Monday, January 16, 2012


SOL OCCAXUS (Sunset) Monday, 19 September, 2011

CREPUSCULUM (Evening Twilight)

I. Friday, 23 September, 2011
II. Thursday, 29 September, 2011
III. Thursday, 29 September, 2011
IV. Sunday, 16 October, 2011

VESPER (Evening Dusk)

I. Sunday, 23 October, 2011
II. Sunday, 30 October, 2011
III. Wednesday, 9 November, 2011
IV. Monday, 14 November, 2011
V. Monday, 14 November, 2011

CONCUBIUM (First Sleep – Coitus – Rest)

I. Thursday, 17 November 2011
II. Sunday, 20 November, 2011
III. Friday, 25 November, 2011
IV. Thursday, 1 December, 2011
V. Thursday, 1 December, 2011
VI. Thursday, 8 December, 2011
VII. Sunday, 11 December, 2011


I. Sunday, 1 January, 2012
II. Thursday, 5 January, 2012
III. Saturday, 7 January, 2012
IV. Monday, 16 January, 2012


MATUTINUM (Dawn Goddess)

DILUCULUM (Dawn Twilight)

SOLI ORTUS (Sunrise)




Once again Michael Mara’s call to General Arnold’s office was accompanied by a series of security checks.
“Hi buddy, where are you?” Arnold’s tone was brusque and agitated.
“Spain still.” Michael replied.
“Mikey, I need you to be more specific than that.”
“For what reason Bob?” Michael looked at his watch. It was nearly ten pm local time, and he’d arranged to see Isabella at eleven.
“A very good reason. Your life Mikey!”
“Come on Bob, don’t be melodramatic.”
“Michael. We’ve had further intel come in that confirms some of the concerns you expressed yesterday.”
“Which concerns, Bob? There were many,” he said sharply.
“We think that there is some sort of contract out on you and that there might be a kidnap attempt. I need to know exactly where you are. Don’t mess me around on this!”
“Jesus. OK, Bob. Take it easy!” As Michael gave Arnold the address of his hotel in Granada he walked into the bathroom of the large suite that he occupied. Its narrow-arched Moorish window with frosted-glass overlooked the plaza of the hotel entrance. Sitting on the toilet seat he released the catch and slowly pushed out the window a fraction to look down at the plaza below. All appeared quiet apart from the arrival of a taxicab but then if somebody were waiting for him they would hardly be making themselves known, he thought.
“Michael! Are you still there?”
“Yes, Bob.”
“I need your cell-phone number. Please leave the unit on from here on out.”
“Why, Bob?”
“Until a team gets to you we need it.”
“What team? What do you mean?”
“Langley is dispatching two teams from Lisbon and Madrid, ASAP, to protect you.”
“Is this really necessary, Bob?”
“Yes, buddy. Leave your phone on . . . Just in case.”
“Just in case of what?”
“In case something happens to you. We can use it for triangulation and thus track your location. When this call is over dial in *42** 783 and set the cell-phone for repeat call. This will then make it work like a transmitter. Do you follow, Mikey?”
“Yes, Bob, I mean General, Sir.” Michael deepened his voice in an attempt at a little levity.
“Michael, this is very serious man, you are in grave danger. Secure the room and wait for the teams. The first should be there in about three hours. I will – ”
“– This line is being terminated.” A metallic voice broke in and the line went dead.

Unsettled, both by the conversation and the sudden cessation of the telephone call to Arnold, Michael Mara waited for a few minutes before trying the number again only to become even more frustrated when encountering a continuously engaged signal. He kicked out at the bedside table causing the innocent alarm clock that had squatted on its surface, to bounce in the air and then tumble towards the floor where it wedged itself under the base of the bed. Retrieving it, he saw that the clock face protested the disturbance with a blurred red-flashing 10.45, which did not move on. Time was standing still, he thought. He then tried Isabella’s number, again without luck. After what Alonzo had told him about the Voices, he needed to talk to her, to have her confirm her involvement. More than that he needed to see her. Perhaps she would come to the hotel instead, he wondered. He looked at his watch and after waiting again for a few minutes, dialled her number again.

No answer.

The excitement Michael felt was a mixture of fear and desperation, an alchemical elixir that he had seldom experienced since he was a teenager. Bob Arnold’s warning was flashing into his consciousness but served only to prompt a memory of himself, as a lad of fifteen, sneaking out for love from the seaside house, a corrugated-tin-roofed shack that his mother used to rent for the summer. At that age, in his first truly physical relationship, Mary Delahunty was much older than him and also happened to be dating somebody else. He had recognized no fears save those of rejection and her boyfriend. Late night secret summer rendezvous, he remembered, and the danger added to by his stepfather’s warnings of dire consequences if he were to cause his mother any trouble in his frequent absences. Truth be told, he sometimes felt she too would have welcomed the chance to sneak out, sneak away, as well. She was less lucky in love, he thought.

