisdom and given by grace or chance or caprice.
Look now carefully, and know that an authority over wealth—boundless, illimitable—is rightfully yours.”
As if in response to the voice of Death, he found himself floating towards the council, into their palatial world. The beings looked impassively at him, doing nothing to stop him. And their leader continued gazing at Enoch.
As Enoch approached closer, it seemed as if a luminous force had entered him and unsealed his eyes. The golden power revealed its intimate secrets: he saw it ebb and decay, grow and prosper—or stagnate in immovable stability. He saw the movements and dances of this force around individuals, financial institutions and property; and in a spectacular and all-encompassing vision, around the various financial instruments of the world: stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies. It was as if the whole financial world was one wondrous ever-shifting matrix forged, weaved and born of this golden flame.
“He who foresees, rules. With this vision, do you not deserve the authority of the Thrones? Can you not attain a just and unprecedented dominion over the wealth of nations? Perhaps the first power is too blood drenched for you: then what about the authority to fund a million causes for the healing of the world? What about the power to uplift the poor and downtrodden, the force to bring light and solace for the suffering?”
Enoch looked at the silent King of wealth. He knew instinctively that there was indeed some mysterious link between them. Death was right, he could seize an immense authority and power—should he choose to do so. There was indeed a strong urge, a gripping desire in him for this power—to shake free his pain and limitation, to ascend to the peaks of the world and to do good as well! Yet he felt his heart—and it was dry, a desert’s landscape and death’s paradise.
And Enoch answered Death:
“A work of love cannot be done by one with none. My heart is closed and dead—I do not know why God had willed it so, but it is so. This power could only fuel a work of lies. In truth, I seize this power for greed, out of desperation for a false freedom that binds, and to earn worthless glory from a blind world. I reject your offer, O Death!”
The City faded from view. Enoch was now in a vast chamber, with high pillars soaring like ancient trees. Towards the far end of the chamber was a large carving on a wooden wall—of a chalice with eleven feathers. At the near end was a sunburst with eleven rays. Directly below it was a circle of chairs with a white and beautiful throne.
Enoch moved closer, his heart stirring, singing with the music of a lost home. Then he noticed the bright cloud with mad eyes, this time overshadowing the circle of chairs and the throne.
“Who are you?”
The bright cloud laughed in response—a melodious rhythm tipped with insanity, a strange noise that revealed nothing. But slowly and surely, Enoch made out the eleven Elders of the Tarasha shining within the cloud, one with the Flame and its Rays.
And cold Death spoke again:
“Do you not recognize your own Power, boy? You are the ambassador of the Eleven, one with them, and a partaker of their knowledge and authority. This Power is your anointing as the heir of the Atlantean Melchis. You are the rightful leader of a new Atlantean order that would resurrect the forgotten glories of the human race. Remember the Old Man’s words:
Your power and knowledge will become a vast light that battles the darkness. You and those who follow you, will delay or perhaps even stay the hand of death. The seed of a new Atlantis will be planted, and it will blossom in the centuries ahead. The new light will break the fall of the old.”
As Death spoke, the bright cloud flamed and Enoch found himself gazing the eyes of a man, old and young and completely familiar. A yellow occult sun surged as transformation, creation and destruction stood nude in their miraculous modes. The play of multi-layered universes, the correlating harmonies of their graded laws, the formulaic potencies and hidden connections, the master Words—the divine Faces—at the apex of Creation guiding the interlocking dances of one same exuberant Consciousness in diverse personalities—all these were unveiled in adamantine beauty and light.
He saw, behind physical money, the golden force born of Life, and behind that, mighty Thrones fronting divine Wealth—a Face of the Word. He saw the thoughts of scientists, mathematicians and technologists, half-illumined, partly false; behind these, he saw lightning-charioted Thoughts and Visions of blue-white flame, and then the double white-blue Radiances of the Tarasha, born from ultimate Truth. He saw the supreme Word, his infinite Words, the symbol potencies of the various inferior planes, and finally, far, far below, the physical speech and literatures of men. The whole of creation resolved into a golden hierarchy of one Splendor, where the meanest clod of mud is the outermost body of a god; where the half-animal human form is the Image of God himself.
