Perfect day with Lou

imagesIt was spring of 1981. I was in love with a blond girl from the all-girls school that was several blocks away from our own, all-boys school, in central Athens. For both of us this was our last year at school.  Like our schoolmates we were working hard for the national university examinations. We lived like automata: waking up early, going to school till midday, back home for a quick-lunch, then rushing to the tutoring classes that prepared us for the exams. We would finish tutoring classes around ten, sometimes later; we would wade back home to chew our dinner and sink to a sleep soaked in trigonometry.

We had exchanged only a few words till then, a quick hello, glances, as she walked in front of our schoolyard with her friends, on her way home. Girls finished half hour earlier than us boys so they would be safe from our adolescent urges; at least that was the idea. Although whoever cooked up that scheme failed to factor in the invincibility of love. Eros thou art unbeatable in battle, says Euripides in Medea. Our teachers ought to have known better.

Feigning sudden illness I was excused from classroom one hour earlier and went to hide behind some bushes in the little park in front of our school. I waited for her till I saw her coming. She was not really surprised to see me jumping out of the bush and saying hi like a dam ass. Her friends laughed. As if they expected this to happen they shrugged and giggled and left her alone with me. We looked at each other like two ants communicating with telepathy. We had to vanish as quickly as possible from there, prying eyes from the school windows squinted, trying to make up who we were. She told me that her parents were away for the day, that she did not have to go back home so soon. We turned a corner and walked together to another park further away, where we could have some privacy. It was a warm and sunny day, with a cool refreshing breeze ruffling the leaves of the trees. We sat on the grass, and I smelled the sweetness of her sweat, and we kissed. We forgot our automatic lives.

Evening found us still at the park, not having exchanged much talk, just exploring each other’s bodies to the extent that this was possible given the public nature of the place and that we had to keep our clothes on. But even if we had taken them off I would not know what more to do. Women were still terra incognita, unexplored continents where every atom of my body urged me to explore and, hopefully, invade; but without a map how much invasion could I possibly do?

Since that day we saw each other more often, we stole time between tutoring classes to the detriment of our exam results, we became a couple of sorts. After school was out and the exams were over we each followed our  parents to the different places for our summer holidays. Our separation was foretold. Nevertheless, she remained imprinted in my mind like a huge poster, an icon of expanding proportions occupying every space of thought available. That summer was destined to taste of nothing but nostalgia. I constantly sulked as I carried my heavy body around our beach house. My parents thought I was depressed because of too much study. I would swim in the morning and come back to spend the rest of the day indoors listening to my records, and writing letters to her. I would write one letter to her every day, put it in a shoe box, hide it under my bed and wait for September, to return to Athens and send the whole lot to her home address. I listened to “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed over and over, to relive that first date with her at the park.

The Venusian

venusian-scout-ship-49In the neighbourhood where I grew up there lived an old man we used to make fun of.  His name was Vangelis.  Barba-Vangelis[1] was the kind, tender type of fellow who did not mind very much when a ball came crashing through his window or when a can of red paint fell “accidentally” on his head as he walked by.  He was always very patient with us little devils and occasionally, despite our mischievous schemes against his physical and mental hygiene, he would come out of his humble single-storey house to hand us sweets and candy bars.  To no avail.  For no act of reconciliation could ever pacify us. Barba-Vangelis was too nice for us, too patient, too kind, too inhuman. Nature had  programmed us to exterminate him.

At times, our parents would talk about him on the dinner table; whenever all other subjects, politics and such,  run out of their temporary interest.

“What sort of new invention has he thought up now?” my father would ask, a question enough to spark a burst of laughter in all of us.

“I wonder if he is still busy at that ‘Psionic’ helmet of his”, my mother would then add giggling.  “He’s been awfully quiet late!”

