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Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Ancestors

15 March 1970

     “There’s a story about a man who tries to revive a long-dead relative through magical means… are you familiar with it?”

   No reply. The doctor squared some papers on his desk before continuing. “Do you understand?”

   The man seated opposite stared at the doctor. He made no signs of comprehension.

   “It’s old. Poe or someone. Maybe Lovecraft. Regardless, the plot is suspiciously like the testimonial documents in your apartment,” the doctor went on, glancing at his scribbled notes on the cover of a report on his desk. “But your notebooks are written in the form of a diary, not like a fictional account. What does it mean? Some of the passages are bizarre-looking equations, or perhaps an extinct language of some kind. Both, maybe. We’ve had difficulty transliterating the symbols and glyphs in these sections. And they’re out of chronological order. Almost as if there were more notebooks, and different sections were written in different volumes, but we think most of them were lost in the fire. Are they a code, perhaps? A statement of some type?”

   No response, just the background drone of the air conditioning system.

   “There are a few places where you wrote ‘I’m alive!’ and ‘They stole our minds!’… then you make reference to your twin brother who appears to have died in the fire. And there’s this idea that you were both tricked into swapping something, but you make no reference in the remaining notebooks about what you were tricked into swapping, or who was responsible… Can you explain any of this? Is it what you believe or just a story?”

   The man swallowed but did not react otherwise.

   “You’re leaving us few options here,” the doctor intoned, sighing. “And your caregivers tell me you haven't said anything in close to a month. All you do is stand in your room and stare into the mirror.”

   Frustrated by the lack of response, the doctor leaned forward, his gaze fixed on the man’s face, squinting his eyes for any hint of understanding. “Are you hearing me? They also tell me you don’t appear to sleep and haven’t for weeks.”


   The doctor gripped the edges of his desk and reclined back in his chair. The man blinked, slow and reptilian. Though slightly disheveled in his scrubs, his high-cheeked face and intense green eyes still had a semblance of intelligence under the thick crown of dark curly hair.

   After another few moments, the doctor punched the intercom button on his telephone. “Please escort Mr. Wingate back to his room.”

   After his patient was gone, the doctor updated his assessment:

   Still no improvement in Wingate. His affect is flat, unresponsive. By all accounts he still hasn't slept in more than three weeks. Discovered he is ex-military. Honorable Discharge. So far, no complications physically. X-rays aren’t showing any issues, and neither are the EEGs, though there appears to be unusual activity in the hippocampus and amygdala regions.

   Other clinical signs—reflexes, bodily functions such as eating and waste elimination, as well as general mobility—seem normal; basal metabolic rate and heartbeat are quite low. BP is low normal…

   The doctor thought for a moment, fingers poised over the typewriter keys.

   I've never seen a case like this. Checking the literature, there have been a few instances of this sort of response after trauma, especially physical torture. Sometimes drug overdoses cause this kind of dissociative reaction. A type of catatonia. Although the ER noted that a seizure preceded this, the patient has no previously documented history of such issues. . .

   Another pause.

   So far, still no pathogens or infections have been detected. Patient did present with delirium when first admitted. He kept repeating, ‘I’m alive… They stole our minds… I’ll get you…,’ and so on. He reportedly said this for several hours in the ER during his seizure before going silent. Over the course of the following few days, he withdrew more and more until he reached his current state. No luck in locating any living relatives, though, apparently, he had an identical twin. Not sure the status of that relationship, as his apartment was practically destroyed in the fire and only a few files and notebooks were salvaged. Could it be they had a fight? The body they recovered was so badly burned that dental records were inconclusive for identification purposes, but the M.E. theorized it could be him… or not. The remains were likely a male based on the pelvic measurements, but there were other issues. There might have been pets or something that were also killed in the blaze, as other bones that were decidedly not human were commingled with the remains at the scene.

   The doctor checked his watch.

   He knows to eat and use the lavatory. The mirror fascination manifested three weeks ago, coincident with the insomnia. . . Will monitor for another 48 hours before escalating.

   Pushing away from his desk, Dr. Ward had no reason to believe his life was in danger. He rose from his chair, suddenly feeling much older than his fifty years. He stretched, walked to the coat closet, donned hat, gloves, topcoat. He snapped out the light, locked the door to his office, walked to the elevator. He was looking forward to bridge at the Tomerlins with Lydia and the Beaumonts.

   Outside, the night was clear and crisp, the stars subdued by high gossamer clouds. He inhaled the cold air and was immediately transported back to those endless Midwestern autumns of his youth, replete with the earthy smell of firewood char, bright orange pumpkins, the languorous tumult of falling leaves. His mind drifted as he ambled to the carpark. Peculiar how those days—so distant in time—were still so vivid in his mind’s eye. Like yesterday.

