The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil

By Jack Barrow

Chapter 2 - Elastic

Home xx More Articles


Friday night came around and, after finishing work, two of our heroes met up again in the ex-Council house in Masons Road. Clint brought the little bit descript Japanese car around and they started to load up with what they expected to need for the weekend.

With Clint’s help, Nigel lugged the large chest, painted with images from tarot cards, into the boot of the car. It was a tight fit as the boot already contained a substantial box, about half the size of the chest. This box was covered in a well worn imitation crocodile skin finish and was to Clint, what the large chest was to Nigel. The lid of Clint’s box bore a faded circular emblem with a small green creature complete with pointy ears and a smirking expression, for this had once been the box for a Goblin vacuum cleaner. However, it no longer contained a Goblin, as it now stored Clint’s magical equipment.

In these boxes, magicians store such things as a wand or three or four, a few athames (to the uninitiated: the magical knife), a disk or pentangle and a couple of cups or chalices. These are the basic magical weapons of a magician, and all three of our heroes had at least one of each. These so called magical weapons represent the four elements so beloved of readers of tarot, astrologers and other such scholars of the mysteries.

The wand represents the magician’s force of will and, therefore, symbolises the element fire. The athame represents the magician’s intellect and ability to reason, thus, symbolising the element air. The pentangle or disk symbolises the element earth, as it represents stability and material matters, while the chalice symbolises water, which is like the fluidity of our feelings and emotions.

Between them they also had other paraphernalia such as altar cloths, censers, candles and candle sticks, robes, cords for tying around their paunches and for hanging things on, as well as a multitude of miscellaneous bits and pieces. This kit comprised stuff they had collected over the years, some made by them, some bought at occult symposia or other events, some stolen from nameless sources and some even worse.

Nigel’s tarot painted chest also contained many papers. These were the records of the various magical groups and secret orders which some or all of them had been involved in over the years. Lately, they had found that they had become so prolific with their record keeping that they just had to start a filing system. The days of the old-fashioned grimoire or Book of Shadows were long gone for this trio. They now had files for this ritual and that, files for rituals pending, lists of things to do, miscellaneous files of rituals that didn’t fit in anywhere else, and even items designated with the mystical characters NTBCO.

It had occurred to them that, at some point, they could fall foul of some establishment witch-hunt. Should any magician’s equipment and records fall into the hands of the authorities they might just end up being accused of some heinous abuse or fetish. If it happened to them they were likely to be accused of the terrible and perverted crime of bureaucracy.

As they squeezed the boxes into the boot, Wayne came strolling around the corner with a carrier bag in one hand and his magical equipment under the other arm. Wayne was a bit more economic with his kit. Instead of a large heavy chest, he had gone for the travelling option, being the founder of the Secret Order Of Nomadic Magicians And Drinkers. The sum total of his magical equipment fitted rather cleverly into a violin case, and all without the use of any enchantments for extra-dimensional spaces or that sort of rigmarole.

In the carrier bag was something for the weekend, mainly consisting of a bottle of dark rum, a box of after dinner mints and various other intoxicants he had been able to lay his hands on.

After any necessary ablutions, they climbed into the little bit descript Japanese car and, turning out of Masons Road, drove along Wood Lane End. They passed The Banks where, except for at this very moment, there was an almost perpetual traffic jam, and turned right at the lights beneath the imposing edifice of the headquarters of the Dixons organisation.

Soon they were on the M1 motorway heading north. Next stop Blackpool, 220 miles away.

“So, does the old dude know we’re coming up?” asked Clint.

“I phoned him last night,” replied Wayne, “I suggested he tell Brenda we were planning a gentleman’s retreat for the weekend, saying we would drop in on him sometime.”

“How did he take that?” asked Nigel.

“He seemed quite happy. However, the questionable matter is how Brenda takes it,” replied Wayne as Clint pushed a cassette of collected rock classics into the player.

Something about evil in the air and thunder in the sky peppered phrases into the gaps in their conversation.

“Yeah, but it is a bit far to go for an impromptu cuppa,” suggested Nigel.

Wayne’s head began to nod to the music. “Exactly what are you suggesting? Do you think she will suspect something is amiss?” This seemed to be one of those moments when Wayne seemed to emphasise his RP accent.

