Face to Face - Hate to Hate!
The KGB has kidnapped Cecil Montrose, an American professor whose electronic experiments may yield a means to contact spirits of the dead. The KGB has its own use for the professor. Richard Camellion, the Death Merchant, has got a job: pry Montrose loose from the Reds - by any means that work.
It's a cross-country dance of ambush and attack. The Reds have a head start and Camellion has no time to spare. He's a whirling dervish of destruction as he leads a top-notch kill team on a crusade to crack the KGB's cover. This time he'll use every gruesome tool of his trade to exile the Reds - from the USA to the Land of the Dead!
Joseph Rosenberger dedicates The Soul Search Project to the Cosmic Lord of Death, "the best friend mankind will ever have". (I can't help but notice how puny Rosenberger's name is on the cover, as though letting readers know who wrote the damn thing was nearly an afterthought. Re the "Over 12 Million Copies In Print" notice: I wonder how much Rosenberger was paid for these books. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was a flat fee per manuscript, with no royalties.)
Richard Camellion's latest mission (as noted above) is to rescue Professor Montrose from the Russians before the "pig farmers" can learn of his remarkable experiments in contacting the souls of the deceased. Getting Montrose back safely from the KGB will be "another stab in the bloated body of atheistic communism".
Before Rosenberger explains what Montrose was doing, he spends seven pages having a couple of CIA scientists talk a lot of mumbo-jumbo of how the human body is actually a lot of empty space and that the brain needs an outside "mind" to send it information:
"I refer to the scientific fact that our present-day insights into the nature of matter prove that ninety-nine percent of all matter—be it flesh or steel or stone—is void. Let me give an example. Let us say we take an atom from the human toe. We shall now magnify the atom until it is the size of an apple, that is, until the nucleus is the size of an apple. On this kind of scale where would the next atom be? Between one thousand to two thousand miles away! Looking upon our bodies, based on this scale, we would see a vast universe composed of many millions of trillions of atoms forming billions of galaxies. If the nuclei of those atoms were shining, we would see a vast, starry sky of unimaginable spaces. So you see, our body, of which we have only a faint perception when using our limited senses, is really a 'great emptiness' with atoms, forming molecules, dispersed at great distances." ...Before getting to the details (such as they are, or can be) of Montrose's work:
"All matter, all the furniture in this room, the very building we are in, all of it is mostly empty space. That is why our vision can pass through solid glass several inches thick; that is why hundreds of radio and television signals, carrying speech, music, and pictures, are at this moment traveling straight through the solid walls of this house and through our very 'solid' bodies. It is absolutely vital that each of you comprehends this truth of emptiness. By absorbing it, you will be able to grasp the scientific fact that it is possible to have two or more things occupying the same space at the same time." ...
"The premise is difficult to accept emotionally," agreed Dr. Lessenstein. He glanced in annoyance at Herbert Aduss who, lighting his pipe, was puffing out clouds of smoke. "It is obvious to anyone that we experience our physical bodies in everyday three-dimensional space and time. This means that our minds and souls are living in another space-time system which interpenetrates our physical bodies and occupies substantially the same space as our physical bodies. Hence, the 'next world' is the one in which our minds and souls already live and in which our minds and souls will continue to live. This means that when we have shed our worn-out physical bodies, we will be aware of the surroundings in which our minds and souls are living. We shall then be in the astral planes. There are various planes, this explaining the meaning of the Bible's 'many mansions.'" ...
"Another law that is being accepted more and more—not yet by all scientists, particularly in my fields, which are psychiatry, parapsychology, and psychobiogenic chemistry—is that the brain is not the mind, which is to say that the human encephalon does not generate thought. The brain is only the receiver. Or one might say that it is by means of the brain that the mind expresses itself.
"To put it another way—we know that the brain controls all aspects of the body. We can say that the body is the bioelectrical mechanism and that it is controlled by its computer, which is the brain. We can also say with confidence that the human brain is infinitely more advanced than the most sophisticated computer built by man. But even the brain would be totally useless without a programmer, some intelligence separate and totally removed from the computer itself. Gentlemen, it is the mind that is the programmer and interpenetrates the empty space in that jellylike mass we call the brain. It is the mind that controls every single action of the more than sixty trillion cells which make up the physical body. Is that not amazing?"
