On an almost black and white day in November, the plaza was full of solemn people. Tens of thousands of them, in fact, had gathered under the gray sky, in the semi-circular theater surrounding the huge podium, in the middle of the busy construction project of the Great Hall. It was said that, once completed, the monster building would take two hundred thousand people, all watching and enjoying the power of their Reich. That day, it was an occasion only a limited number of people could stomach, though many more were invited.
"Poor buggers!", Oliver turned to his shorter companion who was just catching up to the front row of the standing audience, a bit out of breath.
"Well, yes, it didn't quite turn out as they have hoped. Still, we told them, no use fighting against him, not after Nuremberg." Theo replied, patting down his gray long coat after he stopped next to Oliver.
"Not them! Fuck them, they had their chance - whatever that means. The high ponces are finished. I mean those that remained - look around you - there should be at least twice the crowd today!"
"Heh. Can't blame them. I wish I were home now. I wish I were anywhere but here. Should have left for Australia while I had the chance."
"Don't you see? Every single one of them who did not come has ended up on some black list or another. The way things are developing, an absence in a great event such as this will bite them in the arse sooner or later. They can kiss promotions good-bye for some time now, maybe ever."
"I suppose you're right. Still, I fully intend to close my eyes for most of the spectacle. If the stories we've heard about how this is going to go are true, I'm not in the mood for heaving my lunch on the floor, not for this. Here, I brought my ear-plugs, maybe they'll help some."
"Put... put those away before anyone sees you.", Oliver glanced nervously around and waved his hand to cover Theo's, "You want to get filmed with those in your ears?"
"I really don't care by now." but Theo did raise his coat's high collar, before plugging just one of his ears, leaving open the one facing Oliver. "Poor buggers."
"Look at all those cameras! There's at least 30 of them! Did you hear the first thing they did after the war, was to establish television studios in all dominions?? I suppose this footage will be sent to schools, in case they really need to scare the kiddies."
Camera crews were busy setting up their equipment. It was not all meant to be used in such gray weather and high humidity, and the technicians had their hands full with last-minute tweaks and repairs just before the big show started. A covered corridor, a black marble rectangular tube connected the podium with a staging and preparation room all the way in the back. It was wide enough for ten people to walk side by side, though today there will probably be less than ten people total on the stage. One of them, though, that one counted for millions. A big, strong bell sounded as the King himself stepped out to the podium. An unusual sight, an otherworldly presence. The same as ever recently, he dressed in unusually bright, eye-searing red suit made from strange fabrics, punctuated by the high contrast of shining black shoes, gloves, mustache and hair. Instantly recognizable everywhere even if the cameras couldn't yet pick up the splendid colour, the King in Red, the Fuhrer, a person formerly known as Hitler, strode with purpose towards the center of the bare concrete podium, followed by a small entourage. Two bulky guards in black were half-supporting and half-carrying the prisoner to the stage front. The crowd let up a small, subdued gasp.
"Bloody hell! It's old Winston!" Theo whispered, and habitually turned around to see who heard.
"Should have been a bricklayer, would have lived happier than this. So that's why all the secrecy, they really wanted to surprise us. I suppose they did us all a favour - if they wrote who is it going to be in the invitation, even less people would have shown up."
"Jesus Christ, my eyes are watering, he's started something..."
As the King was nearing the exact center of the stage, so that center began shimmering, then glistening, then doing something which looked like the air around it and the space forming it was turning inside out, which caused Theo to go cross-eyed, along with most of the audience. Something was there in one blink and gone the next, twisting in ways which was impossible. The King stopped, turned to face the audience, the stage front and the prisoner, and as he began to take a seat, so did that shimmering, that uncertainty around him suddenly solidify into a magnificent, huge throne visible from the furthest places of the future hall, made of intricate swirls and spirals of black and red. It was imposing and thick, it was as if created from intersecting globes and vortices made stone, both colours impossibly glowing, and the King's stare was black granite.
"Can't be human, not anymore..." Theo gasped. Oliver was quick to hush him.
"Who cares, at this point. You saw what he did on the coast. It still stinks. Now be careful what you do, it will be over in less than an hour. If you manage to look attentive and glad, it could help you later."
During the night, a small SS contingent rolled into the city of Nuremberg, heavily marked by bombs and fire. Unmarked armoured trucks stopped in front of the Palace of Justice, already commandeered for this purpose by the local troops. No lights were turned on, and disembarking proceeded efficiently, crates of cargo and machinery carried into the building while illuminated by the waxing gibbous Moon and the light from burning buildings on the horizon. Wafts of smoke were carried over by the slight wind.
