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Posted 12 October 2016

In a Wine Glass, Darkly
Intrigue and infighting within the tangled
circles of Nazi theology & technology

By Richard B. Messer

Chapter 2

A serial story

In a Wine Glass, Darkly
Intrigue and infighting within the tangled
circles of Nazi theology & technology

© 2016 by Richard B. Messer

Chapter 2

The rattling of train wheels over gaps in the rails came in through the window that was partially open to allow cigarette smoke to be drawn out. Rica Mader sat sideways on the seat, presenting her right side to Menie DuMond who was carefully brushing the dark reddish hair that fell in rippling waves to the cervine’s backside. The doe set the black onyx and silver holder to her lips and drew the drugged smoke deep into her lungs. Her mind cleared even more as the need to delve into the depths of the crystals grew. The Brittany spaniel’s sudden petit mal at the start of dinner worried her. It was not often that Rica’s secretary would go into a trance, but she knew whenever the older femme went unresponsive it was better to bring her out quickly rather than have the canine suffer public humiliation for it.

*Was there anything clear in your viewing?* the Roe doe asked softly, despite the intervention of the outside noise.

The brushing halted as Menie tilted her head downward in embarrassment. It was episodes such as this that had plagued the femme since growing into puberty. At first, the blank stares were infrequent and not long, maybe a second or two would pass before she recovered herself. But as the canine femme grew older and reaching into adulthood the events were becoming more pronounced, sometimes with unintended results. She would recover to find people staring at her. The canine would give a weak smile and leave the scene as quickly as possible. And sometimes those brief lapses of consciousness would bring snatches of words, or conversations, or part of a vision that would trouble the femme. It was by chance about five years earlier that she came across Rica Mader’s advertisement in the back of a Berlin newspaper. The very idea of visiting a diviner made the young spaniel chuckle, as if a deck of tarot cards or a crystal ball would point to the source of these intrusions in those petit mals.

There followed the flurry of seeking time off from the governess position she held in Nice, France, and booked passage on a train to Berlin, Germany. The omnipresence of the Nazi banners and the swastika worn by those in the khaki uniforms of Hitler’s supporters caused the Brittany to question her reason for coming. But she was determined to discover what could be, or not be, a simple pursuit of a wild goose. The trip from her small hotel room to the brownstone flat of Rica Mader was a short walk of a few blocks. There was a simple sign by the entrance announcing the occupant as the user of a pendulum and reader of a crystal to find hope, fortune, and happiness for all who enter. It was when Menie climbed the steps and was about to ring the bell that the door opened suddenly. A canine femme of opulent means was exiting, gushing over her shoulder to a short doe over the latest readings. The Roe deer merely smiled as the departing customer carried on her one-sided conversation down the limestone steps to a waiting automobile on the street. After the vehicle pulled away and out of sight that the doe released her pent-up breath in an explosive exhalation and dropped the smile that was obviously paining her cheeks. It was then that Rica Mader first met Menie DuMond.

A hand came up across the doe’s chest to rest lightly, but warmly, on the canine’s hand holding the brush.

*If you don’t want to talk about it now, then we’ll wait until you’re ready.* Rica’s face turned to look over her shoulder with a reassuring smile for her companion.

Menie accepted the smile and returned one of her own. *I only saw those long green crystals set in a pattern, Rica. The full seven in all. The six of the same size were laid out like spokes of a wheel. But the seventh, the larger of the set, was standing upright in the middle of the others. As if it was an antenna for the others to broadcast through.*

This sight gave the Roe deer cause to think over the implication of what the vision implied. One standing up among the six laid out in a spoke pattern. Rica took another puff of her cigarette, the hashish working its vaporous way through her lungs and blood to her brain.

*You may have struck upon the importance of why Reichfürher Himmler thought these crystals to be of a particular need to the Vril Society. This could be why he labeled them ‘emeralds’, to confuse the curious. If they are indeed a new source of power that the Nazis feel would assist them in their greater rise to prominence, then what I have done would surely delay that rise until something could be done with them.*

The Brittany spaniel said nothing, only getting up to seat herself to her employer’s left side. The doe turned to accommodate the canine’s need to brush the other half of that deep reddish mane. Several minutes passed before this task was finished. This was followed by the canine taking those tresses and braiding them into two plaits. When this was done Rica rose from the seat to pitch the end of her cigarette out the window. There was a brief flare of redness as the wind carried it away like a meteorite through the atmosphere. The doe left it open long enough to draw out anymore smoke from the small cabin. Afterwards she set the holder and cigarette case back into an interior pocket of her jacket.