   The drive home was uneventful, traffic light. As he pulled off the rain-sheened street to his house and into the garage, he noted that everyone was already parked in front. The warm glow from the living room window radiated softly through the autumnal gloom, golden and inviting. The trip from his office afforded time to daydream; some of his greatest insights and breakthroughs had presented themselves during those meditative intervals away from tedious paperwork and the day-to-day obligations of co-worker interactions. As the radio murmured in the background, on-and-off syncing with the wipers, he once again found himself absent-mindedly puzzling over his strange patient, Mr. Wingate, as the more mundane cares of the day melted away: …Still, Wingate has a strange familiarity… I guess he reminds me of that subject we tested under MK-Ultra a few years ago—during the ‘Switch Program.’ Probably just a coincidence… But that fellow would have to be older after all these years. An odd one, too, though there is a resemblance. He was one of the ones we lost track of just as our funding was pulled by CIA. What was his damn name…?

   He shook his head, opened the car door. He knew that after a lively dinner the games would begin, and he was excited to completely leave work behind, at least for the rest of the evening.

   As he entered the house from the side door separating the garage from the mudroom, Dr. Ward had no idea the horrors awaiting him in the next few hours. . . And he never would have believed—had anyone told him—that he and everyone he knew, in fact everything, would cease to exist as he understood them shortly afterward. 

15 March 1946

   He had decided that evil was a moral evaluation, a construct. There was no such actual state; it was a conception that people fell back on when they could not explain terrible people, events, or circumstances. The idea itself vibrated with religious overtones not useful to the comprehension of willful transgressions: It’s a dodge, an excuse for negative conduct. There are only good and bad behaviors, good and bad actions. Considered in toto, these actions may often be deemed “evil” or “divine”; in reality no such conditions exist. To explain is not necessarily to excuse, though people confuse these ideas; the notion of “evil” leaves no way to explain horrific outcomes, only to remark on them.

   As Joseph Ward watched the trials in Nuremberg unfold, he was taken not only with the so-called “banality of evil” on display, but also this idea that evil was extant in the first place. The men he heard testifying were not monsters, far from it. They may have occupied the grotesque hinterlands of humanity; may have been the progeny of hateful, twisted ideologies; even exhibited a loathsome willingness to subvert their egos to the personality of so slight a man as Hitler. In truth, none of them seemed quite human, either. But certainly, none were evil; they were simply very bad people who chose mayhem and violence to impose their will on others for short-term glory, enrichment, and, sometimes, purely sadistic reasons. These were men—and in some disturbing examples, women—of action. Terrible thoughts alone were not enough, he decided; creating a ghost requires action. To that end, speaking of an “evil act” was different; the phrase is not an evaluation of the action itself, merely a descriptor. And without an act, there was no crime, no injustice, no horror.

   Just a few days prior, Joseph had read with considerable interest about Winston Churchill’s assertion regarding the Soviets—that they were in fact closing ranks, that an Iron Curtain was descending across the Continent. This was especially troubling as he observed the Nazi defense play out from his bench seat in Courtroom 600 of the Nuremberg Palace of Justice. The International Military Tribunal had made its case spectacularly, he felt, but the politics of the moment seemed to outpace the looming history. Just yesterday, March 14th, Stalin had seemed emboldened in an interview with Pravda, rinsing his bloody hands of responsibilities to come, even suggesting that the U.S. and England were like the Nazis. Between the expansion of this frigid hostility and the recent public debut of the U.S. government’s computer marvel ENIAC, Joseph felt a growing personal unease—the future appeared to have arrived with shocking speed and impact, disrupting life, changing perspectives, realigning alliances in strange and unanticipated ways.

   The old order was dead.

   Later, as twilight dimmed the world outside his hotel room, Joseph stared from the dingy courtyard window at the broken shells of buildings and the crater-blackened streets below. There was still patchy snow on the ground in Nuremberg, but spring was very near. In the distance he heard thunder; the room was stuffy, musty smelling. He had no appetite after the horrific courtroom testimonies; his studies were due to resume in the United States in May, and he was scheduled to return home in a few days. Nuremberg had been a distraction from mother’s death in January, but it would be comforting to go back. The insanity and desperation of post-war Europe depressed him.

   He opened his notebook and started writing, continuing his thoughts from the courtroom:

   To describe someone as “evil” is an equivocation; it’s a way to avoid dealing with a scenario or person that is very unpleasant or disturbing. Often the person responsible for these sorts of horrors is not “evil” but mentally deranged in a social, sometimes clinical, sense. “Crazy, not insane,” as my professor explained it; not the same as the legal definition of “insanity” which must pass the so-called M'Naghten Rule. Perhaps they're sociopaths, this is quite often rooted in brain damage, for example, or just callous. Inured to unacceptable levels of violence, which is more of a socialization problem.

   He snapped on the table lamp.

