Above humility, pride becomes top-heavy and is unable to sustain its position.
It has been said that power gives nothing, which was ever so true when considering how Carleton Byrd esteemed power. The more money I have, the more power is mine! Carleton needed more money, and the small insignificant man before him would enlarge Carleton’s territory of influence.
“You say that you know the whereabouts of this diary, this book”?
“Yes, Mr. Byrd. I know where I heard the book was to be found”.
“How soon can we be ready to travel to Egypt”?
“I’ll require two more days to finalize my arrangements, and of course, there’s the matter of my fee.”
Mr. Byrd, as referred to by the small insignificant man, grimaced at the mention of paying out money. Still, in this regard, the pain was bearable.
“See my man at his desk; he will see to your needs.”
After a decade of searching for the Diary of the Unnameable, it was finally within reach. Legend had it that whoever held the book and could pronounce that which was unnameable would gain great power and access to untold riches. Mr. Byrd, again, was in tune with the prospect of power and wealth.
The small insignificant man’s name was Ahmed Ahmed, a known curator of hard-to-find objects, yet Ahmed Ahmed knew how and where to find Carleton Byrd.
Exactly two days later, the cargo plane laden with the party of six rose and landed near Cairo, Egypt.
The Penthouse was indubitably selected as the Power-Grabber's resting place, and the four accompanying mercenaries were housed in two separate rooms that included the presence of Ahmed Ahmed. Each mercenary would take two-hour shifts throughout the night, standing guard at the Penthouse door where the loud snoring sounded.
Just before sunrise, the small troupe of treasure hunters would be seen leaving the hotel as they headed out into the desert. Ahmed Ahmed was now in charge as no one else knew the desert as he did, nor did anyone know the route that led to their destination. Ahmed had the power now.
The ninety-thousand-dollar Range Rover sailed easily over the sands, providing sublime comfort to its occupants. Beer cans served as breadcrumbs behind the Rover, and Ahmed lamented that men were negligent in their stewardship.
Mr. Carleton Byrd sat in the suicide seat of the Rover, where he could take in the vast scenery of the wasteland that was home to the Bedouin horde. He explained to the men his admiration for the Bedouin. He recognized that their life was their life. They entirely relied upon each other and the many gifts from the Wasteland. Already bored, all but one mercenary had succumbed to a drunken sleep.
It was around ten that night that they arrived at their destination in the ruins of El-Tatamun. Clips of ammunition were methodically thrust into the butts of military-styled weapons, granting additional security to men fearing the unknown.
After a thirty-minute trek through the ruins, the men followed Ahmed into an area that led to an enclosed space. The room was huge, and candles sufficiently gave light, much to the satisfaction of all but Ahmed.
It was Carleton Byrd who demanded that Ahmed “Get to it.” Ahmed walked over to the only table in the room. He extracted something from under the belly of the table and gently placed the thing on the table. Ahmed beckoned for Mr. Byrd to come to the table and claim his prize.
As Carleton walked over to the table, the object began to emit a glow that showed that the thing was of metal. It was also observed that there was a hollowed-out hand print in which one could place their hand. Carleton gazed up at Ahmed, and Ahmed pointed to Mr. Byrd’s right hand.
In expectation of power and glory, Carleton placed his right hand in the handprint of the book. A clicking sound was heard from the book, and the book began to open as Carleton withdrew his hand slowly. The book opened to the only page that was in the book with three words displayed that read, SAY YOUR NAME.
Carleton again looked to Ahmed for instruction as Ahmed tilted his head to the side, suggesting to Mr. Byrd to follow the instructions.
Carleton Byrd could not be called a coward when the situation involved money, power, or both. He accepted the challenge, spoke his name, and was immediately transported out of the room into a world he knew not. His mercenaries were last seen running from the room into the ruins, where they encountered the band of Bedouins who quickly snatched life from them.
Carleton was attempting to adjust his surroundings when the whiff of a very pungent odor assailed his huge nostrils. His eyes were also adjusting to the ambient light. “What the…” was a thought affixed in his mind to transport to lips that failed to respond when he noticed that he felt very heavy. He began to lift his muscular hairy arms only to see that at the end of those arms were huge paws with long serrated claws.
He ran his long tongue along his lips. He felt the long canine teeth that shouldn’t have been there. With his clawed hand; paw, he felt the four large canines and further felt the immensity of his now colossal head. Carleton Byrd was now thoroughly frightened.
While dreading the horror of his physical change, his eyes became fully adjusted to the light. He could see countless diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, and other precious gems. Alongside these beauties were lumps of gold, silver, platinum, and other indistinguishable precious metals. A shriek of excitement was attempted that never correlated with his speaking organ as he emitted a deep growl that caused him to stumble back on his hooved feet. He could tell by the sound of the hoof hitting the ground that he was more than a thousand pounds, and his enormous frame seemed to shake as he moved.
He heard a noise off to his left and saw an animal resembling a cow, except it had four eyes on its head. Upon seeing the beast, Carleton salivated as he felt a rumble in his stomach. Against his volition, he bounded over to the beast and clasped his huge mouth over the back of the animal's neck, thus breaking its neck. As the animal fell over dead, Carleton bit down into the beast's side and tore away a massive piece of flesh that he quickly devoured.
In his mind, he was terrified of his behavior. Still, he could not prevent himself from devouring more and more of the beast.