Together the femmes pulled the backs of the seats down to reveal hidden beds. Removing dressing robes to expose sleeping gowns the pair said brief prayers before Rica climbed into one of the beds. Menie double-checked the door to make sure is was latched before turning off the light. She then went to close the window, shutting out the noise of their conveyance’s passage. In the darkness was the occasional flash of a distant farmhouse or small village.

In a minute both femmes were in their beds, settling down for the night. However, the hashish wouldn’t let the doe slide into slumber. Her brain was still trying to comprehend Menie’s description of the arrangement of the crystals. Though her true eyes were closed her mind’s eye could see that layout as described by her canine companion. There was something more than just the concept of a wheel and its axle, which was what Rica’s subconscious was displaying in a strange manner of slowly rotating it as one. As she studied this idea in her dream state, the six smaller green crystals angled downward the outer ends, forming a shallow cone. This presentation startled the Roe deer as she continued to watch. Then a shadow formed under the cone, congealing itself into the silhouette of a head; a large bird’s head with the short sharp beak of a raptor. Together the shadowy head and the crystals turned together. Then the dream faded away.

Dark brown eyes fluttered open as Rica Mader stared up into the shadowy corner of the ceiling. She knew she just had a vision; one of those strange pieces of insight that came whenever she was doped up and trying to sleep. Her late grandmother had told her about such happenings. And the young cervine had several come to her. A couple had been in relation to some puzzling crimes that had the local police stumped, such that a more imaginative detective had come seeking advice. Her dreams had laid out the circumstances that pointed in the direction she sent the young policeman and thereby solving the crimes. The other events dealt with missing fursons or stolen property, each ending with a resolution that brought a small monetary reward.

But this puzzle was appearing to be far more complicated, as befitting a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that fit but didn’t have the same picture. From across the narrow space between the beds came the soft snoring of the Brittany, providing a comforting anchor in the here-and-now. The doe took a deep breath and began silently reciting a poem her grandmother had taught her should she have difficulties in dropping off to sleep. Eventually the hashish worked its way out of Rica’s system, allowing the femme to slide under into the land of Morpheus, with a last look at the slowly turning dark raptor’s head and the seven green crystals turning with it, like a bizarre crown low over it.

* * * * * * *

Breakfast found the cervine and canine finishing their second cup of coffee as the train wound its way through the French countryside. After leaving Hannover the train ran towards Essen and Düsseldorf, making stops and passenger exchanges. While Rica and Menie had settled down for the night there were stops in Frankfurt am Main then Mannheim, changing out military rolling stock. At Stuttgart the train was sidetracked to take on coal and water, and waiting for further orders to proceed. While the engine huffed quietly, police officials came aboard to check the passenger and cargo manifests as the train was about to the cross the frontier into neighboring France.

The dining car was busy with the breakfast crowd, putting the Roe femme in a bind to smoke. She didn’t want to take the chance of someone noticing the cloying scent of her cigarette. So she held off until she and her companion returned to their cabin. But Strasbourg was coming very close and the pair would have to disembark there soon for the next leg of their journey.

It was when the doe set her cup back onto the saucer that a commotion arose from behind her. She turned slightly and swiveled a round ear to catch some frantic words. A rabbit femme was speaking in panic words to the conductor over something about her child. Rica turned to Menie.

*Can you understand what the fuss is about?* the doe said softly in French.

The spaniel femme leaned slightly into the aisle to look pass Rica, lifting her ears slightly to better catch the fuss. She returned her attention to her employer.

*The woman is beside herself over her son being missing, Madame Mader.* Menie used the proper address when they were in public should anybody be listening.

The cervine nodded then reached into her shoulder bag. Both femmes had changed into dresses after being aroused by the knocking of the conductor, announcing that breakfast was being prepared. Menie was sporting a cloche hat instead of her beret; the doe kept her shawl. Thus Rica had emptied the pockets of her jacket into the bag.

*Please ask the lady to come here, Menie, and we’ll see if we can’t find her lost child.*

As the canine left to fulfill her task the Roe doe drew the shawl over her head before removing a green velvet pouch from the bag. She opened it to remove a small quartz crystal point of perfect dimension, half of which was bound in silver wire that terminated in a loop at the end. To this loop was attached a short length of silver chain with a small ring at the other end. She set this aside to take a saucer and put in the middle of the table between the place-mats. Next Rica took the salt shaker and emptied it into the saucer. She shook the piece of china to settle the salt into a level. Soon Menie returned with a distraught lagomorph woman. This woman’s clothing spoke of a middle class life. Her large brown eyes were rimmed in red as tear tracks stained her cheeks.