Michael stared at the phone. He decided he had to go and see Isabella. If he hurried, he reckoned, he could get to her apartment and return to the hotel before Bob Arnold’s goons would arrive. He turned off the lights, firstly in the bathroom and then in the bedroom, and threw a quick glance down through the narrow opening in the bathroom window to the empty plaza below. He then crossed the carpeted floor of the suite to the balcony doors, and after opening them slowly inched forward to the alabaster-capped railing to scan the shadows of the hillside that sloped down from the hotel. Satisfied that there was no obvious danger, he returned to the room, stepped out onto the corridor and closed the bedroom door quietly behind him.

Avoiding the elevator Michael made for the hotel’s emergency stairs and nearly stumbled down the top steps as a sudden crashing noise, from a new batch of cubes being churned out by the ice-maker on the stairwell landing, caused his legs, and then his heart, to lose their rhythm. Composing himself, he took one of the ice-cubes to moisten a dry mouth and ran down the steps at speed to the basement garage level. There he pushed at the release mechanism of the fire exit door and found himself in the narrow laneway and cool night air at the back of the hotel. As the heavy metallic door closed behind him he thought he could hear the sound of voices on the stairwell. Alarmed, he ran blindly along the pitch-black laneway. The laneway passed around the side of the hotel and opened onto the steep hill that ran down towards the Campo del Principe. Stepping into the shadows when any car or taxi came from the direction of the hotel he finally flagged an empty cab about to ascend the hill. Grunting, the protesting driver executed a labour-intensive turnaround and fifteen minutes later deposited him outside the address that Isabella had given earlier. He kept a watch throughout the journey for signs of somebody following them but convinced himself there did not appear to be any evidence of danger.

The cab sped off and in the darkened doorway Michael eventually found the intercom button with the name Sanjil written above it. The identity label looked new. He pressed it and the reply was immediate.
“Isabella, it’s Michael. I’m sorry I’m so late.” It was nearly 11.30pm.
“I am happy you could finally make it Michael. Come on up. Third floor.”
The buzzer went and he pushed through the unlocked door into a marble floored atrium. There was an old staircase to one side and an even older-looking grilled elevator set deep in a recess on the opposite wall. He took the stairs and soon reached the third floor landing and made for the one door he could see at the end of a short corridor. He was just about to knock when he heard the elevator mechanism engaging and quickly retreated back to the stairwell to wait in its shadow to see if the elevator stopped on the same floor. To Michael’s mounting panic, it did. After a protesting metallic opening-back of the grill doors he could hear creaking footsteps and, cautiously looking around the corner, he saw a young woman approach the door at the end of the corridor. She wore a baseball cap but, though her back was towards him, her movements seemed somewhat familiar. There was also a small defect in her left ear lobe. It was the red-headed nude hurdler, he thought with relief and coughed as he stepped out from the shadows.
The girl turned around to look back. She did not appear surprised by his sudden appearance and smiled warmly. “Ah! The man from the bathhouse. Are you breathless from the stairs?”
“Zoë, is it not? Athlete, Georgia Tech. Isabella’s cousin,” he said quickly.
“Well remembered, I’m impressed.”
She did not look like she was, he thought.
“And you are?” she asked.
“Michael Mara.” He held out his hand and she took it in a firm grip. “It is nice to meet you again,” he said.
“Are you here to see Isabella? She did not mention you were coming. I hope I don’t intrude . . .” Zoë the athlete winked as she released his hand and turned to the door. “A ‘wallflower’ or ‘gooseberry’ I think you say.”
He blushed. “No . . . of course not,” he blustered.