Carleton Byrd thought that he would convulse and vomit at his actions. Still, to his surprise, the blood tasted ever so sweet. The blood would remain precious for the next year that Carleton would spend there before returning to earth as Carleton Byrd.
When the Police arrived, they took custody of the blood-encrusted stranger, wrapped him in a blanket, and placed him in their temporary care. When asked his name, there was an unintelligible guttural response. Through the matted hair and long beard, he barely looked human. Barely.
He was taken to the nearest hospital, which had a prison ward. There, they shaved and bathed the wretch and tried to feed him. He rejected everything that was soup and liquid. He was even looking around as though he expected some other nourishment. There was none.
His attending physicians had determined they might wait to feed him solid foods until they could ascertain his plight. They'd wait a few days before introducing solids, and then he'd only receive rabbit chow, bread, and lettuce.
Unable to effectively communicate with the stranger, they were inclined to take his fingerprints. Due to the condition of his hands and fingers, only one fingerprint emerged for scrutiny. Somehow, the stranger had corrupted his hands in such a fashion that the hands resembled some rough digging tool.
Not wanting to eat hospital food, the stranger began to lose weight. Despite the condition that he was found in, he was in otherwise excellent physical shape. His muscles were finely honed, and there didn't appear to be any excessive flat on his frame. The doctors were puzzled about the growth of short hair over his entire body except for the soles of his feet and hands. Efforts were also made to determine the strange odor that emanated from his body. Numerous bathing in scented salts failed to remedy the issue.
When his fingerprints returned, it was discovered that his name was Carleton Byrd, a man of wealth and influence. None of that seemed to matter to Carleton Byrd.
The Police could not attach any crime to Mr. Byrd, so he was allowed to return home. The newspapers recounted how Carleton Byrd had mysteriously disappeared over a year ago. Much conjecture about his fate, where the most prominent theme was kidnapped. Speculation continued as Mr. Byrd still could not make a verbal exchange.
Upon returning home, his attending physicians instituted plans to have care personnel on hand until Mr. Byrd's expected recovery.
"Mr. Byrd, we need you to try and eat some food. We're concerned that your health may deteriorate further," said his Nutritionist.
His tray of food lay before him and was moved closer to him. His eyes scanned the plate and noticed the roast beef. Pulling the plate towards him, he lifted the plate up to his mouth and devoured the meat. Where there was blood on the plate, he used his long tongue to consume it all. Afterward, he looked toward the Nutritionist as if there were more.
She brought him a plate piled high with shaved roast beef that he consumed in mere moments. Satiated, he lay back in his high-back chair and drifted off into a deep slumber replete with loud snoring.
He refused to leave the chair for his bed. The following day he began a howling that only ended when his food was served. Each feeding showed marked improvements in his overall disposition. His strength was returning, and he was a picture of health.
Part of his regimen had a psychologist on board to interview him to determine his past year's whereabouts. Of course, the interview would require Mr. Byrd to be able to speak. No such luck in that department. Whenever Mr. Byrd attempted to talk, one was rewarded with grunts, growls, or other indecipherable utterings. The psychologist ventured that something traumatic had stolen his voice.
Carleton Byrd would not sleep in his bedroom or in his bed. He chose to lie on the floor in his living room, where he would sit for hours looking out his large picture window. Often Carleton would crawl over to the large window and look out over the expanse of his estate. At times he ventures into howling for great lengths of time. Staff usually retired to the furthest end of the estate to maintain their sanity.
When allowed outside for walks, he ran from one end of the estate to another. The grounds person remarked that Mr. Carleton never seemed winded after his runs. After the running, there would be a few hours of walking the yards and fondling the foliage.
When Carleton Byrd's psychologist's notes were later read, it was noted that several strange instances occurred out on the estate.
"Mr. Byrd was walking the estate on this particular day when he chanced to smell several plants growing along the outer wall. I was walking about twenty paces behind him as he liked his freedom. Then, I observed Mr. Carleton sniff a particular plant, grab a heaping handful, and consume it."
"The behavior so startled me that I was unable to act. When I recovered my senses, I approached Mr. Byrd to announce my dissatisfaction. Still, I was prevented so by what next happened."
"Mr. Byrd turned around to look at me, and I could see that he had tears in his eyes. As he continued to look at me, he sat down on his haunches and began a lamentable howl that unnerved me. After I could console him, we returned to the house, where he entered the living room and closed the door."
Another entry stated that an attendant had observed Mr. Byrd use the bathroom. "Mr. Byrd had left the bathroom door ajar, and per my instructions, I wanted to ensure his safety. As I watched through the door's slight opening, Mr. Byrd placed his feet on the commode seat and urinated into the bowl."
It was two days later that Carleton Byrd had once again disappeared. A search party was formed that grid-searched the estate for three consecutive days. Not a trace was found of the subject. His paper appeared in the media for several months. Family members once again offered a hefty reward for his whereabouts. The prize was never fulfilled.
Unbeknownst to many, Carleton Byrd realized life's gravity in the real world. It was a life incompatible with his year-long sojourn in that dreaded time dimension. There he was free to roam uninhibited. There he was able to eat at will until he was satisfied. There he could prowl with his fellows.
Each waking moment back on his estate had assured him that his bestial nature would eventually surface. He would then be under the scrutiny of men. They would lock him up, and experiments would follow.
A cacophony of howls assailed his pointed ears. He responded with a long wail of his own. He could feel his jowls again enlarging as his huge mouth came into being. The protrusion of his canines still hurt as they begin to lengthen.