Unite. Commune. Transcend
Sweeping shots of lush meadows and blue skies. Settling on a sprawling country estate, daylight bathes the grounds in majestic splendor, a snapshot of Heaven. Figures below dart back and forth, tossing a frisbee between them, while another throng of visitors stretches across a rainbow array of yoga mats. Tourists stream into the arching front gate, their guide barking out soundlessly from afar.
Wyatt Manor, remodeled, transformed into a bastion of new age ambience, a destination for self-discovery and community. Gone is the rear courtyard of blasphemous idols, the army of black-robed disciples and sneering security patrol. The Sect of Black Wisdom’s influence has dissolved and the trappings of MESSIAH International animate this once menacing demesne.
Swinging around and descending, closing in up a freshly paved driveway to the mansion approach, a lone host opens his arms in greeting. Julian Bathory, suave in a grey three-piece suit, smiles disarmingly. He steps forward, a title card appearing as he advances.
Executive Director, MESSIAH International
Julian Bathory: The world feels increasingly complicated, doesn’t it? Every day we wake up to a media frenzy that threatens to overwhelm us. A constant deluge of disasters and international conflicts, warnings about the dangers growing in our environment, impending financial doom. It can be enough to drive a person mad.
Static. Audio miscues, nothing to worry about. Focus on the idyllic landscape, the tranquility, the birds. Settle in on cultivating your inner self and finding transcendence. Breathe.
Julian Bathory: Helping you achieve and maintain peace of mind is what we strive to accomplish here at MESSIAH International and our associates. Divesting our members of their fears and misgivings, overcoming personal crisis to find and strengthen their core spirit. And at the root of that fulfillment is community. Human beings are social animals and we aim to set you in the best state you can be through cultivating communal energy. Once you’re settled into one of our programs, the healing can begin. Welcome to your divine journey. Welcome to transcendence, the MESSIAH way.
Production hiccups. Laugh it off and let’s move along. Breathe.
Meet Carrie Ness. Thirty-six years old, housewife. Jet black hair, brown eyes and skin the color of cream. Nestled back on a couch with a steaming cup of tea. Behind her, distant in the kitchen, her husband dries a stack of plates following dinner, a gentle melody playing on the radio.
Carrie Ness: I was feeling lost and isolated. Depression was building up. Therapy and prescription drugs simply weren’t pulling me out of it, no matter how hard I tried. I turned to alcohol, neglected my duties as a mother and wife. But one day I found a card in the mailbox with a website stamped on it, inviting me to check it out. The card was my entrance into the community of MESSIAH. Since then I’ve made a lot of new friends and gotten involved in new projects. Crafts, exercise, a book club. I feel like I’ve really found something that was missing from my life and never even knew it!
She turns, looks back at her husband with a jovial grin.
Carrie Ness: Someday I hope Barry will join me on a retreat. He could use the escape from his job. Ugh, it’s soooo draining on him. He’s been paranoid and thinks someone is after him. I think MESSIAH is just the medicine he needs!
Oh, these odd little bits of interference. It might be a prank. Maybe data files mixed up.
Bathory enters the frame again, this time walking down the corridor of a small museum or trophy room. Portraits and landscape art line the walls, curious relics and writings enshrined in display cases. He pauses, faces the camera with a warm smile. Flanking his right, encased in glass and situated on a shelf, is the stone he used to strike Genie Carlson. A smear of her blood stains its otherwise polished sheen. To his left is another exhibit case, this one hollow, its rest yet unoccupied. A placard scratched -Hayes Hanlon- is set below the display, as if awaiting its appointed trophy.
Julian Bathory: Hayes Hanlon, first allow me to congratulate you on your victory. Let us honor the memory of Seymour Almasy through the spirit of competition, as he rightfully deserves. I’m only sorry that your journey must end there and, in advance, duly apologize for what I have to do between bells. However I take heart in believing that you will, in due time, come to embrace the grandeur of the cosmos. There’s always a spot for the willing under the MESSIAH banner.
A sly wink and subtle glance at the case.
Julian Bathory: Now I can’t say that I can read destiny. But the portents, I fear, affirm a quite terrible doom for you, Hayes. Alas I’m only an instrument and a harbinger, come to enact that as the fates weave.
The image distorts for a moment, a discordant hum stretching through an uncomfortably long beat. Another smile, this one flashing more teeth than previous. There’s nothing devious to it, no matter what you may think you’re perceiving. And I assure you the paintings at his back haven’t actually changed and there certainly isn’t an essence of violence to them now. I warned you of what stress can do, didn’t I?
Return to Carrie Ness, smiling warmly as she sips her tea, thumbing through a booklet imprinted with the crowned, silver M of MESSIAH. Ignore that shadow slithering against the back wall, it’s a trick of the light, a misplaced piece of rigging equipment. Loose and unbound cables appear to writhe like tentacles sometimes, no matter at all.
Barry turns his head, glazed eyes lingering on the camera. The angle and lighting are at fault here, it’s ridiculous to think for a moment that his head has turned completely around. Or that his protruding tongue is actually that long.
Just ignore it. You’re tired and need a rest. How about some tea?
Unite. Commune. Transcend. MESSIAH International can guide you to a better you. New locations are opening now across the globe.
The logo is normal. There are no glaring eyes embedded there, gazing into your soul. You need to relax. Close your eyes, let it all in, and breathe.