"It's now or never, you know." Rosenberg sounded enthusiastic and eager to proceed, getting off a truck.
"Are you completely sure? You know that this is an atrocity and a crime by anyone's judgement." Himmler was sweaty and fidgety.
"Of course. But you know the stakes. Thule repeated the Akasha experiment and re-did the calculations, we all read the report. In another world, we all die here. You already know this must happen. How is the Fuhrer?"
"The Wolf sleeps. He's drugged up again, the course of war depresses him. It's for the better."
"I heard he is coping by using chemicals. I regarded him stronger than that."
Himmler shrugged, "He will do his part just fine... anyway it's a downside of being sensitive. It's why we've picked him. Are we covered from all sides? Ready for every eventuality? What if we get cursed?"
"Do not be superstitious, Herr Reichsfuhrer. This is science, and we are not witches and savages. We will combine the effects and the power from artifacts according to calculations. We will create our King and be victorious."
"Will he change much? Will he remember... us?"
"We... do not know. He will be powerful enough to remember whatever he wants to, of course. He should."
"If he wants to." Rosenberg smiled. He took the hand of his apprentice, a young women with a shaved head, whose gray robe fluttered as she walked, and went up the steps.
A military stretcher carrying Hitler's body was carried into the building and placed on top of the conference table. The courtroom that could seat hundreds now contained a small, innermost circle of the ultimate conspiracy. SS soldiers were spread around the entire Palace, alert to anything which could interrupt the proceedings. It was quiet. Allied bombings were absent for the night and only fires and the wind were heard. In the courtroom, Rosenberg and his apprentice sat on the floor and spread blueprints of what was to come, studying them one more time so there will be no mistake. Minutes passed, as Himmler and five other black-uniformed spectators retreated all the way to the back of the room, and Rosenberg began.
"Someday, we may need to repeat this great experiment, so I have brought this tape recorder." he said, clicking a button on a front-row seat.
"Essentially, it is all about understanding and accepting the flow of vril through you. This is the first time ever these objects are brought into the same room and will be looked at by the same men. And without understanding, they could be just that - curious objects, nothing special. If you saw them in a flea market, you would need to be very sensitive to distinguish them from junk. And they have so much power!"
The apprentice was ready, carrying a polished brass cup in her hands, ready to hand it over.
"The Grail, the second thing which came into contact with Jesus' blood, but more powerful. Why? Because of all the belief poured into it! It resonates with every soul which searched for it, which gave it strength. We will also use it, to contain the heart of our King."
The apprentice next gave him a peculiar knife with a long handle.
"The spear of Longinus, which pierced Jesus, of course. Of course, we are not focused on Jesus alone, he was only the most recent of the spiritually powerful people. Half of the strength emanating from him is due to his own capabilities, and half from the beliefs surrounding him both then and now. Time is a strange thing, as we have found out. Since we now know Jesus benefited from power of beliefs which came after he died, we also know that this power is spread through time, which is, as our scientists have started to discovered, is very relative. And if time is relative, space also, must be relative. In another world, parallel to ours, our Reich dies, and we die with it. Most of us, personally, die here, in this place, at this time. Obviously, this is not happening, so we are special. It looks like among all our variants in all the worlds, we alone have collected enough power and knowledge to remain standing, and if this experiment succeeds, thrive."
The apprentice continued unpacking the crates, putting objects at certain places radially distributed from Hiler's body, while Rosenberg left the Grail and the spearhead near his Fuhrer's body.
"Of course, the power varies among the artifacts, both in strength and in its nature, as every one is unique. Here we have the Shroud of Turin, which my apprentice is placing right now, which, since it was made after his death, is much less powerful than the Veronica's veil.
Ah, now we have something unique!" he received a tarnished metal plate.
"The plate of Buddha's last meal. Similar to Christ, Buddha's last meal was the beginning of his downfall, though less violent. You see, he really was more peaceful. We'll put it on the point L5 in the blueprints."
Next, the apprentice gave him a small skull, just one among a dozen others she placed on the floor.
"So long ago, we don't even know what happened, this piece of bone was found by accident - or not, since there are no accidents - in the African desert by one of our disciples. It was guarded by a very small black tribe, which, sadly, tried to give resistance. We did found out, after interrogating the shaman's servant, it had something to do with the so-called First Man, and worshiped in the tribe seemingly forever. Black Sun disciples provided us with a possible story, which links it to Egyptian myths. We could derive much more power from it if we only knew more. In this state, it will only be an auxiliary piece."