   “Evil” is not required in any of these instances. Are terrorists “evil”? No. Are they insane (leaving aside political or religious brainwashing and radicalization for a moment)? No. Yet they do commit evil acts. Same for criminals committing horrendous violence.

   But depravity… depravity does not require religion, superstition, or supernaturalism to explain it, only the processes of ritual to codify it or the cloaks of tradition to hide behind. It doesn’t need anything to explain it; people are not born evil or depraved: They acquire these characteristics. Some are simply miswired in their brains or are gradually exposed, slowly broken down, and develop a psychic callus as they attempt to treat themselves. Some become more and more violent after repeated exposure; others are more resistant to positive intervention, therefore more susceptible to negative influences and experiences. Still others become lost in the folds and recesses of a deteriorating brain, the mind increasingly untethered from reality—from a pathway to the self, to identity.

   It was dark outside. Joseph could just make out a few ethereal figures wending their way across the street. The storm caused the skeletons of bushes to scratch at the window. He was feeling tired now.

   There is no “moral” part of the brain; that is purely a mental construct. Individuals may be mentally, emotionally, or physically damaged by others—parents, lovers, friends. Plenty of extremists, Crusaders, even the Nazis, believed that God was on their side. But God does not take sides—or should not. God, it would seem, creates the circumstances where bad occurrences may manifest, yet looks unable or unwilling to control these circumstances. Rather than moral authority, the Deity instead exhibits moral indifference.

   So, what caused these people or groups to commit such atrocities? Belief did. They believed they were “right” to do these things, and that gave them the “moral authority” to carry out despicable acts on others. Dehumanization is a part of this process, also. It’s moral ambiguity… Ethical relativism. In some cases, there may be cultural or social reinforcers to confirm biases—even if only for a period, such as with the Nazis, or dire situations which may present themselves. But we learn first and best from our predecessors. Our forebears mark us with these reactions, these attitudes—actually their fears and insecurities—starting from an early age… not always on purpose, but more purposefully at times than we understand, I suspect.

   We build identities as we grow; develop a certain youthful idealism, even rebel against our upbringing… But, over time, we tend to lose sight of our goals and dreams for various reasons… excuses, really. We ossify in thought and deed. We acquire, and become paralyzed at the idea of losing our acquisitions… Before we realize it, we have become like our families before us.

   Joseph dropped his pen on the table, stretching his fingers. He thought for a moment, listening to the rain outside the hotel.

   But even in their flaws are our ancestors “evil”? No. They are, in many, many cases, simply people who think they are doing “good” for fill-in-the-blank reasons. Good, to them, may be relative, and depends very much on their desired outcome, no need for spiritualism or any other such explanation. They justify the consequences despite the means used to acquire them. Thus, I don't subscribe to the “bad seed” theory; all “bad” individuals and actions can be explained and understood, and we should learn more about them in order to comprehend how this seeming phenomenon happens.

   Also, people confuse extreme violence with moral lapse; sometimes it is required (self-defense, war, etc). It doesn't make one evil to do violent things, but then context is key; stripped of context, even the most understandable defense could appear just as untenable as any other offense. The inversion of this I describe as “elaborating the context”: Society often uses the stripped-of-context example as a pretense to rationalize why an overly developed response is necessitated; those who do horrible things never really believe that about their own actions; they can always explain and justify them. We must resist the impulse to simply say “it's inexplicable, it’s unfathomable.” Everything is fathomable, though not always pleasant. There is no supernaturalism.

   Anyone may become depraved, corrupted, depending on their given circumstances.

   Joseph closed his notebook. “Yet… that would take a lot for me personally. How can people get so lost?” He rubbed his face, bones weary, soul exhausted. “That’s enough for tonight.”

   He readied for bed. The lumpy mattress was squeaky and uncomfortable. Joseph had always found it hard to fall asleep in overwhelming quiet. As a native of the big city, he was used to the distant underwash of city noise; it comforted him. At some point, unnoticed, tiredness prevailed; his slumber was dark, fitful, disquieting:

   “How terrifying it must be. Living someone else’s life… They will find you out eventually… Do you ever get the feeling that you are an impostor?”

   His anus tightened at the question. “Before-before I became a professor, yes; before I regained the ability to hope… to imagine... to believe—”

   “Believe in what? We’re all doomed in here. Consider just how many species went extinct before it was even established they existed… How many are still undocumented and will never be known? Why should humans be any different? And how will you be saved? You must do what is required never to be discovered for the cowardly charlatan that you are.”

   “Who… who are you?” He swallowed; throat tight, dry.

   “No one. Everyone. Your past. Your ancestors. Your future. Your progeny.”

   “Why are you here? Leave!

   It laughed.

   “You can’t escape me. I’ll always be here.” 

16 March 1970

   Through the mirror, Wingate stared beyond his distorted, wavering reflection and into the deep past… and finally understood: It was not only alive. It was more than alive

   “A…ware.” His voice was garbled, its pitches shifting.

