And if the terror cells got hold of it they could distort its message, corrupt its meaning, use it to create God-knows-what chaos and tragedy on the world stage. Al Azif. The Necronomicon: a code book for terrorists? An Anarchist’s Cookbook from space?
Angell knew he was a prisoner of the Taliban, for that was the one group no one mentioned. That the Taliban were looking for the Book came as no surprise anymore to Angell. He had seen what people would do in pursuit of it. Since the attack on the refugee camp in Turkey people had been dying. He would have to make sure that the Taliban never got it. He would have to make sure no one got it.
He would destroy it first.
Before leaving Key West, Lovecraft spent another night talking to Tanzler. Shaken by his dream of his dead mother, Lovecraft allowed himself to be taken to see Tanzler’s obsession: Maria Elena de Hoyos, who by now was quite ill. Her doctors did not expect her to get any better, and her family was completely distraught.
At first, Lovecraft recoiled from the Latin atmosphere of the home. He had to be dragged through the doorway to Elena’s bedside. Looking down at her, he was reminded a little of Sonia Greene. His wife was Jewish, and had dark hair and made a Mediterranean impression; Tanzler’s Elena shared some of these characteristics. Unaccountably, Lovecraft felt guilt rise up in him at the sight of this poor young woman suffering from an illness for which there was no cure and no hope. He had already spent a lot of time visiting women in hospitals, and his dream from the previous evening had unnerved him.
Thus, when Tanzler bade him stay another night so that they could discuss strategies for reviving a dead body, Lovecraft felt he could not refuse. Tanzler also knew about his relationship to George Angell, and the theft of the Cthulhu File. To be honest, Lovecraft thought, he may also know more about that cult than he lets on. He may hold the key to understanding the relationship between madness and the paranormal, even if he is not aware of it, and Lovecraft needed that information. His own sanity may depend on it.
So he agreed to another night of long talks in the dim light of the shack, accompanied by copious amounts of iced tea and an array of Cuban pastries, filled with guava paste and queso Blanco. They discussed death, the chemical and biological requirements to maintain life and to postpone the decomposition of the flesh and the organs. They talked about the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Machen, and Tanzler insisted that
there were truths buried in the religions and myths of ancient cultures, myths that could be decoded if you had the benefit of initiation into the mysteries. He introduced his guest to the works of L. A. Waddell, who had been to Tibet and who had written books demonstrating the Sumerian origin of the Chinese language, as well as proof of the existence of the Aryan race.
Kabbalah, theosophy and other practices were only fragments of the wide-ranging conversation that went on for hours. It was like late night talk radio, only a few years ahead of its time and with a very exclusive audience. Again Lovecraft saw the sun come up after a long night of endless talk and speculation, but Tanzler had what he needed. He had been taking notes during the talk, writing down odd bits of data in a small book he kept with him in the hospital’s radiology lab where he worked. With his experience in the world’s arcana and his knowledge of medicine, he thought, and Lovecraft’s knowledge of the Cthulhu Cult—the cult of a dead priest who nevertheless communicated through dreams—he had the rudiments of a process that would keep Elena viable long after death and maybe even revive her once he removed the TB from her body.
Even better, he now had more information to send to Himmler. That would keep him viable a little longer, too.
1932. October 25. Death of Maria Elena de Hoyos, of tuberculosis, in Key West, Florida. Tanzler arranges for an elaborate, aboveground mausoleum to house her remains, but has it fitted out with custom equipment to enable him to maintain her body for as long as possible. That same year, Reverend Henry St. Clair Whitehead—expert on Afro- Caribbean religion and friend of Lovecraft—dies of an extended illness. At the same time, Lovecraft makes the acquaintance of Robert
H. Barlow, a teenager who is a fan of fantastic fiction and who also lives in Florida. Lovecraft makes several trips to that state over the next few years, to visit Barlow and to keep current on the situation with Tanzler and his decomposing bride. Barlow will become the executor of Lovecraft’s estate, and will collaborate with the older man on a story involving the Yezidi and Malik Taus the Peacock Angel, “The Battle That Ended the Century”: a tale set in New York City on New Year’s Eve 2001. Imagination as Prediction.
