Snow White and the 7 dwarves who was a prophet.
Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus was born in 1493 and lived until 1541. Paracelcus is today best known as a source frequently cited by homeopaths – which is quite ironic since Paracelsus was the exact opposite – he was in every sense that mattered the father of modern, scientific medicine. Paracelsus was known for demanding that medicine be based on observation of nature and experimental testing in a time when deeming such things to be of more value than ancient texts was considered extremely revolutionary. Indeed his chosen Latin name meant “Above Celsus” – Celsus having been one of the greatest of Roman doctor’s, often credited with inventing sutures . Calling yourself “above Celsus” in the 1500s was the ultimate arrogance – we would call it the essence of science – proving the great authority wrong.
Paracelsus, in other words, would have been rather disgusted by the people who cite his writing today – as they are doing the very same thing he spent his life fighting against. He is remembered among scientists and doctors for his phenomenal successes – among other things, he invented chemotherapy.
Not so widely known, and in fact widely (and deliberately) believed to be a myth is his discovery of the rather unique properties of a powder prepared from the root of a rare Alpine flower. Among the select few who know what those properties are, it is known as “Bombastium”.
* * * * * *
New York, Present Day
It was dark, a few small lines of sunlight penetrated rust holes in the high corrugated metal roof, stabbing through the darkness and painting small patches of yellow on the concrete floor. There were strange shapes around, old pieces of abandoned equipment painting monster shapes of black in the darkness, and in the middle of it all, on the cold hard floor – a girl. Her hands and ankles tied with cable-ties, her mouth gagged. A black eye testified that whoever had left her like this had been quite ready to get rough. She was barely conscious. A shifting shadow in the dark told her that her assailant was still moving around.
She heard him walking over to her, standing above her, and heard the sound of a pistol being cocked. She tensed up, sobbing through the gag, sure she was about to die. She heard the crack of the shot – and watched as the man’s brains sprayed out of his exploding head in a cloud of pinkish-gray splatter that rained down on her. He fell headlong over her – behind her gag she screamed and screamed.
Somebody yanked the body off of her. “Looks like I got here just in time” said a kindly voice, “come with me if you want to live”.
A pocket knife was clipped open, the cable-ties cut and the stranger helped her to her feet, and half carried her out. Helped her into a car and drove away with her. After everything, overwhelmed by the idea of still being alive… she fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.
When she woke she was lying on clean sheets under a white blanked. The same voice she’d heard earlier said: “You’re safe now, but there is much I need to tell you. If you’re feeling strong enough, much of what I must say will sound unbelievable Shaniqua, we can wait a while if you need more rest. I wish I could say as long as you want – but time is against us.”
“Who are you ? Who was that man? What did he want with me ?” – a million questions were dancing around Shaniqua Smith’s brain – but those three manage to get to her vocal cords first.
“That man was a hired assassin, paid to murder you – and make it look like a kidnapping gone wrong. Who I am… that’s a much longer story, but one I think I must tell you. My name is Sarah McCalister.”
“That name, it sounds very familiar”
“It would, I’m a best-selling author after all. I am also a crack shot – as you saw, and I am member of the secret order of the Bombastium Prophets. The latter two – are why you are still alive my dear.”
“This some sort of secret society for people who write children’s books ?”
“Not children’s books – fairy tales, there’s a difference, though it suits us that most people no longer know that. Let me start at the beginning. Just listen for now please.”
In 1536 a great doctor by the name of Paracelsus discovered that if you mixed a certain rare root with some other chemicals it produced a drug we now called Bombastium. Outside our halls it’s occasionally been closely replicated and deemed just another hallucinogen. But it’s a lot more than that. Today those few scientists who are among our membership and study it, use words like quantum superpositioning of the neural particles to try and explain it – Paracelsus of course hadn’t known words like that- he just knew what it did: it allowed you to see glimpses of the future. These glimpses were not the kind of made up stuff that we call fortune telling – they are exact, you can place the time and the people’s identities – because they are real. Of course, you often cannot fully understand them but that’s because they tend to be filled with technology not yet invented in the time of the viewer. Paracelsus realized this, and knew they had to be preserved so that people closer to the time of these prophesies could reinterpret them, understand them – and do something about them. In those days however, the Catholic church ruled all of Europe – fortune telling was a crime, and while it was widely practised it was absolutely impossible for somebody to do it, and record it, on the scale needed without being caught and likely executed for witch-craft.
