Share the Wine
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Headquarters of the United Nations
New York, United States of America
November 15th 1953

"Fuck them! Fuck them all!"

The voice of the Pr. Patrick V. Silverstein thundered across the whole building as he was hurtled down the stairs, furious. His assistant, Louisa Karlfeldt, was having a hard time keeping up with him in her heels, while keeping the mass of papers in place on her clipboard.

"Professor, the Global Occult Coalition is the future of world paranormal politics. Our organization cannot afford not to be among the Council of 108…"

"A parody! A grotesque parody!" hollered the professor, jerking open the gates of the headquarters, his cheeks turning pink in the cold air of the wintry exterior.

"They’re pursuing the same goals as us," added Louisa.

She bumped into the professor, who, hearing those words, stopped abruptly and turned to face her.

A file concerning the Soviet advancement in thaumaturgic weaponry came off the clipboard and fell silently in the snow.

Louisa felt the tears coming in her eyes.

The anger of Silverstein became surprisingly calm. Like a red-hot iron becoming white hot, he had surpassed the stage of externalized and devastating wrath. He was now in a quiet and composed fury, sharp, piercing and even more terrifying because one could see behind it the shadow of imitless determination, the shape of a mad hatred.

"We have nothing in common. They pretend to be neutralizing parathreaths and destroying Singularities. But what’s their Council of 108, eh? What is it?!"

He lowered his voice. Some things couldn’t be said loud and clear in public, not even in the heat of anger.

"The Bavarian Illuminati? The Servants of the Silicon Nornir? The New Round Table? That’s their council of specialists?! A bunch of clowns in long robes, with even longer titles. They pretend to be important, because their orders were created long ago, and they have a few dusty books that are vaguely useful. Hah! The Coalition! They pretend to be protecting the world from anomalous threats, but they shelter every mystic claiming more than ten years experience!"

They both walked a few minutes in silence on the icy sidewalks of New York. Pr. Silverstein’s private apartments were only blocks away, and the simple thought of the fireplace in this weather was enough to ease the minds.

"Still, they obtain results."

"Results. Results according to what, Louisa? They seize and destroy Singularities, good. They stop illegal network traffic and, above all, prepare for World War Three. They clearly don’t have the same success criteria than SAPPHIRE. They clearly don’t have the right criteria. They try to protect Humanity from Singularities. We try to protect Humanity from itself."

He opened the door of his building and courteously invited Louisa to enter first, before calling the lift. His status of scientific eminence in the field of occult quantic physics came with a non-negligible income and a most luxurious apartment on the top floor, overlooking Manhattan. The perfect place to enrage in peace.

"The LaVeyens were on your side," mentioned Louisa while pushing the button of the last floor.
The grid closed itself and the lift elevated gently.

"Ah! The LaVeyens. Yes, and the Representatives of Hidden Minorities as well. And the Parapsychic Consultants. And the New Age of Enlightenment. Those who want the barrier between the religious and the profane to fall. They want the anomalous to be integrated in the normality. Utopians…"

"Morons," he concluded, as a ding was heard and the door of the lift opened.

"They laugh at us, Louisa," continued the professor, while searching for his keys. "We told them that we wanted to end religion. Permanently. And they laughed at us. According to them, our world built itself around faith. We can’t tear the social fabric."

"So, according to them, we can kill God, but it’s forbidden to touch religion…" whispered his assistant.

"That’s a good summary. And they don’t realize that the hand of a man guided by superstition does more damage everyday than a divine hand striking bystanders with a thunderbolt at random, or turning cities into salt for fun. The Coalition is blind, Louisa. They believe they fight a disease, but they've caught it themselves. They're blind to our rationalism."

Silverstein put his coat soaking with melted snow on the rack, and invited Louisa to do the same.

"I’m going to order SAPPHIRE to withdraw from the Council of 108", explained the professor calmly, while sitting and pouring a glass of cognac for himself. "I’m sure that a multitude of small Tibetan sects are craving to get in, they won’t have a problem to find a replacement. Make sure to communicate the news to our Lodges in Paris, London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Barcelona. They’ll pass the word to the secondary lodges."

"Back to being independent then, sir?"

"Like the blessed time of SAPPHIRE’s formation. The funding from the UN might be missed, of course, but if others can manage it, we can too. Humanity needs us."

"The others, sir?"

