Doc sat on a pile of rubble contemplating the ruin of WDOC, his pride and joy. Having fired all his deacons (except Larry, who was notoriously solid) he had reached a moment rare in his career: his next move would require some reflection.
Dull Sodder sat beside him munching some onion flavored doctrinal puffs. The blow to WDOC had meant funding for the Theme Park/Bible College was as unlikely as not ending a service at Doc Baptist Church with a long and torturous invitation. Now the question for young Dull was whether he would bail out on Doc or not. The whole episode with Dracula, while unknown to Doc, was quickly surmised by the sharp Dull who could cotton onto any evangelistic scheme faster than you could say “every-head-bowed-and-every-eye-closed.” But that would have to wait. Pastor Fell would be tied up with the camping season pretty soon, a daunting task even for such an one. Dull wondered about the youth pastor. There was something he couldn’t place his finger on and it made him uneasy. What was it?
“Bart,” Unk said. “Play the organ.”
“Very good sir,” replied Mortimer Bart, the butler and also an accomplished organist. “What will it be?”
“BWV 590, Bart”
“Indeed. I need to think.”
So the Butler began the stately music that always reminded Unk of the serene rotation of a space station. And the great mind of Unk began a journey of thought such as no language is capable of describing.
A long time afterward Unk woke from his slumbers like a sleeping giant, like a veritable cadre of intellectuals, like primordial dawn.
Kameldeergard. Kameldeergard! KAMELDEERGARD!! He roared soundlessly in his mind.
The echoes died away.
Unk leapt from the great organ chamber and bounded down the stairs of his ancestral hall three at a time. He burst through the front door and lunged across the heath toward the cliffs by the sea. It was dusk.
“Kameldeergard!” He called out across the waters or the troubled seas. The clouds hung low, the mist was creeping out of the river and surreptitiously moving to conceal a middle class neighborhood. The skies rumbled and the twilight became more deep as night came on. The lights of the kitchen of Unk’s ancestral hall shone cheerfully, unheeded, behind the crouching figure of Unk.
“Here’s your chili dogs, Little Rabbi,” Kat said. She had made supper and was serving the Little Rabbi and Bart. “Want fries with that? Unk always has curly fries with chili dogs.”
“Sure,” quoth the Little Rabbi, glib as ever. He was feeling fine. “Say, he’s not going to send me to Canada now that Kameldeergard is out of the bag, is he?”
“There is no telling,” Kat said ominously. “I have to go save the world. Tell Unk his chili dogs are in the toaster oven when he comes back. And, you can lock the place up,” she added looking at Bart, “Just leave the light on in the cellar. I’ll take the submarine.”
Kat departed. The Little Rabbi devoured his food in an offhand way that the meticulous Bart found irritating. Bart’s impassive face, however, betrayed nothing.
“Want to hear about the tank?” the Little Rabbi asked with his mouth full.
Bart stifled a wince and replied, “Indeed, sir.”
The Little Rabbi proceeded to tell a highly embellished tale that was loosely based on his experiences in the M1A2. He was getting to a part very unflattering to Unk when he noticed Unk had been standing in the doorway and began to stammer.
Unk proceeded to retrieve his chili dogs and devoured one pensively, staring at the Little Rabbi all the while. He chewed ominously, methodically.
“So,” he remarked, wiping his mouth with a cloth napkin, “to find Kameldeergard we got to find Van Til, eh? After all these years.”
2 Presuppositionalistic Places
April 17, 1987 is supposed by many to be the day of the death of Cornelius Van Til. The facts of the matter are quite otherwise, for Van Til escaped the clutches of death through an ideational trap door. Not that he minded the confines of his coffin; at last he had what he had worked for all his life: a little box in which to live. Besides, with a name like Cornelius, he was already pre-qualified to enter the ranks of the undead. One way or another he would have continued. But the actual way he found was the ideational trap door.
