"But that was back in the days when we tried to read in-between the lines, but the fine print we perceived didn't make any sense. The point was to try to play them at some kind of psychological game, to pre-empt them when they tried to trick us. But they never did. They answered our questions. A badly phrased question would get an answer with little useful information. A well-worded question would reveal a wealth of information. Back in those days, we didn't understand what the price was either. We didn't know. Anyway. They didn't deceive or trick us, they gave us the truth. But our own mistrust betrayed us over and over. We wasted our time running in circles. They didn't know we distrusted them."
The raspy and broken voice of the speaker was slurred and slowed by the drugs they were giving him, but nonetheless the interviewer listened patiently.
"So, I think it was Sarah, she disappeared first. We didn't think anything of it at the time. It was... you know... innocent. We thought she'd freaked out. Oh yeah, like I said, all our hair was turning white, we kept getting lots of attention too. Our boss wanted to close down the whole station to investigate to find out the cause. It wasn't radiation sickness, this was apparent, so we implored him to wait for our official report. Of course, we couldn't tell him what the real causes might be, but hey, it wasn't scientific of us but it was too, erm, what's the word, interesting. We know we couldn't keep it running for much longer.
So we relocated. We had discovered something. I haven't told you this yet. It might seem like a big thing to you, but to us we weren't really surprised. We found we could do it if we were all together, even if we weren't in the station. We did it in my house. My precious, beautiful wife... she hated it. She knew it was important, but she threatened she was going to leave, because she didn't know what we were doing. We used the garage. We used papier-māché to round off all the corners and sharp edges so... you know, the claws, we didn't want anything like what happened to Tim to happen again. He was still in hospital, and they must have thought he was crazy. They probably knew, also, that something was up. We weren't being very cautious. We should have just left the country.
It was all too tempting. Anyway, yeah we used glue and paper to smooth out the room, and we used candles. We did it at night time, and actually it was all more relaxing and personal at night time. They... they seemed to know that we were on a time limit and it seemed to us that they were less patient. Their questions were more forceful, and they wished less to teach us. We recorded everything but we had to use handhelds. We couldn't counter the interference and noise with those, the records aren't very good from then on.
Charlotte my wonderful love, she left the house. I missed her and thought about her all the time. Sometimes it felt like the end of the world... or, I had to choose between two worlds. She sent me emails and told me how she was doing, and I replied sometimes. She was upset with me but I didn't know what to do. I got short with the others because of that and started to think that I wanted out.
It was like a conspiracy, only in reverse. Everyone knew that something was happening. All those who had to work with us knew that it was major, and that we had broken some major standard procedures to get it done. But no one stopped us. It was a conspiracy of friendship. They trusted us that we knew what we were doing. Perhaps, if they intervened, it wouldn't have happened how it did.
102.777 / 00010110 / ###### / Conspiracy / Conspiracy / Love Breeds Suicide \ 102.666
He also supplied us with the names of the, I don't know what to call them. We all suspected that he'd done his own real work, but we didn't know who he was working with so we didn't trust him. Anyway, no one argued with him. And, his hair was a natural dark brown, it wasn't white. Nor had he dyed it... most of us dyed our hair to get rid of the whiteness.
But after dancing I went to see if I could find Charlotte because I really missed her. I wanted to tell her what had been going on. I knew that the others would be able to tell that I had told her. Actually... OK, this is important. The shapes, the patterns... we started to realize that they knew more than we had told them. They knew about things that were personal to us. We were scared about that and we argued amongst ourselves. We were breaking up as a unit. Oh, Claire and Dave, and Morrisey, they had all suffered some kind of breakdown. It happened a week before it all ended, and it happened during a session. It was a mess and we lost some of the video, but we've still got the sound, but without the sound engineers, who we had stopped working with, it's all a bit noisy. We tried to write transcripts, but ended up just writing it all from memory. On our home equipment we couldn't hear the screams so much, just occasional "extra" voices. At home the voice frequency bands were all too high. Very blurred and low distinction.
We were all dreaming about the sessions too. Sometimes I couldn't tell if something I had dreamed was something that had happened. Oh, yeah... I went to see Charlotte. But she wasn't there and I didn't have a key for her parents place. I didn't know how to find her, and she wasn't answering her mobile and hadn't emailed.