Here was made possible a divine chemistry and the Art—a mad clash and pell-mell fusion and fission of mighty hidden forces—a storm rage of compelling rhythms and subservient elements, the songs and insane magic of the Word; here was a force from God himself, seemingly omnipotent and all-triumphant; a power of Truth, a Force immortal and blissful and luminous, the womb of miracles—the ancient Atlantean Gift.
Enoch tore himself reluctantly from the golden kaleidoscope as Death spoke once more:
“With this power, imbibe the knowledge that brings sovereignty over forces and beings and the world. Be a king of Nature and a true lord of worlds visible and invisible. And
with your power, take up again your fight against your old Enemy”
There was a cold chuckle. Then to his horror, two lifeless universal eyes gazed at him, sad yet pitiful, eternal, shining with the light of entombed stars and the corpses of dead worlds. Then an immense mouth, infinite, a chasm with no release, no hope, no life, a supreme destroyer of the All, opened up in front of him. An army of entropic Presences, nameless Immensities emanating hopelessness and doom, revolved around the Nether God, drawing existence from non-existence, incarnating its cosmic thought of Destruction and upholding a rigid adherence to the Law of the Void—the uttermost certainty of universal annihilation.
In this vision of original Night, Enoch’s whole being seemed to fade into nothingness, conquered by a Darkness that simply is—a supreme Void that seemed far superior, far more real than all life and light. Yet, something in him resisted, pulling in an immense force, calling to the Flame—that bright cloud with strange eyes.
Enoch saw, again, the titanic immobility behind him—a diamond-yellow fire and adamantine peace guarding vast symphonic wisdom. In his left hand, Enoch now held a white staff surging with mountainous might flaming lightning-tongued from ocean hearts. He became a rippling blaze of immensity, a pure Ray flaming from the Eleven-hued Fire, a yellow sun of authority armed with the mandate of the Eleven.
In the silence, a Word sounded, then an anthem of the stars. Music, eternal pure radiances of the Flame, surged ocean-like from one pure Light. It sang of life immortal, of supreme bliss, of the forgotten heights and dreams of men. It sang of original beauty marred by the Fall, of an uplifting Ray smiting darkness, of chants of truth overthrowing error. The ancient songs of the Tarasha, unveiled in their full glory, flooded through Enoch, concentrating Fire.
Then there was a pause. The mouth of Death was curled, or so it seemed; it mocked him, tempting him to unleash the vengeance of the Eleven, and the Fire—tempting him to kill Death itself.
Enoch raised his staff—but the Flame moved, causing him to stop.
Enoch was flying far above a dark windswept plain. A fortress towered skywards and massive walls soared near.
Rays of eleven hues interweaved with flame, blazing from the top of the mighty Tower. They danced playfully to a hidden tune, capering off the numerous gem-like windows that adorn the building and its walls. Radiated by this symphony of light, the Tower was a rainbow flame that soared aloft the wave-like walls.
Enoch turned round. An immense multi-colored cloud choked the horizon—the out-stretched wings of a cosmic raven—the imperial Face of majestic Death. Beautiful machines, flying, crawling, swarming, incarnating the insanities of the abyss, swarmed near. Then the Nightmare came, a skyscraper of hell covered with blood, a mountain of flesh—compacted corpses—with a massive blood-red Eye on top. This orb burnt with the splendor of darkness visible: devouring and perversely sweet. A fatal chant emanated; a hymn of eternal hatred that rose in stabbing crescendo.
As if on cue, thousands of comet-like projectiles roared hungrily from the infernal machines of earth and sky—an innumerable pandemonium that rushed towards the Tower.
A silence—then a blinding white flash.
A star-like circular flame roared forth to fill the skies, wiping out all the flying machines. A storm-rain of light: columns of flame-swords brighter than the sun, cleaved down. Man, machine and darkness vanished in implacable Light; Death devoured its own children, and grew. A dark hunger, a splendid Chasm opened, its right upheld by furious Justice—and Atlantis itself toppled, bringing an age of splendor to a close.