Leaving the skull aside, he got a heavily chipped stone board with worn-out writing on a side which was polished to the point of being inwardly curved, from heavy use.
"You would not believe it if you saw it in the place where we found it, but this was what was placed in the Arc of the Covenant in Jerusalem's first temple. We do not know, and currently do not believe, that it was inscribed by God himself, but inspection by me and my colleagues, as well as an Akasha investigation all confirmed it - this was in the Arc. It was carried away by the Romans and eventually used in the middle ages in a grain mill, hence the wear. It is quite weak, not many people in total were touched by events surrounding it."
The apprentice gradually unpacked all the crates and there were only two items remaining, which she placed in Rosenberg's hands.
"An interesting thing, these two. This in my left hand is a green jade pendant, worn, one by one, by all of the Aztec and later Mayan priests while cutting out the hearts of their sacrifices. In this pendant have been reflected the faces of more than 1.5 million people in their very last moments on Earth. Very valuable, very fitting. The only thing we have which exceeds it in strength is this, the signed document from our Fuhrer, our future King", he said turning to the drugged Hitler, "ordering the Final Solution of the Jews." This provoked nodding of sudden realization from his small audience at the back, as he put the document near Hitler's body and put the pendant on himself. "Now we begin."
"I will now go from object to object, in the calculated pattern, and do what I said: understand it. I will connect to its history, comprehend the lives it has touched, passing the vril force through myself and into the document, of course at great personal risk! But the ends justify the means! I know what I am doing, and what is done here will change the world forever! Gentlemen", he said as he cupped the Grail in his hands, and the apprentice sat in the lotus position in front of the table, near the center of the radial arrangements of artifacts, "make peace with the world you know."
At first, nothing changed as the ritual proceeded to the second and third artifacts. The first thing Himmler noticed was the smell. Eyes darting from the realization, he fixed his sight on the document and his pupils widened as he noticed a bluish oily smoke rising from it, giving off the aroma of burning flesh. His eyes began to water as the smoke irritated them, and things started looking distorted, as if seen through a curved glass. Not much looked solid, and the angles seemed all wrong. The strangeness only intensified, the view became more distorted, the smell more sulphuric, and the wind howled mightily from nowhere, resonating in the closed room.
When only a few of the artifacts remained, the apprentice stood and walked to Hitler. She put her hand on his head and whispered something in his ear. He woke up and sat, and looked completely attentive, as if he was conscious all the time, unperturbed that everything around him shimmered, that smoke has been condensing into apparitions which moved around him before dispersing in the deafening wind, that the artifacts glowed, and the air was barely breathable. Rosenberg came and they shook hands like business partners, looking each other in the eye. Rosenberg gestured with his hand and Hitler lay again.
The apprentice took the document which was inexplicably larger than life, glowing, smoking, and pulsating, looking like it couldn't possibly be contained in her hands, but it was, held firmly. Rosenberg took the spearhead of Longinus, and while he was looking at it, it seemed like it started glowing orange, then passed to a deeper, angry and hungry red. Hitler tensed, then relaxed, closed his eyes, and Rosenberg plunged the spear into his chest. His long scream mixed with the wind, and his blood flowed, wetting the table, spilling on the floor and suddenly branching like a perverse tree top, like each object attracted it separately. Rosenberg made a hand gesture toward the document and Hitler nodded, he knew what he was doing. Hitler flexed his arm, smeared his finger in his blood and moved it toward the document. Acting as it had a mind of its own, the document dragged the apprentice's hands and met with Hitler's finger, adding another signature, the one in blood, the one which sealed them both. Hell broke loose. The smoke got so dense it hard to see, a desert storm of sulphurous dust arose localised in the room, with clouds formed from blood-red mist covering the ceiling, raining flesh which splattered on the floor, bouncing, sometimes moving. Rosenberg smiled, got a stronger grip on the spearhead, and cut. He also knew what he was doing. Strongly and vigorously, he cut his screaming Fuhrer's living heart from his chest while it was still beating, and put it in the grail cup which immediately overflowed from blood, drowning the heart. While Hitler was still gasping, Rosenberg energetically grabbed the document from his apprentice's hands and crumpled it into a ball, then looked at her, who nodded back, before he plunged his fist with the document into his King's chest.
Then, bright light.
The explosion was seen from the Allied positions. It was so strange, so unlike anything seen before that the immediate conclusion of analysts half an hour later in London was that the Nazis succeeded in their nuclear program. The eye witnesses who talked later said they have seen colours they could not describe. Not only that, that they've heard the colours and seen the sounds, and dread was the least of their concern. The explosion levelled Nuremberg.