OK. The shapes. What were they? Sometimes they were quite fearsome. If they asked someone a question, the whole room would descend into silence and all the shadows would become intense, and all of our attention would go the person who they wanted the attention of. It wasn't like looking at a storm anymore, the winds, the eye, the full power of the storm we were playing with was moving with us, and looking at us. It wasn't passive anymore. The shadows and shapes in the storm were very fluid. It was very difficult to resist anything they asked just because the full attention of the storms was overwhelming. We had started to write down all our questions first, on paper, numbered. Our leader, normally that was me, would then shout a number so everyone could hear what question was next. We would then all select some of the patterns and I would start the signal processor and the coder and we would all present the question at the same time.
Do you need to fix your tape?"
"Tell me about Charlotte" asked the interviewer, trying to direct the conversation a little.
"I love her still. I'll do anything for her. All of us were studying occult things by that time. It was all too obvious to us... a little late, but we were getting it. Our department was deserted. When the generators were on... oh, we'd turned them all up and increased the constructiveness of, we called them reality-unreality pairs, we'd increased the power of the whole system so we could do the sessions from almost anywhere, for hundreds of miles. Except, actually, Vexen told us we wouldn't be able to do them in the occasional specific area. One was North London where Carlos lived. We did a small test in his house, and Vexen was right. It didn't freak us out that he was right, but we didn't understand it either. The generators worked as slits, but we had covered them with grids so that although we only a few sources of the astral radiation, it shouldn't have caused any interference patterns. So we didn't understand, Vexen did, why there should be some areas where the radiation appeared to be cancelled out, destructive interference, and why we found no areas with increased sensitivity.
I did something, it was pivotal. The whole group found out that I had, because, well it's hard to hide such things when we we're all sat there during a session and in touch with each other like that. Anyway, we left the generators on twenty-four hours, that's why our department was mostly empty, because no-one could put up with the screaming. Erm, what happened? Charlotte. I was selfish and I wanted to know where Charlotte was. I had plenty of her stuff and I configured the signal machine in particular to match her ECG. I had her sleeping ECG because she's done the deprivation experiment a few years ago for the University student."
"James Jules, the psychology student? Do you mean the psychology student who came to the factory?"
"I don't remember his name. The patterns... sometimes we called them chaos patterns, but they were anything but chaotic. We learned to call different shadows by different names. Vexen named some of them, and from our books we named others. There were new ones; some of them were under a few hundred years old, for all the new ones we had to choose new names. One of our crew recognized one of them from, oh this might seem strange to you, the Koran, he named something from there, in Arabic. We had learned a lot. It was the right name. Some of them managed to echo for us and they could show us visions in the storms, like old style prophets would say that they saw visions. It was like that. We wrote it all down. I don't know where the notes are now, you probably have them. That's up to you. Keep them."
There was an interruption as a nurse and two policemen entered the room. The nurse administered an injection to the interviewee.
"How often do they give you that?"
"Every six hours. I don't sleep anymore. I've got to take some disgusting food too. You'd think they could disguise the taste."
I got it running. She only had black candles, all her white ones were cheap and useless. I wrote down a simple question, I remember clearly what I wrote. It was Charlotte's question. The storm filled the room and she was silent. The patterns recognized me but they didn't recognize Charlotte even though I'd given them her ECG patterns a few days before. The shadows whirled around the room. I was very scared that we had missed some of the points or edges in the room. Charlotte was the weaker one, she would have embraced anything dangerous automatically, because I was stronger. Even... oh it's hard to forget about Tim, his whole body was fucked. I couldn't bare the thought of that happening to Charlotte, so I was very scared and sweating. I kept looking and peering around the room past the candles to see if any hard edges were moving towards her. I didn't see any. We didn't miss any.
Anyway, Charlotte stood up and moved and I told her not to move. If she accidentally knocked off any of the covers we'd put on the ornaments, or on the edges of the tables, I really wouldn't have time to stop the noise before they touched her. She sat. She was very silent. They told me the answer to the question, and then -"
We closed the ritual. The building vibrated and the windows chattered for ten minutes afterwards. After that, we returned the room to its normal state. I phoned the others and told them where I was. You have that on record, right? Yeah?"
