In Which Cancer Is Discovered and a Cure Is Sought

Diary of Nathan Kulwicki, September 30th, 2011

If anyone ever reads my diary I would love to know what they find more unbelievable, the stuff about magic or the stuff about my school. All I can say on both counts is that I have written down only what I saw with my own two eyes, and while I may at times have written more what I felt than what I saw, I am no liar. Magic is as real as a low ceiling, and you’ll hit your head on it if you’re not careful. And as for the stuff about education, I teach in the second worst school district in the nation. (Take that Detroit!) But that number does not do justice to the miseries of my school. It is a furnace that burns away my students’ futures. I have seen the bodies, smelled the smoke, and tasted the ash. Now I must make my testament. Take it as you will.

The state of things is best summed up in a story. It is has been a frigid September. The leaves are down, and bare earth is cracked with cold. We had our first flurry this morning, and I didn’t wear my winter jacket, so I shivered all the way to work.

As I drove past the school, I saw Tony Washington standing outside the front door in short sleeves without a jacket, his hands in his pockets, his arms tight to his sides, and his lips shut like that alone could keep out the cold. A hard wind barreled down the street picking up dead leaves and garbage. Tony hopped up and down to try and keep warm.

School policy is no kids before 7:45.

I parked and met him at the door. “Tony, where on earth is your jacket?” I asked.

“I left it here,” he said.

I shook my head. This kid, I thought, would kill me.

Three weeks ago, when it first got cold, I noticed Tony didn’t start wearing a jacket. He’d come to school shaking, and shiver through recess. When I asked him why he didn’t start wearing his jacket, he said he didn’t have one. I went to Goodwill and bought the kid a jacket. The only thing they had in his size was a puffy winter coat in the colors of the Oakland Raiders with their emblem emblazoned on its breast and back. When I showed this to Tony, his eyes went wide and he asked if it was really for him.

And now he was forgetting his coat at school. There was very little point in having a coat if he wasn’t wearing it. I unlocked my classroom, and told Tony to get his coat and then wait outside. Felt bad saying it, but I’m skating on thin ice at this job as it is. The last thing I need is Mr. Rit popping by and seeing a walking and talking violation of school policy.

Tony put on his coat, zipped it up, and pulled the hood high and tight over his head. As he left I said, “And Tony?”


“Don’t forget to take your coat home again.”

“I didn’t forget it. I left it here.”

“You left it here? But what’s the point in having a coat if you don’t wear it on your walk home? It’s not doing you any good in my closet.”

“If I bring it home, my parents gonna take it and sell it.” I didn’t need to ask what for, and he didn’t need to tell me.

October 10th, 2011

Lotte was wearing that skirt again. She and hubby are having problems with the chores. He says he does more housework than her and earns more money. She needs to step up, he says. It’s a problem. Lotte’s definitely high-maintenance, but that’s the price you pay for marrying a woman that looks like her. Also, teaching is a job that eats time. My apartment looks like the kinda place a hobo would use as a toilet and then abandon.

That skirt bothered me all day. Every time I saw it flutter around a corner or pulled tight around her knees, it stuck with me. I could see that skirt with my eyes closed, like a bright light burned into your eyes. As I write this, I wonder at the shallowness of my feelings for Lotte. Is it just lust? No. There’s lust today, but there are other times.

I remember the fight outside her classroom when she kept two 10th grade girls that outweighed her by a combined 200 lbs. from murdering each other. From down the hall I saw her blonde hair flying akimbo as the girls knocked her around, trying to get at each other. But she stood her ground. She shouted “This is not safe! This is not safe!” until security showed up and chucked one of the girls into a classroom and the other up some stairs.

