“Morphic resonance,” Angell whispered to himself. “What?”

“Morphic resonance. That’s why I’m here. When one member of a species learns something new, the other members of the same species learn it at the same time, across space and across time. It’s a theory that was proposed by Rupert Sheldrake decades ago.”

“Your point?”

“You and your followers are in some kind of telepathic contact with this Kusu-lu, Kutulu, or Cthulhu, right? Psychics are also in contact, if we believe Lovecraft. Artists, musicians, sensitives. That was the whole point of the Lovecraft story. If true, it proves the existence of the morphic field.

It means that Sheldrake is right, and that once they have raised their High Priest the same effect will take place across the universe. The dead will rise. Everywhere. They will have learned how. Not just your Old Ones, but beings of which you have no knowledge or understanding, beings that share the same morphic field.

That’s why I’m here. I’m the descendant of the man who discovered the Cthulhu Cult. The man they say was murdered by a German agent. The man who knew Lovecraft personally. The man who gave him the idea for the stories about Cthulhu. The man who knew about the existence of the Necronomicon. I’m the key to accessing Lovecraft’s morphic field. He had no children! He has no descendants. I’m all there is!”

The shaman sat back on his heels, squatting unceremoniously in the Cave of Treasures, apparently speechless.

“Since Cthulhu is in contact with human beings he shares the same morphic field as the rest of us. He is similar enough … what did you say? Genetic material from the stars? … that what happens to him happens to all of us. This planet could well become the battleground for forces unimaginable, for monstrous beings that cannot die, or stay dead. Dead but dreaming, isn’t that what the Book says? And when that Dreamer wakes up

… when he becomes a Dreamer of the Day … so will all the others,” he ended in a whisper, as if talking to himself.

“They have the Book,” said the shaman, whispering like Angell. “Who does?”

“The other Keepers. They have the Book, and they will open the Gate on time.”

“When? What time?”

“When the Great Bear hangs from its tail in the sky. When the stars are right. It could be at any time now.”

“I need to get to where they are. Now!”

“That’s the Tomb of the High Priest. Kutulu. I can take you there. It’s not far. Another mile or so in the tunnels. But you won’t like it.”

“Let’s go!”

“I warned you.”

They made to leave the cavern. “Why won’t I like it?”

“Because giving up disbelief is much harder than giving up belief.”

At the moment they exited the cavern, the stuttering of automatic weapons reverberated off the walls. Angell’s heart sank, and he turned on the shaman with murder in his eyes.

The battle for the cave had just begun.

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

WALPURGISNACHT

SN 1006, the largest supernova in human history, exploded on April 30, 1006 CE in the constellation of Therion. Mount Merapi on the island of Java exploded on the same day, burying Borobudur beneath volcanic ash.

April 30, 1492: the day Christopher Columbus received his commission to set sail for the Indies.

April 30, 1776: the eve of the day the Illuminaten Orden was founded. April 30, 1789: the day George Washington took the Oath of Office as first

President of the United States. The Washington Monument is exactly

555 feet high; the number of the word Necronomicon in Greek numerology.

April 30, 1919: the day seven Thulists—members of the Thule Gesellschaft, the secret society that practiced occult rituals in the Four Seasons Hotel in Munich, alongside the nascent German Workers Party—were murdered by Communists. It was the instigation for the Freikorps Revolt against the Communists that introduced Adolf Hitler to the Thule Society and the German Workers Party, which became the Nazi Party.

April 30, 1945: the day Adolf Hitler is said to have committed suicide in the Berlin bunker.

April 30, 1966: the day the Church of Satan was founded in San Francisco by Anton Szandor LaVey.

April 30, 1975: the day Saigon fell.

April 30, 1978: the day the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was proclaimed, with disastrous consequences.

May 1, 2003: Operation Iraqi Freedom officially ends. Iraq war begins.

May 2, 2011: Osama bin Laden executed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

THE BEAST IN THE CAVE

Life and death have been lacking in my life.