One reason why this extraordinary fellow was causing so much of a humorous stir in us was that he came from another planet.  Planet Venus to be precise. But that was not all. For you see, not only was he an interplanetary explorer but an inventor as well, who tirelessly laboured in his scientific laboratory for “the good of mankind and the Galaxy”, to quote his own words.  And it wasn’t so much his alien planetary background that caused us to consider him an oddball, as were his many crazy inventions which never ceased to amaze or amuse us. Take, for example, that “Psionic helmet” thing.  No-one knew what use one could make of it.  Barba-Vangelis was developing it for years.  One day he asked everyone to gather round and witness the first real life demonstration of its use. That was before my family and I moved in the area.  But our neighbours were still talking of that day when Barba-Vangelis, wearing the Psionic helmet, stood in front of them, switched it on and started reciting the rhapsodies of Homer’s Iliad, totally by heart, in the original text.  The Psionic helmet was meant to tune one’s brain to poetry.  By wearing it one became a poet too. What a disappointment!

The list of his practically useless inventions was almost limitless.  To mention but a few, there was the anti-nuclear umbrella which protected one from nuclear fallout, a system that secured safe transgression of railway cross-roads, an electronic device that prevented female switchboard operators from fainting on the job, a detoxicator of Cuban cigars and a supersonic drilling machine for underwater mining.  But his most famous intellectual achievement – one that made national news in fact – was his decoding of Aristotle’s “Physics”.

Using the sacred knowledge of his home planet he managed to uncover the true meaning of Aristotle’s works (please note that he was another extraterrestrial too; Barba-Vangelis, however, never revealed to us from which planet exactly).  In fact, he showed that Aristotle had been cryptically describing in his books the design of a sub-nuclear propulsion system for intergalactic travel.  Barba-Vangelis came out with all the equations and there was a big corporation down in Athens who were interested and quickly bought up all the rights, patents and such.  Nothing was ever heard of his discovery since.  People said that Barba-Vangelis took a large sum of money to shut himself up about such things and that the revolutionary propulsion system found its way to the United States where the scientists are still trying to make sense of it.

His only real friend was Mr Peter Paschalides, the father of my good friend and partner-in-crime Dimitri.  Mr Paschalides worked at the local branch of the National Bank and was a very educated person (compared to the abounding ignorance of our little society).  Some people, including my parents, would accuse him – secretly of course – of being a freemason, a horrid thin to be accused really.  Well, Mr Paschalides would frequently visit Barba-Vangelis’ scientific laboratory and spend hours in there with him, talking about all kinds of subjects and comparing, no doubt, our two different worlds.

This way, and I mean through the good services of my friend Dimitri, I got to learn some of Barba-Vangelis’ private secrets.  That he came to our planet with his friends, many-many years ago, in order to collect samples of our ground for scientific experiments.  That Barba-Vangelis, a young officer in the Venusian starfleet at that time, being of the amorous type, pursued a beautiful young girl and so he cut himself off from the landing party.  Three days of intense lovemaking later, his friends had gone and that was how he was left behind.  He run and run, as fast as he could, only to see his spacecraft lifting off in a bright flame.  His friends had abandoned him on Earth.  He never really forgave them for that and still spoke bitterly of their unexplained delay in coming back to fetch him.  Many years had gone since then and Barba-Vangelis made the best of his awkward situation.  Got a job, bought a house, invented things, never loosing hope that some day his friends from Venus would return.

One cold autumn day I happened to be at my friend’s house when his father, Mr Paschalides, came near to us and, with a very serious tone in his voice, warned us never to annoy Barba-Vangelis again.  What more, he pleaded with us never to go even near his house.  Interpol was after him and we could find ourselves in very deep trouble.  As you understand, nothing could excite our childish imagination more than that.  After that day we would make sure that at least one of us kept tabs outside Barba-Vangelis’ house, in case Interpol showed up to arrest him.  Our secret detective mission was thrilling us to bits and we took it in turns. We even kept a log book of his moves which we regularly reviewed in search of meaningful behavioural patterns. But all this was nothing compared to what really happened a while later.