The apartment door opened and Isabella stood there. She kissed her cousin on both cheeks and threw Michael an apologetic glance over the girl’s shoulders. Zoë moved on in and Isabella waited for a moment before stepping forward and kiss him lightly on the lips. “I am sorry, Michael. I’m never sure when Zoë might call. You know what family are like? She will not stay long. I promise.”
“She said that you weren’t expect . . . It doesn’t matter. I’m just glad you’re here,” he mumbled. “I tried telephoning earlier with no success.”
Isabella smiled again as she took his hand and led him into the apartment. “Come in. You are most welcome. I’ve only just arrived myself. I was worried when you were late that you were not going to make it or that I had missed you.”
“Wild horses would not drag me away, I –”
“Zoë, make yourself useful!” Isabella interrupted to shout at her cousin. “There is some champagne in the fridge. Will that suit you, Michael?”
He looked around him. The living room of the apartment was long and narrow with scattered Persian carpets and silk-covered divan type couches placed against the wall. The windows were shuttered with latticed doors and what little light existed, was generated by two very tall flickering wax-candles set on ornate stands in the far corner. There was very little other decoration save a large antique smoking water pipe on a small cabinet in the corner nearest the entrance. The air was scented with jasmine and rose. It was a private room, feminine, he thought. “That would be fine. Thank you, Isabella.”
“Excuse me for a moment, Michael. I want to shower and change my clothes. As I said, I am not here that long before you.”
As Isabella left the room Zoë returned with an uncorked bottle and three glasses. She smiled as she expertly poured the frothing wine. “Do not worry, Michael. When Isabella returns I will disappear into her room. I have some work to do on her computer.”
He blushed and smiled guiltily back. “When do you return to America for your studies?”
“Next week, and you Michael, when do you go home?”
“Home! Too soon unfortunately, as I will miss Granada.”
“It has that effect on some people. Once caught in its snare you never want to leave. Are you married?” she asked matter-of-factly.
“Is your wife here?”
“Has she ever been to Granada?”
“I don’t think so.”
“You should bring her next time. She should see the city that has charmed you.”
“Yes.” He gulped down the wine and accepted a refill. “Next time perhaps.” At that moment Isabella reappeared. Michael watched her intently. She was wearing a full-length cotton kaftan with silk borders and her hair, still wet, was wrapped in a turbaned towel. Around her neck was the gold chain and hanging from it . . . Nefradaleth. He couldn’t take his eyes off it.
Zoë noticed Michael's interest as she handed Isabella the bottle. She smiled back at him before winking at Isabella. “I will leave you two in peace. Michael and I were just talking about being seduced,” she said sweetly.
“What!” he protested.
“By Granada and its charms, of course.” Zoë gave another wink and after stretching out a hand to touch Isabella gently on her cheek disappeared from the room.
“She is always teasing. Do not mind her, Michael.”
He moved up on the divan as Isabella sat down beside him. He could feel her body heat and thought that the seal appeared to glow. He put out his hand to touch it. It was almost like, he thought, the strange need of people to touch the swelling abdomen of a pregnant woman; a primeval, unlearnt, instinctive reaction to something that was so basic to existence. He wanted to draw from that energy and Isabella seemed to understand and did not pull away. “She is right though about the seduction of the city,” he said quietly, earnestly, as he fondled the seal.
“Is that what you want, Michael. To be seduced,” she asked.
“I would be lying if I denied it.” Michael pulled back a fraction to watch her eyes but as he retreated she took his hand from the seal and placed it over her left breast. He could feel the nipple rise erect beneath the cloth.
Isabella then placed her hand over his and pressed it inwards gently. “Do you feel my heartbeat? Flesh and blood Michael. I am not some mystical creature. I am neither an ideal nor a phenomenon,” she said.
“I know but . . . you are different Isabella. The seal for example . . . Nefradaleth.”
At the mention of the Voice’s name she startled and jumped up from the chair to hover over him, leaving his hand grasping thin air. “You know its name! How do you know that?” she demanded.
“I know the names of all seven Voices Isabella. Alonzo told me.”
Even I do not know that, Michael. You must be marked out in some way for Alonzo to divulge the secret of the Voices. Somebody special.”
“I do not know about that. He is a fascinating man and I have learnt so much from him, even in such a short time. We are meeting tomorrow again.” Michael heard cackle-like noises coming from the corridor and tried looking in their direction.
Isabella refilled their glasses before she retook her place beside him again. “That’s Zoë. She is on an Internet voice and visual link to her American coach. The speakers are of poor quality. What else did Alonzo say about Nefradaleth, Michael? Quietly though! I do not want Zoë to overhear.”
“He is concerned that it might fall into the wrong hands. Something about a Swiss collector,” he explained.
“This is all very unexpected,” Isabella said with a hint of annoyance as she stood up again and began to pace the room.
“What is?” he asked, concerned.
“You Michael, knowing the story of the Voices and having a conversation about them with me, as if they were a normal subject for discussion. It is very strange.”
“It was you who put me in touch with Alonzo. You must have known this might happen.”
“Believe me, Michael when I say that I did not anticipate any such development.”
“Alonzo is very worried, Isabella. I think he hopes I might help prevent the gathering of Nefradaleth and the others.”
“That will never happen Michael. I am its guardian until I die. Nefradaleth not only brings with it the responsibility of care but also great peace and fulfillment. Can you understand that?” she said. Her eyes blazed with intensity.
“I understand responsibility Isabella, but despite all my academic and commercial success I have seldom been able to contemplate, or experience, true peace and fulfillment. Until now that is. I think,” he replied with unfamiliar uncertainty.
Isabella walked to the small cabinet where the antique water pipe stood. She opened a drawer. “Forget the Voices for a moment. Will you smoke a joint with me, Michael. It is pure Afghan gold,” she enquired.
“Sure,” he said.
Isabella brought two rolled and tapered cigarettes and after lighting one off the wax candle handed it to Michael. She then lit her own and sat down cross-legged on the floor in front of him. Both of them took two large inhalations, sucking in air like a back draft to aid the rush. The sweet-smelling smoke tingled in his nostrils. “Tell me something about your responsibilities, Isabella. Alonzo mentioned an organization called the Alumbrados,” he persisted.