"No, actually we don't, carry on, what do you and Charlotte do? Did you go anywhere together? When was the last time you saw her?"
"Oh. I thought you had records of all my calls. Strange. We stayed in a hotel. Heldon. I had bad dreams. I woke up once, and she attacked me and hit me and I held her. I love her, I never want to lose her."
"Where is she?"
"Huh? I don't know."
"Is that night the last time you saw her? What did you do the next day?"
"Oh, after that, I was upset and confused. I wanted to go back to the others to continue my work but I couldn't. I thought the police were looking for me. Actually, the police came to the hotel first thing in the morning. I remember. I had a gun and I shot at them. They ran away. I carried my precious beautiful darling to a car, and we drove away. She was unconscious, I can't remember why. I think it was from the night before."
"That car - was it blue, was it, here look at this photo. Is this the car you drove away from the hotel in?"
There are multiple photos laid out in front of the interviewer, each one clearly labelled.
"Yes. I think. I can't remember. I wanted to drive her to the station so she could hear the voices. I don't think I got that far though. At some point I was alone, and I broke into a school. I wanted to summon the demons... uh, I mean... I wanted to know what to do next. I was confused."
"Yes, we know you went to the school at night time. We have you on video. But was Charlotte still in the car?"
"Yes I think she was. I think maybe she ran away. I lit a candle for her in the school when I did the last ritual. I can't remember how I avoided the spikes and edges. I remember I did it in the gym."
"Yes, you were there for ten mins. How come you didn't need a, what do you call it? Signal generator? A computer?"
"I don't know. I was thinking about some things Vexen said. I felt I could do it on my own without it, just by using my heartbeat and candles. Anyway. As soon as I started, I hadn't covered the edges of any of the wallframes in the gym up, all the equipment started warping and bending. All the items in the room started coming towards me. I could feel my body begin to be corrupted by them. But I didn't do the ritual long and I stopped it before I was smashed. With Tim... it was much worse. It was the first time we did it. We didn't know what we needed to do. We removed all the sharp objects from the room, that much we knew. We were naked. But we didn't take the rules seriously, and we didn't cover edges. Like, the edges of chairs, and we didn't round of the corners of the room. As we progressed, we saw these chairs and hard edges twist through space and get close to us. They went for Tim. Tim was the quiet one. Suddenly, he was bashed. He stood up. It was like one of his arms had turned into a chair, and the chair edge, just the edges, were digging into his flesh. His flesh and the chair combined. I turned the light on, but it didn't stop. The very walls had closed in on him, I don't know how it can be like that, but it was. He was being crushed, and torn apart. Crushed, because chairs and the table, and the corners of the room were crushing him. Coming down on him, moving through the air without actually leaving their original location. Like, the straight edges of the table pressed into his head, his face... but the rounded corners of the table stayed where they were, by the window. The table was stretched. I turned off the signal processor, we were in the station then so we had all the professional equipment, and for a moment everything was clear. Tim was dead. Wood, concrete and plastic had dug into all his skin and he was like a cyborg, only useless, broken, blown out of shape in wrong places. Like The Fly and the Telepod door. Anyway, suddenly after it was all clear, the walls and chairs returned to normal in an instant, and Tim was blown apart. There was blood everywhere."
"Yes, we do have that on record at the factory... you call it the station, but it was a factory, on the video, despite the poor quality of it, it looks like you attacked Tim with a chair. You staked him. Do you remember doing that?"
"Huh? No, the walls did it. It wasn't my fault, I wasn't quite our leader then. We'd only just started out."
"OK sorry. Yes, let's get back to Charlotte. Was she still in the car when you left the school?"
"Yes. I think. I had actually put her in the boot because she was violent and dangerous and I didn't trust her. I think after showing her the ritual she got too scared to think normally. I drove for some time; I can't remember where I was going. I think once the police chased me, or, no they didn't, but I saw some police and ran away. I went into a forest."
"Yes, you've told us this before. Do you remember which forest? Which road were you on?"
