November 16, 2005
Week 29 - Hero Worship 1
Harry and Celeste stand outside a dilapidated storefront on 25th Street in Manhattan. The inside is hidden by a large, black sheet that covers the dirty window. The door is labeled "Temple of Thermal Variance".
"This is where I'm supposed to find a miracle cure for my headache?" Harry asks.
"You can't judge ground breaking procedures like TVT by appearances," Celeste answers. "The medical establishment does everything it can to squash any therapy that doesn't stand to make the pharmaceutical companies another hundred billion dollars. I'm sure this institute operates on a terribly tight budget."
Harry rubs his fingertip against the window and holds it up, filthy with soot. "Too tight to afford a bucket of water and a rag..."
They open the door and step into a small anteroom. Black sheets cover each wall. The smell of incense hangs in the air. A middle aged woman, her body draped in a grey robe, sits behind a small desk, next to a dark doorway. "Welcome," she says, looking up at them. "Have you an appointment?"
"I'm sorry," Celeste says, "we don't... But we would like to sample Thermal Variance Therapy... I'm hoping it will help relax me when I prepare for meditation... and my friend here has a horrible stress headache..."
The woman nods. "Brother Kagen can certainly aid each of you. But he is very busy. Many have been flocking to him..." She opens an appointment book. "Ah! You're in luck, a cancellation! He should be able to fit you both in, if we start immediately."
"That's wonderful!" Celeste says.
"Wait a minute!" Harry demands. "I want to know what I'm getting into here. What exactly are you planning on doing to me?"
"Brother Kagen will explain," the woman answers. She studies Harry. "Perhaps you should go first. Even an acolyte like me can see that your muscles are tense to the breaking point. It's vital that your internal balance is restored before serious harm is done to your somatic biosystem." She waves her arm toward the doorway next to her. "If you'd just step into the inner temple, the Brother will be with you shortly."
Harry shakes his head. "I don't think I like the look of this at all."
Celeste nudges him. "Go on, Harry. It could do you wonders."
Harry reluctantly steps forward, but the robed woman stands up and gently blocks the way. "Ah! We almost forgot... There's the small matter of the donation."
"Donation?" Harry asks.
"Sixty dollars, cash only. No checks or credit cards. No refunds."