The book floated around the family house for generations. That was until his father pulled the beaten thing out of the bookcase. The title must've interested them. Or it could've been the author's name. No one considered the time and place. For before the Purple Jihad, a long lost tomb of the Julio-Claudians was opened in the Eternal City of Rome, and revisionism was all the rage.
On the 22nd of October, the book was given to a newborn. Not because the boy looked like a singer. He’d grow up to be a drummer.
The church in Rome called the historian the Mad Arab in his time. The maddest of his works was an apologist history about the Roman emperor who fiddled while Rome burned. Among the Mad Arab's proposals was a most controversial idea. When the fires started in Rome, the Mad Arab said, the Christians, in the apocalyptic fervor, fantasized about the arrival of the End Times. When they saw fire, they saw Armageddon. So they threw gasoline on the inferno.
It was not a lesson that was easily lost on the boy who read that book.
Andrew grew up during times that his favorite sci-fi writer with the unfortunate name of ‘dick’ would’ve said was California's 'Roman period.' Andrew was quick to recognize his place. In a California organized into a commonwealth of six independent American states, there was nowhere else but down. In other words, a Statue-of-Liberty-sticking-out-of-the-sand moment.
While mothers in the suburbs followed the fads of buried ancestor mask kits, Andrew played games on the playgrounds, ones that conveniently morphed into the mystery youth sects of the age.
Was the 'Cult of the Fly' born of that impulse?
Perhaps. The book under his arm lent some support to his convictions. For he would go on to believe a rottenness sprung from the root of Judeo-Christianity.
Herein lay the rub.
The little boy games marked by six-hundred and sixty-six turned into the studded pageantry of denim-and-patches. And when the barricades and the bombs turned into the march of armies called Vercingetorix or the Volition, the officer corps of the rebellion tapped into the imagery and belief systems of the great archaic revival.
Andrew carried many books into battle. Among them, none like more precious than the Beast. After the forces of the state were met with arms, he gave orders to his soldiers -- his Baal Lieutenants. Rome burned.
The auguries of justice awaited him. To hear him confess his role in the crimes of the war, a wake of melted slag from warring engines and the ruination of armies. Awake he was indignant. His sleeping mind knew better, and he slumbered, as the drugs to combat the psychosis of holy war lost their power.
He dreamt of his father’s library. The books in the study. Picture books of cloven-hoofed usurpers transformed into printed words, right before his eyes. When he read them aloud, he screamed for lost friends, loves….
He awoke in the capital city of the revolutionaries, who gave him a mark.
He lived the rest of his days as a war criminal. Even his daughter abandoned his body in the soon-to-be atomic funeral of New Constantinople. But even without a gravestone, his memory galvanized his family.
Interest in the fallen House of Baal Zavuv would lead to Operation Rosebud, an excavation of the neo-pagan command center in the salt flats. Inside, they found the buried belongings of General Andrew Clare, scapegoat for the Battle of Salt Lake City.
A plague of flies infested the continent that year.