New York City
—the carriage stopped suddenly. A voice called out:
“John Edmund Carter?”
“I am he.”
“I extend an invitation to you,” the voice said: “Tonight, at the here-written address,” as a hand shot out holding an envelope.
“From whom?” I asked.
Shock. “Thane of the Sentinel, the Beacon, the Nation-State?”
“That must be a mistake. I write for the Daily Dagger, a socialist paper, and Mr Thane—”
“It is no mistake, sir.”
What could Charles Thane, publishing mogul, master of the yellow press, warmonger, railroad tycoon, millionaire, recluse, desire from me?
Before I could say a word, the carriage sped away, and I was left alone amongst the crowd.
I determined to find out.
The address at which I called was in Manhattan, but the door at which I stood, knocking, belonged to a house so gargantuan I wondered how it was I should have passed it countlessly without it impressing itself more strongly upon my memory.
A plaque read:
Right is he who convinces others, for he becomes the majority.
A manservant welcomed me. “Mr Thane is a great man,” he said. “In myriad ways. I trust, being summoned into his confidence, you shall honor his privacy.”
“Indeed,” I said.
He led me to a room with no windows and one wall covered by a crimson curtain, which presently opened, revealing a giant eye.
“Mr Thane sees you,” the servant said.
I stood speechless.
The pupil opened—
I was taken next to a room in which, framed upon the wall, hung a giant mouth. Mr Thane’s mouth.
“Good evening,” it said, as the manservant left us.
We made our introductions, after which Mr Thane said, “You no doubt believe me to be an evil man, yet nothing could be further from the truth. That is why I shall like you to work for me.”
“But I do not support war, slavery, gossip—”
“We are thus unified.”
“First, tell me, do they still call me an egomaniac, a man who desires to be God himself?”
I admitted it was true.
Yet the sight of his mouth; the surreality of this house, built seemingly as a skull for his colossal head…
“I am but a disciple,” he said.
He explained how he had had a body as other men, and how that body had atrophied as his mind expanded after hearing the voice of God.
“Sir, you enflame man’s basest passions!” I bursted out. “You cater to his worst instincts!”
“For a purpose, Mr Carter.”
“Are you familiar with the principles of photography?”
“Thus you comprehend how, from a negative, a positive is achieved. The same is true of our world. We are but God’s negative—an anti-Heaven—from which he shall in time create paradise after paradise!”
I drew back—
“Nothing promotes goodness as much as the deepening, the acceleration, of evil. Man is a beast, multiplying,” he thundered. “Solely through our destruction do we guarantee Elysium!”