A reference to being gone when the morning comes issued from the tape player.

“No man, not a thing,” injected Clint, nodding in time to the music, “How could she suspect anything with three master magicians descending for the weekend fully tooled up for a battle with the powers of darkness!”

The stereo spoke of being damned.

“Then he should socialise more, that way we might not have to visit him so often,” concluded Wayne.

“What do you mean socialise more?” said Nigel to Wayne. “When was the last time you visited him? God you are as bad as he is. I’ll tell you what. I swear your elastic’s getting shorter as the years go by.”

* * *

On the subject of elastic, for some years now The Three Hidden Masters, two from Hemel Hempstead and one from Bricket Wood, had cherished a theory about astral travel, and it goes a bit like this.

Many people talk about the way it is possible to leave one’s body and travel on the astral plane to visit other places while the practitioner’s body stays put. There is also an idea that there is a silver astral cord, which connects the astrally projected presence back to their body. However, there are differing ideas of how this works, and about whether it is possible to visit places that exist in reality. The question is always one of verification.

If you choose to examine the issue, the point is this. Let’s say you travel, or project, onto the astral plane and go around to the chip shop in Queen’s Square, which is a short hop from where two of our heroes live. There you see your friend Pete buying a chicken and mushroom pie and a portion of chips with a can of Coke. Quickly you return to your body and phone Pete up (assuming they haven’t yet invented mobile phones that work on the astral plane). Would it turn out that he had really been at the chip shop buying pie and chips once with a side order of Coke? In other words, do the things you witness while travelling on the astral plane really correspond with what, for the sake of argument, we have to call the real world? Furthermore, if this is the case, can horny single male magicians visit the bedrooms of girls they fancy and … well, let’s not get into all that just now. (Try to stop shivering girls. It’s never worked so far.)

This is a philosophical debate, which is a bit odd in itself, because the old pie and chips experiment is probably quite easy to set up, so it ought to have been resolved by now. However, none of our heroes had ever met anyone who had successfully identified anyone who had been buying pie and chips once, with or without a side order of Coke. On the few occasions when they had heard of someone who had tried this sort of experiment the results had been less than clear. For often, in such experiments, it turned out that the character Pete, who I have just made up for the purposes of this illustration, was in the habit of buying pie and chips on most nights. Thus, it would have been a good guess that he was going to be in the chip shop anyway.

Of course, a specialist in the philosophy of science, such as the Grumpy Wizard of the West, might suggest that this is all nonsense. You see, his perspective would suggest that the fictitious character, Pete, is likely to be so fat, having undoubtedly eaten all the pies, that he is the first person anyone would see when approaching the chip shop from either the astral plane or anywhere else. Actually, he wouldn’t say that, but what he might say is likely to be far less amusing.

What is really needed is something so unlikely, and easily verifiable, that there can be no mistake. So, imagine you astrally projected around to Queen’s Square—apparently so named because she opened it in her coronation year of 1952, though I don’t suppose she remembers—and found Fat Pete being arrested for having broken into the Post Office, to get some money to buy pie and chips, and then, during your astral vision, there was a reporter photographing the event for the local paper, which came out the following Thursday, and Fat Pete the Post Office burglar was all over the front page. Then, you might say that this was all so unlikely; that it had to be verifiable. In this case, you could go up to the Grumpy Wizard of the West and say “Ahhhaaaaaaaa!” But then again, he’s not known as the Grumpy Wizard of the West for nothing, and even then he might try to wriggle out of it. You see, the Grumpy Wizard of the West is one of those magicians who does not actually believe in magic.

Anyway, that’s the sort of idea the debate on astral travel may consist of when you talk to many magicians, witches, scholars of the mysteries and the like. Alternatively, there will be those who will resist all attempts at debate on such matters, and will never examine an issue in case they discover something they don’t like.

However, our heroes saw the old astral travel debate in a completely different way, for they had come up with another explanation. They had noticed that amongst their magician friends there was often an unbreakable bond to the place where they live. Usually, this bond would go deeper, to the point that it attaches them to a particular location in their home, namely a favourite chair often with a good view of the TV, known as the ‘god spot’.