An ideational trap door allows the person who finds it to pass into the transcendental arrangement, a sort of corridor of otherwise unused space and time that can be found in the more flabby and decrepit sections of the universe (such as the solar or the swilli systems). A person may live very comfortably in the transcendental arrangement for all manner of things find their way there. They even have winter Olympics and prophecy conferences in the transcendental arrangement. The most curious thing that happened to Van Til during his time in the transcendental arrangement, of course, was that he met John Nelson Darby and became a Dispensationalist.
Unk couldn’t bring himself to do it. He looked at the little zip-lock bag full of ketchup and shuddered. It was simply too dangerous. And yet . . . he would have to find an ideational trap door in order to reach the transcendental arrangement.
“You’re not going to try the SA device, are you?” Kat asked.
“How does it work then?” The Little Rabbi wanted to know.
“Well, it isn’t entirely unpredictable, but very slippery,” Unk explained. “You see it assesses the situation by gathering all the statistics that are possible, and then creates exactly the most unexpected, given the entire situation as it has understood it by way of statistics.”
“I see what you mean about it being slippery,” the Little Rabbi observed.
“And what we need it to do is to open up an ideational trap door so that we can access the transcendental arrangement, so that we can get to Van Til,” Kat added.
“So we just need to figure out what sort of statistics it needs to create an ideational trap door?”
“Right, any ideational trap door in regular space-time will take you into the TA. They are just hard to come by for most people living outside of a coffin.”
“What about Mr. Dracula?”
“No,” Unk said, “he’s been through enough already. Besides, we’d have to go into the vault and actually climb into the coffin with him; you don’t want to do that. Now Mr. Dracula is a fine fellow when you meet him at an all-night diner, but I’m not sure any of us really want to be in the same coffin with him. I’ll take my chances with the SA.”
“The SA’s are known to be responsive to music,” Kat pointed out. “That’s how they trigger them at invitations.”
“Right!” Unk said, “that’s how it attacked me at Billy Goat Coffee: I was listening to Bach.”
“What kind of music will open an ideational trap door?” Kat mused.
“Not Bach,” Unk said.
“That’s easy ya’ll,” the Little Rabbi said grinning, “Rap.”
Unk gazed fixedly at the Little Rabbi with growing admiration. “I believe you’re right.”
“Real playa,” the Little Rabbi said nodding and making curt movements with his arms while twisting his hands into gestures pregnant with indiscernible significance.
Kat was bewildered. “How is this?”
“Well,” Unk said, “there are three elements to Rap music. A muffled thudding with rhythm that is not altogether indistinct, an electrical caterwauling like the sound of a tortured rat electronically distorted almost beyond recognition, and loud chanting in obscene doggerel that will never quite scan.”
“Does it have to be obscene?”
“Oh, ours won’t!” The Little Rabbi said cheerfully. “I WANT TO CHILL!/ I WANT TO CHILL!/ I WANT TO CHILL/ WITH CORNELIUS VAN TIL!”
“I still don’t see how an ideational trap door would be unexpected given the conditions you described,” Kat said. “I’d say any basic survival instinct would demand some means of escape.”
“But the statistics will be hosed, don’t you see?” Unk said. “The SA won’t know what is going on and the last thing anybody will expect will be an ideational trap door.”
“We’re going to need some bling-bling, yo!” quoth the the Little Rabbi thoughtfully.
Dear reader, I am a simple man. I could tell the rap scheme was bogus—yet I must chronicle honestly and the truth is that these our heroes are made of clay. They went for it, although Kat had misgivings. We now come to a very dark section in these chronicles, for the only thing that came of the rap scheme was that Unk went mad. We rejoin our heroes at the point where Unk’s madness becomes evident.
“You know,” Unk said, “presuppositionalism is ok.”
“Gasp!” said the Little Rabbi.
“Gasp!” said Kat.
“He’s a nutter, all right,” said C. S. Lewis. “Completely potty.”