Today’s lesson on Cortes went well. The kids really got into the whole bit where the Aztecs thought Cortes was a returning god, and Cortes used it to get close to Moctezuma and then kidnap the poor guy. They loved how the Spaniards kept farting around Moctezuma, and he found it so offensive that he actually complained about it to Cortes. It’s one of those details that makes history so delicious. There was a downside though. I get enough farting in my classroom as it is, and the story just gave the 7th graders encouragement. Don’t know what to tell the kids about Moctezuma’s death. Diaz and Cortes wrote that he was killed by his own countrymen, but indigenous accounts say that the Spaniards killed him when it became clear he had no more value as their puppet. Don’t know which version to go with. Guess I’ll tell ‘em both.

Facebook update: October 14th, 2011 12:59:25 AM

Nathan Kulwicki says:

Doctors say it’s inoperable. Wish I had better news to share, but I don’t.

John Longino says: Tough break dude! I’ll keep you in my prayers.

Veronica Fairy says: Man I don’t know what to say. Did you check out that treatment in Mexico I told you about?

Ian Whitcomb says: I am so so sorry. My dad died of cancer. If there’s anything I can do let me know.

Andrea Plewa says: I love you so much Nathan! You are like one of my own sons!

Kim Strauss says: I know you haven’t found God yte [sic], but I really want you to come with me to church…

Diary of Nathan Kulwicki, October 15th, 2011

Finally figured out how to tell an angel from a demon.

Got home today and was depressed as hell. Got a letter from Child Protective Services. It said that they “did not find enough evidence for action” in my third report of abuse in the Vang household. The goddamn kid has bruises up and down his arm every damn day. Last week, I asked him how he got the bruises. He looked at me with those eyes of his and said, “You know how I got those bruises.” He was right. I knew. He told me how he got the bruises a couple weeks ago and I called CPS about it. No response.

I called CPS again and all I get is this letter. I’m ready to take pictures and mail them to those desk-jockey jack-wagons and see if that counts as enough evidence for action.

Anyway I got home and the last thing I wanted to do was school work, so I decided to focus on my demon problem. I have a question that needs answering, so I want to ask an angel about it. I found the name of an angel in a moldy old Dee[1] text. Dee says that this particular angel saved his life, told him to get out of England and go to Poland right before an order for his execution came down.

[1] John Dee, court wizard for Queen Elizabeth I, was most famous for his ability to see the future and contact angelic beings. However, Dee keenly demonstrates the difficulty of discerning angels from demons as one “angel” ordered Dee to share his wife with another mage, an order with which he complied, and later discovered was of demonic origin.

However, Dee walked the left-hand path. Not exclusively mind you, but a little too much for my taste. The man has a translation of Al-Azif[2] named after him for the love of all! So it’s possible this angel I want to summon might turn out not to be an angel at all. Elemental, dead soul, demon, some old god matrix floating out in the ether, or a sprite looking for love on the material plane, it could be anything. A demon would be the worst case scenario. The problem is a demon never shows up in a summoning circle saying “Hi! I’m Beelzebub Prince of Flies and I’m going to trick you into murdering your whole family and killing yourself!” So I’ve been looking for some sort of test for identifying a demon.

[2] In English, The Book of Dead Names, a grimoire of such power that reading aloud from it may end the world. The author, according to legend, was consumed in the middle of a Damascus market by an invisible monster.

I got a beer and sat down to do some research. I looked through Genesis to see if God said something in particular to the angels that I could work into a test, then hit Paradise Lost searching for more of the same. I was reaching for The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and the beer musta hit me harder than usual because I staggered a bit and knocked my Egyptian Qu’ran off the shelf. It flopped open on the floor. I turned it over and the answer was right there, staring me in the face. The little wedge I could work up to a test.

I put the rest of the beer down the sink. To get in the right mental atmosphere this week, I’m going to pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from dawn to dusk, and give some money to Pennies for Patients, this local cancer charity I found. In a couple days I should be ready to summon my first angel.

October 16th, 2011

Teaching 8th graders and fasting do not go well together. I did not rise to the challenge of servicing my urban youth today. I didn’t hear it because I was busy teaching, but 6th hour George said to Roberto “Your mom sucks my balls.”

Roberto said “Your braces should say ‘I love dick.’”