"I don't remember. It was evening. The sun was going down behind the forest. I took the car into the forest for a bit. Oh I remember something. We did a ritual in this forest once. We had a newcomer with us. He had approached us in the club and asked to come with me. So I brought him with us to the forest and told him we were going to do a ritual. He didn't believe me at first, but we showed him the candles. You have to stay still when you do it. Oh, you can do it in a forest because there are no sharp edges, no real ones. Anyway, we tied him up. We did it, and the shapes and patterns came to his screaming. I think they remembered his screaming, and the screaming of some of our other guests, because they kept replaying the screaming at me all the time. I wish they wouldn't. They still do, you know, but the drugs help. Your drugs. They make it stop, which is good. Anyway, this one we tied up, I remember because it was the same forest, he fought me. He was crazy, I don't know... I didn't think he was crazy at first, but it became apparent. He tried to kill me. The others were scared and didn't help. The storm in the skies, in my mind and whistling through the trees was watching us, learning from how we fought.
I kept throwing my first into his stomach and he couldn't breathe. I held his head on the floor by his hair with one hand, and kept smashing his skull with my hand. He put dirt in my face. I bit him. I can't remember where, it might have been his hand."
The psychiatrist talks briefly into his headset and requests attention from the police who are not always listening in. If this is new information, it may lead them to clues to find either Charlotte, or any other victims. "What was you wearing at the time?" he asked, knowing they could potentially identify this new victim from any bloodstains.
"What was I wearing? I don't recall."
"Did you get blood on your clothes? We don't know who this guest of yours was, do you know his name?"
"His name, no, I don't know that. I wouldn't have asked him. You know, he was from the night club. He wasn't a dancer, but I think I'd seen him before. Anyway. I got dirt in my mouth when I bit him so I spat it at him. After a while, the storms had gone. My colleagues had left at some point. Actually, I don't know how they got here. They might have drove."
"More about your guest here, what did he look like?"
"I don't remember. It doesn't matter. He wasn't very clever, he was quite useless and wouldn't sit still during the ritual. We know he has to sit still. That's something that Vexen and our own studies have confirmed. Sarah, she's the first of our group who disappeared, she never learnt to sit still either. I miss Charlotte. Have you guys found her?"
"No we haven't. That's what we're here to do"
"OK. I love her, I don't want anything bad to happen to her."
"When did you take her out of your boot?"
"Yes. Did you leave the forest in the car you arrived in? Or did you walk?"
"I walked. Could I get some more water?"
"Yes, one sec. OK, please continue, where did you go? You were arrested in Halton, do you remember that? Did you go straight to Halton? How long was you walking? It was two days, did you walk straight?"
"I don't remember. I wanted to go back to my hometown and to the station to see how the studies were going. But for some reason I thought lots of police would be there. I think our facility was closed down."
"It's a shame they closed it all down, the experiments were producing the best results." Said the madman.
"OK, you were telling us how you got to Halton. Did you get any lifts or rides, or did you walk? We need to know how far you went to get to Halton, to find the trees where you left Charlotte. She might need our help and we want to find her."
"I love her. I'm sorry I can't go on, I want to go home."
"OK, you can go home soon, maybe. Did you walk to Halton or get a ride?"
"Uh. I walked all the way. No ride. Oh, I had lost my phone I couldn't phone the others either. I wanted to use a payphone in Halton. I phoned the station to see if they had closed it, I phoned my boss."
"Yes, we picked that call up from a payphone in Halton. We traced it. Listen. Charlotte has been missing since you entered her home... her real name is Caroline Russel by the way, and her relatives are very concerned and so are we. You have, well, we have found some of the other bodies, we've found Sarah and the work colleagues that for some reason followed you from the factory, but we think Charlotte is still alive, and we need to find where you left her, and to find the car."
He shows the photo of the car again to the detainee, to double check that he still thinks it is this car. In the last two days, he has changed many aspect of his stories.
"This is the car, yes?"
"Yes, I'm sure."
"You see we're searching around, and we think you must have been further away from Halton than two days walk. Are you sure you didn't drive out of the forest for some time, or that you got a lift? Did anyone stop you on the roads as you walked?"
"No. I'm getting a headache again."
"OK, I have to leave now. Thank you, you know to tell the police and the others if you remember anything else?"