It was Sunday afternoon and we were back home from Mass, with our families, ready to sit down for a handsome Sunday meal, when the whole of our little neighbourhood was shuddered by a terrible noise.  We all thought it was an earthquake.  Our house shook like a leaf in the wind and my older sister, who was at the time coming up the stairs with a pot full of hot chicken soup, fell, breaking the pot, a leg, and suffering a slight burn on her left thigh.  Then, after the noise and the tremor had subsided, the whole neighbourhood filled with a purple-orange colour, as if a radiant cloud had sat on top of us.  People went to their windows to witness the strange phenomenon.  And there it was! Right above our heads!  A huge flying object that sparkled in bright colours.  It stood there hovering, virtually noiseless, lest a soft hissing sound that appeared to be caused by its luminous rays hitting the air.

“It is Barba-Vangelis’ spaceship!” cried my older sister, with tears of pain in her eyes.

“My God!” whispered my mother and crossed herself three times.

“It came to take him away”, said father gaping.

I cannot remember how long that strange thing stood there.  Not long enough, anyway. For some reason Barba-Vangelis did not come out of his house to board and his impatient friends seemed to fear Interpol’s appearance too.  For after a while they let go of waiting and vanished as spectacularly as they had appeared; with a noise and a shudder as great as the first one.  Nothing was left of the bright flying object.  Not a smell, not a sound, not a trace. As if it had never really appeared. So we all decided never to talk about this to anyone.  Few weeks later, when the sighting of the Venusian spacecraft was more or less forgotten, Dimitri and I were returning from school when we saw Barba-Vangelis coming out of his house with a big suitcase.

“He’s leaving” cried Dimitri.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“He’s going to Venus, stupid, can’t you see his suitcase?” came the answer.

We hid into the little park, inside the bushes and let Barba-Vangelis walk in front of us without noticing our presence.

“Let’s follow him!” Dimitri whispered in my ear.

“What, you think he’s going to his spaceship?” I asked him in a similarly conspiratory whisper.

“Of course he is.  Let’s follow him and see what he does!”

And so we did.  Like a pair of true professionals Interpol would have been proud to employ in her ranks.  Barba-Vangelis paced his way across the main square, climbed up the stairs to the old school and followed the little narrow path that led away from our neighbourhood and into the nearby woods.  Dimitri and I looked at each other.  The woods were a place totally out of bounds for all us children.  Many years ago in those woods many strange killings had taken place.  The victims were all young women found brutally abused and murdered. Someone was arrested in the end, a young electrician who pleaded innocent but was nevertheless sentenced to life, to be later killed by the inmates of his prison during a riot.  Strange thing was that, after his killing, there were a couple of new cases of murdered young women in the woods.  So, naturally, everyone turned to the supernatural. Perhaps the young electrician was truly innocent and he had now returned as a ghost to take revenge on our little neighbourhood that accused him of a crime he never done.  Anyway, whatever the real reason for these strange coincidences was, it was we, the children, who paid the price of adult superstition.  The woods were out of bounds, final. But on that day, temptation and the single-minded quest for the truth led Dimitri and me to break the taboo and defiantly enter the forbidden grounds in hot pursuit of Barba-Vangelis.

We followed him closely as he walked deep into the heart of the woods.  After a while, finding himself a small opening in the trees, he stopped and put down the suitcase.  Dimitri and I hurried under a bush and took cover. That must be the meeting point with Mother-Spaceship we thought. All we had to do now was wait until it showed up.  Barba-Vangelis had not noticed us till then.  Taking his time, he opened the suitcase and took out his Psionic helmet.  After making a few adjustments to a variety of knobs and buttons that clung on to it, he wore it on his head.  He then reached again into the suitcase and took out a long metal rod that looked like a spear. I felt Dimitri’s heartbeat pounding into my ear.

