KW 15: Sinopsis
This was not my idea.
I temporarily lost all good sense and reminisced out loud about my youth to my ghouls. Next thing I know, Bright Eyes, née Julie Hawkins, my resident artist, decides she should write my biography (not my thanatography, to be sure), and suddenly I'm being interviewed on voice recorder.
How I agreed to this, I'm not one-hundred-percent sure, though a sinking feeling tells me that I got worked by a clever ghoul who knows very well how easy I am to manipulate when I'm hungry and I think there's a snack waiting for me at the end of the tunnel.
Note to self: 1. Assess how badly you're fucking yourself showing Vanessa how much you enjoy tea time with Layla. 2. Ignore assessment and secure the next tea time with Miss Drinks-A-Lot-O-Coffee, by hook or by crook. 3. Hunt a lot to make up for it.
Anyhow, here is the questionable fruit of... someone else's labor. My thoughts, Bright Eyes' prose. I haven't redacted anything, though I also didn't tell her everything. Sorry, honey. You taste divine, but not that divine.
So, to whoever reads this diary, future childe or scowling Bishop, please remember.
This was not my idea.Post-script to Foreword
The title, however, was my idea.Sinopsis
1978. The Cold War hits an icy stretch; the US won’t sell its latest computer technology to the Soviets. Carter postpones production of the neutron bomb to give the public a couple of years to forget its menace. Meanwhile, Japan invades with ten million cars and releases Space Invaders. In theaters across the country, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is playing. It’s a good year for Kenneth Walters to be born.
He was an only child. He and his parents lived in Lingletown, a suburb a short drive from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in a house with a backyard that sloped down to a wood of American Beech and Sugar Maple trees. It was a small wood, but dense and deeper than it should be, and night came early there, and dusk never left. His mother told him once that a beech-maple forest is the oldest kind of forest. Forests were born, just like him, and grew up, and grew old, and they stopped changing so fast and just went on and on, like parents do, always there and watching over the saplings. He imagined the wood to be a hoary old man, a wizard, who hated the light and hated the house, surrounding himself with the raccoons that stood up like children and gazed from the line of trees, their eyes glinting beads of coal in streaks of soot like the young chimney sweeps he’d seen in some movie, before slinking back under their master’s robe. He hated those raccoons. They plagued his dreams. Much of his early childhood was spent negotiating how close to the wood he could play, or how long he could trespass under the canopy of beech and maple and raccoons.
His mother, sedate and patient to a fault, taught second graders, and his father spent every waking hour either jogging and trail running, or trying to create free energy in his garage with parts cannibalized from refrigerators, the family car, or anything else he could get his restless hands on. He was always furiously planning, building, concocting, but anyone looking at the fruits of his labor would see a contraption that looked like the partially-skeletonized corpse of a drying machine sprouting flexible duct and wires, surrounded by washers and zip ties. There were no failures. Only prototypes. And every so often, something, the microwave, for instance, would go missing, never to be replaced. Kenneth cannot remember his father ever holding a job of any sort, but he doesn’t remember feeling poor, either.
While his father came ever closer to a gravity dampener and cold fusion, Kenneth watched Mister Wizard’s World, Unsolved Mysteries, The Twilight Zone. He read the Time-Life Books series, “Mysteries of the Unknown”, Fortean Times Magazine, devoured “Chariots of the Gods?” He was a weekend Trekkie and a devoted X-Phile who put his VHS copies of Communion, Fire in the Sky, They Live, and The Abyss through torture tests of repeated viewings, never tiring of the mixed wonder and horror that welled up in him whenever the protagonists would make first contact.
Spiritually, his parents were lazy, well-meaning Christians with a healthy respect for their Quaker friends. Kenneth, however, found his own religion: Ufology. The popular accounts of the Roswell incident were his Bible, and the innumerable studies, debunkings, and variations on this and similar legends were his theology and apocrypha, and its proponents were his prophets. As he matured, the details and dates of such tales didn’t matter so much as their significance. It was a pursuit of truth and meaning that only grew stronger in his late teenage years, culminating, one warm evening during the summer of his senior year of high school, in a revelation.