So Paracelsus created a secret society – made up of a select group of people who would study the prophesies and then study them, passing them along over the years until they could be made sense off. But how to hide them all – so that they could never be found by anybody outside the society ?
Paracelsus and the other founders came up with a brilliant idea – they would hide the prophesies in plain sight. They created an intricate code where mythical beings represented various things – which could gradually expand as needed -and hid the prophesies in stories that featured these beings, the code is much more elaborate than that and each prophesy included the date, time, place and at least some names hidden in the plot, but some of it is simpler. The world came to know their fantastic stories as “fairy tales” and they became quite a hit, many non-members would write in similar styles – and this suited our purposes because only we could tell the prophesies from the mere stories – we had the list of people who have been, or are, members. Some of the early members included two brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm from Germany and a in the 1800′s a Dane called Hans Christian Anderson. Today they include me – though I cannot tell you the names of any other living members, but a recent one included J.R.R. Tolkien.
To give you an example, the code for a captain of industry is “dragon”. Those CEO types hoard money, dragons sleep on a hoard of treasure. CEO’s cause pollution – dragons filled the air with smoke. CEO’s have the power to fire people… so do dragons. In this manner we could sneak our prophesies through the centuries, and never would anybody know their true meaning.
What I am telling you now, is what we call a level 3 initiation. There are 4 levels of knowledge of our organisation. Level 1 is where almost the entire human race falls – knowing nothing of who we are or that there is anything more to these tales than mere flights of fancy. Level 2 is for those who are recruited to becoming possible members, a level 2 is given a very limited set of knowledge about us, and then monitored over several years – if they show the right commitment and dedication to keeping the secret, they may become members and reach level 4 – where you know all about us, and we keep no more secrets from you. Level 3 is for people like you. Special people.
“Why am I so special” Shaniqua interjected, there was a lot of disbelief in her eyes but she was trying to be polite to this woman who had, after all, recently saved her life.
Some prophesies have more than one possible outcome, and usually only one that is good – somebody important who has to live through it because the future with them is much better than without them. Something bad will happen to them – and we must help them. The code for people like that is “princess”. Whenever a princess appears in one of our fairy tales – it means somebody we must help survive the events encoded in the story. Most of the time – we work behind the scenes, very few of the real people who became our princesses ever know we exist. But in a rare few cases – somebody is so important to the future and the danger they face so incredibly grave that we must directly intervene, reveal who we are, and help them. The code for the society itself is “dwarf” – dwarves in our stories are actions we must take when the prophecy comes to pass – and there is a code which says that we can only succeed if we allow the princes to know who we are. The code for that… is the number 7.
“Wait… 7 dwarves ? You mean like Snow White ?”
Yes, you Shaniqua – are snow white. I am the seven dwarves. The one chosen to protect you now that the prophecy is happening.
“But I’m black ! “
It’s a code Shaniqua, there are half a dozen other hidden clues in the first paragraph alone – you weren’t hard to identify.
“I also don’t have a stepmother”.
Another code, stepmother merely means somebody with great power – and very evil intentions. Somebody wants you dead Shaniqua. As the prophecy predicted they started by sending a hired gun to ‘rip out your heart for them to eat’, and as the prophecy told me to – the seven dwarves were there to save you and hide you.
“So they are going to keep coming then ? Poison me ?”
I’ve told you all I can of the codes, more would betray my oath – but yes – they will know you were rescued, they will keep looking for you until we defeat them. My job is to make sure that doesn’t happen. To make sure you live through this. I know what’s coming – most of it anyway, I just wish I knew the identity of the stepmother here. Somebody who thought it would look believable to make it seem you died in a botched kidnapping – who felt that would allay suspicion from them is all I could determine so far. Unfortunately when the brothers first had this prophecy they could not see enough to determine the identity of whoever wants you dead. Do you have any idea Shaniqua ?