In the middle of my explanation of ancient Mesopotamian irrigation methods, I saw both boys shoot up. George jumped over a desk and before I could so much as ask what they think they’re doing, he popped Roberto in the face. Roberto went down like a sack of coal and hit his head. George started screaming “That is what you get! That is what you get!” The rest of the class shrieked and howled. I got between the two of them before George could start kicking Roberto in the face and radioed for Mr. V. V showed up and along with Mr. Whitcomb. Each one took a kid and ran out the door. That’s when I noticed the pool of blood Roberto left on the floor. God head wounds can bleed. (Not something I thought I would discover by choosing a career in education.) I gave the rest of the class a worksheet and put on surgical gloves to clean up the mess.

Tatiyana has begun eating lunch in my room with a few other girls. They eat, wash my boards, and just in general shoot the shit with me. Tatiyana asked me if I can drive and fire a gun, and I said yes to both. In consequence, she moved me down her Zombie Sacrifice List. She is preparing a list of people to bring into her bunker when the zombies come, but she’s ranking people in order of their post-apocalyptic utility. She’s number one on the list because she’s going to be a nurse, make a ton of money, and buy a house in the exburbs for her whole family to move into. (And she’s smart enough to make that happen thank God. She deserves better than she’s got.) There are now thirteen people that she would sacrifice to the zombies before me, which is a relief I can tell you. God I love that kid. Who knew 7th grade African-American girls could get so into zombie horror?

I did get my five prayers in today[3], but Mr. V had to cover for me when I ran off for my mid-morning prayers. I found an app that would tell me the qibla, the direction of Mecca, on a compass based solely on my latitude and longitude which certainly must make the lives of all Muslims easier.

[3] Islam dictates Muslims pray five times a day. This is a demonstration of the law of belief. As a chaos mage, Kulwicki holds that all beliefs are true. By fasting, praying, and giving to charity, he is attempting to bring his mind in sync with that of a devout Muslim to create an Islam-influenced method for distinguishing angels from demons. A skilled mage may one week write love poems in Greek to have Aphrodite power a love potion, and the next summon Sherlock Holmes to solve a missing person case. In chaos magick, belief is a tool. All beliefs are correct because all can be used by a mage in workings. A curious and contradictory fact, but a true one.

October 17th, 2011 5:30 PM

Just sent a check off to Pennies for Patients, and broke my second day of fasting. I’ve been listening to the Qu’ran in Arabic on my way to school. Today, I only ate foods that I could find mentioned in the Qu’ran. I can’t think of anything else I could do focus my pattern, so I’m hoping I’m ready for this summoning ceremony. I’ve got the circle drawn in the basement. My books, most importantly The Laws of Chaos, and robes are ready to go. I’m planning on waiting until after midnight to actually perform the summoning. No occult reason to do so, but I live in an apartment building and the basement is a common space. I don’t want Mrs. Hernandez wandering down to do some laundry while I’m in the middle of things. She’d bring it up at the next tenant’s meeting. In the past, I’ve rented out storage garages for privacy during summonings, but I think I’m going to need every dime I have to pay my medical bills in the near future.

I should get a nap in.

October 18th, 2011, 2 AM

That did not go well.

Summoning went just fine. The basement was cold and dark, with locked cages of storage space lining the walls. Cobwebs thick with dust hung low in the corners. The smell of mold and rat poison caught in my nostrils. The only light came from the laundry room and the four candles I had lit at the cardinal points of the circle. A cup of honey and a cup of water waited in the center of the circle. They were tools for the test.

I threw my robes over my head, sealed the circle, and walked around it burning incense. The air felt heavy, charged. Perfect. In the pit of my stomach, I started to get that Christmas morning feeling I get just before a spell goes off right. I joyously invoked the ninety-nine names of God, all his angels, Mohammed the first and perfect, all the prophets that came and the prophet to come before calling the angel John Dee used to such good effect. “Izra’il! Izra’il! Izra’il! I bear witness that there is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet! Izra’il! Izra’il! Izra’il! I call you thrice who was thrice named by God the compassionate and the merciful! Izra’il who bowed to the first man in the Garden and saw the woman and her child running in the desert, and revealed to them the waters of Zam Zam!”