He met an older woman who was a self-styled dream interpreter and hypnotist. She told him his recurring dreams of being spirited away from his bedroom by a pack of raccoons and stolen into the wood behind his house had great significance. Later, on her couch, he came to know the truth: he was an abductee.
What exactly it meant to be an abductee took him over a decade to determine, a decade during which the dreams never returned. Tonight, he would say that there are creatures that are alien—alien perhaps to our planet, to our dimension, or to some other delineation of our known realm—and that these aliens choose individuals to capture and release for mysterious purposes. The exact nature of the capturing he endured, whether it be a physical removal from his bed, a telepathic invasion, a trans-dimensional kidnapping, or some struggle between astral bodies which took place in his dreaming mind, he does not know. What he does know is that beings, real, intentioned beings, captured him countless times in his early youth.
In his memory, still in sharp relief after so many years, the beings were small and gray and had broad faces and their eyes glinted like black marbles in black oblong eye pits and their tiny pointed fingers felt like a bundles of toothpicks, and they took him down a slope outside to a looming shape darker than the night, a tent-covered hedge-maze, that swallowed him up into dim, chaotic corridors full of spines and needles catching at his skin as he was rushed through. The details do not matter. Only the vividness, the intention, the ineffable and noetic experience of contact.
(And people wondered why, as a child, he refused to go Christmas tree shopping!)
Bored with Pennsylvania, he went to college in New York City. There, his fascination with conspiracies drove him to study history, putting him securely on the path to teaching high school history and social studies. In the meantime, in between several diverting episodes of cohabitation with girlfriends who accused him of being sweet, but bizarre and cheap (meticulously frugal, he insisted), he continued his hobby of following (“studying” is really not the right word) the paranormal and the alien. From one of his girlfriends, he picked up the habit of keeping a camera around, and soon he had a sizable collection of orbs, shadow people, and rod creature images which he catalogued on his website, “Anomalo.us” under the nom de guerre “EZKL”.
Among this collection were a few images of well-dressed men and women with blurry faces. He called these the Faceless, at first, and later, influenced by David Icke and his “reptilian agenda”, he began to think of them as extraterrestrial or extra-dimensional lizard men, chameleons, royal-blooded Draconians who populated the upper echelons of high society, the military, and government. Tracking these creatures and researching their identities became a nightly endeavor that unmoored him little by little from his day job.
He was not quite thirty years old when he first called a psychic hotline. It’s not that he approved of psychic hotlines, considering how expensive they are and how unlikely it is that so many employees of so many organizations could all be even mildly psychic, but he had a (convoluted) theory that was worth investing in. Draconians, it was believed, practiced mind control. If fire could be fought with fire, then it stood to reason that shielding oneself from mind control required psychic ability. He supposed that if psychic abilities were somehow latent in people, the ones who would stand the highest chance of developing such powers would be those who spent months of dedicated practice trying to guess the details of people’s unspoken thoughts and lives—detectives, police officers, poets, and, incidentally, self-claimed psychics and mediums themselves, even if they began their careers as charlatans or run-of-the-mill mentalists. This theory struck him while he was watching television and grading papers in the early morning, and the same commercial kept being broadcast. The mysteries of your life revealed. Your future glimpsed. Your past lives uncovered. Call now. Psychic friends are standing by.
Zack was the psychic friend they patched him through to.
Over the next couple of years, the two became something like pen pals. Beginning with a few calls over the hotline, but moving to personal phone lines, and later the Internet, they carried on a continuous dialog about the paranormal and the conspiratorial. Kenneth did most of the talking, but Zack had his own fascinating stories to tell, and he seemed interested in Kenneth’s ramblings, especially when, early on, Kenneth showed him the pictures of faceless Draconians he’d taken. The subject of meeting in person cropped up, but Zack was casually dismissive, and chatrooms were basically like meeting, anyway.
One night, another night of grading papers by the glow of a lamp and the television in his basement apartment, Kenneth’s door knocked. It was Zack. His home had burned down recently and he had no one to turn to; he was on the streets, now. He hadn’t slept in a couple of nights, and he just needed a place to crash.
Kenneth let him in. After all, they were friends.
They would become something more than friends.