“I’m a 17 year old black girl from the Bronx, I live in a housing project full of crackheads. I got good grades but I won’t be able to go to college unless I manage to get a scholarship. People die in my ‘hood all the time, there isn’t usually much conspiracy around it.”
I know, you’re special though – something very important about your future, and somebody right now who really wants you dead and who will inadvertently derail that future unless we stop them. You don’t speak like a black girl from the Bronx though, no ebonics ?
“My mom was an activist during the civil rights movement, she wanted me to be able to speak like Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King Junior – she made sure I did, I can speak ebonics and I do on the street, but I can talk like you too.”
Good girl. Get some more rest Shaniqua. We should have a few more hours before things get hairy again. You should get some of your strength back.
“You know this whole fairy tale thing is fucking crazy right ? I’m grateful to you for saving me and all… but what the fuck ? You take drugs and make up stories and think they the future ? Whatever else I may be – I aint no Snow White.”
Sweetie, that’s exactly what every princess we’ve ever rescued has said, at least the ones who knew about us. You don’t have to believe me, I told you as much truth as I could because the prophecy told me that if I didn’t I would not be able to save you, that is very rare – most princesses never know we exist. You need to know this, I don’t know why – the prophecy doesn’t say why you have to live, only that you have to live and that the member who saves you have to tell you who we are and why we save you. I am guessing, you’re destined to be a future member, but that’s just an educated guess.
Right now, I don’t care if you believe me or if you think I’m insane or a junkie… I just need to keep you alive until the danger has passed. I’m going to do that or die trying. That much at least, you can rely on.
“Well, you have saved my life once… I guess… well I guess you deserve to be trusted – for a while at least.”
* * * * * *
“Esse you better start talking, I can do dis all day” said Hector Ramirez angrily, and swung again – the heavy sandbag smashed against Errol Darling’s face making a sickening crack as a tortured cheekbone finally cracked under the onslaught.
“I told you -I don’t know. I am just a hotel valet, paid to park cars.”
“You parked that mercedes, and it hasn’t been seen since. We want that car back, and you better give us something Esse or I will smash your skull with this thing… bit by bit. It aint a fun way to die you little nigger bitch.”
Errol’s head sagged.
“Okay, I parked a mercedes last night, I remember it because it was bright red – not many mercs are that colour, I just parked it and went back to the lobby for the next customer, handed the key to the front desk girl, Shaniqua, she works there after school.”
“You lying Esse” shouted Hector and the back made contact again, leaving a visible dent as the cheekbone cracked further. “We know the front desk girl and you were working together – we know you stole the car, we know you were after the stuff. We already got the girl, one of you is going to tell us what you did with the car – the other one is going to die.”
Errol wept, his plans were falling apart, so he did what scumbags always do when the wind turns – he threw an innocent person under the bus to try and save his own hide.
“Yes, fine, we worked together. We put the key under the wrong number – and had it picked up by the people who paid us. They’d told us which car and where.”
“Who was it ? Who paid you ?”
“That bastard Colombian son of a bitch.” said Ramirez, “we buy the stuff from him, he steals it back – we pay him and he sells it again. Fucking bitch – and you nigger – you small fry, you and that girl, you just thought easy score – helping him steal the car with the stuff he just sold me. You both dead. That’s what happens when you mess with me.”
Ramirez pulled a gun out, put it against the sobbing Error’s head – and pulled the trigger. Then he pulled out a cellphone and dialled a number.
“It was that bitch Saliviera – he stole his own stuff back. We gonna get some revenge. But the puta couldn’t have picked it up himself – he was upstairs in the room with me taking my money. He’d have sent a driver. We find that driver – we get the stuff back first, then we make Saliviera pay for double-crossing us. Find the fucker who killed Da Silva, find the girl, find out who the driver was – she is the only one who saw him – make her talk – hard and fast… and get my fucking stuff back ! “ he shouted.
As he slammed down the phone, the message got repeated among several street soldiers of the Ramirez cocaine ring, one of the largest distributors of crack cocaine in New York, the search was on, and it was only a matter of time before they found somebody who had seen the car Shaniqua had left in and tracked her down, none of them knew that the school girl who had worked the front desk had never known that Errol gave her the wrong tag for the Mercedes and that the man she handed the keys to – had not been the one who had brought the car to the hotel that night to conclude payment on a major drug deal.