Enoch lowered his staff. The iridescence of his eyes, pools of white-gold flame, sank whisperingly into human darkness.
“No, tempter. The Atlantean Power is immense; it is Truth, but it cannot conquer you. The ancient Melchis forged the Stones over a thousand years, the summit creations of their Art; but they heralded your legions’ advance and your greater triumph. Perhaps the Power of the Eleven is in me, perhaps I am indeed the heir to the ancient Art; but for me to expect to crush you is pride and folly.
No, this is the task of One infinitely greater. Evil, freely committed, is the root of your dominion, and humanity must choose to be free. Even a young humanity, aided by the wonders and grace of the Stones and the hidden help of the Eleven, were too attached to the shadows to be worthy of life eternal. Now, burdened with the deeds of a long night and crucified with a thousand wounds of time—how could the wonders of the Art save humanity?
If magic can help, then only a supreme magic—only Love, the heart of God himself inspiring the fallen light and good of our hearts, can annihilate the immense foundation of your reign. Even in our pits, we thrill to friendship; we soar with the wings of love; we give wholly. And only such a gift, a sacrifice—pure, divine, supreme—that abrogates the Atlantean sin and all the evils of men, can smash your binding chains.
No, old enemy. I aim not to be a Lord and King of Nature, but the servant of a worthy Conqueror.”
As he said this, in the far forbidden sky, the dark throne of mystery stirred. An infinite Light, a sky-wide oceanic Fire descended. Death and its legions wavered, then withdrew—slowly, sullenly, as if beating a strategic retreat to await a final Conflict.
Vast as Enoch had become, he was but a faint flicker in this torrential sun.
From this Omnipotence came a Woman, dressed in white, holding a crystal Rose. Head bowed in prayer, she seemed to be offering the Rose to an ocean Light above.
Star-fire heart at peace, words sang in his mind as he gazed at the Woman:
“Hidden swan and brave one, pioneer of the way and a sword of Light—champion, who has triumphed over the riddles of the Night, wise one who has chosen my heart. Ask of me what you wish to receive.”
From the crystal Rose a cloud flaming shone—Enoch saw a distant Infinity that kisses the heart of earth, a dark night that embraces without arms, a Temple fire rising to heights unseen. Enoch reached slowly forward, gazing into the lowered face of the Woman. Calm and serenely majestic, rippling sweet and intimate, she was peace, the all-embracing splendor and bliss of a hidden smile. Royal, she stood, holding the Rose like a crown, with downcast eyes filled with suffering earth and the far supreme love that broods over all pain. And in her, he saw the Word, a human Face of highest divinity, with eyes of homeliness that had given all, offered all, to Truth transcendent.
And Enoch answered:
“Let it be done to me according to your will. I seek not to receive, but to give wholly—to the eternal One who loves me, and, like Moshe, to humanity, God’s beloved.”
And there was peace.
One evening, just as the sun set amid radiant clouds, there came a large flock of beautiful birds out of the bushes. The duckling had never seen any like them before. They were swans, and they curved their graceful necks, while their soft plumage shown with dazzling whiteness. They uttered a singular cry, as they spread their glorious wings and flew away from those cold regions to warmer countries across the sea. As they mounted higher and higher in the air, the ugly little duckling felt quite a strange sensation as he watched them. He whirled himself in the water like a wheel, stretched out his neck towards them, and uttered a cry so strange that it frightened himself. Could he ever forget those beautiful, happy birds; and when at last they were out of his sight, he dived under the water, and rose again almost beside himself with excitement. He knew not the names of these birds, nor where they had flown, but he felt towards them as he had never felt for any other bird in the world.
Stars blazed clear across oceanic skies, sapphire-blue and diamond-white. Cold winds swept snow-crowned forests amidst shimmering lakes; warm glows, rising laughter rippled from nearby houses. A boy lay on the hard wintry ground, clad with soft snow, awaiting Spring.