—Jorge Luis Borges, Discussion

Adnan had rapid-fired one of the AK-47s as three men tried to force their way into the entrance around the rock. He dropped all of them but regretted the expenditure of ammunition. He did not dare approach the bodies for more since it seemed they were now tired of waiting and would pour more troops into the opening in a desperation move.

They had fired on their way in but their shots went all over the place. They were not wearing night-vision goggles and, like him, were afraid to use their flashlights in case they telegraphed their intentions.

But now all bets were off. He knew they were fixing lights to their automatic weapons and would simply start barreling in the entrance regardless of the risk to themselves. He slid across the floor to the other side of the cave, figuring they had a fix on his earlier position. His eyes had gotten accustomed to the dark and could make out silhouettes positioned around both sides of the rock. He wouldn’t waste ammunition on warning shots but would wait until he had a good target.

Just please, God. No grenades.

He heard a sound behind him. He swung in its direction, holding the AK out in front of him, when he heard Angell’s voice.

“Adnan. You all right?” “Yeah. I’m right here.” “Are you hit?”

“Not yet. What kept you?”

“Never turn your back on a shaman.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? Never mind. Where are the others?”

“I haven’t heard or seen anything from those guys. I have no idea where they are.”

“Is that someone with you?”

“Yeah. The old guy from before. The Tibetan.”

“I thought he disappeared when the flash-bang went off.”

“He’s still here. Listen, we better go back down the tunnel. Time is running out.”

“What about these guys? As soon as we leave they’ll come flowing into the tunnels.”

“I’ll take care of that,” said the shaman, pushing past them and walking straight to the cave entrance.

“What the fuck! Get him back here! They’ll kill him for sure!” “He says they’ll listen to him.”

“Really? Seriously?”

“He’s like their leader, or something. Look, while he’s doing that let’s get the hell out of here and down the tunnels.”

The shaman walked up to the rock and said something in Tibetan. There was sudden silence from the other side. Then he said something in a different language. It might have been Zhang-Zhung. There came a low growl from the assembled forces outside. The growl rose in volume to become a chant. It was one Angell had heard too many times already.

Ku Tu Lu! Ku Tu Lu!

The shaman came back to Angell and Adnan.

“That will hold them for awhile. They know I am a Keeper, and they will await my orders. Let’s go. We’re running out of time.”

He led the way through the tunnel aperture and began moving quickly in the darkness like a blind man. Angell and Adnan could do nothing else but follow suit.

“Where are we going?” whispered Adnan.

“To the Tomb of the High Priest,” answered Angell. “It’s where everybody who’s anybody is gonna be tonight. My mission is to grab the Book and then get out of here. Problem is, I don’t know where JSOC is. They were our ride.”

“Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.”

They descend deeper and deeper, the air getting thin, the darkness absolute. The walls of the tunnels are covered in dampness and ichor, a thick slime that they cannot see but which they can feel and it disgusts them. Adnan has given one of the AK-47s to Angell with a brief instruction as to how to use it. The shaman is armed with his ornate knife.

At the same time, Jason Miller is approaching the same area but from his own direction. The Tibetans are filing along behind him, growing increasingly nervous. They have heard about these strange tunnels from the Bön-po, the old monks, and remembering those tales does not fill them with peace and joy. They also sense something talking to them, just below the level of their hearing. A kind of muttering. And it is unnerving.

Miller, on the other hand, hears it clearly. It is the dead High Priest in his ancient Tomb. Calling to him.

He reaches a large, nearly empty cavern. There is the sound of dripping water, and a smell of camphor mixed with something bitter and fetid. He shines his flashlight around the walls, as do the men with him. The height of the cavern must be more than thirty feet. It is enormous, almost overwhelming after the long trek through narrow tunnels.

The architecture of the cavern is an insult to the senses. Walls seem to end and fold in on themselves; there are columns that seem to support nothing. The ceiling is high above their heads but at the same time seems to be dipping close to the floor. There are more corners than there are walls, more space than the walls and floor would allow.

