Today, Lise Quintana and Kevin Sharp explore “Secret of the Guru,” by Kevin Bennett, submitted for Issue #10, Alice in Wonderland.
Before we stepped onto the stage—I was one of the cameramen for the tour—the Guru turned to me with a smile and said: “Keith, have you ever had union with a Starman?”
“A Starman,” he whispered, glancing through the curtain at the gathering crowd.
“I’m not gay,” I said.
“Well, that doesn’t matter; they’re not human. Have you ever had union with one?”
“…no, no I haven’t.”
The Guru laughed. “It is the most supernatural experience there is. The six fingers they have—”
A voice over a loudspeaker cut him off: “—introducing Professor Emeritus Albert Vladimir Kahn, the Guru of the Mind!” The crowd went wild.
“That’s us,” said the Guru.
I trained my camera on him as the curtain swept aside and we came out onto the stage; me in shadow, him in the spotlight.
The students of the auditorium stood, clapping madly. Cheers bounced around the space like toddlers in a playpen. The Guru raised his hands and smiled. The cheers got louder.
“Oh, thank you so much,” he said, still smiling, “No, really; it’s too much,” but they kept cheering and applauding.
Then, with a suddenness that nearly made me drop my camera, all sound quit as the Guru swiftly dropped his hands to his sides. On a pullout LCD to the left of the eyepiece I could see the other four views of the cameramen in the audience. On those little screens the Guru had a very serious face.
He held the pause, then fell into another smile.
I put my eye back to the camera and trained it on his profile—there was a man mixing all four takes together in the sound booth at the back of the auditorium; and they were being projected above and behind the Guru on a larger-than-life screen that stretched to the light-grid some eighty feet above.
The Guru spoke: “I’ve just used telekinesis. On every one of you. I sent a message with my mind by screwing my face up like this,” he made the sour expression, “and looking sternly at you. I silenced you with this swift movement of my arms—because I knew my larger-than-life image is contemporarily being projected above our heads on this massive screen,” he made a broad gesture. I saw the POV behind the Guru switch to me, so I zoomed in. Guru Kahn continued: “By doing two simple things I controlled every one of you.” He paused for effect, winking at me. The crowd laughed as Kahn’s doppelganger mimicked him on-screen. “Crowd hypnosis…it’s also a form of telekinesis, and telepathy. Now: I need a beautiful young female volunteer—and be aware, girls, I will touch you!”
Another chuckle took a lap around the auditorium.
A thousand young college girls raised their hands and squealed. I played my camera slowly over them. The Guru joked with his worshippers: “C’mon now, not one? Not a single solitary figure? Albeit a nice figure…” He made an hourglass with his hands.
The girls squealed louder.
The Guru put a finger to his mouth, cocked his hip, and pretended to select one of the young ladies as one might choose a bottle of wine. Finally he pointed at a redhead with green eyes: “You. You’re the prettiest girl in the room. Come on up, sweetheart,” The blushing girl moved from the third row to the aisle, and the guru began a pace: “I just gave you all a message that this young lady is beauty incarnate.” An excited murmur followed the redhead’s ascent to the stage. The Guru was smiling at her as he said: “Through my words, actions, and thoughts, I have affected all of you. Now…” by then she was beside the Guru. He took a microphone from a stand and gave it to her: “What’s your name, love?”
“G-Gillian,” she stuttered.
“G-Gillian, everybody. Applause!”
“I’m just telekinetic all over the place, ain’t I?” Another laugh.
I saw my camera was active again, so I moved around behind the couple to get them both in the shot. “Gillian,” said the Guru, and immediately kissed her full on the mouth.
The audience “ooohed” and laughed, the men cheering and clapping wildly. Gillian flinched a little and jumped back, putting a hand to her mouth as she blushed even redder.
“Mr. Kahn!” She squealed.
“I didn’t tell you how I was going to touch you, did I?”
“You’re probably a little offended, yes?”
“Well, if it had been one of the uglier professors, maybe,” the audience laughed.
The Guru smiled with them: “But you didn’t expect a fifty-year-old man to kiss you in front of a multitude, did you?”
Guru Kahn reached out quickly and tickled Gillian’s stomach. She jerked away with a yelp. The Guru moved in once more to tickle her, but halted at the last moment. She flinched anyway. He moved to kiss her, but again stopped at the last moment. She flinched at that, too.