Isabella looked at him for a moment before she relented. “The guardianship of Nefradaleth is a sacred duty. It demands an acknowledgement, and acceptance, of the principals of light and dark. The Voice is one of the Portals of Matter through which we can experience the true essence of God. The ancients held that God and matter were of equal importance and interdependent and that the limitations of matter such as evil, both moral and physical, were a positive force rather than a defect. Matter in its purest form, man’s soul, can only contemplate God by total absorption in the essence of his beneficence.”
“But what is your role?”
“I am a ‘Perfect’ and must be ‘quiet’ by example. This allows me approach a level of gnosis of God that few are able to penetrate. I am continually in His presence and the light courses through my veins. I can deny my needs, my wants, my desires, knowing that they have already been truly fulfilled. Yet also, I may indulge those needs without staining the soul. I can accept outside authority without distortion of my inner self. I am passive to God’s will and intuitive to God’s design. Nefradaleth is the key to that intuition.” Isabella’s eyes glazed over a little as she spoke, before focusing back on him, to wait for his reaction.
“Why was Alonzo so concerned about the possibility of Nefradaleth ending up in the wrong hands?”
“Alonzo has less faith than I in the intuition of men’s souls and their relationship with God. His real responsibility is not concerned with resolving the philosophical conflicts of monism or dualism but only with his guardianship of the journey of that discovery and its universal ferryman.”
“I don’t understand,” he said. “What do you mean by the ferryman.”
“Time Michael, time! Alonzo is the Timekeeper. He is convinced that once all the Voices are gathered together then time will lose its ability to govern the journey of men’s souls. Both the attraction and separation of God and matter, light and dark, will be lost. Chaos will reign. Again!”
“Is that possible?”
“You tell me, Michael. You are an intelligent man and a rational scientist pushing at the boundaries of knowledge. Have you enough faith in your ability to fully understand all of the ramifications and responsibilities of your work? By asking the question, if what I and more importantly, what Alonzo have already told you is possible then you have already accepted that it might be so. I do not concern myself unduly about the questions but accept whatever consequences will accrue.”
“Does that not worry you, Isabella?”
“No. Why should it? I have annihilated myself to God’s will. If it is to be, it will be.”
Michael suddenly felt the combination of hashish and champagne stripping away all of his reservations. Isabella was somebody he could talk to and he knew how desperate he was to open his soul, to be free, as she was. Tears welled up in his eyes. “I would so like to have found what you have, Isabella. In fact . . . Jesus, I hope I’m making some sense here. . .” He took and squeezed her hand tightly. “I would like to with you, body and soul, lust and love, passion and peace. All of you! I too would like to be annihilated, as you put it, by what you have: by what you are.”
“I think you are drunk, Michael,” she said gaily.
“No, I’m not! Well, perhaps a little. It’s great pot,” he said as he released her hand and leant forward to touch Nefradaleth again. “All of a sudden I feel a tremendous clarity of purpose. Nothing else matters.”
“Nothing?” Isabella asked as she stood up. Unravelling the towel she let her hair fall free and then stood between his knees. She rested her hands on his shoulders and slowly leaning forward let her wet-ended hair drape over him. In one movement, she lifted Nefradaleth’s chain over her head and let it slide down her hair to place it around his neck. “The truth, Michael!”
“Nothing! I really mean it, Isabella. This is so important.”
Isabella withdrew and stood watching him as he rotated the stone that rested on his chest. “What about your wife, your work Michael?” she asked.
“I love Caroline. That is her name…Caroline. Don’t get me wrong Isabella. We . . . we’ve a good relationship. She’s very strong and the best judge of people I know. I have leant on her far more than she ever has on me.”
“And yet you are here with me. Have you told her about me?”
“No,” as he inhaled again on the reefer.
“Why not? Remember what we spoke about yesterday. Surely if this being here with me is important to you, she would understand. Nothing has happened between us.”
“I don’t agree. I feel that something great has happened between us. I had hoped you felt the same.” He had difficulty keeping the sense of hurt from his voice.
Isabella placed her finger on his lips. “As it happens I do feel the same, Michael but I also want no part of a deceit. Be true to your heart. It will cause less pain in the end.”
“I was hoping to talk to Caroline this evening, before coming here, but she is in Mexico and I’ve had difficulty contacting her.”
“Why is she in Mexico?”
“Doing some work for the American Government.”
“Secret work?”
“Yes in a way. She’s a counterfeit expert . . . Anyway I was waiting for a phone call from her but it never came. I had intended to tell her about you, Isabella and how important my feelings for you and Alonzo had become. I think, in fact I now know, that I have spent far too long compartmentalizing my responses, my emotions and have never allowed myself to be completely open about anything, particularly my needs. I always assumed it would cause conflict with Caroline so I held back. Afraid! Maybe, as you have pointed out, Caroline would understand. I don’t really know. I have never asked. I have never wanted to put our . . . my concept of love to the real test.”
“Are you prepared to lose everything for your want of this freedom, for your want of me?” Isabella asked.
“Yes . . . I think I am and it’s not a fantasy.” He answered as coherently as he could and thought of his conversation with Bob Arnold. “After talking with Alonzo and now with you, I have suddenly realized how infinitesimal my time, our time is, and that it is better to grasp the moment. It is a duty almost.”
“I am not an idealist, Michael. The concept of a rigid unity of being or purpose has no attraction to me. There is good and there is evil, there is darkness and there is light, there is wisdom and there is ignorance, there is substance and there is chaos. What we make of these forces is for God to orchestrate both within and without us. I will not judge your desire to change only support its necessity. I will not have you covet me but will open your mind to the concept of a greater belonging. A greater love.”
At that point Michael Mara felt he was floating, in love and at peace with the world and himself. Bob Arnold’s goons could run and jump for themselves, he thought. “I am ready for that,” he giggled and inhaled again.
Isabella Sanjil smiled as she stroked his cheek with the rim of her champagne glass. She laughed an easy laugh, a compassionate laugh. “You must need sex very badly to give it all away so easily.” She took the reefer from his grasp and laid it in a nearby ashtray where her own was almost untouched.
“It’s not about sex, Isabella. Honestly. If . . . if that ever happens between us it will be a bonus. I just want the freedom of knowing you, truly knowing you.” His speech slurred.
“We will see,” she said.
“What do you mean?” he asked concerned by her tone.