There was no great flash of light. No sound at all. No wind. The gray pillar of smoke drawn by the incense from floor to ceiling did not even quiver. But the air tensed, and Izra’il was there. She filled the room, though no part of her extended beyond my circle, and I will call Izra’il woman because of her great beauty, but what I saw in the narrow circumference of my circle transcended gender. She wore a great crown of iron. Her robes glistened with a color I could not name, but one that illuminated the darkest corners of the basement with the sparkle of the noonday sun. Four sets of wings curled about her, the feathers stroking each other as if for comfort while in our realm of base matter. Izra’il’s skin was olive, her eyes dark. She looked at me, and she spoke in Arabic, but somehow, I understood her.

She told me that Izra’il the angel saw through me as easily as I might see through a pane of glass, and though the words were encouraging, they somehow sank the ship of my hopes. She told me Izra’il knew what I sought, and that it was within my reach. Immortality was a secret, but one which Allah had vouchsafed into Izra’il’s care. She could tell me how I might live forever in youth and joy, how my flesh might become like that of the angels; eternal and outside the rule of time.

Though she said the things I most wanted to hear, each word felt like a blow. My legs shook, and I fell to all fours. She smiled when she saw me prostrate before her, and her smile was a cold blast of wind. I looked down, unable to bear the weight of her gaze a moment longer. That was when I saw the cups of honey and water within the circle, and I remembered the test.

I said, “O Izra’il! See before you my offerings of honey and water! Take them in return for your kindness.”

I peeked up. The cup of honey appeared in her hand, and she drained it. The cup of water remained below. Words flowed from her mouth. The disease that ate away at my flesh would be surmounted. I would live long enough to see mountains blown into dust and the stars themselves wink out one by one. On the great day of judgment I would have no need of resurrection for my body would be perfect and incorruptible.

The cup of water remained at her foot. She wore sandals of ivory, and each toe bore a ring of gold. I remember thinking that a poet could compose a work on each separate toe, they were so perfect and beautiful. But some part of my mind remembered the test.

“O angel! Why do you leave your offering of water?”

The question was not answered. Instead I was told of a cure for cancer.

I repeated my question and looked up.

The angel frowned. Something flickered in her eyes.

“O angel! Do you not drink because you are not an angel at all?”

Izra’il said nothing. The white light that filled the basement crept back into the circle. My candles and the incense went out. Izra’il disappeared, replaced by a tongue of black flame that twisted and danced within the circle, but gave off neither light nor heat. Rather, the room went cold. Spider webs of ice raced over the cup of water, and froze so quickly the cup itself cracked. I immediately began casting the exorcism I had prepared for this eventuality.

The flame spoke without words as I cast. I was a clever little monkey and much deserving of life if not immortality. It whispered that while it had disguised its nature, everything it told me was true. There was a way out of death. It told me that without the secret I would surely die before spring brought forth new leaves. I continued casting. It said that it would grant me the secret and ask nothing in return, but I had to stop casting the exorcism, or it would tell me nothing. I continued weaving the spell. It would see me again, and soon. It would look for me in the realm where countless multitudes of wasted souls writhed in agony in pits of nameless foulness. The flame shrank smaller and smaller, until it was extinguished against the frost that covered the concrete floor.

The Qu’ran said that the jinn, which are their name for those negative patterns that the Western esoteric tradition calls demons, were made of flame which is why they lived in the waterless reaches of the desert. If they’re made of flame, there’s no way they could drink water, hence it’s inclusion in my offering. Glad that worked.[4]

I wanted to ask if there was a magical solution to my cancer, since in all my independent research I haven’t found one. Guess I’ll have to try somewhere else.

[4] The Kulwicki method is still used today in summonings to test the nature of called beings.

Next Chapter: Chapter 3: The Diary of Samira Carrington