“In seconds I’ve conditioned this young woman to act as I desire her to—I wanted her to flinch at my advances, so I kissed her and I tickled her—Gillian, sweetheart, thanks for coming up tonight, you can take your seat again, and I’ll take that,” he took the microphone from her. Gillian ran back to her seat, blushing and giggling. Her girlfriends squealed as she clambered over their legs. I followed her a moment with my camera. The Guru continued and the POV switched: “that, ladies and gentlemen, is all that is behind mind control. It’s easy—even humorous. But there’s more to it than just parlor tricks. We live in perpetual consciousness. As humankind we are self-aware. We think. We love. We feel. We, eventually, die. But for those scant seconds that are our lives, we know. Other people. Other things. And we affect everyone around us—from our conceptualization to our death—with our thoughts. Yet thought, that most essential part of our very being, cannot be measured.
“Yes, scientists can measure which parts of the brain are active, where blood is apportioned in the head, etcetera. But thought has no space, no width, no breadth—the only dimension a thought can occupy is the fourth… Time.”
The room was silent. I almost missed it when they dinged me to catch another angle of the Guru.
“Yet time itself is elusive as a thought! Is it real, or merely a cognitive placeholder? We see the effects of time; bodies get old, rot, and die—but when they do, where do the thoughts go…? Does anyone know?”
Several shouted answers. The Guru paced the stage, nodding.
“Somehow we understand time. And thought. But they are merely placeholders for our minds! Merely methods by which we understand this dimension…
“We live in a very strange place. No molecules touch. Stars go Nova. There’s a critter called a duck-billed platypus that has evolutionists and creationists befuddled the world over.”
I smirked and adjusted my camera. I knew a thing or two about “creationism”. Old Emmett Johnson, my history prof. back home, was a nut on the subject and always drilled into our heads scientific principles hidden in the Bible. I guess that’s the kind of stuff you’ll get, growing up in a small town.
My headset dinged, I adjusted the camera. The Guru was saying: “When I kissed Gillian, though I felt her supple sexy scarlet lips, we never actually came into contact. The atoms of her lips and mine never really touched… That’s a legally defensible position, guys.”
“Matter consists of molecules that never touch—and those molecules are comprised of…? Nothing. You all knew that, right? That everything around us—it’s essentially nothing. Are you beginning to see?” I panned across all the open, nodding faces. The Guru continued: “If everything is essentially nothing, then the movement of no-things with the mind shouldn’t be difficult. I’m talking telekinesis, folks. Keith, keep your fingers on the zoom button,” He made a finger-pistol at me. “All of you, in expectation of a miracle, will convince yourselves it happened! These are the seeds of telekinesis. We’ve thought about it wrong all our lives. It isn’t so difficult as clearing your mind, or eating the right food, or building a supercomputer—no, no, no! This universe—every atom, every molecule, every thought we have, or thing we do—it’s all illusory. This isn’t the real world. But it is our world, to manipulate as we please. When you realize the effort behind a thought is the same used to move physical objects, you will move them. When you see that my thoughts and yours are all part of the same thing; well, then you can control that thing.” The room was silent.
I pulled away from the camera’s eyepiece, glancing at Steve the deckhand who had his fingers through the belt loops in his stage-blacks. Is this supposed to be happening? I thought. He grinned at me: Wait for it, he seemed to say. “…ultimate proof,” Kahn was saying, “Gillian, remember me?”
Everyone could hear her nervous chuckle.
“Close your eyes and think of my lips, Gillian. Keith, get your camera on her. Bill, get another camera on me, split the screen—folks, remember when I kissed the sexiest girl in the room? Gillian, don’t fret now, honey. Just close your eyes, relax. Imagine how it felt for me to kiss you on this stage. Imagine doing it again—”
Gillian’s seat was empty. People stood from their chairs and gasped. Gillian’s girlfriends screamed—but there she was, on the stage, instantaneously, standing right next to the Guru.
“Open your eyes now, Gillian.”
She did. And she gasped, and she screamed, and she fainted.
The Guru motioned to some deckhands, and Steve behind me came from the wings, grabbed Gillian up under the arms, and escorted her off the stage. The Guru pursed his lips: “Telekinesis,” he said above the rising murmur, “telepathy. You’ve just seen it for yourselves. It is real.
“Through mutual need, want, and desire, we forced Gillian’s molecules from that spot to the one beside me. Just like when I move my hand and push molecules of air….it’s the same thing. We’re all telepathic and telekinetic; and will remain such until we die.” He was pacing again, meeting the eyes of thousands as I followed with my camera. “The ancients knew. To build their pyramids they moved tons of rock that cranes can’t lift to day. How else do you think they were built? UFOs?” He smiled. “Maybe. Or maybe we, like they, are kings and queens. Royalty whose thrones rest in our minds…only we’ve forgotten how to sit in them.”
* * *
We were on the tour bus again, heading to another city, another small town, another college campus. Roadies and techies alternated naps with marijuana as lines swept past on the empty road.
And I was in the back, sitting at a table with the Guru, him in a robe. “You never answered my question, Keith,” he said. “Have you had union…congress—have you banged a Starman?”