   And that awareness was shifting… Growing... Comprehending... Emerging... Now Wingate was shouting, his eyes bulging, mouth frothing—

   “Hold his arms! Hold his arms!” the orderly yelled, tossing his entire 300-pound bulk onto the convulsing man. A second orderly was trying to contain the patient’s legs, but was kicked in the face, sending teeth flying across the room to rattle like dice on the tiles of the floor.

   “Get him!

   “Alive! We’re alive!” Wingate screamed. His body stiffened like a man with end-stage tetanus.

   “Jesus! Get the doctor! Get Dr. Ward!

   With that, Wingate exploded to his feet, throwing the orderlies against the walls where they sagged in bloody, crumpled heaps. The stench of burning flesh was ripe in the confines of the cell, wisps of smoke rising off the two now incapacitated men from their charred, splitting skin. Wingate turned his attention from them, his fury now focused on a single goal as the emergency alarm blared: “WARD!

   Wingate grabbed his face. Under his smoking hands the skin was twitching, reshaping. The room was crackling with a hazy blue electrostatic charge, and the flesh on his arms bruised, blistered, while blood began to leak from his ears, fingernails, nose. The white scrubs he was wearing blossomed with bloodstains as it leaked from his pores. Strange, slender whips of flesh erupted through the skin of his arms, augmented by bony protrusions on his head, his hands suddenly as gnarled as an ancient oak tree.

   “My God. I’m on my way.” Joseph Ward hung up the telephone. He rubbed his temple in the darkness, abruptly sensing the onset of a migraine.

   “Who was that?” his wife, Lydia, asked, her sleepy voice syrupy in the darkness of their bedroom.

   “The hospital. I have to go in. Wingate is seizing—”

   “Now? Jesus, it’s three in the morning—”

   Joseph nodded, holding his hand up. “I know. I know. But he’s a special case. Reminds me of a subject from the Switch Program… Remember? That experiment where we tried to create the multiple personalities by feeding them synthetic drugs CIA cooked up? Spooky stuff.”

   “I remember when you were working on that project. Really bothered me. How could you feel comfortable doing that to people? I mean without their consent? I’m glad they terminated it….” Lydia trailed off, pulling the covers closer.

   Joseph looked down. After a moment he shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know. It seemed the way to go at the time. It wasn’t my idea, I was just following orders. I mean, nobody’s perfect, and we needed the money, the prestige of working for the CIA at the time, you recall. Things were tight, and they got a lot better with all that money… You didn’t object to that, did you?”

   Lydia looked away. Joseph swept his hand through his hair. He sensed her disappointment, and thought back on his time in Nuremberg, when he still had his idealism, the feeling that he was on the right side of history… sometimes, even lately, he was not so sure of that. Was not so sure he had been on the correct side of history in a long, long time. People change… they do what they think is right, and sometimes… sometimes it isn’t. Or they do what it takes to get ahead in life, to be taken seriously. And they try not to think too hard on the consequences. They tell themselves they ‘just need to get through it all…’ Does that make me a bad guy? An evil villain?

   “Anyway, Frank has already warned me to get him to open up before we have to escalate… or he might have to disappear. His words, not mine. Says the higher-ups seem to have taken a keen interest for some reason. Maybe he’s from another group they were tracking, I don’t know exactly.”

   “I thought they were all dead by now?” Lydia looked back up at him, eyes glimmering in the darkened room.

   Joseph pulled his pants on, tucked his shirt. His head was getting worse, but he tried to ignore the throbbing pain behind his eyes. “So, they said… it’s strange. Not sure what’s happening here, but I don’t want to get caught up in some investigation. And I’m not going to dig too hard. I need some plausible deniability here. And so do you. There’s a lot of ‘investigatory fever’ in DC at the moment, especially regarding Black Ops and so forth. I mean, we’re that close,” he pinched the air with his thumb and finger, “to getting the promotion. Frank wants out, and he’s recommended me. Interview went great. All I have to do is coast for the next few weeks and I’ll be made Director Ward.”

   Lydia watched him, bundling her nude body tighter under the bedclothes. “That close…,” she imitated his gesture.

   He smiled. A trickle of blood started down his lip. “Damnit!” He grabbed a tissue from the nightstand and dabbed at his nose. “Another nosebleed. Between the dry air and my allergies…” The blood stopped and he disposed of the bloodied tissue paper.

   “I’m sorry, baby. I hate that.”

   “Yeah, yeah. So let me go handle this.” He grabbed his keys, head pounding as he bent down to kiss her on the forehead. “My love. Back in a jiffy.” 

15 March 1996

   “It’s a real weird situation. Ever read about it? It’s a case study.”

   The elevator doors closed. Arthur shook his head. “No. Heard rumors, that’s it.”