“Lewis,” Unk said with utter scorn, “That’s all you know. You would bring goodness and use it as a third category against God!”
“Ever heard of Socrates, Lewis? Of Plato? Aristotle?”
“Hey!” interjected Vizzini the Sicilian, “That’s my line!”
“Where did he come from?” the Little Rabbi asked.
“It’s the SA device,” Kat shouted. “It’s still going. We have to put it back in the ketchup.”
When Unk heard about the SA device a look of cunning crossed his features. He leapt over to it and snatched it up, holding it aloft. He danced around the room laughing maniacally before heading out the door.
“Quick,” Kat said lunging after Unk. “He’s out of his mind, presuppositionalistic, and loose with the most fundamentalistic contraption ever invented.”
“Yeah,” the Little Rabbi panted as they raced after Unk, shedding the more cumbersome of the faux bling-bling. “And we got C. S. Lewis, Vizzini and another fellow who looks like John Nelson Darby back there to deal with.”
Dear reader, this narrative of the misdeeds of Unk in his madness is too painful to be recounted in any but the most cursory fashion. In brief, this is the summary of the damage: Having eluded pursuit he went to a shack in Montana from which he published six prolix and dreadfully tedious volumes showing that no Christianity existed from the death of Timothy till the times of John Knox. After this he went to the world championship of chess and disputed with the judges regarding the legitimacy of any unbeliever who borrowed from a theistic worldview in order to win a game. Then he started to sell blueprints of the SA device on eBay. And then, after six hours on the run, was captured. His mistake, of course, was to start selling online.
Kat put the SA device back in a bag filled with ketchup. Unk sat at the table eating macaroni and cheese villainously, with simpering looks. Lewis, Vizzini and Darby were having a Bible study at the other end of the table.
“Marry Nunkle,” quoth the Little Rabbi, “What can come of it?”
“Nothing,” Unk said.
“Nothing can come from nothing,” observeth the Little Rabbi. “Must thou not mend thy ideological place Nunkle?”
“Nay boy, the thick rotundity of the world will sooner be struck flat, the wind crack his cheeks.”
Then summoning all his wits the good Little Rabbi made the case for goodness, truth and beauty. With eloquent words and with cunning phrases, with careful arguments and with the most apt and illuminating similes and metaphors he conjured the fevered, insane mind of Unk back to health and wholeness. Thus did the Little Rabbi earn for himself, forever, a place in these chronicles, and he never more had to fear the wastes of Canada. Also, he received a plaque with the famous words of his conclusion inscribed – Nay Nunkle, nothing can come from nothing.
It was quite an occasion.
So they had a cake.
4 Dispensations in Space
“So how do we get to the transcendental arrangement?” Unk asked. They were all sitting around the table. The question was directed at Darby, who had just finished making dispensationalists of both Lewis and Vizzini.
“No problem,” Darby replied. “All you have to do is find the divisions in space, like finding dispensations in time. It helps, though, to have darkness. There is a pale, inconstant light that filters through the edges of the ideational trap doors, you just have to know what you’re looking for. There has to be one around here or the SA device wouldn’t have been able to bring us through like it did.”
They found the ideational trap door above the bathtub.
“Of course,” Unk said. “Very well hid, like a coffin.”
“How does it follow?” The Little Rabbi asked.
“Nobody goes in a coffin to look around. Nobody ever lingers in the bathroom in the dark either. The trap doors are perfectly concealed.”
Everybody was glad to notice that Unk’s brain was in top form so soon after his madness.
When the party climbed through the ideational trap door they found themselves looking at two very disagreeable old men.
“So you see, Corneeeliuuuus,” said one with a pronounced Slavic accent that lingered on the vowels in a most sinister way, “After that the people of South America will descend on Palestine in vehicles that are described very much like subways. Yeeees!”
“To think I wasted all my life on Presuppositionalism!”