“I did answer. I told you no.”
“But for just a second you entertained the idea, didn’t you Keith?”
I shrugged. “I…did think about what you said—”
“Would you like to?”
“Have sex with a Starman?”
There was suddenly a coldness in the pit of my stomach.
The Guru stood, walked to the front of the bus: “Stop the bus. Stop right here!”
Some of the other cameramen raised eyebrows as the Guru passed in his red robe. Several roadies put down their smoking implements and cast stoned gazes on one another.
I stuttered: “Uh…I’m not sure—”
“Oh, don’t be a pussy. Everybody on this bus has met a Starman—isn’t that right, Mort?”
Mort the driver shrugged and nodded.
I swallowed. “Why…why me?”
“Because you’re new, Keith. I need to know you’re one of us. Now, c’mon…”
“I think you’ll be better for it.”
“With all due respect, sir, I don’t want to—”
“For Pete’s sake, Keith,” said Bill, who emerged from one of the bunks to my immediate left. “Just do what the man says and then we can all get some sleep.”
Nods and mutters of agreement resounded through the bus, and I was reminded of the auditorium.
“Come, Keith,” said the Guru. And despite myself, I felt my legs following him.
We were near a field of wheat somewhere in Kansas, and the guru led me off the bus and toward a barbed-wire fence. And he jumped over it, and turned back to me, and I followed. We walked in silence for a moment. “Where are we going—”
“Shh,” he cut me off.
After a moment I noticed the wheat wasn’t brushing against my legs anymore, but I could still hear it crunching underfoot—we were in a clearing of some kind, but the wheat was still beneath my…my feet. It was bent over. There was a smell like tin or aluminum, or some metal—and I realized we were standing in the middle of a…a crop circle?
The Guru smiled wryly at me. “Keith, have you ever heard of the Nephilim?”
“Nephilim?” The word did ring true, though it took seconds for me to remember—Emmett Johnson, my old history professor. That’s where I’d heard the name.
“Yes, Keith. Nephilim. The Sons of God—but that’s not the translation. The word actually means something more akin to ‘outcasts’, but that isn’t true either. ‘The Heroes of old’, as that arcane Bible puts it. Do you know what they are?”
I shook my head.
“Star Beings. The Starmen—They are the Greek gods; they are our gods, Keith. But not really. What they really are is…oh, it sounds so cheesy to say ‘ET’s, or ‘aliens’; what they are is beings. Beings that are a hybrid of man and extraterrestrial. Their fathers came down, and they took men and women, and they had union with them, and the result were the Nephilim.”
Does it make sense that I was beginning to fear the Guru at this point? See, the thing about the Guru—he’ll say crazy things, but he always backs them up. And he was looking right in my eyes. Strange, I could see his pupils—but it was dark, wasn’t it? Yes… I was curious about these “Nephilim.” Were they grey like all the ones in the movies? Or green? Did they have big eyes? And I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Then I felt the Guru’s hands on my shoulders. He said: “You want to meet them, don’t you?”
“You want to have congress with the Nephilim, don’t you? You want to see them, and their young, and their plan—you want to open your mind, don’t you Keith?”
They were his ideas; his plans. I found I couldn’t look away. I could think about nothing else. And I realized the light that let me see the Guru—it had to be coming from somewhere… Where was it coming from?
“Yes,” said the Guru.
And I looked up, and I could see it shimmering, miles above, moving slowly, and then faster—right over us. My heart began to pound. The Guru’s hands still held my shoulders. Now his eyes were huge, black, without pupils; his hair started to rise and float from his head, and tingle—I saw sparks.
I trembled and gasped: “You’re—you’re one of them—”
He laughed—and you know what? That almost saved me. Because he had me hypnotized, you see. And when he laughed, it was like a jolt of electricity. The hold broke, just for a split second, even as the spotlight descended from above and bathed the wheat in an eerie violet glow—
And I ran.
I could still hear him laughing, but damned if I wasn’t sprinting out of that field as fast as I could; and not to the bus, either. Toward a line of trees in the distance, maybe two hundred yards. I think I might have been crying; I don’t know—how can you know what’s going on in that kind of panic?
I just ran. I didn’t think about breathing. I didn’t think about stopping. I didn’t think about anything, I just ran—and I was making ground. But then thoughts began to flashback and my stride broke. Thoughts of my years in film school, and how this was my first real job doing what I’d studied for years, and how good the money was, and how fun the first few trips had been—see, they weren’t my thoughts! They were his, they were “its”, they were “theirs”, I don’t know. I felt like a fool as I ran from the man, his laughter chasing me across the field.