   “They say it has some kind of strange ‘electro-chemical aura’ that can seriously burn you, even kill you. Burns other stuff, too, but only if he becomes enraged. Only happened a few times on my watch, and no one was hurt, but it made folks rethink the job. If you catch my drift.”

   “Really? That’s pretty wild!”

   “It is. The two orderlies, if you read about the case in the papers, had broken bones, burns all over their bodies. They both had to be committed because they seemed to have sustained some sort of long-term psychological damage. Couldn’t talk, unresponsive for a time. Eventually they healed and families took them home, but they weren’t ever right again. Each of them has passed on, but under mysterious circumstances. One disappeared, just left his clothing, all bloody, in a pile. Other one… they found his body, this was years later, mind you, and his head was gone. Like blown off. But there was no gun, no evidence that anyone had shot him. Just his head exploded one day, apparently. Case is still open on them, but…”

   Arthur’s eyes widened. “Holy shit. That’s very weird, man.”

   “No doubt. So, anyways, just remember, never turn your back on it. It’s dangerous. No touching with exposed skin. And ignore the weird stuff—it’s just trying to get into your head.”

   “Weird stuff?”

   Mark, the orderly, smiled. “You’ll see.”

   The elevator doors opened. A sign directly in front of them on the wall read: MAXIMUM SECURITY.

   Arthur glanced over at Mark. “Nice.”

   The two men walked down the long corridor, their heels clacking in the sterile confines of the brightly lit hallway. They passed several unused cells until they reached the final door at the very end.

   “How long have you been here?”

   Mark touched his chin. “Wow… over 15 years, I guess. Getting time to think about retirement. A few more years. Lots of people get spooked, but I take it in stride. Suit up,” Mark said. Both men secured their faceplates, gloves, and batons.

   Mark unlocked the door. “Coming in. Stand at the back wall, please.”

   The door swung open. In the room, a single figure was hunched over, breathing heavily.

   “Welcome.” The voice was deep, with a strange undertone Arthur could not quite identify. There was a rumbling quality to it that was multi-harmonic. “I am… aware.”

   The figure shuffled closer.

   “Close enough,” Mark said, pointing the baton like a sword. The figure stopped, and Arthur got a good look.

   The individual made no physical sense. There were weirdly shifting elements to its features; the visage looked almost blended together, morphing from one face to another, almost smeared as though caught in a timeslip, one moment solid another moment rippling and fluid. There was a disquieting element of shifting between masculine and feminine, human and non-human. Under the scrubs, its body appeared to be shifting in the same manner, changing and warping as though viewed through a waterfall. It cast no shadow anywhere on either its body or the floor.

   “I see we have a new keeper.”

   Mark nodded. “Yes. Arthur.”

   “Arthur…” the word rolled out, the polyphony bottoming out into an inaudible chest-rumbling sub-tone. “I look forward to your service.”

   The being spread its arms wide, and the lights started to slowly pulse.

   Then it began to levitate. 

16 March 1970

Police Incident Report

   OVERVIEW: At approximately 0347 hours on 16 March 1970, a disturbance was reported at the XXXXXX Mental Institute in XXXXXXXX, XXXX. The disruption involved staff and a patient, XXXXX XXXXXX. Mr. XXXXXX had been admitted several weeks prior as an involuntary committal due to disruptive and disturbing behaviors first reported at his apartment complex, XXXXXXXX XXXXX in XXXXXXXX, XXXX. According to staff at the Institute, XXXXXX had been a recently arrived tenant at the apartment complex, and there was concern that Mr. XXXXXXX might be capable of injurious and/or homicidal or suicidal behaviors. He had no previous history of confinement but was acting erratically after a party the previous week.

   A few days thereafter, there was a single-fatality fire at his complex. Several individuals were displaced as a result, to include Mr. XXXXXXX. His mental condition deteriorated, and he was reported via an anonymous tip. During a routine background check at the hospital, his military records were retrieved; except for his general service record in-country and Honorable Discharge status, they are sealed and require Top Secret clearances.

   Officers arrived due to an emergency alarm at approx. 0402 hours on 16 March 1970. There was a violent confrontation by Mr. XXXXXX in progress. He had severely injured two orderlies, Mr. Charles and Mr. Avery. Both were unconscious but expected to survive. A fire of unknown origin had already been extinguished. Several other staff were in lockdown; the doctor-in-charge, Dr. Joseph Ward, had arrived on scene approx. fifteen minutes prior and engaged with the patient. Dr. Ward has still not been located at this time, 1538 hours, 16 March 1970.

   The scene was very bloody and disorganized (REFER TO CRIME SCENE PHOTOS), and emergency services were contacted. Mr. XXXXXX was taken into custody and interrogated at the hospital under heightened security. Patient was exhibiting a variety of bizarre tics and other indescribable afflictions and growths, as well as apparently self-inflicted thermal injuries of a serious nature. REFER TO FILM AND AUDIO DEPOSITION.