“All these stories about oil crises in the middle east were fabricated by the president of the United States and the old-school dispensationalists. They are responsible for the high cost of gas today also,” the first continued. “Russia has gas, plenty of gas.”
“I wouldn’t call them ‘old-school’ Vladimir,” Darby said, fingering the hilt of the six shooter at his side.
Vladimir Count Dracula rose to his full height and regarded Darby with scorn.
“You know nothing of dispensationalism, Nelson. Everybody still thinks you invented it when, in fact, you learned it all from me. Do not give me the argument!”
Darby cringed. It was true, he had wandered into Transylvania during his early years and found the castle of the vampire. That the old vampire had not sucked his blood probably had not a little to do with Darby’s personality. They had gotten along well enough for the count to instruct Darby in the rudiments of dispensationalism, to which Darby devoted his life.
When all had been introduced and sat down on the sectional couches (the transcendental arrangement, among other peculiarities, is furnished mostly with sectional couches arranged in very long strings that snake through the caverns and passages) they got down to business.
Unk turned to Van Til. “We’re after Kameldeergard. Our sources of information lead us to think you can help us find the location.”
“Not Kameldeergard!” Van Til said blanching.
“I’m afraid so. The situation down there is out of control. We need to get to Kameldeergard and you know where she is.”
“Look,” Van Til said, “Kameldeerguard can’t be disturbed. It took too long to get her out of here to begin with. We can’t have her getting loose again. Look what happened the last time they tried to pack her off.”
“Well,” Unk said, “When they put you on the job we knew they were bringing in the heavy artillery. Still, we must see her.”
Unk looked around and then motioned Van Til aside. He whispered something to him. Van Til’s features ceased registering grim suspicion and registered grim resignation.
“Ok, but I don’t like it.”
“You’re going to do it, Corneeeliuuuus?”
Van Til didn’t answer. He got up and everybody followed him. He crossed through to a large cave from which a green, a magenta, and a pale violet string of couches led to several tunnels. He chose the pale violet (the count muttered something inaudible to the rest) and led them along till he came to its end.
“Watch out for the daylight, Vladimir.” He said. The count moved back and held up his cape, peering over it. Van Til got up on a table and opened an ideational trap door.
High in the Himalayas there is a wooden monastery. The building sits on the edge of a sheer cliff, in defiance of every law of human civilization. The monastery is the residence of a troop of elite ninjas who guard a secret at the center of a circle in the great hall. The approach to the monastery is perilous. Winding up from the miserable villages of the peasants below, the road is always under assault of bitter winds, frequent rain, cruel sleet, treacherous ice and plain snow.
Having just delivered provisions to the high cook, an undistinguished train of yaks made their way down the treacherous, winding path. Although there was a drizzle, the peasants who drove the yaks were feeling fine and overconfident, for their pockets were full of money.
They drove the yaks quicker than the yaks wanted to go, and, unfortunately, quicker than they should have driven the yaks. First one yak slipped and knocked the next one down. After that the whole string of yaks slid, teetered, and began to pass over the edge of the cliff, one pulling the next over by the rope with which they were joined in order to prevent one of them falling to his death should any, missing his step, plunge over the side.
Stupid, stupid peasants.
Nevertheless, the yaks found the sensation of falling quite interesting. Three of them actually relished it and went out of this life with a greater satisfaction than yaks usually achieve in this world. Two of the yaks had stupid peasants on them screaming all the way down, and these yaks found the event entirely dissatisfying from beginning to end. The last yak, however, never made it to the bottom. The rope was frayed, you see, for he was the last over the cliff. He was not so much pulled over the edge either, for the cord gave way. But his fall was inevitable because the cord gave out to late to prevent him going over by sheer inertia. Of course, this is not what prevented his arriving at the bottom with the rest.
So far, he had lived a happy life as a yak. He did not have a name but that did not bother him because he never realized that a yak might have a name. He liked Tibet for the simple reason that he had never been anywhere else and did not know about places like Ireland or Vancouver. But he was about to enter a greater realm of possibility; for this yak fell through an ideational trap door, as it happened, and crushed the life out of Cornelius Van Til.