“You know what?” he whispered in a trembling voice.

“What?”

“I just had a thought…”

“What?”

“Well, you know all those killings in the woods… maybe it is Barba-Vangelis who did them all.”

“Do not be a fool”, I said.  “Barba-Vangelis is a sheep.”

“He is a maniac I am telling you, just look at him!”

“Shut up Dimitri! We’re going to frighten him and he may cancel the spaceship’s landing!”

“What’s that spear he’s holding then?”

“It’s not a spear, simpleton, it’s an antenna.  He’s signalling Venus! Shut up!”

But my friend would not have any of it.  Whatever went through his mind at that fateful moment, had caused him a bad seizure of panic.

“Let’s go!” he said.  “We got to go!”

And with those words he leapt out of the bush like a frightened rabbit.  The flutter of the leaves made Barba-Vangelis turn around and take notice of our presence.  But Dimitri had already taken flight.  I was left behind in the bush alone, my eyes crossing Barba-Vangelis’ eyes in a moment of terrible silence.  I can’t remember exactly what happened then.  But in an instant that seemed miraculous Barba-Vangelis was leaning over me as I stood inside my little bushy hide, frightened to tears.

“Are you frightened?” he asked in a soft, tender voice.

“No, not really..”, I lied.

“Where did your friend go?”

“He run away, I guess.”

Barba-Vangelis shook his head.  He remembered his friends who had run away too, so many years ago.

“Was he scared?”

“He thought you were the killer of the woods.”

Barba-Vangelis took off his Psionic helmet and sat on the grass next to me.  His face was sad and his shoulders hung numbly at his sides, like the shoulders of a marionette.

“In my planet”, he said, wiping a tear from his eye, “in the endless valleys of Venus, when two persons want to become friends they sit next to each other – like we are now – and dream of the colour blue.  In my planet the colour blue is very different from Earth’s.  It has a different hue. It’s difficult to imagine it if you have not seen it… Then, they blow into each other’s face and their breath seals their friendship for ever.  And friendship, for those blessed with it, is the strongest bonding force in the Universe…”

We sat there like that, silently under the trees.   I was not frightened anymore. I was trying hard to imagine the colour blue.  But all I could think of was blank.  White blank.

“Will your friends come again to fetch you?” I finally asked.

Barba-Vangelis smiled wryly.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“I think they will”,  I said.

His face opened up in a wide smile.

“Yes, they will…” he said. “They will!”

That was my first and last encounter with Barba-Vangelis.  Next month my father, being an army officer,  was moved to another post and we all had to follow him like the nomads we were.  Our life took another turn.  Many years later, when I was at University, I received a letter from my old friend Dimitri.  He was working know as a clerk at the branch of the National Bank in our old neighbourhood.  His father, Mr Paschalides, had retired after suffering multiple brain strokes.  It was then when I learned that  Barba-Vangelis had passed away.  Being a lonely fellow, with neither relatives nor friends on our planet, the neighbourhood, together with the Church, put some money together and gave him a descent funeral.  His grave still exists today in a small graveyard outside Thessaloniki.  It consists of a small tomb and a stone under a cypress tree.  It is a very simple monument.  Only his name is written on it and his nationality.  “Vangelis Hadjidimitriou – Venusian”.


[1]Barba: Uncle (a common familiarising term used in modern Greek for senior citizens)

Cloudbuster

cloudbuster-ill0-by-Pat-Linse-lgThis is the story of a television star.  We shall call him, for convenience, Eliah.  To start, we must make clear that he never had big ambitions in life.  In fact, his mother remembers him as a very timid child whom scarcely made any friends and tended to spend most of his time indoors, in front of the television.  She and her husband worried a lot about their child then.  They feared that too much television was going to make him stupid.  Little did they know that Eliah would one day enter the tube to become a television creature himself.