Your secretary said that you could find my Ludwig?” Her accent told of being from the northern states.

Setting the rest of the dinnerware aside, Rica Mader stood and offered a short bow.

Meine Frau, I’m Rica Mader of Berlin, and I’m a diviner. With the use of my crystal pendulum I’ll try to find your son, if he is still on the train.” The doe glanced at the German Worker’s Party pin fixed to the femme’s jacket lapel.

As if we need a sham artist to further line their pockets with hard working people’s money!”

There was a stoat in the blue uniform of a Luftwaffe officer standing behind Menie. A sneer curled up a lip to emphasize his words.

Fixing a neutral expression on her tawny face Rica reached up to turn up the collar of her dress. Pinned to the underside was a disk of black enamel, 25 millimeters in diameter, with a broken silver lightning bolt centered on it. The stoat’s black eyes snapped wide in surprise.

The Vril Society!” The officer braced to attention and snapped a salute. The discovery passed like a whispered wildfire through the crowd of onlookers.

Ignoring the others Rica indicated for the rabbit femme to take Menie’s seat. The woman blinked then looked to the Brittany spaniel. The canine held the chair out for the other to be seated. Once the mother took the chair then did the doe take up the pendulum. Rica let the chain unravel until the point of the crystal hung lightly in the salt, the ring held between thumb and forefinger of her right hand. She looked to the other.

For this to work properly I require that you place a hand lightly on top of mine. This will prove to you that I’m not consciously making the crystal move in regard to the questions I will be asking. Is that understood?”

The lagomorph could only nod. She laid her hand lightly on top of the doe’s.

Meinen Frau und Herren, please refrain from further conversations, bitte,” announced the canine femme softly to those gathered in the rocking car. “My mistress must make contact with her grandmother to know the whereabouts of the missing child.”

The only sounds were the rattling of the wheels over the rail joints. Rica Mader closed her eyes and took a deep breath before softly speaking.

Grandmother? It is your darling Rica calling upon you for help once more. I have with me a mother whose son has gone missing and needs to find him. If you will help, please make the pendulum rotate in a clockwise manner. If you cannot help then turn the crystal counterclockwise, please.”

For several seconds nothing happened. The breakfast crowd watched with rapt attention to the pendulum. Then the quartz point seemed to quiver slightly but not from the bouncing train. And slowly, very slowly, it began to turn in a clockwise fashion, tracing a small circle in the white crystals. There was a buzz of excitement from those watching but they were shushed by a watching Menie DuMond.

Thank you, grandmother, for your assistance. We are looking for a Junge by the name of Ludwig. Is he still on the train?”

Again the pendulum continued its clockwise movement.

Is he to the rear of the train?”

The crystal slowed to a stop, curling into the center of the salt. It then began to turn in the opposite direction.

Is Ludwig towards the front of the train?”

Again the crystal slowed before returning to indicate an affirmative.

With her eyes still closed Rica Mader turned her head slightly towards the crowd before softly speaking, “Conductor, what cars are ahead of this one?”

An old terrier with a gray moustache answered, “The next car is the mail car, with two luggage cars between it and the engine itself, Fraulein.”

Danke. Grandmother, are you still here?” The crystal took up its clockwise rotation.

Is Ludwig in the mail car?” NO.

Is he in either of the luggage cars?” NO.

Is he with the driver of the engine?”

Here the pendulum made a sweeping spin to indicate YES!

Rica opened her eyes and regarded the rabbit. Fresh tears welled out of those large eyes.

Oh, thank you! Thank you!” She took the doe’s hand into both of hers and began kissing them as the conductor worked his way through the applauding crowd towards the engine. The diviner took a deep breath before picking up her coffee cup. The lagomorph mother quickly poured the coffee gratefully into the cup, then set the pot down so she could take up her purse. Shaky gloved fingers fished through the contents to extract a handful of Reichmarks bills. The young doe took a sip of the cold coffee while placing her other hand on top of the rabbit’s hand.

There is no need for that. My actions were of a community service this time. But please, do not be harsh with your child. Train travel is always an excitement for the young. Chide him if you must for leaving you in distress, but don’t use physical punishment. It will only color his experience darkly.”

So saying the deer femme gathered her belongings to return to their cabin, the canine in tow. There were brief stops of congratulations from grateful passengers for a miraculous performance in finding the lost child. And as doe and spaniel exited the dining car, at a table not far from the cluster of gossiping furs and feathers, a passenger remained seated at his table alone. He watched the pair over the rim of his coffee cup without drink. He now had his targets; the chase was on.

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