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Doctor Albert Keptopolis, physicist and student of the occult, sets out to devise a theory of paranormal phenomena. One day, he comes home bearing an arcane book. That day, he mysteriously disappears. Lillith, the young woman he lives with, calls the police. Martin Kopinski, a hard-boiled detective, is assigned the case, which turns out to be more than he bargained for, as he discovers that the occult, demons and ancient gods really exist. During his investigation, he falls in love with Lillith, a friend commits suicide by tearing his own heart out, he meets Adrienne, a witch who can turn herself into a telepathic cat, and encounters a horrible dragon-like creature. The trail leads him and Lillith into strange other worlds in the dimension of the ancient gods, where danger lurks everywhere.
Albert Keptopolos was a genuine genius. He had doctorates in Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Mathematics, Philosophy and Mysticism. When he was twenty-five, the Clay Mathematics Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts (CMI) award him a prize of one million dollars for solving one of the "Millennium Prize Problems," one of the important classic questions in mathematics that have resisted solution over the years. After receiving this prestigious and lucrative award, he abandoned mathematics to delve into atomic physics, cosmology and the occult, especially the occult. Every room in his rambling Victorian house contained shelves that overflowed with obscure books.
He lived with an attractive young woman named Lillith, who people assumed was his daughter. They were a strange pair. Keptopolos usually dressed in rumpled suits twenty years out of date. His seldom cut white hair rose around his head like a halo. If he shaved his beard, he would've had a striking resemblance to Albert Einstein. Like Einstein, he was quite absentminded. If Lillith did not keep an eye on him, there was a distinct possibility that he would leave the house without his pants.
Lillith had long jet black hair that hung to her waist and vertical eyes like a cat. Her long black dresses were cut low to show off her ample bosom to advantage and slit up the sides so that when she walked the full length of her thighs peeked out with each step. She was very solicitous of Keptopolos. She waited on him hand and foot and protected him from the disadvantages of fame, such as curiosity seekers and reporters. If a reporter wished to interview Keptopolos, she went along and did most of the talking. Once a reporter asked her when Keptopolos was out of the room, "Is the doctor really a genius or simply a crank? His ideas seem so unorthodox."
Lillith replied, "If he wasn't a genius, do you think I'd put up with his eccentricity and absentmindedness?"
* * *
Up until two years previously, Keptopolos was married to Constance, a rather timid woman, who never questioned what he did in his basement laboratory which she was not allowed to enter. "It's for your own safety," he claimed without elaborating. He never even let her go down there to clean. She brooded about it, sure that it must be a filthy mess as her nose often detected peculiar stenches emanating from it.
Another pet peeve of Constance was the way he spent money on Geiger counters, chemical apparatus, electrical and electronic devices, and refrigeration while begrudging her every penny she asked for. Another sore spot in their loveless marriage was his habit of going out late at night and not coming home until the wee hours of the morning. Constance would lie in their double bed trembling as he and the men he had hired -- awful fellows, criminal types, she thought -- dragged large plastic bags through the front door which they would bang against the hallway walls. On such nights such terribly bad odors drifted up from below that she thought she would vomit.
During the day Keptopolos spent all his spare time haunting used bookstores that specialized in the occult and antique shops, coming home with some dog-eared ancient tome or an alchemist's handwritten journal that he had paid dearly for.
Eighteen years into their marriage, Constance died of a mysterious illness that no doctor could diagnose. One pathologist at the morgue gave the opinion that the woman's heart had stopped from the trauma of a terrible fright. The coroner thought this ridiculous and marked the cause of death as simple heart failure.
The first time anyone saw Lillith was at Constance's wake. Although neither Constance nor Keptopolos had ever mentioned children to their few friends, most people took it for granted that Lillith was a daughter who had come from another state to pay her last respects and help her father through a difficult time. Keptopolos and Lillith did not disavow anyone of this theory. Lillith stayed on as his assistant, housekeeper and cook. Those with an evil mind suspected that she was not his daughter and that their relationship was other than it seemed.
After Constances's death, Keptopolos and Lillith lived as recluses in that ancient Victorian house, which had gone to pot to match the other houses in the neighborhood. After a while, it became so shabby and need of repair that the neighborhood children (and truth be told their parents) referred to the house as haunted.
* * *
One afternoon Keptopolos came home from his usual exploration of antique shops and used book stores humming to himself and smiling like a Cheshire cat. He waved a ancient tattered volume in front of Lillith's face. "I've finally found it, My Dear."
"Really? What's that?"
"Doctor Dee's Latin translation of the Necronomicon."
"How interesting," she said in a bored tone.
He made no reply, but headed directly to his study to spend the rest of the day with his nose stuck in the infamous occult tome. As he read, he filled his journal with notes. He learned about the unseen, loathsome Old Ones who came from the dark stars to the primal earth, how they multiplied in earth's seas and built great cities in the polar regions. He also learned that many species besides the human race had inhabited the earth and that much hidden knowledge has been passed to men who had encounters with beings from other spheres. Abdul Alhazred had contacted the Old Ones by using magical invocations. Alhazred believed that the beast would prevail during the coming Apocalypse. He read that some day the god Marduk would rule the world, a world aflame with ecstasy and freedom.
He skipped through the purely historical and mythological to a section that seemed to connect non-Euclidean mathematics to legends of elder magic. He read several pages, taking notes as he went along. Finally, he turned a page, read a few lines and cried, "Eureka. The Golden Scroll is the answer I've been seeking. I must have it."
* * *
At eight in the evening, Lillith muttered, "That man. He'd starve if I didn't remind him to eat." She microwaved a plate of leftovers and carried it to his study. Since there was no answer to her knock, she opened the door and gazed around. The ancient book was open on his desk; his journal rested next to it. Although she had not heard the study door open or close, Keptopolos was not in the room. She put the tray down. "He must've gone to his lab."
Although Keptopolos did not like to be disturbed when he was working on his latest project, Lillith dared to unlock the heavy steel door and cautiously tiptoe down. The cellar stairs creaked with each step she took. At the bottom, she glared around. As she had thought since she had not been down for quite a while, there were cobwebs in all the corners and the place was very dusty. In addition, there was a peculiar musty acrid stench that she did not recognize. "Albert, are you all right?" she called.
She explored the laboratory. She examined the tented altar that Keptopolos used for the offering up of prayers and sacrifices to various deities and other supernatural beings. Next she flipped through numerous tracts on the shelves above the twenty-foot long workbench whose top was crowded with tools, glass jars, retorts and test tubes. She peered at jars of chemicals, metals, organic compounds, dried and powdered herbs and preserved specimens of frogs, newts, mice, insects and human fetuses. She went through the drawers of a writing desk and a bench in a covered alcove. She left the electronic equipment alone for fear she might do it damage or get something out of alignment. Although she had watched him work a few times, she was uneasy around such things as oscilloscopes or the great metal cabinets filled with meters and switches.
She let out a disgusted, "Ugh," when she discovered a cadaver and body parts going bad in the freezer. Obviously, nothing in the laboratory was going to give her a clue as to Keptopolos' whereabouts. She searched the remainder of the house although she was sure that he was not in his bedroom or her or any of the many empty rooms.
Lillith had a bad feeling that his disappearance had something to do with the book on mysticism he had brought home that day. She felt that his experiments in the occult had led him into something evil. She wondered whether he had gone somewhere and in his absentmindedness had forgotten to inform her. If that was the case, she worried that without her guidance and aid something awful had happened to him. When hours dragged by with no word from him, at the stroke of midnight she called the police.
The Laws of Magic is available at Pageturner Editions and other online E-book sellers.
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