The tears didn’t make me feel foolish, my fear did. His stupid red bathrobe and the unlawful entry of two strangers into a man’s field didn’t make me feel foolish; my fear did. Being in the middle of Kansas at night with a crew of people I hardly knew who expected me to bang an alien—that seemed like where I should be! My heart was berating me for running away, but my head knew better. And as I thought that, I seemed to hear professor Emmett Johnson’s voice, giving one of the morals he always did at the end of class. That gravelly voice said: “The heart…”
What about the heart? What had he said—
I stumbled and regained myself—
“The heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it?”
…why was that, of all things, suddenly in my head?
There was another verse—that’s right. The Bible. He had actually forced us to read it to elucidate a particular argument—
And maybe it was this that gave me my next thought, because before I’d even made it fifty yards from the Guru, the lights were over me, and the strange thing about them was that they were entirely silent. There was no sound, only the wind. How could a vessel that size—the thing was twice as big as our tour bus! I couldn’t get another look at it because I ran—
It was over me. And I felt it, and the lights got brighter and brighter and brighter—unbearably bright, and I felt myself rising, and suddenly I was thirty feet off the ground, and my arms and legs were going like I was still running—and I could see the image of the crop-circle slowly come into focus, and it was some crazy space-lettering or something, and my mouth went on automatic and I yelled: “Jesus Christ!”
And the thing dropped me, can you believe it?
It dropped me from its beam, it dropped me from the air—I had to be about thirty feet above the ground when this happened, I don’t know. Anyhow, it dropped me!
And I hit so hard I went unconscious.
* * *
I awoke alone in the field.
“Hey! Drunk! Why dontcha getup an’ git the hell off my property!?”
I squinted. A man in overalls and nothing else pointed gun at me. “Wha—”
“I said git up an git the hell off my property, ‘fore I call a’ damn po-lice, come in here an’ take you out—”
“Sorry,” I started to say, but he cut me off:
“ ‘Sorry’ ain’t gon’ cut it, son. You sorry, you go unbend all my product, there. Now I got yer wallet, I got yer ID, and I’m keepin’ em, and I’m givin’ ‘em to the po-lice anyhow, but I want you the hell outta here ‘fore I do anything else, and yer damn lucky I don’ jest shoot ya’ now—”
“For bendin’ all my wheat an’ trespassin’, that’s what; now git the hell outta here!”
He grabbed me by the collar—I was still wearing my blacks from the seminar the previous night—and he lifted me to my feet and planted a shoe on my behind, and I suddenly found myself motivated.
So I hit the road, and I walked.
The farmer hadn’t been lying when he said he’d taken my ID—and my wallet and the sixty bucks I had in there.
It wasn’t long before officer Bennett pulled over beside me on the highway, and picked me up, and brought me here, and had me fill out this report—it isn’t my fault I left my cell-phone on the tour bus. I’ve given you the number—call it again. It’s 777-555-2769. I don’t know why nobody’s picked up on it yet.
And it isn’t my fault I’m not on the roster for the Guru, and I don’t know what all else is going on. I don’t remember any more of that night, and I don’t know why they haven’t come back for me; the aliens or the seminar group. I don’t know why the ship dropped me—maybe they really were “Nephilim”, and so they were fallen angels or something, and my profanity scared them off, I do not know.
I don’t know where they went, and I don’t know why the film school won’t acknowledge my attendance—but you can buy the tape of the last seminar, as soon as the Guru starts selling them online, or wherever. And he says my name, I tell you. You’ll see for yourself—I’ll bet the cameras even catch me in the background.
I can’t remember anything else. And I don’t want to. I want to go home.
Why won’t you let me out of this cell? What do you want from me? Sheriff Bennett keeps laughing in my face and calling me a liar, and then he’ll yell at me, and then he’ll offer me a cigarette, and then he’ll cuss at me some more—somebody ought to tell him that “good cop/bad cop” has to be played by two people.
I’d love to make something else up, but I can’t. You already know my name isn’t in any of the town records, and I don’t even know what town this is! So as far as I’m concerned—oh, look at that, here comes Bennett. And it looks like he’s got that farmer who woke me up with him. Hope he has my wallet. My ID’s in there—who’s that in red? …it’s the Guru. He can’t see m
The rest of the sentence is illegible, and neither the writer of this work nor “Sheriff Bennett” have ever been identified. While an obvious piece of libel against the esteemed Professor Emeritus Kahn, the discovery of these papers in the empty farmhouse of a one Michael Flatterstaff, who was known in his locality as a keeper of outlandish tall-tales regarding abduction and crop circles, makes these papers that much more mysterious and less reliable. They were discovered at least fifteen years after the passing of Mr. Flatterstaff, who, investigation has proven, was reliably documented as an illiterate.