It all begun quite accidentally really, as all true stories do. Eliah was in his late twenties, having lived a rather secluded and irksome life until then.  After college he landed a very ordinary job pushing paper forms in the endless labyrinth of a multinational corporation. Life had seemingly taken a predictable course, worthy of Eliah’s apathetic character and nothing seemed capable of ever changing that. However, due to the intricate and mysterious web of natural phenomena in our Universe, a number of apparently unrelated events conspired to hurl Eliah away from the ordinary and into the unknown.  The chain of events was put together long before he was even born, several thousand miles away, on a different continent altogether, in a desert.

It was during a night while everything was silent in the boundless desert plain, when a fireball came crashing down from the sky.  An enormous meteor hit the ground with a terrible thunder and the whole desert shook like it was the dawn of time. A huge cloud of dust rose from the huge crater caused by the crash.  The wind blew the cloud hundreds of miles away, over a city, during a thunderstorm.  The rain poured down onto the streets carrying with it the extraterrestrial dust from the fallen meteorite.  One of those drops hit the lip of a woman as she was crossing the street. She licked her lip, swallowed the dust and thus became immediately infected by an alien virus. She went home in a daze and started writing letters, long letters to people she never knew, picking their names from a telephone directory at random. Whatever the virus had done to her brain- before finally killing her in the two months that followed – the woman managed to write thousands of letters to all kinds of people.  She would write and write, ceaselessly, day and night.  In her letters she would reveal the secrets of the Universe; only it was very hard for the common person to comprehend her messages.  She wrote in convoluted verses and used riddles, proverbs and quotes from philosophers and poets no-one had ever heard about.  The vast majority of her recipients threw the letters away without ever bothering to read on after the first two lines.  The rest returned her letters unopened to the Post Office where, without a known sender,  they were stocked away for several years.

One day, the Post Office decided to make room for a new computer so they cleared their warehouse of old and unwanted items, including the letters of that virus-infected woman.  As they cleared the room to send the letters to the incinerator, one of them fell and landed on the floor.  It was found by a young employee whose interest in old stamps made him pick it up and keep it.  When he went back to his house he opened it and started reading it. He was the only person who ever took to reading the letter seriously.  He followed the advice written on it and became a millionaire by inventing a number of very useful household appliances.  His company grew so big that it soon became a multinational.  And thus it reached the country where Eliah lived.

The man’s company was filming a new commercial at the Shopping Mall, next to Eliah’s office.  On that day Eliah happened to be in the area where the camera crew was shooting, taking a stroll after his lunch-break. The commercial’s idea was to ask ordinary people to use the product and then exclaim their amazement at its extraordinary effectiveness, in the most natural way possible. Eliah though it would be a fun thing to do, so he let them film him too.  It was easy for Eliah. Having spent so much time in front of the television, words came naturally to him. Soon enough he was on national television for the first time.  The product – a vegetable peeler – sold like crazy.  The advertising company sought Eliah and signed him up for a number of follow-up commercials.  He had a natural gift.  He could sell anything over the TV.  That was the beginning of Eliah’s career.  Not long after that, Eliah became a host in one of the most successful reality shows in the history of television.  Eliah became a star, a household name, everybody’s fella.

Famous or not, however,  Eliah did not become a happier man. He remained a loner, a secluded child as ever, that spent his life now not only on one but also on both sides of the television.  As his wealth and fame increased so did his loneliness. At the peak of his career, with several shows running at the same time on satellite and cable, with interviews with Larry King, TIME and Newsweek, Eliah projected a radiant, extrovert, snappy image that had absolutely nothing to do with the inner workings of his soul and the vast ponderings of his mind.  No one ever perceived the enormous gap between the real Eliah and his fake television image.  No one except “the Khan”.  