Dr. Herbert Aduss was saying, "We do know that Professor Montrose used a shielded transmitting-receiving system. The sets were encased in a Faraday cage, which is not a barrier to mental, psychic, or spiritual energies. Other components were an AM receiver, a standard five-inch magnet speaker, a microphone, a tape recorder, and an audio tone generator. Oh yes, I must not forget the electrically activated quartz transducer that used ultraviolet light—and the broadcasts were made on the kilohertz wavelength. Pragmatically, I don't suppose it matters how Montrose—"You get the feeling that Rosenberger could easily continue in this vein for another 40 pages.
Camellion sighed. He is leaving out many important points. The oscillator antenna—it was a one-fourth wavelength stub—radiated the 1200-MHz signal into the chamber at focal point F. At the other focal point F, he had a one-fourth wavelength open section which acted as a parallel resonant section at the fixed 1200 MHz frequency. A miniature demodulation amplifier was installed at the base of the microwave oscillator center. Fortunately, the Company has all his notes and tapes. But the pig farmers have Montrose!
"—did it. What is of tremendous importance is that Professor Montrose succeeded in talking to the dead! ...
"For one thing," said Dr. Lessenstein severely, "it is difficult for any discarnate intelligence to find the sufficient vibratory level by means of which it can use mental power to form words that can be audible in our space-time continuum. The sound energy imparted to the molecules of air from spoken words is at a very low frequency—from a few hundred to a few thousand cycles per second. Our radios receive waves of energy which vibrate at hundreds of thousands of cycles per second. Our telephone conversations are carried across the country by energy which has a vibrational frequency of millions of cycles per second. Light rays, with which we are able to see, have a frequency of roughly twelve trillio2n cycles per second, and soft X rays, hard X rays, gamma rays, etc., vibrate at even higher frequencies."
Excited now, Lessenstein stopped to inhale.
Dr. Aduss stared at Heyd. "Remember, all activity in the world of spirit is purely mental. Think of the most vivid dream you have ever had and you will only partly get the idea of what we are talking about."
Also, a footnote on page 172:
Professor Montrose and his experiments do not seem so fantastic when one learns that back in the 1950s the CIA tried to contact dead Soviet agents in the hope that these souls would now see the falseness of communist materialism and "defect" to the West with all kinds of secrets about the Soviet Union—this information from former CIA agent Victor Marchetti. Source: Mind Wars. by Ron McRae. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1984.That's actually a real book: "Mind Wars: The True Story of Government Research into the Military Potential of Psychic Weapons".
The Soul Search Project opens with Camellion and Phil Heyd flying a two-seater Cessna 340 into a small airport outside Atlanta. (Montrose did his work in Atlanta.) Immediately after they land, gunmen in a Hughes OH-6 Cayuse helicopter swoop down and fire at them, "the Beretta M-12 SMG spitting out a stream of 9x19mm Parabellum slugs, and a U.S. AR-18 assault rifle spewing 5.56x45 projectiles". As the copter circles around and prepares to make another run, Camellion and Heyd plan their counterattack. In the end, the Death Merchant's slugs damage the rotor blades and the Cayuse is forced to land. After the occupants are riddled with slugs, the Death Merchant and Heyd have little choice but to surrender to the Georgia state police.
Naturally, the state cops don't believe Camellion's and Heyd's claim of being CIA agents; one Southern trooper says that Heyd's CIA ID card "don't mean no never mind". The locals are also a bit confused by the clothing worn by Camellion and Heyd, and think they might be "queers". (Camellion has a "white shirt with a frilly front" and Heyd is wearing "a lavender Sarasota Chintz jacket, a blue-and-white-plaid sportsshirt, sandpiper slacks, and pink Cardin wingtip shoes".) They are rescued when two other members of their top-secret group (Blue Eagle Force) arrive, flash their badges, and demand their release because they are part of a top-secret operation vital to national security.
There are also some humorous descriptions of how tough Camellion sounds when he cuts Georgia Sergeant Duddy Hallbanks down to size:
"Or you will do what?" The Death Merchant dropped each word with all the force of a tiny pistol shot, his whiplash tone a tossed gauntlet, an undisguised Go to hell! I dare you! It was his sheer gall and cold-blooded nerve that tossed Hallbanks and the other state cops off balance. ...Meanwhile, men at the Ceskoslovenska Socialisticka Republika embassy are offering awkward exposition about the successful kidnapping of Professor Montrose and explaining to the reader exactly when and how he will be transferred to "Seattle, in the State of Washington".
