Chapter 5: The Man Under The Mountain

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        Zecharia Montego had lived under the mountain for at least fifty years, biding his time and bidding farewell to the society he'd hated oh so much. And for good reason, too.

        Once, when he was a small boy, he'd been beat-up for farting out of tune from the other boys in his year. Boy, was Catholic school a rough ride. Most of his peers didn't believe in God unless He came in the form of a smoking hot lady with a twisted attraction to teenage boys. And there were a few 'Gods' who had walked among those mere mortals...

        Another time, he had his shit kicked in because he refused to bow at the feet of a near-naked dude who wore leaves over his genitals. And I don't blame him. You're getting dangerously close to that awful territory where the brown bushes grow. I mean, that's fine if you're into that, but Zecharia most certainly was not.

        Zecharia had a laboratory in his secret mountain-sanctuary, which is where he was currently-- and for perhaps two hours prior to the start of this chapter-- mixing up chemicals. He stood before Bunsen burners, flasks, beakers, graduated cylinders. All that sciencey crap. The chemicals bubbled and frothed in their test-tubes.

        He was working on a special experiment. One that could theoretically end the scourge of cancer for all the people of the worlds-- and there were many. He also had an observatory that observed not stars and planets, but the lava under his home. Oh, and his hot-tub was heated by said lava, too. The observatory allowed him to schedule the best times to use his wonderful hot-tub. Cool, eh?

        Zecharia was a Psychomage, and was once known to the nearby New Zealanders as a sort of travelling magic-and-medicine man. This was after he'd gone away to Mars Mountain to learn all sorts of spells and stuff. After he had graduated with honours, he returned to New Zealand a changed man.

        But with such changes always comes a price to pay. He was misunderstood. Mistreated. Women wouldn't look at him, in fear of the rumours that they'd be cursed to live a life of housework and rude fornication. Men would only talk to him in order to try and talk down the cost of medical aid. They either used him, or refused him. Tsk tsk.

        So one day, fifty years ago or so, in October-- at least, I think it was October-- after being sick and tired of being sick and tired, Zecharia said 'screw it', and wandered as far away from civilization as the bordering oceans would allow. He came across a mountain and used magik to tunnel his way inside, and then dug as deep down as he could. Eventually, he reached an area so hot it burned to breathe. Too far. So he went back up a bit. Perfect!

        "Ah. Memories," Zecharia reminisced; a vial containing some unpronounceable chemical compound held in his trembling hand. "Good riddance!"

        Tilt and pour. Chemicals mixed. Steam was emitted. Wispy smoke. A new substance born. Time to test it on the guinea-pigs. Not literal guinea-pigs, but rather cancerous corpses who had had their state of death partially reversed with the wondrous powers of mad magik. They walked and talked and were kept shackled-up in cages. Without control of their bowels, they tended to crap everywhere and would slip and fall in their own feces.

        Zecharia held the vial containing the new chemical-- the potential cure-- and walked across the lava-pit bridge to where the cages were. Under stalactites and past stalagmites. He wiped his shoes on a welcome-mat-- 'Clean Feet Are Really Neat!'-- positioned directly in front of the cage-door.

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