1933. Hitler comes to power in Germany. Tanzler removes Elena’s corpse from the mausoleum and brings it to his house, where he can perform more elaborate experiments on her body with the additional funds now available to him from Himmler. He later reports in an American pulp magazine that she opened her eyes, and held his hand. He reports further that he remained in telepathic communication with her on a constant basis after her death. He writes a letter to Lovecraft in great excitement with this news, showing that the claims of the Cthulhu Cult
—that their High Priest communicates with his followers in dreams— are entirely possible. Tanzler believes that Lovecraft has exposed an important truth in “The Call of Cthulhu,” and that readers missed the point of the story. It was not about Cthulhu, writes Tanzler, but about the Call. This letter is later removed from the archive by an increasingly nervous Robert Barlow.
1936. Robert E. Howard, author of the Conan stories and friend of Lovecraft’s, commits suicide at the age of 30. His mother had been ill with tuberculosis for years. When she entered a coma and was not expected to awake, Howard shot himself. Lovecraft’s letters to Tanzler concerning the illness of Howard’s mother and efforts to find a cure have not survived. Lovecraft evidently believed that the four years since Elena’s death and Tanzler’s ministrations over her body should have resulted in some new procedures.
1937. Howard Phillips Lovecraft dies. He succumbs in the same hospital where his mother passed away. His efforts to notify Tanzler in advance were not successful. Barlow, as executor of Lovecraft’s estate, takes charge of his manuscripts and brings most of them to Brown University in Providence. Neither the Cthulhu File nor the Black Book
—the Kitab Al-Azif—is part of the collection.
1938. Himmler’s team has made progress in deciphering the Book. Based on sections of the Necronomicon and on coded information discovered in Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” Himmler funds an expedition to Antarctica and another to Tibet during this year.
1939. The invasion of Poland. World War II and the extermination of the Jews and other races begins: human sacrifice on a massive scale, accompanied by the theft of the world’s cultural artifacts from
museums and private collections throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Hitler has his agenda; Himmler has his.
1940. The disinterred body of Elena de Hoyos is found in Tanzler’s home by a family member acting on a tip. This threatens to expose Tanzler’s network of Nazi agents, and when word gets back to Himmler he is furious. This happens at the same time as the Hess flight to England, which has tremendous repercussions for the occult groups in Germany once it is revealed that Hess was acting according to an astrological calendar. “When the stars are right.” Himmler, fearing blowback from the Tanzler revelations, stops sending him money and changes the communication protocols and codes, effectively cutting him off. Tanzler is on his own. He is briefly jailed, then released. The statute of limitations has expired on the sole count of grave desecration.
1944. Tanzler leaves Key West, and moves near Zephyrhills, Florida, outside Tampa, where he has family from Germany.
1945. As the war comes to an end, vitally important occult texts—among them the Black Book as well as the famous Egyptian Scorpion Papyrus (arguably the oldest esoteric text in existence, a set of incantations to the Egyptian god of chaos, Set)—go missing.
1946. American occultist and rocket scientist Jack Parsons begins the Babalon Working: a series of magical ceremonies in the Mojave Desert designed to open the Gate between this world and the next. His partner is L. Ron Hubbard, who will become the founder of Scientology.
1947. The Dead Sea Scrolls are discovered. The modern UFO phenomenon begins, with Kenneth Arnold, Maury Island, and Roswell. Modern day magician Aleister Crowley dies. Tanzler publishes his story of Elena de Hoyos in the same pulp magazine, Fantastic Adventures, that publishes the new “flying saucer” stories of that year. His editor is the famous Ray Palmer. The same magazine will publish a story by L. Ron Hubbard in 1950, “The Masters of Sleep.”
1948. Robert Barlow goes to Europe, seeking the missing documents, especially the Black Book now referred to with the name by which it would become famous: the Book of Dead Names. The Necronomicon.
BLACK BOOK, BLACK SITES
A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.