II

The Khan was an unknown then. He was the child of a poor office clerk in equatorial Africa, one of six children.  He grew up in hardship and when his father died, his family came to the brink of starvation.  The Khan, being the eldest son, took to supporting himself as well as the rest of his family from a very tender age, doing all kinds of petty jobs, selling fruit on the streets, working at the canning factories of the white folks, anything to make a buck. And so with time he became a very willful person.  He felt that life owed him much more that it had given him and so he set off to achieve the highest goals.  He realised that, in order to achieve his ambitions, he ought to acquire an intimate understanding of the world and its peoples.  So he joined a pen pal club that the United Nations had set up for poor children like himself.  Soon the Khan had organised a vast network of friends in all the continents of the world.  He wrote to all of them asking about their lives, their countries, their hopes, their fears. With time he grew wiser and wiser.

One day, he received a letter from one of his pen friends.  Enclosed in that letter there was another letter which his pen friend had received from an unknown sender.  Although he understood very little of it, he had thought it funny so he was sending it to the Khan, to entertain him too.  The Khan read the strange enclosed letter with great interest.  Between the riddles and the abstract verses he read the mysteries of the Cosmos unfolding before his eyes. His life was changed forevermore.  He understood everything at once.  He became a cult leader.

By the time Eliah had grown into a worldwide TV star, the Khan had managed to organise his first cult centre.  There he grouped his followers, mostly old pen pals, and talked to them about the glory and the infinite power of the Cosmic Mind. In his spare time, when his students were busy meditating according to his instructions, the Khan watched satellite television.  Faithful to his foremost maxim, the deep comprehension of the world and its peoples was the key to true power.  Satellite TV was a window to the world, an eye in the mighty sky watching over the globe, the Khan’s eye.  Thus he came to encounter Eliah.  Through the eye in the sky.  The Khan saw through Eliah’s loneliness when everyone else simply enjoyed his shows.  He send his faithful to meet him and present him with the cult’s doctrines.  And then he went to meet him in person.

No-one knows what the two men said to each other during the long hours that they spend together.  One may speculate, by benefit of hindsight, that Khan presented Eliah with the inner teachings of his cult.  He must have told him about the great invention that could change the fate of the World and the enormous power that it could unleash.  The energy problem could have been solved forever.  So could starvation, the greenhouse effect, the ozone hole, viral diseases, idiocy and all the rest of the terrible ailments that tormented mankind and our poor planet for millennia. The invention, a “gift of the Cosmic Mind” – as the Khan described his enlightenment experience he had with the strange letter that changed his life –  could affect the climate on a global scale.  It could re-program the earth’s biosphere at will, control the environment, the harvests, the migration of birds and whales, in fact it could control the whole of our planet’s Life.  The Khan named his invention the “Cloudbuster”.  He must have then told Eliah of the complexity and cost of his invention and how he could use his help.  When their discussion was over, Eliah was a changed person.  For the first time in his life he understood what he was missing until then: a purpose.  But now had one he: to help the Khan built the “Cloudbuster” and save the World.  Eliah became a cult member, the most prominent and loyal one of all. The Khan’s fortune, quite predictably, also changed for the better.

III

 Eliah trusted all his possessions to the Khan in order to begin the construction of the Cloudbuster. But Eliah’s money was not enough.  More, very much more, was needed to pay for the scientists, the engineers, the labs, the raw materials and the rest of the infrastructure that could realise the invention.  So Eliah used his power over the television networks to come up with the resources.  He made the Khan’s cult known to millions around the world who came and paid their fees for the Teacher’s teachings.  Throughout that period, the “Cloudbuster” project was kept secret.  But the Khan did not need to reveal it to everyone in order to obtain followers.  His promise of telepathic powers, and happiness for ever after were enough to do the trick.  Money poured in from every corner of the globe.  Soon enough a prototype Cloudbuster was put together and was ready for the test.