The German soldiers which were eventually brave enough to get near the cataclysm have witnessed a miracle. Their Fuhrer, unharmed, dressed in a surprisingly red outfit which they thought was blood, strolled strongly and decisively towards them and entered the field headquarters.
Winston Churchill was upright in the front of the stage, naked and tied with thick, loose ropes around his legs, his hands, his throat and his body. The audience grew quiet, while a microphone stand was fixed in front of him by technicians.
"Oh bloody hell, are they going to put him on speakers?" Theo grew a shade paler.
"It is for the cameras, they have to record the sound." Oliver was staring at a nearby piece of equipment.
"Like the picture won't be enough. I wish we haven't gone for the front row."
"Hey, we're on our own time now, and we need to be here. Someday you will thank me. See there, those antennas? it looks like it is going to be broadcast live. I wonder who is going to watch."
One of the King's entourage stepped forward and was soon recognized as Goebbels, the former propaganda minister, now his King's mouthpiece. The cameras started softly whirring.
"Damn those speakers are loud", Theo whispered to no-one in particular, then turned to Oliver: "Do you think it's true, that he can actually do it all painlessly, only doesn't want to?"
"Hm? I bet it is. So far there has been no limit to what he can do, and he appears to get better and better with the details. They are starting to worship him as a god. I suppose it will not be long before we are all required to worship him by law. Hell, at least we are going to get some practice here, it seems. Goebbels up there is besides himself talking what a stupendously monumental occasion this is."
"Oh damn, it's starting." Theo whispered and tried to look inconspicuous while putting the other earplug in.
For the first few minutes nothing happened, though Churchill was getting more and more fidgety, occasionally looking as if stabbed by a flash of pain.
"Look! He actually is getting better. He is first re-arranging him internally, that should make it easier to keep him alive later." said Oliver, fixated on the spectacle and not really caring if Theo heard him.
Suddenly, the screaming started, amplified to a deafening level by the large speakers so that even those at back who were too far away to see the details could not escape it. Churchill lifted his hand in front of him as if to look at it, and started shaking. His hands, in plain view of all who could see him, started shortening, and going gray.
Theo winced. "Bloody hell, you can see his bones breaking."
On the stage, as his armes shortened, they became flatter, and the grayness started to spread to the torso. On the other side, similar things started happening to his legs. Warping, getting shorter, getting grayer, until at one time the hapless man simply lost his balance and fell to his side, looking to his audience for help which cannot come.
"See there! His torso, the ribs are getting longer! I think I see what is he going to make." Oliver's voice was detached now.
The sad mess of flesh got elongated under the King's unblinking, black gaze, got thinner and elliptical, extruded in the direction of the chest, with the remains of its hands and feet attached to the broad sides, flapping around.
"Oh God, he's still alive! His head, his eyes, he still sees us!" and Theo finally closed his own eyes, not able to handle it any more.
At last, spectacularly and brutally, the creature's head started changing. It also got greyer and smaller, and the bones vividly, unforgettably, started moving under the skin, to form different plates, to align themselves with the rest of the thin body, the face grotesquely extruded to the front, back of the head hatchet-like, getting linked with the body. Finally, the mouth moved downwards, the nose disappeared in flaps, and the eyes moved sideway, so that one now looked directly up into the iron sky, as the creature now spasmed in silence, gasping, ineffectively, as it was now, of course, a fish out of water.
"Natural causes, I bet they will write. Because naturally, a fish cannot breathe in air." Oliver mumbled quietly to himself, now pale and sweating also.
Theo opened his eyes and cursed again, "Bloody hell. What a way to go. Bloody hell. I'll carry a whole bottle of cyanide with me now."
On the stage, a huge glistening fish flopped once weakly, and the only similarity it had to the man named Winston Churchill, formerly of the British Empire, were its blue eyes, quite out of place on the scaly body, which could still release tears. Eventually, the spasms stopped, the flopping stopped, the gasping for breath stopped, and the fish was mercifully finally dead. About the same moment when Theo raised his eyes to look at his terrible King, he stood up, the splendid throne vanishing as if it were never there in a blink of an eye, and he lead his entourage with a slow and deliberate pace to the back corridor. Goebbels swiftly paraded to the front of the stage, hopped over the dead fish enthusiastically, took the microphone in his hands, like he was waiting for the moment the whole day. In a booming voice he now joyfully announced to the dead-silent audience:
"Ia! Ia! Yog Sothoth! He knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. Ia! Ia!"