—Jorge Luis Borges, Other Inquisitions
Jason Miller had made his way to Jalalabad after a brief visit to Kamdesh and was in a small cafe near the medical center, drinking thick, sweet coffee and planning his next move. Wondering about his motivations, he had spent a few gold coins and whatever good will he had stored up in this country to convince the elders to release the Americans unharmed and get them to Jalalabad, and the Nuristanis had gratefully complied. His only requirement was that they do not tell the Americans who he was or why they were released.
The Jalalabad Airfield was an obvious choice for them, but he couldn’t use it. He was a wanted man. He had been traveling for the past two weeks on forged papers but didn’t know how long his luck would hold out. Monroe was looking for him, and protocol dictated that Interpol was, too. Therefore, hitching a ride on a military transport was probably out of the question.
It would have been nice to work with Monroe and his people on this. If he had, the whole thing would have been over by now. But he knew what Monroe wanted with the Book. He wanted to keep it, and maybe use it one day in some weird-ass remote-viewing experiment with demons or aliens or dead gods or some shit. Miller was not about to let that happen. Once he got hold of the Book, he would destroy it. At once. Not a second thought.
In fact, Miller had known what was going on with the Book even before Monroe had a clue. It was due to those remote viewing sessions and the
hunt—first for Bin Laden and then—for every other Al-Qaeda asshole on the scorecard, which led to looking in Afghanistan that Miller gradually became aware of the whole scenario. His visit with Eco in Turin had tied it all together for him nicely.
It was funny, thought Miller. Eco insisting that the Necronomicon didn’t exist, that it was a hoax. As if that would make any difference at all to the people he had sworn to fight: the enemies of reason and the foes of civilization. Sure, the Necronomicon was a hoax. So was the friggin’ Bible, he thought. Look at how that turned out.
He got up from his table and walked to the street. Tucked inside his tunic was a map of Asia from Turkey to Mongolia. He liked to have paper in case his phone ran out of batteries or was otherwise compromised. Miller didn’t get to where he was in life by taking shortcuts. Anyway, he needed a big map—something his smartphone could not accommodate—in order to get the big picture. And he needed somewhere to sit down in peace and privacy for a few minutes to look at it.
Hence his choice of a cafe next to the medical center.
It was a modern building, several stories tall, all steel and glass. He went inside and found the restrooms. There were no seats, as in the West, but porcelain trenches in the floor where one had to squat to relieve oneself. And, of course, no paper. There was water all over the floors and a suspicious odor, but there was a stall with a door and that was all he needed.
He went inside and shut the door, listening. There did not seem to be anyone around, not even the ubiquitous cleaners. Standing, he quietly unfolded his map and began retracing his steps.
There, marked clearly on the map in his own personal code, were the Seven Towers. Another code showed those sites around the world that were connected with the underground cult that was “plugged in” to them: a spider-web of connections criss-crossing the Earth. In some cases, these sites were identical to locations where interrogation and torture centers had been established, the so-called “black sites.” They existed in foreign countries, outside US legal jurisdiction, but there were analogous sites in the US as well. There was a famous prison at Moundsville, West Virginia, which is where the Manson Family member and would-be presidential assassin Squeaky Fromme was held; it is also an ancient Native American
burial mound site. Then there was the State Prison at Chillicothe, Ohio, built on the site of another famous mound complex. And so on.
Other sites are the locations of temples sacred to the most arcane or violent sects. Still others are sites notorious as the locales of famous slaughters, massacres, and mass killings of all kinds. And there are a few sites that do not have any associations at all, being in the middle of featureless desert or in the depths of the world’s oceans.
It was a map copied from the Lovecraft Codex before Miller went AWOL and augmented with his own remote viewing ability, plus intel that came in from a variety of unorthodox sources in the occult underground. Miller had been the only one to know of the existence of the Codex, and the only one who knew where it was and how to access it. Unfortunately, he didn’t have time to read the whole file or copy it. It was the map that grabbed his attention, and he found it was easy to memorize the seven core locations he needed because they formed a pattern that was easy to remember. They formed a constellation.