During that time, a deadly little war was taking place on a rocky peninsula, somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere.  People of the same blood, torn apart by religious differences, had made it their purpose to exterminate each other. So they took up arms and the fratricide was on. Television had a ball.  Every night, all across the world there would be vivid pictures of original mayhem, of mutilated bodies, of burned cities, of maimed children.  Dinner tables in every household were showered daily with scenes of horror.  Until many “powerful nations” decided that that little but deadly war had started to really disturb their peoples’ digestion. So they came together and resolved to put an end to it.  They went and tried, in vain, to reason with the opponents who, unfortunately had already too much blood in their hands to end the slaughter. So the “powerful nations” decided to bomb them all and thus put an end to that hideous television show of a war.

Eliah was one of the TV personalities that covered most of the happenings in that war.  This was not by chance but under direct orders from the Khan.  The war offered a first class opportunity for the testing of the prototype Cloudbuster.  Cult faithful, disguised as camera crews, managed to infiltrate the teams of international journalists, sneaking along the prototype Cloudbuster, right to the warzone.  As the allied airforce was warming its jet engines to begin the bombing, Eliah turned on the Cloudbuster. The results were stunning.  The weather changed rapidly.  Thick clouds appeared from nowhere and amassed themselves over the warzone.  The sun disappeared and so did the bombing targets. The thick clouds stayed over the war-torn peninsula for days, preventing the allied airforce from executing their air raids.  The weather satellites of the world had gone crazy, and so did all the weather-forecast people.  No-one was able to explain that phenomenon.  No-one except Eliah and the Khan who saw their vision taking shape.

Several years passed since then.  Eliah became more and more involved in the Khan’s cult. Until the inevitable end beckoned.  This happened when, several members of the cult were arrested by the police for trying to put a bomb in one of the major world banking organisations.  It was all part of the Khan’s master plan.  The established financial system of exploitation had to be destroyed so that a new order of things under the protection of the Cloudbuster could take form. The police did not agree with the plan.  Neither did the Courts.  The Khan’s cult was outlawed and government investigators from around the world begun hunting down its members.  The Khan was arrested and imprisoned and so did most of the principal cult members.  Eliah’s stardom came to an abrupt end. His shows were canceled. But this was something that Eliah had been preparing for. As soon as the bomb case became known he packed his bags and quickly disappeared to the secret base of the cult, somewhere deep in the Australian desert.  There, the Khan and his followers were keeping the full version of the Cloudbuster, ready for Doomsday.

Eliah arrived at the base too late to save the day.  The Police were already there, waiting for him.  The Army had sealed the area and experts for various secret agencies were gathering around the sect’s base to study the mysterious device.  Several days after his arrest, Eliah was being driven by a police van to the Court Prison.  It was late in the evening.  The court case was nearing its end.  There was little hope for Eliah.  The jury had more or less decided the case. Witnesses were describing the terrible methods by which the Khan indoctrinated his followers and controlled their private lives.  It was only a matter of hours before they would send Eliah to jail for the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, at the desert outpost, scientists had started taking the Cloudbuster apart eager to reveal its secrets, when a fireball came crashing from the sky.  All area around the Khan’s secret base was hit and set alight. It was like an explosion of a nuclear bomb and the seismic waves were felt as far as Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.  The cult’s base was completely destroyed and everybody who was there at the time perished.  A crater was left gaping at the very place where the Khan had installed his mighty invention. A huge cloud of dust rose from the crater of the crash.  The wind blew the cloud hundreds of miles away, over a city during a thunderstorm, the same city where the police van was now carrying Eliah to the Court Prison.  The rain poured down onto the streets carrying with it the extraterrestrial dust from the fallen meteorite.   The streets became slippery.  A passing car driver, losing control, fell onto the van.  Eliah died in the crash.  A woman who happened to walk by saw what happened and went into a shock.  When she recovered a few hours later in the hospital she was feeling a strange impulse to pick up the telephone directory and write letters, thousand of letters to everybody, to people she never knew before, using convoluted verses, riddles, proverbs and quotes from philosophers and poets no-one had ever heard about..