   A partial transcription follows, as an example of the content of the testimony:

OFC GARNER: “You feel you're not ‘insane.’ But—”
MR. XXXXXX: “No, but he is not entirely sane at this point—”
OFC GARNER: “I thought you said he’s you? Your twin brother?”
MR. XXXXXX: “Yes. Genetically. We were still individuals in the before. However, we share a merged consciousness now, due to Ward’s actions.”
OFC GARNER: “So, you're saying he is your twin? But from the past?”
MR. XXXXXX: “No—he's me. From the future. From 1996. And my twin, yes. We are siblings as well as ancestors to one another, and so much more, now… since we decided to meld…”


   Mr. XXXXXX further claims that he was previously the victim of a radical government mind control experiment. He also stated that he finally remembered Dr. Ward was the one who had performed these experiments on him when he was enlisted, during anonymous trials. He said it was a form of “mind rape” and that he had been “mentally invaded.” These claims are so far unsubstantiated. Mr. XXXXXX also states that Dr. Ward has been “ingested” and has “joined us in our mind.” In fact, he has given the doctor partial awareness of “their” mind, and that he had to be “taken in” because his twin brother had been tortured in another similar experiment while enlisted and likewise “psychically abused.” He said “absorbing” Dr. Ward was punishment for his actions, because the so-called experiments had “unleashed a great power that had destroyed our lives as a result.”

   As noted, Dr. Ward has not been located yet, though his clothes have been; they were singed, bloody, but no other signs of the doctor, so they were collected as evidence and sent to the state crime lab for forensics testing. The body at the apartment fire—assumed to be Mr. XXXXXX’s brother—has not been conclusively identified at this time, either. 

15 March 2020

   “So, no charges were ever brought?”

   Arthur shook his head. “For what? Nobody even knows what this thing is. Is it Wingate? The brother? Ward? None of them? Something else? They never found Ward’s body, and they never figured out who died in the fire. Or if there was any MK-Ultra connection. I mean… it’s real Deep State shit, y’know?”

   The new recruit, Adam, shook his head. “Yeah. Like those chemical tanks they found in Louisville a while back.”

   “Oh, yeah… heard about that. Saw a documentary on it once.”

   The two men walked down the long corridor, their heels clacking in the sterile confines of the brightly lit hallway. They passed several unused cells as they approached the final door at the very end.

   Adam: “If this guy’s so weird and powerful, how can he be kept locked up? Why doesn’t he just like… escape with all these outlandish abilities and stuff?”

   Arthur chuckled. “I know. Seems crazy to me, too. Bullshit, I think. But they say he wants to stay here. Calls it a ‘prison within a prison.’ That he said he could get out, but he wants to stay to ‘punish Dr. Ward.’ That his brother is helping him keep Ward… ‘locked inside’ or whatever, because Ward allegedly fucked him up, too, another time. Split his mind apart. That’s what Mark told me, anyway. Claims he read the full report, uncensored. Not sure I buy that, but whatever. Seems kooky to me.”

   Adam nodded. “I know, right? OK, so maybe they uploaded his mind or something. I heard they were close to doing that. Maybe they tried it on him, early on, I mean, as an experiment. Or something like it.”

   Arthur shivered. “Experiments. Yeah, like the damned Nazis. Tuskegee. MK-Ultra. Man, that really creeps me out. Drugging you. Infecting you with shit. Uploading your mind? That’s not really even you anymore!”

   “Sure it is, it’s an exact copy! Holographic! There’s other ways to mess people up, too. Drugs can, sure, but so can digital simulacra. Virtual Reality will be doing it soon. And AI. Machine Learning… We won’t have mental illness in the future, I bet, because we’ll be able to cure it with pills and wetware reboots. Like my cousin… he had a bad trip once on LSD or Molly or something and decided to go off into the desert. Never heard from him again. Mom said he lost his mind. Lose your memories, lose your identity, so back all that up to a hard drive. Or the cloud, even, then they can download you… kinda what Facebook’s doing anyway. Then, instead of getting old, just replace parts with bionics, or robotics. Even clone your body. Take stem cells and regrow you—”

   “No. Way. It’s not ‘you’ anymore! It’s a Ship of Theseus problem… That stem cell situation is weird, too. Reminds me of the old ‘essential saltes’ thing from that Lovecraft story I mentioned. Sorta the same idea. ‘Cept now we can do it! Too weird for me…”

   Adam chuckled, shrugging. “Getting old, huh? You been here since 1996? That’s a long time. Might be time to think about life extension, dude.”

   Arthur laughed. “You kids today. You crack me up! You never even read Lovecraft, I bet. So much cool tech, medical advancements—”

   “Lovecraft? I heard that guy was a racist. My father really liked his stuff, but no, never read him… I like videogames.”