Isabella Sanjil stood fully erect and in one whirling movement lifted the kaftan over her head. Fully naked underneath she had a slim body, small firm breasts and sculptured hips. There was little in the way of pubic hair. “Take off your clothes, Michael and lie back,” she instructed.
“What about Zoë?” he asked as he obeyed. Isabella came forward and lifted Nefradaleth from around his neck. He watched as she tilted the champagne glass and the bubbling liquid coursed down his chest and hastily indrawn stomach to cascade over the base of his engorging penis.
“I want you to do something for me, Michael.”
“Anything, Isabella,” he groaned.
“I am going to stand here and I want you to never take your eyes off me, no matter what happens or what you feel. Do you promise?”
He nodded. At the same instant he thought he could feel a gentle breeze on his leg as if somebody was blowing on it. Isabella began to move from side to side in a gentle rocking motion. As she continued to move, her hands circled up and down her body, and lightly brushed with long fingers her nipples, and then her neck, and ears. He watched as her hair flowed and back arched. His head spun, the room spun around him. Suddenly her warm body mounted him and with a gentle rocking motion, moist and warm, moved forward and back, forward and back.
“Do not look away, Michael! Watch me?” Isabella instructed as she moved faster and faster.
Michael’s heart pounded, suffused. It could have been an age or an instant, he was not sure. He groaned. Her movements became even quicker. A telephone rang somewhere beyond them. Then his explosion and implosion. The night closed in. “Isabella, Isabellllla,” he screamed.

The dancer disappeared.

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