The concept of the god spot, or more pointedly the concept of god hood, comes from the idea that magicians are considered to be the centre of their universe surrounded by a sea of possibilities. The magus commands the universe and those that inhabit it, in a way similar to that which the Christian God is said to command us. (Of course, all this talk of magic is okay but I’m sorry, I just can’t bring myself to believe in God!)

Now, The Three Hidden Masters, two from Hemel Hempstead and one from Bricket Wood, had this theory that the bond attaching the magician to his god spot was where the idea of the astral cord had come from, and any idea of astral travel was just a development of that concept. On the occasion when they had observed magicians abroad in the world, such as visiting friends far away, they had noticed that there seemed to be some sort of pull on the magician which seemed to tug him back towards home at the earliest possible opportunity.

After all this philosophising, and the odd bottle of dark rum, our heroes had concluded that the much-debated practice of astral travel, along with the idea of the silver cord, had come from this truth that they had observed. The travelling magician is attached by a length of silver elastic, which connects him to his god spot and, inevitably, returns him there before too much time has passed.

* * *

So, having resolved the mystery of astral travel our heroes progressed along the M1 to Junction 19, where they began the long haul up the M6. Picking up the Friday night rush towards the North, they drove through the expanse of Birmingham, in the heart of England’s Midlands, passing within sight of Fort Dunlop, the imposing edifice of the former headquarters and factory of the Dunlop Company. They passed through Spaghetti Junction, the once legendary interchange where, at the time when it was built with mass transport a largely new phenomenon, people feared that they might get carried off to destinations unknown simply by gazing for too long at a wrong turn. There has to be the possibility of a metaphor for a magical experience here but, as we need to get on to Blackpool or at least Knutsford, we will have to leave that one until the second or probably the third story in the series.

The traffic steadily increased and, with the onset of the evening darkness and rain, our heroes eventually passed through the Black Country, the Pottery’s and into the North. Eventually they approached Junction 19 of the M6 and the little bit descript Japanese car began to make some rather unfortunate noises.

Of course, a reader could be excused, at this point, for assuming that there is something intrinsic to this story about the nature of motorway junctions with the number 19, but that reader would be wrong. The truth of the matter, if there is such a thing as truth, is that I have already decided that the next part of our story would take place on this particular stretch of the M6. Therefore, it just so happened that it turned out to be just before Junction 19. You see, as has been said before, nothing holds intrinsic value, including Tuesday nights and motorway junctions with the designation 19. What might be concluded about all this Junction 19 nonsense is that it is an example of the interconnectedness of all things. Perhaps all motorway, freeway, and autobahn junctions with the designation 19 are in some cosmic way linked by a sort of interchange family relationship … err … or something.

However, the fact that Clint’s little bit descript Japanese car began to make unfortunate noises just as they arrived in the neighbourhood of Junction 19 is one piece of cosmic significance that completely escaped out heroes. The complaints of the engine mingled with the swish of the windscreen wipers, the wash of spray from passing vehicles in the darkness plus the gentle strains of a Hammond organ on the stereo which referred to being thrown into this world.

So, as they passed within a spit of a hamlet called Lower Peover—which should have been reason enough for this part of our story to take place in this location just because it’s a great name—they began to get alarmed at the sound of intermittent misfirings coming from the car.

Meanwhile the tape player told some girl that she had got to love her man.

“What was that?” asked Wayne with some concern in his voice.

“I don’t know,” replied Clint.

“Sounds like the engine,” added Nigel unhelpfully as they were told that the world depends on this girl whoever she is.

The traffic, by this time, had developed to that point where it was a continuous stream of close vehicles, not dissimilar to a liquid running through a pipe. If there was a difference, it was that a liquid isn’t made up of thousands of individual particles, each with its own agenda, mixed with a touch of insanity and a sprinkling of testosterone.

Revealing its secrets the stereo described riders on a storm.

The little bit descript Japanese particle amongst all the British, French, Italian, German, and other Far Eastern particles was currently in the outside lane, as it had been making good progress. But, at this point, it was beginning to slow. Passing under two bridges in rapid succession the now continuous rain stopped for fractions of a second with the shelter afforded seeming to emphasise just how bad the weather was. Through the rear view mirror, the lines of headlights, diffused by the droplets of rain on the rear window, merged into one large blur with the reflections on the road and spray from the tyres.