"Sit down, please. Of course, the others. All the independent organizations about which the Coalition worry so much, you know. The Serpent’s Hand, OBSKURA, the west-coast para-mafia, the SCP…"

"I think we have to say the SCP Foundation, sir."

"Good for them. It’s unfortunate that they refuse to destroy the Singularities. Despite all the brilliant minds working there, they seem determined to keep stacking them up until they blow up."

"I understood that some of our members were working there, sir."

"I see you’re learning fast," noticed Silverstein, while his crystal glass was filled with another belt of cognac. "You’ve only been a member of SAPPHIRE for two weeks, and you’re drinking my words like I drink this… Oh, I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t offer you anything to drink. The force of habit, you see. The little things we do when we get back home. You’ll have?"

"A shot of Porto, if you have any," conceded his assistant.

"I have everything," said Silverstein, rising from his leather armchair to head over to his luxurious bar. "So, we were talking about Science. The only true virtue. The people at the Foundation SCP are certainly fond of it, even if they’re doing it wrong with all their tests and safes. What the world needs is the eradication of Singularities to make way for the true Science, immutable and universal. And yes, we’re well informed about their doing, given that a lot of our adherents work there undercover. We keep ourselves informed about their comings and goings, for the moment. About relics, in particular. And we borrow some of their knowledge about the less… common religious groups, let's say."

He went back to his chair with a Porto glass, the fitting bottle and a box of cigars.

"For the moment, of course. The day will come when they’ll have to be overthrown, and when all the Singularities they store will go back into the void… or, more carefully, until the day we borrow some of their little discoveries to put them to better use. Toppling Christianity, perhaps. Look, for example…"

Silverstein opened the cigar box and showed its content to Louisa.

It definitely didn’t contain cigars.

"A… sponge?" she noted, laconically.

"A sponge. A very old sponge. A relic. The Holy Sponge!" exclaimed Silverstein, taking it from the box and holding it in his hand.

"The sponge, soaked with the vinegar used to quench the thirst of Christ himself during the Crucifixion, if we believe the texts. They're bullshit, of course, but the sponge is real. It’s one of the roots of the evil, one of the Singularities, like the Grail or the Holy Lance, from which the New Testament came from. And look…"

He squeezed the Singularity, and a pale liquid ran down his forearm.

"It never dries. In two thousand years, the posca which imbued it never went away. Because yes, we say ‘vinegar’, but it’s been chemically proven that it’s more of a very bitter wine. But that’s not all! Our researchers from the Lodge of Brussels believe that the myth of water turning into wine may come from this sponge. Because, you see, when you squeeze the sponge, focus on any other liquid in sight, then release the pressure on the sponge, the targeted liquid will be instantly turned in posca. Like, for example…"

His eyes went on the glass of cognac.

"…hum, no. Let’s say your cerebrospinal fluid instead."

The hand of the professor opened, letting the sponge regain its size.
Louisa took her head in her hands while whining weakly. It was like her braincase was crushed by a masher. Her spirit too. Everything was getting blurred.

"Yes, I know, it’s never pleasant. Your brain is now bathing in alcohol. Or vinegar, that’s up to you, you’re the victim after all. The density of the liquid is different, its composition is starting to attack your brain cells… but slowly. No, what’s really lethal is that it’s not apt to receive the waste your brain produces anymore and it blocks the circulation of your neurotransmitters. The worst hangover of your life, I’m afraid."

"A murder in this fashion is very practical. Firstly, because it’s much more subtle than changing, let’s say, your blood. I can’t imagine what coroner will inspect your meninges to find the cause of your death. Secondly, because it’s a clean and slow death. You’ll start by having a meningitis, but you won’t feel the pain, don’t worry. Alcohol is a formidable anaesthetic. You’ll stay conscious for… about a minute."

"That gives me just enough time to clarify some things. No counterintelligence with us. We’ll have a lot to do after our separation from the GOC. And they probably won’t like us leaving them to return to our old terrorist ways. They might take… sanctions against us. We will have to stay mobile, or well hidden. We will need to be subtle and efficient. Lightning fast, like when a jeweler gets his unprotected eye pierced by a sliver from his own gemstone. And the Global Occult Coalition is without doubt the jeweler who found us rough and made us sharper, shinier than ever."

"In short, we’ll have a lot to do."
"We don’t need infiltrates from the SCP Foundation in our way."

< 1943 | 1953 | 1963 >

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