“Stupid yak!” the Count shouted. “I knew this was a bad idea.”
The yak had rolled onto the couch and lay there looking at them and blinking. For all that it was soaked, it was having a good time.
The rain began to wash Van Til away. Kat coaxed the Yak back onto its feet and then climbed on its back to get out the trap door. Unk and the Little Rabbi followed. The rest of them decided to stay with the Count, who could not go out into the light.
“So passes Cornelius Van Til,” Unk observed to the Rabbi. “But his life was not without purpose, as we now know the way.”
Outside, Kat had found the treacherous path that led up to the monastery. They hurried along it as quickly as they dared. When they got to the top it was almost dark., and they found the monastery dark and silent. They also found the door locked.
“This is it,” Unk said. He looked at Kat, she checked her guns and nodded. He looked at the Little Rabbi, who was the backup in case the Ninjas had invitation music. The Little Rabbi turned off his ears and nodded.
Effortlessly, Unk bashed down the door and they walked through the lobby. Ninjas started pouring out of every opening, and Kat started firing. The actions that Unk then took are hard to describe: he moved so swiftly it was all a blur. The Little Rabbi moved forward through the rising piles of spent Ninjas.
On the other side of the lobby, Unk effortlessly bashed in the reinforced titanium doors to the main hall of the monastery. The hall was swarming with Ninjas.
Abruptly, the Ninjas all lined up and started to sing “Just as I Am.” Unk fell to the ground paralyzed; Kat’s arms felt like lead, she dropped the guns. It was up to the Little Rabbi now. He faced the choir of Ninjas who were all carrying on like they were George Beverly Shea.
6 Dead End
The wily Little Rabbi was not one to travel without provision. In the inner lining of his coat he always carried certain amenities without which life might become intolerable. He had a stock of Earl Grey tea, some beef jerky, rice and beans, waterproof matches, a mile of duct tape and, of course, sugar, oregano, crushed basil, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. It was this last that came to his mind at the moment that the Ninja choir so fiendishly repelled the invasion. Feigning (just like he used to fake being sick when he was a kid) the same weakness that had quickly overpowered Unk and was gradually overpowering Kat, the Little Rabbi fell to the ground all curled up. That way nobody would see him whip out his pocket knife and made a careful incision in the lining of his coat. A stream of pepper poured out into his cupped hand. He deliberated, then he made the sacrifice and also retrieved his supply of cayenne pepper, hesitating because it might be a waste to fling it on unappreciating Ninjas.
He lay there waiting for the stanza to end so that the choir would be at the point of taking a deep breath. In one fluid movement he rose and distributed the mixed pepper in the air over the unsuspecting Ninjas. They sucked the awful mix right into their lungs and immediately were rendered helpless in fits of sneezing, coughing and choking. They cried a river. Unk and Kat sprang forward and soon all the Ninjas were gagged and tied to the posts of the hall.
The Little Rabbi had turned on his ears after the Ninjas were gagged. Unk paused and then asked, “How did you know it was the end of the stanza?”
The Little Rabbi blinked. He looked amazed. “I’m not sure . . . how did you know I was waiting for the end of the stanza?”
They were deeply troubled.
“What is this place?” Kat said, turning slowly to look around the room again. But it did not appear to be anything more than a monastery in Tibet, perched on the edge of a cliff in defiance of every law of civilization . . . mostly.
Then Unk and the Little Rabbi both shrugged (although Kat did not notice this). Then the three of them approached the circle in the center of the hall. There was rectangular object there, covered with a dark cloth. Unk seized a corner of the cloth and pulled it away.
“Gasp!” Said the Little Rabbi.
“Gasp!” Said Kat.
Unk looked at the case with consternation. “The complete works of Charles G. Finney?”