* * * * * *
Shaniqua woke up again some time later, Sarah was shaking her awake. “Time’s up – I got a call just now. People asking about me – trying to track my car. Our enemies are on the move.”
“So what do we do now ? Run ?”
“Oh no – in fact, I had my friend get a sudden flash of memory – and tell the askers my address. We should have company very soon.”
“Why would you do that ?”
“I can’t hide you forever, the prophecy was clear on that. We’re going to have to fight. Snow White has to get visited by the evil stepmother… and the dwarves have to keep her alive. I’ve called in some friends, they are here already – we’re armed, and we’re locking this place down. When the bad guys show up – we’re taking them down, now we just need to keep you safe. You have to swear to me you will stay in this room. Don’t come out, no matter what. We’ll keep them from getting her.”
Twenty minutes later a number of cars parked in front of Sarah McCalisters suburban home in Westchester, just outside of New York City. A dozen Latino men, members of the Ramirez gang ran around the house then busted through the doors. As they did so, hails of gunfire greeted them in every room they entered. The people defending the house had taken cover positions, and were firing on surprised gang members in the open – it was a short and brutal fight, the police would later call it vigilant action by the neighbourhood watch in defending a famous author during a home invasion. It was complete and utter bullshit – but nobody was sad to see the Ramirez gang lose half it’s soldiers. One person had stayed in his car however, the gang leader is never in the firefight. Ramirez was waiting for his men.
Sarah MccCalister had not been in the firefight either. She was in the upstairs bedroom, and she was looking at Ramirez through scope of an expensive sniper rifle. When she pulled the trigger and his head exploded under the soft-point bullet, she knew that Shaniqua was safe now – the people who wanted her dead, were all dead themselves.
It was all over in a matter of minutes. With a smile of satisfaction she walked back to the room where Shaniqua was hiding, opened the door and went in. Shaniqua was lying on the floor, a pool of blood under her head. She checked and found a pulse, and breathing so she called one of her friends and they grabbed Shaniqua and loaded her in a car and rushed her to the hospital while the sound of sirens told them the police had been called by some neighbour hearing a lot of gunshots.
* * * * * *
Sarah McCalister sat in the waiting room, drinking horrible coffee out of a plastic cup. She’d spent hours in the police station as they dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s and then walked out uncharged. Her home had been invaded and she’d defended herself, along with the local neighbourhood watch. It was all perfectly legal and where there were some gray areas that story was one no jury would convict on.
Sometimes it was hard to do the right thing under the radar, but it helped when the bad guys were people the police were only too happy to see dead.
The doctor walked in, he was an Indian man in his early fourties. “You’re Miss McCalister ? You brought the girl in ?”
“Yes, how is she ?”
“I need to talk to her family.”
“I’ve contacted them, they are on their way.”
“Thank you, you saved her life – if she’d been here any later she would have bled to death.”
“She’s alive ? Thank God.”
“There’s bad news, the bullet that hit her missed her brain – but it ruptured her meninges, the protective sheet around the brain. She bled a lot from there, and her brain suffered some damage because with all that bleeding it couldn’t get enough oxygen. She’s in a coma.”
“Will she recover ? “
“It’s impossible to say – this kind of injury, some people recover, some never do, some do only after several years. But I think the odds are in her favour, for now at least, I have hope that she’ll wake up – eventually.”
“Thank you Doctor.”
They exchanged a last few pleasantries, and then the doctor left, knowing he would soon have to repeat the speech to Shaniqua’s family. Sarah McCalister walked to her car in silence, sat behind the wheel and finally spoke to herself.
“Fucking hell. I had really hoped I could avoid that part of the prophecy. A fucking stray bullet. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Sometimes I hate knowing the future.”
She shook her head a few times, then looked back toward the hospital. “Sleep it off kid, prophecy says Snow White wakes up eventually. You’re the most important princess of them all. Without you – there is no future at all. Sleep it off.”
Then she put the car in gear, and drove thoughtfully into the New York dawn after the busiest night of her life, and one of the most important nights in the history of the Society of the Bombastium Prophets.