The psychiatrist leaves room. This time round very little new information was gained. Elsewhere in the world, the loved ones of Charlotte, who did not know this crazy man, are crying and mourning the loss of their dearest treasure. After more than two days in the winter cold, the police and voluntary civilians who are scouring every bunch of trees for miles of Buckinghamshire all, deeply, know that the worst has already happened. Charlotte is gone, she's dead, and no amount of questioning will bring her back. Only her body will be found. But there are unanswered questions, why did the madman, whose name is David, go on his rampage? And how did he convince a handful of his workmates to go with him? He went postal, for sure, and the footage of him attacking his boss leaves no doubt that no supernatural forces were involved.
Yet, he had a command of those about him that was uncanny. People co-operated with him. Ultimately, they all died. They killed each other in their rituals, yet did none of them think to escape? The journal of the psychiatrist was filled with these questions. Why did the killer break into that particular school? It was not a school he had gone to as a child. The madman's relatives, his brother and his sister, cannot think of any significance the school may have had. What's the connection?
Within the constructs of this madman's mind there are clues that can help the investigator find the bodies of the colleagues, there are still three or four outstanding from the two week rampage. Poor Charlotte... David really does think he loves her, yet cannot think of how he met her. In reality he broke into a random apartment and took her hostage, once all his colleagues were dead. But who does David think Charlotte is? Charlotte, whose real name is Caroline Russel, also has no connection to this man. Who are the other characters in this man's delusions? Some of the specifics are outstanding. The prone girl behind the receptionists' desk is significant of something. Something he saw as a kid? Something from a film?
The psychiatrist played the recordings from the factory. Working amongst the machinery and the noise, David slowly went insane. He heard voices, he heard screaming, that much is for certain. But he wasn't paranoid. He has not yet accused his co-workers or boss of conspiring against him, and there is no victimisation complex. He definitely has delusions, wanting to be a significant person in the world, to be given lots of attention, when in reality he worked in a factory and was unknown. He must have preached something to his co-workers, to those he worked most closely with. But the others on the factory floor do not report that this man was talkative or influential.
He was not on drugs, nor is there any family history of psychosis. There is no hormonal imbalance, yet David is completely unable to sleep unaided by drugs. Without drugs, he screams and rages and attacks the walls and himself, and is in fact insane. A combination of work, the noise, and perhaps a prolonged, subconscious neurosis ate at him until he had a full blown episode. Perhaps, his co-workers followed him out of fear or genuine interest. He must have promised to them that they would see a real ritual. David's nightclub, where he picked up at least one victim the day before his rampage, is a dance club where David himself is mostly unrecognized. Not sociable or outstanding. That must have hurt him. In his mind was Charlotte a girl from the club? The police have already asked the club for help to find anyone called Charlotte who attend regularly.
Yes, listening to the security recordings at the factory, the machines do sometimes sound like they are screaming. The police are still unsure whether he is a serial killer, or a mass murderer. Was it one long murder spree, or was it a series of ritualistic killings? Was Vexen someone real from the club, or a fantasy element? Did David ever study the occult? Some of his descriptions have matched typical occult text, but others match science fiction. Was David practicing rituals at home? They had found lots of candles and burnt paper to suggest that he was. Why did they become violent? The only spiritualist books found in David's room was the Quabballa. He was living in a delusional world, increasingly so, but how can you tell in advance who will become crazy? It is definitely the person, not the text, that creates insanity. The Quabballa itself is harmless, well used and well read, and not just by occultists, but by mainstream religion.
The police psychiatrist was taken around David's apartment. It was well ordered, neat, tidy. Not normal for a factory worker. No girlfriend, or boyfriend, no friends or visitors. A TV, some music, some videos, things to be expected of a forty something male. The psychiatrist stood in the apartment and looked at the view outside the windows, across the small city. A church with a neon cross on the side. Small shops. Nothing of importance. That's the key element... this person was unimportant, and this was delusion created to deal with that. A delusion caused by a slight instability. Was there a trigger? Something in the news that reminded him of a potent childhood memory? Something that made him want to kill his boss, delve into a delusional world and convince his work friends that he was able to produce supernatural results in ritual?
In the dark, this is the way of nature herself.
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