Apparently there was a dog without a bone and an actor out on loan but none of our heroes really understood this, probably as they didn’t happen to be on drugs at this point.

“Man, this is a bitch. I don’t want to get heavy, but think we’re loosing power,” Clint was obviously concerned.

The traffic was now beginning to pass them slowly on the two lanes between them and the hard shoulder, making it difficult to move over. A queue of irate drivers was beginning to build up behind them.

The storm outside seemed to mingle with the sounds of storm and rain on the stereo.

“Can you see what’s behind us so I can pull over?” asked Clint “I can’t see a thing!”

“Just a moment, not yet,” replied Wayne from the back seat.

Both he and Nigel were straining to see what was coming up on the inside, but with all the rain and glare from headlights it was difficult to see.

“This is a bummer. Were slowing down, I’m gonna have to move over soon.”

“Okay … “ said Nigel, briefly pausing before continuing to speak.

Completely misunderstanding Nigel, Clint pulled across towards the middle lane only to swerve back, as he narrowly avoided a motor cycle passing them on the inside.

“… hold on … not just yet.” finished Nigel as he watched the motorcyclist disappear ahead of them gesticulating wildly completely unaware that The Doors were singing about him as he sped into the distance. “Sorry about that,” finished Nigel.

“Get it together Nigel!” declared Clint as he skidded back into the outside lane.

Passing under another bridge, Clint thought for a moment that he had a clearer view of what was behind him. He gripped the steering wheel tightly. The engine by now was very intermittent, sounding like it was going to cut out at any moment.

Wayne spoke up enthusiastically over the misfiring engine and the music on the stereo, now just repeating the phrase riders on the storm as they loped forward with the engine misfiring frequently. “Look. Services!” he pointed toward a sign indicating services in half a mile.

Clint brought the car over into the middle lane as a small truck narrowly missed them on the inside with the sound of horns going off all around.

“Be careful of that truck,” added Wayne.

Seeing a gap, Clint took his chance and swerved right across the inside lane and straight onto the hard shoulder as an elderly Volkswagen Beetle passed dangerously close to them. Trying to take advantage of what momentum they had, he jammed his foot on the clutch and the engine died completely. Almost as though it would make the car coast further, he gripped the steering wheel tighter, hoping they would be able to roll into the service station.

The tape rumbled on with tinkles of music like rain and peels of distant thunder.

Passing under another bridge with the wall uncomfortably near to the passenger door, Clint carefully steered them down the slip road and towards the services. Everything in the car stopped working including the wipers and the lights.

“I thought we were gonna get wiped out there!” exclaimed Clint.

Thinking he could look out, Nigel clicked the window switch ineffectually but soon realised that all the electrics had gone off. Without a window winder they might as well have been welded shut.

As the coasted forward they were unable to tell the sound of the rain on the windscreen from that coming from the stereo.

(Of course I know the music should have stopped by now, what with the electrics being off, but they are magicians and it is for effect after all!)

“Bloody technology!” This was a bit ironic coming from Nigel, since he worked with computers, but to be perfectly honest he didn’t really understand them and he suspected that many people he worked with secretly suffered from the same problem. Opening the door slightly, he was able to stick his head out into the rain and guided Clint into the car park.

Narrowly avoiding a concrete post, carefully placed to stop lorries—and cars with their doors open—from entering the car park, they coasted to a halt ending up perfectly placed in one of the white painted parking bays. The music of The Doors tinkled away into silence. Clint relaxed back into his seat, slowly uncurling his fingers from the steering wheel. Nigel took a deep breath as he closed the door brushing his matted hair away from his glasses.

Finally, Wayne piped up, “I say, do you think we might be able to find a drink here?”


Top of Page xx About The Hidden Masters xx Hidden Masters Index xx Chapter 3xx Home xx More Articles

Visit the publisher's web site and buy the book

Copyright © 2006 Winged Feet Limited
Visitors since Jan 01 2006

Copies of this text are lodged with representatives of Winged Feet Limited for legal deposit purposes