It was his icy calm and steely inaccessibility that seemed to defy all that was normal. Abruptly, Hallbanks had the fleeting thought that he was confronted with the possibility of the impossible and facing a man who had come from the far side of nowhere ... a man who had come from a long way and a long time.
Blue Eagle Force has one small clue: the man who headed the Montrose kidnapping is Karel Konecky, a Czech diplomat at the United Nations. So a flight to New York is planned. Camellion and a female agent named Brendalee Charters dress up as two of Konecky's friends (the CIA has photos and the DM is a master with disguises). Unfortunately, Konecky's apartment is wired to the apartment on the floor below so when Camellion and Charters try to escape, they are met by gun-carrying goons on the stairs. The goons are quickly killed (as are two doormen in the lobby) before they escape into an alley beside the building.
Hobbs and his wife are injected with dexedrine to hype them up and then thioridazine to make them crash. While under the influence of the drugs, they slip up and come close to revealing sensitive information, but they still refuse to confess. It's only after Camellion shoots Elina in the head that Hobbs starts talking. Hobbs (actually Anastas Sofrenovitch) says the KBG station is housed in an older/poorer section of Seattle, at Kibbs Klock Kove. There is a wild shootout at the clock repair shop and Camellion learns from four captured Russians that Montrose is not being brought through Seattle. One of dead Russian officials has a book of matches in his pocket from a religious curio shop in Florida and Camellion believes this is a clue. Could a high-ranking Soviet agent be dumb enough to carry around something that could tip off the CIA to the entire operation? Yep. The Florida shop is raided (in an operation headed by Camellion's racist friend, Lester Vernon Cole), but Montrose has been moved out to a huge Russian vessel in the Atlantic. And so the big finale occurs on the "high seas", with Camellion, Cole, and 30 commandos storming the General Rodion Malinovsky.
(Cole expresses another reason to rescue Montrose: "Assuming it's all true, what Montrose has learned from the dead could mean that psychokinetic energies could be used to disturb the memory functions of microelectric chips, as well as the new biologic chips when they're perfected. Should the pig farmers ever perfect that potential, our missiles would blow up in their own silos. The Soviet Union wouldn't have to send one missile at us across the North Pole. Our own would do the job for them.")
The hand-to-hand combat in the final fight is classic Rosenberger:
The Death Merchant, so close to one Slavic slob he could see a mole on his left cheek, fired the left Coonan point-blank at the same time as he pulled the trigger of the right magnum pistol. The face of Mole vanished in a shower of skin, blood, and bone, all the features melting faster than a wax candle tossed into a blast furnace. The second Russian managed to get off a short burst of 9mm projectiles from a Stechkin MP, the hot stream of metal passing under Camellion's left armpit, several of the slugs tearing through a rear canvas strap of a shoulder bag. The Cosmic Lord of Death permitted only one mistake per victim. Fyodor Mikhailovich Yelchenki had made his and it was fatal. Camellion's .357 Glaser bullet struck him just below the breastbone, tore out his stomach, ripped out a section of his lower spine, and splattered the man behind him with pieces of flesh, bone, blood, and shirt, plus some bits of leather from Yelchenki's belt. The bullet then bored into the man's left side and killed him when it stabbed all the way, horizontally, through his stomach. ...Etc.:
To the Death Merchant, who found himself hemmed in on all sides by tough Spetsnazska, it was worse than being caught in the middle of south Chicago. He employed a middle front snap kick that caved in a Russian's stomach and at the same time started another creep on the short road of choking to death, giving him a right four-finger spear stab to the throat. Ducking a terrific Seiken forefist and just barely escaping a side thrust kick, the foot of the Russian almost touching the side of his ballistic helmet, Camellion twisted, turned to his left, and employed a very rapid double blow against another pig farmer who was trying to crack his skull with an empty Vitmorkin machine pistol. He must be an idiot! Such a blow would not even dent this helmet. Camellion's left hand shot out and clamped around the man's right wrist as he let the dummy have a right-handed vertical Shuto knife-hand chop on the left side of the face, then, as the Russian gasped loudly in pain and jerked back, stabbed him directly in the eyes with a right Ni Hon Nukite two-finger spear thrust. A left-leg roundhouse kick to the groin sent the man reeling back, gagging and vomiting all over himself. He had a perfectly good reason to bring up his lunch: his testicles had been crushed. ...