And covering the walls: paintings. Icons. Creatures painted ten, fifteen feet high. They seem to be wearing vestments of some kind but there is something off about them. The colors are vibrant, a lot of red and gold and green, but somehow in the wrong places. It is as if the Twelve Apostles were depicted as animals, or as human beings but with indescribable defects. The paintings were ancient; older than Sumer, older than Mohenjo-Daro, older even than the cave paintings of Lascaux; but with incredible precision of detail. And the water, dripping down the sides of the cavern over the paintings, only serves to make them seem somehow alive.

That is when Miller notices a strange bas-relief on the floor of the cavern, a half-man, half-fish, part octopus-looking thing that fills him with dread, but before he can study it there is a noise from the other side of the cavern.

Angell appears from the other direction. He has his weapon out with the safety off. The shaman has made himself small, sidling over to a wall on a far corner. Whatever happens now is what was written.

Adnan follows Angell into the cavern and they both notice Miller and his entourage at the same time.

Guns are raised, but no one is firing. No one really knows who the others are. They may be fellow devotees, come for the reading of the Book and the Opening of the Gate. Angell didn’t really know what to expect, but it wasn’t another American and what appear to be half-a-dozen Asians with automatic weapons.

One of the Tibetans spots a torch covered in what looks like asphalt. He lights it with a cigarette lighter, and the cavern begins to glow with a sickly yellow light. More torches are found, and the cavern grows brighter, the eerie and unsettling icons on the walls growing even more disturbing. Still, Miller and Angell are at a standoff, staring at each other, with Adnan covering Angell and wondering what the next move could be.

“Do you have the Book?” It is Miller’s voice, coming from a curved space, half in shadow, on the far side of the cavern.

Adnan raises his weapon to face Miller. Angell replies, “No.”

“Well, that sucks. Where do you think it is?” “You’re an American,” says Angell.

“You got that right. You?” “Yes.”

“You one of Monroe’s boys? One of his problem children?” “He sent me here. Yes. You?”

“Oh, I used to be. I put in my papers some time ago.” “So I guess we’re both here for the same thing.”

“Yeah. Hey, let me make you a deal. I get the Book, but I run off a copy for you. You know, on Kindle.”

“Nice try. But I kinda need the original.”

The Tibetans don’t know what to make of this exchange. Two Americans talking to each other, but neither one puts down his weapons. The Tibetans keep theirs trained on the hard-looking guy with Angell. This could all go sideways very soon.

Then there is another sound, something droning above the dripping water and the heavy breathing of anxious, worried, armed men. It is a chant, but like nothing Angell has ever heard before in all his fieldwork in the Middle East and Central Asia. It is in a kind of minor key, but in a scale that no human composer would have created. The words are impossible to make out, in a language unknown to Angell. And there is something else, an instrument vibrating below the chant, a sound not unlike those of the long Tibetan trumpets, the dungchen. It gets louder and louder, like a jet engine about to take off.

The chant grows louder, coming from another section of the cavern entirely. And this one reveals a mass of devotees approaching them, their leader holding the Book in his raised hands above the heads of his followers.

These, then, are the Keepers of the Book.

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

THE BABYLONIAN PROTOCOL

So rituals have a kind of deliberate and conscious evocation of memory, right back to the first act. … this conservatism of ritual would create exactly the right conditions for morphic resonance to occur between those performing the ritual now and all those who performed it previously. The ritualized commemorations and participatory re-linking with the ancestors of all cultures might involve just that; it might, in fact, be literally true that these rituals enable the current participants to reconnect with their ancestors … through morphic resonance.

—Rupert Sheldrake

Ancient Sumer. Night. A ziggurat: the seven-stepped pyramid that is both temple and communication center between the Earth and the Sky. A pattern of stars can be seen above the horizon to the north. It is the Great Bear constellation, hanging from its tail. A high priest ascends the pyramid carrying a pot of burning incense and muttering an incantation in a language that was old when Sumer was just a Mesopotamian swamp.

He reaches the top of the pyramid where there is a small chamber and a cauldron in front of it with a fire of burning cedar wood. He enters the Holy of Holies, beseeching the Old Ones: “Spirit of the Earth, remember! Spirit of the Sky, remember!” In the distance, visible only from the top of the pyramid, can be seen other ziggurats with fires burning on top of them, making a pattern in the land like a modern landing strip.