   They paused at the final door in the hall.

   “Don’t judge, Adam. Learn to keep the art and the artist separated or you’ll wind up hatin’ everything. At least check it out! So, anyway, like I was saying, you got nothing to concern yourself about, not like in the old days. Damn, we had AIDS. Ronald Reagan. Nuclear Winter. Chernobyl. The Reds. Y2K. 9/11. What do you folks have to worry about? Internet mobs? Sticks and stones! Social media? That stuff’s for idiots anyway. COVID-19? Give me a break. That’s just a cold! And what’s so bad about online porn? Damn, we had to sneak around with magazines…” Arthur hefted the baton, shaking his head. “Right, so back to work. Remember, just ignore the freaky stuff, like I told you. Take the precautions. No close contact touching. And never turn your back on it…

   “Now, we’re going in… suit up.”



(To the memory of

Dan O’Bannon)

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Archive of Stories
and Authors

Callum Leckie's

J.R. Torina's

J.R. Torina's

J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
house ('90-'97), runs Sutekh Productions
(an industrial-ambient music label) and
Slaughterhouse Records (metal record
label), and was proprietor of The Abyss
(a metal-gothic-industrial c.d. shop in
SLC, now closed). He is the dark force
behind Scapegoat (an ambient-tribal-
noise-experimental unit). THE HOUSE
IN THE PORT is his first publication.

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's exact whereabouts
are never able to be fully
pinned down, but what we
do know about him is laced
with the echoes of legend.
He's already been known
to haunt certain areas of
the landscape, a trick said
to only be possible by being
able to manipulate it from
the future. His presence
among the rest of us here
at the freezine sends shivers
of wonder deep in our solar plexus.

Konstantine Paradias & Edward

Konstantine Paradias's

Konstantine Paradias is a writer by
choice. At the moment, he's published
over 100 stories in English, Japanese,
Romanian, German, Dutch and
Portuguese and has worked in a free-
lancing capacity for videogames, screen-
plays and anthologies. People tell him
he's got a writing problem but he can,
like, quit whenever he wants, man.
His work has been nominated
for a Pushcart Prize.

Edward Morris's

Edward Morris's

Edward Morris is a 2011 nominee for
the Pushcart Prize in literature, has
also been nominated for the 2009
Rhysling Award and the 2005 British
Science Fiction Association Award.
His short stories have been published
over a hundred and twenty times in
four languages, most recently at
PerhihelionSF, the Red Penny Papers'
SUPERPOW! anthology, and The
Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. He lives
and works in Portland as a writer,
editor, spoken word MC and bouncer,
and is also a regular guest author at
the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Tim Fezz's

Tim Fezz's

Tim Fezz hails out of the shattered
streets of Philly destroying the air-
waves and people's minds in the
underground with his band OLD
FEZZIWIG. He's been known to
dip his razor quill into his own
blood and pen a twisted tale
every now and again. We are
delighted to have him onboard
the FREEZINE and we hope
you are, too.

Daniel E. Lambert's

Daniel E. Lambert teaches English
at California State University, Los
Angeles and East Los Angeles College.
He also teaches online Literature
courses for Colorado Technical
University. His writing appears
in Silver Apples, Easy Reader,
Other Worlds, Wrapped in Plastic
and The Daily Breeze. His work
also appears in the anthologies
When Words Collide, Flash It,
Daily Flash 2012, Daily Frights
2012, An Island of Egrets and
Timeless Voices. His collection
of poetry and prose, Love and
Other Diversions, is available
through Amazon. He lives in
Southern California with his
wife, poet and author Anhthao Bui.


Phoenix has enjoyed writing since he
was a little kid. He finds much import-
ance and truth in creative expression.
Phoenix has written over sixty books,
and has published everything from
novels, to poetry and philosophy.
He hopes to inspire people with his
writing and to ask difficult questions
about our world and the universe.
Phoenix lives in Salt Lake City, Utah,
where he spends much of his time
reading books on science, philosophy,
and literature. He spends a good deal
of his free time writing and working
on new books. The Freezine of Fant-
asy and Science Fiction welcomes him
and his unique, intense vision.
Discover Phoenix's books at his author
page on Amazon. Also check out his blog.

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee. He has been
a Romantic poet for as long as any-
one can remember, specializing in
the composition of spectral balladry,
utilizing to great effect a traditional
poetic form that taps into the haunted
undercurrents of folklore seldom found
in other forms of writing.
His poetry has appeared on the pages
of such publications as SPECTRAL
CTHULHU, and a poem of his,
"The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner,"
won the Rhysling Award for long-form
poetry. His collection of weird balladry
and Jack tales, THE LAY OF OLD HEX,
was published by Hippocampus Press in 2017.