Kidlikof came straight in while the KGB specialist darted to the Death Merchant's left in an effort to get behind him. Camellion then did the totally unexpected. Just when Shport was only a split second from passing him, Camellion jumped to the left in front of him, so fast and so close that if he hadn't put up his left arm, his face would have collided with the Russian's. Camellion's left hand darted to Shport's face in a tiger mouth grip, his fingers digging into the man's cheeks. To an observer, the clutch would have seemed like a mediocre blow. But it was not the force that counted; it was how the fingers were applied and what they did that made the difference. What they did was apply a specific pressure to facial nerves, the sensation penetrating deeply inside the head to a knot of neurones known as the "gasserian ganglion." The gasserian ganglion is headquarters for the nerves of sensation that serve the eyes, the nose, and the upper and lower jaws. When the knot is disturbed in any way, all hell breaks loose: the eyes can't focus, orientation is lost, and often the victim loses consciousness, if one is lucky. If he's not, then he suffers an agony similar to thermite burning inside his face and head. Yuly Shport was not lucky. He screamed shrilly from the unbelievable agony that would last a full five minutes.
Rosenberger is still screwing up military time. He writes that Camellion wants an attack to begin "at thirteen hundred hours tomorrow morning". Rosenberger means 1:00 AM - but 1300 is 1:00 PM.
"'It is the duty of the future to be dangerous!' These were the words burned into a wooden plaque that hung on a wall in the den of the Death Merchant's Memento Mori ranch in Texas."
"If the pilot had half the sense God gives to oysters, he and his buddy would call it a night and head for home."
"'Konecky, you get out first,' ordered Camellion, who was angrier than a crosseyed gopher in a cactus patch."
"That roofing company will be as clean as a nun's conscience by the time we get to Seattle."
Camellion "had a good feeling about [Jonathan] Fury, even if the guy did eat tons of wheat germ ... and was forever washing his hands as though he had murdered Jesus Christ."
"Quickly, she slipped into her white robe and stepped into her clog houseslippers—all the while half turned to Camellion (who would rather pat a Walther P-38 than a pussy)."
"The Soviet agent sensed that the man holding the two large pistols was not an ordinary individual. There was a deadly self-assurance about the way he spoke, the way he moved. Here was a man at home with violence and intrigue, with a lethal capability as well as self-control."
"'It's not going to be a ringside circus like it was last night,' the Death Merchant said, the flames of a warrior-monk burning in his blue eyes. 'This time we use stealth ...'"
"Double fudge! If I put a quarter into a parking meter, it would come up three lemons!"
"Yuri Miktkeneyev fired a long burst with his MAC-Ingram as the Death Merchant started to go down, the line of hot metal coming dangerously close to Camellion's back and right rib cage, four of the slugs so close that a sheet of paper could not have been inserted between them and cloth of Camellion's shirt." (Earlier, it is noted that a slug misses Camellion's neck "by only three-sixth of an inch"; why wouldn't Rosenberger write "one-half of an inch"? Does 3/6 seem smaller than 1/2?)
"With great difficulty, Cole pulled in his legs so that his knees were almost touching his chin. 'Man, I feel like an oversized fetus in the womb of an undersized midget!'"
"In the very long run, none of it made any difference . . . none of it. In less than ten years, the United States would be a radioactive wasteland, and when the sun did finally shine through the canopy of dust, years later, it would shine on a planet of horror, a little ball of death. And it's only 315 million, 360,000 seconds away. All aboard for Doomsday . . ." (315,360,000 seconds is equal to ten 365-day years, but what about leap years?)
Death is "a simple transition from three-dimensional imprisonment into spiritual freedom ... Camellion also knew that the true purpose of life was a search—and nothing more than a short journey. A step toward Total Wisdom, a step toward God. Gary Royden had completed his journey in the world of physical particles. He was now totally in the realm of Spirit."
An exchange: "Which of you is Richard Camellion?" "That's the name on my baptismal record," lied Camellion. So either his name is Camellion and there is a fake name on his baptismal record or Camellion is not the Death Merchant's true name. Mystery!
While in Manhattan, the Death Merchant reveals: "I lived in New York for almost four years some years ago. I was there on very special and very private business." (I don't think this has been mentioned in any of the previous 61 volumes.)
This book is roughly 50 pages longer than any previous Death Merchant volume, coming in at 260 pages of small print. ... And so this has been an extra-long recap!