Sanford Meschkow's

Sanford Meschkow is a retired former
NYer who married a Philly suburban
Main Line girl. Sanford has been pub-
lished in a 1970s issue of AMAZING.
We welcome him here on the FREE-
ZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Owen R. Powell's

Little is known of the mysterious
Owen R. Powell (oftentimes referred
to as Orp online). That is because he
usually keeps moving. The story
Noetic Vacations marks his first
appearance in the Freezine.

Gene Stewart
(writing as Art Wester)

Gene Stewart's

Gene Stewart is a writer and artist.
He currently lives in the Midwest
American Wilderness where he is
researching tales of mystical realism,
writing ficta mystica, and exploring
the dark by casting a little light into
the shadows. Follow this link to his
website where there are many samples
of his writing and much else; come

Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
urban storytelling takes root at the
crossroads of myth and history.
With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
his work as an overnight 911 paramedic,
a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
Audio Anthology, The Tide Pool, and
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.
When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
Daniel can be found performing with
his Brooklyn-based soul quartet
Ghost Star. His blog about the
ridiculous and disturbing world
of EMS can be found here.

Paul Stuart's

Paul Stuart is the author of numerous
biographical blurbs written in the third
person. His previously published fiction
appears in The Vault of Punk Horror and
His non-fiction financial pieces can be found
in a shiny, west-coast magazine that features
pictures of expensive homes, as well as images
of women in casual poses and their accessories.
Consider writing him at paul@twilightlane.com,
if you'd like some thing from his garage. In fall
2010, look for Grade 12 Trigonometry and
Pre-Calculus -With Zombies.

Rain Grave's

Rain Graves is an award winning
author of horror, science fiction and
poetry. She is best known for the 2002
Poetry Collection, The Gossamer Eye
(along with Mark McLaughlin and
David Niall Wilson). Her most
recent book, Barfodder: Poetry
Written in Dark Bars and Questionable
Cafes, has been hailed by Publisher's
Weekly as "Bukowski meets Lovecraft..."
in January of 2009. She lives and
writes in San Francisco, performing
spoken word at events around the
country. 877-DRK-POEM -

Blag Dahlia's
armed to the teeth

BLAG DAHLIA is a Rock Legend.
Singer, Songwriter, producer &
founder of the notorious DWARVES.
He has written two novels, ‘NINA’ and

G. Alden Davis's

G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story
in high school, and received a creative
writing scholarship for the effort. Soon
afterward he discovered that words were
not enough, and left for art school. He was
awarded the Emeritus Fellowship along
with his BFA from Memphis College of Art
in '94, and entered the videogame industry
as a team leader and 3D artist. He has over
25 published games to his credit. Mr. Davis
is a Burningman participant of 14 years,
and he swings a mean sword in the SCA.
He's also the best friend I ever had. He
was taken away from us last year on Jan
25 and I'll never be able to understand why.
Together we were a fantastic duo, the
legendary Grub Bros. Our secret base
exists on a cross-hatched nexus between
the Year of the Dragon and Dark City.
Somewhere along the tectonic fault
lines of our electromagnetic gathering,
shades of us peel off from the coruscating
pillars and are dropped back into the mix.
The phrase "rest in peace" just bugs me.
I'd rather think that Greg Grub's inimitable
spirit somehow continues evolving along
another manifestation of light itself, a
purple shift shall we say into another
phase of our expanding universe. I
ask myself, is it wishful thinking?
Will we really shed our human skin
like a discarded chrysalis and emerge
shimmering on another wavelength
altogether--or even manifest right
here among the rest without their
even beginning to suspect it? Well
people do believe in ghosts, but I
myself have long been suspicious
there can only be one single ghost
and that's all the stars in the universe
shrinking away into a withering heart
glittering and winking at us like
lost diamonds still echoing all their
sad and lonely songs fallen on deaf
eyes and ears blind to their colorful
emanations. My grub brother always
knew better than what the limits
of this old world taught him. We
explored past the outer peripheries
of our comfort zones to awaken
the terror in our minds and keep
us on our toes deep in the forest
in the middle of the night. The owls
led our way and the wilderness
transformed into a sanctuary.
The adventures we shared together
will always remain tattooed on
the pages of my skin. They tell a
story that we began together and
which continues being woven to
this very day. It's the same old
story about how we all were in
this together and how each and
every one of us is also going away
someday and though it will be the far-
thest we can manage to tell our own
tale we may rest assured it will be
continued like one of the old pulp
serials by all our friends which survive
us and manage to continue
the saga whispering in the wind.

Shae Sveniker's

Shae is a poet/artist/student and former
resident of the Salt Pit, UT, currently living
in Simi Valley, CA. His short stories are on
Blogger and his poetry is hosted on Livejournal.

Nigel Strange's

Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
daughter, cats, and tiny dog-like thing
in their home in California where he
occasionally experiments recreationally
with lucidity. PLASTIC CHILDREN
is his first publication.